Saturday, July 29, 2006

Japan scoring low on the list of happiness

World map of happiness. Japan only 90th:
"If it is happiness you are seeking a move to Denmark could be in order, according to the first scientist to make a world map of happiness. Adrian White from the University of Leicester in the UK used the responses of 80,000 people worldwide to map out subjective wellbeing.

A nation's level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels. Wealth and education were the next strongest determinants of national happiness.

Denmark came top, followed closely by Switzerland and Austria. The UK ranked 41st. Zimbabwe and Burundi came bottom. Mr. White said he was surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th" (...)
Denmark 'happiest place on earth' (BBC News – 2006/7/28)

World map of Happiness
Happiness Map (pdf - 146 kb)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Working but poor

Sorry, again about the widening income gap. As I said last week in Wereldnet: it will become that bad that some will work but still be poor:
"In Japan the poverty rate is higher for single-parent families that work than for those that do not work," said OCDE’s senior economist Randall Jones. "In Germany the solution is, get those single families to work and then they escape poverty. In Japan they're already working. The problem is the income is too low. So there's not the easy solution to say 'let's just find them jobs'."

OECD Concerned About Rising Poverty in Japan (VOA – 2006/7/20)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Widening income gap

A few months ago Koizumi downplayed social polarization. He said in the Diet: "Statistics haven’t confirmed that the income gap has widened"

Hopefully PM Koizumi will take a good look at the statistics the OCDE published today:
Japan ranked second worst among advanced economies in 2000 in terms of the relative poverty rate partly because non-regular workers with low wages increased amid the prolonged economic slump, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Thursday.

The proportion of the population living in relative poverty, defined as less than one-half of the median household disposable income, came to 13.5 percent in 2000, the second highest among OECD members following 13.7 percent in the United States, the OECD said in a survey on the Japanese economy.

Japan ranks 2nd worst among OECD nations in relative poverty (Kyodo – 2006/7/20)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Don't get dumped by your wife

Those are married to a Japanese woman will know that Japanese wives can be pretty scary. Here is some useful advice from a group of men who don’t want to get dumped by their spouse:
The group's main activity is regular get-togethers at local izakaya Japanese-style pubs. They discuss what their wives are like and how to deal with them depending on the situation.

"For example, we've come up with a rule never to sit opposite your wife when she says, 'Could you please sit down. I have something to say to you,'" Amano says.

"In most cases, their eyes are too terrifying to face, and it's most likely things will start flying across the room at you."

Amano says the best thing to do on these occasions is to sit beside your wife, hold her hand until her anger passes, and then apologize profusely before she even brings up what you did wrong.
Husbands reform to keep from getting dumped (Asahi – 2006/7/15)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Interview Wereldnet - Portret

Tijdens de zomermaanden voert het Nederlandse radioprogramma Wereldnet lange gesprekken met zijn correspondenten over heel de wereld. Dinsdag 11 juli was het mijn beurt. 'Het verhaal van een Belg in Japan':
Audiobestand via de Wereldnetsite (of download hier - 16220kb)

Interview: N-Koreaanse dreiging

Uit peilingen blijkt dat vier op de vijf Japanners zich bedreigd voelen door de Noord-Koreaanse raketlanceringen.

Gisterenavond kreeg ik een telefoontje van het nieuwsprogramma 'De Wandelgangen' van Radio 1 met de vraag hoe erg Japan zich zorgen maakt:
Audiobestand (mp3- 1020 kb - 4min 30sec)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

'Just watch and find out'

De dreigementen van het Noord-Koreaanse regime nemen een belachelijke wending. "Just watch and you will find out", zou ik eerder verwachten uit de mond van een puber:
A North Korean ambassador Friday blamed Japan for Pyongyang's missile launchesA North Korean ambassador Friday blamed Japan for Pyongyang's missile launches and warned that any complaints from Tokyo would be met with "an even stronger physical response".

When reporters asked the ambassador if a "strong response" meant new missile launches or nuclear weapons development, he said, "Just watch and you will find out."
N. Korea warns of 'stronger' action (Asahi – 2006/7/08)


Het was niet zo aangenaam om deze morgen op te de staan en onmiddellijk de crisissfeer aan te voelen tijdens het ochtendnieuws: 'Noord-Korea heeft drie raketten afgevuurd', hoorden we tijdens het nieuwsbulletin van 6h30. Daarna was er sprake van vier, vijf en uiteindelijk zes raketten. Alle raketten zijn tussen 3.30u en 8.30u afgevuurd en in de Japanse Zee beland.

Het nieuws was zo overweldigend dat de NHK, de openbare omroep, besliste dat het ochtendfeuilleton moest wijken voor de actualiteit. Hoogst ongebruikelijk in tv-amusementland Japan. Dit was niet meer gebeurd sinds de grote Hanshin-aardbeving van 1995.

