10 things Japan does better than anywhere else / Tokyo Number 1 City in the World / The end of poverty?

Video of the week:

I found this video so funny that I had to share it, instead of a picture of the week.

Days 2290 – 2296 
Thursday, June 26 – Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 2290 ( China Wants UN To Recognize The Nanjing Massacre )
Thursday, June 26, 2014

The days feel like they are flying away from me. Except for pay day which seems to take forever to come.

Did another recording for a listening test today at the school I'm at. That was pretty much my highlight of the day.


It's interesting to see these 2 rich and powerful Asian countries quarreling like children. Especially China. 

Japan blasts Chinese bid for U.N. recognition of Nanjing massacre

Japan protested to China on Wednesday after Beijing applied for the inclusion of the 1937 Nanjing massacre and the “comfort women” forced to work in wartime military brothels in a UNESCO program, the latest flare-up of tensions in relations.
Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have been strained by a territorial row over a group of East China Sea islets and Chinese allegations that Japan has not properly atoned for wartime aggression.
“It is extremely regrettable that China is trying to play up a negative legacy from a certain period in Sino-Japanese history by using UNESCO for a political purpose, when effort needs to be made to improve ties between Japan and China,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.
“Today, we made a protest, and asked China for a withdrawal.”
China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Beijing had submitted an application to UNESCO to include the issues of the “comfort women”, many from Korea and China, who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels, as well as the 1937 mass killings in Nanjing.
Beijing said the submissions were part of a need to “remember history, cherish peace and avert similar atrocities from happening again”.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World program, launched in the 1990s, has registered dozens of projects to reflect the “documentary heritage” of different periods. Documents include Britain’s 13th century Magna Carta, the World War Two “Diary of Anne Frank” and an annotated copy of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital.”
China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in the then-national capital.
A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place.
Both China and South Korea have long sought compensation for women victimised in the wartime brothels. In a landmark 1993 statement, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono recognized the involvement of Japanese authorities in coercing the women, although many conservative Japanese say there is no proof of direct government involvement.
In February, China condemned an application by a Japanese city to ask UNESCO to register in the same program the wills and farewell letters of World War Two kamikaze suicide pilots to highlight the importance of world peace.

I still don't get how and why some Japanese are denying that this even took place, even with all the pictures on the internet.



Day 2291 ( Tokyo number 1 City in the World )
Friday, June 27, 2014

Had only 1 class today then stared at the walls, and on the computer as well.


Tokyo rated No. 1 city in the world in Trip Advisor survey

The world is a huge place, and where you spend your hard-earned money and time off is a big decision. With so many fabulous locations around the globe, how do you choose what is the best destination for you? The answer seems obvious: ask the people. With tools like Yelp and Wikitravel, crowd sourcing your best vacation spot is easier than ever.

