Japan Today

taikan comments

Posted in: Japan wary as U.S., Europe up sanctions on Russia See in context

Japan’s shortsightedness could further erode American public’s confidence on Japan and thus effect Whitehouse’s Japan policy.

Aside from the fact that shortsightedness is the hallmark of US foreign policy, not Japanese foreign policy, the American public has very little awareness of Japan or Japan's foreign policy.

In any event, Japan should do what every country should do: Analyze the situation thoroughly, determine as best as possible what course of action is in its best long-term interests, and then follow that course of action. If it is not possible to decide yet what course of action should be followed to advance its long-term interests, delay making a commitment as long as possible.

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Posted in: Supreme Court rules DNA test results cannot revoke paternal status of child's father See in context

Before criticizing this decision as something that could happen "only in Japan," people should check the laws of their own countries.

For example, in Japan the husband (or actual father) has a one-year window in which to challenge the presumption of paternity. This is only slightly different than the law of, say, California, which provides a two-year window of time in which to challenge the presumption of paternity.

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Posted in: Young Japanese women becoming less interested in sex, survey says See in context

It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between the apparent lack of interest in sex and being an only child.

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Posted in: U.S. government defends tactics in WikiLeaks probe See in context

@nandakandamanda -- The warrant was issued by a U.S. Magistrate Judge pursuant to U.S. law and requires the production of records maintained in the U.S. by Twitter. Therefore, the U.S. Constitution is applicable, regardless of the location of the people using those Twitter accounts.

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Posted in: Mother killed, 5 hurt in gunbattle at California mall See in context

@skipthesong -- There are many large cities in California (and elsewhere in the United States) where one does not need to own a gun. Indeed, the majority of city dwellers don't own guns. I have lived in Richmond and Oakland (both known for their high crime rates) without ever owning or needing a gun, even when I was working as a prosecutor. Admittedly, if one habituates certain parts of town a gun might come in handy, but except for the poor people with no other alternative most people avoid those areas.

As for gang fights, they only involve gang members. Sometimes innocent bystanders (such as the woman in Sacramento) get killed, but that's because the gang members tend to be relatively unskilled at using guns.

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Posted in: Why Japan matters: iPad mania, cloud computing and social intelligence See in context

The Japanese city of Osaka has a bigger economy than the state of California.

That would be interesting if it were true. However, the GDP of the Osaka-Kobe area is reported as being equivalent to $341 billion, compared with the GDP of California which is reported as being $1.8 trillion.

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Posted in: Antiwhaling activist Pete Bethune is facing 5 criminal charges in connection with his intrusion onto a Japanese whaling vessel. What do you think about it? See in context

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines "piracy" in Article 101 as including "(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed: (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft; . . .

I don't know the actual facts, but if he went from one ship to another, armed with a knife, for the purpose of demanding money from the captain of the ship he boarded, it would appear that a charge of piracy is appropriate.

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Posted in: Jury member loses cool in Miyagi high school girl rape case See in context

One of the biggest problems with stories such as this one is that, when translated, they refer to a lay member of the panel as a jury member. Japan had a jury system in the 20s and 30s, then got rid of it. When Japan decided to "reform" its criminal justice system at the turn of this century, it explicitly rejected the notion of instituting a jury system such as that used in the US and in the British Commonwealth countries. Instead, it chose to adopt a "citizen judge" system that is an amalgam of the systems used in France and Germany.

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Posted in: U.S. risks following Japan's example of stagnancy See in context

When financial systems in other countries, such as Indonesia and some of the countries in Southeast Asia, suffered serious problems, the US advised them to let the banks fail and then pick up the pieces and move forward. The countries that followed that advice rebounded far more quickly than those, such as Japan, that did not. Ironically, the US is not following its own advice, and thus likely is doomed to suffer a lengthy period of stagnation, just like Japan.

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Posted in: Muslim countries seek blasphemy ban See in context

Pakistan proposed extending the treaty against racism to require signatories to “prohibit by law the uttering of matters that are grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.”

The key phrase is "any religion." Even the three monotheistic religions that sprang from the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) cannot agree on what is, and what is not, "grossly abusive" or "insulting" in relation to matters held sacred by each other. Once you add in religions that believe in multiple deities the problem becomes even greater. Then, add in groups that are some countries treat as religions but that other countries do not recognize as religions (such as Scientology) and the possibilities for what might be outlawed are virtually limitless. What a joke.

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Posted in: Gates says U.S. won't accept nuclear North Korea See in context

N.Korea's had nukes for a couple of years now. The U.S. has accepted that up til now anyway.

The US has not "accepted" it. Admittedly, the US has not started a war over it. However, ever since NK conducted its first nuclear test the US has been engaged in active efforts, short of war, to get NK to give up its nuclear weapons. NK thinks the US never will go to war over this issue, and NK likely is correct in that regard. However, if the US ever can persuade China to cooperate fully in imposing sanctions on NK, the US would not have to go to war to get NK to give up nuclear weapons.

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Posted in: Hatoyama unlikely to change U.S.-Japan alliance See in context

Europe and Japan wont spend a dime on defense.

