All posts by blogsonjapan

Trump’s risky gamble with North Korea

The three Americans formerly held hostage in North Korea gesture next to US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo upon their arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on 10 May 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg).

Author: Liubomir Topaloff, Meiji University

Nuclear weapons are primarily defensive in nature. This — and not the ‘historic’ meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas — must be the backdrop for the Trump–Kim meeting for which expectations have been set unrealistically high.

This is the very beginning, not the end, of a long road that may one day lead to peace with a nuclear-free North Korea. Quite realistically, however, it may not, and US President Donald Trump’s administration may have actually increased the risk of large-scale conflict in the region.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s policy of brinksmanship over the past few years produced a rare agreement in the United Nations Security Council that finally brought China and Russia together and led to the imposition of severe sanctions. It was the effect of sanctions on the North Korean economy, not a policy of brinkmanship, that pushed Kim to step over the Demilitarized Zone on 27 April. Now, both the United States and North Korea seek to cash in on the situation.

The US position for negotiations places precedence on a non-negotiable precondition of ‘complete, verifiable, and irreversible’ denuclearisation (CVID). The North has ‘given up’ its nuclear program one too many times before, going so far as blowing up the cooling tower of the plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon in June 2008 before resuming its nuclear program in April 2013. Only a CVID can guarantee that North Korea’s nuclear program will never be revived again.

Such a step could prove fatal for Kim. The historical records are instructive and North Koreans pay close attention to them. Back in the early 1990s, it was perhaps still possible to embrace a form of peacemaking idealism and give up nuclear weapons in exchange for promises of a bright and prosperous future. South Africa, Brazil and …continue reading


Getting from Tokyo to Fuji Rock: Your Transport Options

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

There are multiple ways of getting from Tokyo to Fuji Rock, with the Shinkansen being the fastest.
Ready to rock at Fuji Rock? Well, let’s get you to the venue so that you can do just that. Contrary to surprisingly common belief, this wild music festival is not held on the slopes of dear old Fuji-san (that’s Mount Fuji), but at the Naeba Ski Resort (relax, no snow, it’s summer) in Niigata Prefecture. Here’s how to get your air-guitaring self from Tokyo to Fuji Rock, in one piece, on time, and for cheap.
Shinkansen (Bullet train)
By far the quickest and most comfortable way of getting from Tokyo to Fuji Rock, the bullet train takes under 90 minutes station to station, and gives you a large amount of flexibility. The

The post Getting from Tokyo to Fuji Rock: Your Transport Options appeared first on Tokyo Cheapo.

…continue reading


Personal Information, Encryption, and the Relocation Process

To start, a reminder that Japan Info Swap is a part of The H&R Group, which provides a wide range of real estate, relocation, staffing and life-enrichment service in Japan. JIS was created to help communicate the information, knowledge, and expert advice of the H&R Group family of companies to their clients.

The relocation process requires varying degrees of personal information; from immigration documents to housing contracts or drivers licenses…so we have a lot on hand during our client’s relocation process, and our clients provided all of it to us, usually by email.

As a result, we are understandably a bit paranoid about the way in which this information is sent, stored, and eventually deleted. We can do a lot on our end, but we would feel a whole lot better if we could start on our clients end instead, and accomplish our work with full end to end encryption of the personal information essential to completing the services initiated to us by our clients.

What is Encryption?

Encryption changes information in such a way as to make it unreadable without a “key,” that allows the information to be put back into its its original, readable form. Encryption allows us to securely protect data and ensure that only authorized parties will have access to it.

We strongly recommend that our clients take the initiative and learn how to encrypt documents before sending. Its easier than one might think, and it is our sincere hope that ancillary to their relocation our clients create better personal data security habits that will protect them long after they have returned from Japan and forgotten all about us.

Encryption Sounds Hard…

You might think so, but it is actually pretty simple to do. The hardest part is communicating the password in …continue reading


Trash Talk: A Guide to Garbage Disposal in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Trash Talk: A Guide to Garbage Disposal in Japan

It’s fair to say that a lot has changed since I moved away from Osaka to my new home in Nagano. It’s a lot quieter, it’s a lot less stressful and I have more money in the bank at the end of the month. However, it’s not without its challenges, either.

One challenge I hadn’t anticipated — and on reflection, it seems embarrassingly obvious — was the simple notion of taking out my garbage.

Now, in Osaka, it was simple. There was a large dumpster on the ground floor of our apartment building and any time (day or night), we could simply take our bags of rubbish there, throw them inside and they would be collected within a day or two.

Sorting out your trash into different types, using specific bags and being sure to put it out on the right day and time were simply not considerations then. It was simple and straightforward.

I didn’t realize, however, that this is very much the exception rather than the rule. For several decades now, Japan has been a world leader in encouraging its citizens to recycle as much of their waste as they can.

Photo by G Witteveen

A trash recycling area at a highway rest stop in Japan.

Every city in every prefecture has its own regulations and rules for sorting out the trash but almost everywhere in Japan takes a far more regimented approach to recycling than Osaka.

I seem to have moved from one extreme to another. Here in Nagano, locals take extreme pride in being the No. 1 prefecture in Japan when it comes to recycling.

It’s not difficult to see why. Upon registering my address at the local city hall, I was given not only an extensive guide to the different types of rubbish and the days and locations …continue reading