Archive for Japan

Mieko Kawakami Cracks the Code of Being a Woman in Japan – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

The boys would run around and flip up the skirts of certain girls to catch a glimpse of their underwear. That was mortifying enough. Yet it was just as shameful for the girls whose skirts didn’t get flipped.

“It meant you weren’t popular,” said Kawakami, 43, the author of “Breasts and Eggs,” a best-selling novel in Japan that was published in English in April. “It’s a humiliation among women not to be desired by men. That’s a very strong code in Japanese society.”

It’s a code she knows well, but one that she — and her characters — have gone about transcending. “Breasts and Eggs,” which won one of Japan’s most coveted literary prizes in 2008, helped establish her as one of the country’s brightest young stars.

Source: Mieko Kawakami Cracks the Code of Being a Woman in Japan – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Women's Issues

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Opinion | Why Is Carlos Ghosn Afraid of the Japanese Justice System? – By Nobuhisa Ishizuka – The New York Times

One concern he and others cite is the country’s “99 percent conviction rate” in criminal cases.

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Mr. Ishizuka is executive director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies and a lecturer at Columbia Law School.

Credit…Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

“In the 13 months between the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan, and his fleeing Japan amid allegations of improper compensation and misuse of corporate assets, the Japanese criminal justice system has been put under a microscope.

Critics in Japan have raised concerns for years, in particular about the broad powers granted to prosecutors. All of those powers have been on full display in Mr. Ghosn’s case: His pretrial detention was repeatedly extended, he was held for hours of questioning without a lawyer present, and he was repeatedly denied bail — something that is usually granted only to defendants who are prepared to confess. (He was eventually granted bail with strict conditions.) Aside from a few reforms, like the introduction of videotaped interrogations, the Japanese legal system has continued unchanged for decades. Wide prosecutorial powers have been generally accepted by the Japanese people as appropriate and effective, given extremely low crime rates in Japan.

Western concepts of justice are deeply rooted in the principles of individual liberty, checks on official power and the rule of law. In the West, these ideals are embraced and believed to be universal. The Japanese concept of justice, in contrast, is rooted in regulating individual conduct according to norms that define the relationship of the individual to society. And these norms are defined by a history that predates Western legal concepts by thousands of years.”

Source: Opinion | Why Is Carlos Ghosn Afraid of the Japanese Justice System? – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Law and Order

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There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls.

As Japan’s population shrinks and ages, rural areas are emptying out. In one childless village, two dozen adults compensate for the absence with the company of hundreds of giant handmade dolls.

A group of women touring the school in Nagoro, which was closed after the last two students, depicted as dolls, grew up.

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Photographs by 

“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.

Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.

But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.

It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.

Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.

“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”

Source: There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

David Lindsay, Copmment to the NYT:

What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and  Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”

I must disagree completely.  Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists  are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.

Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents.[3] The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.[4]

Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “  They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.

This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.

David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion”  and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Japan, Population Growth

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New Nissan Pay Problems Point to Conflicts at the Top – The New York Times

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“TOKYO — An outside law firm investigating problems at Nissan, the troubled Japanese automaker, this summer discovered some potentially explosive information.

Hari Nada, a powerful Nissan insider who was behind the ouster last year of Nissan’s chairman, Carlos Ghosn, over compensation issues, had been improperly overpaid himself, the firm found. A second insider involved in the corporate coup was responsible, the firm said, and had briefed Mr. Nada on what he had done.

A senior Nissan compliance officer planned to share the findings with the company’s board of directors, according to people familiar with the situation.

But the full board never heard the details of the findings, according to people who attended the board’s last meeting on Sept. 9. Moments after the meeting ended, Nissan issued a statement that cleared an unnamed group of executives of misconduct.”

Source: New Nissan Pay Problems Point to Conflicts at the Top – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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Carlos Ghosn Is Out of Jail. What Happens Next? – The New York Times

“Carlos Ghosn, the man who created what was effectively the world’s largest carmaker, has been released on bail after spending more than three months in jail.

