Piltdown Man comments

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

I find the attitude toward suicide here in Japan bizarre/creepy/surreal.

Whenever I am on the train and it stops followed by a euphemistic "human accident" (jishin jiko) announcement by the stationmaster I invariably find myself stunned by the reactions of my fellow passengers. On those all-too-frequent occasions the people around me are visibly angered by the inconvenience, no show of empathy or horror.

I have known a number of Japanese people who have committed suicide. Of those, when the deaths involved students the full-time faculty of their school was given all the grim details about what happened but the students and part-time faculty were told the deaths were accidents and provided with sketchy (false) details about how the death occurred.

Whereas the part-time foreign faculty had plenty of questions about the story they were given (I wasn't allowed to tell even them the truth) the Japanese part-timers nor the students had a single question, just bought the stories hook, line and sinker. I don't think those suicides were included in the suicide statistics that year, rather just marked down as 'accidental' deaths.

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Posted in: Woman arrested for hitting daughter's head against floor See in context

Kudos to the father for reporting this to the police, especially considering that when a woman is a perpetrator of DV here in Japan it is almost always treated as a purely domestic matter with the father/husband duly told to buck up and sort things out on his own.

Many years ago I visited the parental counseling center (kosodate sodan) of my local city office when I had concerns about my Japanese wife and the welfare of our children with her (verbal violence and neglect, not physical violence). Not only did they do absolutely nothing, they even told one of my wife's neighborhood friends that I had approached them with my concerns. Never since have I trusted any of the Japanese authorities.

Men married to abusive women here really have nowhere to turn. Everyday they must go to work knowing that your children are not safe with their mother. It is truly agonizing.

I am glad that the authorities took action in this case, and I hope he is able to take the next step and remove himself and his daughter from this abusive wife/mother.

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Posted in: Exploring two cultures See in context

Because my children are not 100% Japanese, they will not be considered “Japanese.” They will be called “half.” I don’t mind it, though.

I always cringe just a little when I hear bicultural people referred to as haafu here in Japan. Even though I realize that in Japanese the word usually isn't meant to be derogatory, (in my opinion) it cuts too close to 'half-breed' which is without a doubt a racial slur.

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Posted in: Nuclear safety panel received donations from industry: report See in context

Nuclear safety panel received donations


The original Japanese-language Asahi Newspaper story (http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1231/OSK201112310119.html) uses the word 'kifu' (寄付) — duly translated as 'donations' in Asahi's English translation of the article referred to in this AFP article.

Still, use of the word 'donations' is unintentionally comical here since 'donation' usually implies cash was given for charitable uses. I think the word 'payments' or 'alleged donations' should have been used instead in the English version.

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Posted in: Last day of trading See in context

Not a single woman in this photo. Come on TSE get your act together.

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Posted in: Clinton urges Japan to take action on child abduction issue See in context

The issue of parental kidnappings by Japanese nationals directly impacts countless JT readers.

Many have lost contact with children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins/friends who have been abducted to Japan, and still many more live with the constant fear that this will happen to them. As long as this situation persists, it is the children that suffer the most harm.

Thank you JT for keeping this in the public eye.

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Posted in: Clinton urges Japan to take action on child abduction issue See in context

Great post NetNinja. I wish I could give you more than just a single 'thumbs-up'.

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Posted in: Clinton urges Japan to take action on child abduction issue See in context

Enabling bicultural children from divided homes access to both parents and grandparents and other relatives from both sides of the family will be good for Japan, good for the US, and most of all good for children and families. There is still a long way to go, but Sec Clinton and FM Gemba's cooperation on this matter is a step in the right direction.

Right now, three of the 10 people on the FBI's Parental Kidnappings 10 Most wanted list were Japanese. Change is desperately needed.

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Posted in: Edano says Japan's corporate governance on par with U.S. See in context

I think Edano is missing the point. The heart of the problem is that those tasked with oversight and accountability are doing anything but proving to the world that Japan’s governance efforts are “at least on par with the U.S. or even better.”

