kohakuebisu comments

Posted in: Never mind 'sekuhara' -- now Japan's got 'shokuhara' (eating harassment) See in context

There are far too many incidences of this to put it down to "bad apple" teachers. It is a systematic problem.

Someone needs to tell Japanese educators that the war is over and their job is to teach kids the alphabet. It is not their job to produce identical model citizens.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's 10-day break to fete new emperor may breathe life into economy See in context

I have to help clean out the irrigation channels in the local paddies on the second day. It's a neighbourhood duty. I don't think she's going to go, but my daughter has a club race slap bang in the middle. My son has one on the second last day, which I think he's going to go to, but is only a reserve and probably won't compete. That's just our experience, but I bet it is typical in the countryside for families with children. The only people with 10 days off are those with zero commitments.

Here's hoping there is some economic benefit though, and that the government sit up and take notice.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: About 70 Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine See in context

Just to further understanding and not promote any particular view, my advice to anyone interested in Yasukuni is to look up what "Class A" means. It may not be what you expect.

The assumption that Class A is automatically worse than Class B, which is worse than Class C is fundamentally incorrect. The word they should have used is "Type" not "Class". I doubt people would assume that Type A of something, here war crimes, is necessarily going to be worse than Type B.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Pile-up involving kindergarten bus, truck, cars, moped leaves 2 dead in Kumamoto See in context

Early signs are that the truck driver had a health problem, such as a stroke or heart attack. The police found him unconscious but with no external signs of injury.

RIP to the people involved.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Never mind 'sekuhara' -- now Japan's got 'shokuhara' (eating harassment) See in context

One of my children is a picky eater and struggles to finish the lunch every time. On top of having to sit there for the entire lunch period, the punishment is a "hanseibun", having to write a letter of contrition. This has happened multiple times. The lunches the article is talking about are elementary school lunches, which are usually very healthy, but that means a lot of the vegetables young kids don't always like to eat. Those little fish with the heads on as well.

Since we get a list of lunches, the kids get to dread what is coming days in advance. I bet some kids play sick and/or their parents keep them off if its piman day or whatever.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. to sanction 5 nations, including Japan, if they import Iranian oil See in context

China, SK, and Japan should collectively call the US' bluff on this.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

Posted in: Never mind 'sekuhara' -- now Japan's got 'shokuhara' (eating harassment) See in context

When meeting with student A's parents, her teacher was asked to explain why such strong importance was placed on finishing meals, but no clear explanation was forthcoming.

Basically because it's all about the kids shutting up and doing what they are told. The idea that everyone's appetite or sense of taste must be the same is idiotic.

All you need to stop waste is a compost heap. I bet lots of school kitchens don't compost their peelings.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Pop superstar Adele splits from husband See in context

To add to the list, the Marvin Gaye divorce album Here My Dear is killer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Celebration of Japan's new era big opportunity for businesses See in context

48000 does not get you an "all-inclusive" wedding ceremony.

It might get you a gaijin "priest" and use of a chapel for 20 minutes, but there are lots of other things to pay for.

If a dress and tux are included, they will be Mega Donki level.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: High school girl skirt lengths and hair fashions once again in a flux See in context

I wonder what it would take to change the fascination with high school girls. I think it's kimoi.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Suzuki recalls 2 mil vehicles in Japan over faulty data, improper inspections See in context

Fuel economy is one reason someone would choose one car over others. The car market is very competitive and every model has several very similar rivals. This means that faking fuel economy is effectively fraud. You can fix faulty brakes or redo an inspection, but you cannot rerun the customer's process of choosing the car.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Consumption tax hike may be delayed depending on June data: PM aide See in context

We have only two choices. To raise the consumer tax or cut welfare. Half of our national budget goes to welfare in Japan. People are living far longer than the government expected. I have to die soon to save the government and reduce the burden of the coming generations.

That's the crux of the matter. Rather than just parrot stuff about "bridges to nowhere", look up a pie chart of actual government spending. Most of the money is going on welfare, not on construction. The Olympics, maglev Shinkansen etc. do not help, but they are small beans compared to social spending. Either people pay more for medical costs, more for care homes, more for schools, more for daycares, or they pay more in taxes. While government debts are not household debts, the analogy is bogus since the government has a money printer, a large chunk of current tax intake simply goes on servicing the existing debt with no visible benefit to the taxpayer. This means that the debt is real and has a biting cost.

