Henny Penny comments

Posted in: Human pyramids continue in Kobe schools as injuries mount to 51; mayor’s pleas to stop unanswered See in context

These human pyramids, especially anything above three levels, is moronic and very dangerous. Kids have been paralyzed due to falls.

It is my understanding that public schools in Tokyo no longer do these. The Tokyo middle school my two boys attended stopped this quite early.

This should be a reminder that there is considerable regional and local variation in Japan.

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Posted in: Kansai Electric chairman resigns over gift scandal; president to follow after 3rd party report See in context

I have to agree the police should be hauling them off for 22 days of interrogation. And meanwhile Ghosn is still incarcerated....

(1) Why haul them in? They have already confessed in an extremely public venue. Why should the taxpayer house them for 22 days at public expense?

(2) Ghosn is not still incarcerated. He is out on bail.

Using the term bribery here is inappropriate. Bribery as the term is generally used involves an individual or a corporation giving something to a public official to gain favorable treatment.

This is a case of a public official giving something of value to employees of a private company.

Taking the gifts from the local official is certainly questionable behavior but whether it is bribery as legally defined is another issue.

I would also note that my father had a small construction company in the Chicago area. Everyone, and I mean everyone very literally, gave gifts. Nothing all that Japanese about this case. Gifts are the oil that lubricates a number of industries and not just in Japan.

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Posted in: Former education minister makes waves by linking same-sex marriage to revising constitution See in context

this ex-education minister is the same fool that wants to ban all humanities classes in Japanese universities because it does suit the Japanese education system.

The 2015 flap over a government directive allegedly calling for the abolition of social science and humanities in Japanese national universities (a small fraction of all Japanese universities) was totally fake news.

The alleged policy never existed and nothing happened.

This fake news is thoroughly debunked in chapter 7 of The Changing Face of Higher Education: Is There an International Crisis in the Humanities? (Taylor & Francis, London: 2018).

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Posted in: Abe pushes for serious debate on constitution as Diet session begins See in context

Put the amendment to the people so we can see Japan's true colors.

It is in fact required by the Constitution that amendments be put to the people.

ARTICLE 96. (1) Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such election as the Diet shall specify.

(2) Amendments when so ratified shall immediately be promulgated by the Emperor in the name of the people, as an integral part of this Constitution.


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Posted in: Man admits fatal abuse of 5-year-old stepdaughter See in context

"We live in a society of "spineless bureaucrats" because overall its a lot better than a society run by strong-arm bureaucrats." and that's they will never be leaders of the free, world.

Nonsense. Spend some time searching with Google. Easy enough to find comparable US/UK cases.

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Posted in: Foreign tourists in Kyoto reminded of etiquette via smartphones See in context

Italy is not only warning tourists about unacceptable behavior but fining or expelling them for it.



Many articles in English have appeared on this. I find it very odd that no one has mentioned the Italian case.

Why is it acceptable for Italy to police tourist behavior but unacceptable for Japan to do so. If there is any racism involved, it is on the part of those condemning Japan in this venue.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan's consumption tax raised to 10% amid swelling welfare costs See in context

VAT is 27% in Hungary, 25% in the Nordic countries, 20% in Britain and a number of other European countries. Five US states have sales tax rates over 9%. California has a 8.56 rate (some cities are higher) and a state income tax. Australia has a 10% VAT rate with some exceptions.

EU regulations do not allow listing the ex-VAT price so you are not constantly reminded how large the ripoff is.

People who think Japan has high tax rates have led a very sheltered life.

My disposable income in the UK would go up substantially if the VAT rate was only 10%.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Koizumi's 'sexy' words on climate change ring hollow for some in Japan See in context

Like father, like son. More style than substance.

It’s far too common in Japan to talk a lot and get nothing accomplished.

Hardly a Japanese peculiarity. Very few politicians deliver what they promise and the ones that deliver are usually dictators.

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Posted in: Prosecutors set April date for Ghosn hearings See in context

What a joke of a "justice" system. Too bad it won't change because Japanese people are intellectually lazy.

This comment is overtly racist. Why is it allowed under Japan Today guidelines on comments?

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Posted in: What to do if you are stopped by the police in Japan See in context

Only asked for ID 3 times in 20-plus years. In two of those cases, they were also stopping Japanese. From what young Japanese college students told me, the police are much more interested in Japanese teenagers and early 20s types who are dressed in punk styles.

I was once questioned as a possible witness in a double murder investigation. I was not asked for my ID. I guess the detective was more concerned with trying to find someone with information than whether a stray gaijin had the proper residency status.

