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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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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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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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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 8 to 12 May 2017

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8 May LIXIL returned the best sales performance, thanks to a solid shower toilet selling well in China

The net income of the settlement of accounts (international accounting standards) of a house equipment major, LIXIL Group, recorded the highest gain of 42,500 million yen for March, 2017 period (cf. a deficit of 25,600 million yen in 2016).  This was due to results of cost cutting and good sales performance of overseas restroom business including China.

Comments: This news indicates consumer interests in China have turned to the improvement of living conditions.

9 May You may be a sales person even above 70 years old, Daiwa Securities to lift the age limit of reemployment

Securities major Daiwa Securities Group Inc. decided to lift the age limit of the reemployment of the sales job, which presently is 70 years old. It is intended to reinforce sales force by utilizing abundant experience of the veteran work force.

Comments: Good not to eliminate resources because of the age, but what will be their payment? A major problem of the present Japanese reemployment after the legal retirement age is a sharp decrease of wages even for the same job.

10 May Film for tablets that may not be broken, invented by RIKEN TECHNOS Corp.

A plastic film maker, RIKEN TECHNOS CORPORATION, returned a record high operating income of 5,800 million yen for March 2017, up by 15.3% from the previous year.  While the main product was a vinyl  chloride material for automobiles, the company developed a plastic film which was hard to be broken for the screens of tablet terminals, anticipating that the number of cars produced in Japan may not grow any more.

Comments: From core-competence, taking into account the digital markets, innovation is born.

12 May Search by a smartphone application of strolling person due to dementia, the first field trial in Aichi-ken

A trial to look for an elderly person strolling around because of dementia using an application of smartphone started. Those who look for such person may send some information of the missing person such as his/her characteristics to  the smartphones of the cooperators, thus expand a search network to the entire region. The first field experiment in Japan took place in Kasuga-shi, Aichi-ken in April.

Comments: A key to success may be to have a large number of people who install and pay attention to such an application, or social awareness raiding.

  • 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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