Bass4funk---YES THERE ARE such signs and prohibitions, written and unwritten--all over the world. Have you heard anything about Russia lately? Uganda? Nigeria? A police chief losing her job for being lesbian in the USA? Life partners being separated at the border because one country refuses to acknowledge their union? These days perhaps not as pronounced in the USA and not so obviously and in-your-face, but yes LGBT issues are civil rights issues EVERYWHERE, including here in Japan where it is said that the LGBT population alone would equal at least the population of Yokohama, and where being gay and bullied for it turns out to ve one of the top reasons for suicides. What planet have you been living on, by the way???
3 ( +4 / -1 )
Oh man, how pathetic that some of you have the energy and time to waste pondering why or whether LGBT issues are real or if they matter. For ages sexual minorities have suffered, and continue to suffer enormous hardship just because of who they privately love and desire and the private loving, sexual relationships they create out of mutual consent. And the only reason they speak up for themselves in a loud voice, band together as one, make themselves visible, and reappropriate words like gay or queer is because they were discriminated and marginalized into doing so, because otherwise they would be killed, tortured, bullied, persecuted, imprisoned.... How stupid do you have to be to not realize these are basic human rights issues? Here in Japan, where there is actually a long history of not only tolerance but even celebration of same-sex relations (albeit only between men), and where Christian morality has virtually no relevance, the debate is rather different than the homophobic comments in this thread. Sure there is homophobia in Japan and society is so geared toward heterosexual marriage and families that it makes gay men and women hide their sexual orientation. But this is changing. Younger generations are radically different these days, and LGBT relationships are becoming more and more visible in the cities. It will take time but I think Japan is ultimately going to be open to creating true LGBT equality, and probably with a lot less of this moralistic, self-serving, ignorant, and arrogant baggage that so many commenters in this forum are ushering forth. I am glad to know that Takei, the US embassy/consulate and so many others are bravely helping to make these silenced voices audible to everyone.
2 ( +3 / -1 )
And if you survey 20,000 people nationally who are under the age of 40, and do so randomly, I wonder if the results might lean toward apathy rather than pro-whaling. Asahi may be a liberal-leaning paper, but whaling is not actually an issue that is so near and dear to people's hearts in Japan either pro or con, and especially not for younger people, few of whom rely on Asahi for their news in the first place.
8 ( +9 / -1 )
This is all standard diplomatic/security protocol for the US and its closest allies, especially when there are indeed all sorts of crazies out there who get an idea to do something violent that probably wouldn't be as much a threat to a world leader as it would be to the general public in Tokyo. Having myself had a near miss on the subway just minutes after the fatal aum attacks in 1995, I can say it feels better to be safe than sorry in this massive metropolis.
0 ( +0 / -0 )
What always really annoys me about so many commentators here on JT is this essentialism toward "the Japanese." What is this, 1945? Japan is made up of a very regionally and culturally diverse population, and even so-called Japanese are not the mono-race you insinuate that they are. GW is a holiday for everyone in Japan and it's a time many people--including "non-Japanese" fly away for a few days, whether it costs jet fuel or not. You should rant about all the global corporations in other countries like the US who fly their employees around the world 24/7 wasting resources and polluting the environment for mere 2-3 day business trips. What's the difference?
6 ( +9 / -3 )
The Gaimusho is a dreary and stressful place to work. Committing suicide there at work, however, is a huge statement, and it's also a way of speaking out for someone who probably was in too much pain inside to do so in words.
0 ( +0 / -0 )
I think there are excellent doctors and hospitals/clinics in big cities in Japan versus countryside on average, and there is also horrifyingly bad medicine practiced here as well. Accidents happen but doctors should be responsible and knowledgeable to begin with. As a patient here I think it's a question of knowing our rights and doing whatever we can to be proactive, choose the right medical establishment and doctor, ask questions, say so if we question or want a second opinion, and refuse treatment/invasive procedures or tests when something doesn't feel right. This article is sloppy journalism, but this doctor sounds unqualified to do the x-ray she ordered or conducted--you don't inject anything into the spine, let alone the body, without checking if it's safe or not!
0 ( +0 / -0 )
Yes and abroad it's even more intense. In Japanese the advance group is called a senkentai. They send out the SS and plan the routes and protocol and deploy their own huge numbers of people and vehicles, etc., but the US Embassy deals with that part. Japan then doubles or triples that security for redundancy and wider reach.
0 ( +0 / -0 )
Yes and no-- this is decidedly orientalistic crap on one level but the Japanese image is relatively benign. Look at the rest of the campaign of white ladies exoticizing and minstrelling the "other." This Jenn Fang you write of was angry about the portrayal of Chinese, not Japanese women: see for yourself at http://reappropriate.co/?p=5038
1 ( +2 / -1 )
There's a difference between NHK's "rules" and actual laws or social responsibilities, and last time I checked Japan is supposed to be a democracy in which we are free not to watch or consume media that we politically disagree with or dislike. I think choosing not to support NHK's government-biased propaganda machine is neither a denial of responsibility nor a violation of the law. It's an act of free speech, and NHK is obligated to terminate your contract if you so request. And they do indeed do this. Those of you who think this is obligatory at all cost either love to watch NHK all the time, don't mind spending the money, or don't have any sense of political conscience.
6 ( +6 / -0 )
I had a confrontation with one of those slick salesmen the other day. I answered on the interphone, where he said he was from NHK and that our place was "not yet registered" despite our having lived there six years. I told him that it was because we have no TV, never owned one, and even if we did we hate NHK's propaganda and wouldn't watch it online either. This is all true. Even then, he asked me to come to the door as there was paperwork he needed to confirm. Just to get rid of him I opened the door and surprised him with my caucasian face, as we'd been speaking Japanese. This seemed to throw him off a bit. I asked to see his ID and then I reminded him that there is no legal obligation to pay their fees, nor do we have a tv nor even a tv receiving device and WE DON'T WATCH NHK! He put his stupid papers back in his briefcase, bowed deeply, and walked away. He didn't mark our door with anything, either.
6 ( +6 / -0 )
Frungy, since you express yourself to be such a knowledgable authority on the subject, I hope you are based in Japan, giving clients the proper treatment they deserve, and making a difference instead of spending your time online with this stranger arguing over what mental health approach is best or what is mistaken, etc. That's what I would do if I were a mental health practitioner, but thankfully I'm not, and I work to improve Japan in other ways in my profession. Best of luck to you in yours.
2 ( +2 / -0 )
Frungy-- your point is well noted but you're pointing out a central divide between clinical psychology and psychiatric medicine, and your judgment and condemnation or bias against psychotherapy is obvious. I have no interest in arguing with you about who is right, as it really doesn't matter. And I agree with you that the state of mental health care in Japan is abominable to some extent, but at least there is insurance to pay for treatment to some degree and at least there is improvement. On the other hand there is a shocking lack of therapy and counseling in Japan that really WOULD make a difference, whether or not experimental psychology or pharmaeceutical corporations or the medical establishment believe that psychotherapy matters. And I would argue that because the state of mental health care is so shoddy in Japan to begin with, it has been proven that there are plenty of misdiagnoses here as well, including for "schizophrenia," which, by the way, is a word that is just as problematic as its Japanese variants. Medication is a good thing and there are some amazing and very useful treatments, especially for schizophrenia and other conditions, and in conjunction with real and meaningful, empowering counseling. What is most unfortunate is that so many doctors worldwide dismiss talking and counseling altogether, as you have so swiftly and critically dismissed it in your comments about even the mere suggestion of such an approach.
