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Posted in: Violators, beware: Police finally put some teeth in cycling laws See in context

PS/ If you do want to get an adult bike helmet you need to go to a specialist cycling store or go online (though you may have issues with the difference between regular fit and 'asian fit' helmets).

But you'll find as usual that such things are well overpriced in Japan. You can get an entry level Mips helmet for about $30, but it's going to cost you 8,000yen for one here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Violators, beware: Police finally put some teeth in cycling laws See in context

riding in car-only lanes

What does this mean? Does it mean highways or is there some kind of special 'car only lane' designation for some roads in Japan?

It all sounds depressingly similar to a few years back when the police announced a big crackdown in people riding on sidewalks, and then quietly dropped it a few months later when cycling deaths increased significantly.

One problem is that these things always seem to lump people together as 'cyclists' when there's actually a big difference between the old guy pottering along the pavement on his mamachari with an umbrella, and the guy riding in 5th gear on the road on a road bike.

The first group rarely follow the rules, but it rarely matters as they're not going all that fast. The second group usually follows the rules, and the main danger is to them from car/truck drivers who don't.

I fall into the second group, and try to follow the rules as much as possible, though drivers often don't make it easy. There are nominal 'cycle lanes' all along my route to work, but there appears to be no rule about not parking in them, so every 200m or so there's a car or truck in the way.. meaning you have to take your life into your hands to try and go around it, or hop up onto the pavement for that section of road to avoid it.

Side note, it's almost impossible to find adult bike helmets in regular stores in Japan. Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, Seiyu etc... all have bike sections, and kids bike helmets, but none have any adult helmets.

Which is probably why the only road cyclists I've seen wearing helmets have all been westerners.

Given the number of bike riders here (mainly casual) the number of accidents is remarkably low, but every so often there's a bunch of stories about all the terrible scary dangerous cyclists. Sigh.

PS/ I wish people would stop going on about that ridiculous case where the poor family of a kid was forced to pay 95yen. It was an insane judgement at the time and still is.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 82-year-old woman dies after being stabbed as she gets off bus See in context

On another sad note, because of her “mental illness” she will avoid the death penalty.

That's so sad. I was looking forward to a good execution too!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 206 new coronavirus cases See in context

A full lockdown can't be sustained indefinitely. But a smart partial lockdown on the locations and activities most likely to cause the highest transmissions could be sustained a lot longer than a full lockdown, and would allow the other areas of the economy to keep going and help to support those areas that are locked down.

It appears, so far at least, that indoor activities where masks can't be worn and close contact can't be avoided are more risky than other areas.

So keep the bars and nightclubs and hostess clubs closed for now, keep the numbers reasonably low, and that will allow most of the other businesses to keep operating.

It won't work 100%, but it'll be much more effective than doing nothing, and much less harmful than shutting everything down again.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to begin Go To Travel Campaign on July 22 See in context

This is such a bad idea. I've already met a bunch of people in Ikebukuro who are planning to take advantage of it to head off all over Japan at the end of the month.

Surely it would be exactly as effective to give the money directly to the hotels and hospitality businesses in those areas, while encouraging everyone to have staycations for the time being.

Then, maybe at the end of the year or start of next year, once the situation is better, start giving people subsidies to travel.

I'm not planning on taking my family anywhere at the end of the month, as that seems the responsible thing to do... and so I'm missing out on free subsidies that irresponsible people will be able to get.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo reports 206 new coronavirus cases See in context

Assuming they're correct about the nightlife districts being the main current vector, they should re-introduce evening curfews. Make them all shut down at 8pm again, and then give them some financial support.

If they do that, they may be able to keep cases to a low enough level to allow most other business to carry on. If they don't do that, they may end up having to shut everything down again in a week, which would be more expensive and have a much worse impact on many people.

TBH, this would be a good chance to get rid of all of the dodgy outdated host/hostess clubs, but since I can't see that happening, they should at least get them to close temporarily.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Why are so many Japanese women pigeon toed? See in context

Interesting. I've always assumed it was due to all the short skirts and dodgy guys.

A combination of the Japanese short-skirted schoolgirl thing, the riding bikes in short skirts, the riding the trains and going up stairs in crowded stations in short skirts thing.

Which also continues into working life, with many more young female workers wearing skirts here.

The prevalence of high heels might have an effect too, although I feel that's going down a bit recently.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: European lawmakers chide Japan over parental child abductions See in context

I feel that the way to fix this terrible situation is to get Joint Custody up and working in Japan, and the way to do that is to make all the Japanese 'Ikumen' aware of the fact that no matter how much diaper changing or childcare they do, the moment their wife decides to leave they'll have no right to see their kids again.

