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 Thus publishers stick to an outdated model of a family as it is safer than taking consequences of a change.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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 27 February to 3 March, 2017

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27 Feb. Nerve reproduction by 3D printer, Kyoto University succeeded to create a tubular structure out of cells

Ryosuke Ikeguchi, Associate Professor (orthopedics) of Kyoto University and his research team developed a technique to regenerate a damaged peripheral nerve by a tubular structure created out of patient’s own cells using “the Bio 3D  printer” which could process a cell three-dimensionally. He succeeded in the experiment using the rat and published the results in PLOS ONE, a U.S. science online journal. The clinical trial is to start in 2020.

Comments: It is worth paying attention that an early publication of this result is made possible because of the open access publishing business model, on which PLOS ONE is based.

28 Feb. Fujitsu to introduce “Telework”, working at home, to all the employees

Fujitsu announced that the company would introduce “The telework system” that allows to work any place other than the office including home and on the road to all the employees from April. This applies to 35,000 employees except for those of the company’s group companies, becoming the case of a large-scale introduction in the country. By Telework, Fujitsu aims at reform go the way of working and accumulate know-how of distant working, that may in turn provide knowledge for future business.

Comments: It’s a good idea to try a new way of working using IT starting with its own resources.

1 Mar. Safety of the car, constructors supporting the aged, aiming at 2020

Observing that there was no way to alleviate traffic accidents caused by driving of an elderly person, automobile constructors started enhancement of a car including “the prevention of false departure” for manufacturers to prevent an accident. The government also wants to make such a car widely available as a “a support car of careful driving” from the new fiscal year, starting today or 1st of March. The government wants to make such a car be widely available as “a car with careful driving support car” from the new year, too. That said there are many problems to really reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Comments: Very good idea!

2 Mar. Cloud funding for mackerel farming, new business launched by mackerel farmers and Obama city

A new action will start to farm mackerel using the fund raised by the cloud funding. Seabaya (Toyonaka, Osaka) that runs restaurants specialized in mackerel cooking in Osaka and Tokyo will tie up with Obama-shi (Fukui ken), which used to be a point of departure of the “Saba (mackerel) highway” connecting the city of origin of mackerel, Obama-shi , and place of consumption, Kyoto, in the past. This public-private partnership aims at bringing benefits to fishermen in Obama-shi.

Comments: The success would largely depend on how much benefits planned by the partnership would attract the fund donors.

3 Mar. Onward Kashiyama and C channel to launch a new brand, a marriage between the real clothes and fashion created online

 An apparel major Onward Holdings Co., Ltd. (HD) and “C Channel” (channel) that provide video services on smart phones addressed to women announced that they will jointly launch a new brand.  President Ryo Morikawa of the C channel said, “Online shopping in the future will not be the one to search products in mind on web sites and buy it but to immediately pick up products consumers see on smart phone videos, or ‘I want this!’. We wish to create a system in which  ‘influencers (those who have strong influence on consumers on the Internet) push forward a brand.”

Comments: This cooperation intends to capture and monetize out of collective intelligence of consumer preference regarding the fashion collected from videos for smart phones.

  • 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.


Fresh & Hot from Japan, 16 to 20 January 2017

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16 Jan. JAXA failed to launch a small size rocket, causes to be investigated

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced on the 15th that it had failed launching of the small rocket which is the world’s smallest of the class created upon improvement of the rocket for atmospheric observation. JAXA said that it had canceled the ignition of the second rocket planned 180 seconds later of the launch, because JAXA couldn’t receive the data from the rocket after the launch from the Uchinoura outer space observatory locates in Kimotsuki-cho, Kagoshima-ken. The cause of the failure is not known at present and the agency will investigate it in detail.

Comments: Failure is always a means of leaning.

17 Jan. Slight increase of rate of women general managers to be 4.1% of government officials

The Cabinet Office announced the ratio of woman administrator of public and private sectors. Regarding the national government officials,  23.9% of the section manager of the Ministries, 9.4% of the assistant manager of the Ministries and general manager of local organizations, 4.1% of  department managers of the Ministries and 3.5% of those higher than deliberation official grade were women. <these figures were lower by 1.5-6.1 points compared to the aimed figure of 2020.

Comments: Japan is still behind of the world in utilizing resources of women workforce.

18 Jan. Relaying on robots for the care of the aged?, due to a serious labour shortage in the aged persons’ home

What kind of town is good if I spend the old age? The nature is rich, and convenient for shopping and above all a good medical and care services must be available — It was Kitakyushu-shi that shined in the first place in “the ranking of local cities where people  wanted to live after 50 years old”, according to a magazine for the senior published in summer last year.

Comments: Care requires emotional energy. Could robot replace human beings for that?

19 Jan. Supporting IT talented people, a foundation of Masayoshi Son started recruiting

“The Masayoshi Son endowment foundation” which President Masayoshi Son of the SOFTBANK group established by his own fund started recruitment of people whom the foundtati9on will support as the leaders of the next generation. Those eligible must be under  25 years old, may  in studying or returning benefits as a corporate manager. The foundation would support max. 100 people for their research, and study abroad and interchanging of each other.

