smartacus comments

Posted in: Do you think the Carlos Ghosn case would make for an interesting movie or documentary? See in context

I think David Suchet would do a good job. But the story isn't over yet. We don't know how it will turn out. And unless Ghosn discloses how he escape, he won't make for much of a story. A drama about breach of trust and underreporting income charges and seeing him interrogated hardly makes for riveting viewing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Ex-captive Japanese journalist sues gov't over passport denial See in context

He could easily go to the Middle East from another country.

The probolem is that if the government has him sign a statement in which he accepts full responsibility for his fate and that no ransom will be paid it puts the government in an awkward spot if he does get kidnapped.

Suddenly he's on YoutTube in an orange suit with a masked guy behind him holding a knife to his throat. He's then pleading with the government to save him. Meanwhile, in Japan, the media interview his wife and mother who tearfully ask the government to get him back.

Well, what does Suga say at a press conference. "Sorry, we asked him not to go and he signed a statement. So we're not going to help him" The government would look heartless.

No, I think Mr Yasuda should have learned from his three years in captivity.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Should confessions be admissible in a court of law? See in context

Perry Mason would never let his clients confess.

But seriously, I think they should be admissible as evidence provided there are two conditions.

One is that the suspect's interrogation is fully recorded and the other is that a lawyer is present when the confession is made.

I also think a confession should not be the only means of conviction. There needs to be other evidence produced, DNA, motive, means, opportunity etc.

We read a lot of stories on Japan Today about people who kill ailing family members for one reason or another and then call the police and confess. I think Japanese society attaches a great deal of importance to confessions.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Mother arrested over death of newborn child See in context

The only explanation I can think of is that she turned up at the hospital seriously ill, without any ID on her. Perhaps she was too sick to speak. Doctors could see she had just given birth but if she couldn't speak, then she couldn't tell them her name and where the baby was. Whatever was ailing her, it took until Jan 6 for her to recover. That's 10 days, so it must have been a serious illness. Then they were able to find out details and contact the police.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese gov't, prosecutors, Nissan call Ghosn's accusations baseless See in context

Ghosn's problem now is how to get that Interpol red notice lifted. No matter how many press conferences he gives, skipping bail is a criminal offense and that has nothing to do with the charges he was arrested on. I completely understand his reasons for skipping bail and I agree with him about Japan's justice system, but skipping bail is a crime in every country that I can think of and it's going to dog him for the rest of his life. He'll be severely restricted on where he can travel; he'll have to spend a fortune on private security and it will take a toll on his health.

I don't see how he can get Interpol to lift the notice. Maybe he can run for the presidency of Lebanon which would give him immunity.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: 5 dead, 60 hospitalized in Pennsylvania Turnpike crash See in context

Life is so cruel. We are only six days into the New Year. Last Wednesday, those 5 dead people were probably wishing their family and friends "Happy New Year," wondering what 2020 would bring. How many others have died around the world through violence or accidents since January 1? I got so depressed thinking about this today (our first day in the office) that I barely could wish my colleagues a happy New Year. Sorry for the gloomy post.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Turkey detains 7, including 4 pilots over Ghosn's escape through Istanbul See in context

I’m afraid Ghosn’s escape is going to cause a lot of trouble for a lot of people. These pilots are just the first.

He said he was looking forward to proving his innocence in court, but he has lost all my sympathy. And he’s left poor Greg Kelly holding the bag in Tokyo.

While I agree with Ghosn about Japan’s hostage justice system, I don’t believe he gives a damn about anybody but himself. He couldn’t handle the loss of his lavish, jet-setting lifestyle.

I am also astounded by the number of readers here on Japan Today that have been engaged in a Cralos Ghosn lovefest. Unless the Japanese government let him go, he is now a criminal. Keep that in mind before you cheer for him. Skipping bail, no matter how unjust you feel a country’s legal system is, is still a crime.

As for his claim that he couldn’t get a fair trial, I disagree. It would have been the most high profile case of its kind in Japan with the global media watching. Personally, I think whatever he did should have been handled internally at Nissan but if he had been found guilty, I think the worst he would have got is a suspended sentence.

