rainyday comments

Posted in: It is the responsibility of our generation to put an end to the argument on whether the Self-Defense Forces is unconstitutional. See in context

Also, the economic situation of Japan, its debt burden and the babyboomer generation assistance is not an easy task to solve, is not only politics, not only laws, not only trying to convince the companies and the public to do this or that... is all of that and more (time and patience mainly), two things that people tend to lack a lot.

So....politicians should only prioritize easy stuff (amending the constitution)? And other stuff that is absolutely essential that they try to tackle we should give them a pass on because it is difficult?

Regarding the SDF stance, given the current situation of Japan and its neighbors, and the need for Japan to be able to defend itself without the help of the US... this action I think is also welcomed...

That isn't what he is saying, he is saying that he wants to clarify the constitutional status of the SDF. I question why this in and of itself should be the top priority of his generation. It has not been an actual issue in decades - no court has heard a case (let alone rules in favor of one) challenging the constitutionality of the SDF since the 1970s. It is a non-issue. Real issues that matter to people abound, but I guess (according to you) because they are difficult we should allow Abe to ignore them and focus his energy on this pet project. I don't get that.

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Posted in: Due to the effects from the inauguration of [U.S.] President Trump and the series of terrorist incidents, the tendency to shun European countries and the United States is only growing stronger. See in context

This is seen as a big opportunity for countries like Canada and New Zealand to reap a Trump/Brexit dividend in their tourist and educational sectors as they come to be seen as the "nice" English speaking countries.

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Posted in: It is the responsibility of our generation to put an end to the argument on whether the Self-Defense Forces is unconstitutional. See in context

Dear PM Abe's Generation: You have left our generations with a crippling national debt that will deny us a viable pension plan, neglected to do anything to solve a demographic problem that will require most of us to do almost nothing but care for your generation when you become unable to do so yourself while denying us the ability to pursue happiness and a family life of our own, ensured that we will be stuck with dangerous nuclear reactors that should have been phased out long ago and basically done nothing to fix the structural problems in the economy because keeping things as they is the comfortable thing for your generation to do.

But thanks for trying to clarify the constitutional status of the SDF.

Yours Truly,

Everybody in Japan under 45.

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Posted in: Embroiled in controversies, Trump seeks boost on foreign trip See in context

the trip could take him out of his comfort zone. He generally prefers his own bed to hotel rooms.

The president of the United States is afraid of sleeping outside of his own bed and this may impact his ability to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the most powerful country on Earth. That is literally what this is telling us.

Its so easy to miss these little nuggets buried amongst the backdrop of much more worrisome stuff about the guy, but I thought this was also worth drawing everyone's attention to.

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Posted in: Embroiled in controversies, Trump seeks boost on foreign trip See in context

If i was a hack writer working on a script for a comedy film about an imbecilic man who accidentally becomes president of the United States and then hilarious hi-jinx ensues when he takes office and does nothing but blunder, I would definitely write a scene in which his first foreign trip was to the Middle East.

The opportunities for comedy gold would be too tempting to pass it up. I will be eagerly watching this trip.

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Posted in: Japan may become 4.5 C hotter if no anti-global warming steps taken See in context

@rainyday I am involved in a project with a couple dozen researchers in creating a forecast for an event that is strongly correlated with 2 variables; accumulated precipitation and corn heat units. We have data going back 50 years, have live feeds from 450 automated weather stations and 25 years of ground proofing data and we are nowhere near being able to provide a risk forecast. We can provide model risk maps but not a forecast. Not one of the scientists involved in this project would hang their hat on a forecast. The data set being used to try and scare the pants off of people that driving to the supermarket will cause their grand kids to be killed in a flood is so massive and with so many variables included and so many variables not included that anything produced by the model is pure speculation and equivalent to trying to forecast a typhoon in the Philippine by counting the number of times Monarch butterflies in Mexico flap their wings.

Ah, you are a scientist? Then you must know the uselessness of the observation that a scientific model can't predict the future. Everyone already knows that. The only useful criticism you, as someone involved in scientific research, could contribute would therefore be to actually look at the model which you are objecting to and identify weaknesses which suggest that it draws misleading conclusions.

So again I ask, what specifically do you object to in their model? What model would you use?