I write all of this as a socialist who is fundamentally against regressive taxes like this one. If there is blame, it should go on prior governments for running up huge debts instead of a sovereign wealth fund during the good times.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Expensive tissue paper at Osaka prison prompts human rights concern See in context

Talk about having a captive audience.

Japanese prisons are terrible, punishment only and no attempt at rehabilitation, and people fleecing the inmates makes them worse. It sounds like prisoners in the US were used (by a private company, of course) as frontline firefighters in the California wildfires last year for a few cents an hour, so it's not just Japan. All such profiteering from inmates is abhorrent. Prisons should be a necessary evil, not an easy business chance for the well connected.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Naomi Osaka among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People See in context

She's still young and her rise as a tennis player has been so meteoric that I think she should be allowed to play her game and settle into her new expectations before people project other stuff onto her.

The point about Haiti is well made though.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese museum show tries to clean up poop's image See in context

I thought this sounded okay and a laugh and then I saw the price. 1600 yen!

A poop exhibition that takes the pi....

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: University professor accused of getting students to produce MDMA See in context

I hope he got the students to stamp the pills with little Mitsubishi symbols.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Travel agents scramble to adjust itinerary of Golden Week tours to Paris after Notre Dame fire See in context

“I’m in shock and distressed.” 

Social media delivering a classic over-reaction again.

It is a beautiful cathedral, but there is still lots and lots to see in Paris. You can even, get this, just sit in a cafe and take in the atmosphere. Enjoy looking at streets full of preserved buildings etc. You learn little from just ticking sights off a list.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Posted in: Why does politics divide a country into "us" versus "them" (using the U.S. as an example)? Why can't people on both sides come together on issues to unify their country instead of dividing it? See in context

In the specific example of the US, it is because everything is divided into labels like conservative, liberal, Republican, and Democrat and then people are encouraged to simply follow the official party line without actually thinking about the issues and coming up with their own positions. You can be a Democrat and still hate Obama/Hillary/whoever's view on some thing or lots of things, you can be a Republican and not support Trump's or McCain's or whoever's views either.

I can't remember who, but some people did a voxpop on whether people supported an "Affordable Healthcare Act". Most passers-by said they did. The same people were asked if they supported "Obamacare". Most of them said "no". The "Affordable Healthcare Act" was "Obamacare".

While this has been going on for some time, it must be said that Trump refusing to engage and shouting down all criticism as "fake news" only makes things worse. We've seen "you are with us or against us" type binary nonsense from US politicians for years, but Trump is still worse.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: English level at Japan's secondary schools falls short of gov't target See in context

When will the government understand EIKEN or TOEIC or TOEFL are not English. 

I doubt the government cares about TOEIC or TOEFL. It does care about Eiken though, because it is a Japanese test run on commercial lines by amakudari. It is also designed so that people learning English the Japanese way can pass it, thereby validating the system.

The story talks of Japanese kids not hitting Eiken targets, but their TOEIC or TOEFL scores will be far worse.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: English level at Japan's secondary schools falls short of gov't target See in context

widely-used proficiency test called Eiken

Note that "widely-used" should not imply "good".

I would question the value of any test made up of multiple choice answers that sets a pass mark at around 60%. This means the student can get half the test right and randomly guess the rest. One in four on the remaining 50% gives 12.5% to get over the line. If you assume students can narrow questions down to two options, the number of questions they have to know falls further.

My own impression of Eiken tests is that the written part is unnecessarily complex in question format ("rearrange these words into a sentence and choose the second and fifth words") and focuses on archaic vocabulary, but the listening is ridiculously easy. I have seen strategy guides in Japanese that recommended aiming for 40% on the written paper, because 90% on the listening (by the same student) was achievable.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's alpine sightseeing route featuring snow walls opens See in context

As the article says, this draws thousands and thousands of tourists.

If going from the Omachi side, expect a mad scramble with tour groups to get on the buses/cable cars to get up there. It'll be worse at the weekends with backcountry skiers into the mix.

A decent chunk of that 16m is avalanche debris, so its not all snow that has accumulated or drifted at that spot.