As for his press conference on Jan 8, what is he going to say that we don’t already know? That he was set up to stop Renault from taking greater control of Nissan? We know that. That Japan’s justice system is a hostage system? We know that, too. That Saikawa and other Nissan execs did dodgy things, too? We know that also.

His wife has already said they won’t reveal details of the escape so as not to hurt those who helped them. That will come out anyway, unless the Japanese government was involved.

I hope there are some sharp reporters at the press conference. I’d like one of them to ask Ghosn about the money diverted to his wife’s yacht rental company.

I would also ask Ghosn how he feels to be a criminal.

This drama is a long way from over. I wonder if we will find out what really happened.

9 ( +26 / -17 )

Posted in: Does living in Japan change the way we speak English? See in context

It certainly changes the way I speak when I go back home for a visit. I remember when I was back home last year, I was in a cafe with some friends and the waiter asked me for my order and I instinctively said "Kohi please." I also got into the bad habit of ending some sentences with "ne.'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: After 25 years, Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' tops U.S. charts See in context

It's not a bad song but the one I kept hearing all the time in the 2000s in Japan was the one by SMAP (I can't remember the name). Anyway, I prefer the traditional carols. They are timeless. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, O Holy Night, The Little Drummer Boy, etc. Recently, I listened to a CD with carols sung by Jackie Wilson. He had a magnificent voice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: What are some of your favorite Christmas-themed movies or TV shows? See in context

Old ones: Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop's Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, We're No Angels, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Not so old ones: Die Hard, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Visitor and the Happy Days episode where Fonzie has nowhere to spend Christmas but is too proud to admit. I like some of the Frasier Christmas episodes, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Some people prefer to say holiday tree instead of Christmas tree. What's your view on this? See in context

The only country where I have heard of a Christmas tree being called a holiday tree is the U.S. I call it a Christmas tree.

Zichi, having a Christmas tree has nothing to do with being a Christian or non-Christian. If you had young children, you would know the sheer joy of seeing them eagerly unwrap their presents under the tree. I can't imagine not having a tree.

Besides, a Christmas tree with lights flashing is good for morale. Its presence cheers up a room or office or shop.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Ex-police officer sentenced to death for killing wife, 2 young children See in context

Two of those judges, if that's what they are, look like they are barely out of their teens.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Do you think Christmas will still be celebrated in some form 100 years from now? See in context

It's an interesting question. If I remember my Christmas history correctly, Christmas as we more or less know it today has only been around since the early 19th century, not the 2,000 years that many Christians and non-Christians assume it has. But to answer the question, it's quite possible it won't be. Imagine a world of facism and dictatorships where Christmas is banned. Even today, Christmas is not openly celebrated, I believe, in some countries. North Korea is one. I heard Brunei isn't Christmas-friendly either. If Islamic State had taken over Iraq and Syria, I bet they would not have allowed Christmas. Imagine a country where all public references to Christmas were banned and people could celebrate only in the privacy of their homes but even that would be under threat of death. The world can become like that, either through religious extremism or fascism. We are already seeing many democracies failing to function properly. Anything can happen. Fortunately, I won't be around in 100 years to see what the world will be like.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: A recent Jiji Press survey showed that about 10% of Japanese people in their teens and 20s do not watch television, with the majority saying they find video-sharing and streaming sites more attractive, or it is more fun to play with smartphones and game consoles. How much television do you watch each week? See in context

If I'm home in the evenings, I watch NHK's news in English either at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m.During the Rugby World Cup, I watched a lot of games. Otherwise I use my TV mainly for watching DVDs.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Pope says world must rethink reliance on nuclear power; denounces ‘epidemic’ of bullying See in context

NHK said the emperor spoke to the pope in Spanish. I wonder why the empress wasn't there to greet the pope.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Name five of the most memorable film villains for you. See in context

Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs," Hans Gruber in "Die Hard," "Goldfinger," Bruce Dern's character in "The Cowboys" (he kills John Wayne!), the South African consul-general in "Lethal Weapon 2." And one more - Clarence in "Robocop."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: IOC Tokyo Olympic marathon edict should give pause to other cities See in context

How come no mention has ever been made about the women's marathon? They have to run in the same Tokyo heat one week before the men's race.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: South Africa beat England 32-12 to win 3rd World Cup See in context


I noticed that, too. Most of the English players took their medals off as soon as Bill Beaumont put it around their necks. Mario Itoje wouldn't even let him do that; he didn't want to wear it even for a second. I suspect most of those medals will end up in the rubbish bins in their hotel rooms.

