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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Understanding Japan Through Television

Hi…  was flicking through the news on-line and came across a neat article from www.savytokyo.com that provides us with seven Netflix shows to better understand Japan.

The shows are: The Birth Of Sake; Tokyo Idols; Know Your Enemy: Japan; Terrace House: Opening New Doors; Chef’s Table Season 1: Niki Nakayama; Japanese Style Originator; and REA(L)OVE.

For a better understanding of what these shows, are please click HERE to visit the Savvy Tokyo website.   

Am I being lazy with my blog today? Yes. Yes, I am.

I have a lot of things on the go this weekend, and am feeling a bit pressed for time.

I’ll explain why tomorrow, and how I can relate it to Japan.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Japan Continues At World Cup Because Of Fair Play

For those of you who are NOT soccer fans, let me try and explain a bit about what is currently going on in Japanese national team soccer at the World Cup 2018, while still allowing you to maintain your indifference. At least you will be better informed about global events.

I like soccer. I’ve played it and coached it - women’s, girl’s and boy’s soccer - at the community and college level. I don’t watch it much any more, except the rare times when the Toronto Football Club (TFC) is on television. 

To be fair, the soccer I watched on television growing up was usually pretty dull stuff. Playing was waaaaay more fun. I learned how to slide tackle when I was seven-years-old after watching it being done on TV. But I understand people’s criticism of the so-called beautiful game.

During this year’s world cup, that national teams had to earn placement into in carious localized tournaments, there were four teams each in a total of eight divisions.

That’s 32 teams. Each team would play the other three teams in their division (aka bracket) once, with the top two teams from each division moving on to the next round of 16, where it’s a winner-take-all scenario in single game action.

During the round-robin play of the divisions, each win = three points; a tie is worth one point; and a loss mans zero points.

Again… the top two teams from each division with the most points go through.

But what if there’s a tie between the second and third-place team - each having the same number of points.

This happened between Japan and Senegal, but note that they also had Colombia and Poland in their division.

Here’s a recap of the three game each team played, in what was called Group H:
June 19, 2018
Japan: 2 - 1 :Colombia
Senegal: 2 - 1 : Poland

June 24, 2019
Japan: 2 - 2 :Senegal
Colombia: 3 - 0 :Poland

June 28, 2019
Colombia: 1 - 0 :Senegal
Poland: 1 - 0 :Japan
 
Colombia had 2 Wins and 1 Loss; Goals For (scored by them) 5; Goals Against (goals they let into their net) 2.
5-2 = 3. This is their Goal Differential
Points: 6

Poland had 1 Win and 2 Losses; Goals For (scored by them) 2; Goals Against (goals they let into their net) 5.
2-5 = -3. This is their Goal Differential
Points: 3

Senegal had 1 Win; 1 Draw (tie game); and 1 Loss; Goals For (scored by them) 4; Goals Against (goals they let into their net) 4.
4-4 = 0. This is their Goal Differential
Points: 4

Japan had 1 Win; 1 Draw (tie game); and 1 Loss; Goals For (scored by them) 4; Goals Against (goals they let into their net) 4.
4-4 = 0. This is their Goal Differential
Points: 4

So… the winner of Group H was Colombia - they go to the Round of 16.
Japan and Senegal have the same number of points: 4 and are tied for second
Poland only had three points and are out.

But what to do about Japan and Senegal. How do you break the tie to determine who goes home, and who gets to live again and join Colombia in the Round of 16?

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) says - keeping in mind that the tie-breaker is settled by the following, in ORDER:

    1.    greatest number of points obtained in all group matches;
    2.    goal difference in all group matches;
    3.    greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

Hmm… Japan and Senegal have 4 points each; a Goal Differential of 0 each; and have each scored the same number of goals at 4 each.

If still tied, FIFA says the following criteria are used, in the ORDER of their listing:

    1.    greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
    2.    goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
    3.    greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
    4.    greater number of points obtained in the fair play conduct of the teams based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches;
    5.    drawing of lots by the FIFA.

Let’s see: Senegal and Japan tied each other when they played, so point 1 is moot;
Goal difference between the two teams, which (am I missing something), was 0. So moot. (If the game was won by one team, then no biggie.. but if the No. 1 criteria shows a TIE/DRAW, then the Goal Differential between the two teams is ALWAYS Equal!!!!) If one team has WON the game between them, ergo No. 2 is not even required to be listed here.

Okay… whatever. Item 3… same number of goals scored between Senegal and Japan when they played each other.

No. 4 Fair play… and yellow card and red card accumulation.

In this case, you do NOT want to have more yellow or red cards than the other team.

A yellow card is given at the referee’s discretion if someone commits a foul against a player on the other team - basically. Referee’s discretion changes between referees, between what two teams are playing, the importance of the game, and even if they (the referee) simply wants the game to finish quickly.

What is a yellow card to some referees is not a yellow card to others.

A Red card is handed out if a player receives two yellow cards in a game, or over the Round Robin, for example, or if a player commits a very dangerous foul with seemingly complete disregard for player safety… or even a handball. 

So… in this case, FIFA officials count up the number of Red and Yellow cards issued to each team.
Senegal received 6 yellow cards;
Japan received 4 yellow cards.

No red cards were issued to either team

Because Japan received fewer Yellow cards over the past three Round Robin games within Group H, Japan moves on in the World Cup 2018 to the Round of 16, while Senegal and its fans gets to go home.

By the way… do you know what happens if both teams end up with the same number or Yellow and Red Cards?

FIFA says they draw lots… but it really comes down to a coin toss. I think Scotland took one up the kilt back in the 1970s via this scenario.

Look… I love Japan, but this is a stupid way to decide the future of one tam over another in a global soccer tournament.

Because Japan was nicer, they win.

WTF. Fair Play rule…

Here’s what I propose: 

Instead of this ridiculous Fair Play or Lot Drawing scenarios.. before it gets to that… or rather, eliminate that, and at least see how EACH team did against the TOP team in the Round Robin Group.

Top Team in Group H = Colombia
Japan beat Colombia
Senegal lost to Colombia

In this scenario, Japan goes through because they beat the top team, Colombia.

Now… what if both teams tied Colombia… or if both teams were vying for Top and Second spot… and they had to determine ranking to see who plays whom next?

Well, then check the record against the other team in the Group H.
Other Team in Group H = Poland
Poland beat Japan
Senegal beat Poland. 
 
In this scenario (tiebreaker) Senegal goes through to the next round, and Japan is out.

Now… what should happen if they are still tied after all of that?

FIFA Rankings.

Every month, FIFA provides a global ranking for teams.

Poland was 8th in the world;
Colombia was 16th in the world;
Senegal was 27th in the world;
Japan was 61st in the world.

By the way... tiny Albania is ranked 58th. And, not one to talk, Canada is ranked 79th… immediately behind Lebanon… aren’t they involved in a war right now with Israel? Yes, they are.   

Ergo, Senegal, by virtue of being the higher-ranked team by FIFA, would gain entry to the next round and Japan would be out.

Hey… these FIFA rankings need to carry weight, don’t they?

So… Japan scrapes through to the next round… and now I hope you have a better understanding of why.

As for poor Senegal… it wasn’t because they were a worse team than Japan. It was because they were called for “penalties” more often than Japan.

To me, using "penalties" given out during the games is just dumb. 

By the way… Japan knowing what Senegal’s score was, knew it was perfectly acceptable for it (Japan) to lose 1-0 to Poland... and so… for the final 10 minutes of the game between Japan and Poland, the Japanese played keep-away by not trying to score and merely passing the ball back and forth to avoid the chance they might be called for a foul and earn a yellow card.

Japan turned that so-called beautiful game into a sham.

They wanted to avoid the possibility that it could pick up any Yellow cards by trying too hard.

If this was my introduction to soccer - the Japan-Poland game - I would never watch soccer again.

They wasted time for 10 minutes… I'm sure the fans who payed a lot of money to see the game were not entertained.

Fair Play? What fair play?

