Mar 1, 2011
English teachers in Japan get a bum rap. Not always taken seriously as professionals, and often denied advancement opportunities in the workplace, they are seen as people over here on a lark. They get accused of taking advantage of Japanese society to earn easy money, canoodle with the locals, then go home. They even get blamed (JBC, Sept. 7, 2010) for the low level of English in Japan.
Feb 1, 2011
In Dec. 28's Japan Times, Charles Lewis wrote a respectful Zeit Gist column asking three fellow wise men (sumo wrestler Konishiki, musicologist Peter Barakan and Diet member Marutei Tsurunen) about their successful lives as "foreigners" in Japan. Despite their combined century of experience here, the article pointed out how they are still addressed at times like outsiders fresh off the boat.
Jan 4, 2011
No. 5: Renho joins Kan's Cabinet Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese- Japanese Diet member Renho's ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, "Why must we aim to develop the world's No. 1 supercomputer? What's wrong with being No. 2?"), she has been Japan's most vocal policy reformer.
Nov 2, 2010
Last month I attended an international lecture by one of Japanology's senior scholars. I'll call him Dr. Frink. Decorated by the Japanese government for his contributions to the field, he talked about Japan as a "unique" state that never really changes, even as it slips to third place behind China's economy.
Oct 5, 2010
It's that time of the decade again. By now, all households in Japan should have received and submitted Japan's National Census (kokusei chosa), a survey taken every five years expressly to assist in policymaking, drawing up electoral districts and other matters of taxation and representation. This of course includes non-Japanese (NJ) on visas of three months or longer. Get yours?
Sep 7, 2010
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, touted as the world's largest cultural exchange scheme, has brought thousands of non-Japanese into the country to teach at local boards of education. These days, with many government programs being told to justify their existence, a debate is raging over whether JET should be left as is, cut or abolished entirely.
Aug 3, 2010
Jun 1, 2010
Mar 2, 2010
Dec 1, 2009
For the first time in Japan's postwar history, we have a viable opposition party in power — one that might stick around long enough to make some new policies stick. In my last column for 2009, let me suggest how the Democratic Party of Japan could make life easier for Japan's residents, regardless of nationality.
Nov 3, 2009
Nov 3, 2009
Oct 6, 2009
M aking international (and to a lesser extent, national) news recently has been the Savoie child abduction case. Briefly: After a couple divorced in America, ex-wife Noriko Savoie absconded with their children to Japan. Then ex-husband Christopher, who had been awarded custody in the U.S., came to Japan to take the kids back. On Sept. 28 he tried to get the children into the American Consulate in Fukuoka, but was barred entry and arrested by the Japanese police for kidnapping.