There's been a lot of coverage in the Japanese media about the whole 'ikumen' trend. So the role of fathers in Japan is changing fast, and it's that that is going to pressure the Japanese government into allowing Joint Custody.

Even Koizumi Jr, with his much hyped paternity leave, isn't going to get to see his kids once he gets a divorce in a few years time... Maybe that'll push him to try and get the law changed.

Start a petition on, or tweet at Koizumi Jr or other famous Ikumen.... but do it from the angle of 'rights for Japanese dads' rather than rights for foreign dads. Imho that'll have more chance of getting picked up by the media and achieving real change.

I've been seeing stories like this in English language media in Japan for decades, but I don't remember ever seeing it on Japanese TV.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: Australian minister calls anti-racism protests 'self-indulgent' See in context

While I personally wouldn't attend a mass protest at this time, due to worries about the virus, I'm not going to condemn people who feel strongly enough to do so.

I'm also not going to criticise Japanese people for doing so, just because the initial trigger (this time) was in the US. Given that I've talked to a couple of Japanese people who were genuinely heartbroken and/or furious about what happened to George Floyd, I'll assume that these people are protesting because they actually care about it.

It should also be noted that the majority of the protests around the world have been peaceful, and even in the cases where they weren't peaceful, it was usually a small minority who were being violent and a vast majority who were being peaceful.

While I'm here, if anyone is into PC games and wants to support the BLM movement, there's a rather amazing games bundle on of over 740 games for $5. Over 500 developers donated their games for free, and they've raised nearly $2M in about 24 hours. 100% of proceeds go to charity.

More info:

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: Rally against racism, in support of Black Lives Matter held in Tokyo See in context

Oh, because you are Professor X and can read minds around the world? How about "All lives matter" because some people are tired of people taking "Black lives matter" too far?

Hence me being generous and assuming that some of the people repeating it are doing so without being aware if its racist connotations, and they might want to be aware of them.

If people are aware of its connotations and still wish to keep repeating it, well, I guess that's up to them and their conscience.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: UK's rapid-fire changes on face coverings advice criticized See in context

A lot of the confusion seems to come from different people talking about different things. The WHO seems to be mainly talking about surgical masks, whereas people are often talking about more basic masks. The WHO seemed to be focusing on whether masks stop you catching the virus, whereas people in Asia were focusing more on whether masks stop you infecting others.

Hence, confusion.

PS/ Spare a thought for deaf people, who tend to rely on lip reading for a lot of their understanding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Rally against racism, in support of Black Lives Matter held in Tokyo See in context

I just want to make sure that the people repeating the "All lives matter" slogan are aware that it's a slogan used by alt-right racists in an attempt to drown out "Black lives matter" rather than being some kind of positive egalitarian call.

I'll be generous and assume that at least some of the people using it here are doing so without being aware of its background and connotations.

Personally, I think it should also be pretty clear that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter. First we raise everyone up to the same level, and then we can start raising that level for all.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Posted in: Japan revises law to make more part-timers join pension program See in context

I wish they'd do something like the UK where freelancers and self-employed people can pay lowered premiums, but receive reduced benefits.

If you're on the Employed Person pension scheme here, at least the company is paying half your rather expensive pension, and some (all?) of your horribly expensive health insurance. But if you're not an employee you're expected to pay the entire amount yourself.

I could have built up some pretty good retirement savings over the years if I hadn't needed to pay so much of my income over to them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan revises law to make more part-timers join pension program See in context

As a freelancer I'm expected to pay 16,000 a month in pension. I have no idea what I'll recieve for that.

I also have to pay about 25,000 a month in local tax, and 64,000 a month in health insurance for my family.

(Despite taking kids to the doctor regularly, we never get even close to using 25% of that cost!, and still have to pay a fortune for vaccinations and even pay for flu jabs!)

So that's basically 100,000 a month in taxes out of my monthly pay packet, before eevn thinking about things like rent, bills, food.

It's ridiculous.

PS/ Does anyone have any way of reducing these ridiculously high payments?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: New virus cases in Tokyo drop to 5; none reported in Osaka See in context

I find it strange that when the figures show that the lockdown appears to have been effective in reducing the numbers, people use that to attack the lockdown and claim that it shows it was unnecessary.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet? See in context

Oh, and I wonder if the low level of obesity will turn out to be a factor too.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet? See in context

If Japan has indeed dodged a bullet then that's great. No one who was worrying about a massive rise 'in 2 weeks' was hoping for such a scenario, but it seemed likely given the situation in other countries.

