Roy Sophveason comments

Posted in: 'Anko' red bean paste the new chic way to stay in shape See in context

The red bean paste is seen as a "stylish" dietary sweet

Really? Traditionally, making anko paste calls for a 1:1 ratio between beans and sugar. How in the world is that "dietary"?

After learning of anko's low fat content

... she immediately stopped learning. Otherwise she would know that an excess of carbohydrates will be converted into triglycerides, also known as fat. But yay, zero percent fat on the nutrition label.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: International tourists return to Japan; spend big at top tourist spots in Tokyo See in context

A couple of American tourists in Tokyo’s otaku mecca of Akihabara can be seen buying a "One Piece" figurine and DVD

I wonder if they found the same three tourists shown on terebi in the evening. I'm only half kidding, I have the slight suspicion it's always the same couple of tourists, buying the same anime/gashapon tat from the same stores, it might as well be stock footage.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan begins giving Omicron booster shots to stem 7th COVID wave See in context

Raw Beer,

and you honestly, with a straight face claim these things happened in the millions across Japan without anyone noticing or alerting anyone? The same Japan that pulled Moderna vaccines from their shelves after noticing impurities in a batch of vials?

Get real.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Posted in: Japan begins giving Omicron booster shots to stem 7th COVID wave See in context

Raw Beer,

for each Covid hospitalization prevented by the injection, we get between 4 and 100 (depending on the study) serious vaccine adverse effects.

Unless you classify a slight fever on the next day or a "vaccine arm" as "serious adverse effect", that statement is very obviously, and maliciously, bunk. It would imply "serious vaccine adverse effects" in the millions across Japan, a number that cannot possibly be hidden or ignored and that would lead to a massive outcry across the whole medical community, no matter how much money a mysterious clandestine organisation would pour into bribing medical practicioners.

But, of course, feel free to cite your sources. I'm curious.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Posted in: Japan begins giving Omicron booster shots to stem 7th COVID wave See in context

Bob, thank you for an argument well made, no matter that I don't agree with all of it.

Your point I would like to object to, vigorously: In a social construct, confronted with a problem that vitally concerns the whole society, it is not fascist to strip people of their personal choice. It is a necessity.

We humans are comfort creatures. When given the choice between two actions, we will always choose the one that is easier, more comfortable to us. (It's debatable what this "comfort" means individually, but for many people it means inactivity.) Even further, we will actually invest energy into defending that choice until that investment becomes larger than the energy required for the alternative. This can even become a self-amplifying process: Some people will invest energy into defending their defenses. At some point, changing their mind and the whole rabbit hole of manufactured beliefs and excuses requires more energy than just defending their topmost layer of defenses. Unchecked, this amplification loop can result in radicalisation, anti-scientific dogmatism in the present case.

As for the matter at hand, I firmly believe that in many cases, the "anti-vaccination" sentiment does not actually come from healthy scepticism but from a deeply rooted desire for comfort, for inactivity, the wish for everything to stay the same, to "do nothing leave me alone this is my life thank you very much".

This behaviour is severely less pronounced in Japan, where "gaman" -- the virtue of enduring hardship (not only, but also) for the greater good of society -- is intrinsic to the social construct. Were it not for gaman, this country would simply not exist anymore. Imagine if Japan's people, with all the natural disasters every year, with the massively saturated personal infrastructure, would behave like those in many very-much-western countries? Society would have collapsed here. That's one reason why it's so hard and controversial to discuss these issues on an ostensibly Japan-oriented website that's nevertheless heavily targeted towards an international audience, why discussions clash so hard here.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Posted in: Japan begins giving Omicron booster shots to stem 7th COVID wave See in context

Be like Denmark.

This is what I would like to call "country shopping". Make a point, however contrarian, and select the singular one of the 195 nations in the world that right now happens to do what you are arguing for.

We should by now all have learnt that while it is indeed a global pandemic, its effects and necessary countermeasures differ drastically between countries. Governments everywhere make their own individual decisions, and not at all always for scientific reasons. Also, each and every country screwed up in one way or another.

This is Japan. Japan is not Denmark. Japan is also not Israel, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, South Africa, or Sweden. Do you want me to prove it or do you take it at face value?

Imagine buying a car and having to replace the seatbelt

Imagine showing up at a scientific discussion about vaccines and the human immune system with a car analogy.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

Posted in: Japan has disappointed many people who love Japan and have a potential to like Japan. The border closure not only made many tourists who had plans to visit Japan upset, but it also will make them more cautious of Japan at least for the next few years. See in context

Spring next year, all will be forgotten.