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Posted in: Japan may become 4.5 C hotter if no anti-global warming steps taken See in context

These "simulations" i.e. models are notoriously not good at prediction. A risk model and a risk forecast are completely different things, thus the word "may" was added as a qualifier. They can say anything no matter how outlandish as long as a qualifier is used. Put a bunch of exaggerated data into a model and the result is meaningless.

What parts of the specific model used to make this prediction do you take issue with and how does it affect the robustness of its predictions?

I ask ask because your comment is so vague and broad that it could apply to any prediction about any thing that may happen at any time in the future. So for you to actually have something meaningful to say about this, you would need to provide some specifics rather than just broad and obvious observations.

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Posted in: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey See in context

Government by continuously firing people. I wonder what Comey did to get this, lying about stuff usually gets you promoted in Trump's administration.

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Posted in: ADB gives Japanese individuals chance to fund eco-friendly projects See in context

I disagree.

Then why not actually go and look at what the ADB is specifically funding and then complain about that, rather than complaining about Tesla, the Paris Convention (etc) and other things which the ADB is NOT funding?

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Posted in: MTV Awards salute 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Stranger Things' See in context

I liked Stranger Things quite a bit. Perhaps its because I was a kid in the 80s and there is a nostalgia factor at work, but I also liked the characters and the way the story unfolded.

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Posted in: ADB gives Japanese individuals chance to fund eco-friendly projects See in context

Take Tesla, for example.

Tesla has nothing to do with the ADB green bonds which the article is about and none of the rest of your post is relevant to it either. Is your response to every article about something environmentally friendly to simply spout out random bad stuff you know about other things which are in some way good for the environment?

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Posted in: Last survivor of Hindenburg disaster: 'The air was on fire' See in context

> And now, Hydrogen Powered Cars are the new thing... regardless to what the "Experts" are Teeling us, only time will tell..

>   

You do realize that the stuff which powers cars today, gasoline, is also extremely flammable?

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Posted in: There are things that should be done more boldly in areas such as women's social empowerment and preventing the decline in the birthrate. See in context

Rather successful and wealthy people have told me that even though they send their daughters to good schools, their still isn't really a realistic chance of them having a respectable career that's equal to their male counterparts.

I don't see women doctors, dentists, management, or even train drivers.

I see assistants, office workers, receptionists, and back train announcers.

In fairness though some professions are better than others. In high skill, independent professions like doctors, lawyers, veterinarians etc there actually are a substantial number of women working and finding professional success. They are still a minority there, but nowhere near as much as in other areas.

The worst offenders on the other hand seem to be the large corporations that hire large cadres straight out of university each year and from day one put the men and women on different career paths, with the women put on ones that plateau at a much lower level than the men.

I think its partly because doctors and lawyers can set up their own practices and thus talented females in those lines of work can (to a certain extent anyway) get out of the sexist hierarchies that keep them down in larger, male dominated organizations.

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Posted in: Japan's constitution turns 70 on May 3. Some people don't want any amendments at all, while others say some amendments are needed to reflect modern times (the nation's security and the emperor's abdication, for example). What's your view on constitutional amendments? See in context

If the constitution is so malleable in meaning that the government can, by cabinet order, simply re-interpret it at will with no judicial oversight, which is what the current administration did, then why do they even need to amend it?

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Posted in: Trump vows to win 'battles' ahead, at home and abroad See in context

I was asking you what should be done about the financial deficit in the absence of Trump's tax cuts. The Trump tax plan could be dropped - under those circumstances the financial deficit would still exist.

But the current issue up for debate is the merit of Trump's tax cuts and not how the federal government's deficit can be reduced or eliminated. The latter is only a subject because the tax cuts will make that problem worse. So at this point all I can say is that the first step in addressing the US Federal government's deficit is to shelve the tax cut plan. What happens after that is a matter for further debate.

Consumers need to produce something themselves in order to earn money to be able to consume in the first place. This is not like a game of Monopoly. People have to produce something first before they have any money to spend. And when you have produced something, and earned money, you can exchange your money for something that someone else has produced, and vice versa. But no one gets anything if no one produces first. Production comes first.

You are really just needlessly turning this into a chicken/egg argument. Production and consumption are in a mutually dependent feedback loop - without one you do not have the other (if nobody makes a product nobody buys it, if nobody buys a product nobody will make it). Which comes first is irrelevant.

