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jpn_guy comments

Posted in: Many Japanese defy appeals to stay home to curb virus See in context

@Burning Bush

"The individual choice, liberty and freedom path is the right one.Let people make their own choices.

People who want to stay at home because they fear the virus are absolutely free to do so".

I have seen you and other like you make versions of this argument in various articles on JT. "Let people have their choice". "Go out if you want". "Stay in if you want".

But there is a hole in this argument, is there not? Some people go out because they are medical workers. Some people go out because they are doing other essentials tasks. Some people go out because they need to feed themselves. If those who could simply stay in work from home and get by economically simply decide they are going to go out "because it is their right" then they are putting at greater risk all those who go out because they have not choice.

Was it you who posted elsewhere that if you want to have a party in the park with your friends you will? I can't remember. One posters was saying said that no-one should be able to stop you going out to party/picnic and that if others did not like it, well the others were free not to participate and stay in, just the same as the participants are free to go out.

Well, that's a bit dumb isn't? What if one of the party and passes it to his friend who then goes back home and give it to his family. What if that family member is a doctor or nurse?. Well now they've got it, haven't they, thanks to your party. People are now at risk of dying because of your "rights". Let's hope they find out they have it before they spread it among their colleagues and further reduce the number of available healthy medical staff.

Honestly, what kind of person thinks their right to go out and do what they like comes before the rights of other people not to have callous individuals get them infected with a deadly disease?

Your decision to prioritize your "rights" and do whatever you want directly affects others, sometimes fatally. I don't understand what is hard to understand about this.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: Guide to reduce virus risks issued for schools before reopening See in context

"The guidelines also request that students and staff avoid conversing with others at close quarters".

How is this possible in a classroom when the desks are about 50 cm apart.

I know Japanese teachers do a lot of teaching from the front of the room, but if the teacher wants to move among the class and check on the kids' work is she going to levitate?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Answering the tricky 'Where are you from?' question in Japan See in context

It provides a frame of reference in finding something out about other people.

If the above is TLDR, consider this. Why can the frame of reference not be that I have been a regular, honest, hard-working member of your society, just like you, for the past quarter of a century?

Why does your reference need to be a place I left decades ago and do not have a life in?

My life is here, can you not make that your reference point?

Again, the question itself is innocuous, but it often comes from a place of doubting certain people's qualifications as a paid up member of society.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is not the same for everyone.

But you cannot deny that there exist those who, on hearing your home country, reference everything back to that and have seemingly little interest in treating you as a regular member of the community (particularly the free English lesson seekers)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Answering the tricky 'Where are you from?' question in Japan See in context

"If someone says 'hey where are you from', and you get weird about it, you're the weird one here. Not the person asking".

Strangerland

The idea that "Where are you from?" is a tricky question seems almost ridiculous to me. Particularly in Japan.

Zones to Surf

These are interesting quotes. I agree to a point. The question is very innocuous and it is crazy to fly off the handle when asked it. I do think your responses lack a little nuanced understanding, though, for why the situation is not so simple.

I have found that answering with my home country, which I left more than 20 years ago and rarely visit, leads to people talking about that country and their experiences on holiday there or having met its people. Sometimes this talking points are based stereotypes, sometimes we might have an interesting conversation.

So I am not rejecting out of hand going down this conversational road.

The main problem, though, is what we miss out on in this situation. If the conversation can be steered on to other ground, which it often can, again, all is well and good.

However, I am sure that many non-Japanese people in Japan have experienced people who are determined to put non-Japanese people in a box, and want to talk about "foreigner" and "foreign" things, almost in denial that the person they are talking to has been an active member of the community in Japan for decades.

When our lives, both personal and professional, are based here, why are we constantly required to refer to ourselves in the context of a place we no longer live in in a way that denies our connection to the society we are currently part of?

People who are determined to press on in bad English. People who express ridiculous surprise when a non-Japanese looking face tries to discuss anything Japanese-related in any detail. People who cannot just relax and let a non-Japanese person join in whatever they are taking about without making a deal over their "foreigness".

Now "where are you from?" is clearly a simple question that should not be reacted to with vitriol or a "chip on your shoulder". Sometimes, though, after you've been asked, you just know where the conversation is going and what little box you are going to be categorized into.

I think it is this attitude, which is extremely widespread in Japan, that causes the backlash, rather than the innocent question itself.

Good luck integrating everybody (because if you can't it's clearly your fault for not doing it properly and absolutely nothing to do with the hurdles placed in your way by the attitude of many local people....)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Subway manners See in context

This is why context is everything.

By itself, it looks like only a serial complainer could find something wrong with this poster. But if you live in Japan, you will have noticed a trend that has emerged in recent years. Information on products is only sometimes, and not often, available in store in other languages. Likewise information on membership schemes, discounts, special offers, promotions, local events, coupons, or numerous schemes of various varieties that can make life more comfortable. Of course, this is Japan and we should learn Japanese, so the above is I guess not necessary.

But do you have advice on how to behave properly? A lesson in manners? A security notice telling people not to steal things? A notification that security cameras are watching you? Then, for some reason, the text is most often available in every language under the sun. I have seen the "shoplifting will be prosecuted" warning in everything from Vietnamese to Russian in the depths of the countryside where, by contrast, there is absolutlye no helpful information that could actually assist the non-Japanese speaker.

