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 Thus publishers stick to an outdated model of a family as it is safer than taking consequences of a change.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.

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  • 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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Would joint-economic activities in Northern Territories be the first step for Japan to build a way to wisely live together with its neighbors?

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Pick of the week from Japan, 26 – 30 June

27 Jun. Departure of the group for site investigation for the Russian-occupied Northern Territories, looking into possibility of joint-economic activities

A public-private joint investigating group to move forwardjoint economic activitiesin the four northern Islands left Nemuro-shi, Hokkaido by boat on 27th of June. The group will visit  three islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan until July 1. They will investigate a way to develop businesses in three areas of “fishery and food processing”, “energy and infrastructure” and “Tourism, real and medical services”.

It is a good idea to pursue economic solutions that would benefit both Japan and Russia.

The Northern Territories have been over dispute between the two countries since the WWII. While there has been sensitive power politics involved, this is a high-level story. People on the ground needed industrial and social development, as well as means to benefit from the rich resources from the sea.

The national border has been an absolute barrier for the Japan as the country is surrounded by the sea. The sea protected Japan from foreign invasion for centuries, while kept Japan isolated from the rest of the world at the same time.

Those days are gone.

One can easily travel over the sea by airplanes. One enjoys information exchange over the Internet without traveling over the sea.

It’s time for Japan to learn how to better live with neighboring countries.

In this regard, the Japanese have much to learn from Europe, especially small countries. The Europeans, especially those in small countries, know how to live with strong neighbors well having learnt from the history.

For example, the Canton of Geneva is surrounded by French territory by 80% of its border. Geneva is connected with the rest of Switzerland for only 20% of its Cantonal border. Naturally about 70,000 people commute to Geneva from neighboring France everyday. These people are called “Frontiers”, are granted with their proper work permit  and have a special tax status.

In terms of politics, national boundaries are soft in Europe. Boundaries have been changed over centuries. They are never solid iron walls.

It is often economic benefits that softened boundaries, the EU a typical example.

It is time for Japan to learn how they may benefit from the region by sharing benefits with its 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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 20 to 26 May 2017

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20 May Shogi Maestro Amahiko SATO defeated by AI

The Shoji Maestro Amahiko SATO was defeated by PONANZA,  artificial intelligence (AI) of Shogi, at the second match between the human Shogi maestro and AI held in  Himeji-jo Castle of Himeji-shi, Hyogo. This win has became the two successive victories of PONANZA, which marked the defeat of the human maestro who was the top of the Shogi world.

Comments: It is endless in what AI could do.

23 May Japanese LCC, Peach Aviation to introduce bit coins, aiming at more passengers visiting Japan

A Japanese Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Peach Aviation will enable purchasing airline tickets by a virtual currency bit coin  within this year. While an increasing number of retail stores and restaurants have begun introducing it as a means of payment in Japan, this is the first case among major means of transportation. Peach Aviation is expecting the use by overseas visitors to Japan by facilitating the payment.

Comments: It’s a marketing strategy to use bit coins to facilitate visitors from China.  Market volume counts.

24 May Pushing market development of pharmaceutical companies in the newly developing economies, a new organization to be established on the basis of public and private sectors partnership

The Japanese Government is establishing an organization in cooperation with the private sectors to push forward the Japanese pharmaceutical companies in the rising economies. The organization may build a factory in host countries so that participating companies may use it. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who till be the general manager of the organization is going to announce the plan in the strategic promotion office of the health and medical sectors to be open in June.

Comments: Would the pharmaceutical sector need that much hands-on support by the Government?

25 May Discovered possible therapeutic drug of the intractable disease ALS, Univ. of Kyoto by using induced pluripotent stem cells

A research team of Professor Haruhisa Inoue (neurology) of University of Kyoto discovered the compound that may be a candidate of the therapeutic drug using the induced pluripotent stem cells made from the skin of a patient of the intractable disease “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS) that causes symptoms of muscle weakness.  It was confirmed by experiment using mice that the compound works to suppress the progress of illness.

Comments: Good news!

26 May Orix to sell an electricity subsidiary, Kansai Electric Power tenders a bid for sale

Prix is selling is subsidiary, Orix Electricity (Tokyo) that undertakes a mass sales of the electricity apartments. Prix is going to decide the sale by a bid from June to August.  Electricity majors, such as  Kansai Electric Power, and city gas majors are examining participation.

Comments: Does this indicate a failure of liberalization of the power supply?

  • 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 18 to 19 May 2017

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18 May How about a cup of coffee before taking Hankyu train? Nestlé Japan to install more coffee stands in railway stations

Nestlé Japan and Hanky Railway Corp. will build more “Nescafé stand”, which they originally built in the five stations of Hankyu line, including Tsukaguchi station, last year. The “Nescafé stand” sold more than 500,000 cups of coffee in the past five months, that had been expectations. The companies will build the stand in seven more stations from the end of May onwards.

Comments: Why there were not many coffee stand in the commuter railway stations? It is a good marketing!

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19 May Costs of Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics to be paid by Tokyo Metropolitan, estimated to be max. 900 billion yen

Concerning the costs of Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics in 2020, it was revealed that Tokyo Metropolitan experimentally calculated the expense to be maximum 900 Billion yen out of the estimated total costs of  1,600  to 1,800 Billion yenTokyo Metropolitan expects in this calculation those local governments which do not have Olympic venues to bear 40 Billion yen as costs for guarding, etc.

Comments: Who pays what is still controversial.

  • 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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My “Taken for granted” is not the same as yours — Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan

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The workshop of “Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan” was very resourceful, participated by a good-mixture of European and Japanese people.

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Yoshiko Kurisaki is moderating discussion

Here are a summary of highlights for those who couldn’t come and those who wish to know clues underlying the Japanese business:

  • Culture is like an iceberg. Eighty percent of the iceberg is under the sea and we don’t see it. So called “typical” Japanese culture, such as sushi, high-tech instruments, kimono, bowing, are all the tip of iceberg supported by the rituals, geography, history, values, etc. hidden under the water.
  • Major factors from which Japan is made  — Geographic location and its historical consequences, climate, rice-growing culture and the peace that lasted for 700 years.
  • The Japanese trap — Unconscious bias by the Western managers visiting Japan
  • A significant difference in the meaning of silence and space between Europe and Japan. It was proven that thirty-seconds’ silence is too long and uncomfortable for the Europeans, while nothing in particular for the Japanese.
  • Uchi- Soto“, the way the Japanese position you as a European business partner.
  • Relationship, not individuals, counts

It is worth noting that discussion by participants enriched the workshop, as well as eye-opening exercises.

Listening and observing others without judgement by one’s values is a good start for understanding of other cultures. In doing so it is natural that you may get upset or find someone strange. Such moment is a wonderful opportunity for you to know your own values. Think “Against what criteria am I upset? “

Working across cultures is not always easy but rewarding. Cultural diversity enables 1 + 1 be more than 3, 4 and more, and ultimately leads to the innovation.

Last but not the least, many thanks must go to the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) which invited us for the workshop and Sunstar SA for the nice seminar room and warm reception!

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Veronica De la Fuente

 

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Discussion by participants was a vital part of the workshop

 

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