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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広告

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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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 31 May to 2 June 2017

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31 May Airport operating company of major airports in Osaka region reported the settlement of accounts of net income 16,900 million yen, for the first time after the airport privatization

The Kansai airport which operates the Kansai Airport and Osaka (Itami) airport announced the annual settlement of accounts for the first time after the airports privatization. The operating company reported the operating income equal to the sales amount of March, 2017 period, 180,200 million yen, and the net income indicating the final profit 16,900 million yen, thanks to the largest number of passengers for the Kansai Airport and the increase of the landing tax.

Comments: Why Kansai, not in Tokyo? Worth investigating.

1 Jun. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank looking into to the Netherlands for the new location of its securities base due to Brexit

With European Union (EU) secession decision of the U.K., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (FG) is reported to be examining Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as a major candidate as a new base of its securities business operation in Europe. The Group will make the final decision this summer.

Comments: Would the Bank brave enough to leave the UK?

2 Jun. Power-free walk-support machine developed, fatigue reduction, good for health

There is neither the battery nor the motor. Imasen Electric Seisakujo (Inuyama-shi, Aichi) , an automotive parts maker, developed a walk-support machine “aLQ” (aruku, meaning “walk” in Japanese) for the use by wide public. The machine gets attention as a product of research collaboration between the university and industry, that applied a principle of the power-free bipedal robot and car manufacturing techniques.

Comments: Nice product! aLQ will be needed a number of people when the population is aging.

aLQ

  • 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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