Coffee-flavored Ramen Available in Tokyo’s Katsushika-ku

This message is intended for Curzon and Nichi Nichi:

I saw this on the Japanese news today:

That’s right. Coffee flavored ramen. It’s a 5-minute walk from Ohanachaya station on the Keisei line. And it’s apparently pretty good. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to eat this strange ramen and let me know how it tastes. Good luck and godspeed!

News Marathon 10: Divided on a female emperor: 4 from Imperial Standards Council Share their views

A good blog post on Japan’s imperial system can be found here (Thanks Metroblogging Tokyo). Anyway, here’s the story: via Goo News:

PM Koizumi’s personal advisory panel, “The Council of Advisers on Imperial Family Standards” gave their 6th meeting on May 31, asking the opinions of 4 experts in a public conference. Their stances were divided along the lines of maintaining the current male imperial line system, allowing a female emperor, and allowing a female emperor only if taken from the mother’s side.

The panel consisted of: Professor Yasuo Ohara of Kokugakuin (Religion and politics), Asst. Professor Shuji Yagi of Takazaki School of Economics (Constitutional Law), Koji Takahashi of Shizuoka University of Welfare (Imperial Family Studies), and Koichi Yokota of Ryutsu Keizai University (Constitutional Law)

Both Ohara and Yagi supported the patrilineal system. Ohara explained, “The fact that we have followed a male imperial line consistently is the root of our national integration’s power,” and Yagi went on to say, “It is not for modern people to change a male line that has continued unabated for 125 generations.” Both suggested either restoring the old prince system or adoption.

Going further, Professor Ohara explained, “Going with a female line would call the legitimacy of the imperial family into question, with some seeing it as a ‘chance to abolish the imperial system.'” He stressed that changing tradition to allow a female emperor might lead to the end of Japan’s imperial system.

Yagi gave historical examples of emperors such as Emperors Keitai and Koukaku that ascended to the throne despite being “virtually unrelated” to the imperial line.

Meanwhile, Professor Takahashi expressed his opinion that Japan should allow a female emperor. When asked why, he responded, “The basic question of who is most suitable to ascend to the throne is whether he (or she) will be widely supported.” As for the order of succession, Takahashi believes that the first-born is best since it is easy to determine.

Professor Yokota also approved of a female emperor. He added, “Unreasonable suggestions such as an adoption system or restoration of the nobility, or changing tradition in order to allow a female emperor will raise the question of whether there is a need to adhere to the imperial system.”

The advisory panel plans to enter into detailed discussion on the matter on June 8th after asking the opinions of 4 other experts.

News Marathon 9: Press Release: East Japan Bank to Begin Selling Japan Investment Trust Management Co.-managed “Japan Good Dividend Rebalance Open”

This is to inform that East Japan Bank will begin selling Japan Investment Trust Management Co.-managed “Japan Good Dividend Rebalance Open”.

The money management fund “Japan Good Dividend Rebalance Open” is a fund operating with the objective of bringing equal-weighted investments by ranking the Nikkei 500 stocks used in the average in order of highest predicted dividend earnings yield, and using the top 70 brands as investment targets.

(1) Using stocks on the market in Japan’s securities markets, the fund operates with the proactive goal of developing trust funds.
(2) In operation, the fund ranks the Nikkei 500 stocks used in the average in order of highest predicted dividend earnings yield and uses the top 70 brands as investment targets.
(3) In investments, we operate fund allocation to each brand with the goal of always bringing equal-weighted investments. However, depending on the scale of trust funds, stock price changes of capitalized brands, and wether the trust funds have entered redemption reserves the fund may not be equal-weighted investments.
(4) The fund will undertake review of the capitalized brands and adjustment of the capitalization ratio (rebalance) once a month.
(5) The fund will undertake a closing of accounts 4 times a year (the 7th of Jan., Apr., July, and Oct. (when that day is a holiday it will be done on the next business day) and shall as a rule pay dividends at those times. The dividend amount of the January account settlement shall be decided based on the baseline price standard if the baseline price is above the initial principal.