I cycle all over hell and gone in Tokyo and get lost frequently. I'll sometimes ask for directions at at five or six koban. The only question I've been asked is "do you read kanji?" Answer is yes. Makes the cops happy because then they can write out directions for me in Japanese.

I've been a citizen for five full years. I've been very disappointed that no cop has asked for my gaijin card.

Some European countries have laws similar to Japan. When I lived in Britain before I had permanent residency, I had to register with the police. People from some countries still do.


Systems like that of Japan are not uncommon.

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Posted in: Nissan chief Saikawa to step down Sept 16; successor to be named See in context

Interesting that not a single person commenting here has mentioned the fact that the whistle blower was a foreign national. Both Japanese and foreign accounts have repeatedly noted this fact.


Those who see this as a Japanese vs gaijin thing have consistently ignored this as well as the fact that there have been Japanese busisnessmen and politicians who have spent far longer in pretrial detention than has Ghosn.

If anything, he has been getting somewhat lenient treatment as a foreign national.

I have never accepted the simplistic claim that Saikawa orchestrated the downfall of Ghosn. Saikawa was Ghosn's hand picked sock puppet. Any attack on Ghosn was bound to splatter back on Saikawa.

It is highly probable that the foreign whistle blower set the whole thing off with Saikawa forced to go along while trying to cover his backside.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Posted in: Gov't to use family name first in Roman alphabet in documents See in context

Hungary is a western country. Surname first is the convetion in Hungary.

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Posted in: Keikyu Line service resumes 2 days after fatal accident in Yokohama See in context

They guy was apparently stuck there for 20 minutes..

Trains on this line (I've ridden that stretch many times) are only minutes apart. He could not have been stuck there for 20 minutes without another train driver noticing this.

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Posted in: Sumo champ Hakuho gets Japanese citizenship See in context

But acquiring Japanese citizenship is relatively rare.

According to justice ministry data, about 1,000 foreign nationals annually have obtained a Japanese passport in recent years.

This claim is bogus on two counts.

(1) Applying for a passport is completely separate from acquiring Japanese nationality. You can acquire Japanese citizenship, but you do not have to acquire a Japanese passport.

(2) Acquiring Japanese citizenship is relatively common.

Last year 9,074 people acquired Japanese citizenship. In some recent years the figure has been over 17,000.


Japan has a relatively high rate of naturalization among large countries that are not immigrant based.

An excellent data source on how to apply can be found here:


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Posted in: Ghosn's lawyer says Tokyo prosecutors lack impartiality See in context

The French lawyer of former auto titan Carlos Ghosn, currently under house arrest in Tokyo, has attacked Japanese prosecutors for an alleged lack of impartiality and questioned how his client can receive a fair trial.

Why is this news? Lawyers are paid to defend their clients. It would be news if his lawyer said "I think the guy is guilty as sin."

His claims about the Japanese system are also bogus. The Japanese system is actually similar to the French system as was partially based on it. The British government publishes an advisory document for Brits busted in France.


A few quotes from it:

You can be remanded for periods varying from 4 months to 12 months at a time according to the charges and the seriousness of the offence.

The period between arrest and trial is often quite long and can vary greatly. From our experience a prisoner can remain on remand up to 24 months.

(Remand is a fancy word meaning locked up.)

However, because of the difficulty of guaranteeing that the accused will present themself for further investigation and trial if they are not a resident of France, foreigners charged with an offence are almost invariably placed on remand. 

(What this is saying is that if you are a foreign national, you are very unlikely to get bail.)

Commentators here who think Ghosn is getting a raw deal in Japan should read up on the French legal system and particularly French prisons (considered among the worst in Europe).

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Posted in: What motivates Japanese to move overseas? See in context

"Foreign nationals who find Japan more congenial than their home countries are far from unusual." And that's why the people on this forum never complain about life in Japan, right?

This forum is hardly representative of all English speaking foreign nationals let alone all foreign nationals in Japan.

Saying that there are foreign nationals who find life in Japan more congenial than their home countries is not the same as saying all foreigners find Japan congenial.

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Posted in: What motivates Japanese to move overseas? See in context

All countries that allow people to leave freely have citizens who find the grass greener somewhere else. For example, a number of American black writers including most notably James Baldwin found Europe, especially France more congenial than the United States.

Foreign nationals who find Japan more congenial than their home countries are far from unusual.

