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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42 out of 68 Board of Educations favor good command of English in the selection of primary school teachers

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Pick of the week from Japan, 24 – 30 July

30 Jul. 42 out of 68Board of Educations favor good command of English in the selection of primary school teachers

Having English class becoming compulsory in elementary schools from 2020, the Boards of Education of each prefecture put emphasis on recruiting talented persons having good command of English. Based on a questionnaire survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) with 68 Boards of Education in charge of recruitment of primary school teachers, forty two Boards said that they offer favor system in the recruitment exams to those who have high English competence, such as allowing additional points or exempting them from some of the exams.

It is definitely needed for the Japanese education system to introduce English to children earlier than now (presently at the age of 12). It is well known that the earlier the foreign language education starts, the quicker children become familiar with the languages.

What is essential however in language education is to develop ability of children to communicate in foreign languages. This point has not been taken into account very much in English education in the country. Instead, Getting good marks in English exam has been often regarded as high competence in English.

I have learned that the thrust of nationally determined curriculum of English education will be have stronger emphasis on communication that before. What is needed for Boards of Education  is to recruit future teachers who are capable of teaching communication in English, rather than getting good marks in paper exams.

  • 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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Typhoons, earthquakes and Japanese culture

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Pick of the week from Japan, 3 – 7 July

4 Jul. The t typhoon 3 landed near Nagasaki-shi, 115 people gone to refuge, danger of landslide

7 Jul. Heavy rain continues in Kyushu region, death toll reached 8, continued caution called for

Since the Typhoon 3 went ashore near Nagasaki-shi, Kyushu region on 4 July, very heavy rain still continues in the order of 200 to 300 mm per day. Eight people died, 26 were lost, and 570 villagers are isolated because of the road disaster as of 7 July. Local municipalities directed evacuation to about 49,000 residents.

I am so sorry for people who lost lives, houses and had to leave home.

Japan is full of natural disasters throughout its history; typhoons, earthquakes, volcano explosions and tsunamis to name only a few. The Japanese lived with such horrible natural power, which is far beyond human control. People just had to live with it.

Typhoons and small earthquakes were not unusual in everyday life since my childhood. I have taken them for granted.

It was a discovery for me to know that there are regions where the earth never quakes, no typhoons comes and mountains do not explode all the sudden. This region is Europe. I know there are volcanos and earthquake happens in some parts of Europe, but these are in far smaller scales and frequencies than those in Japan.

What are consequences of the climate on people’s way of thinking, values or culture?

Though I don’t want to think that human mind is shaped by the climate of the place people live, I must admit that one should not neglect substantial influence of the climate on culture. Natural disasters may influence people’s way of thinking.

The Western people who live in Japan and well integrated in its society are often frustrated by the Japanese because they are patient too much. In the Westerners’ eyes, the Japanese appear to prefer to do nothing and wait for storm to go away, rather than fighting against it.

In my eyes, on the contrary, the Western people do not hesitate to take actions to remove causes of their problems, or even fight against them. People do not hesitate to ask questions when they don’t understand something, and negotiate with the neighbors to cut trees in the neighbor’s garden if they block the view of the lake from their window. Such attitude has pros and cons. I don’t judge such attitude. I’m merely talk about a simplified observation of the Western reactions to problems.

It is wrong to explain cultural differences by simple reasons such as the climate. I however think it reasonable to take into account in thinking of reasons of the differences what the climate teaches to human beings in different regions of the world. This teaching continues for centuries, generations after generations. No wonder the Japanese do not try to control or fight against the super power of the nature as they know earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis go beyond the human power.

It is not surprising to see a trace of the habit of ” just living with it” (or being patient) in the day to day habit of the Japanese.

  • 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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 12 to 16 Jun. 2017

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12 Jun. Robot suit for workers of nuclear power generation decommissioning, a subsidiary of Panasonic to develop

A subsidiary of Panasonic, ATOUN (Nara city), announced a plan to develop “the power assist suit” using the robot technology for workers engaged in decommissioning of the nuclear power generation. One may lift heavy things by small power when he/she wears it.

Comments: It’s great that robot technologies may be used for the cloth. This idea may be used to support people with limited mobility, such as the aged and handicapped people.

The robot suit is to be developed based on the existing product, Power Assist Suit

ATOUN_MODEL_As

13 Jun. Bus accident on Tomei Expressway immediately recorded in video and seen via the Internet by the operating company 

There was a massive collision of a car and sightseeing bus on the Tomei Expressway in Shinshiro-shi, Aichi on 10th. The operating company of the bus immediately grasped the state that a car jumped from the opposite lane and crashed against the bus. he bus was equipped with the Drive recorder which allows to watch driving video and driving record through a cell-phone network.

