kazungu comments

Posted in: Japan's population falls for 6th year; rise in foreign residents See in context

The short-term fix is to keep on raising the retirement age. I know it's not a pleasant thought, but this is what I think the government will do. In 2013 the official retirement age was 61. In 2016 it was raised to 62. By 2025 the government is expected to raise the retirement age to 65. Maybe by 2065 it will be 78 - who knows for sure, but the trend looks like the retirement age is raised by 1 year every 3 years.

In any case many senior citizens already are continuing to work after their official retirement age - for better or worse, depending on your point of view. But it seems many of these people do low-pay, part-time work. Personally, I think the government and companies should have beneficial policies that promote this post-retirement work, and at the same time promote immigration.

Diversity is a good thing. In Nature it is how species survive - they change and adapt. Yes, it's great that Japan has some unique characteristics - like having 4 seasons (just joking, please don't troll me). But having lived in other countries for many years, I do miss seeing the diversity I have seen elsewhere. It just makes life much more fun and interesting. Japanese culture is strong enough that people should not fear losing it.

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Posted in: All-you-can-drink whisky cocktails for Y100 at seafood restaurant with branches in Tokyo See in context

This is awesome. Although I can probably drink only about 2 of these before turning deep red and passing out. Still, the price is not bad.

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Posted in: Miyazaki mangoes sell for record Y400,000 at year's first auction See in context

I once paid 10,000 yen for a small melon - as a birthday gift. But this is ridiculous. I usually buy just bananas because they're relatively cheap.

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Posted in: Japan, U.S. to urge China to play bigger role in halting N Korea's nuclear arms program See in context

I would not be surprised if Trump sells out Japan and South Korea in order to appease China. After all, he has business interests in China. The Chinese know how this man thinks and behaves, and they can and will manipulate him.

I know many people are distrustful of Abe and do not want to see increased militarism in Japan - and I agree with them. But given the way the US is going, Japan needs to look out for itself. South Korea, too.

To continue to kowtow to the US could prove to be very costly to Japan. North Korea is unpredictable. Yes, they want nuclear weapons as a deterrent and to keep Kim Jong-un in power. But with nuclear weapons even a slight mistake could end disastrously. It will be pointless to say "I told you so" when nuclear or chemical missiles start hitting Japan.

The Chinese are playing a very dangerous game, as they could also end up in the cross-hairs of North Korea. But I think, as others here have said, that the calculation is they stand to gain much by enabling North Korea and then make deals with the US and others to "curb" their assistance to NK.

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Posted in: Potato chip shortage due to typhoon damage in Hokkaido See in context


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Posted in: Kishida, Tillerson to meet on Syria conflict N Korea threat See in context

I do not envy Kishida and Abe. They have to kowtow to the US while trying to get its uncertain and evidently incompetent help to stop or at least delay North Korea from developing ever more powerful nuclear missiles. Some estimates put NK reaching its goal of having reliable nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles by 2026.

Unfortunately, I do not think there are any good options. As long as China continues to support North Korea, the number of least bad options will continue to disappear. Eventually we are going to end up with only the really bad options remaining - e.g. when NK has the means to deliver nuclear war anywhere in the world.

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Posted in: Japan should push back against U.S. attack on yen policy, says Abe adviser See in context

It's pointless to try to explain financial concepts to DTJ. He's really not that smart.

But don't worry, Japan's not going to purposely sabotage its attempt to keep the Yen from rising. Abe may be many things, but he's not as dumb as DTJ. Abe knows that Japan's economy is headed for a disaster if it cannot increase inflation and GDP beyond their current rate.

The bad news is that Abenomics is not working. Radical labor reforms are needed - and no, asking businesses to voluntarily let employees off a couple of hours early one Friday each month is not enough. Immigration, too. I think eventually the government will come around to it. I just hope it will not be too late by then.

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Posted in: Revised law enables surprise inspection of nuclear plants See in context

Incredible! First, that until now there has not been such regulations, despite several nuclear power plant accidents since the mid-1970s. Second, that the new regulations will not go into effect until 2020.

Perhaps a more serious issue remains: Safety standards with regards to earthquake risk are still poor.

