Monthly Archives: November 2007

Adam Richardses of the world update

I guess in Japan a post like this violates the personal information protection law, but you know what – damn the man:

  • With the budget cut for the only part-time officer position in town, for all intents and purposes police chief Adam Richards now is the law in Somerset, PA, and according to the council, he’s doing a great job>

    No salary has been allotted for a part-time police officer. The borough’s part-time officer resigned several months ago, leaving Chief Adam Richards to cover the borough alone.

    “I don’t want to knock him, because he’s doing a great job,” said council member John Mull. “I just think scheduling is the issue, and we can get by with one officer.”

    Council will consider hiring another officer in the future if the need becomes apparent, members said.

    Back when he and his part-time partner were keeping order, Chief Richards was getting all Dirty Harry on bored teenage house vandals by “meeting with residents to lay the groundwork for starting a Community Watch.” There has yet to be a follow-up story, but we’ll be watching this closely to see if these rascals can’t somehow live up to their potential to be good citizens.


  • British financial regulator spokesman Adam Richards-Gray
    does not think that 6-figure fees are too much for his FSA to charge mortgage advisors (which may be true depending on what kind of “surgeries” they offer the mortgage firms in exchange*)
    • (I believe that surgery may be a British real estate industry term for some kind of credit check that the FSA performs with the fees it collects)

  • The story is no longer available, but one Adam Richards in NZ is apparently a king of drift in his refurbished Nissan Cifero. I can’t tell if this is cooler than the UK stuntman Adam Richards.
  • Another dead link story (I’ll never forgive myself for not posting sooner) – A “children in need fever” inspired hotel manager Adam Richards in the UK to offer a “sponsored leg wax” which I can only assume is a competition among people who get their legs waxed for a living.


  • Congratulations to Cincinnati Adam Richards for making the 8th Grade Honor Roll. We expect many good things to come of this up and coming AR.

  • I thought I saw something recently about the boxer Adam “Swamp Donkey” Richards but not I can’t find it. Here’s hoping he is still kicking some serious ass somewhere.

  • “Detain this man! His ID is too weird!”

    I’m currently on a business trip in New York, nested within a personal trip to see my family in South Carolina.

    I didn’t bring my driver’s license to the US because I had no plans to drive anywhere. And I left my passport at my parents’ house because I didn’t need it to travel to New York.

    So when I got to the security checkpoint at the podunk airport in South Carolina, the only photo ID I had with me was… my gaijin card. (For the uninitiated, this is a Japanese alien registration card. Most of the data on it is printed in Japanese, except for name, nationality and birthplace, with really tiny English subtitles on the labels).

    Here’s how it went:

    ME: Hi there, how ya doin’? (hands over boarding pass and gaijin card, acting natural)
    ID CHECKER LADY: (furrows brow) What is this?
    ME: It’s, uh, a Japanese government issued ID.
    ID CHECKER LADY: Huh? (stares at it some more) Don’t you have a driver’s license?
    ME: Unfortunately no, I didn’t drive here. This is the only ID I have.
    ID CHECKER LADY: Um…. (calls over to lady at neighboring checkpoint) Hey, what am I supposed to do with this?
    ID CHECKER LADY 2: What is it?
    (They confer.)
    ID CHECKER LADY: Should I send him back to ticketing to get the S’s? (Note to the uninitiated: They print “SSSS” on your boarding pass as a signal that you require “additional screening,” which includes a pat-down search, explosives swabbing and whatever else the TSA thinks is relevant.)
    ID CHECKER LADY 2: I’m not sure.
    ME: (noticing that the line is about 20 deep behind him) Ma’am, it’s issued by the government of Japan. Do you see the fine print in the corner there?
    ID CHECKER LADY 2: (to Lady 1) It’s up to you.
    ID CHECKER LADY: Do you have any other ID?
    ME: Besides credit cards and my mileage card…
    ID CHECKER LADY 2: Oh, that’s fine!
    ME: Um, okay. (hands over mileage card, wondering how this is supposed to make things any more secure)

    For what it’s worth, I have since used my gaijin card as ID with several different doormen in New York, and none have batted an eyelash. Maybe the South just has issues with “them weird squiggly Oriental pictures.”

    Chinese, Korean workers gaining full-time positions at convenience stores: Nikkei

    Any self-respecting Kanji reader will have noticed that Japanese convenience store workers have been less and less Japanese in the Tokyo area starting some time around 2004 or so (or even earlier?). Now, according to the Nikkei, the convenience store corporate headquarters are bringing in Chinese workers in “full time” positions:

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Convenience Stores Boost Foreign Hires To Aid Expansion, Fight Labor Squeeze

    TOKYO (Nikkei)—The falling birthrate and overseas expansion plans are spurring major convenience stores to increasingly hire foreigners for full- and part-time positions.