The Japan national soccer team calls itself the Samurai Blue… and do you know what the samurai of old would do if they had disrespected their master or themselves or the Bushido code of samurai ethics?

They would kill themselves.

I’m not calling for anyone to do that… but yeah… you won Japan… but without honor.

Let's make the beautiful game beautiful again. 

For shame.
Andrew Joseph
PS: In the photo above, a referee gives a Senegal player (in green) a yellow card for his fould against a Colombian player. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Naked Japanese Man Forced To Leave Island Home

For Nagasaki Masafumi, 82, life on Sotobanari island was the best thing he had ever done and was going to be the site of his death.

No… he didn’t want to kill himself, rather he wanted to die of natural causes one day, naked as a jay bird… wearing the suit he was born in…

The island, is far south and part of the Ryukyu Islands… it would be exactly what you picture if you thought about Robinson Crusoe… idyllic.

He arrived on Sotobanari back in 1989—nearly 30 years ago—claiming he was only going to stay for a couple of years…

So… right there we can tell he’s a bit of an oddball by Japanese standards, as he would have been 53-years-old, with some 17 years left in the workforce… and yet…

Calling himself a city man with no outdoor experience, he claimed that civilization held no allure for him, so he said screw it all and went there to live.

The island is buffeted often by typhoons, has no fresh water, has no boats, no lights, no motor cars, not a single luxury. Sorry… I went all Gilligan’s Island there for a second.

Holy crap… no Ginger or Mary Ann! Or even Mrs. Howell. If I was on Gilligan’s Island as long as those castaways, even Mrs. Howell would start looking sexy to me. Kidding.

Anyhow… Nagasaki arrived on Sotobanari—a truly deserted island in the Ryukyu chain—and promptly changed that.

What we do know, is that his sister would often send along rice cakes (perhaps with a passing fisherman), and that recently one of the visitors thought Nagasaki looked weak, and decided he should go to a hospital… though whether that was weak from being old, weak from the hardships, or if he simply had a cold, authorities refused to let Nagasaki return to the island after he regained his strength.

Boo!

Nagasaki had long since stated that he wanted to die on the island… and now they force him to stay ion a government-sponsored housing development on Ishigaki Island, about 60 kilometers from where he said he was the happiest he has ever been.

I feel bad for the guy. He's healthy now... why can't he go back to the only life he's known for the past 30 years?

To Nagasaki-sanbanzai,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Another One Bites The Dust—Soon

As far as Japanese royals go, I think Princess Ayako is pretty darn cute.

And that’s without even considering her link to Canada.

Which is where I am from… and am writing these blogs… though I did live there (Japan) for a few years...

Princess Ayako, 27, will agree to become engaged to commoner Moriya Kei (surname first), a 32-year-old dude who works for the Nippon Yusen K.K., a major shipping firm, according to the Imperial Household Agency of Japan.

Princess Ayako is the third and youngest daughter of the late-Prince Takamodo, who is cousin of current Japan Emperor Akihito.

Their official engagement will take place on August 12, 2018, with the wedding taking place on October 29, 2018 at the Meiji Jingi shrine in Tokyo. 

Princess Ayako attended the Faculty of Social Work Studies of Josai International University, and earned a Masters Degree from Josai's Graduate School of Social Work Studies in 2016.

In between, she studied in British Columbia, Canada, in 2013-2015, making short visits there to Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. as part of an exchange with Josai University.

Once a princess, always a princess, she has been working as a researcher at Josai International University’s Faculty of Social Work Studies since June 2017, while doing her duties as  Japanese royal... whatever that means.

The princess currently serves as honorary patron of the Canada-Japan Society and honorary president of the Japan Sea Cadet Federation.

Once a princess, not always a princess, however, as according to Japanese imperial law, she will have to renounce her royalty and leave the Royal Family after she marries Moriya-san.

While that sucks, she will receive a "buyout" payment from the Royal Imperial family of what would amount to US$1-million... so it's not going to be all hardship and fractured fairy tales.

The two lovebirds met at work... office romance?

Actually, she knew hubby-to-be's parents through their work at local non-governmental organization... and they introduced the Princess to their son hoping meeting a pretty girl would inspire HIM to become more involved in global welfare charities.

He says he is into global welfare charities, but really, he was smitten by this kitten as they both share a love of skiing, travel and books.

It's funny, because that pretty much describes what... 20 percent of the population of Japan? More?   

Last year we heard about Princess Ayako's second cousin Princess Mako (the oldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito) announce her plans to marry Komoro Kei (another commoner).

That wedding was postponed this past February with her stating that "they" were too immature, and called it off.

Hopefully Moriya-san doesn't do anything silly and have Princess Ayako call off their wedding because they are both too immature.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph     

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Taking The Piss Outta Japan

When it comes to soccer, I’m a bit conflicted. I loved playing it and coaching it, but I have a difficult time getting up for watching these World Cup 2018 games in Russia if only because I don’t have a horse in the race, so to speak.

I do follow Japan’s exploits, of course, and am pleased that they are doing well enough to hopefully get through to the second round.

But… what I love more than that, are the stories that surround the soccer matches.

For example, there’s a story in the Japan Times discussing how, during half-time of Japan’s match versus Colombia, the sudden rush of people running to the washrooms to empty their beer-fueled bladder nearly swamped Tokyo’s plumbing system!

Apparently water use jumped by 24 percent in Tokyo during the mid-game break.

Of course, who can blame the fans… who wants to leave the TV to go and take a whizz or a poop and possibly miss a goal, rare as they are in the eyes of the general public. To be fair, this year’s event is seeing quite a few goals being scored.

Then, after Japan took the lead in the second half and ended up winning the game 2-1 against a Colombian squad playing one man short due to a red card expulsion after the game’s three- minute mark… well… when the whistle blew to end the match, Japanese fans in Tokyo apparently ran for the toilets again and caused another spike in water usage - this time by 50 percent.

If they aren’t flushing, at least they are washing their hands.

Luckily for Tokyo, its waterworks/sewage department had supposed such a rush on water supplies might occur and adjusted the water supply available along with the pressure.

And… they followed up the same way for Japan’s second match this past Sunday against Senegal.

Now of course, it would have been a much better story if the water bureau hadn’t been on top of things and things began to flow over… but at least it shows that the bureaucrats in Japan—at least in thus case - have some foresight!

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


     

Monday, June 25, 2018

Japan's Disney Stamps - Part 1

I'm usually pretty lazy on the weekends, this one included, but that's because I've been on the go a fair bit lately.

In honor of my friend Vinnie, who was at one time an avid stamp collector - among many other things - I thought I would present some cool Japanese stamps... issued by Japan Post and Walt Disney.

What I find annoying, however, is that there's no identification on the stamps as to just who you are licking. I know most of them, but some are drawn in such a manner that I'm just not sure at all. 

2012
(L-R, Top to Bottom): Tinkerbell; Mickey Mouse; Minnie Mouse; Bambi; Pinocchio; Snow White; Pluto; Ariel; Stitch; and The Three Little Pigs.
Winnie the Pooh; Piglet; Alice; Donald Duck; Daisy Duck; Cinderella; Dumbo; Molly; Goofy; 101 Dalmatians - or at least a couple of them.

2013
Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Winnie; Winnie; Winnie; Tigger; Winnie; Tigger; Piglet; Eeyore; Winnie; Winnie The Pooh
Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Winnie and Eeyore; Winnie; Winnie; Tigger; Tigger and Winnie; Winnie; Eeyore; Winnie; Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Winnie; and Piglet and Winnie The Pooh. My gawrsh... where's Christopher Robbin, Roo, Kanga, Owl and Rabbit?  Tska-tska.
Left Sheet: Clockwise from Left: Tinkerbell; Winnie The Pooh; Alice; Oswald The Lucky Rabbit - seriously, I know the character which is why I have the name here, but who else knows of him in the 21st century?!; Wood & Buzz Lightyear; Dumbo; (guessing) Snow White, Rapunzel and Cinderella; James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski; and Marie; (Center in balloon basket): Pluto, Goofy (aka Dippy Dawg), Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. RIGHT SHEET: L-R, Top to Bottom: Mickey Mouse; Minnie Mouse; Donald Duck; Daisy Duck; Tinkerbell; Marie - where's the rest of the Aristokittens (Berlioz and Toulouse) or their mom Duchess, or Lady & the Tramp?!; Woody & Buzz Lightyear; Lightning McQueen in drag or one of Mia and Tia; Winnie the Pooh; Alice.
2015
Top to bottom, left to right: Princess Aurora (?), Princess Aurora (?); Cinderella, Cinderella, Snow White, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Princess Jasmine.
I'm going to leave it at this for now, because, gosh darn it, there are far too many to do in one day. Sorry. I'll get back to it!

