Category Archives: SOCIETY

Japan News This Week 24 September 2017

Japan News.


The Latest Design Trend: Black and Burned Wood
New York Times

How Japan reacted to missile test

Japan PM Abe calls for global blockade of N. Korea
The Mainichi

‘A language we use to say sentimental things’: how shoegaze took over Asia

Japan’s New Conspiracy Law Expands Police Power
Japan Focus

Last Week’s Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan’s military, the oddly named Self Defense Forces, is extremely powerful. While it flies under the radar – intentionally so – if a shooting war were to break out in East Asia, Japan would hold its own against South Korea and maybe even China for now.

The ten most powerful militaries in the world are:

1. USA
2. Russia
3. China
4. India
5. France
6. Great Britain
7. Japan
8. Turkey
9. Germany
10. Egypt

Source: Global Firepower


Inside Track Japan For Kindle …continue reading


Einstein’s Monsters: an expat view of the North Korea Missile Crisis from Tokyo


Until recently, I considered being in Tokyo a sideline seat to the North Korea nuclear crisis. After all, I rationalized, why would Kim Jong-un waste precious nuclear bombs on a symbolic target like Tokyo? Between the American and the South Korean militaries, weren’t there enough concerns on the Korean peninsula without having to look for targets further afield? And if the North Korean military command did turn their attention offshore, wouldn’t Guam be the most likely target (no offense to the Guamanians)?

Then, however, I learned a few things.

First, there are 50,000 American forces members in Japan, well within strike range of Pyongyang and thus of interest to the DPRK military leadership.

Second, America has some significant military hardware in the region. The USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft “supercarrier” and flagship of the US Navy recently dispatched to the waters off North Korea, is permanently based in Yokuska at the mouth of Tokyo Bay.

Third, there is an historic animosity between Japan and North Korea; indeed, the very founding of North Korea and the current dynasty is rooted in resistance to the Japanese occupation of the peninsula in the first third of the 20th century. As I learned in a recent Newsweek Feature by Samuel Earle, the origin myth of North Korea’s current dynasty is inextricably linked to Kim Il-Sung’s resistance to the Japanese occupation of Korea. So if Kim Jong-un were to “sink” Japan as he has recently threatened to do, he would simply be fulfilling the war against Japan fought by his grandfather almost 100 years ago.

So, IS North Korea likely to directly attack Japan? Despite the recent escalation of words, with “Rocket Man” and “dotard” being flung across the Pacific, it still seems unlikely. A graver and more imminent concern, perhaps is North Korea’s threat to carry out an atmospheric …continue reading


My Welcome to Japan

When I first moved to Japan I lived in Musashi Urawa out in Saitama. It’s about 20 minutes from Tokyo on the Saikyo Line. The Ekimae (the area around the station) has a handful of shops and restaurants, and as is the norm at virtually every station I’ve been to in and around Tokyo, there’s a Mcdonald’s and a Starbuck’s. Can’t say I was the biggest fan of either back in NY, but I love both here.

The Japanese Mcdonald’s was different than the Mcdonald’s back home. The staff actually make an effort to make the burger they present you with look like the one advertised on the menu photos. Does wonders for the appetite.

As does the cleanliness.

Initially, you’re struck by it. There’s a gleam to everything. And there’s at least 1 or 2 staff people tweaking that clean at all times, diligently and pleasurably, like they do in Mcdonald’s commercials but you never see it in real life.

And at Starbuck’s there are two registers open with two pretty college girls, looking handpicked for counter appeal, taking orders, and three others in the prep area waiting diligently like very disciplined, well postured and well-paid maids in a chateau somewhere. Very “Remains of the day” looking…only extremely cheery, and Japanese.

You check out the menu…most of the usual suspects are there: all kinds of Lattes and Frappuccinos and whatnot. You peruse it trying not to be distracted by the patient, smiling, gorgeous coed standing before you. Then, you place your order: “Yeah, let me get uh grande Iced Caramel Macchiato please.” Then you remember you’re speaking English. Being in Starbuck’s just doesn’t feel like Japan. You get ready to repeat your order in your broken Japanese when the staff smiles and repeats your order.

<img data-attachment-id="20870" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="708,500" …continue reading


The Only Gaijin in the Village: Look into a Glass Onion

Source: Gaijin Pot
The Only Gaijin in the Village: Look into a Glass Onion

Chapter 7: Look into a Glass Onion

Men are stupid. Or, more correctly, men are, for the most part, stupid (for evidence: see the news). We can reach great heights though often, as the saying goes, we are very much being propped up by a greater woman.

Women can be stupid, too — don’t get me wrong. I’m an equal opportunities misanthropist — it’s just that men: we do it so well. At full force. With all of our heart (and little of our brain). We are like Wile E. Coyote. In fact, he may be the perfect personification of male stupidity. We run face first into a tunnel entrance painted onto a cliff face, pick ourselves up, curse the Roadrunner and start all over again. Our brains are like that Pringles ad — once they pop, we just can’t stop.

My three published novels are — in part — about male stupidity and the first one, First Time Solo, is particularly relevant here. It’s about men in groups. Men as friends, men as brothers, men as fathers and sons, and men as enemies. That’s a lot of dialectical stupidity, a lot of wires getting crossed, a lot of knickers getting twisted and more canned worms than in the bunker of a particularly libertarian survivalist early bird.

It all comes down to competition. Whether we are taught it or whether it resides as some vestigial of an early stage of our evolution, like a kill switch in our central nervous system that redirects all decision making to our reptilian brain, it’s something that comes naturally and is very hard to fight. From pissing contests in primary school, through every sport ever, to not packing a pillow because that’s not proper camping; at the first sight of a binary, we can turn …continue reading


Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage


Nikkei: This year, the country released a first of its kind national survey that highlighted the extent of housing discrimination foreigners face. According to the study, released by the Ministry of Justice in March, out of 2,044 foreign residents who had sought housing within the past five years, 39.3% reported being turned down because they were not Japanese.

The impact is now being felt by employers. In recent years, numerous Japanese manufacturers and services have been trying to make up for the country’s shrinking labor force by looking elsewhere for workers. They want to create an inflow of talent, but housing discrimination could become a dam. As of last October, Japan had 1.08 million foreign workers, up 58% from five years earlier, accounting for around 2% of the total workforce, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. […]

The IT industry is suffering from a significant labor shortage, and the consultancy was acutely aware of the discrimination problem last year when it welcomed a systems engineer from the Philippines. To dodge any hassles, the company consulted a property agent that caters to foreigners, whom industry players describe as an “underwhelming minority” in Tokyo. Even real estate agencies with experience helping foreigners run into the same problem: “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants,” according to Masao Ogino, CEO of the Ichii Group. “It is still an extremely exclusive market.”

Tsuyoshi Yamada, a human resources manager at Total OA Systems, said a lack of sufficient support for non-Japanese employees, including in regard to housing, could throw a hurdle up in front of the company’s plan to bring in overseas talent. This concern is particularly strong for smaller IT companies like Yamada’s. “Even if we finally find a promising engineer,” he …continue reading