One of the most popular travel sites, Trip Advisor, has released a survey asking its users to rank its top 37 cities, and Japan has something to celebrate before the World Cup even begins: coming in at #1 in the world.
Tokyo topped Trip Advisor’s list of the most satisfying cities to visit. The site asked users to rate each of the cities in 16 different ways. In 13 of the 16 categories, Tokyo finished in the top 10. It topped five of the categories including:
1. Local friendliness
2. Taxi services
3. Cleanliness
4. Public Transportation
5. Overall satisfaction
The city ranked second for friendliness of taxi drivers and ease of solo travel, third for restaurants and night life, fifth for shopping, and eighth in ease of moving through the city, hotels and ease of traveling with family.
An impressive array of stats, for sure! The Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) might be a little concerned about the last three categories, culture, tourism and attractions and best money value, though. While value for money isn’t necessarily something a tourism board can control, attracting people to culture and attractions is certainly something they can work on.
After seeing the results of the survey the TCVB commented: “Regarding Tokyo and the online survey from travelers around the world, we are extremely pleased that Tokyo has ranked number-one for most satisfying city in the world. We are very proud of our omotenashi (hospitality) and the results of the survey which recognized our ‘heart’ and services through the high ranking in the categories. Looking towards the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, please come and visit us in our beautiful city of Tokyo which is always moving towards the future.”
For many people who live in Japan, hearing that Tokyo doesn’t rank in the top 10 for culture and attractions may seem a little strange. Although Tokyo may be the “concrete jungle”, there are plenty of pockets of Japanese culture, and old Japanese culture that maybe Kyoto is better known for. There is Mejijingu shrine, Kaminarimon, Kabuki-za, many different Ueno museums, and the Imperial Gardens just to name a few. The problem is getting the word out and letting visitors know that there is more to Tokyo than just the big (really big) city life.
The company director for the Japanese branch of Trip Advisor knows that this is a concern, but is quite happy with Tokyo’s upward movement.
“We are extremely proud that Tokyo placed so high in the survey regarding the world’s most satisfying cities,” he said. “When you look at the survey, Tokyo is continuing to rise in rank in the sections concerning culture and attractions. Tourist attractions are spreading through word of mouth/the internet in recent years. As the world’s greatest word-of-mouth tourist site, Trip Advisor, we want to not only include information about hotels and restaurants but we also want to include information about new and beautiful tourist attractions and cultural sites to all tourists coming to Japan.”




Day 2292 ( The Other Woman / Highly Skilled Workers Allowed to Stay Permanently in Japan )
Saturday, June 28, 2014

A restful Saturday in contrast to last weeks craziness. Stayed in and played games and also watched a movie name "The Other Woman" with Cameron Diaz ..... 

Actually it has been number 1 in the box office now for some weeks. It was really funny....Had some good laughs from it. I mean it put some of us men in a bad light but yeah it was funny. I give it a 7/10.


Highly skilled foreigners to be allowed to stay permanently in Japan

A revision to the Immigration Law has been passed in the upper house of the Diet, enabling foreigners with special work skills to stay permanently in Japan.
The Revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law says that foreigners with advanced skills will be eligible for permanent residency after staying in Japan for three years instead of the current 10 years for most foreigners (or five in some cases where certain conditions have been fulfilled), Sankei Shimbun reported.
The revised law, which was passed on Wednesday, is aimed at attracting IT workers, engineers, company managers, medical technicians, scientists and researchers. An applicant’s annual income and academic background will be taken into account and if successful, they will be given special status. Spouses of successful applicants will be allowed to work, and they will be allowed to bring their parents and housekeepers into Japan with them, Sankei reported.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping the revised law will bring more highly skilled foreigners to Japan to reinvigorate the economy in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The government and private sector are currently redeveloping the Shinagawa and the Toranomon areas with the aim of turning them into IT hubs that will attract hundreds of foreign companies.
The revised law also simplifies immigration procedures for tourists from abroad. Repeat visitors, whose fingerprints have already been registered, will be able to pass through automatic gates, without having to have an immigration officer stamp their passport. The gates will be set up at international airports and ports where cruise ships dock.




Day 2293 (10 things Japan does better than anywhere else)
Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stayed in again playing Assassin's Creed Revelations for most of the day. 

Today, rode to an area of Toyama where I heard that they were having a flea market. When I got there at about 3pm, I heard that it was already over. The brother of the Jamaican restaurant owner in Toyama, was playing his music system there. 

I wanted to get there earlier but the rain was falling and stopping randomly. So I decided to stay in and wait until it stopped for at least 45 mins. 