Comments: Supporting one hundred people? wWhat a big idea it is!

20 Jan. Kirin to withdraw from Brazil, planning to sell its local subsidiary

A Japanese beer major Kirin Holdings Co., Ltdexamining the sale of the Brazilian subsidiary. An anticipated buyer is a Netherlands’ beer major Heineken. Kirin acquired a local major beer company six years agobut a deficit continues due to intensifying competition in local markets. Kirin is a withdrawing from Brazil.

Comments: Kirin will focus on Asia.

  • 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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What are clues for Western Professional women doing business in Japan?

Here are seven clues for you! Please enjoy.

These are highlights of the Intercultural Training Channel organised by Mr. Matthew Hill, intercultural author, trainer & coach.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

How does a Swiss innovative start-up fight to enter the Japanese market?

We enjoyed discussion at “Moshi moshi, Japan?” (held in Geneva on Friday, 17 April) on  “How does a Swiss innovative start-up fight to enter the Japanese market?”

Mr. Shaban Shaame, CEO & Founder, EverdreamSoft, an innovative vendor of Moonga, a game soft run over the mobile device, such as smartphones and tablets.

EverdreamSoft, online games for mobile device

Highlights of discussion


  • I found that a large download volume of Moonga, our game soft, from Japan. I thought “Why?”, as I knew that people don’t speak English as default in Japan. This made me to think that there must be a big Moonga market there.
  • I went to Japan (in 2009) to find a business partner who could translate the game into Japanese and who’d provide graphics for the games. Communication with the Japanese was difficult. I din’t know Japanese and they din’t know English. We managed to negotiate a contract using Google translator, though sometimes English translated by Google function didn’t make sense.
  • Japanese people are hard workers, more than Swiss people are. However, whether their hard work is efficient is questionable. Some (or many?) people work hard where their boss is near by.
  • In the Japanese work ethics, a  group culture is strong. All the people in the same office stay working till midnight. Some cohesion power must be working.
  • Consensus is extremely important in the Japanese decision-making at any level.
  • Is change possible? — Yes but only slowly.
  • Lay-off is difficult and rare in Japan. Hence employing someone involves a risk to an employer. Mobility is still low in the job market.
  • Re. Women at work, maternity leave is guaranteed by law but employers don’t like it. Mobbing to women exists in some offices.
  • Then, we discussed bit coin; what it is, how it works, where can we use it, etc.


Forthcoming meetings —

Friday 8 May, Uchi and Soto, the key concepts of the Japanese relationship building

Enlightening women by the social media – Women in Digital Switzerland

The digital life has been well established in Japan and Switzerland. In contrast, however, the presence of women in the ICT (information and communication technologies) conferences and the industries is surprisingly low — twenty percent (20%) of all the workers in the ICT industry, and only five percent who speak at ICT conferences!

To encourage women to participate in and become visible in the ICT scene, Ms Taïssa Charlier launched “Women in Digital  Switzerland” (WDS, hereafter), a group created in LinkedIn in January 2014. Starting with about 20 people in the group, WSD had grown to host 200 members in a few months! These members came to know WSD only via word of the mouth.

Portal of Women in Digital Switzerland.
Portal of Women in Digital Switzerland.

Need to push forward more opinions from women

Taïssa is a young and dynamic professional of digital marketing. The original reason that made her to stand up to unite women via WDS was a prohibitively high cost of the kindergarten in Switzerland. Being a single mother, she needs a kindergarten to keep her child while she works in daytime. She soon found that the fee for the kindergarten is almost the same as her monthly salary. “Women can’t work outside home! We must make the opinions of women heard in society”, she thought.

Taïssa soon realised that women are heavily under represented in the ICT industry, despite an increasing number of professional women in the industry. “Something must be done”, she thought.  Her answer was to create a system on the network for women to inspire and to be inspired, to be connected with peers, to share best practices and, thus, to increase their visibility and presence profession.

Mutual support by information exchange and discussion

WDS rightly hit the needs of professional women, who have been scattered around and rather isolated in digital profession in Switzerland.

Taïssa said, “I wish WSD to grow starting from the information exchange to become a platform for women to inspire each other. I wish WSD become a media to empower women in the future.”

The language of WSD is English. Taïssa, though she is a Franco phone herself, decided to use English as the language of the group so that women in other language groups of Switzerland may join and exchange information across the different language zones in the country.

“It’s my giving back project”

For Taïssa, having a large number of participants is not a major purpose of the WSD. “I wish to give back to those wonderful people I met by providing WSD for women to meet wonderful people.”

She further went on to say that fully utilising women’s talent is a part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for companies. Giving opportunities to women and grow them is a contribution to the society.

The author has come to know a workingwomen’s network launched based on a similar idea in Japan. The social media helps you to be connected with like-minded people even though you find none around. With the policy of the Prime Minister Abe to utilise women for the economic development of Japan, networks of professional women’s mutual support based on the social media will grow.

THE ARTICLE POSTED ABOVE IS A SUMMARY. The original article is in Japanese and published in “Akebono”, a monthly journal in Japan, in June 2014. Ten thousand copies are issued every month.