Japan Today

Jack comments

Posted in: A new bill currently being discussed in the Diet would give the government the authority to revoke the permanent residency status of foreigners who don't make the required payments into the country’s mandatory pension system. What do you think about this? See in context

There would need to be a transparent and multi-step process for this to be fair. I don't have an issue with it if there is repeated evasion and no intentions or actions to correct an outstanding tax compliance issue. On the other hand, there should be a process of really multiple notifications and remedial actions before taking such a powerful step.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: What do you think are the good and bad points of the health insurance system in Japan? See in context

The Japan system is good at providing broad access to the population at a reasonable cost and reasonable quality. It is very easy to sign up and to use. The care is overall decent and the insurance is accepted pretty much everywhere in Japan.

On the other hand, it is a common complaint that diagosis here could be better (e.g. it took me 5 doctors and a year of effort to get to a diagnosis and surgery; I diagnosed myself with google and was correct). Use of med tech is sparing and med tech is not as quickly/as much adopted as in certain other countries. Physio is behind other countries. Probably due to cost management, the techniques used are not always the most advanced (acceptable but not the latest), and certain quality of life issues are relatively more difficult to address here or need to be addressed outside the insurance system.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: What's your favorite convenience store brand in Japan? See in context

Really a tie for me between 7-11 and Family Mart.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: World's largest indoor Harry Potter theme park opens in Tokyo See in context

I live in the area. The workers - both Japanese and foreign workers largely from the UK - did a great job building the place and the surrounding area. The Seibu station has been totally upgraded and they built a very nice public park (no fee). The HP park is inside the public park.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: What do you think of "kei" cars which are popular in Japan? See in context

I mean...they are ok. Specifically for Japan. They don't meet safety standards in other large markets so they can't be sold outside Japan really (Indonesia has them I believe). They also don't really make profit for the automakers. I think it is sort of a way to make a large volume of domestic sales at an extremely thin profit and keep your brand out there and people employed. They do meet a need for a reasonable vehicle though.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: One in five Americans have had a family member killed by guns: survey See in context

I would like to see a pretty radical change in gun control in the US. That said, this survey doesn't pass the sniff test and I wouldn't be surprised if there are follow up to this. I looked at the methodology which shows they surveyed 1271 people - small for such a statement and geography and other factors matter. The same survey says that 38% of peope have either been threatened with a gun or have seen someone harmed by a gun. Like, no. Something is wrong with the sampling or methodology.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Posted in: 5 arrested over unauthorized cultivation of modified Japanese killifish See in context

Just don't start messing with wolverines. You know how well that goes...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: People in Japan vote for their favorite ramen chain, with surprising results See in context

They used to have these shows like "Top 100 Ramen". One time I watched one and went to maybe 20 places. My favorite place was like 30th but IMHO it's the best. : )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's births set to hit new all-time low below 800,000 in 2022 See in context

Politicians focus on financial subsidies because that is a tool they have. But I think it is really limited. I don't even think it is the work culture. I think that once your culture gets to a place where people don't want many children, you are basically going down this path of losing population (not just JP either). Several thousand dollars and/or free houikuen will blunt the impact, but it won't be the reason people will have babies. It's really more of a cultural phenomenon. Most likely, Japan is going to have to work hard on attracting immigrants who have a different mindset to shore up the population. I'm not saying I love the idea because it will be disruptive, but yeah...that's pretty much what needs to happen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Gov't ordered to pay ¥1.65 mil over death of Cameroon man in detention center See in context

Absolutely disgusting. The judge should have refused to accept that as a settlement. I'm not sure how arbitration works here. I was in a personal injury mediation in the US. The way you would calculate this would be in part to look at what that man would have earned over the course of his lifetime, which surely would have been more than $11K USD. I also don't know how you would bring this to trial in Japan but if it were brought to trial there would be the chance for punitive damages which could be very high to set an example.

