ReikiZen comments

Posted in: Why you shouldn’t learn Japanese See in context

One's English ability will do little if nothing for you while in Japan. I have rarely if ever ran into anyone wanting to practice their English on me. It isn't as common as people are led to believe. It just creates more problems then not usually.

Language is much more than just a means of communication. It is also an inseparable part of our culture.

While there's still some debate among scholars whether or not a particular language influences someone's thought process? Which I very much believe to be the case. Or is it someone's culture that influences the language or both? In my own opinion language and culture are closely connected. Some have argued that all languages are dialects of one language, which is the human language. Even though they may appear very different, they are in fact very similar.

Nevertheless, different cultures have a predominant fashion in which they use their language and they have differences which cannot be underestimated.

Such as in the case of United States or Western Europe values self-expression and verbal precision. We are encouraged to be direct and to speak our mind. In the case with Japan as with other Asian cultures use an indirect style of communication. Words such as perhaps and maybe are used much more frequently than yes, no or for sure.

In Japanese precise articulation is appreciated much less than speaking between the lines or being understood without words.

Therefore the language is used quite differently in contrast. The style of language is focused on speaker and depends on a person's status and identity. If you wanted to learn Japanese, it would be impossible to do so without learning about their culture as well.

Japanese pay a lot of attention to a person's status and use honorifics, which apply according to the rank of the person who is speaking and who he or she is speaking to.

The word shopping for instance which is used quite heavily in the west does not exist in some other languages (such as for example in Russian) as a noun. Why? Because it is not a huge part of the other cultures. The same goes for the word fast food, which is not only not popular, but unacceptable in many other cultures. Another interesting example is the word ilunga.

The Tshiluba language comes from the Republic of Congo and is considered to be the most untranslatable word in the world.

Well so they say at least. Ilunga describes a person who is ready to forgive any transgression a first as well as a second time, but never for a third time. The point I am trying to make is that due to the very nature of the Japanese language. It is foolish to believe English will get you much if anywhere within Japanese culture and society. Unless you have your own personal translator that follows you around that is lol.

Your English ability might win you some brownie points within some circles or a temporary flavor of the day. Yet that will quickly wear off and you will be hung out to dry before you know it.

This article is a farce and is only playing on stereotypes which is not helping anyone here. The more you know the better off you are. This is coming from someone who had to learn this the hard way.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Hikaru Utada to return to entertainment industry after 3-year-hiatus See in context

While I am happy to see Utada's return. I can't help but wonder what she must be thinking now. To go from one of the most talented, gifted and successful Japanese artists in the world. To hosting a one hour DJ show once a month is disheartening. It appears that a falling out with her previous label may have done more damage then I previously had thought. Just after her being dropped from Universal Japan. EMI from what I understand had renewed her contract and was taking over both her Japanese and worldwide distribution. EMI's president seem happy to see Utada refocus her efforts and has stated quote.

We are very happy that EMI global network, expertise and passion will continue to contribute to and support the musical and creative vision of the superbly talented Hikaru Utada.

I wonder what happened between then and now as it seems she has all but given up on her music career? This is the problem when you are signed under two major labels with conflicting interests. From what I know of how this all came down. Utada had made it quite clear that she was unhappy with her record labels plans to release two of her hit albums on the same day. EMI had previously announced that it would be releasing a "Single Collection 2" of which Universal Japan choose to release "Utada The Best" at the same time. This was an album of which material was previously available overseas. Utada was quick to slam that decision. According to her Twitter blog she has stated.

I am not against the release of a hits album but from a music industry point of view. Isn't this just senseless and rude! As an artist I wasn't prepared to just stay quiet and accept it.

"Utada The Best" was previously released in the U.S. Under Def Jam Records. Of which she said of the Japanese release. The new Best Of didn't contain any new material and not an album she put her heart into. She then told fans not to buy the album. I have mad respect for Utada as it took guts to say what she did. Yet in the end that may have been a career ending move. I won't argue that the music industry especially in Japan has far to much control over it's artists.

Some like my friend Yoshi which managed to escape their labels stranglehold and is doing quite well without them now. He is selling more records through I-Tunes then he ever did under the industry's iron grip. Yet I hope this isn't the last time we see Utada as we all remember her. While she may have not seen the success she was hoping for in the U.S. I say if anytime was a good time to return it's now. A lot has changed in the last three years. Artists of which I would have never previously though of doing much have gained considerable ground.

Namie winning at the World Music Awards which was the first for an Japanese artist. Yoshiki writing the theme song to last year's Golden Globes. Boa with her Hollywood movie debut just around the corner. Far East Movement becoming the first ever Asian-American group to top the Billboard charts in the U.S. K-Pop making inroads in ways I never thought even remotely possible. It would be a crime to see one of Japan's best artists sitting on the sidelines. Especially at a time when we are seeing so much growth among the Asian artist community.

Seeing Utada as a DJ just seems like a huge step down for someone of her talent and ability. Furthermore who needs record labels these days lol. The Japanese music industry is a dying breed which needs to go the way of the 8 track disk. There are so many talented Asian artists out there which would be better served if they didn't have a chain strapped to their neck. DJ's are for people who wished they were artists and people like Utada have no business being there. I hope this is just a temporary setback as Utada deserves to be at the forefront of this movement and not in it's shadows.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Japan says it will join child abduction treaty See in context

I wonder what would happen if a foreigner had kidnapped a Japanese national and returned home?

Something tells me it would be a very different story. I agree with previous statements that this is an issue over abduction not custody. Furthermore it isn't just Japan which favors the wife. In many abuse cases in the US which go to court. Juries tend to be sympathetic to the women in most these cases. It is very hard to prove abuse against the husband which does happen but is rare. If children are involved it is even more contentious. You have to prove that the wife is mentally unstable and therefore unfit as a parent.

There have been some fairly high profile cases where that decision was eventually left to the supreme court. So in contrast I have very little faith any treaty will do much if anything to change the current situation. To me it should go also without saying that we lift and support those we love in our lives and circumstances. Yet I find it so awkward and heartbreaking to see casual acquaintances ask the baby question of anyone and especially dear friends whose background I know. Why do we think it is our business at all?

One thing I find particularly troubling is that when you meet someone new. It's always easier to to ask him what he does for a living. We assume men work right, well usually. But it is so much harder when a women is asked the same question. That is in a broad enough way that we are not casting judgment or imposing a correct path by the wording of the question. What leads to these abductions I think we need to be asking ourselves the question on. In my case, with my wife we made sure both of us were crystal clear on what each other expected of one another.

It is also important how others such as family or friends have on their decisions. This might seem trivial but in Japanese society it can be the difference between you having a long lasting relationship or one that goes up in flames, kids or not. I guess the only real advise for anyone here is to know thy wife before having kids. Talk it over with them and how you plan on raising your kids and how much each expects one another to contribute. Well that's just my two cents.

