Willow comments

Posted in: Man, woman or... X: U.S. rolls out gender-neutral passports See in context

"Why X?"

Actually the X designation has been for quite some time part of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency responsible for setting standard specifications for passports including machine-readable fields and microchips.

Yes, concerns remain whether the X would function as a proverbial scarlet letter. I doubt the holders of such passports would willingly travel to Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, or even Japan. Most likely, just to other accepting countries in Western Europe, Canada, etc.

Otherwise, some nonbinary U.S. citizens might obtain a passport because their own states don't have X as an option for their own state ID cards. In such cases, applying for a U.S. Passport Card (a plastic card issued by the U.S. State Department to allow land/sea crossings to Canada, Mexico, and several Carribbean nations) can offer a good alternative to a state ID.

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Posted in: Mental health issues show women bear brunt of Japan monarchy system See in context

"It is as if there are no human rights (within the imperial family)," said clinical psychologist Sayoko Nobuta.

Theoretically, this is true. The members of the imperial family do not possess any of the constitutional rights per Articles 10 through 40 of the Constitution. The said constitutional provisions only guarantee human rights to 國民, which is defined in the Article 10 and is understood as those who are on the Family Register. (Official English translations of the Constitution inaccurately render 國民 as "people" but in the light of the Article 10 it only means those with a family register, and the royals are not on the Family Register.)

Hence the royals cannot vote, do not have freedom of speech or religion, no freedom to choose residence or occupation.

Now, this also means that foreigners do not have any human rights in Japan if the Constitution is to be literally interpreted. However, the Japanese State is obligated to uphold their rights as part of its international obligations under the UN treaties, conventions, and international customary law.

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Posted in: There's something else at stake in Trump impeachment: Control of U.S. Senate See in context

Mitch McConnell, the Geriatric Mutant Ninja Turtle, is the problem and he needs to go. He is more of the problem than Donald Trump is.

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Posted in: McDonald’s Japan to release its first ever rice bun burgers See in context

Plagiarizing MOS Burger, eh? They've had those riceburgers since the late 1980s. Mickey D's is three decades late on this.

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Posted in: More larcenous foreign visitors vexing their Japanese hosts See in context

I'm old enough to remember the glory days of Japanese commoners beginning to travel abroad in the 1980s. The economy of Nippon, K.K. was about to eclipse that of the Great U.S. of A., Japanese companies were buying up prime real estate, banks, and businesses around the world, and the Yen was becoming oh-so-powerful. In fact, the biggest bank in the world by the size of deposits was the Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank (DKB)! 

So every Taro, Jiro, and Saburo were getting aboard the Jumbo Jets and swarming every known tourist traps imaginable in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Micronesia, and even Europe. 

The Westerners were complaining about how these Japanese tourists walked off with stuff, abused "free" amenities meant for all customers, how they were very inconsiderate of the locals and other travellers, and on and on. This became such a PR problem for His Imperial Majesty's Government that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began handing out little booklets along with new passports advising His Imperial Majesty's Subjects to mind their manners! 

Fast-forward to the early 21st century, I see very similar dynamics playing out mainly with the citizens of the People's Republic of China....

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Posted in: About 70 Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine See in context

Where's a controversy when American politicians pay respect to their fallen soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery? I don't hear Vietnamese, German, Italian, or even Japanese people loudly protesting every year over this.

The Yasukuni is to Japan what the Arlington National Cemetery is.

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Posted in: Couples in first hearing on same-sex marriage say they are 'not special' See in context

Either that or a call to Abe for his "opinion"

Judicial independence anyone? If a judge solicits an opinion from the head of the executive branch before issuing a ruling, that's going to undermine the very principle of the separation of powers. If Japanese judges actually do this, it's a travesty.

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Posted in: Couples in first hearing on same-sex marriage say they are 'not special' See in context

"Impact litigations" such as this are pretty common in the U.S., but in Japan it is not as effective. For one thing, the Japanese judiciary does not "legislate from the bench," so to speak, as Japan does not rely on precedence in court rulings like they do in the Anglo-Saxon common law tradition. The only entity in the judicial branch that can nullify unconstitutional laws or to make any binding case law is the Supreme Court, and even then, the law can only change after the Diet enacts a new law to change the unconstitutional portions of the existing law.

To add to this, Japanese judges tend to rule based on moralistic arguments, rather than the actual merit of the arguments presented by the parties.

On the flip side of it, Japan tends to respect international treaties it signs and ratifies, unlike the United States (which almost always ignores any international commitment that is inconvenient to them) and gives a force of binding law. If UN comes up something more concrete and binding than the Yogyakarta Declaration (which is just as toothless as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, being an aspirational document), Japan will have to follow it.