The weird thing is that Japan appears to have dodged a bullet despite appearing to do almost everything 'wrong' and appearing to be a perfect candidate for big problems.

The government hasn't done a great job. The lockdown came very late and took a long time to be taken to heart. Lessons from almost every other country have been ignored or implemented very late. Yet cases appear low.

It's great news, but perplexing.

Maybe it's the masks. I can't think it's the much touted 'cleanliness and hand washing' as that appears to be mostly a myth (based on my personal experiences). Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the fact that everyone in big cities ignores each other. Maybe it's tofu.

It'll be interesting to find out in a few years when they've had a chance to do some research.

Fingers crossed that it's true and it continues!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Posted in: Lower house passes bill allowing delayed pension payout See in context

How about introducing some kind of system to allow self-employed, temporary workers and freelancers to pay into the pension without it being ridiculously expensive? Even if it resulted in reduced benefits upon retirement. Like the UK has.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan tries to take business card ritual online See in context

Seems like a good opportunity to just stop the entire pointless thing.

Online apps will allow you to do clever things like having a profile and saving the details of people you've talked to.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: People return to work under extended emergency after Golden Week See in context

They cannot take part in extracurricular activities (at school)

Thank god. Imagine kids having time to actually have fun rather than needing to go to school 7 days a week at 6am to do some kind of dumb 'extracurricular activities'. The horror!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan begins distributing cash handouts for virus relief See in context

@IronBeard Thanks.

My revenue has dropped about 10% in March and 20% in April, but it seems likely to drop 90%-100% for May!

Getting 100k for each of my kids will help with things like rent and food for one month, but not a lot longer.

I guess I won't be able to apply for the freelancer thing until May finishes, so hopefully things will be a bit more clear by that point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan begins distributing cash handouts for virus relief See in context

Does anyone have any (acurate) information on whether kids are elligible for this, or only adults? I've heard people say yes and no.

Also, does anyone have any details on the Up To 1M potentially available to freelancers? The eligibility criteria, how to apply, how much is actually available, etc?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Dentsu's shares slide to 7-year lows on Olympics cancelation fears See in context

If this virus damages Dentsu then at least it will have a small silver lining. This country would be better off without them.

As for the Olympics though, I see no reason why they couldn't be postponed to 2021. I don't think there are any major sporting events then, and pretty much all the planning, facilities, tickets, athlete training, qualifications, etc.. could be rolled over to 2021.

The World Indoor Athletics Championships were scheduled for March in Nanjing, but they've already postponed them to March 2021. Smaller than the olympics, but comparable.

Heck, I think Japan (and unfortunately even scum like Dentsu) would like having yet another year of going on and on about the Olympics. Another year of sponsorship, etc..

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: 'Joker' leads Oscar nominations with 11 as women miss out See in context

Little Women

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (the second highest rated movie for 2019 on metacritic)

Atlantics (nominated for International Film, but not best film. Parasite seems to be nominated for both)


Queen & Slim

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

The Souvenir

The Farewell

are just some of the very good movies released with female directors released last year.

If my quick count is right, 4 of the top 10 best reviewed movies for 2019 are by female directors.

So I'm not sure it's right to say that they didn't perform well enough.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Court rules against divorced parents seeking access to children See in context

I can only imagine that with the rise in 'Ikumen' in Japan this situation is going to have to change sometime.

It worked in the past when the father had almost no role in raising the kids, but as more and more Japanese fathers take part in raising their kids, they're not going to want to give up on seeing them all of a sudden.

It's a terrible situation, and it's been affecting foreign parents for years, but I wonder if the best hope for everyone is when the situation starts affecting Japanese fathers and that finally gets some movement on the issue.

If I was affected by the problem and good enough at Japanese, I'd be posting questions about it (from a Japanese father's POV) on all the relevant discussion forums, news posts, etc.. in Japanese. I imagine a lot of Japanese Ikumen haven't thought about it.

Everytime a Japanese website has any new post about Ikumen or Fathers taking care of kids, or paternity leave, put a comment along the lines of "I heard that because Japan is the only G20 country without joint custody, if my wife divorces me I'll never get to see my kids again and there will be nothing I can do about it. Is this true?"

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Posted in: Revised law aimed at mobile phone fee cut in Japan comes into effect See in context

MVNOs are great, and a huge improvement over the old big 3.