News Marathon 8: April Salaryman Consumption falls 3.1% in real terms


According to a Ministry of Home Affairs survey on the April finances of “salaryman” households released on May 31, the consumption spending for one household was 354,991 yen, a substantial decrease 3.1% from this month last year, excluding price changes. This is the first decrease from the same month last year in two months. In nominal amounts displaying the amounts of money actually paid the decrease was 3.0%.

Looking at consumption by expense items, education was the area most depressed with a real decrease of 22.2%. Discretionary income, which is real income after non-consumption expenses such as taxes and social insurance fees are deducted, increased 3.7% in real terms.

News Marathon 7: Obesity Survey: The situation of salarymen who can’t lose weight

Yahoo News:

Kaoh Corporation presented the results of their “Life and Times of the Modern Fat Salaryman” survey on May 30. The survey highlighted a situation where more than 60% of salarymen know that their lifestyles make it “easy for them to get fat” yet “eat fast” “take meals at irregular times” and can’t change their habits or lose weight.

The survey assembled data from 323 married salarymen aged 30-59 living in the Tokyo area. According to the survey, 43% have tried to lose weight but 57% of those actually got fatter. The life habits of those who “fatten easily” are most directly expressed in how they spend their days off, with more than half of them saying “I prefer to relax on my days off,” “I’m a night person,” or that a tiring day causes them to “spend my days off lazing around the house.”

The weight-losing “winners” all commonly “took the stairs instead of the elevator,” “get off the train one station before my destination and walk the difference,” regularly engaging in strenuous exercise. All subjects were equipped with walking meters, and it was found that the daily steps taken by the “winners” averaged 14,900 while the “losers” only took 8546.

Kaoh says of the survey, “The 1500-step difference in steps between the two groups amounts to a walking distance of about 1 kilometer. Weight loss requires general efforts to improve eating habits, but one cannot forget to make a conscious effort to move his or her body even during a busy day of work. (Mainichi Shimbun, by Yasushi Kumagai)

News Marathon 6: Kanazawa Regional Court Rules “Citizens Network” Unconstitutional

From Tokyo Shimbun:

Application to citizens wishing to be excluded is unconstitutional
Orders prefecture to delete personal information
Citizens Network lawsuit decided at Kanazawa Regional Court

Proclaiming that the Citizens Basic Registry Network (Citizens Network/CN or “Juki Net” in Japanese) was ruled to violate privacy and personal rights guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution, Justice Ken’ichi Ido of the Kanazawa Regional Court ruled that prefectural and local Information Centers must delete the personal information of the plaintiffs, who are suing for the deletion of their information and for 220,000 yen apiece in damages from the central government et al.

There are currently lawsuits underway demanding the exclusion from the Citizens Network and damages from the government in 13 regional courts across Japan, but Kanazawa was the first court to reach a decision. The decision is likely to have an effect on the government’s IT strategy and plans for e-government.

The decision states, “As long as Citizens Network is applied to the Plaintiffs, who do not waive their right to privacy and are demanding to be excluded, Citizens Network is in violation of Article 13 of the Constitution.” Applying the system to citizens who demand to be exluded was found to be unconstitutional.

Further, it found that “Prefectures etc would be managing the private information of the Plaintiffs with no basis in the law,” accepting the right to demand cessation of Citizens Network based on Privacy Rights.

Justice Ido, in his reasons for the decision, writes, “The right to control your own information is included as one important aspect of the right to privacy in Article 13.” He goes on to say, “Citizens Network also violates the right of control, but (this right) has a substantial limit for purposes of public welfare.”

Furthermore, “I cannot accept that Citizens Network is important enough to sacrifice the right to privacy.”

Also, of the personal identification information found to be included in the right of control, “4 pieces of information: name, address, birthdate, and gender do not require a high level of concealment, but one’s citizen register (juminhyo) code and modification information allow one to collect various personal information, making the need for concealment substantially high.” Ido stated, “It is easy to imagine a situation where citizens would be stark naked in front of government institutions with their personal autonomy threatened.”