In 2015 Professor Katsuhiko Ishibahi of Kobe University warned that the NRA had approved the Sendai nuclear power plant by ignoring these earthquake risks. And in 1997 he wrote an article in Japan's Science Journal that exactly predicted the kind of disaster we saw at Fukushima in 2011.

(Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/01/national/nras-approval-sendai-nuclear-plant-ignores-nankai-quake-risk-seismologist-warns/)

All I can say is, glad I don't live in southern Kyushu anymore. Kyushu Electric will be the next TEPCO.

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Posted in: Abe rejects calls for minister to quit over Fukushima evacuee comments See in context

Agree with all the other commentators here. With his disgusting comments, Imamura has demonstrated that he is the wrong person to lead the reconstruction. It is laughable that he can still do his job "in good faith." The citizens of Fukushima are refugees not of their own making or choosing, and therefore both the government and TEPCO bear the full responsibility for helping them, including whatever it takes to ensure their physical and financial safety. Do your job LDP.

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Posted in: Do you think the United Nations is relevant in helping to solve global conflicts? See in context

@sangetsu03 ... Agree with you that many peacekeeping operations are flawed and some are a failure. UNISOM I, UNITAF, and UNISOM II all failed. AMISOM is not much better. I think there are two major reasons: (1) the leadership is inadequate at the UN/AU level, with an ineffective chain of command and conflicting mission mandates, and (2) many - though not all - of the troops are poorly trained, poorly equipped, or poorly led.

I also share your frustration. But unfortunately I do not see at this moment any viable alternative to the UN and its peacekeeping operations. I really wish there was one. AMISOM had some early successes but in the past couple of years has suffered a string of defeats from Al Shabaab. 2015 was a particularly bad year, with some bases overrun, troops and supplies captured, and some bases abandoned to the terrorists.

But there are some limited successes. UNMISS, despite many serious shortcomings, has saved lives since the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December 2013. JGSDF personnel - mainly a 350-person engineering unit - were in South Sudan for only a few years, and did not really engage in peacekeeping but rather infrastructure work. I think in the end this did not contributed to helping to stabilize the country.

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Posted in: Norway kicks off minke whale hunt, raising quota to 999 whales See in context

I'm against whaling, but here some facts to consider for both sides of the argument:

Both non-endangered and endangered species of whales are hunted by Iceland, Japan, and Norway. Minke whales, however, are not an endangered species. If Japan were to stop whaling, it would mean loss of jobs in the bureaucracy overseeing it. Consumption of whale meat in Japan is declining, now at 1% of what it was in the 1960s. In Japan the whale meat market is quite small (see below).

My guess is that by end of the century there will not be any consumption of whale meat in Japan.

Graph showing amount and price of whale meat sold in Japan (it is quite small): http://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2015/12/07/WHALEMEATCHART1-01_1.png

Graphs showing JPY/USD value of a whale: http://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2015/12/07/WHALEMeatCHART2-01_0.png

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Posted in: Australians warned of snakes, crocs and sharks in floods See in context

How does anybody survive in Australia? It sounds like a death trap. I would rather go to New Zealand. Ok, joking aside, I think Australians must be very tough people. But because I'm scared of poisonous animals and big predators, I really would rather go to NZ.

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Posted in: Toshiba execs under fire at shareholder meeting as loss forecast balloons See in context

In 2006 Toshiba paid 5.5 billion USD for Westinghouse. That investment is now worth negative 9 billion USD. This was supposed to have been the future of the company. Because Toshiba now has a negative net-worth, it has one year to turn things around or else be delisted from Tosho.

Investors therefore had very little choice but to approve the transfer of the company's memory business to Toshiba Memory Corp., in preparation for its sale. The spin-off business is expected to sell for between 13 to 18 billion USD. It is Toshiba's most valuable asset, generating more than 50% of company's overall operating profit.

In other words, Toshiba will return to profitability, but will be severely gutted. This, combined with accounting fraud going back to at least 2005 under former presidents Atsutoshi Nishida, Norio Sasaki, and Hisao Tanaka, has in essence wiped out all its shareholders' equity - expected to be valued at negative 1.35 billion USD or a loss of about 7 billion USD.

No wonder all these shareholders are pissed off. The resignation of Shigenori Shiga is not enough. The entire incompetent and deceitful board of directors and senior management need to go.

