Simon_Foston comments

Posted in: Cop arrested for stealing girl's underwear during investigation See in context

1 pair of panties I can understand, but 25???

I wonder if he planned on selling them...

Add an "m" to one of those words and you're probably closer to the mark.

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Posted in: Cop arrested for stealing girl's underwear during investigation See in context

If that's what police officers get up to no wonder other Japanese men are at it.

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Posted in: Man slashes woman because he 'can't get a girlfriend' See in context

Don't hate me for saying this... but I really feel bad for this guy and hope he gets help.

An understandable sentiment. I suspect he's probably beyond help, though.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

Well, getting back to the question of there still being "bad apples in the barrel," I can't see why there wouldn't be. I'm not aware of school operators changing their hiring practices significantly since NOVA went under, so if there were bad teachers before then there still will be now. Furthermore, most native English speakers who come here to teach only stay two or three years at the very most, and for most of them that just isn't long enough to really get good at the job. Besides, I don't know if really high standards of English can be expected in a country where the most valued indicators of English ability are multi-choice comprehension tests.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

Yes, why take this risk? Clearly they felt an urgent need to intimidate him. It was a blunder because of the actions of Saruhashi's lawyer, but they must have known that risk, and still they felt the necessity to kidnap him.

Actually, one can better ask the same question in your scenario:

Saruhashi borrowed heavily from the Yakuza to try and get out of the hole he'd dug for himself, and that they're leaning on him now because he's thrown away their money.

Why would they kidnap him and thus implicate themselves in his NOVA affairs if it was merely a matter of him owing them some money?

So it had to be something extraordinarily serious such as (for example) him knowing details of where to find some NOVA collapse scheme "fingerprints".

Not having any knowledge of what these people were actually up to I'll consider any possibility at the moment. It could well be that the Yakuza decided Saruhashi needed some extra encouragement not to talk about possible organized crime involvement in NOVA's collapse to give himself a better chance in the appeal. If that's the case there are probably several layers of insulation between the people who give the orders and the ones who carried them out, and the abductors were just unlucky or stupid enough to get caught in the act. Alternatively, Saruhashi borrowed a really huge amount of money from a less sophisticated Yakuza outfit, and they decided the strong-arm tactics were necessary to set an example. I'll be interested to see if police interrogations or questions asked at Saruhashi's appeal yield any more answers.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

There is nothing wrong with your analysis, except that you attribute the poor NOVA business behavior leading to bankruptcy as incompetence, whereas it was a planned Yakuza method of phasing out and closing down the school, while embezzling as much money out as possible in the process. They even took the pension fund. The Yakuza-NOVA connection is well known. (And not just NOVA of course, other conversation chains as well.) The President of NOVA was convicted of embezzling money from the company. Just recently Yakuza were arrested for kidnapping the President of NOVA (forcibly holding him in a hotel room). Did you think that a coincidence? If you did, then teaching English conversation might be a good career choice.

I never thought for even a second that Saruhashi's abduction was a random co-incidence, as I cannot imagine Yakuza wanting to kidnap anyone they don't have pretty serious issues with. Neither can I imagine why you would imply that I might think such a thing unless it was for the purpose of getting in a cheap dig at English conversation teachers, which I honestly don't see the need for.

In this instance I'm well aware of the stories that have been floating around about the NOVA/eikaiwa/Yakuza connection, and while I don't dismiss them I have seen nothing much to substantiate them. Of course if there are any hard facts available I'd be very interested to see them and would be happy to revise my opinions accordingly. At the moment though, I still think it's also possible that Saruhashi borrowed heavily from the Yakuza to try and get out of the hole he'd dug for himself, and that they're leaning on him now because he's thrown away their money. I mean, it's entirely conceivable that NOVA's collapse was indeed a Yakuza scheme, but if so it was so ingeniously planned and executed that they left absolutely no fingerprints on it - there's been quite a bit of media reporting about Saruhashi's screw-ups but absolutely nothing about possible organized crime connections. Why would people capable of such a calculated and methodical crime see any need to draw attention to themselves by kidnapping the president of the company they'd forced into bankruptcy?