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Posted in: Abe wants to replace landmark 1995 war apology See in context

My wife and I have butted heads on this for some time until she saw a documentary on it and has since changed her tune. Pictures speak a thousand words and you can't deny what is staring you straight in the face. Her response was somewhat interesting as well. How could we Japanese do such things. This is not what we were taught nor is does it reflect the Japanese way. This is shameful, I cannot accept this. To her credit though she suffered from some depression afterwords and has cried many times and has since come to terms with reality. This tells me that the Japanese people aren't what the problem is. My wife clearly had shown remorse and was disgusted with her government. I told her to not hate her country but the people in power who try to exploit that for their own personal gain. Any government which tries burying it's history as a means of controlling it's population does not deserve to rule. Governments and I mean any government, ours included note this. We the people are what governs not you! Power is something only God commands! Might be good to remember that.

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Posted in: Survey asks: What makes Japanese citizens feel distinctly Japanese? See in context

Not sure how I am going to answer this without getting slammed for it but here goes.

What makes me a citizen of my country is no more unique then what makes anyone else a citizen of their country.

Most Americans other then native Americans aren't native to begin with lol. So we can't use that as an excuse. My wife had once asked me.

Genealogy is a popular subject in america isn't it? Are Americans not proud of being American?

Nothing like putting me on the spot on this one lol. I eventually told her:

Being American in an of itself has no meaning. That it is important knowing where we come from and the hardships, triumphs of our ancestors, the lands in which they lived, and the events that impacted their lives. Which can give each of us a richer sense of self awareness. The opportunity to benefit from the experiences of our kindred, to gain an ever-expanding recognition of our origins, and to pass that knowledge on to future generations.

She was quit taken back by that as she said "I never looked at it that way before." We are a country of many countries and therefore what makes us unique I guess is that we are a country of many countries haha. Are we Americans because we believe in freedom? Hardly! There are many people in the world in other countries who believe in freedom. Is it that we are born in America? No, because then my grandmother would not have been American. Is it that we speak American-English? No, because many of the early immigrants did not speak English when they came here. Is it that we have relatives here or family here? My grandmother said "America is her home; her family is there." Yet she still had family back in Germany. That is not what made her American. Well, what makes us feel like a citizen of your country? There is only one answer.

An American is one who takes an oath to live under the Constitution. The legal immigrants go through a process to prepare them to take a public oath to support and live under the Constitution of this country.

Granted, speaking a common language, American-English can be extremely beneficial in our daily tasks and our relationships, business and personal. But there are many people who may speak American-English and still are not American. People from many other countries have been taught our language, but are still citizens of their home countries. There is only one characteristic that makes us American and that is committing ourselves to living by the Constitution. What makes us feel like a citizen of our country. It isn't a question of what we look like or what our names are.

What makes us who we are is our shared belief in the enduring promise of our country and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.

Take that for what's it's worth but for me is something I live by every day.

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Posted in: In N Korea, learning to hate U.S., Japan starts early See in context

North Korea doesn't know South Korea as much as it think it does. They may as well be from two different planets as are nothing alike. While there is some of the older generation which still hold ties with the north. That is quickly fading away. Most South Koreans I know or have spoken to have no desire to be reunited. Many fear a reunification may bring a similar fate as what has happened with the former Soviet Union which hasn't gone so well for them as we know. You kinda have to look at it this way. Imagine the confederate south never being reunified with the north after the civil war. Add some 150 years onto that then the confederacy collapsing. After that period of time being separated then then suddenly reunified. Something tells me we wouldn't be the same country we are today.

How well do you think the south would have assimilated into a society under it's Constitution of which it would not have recognized?

Even to this day many southerners have strong feelings about it. Even though it happened over a century ago. The south still celebrates confederacy days even though it is more symbolic then anything now days. In some states the confederate flag is raised along with the American flag. Not saying there are strong feelings of separatism within the west. Although there are some states which display strong feelings towards that, like Texas. Even in their tourism brochures they state

"Texas, it like a while different country lol."

Yea more truth to their thinking on that then not. While the time line is a bit different here with North/South Korea the attitudes are similar. Many South Koreans have stated.

We have worked to hard to get where they are now. Is it worth jeopardizing that for the sake of reunification?

Tough call but here is where lies the problem. When you en-doctorate from such a young age it is almost impossible to reverse that thinking. How well do you think the North Korean population would adjust to what is basically a completely different South Korea! Simply put, North Koreans are intentionally trained not to lead but rather to follow passionately, vigorously, and with all their strength. Ju-che which is a commonly used saying in north Korea. This is said to mean self-reliance in the service of our great leader.

The content of Ju-che is self-avowedly designed to ensure that North Koreans live in a state of permanent childhood, obeying the Great Leader as the only parent and leadership figure deserving whole-life devotion.

So is there any hope to change this ideology? Though the North Korea government continues to actively suppress the leadership development of its citizens through their birth-to-death immersion in Ju-che. A growing number of North Korean defectors especially the 20,000 or so i believe living in South Korea provides a great opportunity for them to be actively involved.

This will help them to understand how to help individual North Koreans recognize and develop their own leadership potential. Thus equip North Korean leaders to train other North Koreans, which thereby creating a possible leadership base for a future North Korea. One which recognizes not only one Great Leader but a nation of truly great leaders!

This of coarse will of necessity involve not only leadership training but a guided process of helping individual North Koreans rethink their fundamental identities, role and purpose in their own lives and in the world. Although we are all victims of this in some form are we not? As the saying goes,

What matters is not what any individual thinks, but what is true. A teacher who does not equip his pupils with the rudimentary tools to discover this is substituting indoctrination for teaching.

Kinda like Mass Media lol.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan faces 'extinction' in 1,000 years, researchers say See in context

Part 2

Immigration is a sensitive topic here but is no longer an issue which can go idle much longer. Even the US could not have survived very long without immigration. They likely wouldn't even be a country let alone a world power. In the global market economy it is no longer possible to sit in isolation and expect things to improve or just happen so to speak. If Japan wishes to remain among the living. They are going to need to make some sacrifices for the greater good. I don't want our ancestors someday to say:

This is Japan a once proud & prosperous country. A people with so much to give to the world yet never ever realized it.

It seems the only path to harmony is at the end of an hourglass. I don't know about any of you but that is a world I don't want to live in. Japan deserves to exist just as much as anyone else. Through my years in Japan I have learned a great deal about myself & the world around me. Behind the isolationist facade is a rich, cultured, funny, weird, fascinating but somewhat ignorant people. Which is not all that unlike the rest of the world really I guess.

We all fear what we don't completely understand or can relate to. You fear of loosing what knowledge you have gained. You fear of loosing your culture, history, language, ethnicity & ability to distinguish yourself from everyone else. To find meaning in a world which has few answers.

Yet those who will survive are the ones which can adapt to their changing environment. Japan is far from perfect, yet is a place I can't imagine being without. Yet it must evolve along with everyone else or fade into memory. I hope that in a thousands years Japan is not only here but in even a more visible light & force in the world.

