mikeylikesit comments

Posted in: 1-year-old girl killed in 3-car crash in Shiga See in context

Eventually, Japan will learn that child seats matter. Sadly, it's probably going to take hundreds more dead young children like this little girl before parents (and grandparents) start to change their behavior.

The police could do their part by consistently enforcing child seat laws. Police cars drive past cars with kids loose and standing on seats all the time, and the police do nothing.

Japan has flashy campaigns for so many things, but I've seen relatively little effort to encourage car seat use. There's sometimes a fear about shaming people, but that may be exactly what's needed to force change.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan population declines at fastest pace to 124.8 million: gov't See in context

Immigration is the only solution. Even the stubborn Japanese government have realized this fact of life. I think the only way for Japan to remain competitive and ahead of China is by becoming more diverse, which is the only think China doesn't have at the moment. Diversity is strength. Nobody can deny this.

On one hand, you declare that diversity is strength, and on the other hand you declare that Japan is falling behind China. Which is it? One of those two claims must be false because China is actively, aggressively stamping out diversity. If what you say about diversity is true, then China could not possibly be growing stronger.

One look at GDP trends over the last 30 years shows plainly that China has surged past Japan, so maybe the "everybody knows" about diversity is really just a smokescreen for "my ideological preference is." Everybody doesn't know that. Vast numbers of people disagree. History, too, shows that areas with the greatest diversity and largest movements of people also tend to be flashpoints for wars.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Russell says Abrams' new 'Star Wars' script made her cry See in context

All of the recent Star Wars scripts have made fans cry...and none in a good way.

It's good that Disney has killed off all the characters that ever mattered because at least they can't defile those characters anymore. I suppose they can wee-wee on their graves some if they want to be gratuitous, but it seems Disney mostly just wants to forget the old Star Wars history entirely, recreate the franchise with all new characters, and then do whatever they want with it.

Given that they've brought in Abrams, maybe they are looking for him to do a Star Trek: use time travel to radically disrupt a moment in the Star Wars past so that none of the original Star Wars movies ever happened. That leaves them free to go back to the original characters using different actors and rewrite the history in a new timeline.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese businesses see economy peaking out, want more stimulus See in context

Japan has been in a contracting economy for over two decades. Various economic stimuli attempt to mask this, but they do not change the underlying economic reality.

If business models are now built around the expectation of a government stimulus every time the economy gets rocky or the last stimulus wears off, then there is nothing healthy whatsoever about the Japanese economy.

Japan wants to use monetary inflation to dig the country out of its debt hole and economic slump. It largely hasn't worked. Wages haven't risen enough, and spending hasn't increased enough. People either don't have money to spend or else aren't willing to spend it because they have no confidence in the government social safety net.

What Japan needs is greater creativity and innovation, higher productivity, and more wealth creation. The perpetual economic stimulus state of the last two or three decades hasn't delivered.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Game of Thrones' author George R. R. Martin is collaborating on a Japanese video game See in context

The fat man will do anything and everything these days, so long as it keeps him from having to write. How many years overdue is his latest book now? I remember a few years ago when Martin announced a delay to his penultimate book, a friend said something to the effect, "At least it will be out next year, before the TV show finishes." "Wanna bet?" I said, and I predicted that the TV show would wrap up at least a year before Martin finishes writing, if he ever does. TV show is done, and still no book.

Martin did well imagining an interesting world and cultures in that world, but he wrote himself into a hole. Too many perspective characters and too much nihilism toward virtue has left him no direction to write toward an ending. The TV producers shoehorned an ending onto the story, but they'd already streamlined much of the story prior to that. Even then, they had to flip the entire storytelling perspective to a psychological one, which Martin's novels and the early seasons of the TV show don't use. The story reached an ending, but not a convincing or satisfying one. Martin is struggling with an even bigger task wrapping up the novels, and each book has taken him progressively longer to write. He seems unable to find a clear way to an ending, and each book is taking longer and longer to get out. Martin is almost certain to die before the last book is finished because it is, in a sense, unfinishable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: 13 teen boys caught peeping into girls’ hot spring bath during class trip See in context

@GIT

Not sure how you managed to swing the opinions of so many people here to sympathize more with the perpetrators than with the victims. (Too many posts saying the same thing over and over for me to be bothered to go back and pinpoint how and when.) But you certainly seem to have succeeded.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: 13 teen boys caught peeping into girls’ hot spring bath during class trip See in context

@1glenn

Hundreds killed nearly every day? Gee, people might think from your comment that 70,000 or 100,000 people or more were being murdered every year by guns in the U.S.