Besides, it frustrates me to know end when I can't figure out a character or get a high enough resolution image to see it!

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, June 24, 2018

360° Books Of Ono Yusuke

I suppose I'm an old fart. I like things that are considered out of fashion. I call it an antique while others call it old crap. That's fine.

I collect coins, stamps, comic books, sports cards and aviation tobacco cards. I read books - at least one per week.

While I do own a first-generation Kobo book reader - filled with classic stories and read them all, I actually prefer the tactile feel of paper between my fingers and don't give a crap how many trees have given their life for it.

Okay... I know that sounds harsh, but I think pretty much every one who cuts down trees for the pulp and paper industry is also involved in replenishing the stock by planting new trees.

Anyhow... along with my perverse love of the written word, I appreciate art. I can't draw, paint or sculpt or do anything artsy except write... but dammit, I sure love it when others do. Okay, I can play music (brass, woodwinds and keyboards).

I have a healthy respect for artists, and when someone like Ono Yusuke (surname first) comes along, I just want to stand up and applaud.

Born in Germany, Ono is an architect who graduated from the University of Tokyo, and has created the above book, the 360° BOOK, in this case about Mount Fuji.

It's not a book in the classic sense with words, but man does it tell a story with one simple picture... or is it pictures?


Each page is a piece of 3D art cut by laser to create an amazing pop-up book in the form of a diorama crossed with Japanese kirigami.

Kirigami (切り紙) is a type of origami (folding paper art), that along with folding paper includes the cutting of the paper, and definitely no glue.

There are a few books by Ono, including the Mount Fuji (aka Fujiyama), such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Welcome to FabCafe, Earth and the Moon, Snowy World, and Snow White.

I saw a four-pack on sale on Amazon Canada for $300, but then saw it on Amazon (US) for $140 - meaning that with the dollar exchange, Canadian are getting ripped off...

Tsk-tsk, Amazon. How about some price compatibility?

However... for the sheer artistry of the 360° Books Of Ono Yusuke, perhaps it's a fair price.



Kanpai,
Andrew

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Japan's Odor Tracking Robot

Whomever smelt it dealt it...

Fart jokes aside, I love dogs.

I have, up until very recently always been surrounded by dogs. I’m at ease around them, and they around me.

I am also fascinated by working dogs—the critters who work for the visually-impaired, the dogs who sniff out contraband at post offices and airports, canines who work alongside hunters, or who (used to) be rescue people who got lost in the woods or buried under an avalanche, and other working canines as well…

The one type of dog that I have not had the pleasure of seeing in action (and perhaps that’s a good thing) are the police dogs who are used to track suspects or even the so-called cadaver dogs.

While I was in Japan for three years teaching English, I did not have a doggie companion - though my neighbor across the street from my apartment condo did, letting him bark early in the morning and late at night. While I had a dislike for that dog, I realize I should have had a mad-on for the dog's owner.

There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

But… Japan is at it again, however, seeking to deprive man of his best friend by replacing him with a robot.

I’m not talking about those robotic canine toys… no… I’m talking about a prototype robot developed by scientists from Kyushu University… a robot that can detect and track smells (spoors) left on the ground.

There are scent-tacking robots already in existence that can track air-borne odors… but they take a long time to analyze… no, the robot I am talking about, is one than can pick-up smells from the ground, and using its caterpillar treads (think bulldozer or tank) can follow the scent at an eye-watering rate of 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) per second.

Okay… it’s only 0.36 kilometers per hour (0.223 miles per hour), which is hardly quick… so maybe my dog buddies aren’t in any danger of being replaced… just yet.

The robot is developed by Hayashi Kenshi, Sassa Fumihiro (both surname first), and Zhongyuan Yang.

While no official name has been given to the robot, according to the ACS Sensors journal where the research was published, the robot uses a bottom-mounted tube to inhale smell molecules from the ground, moving it into its LSPR (localized surface plasmon resonance) sensor.

The LSPR sensor then measures changes in light absorption via a film of gold nanoparticles after it is after it is exposed to a target gas, which is currently ethanol… though other gases are now being considered.

Whatever… it works.

In fact, the poor-mans Wall-E (that’s what it looks like to me) read the word “odor” written on the ground, and using ethanol deposits, it was able to translate it into binary code, and thus “read” the word.

Anyhow… the robot works… but it will have a ways to go until it can replace the paw patrol.

But… is it just me, or will regular police officers one day as mechanical walking aid… like on the much loved (by me) cyber punk-police drama television show Almost Human that only ran for 13 episodes in 2013-14. It starred Karl Urban from the new Star Trek movies (the dude who plays Leonard Bones McCoy).

Karl Urban (left) and Michael Ealy who, respectively, played a human cop, and the world's most handsome combat model android on the television show Almost Human.
Kanpai,
Andrew "Blaming It On The Dog" Joseph

Friday, June 22, 2018

Japan Cleans-Up At World Cup With Colombia

After Japan's lucky and surprising victory over Colombia (2-1) on June 19, 2018 in the 2018 World Cup of soccer being held in Russia, something wonderful happened.

While Colombia was screwed after three minutes into the game when one of their players earned a Red Card and was sent off, leaving the South American squad with 10 men versus Japan's 11, Colombia's fans were still gracious in defeat.

That's not surprising.

While the media is rife with stories of soccer hooliganism (most fans aren't hooligans), it is nice to see such cool interactions between the fans.

In the image above, posted by Japanese Twitter user @tsunsan (https://twitter.com/tsunsan/status/1009081280577835008), the Japanese fans began to pick up the garbage around the stadium, even bringing their own garbage bags.

The Japanese fans have done this before at many other international soccer events.

However, this time, the Colombian fans got into the act - an especially remarkable thing to do after their better team was beaten by Japan.

The Colombians (some anyway) joined the Japanese fans (some anyway) and picked up some of the garbage around them.

It was a great sign of sportsmanship for all involved.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dogs, 7-11, And Japanese Banks

I have no idea what the fug this is all about, but dammit, it certainly caught my eye!

These are ads from 2015... so no need to say just how on top of new things I am... at least this one was from the current decade. 


Anyhow... this is Inuyama Shibao (translated the name means Dog Mountain Shibao... I have no idea what Shibao means, and neither did any on-line translator), and he is a Shiba dog. Inu is Japanese for dog, while yama is mountain.

Inuyama is the doggie sensation shilling for Seven Bank, Ltd. Seven Bank (株式会社セブン銀行, Kabushiki-gaisha Sebun Ginkō) is a Japanese bank, and is a subsidiary of Ito-Yokado, along with Seven & I Holdings Co., Ltd. (parent company of 7-Eleven Japan and of Ito Yokado). 

Inuyama is the doggie sensation shilling for Seven Bank.

For people like me in North America, knowing I could get a loan and purchase a bag of chips at the same time is mind-blowing. P-koooooow.

Okay, not really. Seven Bank is a real banking institution with ATM machines all over the place. And, should you go into a branch office, you can NOT purchase a Slurpee, or anything like that. 

Anyhow... I can't embed this video, but you can click HERE for the video to watch it on someone's FaceBook page.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Renting Or Buying A Ghost Home

Japan has a secret (or maybe not-so-secret) love affair with ghosts and ghouls and demons et al.

And by that, I mean that Japanese society seems to love stories about the supernatural. Heck, if you have never seen Ringu (The Ring) movie, watch it and be prepared to have the crap scared out of you.Seriously - it is one creepy flick.