"Non-Japanese are immoral. Non-Japanese are not to be trusted. Non-Japanese are to be looked down on."

Of course, Japan is full of great people and not everyone thinks like this, but that message - the message that we not not customers or clients, but rather bothersome interlopers who need to be told how to behave - it comes across extremely clearly if you look at what kind of information is, and is not, rendered in foreign languages in public in Japan.

I notice this trend becoming more pronounced too. I wonder if any other readers agree with this? I would be happy to be told I have got this all wrong.

(Note that I am not saying there is never any helpful foreign language information ever, it is a matter of degree).

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: Department store reviews plan for staff to wear menstruation badges after outcry See in context

Thanks Dervish. Brevity not my strong point, unfortunately. It is a bit of a problem...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Department store reviews plan for staff to wear menstruation badges after outcry See in context

生理に対する理解を深めたい」と、若手女性社員から提案され

So let's set this straight, shall we?

As has been pointed out above by hiragino4410, this sentence in Japanese is 100% unambiguous and means that (the company is claiming) a young woman proposed the plan.

As far as the grammar of this sentence goes the 生理に対する理解を深めたい」と... part of the sentence can be translated as "in order to promote deeper understanding over [employees who have to work while suffering discomfort due to their] period"...

“と” , in this usage, links a reason with an action by a designated party, in this case the proposal.

The first part of the sentence before the “と” is complete and self-contained, setting out the reason for the proposal. When we get to 若手女性社員から提案され, the question of what is being proposed (the 提案)can only logically refer back to the original plan, and the sentence cannot be interpreted as an unrelated woman (who was not the proposer) simply making a comment about the system.

Consider the example sentence;

JPN: 若い人にもっと運動してもらうと、新しい体育館の建設が市から提案された。

ENG: In order to encourage young people to do more exercise, the city authorities proposed the construction of a new sports hall.

Now imagine that the entire topic of conversation is the new sports hall and everyone involves in the discussion shares that awareness. Then you can simply write

若い人にもっと運動してもらうと、市から提案された。

Even though the reference to the sports hall has been removed from the sentence, the English translation does not change.  Assuming we are still discussing the sports hall, the sentence has not become ambiguous nor is another interpretation is possible, even though the subject has gone completely.

If subjectless sentences like these are completely unambiguous, why do we see people complaining that subjectless sentences lead to ambiguity in Japanese?

To explain this, we can look at an example of where an ambiguity could actually occur using a subjectless construction when discussing a proposal. For example, if you had a sub proposal within a larger proposal, so you are literally discussing both in the same context, there would be room for confusion, depending on the details.

JPN: 新しい区画整理がはじまり、その一環として体育館の建設もすすめられている。

若い人にもっと運動してもらうと、市から発案された。

ENG: A new urban renewal program has begun including the construction of a sports hall.

The city came up with the idea [to build the sports hall] to promote exercise among young people.

The above is unambiguous.

However;

JPN: 新しい区画整理がはじまり、その一環として公園の建設もすすめられている。

町の魅力を向上させるため、市から発案された。

ENG: A new urban renewal program has begun including the construction of a park.

The city came up with the idea [of the urban renewal? of the park?} to improve the appeal of the city.

This one is a little more ambiguous (forgive the strained example, it is a little hard to think of these kind of sentences on the fly. Even here, the most natural interpretation probably leans towards the park as the subject).

Despite the slight potential for confusion when discussing nested topics, these constructions are a regular feature of written Japanese.

In complex topics and technical writing (such as patent applications) it is not a great idea to use constructions like this as they can be deliberately misread by people with malevolent intent.

However, where there is only one relatively simply topic, the

( [reason for action] と [details of action left out] [party taking action] [verb describing action] )

construction works quite nicely.

So, to return to the topic, a grammatical analysis reveals there is no potential whatsoever for ambiguity and the badge was (it is claimed) proposed by female staff.

Thanks if you made it this far!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Use of private English tests for university exams delayed after gaffe See in context

Japanese students of English (or any other foreign language) can't speak well because they possess a woefully inadequate vocabulary (yep, they don't read). It's a no brainer that people who are able to express their thoughts in writing will have no problem expressing themselves verbally.

This is exactly true. Many times, I have heard people saying Japan needs English conversation schools because, although people can read and write, they can't speak.

This is not true at all.

Sure, after six years of English, many Japanese people read and write better than they speak, but that is simply because they read poorly, write even worse, and can't speak at all.

So the "eikaiwa" approach is the wrong solution. As pointed out above, producing language in speech or writing has much in common. Someone who cannot produce original, grammatical written sentences fluidly, without taking 10 mins to write a very short paragraph, will struggle to speak. The reverse is also true. While speaking involves articulation and writing involves spelling, both skills have in common the requirement to combine, at speed, and without stopping to think explicitly about grammatical rules, smaller building blocks into larger units in order to express more complex thought. At least, that is the case is you want to speak or write like an adult.

