el comments

Posted in: Death toll rises to 56 as rain damage widens in southwest Japan See in context

These situations are far from ideal, but the problem is that a lot of these areas are isolated and largely rural - and while it may be hard to imagine from the comfort of cities, there aren't always hotels nearby, not even love hotels. There are always schools and/or community halls. I'm not sure any nation can manage to put up vast numbers of people in individual rooms during a disaster situation, which by its very nature tends to come on suddenly. Then there's the logistical challenge of moving vast numbers of people away from a dangerous location under conditions that may be dangerous in and of themselves. Also, a lot of these folks are older and may refuse to leave.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Koike to declare candidacy for re-election as Tokyo governor See in context

Are you kidding? How could the voters forget that she wanted the marathon (and other long-distance races) to be in Tokyo in the July/August sweltering heat? Athletes would have died! And then she refused to delay the Olympics until PM Abe stepped in to agree with the IOC to delay until next year. Can you imagine if the Olympics would have begun next month?

You have a very selective memory; ABE was no more eager than she to delay, the IOC completely forced his hand and he was only their mouthpiece. She wanted the marathon to STAY in Tokyo, a decision that was made behind her back by Mori et al (who really hate her guts), because that's where it should be, really. It's not her fault the 2020 Organizing Committee completely misrepresented Tokyo's weather in the summer and the IOC had a collective moment of stupidity. She wasn't even governor when the Olympics were won. So, blame her for all you want but don't blame her for these two things, they weren't her fault.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Virus travel bans separate families even as restrictions ease See in context

I also read somewhere about "vital" foreign trainees - ie as needed to work on fishing ships - being allowed into the country but subjected to the two weeks' quarantine. Whereas I as a permanent resident wouldn't even be allowed in. My mother is 85 and while she's very healthy right now, there are no guarantees she'll stay that way and I'd like to see her this year.

Meanwhile, I hear that when they loosen restrictions, business travelers will have priority. What a surprise. Whereas a 33-years-resident, paying taxes all the time, permanent resident still doesn't. Nice message for a country trying to lure foreign residents to bolster its labour supply.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe's virus-relief ¥100,000 cash program faces barrage of criticism See in context

The US response to the pandemic and the behavior of Trump is beyond belief and embarrassing. Yet I got my U.S. stimulus check in the mail the other day even though I live here in Japan, without doing anything at all, simply because I filed my tax forms last year. I have yet to receive either my Abenomasks or the application form from my city (no, I don't have the My Number card).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Express train knocks suicide jumper back onto platform, injuring 3 people See in context

This particular case is very sad and horrible, and Japan's suicide rate still remains much higher than it should, but the truth is that it's down by close to 30 percent over around 12 years, with suicides in all age groups except youths falling.


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Parents, teachers scramble to cope after Abe urges school shutdown See in context

Yes, closing the schools is a strange choice to make - but it allows Abe to look powerful and in charge, and nobody can complain about "for the sake of the children." Kids do not get the coronavirus as much. Meanwhile, teachers will still have to go to school....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Power line trouble seen as possible cause of Okinawa castle fire See in context

What I'm still struggling to understand is why there weren't better fire suppression measures in place. I understand that it was completely in line with regulations, and had sprinkler-type equipment on the outside walls, but it's hard to believe there wasn't more inside that could have prevented this, especially since it was rebuilt relatively recently.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Superfan' of Japan's royals has followed them for decades See in context

How is it all that different from a lot of other social activities? Some older people play gateball, she has an activity that requires physical movement AND she has friends she sees regularly; using the camera uses her brain and it's also a bit creative. As for the possible stalker-y aspects of it, stars (who are also followed by okkake) and, dare I say, even the imperial family rely on this sort of admiration/trust/whatever as part of the deal. You can't be revered if you aren't seen. It's symbiotic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Incoming emperor's life filled with breaks from tradition See in context

