A huge victory in the metrosexual rights movement was made last week when the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare decided to abolish a guideline which stated that “men should not be able to get haircuts at beauty salons.”
While visiting friends who were a part of the recent Naruto stage production, Japanese film and music star Gackt was left with a bad feeling. Having watched one of the overseas Naruto performances, the singer couldn’t help but notice the lack of people in the audience.
Gackt doesn’t rule out possible flaws with the play such as too much material crammed into a short time. However, as he wrote in a recent impassioned blog post, he thinks the real culprit may be the Japanese government and their Cool Japan promotional program, which he feels is anything but.
Judging by the sheer volume of these kinds of posts we do, one does get the impression that, while bored westerners are inclined to seek out cute cat videos on the Internet, Japanese Netizens with nothing better to do apparently like to scour the web for pictures of very attractive women working in jobs where being cute isn’t a prerequisite. While you’d think this would be a relatively niche interest when there’s perfectly good adult material available around the corner, “Beautiful Woman Doing Things” posts are everywhere on the Japanese net.
So, without further ado, here’s the latest Beautiful Woman Doing Things from Japan: Hachioji City councilwoman Azusa Sato.
The word “hacker” might bring to mind the motley crew of the 1995 film Hackers, or else a number of high-profile cyberattacks resulting in everything from compromised email addresses to a massive Sony data leak. Recently, however, cybersecurity measures are proving that not all hackers are created equal.
Starting in early 2015, the Japanese government will begin recruiting personnel for a fledgling team of “white hat” hackers. Unlike their counterparts on the other side of the law, these computer experts will bring their skills to bear in identifying and protecting against potential security threats.
There are certain privileges that come along with adulthood. For example, if I decide I really want to eat a bag of cookies for dinner or stay up until sunrise playing video games, there’s really not a whole lot any other person can do to stop me (even if my body is likely to eventually break down in protest of the unhealthy lifestyle).
Likewise, one you hit the age where you stop getting an allowance from your parents and start earning a legitimate paycheck, you’re generally considered to have earned the freedom to spend your money however you want. And just like you wouldn’t take kindly to someone trying to reinstate a bed time for you, seniors in Osaka aren’t too crazy about a government offer to check up on how they’re spending their government-administered pensions.
This coming spring will mark four years since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. While that’s not nearly long enough for the those who experienced the tragedy first-hand to forget about the destruction, sadness, and fear, some politicians are concerned that in time memories will fade, which is why a bill is being introduced in the Japanese Diet to establish March 11 as an official day of remembrance of the disaster.
Some people see things in black and white while others tend to judge each incident as a unique situation with its own parameters of right and wrong.
Take drunk driving for example. There are many who would say that under any circumstance getting behind the wheel of an automobile with significant levels of alcohol in the system deserves punishment. And then there are some that say there may be exceptions to the rule.
Luckily for some government workers who got picked up by police for drunk driving, more than a few district court judges appear to belong to the latter camp.
Local elections are coming up soon in Taiwan, and one of the positions being contested is Magistrate of Hsinchu County. With more than 500,000 constituents, the title comes with a pretty hefty amount of clout, and challenger Cheng Yung-chin, who occupied the office during the early 2000s, is hoping to reclaim the seat.
So to help boost his campaign, the politician has released a video to show voters the kinds of things he values: tranquility, nature, and shapely, bouncing breasts.
In Japan, work comes first. For most people, their professional life takes priority over their family, romantic, and personal lives, with long hours and short vacations being the norm.
Given that environment, it’s no surprise that after their shift ends, many people want to stop off at a bar for a cold beer to wash the taste of work out of their mouth. For a one-month period, though, that wasn’t an option for civil servants in Fukuoka City, due to a temporary ban on drinking outside their homes. Obviously, this wasn’t a popular rule among workers, and one man was so upset he’s now suing the city, asking for a single yen in compensation.
Until about a week ago, Ryutaro Nonomura was a relatively unknown prefectural assemblyman from Hyogo in Japan’s Kansai region. Name recognition is extremely important for politicians in Japan, where ballots often require voters to write in the name of the candidate they’re voting for, so under normal circumstances the fact that the whole country now knows who Nonomura is would be a major boon for his political career.
Unfortunately, “manically crying while responding to allegations of misuse of government funds” is anything but normal, but that’s exactly what has caused Nonomura’s sudden rise to fame. Aside from making citizens shake their heads at the conduct of public officials, Nonomura’s meltdown has caused people to both laugh and cringe.
And now, it’s ready to make them dance.
It’s only been a few months since Japan’s consumption tax jumped from five to eight percent, making everything consumers buy instantly at least three percent more expensive. Some sneaky retailers even took advantage of the opportunity by tacking an extra three percent onto their displayed, pre-tax prices.
Now comes a rumor of an entirely new revenue stream the Japanese government might be moving to secure: a tax on cell phones.
Back in 2012 the Japanese government earmarked one billion yen (US$9.8 million) for the Kindigi project which grants subsidies to publishers so that they can digitize their works to sell online. The ebooks are intended to allow people in regions affected by the Tohoku Earthquake to get easier access to information. As an added bonus it was hoped this would give Japan’s ebook market a shot in the arm all over the country as well.
However, one year after the digitization of 64,833 works was completed with tax money having paid for half the cost, a group of people involved in the publishing industry have been distributing flyers and organizing meetings over the handling of Kindigi. They found that among the thousands of ebooks were several that they deemed controversial including 100 “erotic” works such as Aan… Ecchina Kaikan Ai (Ughnn… Dirty Pleasure Love).
So, now that we’re one month in, how’s everyone enjoying the latest sales tax increase to 8 percent? Pretty awesome isn’t it? I’ve been getting a lot more use out of those one yen coins recently.
Not everyone is as lukewarmly amused as myself, however. A consortium of Japan’s online businesses, including ebook sellers and advertisers, met on 10 April to hash out some demands for the government before they get taxed right out of the competition since business such as segments of Apple and Google aren’t necessarily subjected to Japanese sales tax rules.
On the afternoon of 25 April, the Lower House of Parliament passed an amendment to the nation’s Holiday Act which includes a new public holiday Mountain Day (Yama no Hi). The next step involves the amendment to go into deliberation in the Upper House where it is expected to be approved again.
Although this comes as welcome news to the nation’s tired workers, Japanese holidays tend to be arbitrary affairs named after random things like the ocean. This time, though, Japan’s newest holiday is name after something truly special. Still, I can’t help but be surprised how many fans of Mountain there are in Parliament…
During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.
And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?
Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.
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.
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!
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.
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.