Japan Today

DS comments

Posted in: Hillary Clinton healthy, quite wealthy: campaign statements See in context

It's hard to fathom that the Democrats have so few young, rising stars. Hillary is a classic "snout in the trough" politician, who claims to be able to govern a country with a multi-trillion dollar budget, when she hasn't so much as run a lemonade stand in her life. Sanders is refreshing, but another geriatric "yesterday's man" type. Are they REALLY the best the Democratic Party has to offer the nation?

The GOP, for their faults, at least have ideas. Also a strong crew of candidates with either real world or political executive experience.

Hillary has a rare combination of entitlement syndrome and persecution complex. Is it mere coincidence that her husband's speaking fees magically rose by 5 times once she became Sec.State/ President in Waiting?

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Posted in: South becomes battleground for Republicans See in context

As long as he loses the general election, I don't care about Idaho or Kansas.

No need to worry about the length of the primary fight. People have such short memories...... waaaaaaay back in 2008, Obama vs. Clinton/Edwards went on and on too. It was hardly a done deal.

Once Romney wins, he can concentrate on November and restoring a level of fiscal sanity to Washington.

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Posted in: Obama juggles need for campaign money, mass appeal See in context

There's no juggling. He'll get money from Wall Street and Hollywood as usual. Remember the 2008 campaign? Obama was the first candidate since the public funding system was created in 1976 to drop out of it. That was after, of course, he pledged to honor it....

Politics and money are not issues of one party or the other. Both are equally greedy and craven.

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Posted in: Some Japanese customs that may confuse foreigners See in context

The unique thing in Japan is the constant insecure navel gazing. I've never seen a country so fascinated with its own image and how others see it. Also so desperate to be unique...

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Posted in: Multiculturalism is a reality in the U.S.; it is accepted neither in theory nor in practice in Japan. See in context

Multiculturalism seems to work better if the host culture is strong enough and confident enough to promote itself first. Moving to a new country means that you should at least show passing interest in that country's culture and traditions. The US seems to be good at this- most people know what being "American" entails. Otherwise, there is the risk of diluting everything into a thin soup of cultural relativism.

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Posted in: Santorum: No apology needed for Koran burning See in context

Remember people, Islami violence is by no means limited to Afghanistan. In the Cartoon Controversy, violence reigned from Syria to Gaza to Pakistan. The irony was that the original cartoons (as published in Denmark) weren't even the ones that caused the uproar- the imams had to use fake cartoons to whip up the crowd.

Oh, and the newspaper that printed them also apologized. Didn't seem to do much good as the violence continued, including attacks on the artists.

Also lost in the issue is the allegation that prisoners themselves defaced the Korans first, using them to pass messages back and forth. That defacement is what prompted the burning. Perhaps the guards should have consulted someone as to the proper way to dispose of the books, but that is easy to say in hindsight.

So, it seems that apologies dont work, and that the violence will happen regardless.

Frankly, that place isn't worth another drop of blood or dollar of aid. Let them wallow in their medieval wasteland unhindered.

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Posted in: 14-year-old boy stabs mother after she confiscates video game See in context

I'm a dad with a teenage boy at home, and can't imagine the scenario in this story. My lad does play video games, but we have a few rules about them that we worked out together. Eg; no games at the dinner table, or when we go out for dinner. Everyone follows the same rule. Mommy and daddy don'T play with their smartphones or send mail, and neither does DSjr. I shake my head when I see families having dinner 'togehter'. Except the only thing together are their bodies. Kids are playing games, mom tapping on her phone, dad reading a friggin comic. Nice quality family time there...

I find that in general, the best way to discipline teens is to let them know clearly the rules beforehand, give them some feedback on what the rules are, and what the consequences are. Also, it's important to have a reward system in place too. Get good grades in school, get some cash and extra privileges. The carrot AND the stick are both needed.

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Posted in: Top court upholds death sentence for man who killed 2 when he was minor See in context

I don't understand the logic of 20 being the age of legal adulthood. People can drive a car, marry, join the military, get a job, etc. all before 20 years old. Does this mean that they are still children, but can drive/work/marry? It makes no sense at all.

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Posted in: Pachinko parlor in Hachioji robbed See in context

ALmost: you misunderstand. There IS no gambling at the pachinko parlour. You win the balls, and by amazing coincidence there happens to be a shop next door that COLLECTS little steel balls. They must sell them to a factory or something, but anyway they are always willing to pay a 'fair' price for them....

