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Piltdown Man comments

Posted in: Okinawa fears revised plan may leave Futenma where it is See in context

Please keep in mind the Okinawan people don't want the American's to leave, they want the bases gone.


That was a very kind thing for you to say. From what I've heard I'm not sure if I fully agree, but it was very kind nonetheless. Thank you.

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Posted in: Okinawa fears revised plan may leave Futenma where it is See in context

The Obama administration could score big in the opinion polls if it were to move toward closing the US bases in Okinawa.

US taxpayers would give it an enthusiastic thumbs up, US military personnel who would rather be back home with families and friends would cheer it, and the Okinawan people who want the Americans out would score a victory. Win-win.

The only people who would lose would be many Okinawans who work on the base or whose livelihoods otherwise depend on it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Time to tax sugar to combat health crisis: experts See in context

I think such a tax is worth considering. But, I would say leave sucrose (table sugar) out of it, and just tax high-fructose corn syrup and the other such sugars that contribute significantly to the obesity/heart disease/diabetes epidemic.

Incidences of these health issues were not nearly as prevalent back in the days when soft drinks and other junk foods were made of "real" sugar cane sugar. It would certainly be nice to see more foods that use plain old 'sugar' and fewer that use exponentially more harmful, highly-processed fructose and/or glucose.

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Posted in: Area near Yokohama school closed due to high radiation levels See in context

Any news on the name of the school?


It was at Futatsubashi shoggako (横浜市立二つ橋小学校) in Seya-ku. Here is a link to the NHK news report : http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20120203/t10015771131000.html

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for breaking babies' legs See in context

Here is a news clip showing Yuko Saotome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEAr5BfKkm8

I don't see how she could have done this four times before getting caught.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Foreign firms feel sidelined in post-quake rebuilding See in context

Many would have had a better life is Shea would have been "thinking outside the box".

@Okinawamike Alternatively, many would have had a better life if the Japanese government ministries and prefectural authorities would "think outside the box".

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Posted in: Fatal hit-and-run suspect escapes from hospital in Wakayama See in context

@Goals Black Benz. Yep, yakuza all right.

My previous comment about checking the guard's wallet was meant to be sarcastic--but now it doesn't seem too far off. It would seem that somebody was paid to turn a blind eye.

Has Yokotani's photo been released to the press/public?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Fatal hit-and-run suspect escapes from hospital in Wakayama See in context

If I were conducting the investigation I think I would start by checking to see if perhaps the guards wallet had gotten a little thicker. Seems fishy to me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: What do you think of the level of service in shops, restaurants, airlines, banks, offices and so on in Japan? See in context

As someone who worked in the service industry home, I can personally tell you you're wrong. I loved chatting to customers. Helped pass the time and meet some very interesting people.

@tmarie I completely agree with you there. Where I am from the friendliness shown by service workers sometimes seems superficial, but more often than not I find it to be genuine. And I too know this from experience working in the service industry at home.

To be fair to service workers here, though, from the generally rude way I see customers treat service staff here, if I were in the service industry in Japan, I probably wouldn't be inclined to give friendly service either. They do put up with a lot here, especially from the oyaji/obatarian crowd.

Another anecdote: When I first came to Japan a good Japanese friend of mine who I had met back home took me to a restaurant in Tokyo. My friend had always seemed well-mannered and polite back in my country. Different story at the restaurant in Japan, though. He wanted a waitress to come to our table, so started shouting out "sumimasen" until one came. I was flabbergasted. That sort of behavior in my country would definitely translate to begrudging service with a bitter glare.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think of the level of service in shops, restaurants, airlines, banks, offices and so on in Japan? See in context

Overall the service is generally high--if you stay within set service parameters. The "have it your way" mentality is almost non-existent. Paraphrasing one JT poster some time back: good service, poor hospitality.

The service level has fallen considerably in the last 20 years or so. Back then Japan really did live up to its reputation for meticulous service. Now, I would just rate it good overall--sometimes fabulous, sometimes somewhat satisfactory, other times horrendous.

One of my many Japan inflexible service anecdotes (also at McDonalds): When my daughter was little I ordered an ice cream cone for her, but because the only size available was much too big for her, and would end up plopping off the cone, I asked the cashier (in Japanese) for less ice cream on the cone. She definitely understood my request, and could see my daughter. The cashier agreed to my request, gave me the McDonalds 0 yen smile, and came back with a normal size cone--after which the ice cream predictably plopped off the cone after just a few licks.

