britling comments

Posted in: Things that foreigners find annoying about life in Japan See in context

So my response should have been (in English), something like: "Oh, hello. I am from X, since you were kind enough to ask. I like Japan. Well done for approaching a stranger. Say, I think you should use 'Excuse me' next time. Well, it was nice meeting you. Bye!" All while I'm doing my shopping in a non-tourist area (actually one which was known for its Brazilian community, yet they still used English).

That person may have plucked up all his courage and tied his brains in knots in order to string together a sentence from what bit of high-school English he retained. And all you could do was slap him down?

Funny how you think that some could have forgotten most of their English, including common courtesies, yet be able to remember a question like "Where are you from?" and presumably a range of expected answers.

Yes, I should at all times be an ambassador for my country, a representative for "foreigners" and a guest who must watch their words all the time to avoid giving Japanese people - whose actions are, of course, always reasonable - the feeling that foreigners are rude. Rude Japanese people are exempted from reciprocating.

I've just remembered why I stopped posting on here...

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Posted in: Things that foreigners find annoying about life in Japan See in context

@cleo: please re-read my post. It is not appropriate to approach strangers on the basis of their racial appearance and address them in what you assume to be a language they understand, without any polite language to go with it. You would not appreciate random people coming up to you in your own country to ask you random personal questions. Furthermore, I am not here to provide free on-the-spot English lessons for anyone who wants them.

Nice way to show how dropping all politeness is something non-Japanese never do.

When someone opens a conversation at one level, it is appropriate to respond at their level.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Posted in: Things that foreigners find annoying about life in Japan See in context

For me, it's often language:

The assumption that people who do not 'look' Japanese do not understand any of the language. Standing in a supermarket check-out queue and becoming aware that the two old women right behind you are having a conversation about your racial characteristics is not pleasant (I turned around; they were embarrassed. It wasn't a tourist area and it wasn't the countryside; it was in a city at 7pm.)

The assumption on the part of kids that I want to be greeted by strangers in the street with the word "haro", and that because I do not look Japanese, then I must be a native-English-speaking foreigner. A non-native-English-speaking foreigner I know once told me how infuriating it is for everyone to both assume that you speak English and attach value only to English.

Finally, the assumption that if you speak English to someone who does not look Japanese, it is acceptable to drop all politeness. This seems to be rooted in the idea that "foreign culture" is always "informal". Strangers occasionally approach me in the street or in shops and address me in English from the outset without any formal language, whereas in Japanese this is unlikely to happen without use of some polite speech. That the most annoying part: that they there exists so much formal language in Japanese but none of it is transferred to English. Example: "Where are you from?" That was it. From a stranger standing next to me. No "excuse me". I said "the moon" in Japanese.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Posted in: Radiation hotspot in Chiba linked to Fukushima: officials See in context

The NY Academy of Sciences work referred to above is probably the translated Russian paper that predicted huge number of deaths from Chernobyl. That paper was not peer-reviewed by the NYAS, as they have openly stated, and it contradicts other research backed by the UN, IAEA, and the World Health Organization. It does not form part of the views of the majority of nuclear scientists (as opposed to pseudo-scientists and actual scientists quoted well outside their own fields). Furthermore, a scientist giving an opinion (as quoted in the media) is not the same as evidence in the form of actual rigorous, peer-reviewed published work.

Science is also a cumulative process: it is not about accepting every possible idea but gathering evidence in order to form conclusions that gradually become more robust: idea becomes hypothesis is becomes theory becomes fact. 'Fact' meaning not, of course, 'absolute truth' (for that, see religion), but as near as we possibly can to it based on the evidence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Radium bottles in Setagaya home may have been there for over 50 years See in context

Radium-226 has a half-life of about 1600 years. According to NHK tonight, anyone could buy radium in Japan until the law was changed in 1958.

On NHK it also said that the radiation level on the surface of the bottles was about 600 microsieverts per hour (over 5000 millisieverts a year), which is well within serious danger levels and is likely to kill. I would imagine that anyone who has spent much time in that house would want to be checked out.

Of course, the radiation drops dramatically with distance, and the bottles were under the floorboards, but Japanese people do tend to sit on the floor...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO says temperature of No. 2 reactor has dropped below 100 degrees C See in context

According to CUNY Kaku is a PHYSICIST and chair of the dept; a Harvard and Princeton educated Phd with 70+ articles and books.