The story here is getting twisted so that Woodford is regarded with a higher degree of scorn than are the corrupt Olympus executives. Former Olympus president Shimoyama recently said that it was a mistake to bring a foreigner on as president (「外国人社長を迎え入れたのが失敗」), suggesting that it isn’t the corruption that was wrong, but the exposure of it. I think many here share that sentiment.

Politicians, financial regulators and media are all key elements of successful governance of a nation’s companies, and as such they need encourage whistleblowers to come forward. Until whistleblowing is seen in a positive light in Japan, all of the governance efforts to which Edano refers will be close to meaningless.

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Posted in: Korean drama backlash See in context

A sad thing here is that this 'protest' is being held in Okachimachi, the largest Korea town in Tokyo (as far as I know).

This is obviously intended as a direct affront on the many generations of Japanese citizens/residents with Korean ancestry who live there. It's a harmful mob gesture against them conveying that they are not wanted in Japan. I am sure many who live in the area are quite scared by this.

I feel particularly sorry for the children in the area who know by and large know of no other home than Japan.

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Posted in: Korean drama backlash See in context

Racist and insensitive politicians coupled with petty, small-minded grass roots actions like this are what keep Japan-Korea relations on ice. Sad and very counterproductive; detrimental to Japan and detrimental to South Korea.

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Posted in: American father wins custody of daughter taken to Japan See in context

Here is what the Japan Times said in regard to Emiko Inoue in an article dated Nov. 26 from Kyodo, "

Mom to Drop Kobe Appeal in U.S. Custody Battle"

"The 43-year-old woman, whose name has not been disclosed,…"

As of Nov. 26 countless media sources had posted her name (this Japan Today article from the AP included). This woman has been charged with a felony, has spent weeks in jail for her crime already, is without a doubt guilty of the crime, and the case is public record. Her name HAS been disclosed.

This is sloppy journalism on the part of Kyodo/Japan Times at best, and an all out lie at worst. Shame on you Kyodo, same on you Japan Times.

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Posted in: 19-year-old parents questioned over alleged abuse of 8-month-old child See in context

This was a very young couple who probably needed much much more support. I believe that most young people have no idea how a baby is going to change their lives.

From what I have seen in Japan first hand, and through hearsay, I get the feeling that most first-time parents here of all ages are woefully at a loss with parenthood.

Why? The major culprit behind poor parenting here (and even the low birthrate) is, as I see it, that way too much emphasis placed on school and academics -- which all comes at the expense of other key areas of 'normal' teen-age (emerging-adulthood) development.

For instance, have you ever heard of a Japanese teenage girl who babysits to earn money (and in the process gets a small taste of parenthood)? I never have. Not once.

Back in my days as a high school teacher in Japan, I remember almost none of the students had any form of part-time job, babysitting or otherwise. The few who did had to get special approval to do so from the entire full-time faculty; and that permission was granted only begrudgingly to students who could show that their family was enduring financial hardship. Most of the faculty regarded babysitting and other part-time work as detrimental to the student. The school monopolized their lives. Little else was important. It was to be the end-all and be-all of the students, and little outside of school had any value.

Anyway, I could try to persuade the faculty until I was blue in the face about how valuable my babysitting experience as a teenager was toward enabling me to adjust to parenthood -- they would just look at me like I was from another planet.

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Posted in: Noda to support Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid See in context

I personally would be thrilled to see Japan host the Olympics.

That said, there are three major strikes against Tokyo's prospects for posting the winning bid: 1.) the lack of disclosure about radiation levels and health threats, 2.) lack of enthusiasm and support from among the local population, and 3.) the outspokenly racist Tokyo governor (Ishihara) who, despite his shameful behavior, enjoys the long-running majority support of Tokyoites.

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Posted in: American father wins custody of daughter taken to Japan See in context

Coverage of this case in Japan's English and Japanese language press has been a positive step toward properly addressing the issue of child abductions into Japan.