Your problem in the U.S. is that you are bombarded with sensationalized coverage when fairly uncommon events happen, and your comment shows how you've inflated the problem in your mind to five or ten times its actual size.

One factor that helps keep Japan's social problems in check is that there is a lot of attention given to deviant behavior like this at schools. Japan still has a lot of social problems, many of which get swept under the rug far too often, but schools are held to very high expectations to keep the behavior of their students in check. Breakdowns in order in the schooling system are cause for national alarm because schools are considered so central in shaping Japanese society.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Without a doubt, more young people have come to prefer highballs, cocktails and other such drinks to beer. One reason behind this, in my view, is we have not been able to offer attractive products for the young generation and women. See in context

Two reasons:

1) Japanese beer is low-quality. Drop regulations so that a craft beer industry can grow, and within twenty years Japan will have a thousand brewers turning out fantastic beers that millions of people will want to drink.

2) Taxes are idiotically levied on alcohol. Why does this beer cost 30-50 percent more than this flavored shochu drink that will get me drunk just as quickly? Neither tastes amazing, so it's not like I'm buying for the quality.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: Who pays Trump's tariffs: China and other exporters or U.S. customers? See in context

Globalism has, from a market perspective, been rooted in the claim that consumers in wealthy countries are better off with low-cost goods produced abroad than they are with working-class manufacturing jobs at home. Yes, consumers in America may pay a little more for goods in the midst of a trade war with China. But the higher cost also means that American companies may be able to compete better. Trump would rather have jobs for Americans than cheap consumer goods for Americans.

During the 2016 election, Obama scoffed at Trump, saying that manufacturing jobs were gone, and that Trump couldn't wave a magic wand and bring them back. And yet that's exactly what has happened in the wake of Trump's trade wars. Manufacturing jobs have increased in the U.S. The job market is the tightest it's been in half a century. Trump's trade policy runs counter to every president since Clinton, and perhaps even since Nixon or earlier, but he has delivered on jobs and wages, which is something Obama and other predecessors were never able to accomplish because their globalist ideology prevented it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: 2 Narita airport workers confirmed as having measles See in context

Remember when getting the measles was normal? And you never had to worry about getting it again once you've gotten it?

This is an historically and medically ignorant view of the disease. People can die of measles. Medical care has improved greatly in the last 100 years, but prior to mass vaccination campaigns in the U.S., measles was one of the top four leading causes of childhood death. Getting measles was common, but it was also dangerous.

What is perhaps worse, the measles virus wreaks havoc on the immune system, leaving it weakened for months and even years. Since measles was nearly eradicated in the U.S. and some other developed countries (prior to the recent outbreaks brought about by people failing to vaccinate, unregulated immigration from countries with poor vaccination rates, and travel to countries where measles is still endemic), the rates and seriousness of many other diseases also decreased dramatically. Doctors have traced this directly to the lingering effects of measles on the human body. If measles spreads widely in Japan, the U.S., or Europe, expect a wave of other diseases to follow at higher frequency and deadliness than the current generation has ever experienced.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

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

The government is using Eiken to measure students' English ability? Eiken wasn't even approved for university admissions. It's a poor test of English. Whatever data the government thinks it is getting from looking at Eiken pass rates, it's getting bad data generated by a bad exam.