I truly hope so, alas I think it will not happen. I fear the Covid wave we're just coming out the other end of was not the last. And when the inevitable next wave happens, however big it turns out to be, Japan being Japan will overreact and pucker right up again. And the little touristic goodwill they will have made in the next weeks and months goes straight out the window.

As for academics (ad KennyG), three years of foreign students applying, being accepted, having paid tuition and housing, and then being rejected to enter have done a number on Japan's academic reputation. The universities may be great, but the despicable way Japan treated foreign students has substantially and lastingly tainted them.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Posted in: Hitachi develops touchless operating panel for elevators See in context

Just like the "no-touch hooks" collecting dust in the shelves of the 100 yen shops, I feel this is a project from the early days of Corona when we didn't know anything about anything and people were genuinely reluctant to touch stuff.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Hopes grow for win-win effect of inbound tourism in Japan, weak yen See in context


As for the CoCOA app wasn't that discontinued just recently because it was basically useless!!??

Probably just haven't told anyone on the frontline yet in usual Japanese bureaucratic slowness...

The COCOA app has been discontinued, and hasn't been required for or after immigration in a while. What Mark and others are talking about though is the MySOS app, which is not required either, but speeds up the immigration process using a "fast track" process by getting all your documents pre-approved before immigration.

In my experience it is not that bad of an app either, I've certainly seen worse. One fills out a long and slightly tedious questionnaire, just like with regular paper-based immigration (the two necessary paper slips will also not be replaced by it). But the process itself works exceptionally well, documents get approved 24/7, within half an hour or so. And with the resulting QR code one slips through immigration within minutes. Honestly, it could even make for a good template for entering countries which require additional documents at immigration, pandemic regulations or not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Storm damages space center in Japan; 130,000 homes in Kyushu still lack power See in context

Having gone through the 2018 Jebi disaster including one and a half days without power, I wholeheartedly feel with the affected. I hope power and infrastructure get restored soon, but I'm confident they get all the support they need.

Let this please also be a lesson to a few people here:

[name redacted because I'm not that petty] Sep. 18

Yes, it’s a strong storm but be careful of fear-mongering. Today is Sunday. See if people still remember this storm mid-week.

Warning the population is the government's and mass media's task. Declaring emergencies and asking people to take care and follow emergency procedures is not "fearmongering" or "media hype".

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Hopes grow for win-win effect of inbound tourism in Japan, weak yen See in context


Yes, the scientific term for what has happened to your friend is: a "mistake".

Neither Japan's emigration booth nor the airlines are responsible for informing anyone about Japan's current immigration regulations. Your friend didn't invest three minutes to look up current regulations on any of the official governmental sites. Consequently she did not know about the "fast track" and only qualified for the "slow track".

Everyone is always going on and on about the return to a self-determined life, but is quick to put the blame at the government when their self-determination fails them.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Posted in: Japan reports 75,966 new coronavirus cases See in context

Only 9% lower than the same day a week ago and 30% down from two weeks ago.

The cases count very obviously does not reflect the real infection numbers anymore, Tokyo has a test-positive rate of almost 50%, indicating that tests are almost exclusively executed on symptomatic patients. That's not of much use, but it is what it is, Corona fatigue has eventually reached Japan, too.

What's important is that the case load in hospitals has started to follow the downwards trend, with the expected two week delay. Today, Tokyo had less than 100 ICU patients in a long time. That's very encouraging, and certainly very welcome by the hospital staff.

I just hope we don't get a "November surprise" like last year, and all the progress in opening up the country gets nixed overnight ... again.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan set to waive some visa requirements in October to boost tourism: Nikkei See in context

but with Yen where it is, Japan is suddenly a very affordable destination for Americans and Europeans

Once you are here on Japanese soil, yes. The recent drop between JPY and US$ is nice for US-Americans, it is not as pronounced between the JPY and the Euro. But all things considered, Japan hasn't been particularly expensive for western tourists in the last two decades anyway. Certainly not as expensive as people think, especially if you are willing and able to eschew the Hilton and prepackaged tours.

But getting here is currently the expensive problem to solve.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't to request energy-saving measures in winter over power crunch concerns See in context


What about the machines that sell both hot and cold drinks?

That's actually one of my favorite fun facts about the machines: They use only one heat pump between the heating and cooling compartments. Instead of "exhausting" the heat from the cooling compartment, they use it to heat up the heating compartment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't to request energy-saving measures in winter over power crunch concerns See in context

My electric bills are always higher in the winter than the summer. The only difference? Aircons set to heat instead of cool.