Although we frequently here "Japanese people can read and write but not speak", how many people here with atrocious spoken English can put pen to paper and produce any sensible volume of text with at a sensible rate of production? Very few.

Again, as pointed out above, people don't read. Not magazines, not novels, not newspapers. They don't because they can't.

They cant' because the volume reading through junior high and high school, that should be preparing them to read by themselves, is miniscule. The vocabulary is artificially limited (in a misguided attempt to help), and, looking at the educational materials, the majority of the textbooks are devoted to explanations provided in Japanese and crazy exercises that destroy the integrity of the English flow; i.e sentences with blanks that need to be filled in, sentences in the wrong order that need to be reordered, paragraphs with a mixture of correct and incorrect grammar encouraging students to identify which is which, etc.. It just goes on and on in its ineffective glory.

There is almost anything but large volumes of intermediate (not advanced or deliberately complicated / deliberately confusing) text on relatable topics simply combining and recombing the simple basic structures that the students are trying to learn.

If you explain everything in Japanese, break up the flow of the English text, visually mix English and Japanese on the page, fail to provide enough English to get your teeth in to, fail to provide audio to listen to the English, and commit the myriad other mistakes English teaching in Japan suffers from, you will, as evidence down the years has shown, continue, year after year, to produce confused students with no listening ability or output capacity.

Advanced university level output can only be build on a foundation of massive intermediate input, combining various structures until they become second nature. One key element of practice is moving from basic through to intermediate conversation, just trying to use what you know without worrying too much about accuracy, until your listening ability reaches a point where you can imitate and rework what you here and can refine accuracy yourself by referring to what you can hear other people saying, rather than desperately trying mid conversation to recall grammatical rules.

Due to the terrible preparation they receive, 95% of people in Japan never reach this stage of self-monitoring and correction on the basis of listening to what native speakers are saying, and are forever stuck being unable to understand and imitate native speakers, producing either nothing at all, or very slow and painful production based on the above crazy strategy of trying to remember and use grammatical rules mid-conversation.

To prepare for and provide material for intermediate conversation, textbooks should feature masses of intermediate input combinations, repeating and combining the basic building blocks, not Japanese explanations of the same surrounded by short piecemeal text with blanks, bits missing, and pointless drills.

The whole approach to teaching English in Japan is ineffective. It does everything that is bad and nothing that is good. The result is generation after generation of people wasting their time.

The only people who emerge from the Japanese education system (and I include "eikaiwa" in that) with anything resembling the capacity for professional quality output (written or spoken) are all those who learned their English elsewhere.

And yet nothing changes. A ridiculous state of affairs.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: World Rugby to decide on Sunday games 'as soon as possible' after typhoon See in context

Yes, the typhoon cannot be helped.

Yes, maybe even the day after the typhoon their may be disruption and it may be unsafe for spectators to be wandering about. Ganbare Japan also makes a good point about police and emergency services being exhausted having worked through the night.

So just fly the teams down to Kyushu and play behind closed doors in the stadium they used today for the Ireland game. That could be organized in a New York minute, surely?

World Rugby, (not that you will be reading) why exactly can you not do this?

"Because they signed an agreement...."

That doesn't necessarily mean it is a good agreement though does it?

You are being ridiculous.

I would love Japan to win the whole tournament, but If Scotland are removed due to a 0-0 draw against a team they have never lost against in their history, then it puts a massive asterisk against the rest of the competition.

It makes it meaningless really. Why tune in to watch a competition when one of the teams have been randomly removed for non-sporting reasons?

If by some miracle, Japan then went all the way, it would also tarnish their achieved meant.

People saying that it is fair because Japan beat Ireland and Scotland did not are also not making sense. The issue is whether Japan can beat Scotland, surely. Four years ago, Japan threw everything at South Africa and won. We loved it. But did they have enough in the tank to repeat the performance and get through? They did not. History is repeating itself here. Japan threw everything at Ireland. Have they got enough gas left? You can't just let them breeze on through without stopping to find out. It is simply unsporting.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: World Rugby slams Scotland legal threat over typhoon-hit game See in context

Scotland did sign up to this 0-0 for 2 points rule before the WC, if they didn’t like it, why did they sign?

Because if they did not sign, they could not have played in the World Cup at all?

It is the textbook example of being forced to agree to something unreasonable under duress (rather like how the Olympics demand host countries change their laws to forbid all and any taxing of Olympic profits).

This does not make it right.

As other have pointed out, the typhoon has been known about for days. And everyone has also known since time immemorial that the whole of Japan cannot be hit be a typhoon at once. When the conditions are unplayable in Tokyo, there will be no typhoon in Kyushu and vice-versa. This knowledge should surely have been at the heart of the contingency plan.

these threats of legal action at this time kind of turn me off Scotland.

That is rather mean-spirited, I think.

The World Cup is every four years. For some players who were not picked four years ago and will not be picked in four years time, this tournament is the highlight of their professional lives.

Can you imagine that? The single biggest event of your career cancelled because someone could not be bothered to make proper arrangements?

And then you also have to deal criticizing you for complaining about massive damage to your sporting career?

Leaving aside the fans who will be inconvenienced no matter what is done (although to be fair a postponement of a few days rather than outright cancellations would at least allows some of them to make it), think about the players.