Well, okay, so they don't have to ride the trains and work eight-hour days and pay taxes. In that sense their life isn't tough. However, they have a pretty busy schedule of what we'd see as inane and boring duties - National Red Cross Association meetings, anybody? - and no freedom to go outside the palace, travel or do anything else. For a while, if Masako went out to visit an expensive restaurant she came in for really fierce criticism in the press. She was supposed to have a baby BOY and was pressured to do that, to such an extent she wasn't allowed to go overseas for a while "just in case" she was pregnant. When she and the Crown Prince went on a "family" visit to Holland she was criticized. Constantly in the spotlight. Nope, I think that's pretty tough myself.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Cafe opens with robot waiters remotely controlled by disabled people See in context

Rather than throw out patronizing sops like this, how about Japanese businesses and inventors work on ways to make it possible for the disabled to more easily get around and take part in society LIKE. EVERYBODY. ELSE. If these people are truly housebound, yes, this could be a step forward - but are they housebound because of the degree of their disability or because it's so hard to get around here in Japan and they face discouragement at the idea of working fulltime in companies and doing other things? This is the same society where a man in a wheelchair was recently told to stop drinking wine in a restaurant because of "safety issues." Maybe the woman shown on NHK last night doing this and saying it was "fun" might in fact want to be out and about doing more meaningful work, or just socializing with friends like anybody else? Somehow, this news makes me very sad

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Tokyo unscathed as weakening typhoon heads north See in context

The JMA doesn’t have size and intensity for 14 because it will be a tropical storm its whole life, at least given current international forecasts. And 14 is named “Yagi” internationally - yes, goat in Japanese.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo unscathed as weakening typhoon heads north See in context

The problem is that there's always a certain amount of storm movement that can't actually be predicted all that well - and the Japanese tendency to err on the side of caution, which has really increased since 3/11. As NHK news has as its brief a certain amount of civil defense activity, they virtually have no choice but to get hysterical.

A good counterpoint to the JMA and NHK is this site: www.tropicalstormrisk.com - which shows, among other things, when a typhoon has actually weakened to what the rest of the world considers a tropical storm.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Deaths from heatstroke quadruple to 96 people in July in Tokyo See in context

The last two summers have been relatively cool, and 2015 wasn't a killer either, though the humidity dragged on through September. 2013 was nasty. So was 2004.

I was looking up weather data last week going back to 1960 in connection with the Olympics opening and marathon days, and one of the biggest noticeable changes is that it doesn't cool off at night anymore. August 9, 1960, was 33.2 degrees but the low was around 22. Past 2000 especially, what you really notice is that the nights don't go down below 25 and often are higher.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan warns U.S. auto tariff would cost American jobs, damage world economy See in context

Wow, Nan Desu Ka, are you real? Given that one of Hillary's supposed downsides was that she "took speaking fees" from Goldman Sachs and other establishment financial firms, why should Trump's being a billionaire be any recommendation for what he can do for the US? Not to mention that it's not as if he worked for that - his Daddy got him set up with millions and a company that was already doing well. Given that he's had a couple of bankruptcies and we've never seen his tax forms, we have no idea if he actually is a billionaire or not. I'd rather have somebody who isn't a billionaire but still has some scraps of human decency in charge of the country. Never thought I'd say this but Trump makes George W Bush look good.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Ministers question fairness of bureaucrat's sexual harassment probe See in context

I don't know about this one. Why are they "out drinking" together? That doesn't seem professional on both sides. Reporters must maintain a distance between themselves and people and organizations they reporting on. Otherwise, fairness and objectivey are thrown out the window.

It's actually pretty standard practice for reporters and sources - which this guy, as a top MOF bureaucrat, was - to go out to meals and so on, so they can talk in a less formal setting. Also, this is how people leak things; they won't do that in their offices. In Japan, unsurprisingly, this also involves alcohol. Cultivating sources takes a long time and yes, building friendly relations is a big part of this.

Locker room banter?

