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Posted in: Female voters remain dubious despite record number of women winning seats See in context

46-year-old Naoko Mogi, who lives in Kawasaki near Tokyo.

I'm always impressed by the ability of reporters to find someone who supports what they want to write just by stopping people on the street. They never seem to find anyone who disagrees or tells them to buzz off.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Report discovered detailing Japan's wartime use of nerve agents See in context

There is nothing really new here. Japan has a continuing program for cleaning up poison gas sites in China. This has been reported from time to time in the Japanese new media including NHK.

This particular story is being reported in the major Japanese newspapers including the Mainichi.


4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Kim Kardashian West finds solution to Kimono backlash See in context

Luv it. No sooner had I completed an article saying this was a publicity stunt and once she had garnered enough free advertising, he would announce a name change and get some more free advertising, the news came in that she was doing just what I and numerous others had predicted.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Court orders compensation for families of leprosy patients See in context

Two countries are notable for having had a policy of compulsory isolation of people with Hansen's disease. One was Japan. The other was the United States.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Doubts grow over Abe's foreign policy skills ahead of election See in context

What's he done on the world scene beyond travelling all over the place achieving nothing?

Economic and business journals have been praising Japan for bucking Trump's protectionism. Abe has in fact been getting quite a bit of praise in this area.

As for the Takushoku University professor's comment, I have to wonder whether some nuance has been lost. Takushoku University was started to train bureaucrats for Japan's colonial empire. It is decidely right-wing. The hardcore right-wing in Japan sees Abe as something of a wimp.

A Takushoku University professor being less than enthusiastic about Abe may come from thinking that readers who do not know this university might miss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Man found guilty of forcing women into sex trade to clear 'debts' See in context

The Japanese Government views prostitution, whether forced or coerced, as some sort of inevitable facet of society. 

A major reason for this problem is that prostitution as such not legal in Japan. Japan should follow the lead of Holland, Germany, some Australian states, etc. and legalise prostitution.

A suspended sentence. No wonder international groups have blasted Japan for sex trafficking. It's got a normally harsh criminal justice system that goes easy on the traffickers. No mention of fraud/exortion charges for the padding bills and debt.

There is no mention whatsoever of trafficking in the article and no indication that the women were not Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Ghosn announces news conference, then cancels it See in context

Ghosn clearly thinks the world revolves around him. Friday night is not good timing for a press conference. You want to do these early in the week to get maximum attention. Further, this particular Friday was singularly bad since a large fraction of the reporters who might cover his press conference were in Osaka for the G-20 conference.

If nothing else, he needs better advice on PR.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Kardashian kimono shapewear sparks Japan debate See in context

I've been looking at commentary about this in English and Japanese. As numerous others have suggested this looks like an advertising ploy, a very successful effort to get free advertising. Overall, there is not really all that much "outrage" being expressed in Japanese and what there is focuses on the use of the word kimono for underwear.

I checked the US patents and trademarks database.


There are (as of this morning) 103 trademarks using the word kimono with six or seven of these belonging to the Kondrashian's company. In other words, "appropriation" of the word kimono is not new.

My own advice to other Japanese would be to ignore her and the rest of the Kondrashian clan. They are shameless self-promoters. As numerous American commentators have pointed out, they are famous for being famous.

Japan is more than self-sufficient in tarento (the term most frequently used in Japanese to characterize the Kondrashians) who have nothing going for them except their superb ability to promote themselves. If Japanese are going to focus on utterly vacuous people, they should cheer for the home team.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Kardashian kimono shapewear sparks Japan debate See in context

Oh please. Japanese are so sensitive! 

I looked at Twitter on this. There are some Japanese posting in English but most of the criticism appears to be coming from non-Japanese including black and Hispanic people who see this as yet another case of cultural appropriation.

I would also note that Japanese are very open to non-Japanese wearing kimono or yukata. I have interviewed Japanese running rental kimono shops in tourist areas. They are happy to rent kimono to non-Japanese of any size, shape, colour, nationality, or gender. NHK often shows non-Japanese wearing kimono.

The issue here is misuse of the word KIMONO. It's like calling a line of breakast cereal SUSHI. More moronic than anything else.

Quite a number of posters on Twitter are also saying the same thing several people have said here -- that this is a cynical attempt to get an enormous amount of free advertising. I tend to agree with this suspicion.

I'll also check Twitter in Japanese later today.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Posted in: The Carlos Ghosn case – the return of Japan Inc See in context

Kelly recently publicly questioned why Saikawa had not been arrested or similarly treated by prosecutors despite being in charge and being the person who oversaw and even approved many of the incidents under investigation.