But… just because Japan loves the scary stories, it doesn’t mean Japanese people want to live the scary life.

Jiko bukken (事故物件) are the real estate properties where an occupant has died, whether it be  murder or suicide or simple neglect (they died and no one realized for days or weeks) … and I assume also by some sort of demonic entity.

It actually means "stigmatized property".

Actually, here's a list of what a jiko bukken property consists of (I took it from the Tokyo Cheapo website - HERE:
  • A property where a murder, suicide or a natural death occurred (including cases where the body wasn’t found for a while); 
  • A property near criminal gangs;
  • A property constructed on top of a well;
  • A property by a waste treatment facility, or a graveyard/crematorium;
  • A property made by, or on ground once owned by, a cult;
  • A property with a history of fire, flooding or other things that caused death or injury (asbestos poisoning, gas leaks etc);
  • A property with a complicated history regarding ownership, as shown in the registry listings— multiple owners over a short period of time inherently means something amiss with the property.
Thanks Tokyo Cheapo!
 
Okay, back to me. In Japan, the jiko bukken properties are actually recognized by Japanese law, meaning that any real estate agent attempting to unload a murder house, must fully explain the the would-be buyer or renter if someone had previously died in the place. It really is against the law to conceal such information to a would-be consumer.

It’s done to avoid any surprises when a dripping wet teenager ghost girl comes crawling out from your television set in an attempt to see what sort of snack you are having.


But not to worry… if you are a property rental agent… you only have to warn a would-be renter who is the first person after an “incident”.

For example… if someone has died in a house, let’s say by choking on mochi, that glutenous, tasty, but deadly dangerous rice ball, and if Client A rents the place, and then decides after a few months that they want to move out, the real estate agent does NOT have to tell you about the incident, when you apply.

So yeah… let’s suppose Family A is living in a murder house with its own trans-dimensional portal in the kitchen…


They move out after a while having decided that it’s way easier to dump garbage through the portal to another dimension, than to have to pack up and move again… besides… the price was right!

So… after the father gets transferred to a new town with a new nuclear power generating facility, another family (Family B) moves in.

They don’t have to be told a thing about the murder house or even the trans-dimensional portal.

However, IF Family A, after learning about the murder house decides to move in any way, and is then themselves murdered by trans-dimensional beings pissed off at all of the garbage being tossed into their universe, the real estate agent would have to warn the next potential buyers about the death.

But murderous ghosts aside, for those looking to save a few yen on housing the jiko bukken properties provide fiscal relief.

For those who are looking to rent an apartment, a jiko bukken property can save the renter as much as half the rent money.

Besides… with Japan’s population growing increasingly older, there’s going to be more and more homes in which someone has died… which could be bad news for real estate agents, but good news for consumers.

Two people that I know of—my mother and her father (my grandfather) passed away in my current house. While there have been no supernatural incidents that I am aware of, if I was in Japan with this place, I would have to disclose the information to the real estate agent - even though the deaths were over 20 years ago - so they could warn any one wanting to rent or purchase my house.

But despite the cost savings, Japanese people really don’t seem to want to move into any place where someone has died in it previously.

I’m not talking about an apartment where a family was hacked to death by a crazed tattooed guy who simply wanted the money owed him where the blood won’t come away from the walls, or even where the screams still echo in air years later… no… Japanese people simply don’t care to live where death has been.

Look… even though the word for death is “shi” (死)… and the word for four is “shi” (四)… each having it’s own unique “Chinese-style” kanji symbol… because it sounds exactly the same, many Japanese people will say “yon” in stead of “shi” when describing the number four.

Plus… in Japan (China, too - because it uses the same characters), no one wants to live anywhere where the number four is part of the address… though what the heck… some do.

I wonder if they get a break on their purchase/rental price?

For example, in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken where I lived for three-plus years in Japan, I lived on the third floor of a family condo. Did the people on the fourth floor care that regardless if it was Floor shi or Floor yon, it was still Floor sounds-like-death.

Westerners have their own fear of the number 13, which is why it is rare to find an apartment building or office building littered with Floor 13… skipping the offensive number for the number 14… but I wonder… don’t the people on Floor 14 know they are actually on Floor 13?

Back to the house/home where death occurred.

For those brave souls willing to pay half-price or so for a jiko bukken, one does not have to put up with anything supernaturally evil or scary.

No… you can hire a Buddhist priest to come and perform a cleansing ceremony on your place to try and quell any unhappy spirits still residing there, as well as to bless this house.

I suppose such ceremony could also be considered supernatural, but in this case it is supernaturally good.

Japan’s Airbnb, may not have to disclose any sort of “incident”… at least this new housing rental scenario doesn’t seem to be part of the Japanese real estate jiko bukken law…

As usual, caveat emptor… let the buyer beware.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: During WWII on the island of Saipan (across the street from Guam), rather than surrender to Allied troops, Japanese soldiers leaped off a cliff to their death while yelling "Banzai!!!" The Saipan people call it Banzai Cliff. The view is spectacular, as you can see in the photo I took when I visited there. Lots of Japanese died here, though I did not hear of any ghosts inhabiting the area. Hey... I actually asked the locals! Wanna use the photo?  Just note my name as photographer and go ahead:

PPS: Banzai, along with being a Japanese battle cry, is also a form of greeting by the Japanese emperor. You can decide which one I mean when I use it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Radioactive Cesium From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Still In Tokyo Bay

I know I’ve gone on and on carping about the complete mismanagement of things during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

The 9.0 earthquake caused a tsunami, which hit many places along Japan’s north east coast, moving over sea walls, in in this case, over and into the Dai-ichi nuclear power generating station in Fukushima-ken.

The inflow of water swamped the nuclear power site, rendering backup generators inoperable for the most part, allowing three of the six nuclear power units to nearly go into nuclear meltdown after a lack of coolant was unable to be pumped in to keep things under control. 

Look… I actually think nuclear power—if done properly—is an excellent way to generate electricity. But in Japan’s case - prior to the March 11, 2011 events, it simply wasn’t being handled safely.

Perhaps countries should consider using the safer nuclear methods used in Canada, which even uses a different type of uranium base.

But Japan’s nuclear reactors are not built that way. They follow the American style of reactor. Excellent power generation, to be sure… but…

Anyhow… would it surprise anyone to learn that even five years after the nuclear disaster, Fukushima No. 1 (of six) reactors continued to spew radioactive cesium into Tokyo Bay for five years after the initial nuclear disasters in 2011?

No. I’m not surprised. Saddened. But not surprised.

According to Yamazaki Hideo (surname first)—a former professor of environmental analysis at Kindai University (a private university in Osaka)—a study he led a study on hazardous materials being released from the Dai-ichi plant.

His team’s research showed that some five months after the triple meltdown, that there was 20,100 becquerels of cesium per square meter in mud collected at the mouth of the Kyu-Edogawa (Kyu-Edo river). This river leads directly into Tokyo Bay.

Further research shows that by July 2016, that in the same area, 104,000 becquerels of cesium per square meter from mud collected was found.

Basically, that means that the cesium released during the disaster did NOT get washed away in the subsequent five years after.

Well… they did wash away from Fukushima, but it did accumulate and stay adhered to the mud in Tokyo Bay.

Good for Fukushima and Chiba to the south, but bad for Tokyo.

Now… the average amount of radioactivity from the cesium detected in the July 2016 study was only 350 becquerels… implying that there are apparently areas where it is extremely high, and other places were it may not be found.

But is it safe?

Probably not at the points where the study found the 104,000 becquerels in July 2016.

Even at that high level, the Government of Japan will not allow soil to be used on road construction et al. In fact, it will only allow soil containing 8,000 becquerels or less for such usage.

So… is there any damage to the fish in Tokyo Bay?

Maybe… maybe if the fish caught are coming from that area there the radioactivity is through the roof, congregating in the Tokyo Bay mud… but generally speaking, there doesn’t seem to be an issue with the fish.