Is it really too hard to imagine that they would be absolutely bereft if they were sent home in circumstances like this? Think of your own professional life. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you react to similar sabotage of your professional opportunities?

(Also, saying this is the biggest typhoon for decades etc. etc. is just camouflage, since it looks this was the contingency plan, even for a much smaller typhoon).

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Posted in: Fans frustrated as typhoon disrupts World Cup See in context

What do you say to people who flew in (domestic or from abroad) or came in on Shinkansen to see the match, and have fixed tickets? Will the Rugby organisers pay their transport and hotel fees for extra days?

I agree it is not a perfect solution. But at least some of the people planning to see the match would have been able to watch i.e. those that were planning to be around anyway a few days after the game.

Canceling means no-one gets to see the game. So while, as you rightly point out, a postponement is not perfect, a cancellation is surely even worse.

Don't get me wrong, I like Japan and want them to win. I also think a little a little massaging of the schedule to help the home team is fine.

The tournament benefits from having the hosts in the later stages.

So I don't object to Japan getting a long rest between each scheduled fixture (tournament schedules always favor the host, it is natural). However, if you have already employed differential rest periods, it makes no sense to then use differential rest periods as an argument against rescheduling these typhoon-affected matches.

You can't use a certain strategy for one goal (maximizing host participation in the tournament) and then claim it is not fair the week after.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Fans frustrated as typhoon disrupts World Cup See in context

The inability to hold the games is scheduled cannot be helped, of course, given the danger.

But Japan is a very organized place - usually the day (or at least two days) after a typhoon the sun is shining, the trains are running and everyone is going about their business.

Can they not postpone a day or two?

Everyone knew it would be typhoon season.

We were told there were contingency plans.

This is the contingency plan?

Simply canceling games?

Maybe a straight cancellation fits the dictionary definition of "contingency plan", but I don't think this is what fans understood when they heard contingencies for typhoons would be in place.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Posted in: It's all Greek to Japan star Tamura at Rugby World Cup See in context

While this is an entertaining and light-hearted article, the idea that Leitch and Tamura cannot communicate is not true, surely?

Michael Leitch is a 31 year old Japanese man who has been living in Japan for 16 years since the age of 15.

While not a native born Japanese, he is Japanese none the less. His spoken Japanese is impeccable (as you would expect after going to school and spending half his life here).

He is regularly interviewed on live television in Japanese. I think he has spoken with the Prime Minister in Japanese numerous occasions. Why would he be speaking English to someone who does not understand it?

To write a headline "it's all Greek" and follow it with an article about two Japanese men who can obviously speak to each other in Japanese plays on the trope that non-Asian looking people can and never will understand Japanese, and by implication, don't really belong in a society that revolves around the language.

Labuschagné is a different matter, having taken advantage of the three year residency rule to represent Japan. As a thirty year old South African, who arrived three years ago, it would be surprising if he spoke great Japanese. This is nothing to do with non-Asians struggling to learn Japanese specifically, and everything to do with people in their late 20s struggling to pick up a new language anywhere.

Labuschagné and Leitch have completely different life stories. Please don't throw them in the same box non-Japanese speaking box just because they both look "foreign".

This is not to disparage Labuschagné either. He is just following the opportunities presented by the rules and it is great to have him on board.

In any case, the initial interview with Tamura in Japanese was referring to trouble speaking to Labuschagné specifically.

日本は主将のリーチマイケル(Michael Leitch)の他に、アイルランド戦とサモア戦はピーター・ラブスカフニ(Pieter Labuschagne)がゲームキャプテンを務め、PGの前に田村と長く話し込むことがあったが、田村本人が7日、その内幕を明かした。

I can see why one could get confused here by the roundabout sentence structure and lack of a subject before 話し込む (hanashikomu; speak to at length) but the above Japanese translates as follows:

"While Japan's squad captain (主将)Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne was on-field captain(ゲームキャプテン) against Samoa and Ireland. He [Labuschagne] had long discussions with Tamura prior to penalties. On October 7th, Tamura revealed what went down".

So let's please avoid contributing to the "only native born Japanese can ever truly understand the language" myth and give Leitch his due. Thank you.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: Supermarket throws away bench because of sales tax hike See in context

@fxgai -

You misunderstand this.

When kurisupisu writes "it is a most punitive tax on the poor", they are not saying "let's have no taxes because it hurts the poor" or whatever else you are trying to say in your comment.

The point is a problem with the consumption tax specifically.

Clearly, the poorer you are, the larger the percentage of your income goes on daily necessities like food, toothpaste and toilet paper, you know, the things all of us have to buy just to live, irrespective of our financial status.

A flat tax on daily necessities means that poorer people then pay a comparatively larger proportion of their income in tax. That is what is meant by "punitive tax on the poor". No-one is saying, as you seem to claim, "let's stop the government from collecting tax!"

It's clear if you think about it. A billionaire probably spends a fraction of 1% of their income on food (I mean the food needed for sustenance, not the luxury meals and champagne that they don't have to buy if they don't want to).

