Tag Archives: Japan

Japan Introduces New Judicial System

This month Japan introduces a new judicial system which will actively engage citizens in the process of making decisions of guilt or innocence. Under the new system, six randomly chosen people will work with three professional judges to hear a case and reach a verdict, including murder trials and the death sentence. The change is designed to more actively involve Japanese citizens in the entire judicial process and hopefully speed up trials. Under the new system, six lay people will work with three judges to decide the facts in criminal cases. Potential lay judges will be identified from a list compiled by electoral boards within the jurisdiction of each district court. Individuals will be notified in November, they have been selected and at some time during the year they will be called to sit on a trial.

Certain people are automatically disqualified from sitting such as judges, lawyers, police, etc.. or anyone with a criminal record. Only serious crimes will be subject to the new lay system of judges. Employers are required to give employees time off for being judges and the lay people will be paid for their time on the bench.

Japan Struggles With Immigration

The current economic crisis is creating new problems with Japan since their aging population has required allowing thousands of immigrants to enter and take jobs not sought by native Japanese. However, massive layoffs are mainly impacting these foreign workers and already thousands are heading back home. Their children have limited opportunity to secure a university education and they are not covered by medical insurance. Susumu Ishihara, president of the Japan Immigration Agency, points out that once the economic crisis ends, Japan once again will be required to rely on the work of immigrants in many sectors of society. In 2007, Japan was home to 2.15 million foreigners which represents nearly twice as many as were in the country in 1990.

At some point, the Japanese population has to recognize they need immigrants to deal with so many work needs that native born people do not wish to do. There is need to assure immigrants their children will have access to education including intensive language training, that their families will be covered by medical insurance and they will not be compelled to leave the country everytime there is an economic downturn. As the Japanese population ages, a younger immigrant population will have to emerge.

Japan Sends Latin American Japanese Back Home

Over a hundred years ago, about a million people from Japan headed east to the shores of South America where they settled and became active citizens. About ten years ago, the Japanese government was concerned about falling birth rates so it sent out a welcome to the descendants of those who had migrated. Thousands of Japanese people from Brazil and Peru came to Japan in search of work and reintegration to the land of their ancestors. Japan has tight immigration laws so they ordinarily allowed skilled people to enter the country. The economy has declined due to the world recession so the Japanese government is now offering money and transportation to those who left Brazil and Peru. Many have lost their jobs in places like Toyota and will most probably have to head home, of course, in this case, “home” is where they were born.

The new program of paying people to leave is only available to those of Brazilian and Peruvian ancestry. They came, they saw, they worked and now they can leave. Unfortunately for Japan, its birth rate continues to decline so in several years they will be beckoning back those who are leaving. Will they be interested for a second time around?

The Ignored Issue In Iran – Plight Of Baha’i

World newspapers provide extensive coverage about Iran’s nuclear development or its relations with Israel, but it is unusual for the media to focus on the plight of members of the Bahai faith in Iran who are probably the most persecuted group in that nation. Two months ago, seven members of the faith were arrested including Jinous Sobhani who works with human rights groups that were founded by Nobel Prize winner Airin Ebadi. The Iranian government charges that Bahais were in the pay of Israeli secret agents and were plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. The Japanese government has joined the European Union, the UN and other nations in protesting the trials of Bahai members as so-called agents of Israel. The Bahai faith was founded in Persia in 1844 and now has about five million members in the world.

Iranian Bahais suffer constant persecution in virtually every aspect of society ranging from education to work to leisure so it would be madness for any member of the faith to work with Israel. This is a trumped up charge to discredit decent people who seek peace and an end to hatred in the world. Most probably, it is those beliefs which are the source of the arrests.

Japan Struggles To Define Relationship With Obama

Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated he seeks to establish solid working relationships with the new Obama adminsitration, but he will have problems in achieving that goal. The Japanese prime minister had close working connections with Bush and is unclear as to whether Obama’s policies in Asia will be in line with his goals. Obama needs to focus on rebuilding the American economy, and Japan has enough of its own financial crisis to be of much assistance. Japan is still very much concerned about the kidnapping by North Korea of its citizens, but there is little likelihood this will be of much concern to the Obama administration. Obama wants to end North Korean nuclear programs and will undoubtedly make that his priority, which means he will regard lesser issues of no importance and will avoid dealing with them if they hamper achieving the goal of ending nuclear weapons in North Korea.