I believe the people who earned the money in the first place have a far higher probability of spending it in a way that is value-for-money.

Sure, but how is that relevant? Individuals spend money on things they need, but for a variety of reasons we need government to spend money on certain things because if it didn't nobody else would. Roads, schools, hosptials, etc - private individuals don't spend their own money directly on building and maintaining these things to an optimal level because the markets do not give them an incentive to. Is the government the best agent in terms of getting value for money out of public contracts? Often not. Does that in and of itself mean that we should starve the government of money by giving tax cuts (mainly to the wealthy)? I don't see how it does.

People don't want money just so they can stare loving at it, money is a means to and end. People want to lives richer lives.

The people at the upper end of the wealth spectrum already have (literally) more money than they know what to do with. For most of them their personal desires are well taken care of, so any surplus they receive will be put into an investment vehicle of some sort rather than spent on personal consumption.

If the economy had a surplus of productive business opportunities that were in need of capital to get them going, then maybe a tax cut to the wealthy would produce the touted benefits since they would have more money to invest in such beneficial projects. The economy in the developed world, not just the US, is not in such a situation at the present. Businesses with promising plans have no trouble raising capital as there is a surplus of funds out there looking for places to invest, to the point that a lot of objectively stupid business proposals are also getting funded (particularly in tech ventures). So cutting taxes for the wealthy is really just increasing the supply of dumb money at the top looking for promising business ventures that are in no need of new money. So instead they get put into speculative investments like residential properties in major cities around the world that are considered safe havens for cash but do nothing to spur economic growth (and have quite harmful effects on the cities which are subject to such speculation).

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Posted in: Trump vows to win 'battles' ahead, at home and abroad See in context

Kuroda, Yellen, and any "expert" who is complaining about what their "model" predicts with respect to this tax cut props

And what is their model and what problems with it have you identified?

Meaningfully higher economic growth and resultant happier people.

What is "meaningfully higher" economic growth and how has American reliance on Kuroda and Yellen's economic models frustrated its realization?

People like you and me.

I'm a university professor with a PHD so I may be stained with the "expert" label, though in my defense I'm not an economist.

Even if you don't believe the same of yourself, I believe you know better than you give yourself credit for. So I say lets stop taking so much of your money (or people in the US like you), and the same for everyone, and then let's see what happens.

If I had complete say over my pre-tax income I would probably spend most of the portion otherwise collected in taxes on vintage Star Wars action figures and beer. I'm not to be trusted with decisions like that, let alone with deciding how a government responsible for 300 million people and trillions of dollars should spend its revenue.

Precisely. You are kidding yourself if you think that there exist people who are so much smarter than you who understand exactly the consequences of what all of this complexity would be. No one knows.

Of course nobody knows, the world is way too complex for the human brain with its many cognitive limitations to compute all the information that is out there and accurately predict the future. Which is why we have to evaluate the substance of what experts say with skepticism. But just rejecting everything that everyone who is an "expert" says and smugly assuring yourself that you know better, which seems to be what you are doing here, doesn't really accomplish much.

That didn't stop the US government running up 10 trillion dollars of debt in 10 years, right? Why is this suddenly such a much bigger issue now that the other team is in power?

Because the "other team" has made it an issue by proposing a tax plan that will make that problem much worse rather than better?

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Posted in: JR East luxury sleeper train makes debut See in context

"the price tag is within the range that many middle class families would spend on an overseas vacation or a cruise for a special occasion"

Let's get this straight. A four day domestic trip for 2 starting at just over 13,000$ and you think that's an option for the middle class?

Well, they can spend that much on a cruise or they can spend that much on a luxury train trip. Who am I (or you) to dictate what someone finds pleasure in and spends their money on? Maybe they like trains and want to see that part of Japan. My point was merely that the price tag was within the ballpark of other "luxury" vacations that middle class people looking to celebrate some major life milestone would go for (I also note that the article was updated since I wrote the previous comment, it originally said prices started from 320,000 Yen, but still).

A middle class family going on an overseas vacation doesn’t go for TWO DAYS. They go for seven to ten days. With some package tours, the price is a lot less than ¥750,000 PER PERSON. I saw a package tour to Europe (Paris, Vienna, Rome) for ¥ 200,000 per person and eight days.