If there are more advanced civilizations out there. I would believe they have gotten past what has kept us earthbound all these centuries. Japan isn't the only ones that will become extinct in a thousand years as I doubt our species can stand each other for that long.

It is going to take something bigger then ourselves to achieve that goal. This won't happen through war, isolationism, but through our ability to see past our differences. Our ability to put our race, ethnicity and indifference behind us & come into a greater realm of existence. There is a fundamental view of the world. It says:

When you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it.

Sorry for all the cerebral brain-drain here but Japan is only the first of many which will eventually destroy itself if we don't change our ways. Thank you JT for yet another post which continues to drain my life-force. Now people see why I don't use Twitter or Facebook lol. I would have been banned from there ages ago. :b

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan faces 'extinction' in 1,000 years, researchers say See in context

Thanks JT I needed a good laugh today. I think this is being a bit to optimistic. To maintain an economy the size of Japan's with even a few hundred thousand people would be near impossible. Let's dig a little deeper shall we.

When you figure in Tokyo & the greater Tokyo Megalopolis region. My guess it would be somewhere north of 35 million people. This is by far the largest in the world. In contrast New York City & it's greater Metro area lies somewhere around 19 million give or take a couple percentage points.

Last I checked Tokyo in and of itself is around 12-14 million. I then realized that most everyone lived in an area area of around 2,187km. If my math is right that would be just around 0.6% of the total land area of Japan. That is the whole of Japan I am speaking. That just boggles the mind when you think about it. To break that figure down a bit. For every 1km area of Tokyo there are give or take around 6,000 people. My math is probably a little off but it is pretty close to this. So of the total population of 127 million people. That would be approximately 26 to 28% live in the greater Tokyo area. That is a hell a lot of people in a very small space. While there can be some argument that Tokyo can stand to slim down a bit. The question is how much before it starts to put a strain on normal operations?

I would be interested to know what the city employment figures are for Tokyo? (Operations, Public Works, Power, hospitals etc.) Basically goods and services which are necessary for any city. Let alone a metropolis like Tokyo to function on a day to day basis.

You add this with all the other major cities in Japan and you quickly realize that these numbers are far to low. Japan would have likely collapsed under it's own weight well before you ever reached extinction. Many industrialized nations have been witnessing a low birth rate as of late. While in the other countries this trend has more or less reached a summit, the birth rate has somewhat stabilized. In Japan it continues to fall with no end in sight. This has resulted in a steep decline in the proportion of the population responsible for the production of goods, services and a rise in the elder population. The dependency ratio, the number of workers supporting the elderly, is continuing to shift, putting a strain on the economy. This is due to a combination of low fertility rates and higher life expectancy. Many women have entered the professional workplace and prefer to pursue their careers rather than start a family.

Reduced living spaces, insufficient childcare facilities, increasing cost of children's education have acted as deterrents for raising a family. Add this to one of the highest life expectancies in the developed world & you have a major problem.

At this rate, it is feared, that one in every four Japanese would be above the age of 65 by 2030. This shift would have taken place in a much shorter span of time than in any other developed country. The economy will not be able to get enough skilled work force for its manufacturing and services sectors. Labor would become costlier, increasing the cost of production. There will be more elders to tend to. Which in turn will strain the medical and pension systems.

The social sector expenditures by the government will have to increase. In addition to a dwindling work force resulting in lower purchasing power and reduced demand for goods and services. The domestic market will shrink, production will fall, as will the governments revenue, forcing it to manage higher medical and pension expenses with a lower income. This doesn't bode well for a country which is already among the highest in the world to live in. What needs to happen as you might have already guessed is Japan needs to open up!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Int'l marriages test ability to balance love with tolerance See in context

Part 3

OK half way through lol. My girlfriend keeps telling me I should write a book or apply for JT position haha. In all seriousness though I am not that good a writer it seems. I would be fired the first day lol. No hard feelings though I would fire me to.

Well moving on now shall we. Gaijin also have to contend with negative perceptions in Japanese society, factors such as the language barrier and the temporary nature of many foreigners presence in Japan has come to mean that cross-cultural relationships between Japanese and foreigners are regarded as fleeting, non-serious undertakings. Even Japanese girls find themselves dealing with this, those who unabashedly pursue foreign men can be looked upon as promiscuous within conservative factions of Japanese society. Little by little, these mindsets are changing however but there is still some ways to go.

Another aspect that get's overlooked many times is the importance of being a leader.

This warrants further explanation as many western women fail to grasp the importance of this in the proper context. What many women might see as being submissive or self defeating is completely the opposite. I once had a Japanese friend tell me.

I do not like Japanese guys that are indecisive. Even when I met a guy being just friends that is one of the things I pay a lot of attention to. By not showing a strong will and committing to an opinion either way you are actually creating stress for me, because suddenly the pressure then falls on me to take that responsibility.

Now this is something that is a stark contrast to the west. Usually when making decisions it is between both of you. One may ask for the others opinion or say you decide and then you better make the right choice lol. Although I have yet to met any girl (In the west) that would tolerate a man making all the decisions for them. This is not true of all Japanese girls but is common.

I think that is where some people form the outside misconception of Japanese women being submissive. It isn't so much that as they want a man that is a leader which in their view signifies strong character.

Another difference you see is how many Japanese women never admit that they have a boyfriend. Nobody ever seems to mention it. I think in the West, if you started talking to a woman, unless she was looking to play around, she would mention pretty soon into the conversation that she had a boyfriend. Whereas Japanese girls whether they are looking to play around or not, they just never mention it.

I think more than anything, it is suddenly bringing up your boyfriend in the middle of a conversation which has nothing to do with your boyfriend just feels a bit weird don't you think.

Many seem to bring up this point which can makes things a bit more difficult to read. Not to mention touchy so you better be in tune to this. Although really the most difficulty any International marriage has is communication or there lack of. Some people go into these relationships not having a clue and therefore miss all the signals if things go south.

With no respect or acknowledgement of Japanese customs, you come across just like one of the kurofune (Perry ship) guys. Japanese people get caught off guard buy this and you end up looking like a moron.

The situation in which the author mentioned the wife complaining about the temperature was entirely her fault. She should have asked what was considered acceptable instead of changing it herself. That was being inconsiderate on her part. Although there are a few things which still concern me about even my relationship. It isn't so much us as it is how society looks at it. I always have to be on guard back home when some idiot asks a stupid question like.

How is she in bed? I bet it must be nice having a slave doing all your work for you?

Not to mention other jealous women which try to sabotage our relationship. Then people wonder why we Gaijin get so disenchanted with our own women. Some friends even interpret her responses wrongly.

So how do you like my brother? Well he is not that great really. He is lazy and doesn't help out much!!

I always get stares from my sister on this one lol. I tell her no no you don't understand. As many of your already well know. It is quite common for a Japanese girl to respond in such a way.

It is sorta like, I am so sorry you look so good today haha.

It can really throw people off who aren't accustomed to this.

Hey why don't you dump that guy

She has gotten responses like that when out in public when I am visiting my family back home. It is somewhat frustrating at times but you deal with it. I have gone to in great lengths to tell her.

