Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD NOVEMBER 10. 2017

North Korea and Its Nuclear Weapons: What Should Japan Do? by Patrick Hattman

When I first lived in Japan as a teacher in the late 1990s, my home was in the city of Niigata. Situated on the Sea of Japan coast and facing the Korean peninsula, Niigata is only 720 miles from North Korea's capital of Pyongyang. Due to its proximity to North Korea, the city and surrounding areas were prime targets for the abductions of several Japanese by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. During my time there, the people I met were mostly concerned about the fate of the missing, and not so much about North Korea's early nuclear weapons program.

But fast forward 20 years to the present and, while many of the abductees have been returned to Japan, North Korea's nuclear weapons program has grown dramatically. In fact, North Korea's nuclear capabilities have improved so much that the current leader of the pariah nation, Kim Jong-un, may be able to order the launch of a missile carrying a nuclear warhead soon.

In order to combat North Korea's nuclear threat, Japan has tried working with the U.S. and through the United Nations, but to no avail. Diplomatic initiatives have not had any measurable success in recent years, and economic sanctions have not resulted in any demonstrable change in Kim Jong-un's grip on power.

With the clear and present danger North Korea represents, Japan must make bold statements and take aggressive actions. First, Japan needs to state unequivocally to North Korea that it can and will defend its people and territory from any attack. Next, Japan - following the lead of the U.S. - must continue to display the overwhelming firepower and defensive measures the alliance could use to repel a North Korean attack, or bring about its annihilation by American military power, if necessary. Finally, China must be convinced to use its influence over the Kim Jong-un regime and get them to the bargaining table to work towards nuclear disarmament and step back from the brink of war once and for all.

90年代後半、日本で先生をするため最初に暮らした場所は新潟だった。日本海をはさんで朝鮮半島に対面する新潟は、北朝鮮の首都、ピョンヤンとは720マイルしか離れていない。北朝鮮に近いため、新潟やその近郊地域は、70年代、北朝鮮エージェントによる日本人拉致誘拐現場となった。そこに住んでいた頃、出会った人からは、たいてい拉致された人々を心配する話は聞いたが、北朝鮮の核開発計画についての話は滅多に聞かなかった。

しかし20年経ち今や、拉致された人の多くが日本に戻り、北朝鮮の核器開発計画は劇的に進歩した。実際、北朝鮮の核兵器保有能力は拡大し、現リーダーのキム・ジョンウンは、原子爆弾である核弾道ミサイルの発射を指揮するかもしれない。

北朝鮮の核の脅威に対抗するため、日本はアリカと国連と共に折衝を続けているが、無駄な努力に終わっている。外交主導権は近年、大した効果をあげておらず、経済制裁もキム・ジョンウンの支配下においては明白な変化は見られない。

北朝鮮の明らかな挑発に対して、日本は断固とした声明を発し、積極的な行動をとるべきだ。まず、日本は日本の国民と領土を北朝鮮の攻撃から守るという声明を明確する必要がある。次に、日本はアメリカ主導のもとに、同盟国が北朝鮮の攻撃に抵抗できるよう圧倒的戦力と防衛力を継続的に誇示し、必要であればアメリカ軍による全滅戦闘態勢をとる。最後に、キム・ジョンウン政権に影響力をもつ中国はその力を発揮して、核軍縮についての話し合いを設け、一触即発の戦争危機を回避しなければならない。


Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD NOVEMBER 10. 2017

ARE YOU AN UMEBOSHI?by Alma Reyes

I remember my student days in Kyoto when I wrote a paper about the aspects of minimalism, miniaturization, and compactness in Japanese culture in relation to design. As I continued to immerse myself in the Japanese way of life for years, these aspects have somehow revealed to me a sense of isolation.

I recall asking my professor about this subject. “Isolation?” my professor asked. “Give me an example.” I said, “Sensei, what do you think about the o-bento (lunch box) with the red, round umeboshi (pickled dried plum) in the middle of pure, white rice? It’s called the hinomaru bento, isn’t it, taken from the rising sun image of the Japanese flag?” My professor started to smile. I continued, “Sensei, do you think that is just o-bento art or a symbol of isolation of the Japanese, just as it is symbolized in the Japanese flag?” My professor threw me a wide grin, almost laughing. However, I never got a definite answer.

Perhaps, it is exaggerated imagination to correlate the red plum in the center of a boxed rice with shades of isolation, parallel to the red circle, proud and untouchable sitting on a blanket of white purity in the Japanese flag. After all, in reality, Japanese do not really perform as isolated individuals, but rather as loyal groups with common beliefs and aspirations. Domestically perhaps, but the striking impression of that round, red entity, all by itself somehow filters a sensation of isolation from the rest of the world.