Comments: It is brilliant!

Video of the accident –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jH5Hjt6lJQ#action=share

14 Jun. Jam-packed bus, disappearing flavor of old days …. Dilemma of Kyoto of rapidly increasing number of international tourists

While the number of foreign tourists is rapidly increasing in outstanding tourist city, Kyoto, its side effects are creating unexpected effects on everyday life of inhabitants. Public buses are always full and the number of illegal lodgings is increasing. Some started crying that the status has reached to the limit and that sightseeing is “pollution by tourism”.

Comments: The same happened some 40 years ago by Japanese tourists in Kyoto. The city just can’t keep up with the rapid change.

15 Jun.  “3D map” becoming infrastructure supporting the era of automatic driving

Production of the full-scale three-dimensional “digital map” necessary for the automatic driving of a car is getting momentum of production. The Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, the fund established by the Government and Mitsubishi Electric announced that  they would gather data of all the expressways and 30,000 kilos of exclusive motor ways  in Japan by 2018. It is intended to create the  infrastructure needed by he automatic driving and thus aim at leading international competition.

Comments: Being instruments needed for enabling the automatic driving is developed. automatic driving may not be dream any more sooner than one would imagine.

16 Jun. Aiming at automatic driving taxi, an automatic driving venture and Hinomaru Transport allied

Hinomaru Transport  (Tokyo),  One of the largest taxi companies in Japan, and ZMP (Tokyo) of the automatic driving venture announced that they would work together to enable the practical use of the unmanned taxi. It is intended to operate an automatic driving taxi in limited areas in Tokyo by 2020, the year of Tokyo Olympic Games.

Comments: Another marvelous development of automatic driving in Japan! Who will be clients of such taxi? — Maybe those who are curious. We need to learn my uhf through experience before taking benefits of technologies.

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

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 5 to 9 June 2017

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5 Jun. Experiment of the remote control of a car on a public road starting this summer in Aichi-ken

The Governor Hideaki Omura of Aichi-ken announced at a press conference of 5th that experiments of the remotely controlled  cars on the public roads  in Nagoya-shi, Kasugai-shi and Kota-cho for the first time in Japan this summerA driver does not get on the driver‘s seat of the car and she/he controls the car from the remote place.

Comments: An automatic driving car coming closer to the reality.

6 Jun. Increasing “Curving out” of business, even despite good performance. Why?

Major reason of the sale of subsidiaries and business branches were restructuring of the parent company or bad performance. Nowadays the number of the sale by good performing companies are increasing. The total volume of such sale amount to one trillion yen scale among major companies since 2013. Such sale is calledcurving out” (business separation), and often investment funds are involved. The selling company performs new investment financed by the curving out and the buying fund aims at securing of profit from the purchased company.

Comments: What is a company for? Its mission is being questioned.

7 Jun. The summer with an reactivated nuclear plant after being put on-hold for four years in the Kansai region, foreseeing excess of the power

Kansai Electric Power Co. has resumed operation of the third unit of Takahama Nuclear Power Plant  (Fukui-ken) again, and this will bring back the Kansai region “the summer with a nuclear power plant in operation” for the first time in the past four years. Despite a repeated threat by the Power company that advocated the need for a nuclear power plant, there will be excessive power even during the peak hours in summer. With a small reduction of the electricity bill for consumers yet remaining doubt on the security of neighboring inhabitants of nuclear plants, re-starting of operations of nuclear plants goes on in Japan.

Comments: Do we really need the nuclear plants to supply power to Japan?

8 Jun. The world’s first Nintendo area to be constructed in the USJ, right next to the Harry Potter zone

Universal Studios Japan (USJ, Osaka-shi) inaugurated the beginning of construction of the new area of Nintendo filled with popular game characters such as “Mario”. This is the first theme park of Nintendo in the world. USJ will invest record-high over 60 billion yen in the Nintendo area aiming at its opening before the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.

Comments: Game characters are a major part of international attraction of Japan.

任天堂USJ

Video –> http://www.usj.co.jp/nintendo/

9 Jun. “Please enjoy time for the couple”, a one-off law for the Emperor’s abdication is passed

A one-off law to enable abdication of His Majesty the Emperor was passed on the 9th. The voice of thanks was heard from those related to the Imperial couple for His Majesty the Emperor who embodied the symbol of Japan since his enthronement in 1989, and the Empress who supported him all the time.

Comments: When all the population is aging, kings/Queen and Emperors/Empresses are not exception. Why Japan handled the Emperor’s retirement by an one-off law that applies to the present Emperor only, instead of a regular law that applies to all the Emperors in the future?

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

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