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Posted in: Japan’s problem with noise pollution See in context

"according to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, Japan is the noisiest country in the world."

The 2018 WHO report makes no reference whatsoever to Japan. It is not a report on actual noise levels but rather a recommendation for a noise limit in Europe based on examination of numerous studies (some Japanese) about the negative effects of noise.


It is entitled Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region (2018). Either the author or the academic she cites is taking the 53 dcb recommendation in this report and saying that because out of date noise limits (not data on actual noise levels) for Japan average 70 dcb "Japan is the noisiest country in the world."

Either the author did not understand (or read) the WHO report or she is deliberately misrepresenting its conents.

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Posted in: Estimates cast doubt over Japan's public pension sustainability See in context

"In Japan, adjustment in pension benefits and burdens has been lagging, while the overhaul of pension system has been left untouched," said Kazuhiko Nishizawa, social security expert at Japan Research Institute.

True, but this is a general pattern. I have pension income from the UK, the US, the state of California, and Japan. As a consequence, news articles about pensions anywhere catch my eye. Japan is far from being a basket case although it certainly does have problems. Some US states are already where Japan is projected to be decades in the future.

At least in Japan, the issue is getting top level government attention rather than being glossed over as has been done in some US states and some European countries.

Pensions in Japan are a politically sensitive topic.

They are everywhere. This is about as profound as saying water in Japan is wet.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Mongolian professor says Japan’s name for Mongolian barbecue, 'Genghis Khan,' is disrespectful See in context

"トルコ風呂”、”バカチャン”、など。。。Japanese abounds with words based on ethnic slurs and cultural misunderstanding.

Don't stop there. You've got me interested. More examples please. Growing up in an industrial city in the Chicago area, I learned a large number of ethnic slurs but I've always felt that the Japanese language did not begin to match American English in this regard. I'd love to be proven wrong and enrich my Japanese vocabulary in the process.

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Posted in: Hachimura, Japan's mixed-race basketball star who once 'hid from the world' See in context

"is raising the profile of biracial sportspeople in a homogeneous country where mixed-race children still face prejudice."

In other words, mixed race children do not face prejudice in countries that are not homogeneous?

SImply not true.

Search on mixed-race children us or mixed-race children uk and you will find that such kids do have problems in the US and the UK.

To cite one example that received some press attention, there is the case of Misty Copeland, the first mixed-race woman to make it big time as a ballet dancer in the US.



Misty Copeland is a 21st century American.

Non-white beauty contest winners in 21st century America have faced virulent racism.

And, of course, there is Barack Obama, a haafu in Japanese terms, who was (and is) the object of racist attacks in the US. Although he grew up mostly in Hawaii, just about the most hetrogenous state in the US, he experienced overt racism as a child, something he has spoken about.


It is one thing to describe Hachimura's experiences in Japan. It is something else again to imply that he could not have had similar experiences elsewhere.

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Posted in: In high-tech Japan, cash is still king See in context

Also you could force taxi drivers by law to accept another form of payment besides cash.

In Tokyo it would be difficult to find a taxi that does not accept credit cards or other forms of non-cash payment.

However, it is very difficult for a foreigner to get a Japanese credit card.

Not my experience. If I had taken and used every credit card that was offered to me before I had Japanese nationality, I’d be up to my eyebrows in debt. @Yubaru is spot on with his comments.

One reason the government is pushing for people to go cashless is also psychological. when people dont use cash they often "forget" how much money they are using, like with credit cards, they use the cards and dont really think they are using money, for the newbies at least, and people spend more.

Yet again @Yubaru is spot on with this comment.

Just spend 5 mns inside a Sainsbury or Tesco stores, chech how many people use the self service chech outs. Usually there's a massive queue waiting to pay by the cash registers, while the self pay machines gather dust

That’s been my experience as well. Very often the self-pay machines are not working.

Here in Japan, we still use FAX machines.

FAX is still widely used in the US/UK. In some business sectors FAX is the one legally accepted alternative to paper mail.

I have been doing research for an article about the advocacy of a “cashless” society in Japan. Some points from my research and UK experience.

Germany is also a major cash economy but gets little of the attention Japan does.


Small business in the UK is more than happy to take cash and will often given you a discount if you pay in cash. (5% in the case of my favorite Oxford B&B.)

Paying with plastic in the UK is usually slower than paying with cash, especially at supermarkets.

In a “cashless” society, you are in really deep trouble at least for some days, if you wallet or phone goes missing.

If the power/communications infrastructure goes down, cashless payments are impossible.