That said, no one would be remotely surprised that English ability is falling short of targets. The government is very good at setting new targets. Whether those targets are ambitious or are a leap toward mediocrity, Japan always falls short of them. Why? Because the government sets targets for English ability, but lays none of the groundwork for improvement, such as improving teacher training and revising how English is taught. Without strong efforts in these areas, all the rest becomes mere farce.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Ghosn, suffering from kidney failure, was arrested illegally: defense document See in context

More likely Ghosn's high cholesterol is due to Ghosn's extravagant lifestyle.

This is most likely untrue. The best research on cholesterol today is that much of one's cholesterol levels are genetically predisposed. In many cases, a person can eat a high-cholesterol diet, but have low cholesterol. Likewise, one can eat a low-cholesterol diet and have high cholesterol. It's less what you eat and more how your body happens to be programmed to deal with cholesterol. A lot of the health and diet advice that was peddled in the 1980s and 1990s about fat and cholesterol has since turned out to be false, and in many cases that advice harmed health on the whole more than benefited it.

Regardless, cholesterol is not Ghosn's most pressing medical concern, if his lawyer's statements are accurate. Kidney failure is. The kidney failure may have been caused by cholesterol treatments, but any change to his cholesterol level now probably won't reverse his kidney failure. Long-term risks of a heart attack related to cholesterol are much less threatening than the immediate risks of death related to kidney failure. Again, this is assuming Ghosn's lawyers are describing his condition accurately.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Posted in: If teachers start to feel they can’t handle the job, children will come to dislike English. The content of the textbooks is simple and will make classes easy to conduct, so I hope teachers will use it to actively and repeatedly engage with students. See in context

The primary issue is not the textbook, nor the simplicity or difficulty of it. The issue is teacher training. Have teachers been trained in how to teach a foreign language? For the most part, no. And thus teachers will be uncomfortable, and classes will be tedious.

Furthermore, for what the quote says about the curriculum, I'm ambivalent. On one hand, if teachers are able to introduce material in a fun, meaningful context that gets kids using it over and over again to build fluency, great. On the other hand, if the educational system is merely dumbing down English so that all kids do is play, with no real engagement in English, then this push toward low standards is educationally repulsive. Given the teacher training situation, my guess is that we'll see more of the latter than the former, and we'll see more teachers drilling and boring students that either of those combined.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: In view of the Brexit chaos, do you think referendums are a good idea? See in context

You'd do just as well to ask the question, "In view of the Brexit chaos, do you think parliaments that can override the democratic will of the people are a good idea?"

The Brexit chaos would be considerably less if the elites in Parliament were not doing everything they could to undermine the referendum and nullify its outcome. "Oh, look, we tried, but Brussels won't agree" is a weak excuse for not following the guidance of the referendum, but that's the line May and her supporters are trying to toe. Rejecting Brexit outright would alienate Conservative voters and could lead to UKIP supplanting the Conservative Party in British politics. Serving up Brexit bills that are unpalatable either to Brussels or else to Conservative MPs is the coward's path. "Oops, we tried, but it's impossible. Maybe we'll just have to stay in the EU" is May's desired outcome. But that's not what the referendum mandated.

So is the real source of the chaos the referendum, or is it the parliament that refuses to carry out the referendum? Or is the deeper source of chaos a Brussels government that attempts to rule Europe by denying anyone a democratic voice?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Posted in: The strange revisionism of Pompeo’s Cairo speech See in context

Obama's "reset" of Middle East policy saw America withdraw from Iraq without a status of forces agreement, which led Iraq to immediately collapse back into violence and the rise of ISIS. Obama then spent the next good while ignoring what Obama called the "JV team," until ISIS became so powerful and controlled so much land that he was forced to address the threat.

Obama's policies led America into a Libyan debacle that, had it been led by any other president, would still be a loud topic for criticism. Whatever one's opinion of Gaddafi, Libya is now a place with human slave markets, which was never the case before. Meanwhile, Obama's Syrian "red line" hardly needs comment. Obama made threats, never enforced them, and thus allowed Assad and Putin run circles around Obama's military and diplomatic efforts in the region.

Shall we talk about Iran? Obama paid billions to a terrorist state to obtain an empty agreement that was never more than symbolic and that was ignored by Iran from virtually the moment ink started to dry.