Otherwise, LDP will have to go before any progress on LGBTQ rights can move forward.

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Posted in: Odd translations found on English websites for tourists in Japan See in context

"World Teahouse" makes sense, but how is Daikoku a powerhouse?

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Posted in: End of an era: Emperor's abdication resets Japan calendar See in context

Those who think Japan's imperial era system is crazy, keep in mind that the Western calendar is based on the speculated year of birth of Jesus Christ (likely off by 4 to 6 years). The Christendom took it on because of the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the King of Kings.

That's just as ancient and anachronistic as the ancient Chinese custom dating back to Confucius or even before him.

Maybe we ought to invent a new one that is not based on any single man (yeah, mostly men).

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Posted in: End of an era: Emperor's abdication resets Japan calendar See in context

Japan is the only country in the world still using Chinese-style imperial calendars. 

Actually Taiwan and North Korea are two other countries do, even though they did not take the letters from Chinese classic texts, the idea behind is the same.

In the Republic of China (Taiwan) it is 民國108, years counted since the Xinhai republican revolution. Until that point, Qing used the imperial era names, but since there were to be no emperors, the calendar simply called the subsequent years "Republic."

The DPRK originally used the Gregorian calendar exclusively, but after the death of Kim Il Sung, they decided to commemorate their "Eternal President" by instituting the Juche era, reckoned from the birth of Kim Il Sung.

Coincidentally, this year is 主體108 in North Korea. So Taiwan and North Korea shares one more thing aside from international isolation.

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Posted in: Teenager ashamed of given name 'Prince' adopts traditional one See in context

I have a couple of acquaintances whose names were Sunflower and Clover respectively (yeah, hippie parents).

They've since changed their names to Alex and Chloe as soon as they turned adult.

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Posted in: Teenager ashamed of given name 'Prince' adopts traditional one See in context

Wait.... His name was "Oji-sama" and not just "Oji"?

So, was he addressed as "Oji-samasama"?

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Posted in: High risk of powerful quake in northeastern Japan within 30 years: panel See in context

So, back in the 1980s, everyone was talking about major megaquakes to hit Nagoya. So far, none of that has happened, but it did encourage the development of seismic upgrade technologies. Japan is light years ahead of the U.S. when it comes to quake-proofing and preparedness.

In 2015, Oregon Public Broadcasting produced a documentary "Unprepared" comparing Portland's earthquake preparedness with that of Tokyo (the Cascadia Subduction Zone megaquakes would look like a mirror image of the 2011 Fukushima quakes, according to geophysicists). The documentary cast a doomsday prediction. Fast-forward to 2019, people in Portland are actually having a debate over the proposed ban on unreinforced masonry building!

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Posted in: 106 foreigners disappeared in Japan last year after arriving on cruise ships See in context

Build a wall

Or even better, reinstate the sakoku. No one comes in (unless you're Dutch), no one goes out.


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Posted in: Japanese gov't secretly weighed 5 dates for era name change to Heisei See in context

It's 2019 and Japan is still stuck in this ancient custom that has roots in the ancient Chinese dynasties. It's high time to do away with this and the best opportunity to abolish the gengo is now.

As a transitional measure, the government of Japan should promulgate, retroactively, a permanent new era of Nissen (日扇), to be reckoned from the year 2001, making this year effectively 日扇19.

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Posted in: Tokyo Metro offers free food to ease crowding on Tozai line See in context

Here's the thing: Some commuters even ride the Shinkansen every weekday to get to work in Tokyo's CBDs. Even with the typical suburban sprawls everywhere else in the world, this isn't normal and this isn't sustainable. Companies really need to consider relocating some or all of their workforce outside the Tokyo metro region, to cities where housing costs and basic living expenses are much lower and their employees can commute to work in a relatively short time. I'm thinking of Shizuoka or Kofu or even as far out as Matsumoto and Hamamatsu.

If the corporate executives and senior management need to be in Tokyo for meetings, they can easily do so these days now that the Shinkansen goes just about everywhere.

Decentralization and devolution have been topics of discussion among Japanese politicians since the 1980s but simply there's no political will within the LDP to pursue them. But quite honestly, with climate change and the risks of major earthquakes, everything in Japan shouldn't revolve around Tokyo. That lesson should have been learned back in 2011.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo Metro offers free food to ease crowding on Tozai line See in context

@Brian --

According to Tokyo Metro's press release, they will be giving away vouchers equal to the values of the soba and/or tempura, which may be redeemed any time, not just in an early morning.

(Source: https://www.tokyometro.jp/news/images_h/metroNews20190115_05.pdf)

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