Tag Archives: Japan

Hermit Nation Ready To Open Doors To World

Japan historically has regarded itself as a hermit nation which intends to block out foreigners from becoming an important factor in their closed society. But, a rapidly declining population, a growing percent of people who are retired, has raised new issues regarding the future of a Japan which blocks out the world. In a surprising move, 80 legislators of the Liberal Democratic Party issues a proposal to dramatically alter Japanese immigration laws by encouraging foreigners to reside in their nation. “There is no effective cure to save Japan from a population crisis,” says their proposal. “In order for Japan to survive, it must open its doors as an international state to the world and shift toward establishing an ‘immigrant nation’ by accepting immigrants and revitalizing Japan.”

Japan currently has about 2.8 million foreigners residing in the country but only 837,000 are considered permanent residents. The lawmakers want to increase the ratio of immigrants so by 2050 they would constitute 10% of the population. They are proposing that any foreigner who resides in Japan for 10 years should be granted citizenship.

The increased life expectancy in Japan which is now over 80 years, and the decline in birth rate means there are fewer people working to maintain the lives of elderly people in a proper manner. The only hope is immigration which also would stimulate Japanese thinking and innovation.

Is Japan Serious About Global Warming?

The chief climate change official in the United Nations challenged the Japanese government to clarify its commitment to pursuing a program that deals with global warming. Yvo de Boer wanted clarification about recent statements that Japan would focus on “industrial sectoral” approaches rather than focusing on a national program of dealing with environmental issues. “Recent statements in the Japanese media have made it less clear what Japan’s intentions are vis a vis sectoral approaches. There have been statements that sectoral approaooches are far superior to national goals and these create the impression that one is intended to replace the other.”

Japan increasingly has been talking about halving global greenhouse emissions by 2050 but that far away goal does nothing to alleviate conditions in the coming two decades. De Boer sharply criticized the United States, Canada and Japan for being negligent about global warming and wanted to know “what are the rich countries willing to put on the table to make” reduction of emissions a reality?

Japan Warns Myamar Must Be Carefully Handled

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda emphasized in a recent interview with the Washington Post the importance of the United Nations to “more actively itnervene” to help the people of Myanmar, given the paranoia that engulfs the minds of its military junta leaders. He believes it is a mistake to even suggest dispatching soldiers from a particular nation and prefers any use of soliders in relief activities be part of a United Nations force. “We msut think well about whther it is appropriate to (help Mynmar) by way of sending military troops from one country or whether it would be better to send troops as part of a U.N. organization.”

This is a realistic analysis of the situation, there is a group of thugs and dicatorial minded people in charge of Myanmar who will never allow any country to take a prominent role in relief efforts.

Fukuda touched upon the issue of climate change and will seek support from India to Japan’s proposal of a “sectorial approach” in establishing targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Japan will host the Group of Eight summmit in July and propose calculating carbon dioxide reductions on a sector-by-sector basis.

Food Tme Bomb Ticking In Asia

Japan’s Finance Minister, Fukushiro Nukaga, told an Asian business conference there is a time bomb ticking in Asia due to dramatic rise in food prices. Other speakers echoed his warning. Indian Finance Secretary, D. Subba Rao, believes a rise in food prices of about 20% will create higher poverty in Asia. “In many countries that will mean the undoing of gains in poverty reduction achieved in the past decade of growth. The Asian Development Bank estimates about 20% of people in Asia are living on less than a $1.40 a day compared to 60% who lived that way in the 1960s.

The dual monster of rising oil prices and the shift to using food in order to obtain oil has resulted in dramatic rises in food prices and increased shortage in items like rice which are so important to the diet of Asians. Several nations have resorted to food subsidies or export restrictions to counter rising costs, but they only exacerbate price rises.

Perhaps, it is time for a world wide approach to confronting the two issues of food and fuel. The world has to begin getting serious about alternative energy resources and it must shift away from using food as a means of obtaining fuel. The alternative may well be the outbreak of serious conflicts in many parts of the world.

Japan Buys Into Testing Myth

This past week about 2.32 millioin sixth graders and third-year middle school students in Japan took part in the education ministry’s nationwide scholastic testing process. The ministry insists the object of the tests were to grasp the scholastic ability of individual children in order that teachers might be able to assist children in their learning. There is no question these nationwide tests will fuel excessive and unnecessay competition betweeen schools and parents. Since all children participate in the tests, individual school results will soon be noted and demands made to “raise standards” in schools whose students did not attain high enough scores. Of course, the education ministry promised not to use school test results in order to compare schools, but if the United States is a model, that is forlorn dream.