Apparently of the fish caught and measured in the Tokyo area, the average still appears to be less than 100 becquerels per kilogram… 100 becquerels per kilogram is considered to be the number for safe fish consumption in Japan.

So… there’s some cesium radiation in the fish… but not enough to worry the Japanese Government.

Heck… there’s even a few hot pockets of cesium radiation in the mud in Tokyo Bay… but I’m sure that’s no big deal.

Move along… nothing to see here. Yeesh.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, June 18, 2018

6.1 Earthquake Kills Three In Osaka - UPDATED


This past Monday, a 6.1 Magnitude earthquake—that’s a pretty strong one—hit at 8AM local time north of Osaka, at a depth of eight miles (12.9 kilometers).

Three people died, including a nine-year-old girl who was crushed by large slab of a concrete wall that fell on her as she was walking along her elementary school’s outside wall in Takatsuki. See Reuters image above. Damn.

Mayor Hamada Takeshi (surname first) apologized over her death, acknowledging that that concrete wall made up of concrete blocks, was old and not up to the more current building safety codes.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide (surname first) has ordered the Education Ministry to perform safety checks on any concrete walls near public schools—nationwide.

A man in his 80s also died after a concrete wall collapsed on him in Osaka-shi (Osaka City), while an 84-year-old woman died after a bookcase fell on her in her home in the nearby city of Takatsuki.

Additionally, 307 people have been officially listed as hurt during the seismic event, though Japanese media giant NHK says there were at least 350 people hurt. Whatever. Lots of people hurt.

Japanese buildings—especially the newer ones are designed and built with earthquake occurrence in mind, but for whatever reason, it seems, in this case, that concrete walls are NOT part of the same consideration. 

It was a pretty damn strong earthquake, but earthquake-proofing designs for seismic events stronger than that are in place.

The earthquake was strongest north of Osaka-shi, but the good news (so far) is that the three nuclear power facilities at Mihami, Takahama and Ohi—all north of Osaka—are fine, according to the news agency Reuters.

Local, express, and shinkansen high-speed bullet train and subway service in Osaka has been halted, while domestic air flights in and out of Osaka were suspended to ensure safety.

As evidenced by the fallen sign at Ibaraki-shi eki (Ibaraki City station) - see above in the Getty image - someone could have easily been killed when that electronic signage partially collapsed.

Along with small fires (broken gas mains, or cooking implements hitting the ground), thee roads in the area have cracked, along with many water pipes, bursting up through roadways, leaving many residents without water.

But it is Japan… and like people everywhere, they will band together quickly and make sure every one is looked after.

Oh... and there's no risk of a tsunami from this seismic event. 

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Japanese Donald Duck Comic Books

Unfortunately, my Father's Day present ended prematurely, as mine and my son's baseball team was ousted from the baseball tournament in the quarter-finals, losing 7-6.

So... back home, I decided I would read a few of the Uncle Scrooge McDuck books I was given by my friend Rob a couple of weeks ago.

Needing a topic for today, I wondered if there were ever any published Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic books in Japan.

Strangely, in my opinion, I could only find a single example of a Disney Duck comic book - see above. And it's merely entitled Disney Land.

While the cover shows Huey, Dewey and Louie in Zorro garb, poor Donald is unable to play as chipmunks Chip and Dale are asleep in his Zorro hat. Ha-ha... very punny.

The art style looks typical for the 1960s, but I have no idea when it was published. No wait... I found a website: https://inducks.org, that says this particular title was published between 1960-1964 by the by the Reader's Digest Japan, publishing a total of 37 issues.

That website shows a bigger list of Japanese comic book titles than I had originally thought existed - so kudos to them for the information.

But... there doesn't seem t be any sort of Disney comic book published in Japan after 2009... which to me seems like a lost opportunity for someone.

Is the list complete? Probably not... and I only say that because I did a search for Canadian Disney books on the website, and note it does not list the Dell comic books that were printed in Toronto for Canadian audiences during the 1940s-50s... They have a different indica on the inside.

Oh well... if anyone off in any lands other than the U.S. ever want to send me an example of an Uncle Scrooge or Donald Duck comic book, I would love to see it.

Heck... I'll even trade with you!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day 2018

So... today is Father's Day - June 17, 2018, and wherever it is celebrated, today is the day... including Japan.

Father's Day is called Chichi no hi (父の日) in Japanese. And... there are two words used for "father":
  • chichi (父);
  • otousan (お父さん)
While chichi is used to refer to your own father, otousan is used when referring to someone else's father, as we as used to address your own father.

I only ever heard otousan, while I was in Japan.

As a father, I can tell you straight up that when it comes to special days, father's generally get hosed. Mother's seem to get the good stuff... the thoughtful present... dad's... we get ties... or darn it, socks.

This year, I, however, am getting a great Father's Day present.

I coach my 12-year-old son's Select baseball team.

We are in a tournament this weekend.

After driving through rush hour Toronto traffic, an only traveling some 45 kilometers in 90 minutes, we played our first game this Friday night, and won.

After returning home, we got up early on Saturday morning to travel from our home to the tournament , played two more round-robin games, and won those, too.

Last year, my Select team played a total of 34 games (including tournaments) - we won twice and tied once. This year (as of Saturday night), we are already now with eight wins and only two losses.

This Sunday morning, we get up even earlier to make that drive again to the tournament, for a quarter-final game, and should we play to our strengths, we'll play again and again in the semi-finals and finals, too.

It's been effing hot this weekend in Toronto... and we're just 20 minutes north of Toronto for the ball games.

It was 27C on Saturday, with humidity taking it into the 30s... and guess what... Sunday is supposed to be 31C, plus humidity.

We wear polyester uniforms. Coaches, too.

But you know what... not a stitch of complaint from anyone. Probably because we've been winning, and hopefully both trends will continue on Sunday.

So... that's how I'm spending Father's Day on Sunday... with my son, playing a game or three.

And winning it all sure beats a tie.

To all you dad's out there... Happy Father's Day. Go and spend some time with your kid(s), because that's really what it's all about.

You sure as hell don't need socks to have a fun day with your kid(s).

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Otaku Won't Date Other Otaku Who Don't Like The Same Anime

Otaku is the Japanese term for geek… in a good way... whereby Otaku are heavily into anime (animation) or manga (comic books)… and in some cases having a love of one anime/manga brand means hating other brands.

Japan, as you might suspect, is actually pretty damn otaku itself, though I am sure it would be loathe to admit it… how else to explain that Numazu (沼津市, Numazu-shi), a city located in eastern Shizuoka Prefecture just last week decided it would remove all of the “Love Live! Sunshine!!” character man hold covers in the city after a vandalism spree.

Seriously… the city has manhole covers decorated with characters from an animated cartoon series?

Like, WTF?

And people are stealing the manhole covers because they want more souvenirs of their favorite animated television program?

Look… if the crime was actually committed by teenagers, people around the world might understand… but it’s Japan… the odds are equally good that the crime was committed by an adult.

Firstly… “Love Live! Sunshine!!”… what’s up with Japan’s insistence in using English… and doing so in grammatically incorrect fashion, when naming its anime?

Plus… two exclamation marks? Not one, which is enough. And not three. Two. Some graphic artist in Japan decided that one was too few, three was too many, and two was just right.

I have news for you. Seeing two exclamation marks rather than one or even three, just looks wrong.

But whatever.  That’s not what this is about… but it probably should be.

It’s about a dating service for otaku. A geek dating service.

Hey… a great idea. I won’t put the idea down. Geeks gotta love, too, right?

I was a nerd… or a geek… but I didn’t have world domination plans for any ONE anime or manga. Despite having 35,000 comic books (still), I actually enjoy reading them, and while I may like some characters more than others, I’m not fanatical about them.

I don’t give a crap if Superman is stronger than the Hulk, or if Picard is cooler than Kirk (it’s Captain Kirk). I enjoy them all, and don’t have the time to waste arguing with others over such trivial matters.

I used to enjoy going to the comic book stores once a week, just to feel superior. Not only could I out geek anyone with my comic book knowledge, I could also play, coach and talk sports, teach music, play and talk video games, and yes… I have been known to talk to girls/women… even getting a date or two. Sometimes for the same evening.   