Look at these encounters like Napa. Just noise among everyday life which is of no concern.

That one seems to get the point across of which she can relate to. In the end what is important is that both of you see each other on equal terms. That it is made clear from the beginning what is expected and what you expect in return. Trust and honesty as well as how you make her feel is what is important.

No one said cross cultural marriages/relationships would be easy. Yet I wouldn't change it for the world. It has allowed me to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Not to mention see things from outside ones cultural firewall.

It is not something everyone is capable of doing. However one looks at cross-cultural marriages. It can be one of the greatest experiences of your life if you will it to be. Although you have to always look at things from the other person's perspective. To see what is not in plain view and to trust your heart not your mind. Be a leader yet be humble and show her that fate was destined to bring you both together. Don't be so much concerned trying to figure out what she wants but how she feels inside. In closing I leave you with another quote which is starting to get to be a habit with me lol:

When the wedding march sounds the resolute approach, the clock no longer ticks, it tolls the hour. The figures in the aisle are no longer individuals, they symbolize the human race.

We get married next year btw, can't wait!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Int'l marriages test ability to balance love with tolerance See in context

Part 2

Int'l marriages test ability to balance love with tolerance.

While true to a point there is one aspect you failed to mention, trust. I have never met a Japanese girl yet who didn't have this at the top of her list. Regardless if she was a gyaru girl, company worker, university student, society girl, Hostesses or otherwise. When you think of moving from situation to situation in context via trust, it becomes a very human exercise, full of sincerity and honest intention of which you can only then continue forward. There are three aspects which are so very important in any Japanese relationship.

Number 1 Your intention to establish a relationship Number 2 Your intention to gain her trust Number 3 Your intention to spend more time with her. It is those kind of people who get married that is, people who you can trust & who keep their promises. I do not like people who can not keep promises.

One of the most unattractive traits in men according to many of my female Japanese friends is (yuujuu-fudan) or the inability to make decisions!) Japanese girls are going to look to you for guidance as to where a relationship is going. If you are subdued and not letting on that you want to move forward, they will simply going to assume you are not attracted to them. In turn, they will start to shut down their own signals of interest, and things will promptly fizzle out. This even can happen out of rejection.

I once asked a girl out and she said no. I then didn't ask again and she got mad and thought I didn't like her lol.

There is a point I am getting to on this so just bare with me.

A growing number of Japanese women are giving up on their male counterparts, and taking a gamble that looking abroad for love will bring them the qualities in a partner that seem rare at home. A man appreciative of a wife's career and more of a partner in daily tasks. Japanese women have come to consider traditional marriage roles as disadvantageous in terms of time resources - they have to carry the burden of domestic chores as well as lose their free time.

Normally, married Japanese women have not only to look after their own parents during old age, but also to care for their parents-in-law. When it comes to raising kids, they can't expect much cooperation from their partner either because of the long work hours required at many Japanese corporations and because of established gender roles that assume that the woman does the child-rearing.

A generation of women who are now entering their 30s don't want to give up single life unless prospective partners are willing to break from traditional gender roles

Women want to find companionship in a husband and that is sadly lacking with Japanese men. So they look to International Marriages as a way out!

To be fair, not all the blame for female angst here can be laid on Japanese men. The government has been slow to enforce equal opportunity laws, and both pay as the glass ceiling in most Japanese corporations remain low for women. Recession has hampered longer maternity leave and other family-friendly policies.

As Japan's fertility rate drops to new lows which levels are well below requirements for population replacement. The Japanese government is anxiously drawing up plans to make it easier for young couples to raise children, through such measures as the provision of cheap public housing. Where that goes remains to be seen as we all know lol.

Japanese Men:

According to statistics the split of Japanese men marring foreign women breaks down like this. Chinese 10,242/Filipinos 7,794/Koreans 5,318/Americans156/British 65

Japanese women:

Koreans 2,235/Americans 1,529/Chinese 890/British 334/Filipinos 117

This list is a couple years old so it could be significantly higher then this now.

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Posted in: Int'l marriages test ability to balance love with tolerance See in context

Part 1

Oh Joy where do I start lol. JT is really like my second home now and I hope you guys don't mind. Sorry for the somewhat extended posts but this is one topic which never gets enough time to begin with. I hope I can bring a little light on the subject, if just a little.

It is somewhat frustrating reading articles like this. The proverbial (bull in a China shop) presence of those who pay no attention to Japanese manners and social norms. As though every foreigner in existence falls into that circle. Granted they are some Gaijin's here that have no concept of this. Although they are in the minority at least for those I have been in contact with. Not to mention that international marriages are not that common to begin with in Japan. At least in relation to the population at large just yet. Marriage in and of itself is on the decline within Japanese society which is at the heart of a much bigger problem. Once again this seems to be an effort to discredit cross-cultural marriages due out of fear, ignorance more then love & tolerance. Many of my Japanese female friends have said this of Japanese society in regards to marriage.

Marriage is too messy, tiring and potentially humiliating to bother with anymore don't you think? It's just not worth the hassle. We don't want a complicated life. Not to mention Japanese men don't want to spend time with us as would rather hang out with friends or coworkers. So we don't even bother with them. We get married and are seen more as roommates then couples in the service of our husbands lol.

This is happening with depressing regularity between Japanese men and women these days. Marriages, births are all spiraling downward with troubling implications for the nation's future: A sagging birthrate means that fewer working-age people will be around to support a growing population of elderly as a social crisis looms. Women shopping at designer boutiques and chic restaurants with their girlfriends or moms, the men go to karaoke clubs with their colleagues from work or the solitude of their computer screens to romance hassle-free virtual women lol.

In fact, as many as a million young Japanese men mostly teenagers, but increasingly older men as well are suffering from what is known here as hikikomori. It's a condition in which men seclude themselves in their rooms for weeks at a time (though the causes seem to go well beyond fear of women to traumatic experiences from the past, such as being bullied at school).

In a way I kind of feel sorry for them. Japanese women in a since are evolving breaking free of centuries of tradition. While men continue to stick to old ways which are no longer relevant in today's world. Japanese families were large at the time. Staying at home meant sharing a room with brothers or sisters. But after decades of prosperity and falling birthrates, many young adults are pampered only children. Leaving home to marry means the drudgery of housework (especially for women) and the poverty of having to pay your own bills. Which becomes even more desperate once a parent dies. There is also a phenomenon of parasite singles which is also creating a demographic nightmare.

Japan now has about four working-age people to contribute to pension plans to support one of today's retirees. By the middle of the century, there will be just two workers for each retiree, which will create huge financial problems for the country.

It came from the 1997 Japanese horror movie Parasite Eve and applies to young, live-at-home men and women alike. It is these type of social imbalances which is also leading to higher international marriages for some out of pure desperation. So in that since what is being said here is correct to some degree. Although it is false to assume that International marriages are the cause of this which is a bit misleading.