All you need to do to circumvent law is to add a middleman.

As to the robbery, all it means is that Kim Jong Un will have his Hennessy budget slightly decreased for a couple of weeks.

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

Things that strike me (sorry if they have been covered);

the deep desire for Japan as a country to be unique in the world (with the implication being better), while at the same time individual Japanese DON'T desire to be unique at all.

Navel gazing. THere are myriad TV shows and newspaper articles which ask just these kinds of questions: "what do foreigners think of Japan?". Seems insecure to me. I can't remember seeing the same kind of thing back home- a CBS or CBC show interviewing foreign people asking "what do you think of Canada/USA".

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Posted in: Romney mocks 'empty pomp' of Chinese VP's official visit See in context

Romney is right.

Communist China is a nasty, brutish, murderous dictatorship. It's humiliating to see a president kowtowing to them just so he can sell American debt, and finance his unsustainable government programmes. The Chinese are also known to be world leaders in pollution, theft of intellectual property, etc. Not nice people to deal with.

As for abortion, the law is settled and should remain that way. It's not a simple issue of rights, though. Anyone who is a parent can tell you that they have never used the word "fetus" to describe what the woman was carrying. "Honey, the fetus moved!" "Wow, you can see the fetus clearly on the ultrasound" "the fetus is really kicking today"

..... sorry, it just doesn't happen.

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Posted in: Noda urges Israel not to attack Iran See in context

I dont blame the Israelis at all. If I were in their shoes, I'd do the same thing. Iran having nukes is bad for everyone, not just Israel. I mean, we are talking about a country that is the size of Shikoku.... I understand their paranoia.

I mean, think about it. The day after Israeli independence was announced by the United Nations, it was assaulted by SIX neighbouring countries. Fought them off and has been fighting ever since. The Palestinians have been caught in the middle, but they are sadly used as pawns by their Arab 'brothers', They were displaced during the war, as were an equal number of Jews in Arab/Muslim lands. The result? Israel welcomed and assimilated the Jews who were forced out of their homelands. Palestinians were treated like scum by their co-religionists and fellow Arabs.

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Posted in: Noda to visit Okinawa Feb 26-27 See in context

Let Japan pay for its own defense. The military budget here is miniscule, and the ridiculous Article 9 hampers any attempts at realistic efforts. This is a dangerous neighbourhood- three nuclear powers just a stones' throw away. If Japan had any sense they would develop their own nuclear weapons capability post haste. Plus, increased military spending would be a welcome shot in the arm for the economy and industry here. A lot better than the useless infrastructure projects and trains to nowhere that are built with regularity.

As for Okinawa, if they don't want the Americans, then leave. Replace the Marines with JSDF forces instead. Everyone wins.

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Posted in: Two sisters, aged 5 and 3, perish in Tokyo fire See in context

Not sure what else to add. I'm a father too, and I couldn't imagine leaving my son home alone at that age for any length of time at all. Perhaps by age 10, but not before.

I see this accident as inevitble. This is the kind of parent who, if she DID take the kids, would have driven while they roamed around the car, or put them both on a rickety bicycle with no helmets. A disaster waiting to happen.

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Posted in: Austerity feeding public discontent in Europe See in context

Recipe for disaster, Greek style;

avoid paying taxes at all costs. Never mind the 'official' taxation rates are high, in reality you don't need to pay them. fail to reproduce, thus ensuring the pension system has no future contributors insist on retiring at 52 years old, and classifying jobs such as hairdresser as 'dangerous' spend more money than you take in for decades

None of these are problems of capitalism. They are problems of greed, laziness, self-entitlement, and reluctance to wean ones selves from the government teat.

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Posted in: White Sox give Fukudome one-year deal See in context

Man, that's chump change for MLB. I guess Fuku's stock has really fallen.

I'm surprised that no Japanese team has matched/beaten that offer. He was a star for Chunichi, and could still be a starter on most teams here. Hanshin, are you listening?!?!? Put Kanemoto out to pasture and pay for this guy!!

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Posted in: Top Republican wants vote on birth control mandate See in context

How about neither Nessie? It shouldnt be the government's business whether or not I have kids, use birth control, or fart in the bathtub. If people want to use contraception, they can. If their health plan pays for it, great. If not, it's available for cheap or for free anyway. Access is not an issue at all.