Anyhow… in Japan, there’s Tora Con, an otaku dating service started by Tora no Ana, a anime/manga specialty retailer begun in 2017.

Surely there’s enough love in an otaku heart to love their anime/manga as well as another real person… right?

As it turns out - kindda yes, and kindda no.

Otaku are, of course, capable of human love… and not just love of the self, which is not only fun but inexpensive.

No… they can go out on dates with people, have relationships, have relations, and even get married and have kids.

But… while the Tora Con dating service does pre-screening of its members (ha) to ensure all are true anime otaku, what it failed to screen for was if the otaku like the same anime.

Apparently there’s a real deal-breaker going on within the site as otaku will not date other otaku who do not like the same anime they do.

It’s especially pronounced amongst lovers of the Japanese anime “Love Live! Sunshine!!”… who are actually calling themselves “Love Lifers”.

If you don’t like “Love Live! Sunshine!!”, you aren’t getting a date with a Love Lifer.

Now… to the rest of the world, this sounds like pure Japanese WTF material.

But I can assure you it is not.

Would a Boston Red Sox fan want to date a New York Yankees fan? Hell no. It’s been done, but it makes the news.
Yankees fan, dammit... back to having the world's largest forearm.
Would a Liverpool Reds fan want to date a Manchester (whatever) fan. Hell no. Murders have been committed for less.

It’s like trying to decide if you should raise your child Catholic or Protestant in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

I, myself, was tired of the bar scene. No one looked at me. All the women would drool over the three hot guys (they were gay… they had to be), while every guy eye humped the three hot supermodel women (probably escorts - how much?).

I went on a telephone dating service… the Internet was around, but Internet dating was still a few years from starting up.

I put in a voice message… I even dropped my voice to the deeper, more relaxed version I am capable of, and relayed a bit about myself. Not too much… I did state that I would like to find a smart woman, someone as smart as or smarter than I am… naive is fine, stupid is not.

The problem is that the stupid don’t know they are stupid.

Now… I had 35 messages after a day, listened to them all… ignored the two guys, and picked the top 3 who had potential.

I called them in no particular order, left a message with my phone number… and then… that’s when I determined if there was anyone who could live up to my expectations.

I married one of them.

She was, by the way, the only one who actually said she liked sports. She may have lied, but she at least didn’t outright say she hated it. LOL 

What’s interesting in this Japanese otaku dating kerfuffle, is that the anime, “Love Live! Sunshine!!”, is aimed at male fans.

So… if there’s a woman out there who actually likes “Love Live! Sunshine!!”… they are In Like Flint… or what ever the Japanese equivalent is for that 50 year-old outdated western saying.

But… if there’s a woman out there who is not into “Love Live! Sunshine!!”, the male fans are completely offended, and even if it was the hottest AV (porn) start out there, these otaku are geeky enough to rebuff the sexual advances in order to main their “Love Live! Sunshine!!” principals.

Now that’s an otaku.

On the flip side… any woman who actually meets a Love Liver who feels that way… that woman is NOT going to want to be even remotely connected with such fervent geekdom.

In the play As You Like It by William Shakespeare, the clown Melancholy Jacques is asked why he doesn’t like having sex with the country-bumpkin girl Audrey. (I’m pretty sure those are the names… it’s been 40 years). 

Jacques responds: “T’would be like putting good meat into an unclean dish.”

Yes, he’s calling Audrey a whore…  but also, he doesn’t think they have enough in common.

I fully understand the need for the Japanese otaku trying to date other otaku to ensure they get the best fit possible.

I don’t understand why some media outlets are looking at this “story” and thinking it’s strange that someone wants to find a match… figuring that geeks et al would simply be desperate enough to date anyone.

No... of course not... T'would be like putting good meat into an unclean dish.  

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Photo at very top of article by Laura Ockel on Unsplash
PPS: When I read As You Like It back in high school I thought it was bloody amazing that the school would let us read a book with perhaps the filthiest dirty line I have ever come across, and I've come across plenty of things. I was actually sitting at my desk in English listening to someone else struggle through their reading of this line... and when I heard it, I burst out laughing... and no one else did.
Seriously... no one else did. Like no one else understood that the "meat" Shakespeare/Jacques was talking about was his own penis... and that the unclean dish was his STD-riddled (unclean) babe (the dish), Audrey. Seriously... was I the only 15-year-ild with such a beautiful mind? Or was I the only one who couldn't controls his urge to guffaw? I was 15 in a class of 17-year-olds, so maybe I was immature - but c'mon! Shakespeare wanted the audience to titter at his bon mot!      
PPPS: Man I miss sharing a laugh about such things with Alice.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Walking Dead - Japan Style

So… a man in Chiba-ken goes missing.

A body is found unconscious in the Edo river in Tokyo. He’s alive… but dies later in the hospital.

The family of the missing man identifies the drowned body as that of their loved one.

Body is cremated - everyone mourns.

Then the missing man shows up alive in Chiba-ken, arriving at his home - alive and well.

What a farce by all parties involved.

The police farce: 

No DNA test was was done comparing the missing man with that of the deceased. How long does a DNA test take nowadays? Not that long. A day?

Since the body found in the Edo River was alive… there was NO bloating or environmental damage to make identifying the body difficult.

So… how does the family of the missing man confirm that “There’s no mistake” - that this was their missing husband/family?

Also… what a farce by the media in Japan.

I found this article in Japan Today (thanks Vinnie)… and since it was on-line, once has all the room in the world to write the story.The Internet's not going to become full... at least I don't think that's possible.

Not ONCE does the story wonder just WHERE the heck the missing man had been for a whole year!

Was he kidnapped?

Did he suffer a mental breakdown?

Did he just want to get away from his wife?

Did he he suffer amnesia for a year?

Has he disappeared at anytime previous?

There’s not even a mention of whether or not the missing man had looked disheveled, was wearing the same or different clothes, or if he was well-fed and well-looked after. 

Okay… at no time does the article actually name the missing man or his family. NOR does it even mention which police were involved in the original missing person/dead case.

Why not?

Who is being protected and why?

The police? The family of the missing man who disappeared for a year and then came back?And who was the dead guy, and what does his family think about their man being cremated in someone else's family plot? Have they mourned him for a year? Had they held out hope he was still alive?

There's so many elements to this story's plot, and very few of them are answered let alone looked at.

If you knew any of these two missing men, wouldn't you want the answers?

Newspapers are supposed to tell its readers stories... to keep the reader informed. To educate.

I was taught that every news story story should answer the 5Ws +1H… who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Either that’s half-assed journalism in not finding these things out and not presenting them, or it’s an embarrassing turn of events and the media is protecting them… because the media needs the police if it is to do any sort of future police beat reporting.

Here’s the story with a bit more detail as presented by the Japan Today article:

Missing man is in his 40s.

He went missing from his home in Matsudo City, Chiba-ken.

Family filed a missing person report immediately last year in 2017. What month or day?

Later on June 27, 2017 (last year), an unconscious but still alive man is pulled from the river. He has no ID on him. He later dies in the hospital. How long after does he die? I have to assume he never regained consciousness… but nothing in the article states if he did or didn’t. He may have regained consciousness but never spoke or communicated. HOW did he die? What injuries did he suffer in the water that contributed to his death? Was he dumped? Did he slip and fall? Did he try and kill himself?

Family of missing man was called in by the police to identify the dead BODY.

They confirmed it was their kin.

Police then changed the man’s status from “Missing” to “Dead”.

Family is handed the deceased’s body. Body is cremated. I assume in a family plot. I assume they paid for the services, too... and since suicide was never mentioned, was insurance paid out? If it was, do they have to give it back? All of it? I'm sure some was spent.

On June 6, 2018, the original missing family man returns home. Alive and well.

The wife calls the police (which police?) to tell them her husband that she had thought dead, and had identified, was alive.

The wife had placed the missing person’s report. She had identified the drowned man’s body as being that of her husband.

