Orchid64 comments

Posted in: Do you think marriage will continue to be a core social institution in the future? See in context

So many people are responding to this question in a highly personalized way rather than address the core intent of the question. Personal bitterness or opinion has little to do with whether or not marriage will remain an important social institution. Some form of bonding (whether merely a ritual or a legal one) has been a part of humanity for most of its history because official bonding serves to provide stability within a culture. Without that stability, people feel more reserved about making a variety of other commitments which are generally seen as beneficial to society on the whole. This includes having children, buying homes (or other large purchases for which the possibility of a double-income or a secondary person who can earn an income should the main breadwinner become incapacitated), and spending money on higher quality of life pursuits. From a personal viewpoint, being single is fine, but you do have less disposable income and more uncertainty because you can only rely on yourself (or your extended family). Even setting aside social censure of single parents (which may be unfair, but still exists), the burden of raising a child alone is quite great and being bonded to a significant other generally improves the quality of life for everyone.

Based on the fact that social stability benefits cultures, it would be surprising if some sort of formal bonding were to disappear or become irrelevant in the future, either distant or near.

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Posted in: If a longtime expat starts offering you advice, walk the other way See in context

"But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving."

Yes, Japan is well-known for its constant and rapid change. It's not like it is infamous for being slow and grudging to change.

Just because a few old expats said things that were not true does not mean that all of them are the same. Anecdotal experience is interesting, but ultimately meaningless. Is Japan Today so hard up for content that this is what passes as an article these days? Seriously, let's have some journalistic quality rather than taking whatever freebie content comes your way because Metropolis, as a free publication, will take anything thrown their way as long as they don't have to pay the writers. And, yeah, they will do this. I have an e-mail from one of the editors to prove it. It was accidentally sent to me and said, 'yes, we'll print anything because we don't make enough money for quality.'

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Posted in: What do you think of the word "hafu," the Japanese term used to describe anyone who is half-Japanese? See in context

The existence of the term indicates that people are being classed according to the ethnic background differently than other people. It means some people are "pure" and some are mixed. This focus on "breeding" is inherently insulting and racist. Whether or not people are offended by the need to focus on the composition of their ancestors is rather beside the point. Defining people by their blood in this way diminishes and classifies them in a fashion which carries no value whatsoever to the individuals or society. It's about assigning status based on arbitrary factors.

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Posted in: OA offers help for people with eating disorders See in context

@timeon"my wife was the opposite: she is very thin, which is normal in Japan, and she had a huge complex when we lived in US. but she was smart enough to start going to gym instead of pigging out for me stress is a problem"

This sort of ignorance is exactly why women continue to have eating disorders and do not seek help. This assertion reflects judgment of women who having eating disorders.

Intelligence has nothing to do with eating disorders. People who overeat, starve themselves or binge and purge have a mental health problem. It's a psychological issue which is independent of intellect. Being "smart" does not save one from developing such problems.

The solutions are not simple because emotional or psychological problems are not easy to solve. The "eat less, exercise more" reply to obesity only makes people feel less capable of dealing with their problems which drives them to have an even worse problem. When you oversimplify the solution, you do so in order to diminish the magnitude of the problem in an effort to elevate the fact that you personally do not suffer form such issues. It's about emotions, not about habits or character flaws.

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Posted in: The dumbing down of Japanese students See in context

This is the consequence of being a developed and wealthy nation. People who are comfortable are complacent. Children who are raised by parents who suffered no real hardship do not raise their kids with a sense of urgency about improving themselves. The entire educational experience becomes rather rote to such people as it seems abstract. They know they will get jobs. They know they have a high chance of living at a certain lifestyle level. Where is the motivation once you are relatively comfortable?

You can lay this at a lot of feet, but the bottom line is that this happens to all country's average citizens once those in the middle are relatively comfortable. We all live better than kings did 500 years ago - T.V. is our constant court jester, fast and processed food our always at hand chefs, education is available on demand and not just something reserved for the elite so it's of less value. It's about motivation more than the minutiae of the education system, parenting or culture. It's also one of the reasons why advanced nations tend to sink after they reach their peak.

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Posted in: Toyota chief apologizes over recalls, accidents in House testimony See in context

While this is an example of American taking advantage of a rather large trip-up by a foreign manufacturer in the interests of American businesses, it's no less than Japan does all of the time. Let's not pretend only America or other Western countries use such situations to their advantage.