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Posted in: China says it hopes new Japanese carrier doesn't mark return to militarism See in context

Let's see, which is the bigger threat: A helicopter carrier that will initially carry 7 anti-submarine and 2 search-and-rescue helicopters (28 total) - basically a defensive platform - or an aircraft carrier that carries 24 J-15 fighter jets plus other aircraft (36 total) - a basically offensive platform?

Honestly, I had expected much more hostile words from the Chinese. But I guess even their propaganda people couldn't come up with anything that wouldn't sound so obviously ludicrous, when presented with the hard facts.

Interestingly, the Kaga costs about 1 billion USD while the Liaoning costs about 9 billion USD, so in terms of cost-vs-capacity, the Kaga is cheaper.

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Posted in: China overtakes Japan on S Koreans' worst countries list See in context

@Tokyo-Engr ... Agree with you. It may take another generation or two for S Korea and Japan to have a closer relationship.

Yes, there is the terrible history not just from the last century but a few previous centuries. But, as you say and I agree with you, China plays a (very) long game and their ultimate goal is regional domination.

It has always been this, until the incompetence of the late-period Qing dynasty in the 19th century that led to a rapid decline of centralized power within China and the lost of influence over Korea.

True, that influence shifted to Japan. But Japan itself has gone though a lot of changes and is now a peaceful democracy, unlike China - which hopefully one day will be one. Meaning now S Korea and Japan have more in common with each other, including preservation of their hard-earned democracies.

PS ... Given the current US administration, I just don't see how anyone can rely on them at this time. Sure, the alliance must be maintained, but best be better prepared just in case.

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Posted in: Ebino City in Miyazaki Prefecture releases promotional videos See in context

It's been many years since I last visited Ebino-shi. Nice that they are trying to promote the city, but the videos are so corny. Still, if it gets them attention ...

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Posted in: Abe battles scandal on two fronts as questions swirl See in context

Japan Times reports that Kagoike has been summoned to the Diet to testify under oath to both chambers. Kagoike has already said that Mizuho no Kuni received 1 million Yen under Abe's name. So if he says otherwise to the Diet, he risks perjury. I am willing to bet that Kagoike will confirm this donation under oath because he's not willing to take one for the team and go down alone. But that may be more a reflection of my distaste of the LDP, because the thought of Abe and his nationalism lording over it all through 2021 is too disturbing.

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Posted in: Tillerson in Japan See in context

@taj ... Right? What a mess. Tillerson is considered one of the few adults in Trump's administration - Mattis and McMaster being the other two - and yet he has no foreign policy or diplomacy experience. He does, however, have experience doing business deals with dictators, so perhaps he's thinking he can do the same with Kim Jong-un. Unfortunately for Tillerson, there is no oil and no money to negotiate on. As they say in the U.S., this is a whole different ball game.

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Posted in: Matsuya beef bowl chain begins offering low-carb meals with tofu instead of rice See in context

No rice? No thanks. Bad idea.

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Posted in: Japan to end 5-year peacekeeping mission in South Sudan See in context

@browny1 ... You're likely correct that part of the decision to pull out Japanese troops was due to domestic politics. Two observations/comments from me.

Firstly, I worked in South Sudan in 2013 - 2016, and saw Japanese troops in Juba doing mostly road construction in the city. Due to the insecurity outside of the capital, there isn't really any other tasks that these troops can do. They are not there to do peacekeeping, but to do infrastructure work. They do not have the weaponry to conduct any military operations, unlike other troops that are there specifically to do peacekeeping. Other countries have that task.

Secondly, the political, economic, and military situation in South Sudan is deteriorating. In December 2013 and July 2016, fighting occurred in Juba and UN troops were shown to be unable and unwilling to engage in combat. This is not mainly their fault, as they were not given the resources by their countries or the cooperation from the South Sudanese government to really conduct combat operations. In fact, UN troops were fired upon and killed by the South Sudanese military and militia.

Given both these things, I think it's actually smart for the Japanese government to pull out their troops. The longer they stay, the higher the chances that they will become casualties at some point. True, having Japanese troops injured or killed in South Sudan would be very bad for Abe. But it would also be a pointless waste of lives. The current humanitarian crisis there is due to the S. Sudan government's corruption and hostility against their own people. There is nothing that Japanese troops can do to fix that.