Mr. Ghosn once oversaw the alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi and was the consummate high-flying executive. On Wednesday, he walked out of a Japanese detention center disguised as a construction worker to prepare for a trial on charges of financial misconduct. Under the terms of his bail — set at 1 billion yen, or almost $9 million — he cannot leave Japan.

Here is what has happened since his arrest and what he faces now.

Mr. Ghosn has been accused of underreporting his compensation and shifting more than $16 million of personal losses to Nissan. He was in jail, questioned by prosecutors, for 108 days.”

Source: Carlos Ghosn Is Out of Jail. What Happens Next? – The New York Times

 

 

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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Opinion | Where the Cold War Never Ended – By Ian Buruma – The New York Times

Japan and South Korea stir up an old, odd rivalry.

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Mr. Buruma is a writer and a professor at Bard College.

CreditCreditOleksii Liskonih/iStock, via Getty Images Plus

“In a rational world, South Korea and Japan ought to be the best of friends. Their cultures and languages are closely linked. Their economies are deeply entangled. And as the only liberal democracies in East Asia (along with Taiwan), they have to contend with the threat of North Korean belligerence and Chinese domination.

But the world is not so rational, and so the two American allies have recently become engaged in a flaming economic row, ostensibly sparked by historical wrongs. Late last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies should compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines during World War II. Assets of major Japanese companies, such as Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have been seized in South Korea, and they could soon be sold. The Japanese government protested that this matter had already been resolved in 1965, when the two countries reached an agreement claiming to settle “completely and finally” all colonial-era claims in exchange for financial aid and loans from Japan worth $500 million.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan retaliated last month by slapping controls on vital exports to South Korea. He cited reasons of national security, but few believe that. Demonstrators in Seoul then protested against a Japanese “economic invasion,” and the South Korean government threatened to stop sharing military intelligence with Japan.

This latest spat follows many others to do with history: the alleged lack of sincerity in official Japanese apologies for having subjected Korea to brutal colonial rule between 1910 and 1945; fights over revisions to school textbooks that downplay Japan’s wartime aggression; the refusal of conservative Japanese governments to admit that Korean women were systematically recruited to serve as sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army.”

Source: Opinion | Where the Cold War Never Ended – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Korea - North and South Korea

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Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

“There has been an emperor in Japan for more than 15 centuries, making the Chrysanthemum Throne the world’s oldest continuous monarchy. On Tuesday, the emperor stepped down, yielding to his eldest son in the first abdication in 200 years. This is the family’s story.

We know him as Akihito, the emperor of Japan, a gentle figure who championed peace in a nation devastated by war. But she called him Jimmy.

It was the autumn of 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War, and he was a 12-year-old boy, the crown prince of a defeated land, sitting in an unheated classroom on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, a new American teacher insisted on a more prosaic name for his highness. His father, the wartime emperor, Hirohito, had been revered as a god, but she made clear he never would be.

“In this class, your name is Jimmy,” declared the teacher, Elizabeth Gray Vining, a 44-year-old librarian and children’s book author from Philadelphia.

“No,” Akihito swiftly replied. “I am Prince.””

Source: Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor, but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Life Leadership and Sprituality

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Carlos Ghosn- Emerging in Public- Lays Out His Defense – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

 

By Motoko Rich

“TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn and his lawyers are laying out the most comprehensive case yet for his innocence, nearly two months after his arrest shook the auto business and tarnished the reputation of an industry titan.

Still, it may not be enough to free him from jail for months, as prosecutors try to build a case against the ousted Nissan Motor chairman and onetime leader of an automaking juggernaut that builds more than 10 million cars annually.

Mr. Ghosn’s chief defense lawyer in Japan said on Tuesday that prosecutors had no basis for holding him in jail on allegations that he improperly transferred personal losses to Nissan’s books, saying that board members had approved the transactions.

Late Tuesday, that lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, submitted a request to the court to release Mr. Ghosn from detention on the grounds that Nissan did not ultimately bear any losses and that he was not a flight risk.”