The Japanese government has displayed an inept approach to many issues such as the manner in which the history of WWII is taught in its schools which has resulted in anger by Chinese and Korean officials. It is time for Japan to confront issues of the past, put them to rest, and move ahead to focus on contemporary issues. Aso’s buddy, George Bush is history, so begin making history with Obama

Japanese Silence About Burakumin

Many Japanese people are sharing the world wide interest in an African American becoming president of the United States, but few ever pause to think about their own nation’s abuse of people who are from buraku backgrounds. A buraku is the term used to describe an area where many people have ancestral ties to the people who were placed at the bottom of feudal society in the Edo period where they carried out low level tasks considered “tainted” according to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. Many were engaged in butchery and leather work where the killing and use of animal corpses was involved. The estimate of the number of such people in modern Japan ranges from 1.2 million up to three million.

Few Japanese people will even use the expression and its use is considered a conversation stopper. Most large corporations have finally gotten around to hiring people from a buraku area but few smaller sized companies will hire such people. It is commonly assumed people of this background are linked to organized crime. A recent incident in which a leader of the Buraku Liberation League was found to be connected to crime lords reinforced beliefs in their criminality. As a result of this story, Osaka Governor Toru Hashimoto cut all government assistance to buraku areas.

There is not government legislation to deal with discrimination based on one’s origin in Japanese society nor does Japan have a vibrant multicultural education which would raise such topics with students in school. It is believed silence and not seeing are the best solutions to dealing with hate and discrimination.

Japanese Revisionists Seek To Revise The Truth Of WWII

There are a significant number of prominent people in Japan who have been attempting for years to sell their nation a version of World War II that few, if any, historians outside of Japan would accept as having any relation to the reality of what happened in the war. Organizers of a controversial essay contest supported former General Toshio Tamagami, who was fired, for insisting in an essay that Japan was a victim and the cause of the war was the United States. According to this version, the United States tricked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor. However, this version ignores that in 1936, five years prior to Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded China and killed over four million people. Tamagami claims Asian nations welcomed the Japanese taking over their nation. Of course, the revolt against Japanese occupation was led by native Vietnamese, many of whom later became the communist leaders of Vietnam.

It is time for Japanese educators to follow the example of Germany and come to grips with their brutality during WWII. The thousands of Korean women did not welcome Japanese conquerors, the Koreans who were subjected to medical experiments by criminal Japanese doctors did not welcome the Japanese conquerors. The brutality of Japanese behavior in WWII must be confronted in Japanese schools in order to help the nation find its soul.

Recession Impacts Japanese Youth

Japan has the world’s second-largest economy, but the recession appears to be impacting the nation’s economy causing thousands of university graduates to confront the possibility of not being able to find a job. Last year’s students did not encounter any problem in securing jobs, but this year there are indications many companies are cutting back on new hires and are offering less lucrative beginning salaries. There are even reports some corporations have retracted job offers which is causing those students to suddenly seek work at another company. Job offers already are down by a few percent, but no one knows what the future will bring.

Most experts believe large corporations will scale back hiring at least for several months while they wait to see the direction of the economy. Japan has a population which is growing older so there might be relief in sight for younger workers who can wait out retirements which are due to happen.

Japan Experiments With Lay Judge System

Japan is introducing a new system of lay judges who will serve as judges on important cases brought to court. The idea is to more actively engage citizens in the operation of government and make them more aware of responsibilities of being a citizen in a modern society. Under the lay judge system to be introduced in May, 2009,. about half of people who are registered on the list of candidates for being a lay judge may wind up actually sitting as a judge in a court case. The actual number of cases to be tried before lay judges will be about 1,511. According to the process, each district court will pick by lot 50 to 100 people who will be summoned to court to be interviewed by a judge regarding their suitability to serve as a judge.

Some people who received the letter were somewhat surprised, but several said they were now more closely following news in the media in case they would up as a judge in one of the cases. This is an interesting experiment in justice and the results will be fascinating in terms does the prosecution or the defense find the new system more beneficial.

Japanese Workers-Time For Sex, Not Work!

Japan is facing a demographic crisis in the coming decades which will result in a dramatic decline of its population unless the people of Japan lay off work in the office and get back to work in the bedroom. A recent survey of married couples revealed over half did not have sex over the past month. A high percent of men said they were “too tired” after working a full day to go home and have a little sex with their wives. A study bey Durex found that the average Japanese couple has sex about 45 times a year which is half the world average.

Japan has a birth rate of 1.34 which is the among the lowest in the world. If this rate persists, the Japanese population in 2050 will drop to 95 million from its current 124 million. Keidanren, Japan’s largest business organization is asking its 1,600 members to allow its married members to spend more time at home, and, hopefully, fooling around with the spouse in a burst of Japanese patriotism to keep their nation strong.