I was just looking at the FBI websites 10 Most Wanted list for "Parental Kidnappings". Three of the 10 perpetrators on that list are Japanese. This is a huge problem, and judging by the many 200+ comments to this article, one that is extremely important to countless Japan Today readers.

Many who access Japan today are parents or relatives of children who have been kidnapped into Japan, and still many more other readers who are married to Japanese spouses live with the daily fear of their children being abducted into Japan, never to be seen again. This is a tragedy foremost for abducted children, and also for parents, grandparents and many others who lose contact with them.

I am glad that Japan Today covered this, and hope to see more stories about the many other children that have been abducted.

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Posted in: American father wins custody of daughter taken to Japan See in context

Thank you Japan Today for reporting this!

Not only did you heighten awareness of crime involving child abduction by Japanese citizens, but you even reported the perpetrator's name! From what I have seen so far, Japan Today is the only Japan-based English language media source that has reported her name (others are referring to her as "a 43-year old Japanese woman").

The issue of Japan acting as a safe haven for child abductors is the most important issue today for many people with family ties to Japan in the English speaking community. Ongoing coverage of this issue is crucial in the struggle to rescue hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of children who have been abducted to Japan by abductors who are actively protected by Japanese law enforcement, government, and diplomats.

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Posted in: Thousands rally for Fukushima compensation, decontamination See in context

The government probably won't pay much attention to these protests as long as they remain out of (their) sight. They need to bring these 10,000 protestors right to the doorsteps of the Japanese Diet in Kudanshita if they want to create a meaningful impact.

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Posted in: Foreign business groups urge gov't to bolster corporate governance rules See in context

If the Olympus execs claim that they have done nothing illegal, why are their heads bowed so low in the AP photo shown above?

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Posted in: Foreign business groups urge gov't to bolster corporate governance rules See in context

These foreign business groups are right, Japanese companies certainly do need to practice better governance for the good of their employees and society at large — but the same goes for companies in virtually every other advanced economy.

Corporate greed and recklessness in the advanced economies is what got us into the current global economic crisis. Foreign business groups shaming Japanese business here is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Shame on them all.

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Posted in: Nozomi Sasaki's beauty secret - living without stress See in context

I just can't believe she can spew out this blithe nonsense with a straight face.

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Posted in: Nozomi Sasaki's beauty secret - living without stress See in context

Sasaki said her secret to keeping in good shape and staying happy is to live her life without stress.

I never realized until today how readily attainable health and happiness is—just live life without stress. Simple yet profound.

Now, to achieve this positive state of mind and body all I have left to do is ditch my wife, children and job (and all other sources of stress and obligation in my life). Look out narcissistic bliss, here I come.

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Posted in: Rallies for and against TPP held in Tokyo See in context


I bet you won't find any taste difference between domestic Japanese rice and Japanica rice produced in California (as consumer group surveys have shown).

Your comment reminded me of what I witnessed in 1993 when Japan imported foreign rice, mostly Thai Indica-variety rice (Thai-mai), for the first time due to a rice shortage in Japan brought on by crop failures that year. Countless Japanese people at that time emphatically told me, ad nauseum, that they did not like foreign rice. They were adamant about it.

At that time, in addition to the endless news reports condemning non-Japanese rice, agricultural concerns held an event where they pitted Thai Indica-style rice against the Japanese Japonica variety in making nigiri sushi. Of course the Indica didn't hold up, thereby 'proving' their point that foreign rice is inferior. Although it was an obvious agricultural propaganda effort on their part, everyone here seemed to buy into their ploy hook, line and sinker.

Anyway, because they know that there is absolutely no difference between Japonica grown in Japan and Japonica grown overseas, it is doubtful that these agricultural interests would ever initiate an impartial taste test involving the Japanese public. I would love to see it, though.

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Posted in: Olympus chief Kikukawa resigns amid reports of FBI probe See in context

@Hide Suzuki

How many "western" corporations put a Japanese person as CEO or president ? Japanese companies are as open as (or as closed as) any country out there.