That's because the overwhelming majority of AC units (including ours) only work one way. They are not bidirectional heat pumps, even if technically speaking they very easily could be. For heating they are just wall mounted electric fan heaters which, by definition, are stuck at 100% efficiency. Confirm for yourself: When cooling, they are exhausting hot air on the outside, but when heating, the outside unit isn't doing anything.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan set to waive some visa requirements in October to boost tourism: Nikkei See in context

Also let's keep in mind that Japan has emphatically demonstrated that its visa policies can change on a dime. I'm old enough to remember the Great Three Week Border Opening of November 2021.

For many tourists Japan is still an expensive "once in a lifetime" proposition with months of pre-planning. They won't do it on shaky grounds, they are quite willing to wait. I wouldn't bet on tourists immediately flooding the gates once (and if) the visa waiver program is being reinstated.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Ethereum blockchain completes 'monumental' overhaul See in context

However, we will have to wait for a long time more for the next four upgrades (Surge,Verge,Purge and Splurge) to be implemented, before we see our invested capital to grow.

Squeeze my hand if you smell burnt toast and need help.

Other PoS blockchains are far cheaper than ETH, but they launched as PoS.

I would argue that all blockchains launch as POS.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Keep it down See in context

Trains in Japan are like morgues - deathly quiet and full of zombies. Awful atmosphere.

I still very much prefer it to public transport in other countries, where you're wedged between someone blaring the latest tiktok dance video on their cellphone loudspeaker and someone else eating their fully stacked kebab, with kids shouting across the whole car and a drunk stumbling across. And I wish I was exagerrating.

Atmosphere? I don't go on the train for atmosphere. Give me absolute silence, マナーモード on, thank you.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Posted in: Japan set to waive some visa requirements in October to boost tourism: Nikkei See in context


Far more people will be coming

Absolutely, and I'm happy about the announcement. Realistically it's not really hard to have "far more people", given that it's almost zero right now. I'm also pretty sure it will not make a huge dent for the economy in the short term. Post-covid, people are still reluctant to fly, flight tickets are still very expensive from Europe (due to a certain autocrat taking his country off the fly-over map), and the main source of tourists with big wallets -- China -- will not be partaking. But still, this is a necessary step toward restoring Japan's touristic standing, which at the moment is pretty much as bad as it can be.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Gov't to request energy-saving measures in winter over power crunch concerns See in context


I once read that they use as much power as a small household.

That was very long ago, some 30 years or so. Manufacturers (which are often the drink companies themselves) since have made a lot of progress to cut down on energy consumption (they are paying for it after all). Nowadays they use about as much power as a sizable two-person fridge, around 400 kWh/year.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Rate of young Japanese people who want to get married someday drops to lowest ever in survey See in context


When I was born, the global population was less than 1/3rd of what it is today.

So you were born in or before 1951, the last year the world had less than 2.6 million people.

That people are having fewer children, at least in some countries, should be celebrated.

Given that you're at least 71 years old, and young people are paying your pension, you should probably not cheer for the world to have less of them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan reports 85,867 new coronavirus cases See in context


Just lost someone important to me.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA See in context

does this anonymous system mean that the health department, which I would expect to have access to the data, only knows where contacts occurred, not who they are?

No, it doesn't even know where the contacts occurred, not even the apps themselves know that. (There is a common misconception about this because the apps ask for "location" permissions to operate, but that is only because the necessary Bluetooth service is grouped into that "location" permission. The app does not use GPS or other location services.)

Or is there a back door...?

No. One of the reasons this app was so difficult to develop was that Apple and Google both had to make very specific provisions in their operating systems for it to even work, and they have been extremely cautious and strict about it.

Ultimately, its demise was that just too few people used it. It had a 20% adoption rate in Japan, which is actually quite significant for an app, but that also means that it still would miss 4 in 5 contacts. Germany for example had an uptake of about 50% and there it worked a bit better.

But one also has to keep in mind that these apps were developed and distributed in summer of 2020, back when we didn't know anything about anything ("we used to wipe our groceries as if they came out of a sewer"). Since then, both the epidemiological situation and our approach to contain it have changed significantly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan logs record August trade deficit on weak yen, costly oil See in context

Russia is god status of energy supplier!

A for effort, thank you for your service, Bot #29817.