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

joetheplumber:

Nova failed because it promoted inept teachers and lost some of its best teachers, because they were ill treated.

You are kidding, I hope.

NOVA "failed" because the controlling Yakuza decided to shut it down, putting in place methods of sucking out all the assets, deliberately bankrupting it.

Upon what do you base that allegation? The actual facts of the matter are clear-cut and well-known. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry approved NOVA's policy of selling lessons in large packages at a discounted rate, and then using the full price per lesson to calculate any refunds. NOVA then more than doubled its number of schools without really increasing the number of teachers it employed, so that it became much harder for students to reserve the lessons they'd bought, which they'd been promised they could do any time they liked. When they wanted to cancel their contracts they got far less money back than they really should have done, they went to court and METI, acting far too late to deal with a problem they had allowed to happen in the first place, forbade NOVA from selling any more large lesson packages. Under such circumstances the company couldn't possibly survive.

Nothing to do with Yakuza at all, unless they were particularly stupid Yakuza with no idea how to run a profitable business, and even less to do with the quality of the teachers, although NOVA management liked to say it was rather than take any responsibility for their own incompetence.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

Eikaiwa schools give no incentives for their teachers to stay long. That's why all the good ones leave.

It's stupid and short-sighted but quite deliberate. The salaries are generally quite decent for someone who's just graduated from university and looking to make a bit of cash to pay off student loans, but not for someone who's looking at teaching English professionally and making a career out of it. Eikaiwas don't want to hire those people as they would generally prefer to waste their money on other things.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

There are way too many "teachers" for the number of students, but that will change next year with compulsory social insurance.

In that respect I think eikaiwa is like a lot of other businesses here, especially the small and medium-sized enterprises the politicians are always telling us have to be protected. They just spring up without any regard for profitability or however many other people might be running the same kind of business in the same area, so there's no way there could ever be enough consumer demand to keep them all profitable. That's also one of the things that did for NOVA - the reckless expansion meant the different NOVA schools were competing with each other rather than rival companies. Less schools and less teachers definitely wouldn't be a bad thing.

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Posted in: What is your impression of the English-teaching industry in Japan? Have things improved since Nova's collapse or are there still bad apples in the barrel? See in context

The English-teaching industry has not adapted itself to current economic circumstances and the fundamental drop in demand for the service it provides. The whole English conversation teaching model is now obsolete because it is a luxury that people are deciding they cannot afford and do not really need. English is sold as a hobby and a tool for travelling and making foreign friends, and so it's going to be even less appealing now to those who have neither travel plans nor any chances to meet native English speakers - quite often, the only time students can use their English skills is when they are talking to their teachers. For Japanese people in this situation all the English they need is available from self-study books and NHK. Basically, I think eikaiwas have to change their whole business pattern and focus more on English test preparation for people who need good TOEIC, TOEFL or Eiken scores on their C.V.s, and English that would be useful in various work situations in Japan, e.g. for a JR employee handling questions from English-speaking travellers. In any case there is no way the school operators can continue running things the way they do at the moment.

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Posted in: Man arrested for attempted murder after hitting parents with golf club See in context

Sorry to sound callous, but whose fault is it that this person grew up to be a useless unemployed sociopath? I'm appalled by Yuji Hayashi's actions and his thinking behind them, but when people are raised in an atmosphere where there's no sense of love, few or no attempts at understanding or communication, and lots of expectations but no encouragement, this is exactly the kind of thing that's going to happen.

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Posted in: Sayonara See in context

Seriously, if he was only in office for a year how much of Japan's problems can truly be attributed to him, alone? You typically need to be in power for two or three years before the effects of your decisions really affect your voting base.