Too bad it couldn't have been an All Blacks-South Africa final.

Overall, not a great spectacle, though the South african defense in the latter part of the first half on their own line was outstanding. The game was marred by too many penalties (especially in the first half) and too many stoppages (the scrums are a blight on the game). I don't think a minute went by without hearing the referee's whistle. The game is in need of some serious rule changes (especially in the rucks) to make it more flowing.

That's why I enjoyed watching Japan's style. Like some other readers above, I also think the Japan-Scotland game was the most exciting and fun game of the tournament.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Posted in: Do you have an emergency survival kit for use in the event of an earthquake or some other natural disaster? See in context


If there is an earthquake or flood warning and you have to leave the house quickly, how are you going to carry all that stuff with you? If your house is destroyed by a quake or flood or landslide, most of those items you mention won't be of use to you.

In my opinion, an emergency survival kit is something you keep in a bag by the door that you can grab at a minute's notice as you evacuate from your home.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Koike remains defiant over IOC decision to move events to Sapporo See in context

I’m starting to side with Koike. I think the IOC has been heavy-handed and made this decision without considering the following four points.

Who pays for the cost of moving and staging the events in Sapporo? I read today the estimated costs will be about 35 billion yen. Tokyo should not have to pay for that. Sapporo Dome has to be altered so runners can enter it from the street; an oval course has been laid down and then everything has to be put back the way it was after the event.

Volunteers. A marathon needs several hundred volunteers; people giving out water bottles to runners every 100 meters along the 46-kilometer route; volunteers helping with transport; others helping at the start and finish lines. Can Sapporo recruit such a huge number of volunteers?

Accommodation. Where do the marathon and walking race runners, their support staff, media and IOC officials stay. We’re looking at a minimum of about 1,000 people flying into Sapporo. There is no athletes village or enough hotels, so where will everyone stay?

Tickets. It’s already a complicated process, so who will buy tickets to sit in Sapporo Dome at 8 a.m. and watch the runners come in. How much will a ticket to that cost? After the race is over, the winners are flown back to Tokyo where they will receive their medals in the afternoon before the closing ceremony. The whole point of the marathon is that there are events going on in the stadium through the day and people buy their tickets for that and then cheer on the marathon winner as he comes into the stadium, to be followed by the medal ceremony and the closing ceremony. Will 45,000 people pack into Sapporo Dome just to see marathon runners come in and then leave?

By the way, what about the women's marathon?

The IOC meeting in Tokyo tomorrow and Thursday should be interesting.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Posted in: Situation Room: 2 photos capture vastly different presidents See in context

One person conspicuously missing from that photo is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: England totally outplay All Blacks 19-7 to reach World Cup final See in context

England were unlucky not to have scored a few more tries. They were completely dominant. But it won't hurt the All Blacks to lose. You can't win forever. Tonight, they proved the old sports adage that the team that makes the most mistakes lose. They gave up at least 15 turnovers and more crucially they gave away four penalties within kicking distance.

They now have to turn up for the meaningless third-place playoff game next Friday.