However, a quick Google shows that a poor family can spend anything up to 40% of their income on food. The percentage spent on food obviously rises because the total income is smaller. But we all need to eat to survive so the poor family cannot avoid these purchases (without stealing or receiving charity).

Clearly then, if there is a flat tax rate on daily necessities, the tax paid by poorer people (as a percentage of total income) rises too. As a result, the poor are being forced to give a larger proportion of their assets to the government than the rich.

This is the exact opposite of how we should organize society and taxation.

Think about income tax. The more you earn, the higher percentage you pay, as you move into a higher tax bracket. While there is argument over what the top rate should be, most sensible people agree that the system of progressively higher rates is fair (and necessary).

The above logic is why in the UK, Canada, and other more progressive nations, there is O% sales tax on food and other necessities, which is how it should be.

The LDP presumably feels guilty about this too which is why they are messing around with this 8% or 10% nonsense with complicated exemptions.

But even with the exemption, the 8% is still 8% more than it should be.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Users tell us they don't want their children to see tattoos. We don't want Japanese customers to leave us. See in context

Welcome to Japan!

Please spend your money, do exactly what we tell you, praise us for our politeness, and then go home.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Posted in: Court rejects damages suit over same-surname after marriage rule See in context

A number of posters mention last name issues for children of international marriages.

As a non-Japanese guy, there is a genuine argument for swallowing your pride over keeping your family name going and giving your children your wife's Japanese surname.

While in certain circumstances (assumed) English ability and international experience are advantageous, if you think that two resumes, one with a katakana surname and one with a kanji surname , get treated exactly the same in all lines of work and all places of business, you are not paying attention mate.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan fans explode with joy after Ireland upset See in context

I was cheering the Japanese team with my Japanese family and nearly shouted the house down on the interception at the end when Japan looked like running in a breakaway try. But my delight at Japan's victory does not mean I have to suspend my observations of reality.

Ganbare Japan writes "Rugby is extremely popular in Japan, especially at high school and University level', responding to a poster questioning the sport's popularity here.

This reply shows a lack of perspective. Yes, it is true that, within Japan, high school and university rugby make up a large proportion of the rugby played. But the overall pie is small and, from another perspective, the relative popularity of high school and university rugby is simply an indication of a failure to develop widespread adult popularity. The number of amateur rugby clubs (especially away from Tokyo) is absolutely tiny. As far as I know, there are exactly zero amateur rugby clubs for adults anywhere within around 50 or 60 miles of my town. This situation is replicated across the country. So to claim "rugby is extremely popular in Japan" is not actually true. Top league attendance figures are also way way below soccer and baseball.

In fact, in complete opposition to what Ganbare Japan writes, the Japan rugby authorities have been reflecting on their failure to galvanize support for the sport following the prior win over the Springboks four years ago. That is not my opinion, that is simply what the rugby association themselves are saying; they did not harness the momentum from that win to generate grassroots interest.

We can be delighted that Japan won without making up facts, surely?

It is also true that, before the tournament started and no-one knew how Japan would get on, the coverage in the media was nothing like what you would expect for an international event of this magnitude. Japanese TV shows, particularly the daytime magazine shows, are famous for given blanket, minutely detailed coverage to certain selected issues. The rugby world cup was not ignored, of course, but it did not, in advance, get this blanket media treatment at all. In fact, this was something else that the rugby authorities themselves were complaining about. In fact, in the run up to the opening ceremony, news of the event was scant, with one leading news item instead reporting on the keying of two dozen parked cars in a car park!

So it is not poor taste, I would say, to note that there is a significant component of "bandwagon jumping" going on here, as observed by one of the above posters. Of course it is natural that everyone gets excited at a surprise win, so it is not really a criticism to say that people are bandwagonning, simply an observation that before Japan won, lots of people were not paying attention to this event at all.

Would you not say that we can a better understanding of news and events when we do not simply cheerlead relentlessly irrespective of the facts? One of the problems with a mindset like that is that you can never look at anything objectively and think about possible solutions if you are, for whatever reason, ignoring reality in the first place.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Posted in: Stand and be delivered: Japan's evolving escalator etiquette See in context

Interesting that a sub-argument has developed over whether people say excuse me when trying to leave crowded trains or just push there way out, with one poster even going as far as to say that those who don't here "sumimasen" can't understand Japanese properly.

I have been here more than 20 years, use Japanese professionally every day, and can tell you that I have been pushed/shoved/elbowed in complete silence on trains in Tokyo on way more occasions that I can count.

Obviously, as some lines are ridiculously crowded, it is exhausting trying to say "sumimasen" to everyone, but it is bizarre to read some posters deny that this behavior happens at all.

Some people just have to jump on and deny anything that is even slightly critical of anything that happens in Japan. This is very odd.

Anyway, the silent pushing and shoving is certainly way ruder than you could get away with in many other countries.

This is the route of the escalator problem. Sometimes people, who are accustomed to silently pushing to get of trains, just try to push their way past someone on the "wrong side" of the escalator. That could be potentially fatal for someone who can only grip the handrail with one or other hand.