Obama rose to the fore of the Democratic field in 2008 and won the primary over Hillary Clinton largely because he was viewed as the anti-war candidate at a time when Bush's wars had grown terribly unpopular. Clinton was punished by her own party for voting in favor of those wars. But, as time proved, Obama didn't really have any positive foreign policy vision for the Middle East beyond a promise to get out of Iraq immediately, which ended up being on the schedule that Bush had already negotiated before Obama took office. The remainder of his two terms swung mostly from one Middle Eastern debacle to the next.

Whatever the shortcomings of Pompeo's speech and Trump's policies behind them, defending Obama's policies and actions is an untenable position from any pragmatic, economic, diplomatic, security, or humanitarian perspective.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: S Korea may freeze Japanese firm's assets if it doesn't negotiate over forced laborers See in context

First, Korea played the victim card in shaming Japanese companies to make capital investments in Korea.

Now, Korea starts seizing those assets as a way of unilaterally obtaining the compensation to which it thinks the country is entitled.

Something tells me that fewer and fewer foreign companies are going to be interested in making capital investments in Korea in the future. Plundering assets is a good way to ensure that nobody parks assets in Korea ever again.

Perhaps the Korean market is lucrative enough and the seizures small enough that Japanese companies will put up with this for now. But how long until more Koreans try to plunder more? And once all Japanese assets are pulled from Korea, how long until Koreans turn their eye to American or other foreign-held assets? When a country has built its national identity around victimhood, it's very hard to stop playing the victim.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: Drunk vice principal loses job after urinating in girls bathing area on field trip See in context

“I don’t think my teacher chaperones partied like that during my field trips.”

Yes, they did. Students are often left unattended past the time they are supposed to be in bed, and all of the teachers typically get plastered during that time. A student probably wouldn't see the teachers drinking, but they almost certainly were on every school trip.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: Prince's remarks become hot topic in Japan See in context

Akishino better watch his remarks. He keeps this up, and the royal household and Diet will conspire to keep him off the throne. Back when Aiko was born, they were considering a bill to modernize the royal family and allow female succession in certain cases because the royal family had no direct male offspring at the time. Akishino and his wife stepped up (probably with the help of some fertility treatments that implanted only male embryos) and quickly announced a pregnancy, which put the bill on hold. When their child proved to be male, that put an end to the modernization effort. For that, Akishino has the thanks of a lot of traditionalists. But too many stray comments like this one, and the traditionalists might be just as happy to let the throne pass him by.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: I wish they would treat all single parents equally. It doesn't make any sense that I am ineligible for the tax deduction simply because I was never legally married. See in context

It makes perfect sense for a society to establish laws that sustain the society and keep it from decline and collapse. Children who grow up with both parents in the household are significantly more successful over the course of their lives. Two-parent households are much more productive, much less likely to live in poverty, and much less likely to become a burden on the welfare system. Constructing the tax system to reward and encourage behavior that betters society and to discourage dyscivic behavior is precisely what a government ought to do.

The complaints of people who are engaged in dyscivic behavior ought to be ignored. If people demand public rewards for behavior that has negative consequences for themselves and for society, they ought to be roundly mocked.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: IOC weighs boxing Olympic KO See in context

In another 40 years, the IOC will have eliminated virtually all real sports from the games (anything involving real physical competition), and what remains will be judged spectacles. Olympic boxing had already devolved into a farcical spectacle, so it's not any great loss to see it removed from the games entirely. Why was boxing hit with a bout-fixing scandal in 2016? Because the Olympic rules have made boxing more about judging than about sport. Having referees and timekeepers to make sure the sport stays fair is fine. Having judges who decide winners means that it's more pageant than sport.