Police now begin a new investigation, as they have to figure out just who that drowned guy was. He had been cremated. Had anyone taken a DNA test on him?

Also, I would assume - though it was never mentioned - that the police (which police?) are investigating the now alive missing/dead man had been for a year. 

The police (which police?) have figured out that that the man in the river was a part of another missing person case from Tokyo… a man in his 30s. Granted… quantifying people’s ages can be tricky.

This family of the missing 30-year-old Tokyo man had filed a missing person’s report SHORTLY after the police had mistaken his body for a man in his 40s. How shortly?

Why don’t we have actual ages for these people? Or actual police department’s involved? Or names of the deceased? Or the names of the missing person and family?

The police (which police?) say that if a body is identified by family, further investigation, DNA testing or even fingerprint matching is not done or necessary. I get that. It’s a waste of resources considering the body was identified by family.

So… who’s fault is it anyway?

  • The missing man for going missing, if it was on purpose: Kidnapping or self-imposed to get away from his wife and family.

If he suffered a mental breakdown, I don't consider that his fault. He simply wasn't in control. People need to understand that about those who suffer from mental health issues.   

  • The missing man’s wife for not being able to identify her husband correctly. The deceased was alive when pulled from the Edo River. His body had NOT undergone any radical alterations to his skin or body when he died. DID the drowned/deceased man in his 30s REALLY look like her husband in his 40s? Was he wearing clothing that was similar?Is there photographic evidence of the two men alive that shows them looking alike?
Okay, I get that the deceased didn’t have ID on him. Still… the wife should have been able to correctly identify if that drowned/deceased man was her husband.

I suspect she expected it to be her husband so that in her head that was all she saw - her husband.
  • The police… if a body is brought into a hospital - should there be an attempt to identify the body? Fingerprinting, X-Ray of teeth? I didn’t say DNA test… because that’s afterwards.

Still… the timing of things must have been close enough that when the police (which police? The one in Chiba-ken, or the one in Tokyo?!) discovered a drowned person, they assumed it must be the missing man and contacted the family. Sure… the height, weight and features must have been similar… I’m sure they compared a family photo with the deceased body in front of them and thought this is the same guy.

Hell… the wife did.

Still… there should have been more of an independent attempt by the police to try and confirm deceased identity before making families come on down to try and correctly identify it. 

Police representatives (of which department?) claim they are interested in using the case as a teaching moment to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

For get learning lessons? How about the police do a better job of identifying people before dragging families in?

How about the media in Japan actually try and ask the right questions and present the reader with the best story possible?

It’s not a Japan thing. It’s a global thing - at least as far as the shoddy media reporting goes.

Perhaps I was taught better as a newspaper journalist (and student in Humber College’s journalism program in Toronto). Perhaps I knew I had to do it while a reporter at the Toronto Star newspaper.

But whatever the heck is going on with journalists - especially on-line journalists - is deplorable in many instances.

As a reader… if any news article you read can not identify and answer the 5Ws+1H, then that article is a failure.

Write in, and tell them that.

Maybe it's an honest mistake. 

Look… sometimes information isn’t available to the journalist. I get it. But make sure you state as much to avoid looking like a rank amateur.

Why the hell do you think I write as much as I can on any given topic… to present as much information as I humanly can. I’ll even note where I am guessing, editorializing, or simply don’t know something. I don’t think I look stupid doing so, and I’d much rather you have the most correct information available at that time. 

That’s sort of the news, and that was my two yen’s worth.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What's In A Name?

So... just before the posting of this here blog, I was watching For A Few Dollars More, the 1965 masterpiece spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood.

It was on the TCM channel (Turner Classic Movie) You should get it if you don't. I guarantee you that several times a month, a movie you've always heard about but never seen, or a genre you have a passion for, will appear. I'm a sucker for Westerns, war movies - preferably WWII, monster movies, hard-boiled private dick flicks, and good solid comedies starring the stars... Harold Lloyd, Marx Brothers, Abbot & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Keystone Cops, Buster Keaton et al.

It's the second movie of the so-called Man With No Name trilogy... all shot in Italy, and with Italian actors, excluding Clint and Lee Van Cleef.

Anyhow... for a series of movies dubbed the "Man With No Name", it's funny that in this movie, Eastwood's character is named Manco.

Also... since I just happened to take a look, the movie was actually released in Japan (twice)... from 1967... and its re-release in 1972.

Actually, the trilogy was made in 1964, 1965 and 1966 and released in Italy in those three years, the rest of the world didn't get to see them until 1967 when all three were released that year.

While "Manco" is Spanish for "One-Armed Man", in Japanese "Manko" (note the spelling difference, though pronounced essentially the same)... well, it means a female body part with a feline equivalent, and rhymes with wussy.

I just wonder if Japanese audiences giggled when they heard his name spoken aloud... or written out in the katakana alphabet reserved for foreign words or names when it appeared on the silver screen?

It's so ridiculous... Eastwood's character has two arms... and he sure ain't no rhymes with wussy. And... he has a name!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What Is a Gaijin? Part 2

Without needing to beat the hafu issue to death, let me present a slightly different takes on things.

First... a hafu is, in my estimation, a derogatory Japanese term for someone who was born to one Japanese parent and one non-Japanese parent. Half-Japanese, in other words.

It’s not a term used outside of Japan to describe anyone. It is a term used by the Japanese to cement their pure Japaneseness over others they deem inferior. Because they are half-Japanese.

Oh yes it is… or why else even have the term?

In Japan, while I was an assistant junior high school teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme between 1990-1993 in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Prefecture of Tochigi), I came across one tweenager who would be today considered a “hafu” by the the misinformed Japanese, or bi-racial, by others who feel the need for a tag, or simply "tween" by those who don't need to define by race or parentage.

The term hafu wasn’t in use back then when I was there - or if it was, I never heard it uttered.

The 12-year-old, Grade seven female student attended Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School), an affluent school in my rural city… certainly not like some of the others populated with kids of farmers.

Although some of the farmers in my city were quite affluent.

Actually… one’s social status does not determine whether or not someone was a “hick”… so I’m actually sorry I brought up the affluence part. I blame Justin Trudeau. (You can look him up with the word Trump, via Google or Bing or whatever search engine you prefer.)

Anyhow, the girl looked Japanese to me, but she was actually born in Peru… to Japanese parents in Peru.

She speaks Spanish and Japanese - both with the fluidity of someone who is 12. In other words, if she never spoke Spanish, in my mind you’d never know about her Spanish heritage from merely living in Peru.

But now that she has moved back to Japan with her entire family, you would think that it would be status quo… A Japanese girl back in Japan. No big whoop.

But it is to the other Japanese kids… and it is to the Japanese adults she encounters.

Because she wasn’t born in Japan—despite speaking Japanese, looking Japanese, dressing identically in her school costume like the other female Japanese kids, eating and drinking the same Japanese foods et al and in the same way as the other Japanese kids—it was still pointed out by the other kids, that this young woman was considered to be a gaijin.

Gaijin is a Japanese term used to denote someone who is a stranger, a foreigner or an outsider.

She’s not a stranger to these girls.

She’s not a foreigner because she at least looks, talks and acts Japanese. Maybe.

But she is an outsider.

Having not been part of the Japanese hive mind collective since birth… and despite even her parent’s and school’s best attempts to kata-ize her to all of the Japanese elements of life, she is still considered to be an outsider.

She missed out on all of the social bonding that the primary school kids have, and even a year or so of the initial bonding they might have had together in junior high school because she was living in Peru.

Rather than be celebrated for her global jaunt as a world traveler, she is instead teased and harassed and made sure she she is aware that she is not Japanese, despite all appearances.

She is a gaijin. An outsider to the Japanese collective.

Look… I know no society is perfect, but there has to be a change in Japanese attitudes over what constitutes someone being Japanese.

Just because someone who is born in Japan and raised in Japan yet happens to have a parent who is non-Japanese—that should still make someone Japanese. Screw that "hafu" designation.

You know they ("hafu")feel Japanese… but Japanese society has a nasty habit of not letting go of the fact that these “half-breeds” to not fit Japan’s rather narrow definition of what Japanese person is.