After the United States, the combined EU countries spend the second highest amount on the military. Next comes China, followed by Japan and then Russia.

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Posted in: 007, 'The Last Samurai' and Himeji Castle See in context

Wasn't this castle destroyed by Anguirus in 1955?

No. This is one of the rare castles that was not destroyed at or about the time of the Meiji restoration. It also managed to survive WWII. There is at least one other such castle, Matsumoto-jo.

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Posted in: Where are all the entrepreneurs? See in context

Americans tend to patronize large chain stores and service businesses than the Japanese do. Although the people who started those large chains were entrepreneurs, the people who manage those stores today are not. On the other hand, Japan is full of small, neighborhood stores and service businesses, each of which is owned by an entrepreneur. The fact that many Japanese entrepreneurs appear to be content to make a living, rather than intent on creating a bigger business and getting rich, may be due to cultural differences.

Cultural differences may also make it more difficult for entrepreneurs in Japan to start businesses that are designed to be national or global in scale. Silicon Valley has many people who started multiple businesses that received VC funding and that failed. Some of them nevertheless were able to get VC funding to start yet another business, perhaps one that succeeded on a long-term basis. Is it likely that an entrepreneur whose first business (or two) failed would be able to attract capital from a Japanese venture capitalist, especially if the business(es) that failed had been funded by a venture capitalist?

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Posted in: Many people are expressing concern about the lay jury system which starts on May 21. What do you think about it? See in context

It's a solution in search of a problem.

It also is likely to lead to claims of unfair trials because of artificial time constraints that will be placed on trials in order to avoid forcing lay jurors to spend "too much" time in court. As a result, defense attorneys will not be able to present all of the testimony that they would like to present, and that they would be able to present to the court under the previous system.

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Posted in: Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace See in context

In the US at least, sexual harassment is a subset of discrimination based on sex (gender). Gender discrimination in the workplace became illegal in the US in 1964 upon passage of the Civil Rights Act. Sexual harassment was not illegal until 1986, when the Supreme Court said that it constituted discrimination based on sex.

Saying or doing things of a sexual nature that offend a co-worker is sexual harassment. Refusing to deal with a co-worker because of gender may be discrimination, but it isn't harassment.

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Posted in: Japan's richest man calls goverment policy 'superficial' See in context

Yanai's suggested solution (reduction of the consumption tax) assumes that consumers would use the savings to spend more. However, in the absence of some sort of supporting data, it makes no sense to assume that reducing the consumption tax would eliminate or even significantly reduce people's worry about the future. Thus, there is no basis for assuming that consumers would spend the additional 5% on more purchases rather than adding it to their savings as a hedge against economic problems in the future.

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Posted in: Amid the global recession, do you see the end of rampant consumerism and is that ultimately a good thing? See in context

The end of "rampant consumerism" definitely would be a good thing. However, whether the current recession will result in the end of "rampant consumerism" is likely to depend on how deep the recession becomes and how long it lasts. As a result of their experience, most of those who lived through the Great Depression in the 30s were more frugal and less willing to accumulate debt than the current generation. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that if the current recession causes serious economic disarray and lasts for years, it will have a long term impact on the behavior of those who live through it (and perhaps even their children).

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Posted in: Japan-U.S. alliance needs freshening up See in context

Finally, the U.S. should pick up on one of Mr Aso’s better ideas: the promotion of an “arc of freedom and prosperity” across Asia.

Rather than calling it an "arc of freedom and prosperity," why not call it the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Oh, wait, that's already been done.

As a scholar, Mr. Green should be more sensitive to the historical context, and the emotional impact, of the particular words chosen to describe something.

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Posted in: Panasonic orders 10,000 employees to buy its products by July See in context

Rather than thinking of this as an infringement of the employees' rights, think of it as a means of avoiding layoffs by slightly reducing each employee's salary/wages on a one-time basis. Managers have their salaries reduced by 200,000 yen (less the value of the goods purchased for that amount), and lower level workers have their salaries reduced by 100,000 yen (less the value of the goods purchased by them). Production levels do not have to be reduced (at least not any more than they already may have been reduced) because the excess products are being purchased by the employees, and therefore layoffs can be avoided, at least temporarily.

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Posted in: What do you think about companies that retract job offers to graduates because of the economic downturn? See in context

It depends on whether the offer was accepted before it was retracted. If the offer had been accepted, then by retracting the offer the company reneged on a deal. Such an action would make the company unworthy of being trusted, and thus unsuitable in a business relationship as either a customer or a supplier.

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Posted in: Guantanamo should stay open, waterboarding OK: Cheney See in context

Sarge --

No pardon necessary.

The only reason a pardon may not be necessary is if the next administration decides, for political reasons. not to prosecute. Waterboarding is a crime under both US law and the international law of war. The United States has prosecuted and convicted members of its own armed forces and members of the Japanese army for waterboarding. Cheney has acknowledged that he took part in making decisions that resulted in people being waterboarded. Therefore, under US law (I won't bother to cite the specific section of the federal criminal code) he is subject to prosecution for conspiracy to commit a federal crime.