Apologists will pretend that Japan is justified and America is not, but they do so without evidence and based purely on bias.

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Posted in: The state of the language school industry See in context

Those who think the eikaiwa industry in Japan is about education have a limited understanding of Japanese culture. It does serve to teach some people, but it is actually more of a controlled cultural experience situation. Japanese people pay to interact with foreigners and learn about them in a situation where the foreigner is obliged to be patient, defer to them, and where the student can complain if the experience is bad. It's culture as a customer and it's "safer" and far less intimidating than the real world.

If language schools were only about education, there would be a much smaller industry for language learning in Japan. Given how many Japanese people regard foreigners (unpredictable, loud, scary), they prefer the controlled environment of schools to actual travel abroad. It's the same reason they often take package tours rather than set their own itinerary when they travel. Someone else is looking after there interests.

By narrowing the scope to "education", you view the schools from a very ethnocentric perspective. It's much more than that.

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Posted in: What's up with Japanese economy? See in context

International investment is not a bad thing, nor is it an attempt to siphon off Japan's wealth.

There appears to be a naive notion that all debt is bad debt and that Japanese people having no debt is the best thing for Japan's economy. Debt which is not secure and does not lead to greater long-term security is not necessarily a positive thing, but some level of debt fuels the economy. One of the reasons Japanese people have so little debt is that they can't buy homes which means they can't secure their future. With high inheritance taxes, there will eventually be a loss of the middle class lifestyle that most Japanese enjoy and the threat of an impoverished older generation in the future as parents pass away and their children can't pay the taxes on their properties or buy new property.

Right now, Japan's economy holds somewhat steady as a result of favorable export laws, particularly when it comes to having access to the American market (which offers fewer barriers to imports than Japan does) and their technological superiority. They sell expensive goods which are at the top of the line in technological advancement. If either of those benefits starts to erode through time (a risk if Japan experiences a brain drain or the number of young people who can fuel their workforce continues to diminish), Japan will experience serious problems since it has little else to offer or to sustain itself with from an economic viewpoint. The lifestyle of the Japanese will have nowhere to go but down from that point.

Also, frankly, anecdotal experiences are absolutely irrelevant and I can't believe some people are so myopic. 'My life is good and I live in Japan' has nothing to do with the strength of the economy. There are people who live well all over the world, even in the face of great poverty. The experiences of a handful of individuals on an English language news site are of absolutely no value in discussing this topic.

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Posted in: Man gets 17 yrs for fatally abusing girlfriend's 2 daughters See in context

I'm sure he showed all due contrition and apologized. That seems to be pretty much all it takes to get off the hook in Japan, as long as you're male and Japanese.

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Posted in: U.S. risks following Japan's example of stagnancy See in context

America won't fall into the same trap as Japan because it doesn't have the same level of conservatism on the part of the politicians and political disinterest on the part of the people. Also, America can regulate its youthful population better than Japan through immigration, which it does not have the same level of fear and xenophobia about.

Quoting Republicans as saying that stimulus spending is a bad idea is meaningless. Presenting their opinions as if they were facts is very poor reporting. Of course, they're going to say it won't work and use Japan as an example, but saying something doesn't make it true. The current crop of Republicans want Obama to fail at all costs, including seeing America sink more deeply into economic difficulty.

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Posted in: Clinton prods new government to be realistic on security issues See in context

@sabiwabi: How can it be "bullying" and "blackmail"? The U.S. has no power over Japan that Japan does not grant it. It's a sovereign nation. Japan has been allowing a strategic U.S. military presence in Japan for an economic advantage for a very long time. Also, it costs Japan far less to have America cover its back than to do it itself. The power is in Japan's hands, not America's. If it wanted to, it could spend the money, lose its favorable trade status with the U.S. and give up the bases.

No country gets something for nothing. Japan isn't held hostage by the U.S., it's offering itself up for economic reasons. It could try to cultivate a better and stronger relationship with China and South Korea such that it wouldn't have to rely on America so much, but it's hard to stop suckling that teat when you're so comfortable and secure with it.

If you think it's "blackmail" for the U.S. to stop granting Japan advantages if the security situation is changed, then you are ignoring that all relationships are give and take in international diplomacy.

