Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Computer problems

Computer hardware problems. Off-line for some days. Naar Akihabara in de volgende dagen om een nieuwe computer te kopen. Mijn laptop heeft de geest gegeven.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Salarymen, ho boy! When will they realize that they have to leave the office earlier and help in the household?
"Home is not sweet for the vast majority of Japanese couples, who feel exhausted and believe inconsiderate spouses are to blame, a survey has said (...)

Men say they are exhausted because they are nagged by their wives or asked to clean up, while women point to their husbands' uncooperative attitudes, the poll said(...)

So what's the solution? Forty-seven percent of men say they want their wives to tell them, "Take it easy," while 43 percent of the women want their husbands to offer to cook
."

Most Japanese stressed out by spouses (AFP - 2006/6/26)

Worrying

Kent E. Calder director the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Johns Hopkins University:
"Throughout the entire U.S. State Department and the National Security Council, there is not currently a single Japan specialist in a position of significant authority"
Broaden the U.S.-Japan alliance (IHT - 3006/6/27)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Supreme Court not fulfilling its role

A missed opportunity. The Supreme Court has a duty to judge the constitutionality of Koizumi’s Yasukuni visits:
"When Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals alongside the nation's war dead, did he violate the constitutional separation of state and religion?(...)

On Friday, the top court sidestepped the issue altogether, rejecting the plaintiffs' claims without ruling on the visit's constitutionality.(...)

If the Supreme Court continues to avoid making judgment calls about the separation of religion and state--a major pillar of Japan's Constitution--then it is not fulfilling its role as 'guardian of the Constitution'.
"
Koizumi visit to Yasukuni (Asahi - 2006/6/26)

Uniqueness

This morning I read an opinion article in the Asahi:
"We must not think that Japan is the only country with good qualities or believe that our 'unique culture' is better than others (...) There is no reason we should feel superior to others".
This is such an evident truth that I'm amazed it is still necessary to publish something so basic in a big newspaper. But then, after all, maybe the writer is right to recall this evidence. He writes a little bit further:
"Some people are calling for the revival of so-called Japanese virtues. There are moves under way to introduce this idea in schools, and the Diet recently debated a revision to the Fundamental Law of Education. Such moves are aimed at strengthening moral education and promoting patriotism (...)
In my opinion the moves only encourage the view that Japan is somehow special. If the argument for patriotism is abused, it could lead the public toward the same nationalism we had in the prewar years.
"

Point of view: Japan is good enough to be an ordinary nation (Asahi - 2006/6/26)

Gadgets

Growing Gap

"a Tokyo-based think tank, provides an analysis of household income over the past five years. The results are unmistakable:

Japan is shifting from a society where the overwhelming majority of households once considered themselves middle class, to one in which clearly pronounced classes, including the very rich, the affluent, and those less fortunate -- such as temp-help staff who carry home 2 million yen a year -- are relegated to the bottom rungs (...)

Japan's goal of a nation in which nobody was really very rich or very poor proved to be unsustainable. "Freeters" -- male part-time service industry workers with no fringe benefits and little job security -- could earn enough to sustain their livelihood, but not enough to marry and raise a family. This suggests that society may soon find itself with a permanent underclass, unable to even afford a college education or other things that would give a foothold, however tenuous, on upward mobility.
"

Wealth, poverty and the shrinking middle class (Mainichi - 2006/6/25)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

'Wij zijn uniek, ook als we verliezen'

Waarom heeft Japan slecht gepresteerd tijdens Wereldbeker voetbal in Duitsland?

Omdat 'wij klein zijn en zij zo groot'. Rare theorie, merkt conbinibento terecht op:
One can often hear the “Japan-is-a-small-agricultural-country” mentioned as the reasoning behind just about any possible shortcoming of Japanese society. Soccer team isn’t doing well? “We are a nation of small farmers.” Defeated in WWII? “We are a peaceful farming nation.” Increasing crime and weakening social fabric? “Western influences are destroying our small, harmonious nation.” Am I exaggerating a bit? Yes, but I’m not pulling it out of my ass completely”.

Physically we are small (conbinibento.com – 2006/6/20)

Japundit voegt er een logische vraag aan toe om de nihonjinron-theorie definitief van tafel te vegen:
"I wonder if it ever once occurred to these people that the other countries might just have superior teams."