For oil, gas and coal imports, Japan depends about 9% on Russia, with oil imports currently at zero and coal being phased out. Oil mainly comes from the middle east, gas from Australia and Malaysia, and coal from Australia and Indonesia.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA See in context

i have never used this app as i never needed.

In other words, not only don't you understand what the app does, you opted out of this social construct just as you opted out from any other measure to contain the virus. What else is new?

The app is not perfect, because for technological reasons it cannot be perfect. Like any of the other measures it is only a piece of the puzzle, in this case a very small one. That does not mean it was useless.

The reason why it has become obsolete is that the app can only work in a meaningful way if there's relatively few active cases. Currently though there are about a million confirmed active cases, roughly one in 125 people, probably more in denser populated areas. Which means that over the course of some two weeks there is practically no chance not to meet someone who tested positive. As such, a constant warning by the app that you've met someone positive in the last 14 days becomes meaningless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA See in context


I'm genuinely curious, because I don't know much about how these things work in terms of data sharing, but wouldn't there be some data that could be leaked?

With the "decentralized" approach they chose there is no personal data collected on the central servers. In general it works like this (slightly simplified):

a) your app on your phone, when started for the first time, creates a random number for itself, let's say "12345" (this is very simplified, in reality it is a very long cryptographically random number)

b) another person's app created another random number for itself, let's say "67890"

c) if two people with the app on their phone meet, they exchange each other's random number via bluetooth and keep a ledger of the random numbers they meet. Your phone notes: "I met 67890 on September 1".

d) if that other person got covid and reports that, the central server gets the information "person with random number 67890 has reported positive", and shares that random number with all people's apps

e) your phone regularly contacts the central server for a list of the numbers that reported positive, gets the information "67890 has reported positive" and checks its ledger whether it met 67890 during the last, let's say, 14 days. If so, your app alerts you.

This way, the server only knows random numbers which cannot be tied to anyone's personal data. It simply does not know anything else. And that's why the worst case of a leak can be just a bunch of random numbers from people reporting positive, with no way of actually knowing who those people are.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese government shutting down its COVID contract-tracing app COCOA See in context

Anyone willing to place bets on a data leak due to some bureaucrat leaving his USB stick at an izakaya before the cursed thing is shut down?

Fortunately, by design there is no data to leak with this app. This has actually been a huge point of contention when similar apps were developed around the world. Unlike some other countries, Japan chose the decentralized approach.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: China keeps West guessing about economic pressure on Russia See in context

Over-dependence on Russia for any important commodity is poor planning as Germany and some other countries in Europe are learning.

True they are learning, painful lessons at that, and they make mistakes like everyone who learns. But they are learning fast now.

In a way, in Europe, Putin may have done more for energy consciousness, renewable energy, and a honest discussion about resource planning in a few months than the whole green movement has been able to achieve in 20 years.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Wholesale prices jump 9% in August as weak yen lifts import costs See in context


Just in time, while not perfect, means you can get the product just as you receive an order for it, no need to dead money in over stocked products

Correct, Just In Time (JIT) primarily means: you're not keeping stock in a warehouse. It also means that, to a large extent, you are using trucks, ships, and planes as your "rolling warehouse". And that's all fine and dandy as long as all the supply chains are working correctly and, well, in time. Which currently they are not.

It's also not just finished products between manufacturer and store that are using JIT, that's actually the least of our current problems. I'm talking JIT in the whole supply chain for production: ingredients, raw materials, components. The problems there are massively increasing the cost because manufacturers, for decades, have worked to minimize the stock of materials they keep, and they cannot just create warehouses to stock ingredients on a whim now. Lots of goods, especially food, are depending on a working international JIT supply chain. And now the downside of a globally disrupted supply chain is showing, and showing ugly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Wholesale prices jump 9% in August as weak yen lifts import costs See in context

This article's headline seems to pin the problem on the "weak yen":

Wholesale prices jump 9% in August as weak yen lifts import costs

Meanwhile, as of another article of today:

As small businesses raise prices in U.S., some customers push back

"Overall, economists forecast consumer prices rose 8.1% in August"

I'm not an economist, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong. But if prices are rising on both sides of the US$-JPY conversion rate, I feel that the "weak yen" is actually not the main issue. Likewise, prices are also rising across the board in Europe, and they are pretty much just a spectator to the "weak yen".

My wife works in import/export coordination, and according to her the international supply chains are still gravely disrupted. And still the industry as a whole seems to cling to just-in-time logistics (i.e., using the delivery chains as their warehouse) for dear life. I feel that this is one of the real root causes of the problem.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

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