4 ( +4 / -0 )
Frungy, you're misreading me. I am saying that the previous poster is talking in more existential terms. And while saying all mental illnesses come from PTSD, which is not true, of course, in terms of schizophrenia, yes, significant trauma can trigger schizophrenia. I don't mind touching upon the approaches of RD Laing (The Divided Self, etc.) with a barge pole because I am not a psychiatrist nor must one be one to qualify to comment on schizophrenia on Japan Today, wouldn't you agree? I have known plenty of schizophrenic people and I think it is sad that they get medicated like crazy here in Japan with very few ever having a chance to explore other ways of navigating their illness and feeling a sense of control in their lives. It sounds like you are coming at this from a strictly medical/psychiatric model and not one of psychoanalysis, especially not a more intersubjective approach as put forth by Atwood and Stolorow. And intersubjective in this sense very much is about helping the client to map their world without judgment by the analyst--it is about the individual, not the individual and society as you claim, but then I suppose you aren't interested in or aware of that material?Though dated and problematic to some extent, "fragmentation" was indeed the term used by psychologist RD Laing on relation to schizophrenia--not multiple personality disorder/DID. This has been a common psychoanalytical approach that sees schizophrenia not only as a possible chemical imbalance but also as a condition in which, usually due to overwhelming childhood trauma, the subject is unable to master consistent and cohesive integrity of the self---not fragmentation into different selves or personas, as you seem to misconstrue from my comment above and repaint as the Hollywood "split personality" trope. Then again, "fragmentation" is a misleading term. That's why the official term for schizophrenia in Japanese was relatively recently changed from 精神分裂病 (seishin bunretsu-sho) to 統合失調症 (togoshicchosho) in Japanese, which literally means a deficiency in integrity of the whole personality. But many clinical psychologists like would still work with the schizophrenic client in terms of assisting him or her to negotiate and restore a consistent sense of self, a central narrative to pull the pieces together to make sense out of whatever traumas they may have experienced. Unfortunately there are few counselors who work under this paradigm in Japan, so all most patients get is drugs and few tools to help themselves.
4 ( +4 / -0 )
Jim Poushinsky's points above are very valid and salient in an intersubjective transpersonal model of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, at least in relation to schizophrenia, which is literally a fragmentation of the self. It's not only that this disorder is a result of severe trauma; it's moreover a problem of how we classify "disorder" in the first place. It's not sufficient to explain that this is a disease that is the same for everyone, with the same cause, or that the same treatment will work for everyone. Drugs can indeed help the brain and body regain a sense of balance so that cognitive and personality functions can heal in ways that allow the individual to function better in society. Counseling and effective identification of that original fragmentation can also be essential for many people. But most people need this support for life, and that is OK!!! We should not judge that or blame the individual who is suffering.
1 ( +3 / -2 )
I once worked in a government job where i was asked to proofread English road signs only AFTER they had been made in a local region of Japan. I cannot list how many times we had to have a whole bronze sign painfully scrapped and remade. My favorite was "Kulark Street," a sign which was ironically a bad romanization of the katakana for a man named Clark. You'd think someone would have checked what the original spelling was before coming up with a new one-- oops.
2 ( +2 / -0 )
@Kabukilover, the people of Bikini were relocated to the island of Rongerik in Rongelap Atoll, another atoll that was considered within "safe" distance from the tests at Bikini. They were not so foolish as to believe what the US officials told them; they left under great duress and the Americans literally burned their village as they were being "evacuated." But Rongelap Atoll was already inhabited, and Rongerik was believed by many to be a cursed place because of its poisonous fish and lack of edible plants or easy access to fishing. People relocated there began to starve within a year, nearly ten years before this Bravo test in 1954 began. And then everyone in Rongelap was irradiated by fallout and severely sickened. This is ALL relevant to Japan, by the way, because up until 1945, I hope you all realize that the Marshall Islands had been a colony of Japan for thirty years. I do not agree that Marshallese are like Palestinians. Most of the 29 atolls/islands of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are inhabitable and Marshallese live there. But several places are forever uninhabitable. Puts things in perspective when you think about Fukushima as well-- it's been a whole sixty years since the Bravo test, and still Islanders cannot/are afraid to return home. How long will it take for people to ever be able to reside safely near Fukushima Daiichi??