Regarding Citizens Network’s safety, Ido said, “The specific danger of illegal access or information leaks due to CN’s lack of security is problematic, and added that it is doubtful that proper measures to protect personal information were being taken at every municipality around the country.

As for damages, he avoided them by saying, “The unconstitutionality of the Citizens Network Law is limited to when it is clear to anyone.”

The federal government disagreed, saying, “The right of control is not protected by the Constitution. Measures for the protection of information are fine, and there is no violation of privacy.

Poll on Mainichi Front Page

After how long can a couple be considered “sexless“?

1 month
2 months
6 months
1 year
4 years
12 years

So far 6 months (32%), 1 month (25%), and 1 year (20%) are in the lead.

“Sexless” has become a buzzword in Japan and is used to describe married couples who never get it on with each other. There are a lot of them and for a myriad of reasons, the most common one given is that marriage in Japan is meant for children and considerations like attractiveness often do no enter into the decision making process when it comes time to get married. Couldn’t tell you myself, but interesting nonetheless.

News Marathon 5: Kamada to run for Sendai City Mayor, Leaves DPJ in search of a new career in local politics


Former Democratic Party of Japan Lower House Member Sayuri Kamada (40) announced at meeting of her supporters’ association (Koenkai) on the 29th that she will run for Mayor of Sendai-shi (election to be announced July 17, with voting on the 31st) as an independent. She plans to inform DPJ officials of her intention to leave the party soon.

Kamada won her second term in the Lower House in the Miyagi 2nd district in 2003, but after discovery of election law violations with an official in her camp she resigned her posts to take responsibility. In a decision of a guilt-by-association suit, she was banned from running for office in the same district for 5 years.

According to a source within the Prefectural chapter of the DPJ, there is strong criticism that, “The citizens will not accept Kamada’s bid for the office of mayor,” and her response to the movement supporting Tomiko Okazaki (61) will be followed closely. In the same race, Prefectural Rep. Susumu Kanma (54) and former METI Commerce Negotiator Katsuhiko Umebara (51) have announced their candidacies as independents.

News Marathon 4: 90% of Japanese surveyed worry that an increase in foreign tourists will lead to more crime

Chunichi Shimbun via Google Alerts:

89.4% of those surveyed believe that an increase of foreign tourists visiting Japan will “lead to an increase in crime” according the release of a monitor questionnaire on tourism from the Transportation Ministry released May 29. Meanwhile, the top response as to what the benefits of foreign tourists are was “getting them to understand Japan” with 76.6% of that opinion.

The survey was adminstered over the Internet in February to 777 “monitors” aged 20-79 who registered with the Ministry, with 86% of them responding.

“Criminals posing as tourists might enter the country and I worry that would cause a rise in crime” was the top response to the question, “What demerits does the increase of foreigners visiting to Japan have?” Following that was “trouble resulting from language or cultural differences” (33.4%).

As for the question on “merits”, following “getting them to understand us” was “Revenues from tourism would increase, which would be important to the domestic economy” (70.6%).

73.8% of respondents either “had no idea” or “were hearing for the first time” about the Ministry’s efforts to increase foreign tourism using the words “Founding a tourist nation” and “the Visit Japan Campaign”, revealing its low level of permeation.

News Marathon 3: Hideaki Ito “felt urgency” watches coast guard drills


Hideaki Ito (29), who will star in Fuji TV drama “Sea Monkey” (海猿, Tuesdays at 9pm), and heroine Ai Kato (22) attended a spectator demonstration of the Japan Coast Guard held at Tokyo Bay on May 29.

The drama, which depicts the lives of a submarine crew in the Coast Guard, was realized with the full cooperation of the guard. They also watched rescue operations and other general drills.

Ito, who just finished filming a dangerous underwater rescue scene for the first and second episodes, said, “I felt a real sense of urgency that should show up in the footage,” expressing his enthusiasm for the rest of the filming. (Sports Nippon 5/30)