Moral of the story: if you want extra pickles on your burger in Japan, or no pickles at all, forget it. The manual says it comes with 2 pickles and 2 pickles is what you get.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: M5.5 quake hits Koshin, Kanto areas See in context

@Blair Thank you for those two links. Excellent content. They should be required reading for everyone in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: 'Radiation divorce' enters Japanese vernacular See in context

@Nicky and @NetNinja, as always I appreciated your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. Thank you.

From first-hand experience I can certainly identify with parents like Miki and am not surprised that there should be a certain number of “radiation divorces”.

At the insistence of my wife, we returned to Japan after having left following the nuclear disaster only to find out that the Kanagawa Board of Education had admitted to serving cesium-tainted beef to thousands of elementary school students, with some having eaten it on numerous occasions.

(Here is a document from Kanagawa BOE listing days, menu iitems, schools and amounts of the beef served, in Japanese http://www.city.yokohama.lg.jp/kenko/syoku-anzen/1-2/gyu2-02.pdf).

After hearing that I certainly wanted to bail with the kids, but my Japanese wife who before 3/11 had avoided eating most imported food on safety concerns oddly didn't seem very concerned about radiation contamination — so here we stay.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Olympus scandal triggers Japan shareholder activism See in context

Olympus scandal triggers Japan shareholder activism

What? Only one shareholder bringing a lawsuit against Olympus?

If that is the case, then the headline doesn't match the content of the article. Wouldn't it be more apt for the headline instead to read: "Olympus scandal fails to trigger Japan shareholder activism"?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Texas-bound See in context

Darvish is a great addition to the Rangers and from what I hear the Rangers fans are excited to welcome him to the Team.

How does good athletic ability make you an 'outstanding human being'? @oginome I think you misread NetNinja's post.

"We won't refer to Darvish as anything other than an outstanding human being with excellent athletic ability." This means that Darvish is an outstanding human being, and he has excellent athletic ability. (It does not mean he is an outstanding human being because he has excellent athletic ability.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. gov't hoping Noda can stick around for awhile See in context

I'm glad Campbell put in a good word for PM Noda. Japan needs consistency in the form of a PM who is around long enough (several years plus) to move off of square one and get something accomplished.

Noda is working hard to introduce some unpopular yet necessary reforms, and in the process shaking things up, despite many in the government who stand in his way. If Japan changes PMs yet again, the process will have to start all over again. No time for that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: University of Tokyo considering autumn start to academic year See in context

This idea of bringing the university school year in line with other countries was in the news some 20-odd years ago — along with the prospect of re-introducing daylight savings time and moving some universities and research organizations outside of Tokyo. Yet, there were no changes.

Starting off the school year in September would make it easier for more Japanese people to study abroad, and more students from abroad to study in Japan. Let's hope change does happen this time around.

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Posted in: INTERPOL appoints Japanese executive director for new global complex See in context

As one of Interpol's 190 member countries, I believe that Japan is obliged to cooperate with Interpol.

As a member of Interpol, and given their cooperation with the organization here, hopefully Japanese authorities will now extradite the numerous Japanese perpetrators known to be hiding out in Japan who are wanted by Interpol for parental child abduction.

Here are some of the Japanese nationals wanted by Interpol: http://www.interpol.int/Wanted-Persons/%28offset%29/9?wanted_search=&IPSGT_ICPO_Countries=209&current_age_mini=0&current_age_maxi=100

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Posted in: Independent panel on Fukushima crisis says it will go much deeper than gov't one See in context

The panel appointed by the Diet last month...

So, this panel was appointed by the Diet and it has no non-Japanese experts from overseas. Sounds like more of the same old thing to me.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't to probe radioactive apartment block See in context

Authorities said that radioactive gravel may have then been sold to another 200 companies.

Translation — another 200 or more newly-built houses/buildings in Japan contain the same materials.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Child abduction issue should be key concern in Japan-U.S. relations See in context

The issue of international child abductions in Japan should be a key concern in bilateral relations between Japan and the United States.

The first sentence of this article should say: "The issue of international child abductions in Japan should be a key concern in bilateral relations between Japan and the rest of the world."

Until the Savoie and Garcia cases, the US had taken a back seat on this issue, with countries such as France, Canada and Australia playing a much more prominent role. In fact, many Japanese parents who have abducted children to Japan are on FBI, Interport and other wanted lists worldwide. This is an emotionally-charged, increasingly high-profile issue outside of Japan, and anger toward Japan is growing as a result.

Otherwise, this is a very thoughtful and informative article. Thank you Ryo Takahashi (the author)!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Scary guy See in context

I went to a namahage show in Akita pref some years back. A number of parents were there with pre-school aged children. The namahage scared the bejeebers out of the kids, made them promise to behave — or else. The kids were in hysterics.