Instead we have a pittance amount that neither deters nor compensates the family for their loss.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: Couples who divorced after decades of married life are at their highest rate since 1947, when statistics were first available, according to Japan health ministry data released on Aug 24. Why do you think this is? See in context

Some 15 years ago or so a law was changed so that wives would share in employee pension money despite divorce. Cultural acceptance is probably catching up -i.e.- not only is it more feasible financially now, it is also more acceptable to have a silver divorce.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: 'Star Wars' spy thriller 'Andor' explores galaxy's murky underworld See in context

Hmm...I'll wait for reviews. I'm not sure who they are making these shows for anymore. It's like Disney is exploring all these deep niche areas and spin offs of Star Wars. Feels a bit like beating a dead horse, but I guess there are fans that want to go deeper. I tried watchin Obi Wan with my son. Neither of us could get past the first episode.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: More foreign investors began looking for properties in Japan following the depreciation of the yen. Some are selling their properties at inflated prices by taking advantage of the weak yen. See in context

If they're foreign residents then they are not "taking advantage" of the weak yen by selling. They're trying to avoid losses because the properties, in terms of the currencies of their home countries, are worth a lot less than when they bought them.

Anyway, how can they "inflate" the selling prices of their properties? Wouldn't those prices be set by the market? If someone can tell how I can "inflate" the selling price of my home, I'm all ears.

Foreign investors (not necessarily residents according to the full article) are paying for Japanese properties using other currencies such as USD or RMB. In that way, Japanese properties have become relatively cheaper when you look at the price in your home currency. It's just an FX game..

Where the "inflation" comment comes in is that the demand for properties from foreign investors increases. Also, if you are connected to a real estate agent that sells properties to foreign investors you could raise your price knowing that a foreign investor isn't going to be bothered too much because the yen is so weak at this point.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: 72% of survey respondents say border controls reason for not visiting Japan See in context

It makes sense. If you are thinking of a vacation, you might say, "well, I'd like to go to Japan, but maybe once things settle down there; the entry rules are a hassle and cost money". My family came back to Japan from the USA last Friday. We spent over $800 on the PCR tests, plus our time, plus that MYSOS set up thing. The lab in Florida told us it's pretty much down to Japan and China for these tests/forms (I have no idea what China requires). And...I think I paid so much because no one else is requiring the tests now, so there aren't as many places that offer the same day or rapid tests and they can charge more.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: Japan eyes lifting of pre-departure COVID tests for inbound vaccinated travelers: media See in context

I know how bad this sounds, but ...can you wait for a couple of months? I just paid $825 for my family of 3 to get those silly tests. I don't think I could take it you removed the requirement next week.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Posted in: 60-year-old man arrested after scuffle in Sapporo supermarket See in context

Well it's sort of wrong all around. Over the years I've seen quite a bit of passive agressive "accidental" bumping and pushing. It's quite annoying. Not saying this was the case here, but the guy could have said "excuse me". OTOH, you can't just go around yanking people to the ground. I'm kind of surprised this is news though.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Do you think use-by dates on labels cause people to toss out food and drinks too soon? See in context

Not really, no. I would not want to go back in time to pre-safety regulations. As for the "best by" dates, those are a bit more debateable, but as someone who has tried a few items past date, there is typically a clear change in the quality level of the food.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan to foster startups by sending 1,000 people to Silicon Valley See in context

Well, I guess it can't hurt, but I don't know that it will have any great impact. If the objective is to encourage innovation then for Japan it might work better to send leaders or managers in established companies to get observe how innovation plays out in Silicon Valley unicorn companies and really any very innovative company. Just trying to increase startups in Japan, well, there are structural reasons why Japan doesn't have a great startup scene (not that it doesn't exist at all).

Some of those challenges are: a) not much of a culture of young people creating startups, b) companies have strict processes about their supplier businesses so for B2B it is really hard as a newly established company to become a supplier (seems like it almost doesn't matter what your value prop is) c) there's a sort of feudal system of big companies and suppliers and even if you do become a supplier they want to drive your margin really low d) it's hard to get investment money and e) big companies are happy to just take your idea and say they can do it themselves because they are full of engineers anyway and probably over-staffed f) Exits by M&A is way less common here. In the US you can have a little startup with some interesting but not profitable tech or proprietary content and you'll get "acqui-hired" in a small-scale acquisition. I don't think that really happens here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Do you think marriage will continue to be a key social institution in the future? See in context

Oh definitely as a key institution. The bigger questions I have are whether the trends of marrying later and the increasing % of never married/don't want to be married will continue and at what velocity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: The pandemic made all Kyoto’s strengths into weaknesses: culture, tourism and universities. Many citizens welcome the return of foreign visitors as the virus dies down. See in context