By open to November 30th, they mean the series of electric buses and cable cars called the "Alpen Route" which crosses the Japan Alps. The snow walls will have melted by summer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: OECD says Japan's consumption tax rate should be more than doubled See in context

The famous Bismarck quote is "politics is the art of the possible", and more than doubling the consumption tax strikes me as impossible.

If this OECD statement is a roundabout way for saying Japan has been living beyond its means for far too long, then I agree with it. It is largely the fault of the boomer generation who lived in better economic times but did not save for the future. The demographic time bomb was obvious in the 1970s, so the country should have created a sovereign wealth fund, not a world-leading public debt to GDP ratio.

At the current state of play, the risk of course is that when the plates stop spinning, the yen will crash and all that imported food, energy, and raw materials the country depends on will skyrocket in price. People may not like the idea of 20% shouhizei, but they wouldn't like gasoline at 300 yen a litre, milk at 300 yen a litre, and a small gyudon at 600 yen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Gov't asks public to check hospital schedules before 10-day holiday See in context

This ultimately highlights the foolishness of giving people all the same holidays in the form of national holidays.

They should halve the number of national holidays and simply enforce the labour law that states workers get paid holidays.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Once you enter the real world, you will encounter blatant sexual discrimination. Unfortunately, the University of Tokyo is no exception. See in context

This sure beats the platitudes I've heard at entrance ceremonies, albeit only for elementary and JHS so far.

fwiw, I suspect any young woman going to Todai will probably have encountered sexual discrimination already.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: New women-only gym in Tokyo offers free all-you-can-eat donuts and other sweets to members See in context

Dunno if this will actually get punters, but it's a sure-fire winner in how to play Sora News and social media.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Toyota sees new opportunities in leveraging hybrid tech See in context

The THS hybrid system in the Prius and other Toyota cars is fantastic. It is well in advance of the hybrid systems used by other makers, like Honda and Subaru. The hybrid XV made by Subaru gets barely any fuel economy boost over the regular model in real world conditions. It is a complete waste of time.

I don't know if licensing like this is the right move for Toyota, but it is a great system and will reduce the pollution created by other manufacturers' cars. The main thing that has stopped hybrids being popular in Europe has been diesels, ultimately a step backwards because they are a huge cause of localized PM and NOx pollution in built-up areas (we own a diesel CX-5 ourselves, but live in the sparsely populated Japanese countryside). More hybrids would therefore be a blessing in Europe. Hybrids themselves may ultimately only have a limited lifespan once battery technology improves and/or people grow to care less about the range of all-electric cars, but for the time being, they are great cars in 2019.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Retiring late: More Japanese opt to prolong employment See in context

As Reckless points out, a decent number of these 60 year olds have benefitted from lifetime employment, i.e., they have had 35 years of unsackable employment regardless of their ability, and will be on far higher pay than younger staff who may only be on a contract or may be simple arbeiters with no benefits and no job security. Forcing companies to keep older staff on on senior level pay regardless of ability will just mean companies squeeze their younger staff more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan's working population drops further See in context

It is a common mistake, but Japan's fertility rate has not been falling for the past twenty years. For the last ten years or so, it has been rising. The big fall was in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then it has been low (but not necessarily falling.


The reason this matters is that 21st Century explanations, waiting lists for childcare etc., are insufficient to account for something that has been happening since the 1970s. The fall in birthrate happened during the Bubble economy, so it's not strictly how rich or poor people feel either.

Most of Japan's farmers may be over 65, but most of those are/were only part timers. Japan has been holding out against the First World trend of farms being incorporated into every larger units for economies of scale. There aren't many advanced countries now where a dairy farmer can have 30 cows or a grain farmer can have a couple of acres. That is simply too inefficient.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Amazon Japan raises Prime membership fee for first time in 11 years See in context

The video is very very limited compared to the UK but the free shipping is good.

For people like us in inaka, I suspect it is more eco for delivery companies to bring stuff to us than for us to drive to the shops to buy it. For communities and the local economy, the latter is better of course.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's working population drops further See in context

They may not qualify as the "working population" due to age, but a lot of the 65s and over will still be working.

Demographics are easy to predict, so are a good test of whether a government is planning for the future or merely sticking its head in the sand.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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