Also, one thing I still don' get is the discrimination aspect. Why are women's forms of contraception and abortoficients (sp) covered, but male contraception is not? Rubbers are expensive, but not covered. Gender based discrimination at its worst!

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Posted in: Top Republican wants vote on birth control mandate See in context

Birth control pills are cheap and readily available to those who want them. Free, in fact, in many places. There are myriad charities and groups to help. If you can't afford 10-15 bucks a month, you should keep your legs shut.

I dont mind public medical care, much like public education, fire/police service. Everyone should get a basic level of service. However, above and beyond that level let people decide for themselves whether or not they want more care.

This is an obvious political tactic by Obama, and is disappointing. I expected more from a candidate who advocated 'hope and change'. Does he really want the Catholic church to get out of the health care field. Do you? That would mean the closure of 500 hospitals, plus other services like adoption agencies. All to force a political agenda that nobody wanted in the first place.

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Posted in: Top Republican wants vote on birth control mandate See in context

I'm not sure where the idea that "contraception is a right" comes from. Not in any constitution I have ever seen. I have nothing against insurance companies offering plans that cover birth control, it isn't my business. But the government forcing it on people? A step too far. Plus, why are birth control pills covered, but condoms are not?

Those who want birth control and can afford it should pay for it themselves, or be part of a plan that offers it. For the poor, there are myriad sources of free/low cost contraception.

Again, the whole mess could by stopped by NOT tying health care to employment. Come to think of it the whole issue is a bit of a waste of time. Most Americans were happy with their health care when Obama took office,With the economy in tatters, it was a mistake to waste time and political capital solving a problem that wasn't a priority.

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Posted in: Police caution more than 10,000 in Tokyo for breaking new bicycle rules See in context

Around here, the 20th and 30th are enforcement days too, "zero no hi" they are called. Otherwise, you can do just about anything. I wish the cops would get tough on parents who dont strap their kids into car seats. That really bugs me. If I see one more granny sitting in the front passenger seat and holding a baby, I'll scream. Or a pack of kids roaming around the back of a moving station wagon....

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Posted in: Confrontation See in context

They're just whales.... why get so upset? Properly harvested, they could be a renewable source of protein. I dont advocate hunting them to extinction, but if there is a market for their meat, it should be exploited.

I'd respect SS more if they directed their efforts to helping people rather than animals. Perhaps provide education/training programmes for whalers so that they can make a living away from the hunt. But that would be less glamorous, and not as good for attracting funding.

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Posted in: Republicans pitch selves to conservative gathering See in context

I'm no fan of Santorum, but the fact is that he is a far more experienced and viable candidate for President than Barack Obama was back in 2007-8. If only Santorum were ethnic, he would sweep to victory.

SS; The US is NOT out of Iraq. Have you seen the plans for the new 'embassy"? It includes a staff of 16,000!! Gee, wonder who they are....

As for Afghanistan, there were about 33000 US troops there when Obama took office. Subseqently, that number reached over 100,000. It ...may... shrink back to Bush-era levels by 2013.

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Posted in: Obama compromises on birth control policy See in context


The powers given to Bush II have not contracted under the current President. To the contrary, Obama has expanded them into areas that are truly scary. Killing American citizens without trial, for example, when they did not pose any immediate threat to anyone.

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Posted in: Obama compromises on birth control policy See in context

Seems discriminatory to me. Why are women provided free contraception, yet men are not?

This shows the folly of government trying to get involved in health care, over a very basic level. Let people choose what they want. Let private charities fill in the gaps for optional, non essential products like birth control for those that cannot afford them. Tying health insurance to employers has always been a mistake IMHO.

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Posted in: Birth control row 'senseless': top Obama ally See in context

I'm not sure why birth control SHOULD be covered by national health insurance. If there is a medical necessity, then treat it like any other medication. Otherwise, if the reason is convenience, then there is no logical reason that birth control pills should be covered, yet condoms for example are not. Nor is (to my knowledge) Viagra or hair growth medicine. All are in the same category.

IF private insurance plans want to include it, that is their choice. but I see national care as more of "emergency care" than a total package for all potential medical/pharmaceutical situations.

