For Masako Tsubuku's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Apr 12, 2019
Mar 5, 2019
One of the key elements of the Abe administration's efforts to stimulate the economy is getting more women into the workforce. As it stands, Japan has one of the highest rates of working women in the developed world, so the problem is not so much jobs but rather the quality of the jobs women get and how much money they make.
Feb 8, 2019
When we were negotiating for the purchase of a piece of land, the realtor told us that the lot we were interested in had no access to public waterworks, which meant we would have to dig a well. At first, this aspect seemed like a demerit, since hiring a company to dig the well would cost more than ¥400,000 plus administrative fees.
Jan 11, 2019
Japan is currently the object of criticism for its decision to leave the International Whaling Commission, and resume commercial whaling in territorial waters and its own exclusive economic zone. People who support the move cite either cultural reasons — Japan traditionally, they assert, is a whale-eating country — or the assumption that whales aren't as endangered as the IWC claims they are.
Nov 9, 2018
On Oct. 15, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed during an extraordinary Cabinet meeting that the government would raise the consumption tax from 8 to 10 percent next Oct. 1. The tax hike has already been postponed twice owing to jitters over how it might affect consumption. The last consumption tax increase, in 2014, sparked a recession, and reportedly there is still a chance that Abe might postpone the hike once again if economic indicators show a similar scenario. Consequently, the prime minister said the government would do its "utmost to minimize a negative impact on the economy by implementing all sorts of policies."
Oct 12, 2018
Rethinking the notion that hot weather means increased consumption in wake of Japan's scorching summer
Sep 7, 2018
On July 27, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the Bank of Japan had overestimated the value of mutual funds being held by individuals by about 30 percent. Every three months the BOJ publishes statistics called shikin junkan tōkei that cover the financial assets of households and businesses, and as of December 2017 the value of mutual funds held by households was estimated to be ¥109 trillion. However, in the report that came out in June, this number had dropped to ¥76 trillion, a difference of ¥33 trillion. That's a pretty big discrepancy.
Aug 10, 2018
Last month, a man was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for leaving human remains at a garbage collection station near his residence in Adachi Ward. The remains had been cremated and were mixed in with shards of funerary urns, and according to a report on NHK News, the man admitted to dumping the urns but claimed he knew nothing of the ashes and bone fragments.
Jul 13, 2018
Jun 8, 2018
On May 2, Shinsei Bank announced that starting from October it will impose fees for automatic teller machine (ATM) transactions. Shinsei's main sales point has always been its lack of ATM fees, but the bank will start charging ¥108 per ATM withdrawal unless the customer's account satisfies certain conditions.
May 11, 2018
In June, the popular online flea market, Mercari Inc., is expected to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers section, which is reserved for high-growth startup companies. According to an article in the April 18 Asahi Shimbun the value of the company's stock at the time of the listing could exceed ¥200 billion ($1.8 billion), making it the highest new listing of the year on Mothers. The company hopes to use the funds to expand into overseas markets.
Apr 13, 2018
As of the end of March, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. had paid more than ¥8 trillion in compensation (baishōkin) related to the Fukushima No. 1 reactor meltdowns of March 2011. About half of this money has gone to people living near the crippled reactors for "mental anguish" and the other half has gone to businesses whose livelihoods were destroyed or otherwise diminished by the disaster.
Apr 1, 2018
A new law will go into effect in June to regulate minpaku, private residences rented out by their owners as short-term lodgings. To most, the new law will address changes that have occurred in recent years due to the rise of Airbnb, the worldwide online service that allows travelers to book rooms in private homes directly from the owners of those residences.
Mar 7, 2018
Shrine murder highlights huge amount of cash — most of it off-book — raked in by Japan's religious sites
In December, the former gūji (head priest) of Tokyo's famous Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine allegedly murdered his sister before committing suicide. Later, it was reported by various media that the suspect, Shigenaga Tomioka, had taken over the position from his father in 1995, but apparently the father disapproved of his son's spendthrift habits and, after temporarily reassuming the head priest position, willed it to his daughter, Nagako, who took over in 2010. She asked that the Association of Shinto Shrines, which oversees all of Japan's shrines, approve her ascension, and when they failed to respond, Nagako withdrew Tomioka Hachimangu from the group.
Mar 4, 2018
Many Japanese people are wary of investment as a means of growing their savings. There are a variety of reasons for this caution, so most keep their money in a bank, gaining almost no interest in the process, in the hope that they won't lose any in the long run. However, some salaried workers who understand that their state pensions won't be enough to live off of when they retire do invest money in real estate, despite the fact that Japanese real estate has seen limited growth ever since the inflated asset bubble burst in the early 1990s.
Feb 11, 2018
On Dec. 18, the Supreme Court's petit bench ruled against a man from Fukuoka Prefecture who was suing the management association (kanri kumiai) of his condominium for firing him as its president of the board (rijicho) because the regulations of the association contained no stipulations for dismissal.
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