I'm predicting an England-South Africa final.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo 2020 marathon move decision 'final', says IOC's Coates See in context

There is still the question of who is going to pay for the cost of staging the marathon in Sapporo. Koike is adamant that Tokyo won't. Also, I read the other day that Sapporo will require a ton of money to make the necessary alterations to Sapporo Dome for the marathon. They need to create a large entrance for runners to enter the dome from the street at the end of the race and they need to lay down an oval running course around the dome for the final lap. After the Olympics, they then have to put everything back to how it was.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Posted in: Which country's national anthems do you find the most stirring? Do you know the words to your country's? See in context

I like the French and Russian ones best. Watching the teams during the Rugby World Cup when their anthems were played, quite a few players did know or seemed to know some of the words, while others hardly knew any. I don't know the words to mine, either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Emperor Naruhito proclaims ascendancy to throne; pledges to fulfill his duty as symbol of the state See in context

It's a shame the emperor's parents weren't there. Not allowed to attend, I guess, due to some archaic rule. But they are still living in the imperial palace, so they probably had to stay in their room and watch it on TV.

I wish they could have made the ceremony more modern. Why does it have to be Heian era? Imagine if the British coronations were modeled on historical ones. Prince Charles would have to dress like Henry VIII.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Posted in: S African ref triggers anger for 'mocking' France red card See in context

The red card was certainly deserved but a referee should not be fraternizing with fans of the team whose game he just refereed the same day. I thought overall his performance was quite poor and the winning try by Wales near the end of the game was a questionable call, too.

Anyway, I hope he is not given another game to referee. I'd like to see Nigel Owens get the NZ-England game and a New Zealand ref for the Wales-South Africa clash.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: IOC apologizes for abrupt plan to move Tokyo Olympic races; Sapporo mayor not notified See in context

I bet Tokyo Governor Koike is furious about this, not having been informed about it in advance. Especially since the marathon is the one event that really takes runners (and TV viewers) through the city’s best spots.

Actually, it’s a kick in the teeth for a lot of people. Think of the several hundred volunteers assigned to the marathon who stand along the route handing out water, etc. They’ll be heartbroken. And the officials at the starting and end points.

Can they recruit enough volunteers in Sapporo for these races? I doubt it.

And what about the runners, their support staff, IOC and JOC officials, not to mention TV media? We’re talking about more than 1,000 people. Does Sapporo have enough hotels for such an influx?

It’s also a kick in the teeth for the runners because it robs them of the triumph of running into the main stadium for the finale and then receiving their medals before the closing ceremony. What are they going to do? Fly them back to Tokyo right after the race so they can receive their medals at the New National Stadium?

Personally, I think marathon runners can handle the heat of Tokyo. And as for spectators, well, they'll stand along the route for about half an hour until all the runners have gone past their particular spot, and then leave.

I would hate to the liaison people for the IOC, JOC, Tokyo metropolitan and Sapporo governments who will have to work out all these details.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Posted in: Suzuka on typhoon lockdown as F1 bosses hope Japan GP can go ahead See in context

Does anyone know Formula One's rules on cancelled races? I'm assuming that if the Japanese Grand Prix is cancelled, it cannot be rescheduled because there are four races to go in the season and the cars, drivers, crew, maintenance staff, etc., have to head off to the country where the next race takes place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: World Rugby to decide on Sunday games 'as soon as possible' after typhoon See in context

Moving the Japan-Scotland game to Monday might be an option, but it would be giving Japan and Scotland an unfair opportunity that was denied to England, France, New Zealand and Italy. I personally wanted to see England play France. If you move one game, then all three games should have been moved. My solution would have been to have the New Zealand-Italy and England-France games played yesterday since they were already at their stadium cities anyway. Then it would have been acceptable to move the Japan-Scotland game to Monday if necessary.

The rules have to be the same for all teams.

But it's up to the organizers, not the Scottish Rugby Federation and definitely thankfully not to some of the readers who think a game can be moved easily.

I hope the worst of the typhoon is over by early morning and that the field and stadium are OK and that trains are running because I want to see the match, too.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Why does U.S. President Donald Trump keep mispronouncing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name as "Abi?" On Monday, he mistakenly wished Prime Minister "Abi" a happy birthday, when in fact Monday was Russian President Vladimir Putin's birthday. Abe's birthday is Sept 21. See in context

Those of you defending Trump on this really need to be a bit more objective. There is no excuse for him is pronouncing Abe's name, especially when they are together at a press conference. Someone from the State Department should brief him before he meets another country's leader on the correct pronunciation. It's protocol. Nothing difficult about it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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