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Posted in: Canada's use of torture data sparks outcry See in context


Luckily, Canada has both humanity/freedom AND a fiscally sound government. Thanks to Harper and also the work that Paul Martin did before him, at least as Finance Minister. Harper was elected, re-elected, and re-elected again, with ever increasing levels of support. Your use of the word "regime" is an obvious and somewhat biased attempt to mischaracterize the political reality in Canada. If I were to refer to the Obama presidency as "the Obama regime", I would rightly be criticized as needlessly antagonistic.

Canada is a remarkably free and humane country. The only assaults I can see on freedom these days come from the politically correct class who support the surpression of free speech under the guise of harm reduction or diversity. Yet those attempts are opposed by a broad coalition of freedom lovers from all parts of the political spectrum.

I DID enjoy your fearmongering though. It was amusing. I wasn't aware that the Conservative Party was Harper's. I was under the impression that it had been around for a lot longer. I seem to remember people like Diefenbaker also being "conservative". Perhaps I misremember though...

What specifically has Harper done that shows him to be "far right"?

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Posted in: Why do Japanese change their attitude when they communicate with foreigners? See in context

A big part of the 'problem' is that Japanese often don't know how to talk to each other. A great deal of initial conversation between strangers (if it occurs at all) is stilted and uncomfortable until they can feel each other out, get information on each other's rank, age, status, etc. Once that is accomplished, they can select the correct language to use (humble, polite, honorific, etc) and get on with things. If you take some time to observe how the Japanese interact with each other, you can see this process in action.

There is a lack of spontenaity (sp) in how things are done that seems alien to outsiders who are used to a different style of interaction. As others have said, ritual is important. In conversation, in manners, in how/where you sit, in how you deal with service personnel. It just isn't possible most of the time to have a casual chat with people you don't know- in line at the supermarket, on the train, etc.

What others have said about treatment of genuine visitors is true, though. When my parents (retired schoolteachers from Canada) visited, they were treated with amazing courtesy and hospitality whenever they were out and about. They had people physically guide them to their hotel when lost, translate menus in a bakery, and take them to the correct train platform. So, for people who are obviously totally outside 'the system', Japan can be very comfortable. But those of us who are somewhere in the middle- look like outsiders, but can function more or less as insiders- cause a mental disconnect that short-circuits the locals.

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Posted in: Canada's use of torture data sparks outcry See in context

Those of you who whine about Harper clearly are misinformed. He has been a pragmatist more than anything in his term in office. He's an economics wonk primarily, and has managed to guide Canada through the global finacial crisis relatively unscathed. We don't have a huge national debt, and the yearly budget deficit will be eliminated within two years. After that, the debt will start to decrease. What other countries can say the same?

As for torture, it helps to first define what that means. Sleep deprivation? Threats of violence? Secretly putting bacon in prisoners' food? Lack of allergen-free pillows? Exposure to 24 hour a day AKB 48?

Sorry, equating our side with the terrorists and head hackers who routinely abuse those in their control is ludicrous. Do you think THEY have these ethical discussions about how to behave? Do THEY attempt to put guidelines in place to minimize harm while at the same time extracting needed information? I think not.

We even have a case in Canada of a convicted terrorist and confessed murderer now being allowed BACK to our country from Gitmo. It makes me weep for the future of my country.

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Posted in: Romney wins big in Florida; tells Obama to get out of the way See in context

TTM. I think you need to find a newer Romney story, if the "dog on the roof" is the best you have. That was nearly 30 years ago. I find $7 million in charitable donations a little more recent and relevant.

Otherwise, I could rehash the stories about Obama discussing "the 57 states in the US", or Biden discussing how President Roosevelt "got on TV and addressed America" during the depression". But I won't.

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Posted in: Romney wins big in Florida; tells Obama to get out of the way See in context

TTM: Lack of altruism? You must be joking. His tax returns indicate that Mitt gave $7 MILLION to charity! How does that compare to his opponents in either party?

As for debating, you are falling into the trap of equating those who dont believe you with people who aren't smart. The two aren't the same. I don't agree with a lot of what Santorum or Bachmann say either, but that is different from disparaging their intelligence. Obama has proven himself a little thin-skinned. He had no leadership experience before being elected, so he wasn't used to making tough decisions. I think the two will put on some good performances leading up to the election.

My point about freedom is that freedom works both ways. Free to do, and alo free not to do. It's not "how I want freedom to work", it IS how freedom works. You gotta put up with things you disagree with or make you uncomfortable.

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