The same holds true for the now middle-aged woman who once lived in Peru. Born of Japanese parents. Raised in a Japanese fashion. Speaks the language. Looks the part… how the fug, when she goes to Japan to live, is she not considered to be Japanese?

There is an innate fear the Japanese have, to distrust the "foreigner".

Those devils from the United States of America came with warships to threaten—ever so slightly—to open up its borders to trade back in the mid-1800s.

Before that, in the late 1500s when Portuguese sailors entered Japan’s ports they brought with them booze, guns and STDs, as they befouled their women. 

In the 1600s, even after Japan closed off its borders, Christian monks tried to convert the Japanese—only to find they weren’t welcome and were summarily executed.

Then the gaijin kicked their ass during WWII—and while the Japanese can respect that—they also hated them for stripping away the godlike power of the Emperor, and then rewriting the Constitution to give more rights to everyone (especially women). And then they propped up Japan’s economy, bought its goods, and even accepted some charity during the rebuild.

Nowadays? The Japanese still expect all foreigners wanting to do business with it to do business its way, regardless if the foreigner way may be a quicker and easier thing to do.

Granted, the foreigner way is often: “I don’t care how you do it, but do it quickly.”
Whereas the Japanese way is: “I don’t care how long it takes, let’s do it right.”

I know I like the Japanese way here.

But, when it comes to the treatment of those who do not fit the mold of what its society believes defines a Japanese person, that’s when I take offense.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Oh Baby! That Sucks!


This one is a press release - but a very interesting one. I’ve merely edited here and there for style, but it takes a poignant look at Japan and the lack of inroads within Japan for the baby formula market segment. I have provided my usual lengthy discourse at the end of the press release, explaining why making such inroads may be nigh impossible for brand owners. 

Even though Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has released guidelines for manufacturing, labeling and storage of liquid infant formula, setting the stage for its production in Japan, it is likely to be several years before the first liquid formula appears on the commercial market, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

While liquid infant formulae are widely used in many markets due to convenience, there are no takers for the products in Japan primarily due to lack of safety regulations and rise in the proportion of mothers exclusively breastfeeding from 41.4 percent in 2005 to 55 percent in 2015, according to GlobalData.

However, in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, a number of liquid milks were shipped, for example, from the U.S. and Finland, and these proved popular with many mothers.

This led to renewed calls for liquid milks to be allowed on the Japanese market.

The Japanese market has tended to split baby milk into two main types:
1) infant formula for babies from birth until nine months, and;
2) follow-on milks from nine months, although the last three years or so have begun to see a shift in age specifications.

Despite rising rates of breastfeeding, per capita consumption of infant formula by babies aged 0-12 months has increased in the past few years, boosted by growing demand from tourists from elsewhere in the region, and stands at 9.8 kilograms.

GlobalData research director of baby food Valerie Lincoln-Stubbs says, “Overall, the market is difficult and competitive for manufacturers, and all of them are keen to find ways to increase their sales in a market with ever fewer consumers.”

Some companies are even selling baby milk to the elderly in their quest to increase sales.

In 2017, in response to older customers adding infant formula to their diet, Japanese food manufacturer and brand owner Morinaga launched infant formula-based Lifestyle milk for women in their 50s to 70s. Bean Stalk Snow followed in September 2017 with a similar product aimed at the adult palate.

While liquid formulae could present an opportunity for increasing the number of usage occasions, manufacturers need to be aware of the crowded state of urban Japan, which means that kitchens are small and storage space is at a premium.

There is also an environmental argument against liquid formula with its high volume meaning the carbon footprint to transport it is much higher than for powdered milk.

Lincoln-Stubbs concludes: “Liquid formulae tend to command a higher price, and while Japanese consumers are generally affluent, there are concerns that these products will be unaffordable for the less wealthy. When they do hit the shelves, it is likely that demand will be limited, with small individual serving packs expected to be the most popular format due to their on-the-go appeal, their relatively affordability and easy storage.”

About GlobalData
Some 4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70 percent of FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 100 and 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies, use GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. The company  helps clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors. Company information available at www,globaldata.com.

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What I find interesting, is the attempt at hitting a different market from what the infant formulae was originally intended.
I assume the recipe is different for the older women.
In North America, products such as Boost are all the rage—I’ve bought a few of the six packs recently—but are not marketed solely to women. They are marketed as a meal supplement featuring—according to its brand owner—Nestlé—to provide "the complete nutrition you need to help you stay strong".

The drinks contain 10 grams of protein, 26 vitamins and minerals, and come in four flavors (that I know of). There are, along with the standard original formula, others with added calories, a diabetic version, and even a high protein version.

It also tastes pretty darn good.

The scenario proposed by Morniga and Bean Stalk Snow still does not show how they plan on having greater inroads with Japanese mothers, but it does show initiative to try and find an alternative customer source.

There are many reasons why some mothers prefer to stick with breastfeeding their brood, rather than opting for infant formula.

I am unsure about the validity of the various claims, but aside from the natural aspect that is preferred, breastfeeding—even for time periods when many other mothers from other nations might wean their child—is that it is thought that breastfeeding provides more nutrients and helps ensure a stronger immune system for the child.

My son was breastfed longer than what I thought was "normal", but at the same time, the kid never gets sick. Coincidence or proof?

Then again, I don't get sick either. And I wasn't breastfed for anything close to a long time, as way back when, it was incumbent that my mother get back to work as soon as possible. I believe it was three months.

Coincidence or proof?

That's the problem with facts and research. Unless we are talking about a ridiculously high percentile one way or the other, with all social factors being equal, how do you determine if breastfeeding versus infant formula is the way to go?

Even if breastfeeding, such as what the Japanese seem to prefer, is eventually considered to be the best solution, would that still be the case for the mother who doesn't eat well, or drinks, or smokes? Could any of those factors affect the potency of nutrients being passed on to the infant during breast feeding? Does exercise play into it... too much, too little, none at all, or what? Social environments such as stress or living in an area with a higher degree of smog or pollution? Water supply - not all water is created equally, you know.

Again... food... what constitutes "healthy food"? People in countries around the world eat different "healthy" foods - can you ultimately determine that what is best for one person is the best for another?

You can't.

Plus... in Japan... there is a reluctance to try new things... something that has changed in the past 30 years, but something that still exists as a big green monster for foreign companies looking to bring the next new thing to a country.

That's what GlobalData implies, but doesn't exactly state in its news release.       


"(I)t is likely to be several years before the first liquid formula appears on the commercial market," says Global data, even though guidelines are in place.

Despite the convenience factor, Japanese mothers are reluctant to give up their role of nurturer and feeder of their infant.

While other societies are glad to have an infant formula around so that the father or in-laws et al can provide some physical relief to the mother during feeding time, in Japan, the care of the child from birth to whenever, is really a Japanese mother's full-time job.

Part of that ensues from the fact that Japanese women upon graduation will find work, get married and have a child... and while views are beginning to change in the Japanese business world, it is largely assumed that after marriage, a Japanese woman will indeed quickly get pregnant, and will never return to the workforce.

It's not a 100 percent deal—but it is still the norm.

Heck... you can even see, in western society, a reluctance of employers to hire a just-married woman for fear they will lose them soon to pregnancy, and be on the hook for maternity leave... meaning someone new has to be paid, while they still (partially) pay the mother/employee. So why hire them?

I'm not saying such business practices are right are wrong, I'm merely pointing out a scenario that plays out every day.

In Japan, female workers who have a child are extremely unlikely to return to the workforce... so what are they doing?

They are looking after their child (children). As such, if that is their new "employment", they would want and need to feel completely useful. Health conscious reasoning aside, the necessity to do their mothering job takes precedent.

Again, not every Japanese woman does the elongated time of breast feeding, as some do see the benefits of utilizing an infant formula... but despite the Japanese government providing the means for manufacturers to enter this relatively new Japanese market, discovering ways to change a Japanese mindset that doesn't necessarily want to be changed is going to be the key.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph