Japan Today

Xeno23 comments

Posted in: Was Kyoto's 'Gyoza King' shot dead by a Chinese hit man? See in context

For those who question a professional's choice of a small caliber: during WW2 the OSS frequently issued .22 caliber semi-automatic pistols for assassination missions. For a trained pro, it's not the size of the bullet, it's where you put it.

If used expertly, a small caliber bullet is a good choice for a lot of reasons. For one, it doesn't leave a lot of mess, won't have immediately noticeable effects, is less likely to alarm bystanders, and if the pistol is suppressed, it makes very little noise.

By the way, a .38 or 9mm bullet isn't much bigger than a peanut either; it's the charge of the propellant that's more important.

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Posted in: Abe says it is time to revise pacifist constitution See in context

Wouldn't "proactive pacifism" be about disarmament and express measures to defuse flash point situations? Whatever happened to the idea of Japan being a spokes-nation for peace? Wouldn't that be a global role everyone would applaud?

It seems the people of Japan learned the lessons of WW2 and have taken them to heart, but not the government - see the JT article on popular opinion on Abe's recent Yasukuni visit. But then, has any government really learned the lessons of WW2? Some of the more obvious lessons, sure, but resort to arms, brinksmanship, intolerance, and sabre rattling... doesn't look like it to me.

Given the effort behind this, it may well happen, but will it result in everyone's worst fears? Probably not. There are too many international vested interests in powerful sectors that wouldn't like seeing a militarily resurgent Japan. Besides, how much can Japan do? How puissant could a Japanese military become?

The only thing that would provide a genuine threat is if Japan openly deployed nukes - and that's pretty unlikely. Imagine Abe trying to get that approved...

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Posted in: Scientists discover hormone that blocks marijuana buzz See in context

I had a friend in college who always said pot didn't get her high - we all thought she was full of beans. Maybe not. There's always been talk of mitigating the high for medical marijuana, so I wonder how many medicinal users would suddenly vanish if that became a requirement. Getting a pass for medical use pot is a joke in the USA - pretty much anyone over 21 can get it - at least on the West Coast.

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Posted in: McDonald’s Japan to serve 'American Vintage' burgers See in context

A Mcdonald's burger cost $0.15 in 1950, which, adjusted for inflation, is like $1.45 today, so anything on the dollar menu, or 100 yen menu is about the same price.

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Posted in: Do you think Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has done a good job since his election a year ago? See in context

How the heck should I know? Let's face it, none of us know what's really going on. And anyway, isn't it up to History to say? Ask me again in fifty years...

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Posted in: Spiritual message See in context

This kind of thing gets posted every Xmas season. What I'd like to see is a quick poll of the general Japanese passers by to ask them what they think of it. How many of them even know what it's referring to?

Given that only on the order of 1% of Japanese are Christian sectarian, e.g., Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, etc., it seems to me most Japanese go: meh.

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Posted in: How much would the world miss Japan if it suddenly disappeared? See in context

Well, for one, the change in the Kuroshio ocean current would sure make things interesting...

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Posted in: Dementia epidemic looms with 135 million sufferers seen by 2050 See in context

Dementia is contagious?

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Posted in: Japan's secrecy bill condemned by Nobel academics See in context

Can anyone tell me: does the information need to be designated a state secret before it is leaked or released? This makes a huge difference. If information made public can be designated a state secret after it is released, then the problem is even bigger than many fear...

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Posted in: Smart sushi: How the classic dish and technology come together See in context

Entertaining service technology to be sure, but I'd say "smart" sushi is serving seafood from sustainable sources. It's possible that amusing and clever restaurant service like this, combined with engaging cuisine using seafood that's not at risk, could help consumers be smarter about their sushi dining choices.

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Posted in: Dolphin-killing town to open marine park See in context

But they're not stopping the harvest - hm. It'll be interesting to see if this really happens. Sounds like an idea cooked up without a lot of proper vetting. I should think added attention is the last thing they want. Besides, marine mammal parks in and of themselves are ethically problematic, especially where entertainment and profit are the driving force.

Swimming with porpoises isn't just a matter of putting them and people together. The reputable venues I've seen have highly trained staff and marine biologists on site, carefully selected animals under constant monitoring, with guest training and guest handlers always on duty; accidents can happen. I've swum, scuba'ed with wild porpoise pods, and they're pretty scary, actually.

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Posted in: Preoccupation with health spawns rumors of miracle cures See in context

It's not the preoccupation with health that inspires miracle cure fads or reliance on snake oil, but ignorance, laziness, and irrational thought. Oh, and money.

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Posted in: Flipping classrooms: Is Japan embracing new educational paradigm? See in context

There are two primary reasons for having classrooms, and they're millennia old - going back to the ancient Greeks, Chinese, and just about everyone else: group active learning and collective reinforcement - also socialization, but that's a bonus. The reason they're so often forgotten in contemporary attempts at improving our education systems is because they're so poorly employed in most schools - not because they're obsolete or ineffective.

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Posted in: Killing the ums and ahs See in context

There's an added benefit to not vocalizing one's pauses, and it's quite powerful: it creates a certain anticipation in one's audience - hanging on words.

We're used to pauses being preliminary to something important or dramatic, so when employed in speech, even very briefly, I've found people tend to pay more attention. It's the "wait for it" thing. You don't want to exploit it too much, because that gets old and affects the continuity of your delivery, but pausing for the amount of time it takes to say "um" tunes people in to more active listening - and that's key to audience attention.

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Posted in: U.S., Russia agree on Syria weapons; Obama says force still option See in context

An acquaintance of mine had an interesting conspiracy-like take on this: maybe this was the plan all along. Some back room strategy worked out between Russia and the USA.

In order for Syria to cave, Russia was required as carrot provider, since they're chummy with Syria, and the credible threat of military action from the USA was the stick, because they're so likely to actually do something along those lines.

Yeah, it seems a stretch to me too, but it's an interesting thought... Public iciness between Putin and Obama can have distinct tactical and strategic benefits, if the two are secretly in cahoots.

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Posted in: It is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries, considering we will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expect many visitors to come to Japan. See in context

It's a bloody long time to find out, 2020 is still a long ways off, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays: will the world agree?

I actually remember the '64 Olympics, and there was quite a positive stir about Japanese hospitality way back then, but in the meantime, a global notion of hospitality has developed that many would say has equaled or outstripped traditional notions of hospitality in Japan. Just take a look at hospitality services in the top hotels and resorts world-wide, aside from Japanese franchises of those same resorts, I'm not sure this is widely understood in Japan.

The Japanese version of hospitality, as symbolized by the word, is indeed highly developed, but it's a Japanese version, and a guest / client's understanding and appreciation of that is critical to it working well. Foreigners who don't understand it, or are expecting the more widespread international version may be perplexed.

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Posted in: How do you feel each year on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks? Does it mean anything to you? See in context

I feel like the USA squandered the international outpouring of solidarity, commiseration, and good will, and it makes me very sad. Out of such tragedy and pain, there could have come something better for all of us, something about human spirit, global human sentiment, mutual interests across borders and cultures, and for a brief moment it seemed possible, but instead we got more tragedy and pain.

I feel like the lessons we should have learned at such terrible cost, weren't. And rather than face those lessons with courage and resolve, we chose fear.

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Posted in: Are the 2020 Olympics in good hands? See in context

What hands are we talking about? The IOC? Cuz, y'know, maybe not so much, then...

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Posted in: Death row inmate hanged; 6th execution since Abe became PM See in context

At first I thought: 73? They hung a 73 year old guy? But then I realized he committed the crime when he was 64...

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Posted in: Which summer-themed songs are particularly nostalgic for you? See in context

"Beach Baby" by The First Class, Flying Lizards version of "Summertime Blues", "Summer in the City" by the Lovin Spoonful, "School's Out" by Alice Cooper, "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry, and any version of Awaodori music, because MATSURI

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Posted in: Fort Hood shooter sentenced to death See in context

For all who are perplexed or indignant about the differences in sentences handed down between this case and other recent US military trials, let me just ask this:

Would you arbitrarily surrender the sovereignty of your national laws in order to appease outside opinion, particularly when those opinions are unsympathetic to your culture?

Make no mistake, I'm NOT defending these verdicts, but as Mark Twain said: nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.

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Posted in: U.S. willing to go it alone against Syria if necessary See in context

While not exhaustively, I've tracked some 30 articles with this same headline; they all seem to be the same piece. None of them specify who the administration's spokesperson actually is. It's not Obama; it's not Biden; it's not Kerry. Who said this? Anyone know?

I don't doubt this sentiment is strongly represented in the Obama White House; I just always have to wonder about unnamed, generic sources and dozens of articles that are word-for-word identical.

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Posted in: Who are your favorite movie or TV cops? See in context

Marshal Raylan Givens. Detective Charlie Crews. Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. Inspector Kurt Wallandar. And of course: Boss, Jipan, Macaroni, Gori & Scotch.