I think this means of scaring kids into submission would be seen as an act of cruelty in most countries. I felt sorry for the little ones, but the rest of the audience seemed to think their reaction was hilarious.

Anyway, lots of videos of this on YouTube if you cut and paste "なまはげ" (namahage).

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Posted in: 2,000 protest against nuclear power in Yokohama See in context

A bit late now, but here is information on the event, from the Japan Times:

"The Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World takes place at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center on Jan. 14 (1 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.) and Jan. 15 (10 a.m. till 7:30 p.m.). The venue is near Minato Mirai Station on the Minato Mirai Line and is a 12-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line. A two-day ticket costs ¥4,500 (¥3,900 in advance) and allows participation in all programs. Limited-access tickets cost ¥2,000-¥2,500. For more information, visit http://npfree.jp/english.html"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Noda says no decision yet on reducing Iran oil imports See in context

Sheesh. More backpedaling.

First they renege on the 10,00 free flights offer, now this. These politicians are all a bunch of irresponsible loose cannons. Where is the accountability?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: Noda replaces 5 ministers in cabinet reshuffle See in context

In my opinion, Noda is the best prime minister Japan has had in a long time, just what Japan needs to deal with Japan's post-disaster recovery and economic mess. Also, appointment of Okada, a major Ozawa foe, to deputy prime minister is a great move.

Let's hope we now finally see some positive results going forward.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Noda replaces 5 ministers in cabinet reshuffle See in context

All cabinet ministers present at a morning meeting handed in a letter of resignation, but in a piece of political theater, most were returned unopened.

I thought this was a very informative/good article overall, but I was left wondering about the quoted sentence above.

There are 17 Cabinet ministers (I think). How many of them attended the "morning meeting"? Why did they submit letters of resignation?—Was it because they were dissatisfied and wanted to resign? Or, was it because they wanted to show their willingness to support PM Noda should he seek their resignation? Anybody here know the answers?

On a different vein, I know that in Japan resignations are often not 'accepted' by higher ups. I had a Japanese friend who tendered her resignation at a Japanese company. The GM refused her resignation and she continued in her job for many years after. I was flabbergasted (and still am) that his refusal of her resignation would actually pressure her into continuing with the job.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: If the Chinese and maybe the Indians are not going to be abiding by U.S. pressure, then I don't think there will be a major impact on oil prices. See in context

An unfortunate unintended consequence of the Iranian oil embargo is that those who continue to purchase oil from Iran will get cut-rate prices.

Still, this embargo is important for the good of the world, and so I hope other countries (besides the US) help persuade nations not to take advantage of the embargo to source cheap supplies of oil.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan says U.S. reforms could force its banks out of Wall Street See in context

The Volcker Rule as it now stands is a prime example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Through the Volcker Rule, US legislators aim prohibit bank trading in all financial instruments because some forms of financial instruments exacerbated the financial crisis. They are painting all financial instruments with the same brush and grossly overreaching with this policy.

I agree that it is a good idea to remove banks from trading in credit default swaps and other such high risk and highly speculative instruments. But, (in line with what @MackUtsunomiya has written) inflicting harm on the international sovereign bond trade will be detrimental to people at all levels of society worldwide.

With the looming EU/worldwide sovereign debt crisis, this is the worst possible moment for the US to impose this sort of ban. I hope US legislators take some time to put some meaningful thought into this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Ozawa: Nothing unusual about keeping Y400 mil in cash at home See in context

When asked if he thought it unusual to keep that much money to hand, and not in a bank, he replied, “In some ways it’s safer when you have it to hand."

Evidently Ozawa has little faith in the banking system. I wonder if many other politicians keep their money under a mattress as well, out of harm's way if there is a run on the banks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: No. of suicides surpasses 30,000 for 14th year in a row in 2011 See in context

You must have misunderstood.

@CrazyJoe You are right, I did misunderstand. Sorry about that, and thanks for the link.

That means 600,000+ attempted suicides a year. High number, about 5 out of every 1,000 people in a given year.

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Posted in: No. of suicides surpasses 30,000 for 14th year in a row in 2011 See in context

It is said that the number of attempted suicides are ten to twenty times the number of actual suicides in Japan. @CrazyJoe

The actual number is without a doubt significantly higher than the reported number, but nowhere near 10 to 20 times higher.

There were 1.19 million deaths in Japan in 2010; if the number of suicides were 10 times the reported number (300,000+) that would mean around 30% of all deaths were suicides. Not likely.

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