The number of things someone's written is not evidence of authority. Kaku, who has also been interviewed about the threat of an alien invasion, has a background in theoretical physics but really works towards public understanding of science, i.e. he writes popular science books and goes on TV. I have just checked his technical research papers at Cornell University Library (I can't find a full list on his website) and found 6 papers, the latest of which was published 11 years ago. So he wouldn't be your first port of call for a fully-informed assessment of the latest cutting-edge research even in his own field. If anyone can find more recent peer-reviewed technical work, I will concede that he has up-to-date expertise in that area - but it's not nuclear physics or reactor operation experience.

I evaluate what he says and if I see a problem with it I check it and ask why.

I wonder how you go about seeing a problem when presumably you're not a nuclear physicist. I would hazard a guess that none of us here are. The Dunning-Kruger effect strikes again. The only thing we can do is look at the backgrounds of these people making public pronouncements on Fukushima and ask whether their qualifications and peer-reviewed research output (if they exist at all) are relevant to the subject.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Kan forced older nuclear plant workers to stay on duty after tsunami: report See in context

I hope Kan is one day seen as one of the greatest prime ministers in Japanese history. By Japanese standards, given the sort of shower who generaly get to the top, this was an act of Churchillian statesmanship.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Gaijin -- just a word or racial epithet with sinister implications? See in context

Professor Doak explains, "Gaijin" is a contraction of 'Gai-koku-jin,' or person from a foreign county. Some foreigners in Japan believe it should be interpreted literally, 'non-human' (when the middle term 'kuni' [country] is dropped) but I don't think many Japanese use it in this way.

More accurately, many speakers assume it to be an abbreviation of 'gaikokujin' and use it as such. But 'gaijin' actually precedes 'gaikokujin' and, as pointed out above, used to mean anyone outside someone's community. I don't think 'gaikokujin' is political correctness; it arose out of need as Japanese developed a political state. I'm not sure what Doak means by 'non-human', though.

The professor then offered his personal opinion: "My own sense is that some foreign residents of Japan who take offense at any use of the term 'gaijin' belong to a well-established phenomenon of foreigners (usually white men) who want to become completely Japanese (culturally, biologically, socially)-cf. Pierre Loti, Madame Chrysantheme, Blackthorne in Clavell's novel 'Shogun,' or James Bond, in 'You Only Live Twice.'

More oddities here. I don't think even hardliners can make themselves "biologically" Japanese. And trotting out one novelist, an opera and two fictional characters doesn't really exemplify the point. I wonder if he thinks that Marutei Tsurunen is trying to become completely Japanese, biological and all, by exercising his right as a citizen to stand for election.

My own view is that if someone calls me a 'gaijin', that means they have trouble getting past being confronted by someone who is different from them. I pity them, and hope the word fades away.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Ichihashi appeals life sentence for killing British teacher See in context

@BlueWitch: right, Ichihashi should never be let out, but neither should he be killed. It doesn't matter what kind of rhetoric people dress the death penalty up with; it comes down to an ugly scene of a bunch of guys lynching someone in a room, away from prying eyes.

Ichihashi will clearly be a danger to women if he is let out. Though it is tempting to think of six English teachers being given half an hour in a room with him, no questions asked, the most appropriate punishment is to let him age away in a cell somewhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Norway killer's manifesto praises Japan for not adopting multiculturalism See in context

I would be very surprised if Breivik has ever visited Japan. His claims about the country comprise typical extreme-right assumptions. Japan appears to be a homogeneous monoculture, so its historical success must be because of race and anti-immigration policies. Nothing to do with post-war reconstruction, the move into high-tech because they weren't allowed a massive arms industry, the export economy, or the way that much of Japanese culture has been adopted from China and Korea and then allowed to develop in its own way.

Breivik also conveniently omits how the economy has tanked in the last 20 years, or how there is so much molestation that it is considered almost normal, and indeed feeds into the porn industry. Japan is one of the few non-Muslim countries in the world with women-only train carriages.

