missbatten comments

Posted in: Japanese universities support women in the workforce See in context

About time. Huge numbers of women teach in low-paid hijokin part-time jobs, and I have yet to see a Japanese university that can boast even 10% female faculty in full-time, tenured positions. Too much OB networking by those on the hiring end, not enough reading of CVs.

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Posted in: ‘Women only’ train cars: Is it a crime for men to ride in them? See in context

It's not just about groping...I often see women's faces crushed between the torsos of taller passengers in the regular carriages. That must be panic-inducing as well as plain uncomfortable. Although there are some tall(ish) women in the women-only carriages, generally those short people look a lot more comfortable riding with people of similar build!

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Posted in: Japan will never stop whaling: minister See in context

Long historical tradition? Let me see, ocean whaling in Japan started about the beginning of the twentieth century, wasn't it? Of course, politician's memories are notoriously feeble!

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Posted in: Japan probe finds Dreamliner battery improperly wired See in context

What the hell does this mean?<<

Possibly means that one of the back-up systems intended to provide redundancy had instead been connected to the primary system?

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Posted in: Abe's adviser defends monetary independence See in context

"international monetary independence" wot dat???????

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Posted in: Bad luck See in context

I had a "dai-ku" the year my husband died. Beautiful poem but rather depressing postlude to the whole horrible thing.

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Posted in: Why do people climb mountains in the middle of winter when there are blizzards, high risk of avalanches and poor visibility? See in context

Mostly because they've booked their travel and accommodation and hate to waste their money, and/or look like wimps to other members of their group. The cancellation fees and embarrassment are here and now, the possibility of dying is still days away...

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Posted in: Shooter kills 3 people, injures 2 in Swiss village See in context

Switzerland does actually have one of the highest rates of civilian gun ownership in the world...gun homicides may be much lower than the U.S., but they are by no means low.

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Posted in: 2 dead, 13 hospitalized after choking on mochi in Tokyo See in context

Mochi now have "break lines", but it takes some strength to break them, and even more to cut them into small pieces. Elderly people and young children have long been given shiratama dumplings, but that means making a serving of them separately, and replacing the mochi under protest from the elderly person. I went looking this year for some kind of "mochi for the elderly", but absolutely no luck. It should be easy enough to make mochi-shaped objects that are softer and less chewy, even if they do not have the shelf life of regular mochi. Why don't manufacturers take the opportunity to make a little money?

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Posted in: Abe to review Fukushima crisis before deciding on restarting reactors See in context

Have committees continue to submit reports until they reach the "right" conclusion?

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Posted in: Japan is now paying the price for years in which its support for nuclear power meant that Tokyo gave lip service to renewable energy but didn't give it real attention. See in context

True. Try comparing White Papers on Energy from 2007-9 with those from a decade earlier.

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Posted in: Amazon opens portal for mobile app distribution in Japan See in context

Let's hope they will be distributing apps that work a bit better than the Android Kindle reader app!

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Posted in: Japanese nationalists set sail for disputed islands See in context

My Political Diary Aug. 15 Wail about sorrow and unwisdom of war. Aug. 18 Crank up territorial dispute with well-armed neighbors one more notch...

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Posted in: LiVEJAM Music School provides more than just an outlet for Tokyo’s teenagers See in context

A lot of schools in Tokyo (be they international or Japanese) have good music programs

A well-researched observation, dazzlingly specific as well, yet strangely unconvincing. Somehow, iIt seems more likely that LiVEJAM started up because Tokyo schools do NOT provide many opportunities to learn music.

I have no idea whether " a lot" of international school in Tokyo have good music programs, but Japanese schools certainly do not. They did not set out to provide an education in the liberal arts, and they have not changed their policy. Music is not taught as an exam subject, and in some public high schools, students are only offered a choice between music and art. Public or private, some schools offer only 1 year of music or art at high school, and I rarely hear of any that allows students to continue with any non-exam subject other than PE into their 3rd year. 3rd year students are not normally allowed to participate in band or choir etc. either.

The exceptions are the handful of schools that have a music department, or a music course. There are roughly 1 or 2 of these per province, and the music "course" schools are usually aimed at students who do not have the academic skills to cope with a general education course. The music "department" schools are extremely rare...not every province has even one. Tokyo is better off than the rest of the country, because the national University of the Arts and the larger private music colleges (around half a dozen of them) have attached high schools, but even so, the total number of Japanese schools in Tokyo and the three surrounding provinces offering music beyond the basic non-exam limit is not more a dozen.