Quite right. There were quite a few things bubbling up for a while, and most of them had little to do with Aso - rising unemployment, the mishandling of the pensions records, the steady trickle of LDP corruption scandals and the damage done to regional economies by Koizumi's reforms, which no one knew how to follow up on. It was also abundantly clear in 2006 that the LDP old boys had only gone along with Koizumi because he was winning elections, because they wanted to get right back to pork barrel, money and patronage politics with Shinzo Abe and other spineless yes-men who would tow the party line. None of that was really Aso's fault - the writing was on the wall when the LDP lost their Upper House majority in 2007, but Aso did nothing to turn the situation around.

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Posted in: Sayonara See in context

He wasn't the PM I thought he should have been, but I think he did a good job, especially considering the two PMs before him being lame.

Aso was easily as lame as either Fukuda (smart but weak) or Abe (stupid and weak). The best his government managed was a fractional upturn in the economy that no one felt the benefits of, and his choice of Cabinet Ministers like Shoichi Nakagawa and Toshihiro Nikai, mired in the same Nishimatsu scandal as Ichiro Ozawa, indicates that his political instincts were just as bad as Abe's. Aso did make some of the right noises about Japan's problems, but didn't actually seem inclined to do anything about them. Still, it's wrong to pile all the blame for the LDP's defeat on Aso alone, as I think people were voting against the party itself just as much as they were voting against the man in charge.

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Posted in: Ozawa's comeback as DPJ secretary-general worries some See in context

but at least they've demonstrated that Japan has become a healthy democracy, in which voters can kick out a ruling party that's become corrupt and useless.

And vote in another party that's probably going to be corrupt and useless.

I explicitly said I didn't have high hopes for the DPJ. This is due in part to the fact that Ozawa has continued to be influential in the party, which suggests that LDP backroom politics and palliatives rather than cures for economic ills will continue as usual. But let's see what happens after they've actually been sworn in.

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Posted in: Kerry positions himself as Kennedy's political heir See in context

Kerry is an example of a liberal who spat on the service of Vietnam Veterans.

A liberal who served in Vietnam himself and was decorated for it, and had his own service spat on by Bush and Cheney's attack dogs in 2004. Still, even if they'd had the decency not to make Kerry's record an issue, I suspect he'd have probably lost anyway.

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Posted in: Ozawa's comeback as DPJ secretary-general worries some See in context

6 months before they implode unless the new PM can take charge. Aso and the LDP may have gotten the idea that Japan wants a stable gov......

No they didn't. I'd hardly call four PMs in four years a sign of a stable government. I don't have especially high hopes for the DPJ, but at least they've demonstrated that Japan has become a healthy democracy, in which voters can kick out a ruling party that's become corrupt and useless.

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Posted in: Hatoyama to create economic recovery post See in context

Really? Why? All I said was, "Guaranteed, if the current economic downturn, caused 100% by gaikoku, had never happened, Minshuto would still be an opposition party."

Oh, I see. I wasn't entirely sure what you meant by "gaikoku." Still, as it's generally thought that the economic crisis started in the US and was exacerbated by insufficient government regulation, I'm guessing that if you acknowledge this to be generally correct you'd rather blame Bill Clinton for it than George W. Bush. Moreover, I think the writing was on the wall for the LDP long before the current crisis blew up - they were pretty much doomed from the moment Koizumi quit and they picked that feeble non-entity Abe to take his place. I seem to recall that the economic situation seemed to be more or less okay when the LDP got their arses handed to them on a plate in the 2007 upper house election, so the worldwide crisis was just one of the final nails in the coffin.

But I would agree with the assertion that Japan's prosperity over the years after the war is largely due to unfettered access to America's markets.

A prosperity built on an unhealthy over-reliance on exports. While the major exporters were doing a brisk trade, the domestic economy was allowed to remain chronically weak, which I think was a deliberate ploy to keep businesses dependent on political patronage, and no one in the LDP or bureaucracy ever anticipated the overseas demand drying up. So, while a lot of Japan's current problems were doubtless caused by the international economic crisis, the others were caused by the LDP. I hope the new 'minister for economic recovery' will look back at LDP financial policies as a good example of what NOT to do.