Citius, Altius, Fortius soon needs to be replaced with Fancier, Sexier, More Marketable. The way a lot of the television coverage is, they ought to be called the Pathos Games instead of Olympic Games.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Scientists weigh up stratospheric sunlight barrier to curb warming See in context

Let's solve a pollution problem...with more pollution!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Nissan CEO tells employees he intends to review alliance with Renault See in context

Whether Ghosn hid income or not, it's now quite plain that his ouster was orchestrated because other powerful people within Nissan wanted him gone and had grown tired of the Renault alliance. Nissan needed a pretext for getting rid of Ghosn, even if it meant a public and messy parting, and now they are wasting little time stepping into the power vacuum to begin chipping away at the alliance.

Et tu, Saikawa?

I suspect Ghosn probably was trying to shield income from taxes. Whether it was legal or not is the question. That said, if if comes out some months from now that Ghosn didn't actually break any tax laws with his income, but that this all originated with leaks from high within Nissan aimed at ousting Ghosn, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Posted in: S Korea's surviving 'comfort women' spend final years seeking atonement from Japan See in context

Yesterday: We accept your apology and this monetary compensation.

Today: Your apology was not sincere. Pay us more money.

The people abusing these women today are the Korean government, which has proven itself utterly disingenuous in dealing with the past and untrustworthy in respecting agreements. Korea wants a political wrench that it can twist at any time to gain leverage over and money from Japan. A wise Japanese government would simply start ignoring Korea on this issue.

30 ( +43 / -13 )

Posted in: Forest management worker shot dead by hunter in Hokkaido See in context

It would have to be a high caliber rifle. You don’t hunt deer with shotguns. Shotguns are for fowl.

This isn't the case in Japan. Gun permits normally only allow for a shotgun, whether one is hunting boar, deer, or whatever else. The shell fires a single slug, which makes the range considerably shorter than that of a rifle. The shotgun is often a poor tool for hunting big game, but high-powered rifles are much more heavily restricted. You can get one, but you have to possess a shotgun for at least ten years without incident first. The article says "rifle" in the last paragraph, so maybe the hunter had a rifle, not a shotgun, but this wouldn't be the first time a news article confused the type of weapon involved in a shooting.

Hitting a target at 130 meters is actually a pretty impressive shot, on the strong likelihood that this was a shotgun. Even if it was a more accurate rifle with longer range, it's still impressive to turn, fire at a sound, which he could amazingly hear in the forest at 130 meters, without ever seeing the target, and hit anything.

These details make me want to call B.S. on the hunter's story. Forests are typically noisy. Deer don't make that much noise. It would be hard to hear something 130 meters away. It would be even harder to hit something 130 meters away, barring extreme luck, without taking careful aim, which would require seeing the target for at least several seconds. Maybe he saw movement and misidentified the man as a deer, but the hunter had to have seen something, or else that shot would have been highly improbable. Not impossible, but improbable enough that I don't buy the hunter's explanation.

In an ironic twist, the U.S. almost certainly would pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge against a criminally negligent hunter such as this one. Looser gun laws, but stiffer penalties for accidents.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: S Korea to dissolve Japan-funded 'comfort women' foundation See in context

South Korea seems to be taking diplomacy lessons from North Korea. Make yourself as unreliable as possible by making and tearing up agreements repeatedly...and then demand more money again.

I venture that North and South Korea will achieve reunification long, long before either of the Koreas stops complaining about their history with Japan.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think of the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program? See in context

JET set two main goals for itself: English education and internationalization. It's been marginally successful at internationalization, albeit mostly in ways that keep "international" neatly in a box that Japanese schools can open and shut when they choose. For English education, JET has accomplished very little, particularly for the level of expense. JET still manages to hire and train better than the big dispatch companies, but that's a very low bar.

JET is a hugely expensive program. Nobody can really say how much is actually spent because the cost is spread out over multiple government agencies, each of the prefectural budgets, and thousands of local budgets. Estimates put the total cost at well over 40 billion yen per year ($400 million). For that money, JET has placed mostly inexperienced college graduates into schools, and then the program cuts those workers off after three years (now sometimes five), just as they are beginning to develop into effective teachers. The curriculum was poorly designed from the start to use ALTs, and Japanese teachers were poorly trained to use ALTs. These problems have only marginally improved over time. The program was window dressing, never really designed to accomplish its purported function of improving English. English ability has improved in Japan since JET's inception, but for reasons almost entirely apart from JET.