10 things Japan does better than anywhere else

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.
In carrying out the survey, Dentsu spoke with people living in China, Hong King, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the U.S., Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes.
Roughly 80% of those questioned said they had either plans or a desire to visit Japan, a jump of more than 7% from last year’s survey. When asked what intrigued them about Japan, the most common response was the country’s cuisine. Its numerous travel destinations, both urban and rural, came in second, and Japanese fashion rounded out the top three.
Being an advertising firm, though, Dentsu’s primary concern is with the perception of Japanese goods and services. To get a better grip on how people abroad feel about things stamped “made in Japan,” researchers asked participants what they felt Japan does better than anywhere else, resulting in the list below.
10. Video games

It’s a sign of the times that Japan’s video game makers, who created and for years dominated the modern industry, only barely managed to crack the top 10. Still, even as overseas companies continue to make strides in the arenas of smartphone and social gaming, for some fans there’s just no substitute for a Japanese-made game.
9. Transportation infrastructure

It’s telling that the list was compiled from responses from people who live outside Japan, and not in it. Residents have a number of valid complaints about the country’s narrow roads, expensive expressways, and difficult to find parking. If you’re a traveler though, or anyone else using public transportation in Japan, there’s a lot to be thankful for, as it’s hard to imagine the train and subway network being much more efficient or punctual than it already is (quibbles about service ending shortly after midnight notwithstanding).
8. Environmental engineering
7. Food
I like nothing in this dish

This one is just ok...I won't call it absolutely delicious tho

No arguments here. While sushi was the dish most respondents reported eating, wanting to try, or just simply knowing about, Japanese food has a wealth of delicious dishes, ranging from subtle delicacies like tofu and lotus root to heartier fare such as ramen and the cabbage-and-pork-filled crepes called okonomiyaki.
6. 3D technology
5. Precision engineering
4. Cars/motorcycles
Japan still may not be able to match Germany’s cachet in the luxury segment, and it’s facing ever-increasing pressure in the economy class from American and Korean manufacturers. That said, Japanese marques are still the go-to choice for many looking for reliably-made transportation, eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, or a lightweight rear-wheel drive sports car.
3. Robotics
Build a dancing robot like Honda’s ASIMO, earn a rep for robotics. Simple as that.
2. Anime/manga

This one might be a bit of a linguistic technicality here. While in Japanese, the words anime and manga refer to cartoons and comics respectively, regardless of country of origin, among the international community, the terms generally refer to works made in Japan. For a lot of people, saying that Japan makes the best anime and manga is like saying Alaska produces the best Alaskan king crab.
Also, some fans are looking for completely different things from Japanese and non-Japanese animation. This makes the question of whether Japan produces “better” cartoons a tricky one to answer, sort of like asking, “Which is superior, a bicycle or an ocean freighter?” Sure, they’re both vehicles, but designed with completely different things in mind, and one isn’t really a substitute for the other.
Setting all that aside, though, if you want to see robots fighting, giant-eyed characters slowly falling in love, or some combination of the two, odds are the Japanese anime industry’s got you covered.
1. Audio/video electronics
Once again, Japan doesn’t have the same iron grip on this segment that it used to. Even as manufacturers from other countries offer alternatives with lower prices and passable quality, though, Japan still has the image of making some of the best-performing consumer electronics money can buy.

Aside from Japan tooting its own horn however subtle it is... Somethings are unquestionable like the superb tho expensive transportation system and the technology/game/manga/anime stuff. But food I would put a big ??????? Totally debatable. I realize that people from the first world part of the spectrum will more likely than not love most of the food... But I notice that most people from the third world don't go nuts over the Japanese food, generally speaking. Here are 2 of the comments on the article that I have to agree with:

I admit Japan does many things well, including the manufacturing of electronics (although their prowess has become pretty irrelevant over the past several years), but the survey isn't saying much:
"All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes"
So Dentsu just refused to count responses from those with lower incomes? Or refused to ask them? Yeah, this survey seems legit.
"Cars... Japanese marques are still the go-to choice for many looking for reliably-made transportation, eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, or a lightweight rear-wheel drive sports car."
Agreed, Japanese are great at making, with a few exceptions, bland-looking autos that are reliable and eco-friendly yet fail to look remotely cool or provide drivers with an invigorating, fun driving experience. What 9 year old has a poster of a Prius on his bedroom wall?
The blurb in this category mentions Japanese food only. How is this even a legitimate thing to ask? Of course the Japanese are the best at Japanese food! And they are pretty good at making decent dishes of other cuisines as well (although I've never once had a really good burrito in my 8 years spent searching for one in Tokyo). But I refuse to believe that folks from 17 different countries said that Japanese do "food" in general better than anyone else.
Things that should have made the list: Awesome toilets, fireworks and service.  

