smartacus comments

Posted in: Australian airline Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers See in context

It's a good scheme but it will only work if every airline adopts the policy. For example, if I fly to Australia on JAL or ANA, and they don't require a "health passport," what happens to me at Sydney airport? Will immigration -- which has no connection to Qantas -- let me in? The policy should be a government-mandated one, not an airline policy.

While I'm confident all airlines will adopt this policy, they may not all do it at the same time.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Posted in: More than 2,000 daily coronavirus cases reported in Japan for 1st time See in context

I wish the government would tell us where these cases were detected, whether the infection route can be traced or not. Are they clusters, for example? The high number of people infected who are in their 20s and 30s seem to me to mean nightlife…bars, live houses and cheap restaurants. This age group probably does not watch the news on TV or online, and so may not heed government warnings.

I don’t think the trains are dangerous. They are ventilated and 99% of passengers on my line have worn masks for the last 8 months, and they tend not to talk to each other anyway.

 I desperately don’t want to see the economy shut down like in other countries, but like so many others, all I can do is practice the three Cs.

 Also, I don’t think the Go To Travel campaign is so bad; however, I would limit it to travel within one’s own prefecture.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Halloween revelry subdued in Japan due to pandemic See in context

When I first came to Japan in the mid-1980s, the only reference to Halloween in Tokyo that I saw were the group of foreigners on the Yamanote line. In those days, it was known as "Kabochasai," or Pumpkin Festival. Then in the late 1990s and early 2000s, parades started to be held in places like Kawasaki and Omotesando. Nothing at Shibuya

But it really wasn't until about 2010 that it exploded in popularity, thanks to social media. Halloween merged with cosplay which was a natural synergy. Then Shibuya became Halloween Central.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


It can be tough to start a company but rewarding if you are innovative, have an idea and stick with it. I know several foreigners who had a hard time at first but are now doing very well. One guy in the late 1990s put all his money into a start-up in Tokyo and for the first three months, he was sleeping in his car or small office. But he stuck with it and is now doing very well with nearly 100 employees.

You have to have the right attitude and understand Japanese business culture. You can't come in with the attitude that the way they (Japanese businesses) do things is stupid and that your way is better. You have to fit in with the system and then adapt your business model to it.

I think there will be a few successful start-ups in the post-coronavirus era as smart entrepreneurs think up new ideas to cater to changing needs amid the pandemic. We are already seeing it in a number of areas.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't officially asks local authorities, business lobbies to extend New Year holiday See in context

I thought it was a bad idea when it was first suggested and I still think so. What about all the non-regular and temp workers? Sales staff who depend on commission will lose four days. Factories, building security, service and maintence companies, retailers, restaurants, transport...the list of industries that can't stop for that length of time goes on. Then there are clinics, etc.

And what about schools? They definitely can't take an extra week off.

Dumb idea.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan often feels like a country that rushed to embrace an exciting high-tech future decades ago, and then abruptly stopped when boom turned to bust in the 1990s, leaving islands of older technologies like stranded relics. See in context

We still have a fax/copy machine in our office, though we don't get or send many faxes. But the fax machine has one advantage over email. It doesn't have a spam box. I can't count the number of emails I never saw because they went into the spam box. The only times I lost a fax was when the paper jammed up. but then it easy for it to be resent.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Gov't calls for longer New Year holiday to curb virus spread See in context

I don't think this is a good idea at all. On the news last night, they interviewed some people who were concerned about a loss in income, which is certainly a factor for temp workers, non-regular and contract workers as well as freelancers. In my company, sales people would have four fewer days to work, meaning it would be hard to meet their monthly target (which means less commission).

Also, people are not going to stay at home or wherever they go from Dec 30-Jan 11. They are still going to be traveling, so that does not help contain the virus, if that is supposed to be the intention. The shrines will be just as crowded, as well as shops offering New Year sales.

Maybe the idea is just to try and stimulate the economy with the Go To Travel and Eat campaigns.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Posted in: Suga departs for Vietnam, Indonesia on 1st overseas trip as PM See in context

Has anybody ever seen Suga smiling?