1 ( +1 / -0 )
And here we go again ranting about Japan versus Korea and what was right or wrong with dropping bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Re-read the article. This is about the 60th anniversary of the Bravo nuclear test, which was conducted by THE US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY in 1954 in the Marshall Islands, at Bikini Atoll. Islanders were forcibly taken from their lands beginning in 1946--not even a year after Hiroshima-- and there were a total of 67 horrible atmospheric tests all the way up to 1958. The Bravo test was huge, however--15 megatons--and its resultant cloud of fallout blanketed the northern Marshall Islands, irradiating hundreds of people and leading to many of their early deaths, birth defects, and a permanent loss of their homeland, not to mention enormous psychological damage. Japanese rarely acknowledge this history at all, and Americans even less so. We ought to pause for a moment too to realize that the reason we even know the basics about radiation's effects on human beings, as we do now in our safety precautions with Fukushima, is because of the enormous sacrifices that so many Marshallese people were forced to make, and all the unwarranted experiments that American researchers did on them under the recently declassified Project 4.1. That's what this news story is about-- about the tragedy in the Central Pacific that also affected a fishing boat from Japan.
5 ( +6 / -1 )
The protest by the people of Yaizu is admirable; yet they would also have done well to acknowledge the whole generations of Marshallese people who were even more directly affected by these tests-- and they would do much better to petition the government in Tokyo and the US Embassy to really get their voices heard.
4 ( +5 / -1 )
Sounds like the dive business chose money ocer safety, just like a terrifying dive experience I had in Bali many years ago on a moonless night before a storm with strong currents. I too probably had logged nearly 70 dives by then but that is nothing in terms of real dive experience and awareness. That dive operation was so shoddy and careless but we only realized that for sure when the guide let us all wander around and go our separate ways, and when the skipper of the boat headed too far down current to pick us up. It still makes my heart race to think of what could have happened had anything gone even slightly wrong with all of us novice divers, the cavalier instructor, and the dangerous conditions. It's fairly odd thst this dive shop is impossible to reach, too... I pray these divers are ok.
0 ( +0 / -0 )
big progress here but the very diagnosis that refers to transgender individuals as having a "disorder" (in Japanese it is actually worse--"shogai" or disability)--is a serious problem to begin with. And that they need to have surgery to get legal recognition is outrageously archaic.
1 ( +2 / -1 )
Regardless of what happened with Three Mile Island, have any of you considered that the US decimated one whole island and severely contaminated at least four whole atolls of the Marshall Islands, irradiating a whole generation of people, treating them deliberately as guinea pigs to learn about radiation, and then feeding that information back to scientists to develop nuclear weapons and reactors? At the same time in 1954 that the Number 5 Lucky Dragon Japanese fishing boat was irradiated by fallout, causing chaos back in Japan and widespread suspicion of the US, thousands of Marshall Islanders were largely neglected and never fully compensated for severe damages and illness. The US, eager to curry favor with the Japanese people in the wake of its postwar occupation, waged a PR campaign called "Atoms for Peace" to promote nuclear energy in Japan and clean up the negative image of atomic science. This is DIRECTLY what led to the US helping Japan to build its first reactors. My point is not to excuse TEPCO or the J government's inconsistency and mismanagement of this whole hideous catastrophe; it's to contextualize the whole picture. The US government is very connected to the origins of nuclear energy in Japan, and since 1946 it's also polluted the Pacific far worse than Fukushima has. And the US has proven to be fairly unreliable and inconsistent in its "cleanup" efforts qs well. Involving the US in this cleanup is thus a good step in some ways, but there needs to be even more collaboration and transnational, depoliticized effort. Otherwise it's just "atoms for peace" all over again, with real human lives stuck (again) in the middle.
0 ( +0 / -0 )
While the Japanese government deserves a lot of criticism and more pressure from the public to be more transparent and assertive in actions that actually serve the people who reside in this country, this guy is a breath of constant negativity, not "fresh air." I've personally worked with him briefly over ten years ago in the course of my own work as an American consulting for the Japanese government and remember him to be absolutely negative and uncooperative with every aspect of what my Japanese co-workers--who were mostly hard-working, earnest, honest folks--were doing. In fact his arrogance and the arrogance of his team from the US Embassy towards Japanese officials embarrassed me deeply at the time. I think no matter how relevant or useful his critiques may be about Japanese officialdom, we have to consider also how American officials in this country (including the author of the book) can be just as horrendous.
