government

We hope you’re not thirsty — Tokyo shuts down its vending machines for U.S. president’s visit

We hope you’re not thirsty — Tokyo shuts down its vending machines for U.S. president’s visit

This evening, U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan. While here, he’ll be meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the two scheduled to discuss strengthening diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Japan, and also the possibility of Japan participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Since we spend at least half of our time thinking with our stomachs, we can’t help but realize that Japan’s agreeing to the proposed trade agreement would likely mean lower import taxes on American beef. But while the possibility of a future with more meat has us excited, it comes with a gastronomic price, as the security measures surrounding the president’s visit mean that a number of beverage and ice cream vending machines in Tokyo have been temporarily shut down ahead of his arrival.

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Good news for lazy folk: Japan’s government to consider creating a new public holiday

Good news for lazy folk: Japan’s government to consider creating a new public holiday

In June last year, we brought you news of whisperings in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture about the proposed creation of a new public holiday, which was to be known as Yama no Hi, or Mountain Day. Since then we have heard little more on the subject, but the good news is that, although the plans may have changed a little, parliament is now considering a bill to make the national holiday a reality, meaning everyone may soon get an extra day off every August 11!

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Don’t own a television? Japan’s public broadcaster doesn’t care, but still wants your money

Don’t own a television? Japan’s public broadcaster doesn’t care, but still wants your money

Paying taxes works a little differently in Japan. Often, large companies will simply deduct the required income tax from employees’ paychecks, and even file the necessary paperwork for them. On the other hand, workers have their earnings taxed twice, with residency taxes which are based on their income from the previous year and must be paid quarterly. Like most things in Japan, resident taxes can be paid with a fat wad of cash at the convenience store.

But perhaps the weirdest of all are government fees for public television in Japan. Not only do the bill collectors go door to door soliciting payment, but some administrators are looking to make people pay the fees whether they own a TV or not.

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Japanese government to begin “net fasting” research on students

Japanese government to begin “net fasting” research on students

According to a study by the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare, 518,000 teenagers are “strongly addicted” to the internet. In the eyes of the ministry, such a level of addiction can lead to irregular sleep patterns and unhealthy eating habits.

However, in an age where online access can be found everywhere, an addiction to the net can be one of the hardest to kick. So the Japanese government, in what it calls “an urgent need for action,” is looking into the effectiveness of “net fasting” which, as the name suggests, is an extended break from any online activity.

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Japan Pop Culture Subcommittee Formed to Show the World ‘Cool Japan’

Japan Pop Culture Subcommittee Formed to Show the World ‘Cool Japan’

On 9 April the Cool Japan Promotion Conference and Pop Culture Subcommittee was assembled to discuss and strategize ways to encourage growth in Japan’s popular culture sector. The session dealt with all of Japan’s notable influences around the world from Gundams to soccer.

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Strange Local Laws in Japan, Tax Dollars at Work

Strange Local Laws in Japan, Tax Dollars at Work

Buckle up everyone! We’re gonna talk about municipal ordinances!

We’ve all heard stories of real laws that seem to defy logic like “no petting horses on Sunday” and such.  The survey addicts at MyNavi had asked people about some unusual local laws and what they got were reports of Cupid Committee’s and McMansions.

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TV Blunder Labels Japan’s Potential Next Prime Minister a Pervert

TV Blunder Labels Japan’s Potential Next Prime Minister a Pervert

Running for election in Japan isn’t easy. But when your face is shown alongside titles like “pervert” and “molester,” it’s probably a lot harder than it ought to be.

Japan’s political system is a mess right now and, despite having seen six prime ministers come and go in as many years, the country is headed for an election next month, with one-time PM Shinzo Abe putting himself forward to be re-elected.

The politician was made a laughing-stock earlier this week, however, when the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) early morning TV show Asazuba accidentally displayed Mr. Abe’s photo alongside a news report about a sex offender’s arrest.

Despite having no relation to the incident whatsoever, Mr. Abe’s face filled viewers’ screens along with the shocking titles, prompting the nation to spit out its corn flakes, or at the very least dribble a bit of natto onto the table.

Suffice to say, the politician was not pleased, and, suspecting this to be part of a “campaign of negativity”, took to his public Facebook page to tear TBS a new one…

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Japanese Civil Servants Can’t Have Tattoos While Chinese City Workers Can’t Receive a Piece of Hard Candy; Regulations Run Amok

Japanese Civil Servants Can’t Have Tattoos While Chinese City Workers Can’t Receive a Piece of Hard Candy; Regulations Run Amok

With just one week left to vote for the most evil employer of 2012, we’d like to shed some light on an overlooked “black corporation” – city governments.  Sure, government workers often get a bad rap as being slow and overpaid with ridiculous job security.  But in the words of Bob Dylan “the times they are a-changing.”

In Osaka, government workers will be forbidden to have any tattoos and a drinking ban is in talks for all the city workers of Fukuoka.  But to really see the slippery slope that these labor reforms can lead to, we should turn our attention to the People’s Republic of China.

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