These are potentially serious incidents, but are infrequent. It seems like taking a mallet to crack a nut to get everyone to stop walking because of this. How about just telling people to stop silently pushing?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Financial watchdog probes Japan Post Insurance over fraudulent sales of insurance policies See in context

As other posters have suggested, the comparison between this case and Nissan is revealing. Admittedly, the title of this piece does correctly use the word "fraudulent", but look at the article where blatant criminal activity is described using as "mis-selling" "mismanagement" and "improper sales".

These are deliberate and egregious criminal acts designed to illegally boost profit at the expense of the victims of the scam. Why does the whole tone of the piece act like this is some sort of administrative error?

If you speak Japanese, you will know how the Japanese language coverage is even more evasive.

The contrast between media coverage of alleged crimes committed by those with establishment connections and alleged crimes committed by non-Japanese could not be greater.

All of this plays in to the myth that Japanese people are inherently morally superior to foreigners, contributing to the default assumption that, should trouble arise between a Japanese and a non-Japanese, the former is in the right and the later is in the wrong automatically, absent absolutely obvious, damning and unavoidable evidence.

In fact, even when such evidence is visible, the foreign may still be vilified as in the case of the former Olympus Chair Michael Woodford who was criticised for revealing wrongdoing by others.

People looking at Japan and its safe society from afar often wonder why so many foreigners who become fluent in Japanese appear to have sizable chips on their shoulder re: certain aspects of Japan.

They may wonder why some people on this board deny obvious truths like "Tokyo is a comparatively safe city".

The answer is that they are fed up to the back teeth with being told the world is divided into Japanese people and non-Japanese people, and the former are, as a matter of course, of nature and of DNA, more moral and upstanding than the later.

When you here this over and over again for decades, and see the media support that notion through loaded reporting such as the above, it eventually starts to grate, let's be honest.

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Posted in: Couple killed in car crash; wife's body taken to hospital 5 1/2 hours later See in context

RIP to this couple and condolences to their families.

While it is hard to believe that no-one noticed the lady in the passenger seat, I would agree with posters above that, rather than the failure to find the deceased, the bigger problem is the Japanese government's willingness to allow on the road cars so structurally deficient they basically pancake on impact with larger vehicles.

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Posted in: Weather watchers record 30 C at 6 a.m. at marathon starting point See in context

Interesting to see all the people logging on (many who are presumably Americans?) to call the Japanese organizers morons, either unaware or just not remembering that one major whole reason the Olympics have to be held in August is to satisfy the demand to maximize advertising revenue by holding the Olympics when it does not clash with the NBA, MLB and NFL (as well as EPL, UEFA and other competitions admittedly).

The IOC is a big driver of this but I would imagine the US broadcasters lobby quite heavily not to have the Olympics in the fall as it would hit them in their pockets too.

So while it is true that Japan lied in the bid about Tokyo's pleasant summer climate (or whatever the wording was), they are hamstrung with the August dates which are dictated by the IOC / broadcasters due to circumstances outside their control.

I might add that, whatever Japan claimed in the bid, it should not have been too hard for the bid committee to spend five seconds Googling Tokyo's actual climate.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

He wanted to build a theory of SLA based upon first language acquisition, which language researchers now realize is both inappropriate and simply wrong.

Yet we do not learn a new language unconsciously—the basis of Krashen’s personal theory.

This is too simplistic a rejection. Clearly an adult looking up a word in a dictionary is performing a conscious act. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Simple observation tells us that language usage is underpinned by unconscious processes.

If you summarize an hour long speech in your native language, do you remember the original speech word for word. Of course not! But can you summarize it? Of course you can. Do you have completely conscious awareness of how your brain has distilled the stream of speech you can not longer remember into ideas you can summarize? Is that process really conscious?

Why can an expert in a field learn a new word related to that field after hearing it once? Why does a native speaker with no conceptual network in the same field fail to "hold on" to the same word and repeatedly forget it? What is governing this association between semantic networks and phonological memory? Is that relationship conscious?

When you are in full flow at a dinner party in your native language, are you consciously recalling grammar points and usage rules as you speak? Is the control of your delivery conscious?

Since any truly proficient second language speaker can do all of the above iIt follows then that they must also be employing unconscious processes in their L2 usage.

The question (which I am sure you have already thought of) then becomes, to what extent are all the processes that allow us to employ the above unconscious processes themselves also unconscious?

I guess this is where the disagreement creeps in.

What do we require to do to kick the above unconscious processes into gear? Clearly, in the case of an adult, some of the work, like the above example of looking up words in a dictionary and learning basic grammar rules to even begin comprehending a text, is conscious. Attending and focusing on input is also conscious. But the end result of these conscious processes is an unconsciously controlled performance competence, as per the above examples.

Do conscious leargnig directly produce the unconscious competence?

Given the number of people who fail terribly in attempts to acquire a second language, I would argue not. There seems to be some interface in between.

I think that there must be unconscious neural reorganization processes preparing the way for the unconscious performance competence. Whether any given individual succeeds in achieving unconscious performance competence depends on whether their language learning method does or does not successfully provoke this reorganization.

Individuals who employ mass input methods appear very successful in provoking this reorganization (see Matt vs Japan as one anecdotal example)

Those who harness masses of comprehensive input can kick start the "language engine" that leads to the ability to perform the task above.

