Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, October 31, 2007 Posted: 10:51 PM JST
(Arudou Debito) - If you haven't heard about the new immigration procedure coming into effect next month, it's time you did. It will affect not only tourists and frequently traveling businesspeople, but also long-term residents. You will be targeted by a useless and xenophobic system, treated as fresh off the boat no matter how long you've lived here.
Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, October 31, 2007 Posted: 07:55 AM JST
Japanese media yesterday showed footage of the lavish offices of disgraced NOVA Corp. CEO Nozomu Sahashi. Sahashi was removed from his position by NOVA management last Friday when the company applied for court protection.
According to the court-appointed trustee, Sahashi spent between 60 and 70 million yen on his office. It included a living-room, bedroom, tea ceremony room and even a sauna. See the wasteful spending for yourself in this video clip of news about NOVA.
Kjeld Duits, Friday, October 26, 2007 Posted: 07:48 PM JST
As predicted in my article of October 10, Japan's largest chain of foreign language schools, NOVA Corp, filed for receivership today and closed all its schools.
NOVA's debts amount to JPY 43.9 billion (USD 384 million). This leaves some 400,000 students without the ability to get the lessons they paid for. Some lost as much as JPY 700,000 (USD 6,125). NOVA's 2,000 Japanese employees have not been paid since July, while about 4,000 non-Japanese employees have not been paid for October.
The company's fortunes went starkly downhill in June after a court ruled it had misled customers in advertisements and ordered the company to suspend part of its operations.
As the whereabouts of NOVA Corp. president Nozomu Sahashi remained a mystery, an increasing number of the company's top officials started to defect over the past week.
A trustee has been appointed by the court to sort out NOVA's debts and attempt to seek sponsors who are willing to rebuild the company's business.
Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, October 24, 2007 Posted: 06:21 PM JST
The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo yesterday opened a large robot exhibition that will last through January 27, 2008. The exhibit features karakuri ningyou dating from the Edo Period (1603-1868), anime characters and modern robots like Honda's ASIMO. The entrance fee is JPY 1,400 for adults and JPY 600 for children.
Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, October 24, 2007 Posted: 05:49 PM JST
Japanese people concerned about environmental issues increased to 64.4 from 48.5 percent during the past year. Those interested in global warming issues jumped to 92.9 from 81.3 percent. This according to "Environmental Awareness Survey 2007," a survey conducted by major advertising company Hakuhodo.
Kjeld Duits, Friday, October 19, 2007 Posted: 06:07 AM JST
The world worries again about Japan. Japan needs "a man of strong views," former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday in a lecture at Tokyo's Waseda University. "People are looking for leaders who have to make compromises as a political matter but still are compromising within a range of principles, that they are doing what they believe, and we saw that very much in Prime Minister Koizumi." The political upheavals of this Summer showing a backlash against "Koizumi reforms" and the impression that old-style Japanese politics have returned to Tokyo are generating these worries. But does Japan really need a new Koizumi?
Kjeld Duits, Thursday, October 18, 2007 Posted: 11:52 AM JST
Early morning news shows and sports-papers in Japan today showed their unmitigated anger with a creature they themselves helped create: Japanese boxer Daiki Kameda (18) who lost a WBC title fight with Daisuke Naito (33) last week in the most shameful way possible. All commentators are heavily criticizing Daiki Kameda and his coach for not apologizing for his violent behavior during the match. The discussion that is now flaring up gives an interesting public view on Japan's values and expected behavior.
Kjeld Duits, Thursday, October 18, 2007 Posted: 10:36 AM JST
Sumo wrestling is famous for its enormous athletes. They don't just materialize out of nothing. Most of them have been carefully trained since childhood.
Hardly known outside Japan is that there are countless clubs for children's sumo with kids competing in local and national competitions. Competitors and their parents are as enthusiastic --and sometimes downright fanatic-- as at any soccer or baseball match for kids in the West.
This video clip shows an exciting match between kids of elementary school age at a local sumo competition.
Kjeld Duits, Monday, October 15, 2007 Posted: 04:38 PM JST
Vintage Japanese postcards give a wonderful view of what Japan and the Japanese used to look like about a hundred years ago. Postcards became unbelievably popular in Japan during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 to 1905. The issue of commemorative postcards was a great event. People would line up in front of post offices and wait through the night to be among the first to get these cards. There are even reports of people who died in fights. Collectors had tens of thousands of postcards.
Kjeld Duits, Monday, October 15, 2007 Posted: 12:32 PM JST
"This human being hasn't eaten in 10 days but is still alive. I want to eat rice. I want to eat a rice ball." So writes a 52-year-old Japanese welfare recipient in his diary after his benefits were cut off. His partly mummified corpse and his heartbreaking diary were found a month after he died a lonesome and hungry death. In Death Reveals Harsh Side of a 'Model' in Japan, Japanese journalist Norimitsu Onishi describes the cons and pros of a welfare system that doesn't reward the lazy, but also let's the weak willfully slip through its mazes.
Kjeld Duits, Monday, October 15, 2007 Posted: 12:03 PM JST
Language school NOVA Corp. appears to be in its death throws. Let's Japan.org reports that NOVA CEO Nozum Sahashi has sent a fax to all schools informing teachers that they will not be paid today. Sahashi asks them to be patient and promises to pay salaries on the 19th.
Kjeld Duits, Monday, October 15, 2007 Posted: 11:16 AM JST
(by Jean Miyake Downey) - Most people don't realize that most (70%) of the world's 370 million indigenous people live in the Asia/Pacific region, because indigenous people from North and Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand have dominated global discourse on indigenous issues. Also, the policies of many Asia/Pacific nations have obscured the presence and suppressed the voices of their indigenous populations.
Kjeld Duits, Sunday, October 7, 2007 Posted: 09:53 PM JST
Bloomberg's Tom Keene has an interesting interview with long time Japan-hand Robert Feldman, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Japan Securities Ltd. Keene talks about the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the outlook for Yasuo Fukuda and the Liberal Democratic Party, the integration of Chinese immigrants, and the impact of an aging population on the labor force and economy.
Keene's understanding of the Japan's economy is impeccable, but he says a few things about Japanese society that will raise the eyebrows of some. He says for example that immigrants are welcome in Japan. This may be true for top managers of the large companies that need a labor force, but the general public thinks quite differently. Recommended listening: Download mp3 (8.1 MB).
The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press