Is "what about" an accepted defence strategy? Just because someone else maybe crooked, that is not proof of your innocence.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Posted in: Japan's main opposition party vows to improve pension system See in context


Better pay means increased spending, increased spending means increased tax revenue, both which should be sustainable! Even with an aging workforce!

Spot on. One of my British investment banker friends has been saying the same thing for years. Even Henry Ford for all his faults understood that the more you pay workers, the more they spend, and that’s good for business overall.

Japanese politician's election promises are as hollow as a ballon.

Hardly a peculiarity of Japanese politicians.

Reduce the number of politicians in the diet and reduce their pay, perks and their severance and pension. That way, only the few who want to really do something for the good of the people will actually run for office.

Much more probable that the only people in the Diet will be plutocrats like Aso Taro who are so wealthy it makes no difference to them whether Diet members have a salary or not.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: N Korea reminds China of Japanese rule to strengthen ties See in context

@Alfie Noakes

Good to see someone who appreciates American humour. Bruce Cumings is a famous revisionist historian most known for his claim that the US started the Korean War.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Posted in: Get your fax right: Bungling officials spark nuclear scare after quake See in context


Weird I got a down vote for simply pointing out a fact. Someone doesn't like reality very much.

Not weird at all. I see this frequently with my strictly factual postings complete with links that allow verification.

As for the usage of fax in Japan (and elsewhere), this is something I have been researching. If there is anything distinctive about Japan, it is not that fax is still used, but that home fax machines are not unusual.

Fax is still widely used in other countries and some data suggests that usage is on the increase.

In some sectors in the US, fax is the only acceptable alternative to paper mail. I have frequently seen "fax your congressman" or "fax your congresswoman" in US protest movements. I asked why. The answer? Federal law and regulations requires the preservation and logging of fax messages. E-mail is easily erased.

Based on my reading about the US, it seems fax is widely used in law, medicine, architecture, and some other areas.

In the past 10 years in Japan, I have had to use fax only for communicating with US state governments and UK financial institutions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: New law states gov't responsible for teaching Japanese to foreigners See in context

That said, Japanese cities are pretty consistent about providing free or very affordable Japanese lessons through city hall. Pretty much all of them have something on offering.

Indeed, my wife teaches in one such program funded by the ward government.

That's why it always disappoints me when I meet foreign residents who can’t speak and aren’t even studying.

It’s worse than that. I know several prominent academic “Japan specialists” who are frequently cited by foreign correspondents who are in fact illiterate in Japanese and have only limited Japanese conversation skills.

Only 12% of Japanese people have a conversational proficiency in any second language

Indeed, but is that unusual. What percentage of native born Americans or Brits have conversational proficiency in any second language?

Well I checked it in Musashino and it's not free

Musashino is not the only city in Japan. A sample of one is not a sufficient base for generalising about all cities in Japan.

On the job language lesson surrounded by Japanese colleagues and customers for 60+hrs per week must be the best training for sure.

Indeed. Foreign sumo wrestlers are another case in point. They become near native level speakers of Japanese in a matter of months.

Our translator tells me that most Japanese people are not particularly good at writing at length in Japanese, never mind in English, as this skill is not emphasized in education.

That’s the same way Japanese has been taught in the US/UK. I had to pay for my own Japanese conversation lessons because it was not part of my program in the US. When I was teaching in Britain, I tried to get writing included in our Japanese language program. All of the senior Brits opposed my proposal. They could not imagine a foreigner needing to be able to write Japanese even if they were working in Japan.

I ended up having to write a great amount in Japanese even though I had no training whatsoever.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Posted in: Nearly 50% of Japan's singles have no dating prospects: gov't survey See in context

I go with the financial resources part. Americans can get married at any time, despite how well heeled their would-be partner might be.

That’s not what data and survey research on the US shows. 

The average age at first marriage for US women is 27.4 years, 29.5 years for men. For Japan it’s 29.3 and 30.9. Not so different from the US and notably earlier than in the UK.

The US has seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of the adult population that has never married. Survey research indicates that financial insecurity is a major factor in this.

Overall, the US and a number of European countries are moving in the same direction as Japan.

There was a spate of news articles about changing marriage patterns in the US in 2017.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Posted in: X Japan’s Yoshiki apologizes for having dinner with Jackie Chan See in context

Didn't know Japanese people were so narrow-minded and mean-spirited to criticize someone for having dinner with a friend.

There are roughly 126 million Japanese. It is hardly surprising that in a population that large there are some narrowed minded people. Your phrasing makes it sound like all Japanese people are narrow-minded and mean-spirited.

Generalizing from the comments of a few Japanese on social media would be equivalent to Japanese generalizing about all foreigners on the basis of comments here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan offers most paid leave for fathers in world, but few take it See in context

Abe has made a career out of trotting out such proposals and catchphrases,

The paid leave for men and the push on guys getting involved in child rearing (ikumen) actually originated with the DPJ when it was in power. It is neither an Abe thing, nor originally a LDP thing.

Boy I wonder just how quickly they would fire my husband if he even tried to take the leave.

Depends on the company. Some PR-conscious companies are begging guys to take paternity leave. You don’t need to take the full term. It’s “up to” not all or nothing.

No father takes leave because they will be fired when they come back.

Untrue. It is extremely difficult to fire a regular employee in Japan. They are protected almost as well as civil servants.

Updoot, Savethegaijin, Disilllusioned, and anyone else with partners or who themselves aren't being treated according to the law, consider unionizing

Indeed, and you can do that because the right to form a union in Japan is, unlike the US, guaranteed in the Japanese constitution. You don’t have to win a representation election as in the US.

For some years I taught a course in Japanese to Japanese students on childcare in Japan 国際視野から見た日本の育児支援制度. As part of this course one subject I took up and that the students did presentations on was paternity leave in Japan and other countries. One fact that came out of this was that the Nordic countries that pioneered paternity leave initially had very low take up rates. It was only after they had taking leaving effectively compulsory that most fathers took it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Woman sues Japanese gov't for DNA data kept even after end of probe See in context

This looks like something very stupid, but there is nothing particularly noteworthy about Japanese police collecting and storing DNA samples even for the most minor "crimes." Some US states do it. UK law allows the police to take a DNA sample without your permission. These are stored in a national database.

Fine to criticise Japan where criticism is warranted. Not good to imply or state that something is a Japanese peculiarity when other major countries have the same thing.

Search on "collecting DNA from arrestees" to verify the above for yourself.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Posted in: S Korean parliament speaker apologizes for remarks on Japan emperor See in context

on a more serious note i think it's quite sad that the positive relations korea and japan were building were destroyed by abe the clown.

Exactly what did Abe do to produce the results you describe? He made a deal with Park on the comfort women. It's not his fault she was impeached.

Students coming to Japan from Korea have continued to increase. The 2017 - 2018 increase was 8.1%.


The number of tourists from Japan to Korea has continued to increase throughout Abe's tenure. This chart shows that diplomatic issues specifically tied to Abe have had no impact of Korean tourism to Japan.


Shin-Okubo was changing before Abe came along. Other Asians were displacing Koreans. A large fraction of the Korean establishments in Shin-Okubo catered to Korean businessmen spending corporate entertainment funds. They were not a basis for Japanese-Korean "communications."

Korean melodrama on television declined in popularity like other fads and because broadcasters looking for cheap time fillers saturated the market.

Tokyo is not a good place to judge Korean-Japanese tourism or Korean enclaves. Koreans have historically gone to cities in western Japan, especially Osaka and Fukuoka. Those cities are closer to Korea and have large Korean speaking populations.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to stiffen rules for foreign university student enrollment after 1,600 go AWOL See in context

This "university" is notorious. It has been in trouble numerous times in the past. The founder was convicted of predatory sexual harassment and served two years and ten months real jail time (not a suspend sentence). When he got out of the slammer, he received several big payouts from the "university" and returned to its board of directors.

I often cycle past its Oji "campus" which is a single building. I've never seen anyone going in or out, least of all anyone who looks like a student.

This link documents the charges against and criminal conviction of the founder.


The 不祥事 (scandals) section of the following item describes the many rule violations of this "university".

https:// https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/東京福祉大学

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: In historic first, G20 weighs aging as global risk See in context

Japan keeps on complaining about their aging population, but it’s not that unusual by global standards.

"Japan" does not complain about anything. Many Japanese are concerned about the ageing of the population. Those who are concerned are generally aware that this is happening elsewhere.

When I was teaching sociology to Japanese students, I had no trouble finding Japanese language newspaper articles and television items that gave very explicit and detailed comparisons of the ageing of the Japanese population rather to other economically advanced countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 71-year-old arrested over threat to attack 'noisy' kindergarteners See in context

When the issue of residents taking legal action to block a daycare centre in Japan came up a few years ago, I did some research and found that similar law suits occur in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand. Because such cases are local, they don't get attention in the national press, but with a little effort you can find them.

I would be most surprised if there are not old people complaining about the noise kids make in the countries I have mentioned. You won't read about it either because newspapers don't bother with such stories in the first place or because the news stays local.

Japanese news media regularly make national news stories out of things that would stay local in the US, the UK, etc.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Posted in: No. of newborns in Japan hits record low in 2018 See in context

The J-government should learn from France where the declining birthrate was addressed.

The French fertility rate has in fact been dropping slowly and at 1.87 is below replacement rate (2.1).


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Nissan CEO Saikawa got higher stock-linked bonus after payout date changed, Kelly says See in context

Saikawa may well be a scumbag but that by itself does not make Ghosn a saint.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan's detention center gives foreign media a look See in context

“It can't erase the fact that you aren't allowed a lawyer to advise you during interrogations”

This is standard in Europe including in France. Lawyers can attend interrogations but are required to keep silent.

“In Thailand, for example, suspects can be held in chains as they await trial.”

It is not unusual for suspects in the US to be shackled (chained) for court appearances.

Suspects in Japan are routinely questioned by prosecutors without a lawyer present and can be held up to 23 days per possible charge without possibility of bail. 

Rather better than France. British government advisories say you may be held as much as 24 months before going to trial. The same advisories say foreign nationals are almost never granted bail.

France is known for some of the worst prisons in Europe.


If Ghosn gets a conviction and a prison term from the charges Renault has been pushing, he will wish he was back in Japan.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Posted in: Japan's commercial whaling to restart July 1 after 3-decade hiatus See in context

Oh, yes it does, bullfighter. Norwegian and Icelandic whaling is huge black mark against both countries 

I forgot to mention Denmark.


Why are these kills such a big deal when done by Japanese but hardly mentioned when done by Europeans?

I don't support either Japanese or Europeans doing this but the gross disparity in news coverage looks very suspicious. Many more articles about Taiji in Japan than the Faroe Islands (Denmark) although both do essentially the same thing.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan's commercial whaling to restart July 1 after 3-decade hiatus See in context

Japan just keeps flushing its image down the toilet

Commercial whaling does not seem to flush the image of either Norway or Iceland down the toilet.

Can you explain why whaling will have such an effect on Japan when it does not appear to have that effect on either Norway or Iceland?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Labor minister opposes banning female dress codes with high heels See in context

I reread the Japanese language statement by the woman who originated the petition. She misinterpreted what happened in Britain. A parliamentary committee heard testimony on the high heels issue. It issued a recommendation. The government ignored the recommendation. The petitioner appears to have wrongly assumed that the government acted on the recommendation. It did not. This was widely reported in English but the petitioner seems to be relying only on Japanese language news coverage for what happened in Britain.

Similarly, many people commenting on this issue seem to be relying on a badly translated statement lifted out of context. Both Kyodo News and the Japan Times have a very poor record when it comes to controversial statements whether they were originally in Japanese or English. Whenever possible, I always look for and read a transcript in the original language of the press conference or Q&A that generated the quote.

I would advise others to do the same. Make your own judgement based on the original statement in context in the original language. Don't let others tell you what to think. (That includes me.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: France ready to cut Renault stake to shore up Nissan partnership: finance minister See in context

France is ready to consider paring back its 15-percent stake in Renault

Not obvious how this would help. Everything I've read would indicate that the big issue is that Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan with the stock have full voting rights while Nissan owns 15% of Renault with stock that has no voting rights.

Nissan contributes billions each year to the Renault bottom line. Renault contributes very little to the Nissan bottom line.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Online survey reveals what young Japanese people think about their country See in context

The murder rate per 100,000 is pretty much the same in Japan as all the other civilized countries.

This is a very valid point. The Japanese murder rate of 0.3 per 100,000 is indeed not exceptional among civilised countries. People from most European countries are not all that surprised by low murder and violent crime rates in Japan. It is mostly people from the US (4.7 per 100,000) who will be surprised and write about this in English, not people from Australia, Britain, or New Zealand.

It is however, worth noting, that while Australia, Britain, New Zealand, etc. have very low murder rates compared to the US to say nothing of Honduras (90.4), there murder rates are still 3-4 times those of Japan. Only Iceland, Singapore, and Lichtenstein are comparable to Japan.


4 ( +7 / -3 )

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