Multipath comments

Posted in: Taking it easy See in context

I have been meeting and talking to homeless people in Japan for the last eleven years. I am not making special claims for homeless people - they are usually just ordinary people with the qualities, good and bad, that we all have, but to suggest that they are merely lazy is absurdly inaccurate. Here are a few reasons why:

Most Japanese homeless people are constantly seeking work, and some actually have jobs, but the pay is too low, and employment too temporary to afford settled accommodation. Rent is high relative to income, and bond or key money is often not returned by landlords. If you have had the carelessness to have your family die, then it is very difficult to find a guarantor for either work or accommodation - and there are unscrupulous companies that exploit poor people by extracting fees in return for finding a guarantor, then failing to provide one. If they can't find a job, they are usually involved in gathering materials for recycling (cardboard, cans, or manga), but this involves walking many miles every day, often with a health problem. Collecting cardboard all day, for example, might get you about ¥800, barely enough to eat, let alone for rent.

Anyone who thinks that sleeping rough is in any way an easy option should try it for a year, including the winter. It involves walking huge distances for work and food, severe health risks (especially chest problems and infections), social isolation, loneliness and stigma which destroys mental health and self esteem. The death rate for Japanese rough sleepers is quite high, and quite a few have also been killed by groups of young people. They too understand nothing about the situation but are vulnerable enough to need someone to feel better than.

The reason both for them keeping up standards, for example removing their shoes, and for refusing food on occasion, is their sense of pride. Keeping clean and neat are basic parts of being Japanese. The appearance of the man in the photo, whose permission was hopefully sought, is the exception in my experience. I know nothing about the circumstances of the man in the photo, but speaking generally, there are usually complicating mental health factors when Japanese people let their appearance go.

Japanese homeless people are relatively well organised, and may not be hungry at the specific time you approach them - but the probable reason for refusing food is more a sense of shame. If you want to help, it is important to take the time first to make relationships, as you would wish yourself, and to build trust and mutual respect.

It's often best to do this in association with a support group. Anyone interested in getting involved in Tokyo can google Moyai.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

These situations are always hard, and without knowing all the details we can't know about particular cases.

However, speaking generally:

The important rights are those of children to have access to, and be free to love both their parents. Children need as much love and support as they can get, and it is not for one parent to decide that the other is disposable. International relationships increase the risk that one partner will remove them to another country, but this should only happen with the agreement of both parents, or the chance at least to argue it from a child-centred point of view in court.

I don't think that the inflamatory terms kidnap or abduction should be used about a 'good enough' parent who has been obstructed and uses it as a last resort in the absence of an equitable court process.

Children's rights to a relationship with their father post separation sadly do not appear to be recognised in Japanese family law. Issues of domestic violence and abuse need to be addressed, but should not be based on accusation alone, and should not be used as an excuse to prevent children from seeing a good enough parent 'just in case'. That would literally be throwing the baby out with the bath water. In Britain contact centres in any case provide services so that handovers can take place without parents meeting where there is a question of risk.

The law should recognise the importance of both parents, and parents themselves should respect their children's needs above their own and attempt to co-operate as separated parents.

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Posted in: Study group set up to deal with rise in child abuse See in context

Child porn should be attacked, however, having worked in an English Children's Centre for 4 years and with offenders and victims of various kinds for longer I would say following are critical:

Changes in employment patterns and welfare to reduce difficulties for struggling families

More openess about the family stresses and difficulties that can increase the risk of abuse so that people will ask for help

Someone to talk to confidentially about this, and sources of help

More willingness to challenge parents and other professionals when you feel a child is at risk

Educating everybody about what to look for and what to do if a child at risk is identified - but without creating the kind of media-led paranoia that has resulted in the UK in innocent people being murdered through false rumour. A paediatrician was hounded out of her home as this was mistaken by a mob for being the same as 'paedophile!'

Teamwork by everyone involved

Offender programmes which acknowledge both the lack of 'chemical composure' (nice phrase), the fact that it is not unusual for offenders to have been abused themselves, and the need to break the chain of damage being passed down the generations.

However, as in the UK, government finds it easier to spend money on inneffective symbolic surface changes than engaging families, which is more complex and less immediately visible. One example is increasing CCTV and turning schools into prisons - which ruins the feeling of the school, doesn't in most cases remove stranger danger anyway, and ignores the research that repeatedly shows that most abuse is commited by someone in the family.

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Posted in: The age of the disposable male See in context

J chicks are so stupid and material. Ever try to carry on a intellectual convo with one? They are so much more attractive with their mouths shut.

Congratulations: elitist, mysoginist, racist and downright cruel in one paragraph! That's tough to manage. And 'chicks?' Puullleeaase. Good luck finding the thoughtful conversationalist and frugal paragon you seek. Perhaps, just as in the article, she will dump you once your attitudes becomes apparent. Still, as Magpie notes, we can address our issues before it is too late...

I'm not sure that the article content denotes male disposability - individuals are surely free to check eachother out before making a commitment. Perhaps the level of respect and consensuality involved is more relevant than whether it is the man or the woman driving it. If you like someone and they reject you that is always a bit dissappointing, but most people will experience that from both sides at one time or another, and move on.

More urgent content under the heading 'Disposable Males' would address the way that Japanese fathers are sidelined after divorce. Crucially, children's rights to maintain loving relationships with both parents are ignored here. 'Lone' mothers receive some support, lone fathers none, as I understand it. I met one grieving father yesterday who hasn't seen his daughter for five years and feels he would not even recognise her in the street, and that she has been taught to hate him by her mother (parental alenation). Does anyone know of a Japanese organisation or group that is addressing this that I could refer him to for support and advice?

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