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Posted in: Hatoyama to create economic recovery post See in context

"when you say "gaikoku" I assume you're referring specifically to Bill Clinton and the US Democrats"

You would assume that and you would be wrong.

Really? Then I take it you were just being sarcastic. If not, do you agree with Hatoyama's opinion that a lot of Japan's problems have been caused by unhealthy adherence to American-style market fundamentalism?

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Posted in: Hatoyama to create economic recovery post See in context

Guaranteed, if the current economic downturn, caused 100% by gaikoku, had never happened, Minshuto would still be an opposition party.

When you say "gaikoku" I assume you're referring specifically to Bill Clinton and the US Democrats.

As for Minshuto and opposition, do you honestly think the LDP could have sustained itself in power indefintely? People were getting sick of them even when economic conditions were substantially better than they have been recently. Koizumi turned the tide for a while, but after he quit they tried to go back to pork-barrel politics as usual and they finally paid the price. The simple fact is that the LDP went overboard with the supply-side economics, so desperate were individual legislators to reward local businessmen who'd kept donating to their campaign funds. They were too short-sighted and stupid to realise there cannot be supply without demand to match it.

At least the DPJ are willing to do something to increase ordinary people's spending power. All the LDP could manage in the circumstances was more pork-barrel spending and a one-off handout that basically made no positive difference whatsoever.

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Posted in: Calls already coming in for fast action after DPJ sweeps LDP out of power See in context

Talk about not getting it! Taro-sama, it is not necessarily the party that the Japanese people detest; it is you! Just in case it still hasn't sunk in, you lost because of your arrogance, blindness, stupidity and complete lack of humanity.

Well, Aso was quite popular until he became Prime Minister and then he suffered the same monumental drop in support as Abe and Fukuda. Obviously he did himself no favours at all, but I think a lot of people were just as sick of the LDP as they were of him, as some comments from LDP leaders themselves indicate:

"It wasn't whether Aso was good or not (as prime minister), it was a matter of the LDP itself. Voters' disappointment at the LDP-led politics triggered (the party's defeat), and that's it." (Former Agriculture Minister Shigeru Ishiba)

I agree with this reflection, personally. After all, it was the LDP Diet members who picked Aso for the job.

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Posted in: Calls already coming in for fast action after DPJ sweeps LDP out of power See in context

The DPJ will indeed need to move fast. The House of Councillors election is coming up next year, and if the voters don't feel some positive changes by then the LDP could make a recovery and regain the majority they lost in 2007. Then Japan would be stuck with the same divided Diet mess it's been in for the past two years.

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Posted in: Voting under way in general election with DPJ favored to end LDP rule See in context

Well said - the LDP needs several years in the political wilderness to reform itself before it gets back any credibility, esp if the DPJ can smash the power of the bureaucracy.

Right. Every healthy political party needs at least one period in opposition to stay competitive. The LDP are long overdue theirs, but it's starting today.

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Posted in: Voting under way in general election with DPJ favored to end LDP rule See in context

"Yeah, and now they're useless. What's your point exactly?"

That we shouldn't forget how effective the LDP was before it became "useless". Voters in a lot of countries (especially the US&UK) tend to be ingrates who "throw the bums out" the moment they stop delivering the goods. Japanese voters, to the immense frustration of a lot of people, were willing to stick with the LDP way past the expiration date. Why? I don't know. Perhaps because they remembered the incredibly good times in Japan from 1960-90 and believed that ONLY the LDP could return Japan to that kind of glory.

First, the LDP became useless 20-30 years ago. Second, if you had something in your kitchen that was way past its expiration date, would you eat it? Basically, I think that anyone who thought that only the LDP could return Japan to its pre-1990 glory has realised their mistake, and voted accordingly.

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Posted in: Voting under way in general election with DPJ favored to end LDP rule See in context

Sarge said,

Simon - Check out the first post on ths thread ( it's mine ).