We can feel isolation in language as well. There is no coincidence between Japan’s isolation period (Sakoku) from the rest of the world for about 250 years during the Edo period and the manner by which the society is culturally isolated by language.

Take the “half-Japanese.” Being “half” in Japan sometimes injects identity complex. There are some half-Japanese who have been living in Japan for a lengthy period of time, who look Japanese “enough,” and speak excellent Japanese, yet could never come at equal rank with “native” Japanese, because Japanese do not know how to relate to and accept them. “He looks Japanese, acts and speaks like a Japanese, but he can’t be one of us, can he?”

You can be a hen na gaijin (strange foreigner) in two ways: for speaking Japanese with an odd use of words expression and accent; or speaking “too perfect “ Japanese when you are not Japanese. That just doesn’t make sense to them, and therefore keeps you at arm’s length no matter how fluent you are in their language.

Day in and day out, we walk past ancient temples, sushi bars, soba noodle shops, noisy electronic stores, and throngs of congested pedestrian crossings, unmindful of the hundreds of symbols of isolation flying around us. Japan has been home to the social culture of the karaoke. While it is normally a crowd-gatherer for peers, company workers or families, the private karaoke rooms are also isolated nitches for loners who want to be alone, sing alone or while a few hours away from the stress of family and work. Capsule hotels are best examples of an isolated culture that not only confine a single person in a solitary unit of space but within suffocating dimensions that seem ample enough for breathing air. There is also the manga kissa or comic manga coffee shops that are actually more like overnight “convenience store” motels, providing the single person a private cubicle with a couch, TV and Internet.

Having traveled a bit to other countries, I have realized that it is only in Japan where I can feel completely safe and comfortable coming alone to a cafe´, restaurant, movie house, or concert without that awkward sensation of aloneness, but rather with a territory of respected privacy. Perhaps the dignified umeboshi on a serene, white flag brings this effect, and remember that a plum can be both sweet and sour even in bland, white existence.


What’s App With You?

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD NOVEMBER 10. 2017

Sigma Planner:

Despite living in the age of technology, students often carry around a school diary, student planner, or academic agenda to record their classes, homework, and tasks, on top of the bundle of heavy text books! Sigma Planner is the perfect companion for your school that helps you keep track of your classes and allow you to add homework into your week's schedule with ease. With Sigma Planner, you no longer need to carry an extra agenda; simply grab out your phone, and everything will be available, right at your finger tips. Maybe it will help your grades get better, too!

My Book List:

Includes a barcode scanner to make adding books super fast! "The ideal repository for book recommendations gathered from friends, reviews, and other sources, the app will locate the actual book cover and store it on its iBook-like shelf or as an entry on a list. The app can also access all the book titles, charts, covers, descriptions, and acquisition options in any of the iBookstores worldwide, Amazon, and the free texts at Google Books." A simple and beautiful layout will help you keep track of the amazing books you come across. It's also a great help when friends and family suggest books to you and you never know where to write them down and eventually forget. "Every day you hear or read about a book that sounds interesting - and now there's an app designed to help track all those books recommendations," commented developer Giacomo Balli. "My Book List is the personalized book list of all the books you've been meaning to read, and those you've read."

Tokyo Voice Column

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD NOVEMBER 10. 2017

My Thai dogs in Japan by Rose Miller

There is something to be said about the proverb the grass is always greener. Having lived in Japan for 6 years I finally felt I had lost my way a little, and I'm not sure when it happened, but my happy life in Japan felt it had been getting stale for a while. Family was calling me home after a long stint away, and I felt it was time to embark on a new adventure. I wasn't ready to go back home yet so I decided to immerse myself in a different culture, and ended up as a teacher in Bangkok. The differences in lifestyle were overwhelming at times and somehow along the way I adopted 2 dogs (I'm a sucker for animals in need).

Having taken myself away from Japan it was obvious to those closest to me how my time in Japan had rubbed off on me. I was shocked when things weren't structured, when people didn't queue up for things, and I automatically bowed my head when saying thank you, or goodbye to the amusement of my Thai coworkers. When I left Japan many people said to me I would be back, but I laughed and said "no way!" determined to eventually return to England.

After a year and a half in Bangkok I finally went back to England. It was the biggest culture shock of all to realize I didn't fit there anymore. I didn't know what to talk about to friends or family, who soon grew tired of hearing about Japan. I didn't understand that way of life anymore, and I struggled and easily got frustrated with simple daily things because it wasn't the Japanese way of doing it.

After a few months I had already found a new job in Japan, and booked a flight for me and my two dogs (it's really not easy bringing dogs into Japan). Maybe I don't fit in here completely, but it's good to be home.