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Posted in: Do you think remote working, where possible, improves productivity, creativity and staff retention for a company? See in context

It depends on the business you're in. In my case, productivity and creativity are better in an office environment. For others, it may be the opposite if they are working from home. But I don't think working from home or in the office would make a difference in staff retention. If someone gets a better offer with a higher salary, then they may move on whether they are working remotely or not.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Name some movie scores that are so famous that after hearing only a few seconds of the music, you can immediately name the movie. See in context

The Magnificent Seven, Jaws, Mission: Impossible (I know it's originally from the TV series), Rocky, Gone With the Wind, The Godfather, Star Wars and the James Bond theme.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Prepare to get rid of 'hanko,' Suga tells government See in context

How is a hanko more inconvenient than a signature? There are still going to be documents that require one's signature, whether it is digital or by hand. So if hanko are also digital, what's the difference (besides saving ivory)?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: White House staff, Secret Service eye virus with fear, anger See in context

I think it would be fascinating to talk to some of the staff who have worked there for 20-30 years, like butlers and so on, and ask them who their favorite and least favorite president was. But I assume they are all sworn to secrecy and are so dedicated to their life's work and the privilege of working in the White House that they would never say anything unkind about presidents to outsiders.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Trump and first lady test positive for COVID-19 See in context

I dislike Trump intensely but I wish to see him beaten in the election and not by the coronavirus, so I wish him and his wife a speedy recovery.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Will you shut up, man?' Repeated interruptions, insults mark fiery debate between Trump and Biden See in context

That debate was the worst argument for democracy I have seen. Why bother having debates at all? And for those saying Chris Wallace was biased, he wasn't. Nobody, not even the most biased Trump supporter, could moderate a debate like that, where Trump interrupted so many times.

I agree with all those who say the moderator should have an off switch for the microphone of each debater.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Posted in: How would you define work/life balance, and if you are working remotely, how do you maintain a boundary between work and your own time? See in context

Toshiro and Speed

What happens if there is an emergency at work and they need to contact you after hours? It could be a death of a colleague, someone you work with might have become seriously ill or had an accident, or there was a fire at your workplace or anything. Are you just going to make sure you can't be reached?

There are far better ways of achieving work-life balance than blocking emails from colleagues or clients after hours.

Whenever I read comments like that, it tells me that the writer either doesn't like his or her job, or doesn't like his or her colleagues, or both.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: How would you define work/life balance, and if you are working remotely, how do you maintain a boundary between work and your own time? See in context

Work-life balance means different things to different people. For example, I’m single (divorced) with no kids, so for me, work is the most important thing in my life right now. I guess I live to work, rather than work to live. But I make time for hobbies and meeting friends for dinner and so on. I love my job and am happy to even work on weekends, if necessary.

I can see how for people with families, it is different. If you have young children, it’s natural to want to spend more time with them. But once the kids are teenagers, they’d rather hang out with their friends anyway, so you may not be seeing them as much anymore. And if you have adult kids who are living away from you, that just leaves you and your spouse, so again, the work-life equation is different.

I think the coronavirus has readjusted the work-life balance for some people (those with young children) in a good way, but for others (like myself), it hasn’t changed anything at all. I’ve known some who haven’t been able to adjust and their relationship with their families has become strained. Specifically, one family I know was having great difficulties because both parents were forced to telework and their kids had to have online lessons. There weren’t enough rooms or computers in their apartment for everyone to have their space and be able to concentrate. The guy ended up spending most of the day with his laptop in a nearby café.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: Haneda Airport, train stations in Tokyo busy as travelers head out for Silver Week See in context

That's good to see. It's so depressing to seen an empty airport terminal or empty hotel lobby.

I saw on the news last night that many ryokan and hotels in resort areas of Japan are fully booked for Silver Week. If people take the proper precautions when they travel, maybe the tourism sector can get a much needed boost without too much of an increase in virus infections.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan receives 8,700 visitors in Aug, down 99.7% from year ago See in context

I'd like to know who they were, also. I'm surprised there could have been that many. If they were tourists, did they self-quarantine for two weeks? Were they businesspeople? They would hardly be able to stay in quarantine for two weeks.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump eager to work with Suga to make ties stronger See in context

I hope Trump learns how to pronounce Suga's name properly. For the last four years, he has been calling Abe "Abi." You'd think someone in the State Department would have told him how to pronounce Abe's name.

He'll probably call Suga "Sugar."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly pleads not guilty as trial begins See in context

One thing in Kelly's favor is that this is a high-profile case which is getting international attention. That point won't be lost on the prosecutors or judge.