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Posted in: 18-year-old Japanese woman loses Y8 mil antique violin on Austrian subway See in context

I can't help but think that, if you can afford a 8,000,000 violin, you can probably afford to take a taxi.

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Posted in: Marie gives the lowdown on being 'half' See in context

"Hafu" is like the old term "mulatto". It's inherently racist as a term.

The point people constantly miss when discussing racism in Japan is that the issue is not the existence of racism in a particular culture or country. All people and countries are racist. The point is the culture's and government's response to that racism and the policies put in place to stop people from acting on that racism. In the U.S., the policies are to do whatever possible to prohibit people from acting on their racism. In Japan, you get rationalizations and the continuation of the status quo.

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Posted in: Japanese society going over to the 'Dark Side' See in context

The interesting thing about this is that the presumption seems to be that these things haven't been happening all along. Things like tax evasion have been an issue for decades in Japan. It's only now that anyone cares enough to talk about it.

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Posted in: 'Gayjin' find it tough going in Tohoku See in context

I think the problem isn't entirely rooted in conservative or "outdated" notions of sexuality. In Japanese culture, role fulfillment is emphasized heavily on many levels. From the oldest son caring for elderly parents to the office lady who has to serve tea to the husband who has to be a good earner and work hard for his family, there are a lot of roles that people are slotted into. While some flexibility and wiggle room is starting to loosen up attitudes toward "proper" roles, one issue with being gay is that that status has no set role in current Japanese society. In essence, there is no place for gay individuals or couples in the current cultural mindset.

If a married man gets a promotion and a raise and one who in turn has children gets more money, where does the gay man who has no family to support, cannot enter a partner in the social registry, and cannot claim his partner as a dependent fit? Japanese people simply don't know where you fit into the order of things so they'd rather you lied and pretended you fit into the preexisting order. They don't care what you do in your private life, but they don't want to have to deal with the complications of handling you otherwise.

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Posted in: Japan can do without preaching on how to fix its economy See in context

The odd thing about this article is that it assumes that Japan is unique in being told how to run its own business. Everyone and his brother thinks its their place to run America, decide who its president is, what its social and tax policies it should be, how it should handle military issues, and it's foreign policy. Japan is not alone in being "advised" by a long shot. At least Japan mainly gets scrutinized for economic issues because they affect other countries. Everyone wants to run America.

Personally, I think all developed countries will see depressed economic growth and their citizens will see a reduction in lifestyle as a result of globalization and there's little that can be done about it besides getting citizens to accept the future or to put protectionist policies in place. Neither is a good option or a solution, but you can't consistently send jobs out to lower paid workers abroad and undermine the ability of your country's people to consume without having a bad effect on your own economy through time. Japan did well for quite some time, but mainly because it was at one point a developing economy. Now that it's developed, it's got nowhere to go but down, and there's no easy solution.

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Posted in: 65-year-old man arrested after stabbing rampage in Saitama See in context

This is really sad and seems to be another in a trend in Japan these days where angry, frustrated and possibly mentally ill senior citizens are committing crimes. This is a social problem that Japan is going to have to address in a more proactive and constructive manner than simply locking up the perpetrators after the fact.

For starters, they really need to raise the retirement agent to 70 or remove mandatory or conditional retirement at 60. Right now, people who work in salaried positions are told that their choice is the door, or to quit and be rehired at 50% of their previous salary. Such people have little purpose in life and their lives become small and centered around mundane activities and local happenings. It's no wonder they may grow agitated with small problems with neighbors or other problems and blow up. They lose touch with the greater reality.

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Posted in: Proposed resident registry card for foreigners creates Big Brother concerns See in context

Anyone who doesn't think this isn't about fleecing foreigners by forcing them to pay into the failing pension system is fooling themselves. The Japanese government knows that the 25-year rule will ensure that few people collect the Japanese pension after paying into it and the system is not reciprocal in most countries. I'm surprised that the writer of this article lists being a part of the state pension scheme as a "pro". It's essentially throwing your money away for 99% of foreign people working in Japan.

I wouldn't have a problem if there were conditions depending on status or if the system had a much lower number of years for paying in before you could collect (say 5 years - the length of the new visa). For instance, permanent residents should pay into the pension system, but this looks like it's going to be a blanket laid over people who come for a year or who stay for 20 years.