If a rich person wants to travel north for two days (and join the proles at Nikko Shrine) for nearly a million yen, then they are welcome. Nice looking windows.

The article says it is a 4 day trip, not a 2 day trip. And again, why should you dictate what all middle class people do with their money? Maybe some people prefer to take a luxury train trip in Japan to flying to Europe (and those package deals always have teaser rates which are misleadingly low). Many Japanese people are pressed for time and can only take short vacations. Many Japanese people like taking train trips, as the popularity of this one demonstrates. Many Japanese people find enjoyment in seeing a part of their country which they have not seen before. Just because you would not spend your money that way doesn't mean that everyone thinks the same way. The price tag is high, but its not out of the range that many middle class people spend on a major vacation (not an annual thing, but more a major life event type vacation).

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Posted in: Trump vows to win 'battles' ahead, at home and abroad See in context

Even now without tax cuts, there is a great budget deficit and the US has loads of debt. If we put tax cuts aside, what is your proposal to eliminate the financial deficit? If we are assuming tax revenues will stay the same, then the only way to fix the financial deficit is to cut spending, anyway.

You can't assume tax revenue will stay the same. In order for it to do that the math is extremely clear, you would need a rate of economic growth much much higher than anything the tax cut or any other economic policies are capable of producing.

Economic growth is driven by production, not consumption.

The size of the economy is measured by the amount of goods and services produced in a given year, so that is technically correct, but you need consumer demand to exist for those goods and services to be produced in the first place so its kind of an irrelevant distinction to be drawing. Production relies on consumption and vice versa.

Economic growth as a process is driven by two factors - population growth and increases in productivity. Population growth increases the size of the economy simply because there are more workers and consumers and thus more production. Increases in productivity happen when efficiency increases and those workers are able to produce more with the same amount of input (labor and raw materials).

My problem with the tax cuts (at least in terms of balancing the budget) is that it contributes nothing to either of these and thus offers no real path towards an increase in economic growth. Tax cuts are largely irrelevant to population growth and do nothing in and of themselves to promote increases in efficiency unless they are targeted in a way that encourages increased productivity, which the proposed ones do not. A drastic cut in the corporate tax rate across all corporations merely results in a windfall for shareholders, but does nothing in itself to encourage those companies to be more productive. Likewise a tax cut to the extremely wealthy (which is mostly where this one is going) does nothing to encourage them to be more productive.

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Posted in: Trump vows to win 'battles' ahead, at home and abroad See in context

The problem I have with that is that the experts whose advice has been taken for the whole of the 21st century have failed miserably to achieve good economic outcomes.

Which specific experts are you talking about and what specific good economic outcomes have been missed due to what specific erroneous advice given? I hate it when people deride "experts" as though they were a uniform, anonymous blob. "Experts" can and do have differing opinions on differing policies, so unless you state which specific ones you are attacking statements like this have no meaning.

Rather than listen to those failures, why don't we just let people who earn money through productive activities keep more of what they earn, and see how well or otherwise those positive incentives improve the situation?

Which failures should we stop "listening" to? And which people who earn money through productive activities should we be handing the keys to economic policy to (the guy who cleans the toilets in my building "earns money through productive activities" but I wouldn't necessarily go to him for advice on macroeconomic policy.)

Once the actual real-world effects are clear, then the action to be taken with respect to the budget can be determined later.

Actual real-world effects of what? Are you literally saying we should just ignore all past experience, all expert advice on an extremely complex set of issues that have huge consequences and just hope the worst doesn't happen? That is extraordinarily reckless, especially given that the only thing that you are basing this on is an apparent dislike for "experts" that you have not named.

We've already seen the US debt explode by 10 trillion dollars under the prior administration - why is it that the new administration must be hamstrung by what a bunch of failed 'experts' claim?

The new administration is not "hamstrung" by what Obama's experts dictate, it may come as news to you but Trump has his own set of advisors who say completely different things than what Obama's did.

The experts have been a disaster. It's time for "alternative experts".

Again - what experts and what disaster? And what are "alternative experts"?

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Posted in: Gunman kills 1, wounds 7 others at San Diego pool party See in context

A man drinking a beer from one hand and brandishing a gun in the other...

I can see the NRA response now:

"If only there had been a good guy drinking a beer from one hand and brandishing a gun in the other at the pool that day..."