It’s how you play the game (Japundit – 2006/6/20)

Puzzling

A good question:
"Given widespread indifference among the Japanese public about whaling and eating whale meat, why is the government pursuing such a confrontational foreign policy?"

Japan heats up whaling wars (JT - 2006/6/24)

Vleespotten in walviswereld

Dat is toch wel veel belastingsgeld voor een 'lekkernij' die we niet meer eten in Japan:
"In a written reply to a query on Japan's "marine aid" to developing countries, the government acknowledged pouring 617 million yen ($8.7 million) last year into St Kitts & Nevis, the tiny Caribbean nation that hosted the IWC conference.

Nicaragua, the top recipient of Tokyo's largesse, was awarded about $17 million, and the Pacific island cluster of Palau got $8.1 million. (...)
"
Scale of Japan's aid to pro-whaling nations revealed (nzherald - 2006/6/24)

Friday, June 23, 2006

'Stijve harken'

Dat het daar een verstarde boel is bij de keizerlijke familie weten we al lang. Maar ik slikte toch even toen ik las dat de het gezin van Kroonprins Akihito pas voor het eerst op privé-vakantie mag naar het buitenland.
"Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako and their daughter, Princess Aiko, will vacation in the Netherlands in August in part to treat the crown princess' stress-induced illness, an Imperial Household Agency official said Friday.

The trip, scheduled from mid- to late-August, will be the family's first overseas. No imperial family member has ever gone abroad for recuperation purposes.
"

Crown prince's family to vacation in the Netherlands (Kyodo - 2006/6/23)
Ik ben niet zeker of Nederland een goede keuze is. Hadden ze niet kunnen kiezen voor Hawaï, de Côte d'Azur, de Seychellen of zoiets?

Seksloze huwelijken

Zonder communicatie, geen kinderen:
"A survey conducted last year of 936 people, aged 16 to 49, conducted by JFPA and Jichi Medical University in Tochigi Prefecture shows that 31 percent were "sexless" (...)

"Japanese people simply aren't having sex," said Kunio Kitamura, executive director of the Japan Family Planning Association Inc. adding that "as much as subsidies and welfare programs are important, sexlessness is also a critical issue in this problem" of the declining birthrate (...)

What stood out in the JFPA results was the lack of communication between the couples.
"
Japan sagging in sex department, hence fewer kids: expert (Japan Times - 2006/6/22)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas

De meest begeerlijke vrouwen volgens Japanse mannen:
Top 25 potential Japanese girlfriends (Japan Probe - 2006/6/22)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Te heet om te voetballen

Zico, De Braziliaanse trainer van de Japanse voetbalploeg, heeft zwaar uitgehaald naar de organisatoren van de Wereldbeker. Het was 'crimineel' om het Japanse elftal tweemaal (tegen Australie en tegen Kroatië) in de namiddag te laten spelen. Presteren in de zomerse hitte heeft de krachten van de Japanse ploeg ondermijnd, weeklaagt Zico.

Japanse voetballers kunnen niet tegen de hitte? Is dat een grap of wat? De zomermaanden in Japan zijn ongelofelijk heet en vochtig. Verstikkend, uitputtend, ondraaglijk. Niets liever zou ik doen dan de verzengende Japanse zomers om te te ruilen voor Europese zomers. Voor mij is het duidelijk dat het lichaam van de gemiddelde Japanner beter tegen de hitte kan dan het lichaam van de gemiddelde Noord-Europeaan. Japanners zweten minder, raken minder snel gedehydrateerd. Zelfs als het asfalt in de Tokiose straten bijna onder de voeten wegsmelt, zie je de salarymen nog lustig en probleemloos met zwart maatpak en strakke das door de stad snellen.

Meer nog, het Japanse voetbalseizoen overspant de volledige zomer, terwijl in Europa de hele winter wordt gespeeld. Als de zomerse hitte een factor is, dan zou het in het voordeel moeten spelen van de Japanse voetballers.

Na het verlies tegen Australië en de match zonder doelpunten tegen Kroatië, is het begrijpelijk dat de Zico onder druk staat. Japan moet donderdag (avondmatch ditmaal) met twee goals winnen tegen het machtige Brazilië om door te stoten naar de volgende ronde. Een onmogelijke taak, oordelen de realisten. Het objectief van de Japanse ploeg is niet meer om te winnen, maar wel om eervol te verliezen.

