Are women member of the Diet abandoning their duties if they are pregnant?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 14 – 18 August

15 Aug. Takako Suzuki, a member of the Diet, “I cannot consent” to be accused of duties abandonment, because of pregnancy

A female Diet member who reports the pregnancy is often criticised as the duties abandonment in Japan. Against background that the country has a very small number of women involved in political decision-making process,  some advocate need for maternity and parental leave for the members of the Diet to facilitate women to join in the policy debates.

The ratio of the Congresswoman of the Japanese House of Representatives is 9.3%, and it is the 164th of the world, according to a survey of the Lower House undertaken by an international organization “Inter-Parliamentary Union” announced in July.

It is surprising that there is no official rule of maternity or child-care leave for members of the Diet or assemblies of the local governments in Japan.

It is even amazing that it is not unusual to see some people criticize those women members of the Diet who are pregnant, because “they are abandoning the duties”,

Why do women still have to be criticised because of pregnancy in the country where the gender equality is established in the Constitution?

Good news at least is that women members of the Diet started fighting against those criticism, as Ms Suzuki does. It is a sad reality of Japanese society but one must admit that women must stand up and raise their voices against unreasonable criticisms that block their professional development, even in the 21st century.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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JR East is acquiring operation rights of a British railway company

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Pick of the week from Japan, 7 – 11 August

11 Aug. JR East to strengthen its overseas business, acquiring operation rights of a British railway company

JR East (a major railway company in Japan) announced that the company had acquired the operation rights of a railroad network of approximately 900 kilos of the central part of the U.K. owned byWest Midlands in cooperation with Abellio, a railway company of the Netherlands and  Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a major Japanese trading company. JR East will be responsible for train operation management and organisation of a railroad diagram for approximately ten years from this December. It is naive that JR East participates in the operation of the railroad service abroad.

JR East has been a part of the state-owned railway company for decades., even since its privatisation and divestiture in 1987.

Now the time for a big change is arriving. Japanese specialists of railway operations will be working for a UK domestic railway company. From one domestic business to another– what a leap it is. This is a fundamental change for the staff transferred to the UK. While there are ample professional skill sets for JR East to bring and apply to operate the British company, the way of doing would be largely different between the two companies.

Exposure to other cultures is the last thing which a domestic giant, such as an ex-monopoly national railway company, would experience.

Globalization is reaching little by little but steadily to the most unexpected companies snd their people in Japan. A number of such events, large and small, will drive the Japanese population to look outside the country as their partners and neighbors.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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No working mother in picture books for children?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 31 July – 4 August

3 Aug. No working mother in picture books for children? Barriers blocking telling stories of various families

I am a journalist of 35 years old with a daughter of two years old. My wife who also has a full time job alerted me recently that little picture books tell stories of a family where both parents work. 

The number of double income household has surpassed the number of single income one since decades. This fact however is not reflected in children’s picture books in Japan.

The journalist in the article interviewed authors and publishers of children’s books and found a still conservative attitude of the publishers. One publisher said, “We can’t go into detail of a model of a family as one family model will make people with other types of family feel “it’s not for me”.

Is it the only reason?

Why publishers are so much afraid of including working mothers in children’s books, despite the fact that population of mothers who are housewives are less than those who have a job?

I see here a strong Japanese attitude of being afraid of the change. Any change will create unexpected consequences in expected and unexpected ways. This is what the Japanese almost automatically try to avoid.

It’s not data that convinces the Japanese, but the perception. Thus publishers stick to an outdated model of a family as it is safer than taking consequences of a change.

Such an attitude support stability of the Japanese society. This however is a double-edge sward. For the same reason, Japan is keeping a half of its population in a stereo-typed image.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper

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Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 provids an opportunity to raise interests in foreign countries for Japanese children

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Pick of the week from Japan, 17 – 21 July

20 Jul. Learning world national flags and anthems in a class in connection with Tokyo Olympic Games, in a junior high school in Tokyo

Leaning the national flags and anthems worldwide leads to awareness of the world diversity — based on this thoughts, a class was held to learn world national flags and anthems in Oshima Nishi junior high school in Koto-ku, Tokyo (the number of enrolled students 385). The class was a part of “the world friend project” promoted by the Board of Education of Tokyo. The project is intended to provide impetus to learn the countries in the world before the Tokyo Olympic and the Paralympic Games will be held inTokyo in 2020.

Japanese society is still homogenous compared with European countries. People have limited opportunity of direct interaction with foreigners. It is a good idea to use Tokyo 2020 event to give opportunity for children to raise interests in foreign countries.