隣の芝生は青く見えるという表現がある。日本に住んで6年になり、いつ頃なのか覚えていないが、なんとなく自分を見失しなった。理由ははっきりしないが、日本での楽しい生活は気の抜けたものとなっていた。家族は、長期間国を離れている私に戻って来いと言ったが、新しい冒険にチャレンジしたい気分だった。まだ家には戻りたくない。異なる文化に身をおく事に決め、バンコクで教師をすることにした。異なる生活環境で、時には打ちのめされた。やがて2匹の犬をもらい飼った。

日本を去って以降、私から日本で過ごした時間がこすり落とされていくのを親しい友人たちは実感していた。物事が合理的でないことに、人が列をつくって並ばないことに私は驚いた。タイの同僚にありがとう、さようならと言って私は自然とおじぎした。日本を去る時にみんながまた日本に戻って来ると言ったが、笑って「それはない”」と言った。結局は英国に帰ると心は決まっていた。

1年半バンコクに滞在した後英国に帰国した私には大きなカルッチャーショックが待ち受けていた。そしてそこには居場所がないとさとった。日本について話しても退屈する家族や友人に何を話せばいいのかわからなかった。単純な物事にすぐいらいらする自分自身に悪戦苦闘した。なぜなら日本のやり方とはちがっているからだ。

数ヶ月後、日本での新しい仕事を見つけて、自分と2匹の犬のフライトを予約した(日本に犬をつれてくるのは本当に大変だった)。
おそらく、日本に完全に適応することはないけれど、自分にとってわが家と呼ぶにはふさわしい場所だ。



 


Strange but True

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD NOVEMBER 10. 2017

I smell chicken... literary!

Do you like baths? Do you like KFC? If so, you might like KFC's new fried chicken bath bomb. The fast food giant has launched limited edition bath bombs, which smell like its secret spice mix. Unlike conventional fizzy bath products, KFC's is shaped like a chicken drumstick. Though it still promises to create an 'explosion' in the tub. So if you want to smell like a boneless banquet, jump in. Novelty retailer Village Vanguard has worked with KFC to manufacture the oddity. Apparently, it really does smell like KFC's famous recipe, a homage to the delicacy. Luckily − of course − it's available only in Japan. The company has launched the quirky bath bomb in Japan as a limited edition. Just 100 lucky winners will get to enjoy it. Still, it's quite interesting. How on earth do you get a bath bomb to smell like fried chicken? People around the world are excited.

Things we eat...

Do you know what you have eaten so far today? Perhaps you popped out at lunchtime and grabbed a wrap from the local shop. Or maybe this evening you'll have a quick ready-meal from the supermarket's 'low fat' range. Not too bad, right? So you might think, but lurking in everyday meals are some pretty unappetising ingredients, according to a TV network. Like say... something in the line of vanilla flavouring and raspberry-flavour in alcoholic beverages, baked goods, frozen dairy products, chewing gum, sweets, meat products, pudding, gelatin, ice cream? Guess what it is? Beaver anal gland secretions! Yes, you read that correctly. Castoreum is a tasty additive made from the secretions of glands near the anus of beavers. They use it to mark their territory and attract a mate: we use it as a sweet vanilla, strawberry and raspberry flavouring in drinks and sweets. You wouldn’t know it’s there as it is allowed to be listed as ‘natural flavouring’ on ingredients lists. So, next time you are enjoying ice cream or cakes, just remember you may be eating Beaver anal gland secretions!

Links

Guesthouse Tokyo

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Interhouse

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BAUHOUSE

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J&F Plaza

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May Flower House

Tokyo furnished apartments. Ginza, Roppongi, Yotsuya and more.

TenTen Guesthouse

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MOVE JAPAN

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Tokyomove.com

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Tokyo Helping Hands

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AirNet Travel

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Fun Travel

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No.1 Travel

We go the extra mile for you. International air tickets and hotels.

JR Tokai Tours

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Matsuda Legal Office

All kinds of Visa, Immigration & Naturalization, International Marriage etc.

Futaba Visa Office

Licensed immigration lawyer & certified public tax consultant.

Coto Language Academy

Group lessons from ¥1,700 & Private lessons from ¥2,800.

iPhone Doctor

Will fix your iPhone and other smartphone at reasonable cost.

American Pharmacy

English speaking pharmacy since 1950.

Tokyo Skin Clinic

EU-licensed multi lingual doctors.

Takarada Electric

Visual equipment and home appliances.Overseas use and Tourist models.

Tokyo Speed Dating

1st & 3rd Sat. at Barin Roppongi.

EXEO INTERNATIONAL

The best way to meet single Japanese women. Parties held every week.

TMA

Japanese women & Western men.

 


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