Ervaring met dreigende Noord-Koreaanse raketten hebben we al. In 1998 heeft Noord-Korea een Taepodong 1 afgevuurd die over het Japanse grondgebied is gevlogen. Noord-Korea beweerde toen dat het om de 'lancering van een satelliet' ging.

Veilig voelen we ons allesbehalve om naast zo een grillig en onvoorspelbaar regime als Noord-Korea te moeten leven.

Noord-Korea ligt al een hele tijd in de clinch met Japan over diverse zaken, onder meer de trieste ontvoeringszaak die geen oplossing vindt. Maar de provocatie van vandaag moeten we plaatsen in het kader van het zeslandenoverleg over het Noord-Koreaanse kernprogramma. Dat overleg ligt al maanden in het slop. Het is aannemelijk dat de Noord-Koreaanse leider, Kim Jong-il, de Verenigde Staten onder druk wil zetten om het overleg weer op gang te trekken.

Japan heeft 'strenge tegenmaatregelen' beloofd. Zeker is dat de samenwerking tussen Japan en de VS nog verder zal toenemen: levering van Patriot-raketten, samenwerking voor de ontwikkeling van een rakettenschild…

Japan en de VS zullen alles doen om een brede internationale veroordeling te bekomen. Als er één ding is dat Noord-Korea vandaag bereikt heeft, dan is het om zichzelf nog verder te isoleren op het wereldtoneel.

In Japan zijn we er niet helemaal gerust in. We kunnen niet uitsluiten dat het Noord-Koreaanse regime de ene of de andere dag helemaal doorslaagt.

Oorsponkelijk gepost in de De Standaard Expatblog (2006/07/05)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


De nieuwsredactie van de VRT-Radio heeft me enkele uren na het uitbreken van de Noord-Koreaanse rakettencrisis geïnterviewd over de kwestie voor ochtendnieuwsbulletins en het actualiteitenprogramma 'Voor de Dag'.

Het interview met de correspondent in Washington en mezelf in Japan: Audiobestand (mp3 – 1.677kb)

N-Korea fires 6 missiles

N-Korea has fired 6 missiles this morning between 3.30am and 8am. What does N-Korea think to gain? No doubt that Japan will impose economic sanctions. The whole civilized world condemns N-Korea.

Cooperation between Japan and the US will certainly intensify. Within hours (around 7am) the American ambassador in Japan had already talks with the foreign minister, Taro Aso, and Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe. Significant is that this meeting with the American ambassador took place even before Premier Koizumi started a security meeting with is top ministers.

N Korea tests long-range missile (BBC News - 2006/7/05)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Murakami worried about nationalism

Haruki MurakamiNovelist Haruki Murakami has attacked Japanese nationalism in an interview with an English-language newspaper based in Hong-Kong. He also revealed plans to deal with the issue in his next novel.
"I'm worried about my country," the author told the South China Morning Post. "I feel I have a responsibility as a novelist to do something."

He singled out Shintaro Ishihara, the right-wing governor of Tokyo, for particular criticism, calling him "a very dangerous man" (...) "He's an agitator," Murakami reportedly said. "He hates China.
Murakami hits out at Japanese nationalism (The Guardian - 2006/7/04)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Off-Topic: How to get music OFF your iPod

My computer broke down this week. Too lazy to back up regularly my files, I lost of lot of data. All my music files vanished, except the 3,5 GB music files in my iPod. I tried to transfer the music files to the hard disk drive of my new computer, but amazingly is it impossible to transfer files from an iPod to anywhwere else! I thought Apple was user friendly, but this is awful bad.

Via googling I found finally a neat little program to circumvent the iTunes limitations:
How to get music OFF your iPod (via Engadget)


Kim Young Nam, kidnapped by the North in 1978 has denied he was abducted during a press conference in North Korea. The man said that he was "rescued", not abducted, by Pyongyang in 1978.

Of course, the man cannot take the risk to say the truth. Having to depict the horrible N-Korean regime as a rescuer is painfully ridiculous:
"Pyongyang has never admitted to kidnapping South Korean citizens. And Kim Young Nam could hardly say otherwise. His words were spoken inside North Korea under the watchful eyes of authorities. It would be unreasonable to expect Kim to be able to speak freely under such conditions(...)

Reading from what appeared to be a prepared script, Kim soundly condemned Japan's handling of the matter, echoing the official line spouted by Pyongyang(...)

Seoul has certified Kim Young Nam as an abduction victim. Former North Korean spies have testified that he was indeed abducted. Meeting the press, however, Kim denied he was abducted. He has since remarried, and has a son with his new wife. Under these circumstances, he obviously cannot afford to say much about how he arrived in North Korea.

Megumi’s Husband (Asahi – 2006/7/01)