For majority of the Japanese, it goes beyond imagination to know that having more than two passports are legally allowed in most of European countries, over 25 % of population in Switzerland are foreigners, meaning those who do not have Swiss passport, or I can walk over national border between France and Switzerland in the woods outside my village.

Tokyo 202Logos

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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The green is wet in Japan

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Pick of the week from Japan, 10 – 14 July

13 Jul. Dragon flying down from the sky — the art in the rice field in Amakusa, Kumamoto

With rice of different colors, the rice field art makes in full bloom you in Yamaura district of Matsushimamachi Kyoragi, Kamiamakusa-shi, Kumamoto. The work is created by local high school students who planted five kinds of rice, including the ancient rice, in June. One may enjoy it until the middle of October.

The Japanese green is wet — every time I look down the Narita area from the window of an airplane when approaching to the Narita International Airport, I see the difference in the green color of rice field, woods and orchards between the impression of the green between Japan and Europe. The European green is dry.

The Japanese traditionally planted the young shoot of rice by hand. This still is the practice for most of the farmers.

Hence the art like the one in the photo is possible.

Rice growing is very labour intensive. It requires villagers to get together and work together to maintain infrastructure needed for rice growing. Water supply system, cultivating the land in early spring, to name just a few.

An american business man I met said that he had been frustrated by “the group culture” by the Japanese when he has been stationed there. He wanted to talk to a person but Japanese always responded him as a role player in a group to which he/she belongs to.

I think he should have modified his communication to be appropriate in a group culture, forgetting the American way. The American green is dry, as compared to Japanese.

A group culture sometimes produces such a beautiful scene by planting the rice by hand according to a carefully organised plan.

田んぼアート

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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”There is no immigrant in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers 

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Pick of the week from Japan, 19 – 23 June

”There is no immigrants in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers

As a consequence of decreasing number of young population, foreign work force has become indispensable especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Japan. It’s not unusual to see foreign student working in restaurants or convenience stores in large cities. (Source: Digital Asahi newspaper, 21 June)

When I found this article, I’ve thought “Better late than never”.

Despite the reality, there is no official status of immigrants in the Japanese administration. There is no law or official rules for immigrants in the country yet. The present foreign workers are accepted as trainees or part time workers within a framework of part-time job allowed to foreign students.

It is a long-lasting habit of Japan not to seriously take fundamental requirements, such as immigration. Instead the country always lived with a walk-around solution by allowing de facto foreign workers as “exceptions” or “temporary” solutions.

But how long is “temporary”?

Though strong resistance to changes may be a sign of stability of society in one sense, foreign workers case in Japan is not. It is merely a sign of attitude of law makers not to be involved issues which they are not interested.

It is time for all the Japanese to start thinking of what society they wish to create with non-Japanese people living in the country. We must discuss and think how to live with people with variety of nationalities. This is an obligation in the era when cross-border mobility of workforce is a matter of practice.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Open workshop: Leadership for multi-cultural team, Geneva, 19 July

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Leadership for multi-cultural team

Diversity

Is it you?

  • “I wish to have clues to better interact with my colleagues with variety of backgrounds”
  • “I am not sure if I’m interacting well with my multinational colleagues.”
  • “Am I motivating my multi-cultural team in the right way?”
  • “How can I motivate everyone in my multi-cultural team?”
  • “I want to meet other managers in a similar position and exchange experience”
  • “I prefer a small class so that I can discuss better with lecturer and other participants”

If you say “Yes!” to one of the problems above, why don’t you join in the workshop? In the workshop you will learn internal, hence, invisible drivers of your multi-cultural team.

*** To ensure efficient leaning experience,
the workshop will be limited to five (5) participants ***

Topics discussed —

  • Why is culture in business so important?
  • The trap of “cultural bias”
  • Clues to better understand your multi-cultural team – Six dimensions of National Cultures, drawn upon the framework established by Professor G. Hofstede, one of the most cited in the domain of international management
  • Clues for leadership and motivation in your team
  • Your action plan

Date: 18:15, Wednesday 19 July

  • 18:15 Workshop
  • 20:30 Aperitif and Networking
  • Venue   Calliopée, Business Center
    Rue de Chantepoulet 10, 1202 Genève
    Two minutes on foot form Geneva station
  • Fee   CHF 100.- (To pay at the door)
  • Language   English

Click here for registration and information.
Please write, “I will join in the open workshop” in the message box.

I look forward to seeing you!

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