Its getting disturbing how frequent these bizarre-but-factual headlines are becoming.

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Posted in: JR East luxury sleeper train makes debut See in context

Publishing this kind of "Rich and Famous" is absolutely ridiculous. How many Working People could aford something like this? Not very many!

Its not necessarily a rich and the famous thing. Of course its extremely expensive compared to travel on a regular train, but the price tag is within the range that many middle class families would spend on an overseas vacation or a cruise for a special occasion (25th wedding anniversary or something like that).

Its not something I can afford anytime soon, but maybe when the kids have graduated from college and the house is paid for I might take the wife on a trip on this. Assuming it is still around in the late 2030s-early 2040s and the pension system hasn't collapsed by then!

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Posted in: Trump vows to win 'battles' ahead, at home and abroad See in context

I think you mean to say that a reduction in tax rates means a reduction in tax revenue.

This is actually not a fact, and in any case it needs to be qualified in terms of the time by which this is judged.

In theory a reduction in tax rates might not lead to a reduction in revenue if the tax cut spurs enough economic growth to make up for the lower rate (ie if there is more economic activity to tax the government can get the same revenue even with a lower rate).

The problem is that all estimates indicate that the Trump cuts won't achieve that. Even the best case forcasts of resulting increases in economic growth as a result of the cuts suggest that this will result in trillions of lost revenue to the Federal government, with no offsetting cuts in spending to make up for them (and in fact increases in spending in a number of very expensive areas).

Also, the cuts are structured in a way that is least effective at promoting economic growth. The vast majority of the benefits go to those at the top end of the income spectrum, who generally just toss the money onto the top of their cash pile (figuratively speaking) rather than spending it and spurring consumption like middle class or lower income people would.

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Posted in: JR East luxury sleeper train makes debut See in context

I would love to take a trip on that someday.

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Posted in: Tiny house by Muji finally goes on sale in Japan See in context

Agree with everyone that the price is outrageous for what you get - a single room with no toilet, bathroom, kitchen? Seriously why would anyone ever pay that much for this, even if its what you want (despite how impractical it sounds) you can probably get something like it for much cheaper elsewhere.

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Posted in: Places such as fast-food chains and family restaurants have been banning smoking and that’s happening voluntarily, not by force. We have to provide a variety of places so that customers can pick places that suit them. See in context

Well that's a difference between us. I'm a libertarian on matters when it comes to harming one's self. I've never done heroin, would never do it, and have zero interest in doing it. But if someone wants to do heroin to the point that they accidentally kill themselves, then I'm of the belief that that is their own choice, and no one should have any say in that. Same as I'm ok with smokers who want to smoke.

Are you also a libertarian about harming other people? This isn't about harming oneself, it is entirely about harming others. I don't care if someone wants to give themself cancer by smoking and wouldn't mind it if that was the end of it. As I have said repeatedly in my above comments, smoking produces harmful effects not just to them but to other human beings as well. The effects of second hand smoke is well established, it forms the entire policy basis for banning smoking in restaurants in every other developed country. Someone injecting heroin into themselves isn't by doing so increasing the chance that the person sitting next to them will get lung cancer. Smokers on the other hand do exactly that.

Essentially yes. If you were required to go to these restaurants, there would be a big problem. But entering a smoking restaurant is as much a choice as having a cigarette is. If you don't want to do it - don't. No one is forcing you to.

Actually yes they are forcing me to do something - avoid entering most restaurants because I don't want my family to get cancer. This isn't a choice that smokers should have the right to unilaterally force on the rest of the population.

When I'm in other developed countries I have the freedom to eat where I want without that concern. I like that. Therefore I am in favor of banning smoking in restaurants. End of story.

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Posted in: Places such as fast-food chains and family restaurants have been banning smoking and that’s happening voluntarily, not by force. We have to provide a variety of places so that customers can pick places that suit them. See in context

The converse being that if you ban smoking from all restaurants/bars, the options for those who smoke become limited. Your options are limited by half for the places you can go, and the options for places where smokers can go and smoke are also limited by half.

Sorry but this is absolute nonsense. Banning smoking does NOT limit the options of smokers - they are completely free to go to any restaurant they want provided they refrain from lighting up while in the premises.