Not unless "may I sleep with you" and "Can I touch your breasts?" are locker room banter.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Two medals and smiles for Muraoka at Pyeongchang See in context

NHK actually broadcast skiing live from Pyeongchang for several hours this afternoon, foregoing broadcasts of sumo for it, and also cover some on the regular news. I think they're doing rather well, considering.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Speedskater Takagi surges to mass start gold See in context

Screw that. Given all that Hanyu got through to win gold, I kind of liked his flourish leap to the podium. He deserved it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: 11 die in fire at Sapporo facility for people on welfare See in context

Other stories had more details, including that a good part of the residents were in their 50s. Since when is that elderly? Suggest real issue may be crappy support services to the poor - something that happens in many nations, including the US.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Flu epidemic rages in Japan with record-high number of cases reported in one week See in context

Your standard Japanese mask is of pretty dubious value, although I guess perhaps there's something to be said for the folks who wear them to warm up their noses/mouths and thus to perhaps create a slightly more "humid" personal atmosphere to ward off catching things. I did just see NHK recommend coughing into the elbow, and while NHK is God here I have yet to see one adult doing so....so many wear the masks and then cough any way they like.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Flu epidemic rages in Japan with record-high number of cases reported in one week See in context

You'll never train folks to cough into an elbow when they sit there wearing those stupid masks and coughing with no attempt to cover their mouth in ANY form. Plus the elbow cough doesn't seem widely known here period. I think a good ten percent of my office was in masks yesterday and several sounded horrible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Analysts expect Tokyo stock market to keep rising in 2018 See in context

The Nikkei doesn't move independently, it's all linked to the US market. Trump uncertainty will start kicking in and God only knows what will happen if there's war.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: 12-year-old boy questioned over knife attack on woman in Sapporo See in context

I hate to say this, but think what this guy could have done if he'd gotten his hands on a gun. There are weirdos like this in any society, but making it harder to get nasty weapons does help limit the toll.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Posted in: Trump says U.S., allies prepared to defend freedom See in context

WA4TKG, how do you get DISDAIN for the military out of this article? Just curious. As far as I can tell the only comments in there are by Trump himself.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Piko Taro to entertain Trump during Japan visit See in context

Credit to Abe for finding Trump's level

Finding it? He's already there himself. He never got along with Obama much because he knew Obama was way smarter.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Abe faces new challenge as he calls snap election See in context

Politics of fear, much like GW Bush in 2004. North Korea, for Abe, is the gift that keeps on giving.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't approves rule change to vary school summer holidays See in context

The guidelines will "allow" local BOEs to change things. That means it's not compulsory, therefore little will happen. Anyway, regions already do this - some Tohoku schools restart on August 18 and have a longer winter break. I haven't seen it make a damn bit of difference in crowding. The big issue is persuading companies to allow people to take vacation, period, and outside of Obon/Shogatsu for second.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Biologists call for urgent nationwide response to stop fire ant infestation See in context

I know from people who have lived in parts of the US with fire ants that they view this with foreboding. Yet, this seems to me like yet another Japanese government incidence of hysteria. Remember two or three years ago, they closed parks because of dengue-fever causing mosquitoes? The longer I live here, the more I think this entire country has generalized anxiety disorder. Given the prevalence of quakes, this is understandable. Yet the government and media take every possible chance to fan flames of worry. If it isn't fire ants, it's some new disease symptom you never noticed before, or tornado warnings, or high temperatures broadcast constantly on TV with warnings to drink water. Yes, I'm sure this is good overall, but. I'm willing to be wary in this case, but I also think it could also be yet another case of crying wolf.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: For the first time in 1,300 years, the Yamabushi open their doors to international visitors in search of self-discovery See in context

To add to that, it wasn't free back then either, but it was quite a minimal cost.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: For the first time in 1,300 years, the Yamabushi open their doors to international visitors in search of self-discovery See in context

I'm with Nan Ferra - it's the first time people are being charged (quite a lot) for the experience. I actually took part in one of the earliest tours, back in 1993, but it was only two or three days long. I assume this is a longer experience by the price. I sure hope so - the food (rice and miso shiru three times a day) certainly doesn't cost much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Woman jumps to her death at subway station in Tokyo See in context

Older folks here often commit suicide because of health problems and "not wanting to be a bother." It is very sad

8 ( +11 / -3 )

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