    Lawson Inc. (2651) has already accepted nine Chinese and one Vietnamese for full-time positions starting in April next year. It is the first time for the company to hire foreign workers on a full-time basis.

    The foreign hires will account for about 10% of all new employees accepted for full-time positions starting in April. The company plans to increase the number to 30, or about 30% of the total new workforce to be hired for jobs starting in April 2009.

    This fall, Lawson created a work manual for Chinese part-timers as part of its efforts to increase its ratio of foreign employees amid the falling birthrate. With the number of foreign customers at its outlets also growing, Lawson felt it necessary to hire foreign staff on a regular basis to supervise non-Japanese part-timers. The presence of these employees in supervisory positions will also help the company in its future efforts to open overseas outlets.

    So apparently the chains need to hire Chinese managers to help manage their increasingly foreign workforce.

    I am tempted to say the Nikkei is really late in covering this (and as usual they don’t really dig very deep), but I haven’t reviewed the whole archives and at least I think I remember them making the point that there are lots of foreign convenience store workers in some New Years series of “make Japan more internationally competitive” editorials.

    Some questions come to mind:

    1. I would love to see how they train the Chinese workers because they do an amazing job. I’ve only very rarely had communication difficulties with Korean/Chinese convenience store workers.

    2. Why no non-Japanese franchise owners? I wouldn’t expect there to be a copy of America’s population of Indian and Korean convenience store owners, but these convenience stores are pretty profitable and you’d think that they’d be tempting for an ambitious foreigner. Wouldn’t at least some of these student-workers feel like going into business for themselves?

    3. Since I have come to Tokyo, I have seen a lot of South Asian people working at a lot of different chains, particularly McDonald’s. Is there any reason why the hiring patterns are different?

    All about the PM’s trip abroad

    I have waited far too long for this:

    koizumi-r4211326578.jpg

    koizumi-r729074569.jpg

    koizumi-r339873611.jpg

    Japan’s former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wears a Vietnamese soldier’s ‘Viet Cong’ hat and shawl during his visit to Cu Chi tunnel system in southern Ho Chi Minh city November 14, 2007. Koizumi is in Vietnam on a three-day visit.

    koizumi-fr0711162.jpg

    November 16: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, speaks to Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in Hanoi on Friday. (AP)

    In other news, some wormy-looking guy named Fukuda is visiting with President Bush. God I hope there’s an election soon.

    A bit more on KMT remnant in SE Asia

    I was pretty surprised and fascinated by a BBC mention last week of KMT soldiers who had fled to Southeast Asia instead of Taiwan, and turned to banditry and drug trafficking instead of soldiery. In an excellent coincidence, the Taipei Times ran an article on Saturday’s issue on just this subject.


    Descendants of KMT soldiers living in limbo


    ON THE MARGINS: The offspring of former KMT soldiers who fled China are finding that while they are welcome to study in Taiwan, they may not be able to reside here
    By Loa Iok-sin
    STAFF REPORTER
    Saturday, Nov 03, 2007, Page 2 “Stateless” descendants of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops stationed in northern Myanmar and Thailand yesterday pleaded with the government to naturalize them.

    Tens of thousands of KMT troops retreated across the Chinese border and stationed themselves in northern Myanmar and Thailand following the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) Nationalist forces by the Communists in the Chinese Civil War.

    As the push to retake China never took place, many of the soldiers and their families were stranded in the region.

    Since these people entered Myanmar and Thailand illegally, they are not recognized by the two countries. Their descendants have thus been denied citizenship, although many of them were born and raised in these countries.

    Some of these stateless people faced a new challenge after coming to Taiwan to attend college.

    Chen Chai-yi (陳彩怡), from northern Myanmar, told her story during a press conference held at the legislature yesterday.

    “I passed the college entrance exam held by Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission [OCAC] and was accepted by a university in Taiwan in 2003,” Chen said.

    However, since she had no citizenship from either country, Chen purchased a forged Burmese passport to travel with, she said.

    It was only once Chen arrived in the country that she discovered she would be required to prove her status before receiving Taiwanese citizenship.

    “I wasn’t aware of this and the OCAC didn’t tell me when I took the exam [in Myanmar],” Chen said.