The logic of what you are saying is that my interest in not having my kid develop lung cancer (and, for that matter, the interest of people working in restaurants in not being exposed to harmful levels of carcinogens in their workplace) is the same as a smoker's interest in not refraining from smoking for a few minutes because, hey, they enjoy smoking so screw everyone else.

Its the most selfish and obnoxious form of false equivalence out there.

But I also find the idea of banning it in every restaurant simply because you don't enjoy it yourself as being oppressive.

Just to be clear, I am NOT arguing that it should be banned simply because I don't enjoy it myself. I don't favor banning things simply because I don't enjoy them. I am specifically in favor of banning this one particular activity because it has scientifically well established harmful health effects and I see no countervailing interest to be protected (sorry, "Hey, some people like to light up" just doesn't cut it) that would justify inflicting that harmful effect on people.

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Posted in: Places such as fast-food chains and family restaurants have been banning smoking and that’s happening voluntarily, not by force. We have to provide a variety of places so that customers can pick places that suit them. See in context

We have to provide a variety of places so that customers can pick places that suit them.

This is just stupid. If you don't ban it completely from all restaurants then you are limiting people's options, not providing them with choice. Easily half of restaurants I want to take my family to I can't because they are full of smoke that I don't want my kid exposed to. My options, and the options of the vast majority of the public who do not smoke are severely limited by this idiotic logic. And as a result, we eat out way less than we otherwise would.

The thing that really gets me is that there is no valid reason to be allowing smoking in restaurants in the first place. The need to cater to such a harmful habit - literally all this involves is asking smokers to refrain from putting cancer causing agents into the air for 30-60 minutes while they dine - at the expense of everyone else sickens me.

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Posted in: Labor shortage a stress test for Japan's convenience stores See in context

Like dentists and beauty salons, there are simply too many conbini in Japan. The workforce isn't the only thing that's going to drop by 2065. As is usually the case, Reuters et al never wonders if perhaps 20 PTers could be replaced by say 6 FTers (2 per 8 hour shift) or connect the dots to the fact that 40% (and growing) of the workforce is irregular, w/the attendant drag on the economy that involves. The sympathy is always with the poor struggling corporations.

You couldn't replace 20 part timers with just 6 full timers, unless those full timers worked 365 days per year without a break. You would likely need at least 10.

I agree with the general point though, if they want more workers they need to pay people a decent wage and give benefits.

> There's probably also a massive untapped resource of retired elderly people who could work at these stores if they were allowed to sit rather than stand at the register and work at a slightly slower pace.

Part of the problem though is that manning the cash register is actually only a small part of the job. I once worked as a part timer at a gas station/convenience store and half of my time was spent re-stocking shelves, mopping floors and doing other labor intensive work. It is not a physically easy job even with a chair.

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Posted in: Japan's population falls for 6th year; rise in foreign residents See in context

125 million! Thats still an large amount of people on a relatively small landmass. In contrast the UK, which is of similar size is only 64 million! I understand the population is ageing but to be honest there is little you can do about that, expect to tell younger generations to have more babies!

The landmass of Japan is significantly larger than that of the UK, so even though the population is about double the population density is only slightly higher.

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Posted in: Japan's grim population outlook makes immigration talk inevitable See in context

For the past few years the government has been increasing immigration basically through stealth. There are actually no caps on immigration (visa) numbers (unlike refugee numbers which are strictly limited), so they have been able to increase the number of people admitted to Japan simply by approving more visa applications that they receive. The "stealth" comes from the fact that by doing it that way they haven't had to enact any new legislation on immigration and thus avoided the need to debate it publicly in the Diet, thus getting around the general opposition to large scale immigration amongst the Japanese public.

The problem with this approach is that though the number of foreign residents has skyrocketed in the past decade, these are all basically on short term visas and many will likely return to their home countries rather than settling here permanently. The revolving door approach doesn't really help Japan in the long run since immigrants who stay contribute a lot more - they re-invest their earnings in Japan while short term stayers take all their savings with them when they go. I think it would be better to have a system that provided a clear path to permanent residence for select immigrants with skills, etc that Japan needs rather than simply viewing them as short term plugs for temporary holes in the labor market. Doing so would require actual legislative change and a debate in the Diet though, which is politically impossible at the moment as the article says. Maybe someday.

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