0 ( +3 / -3 )
Transparency? And Japan's sure got a lot of that lately... The joint exercises between the JASDF and the US military are also increasing in scale. What I'm concerned about is the impact of this militarization in the Pacific on local islands and their inhabitants too.
1 ( +1 / -0 )
This is depressing news but I agree with other posters here that I'm really shocked how many readers are ignorant about this virus. Come on, guys-- the year is 2011! I have worked as a counselor here in Japan and I have many friends who happen to have tested positive in Japan-- both Japanese and non-Japanese, and I can ensure all of you that actually the Japanese healthcare system--especially in the big cities--takes extraordinarily good care of people with HIV so that they do NOT progress to AIDS. Though perhaps it's off-topic, no, this does not effect your visa status either, provided you have a legitimate status of eligibility to be here in Japan. In fact I know a few Americans with HIV who have been living here healthily and productively, getting good health care and getting the social support they need from their employers and health care providers. National health care is very proactive in providing the right medications to ensure that positive folks can lead ordinary lives to old age. People living in Japan are extremely fortunate for this and it's a complete tragedy that more people don't get tested early, whether they are Japanese or non-Japanese. There is no excuse NOT to get tested if you are sexually active with anyone, period. Tests today take as little as 15 minutes and can be done for free all over the country, anonymously. Even in a private clinic they will treat your results anonymously regardless of the result, and they are bound to do so by law.
Let me reiterate this in a clearer way. Globally, the science and medicine surrounding HIV and AIDS has changed dramatically, and Japanese health providers are fortunately able to access the latest medication. These days if you happen to get HIV (and it's very unfortunate and relatively rare, but it happens, even in all kinds of relationships and even from people who think they themselves are not infected!), you can begin taking anti-retroviral medication while your white blood cell count is still relatively high, and the virus does not have an opportunity to wreak havoc on your body. My friend takes a pill each morning and each night before bed. No side effects. In fact he feels more energy than he used to. It's just like taking vitamins. In other words, if you treat HIV early, it's actually easier to manage in many respects than diabetes or high blood pressure, with very few complications or side effects (if any, depending on the individual). This is not to say we shouldn't care or be careful about HIV or that it's a breeze to get the disease-- it's VERY costly to manage without insurance and there are indeed possible complications. But by far the biggest problem is that so many people are terrified of this disease that they resist getting tested and treated if needed. And so what happens is HIV takes its toll and takes over one's cells gradually, until your immune system is so wrecked that you can no longer resist a wide host of other diseases which can cause death eventually. When your defenses cross a certain threshold and you no longer have enough CD4 (T) white blood cells in your system, then clinically you are no longer described as having HIV, but rather, "advanced HIV disease," otherwise known as AIDS. They are two phases of the same disease. If you are treated, maybe you'll never be able to be "cured" of HIV, but you'll likely never progress to AIDS, and you'll also lead a very healthy life. And for those people who do progress to AIDS-- even with a very weak immune system, the latest medications can at least stave off any further deterioration of one's health, and many people leap back into relatively good health. All of my HIV positive friends made some unfortunate choices or had careless accidents in their lives, but thank God they're all safe, healthy, happy, and very worried that no one else in Japan, let alone the planet, ever gets infected again.
The "scary stories" alluded to by previous posters do happen-- but they happen because people don't get tested, and because they're too afraid to get help when they know something's wrong. Please pass on this message. These days-- in fact in just the past few months alone-- the progress researchers are making toward curing this virus is astounding. Many experts predict that we WILL see a cure for AIDS in our lifetimes. Last year they cured a man of advanced AIDS. They are already finding that anti-retroviral drugs can lower the contagiousness of HIV-positive people, and also that such drugs even prevent infection in HIV-negative partners of positive people. And simply, by taking a few precautions, we can all avoid this disease altogether while having some real compassion and appreciation for the brave souls who are now living with this disease.
11 ( +11 / -0 )