    “I cannot return to Myanmar because I will be imprisoned for life for holding a forged passport, but my stay in Taiwan will also become illegal once I graduate from college,” Chen said. “I’m basically stuck.”

    Liu Hsiao-hua (劉小華), chief executive of the Thai-Myanmar Region Chinese Offspring Refugee Service Association, estimated that more than 1,000 students from the region are in a similar situation.

    Lee Lin-feng (李臨鳳), an Immigration Bureau official, said that there are difficulties involved in granting these people citizenship.

    “What has blocked these people from obtaining Taiwanese citizenship is that neither they nor the Ministry of National Defense have any proof that they are descendants of former soldiers,” Lee said. “Even when some had proof, they were unable to submit a certificate renouncing their original nationality.”


    Lee said she would seek a solution at the next Ministry of the Interior meeting, “considering the special circumstances.”

    I’m rather surprised that these former KMT soldiers and their descendants have remained stateless for so long. It is hardly expected that Burma or Thailand would have granted them citizenship. Although both countries do have communities of Chinese citizens, they would hardly have put escaping soldiers and criminals in the same category as immigrant merchants. The article does explain that “these people [do not] have any proof that they are descendants of former soldiers,” but I have yet to see any reason for why the KMT remnant in SE Asia never rejoined their main force on Taiwan, once it was clear that they were well established there, and the threat of invasion from the mainland began to recede.

    The article mentions the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission [OCAC] (see their official English language website here,) which handles documentation and residency for overseas Chinese citizens (Overseas Compatriot.) While in a strict technical sense, Republic Of China citizenship theoretically extends to all of China, as the ROC is constitutionally the government of China, but as the ROC itself has shrunk to include what may someday be called merely the Republic Of Taiwan, ROC citizenship today more or less means Taiwanese citizenship, and in practice excludes any citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

    While I do not have time at the moment to examine it in detail, the OCAC provides rules on Overseas Compatriot status, as well as rules for applying to study in Taiwan through the OCAC, using the process referred to in the above article.

    Another mention of the KMT remnant turned criminal in SE Asia comes from a surprising source- the subject of the new Denzel Washington film American Gangster, the famous real-life New York based drug dealer Frank Lucas. The following text is from an interview article in New York Magazine:

    Lucas soon located his main overseas connection, an English-speaking, Rolls-Royce-driving Chinese gentleman who went by the sobriquet 007. “I called him 007 because he was a fucking Chinese James Bond.” Double-oh Seven took Lucas upcountry, to the Golden Triangle, the heavily jungled, poppy-growing area where Thailand, Burma, and Laos come together.

    “It wasn’t too bad, getting up there,” says Lucas. “We was in trucks, in boats. I might have been on every damn river in the Golden Triangle. When we got up there, you couldn’t believe it. They’ve got fields the size of Tucson, Arizona, with nothing but poppy seeds in them. There’s caves in the mountains so big you could set this building in them, which is where they do the processing . . . I’d sit there, watch these Chinese paramilitary guys come out of the mist on the green hills. When they saw me, they stopped dead. They’d never seen a black man before.”

    Likely dealing with remnants of Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated Kuomintang army, Lucas purchased 132 kilos that first trip. At $4,200 per unit, compared with the $50,000 that Mafia dealers charged Stateside competitors, it would turn out to be an unbelievable bonanza. But the journey was not without problems.

    “Right off, guys were stepping on little green snakes, dying on the spot. Then guess what happened? Banditos! Those motherfuckers came right out of the trees. Trying to steal our shit. The guys I was with—007’s guys—all of them was Bruce Lees. Those sonofabitches were good. They fought like hell.

    “I was stuck under a log firing my piece. Guys were dropping. You see a lot of dead shit in there, man, like a month and a half of nightmares. I think I ate a damn dog. I was in bad shape, crazy with fever. Then people were talking about tigers. I figured, that does it. I’m gonna be ripped up by a tiger in this damn jungle. What a fucking epitaph . . . But we got back alive. Lost half my dope, but I was still alive.”


    (Via the Fighting 44s blog, pointed out by my friend Jon Lung.)

    Tangential end-note: searching for “military remnant” on Google produced an article on the remnant of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, following the end of Return of the Jedi.

    Gaijin in the spotlight

    I could have sworn that the “Westerner’s Fear of Neonsigns” blog was written by Marxy on a gaijin-baiting stint, but apparently that’s not the case. Whoever writes it, however, is amazing and I especially love his post “How’s your Japan blog?

