el comments

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 )

Posted in: Breast surgeon denies charge of licking unconscious patient’s breast See in context

Drug induced fantasy? Oh really? All women so want to have their breast licked that they think of this first thing after anesthesia? Give me a break

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Police offer ramen discounts to elderly as incentive not to drive See in context

Free public transport would help in the cities, but the problem is that public transport is very limited out in the country and so even that's not the whole answer. Also, some prefectures have had cognitive tests for a while and I've heard the elderly joke about passing them. They're not particularly rigorous.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Bitter lessons of Japan's 2011 tsunami put to use with latest quake See in context

The occurrence of earthquakes canNOT be predicted, aside from some warning from the initial motion waves - hence the quake warning system, which detects some of the first wave frequencies. But aside from that, no, quakes can't be predicted no matter what the Japanese government might hope.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Why I'm optimistic about Trump See in context

Nothing Trump has said or done since winning the election inspires confidence. A white supremacist on staff, a man rejected by a REPUBLICAN CONGRESS as too racist in charge of upholding the laws of the land, his kids on his transition staff, a man so thin-skinned that a rather polite criticism of his VP prompted a whiny little Twitter demand for an apology....and, most of all, why hasn't he denounced the hate crimes going on every day? Whether it's the racist/sexist/anti-LGBT color of his cabinet so far, sheer competence or lack thereof, or the threat of pretty unprecedented nepotism - nothing about his presidency looks good. So much hate has been stirred up by him over the last year that it'll take quite a while to die down. If it ever does.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Abe congratulates Trump; calls U.S., Japan 'unshakeable allies' See in context

The whole letter is pretty nauseating reading. The first paragraph is all about Abe telling Trump how smart and skilled he was, how he used that smarts to not only build a major business but MAKE A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE US ECONOMY, and how he could hardly wait to meet him.

He's rushing to New York next week to pay a visit. Can we say lap dog?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Disabled woman yelled at for using train’s priority seat, 'not looking like a handicapped person' See in context

I sometimes sit in the priority seats if they're the only empty ones, but I figure I'm morally obliged to get up if somebody who really needs them comes along, and I do. Once or twice I've been so dizzy on trains - due to illness - that I've had to crouch down on the floor to avoid passing out, but even if I'm in front of the priority seats, nobody ever offers.

As for Japanese people on the train showing support, I once bumped a young guy on the train in the morning and he started shouting at me. When I started to respond to him a woman sitting in front of my shook my head at ME to keep silent.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo governor race a fight to save reputation as 2020 Olympics host See in context

First, cabinet ministers aren't in their posts for life. Masuda was in the cabinet several governments ago. Is Ishihara Junior's current cabinet post any proof of "competence?" He's not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Masuda was also governor of Iwate for two terms, where he led quite competently. But he doesn't have the world's chattiest personality and yes, is kind of colorless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't employees to start work early, finish early in July, August See in context

I don't remember ever seeing on the news that this worked last year.

Daylight savings time or, more radically, changing Japanese time year round, would be a better bet. It's ridiculous to have it get light at 4:10 a.m. in the summer - and in the hottest days, this means the sun has already been up and heating the earth for three hours before most workdays/commuter days start. You can feel the difference; at the end of the summer, when the mornings are a little shorter, it's a bit cooler even if the day itself is hellish.

I know all the DST excuses but I've also heard that one reason is that Japan WAS on DST during the Occupation, and that this memory has informed Japanese thinking on the issue ever since. I've also heard that Japan is on a different timezone from the Asian continent because otherwise they'd be in the same time zone as China. But clearly it'd be much nicer to have summer sunrise around 5:30 and the sunset around 8:00, and that could be done by switching time zones. But it'll never happen (sigh)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: DPJ says Amari graft accusations more serious than previous Abe setbacks See in context

Abe has, until now, managed to bluff his way through various scandals pretty well. It's true they've been less potentially serious, and also involved lesser cabinet ministers. But do not underestimate his ability to tough things out until the press - which is getting tamer - drops it.

