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Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Ad To Show Japan in all it's Glory... Really??? / Aging Japan struggles to make immigrants feel at home / Parents arrested for starving 3-year-old daughter to death

New ad campaign features Japan in all its stunning glory

Call me strange but I don't understand the idea behind a blonde in an ad about Japan.

By Oona McGee - Japan Today

If you’ve ever visited Japan and fallen in love with its beauty and culture, prepare to be swept off your feet again with the latest ad campaign from Guess.

Shot by famed Chinese photographer Chen Man, the photos (see below) take us on a journey through cherry blossoms and tea houses, featuring girls with samurai swords and parasols.

From Tokyo to Mount Fuji, the series features Japan’s wild and peaceful landscapes, while paying homage to the country’s traditional roots and modern lifestyle at the same time. The result is two models who come off looking both elegant and bad-ass.

One thought-provoking image stands out for its allusion to gender stereotypes and femininity. When a girl puts down a pole flying pink koinobori carp, traditionally used as a symbol of strength for the Boys’ Day national holiday (now known as Childrens’ Day), you know she’s heralding a new dawn for gender stereotypes.
Another photo featuring dramatic red and black looks, styled by Satoshi Hirata, pays homage to Japan’s long rickshaw tradition, which is still going strong today. The black, shiny rickshaws can be seen at tourist spots with passengers draped in bright red blankets to shield themselves from the cold.

Then there is a hanami picnic under the cherry blossoms. The model’s adoring gaze up into the cherry blossom tree makes the viewer feel like a pretty little bird.
How about the shinkansen bullet train meets samurai steam punk as it passes through rice fields beside Mount Fuji on its way up to Tokyo.



Aging Japan struggles to make immigrants feel at home

The first word Mr En learned when he started work on a construction site in Japan after moving from China was “baka”—“idiot”.
The 31-year-old farmer is one of 50,000 Chinese who signed up for a scheme run by the Japanese government that promises to allow foreigners to earn money while they train on the job.
Like many of his compatriots, he hoped to leave Japan with cash in his pocket and a new set of skills that would give him greater chance of getting work at home.
“My Japanese colleagues would always say ‘baka’ to me,” said En, who spoke to AFP on condition that his full name was not revealed. “I am exhausted physically and mentally.”

His problem is not the bullying by Japanese colleagues, nor the two-hour each-way commute or the mind-numbing work that largely consists of breaking apart bits of old buildings.
It is the one million yen he borrowed to take part in the program, apparently to cover traveling expenses and other “fees” charged by middlemen—which has left him a virtual slave to Japan’s labor-hungry construction industry.
“I cannot go back before I make enough money to repay the debt,” he said.
Rapidly-aging Japan is desperately short of workers to pay the taxes to fund pensions and healthcare for its growing gray population, but it is almost constitutionally allergic to immigration.
Less than two percent of the population is classed as “non-Japanese”, the government says. By comparison, around 13% of UK residents are foreign born.
The result for Japan, say critics, is ranks of poorly-protected employees brought in through the national back door, ripe for abuse and exploitation.
“This trainee program is a system of slave labor,” says Ippei Torii, director of the Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan, a non-governmental group supporting foreign workers.
“You cannot just quit and leave,” he said. “It’s a system of human trafficking, forced labor.”
Around a quarter of Japan’s 127-million population is aged 65 or over, according to recent government figures. This proportion is expected to rise to 40% over the coming decades.
The already-heavily indebted government—which owes creditors more than twice what the economy is worth every year—is scrabbling to find the money to pay for the burgeoning ranks of elderly, who contribute little in tax but cost a lot in welfare and health.
A far-below-replacement birthrate of around 1.4 children per woman is heaping further pressure on the population.
In most developed nations, this kind of shortfall is plugged by immigration, but Japan allows no unskilled workers into the country, amid fears they would threaten the culture of consensus.
But in 1993 as the economy was on the way down from its bubbly 1980s highs, the government began the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program (TTIP).
The scheme allows tens of thousands of foreigners, mostly from China, Vietnam and Indonesia to come to Japan, supplying labor for industries including textiles, construction, farming and manufacturing.
However, it has been singled out by chief ally the United States, whose State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report has for years criticised “deceptive recruitment practices”.
“The government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP,” it said in 2014.
Past allegations include unpaid overtime work, “karoshi” (death due to overwork), and all sorts of harassment, such as a company manager restricting the use of toilets or demanding sexual services.
The Japanese government rejects claims the TTIP is abusive, but acknowledges there have been some upstream problems.
“It is not a system of slave labor,” an immigration official told AFP. “It is true that some involved in the system have exploited it, but the government has acted against that.”
He insisted it was not in Japanese authorities’ power to control the behavior of middlemen but insisted such organizations were not allowed to charge deposit fees.
“It is also banned for employers to take away trainees’ passports,” he added.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a plan to expand the TTIP to allow workers to stay five years instead of three, and says foreign labor will increasingly be needed, particularly in the booming construction industry ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
He also knows healthcare must look abroad to plug its shortfall.
“It has been said that we will need one million caregivers for the elderly by 2025, which would be impossible to handle only with the Japanese population,” said Tatsumi Kenmochi, a manager at a care home near Tokyo that employs Indonesian nurses.
For her, foreign staff are a precious commodity and the business has to do as much as it can to make them feel welcome.
“It must be hard to leave home and work overseas. We make sure that they don’t get homesick, listening to them and sometimes going out to have a warm bowl of noodles, with them.”
For Solidarity Network’s Torii, this is the kind of attitude Japan needs.
“The issue is not whether we accept immigrants or not,” he said. “They are already here, playing a vital role in our society.”




Parents arrested for starving 3-year-old daughter to death

Police in Ibaraki City, Osaka, have arrested a 22-year-old man and his 19-year-old wife for allegedly starving their 3-year-old daughter to death earlier this year.
Police said Yuki Kishimoto and his wife, who cannot be named because she is a minor, have denied the charge.
NTV reported that the couple began depriving their daughter Sayane of food in February, leaving her severely malnourished. Kishimoto called 119 on June 15 and said that Sayane had lost consciousness. She was taken to hospital where she died later.
An autopsy revealed bits of candle wax, aluminium foil and onion skin in the girl’s stomach. Doctors said she weighed only 8 kilograms, about half the weight of a normal child her age.
Police quoted the Kishimotos as saying they had not abused their child and that she had suddenly become very frail only days before her death. They also said Sayane suffered from a muscular disorder, congenital myopathy, since she was born, which they believe caused her death.
However, police said that while the hospital confirmed Sayane had the muscular disorder, the autopsy revealed malnutrition as the cause of death, NTV reported.
Media also reported that the medical examiner found numerous bruises and other marks indicating physical abuse on the Sayane’s body.
The couple also has a son but police said there were no signs that he had been abused.


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