The extra-curricular music opportunities are limited to peer-taught groups. Those that have supervision and funding as a school "bu" still do not offer tuition, although they may provide instruments, and will at least partly sponsor trips to participate in competitions. They usually include choirs (so cheap...!), band, and occasionally orchestra. Non-orchestral instruments, whether Japanese, classical western, or pop, are usually relegated to the unofficial clubs and circles, which are simply given a place to practice, and allowed to perform at the school festival (but not usually at other school events). The situation is pretty much the same at all Japanese schools, public or private.

Great that LiveJAM got some free publicity, but that first paragraph is a waste of space...and that's charitable.

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Posted in: Efficiency can't replace nuclear power See in context

Japan WAS working hard on renewable energy sources through most of the '90s. And then somehow talk of such programs disappeared, and we started seeing heavy promotion of policies that depend on nuclear power (e.g. the "yakan denryoku" night rates aimed at using some of the power that nuclear power stations generate round the clock, since nuclear power is very hard to adjust to temporaryl fluctuations in demand). When we started seeing glossy pamphlets from TEPCO being handed out to 3rd graders in school science lessons, I think it was fair to assume that government policy had done an about-face. But if they can flip-flop once, I suppose they can do it again.

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Posted in: Nursing exam rules for foreigners to be relaxed in response to low pass rate See in context

The nursing candidates are working under systems similar to other "trainee" systems, where "trainees" are thrown at companies who are allowed to organize their own "training"...or not. If the companies are only looking for cheap labor, they have little incentive to actually train the "trainees", who will no doubt merit a raise if they do actually pass their exams. What's different here is that there are some people who actually want the nurses to pass...the question is, do any of these people want to organize and pay for the training, and can companies who are used to "use 'em and lose 'em" attitudes to foreign trainees actually cope with having their work "interrupted" by training, instead of leaving them to educate themselves in their own time and out of their own pockets.

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Posted in: Teen held over knife attacks in Saitama, Chiba to get psychiatric test See in context

mastertigurius: Mitaka is nothing like Misato.

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Posted in: 8-yr-old girl stabbed by man while walking home from school in Matsudo See in context

Laissez-faire might work in leafy Setagaya, but in this area, Lourdes' approach is the way to go. Local cram schools and other places where children gather called parents and asked them to pick children up the evening after this attack...they didn't seem to think that fostering independence by sending kids out to walk home alone in the dark was a good plan either.

The school the girl attends is very close to where I live. The roads are busy, with poor visibility, and there are mostly no footpaths...after a few serious accidents, the busiest places are patrolled before and after school. We have also had our share of knife-wielding nutters in parks and on the streets since disability benefits have been cut (the mentally ill are the group least able to argue that they really do need assistance, and the more they need it, the less able they are to fight for it). Two or three kids have been dragged into cars within the closest three school districts and abducted in the past decade...and let's not start on the damage kids are able to do to each other on the way home from school!

I am not sure which river the girl was walking along, but some have limited car access and few houses nearby...but easy enough for somebody who lives not far from Misato or Matsudo to walk down the main local river from the nearest Musashino Line station.

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Posted in: Grounding the JETs See in context

I first taught Japanese university students in 1980...I haven't been in Japan or taught continuously since then, but I can confidently claim that students these days generally have better listening and speaking skills than their counterparts a generation ago.

That counts as a JET-program success, even if direct teaching by ALTs is only one factor in that success. Whether or not today's students have better English skills overall is debatable, and that is related not only to English curricula, staffing, and total hours of tuition, but also to the typical 2010 student profile.

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Posted in: Make way for the Butt Police See in context

Smoking on the streets...I'm not a fan. I often need to leave home around 6 am, and it's disappointing when instead of the fresh morning air that is about the only consolation in an early morning start, all I can smell is the cigarette the guy 10 meters in front of me is smoking. I bet he (it's never been "she" so far!) gets a lot less of his cigarette than the hapless downwind walker.

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Posted in: Saitama woman held over death of 11-year-old son See in context

Parent-teacher conference during summer vacation....but "nothing unusual"? Must have been some reason to hold a parent-teacher conference during vacation.

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Posted in: JAL to slash 30% of global workforce as part of restructuring See in context

What porter says...JAL spent too long as the bauble of bureaucrats.

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