Paying with credit/debit cards (or phone equivalents) means that there is a record of everything you bought, when, and where. That record can be misused; that record will be misused. Electronic payment systems allow not only tracking but the possibility that your ability to spend can be revoked the way digital rights to books/music can be revoked by remote control.

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Posted in: Macron expected to raise Carlos Ghosn case with Abe at G7 See in context

Quite true, Japan’s conditions for the accused are harsher than other G7 nations, and is set up for the accuser not the accused.

Have you actually looked at the legal systems in G7 countries. I have. Two examples.

In Italy the police can detain you up to two yours without bringing charges.

In France foreign nationals typically spend an average of 18 months in detention awaiting trial. Foreign nationals are almost never released on bail.

I find it very tedious to read comments by people who clearly have not looked at how the US system works in practice to say nothing of the various European systems.


Criticism of Japan/Japanese should be based on knowledge, not prejudice.

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Posted in: Japan looks to encourage paternity leave by raising subsidies See in context

This is Japan. Nothing will ever come out of this.

Ridiculous and insulting comment. The US, for example, does not have mandatory maternity leave, let alone mandatory patrnity leave.


Japan may not be up to the standards of some countries, but it is well ahead of the single richest and most powerful country in the world.

We also have a proper national health insurance scheme, elder care insurance, nationally mandated daycare centers, and a range of other services that do not exist in the US.

This is slavery! Plain and simple! 

Use of this term in this context is inappropriate and grossly insulting to the millions who have suffered under real slavery.

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Posted in: Over 3 mil freelancers in Japan amid rise of flexible working styles See in context

Commentators here are right to question government use of "freelance" as described here. It looks like pasting a trendy label on diverse patterns, some of which have been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution. When I came to Japan in 1971 what this report is calling "freelance construction workers" were called "day laborers."

There is, however, nothing all that Japanese about what is described here. Similar patterns are found in the US and the UK. Blaming this on Abe is ridiculous and ahistorical. The legal changes that made it much easier for a wider range of companies to hire more temporary workers for a greater variety of jobs came during the Koizumi administration more than 15 years ago.

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Posted in: Pakistani, in Japan for 31 years, files lawsuit seeking special permission to remain See in context

When a Japanese government agency makes a decision (that involves foreigners) there is no emotion or compassion shown..

Japanese government agencies tend, in my experience, to cut a lot of slack for foreigners that they do not for Japanese citizens.

I have benefitted from this on numerous occasions, twice with immigration authorities.

Further, I have a comparative reference. I spent most of a decade in Britain as an invisible foreigner and had numerous opportunities to see how authorities dealt with foreign nationals. As in Japan, it is a mix of the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: Road rage suspect arrested after dashboard camera records assault See in context

I drove 1600klm on the east coast of Australia last week and did not see one road rage incident.

Perhaps you see in Japan what you want to see and ignore in Australia what you want to ignore. I read the Sydney Morning Herald on a daily basis. Road rage stories are not uncommon. Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to road rage stories. Incidents from Australia figure prominently in it.

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Posted in: Can Tokyo's efficient rail system handle Olympic strain? See in context

Show me any single place as nasty as this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwbPdF5dIgQ

The video is from 2008. The trains appear to be on the Seibu (private) system which has been very significantly upgraded since this video was made. (The video is probably older than 2008.)

You can see much worse on commuter lines in India.

That's a regular day. Now imagine thousands of spectators and thousands more tourists. Sure, 1% of company employees may be allowed to stay home and work.

As noted above, the video is more than a decade out of date. It apparently shows the morning rush into Tokyo from the suburbs. The tidal flow for Olympic events will be in a different direct and a different time.

The video also is clearly showing a winter scene. Heavy winter clothing causes additional crowding that is unlikely during the summer of 2020.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Heat on agenda again at newly-built Tokyo 2020 hockey venue See in context

I think that making forengers exhort themselves in abysmal conditions is a Japanese thing.

How many times does it have to be explained that the timing was decided in response to pressure from American television networks?

Saying this is a "Japanese thing" is an ethnic slur.

Further, 37 is not that bad. I've cycled 120 km in Japan (Tokyo - Kumagaya and back) when the temperature was at that level and I'm 72.

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Posted in: Tokyo 2020 paratriathlon test shortened due to bad water quality See in context

The Tokyo Olympics is set to become Abe's crowning glory. As a sort of symbol for his turning his country's economy around with Abenomics! (sarcasm)

The push for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics came from Ishihara Shintaro, not Abe.

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