Japan is far from tops in customer service, which can be incredibly rigid and inflexible. What other country would manufacture and sell computer hardware and say, "We do not have English drivers" or "We do not support English Windows." Another good example is this conversation I had in a coffee shop.
"I'd like an iced coffee, please." "No." "Why not?" "It's October" "But it's hot today. Do you have ice?" "Yes." "And coffee?" "Yes." "So you can make iced coffee." "No." "Why not?" "It's October."
At least the article points out that this is what people think. Being an advertising firm, though, Dentsu’s primary concern is with the perception of Japanese goods and services. However, it is not the reality. It’s telling that the list was compiled from responses from people who live outside Japan, and not in it.



Day 2294 ( Fire Evacuation Exercise / The end of Poverty?? )
Monday, June 30, 2014

They had some sort of fire evacuation drill at the school today after teaching 2 classes. 

I haven't done this in years. Actually this was the first time to have a fire evacuation drill since moving to Japan. I've done quite a few earthquake evacuation drills but no fire ones. 

The over a thousand students had to run on the field ... class by class.... I'm not sure how effective this will be if a fire actually broke out in the school. I think it took like 5 minutes for all students and teachers to be on the field.


The end of poverty?

As United Nations officials struggle to define the development priorities of the next 15 years, the U.N. Millennium Campaign, the World Bank, and many other organs of the development industry tell us that we are nearing the end of poverty. Yet, well over half of human beings are still suffering serious deprivations of poverty, such as child labor, chronic undernourishment, illiteracy, and lack of access to safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, and essential medicines.
In some ways, conditions among humanity’s poorer half have improved over the last 25 years. But the trend depends heavily on the definitions and methods used for measurement.
The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization recently transformed a steadily rising undernourishment trend into a steadily falling one by introducing an “improved methodology” that counts as undernourished only those whose caloric intake is “inadequate to cover even minimum needs for a sedentary lifestyle” for “over a year.” This definition excludes those who suffer other nutritional deficits (vitamins, proteins, minerals) and those who are not adequately nourished by the sedentary diet because they must do serious physical work in their home or for a living.
The World Bank similarly improved the extreme poverty trend by lowering its international poverty line from $1 per person per day in 1985 dollars to a grotesquely inadequate $1.25 in 2005 dollars.
The morally relevant comparison of existing poverty, in any case, is not with historical benchmarks but with present possibilities: How much of this poverty is really unavoidable today? By this standard, our generation is doing worse than any in human history.




Day 2295 ( 79-year-old woman beats husband to death after arguing about past girlfriends)
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Went to the bank today to transfer some funds...I'm heading back to Jamaica in a bit so hopefully I can save enough to fully enjoy the trip. 


And this had to happen in my prefecture. Not trying to stereotype a race of people or be judgmental or anything like that, but I think East Asians just don't forgive easily or let go off past stuff.... That is why Japan, China and S. Korea are constantly at odds with each other. 

79-year-old woman beats husband to death after arguing about past girlfriends

Police in Nakaimachi, Kanagawa Prefecture, said Tuesday they have arrested a 79-year-old woman for beating to death her 79-year-old husband at their home.
Police said Yoshiko Suzuzki has admitted killing her husband Masaharu after they got into an argument over his girlfriends of several decades ago, TV Asahi reported.
According to police, Yoshiko beat her husband to death with a rod in their livingroom at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night. The couple lived together with their second oldest daughter, 43, who was not home at the time.
TV Asahi reported that last September the couple got into a fight about Masaharu’s former girlfriends and police had to be called to break up the fight.


Then these comments:

Ricky Kaminski
Hell hath no fury, like a granny scorned.