Warispeace, first of all, Edano belongs to the Democrats and they're not in power. So Abe's replacement would be from the LDP and there's a dearth of guys who they THINK have enough experience to be in power.

As for Edano lying about Fukushima, do you think an LDP government would have been any more honest at that point? LDP governments are the ones who CREATED the whole rotten system of nuclear power and let it be run as the companies wanted for years. They wouldn't have done anything different.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: 7 decades after WWII, many praise Germany, scorn Japan See in context

The reality is somewhere between the two poles. Yes, Germany has done a lot of education and facing up to the past - but in the late 1970s, when my brother was an exchange student in southern Germany, he had teachers in his school who insisted that nearby Dachau had been constructed by the Allies to make Germany look bad and the Holocaust was a lie. Germany also had neighbors that were willing to forgive, which is important. Europe has such a long history of fighting and fluid borders that attitudes were a bit different and people realized they had to bury some of the past to work together against the Soviet "threat." Asia has a different history that has hampered things.

Japan hasn't done as much teaching, it emphasizes the victim mentality way too much and people seem unable to separate themselves from the state that caused the trouble, making it hard to condemn the past. (I'm American, yet I have no trouble condemning the US behavior in Vietnam. The government actions are NOT ME. For some reason, Japan seems less able to do that.) Japanese leaders also have an amazing ability to do the wrong thing PR wise. Japan has made an extraordinary number of apologies, but then they go and visit Yasukuni, etc. So that overshadows the positive steps taken. Japan did commit atrocities and the colonization of Korea was quite nasty, but anti-Japanese sentiment is definitely a handy political tool for leaders in both nations.

As for Yasukuni/military cemeteries, I was actually rather shocked ten years ago when I visited Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns - very and overtly militaristic. If you come right down to it, there are probably some folks interred in Arlington who'd fit the definition of war criminals. I don't condone Yasukuni one bit, but it's interesting to realize the gap might not be as broad as everyone thinks.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Posted in: Father arrested after 4 children perish in Oita house fire See in context

We shouldn't be so fast to condemn him. He's quoted in Japanese media as saying "There's no mistake that I lit it" which could in fact be a really upset person referring to ACCIDENTALLY having set a fire or doing something dumb that set it off. Could even have been a dropped cigarette. The fact that he too was in the house and was injured suggests some huge, tragic mistake.

It could have been deliberate, of course, but I think there's still some room for doubt. Or he could be shielding somebody.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese man leaves $100,000 watch behind at Newark airport See in context

It's not jealousy at all, that is one gaudy watch. Has to belong to a yakuza.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Posted in: Abe pledges new 5-year plan to rebuild from 2011 disaster See in context

Not sure I understand the distinction between "those without homes" and "homeless." Oh, if you're thinking in the literal sense of homeless, that's true. But the "temporary housing" is just that, with a slight nuance in the kanji of "pretend housing."

Also, not everybody has the money to move on, even if they wanted to. They're elderly, or they have families, or they're still paying off loans from their destroyed houses, or...or...or...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Firebombing survivor fears Japan starting down road to war again See in context

The 200,000 estimates for Dresden were put forth by the Nazis and then the Russians, for propaganda purposes. There are a lot of numbers out there but most scholars agree around 25,000.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: Mother suffocates 4-month-old daughter to death See in context

"Her husband was away at work." How often did that happen? Sounds like post-natal depression. And before people say "why didn't she just get help?" just remember that it's hard to get help here and there's still a stigma to admitting to mental issues that prevents people from talking about it or seeking help. A public awareness campaign with hotline numbers might save a lot of lives.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Man arrested for abusing 4-month-old daughter See in context

This is not to excuse this inhumane, criminal behavior, but with so few psychological services available in Japan, and so few people knowing about what there is, it can be very hard for anybody to get help when they need it - which explains some of these cases, which may well be due to some kind of postpartum depression a lot of the time.