Source: Carlos Ghosn, Emerging in Public, Lays Out His Defense – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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 The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn – by Amy Chozick and Motoko Rich – New York Times

“Carlos Ghosn was tired. At 64 years old, the chairman of an auto empire that spanned several continents and included Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi wasn’t bouncing back from jet lag the way he used to. Melatonin wasn’t working anymore, and he had bouts of insomnia, phoning his children in the middle of the night or going on long walks around his Tokyo or Paris neighborhood. He planned to retire soon, stepping back from spending his life on an airplane, albeit a luxurious one paid for by Nissan.

Last month, just before Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Ghosn headed to Tokyo to meet his youngest daughter and her boyfriend and attend a board meeting. He was scheduled to land at Haneda Airport at 4 p.m.

The daughter, Maya Ghosn, 26, had spent most of her childhood in Japan and wanted to introduce her boyfriend, Patrick, to her favorite places. Bringing a boyfriend home is a common rite of passage, but a particularly intimidating prospect when growing up Ghosn — a child of one of the most romanticized and ruthless chief executives the global business community has ever seen.

Ms. Ghosn had made a 7:30 dinner reservation at Jiro, the Michelin-starred sushi counter hidden in a basement in the city’s Ginza district.

On the tarmac in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Ghosn opened WhatsApp and texted his four children on a group chain labeled “Game of Ghosns,” for his favorite TV show, “Game of Thrones,” the bloody HBO drama about dynasties under siege. “On my way to Tokyo! Love you guys!” Mr. Ghosn texted as his jet lifted off.

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Police officers outside the Tokyo jail where Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan, has been detained since his arrest in November.CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

He never made it to dinner.

On Nov. 19, Japanese prosecutors surrounded Mr. Ghosn’s Gulfstream after its arrival and arrested him on allegations that for years he had withheld millions of dollars in income from Nissan’s financial filings.”

Source: The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  This is a fascinating tragedy for Carlos Ghosn.  I have just scratched the surface. It appears, he never understood Japanese culture or values, and insulted both. He also did a great job turning around Nissan, when it needed a dose of change.

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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Opinion | Don’t Fall for Facebook’s ‘China Argument’ – by Tim Wu – The New York Times

America’s global dominance in technology requires fierce competition at home, not the coddling of monopolies.

Tim Wu

By Tim Wu

Mr. Wu is a law professor who specializes in antitrust.

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CreditCreditAlex Merto

“Over the last year or so, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other American tech leaders have issued a stark warning to those who want to see more competition in the industry. It goes something like this: “We understand that we’ve made mistakes. But don’t you realize that if you damage us, you’ll just be handing over the future to China? Unlike America, the Chinese government is standing behind its tech firms, because it knows that the competition is global, and it wants to win.”

This — Big Tech’s version of the “too big to fail” argument — has a superficial nationalistic appeal. It’s certainly true that the Chinese technology sector is growing and aggressively competitive, and that many of its companies are embraced and promoted by the Chinese state. By one count, eight of the world’s 20 largest tech firms are Chinese. That would seem to suggest a contest for global dominance, one in which the United States ought not be considering breakups or regulation, but instead be doing everything it can to protect and subsidize the home team.

But to accept this argument would be a mistake, for it betrays and ignores hard-won lessons about the folly of an industrial policy centered on “national champions,” especially in the tech sector. What Facebook is really asking for is to be embraced and protected as America’s very own social media monopolist, bravely doing battle overseas. But both history and basic economics suggest we do much better trusting that fierce competition at home yields stronger industries overall.

That’s the lesson from the history of Japanese-American tech competition. During the 1970s and into the ’80s, it was widely believed that Japan was threatening the United States for supremacy in technology markets. The Japanese giant NEC was a serious challenger to IBM in the mainframe market; Sony was running over consumer electronics, joined by powerful firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. These companies enjoyed the support of the Japanese state, through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which pursued a nationalistic industrial policy thought to be infallible.”

Source: Opinion | Don’t Fall for Facebook’s ‘China Argument’ – The New York Times

Posted in: Japan, Monopoly or Monopsony

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