For the same money, Japan could (and should) have invested in professional teachers. Send Japanese English teachers abroad to study English or enter English language teaching programs. Retrain every current Japanese English teacher in communicative language teaching (instead of grammar-translation). Create more situations for students where they have a need to use English meaningfully. Shrink language class sizes. Send more students abroad. Hire foreign teachers who possess TESOL degrees (not just flimsy certificates, but full M.A. degrees) and teaching licenses. Make foreign teachers regular, permanent teaching staff at schools. Put bona fide language teachers into elementary schools, and start English (including reading and writing) from elementary 1st or 2nd grade.

Granted, the roughly 40 billion yen annually can only go so far when spread out across the entire school system. It would not begin to cover all that I'm suggesting. But there are so many ways to achieve significantly more impact in English education than what JET has accomplished

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump says Japan treats U.S. unfairly on trade by not taking more American cars See in context

Japanese people are brand-loyal, and they like the "Made in Japan" brand even more than Americans like the "Made in the U.S.A." label. This makes American cars a hard sell.

The best American offerings are middle-class, working-class vehicles. When Japanese people buy imports, they want status cars--high-end luxury brands. The luxury cars that America does build are oversized and generally don't have the brand appeal that European cars offer.

American car manufacturers build big cars for wide American roads and big American people. American car makers have been cutting back on their mid-size and small-size offerings in favor of trucks and SUVs. Yes, an F-150 is a workhorse, and it's the best pickup truck on the market. It's also too wide to fit down narrow farm roads built for kei trucks. Some suburban streets built in the last 20 years or so are wide enough to accommodate big cars, but many city streets are so narrow that two full-size American cars couldn't pass on them.

It's not a matter of tariffs (especially as many Japanese cars are built in the U.S. anyway), but of the market. American automakers aren't interested in making the cars that Japanese people will buy. They don't see substantial enough returns in building up expansive dealer networks in Japan. They don't have the brand appeal to sell well as an import.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan to provide Y200 bil loan to help Malaysia battle debt problem See in context

A country deeply in debt loans money to another country deeply in debt to help that other country deal with its debt problems.

Yeah, this is going to end well.

Of course, the alternative is that Malaysia takes money from China, which is tantamount to handing China new, additional political leverage in Southeast Asia, plus likely access to large swaths of Malaysia's natural resources should China ever demand payment and start seizing assets. Loaning money Japan doesn't have is preferable to ceding power to chief rival, China.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: 51.3% in Japan support bill to accept more foreign workers: poll See in context

How much will this percentage shift negatively when Japanese people face the reality of significant foreign populations living in their neighborhoods? When Japan stops looking and feeling like Japan, attitudes toward foreign workers will sour greatly. It's one thing when it's mainly Tokyo and a few other urban centers that have significant foreign populations. But mid-size cities and rural areas need workers as badly as or worse than Tokyo.

Japan is about 30 years ahead of Europe or America in facing the demographic crisis of low birthrates and an aging population. Europe and the U.S. have sidestepped that crisis by importing massive numbers of foreigners to prop up the population, and thus they are 30 years ahead in dealing with the demographic crisis brought about by high levels of immigration.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: AI robots may lend hand in Japan's English classes See in context

If the dialogue reported in this article is typical of the scripts built into these robots, then they are worse than useless. The robots are actually harming students.

First, they aren't communicating. They aren't even trying to create a context for real communication. Is the robot answering the student's question? No. It's merely getting the student to say a rote phrase, removed from any context. Language is communicative context. This robot gimmick misses the point of language and isn't going to help students learn English.

Second, the robot is praising students for nothing, which is ultimately going to demotivate the students in the long run. Students need to feel for themselves that English has a purpose, that it gives them power and a voice. Their satisfaction needs to be internal, from the feeling of accomplishment when students wanted to communicate something and found a way to make themselves understood. This robotic superficial praise gives students a temporary, external pat on the head, but it ultimately discourages students from developing that internal motivation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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