It's often my observation that cultures see themselves as directly opposite to what they are. The British think they're fair-minded when a lot of foreigners see them as sneaky. The Americans think they live in the freest country on Earth when in fact they can't even directly elect their own president or easily get on to a ballot paper; then there's the sink-or-swim mentality. The Australians think they are the most easy-going people around, but try asking immigrants or Aboriginals. And the Japanese think they are a monoculture when they are anything but.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Hawkers 'pleased' with life sentence for Ichihashi See in context

There is a document on-line by the Center for Prisoners' Right Japan which points out that the average time served for lifers before being released on parole has extended over the last few decades. They say, for example, that 1,670 people were in for life as of 2007 (nearly double that of 1993) and 74 sentenced then, but in the same year only one person was released (after serving 31 years). At that time, there was also one person who had been in there for over 55 years without parole!

On the other hand, there are people like Sagawa, who was never jailed for killing and eating a woman (and did a documentary recently where he quite openly admits to cannibalistic urges), plus cases in the last year or two of children being killed by their parents but avoiding lengthy sentences.

So it is highly unlikely that Ichihashi will only do 10 years. He may even do longer than 20. But he could also get out in less than that, who knows. He really should have been denied any sort of parole from the start.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Hawkers 'pleased' with life sentence for Ichihashi See in context

@lucabrasi: why do you assume he'll do significantly more than a ten-year stretch? There's no evidence he was a troublesome prisoner while in custody, other than a period when he refused food. This is just my opinion, but I think he'll sit out the time quietly. Psychiatrists' reports can also be ignored, as they were in the Sagawa case.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Hawkers 'pleased' with life sentence for Ichihashi See in context

@lucabrasi: you think they can read his mind? Ultimately he will have to be freed unless he can be shown to be an obvious dangerous lunatic, and that is rather unlikely. Even if true, the Issei Sagawa case shows that if anything, being declared unstable can get you out of jail even quicker in this country.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Hawkers 'pleased' with life sentence for Ichihashi See in context

Ichihashi will still be a danger to women when he is freed. Note July 2021 in your diaries.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Ozeki Kaio makes his retirement official See in context

Well done Kaio!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Grim journey See in context

I think the Hawkers, like 99% of other people, can distinguish between the actions of one man and the image of a whole country. Foreign nationals seeking justice for murder in Japanese courts according to Japanese law is not an act of Japan-bashing or gaiatsu.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S.: Spent fuel pool never went dry in Japan quake See in context

I wonder what the reaction on here would have been if TEPCO had caused significant panic by announcing that the pool had dried up, then three months later admitted that they were wrong. And in turn, what would have been said had TEPCO defenders argued that this was just one small error, that they 'fessed up to it, and that this means the Japanese system of public accountability works. Meanwhile, as the radiation death toll remains obstinately stuck at zero and with the injuries among civilians also hovering at nought, armchair pundits remain determined to uncover a nuclear catastrophe.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Heartbroken Kobe man stabs ex-girlfriend, three policemen See in context

Amazing how many think that guns are a magic bullet. Oh, wait a minute, I see - if this lunatic had had access to guns, he would have shot himself earlier instead of failing to hang himself in a toilet, and all would be right with the world!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Anyone daft enough to think that this will change anything at all, especially in US foreign policy? The search for a new bogeyman begins.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What did you think of the British royal wedding on Friday? See in context

The one with the horns was Beatrice. There is a conspiracy theory that their mother Fergie, who didn't attend, let them dress that way...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: UK mulling royal succession rule change See in context

Strictly speaking, the British monarchy is not completely hereditary since the Privy Council must meet, approve the succession and take the new Sovereign's oath. In theory, they could block Charles or reject a younger male heir in favour of an older female one. Such action would be unlikely, however, in a system that runs based on convention and precedence.

A return to the Anglo-Saxon model of nominating monarchs might be a step in the right direction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't under fire for disaster response; TEPCO chief heckled in Diet See in context

Let's hear firm, detailed proposals from the LDP for dealing with this mess. They've already refused to work with the government during this crisis more than once, and yet now they're complaining that the government is incompetent. So why not step up? Tanigaki must be secretly breathing a sigh of relief that this didn't happen on his watch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Do you use Twitter? See in context

I got sucked into it because I found it was the only way to communicate with some people. But I only use it for sending messages and occasionally re-tweeting stuff. I think tweeting your own opinions is just like talking to a wall. Then again, I'm on JT. :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Why did those foreigners who decided to leave Japan in the aftermath of the March 11 disaster come in for so much derision from some people who labeled them with words like 'flyjin?' See in context