I thought you might have noticed that I replied to it in my first post on this thread. You obviously had nothing to say about that and you didn't answer the question in my second post about haircuts. Nevetheless, judging by the way the exit polls are going, it looks as if hairdos are the last thing on people's minds.

Moderator: Forget about hairdos, please.

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Posted in: Voting under way in general election with DPJ favored to end LDP rule See in context

Honestly, how can we trust Hatoyama to lead Japan when he doesn't even know when to get a haircut?

With all due respect and without wanting to sound like I'm telling you what or what not to say, if you can't say anything more substantial or informed than that I really wish you wouldn't bother. If it was an attempt at humour, you might have noticed that no one thought it was funny enough to comment on the first time you said it, so repeating yourself is a bit pointless. But seeing as we're on the topic, would you say the same thing about your hero Dubya's great pal Koizumi? He kind of needed a haircut too, but unlike the half-wits who succeeded him, specifically Abe and Aso, he knew a thing or two about winning elections.

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Posted in: Voting under way in general election with DPJ favored to end LDP rule See in context

Maybe it's premature to write, but thanks LDP for helping make Japan into the very appealing country that it is today, despite the flaws.

Unfortunately the glory days of the LDP are far behind it. The Japanese public aren't voting for the men and women who helped Japan become so successful, but their mediocre sons and grandsons, whose frequently vague, contradictory and ultimately self-serving policies led to 5.7 million people unemployed and a public deficit that may soon hit 200% of GDP. Nowadays the LDP's achievements include projects such as the "Makoto Bridge" in Fukuoka, finished in 2000 at a cost of ¥4.3 billion and expected to have about 2000 cars crossing it every day, whereas the actual number is more like 200. So...

Lol, I certainly hope Japan doesn't achieve record deficits and unemployment!

Bad news Sarge, it's already happened.

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Posted in: Voters angry and looking for change See in context

Here's The Great Helmsman, Comrade Taro himself:

"We have failed to make clear the virtues of conservatism. We regret that we haven't sent a clear message in recent years."

It's like he's saying, "You're angry and looking for change? Can't say I blame you, we're rubbish."

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Posted in: Voters angry and looking for change See in context

tokyokawasaki is right. The LDP will most likely scrape home with its religious radical partners.

The LDP leaders don't even think that themselves, hence comments like:

"I'm battling a terrible headwind, please help me,"(Shizuoka LDP candidate Satsuki Katayama)

"It's not a headwind, it's a tornado. We could be blown away," (Junichiro Koizumi)

"A huge wave of the DPJ is sweeping over Tokyo. It looks like they could control the parliament under a one-party dictatorship." (Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano)

These people simply reek of defeatism. They haven't even got it in them to muster a bit of bravado and say they'll prove the polls wrong (even if they know they won't). If the LDP aren't getting everything handed to them on a plate as has always been the case in the past, they clearly have no idea how to handle it. Still, if they want to make comments like that I see no reason to doubt them, much less vote for them.

Japanese people may actually lack the courage for change. are things bad enough in Japan yet? Maybe not bad enough yet.

5 million unemployed, government spending spiralling out of control, boarded up shops everywhere you look, schools that teach failure and mediocrity, a bankrupted national pension scheme and a political crisis caused by a hopelessly divided legislature? How much worse do you think things have to get?

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Posted in: Voters angry and looking for change See in context

Lte's hope DPJ can deliver change for Japan!

Quite right. But I take comfort from knowing that the people who start revolutions often don't actually want to change very much. The very fact that the DPJ have, at the very least, a strong chance of winning, is a big enough change in itself. Whether it's conservative, liberal, radical or whatever, no party in a democracy should be able to arrange matters so that it can stay in power for half a century.

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Posted in: Campaigning See in context

Simon - Hatoyama hasn't had to drive himself anywhere since before he was conceived either. Amazing huh?

I haven't seen Hatoyama in any dumb photo ops like this one, though.

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