Zico hot under the collar as Japan exit looms (smh – 2006/6/20)

Taepodong 2

Na een protesten over heel de democratische wereld dreigt Noord-Korea met straffe woorden:
This issue concerns our autonomy. Nobody has a right to slander that right"
Als een verongelijkt baasje zegt N-Korea dat de Taepodong hun ding is dat ze mogen afvuren waar en wanneer ze willen.

Volgens mij wil dit zeggen dat ze redelijk onder de indruk zijn van de wereldopinie en hun raket niet gaan durven afvuren. Het enige dat ze nog kunnen afvuren is straffe taal.

N Korea defies missile pressure (BBC News - 2006/6/20)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rustpensioen?

Ik heb het vroeger al eens gehad over het stijgend aantal echtscheidingen bij langgehuwden. Het aantal echtscheidingen tussen koppels meer dan 20 jaar gehuwd, is verdubbeld ten opzichte van 1985. Bij koppels die 30 jaar huwelijksleven achter de rug hebben, zijn de echtscheidingen zelfs verviervoudigd.

Het hoeft dus niet te verwonderen dat in de Yomiuri te lezen stond dat man en vrouw het niet eens zijn hoe de oude dag door te brengen:
Men and women in their 50s in the Tokyo area differ markedly over how they would like to live following retirement, with a majority of men wishing to live in the countryside and a majority of women favoring a conveniently located condominium, according to a survey of married couples who are not living with their children.
Tokyo couples divided over how to spend twilight years (Yomiuri 2006/6/19)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Unharmonious Foreigners

Bad spirits in Roppongi? It’s because of redevelopment projects and... foreigners:
"It all began in 2003 when a 6-year-old boy from Osaka was fatally crushed in one of Roppongi Hills' revolving doors. Three years on, one of the complex's most celebrated residents, Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie, finds his IT company in shambles as he faces a litany of criminal charges. And earlier this month financier Yoshiaki Murakami, another denizen of Roppongi Hills, was arrested on suspicion of insider trading (…)

These front-page stories aside, Roppongi's cosmopolitan image seems to have attracted the wrong kinds of people (…)

The answer is bad fengshui (…)

The many shrines and temples in Monzencho -- as Roppongi was called in olden times -- were situated to ensure the proper flow of ki (spiritual energy), and with the kimon (devil's gates) aligned -- north, south, east and west -- so as to direct bad spirits from the area. But they were successively demolished to make way for new redevelopment projects that have upset the balance.

Foreigners worship their own countries' deities, so one might say the old spirits that protected Roppongi have lost their force. Then came redevelopment, which was aligned unfavorably, which also affects the corporations quartered in Roppongi Hills. All these corporate crimes are a result of the bad spirits that converged on the district.
"

Is Roppongi cursed? (Japan Times – 2006/06/18)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Yamato Battleship

Working less? It will not work

From the Financial Times:
"Workers who put in more than 40 hours of overtime a month will earn the right to an extra day off the next month, according to a policy paper prepared by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (...)

Sceptics wonder whether the government’s new ruse will work. This is the land of “service overtime” – unofficially working extra hours for free (...) The average worker in Japan uses less than half of his or her annual holiday and the rate is falling every year.

This suggests two possible flaws with the new law, say cynics. The first is that most overtime is not officially recorded, so employees working too hard will not qualify for the extra time off.

The second is that if workers take less than half their usual holiday entitlement, they are even less likely to take the extra day they have earned through their labours. But “it’s difficult to make the extra holiday compulsory”, says a research officer at the ministry."
Japan tries to cut hours for overworked salarymen (Financial Times - 2006/6/17)

False alarm

If you want to give a present to the local police, don't leave it on the counter of a koban:
"Police in southern Japan closed off roads, evacuated residents and even brought in a bomb squad after spotting a suspicious box in a police station (...)

A bomb squad was rushed to the scene after an X-ray scan showed metallic cylinders inside the box. A local television station broadcast the incident live using helicopters(...)

But police found out the true contents after a woman, having seen the TV report, contacted them saying that she had left the cans of beer on Friday morning in return for receiving advice on home security."
Japan bomb squad mobilized over six-pack (Reuters - 2006/6/17)