Even now, materials are being pumped out by education companies which promise to aid schools in raising test scores and by the next year, teachers will halt teaching in order to devote valuable time to making certain their students pass the tests with high scores. The wheels of commerce will be entering the classroom and the original desire to aid “individual children” will be lost in the frenzy to obtain more yens.

Sweeping Government Changes In North Korea

Drastic changes appear to be taking place in Noth Korea as its leader, Kim Jong II tackles three difficult issues: who will succeed him, how to deal with the new more conservative govvernment in South Korea, and how to normalize the nation’s strained relations with Japan. The reigning Korean Workers’ Party is making appointments and dismissing officials at a rather high rate and the person who apparently is in charge of these actions, is Kim Johng Choi, second son of Kim Join II. The son appears to be following in the footsteps of his father who also was placed in charge of purging those not deemed trustworthy. Senior officials in the North Korean government are trying to circumvent Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in order to establish positive relations with Japanese government officials.

A key issue is the failure of North Korea to accept responsibility for kidnapping Japanese citizens in past years. Until that issue is resolved, North Korea will experience difficulty winning over many politicians in Japan. North Korea also has to resolve issues pertaining to its atomic energy program and support of terrorists in other parts of the world.

Can Wife Chop Up Abusive Husband?

Prosecutors demanded a twenty-year prison term for Kaori Mihashi who murdered and dismembered her husband and then disposed of the body parts all around Tokyo. the 33 year-old housewife is accused of fatally striking her husband with a wine bottle and then cutting up his body using a variety of saws and kitchen knives. Mrs. Mihashi argued she was mentally incompetent when she finally lashed out at her husband who had been abusive over a long period of time. In June, 2005, she went to an abuse shelter after being hit by her husband. “I was helpless, I had nobody to turn to,” she argued as justification for killing and cutting up her husband. Two court-appointed psychiatrists concluded she had a mental disorder at the time of the killing.

The prosecutor argues anyone who could cut up and distribute body parts around Tokyo was functioning in a reasonable state of mind. Murder is not pleasant and is certainly not an appropriate solution to physical abuse, but the courts should certainly recognize Ms. Mihashi was desperate and sometimes desperate people can have moments of logical performance.

Japan Tries Lay Court Members

A new Japanese law under which citizens will serve as de facto jurors in trials involving serious crimes will go into effect on May 21. The law enacted in 20044, provides for six elgible voters to work with three professional judges at district courts in order to determine a defendant’s guilt, and, if applicable, the sentence. The lay judges will be involved in serious crimes including murder. A recent poll indicates more than 60% of people are interested in taking part in the new process of trial and jury.

Obviously, Japan has never used the Anglo-Saxon model and this appears to be an interesting approach to get citizens involved in the entire judicial process. It will be interesting to witness what happens when the process goes into efect.

China Seeks US-Japanese Support On Taiwan Issue

The recent election on Taiwan which resulted in victory for the Nationalist Party should have been a welcome indication to China that Taiwanese seek to maintain positive relations with the mainland government. Howeveer, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi went out of his wayin an interview with Russian journalists to emphasize “China hopes the United States and Jpan will carry out their promises of not supporting Taiwan independence.” Yang told the Russian reporters Taiwan is an emotional and political issue which his government insists must be resolved in a manner that respects the integrity and soverignty of the Chinese people.

The Taiwan issue was created at the same time as Communists gained control on the mainland and drove the last remaining Nationalist soliders to the safety of Taiwan. In that era, China lacked the military power to launch an invasion of the island due to America’s support for the Nationalist government of Chiang kai-shek. Unfortunately, the foreign minister does not grasp how the Tibet situation and its brutality in suppressing Tibet’s culture and values frightens people on Taiwan. The best way to reduce the influence of those seeking independence from China is to initiate discussions wih the Dalai Lama, encourage more local control in Tibet and allow Tibetans greater local autonomy. Those actions will ensure that Taiwan will drop any effort to declare itself an independent nation.

Confession Time — Japanese Style

The United States government annual report on human rights conditions slammed the Japanese criminal coourt system because it tends to serve the interests of prosecutors rather than those of defendants. “Trial procedures favor the prosecution” said the report citing a case in Toyarna where a man confessed only to discover shortly after that someone else had committed the crime. The US State Department report noted even the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s office acknowledged “investigators sometimes placed too much emphasis on confessions. The law does not require full disclosure by prosecutors, and material the prosecution does not use in court may be suppressed. The legal representatives of some defendants claimed that they did not receive access to relevant material in he police record.”

There were also complaints about language barrier problems since there is a lack of sufficient interpreters. “Several foreign detainees claimed that police urged them to sign statements in Japanese that they could not read and that were not translated adequately.”

Many of the issues raised in the State Department report are also prevelant in the United States as witnessed by the growing number of cases revisited due to DNA evidence.