More importantly, masses of comprehensible input is the only input that feeds the unconscious brain reorganization processes required to produce the unconscious competence. That is why people who learn using inferior methods only achieve true competence after moving to and immersing in the target language. The methods they have initially used are not sufficient to start the engine running.

I don't think you can deny that learning a second language is a matter of acquiring unconsciously controlled performance competence, since no-one can speak while explicitly recalling all the rules.

Again simply observation tells us that language acquisition is, by definition, a process or "rewiring" the brain".

Krashen is correct to identify the 1) sequence masses of comprehensible input 2) provoking unconscious acquisition processes 3) leading to unconscious performance competence.

This applies to both L1 and L2 learners so I would argue that your blanket statement that "L2 acquisition is not the same as L1 acquisition" is not true, at least not at this level of abstraction.

You quote Schmidt's model as if it negates Krashen, but this is a misunderstanding. Schmit's model of attention and noticing is simply a prescriptive model of what you need to do to build and feed in comprehensive input in the first place. I don't think Krashen says that there is no need to even pay attention to the stimulus. That of course is a given. Suggesting that the comprehensible input theory means you do not have to interact with the input is a misunderstanding based on the theories association with unconscious learning. This happens later in the sequence.

For a child, the comprehensive input is situational and context driven. An adult, particularly learning alone or in isolation from the target language community, needs other means to build the comprehensible input (which must be audio if we are learn to speak).

As adults learn to read faster than they learn to listen and understand, bootstrapping listening ability from text you can already read (by looking up words and making sure you understand a text completely before listenig to it repeatedly) offers and accelerated way to generate the comprehensible input.

Clearly, this is qualitatively different from who children build their input, but once the input is in place and being fed into the engine, the way the brain reorganizes and labels the internal mental map of concepts using the information provided is substantially the same in the case of both children and adults.

This is the approach employed by lingq.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

@Byte Carp

If you can read a lot of Japanese already, but struggle with listening, you want transcripts with audio, lots of them. Go through the transcript to make sure you understand it all. Then listen while reading. Then remove the text. You can do this with multiple texts over months. There is no rush as the ability to comprehend the audio without the text takes a long time to take root. This method, as you can see, harnesses the principle of comprehensible listening, so you are never listening to what you don't understand. It works for all ages accept the under 12-13 age bracket, since of course kids of that age cannot learn to read faster than they can learn to interpret audio. However, anyone of any age (right into retirement age ) who can learn to read and interpret new vocabulary faster than they would be able learn and remember it purely by ear can benefit from the above "bootstrapping method".

The website lingq (which has a lot of extraneous features, like coins and avatars to appeal to kids - you can safely ignore these features) has reams of transcripts with accompanying audio for just the above kind of controlled "listen to what you can already read" listening immersion. It is based on principle of comprehensive input, so in that sense is a direct child of Dr. Krashen. There are texts (with parallel audio) for all levels of learner.

I've not used it for Japanese, but Japanese is one of the options. You need to pay for it though ( I won' write anymore in case this gets removed on suspicion of being an ad. I am not connected with the site).

Good luck then.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

The downvotes on the above comment are interesting.

Who really thinks it is actually a good idea to give children, who are already confused about the structure and usage of a language, multiple choice tests so that they spend a lot of time reading sentences that are grammatically incorrect (or incomplete in the case of fill in the blank type exercises).

(As I mentioned, let's hope this is not actually what will happen with the foreign kids learning Japanese. Maybe someone from the Ministry is reading this page and will heed this advice?)

Well, I guess since it is common practice in language education in Japan to perform all manner of tests using incomplete linguistic fragments, and these are techniques that have been used down the years to force millions of children to waste millions of hours, someone somewhere must think it is a good idea.

I've never heard anyone explain why though....

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

--although they can spout the elements of the Natural Order hypothesis, they simultaneously espouse the value of multiple-choice grammar questions that target, for example, the third-person singular 's' in the early years of L2 English learning

This is a very important point. Multiple choice questions by definition introduce children to (or at least encourage children to look at ) grammatically incorrect answers, "scrambling their input" as it were. They are numerous variations on this, such as reordering incorrectly ordered sentences and the like. There is so much to be gained from simply eliminating all such exercises and making sure a child only ever sees pure, unadulterated correct sentences.

Maybe the Ministry won't be testing foreign language learners of Japanese like this.

Maybe the above worries are completely unfounded and an institution that has absolutely no idea how to teach foreign language to its own citizens will suddenly start employing effective techniques when teaching its own language to foreign students.

With apologies for piggybacking on this post, seeing kids with an incomplete model of English struggle through testing that further confuses, rather than clarifies their internal model of the language is one of the reasons why I claim the Ministry of Education is in no position to be teaching language to anyone and has no idea what they are doing.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

If the above response is TLDR - here is the short version.

The above comment on the ministry's lack of understanding of language learning issues very much applies to late teenagers arriving with their parents and no Japanese ability.

They will have their confidence and ability absolutely destroyed by, for example, Japanese teachers trying to teach them detailed Japanese grammar points in bad Portuguese / Spanish / Chinese.

Perhaps I am completely wrong and that is not their approach.