I think like most people here criticising the 'flyjin', I was talking about the ones who cleared out even though they were many miles from the Fukushima plants. If you were living in the post-tsunami disaster zone that the foreign media have mostly now forgotten about, you had several good reasons to get out. Likewise if you're close to the reactors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Why did those foreigners who decided to leave Japan in the aftermath of the March 11 disaster come in for so much derision from some people who labeled them with words like 'flyjin?' See in context

"We gotta respect everyone's decisions" is the kind of opinion that annoys me most, as it seeks to excuse inexcusable behaviour based on panic, fear and ignorance. It's more like, "Hey, I don't like your decision but I don't want to take it up with you." Wuss.

As for people leaving because of their families begging them to: stand up to them. What are you, still in nappies? Why not start by asking them why they believe tabloid newspapers more than their own relative, and one who is on the ground at that.

@Proudgaijin: actually, the majority of legal foreigners here are long-termers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Disaster aid puts new face on U.S. military in Japan See in context

Of course, the US is morally obligated to help out in such a disaster, but it is debatable how much credit they should be given for that. It is, of course, partly because of the US occupation and subsequent military arrangements that Japan has less-developed armed forces that can respond to crises. For example, they only recently gave back control of Okinawan airspace.

As for the UK: USAF bases are officially RAF bases, and the US has at no time occupied the UK. Also, many of the bases are in out-of-the-way locations and the local economies are not reliant on them. So, there is less opposition to their presence than in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What's behind our conflicted feelings on nuclear power? See in context

Regarding the experts vs. non-experts in the Slovic study: yes, the experts rated nuclear power as 20th in a list of most dangerous activities. But for the anti-nuclear people out there, you can take comfort that nuclear power is indeed more dangerous than: food colouring; home appliances; hunting; prescription antibiotics; vaccinations; spray cans; high school/college football; power mowers; mountain climbing; and skiing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Geiger counters sell out in Akihabara over radiation fears See in context

“I’ll be measuring the radiation level at home every day,” said a housewife.

I hope she hasn't got one of those luminescent clocks. Wave the geiger counter near it and she'll think the whole place is covered in fallout.

The professionals are using specialist equipment at monitoring stations across the region to measure the radiation. It ain't even close to dangerous in places like Tokyo, nor will it ever be. Too far away and not enough explosions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Prince Charles blasts climate-change skeptics See in context

Some great, classic denialist claims above, which take a long time to unpick because the premises are so fundamentally wrong. No, the fact that the climate changes naturally does not mean that change now must all be natural as well. No, a British judge did not identify 9 actual errors in Gore's film (Most of these alleged errors, picked out by a non-expert judge - who did not dispute the central thesis that warming is man-made - were later refuted, and his instruction was that the film should be accompanied by alternative arguments, not that it should be labelled 'opinion' only). No, the IPCC are not part of a vast climate conspiracy. They make errors, same as everyone else, but fixating on a handful in years of reports running to thousands of pages does no-one any favours.

Here's another way of looking at the issue. Say the 'skeptics' are right. How and why, then, is the climate changing? If man-made emissions have no significant effect, why is the planet seeing rapid warming? What mechanism ensures that those emissions have no effect? We know that the presence of carbon dioxide will lead to warming of an atmosphere, so why wouldn't all that CO2 do anything? How can 'natural cycles' that play out over millennia be responsible for rapid warming now? If you think the planet is not warming, even cooling, how is it that human activity has no effect at all? What is responsible for cancelling everything out, consistently and completely, over time?

In other words, what are the 'skeptical' models of climate change or stability? Denialists are very good at cherry-picking inconsistencies in a vast amount of research supporting man-made climate change, but not very good at providing their own models or explanations. Unfortunately, they will also repeat the same arguments, ad infinitum, rather than modify their views in accordance with evidence. In that sense, their views are not part of science but of a political game.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Egypt echoes across region: Iran, Bahrain, Yemen See in context

The elephant in the room is religion. Since Iran is a theocracy, any move against the government will be viewed by a significant portion of the population as an anti-Islamic plot. Unlike Egypt, a lot more people in Iran have a lot to lose if democracy takes root.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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