So what we really should be talking about is why this trend is growing. The husband works long hours and carouses into the night with his colleagues from work. The wife is expected to stay home, clean house and take care of kids.

If the children behave badly, she's a bad mother. If her husband has an affair, she's a bad wife. So is it really surprising to see this on the rise?

Better educated, more widely traveled Japanese women raised more affluent than their mothers. You see more international marriages as women no longer feel bound by the Japanese tradition that says.

A woman unmarried after age 30 is like a Christmas cake on December 26, stale.

Men, meanwhile, seem intimidated and bewildered by assertive young women who are nothing like their parents. My girlfriend said this of her previous boyfriend.

My fiance wanted me to give up my career and lead the traditional life as a Japanese housewife. He would give me lines like: I want you to cook miso soup for me the rest of my life. Ehhh am I supposed to be impressed with that, no thank you!

So what does he do. Rather than risk rejection or summon the energy to maintain a modern relationship, he simply pay for affection in the country's ubiquitous hostess bars and brothels. Then you wonder why so many Japanese women are going the international route. I don't blame them would you?

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Posted in: How do you feel about being a ‘gaijin’ in Japan? See in context

Part 2

Over my years in Japan I have found a few things which have worked for me. Not saying it will work for everyone but has made my experience here more enjoyable. When dealing with Japan you need to use a sort of reverse physiology. Some people wouldn't go this far but it has worked for my own sanity at least lol. If I am found being discriminated against.

I apologize for not understanding the Japanese way or for any disrespect I may have caused.

Even if I know I haven't done anything wrong it doesn't matter!! If an officer stops me on the street to check my passport papers.

I smile & apologize for wasting his time as he must have better things to do.

That almost immediately drops the suspicious attitude and things usually go along smoothly from there on out. When on a bus if someone moves away from me.

I stand up and apologize for my rudeness in taking their spot lol.

That one works surprisingly well. Most either sit back down immediately or seemed shocked and apologize in return. If I am refused admittance to a club, store, restaurant or otherwise.

I apologize sincerely for being rude and disrupting their time as was being inconsiderate.

How is me entering a store being rude? Well it's not but I usually like taking the humble or even self punishment approach. That more then not has reversed their attitude in return. By not asking why I wasn't allowed in we both save face. I am taking the blame for it which in turn helps my situation. In many cases it was due to the fact the menu wasn't in English or the like. In a store was out of fear on not knowing any English. In a club was usually of fear of a Gaijin creating problems for them. Japan is very much a culture of What if

Even if the threat doesn't really exist. It is the potential of that existing later on. Although in most cased once they realized I wasn't a threat. That I could speak in Japanese, if necessary or function without them making special arrangements. It usually wasn't that big a deal that that point. They didn't want to inconvenience they had said or out of fear of how I may react. Add to this the assumption of having to speak in English only added to that perception. In many cases things aren't always as they seem once you get beneath the surface. In some cases I would get the response:

"I don't like foreigners!!!" I respond in Japanese. "I don't like foreigners either is that wrong?"

That one almost always gets a laugh or horrified look just depending. Likely not expecting I know what they were saying. Multiple apologies come forth there after. In some cases within the proper context such as a izakaya. I would buy them a drink and apologize in return for my misunderstanding. I actually met my girlfriend in a similar way.

Your a Gaijin right? Last I checked unfortunately, I am so sorry. It's unforgivable I know lol.

Japan is in many cases get characterized as an inward-gazing world that grudgingly accepts the presence of foreigners within its borders, but largely shuns their participation.

Undentable smiles, prim polished politeness masking an underbelly of disdain and xenophobia. An impenetrable alienating society to those not born into it. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. But those who choose to spend time here experiencing, breathing, living the country, the culture, the people come to understand that Japan cannot be summed up as some sexual theme park nor is it fair to mischaracterize it as a cold hostile place for outsiders.

Japan is an amazing place with great people, interesting history, culture and a very complex social web. It is without question one of the best decisions I have ever made regardless of the inherent difficulties that followed. When all is said and done, Japan is Japan. Expect it to be something that it is not, and you will be disappointed. But accept it equally for its merits and its faults, make the effort to understand it, and learn to roll with it and you will be in for an experience unlike any you could have in any other corner of this world. In closing I give you one of my favorite Japanese quotes.

Strength is Happiness. Strength is itself victory. In weakness and cowardice there is no happiness. When you wage a struggle, you might win or you might lose. But regardless of the short-term outcome, the very fact of your continuing to struggle is proof of your victory as a human being.

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Posted in: How do you feel about being a ‘gaijin’ in Japan? See in context

Part 1

Well this is opening up a can of worms. The so called

why foreigners can't adapt to Japanese way due our individualistic tendencies lol.

Where have I heard that before. Well since JT is bringing it up let's bring this into a different light shall we. First of all people need to remember that Japan is first and foremost Japanese. So obviously the whole concept of foreigner or Gaijin to be more specific has little if any meaning here. You can't expect a county like Japan to understand how this might be offensive to foreigners when there aren't enough around to really matter. Not to mention in a country which is 99.9% Japanese as though it makes any difference? People tend to fear what they don't understand or can relate to. What is not familiar to them within their own cultural contexts is seen as a threat and must be avoided. In fact you don't even have to be of a different cultural background, race or ethnicity to be misunderstood. This happens a lot even among people in one's own state or from one city to the next.

Just as many Japanese see the west as New York or LA and just assume the entire country is like that. While I agree with not seeing yourself as a Gaijin mentality to a point. You can't ignore that fact entirely as it could get you into trouble or worse. Knowing how context works within Japanese society is like trying to decrypt Egyptian hieroglyphics lol. It can get lost in translation very quickly. Not to mention create uncomfortable situations for you which could be seen in a negative light. Those who have been in Japan for any length of time know this and have to learn to read between the lines.

If language was the only barrier you had to deal with that would be one thing. Yet as with most any country that will only get you so far. Japan is not a place one should be going to without having at least some idea of what they are getting themselves into. Having at least some knowledge of the culture, mindset, customs, language, food, people and social quirks is really a prerequisite. Although Japanese people are human beings, just like you and me. They are not aliens from some mystic planet like some people like to believe.

Many Japanophiles out there love to mythologize the Japanese, and focus on all the little cultural differences. They will claim that Japanese brains are just wired differently. If you are not Japanese, will never be able to understand, or to communicate on a real level. It is true for them, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They expect never to be able to make true connections with Japanese people, so they confine themselves to operating within the waltz of hard Japanese societal rules.

A mail unanswered; a question glossed over; a topic hastily changed. All these responses represent indirect ways of refusing, or communicating disinterest towards the idea being put forward. The culturally attuned foreigner or Gaijin knows not to push it any further, if no answer is forthcoming. Frustrating as it may seem, the lack of an response is essentially a negative response. A friendly, good-natured invitation to hang out again soon or We should be good friends may perfectly match the atmosphere and feeling at a social gathering but it is not a reason to start setting aside days in your social calendar. In contrast to the west where that has a more direct meaning as with most things. Knowing the honne, tatemae way of thinking has caused more then it's share of confusion even among international business exchanges or at highest levels of government. It is these sort of cultural quarks which make some Gaijin experience in Japan a complete nightmare. Understanding the truth behind the words can make ones experience in Japan one to be remembered or to be forgotten.