But if the Ministry had knowledge on how to implement good monolingual instruction to older children, why would they no be applying that knowledge to the disastrous state of English teaching.

That is why the evidence suggests they are lacking in that knowledge.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

Speaking three foreign languages, I often get animated on this topic, so it is a shame that one poster reads a long (and what I thinks¥ is a well though out) contribution and their first response is to point out a single spelling mistake which I have corrected underneath anyway. (we could do with an edit function JT? )

Anyway, the above contribution is long, but everyone of these points applies to teaching Japanese to foreign kids in Japan, at least those over a certain age. I can imagine 14 to 15 year olds with no Japanese turning up with their parents, struggling, and the Ministry deciding they need, for example more grammatical explanation in their own language not less, as this is the approach they take with English.

I have not seen the details of this program, but if the training of teachers includes supplying more teachers who are proficient in the children's native language, then we will have a double-edged problem as the teachers will likely be terrible at the language they think they can use to help the kids, due to the above structural problems in the teaching of all foreign languages to Japanese people.

The basic experience of the Ministry of Education is grounded in teaching English. They have much more experience, in terms of years and numbers of students, than they do in teaching Japanese to foreigners. And they are making a complete mess of it.

It stands to reason they will have no idea what they are doing teaching Japanese (at least to older children) as the principles are the same. Why would a body that is so poor at guiding the teaching English suddenly start teaching foreign languages effectively just because the language has changed?

If the teaching is provided all in Japanese and targeting younger children who will learn a lot from non-structured immersion anyway, then perhaps some progress might get made (perhaps despite rather than because of the Ministry who I would not trust to oversees a decent curriculum, even one aimed at younger kids).

However, all evidence suggests that children, particularly older children, particularly those arriving with no Japanese ability in high school, will not be well served by Japan's bureaucrats.

If you doubt the deep structural problems of English language education in Japan are transferable to other language learning settings, see, for example, how much verbal Chinese ability the university students studying Chinese have.

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Posted in: We need to establish new qualifications for Japanese language teachers, ensure Japanese language classes are available in all parts of the country, and that there is cooperation between universities and companies to create and utilize educational programs for foreign students. See in context

As shonanbb, say, the work of Dr. Krashan is the way forward. Sadly, his influence is lacking in Japan.

The education ministry in Japan are the very last people in the world who can speak with any authority on language learning.

Language education in Japan is atrocious, focused on the study of rules (often arcane and complex) to the exclusion of large volumes of natural input. If you have smart people who cannot speak after 12+ years of study, clearly your method is wrong (I know we all know this).

Massive input based learning (as advocated by Dr. Krashan) is indeed the most effective way to learn a foreign language as a non-native non-child speaker.

The text books and lessons have way too much Japanese explanation. Each grammatical point is explained to death rather than acquired in context. Students go on to study more complex grammar before they can effectively use and combine the points they have already "learned". All this results in a discreet selection of unconnected explicit knowledge, which is of little use to anyone in the context of a normal conversation with a native speaker. The network of unconscious associations required to speak fluently simply does not kick into gear with the grammar translation method.

When students in Japan are taught a grammar point (often in isolation, and years after they have learned related points, meaning they have already forgotten then and therefore cannot combine the old and new, they learn with too few examples - there is not enough meat in the sandwich, through recombination and repetition, for students to get their teeth into.

Separately, people still spent too much time translating. To translate something, you need to understand it. If you already understand it, then translating it is wasting your time (it may provide a useful means for the teacher to check progress, but does not help the learner).

Further, no attempts are made to gradually contextualize listening. For example, you can start with something easy you can read, at first listen while reading at the same time, and only when you can go that gradually remove the text. Only as you learn to listen and understand with no effort and not text what you also read without effort should you then gradually move into "cold" listening. By cold listening, I mean where you are just hearing something for the first time and trying to figure it out. Too much cold listening is soul destroying. If you don't understand something, you can listen again and again. You won't magically understand it unless you work your way into the text as described above.

Almost as bad as the failure to avoid going straight to "cold" listening is the failure to do much listening at all.

Without listening practice, you might learn to say a few phrases, but you certainly won't understand the unscripted reply.

That is where the massive input comes in.

In short, everything that could be wrong with foreign language education in Japan is wrong (at least re: teaching English) and if the same lack of knowledge is applied to teaching Japanese, the result will be failure.

If you are interested in learning how to learn a language, go on you tube / search online for anti-moon ( a site by Polish people who became fluent in English), AJATT (All Japanese all the Time), Matt vs. Japan (which expands on AJATT), and Steve Kauffman (who runs the site lingq).

All of the above will help you far more with language learning than the Rosetta Stones, Duolingos and Berlitz's of this world. They will hopefully in years to come be regarded as pioneers in the development and expansion of Krashen's work.

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Posted in: Traffic reduction falls far short of target in Tokyo highway test See in context

This is planning that should have been done before the bid, surely.

Weren't the IOC sold on how compact and efficient everything was going to be?

And while we are on the subject of the bid's honesty, I seem to remember that there was a little something in there about “many days of mild and sunny weather,” providing “an ideal climate for athletes to perform at their best.”

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