As for the mother, the husband might well be abusing her too. Or maybe there's drugs involved. Clearly some other issues at work here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Seasonal celebrations threatened by nationwide butter shortage See in context

I think this is BS and is being engineered by the butter makers to give them a reason to raise prices. The same thing happened a few years ago and lo and behold, butter makers raised their prices at the end and magically butter reappeared in the stores. My local supermarket has butter and so do convenience stores. And yes, I'm shocked that Christmas Cakes here actually use butter too!

5 ( +9 / -5 )

Posted in: Americans 'can't give in to hysteria or fear' over Ebola, says Obama See in context

Obama's response is making things partisan? I think Washington has been made partisan by the Republicans, who have done everything they could to block him at virtually every turn. Not surprising that he'd assign Democrats to roles in his Democratic administration - do Republicans have a lock on knowledge? Wow, they sure used their knowledge well after the Lehman shock and financial crisis.

There's no doubt the CDC has been messing things up pretty badly. I seem to recall some partisan politicians voted to cut the CDC budget? Gee, I think they may have been Republican.

4 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Expert says 2 Sendai reactors in danger from active volcano See in context

The Mount St Helens eruption began with steam venting two months before the major eruption. I don't know that there was any warning before that start to the eruptive activity. It may depend on the geology and perhaps this guy was referring to ALL eruptive activity rather than a major eruption. Also, there are lots of problems with Japan's monitoring system, including few staff and no centralized authority - unlike places like the U.S., Italy and even Indonesia and the Philippines.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe's wife tells U.S. audience about pain of political life See in context

Oh, barf, Women's "motherly instinct" is going to boost the Japanese economy? Everything she says in public on this issue is calibrated to fit the expectations of the old men who run Keidanren and Japan. Nothing she does is going to change any of Abe's right-wing beliefs and anybody who thinks it will is just letting themselves be hoodwinked by this man and his cronies.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: Abe says Japan will not restart nuclear plants unless safety is restored 100% See in context

Speaking to the West. He somehow seems to assume nobody in Japan will read what he says overseas.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: A year after winning Olympics, Tokyo faces hurdles in move from bid to build See in context

This is not especially new. Apparently there's a saying in Olympic circles that the "Olympic candidature documents are the greatest novel you will ever read." And this article didn't even get into Fukushima being "under control."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to resume Antarctic minke whale hunt despite ban See in context

Actually, there's a lot of misunderstanding out there about the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ruling (not really the UN, for one thing) - legally, the ruling was that there was not enough scientific evidence to back up Japan's PREVIOUS WHALING PLAN. That's all. Legally, it was not a "ban" no matter what sort of spin the world wants to put on it. So that Japan can in fact legally resubmit a NEW PLAN to the IWC this fall for approval or rejection.

This story is nothing new. Japan has been very clear that it intends to resubmit a new plan for its Antarctic hunt and that this season was just a break, not a halt. This story is exaggerating, too - the government has always been pro-whaling, it's nothing new. I'm not trying to white knight for Japan, just that if you study the actual International Court ruling it's very far from a ban. I don't believe Japan should be whaling, for a lot of reasons, but this particular ruling was not and is not a ban.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: Abe to reshuffle cabinet in bid to boost his agenda See in context

You're wrong, Rickyvee - the Socialists have had at least two female leaders, Mizuho Fukushima and Takako Doi.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Are Japanese growing less heat-resistant? See in context

It's hotter for sure and there's more concrete. But I also wonder if the number of people at hospitals for this has increased partly because there is so much emphasis and some is psychological?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Studio Ghibli co-founder considering closing production division See in context

If this is true, why aren't any of the major Japanese news outlets reporting it? They're usually all over Ghibli news like white on rice. Plus Suzuki hinted on NHK this morning that Miyazaki might even un-retire. "Considering" could mean anything. Smacks of PR to boost the latest film.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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