I hope Carlos Ghosn generously offers to pay his legal fees.

Personally, I think Ghosn probably did do some dodgy things but nothing that warranted an arrest. It should have all been handled at the board level. He could have been voted off the board.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: Do you think employers should be required to tell workers when someone in the workplace has tested positive for the coronavirus? See in context

I think this question arises from the prejudice that an employee who tested positive might suffer upon returning to work. If an infected person self-quarantined for two weeks and came back to the office, I'm sure people who sat near that person would still feel uneasy, while others might tend to avoid them if possible.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: If you are currently teleworking, to what extent do you miss interacting with your work colleagues, having lunch with them, deskside chats and the energy of the workplace? See in context


If you don’t like working with any of your colleagues, then you’re probably in the wrong job.

I hate teleworking myself because it does not foster teamwork or team spirit and prefer going to the office every day. Many of our staff are teleworking; some want to come back as soon as they can; others are on the fence. Only about 10 work in the office daily now. Some of those who don't come feel like they are freelancers or non-regular workers who don't work for a company.

But I miss the office buzz, the spontaneous chats, the body language and eye contact that you can’t get online. Our company, which is a mix of Japanese and foreigners, is pretty good. We have cherry blossom parties, end of fiscal year parties, Halloween and Christmas parties in the office. On the last Friday of each month, we buy a big cake to celebrate anyone whose birthday was that month.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Death knell sounds for some of Japan's oldest department stores See in context

I like the basement food floors and usually go to Ginza Mitsukoshi twice a week on my way home for work. After 5 p.m., you can pick up some great food at discounted prices.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe says decision to resign before accomplishing his goals 'gut-wrenching' See in context

I thought he did a good job in foreign affairs, poorly in the economy and got caught up in too many scandals. I don't really fault him too much on the coronavirus.

One thing I find interesting about press conferences by political leaders in Japan is that they always have a sign language interpreter. Do other countries' leaders do that? I don't think I've ever seen Trump use one.

-11 ( +11 / -22 )

Posted in: 'West Wing' reunion episode to boost Michelle Obama's voter drive See in context

The West Wing is one of my all-time favorite shows. The fact that it won 26 Emmys speaks for itself. If only the U.S. had a president like Sheen's character. His character and Michael Douglas in The American President were the ideal leaders (both Aaron Sorkin creations).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan to lift re-entry restrictions on foreign residents from Sept 1 See in context

Yes, that second paragraph worries me. The method of testing in one country may be different from testing at the airpot in Japan. The results could be different.

Another factor is the lack of flights I have two friends who are stuck in Australia. As far as I know, there are no flights between Australia and Japan, so how are they supposed to get back to Japan?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: After hospital visit, Abe says he will do his utmost as prime minister See in context

In the photo, he certainly doesn't look well.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to ease COVID-19 entry curbs on foreigners with resident visas: NHK See in context

Whenever this happens, and it is still vague, it will be good for the residents who are stuck abroad, but it won't be of much help to those already here who might have to go abroad for an emergency.

For example, if I have to go to Australia for a funeral, first I have to find a flight. As far as I know, there aren't any at the moment. And even if I do get there, I have to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks at my own expense, so I wouldn't be able to go to the funeral. Plus Australia's internal borders are closed. Then I have to fly back to Japan (not sure about where I have to be tested), after which I have to quarantine at my home in Tokyo for two weeks. Also, I can't use public transport to get from Haneda/Narita to my home.

So that's about 5 weeks and a massive expense.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Plastic bag usage at Japanese stores down by 50%, but plastic bags sales through the roof See in context

Yes, I'm one of the people who do what is mentioned in the story. I bought 50 of the smallest size plastic garbage bags at Daiso and use them in the kitchen for scraps, peelings, etc, which I used to use the convenience store and supermarket plastic bags for.

17 ( +25 / -8 )

Posted in: Convenience store worker fatally stabbed; suspect then kills himself See in context

Strange case. Why would he try to steal money from the store while she was on duty? If he wanted to kill her, why not wait until she finished work and left the store?

I know some people will blame the police, but it's impractical to suggest that a patrol car could be outside the store or her home all day every day.

Stalking is the most extreme form of addiction there is. The stalker cannot be dissuaded by restraining orders or police warnings. They are cunning and will usually achieve their ends, unfortunately.

But the attempted robbery part is the first time I have heard of such a case with a stalker.

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

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