    1. Japan is unintentionally hilarious – in particular, misuse of English – or Engrish – is so funny that I devote considerable time to documenting and disseminating it. To avoid a similar fate, I will not be blogging in Japanese.
    2. Japan is barbaric – it fails to treat sacred Western food with due decorum (bread in a can) and celebrates Christian festivals all wrong (Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve). Check my blog for further examples.
    3. Japan is sexually deviant – society operates in the tacit knowledge that Japanese men are paedophiles by default. Look at all the photographic evidence I have amassed to prove it. They just don’t know how to treat a woman properly. That I do is the underlying message I want you to receive from my blog.
    4. Japan is a visual paradise (1) – all Japanese have a heightened visual sensibility; they spend their coffee breaks contemplating tiny design modifications to plastic cups and bathe in the juice of fonts come evening. Not actually living in Japan, I can safely say that they never drive ugly white minivans or fill their tatami rooms with tat.
    5. Japan is a visual paradise (2) – the thing I love about Japan is how it allows me to me indulge in the objectification of women without guilt or reproach. The pornography here is just fantastic. Oh, of course, this will be known as The Great Unmentioned in my blog.
    6. Japan is spineless and work-addicted – people will do any job rather than lose esteem by not working. Look at this old man waving past cars with a pair of red wands – you wouldn’t catch me stooping to do such a demeaning and unnecessary job. Oh, excuse me, I’m late for my English conversation school class.
    7. Japan is childish – public announcements are only heeded when they are delivered by curtseying cartoon characters. To prove it, I will photograph them all. Even though the large incidence of such messages is obvious, I will continue to treat each one as a fantastic novelty.
    8. I am childish – only in Japan can I indulge my secret love of toys and games while presenting it as sociological research. I never miss an opportunity to make the sweeping observation that Japan is populated by inadequate geeks. I visit Akihabara every weekend in search of corroborating evidence, but it’s purely research you understand.
    9. Japan loves me – it’s always saying how tall I am, how handsome I am, how intelligent I am (admit it, I am pretty hot at producing those L/R sounds), how good I am at sports, how amazing it is that I am a man and yet I cook for myself. Nobody said anything in my home country except: “So, are you finally going to get laid in Japan?” Deeper awareness of Japanese social etiquette would have saved me the trouble of believing any of this.
    10. Japan is mine – I am the Alpha Gaijin. If Japan can be said to exist at all, it is only because I have brought it to life with my intellectual efforts. Other foreigners intruding on my turf better be able to withstand the fire of my comments. Japan will thank me for everything I have accomplished once it knows who I am. Until then, I have an immersion experience more impressive than yours to attend to.

    I feel like I was the opposite of other Japan bloggers, at least by this person’s definition – I was more into blogging about Japan when I wasn’t here. Now that I live here it is all so uninspiring.

    This analysis of Japan blogs is as spot-on as it has been curiously absent in unfiltered form. Still, in defense of Japan blogs I will say that it is often a lot of fun to post and discuss the interesting and weird stuff in a foreign land, whether that’s Japan or elsewhere. It is definitely shrill-sounding when people make their experiences out to be more than they are (god, there are thousands of expats just in Asia, you’re not that special), but really the antidote to Japan blog fatigue is to just tune them out.

    The truth is I am sad we weren’t even mentioned (though in a separate post he calls translation one of the “brilliant arts” so maybe I don’t get called on my own cultural imperialism. Or maybe I just didn’t get noticed by not posting when the blog launched…)

    Speaking of cautionary tales and immersion experiences, I took no less than 4 friends on a wild goose chase the other day to see what was supposedly an exhibit of Nazified kimonos celebrating the tripartite alliance in the WW2 era. This is all we found next to a display of books on wartime Japan:

    nazi-kimono.JPG

    Meanwhile, today’s Asahi (I read the print edition now, screw the crap online version!) ran a feature on a sweet sounding historical fiction “Tokyo Year Zero” about a double murder in early postwar Japan. The author, David Peace, grew interested in postwar Japan after teaching English here in the early 90s and reading Seidenstecker’s Tokyo Rising. He later returned to his native England and became an award-winning mystery writer on non-Japan related subject matter. His new book is enjoying a simultaneous bilingual release and a major PR push from the Japanese publisher Bungei Shunju.

    Just goes to show, if you’re willing to shed a little baggage and be friendly to the like-minded (most of the research for his new book was apparently provided by the in-house Bungei Shunju translator after the two hit it off during negotiations for translation rights to an earlier Peace book), you too can have success and avoid the stench of “slow-burning underachievement” that apparently afflicts the expat population in Japan.