For those who think waterboarding works to obtain useful information, it should be remembered that it was part of the SERE program developed by the US military to teach US armed forces what to expect if captured, and it was based on the most successful techniques used by the North Koreans and Chinese to obtain false confessions from US military members during the Korean War.

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Posted in: Obama forms teams to study government agencies See in context

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is sending out an army of top evaluators into government agencies to study the sprawling U.S. bureaucracy

This is done by every incoming administration. Unfortunately, in most instances the "evaluators" are people who want jobs in the very agencies/offices they are supposed to evaluate, so they have a vested interest in finding fault with the job being done by those currently at that agency/office, regardless of the actual facts. However, given how badly this administration has screwed up the operations of most agencies, this time it is likely that the negative evaluations will be justified.

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Posted in: What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists? See in context

If a tourist is looking for beach, and a local friendly bar. Where are they going to find it?

You need to get outside of Tokyo more. There are tremendous beaches all along the West coast of Japan. The water is relatively warm (at least, in the Summer) and usually pretty calm. Not so good for surfing, though. The bar isn't likely to be at the beach (although there are some), but in the town not very far away.

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Posted in: What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists? See in context

If the government wants to attract more tourists, it should conduct surveys of departing tourists to find out what they liked and what they didn't like about their visit to Japan.

For example, I have heard complaints from friends who have visited Japan about the fact that most trains (including the shinkansen) lack adequate luggage space, even for a bag that will fit into the overhead compartment on an airplane. Another complaint I have heard is that there are relatively few ryokans for which reservations can be made via the internet, especially if one is not able to read Japanese. Although I have heard complaints about language difficulties, I have not heard any complaints from any of my friends who have visited Japan as tourists about racism or having been treated badly (or, in any event, about having been treated any worse than when they visited New York City or Paris as tourists).

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Posted in: Why are food scandals surfacing one after another and what can be done about it? See in context

There are a number of factors. These include more inspection and better methods of detection that result in the discovery of instances of contamination that previously would not have been discovered in the absence of a large outbreak of illness caused by the contamination. An increase in the frequency of contamination, caused in significant part by intense competition in China that drives down profit margins and thus increases the benefits of adulterating food or avoiding processing steps that would rinse off pesticides and other chemicals, is another factor.

Stiffer penalties is one way to deal with it. Another way is for consumers to insist on knowing where food comes from and what's in it. Also, more inspection and testing. And, of course, publicity that enables consumers to know what companies are producing, importing and/or selling contaminated food.

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Posted in: Iran's top leader says hatred for U.S. runs deep See in context

Except when prodded by their leaders, most people don't have the time or the energy to "hate" the people of another country unless the countries are neighbors that previously have been involved in one or more wars against each other (and the atrocities that so commonly are perpetrated in connection with a war). It's likely that the vast majority of Iranians are more concerned with earning a living and providing for their families than they are with "hating" the US.

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Posted in: Obama effigy found on university campus; hanging Palin effigy removed See in context

The hanging of an effigy, however tasteless, is a form of "speech" which is protected by the First Amendment. However, there is a key distinction between the hanging of the Palin effigy and the Obama effigy. One was on private property and the other was on public property. As such, it was appropriate for the authorities to require the removal of the Obama effigy. It would not be appropriate for the authorities to seek the removal of any effigy (be it Palin, Obama, or someone else) on private property unless the existence of that effigy resulted in a clear and present danger of inciting violence.

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Posted in: Eight reported killed in U.S. attack inside Syria See in context

This raid appears to be similar to earlier raids conducted by the US in Pakistan, and although the US has refused to confirm whether it was involved in a raid in Syria, a spokesman for the Iraqi government confirmed that the US had conducted such a raid. Whether the raid had been approved by the Iraqi government, however, is another question, because at least one member of the Iraqi Parliament has pointed out that Iraq's constitution prohibits using Iraq as a base for conducting an attack on another country.

This is the Pentagon's attempt to get McCain elected.

There have been many reports in the press indicating that the Pentagon, like the rest of the US, is divided about how best to proceed in the Middle East. More likely, this was the White House's attempt to assist McCain.

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Posted in: Suspected U.S. strike kills up to 20 in Pakistan See in context

The answer to Cirroc's first question is "no," and the probable answer to his second question is "yes."

Even if one assumes that Pakistan is not doing an effective job of preventing Al Qaeda and the Taliban from conducting raids in Afghanistan from within Pakistan, unilateral action consisting of attacking those entities within Pakistani territory without the approval of the Pakistani government violates international law.

Reasonable people may differ regarding whether the circumstances warrant violating the law. In that regard, it should be noted that the US has not yet used other means, such as putting diplomatic and, more importantly, economic pressure on Pakistan to get Pakistan's government to take a more proactive approach to dealing with the cross-border raids being staged from within Pakistan. On the other hand, the Pakistani government may not be capable to dealing with the Taliban and Al Qaeda on its own, in which event the US has only the option of conducting raids within Pakistan or allowing cross-border incursions to continue.

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