The root of the problem is going to be that foreigners aren't paid the same as Japanese people or working under the same conditions. Forcing them to pay into various social systems (which they almost certainly will not utilize) places a burden on them which is not placed on the Japanese. Pension payments, ward taxes, and health insurance costs are supplemented for salaried employees in Japanese companies. "Temporary employees" (or contract workers) are currently either slipping under the wire, having their expenses augmented by their temp agencies, or paying reduced expenses because they are married to a salaried employee. Foreigners typically have none of these expenses covered in part by their employers so it's a far bigger bite from their wages than for the average Japanese.

In the end, such a system will make Japan an even less attractive place for foreign workers and likely drive up the cost of having foreign employees for those companies that hire them because it'll be harder to make it worthwhile to be here without increasing wages to compensate for all the new expenses. I'm not sure that ultimately that is not the goal of all of this. Fewer gaijin in Japan and taking more money from those who are here with the knowledge that they'll rarely have to pay any of it back.

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Posted in: Why do Asian pop stars have a hard time succeeding in the U.S. market? See in context

I wonder how many people who are saying the American market is closed actually understand the market, particularly those asserting that even other English speakers can't succeed in that market. British acts in particular have had tremendous success in the U.S., as have at least some Australians.

The market isn't simple. It's multi-layered. If you're only looking at the teen market and focusing on manufactured pop acts like Miley Cyrus, then it probably is hard for foreign acts to penetrate. However, the adult markets are wildly varied.

The main issue right now is that rap and hip-hop are popular and that type of music originated largely in the U.S. and few outside acts can manage to do it without looking like copycats. Also, the whole American Idol thing is skewing the current market. In the past, when other types of music (heavy metal, synth-pop, etc.) were riding waves of popularity, there were plenty of foreign acts that were popular. During the heavy metal phase, Def Leppard was played endlessly on MTV (as were the Scorpions, who are German). U2 has been huge in the U.S. and continues to do well there, and Abba was also quite popular. It's the current music trends which are affecting what type of acts become popular, not any inherent lack of desire to enjoy foreign acts.

If you are biased in viewing the U.S. market in a particular way (and ignoring vast sections of the music-buying public and the history of popular music in the U.S.) in order to claim people are racist or closed-minded, I guess you can assert anything.

The bottom line is that Japanese pop groups are generally not very good. They are like 3rd rate Britney Spears. They are just as manufactured and untalented, but not as well polished. Most Japanese groups look like amateur hour when you see them performing.

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Posted in: The United States had been a failure on the immigration front. See in context

This business of deflecting every discussion of a particular country's actions to what is done or happening in America is getting tiresome. It's something that you see all the time not only among politicians, but also among average people of all nationalities. This sort of thinking makes it seem like there is a constant competition going on where people are sizing themselves up against the U.S. and what is happening there. The U.S. has nothing to do with Japan's immigration policies, and it has certainly not been a "failure" by any objective measure. It's still the biggest power in the world, even in hard times, and it got where it is based on the power of a country of almost nothing but immigrants.

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Posted in: Recession a good opportunity to return to Japan's core virtues See in context

The problem is that wealthy countries that start to see a back-slide in economic conditions tend not to revert to the values of a "simpler time" (assuming such values actually were embraced in the past). They tend to have increased crime and people's lives fill with stress and fear about their future.

Scaling back and embracing the value of non-material possessions is great in theory, but in practice the Japanese business culture has given many people very little to value except their jobs and the security that working hard brings them. In order for Japan to make a transition to valuing loved ones, nature, or whatever over prosperity, they have to give people the time outside of the office to realize these things have value and to cultivate relationships with family and friends.

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Posted in: Aso's reading blunders spark study spree See in context

It boggles the mine that some commenters are so ignorant of the real situation in Japan regarding kanji. It takes Japanese children 4 more years to reach the same level of reading as a child in countries where romance languages are spoken because they have to remember so many characters. Also, I have never met a Japanese person who could read a newspaper and understand every word. In fact, everyone I meet says they either guess or skip over characters they don't understand. I rarely meet foreigners who can't understand every word in a paper.

The kanji system is cumbersome for the Japanese and it's absurd to suggest simplifying it is for the benefit of foreigners who study Japanese.

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Posted in: Doggie bag See in context

I've also had leftovers wrapped up for me at restaurants in Tokyo and have never gotten any guff for asking. I think it's just less common in Japan because portions are smaller.