I think I pay about 2000 for 2 sims with a shared 3Gb data. But since I mainly use wi-fi, we rarely get over 2Gb data used and the data has rolled over to quite a lot.

I could pay a bit more for 4Gb or 5Gb.

Have they gotten rid of those ridiculous contract cancellation fees yet? I don't mind paying a cancelation fee if I got a free phone and cancel in the first 6 months, but they wanted me to pay 8000 to cancel after 7 years!

(it was only free to cancel in a 2 month period every other year.. which would surely be illegal in many countries).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tax hike adds to woes for low-income households in Japan See in context

Can anyone shed any light on how this 'cashless' 3%/5% discount works?

Is it something you have to sign up for somewhere (if so where)?

Do you just get an immediate automatic 3/5% discount on the price, or get some kind of points back? (in which case, is it some kind of centralized government points, or the existing card points? )

I have a Suica card, a J-Debit card and a prepaid visa card... none of which have any kind of points scheme.

Do I just use them as usual and pay 3/5% less? I can't find any clear info on how it all works.

PS/ It's the first I've heard of these 20,000 yen vouchers as well. Seems like the hometown-tax thing in that it mainly benefits people who have enough spare cash lying around to make large one-time payments in order to get a bigger benefit down the line.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Does U.S. President Donald Trump deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? See in context

Obama did not deserve, and I voted for him twice!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Visitors flock to UNESCO World Heritage Site recommendations See in context

People both in Japan and overseas seem to have the wrong idea about the UNESCO World Heritage Lists. (there are several lists of different types).

As far as I know, they aren't supposed to be a tourist guide to the most impressive/beautiful sites. They are supposed to be a record of important historical and cultural sites/things.

People overseas seem to get upset when too many places are added to the list, especially if they aren't considered world class or wonders of the world. As if adding a factory somehow devalues a temple. It's not supposed to be a ranking or an exclusive club. It's simply supposed to be a list. If it grows to include thousands of sites then that's ok. Many of the sites on there already (such as mines in Wales) aren't places I would ever want to visit. They're important in terms of the industrial revolution and its influence on the UK/World. But they aren't really sightseeing spots.

People in Japan seem to treat it as a tour guide. Or a status symbol. If it's on the list, then it's great and worth seeing. If it's not on the list then it's not so good. Hence the pride in getting somewhere Japanese on the list, and the sudden desire to see a site that is suddenly "better" due to its new status. People here will often tell me they are visiting a country to see the World Heritage Sites. Not to see the historical sites, just the world heritage ones. If i recommend a place then they will ask if it is a World Heritage Site. I won't know, because I don't care, because it doesn't change whether it's amazing or not. This will not impress them.

It sure seems to get a lot more news coverage here too. Most people in my home country would have no idea if we have any world heritage site, or how many, or where they are. They would also have no idea or interest in whether Mt Fuji or The Taj Mahal or The Eiffel Tower were world heritage sites or not. Because it wouldn't change anything. And it's not intended to change anything, because it's not an exclusive list or a tour guide or a recommendation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: The art of giving and receiving change in Japan See in context

No No No. I don't usually bother complaining about things in Japan, but the vacant smiles and slow customer service that you get in most convenience stores here are one of the things that really bug me. I'd take the personalized service, eye contact and smiles that you get in western/european/us stores over most of the service I get in Japanese convenience stores any day of the year.

Most Tokyo convenience store staff (and a lot of supermarket staff) are paying more attention to the rituals and the people walking into the store than the person standing infront of them. They almost never smile. They rarely make eye contact. They seem to be talking to someone about 5 meters behind and above you. They basically repeat the same script, ignoring the obvious infront of them. They never say "hello" or anything personalized. They move with glacial slowness as they follow every step of the ritual and count out all your money even when you are clearly in a rush. They suddenly interrupt what they're doing/saying to join in the Irashaemase chorus and basically shout in your face. They are still running through their automated script as you are walking out the door, which hardly makes it feel personal. Etc..

That said, a lot of customer service in Japan is pretty good, but cheap/quick shop store staff is usually not part of it. I've had better service in smaller towns, where people are less likely to stick to the impersonal script, and more likely to smile. My local supermarket in Tokyo has one middle aged lady who is always smiling and friendly. the rest, not so much. One of my local convenience stores had friendly (again older) staff. The others not so much. The convenience store near my office has had a couple of friendly staff over the years, interestingly they were all non-japanese. Indian, Asian, etc..

Sorry for the rant. i mostly love you japan!

4 ( +9 / -4 )

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