I would have to disagree with you on that Hide Suzuki. I don't know the data for CEOs, but as for top executives in general, as of 2005 90% of Europe's largest companies had at least one director from outside the home country, and 35% of the largest American companies had at least one foreign board member. I am not sure of the numbers for Japan, but I am sure it is significantly lower than 35%.

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Posted in: Olympus chief Kikukawa resigns amid reports of FBI probe See in context

After demoting (firing?) Woodford, Kikawa said Woodford "was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture.

Does that mean, then, that the 'management style' and 'Japanese culture' Kikawa was referring to is one of underhanded business practices, cover-ups, and secrecy at all costs? Shameful.

The employees of Olympus and the people of Japan deserve an apology from Kikawa.

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Posted in: Olympus chief Kikukawa resigns amid reports of FBI probe See in context

It is interesting to watch this scandal unfold. All of the Olympus stories up until now have been listed in JT's 'Business' category—this is the first one to be put under the 'Crime' category.

I hope this encourages other whistle-blowers to come forward and take a stand against executive greed in Japan and overseas.

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Posted in: Japanese woman sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug smuggling See in context

If she is a nurse then the thought of her not having some inkling of what she was carrying seems a tad implausible. That said, if Malaysian law stipulates that a judge/jury may render a guilty verdict only after guilt has proven 'beyond a shadow of doubt,' then her story is plausible enough that she should be set free.

However, I'm not sure if the Japanese government has much of a track record of going to bat for its citizens that find themselves in trouble abroad. I think they have more of a 'you're on your own' mentality in most cases. The bureaucrats see it as too 'mendokusai'.

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Posted in: American serviceman in Okinawa held for allegedly assaulting hotel security guard See in context

A drunk Okinawan assaulting a U.S. serviceman would not make news. I would guess that the overall number of incidences of crime committed by Japanese nationals against U.S. service members far exceeds the number of crimes the other way around. (This also goes for crimes in Japan committed by versus those committed against non-Japanese nationals)

That there are blatant strategic reasons behind why these relatively minor incidents committed by U.S. troops and their family members make national news in Japan is all too obvious — low-cost leverage at the international bargaining table.

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Posted in: Olympus ex-CEO pursues the $687 million question See in context

This story is featured in the Business section of Japan Today. — but it looks like it is about time to transition it over to the Crime section.

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Posted in: Olympus ex-CEO pursues the $687 million question See in context

Two Japanese bankers working on Wall Street (Hajime Sagawa and Akio Nakagawa) are now under FBI investigation in relation to this case. The FBI is looking into the bankers' shady practices in engineering Olympus's $687 million payout to the sham Cayman Islands company that disappeared soon after the deal was closed.

This is past the point of no return now. It will be hard for the Japanese authorities to ignore, no matter how closely the Olympus execs

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Posted in: Why some mothers 'sell' their children for dirty deals See in context

She was about 10 when mama started having her pose for photographs – in a wet gym uniform, or in panties cutting into her flesh.


I have my doubts that this is a true story or at least 100%?

This is likely to be pretty close to 100% true, I'm afraid. Magazines depicting elementary/jhs-aged children performing inappropriate adult poses (as described above) are not just an aberration found hidden away in seedy porn shops. These magazines are mainstream in Japan, and can be found in eye-level racks at many of the nation's convenience store. If you need evidence, just google the magazine title Moecco (モエッコ).

These mothers who subject their daughters to this sort of stardom — stage mothers looking for vicarious fame and mothers aiming to finance shopping and gambling addictions — compete intensely, and will stop at nothing, to get their little ones featured among the abundance of child soft porn available in these 'prestigious' high-circulation glossies.

As a father and a non-Japanese person, I am appalled at the lack of outrage and apathy that I find among the general population toward this sort of thing. In most developed countries, it would be headline news and massive protests would ensue if a convenience store attempted to condone this sort of child abuse through the sale of a Lolita magazine like Moecco.

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