Use your language ability only when it is necessary or when communication becomes an issue.

Any Gaijin who has worked in a Japanese environment will know that it is crucial to make sure that you are understood and often even when you think you have explained yourself thoroughly in every conceivable way, mistakes are still made because of miscommunication. This is not just about selecting the right words. It is about making sure your body language, your behavior, your priorities back up the point you are trying to make.

Probably the most important concern in any kind of group behavior among the Japanese, is maintaining the wa (harmonious, preservation of the group). For foreign Geijin especially westerners this is often a difficult concept to understand, because in comparison to Japan, the values of individuality and self-expression are valued much more highly in other cultures. I can go on forever with this but the point is that whatever your experience has been in Japan good or bad is likely of your own doing.

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Posted in: AKB48 wins top Japan record industry award See in context

Well I am not a big AKB48 fan myself but this really isn't that big a surprise. I do however feel sorry for the other nominees. There are far more talented artists in Japan and this is a real slap in the face if you ask me. In private many of my friends feel almost ashamed when AKB48 is even mentioned. To believe such a low talent group can achieve such a high honor is embarrassing, they said. It really makes me wonder though why more Japanese artists haven't taken their talents elsewhere. There are at least a half dozen I know of which would do quite well outside Japan and already have considerable fan bases as well. Just as a couple examples. X-Japan just recently signed a 3 year contract with E.M.I.

Namie Amuro performing at the WMA"s & being only the second Japanese artist ever to do so. Oh she won btw as well haha. I also believe Lecca performed with Shaggy & CL recently performed with Black Eyed Peas which was amazing. So it is not like there aren't talented Japanese/Asian artists out there as there most certainly are. If Japan doesn't start promoting it's artists more equally. There aren't going to be any ones left to promote. While AKB48 might be popular now. By no means do they have what it takes to keep the entire Japanese music industry afloat. That title is reserved for one Ayumi Hamaski which AKB48 is clearly not lol. Let's just hope that girl never retires!!

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Posted in: Lady Gaga to appear on 'Kohaku Uta Gassen' See in context

I am not a big Gaga fan myself but she is hardly the worst of the worst. She is a very gifted and talented musician. I can name 30 other artists or groups far worse with absolutely no talent. Yet some people here wold think are just the best there ever was. The problem is that there are so few new artists these days to fill in the gaps. Gaga is among only a handful of artists which are even making any waves at all in a ever fading industry. Another thing to take into consideration is how I-tunes is changing the current landscape of the music industry, for better or for worse. I am still on the fence on this but I think it has made many artists lazy. My feeling is that you can't get a since for a group or artist by just one or two songs. Yet that is how most people are downloading or acquiring their music now days. One might say, "Hey I really like that song but I don't really know the artist." Kinda sad really that it is coming to that .

The belief that artist's are going to just think: "Hey I can hit it big off this one song, so the rest of the album doesn't have to be that great." You couldn't really get away with that kind of thinking before when album sales were more important. Although if bands start aiming just for singles, then we likely will have lost part of our musically identity. Say what you will about Gaga but you can't deny the influence she has over the industry as well as with her fans. She in a very real since is carrying the weight of the music industry on her back. Much in the same way Ayumi Hamasaki is in retrospect here. What happens from this point on is anyone's guess. Will the new digital domain of I-tunes bring in a new era of music or will it be it's death blow still remains to be seen. Only time will tell how much of an asset it will become or not. I just hope for everyone's sake it will be for the better.

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Posted in: Japan experts and opinion leaders! Start contributing actively to the debate on Japan Today now! See in context

Wow guys way to crucify JT on this. I think it is a great idea. I personally would be more then happy to do this if I had more time. I don't expect a thing out of it as if I was that good a writer. I would be working for the New York Times or something lol. There are some great bloggers out there. I myself have been debating on how to better contribute to JT on topics I have more knowledge on. The fact that they are even asking our opinion tells me they value the JT member community and their input. I for one would love to see more content on language, culture and the arts. As being something other then celebrity gossip.

While I know JT first and foremost is a news and information site. It doesn't mean it can't branch out into other areas of interest. JapanGuide.com has done just that and covers travel, living, food, shopping, forums, friends Pen-pal or language exchange etc. Be we Japanese or otherwise JT should be a community which it's members can contribute in different ways if they want. To expect any sort of compensation for a site which is free to it's members is laughable. Why would I have spent countless hours on JT if I expected anything in return!! I am here because I want to be nor expect to make a profit from it.

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Posted in: Japan beats U.S. in shootout to win Women's World Cup soccer See in context

What makes this win even more impressive is that unlike the US Japan doesn't have a professional women's league. Japan's L-League is nonprofessional and many players have to keep day jobs, with practice in the evenings, to make ends meet. Nor do they have huge numbers to pull from Collages and the like. California alone has some 200,000 registered players alone. Japan has somewhere around 25,000. Not to mention little to no corporate sponsorship up to this point. This makes this win all the more important and can only ad-mange what it means for Japan's Women's Soccer program. What Women's FIFA World Cup has achieved in it relativity short history is impressive to say the least. It could have been quite different an outcome as we have seen in other sports such as Baseball & Softball. Ironically in almost identical circumstances.

A heavily favored US Women's Softball Team lost to Japan in what was to be the last showing in Olympic Competition. A truly tragic outcome to a sport which was just starting to gain some ground. To the US credit they made great strides in promoting the sport but to little to late to matter. This has created somewhat of a firestorm back home and a grassroots campaign to attempt to get it reinstated. As one young 14 year old girl stated at a news conference. "Collage ball is just not the same as Olympic Competition." " It is not the same as representing your county at this stage and at this level of play." "If we don't have that to shoot for, why bother." Strong statement which could mean trouble and put the entire softball program in jeopardy if this holds indefinitely. I haven't met a young teen yet which lives softball who doesn't have Olympic Games burned into the back of her mind lol.

The point being of this is that despite the US past 2 World Cup wins which were well deserved. It is important to see WCS move forward at this level of play. This world cup has seen some amazing performances by both teams and will only help to further it's continued growth. The sheer iron grit and determination Japan has displayed is proof enough for me Women's Soccer has entered the foray and is here to stay. I could not have asked for a better showing both these teams have displayed throughout this World Cup. What a way to end this epic tournament as will be one to remember for the ages. I hope this brings some closure to the Japanese people and hope for the future. Way to represent!!