@albaleo - yeah that's a really good point. Now I can see how my comment hit a nerve. I am not a Kyoto resident. I do work in a tourist location in Tokyo. What I was trying to imply (clearly not very well) was that Japan's agenices could improve on their tourism strategy to be more sustainable and perhaps more evenly distributed. Not speaking of just Kyoto but nationally. I guess not everybody would agree with that either though.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: The pandemic made all Kyoto’s strengths into weaknesses: culture, tourism and universities. Many citizens welcome the return of foreign visitors as the virus dies down. See in context

I am not calling foreigners pollution, nor did I say that borders should be closed. The way that tourism played out here pre-pandemic was not ideal. This isn't a new idea or Japan-specific (although there is a Japanese term for it). Italy and Spain and other countries have had issues with over-tourism.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Posted in: The pandemic made all Kyoto’s strengths into weaknesses: culture, tourism and universities. Many citizens welcome the return of foreign visitors as the virus dies down. See in context

@Amanda - I've lived in Japan for 18 years. Child in regular public school. Homeowner. I pay my national pension (even made up the payments for when I was unemployed : ) So, your comment is neither nice nor accurate.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Posted in: The pandemic made all Kyoto’s strengths into weaknesses: culture, tourism and universities. Many citizens welcome the return of foreign visitors as the virus dies down. See in context

I just wonder if there is a better way. Did Kyoto's local government think of maybe diversifying the local economy while the money was flowing pre-pandemic? Is tourism pollution the only way?

As a longtime resident in Japan, I actually like it better without the big tourism strategy. I'm not looking forward to a return to that. I used to take a trip to Kyoto once every two years. After the big tourism strategy kicked in, I just stopped. Maybe I'll take the family before things get crazy again.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Posted in: China warns Kishida about amending Japan's constitution See in context

I find it incredibly hypocritical that China lectures western countries on "meddling", "interference", and "sovereign issues" on topics such as Taiwan, Ukraine, HK, and the South China Sea, and then turns around warns Japan about its own consititution.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: What issues do you think should be top priority for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida? See in context

Immigration/Population Decline - this needs a renewed look post-Covid. The 2019 plan never really launched properly and I'm not sure if it was the best approach to begin with. On a tangential note, rethink the tourism policy because I don't think anyone besides hotels really wants to go back to the hordes of 2019 tourists as a strategy.

Regional Development - with remote working there is an opportunity to reinvigorate and redevelop regional cities. There should be a plan to support decentralized work and incentives and guidance for companies to allow working from regional locations. For years there has been handwringing about the depopulation of regional areas and now we have a way to reverse that yet I see no signs of incentives.

Technology - where will Japan compete in the future? For as big as Automotive is here, I don't think of Japan as a leader in the next generation of cars - i.e. - AV/EV. Ditto AI. Biomed is reasonably strong and should continue to be a priority. Green tech maybe. Digitalization seems to be happening slowly.

International - supply chain strategy and stability.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: 'Sell premium' - Thailand discourages discounts, wants high value tourists See in context

I understand the idea. It's the whole "move up the value chain" kind of strategy. However, this is going to have to be very balanced. The Ministry should probably take a next step and try to figure out targets for Premium, Value, and Bargain tourism and then work towards those targets. E.g. we want Premium to be 30% of our tourism from the current X% by 2025.

The challenge is Thailand is known to be relatively inexpensive. I mean, if it is at Japan prices, maybe I just go to Okinawa. Or if I want SEA, I go to Vietnam instead. Or the Philippines.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: What do you think of the quality of education at international schools in Japan? See in context

I am keeping an open mind for the future, but our child is attending public elementary school and we are quite happy. We also send him 2x per week to a very small international school for phonics and English comp. That school uses American textbooks and workbooks which I really like. The combo seems to work well for us.

Why not send him to an international school full-time? We have several issues with this. It's not really financial. One thing is that schools in Tokyo seem to have an obsession with building "global citizens" and with the IB system. Well, I don't believe in global citizens (I don't think this is realistic). And IB seems to have an almost cultish following. I know two families that put their kids through international schools (with IB of course) and what I see as outcomes are that they are lovely kids with OK language skills who aren't exactly crushing it college and have had some cultural issues. Generally, I wonder if it is good for kids to grow in schools that are neither Japanese nor American (or Canadian or British, etc.) culturally. Whom can they relate to besides other international school kids in Japan?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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