I've always considered the "doggy bag" concept as a feature of American restaurants. You aren't supposed to eat it all and part of the appeal is that you can enjoy another meal the next day from the leftovers and without having to get dressed up and go out. I explain this to Japanese people who visit the U.S. all the time and most of them are amazed at how easy it is to get everything packed up for later consumption.

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Posted in: The worst thing is that they are treated like they are things, not human beings. See in context

@sydeham: The main problem is that your argument, while a good one, presupposes that we all have the same flexibility in choice-making and therefore are equally responsible for our lot in life. We do not. People are not born with the same potential by no fault of their own nor do they have the chance to expand whatever potential they are born with by pursuing a variety of educational options. Many people have very narrow selections to make because of their social or economic situation.

The conservative argument is always that people should be responsible for themselves, but that argument is made by people for whom life has offered up a variety of opportunities and who believe others could have made the same choices as they if they wanted to or worked hard enough. Not everyone can do what the people who find themselves in the most secure and comfortable positions in life have done. Sometimes people find they're at the bottom with no way to climb up.

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Posted in: Dating in Tokyo is pretty easy—if you’re not looking for a single guy See in context

People get the spouses they deserve based on their values, behavior, and expectations. If you have a "list" and things like wealth and beauty are high on that list, then you deserve whatever unfulfilling, shallow relationships you get. Ultimately, money doesn't make people happy and beauty fades. Most men realize this more slowly than women, and the foreign men on the prowl in Japan even more slowly than others. Foreign women usually know better, but they also sometimes pay more attention to the appeal in their mates' faces and bodies than to the quality of their companionship. I've met few foreign women who have married Japanese men who are really satisfied with their relationships in the long run.

Every person in an unhappy relationship has made choices that have lead to their situation. If you end up with losers and cheaters, you have no one to blame but yourself as you prioritized the wrong things when you made your choice.

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Posted in: What do you think of the government's plan to give a Y12,000 cash handout to members of the public in an effort to stimulate the economy? See in context

@robbienz: Japan doesn't want skilled foreign employees. They want people who will do the grunt work at lower rates than Japanese people.

Regarding the 12,000 yen hand out, it's silly and I'm sure most people feel the same way, but they won't turn down free cash.

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Posted in: Ginza See in context

@escape_artist Jesus did exist if you believe the best archaeological evidence. Whether he was a messiah, a prophet, or whatever is a matter of opinion, but it's as close to fact as possible that he existed as a human being at some point in history.

I don't understand why this woman and her sign are news. Christians feel it is part of their duty to God to try and "help" people by teaching their beliefs. The vast majority act out of a genuine desire to "save" people because they deeply believe their eternal souls are at risk. I don't believe this, but I do know that these people mean no harm.

If their message doesn't appeal to you, ignore it. That's the freedom we all have when being exposed to the viewpoints, dogma, etc. of others. There's no need to malign them or cast aspersions on all Christians (or all of any group of people) because you may have witnessed bad behavior from a few.

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Posted in: Creative industries get ready for an offensive in copyright war See in context

What did musicians do to earn a living before technology allowed their work to be recorded and distributed? They were paid by the performance or by the work. When a work was commissioned, the composer did not get paid for every performance.

Artists and their distributors have been on a technology-provided gravy train for a long time, but now they have to actually keep working to earn a living like everyone else (and artists who have been working in such a manner for centuries). Essentially, people are crying about not being able to make a killing off of a limited creative output.

While I don't think anyone should profit from the work of another, I think the long tendrils of copyright shouldn't allow people to abuse people who are essentially their patrons so that they can get paid for the same job until they pass on.

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Posted in: Where is Obama's change we can believe in? See in context

Isn't it premature to be talking about whether or not we can believe in Obama's change? He's not really in a position to do anything yet given that he is not the president. The writer of this piece seems to be pre-judging rather seriously. It's important to remember that George Bush is still president.

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Posted in: What's your recommendation for helping Crown Princess Masako recover fully from whatever is ailing her? See in context

Setting aside the fact that few readers are qualified to diagnose or cure anyone or anything, there is the fact that we don't know what is wrong with her. How can we recommend anything? It's tantamount to being told someone has a bodily illness and asked to help them get better without knowing if that illness is cancer, a common cold, or a broken leg.

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