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Posted in: What is the best way for the global community to deal with North Korea? See in context

Well at this point it's hard to say what to do. Although one thing is for certain. The longer we let North Korea build up it's Nuclear program, the worse it will be latter on. Here is another thing to consider. China likely doesn't want a unified Korea! NK is China's counterweight proving they can keep them under control. So it is really in their best interest to defuse this situation before both end up with something they don't want, a unified democratic Korea. Not to mention that having a increased military presence in the South China Sea as some have mentioned is not what China wants. Military drills will still take place along with the USS George Washington this Sunday. This no doubt will infuriate the north but they would be fools to try to pull anything. If indeed this was a political maneuver by the north in conjunction with the transitioning of power. It really then is against all reason for them to pursue this any further.

In doing so will only bring more suffering and isolation to a country already on the brink. What is so sad about all this is that there is so much for NK to gain if it would only see that. South Korea is the only developed country outside Japan so far to have been included in the group of "Next Eleven" countries. It hosts the second largest modern city in the world next to Tokyo. It is among the most technically advanced and growing economies in all of Asia. South Korea was one of the few developed countries that was able to avoid a recession during the global financial crisis, and its economic growth rate is at at a respectable 6.1% this year alone. NK dear leader is no different then all dictators of his type. They care nothing for their own people and use manipulation, fear and propaganda to control the populace. The best hope we have is that China reins them in. Otherwise we are going to have a situation which could quickly turn ugly real fast.

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Posted in: 'Space Battleship Yamato' blasts off See in context

YuriOtani why is it every time someone has a different opinion you automatically think they are Japan bashing? You are really a very interesting person but I have a hard time reading you at times. There is a thing called debate which I understand is not to common in Japan, am I right? While I don't claim I know everything about Japan. You shouldn't claim you know everything about us either. Japan has portrayed the west false realities about American people as well. No thanks to Hollywood, The Media, Corporate, Government etc.

This doesn't represent what I would consider real Americans. Of coarse there are some people like that and some tourists you get in Japan are not very good ambassadors. Although they are hardly representative. It all just gets lost in translation. My ancestors did bad things as well as did most of mankind in some form or another. Although part of understanding people is understanding ourselves first. Space Battleship Yamato I am very excited to see regardless of what it may portray. Many Animes have similar context but I don't blame the Japanese people for that. It's just what fate and destiny has brought us. I think this you would agree. ^_^

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Posted in: Obama says U.S. will defend South Korea See in context

The thing is NK might be crazy but an attack on the south would be an almost definite end to their rain. If that is their goal then by all means do so lol. I'm not saying that wouldn't be welcome but at what cost? How much longer will Japan, South Korea and the rest of the world be held hostage by this stalinist regime. I also question how many North Koreans will be loyal if war breaks out? Moral doesn't bode well for a country which life is basically being sucked out of it. Stay in the north and most certainly starve or take the chance at a better life in the south.

The number of North Koreans that have defected over the past three years have been over 10,000. That's about as many as had fled to the South over the entire previous period since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice. It is believed well over 20,000 in total are at large hiding in China and elsewhere. This is in addition to well over 2 million lives lost due to starvation. So I agree with the sediments here as it wouldn't take much to overthrow the north. After all who wants for fight for a madman which has no vision or concern for it's own people. The question now is will China continue to hold it's hand or throw down the gauntlet and put an end to this tragedy.

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Posted in: Hikaru Utada advises fans not to buy her album See in context

Well in retrospect releasing best of albums isn't anything new in Japan. In addition to collaborations which are far more common here then let's say in the west. I kinda like the idea and wish more artists stateside would do that. Although that can be overdone as well no doubt. Koda Kumi is a another artist which releases get recycled far to much. Not saying some aren't good like "Best Second Session," which I love and was one of the best selling compilations that year. Although I can understand where artists like Utada would get a bit annoyed by all this. If you aren't releasing any new material which hasn't already been released previously then what's the point? She said it's tacky not to mention disrespectful which I of coarse agree. She does not want her fans to have to pay for something unnecessarily which her heart wasn't into. Us fans so respect that and it is about time someone stick up to record labels which get away with this far to often.

I agree about the point of committing contractual suicide though. Most artists would just keep quiet for fear of this. Universal Japan is not who she, adjectives aside should be upsetting here. This might explain Utada sudden hiatus and departure from the music industry, at least for now. If Universal Japan does drop her she can always go to Avex. Though likely not much better there either in this respect. Utada stated she has yet to grow up and says she needs to do so as a "person" rather than then as a "musician." She thanked fans and the staff at her EMI label for their ongoing support and asked for their patience and understanding. I don't think it's Utada that has as much growing up to do as it is her record labels lol. It's about time though she take a break!! It's not like she doesn't deserve it no doubt lol. In closing I hope this isn't the last we see of Utada. That would make me very very sad! :( We support you Utada get rested up and come back better then ever. ^_^

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Posted in: A Hooter here and a Hooter there See in context

Well I covered this in more detail on an earlier post. Although I will say that I am sure these girls were hand picked by HQ personally. So to respond to a previous comment on healthy appearance, grooming, attitude etc etc. I doubt that is going to be an issue here. You don't spend the amount of time and money they have getting this here without choosing the absolute best girls they can. This is especially true for a new chain and being the first in Japan no less lol. HQ is going to be keeping a very close eye on this no doubt!

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Posted in: Girls, girls, girls See in context

This is one of the few times I am going to have to agree with YuriOtani. Well somewhat agree at least. Although to say this is any different then let's say a maid cafe, something similar is a bit of a stretch. Hooters is really pretty tame in comparison to some other chains like Coyote Ugly though. I would think they will try to tailor their menu somewhat to Japanese tastes as well. I mean any good restaurant will do that if they want to be around very long. I would also like to add there chains that do very well in Japan. Few and far between of coarse but do exist. This is the very first Hooters here so I have no doubt HQ will be keeping a very close eye on how well it is doing. It's no cheap venture starting any new chain franchise especially here no doubt lol.

I am sure they went to quite a bit of trouble to even get here. HQ must have felt it had a reasonable chance of doing well. I doubt they would've put the time and energy into to doing so if were not the case. On the flip side I can understand Yuri's reservations though. The food is good as we have eaten there quit a few times. Although is it appropriate for the location and will it cater to Japanese tastes and sensibilities? I also have some reservations having foreign staff on board to. For training purposes OK but not as a permanent fixture. The girls I am sure are quit good and likely were hand picked but do they speak Japanese? Being overpriced is really not an issue if the food is good. Not to mention that this is Japan right? You have a reputation to uphold as worlds most expensive destination!

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Posted in: Namie Amuro ready to have a 'Wild Summer' See in context

As long as I am in the same commercial then I would be OK with that!! Although I much prefer Koda Kumi as does do better commercials I agree. It's a toss up though I like them both. I also bought Namie's new album which is fantastic. This is making me thirsty, Coke anyone?

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Posted in: Will Tokyo Sky Tree's completion bring down 'skyscraper curse' on Japan? See in context

I agree that in Japan's case the Sky Tree is needed as in many others cases of other such projects is not. You look at the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai in contrast. What was the purpose for such a massive building there. It may be the tallest now but not for long. The Madinat al-Hareer in Kawait City will topple that. The Tower Of Russia being 3rd and Incheon Tower in Seoul being 4th. All of which should be finished late this year.