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Posted in: Q&A: The ruckus over Japan's military legislation See in context

I agree with lincolnman - collective defense is important. How many people know that Japanese troops have been operating in South Sudan for the past few years? Although they are non-combatants - the troops are engineers, and usually I saw them building roads - given the high insecurity in South Sudan, they can protect themselves - the troops are armed. But they cannot protect other UNMISS troops or civilians! In other words, if JSDF personnel in South Sudan see civilians being killed - including, by the way, Japanese citizens who work there - they cannot use deadly force to stop it. That is just plain crazy.

I understand the law is unconstitutional. And for that reason alone I disagree with the law - and the way the government forced it on people. So I think people should and must protest this. But I think also the constitution needs to be changed. If the U.S. can have amendments to their constitution, why can't Japan? I understand the fear of the right-wingers and militanism, but I think a careful amendment should still be possible.

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Posted in: Japanese travel guide for East Africa filled with thrilling tales of danger See in context

@ambrosia ... I like what you wrote. The stuff about Kenya in the above article made me laugh. Because I have been there a few times, including Nairobi and Maasai Mara, and, really, I have never seen any of the things the article mentioned. Have never been to Ethiopia or Tanzania, though. But have briefly been to Uganda - the whitewater rafting is fantastic and highly recommended.

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Posted in: What lessons do visitors take home from their time in Japan? See in context

@thkanner ... Spot on! I've lived in a few different places in Japan, from Kyushu to Hokkaido. And I totally agree with you, Tokyo is definitely not ideal for humans. Well, for short visits it's quite nice. But long-term it does really wear you down. Your observation about the difference in experiences of visitors versus those of expats is really the best point to make in response to this humorous travel article. A visitor, by virtue of his desire to enjoy his limited time in a place, sees only the surface and thinks it also represents what lies beneath. An expat, by virtue of his being able to look underneath the bonnet, sees lots more but sometimes gets fixated too much on either the positives or the negatives, and doesn't realize that there are still more layers below. Japan's definitely not an easy place to live and work. But then, which place is? To pass on the opportunity for cultural or language immersion, however, is rather unfortunate. After all, that is often the best part of traveling, even within Japan. Being able to enjoy eating big, fresh, juicy scallops and king crabs in the north or having hours of hilarity learning Kagoshima-ben while generously lubricated with shochu is, I think, one of the benefits of traveling in Japan. Helps to make you forget that tomorrow you go back to being a robot :)

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Posted in: SDF hopes people will answer call of duty (and cute anime girls) See in context


There is no way the leadership can think this is good for the military. Fine, SDF is not supposed to be an aggressor force. But military is still military - it exists to fight and kill. You don't defend the country by looking cute. You think the Mongols would have said, upon looking at the anime slogans, gee, maybe we shouldn't invade because those girls are so darn kawaii. Ok, the samurais didn't deter the Mongols either, but I'm sure if the banners had anime girls on them, the Mongols would have said, screw the typhoon, let's try again, those people are obviously in need of some real men.

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Posted in: Dressed to thrill See in context

What costume is the vice minister wearing? And why is he holding a Doraemon doll?

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Posted in: Business booming for yakiniku restaurants, but are customers chemically dependent on meat? See in context

I love both eel and beef. So if I can't get eel, I'd go for beef. To me, pork and chicken can't really be considered substitutes, since the tastes are all completely different. Well, I guess you can say the same thing about substituting beef for eel, but to me they are a bit closer in taste than pork or chicken - though of course not so close that beef can be really considered a substitute for eel. As for Matsura's theory, it sounds plausible. Wow, now I'm really hunger for eel. Or beef.

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Posted in: Newly married man learns wife is working at cabaret club; asks for advice on Internet See in context

Ok, I understand the husband is shocked because his wife lied to him. Otherwise, I think it's good she's working to earn some spending money. It's not clear (at least to me) from the story if her working at a Cabaret club is a problem for him.

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Posted in: Man demands divorce after his wife throws out his anime collection See in context

However, the next month, Maki's husband changed the bank account his company deposited money into and grabbed the family bankbook (a notebook used to record all transactions at the bank which also serves as a kind of ATM card) for himself. From then on, he declared, he'd be in charge of the family’s money.

That's where the husband did wrong. Otherwise, I think the wife is wrong.

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