Women often cannot not let things go, and sometimes they want to fight about what happened years ago, I guess this is one of those times. RIP old man.

Day 2296 ( Pics of my life at English Club )
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Showed the students at English club some pictures of me growing up threw the years. From

At 2 year old with my dad and sis... my dad still looks like this !!!
My sis however ............................

Big jump but yeah at 17 

At 25
Thanks Andrew, Kevin, Richard,
Suzette and Sheldon
... Couldn't
have done it without you guys. 
at 33

Yeah so I showed them my pics and explained to them in English... but they were bored as ever.... maybe like 10 out of the 40 students were showing interest. aah this English club is going to be a huge challenge.....


Anonymous said…
"I still don't get how and why some Japanese are denying that this even took place, even with all the pictures on the internet."

From what I understand, the Japanese government consciously allowed omission of any mention of it in school textbooks. Yet it might not be just so simple, the process of choosing appropriate curriculum is very cumbersome [4.2]. But Japan is far from the only country rewriting history as many other countries like the US [1, 2] and Russia [3] also stand guilty as charged. Why do this? I surmise it serves Nationalistic endeavors, but even more-so at it's base, as a means to control public knowledge, therefore opinion and ultimately action. These are the dark spots in history that have to be cleaned in the white-washing machine of revisionism [4] to help us, the people, avoid cognitive dissonance caused by having look at the mother (or father) country we love as a murderess. It is my belief that governments, worldwide, force wars on those they govern, the people. It is also my belief that people, worldwide, suffer from various weaknesses, such as herd mentality, which causes them to go with the wicked schemes of the leaders.

Returning to the main issue.
I'll try to paint a 'brief' timeline.

The Textbooks

During the American occupation in post-war Japan Japanese bureaucrats changed existing textbook policy by blotting out passages that might offend the aforementioned occupiers. 1946 the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers in an effort to ensure that textbooks did not encourage emperor-worship and militarism, imposed on the nation a system of government "certification" of schoolbooks. A system still in use albeit in a different manner.

"In Japan, each public and private school selects one history textbook from a list of seven or eight authorized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho) every four years. This screening process then lasts one full year. In the United States (where adoption takes place on no set schedule at the state or local level), for all the talk of alternative means of instruction, the conventional textbook remains the core and often the sole teaching tool in most middle and high school classrooms. Japanese textbook companies submit manuscripts to the Ministry of Education, whose appointed committees examine them according to prescribed criteria. The Ministry offers the textbook companies opportunities to revise their drafts, and copies of the Ministry-approved manuscripts are then available for consideration by the local districts." [4.2]
Anonymous said…
As I see it, this issue, at heart, is about two, perhaps three relics from the past - the war atrocities, Japans war failure, and the educational system in Japan. Please do note that the sources are a tad dated, new issues have emerged that spur the nationalistic frenzy in Japan as well as the other concerned asian countries, China and Korea (like the Senkaku Islands dispute).

[1] A fairly recent example from Texas.

[2] This one's a bit older. It's a very chilling piece of history regarding the events taking place in a prosperous little community/district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called the "Black Wall-Street" which was destroyed in a race riot and subsequently the object of a cover-up.

[3] Apparently the aim here is to create a "single Russian ideology" in an eerily Soviet-esque echo.

[4] More about Fujioka and the controversy itself.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobukatsu_Fujioka (as a starting point)
http://spice.stanford.edu/docs/134 (current home of the article "Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies")
https://web.archive.org/web/20060615162802/http://www.indiana.edu/~japan/Digests/textbook.html (this is where the article by K.W. Masalski, "Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies", originally appeared)

[5] Read more about Ienaga and the results of the lawsuits here and in [4.2]

Some additional resources.
It is argued here that (current, I believe) Japanese school curriculum does not "inculcate patriotism" but rather dryly represents facts and events without much interpretation or sentiment.
This site, though a bit empty on referental material, a bit more light hearted in spirit, still contains some items of interest.