The new Freedom Tower in NYC is bairly going to be in the top 10 at only 1,776 feet. Just slightly taller then the twin towers in Malaysia. In New York's case though is more symbolic in nature then out of necessity. The Chicago Spire although will eventually be tallest in North America at 2,000 feet 609 meters which is expected to finish later this year. In contract Dubai's was likely trying to sell itself to the world but at what cost? So I feel in the end Sky Tree won't be seen as a white elephant. It has a practical purpose unlike everything else on the table.

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Posted in: Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicolas Cage arrive in Japan See in context

Why is it every time a celebrity comes here everyone feels they need to get their political jabs in. Don't even start with the whole carbon emissions song and dance. Do you fly or drive or maybe catch the bus or train? Well however you look at it your contributing to carbon emissions. Get over it and quit always passing the buck. It is always so convenient to blame them for all our problems. When in reality everyone can help contribute to reducing our own carbon emissions. With that said and out of the way.

Leo is a fine actor and not your typical Hollywood socialite. In fact where in the world is Leonardo tends to be the usual question. He usually disappears off the face of the earth when not filming anyways lol. There is also another issue people are not considering here. The reason why a lot of celebrities don't take commercial flights is for security reasons. It creates alot of extra unnecessary work and headaches for airport personal which can be better used elsewhere. Things then can quickly get out of hand. So frankly I don't have a problem with them taking private flights.

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Posted in: Internet posting leads to group suicide in Kobe See in context

Well suicide is never the answer. Using myself as a guinea pig here. I to have suffered from depression most of my life. The last 10 years have been pretty worthless but I keep going. So why haven't I committed suicide? Well it's not like I haven't thought about it in the past. I don't really fit into society that well either. Although instead of that effecting me and wanting to end it all. It has made me stronger more determined to make it though. Are Japanese so easy to give up on life when times get tough? Sure life's a struggle with no certainties but what is!! It took me nearly 15 years to realise I was good at learning languages. Although at one time i didn't consider myself good at anything. I still struggle but I do my best and make the most of it. If I ended my life long ago then I may have never discovered this hidden talent. Albert Einstein once said 90% of life is failure and the other 10% success. In my case 99% life is failure and 1% success. Although it it is that one percent chance that things will get better which keeps me going. I think about what my family would feel like if I were to leave this world. I am the last of my family and a linage that goes back hundreds of years. So in a way that motivates me as well.

What will my ancestors think and will I live up to their expectations? What hardships will I create for my family if I were to dissolve? To commit suicide is to die in disgrace and without honor. When someone in one's family commits suicide it stays with you your entire life. Which can transfer to your family and your children's family as well. What legacy will you leave for future generations for better or for worse. If I could look into a crystal ball what future may these poor souls have had. Maybe someone would find a cure for cancer. Maybe someone would save someone else's life. Maybe someone would become President or Prime Minister of their state or country. When I see so many unnecessary deaths in Japan it tears at my very soul. I may not know you but I do care. Maybe if more Japanese realized that they are not alone in this world. There are others, millions of us just like you with the same hopes, fears, struggles,dreams ambitions as you have. One can never hope to be at peace and in harmony when not at peace with oneself. Japan has so much to offer the world and it is sad they value life so little. I hope this will change in time for their sake and ours as well. ^_^

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Posted in: Lee says N Korea must pay for torpedo attack on warship See in context

As grafton mentioned this certainly could be a possibility. The Chinese military is seeking to project it's naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific. This strategy is a sharp break from the traditional, narrower doctrine of preparing for war over the self-governing island of Taiwan or defending the Chinese coast. This is the first time the Chinese have labeled the South China Sea a core interest, on par with Taiwan and Tibet. China is also developing a sophisticated submarine fleet that could try to prevent foreign naval vessels from entering its strategic waters if a conflict erupted in the region.

It is not to much of a stretch to believe China, however indirectly may have been involved. Last year there was an incident where a US Warship didn't detect a Chinese/Russian sub on their radar. This made major headlines and was a huge embarrassment. So to say "What country has such subs" answers that question. The Chinese may have used this incident as experiment to see how successful such an operation would be. China may have seen this as a means of getting North Korea to do it's biding without getting it's hands dirty. If this would have happened in Japanese waters the same would have been said there as well. Although who would have believed it as the blame would have shifted onto the US which is exactly what China would have intended.

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Posted in: Who do you think was behind the sinking of a South Korean warship on March 26? See in context

How in the world did the US get 37% of the vote! What would have possibly been the benefit from such an action? The US is stuck in two wars, a massive debt, 20 million people out of work, A war on the border with Mexico and a major environmental disaster growing by the day. A major confrontation with Korea is certainly not on their list of priories at the moment. Not to mention you really don't give North Korea enough credit as are more then capable of pulling off such an act. No one ever thought they could launch a successful missile test or nuclear test either lol.

The Koreans are very resourceful and I would not be surprised in the least of them pulling this off. Not to mention if a older sub was used it may have not been picked up on radar. This actually happened last year when a US Warship didn't detect a Chinese/Russian sub. This made major headlines and was a huge embarrassment. Not to mention as well when US drones were hijacked by Taliban forces using a simple $20 program lol. So I have to disagree with the previous comment. If this can happen to the US then it most certainly can happen to the South Korean Military as well.

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Posted in: What should the U.S. military brass and/or Japanese authorities do to reduce the number of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Japan? See in context

Well here we go again but I for one am not going to go through all this song and dance anymore. Although to humor the question a bit there are things in the short term which can be done. For what little crimes military personal do commit there needs to be more severe penalties. Like maybe automatic court marshal perhaps? A sort of boot camp mentality would be quite effective in these situations. Maybe a loss of privileges for everyone on base?. This would make people think twice in how they conduct themselves off base and police themselves better or pay the piper. I understand the inherent problems in keeping track of some 40,000 military personnel at all times. Although If a tough love policy is what is necessary to get the point across then so be it.

If it were not for the fact of all these unfortunate innocents taking place over the years. Maybe then there would have been a different attitude amongst the general population in regards to the base issue. On the flip side though there no doubt needs to be clearer language between military Brass and Japanese authorities. This way it would help minimize unnecessary red tape, moving the process along in a timely manner with minimal conflict. US and Japanese authorities need to get together and work out a policy which is acceptable to both parties. I doubt this has been done yet and would seem as an acceptable first step towards a more long term policy.

Another option which I strongly support is allowing military personnel who wish to relocate elsewhere be able to do so!! In this situation I would rather have people here which respect Japan laws, customs and culture then someone who didn't really want to come here in the first place. This would help eliminate the few bad apples from those who actually like being here and accepting the Japanese way of doing things. Living off base should be a privilege as well and not a right. Many foreigners who live in Japan accept this and the same should apply to the military as well. In closing a little tough love doesn't hurt anyone and I would expect this no less from our fighting forces.

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