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Posted in: Brain activity shows basis of near-death experiences See in context

I would like to remind everyone that "Science" is not a thing; it is a process. Science doesn't "know" anything; we who use the scientific process come to know things by its employ. It is our limitation as human beings that leads to us not knowing something; there is no such limitation in the scientific process.

When anyone says "Science can't know everything", or "Science can't tell us..." this is a clear indicator that the speaker doesn't understand what the scientific process really is - it is simply a method for discovery. In that regard, theoretically there's nothing the process can't be employed to discover, given that its actually discoverable - and that's something we, as human beings, only learn as we get more information.

One can correctly say that the collective scientific community doesn't know something, because that refers to us, but that has no bearing on Science itself, nor whether that thing is ultimately knowable.

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Posted in: Their view of women is basically as tools to boost the birthrate, reduce social security spending and increase growth. See in context

And their view of men? As basically tools to boost the economy, contribute to tax revenue, and increase the power of their charter and constituency?

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Posted in: Though there’s no sufficient scientific proof of their causal relationship, we concluded that we need to give consideration to those who are sensitive to chemicals as long as concerns are raised. See in context

Long an issue of debate in the USA, and plenty of studies, both reputable and not so much, on the topic. The only evidence I'll point to is the supermarket aisle... at an arbitrary guess, probably about 25% of the items on the shelf, for the kinds of products mentioned, claim dermatologist approval or sensitivity formulated - so at least marketing has taken the bit...

My doctor, for one, has always said sensitivity and chemical reaction is complex; the jury is still out on any sort of blanket finding for these kinds of items, but patient perceived sensitivity and reaction is real. It may be largely psychosomatic, but psychosomatic reactions frequently produce genuine effects, so use the products - what the heck. If it makes you feel better, go for it; one less thing to worry about.

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Posted in: Men’s yukata go for cool look See in context

Wait, um, that material... wouldn't that make the thing actually hot? Shiny, sliky material traps body heat like crazy, doesn't it? Does for me; can't stand the stuff - never wear it. In Summer, cotton, please. The cool thing about traditional yukata is that they're actually cool - as in temperature.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the traditional cut & style of yukata for men, nor the base material; what's needed is a more modern color and pattern approach: up-beat, but refined. Like the less garish, "formal" Aloha shirts...

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Posted in: Americans know that democracy is something that must constantly be fought for. Japan never had a revolutionary war. Democracy was given to us by MacArthur. See in context

I think the point being made is whether there's a predisposition to understanding / appreciating the idea of democracy, and how that impacts social commitment and popular involvement in government. We can argue how democratic the USA is forever, but not so much how ingrained the idea is - or whether the average Japanese person feels the same way about democracy in Japan.

It's probably not the case that the appreciation for, and experience of democracy needs to be any one particular way, or follow any one particular model. It's up to each nation / people to define their own take on it; develop it on their own terms, and make it work for them.

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Posted in: One woman in three a victim of domestic violence: WHO See in context

While this is an extremely important issue, must be addressed as a human rights and welfare focus, has huge impact on social and economic development, and all of us need to become more aware of the ramifications of this sad fact, do not mistake the statistics as meaning every third woman you meet walking down the street is a victim of abuse.

A phenomenon we need to guard against is the arbitrary or prejudicial classification of anyone into impotent victimhood - this can be disempowering, demeaning, and just another form of objectification.

Don't focus so much on the pitiable state of victims (although don't marginalize it either), rather focus on empowering people to rise above their challenges, and provide legal safeguards to ensure that opportunity and potential can be realized.

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Posted in: FBI director says surveillance drones used in U.S. See in context

The difference between traditional aircraft surveillance and drones is endurance limiters - drones are pretty much only limited by fuel. Remote operators can change shifts, maintenance is far lower on drones, and fuel consumption is far lower too - all providing vastly superior up-time.

Traditional aircraft surveillance is expensive, and tough to maintain, so it's carefully used. In my local area, police aircraft typically can maintain ready availability for only one in three aircraft; the others being down for service, or used for parts. I learned this during research for a startup company proposing a type of aircraft replacement for the police.

Up-time / endurance delimitation means more surveillance with less cost-based, or express purpose-based justification. This can frequently lead to invasive observation, i.e., finding stuff to do and getting into, or looking for "trouble".

Regardless of the situation, further enabling an entity that already has power over you requires serious consideration. Your default response should always be "no", and you should only assent when extraordinary justification is verified.

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