Another PSE Update – Asahi Apologistic in semi-anonymous column

In response to massive protest (including a petition drive with 75,000 signatures), the government has compromised to weaken the abonimable PSE Law (previous MF posts on the law that will end vintage electronics sales in Japan as we know it here, here, and here) to exempt vintage musical instruments and allow dealers to perform the required electrical safety tests themselves. The govt even intends to establish government-sponsored testing centers to facilitate implementation of the law. Furthermore, they have said that conducting the PSE test will not open the seller to liability for the product’s electrical safety. (Source: Nikkei March 21 Morning Edition – not online yet). Unfortunately, the government has only decided to exempt some products from the law etc, not exactly the acknowldgement of antique electronics sales that the Synthesizer Programmer Assoc. wanted.

Back on March 5, the very idea of a law that would needlessly outlaw vintage electronics had populist blogger Kikko angry. She made a very good point in her rant on the evils of the law (paraphrased because Kikko’s writing style is impossible to translate):
Continue reading Another PSE Update – Asahi Apologistic in semi-anonymous column

Sugimura Just Can’t Get it Right


Taizo’s One-sided Date in Chinatown – 26-year-old Hot Secretary Tells All
“This is the last time, so let’s get together just the two of us,” No touching

Yukan Fuji has learned on March 16 that just before announcing his engagement, the “100% Koizumi Child” and self-described representative of the unemployed LDP Diet member Taizo Sugimura (PR, S. Kanto block, 26yo) was on a date with the ravishing private secretary (26) of former prime minister Tsutomu Hata. Sugimura (or “Taizo” as he is often called by his given name) had just announced his engagement the previous day. The act may be misinterpreted as “cheating,” but the woman, in an interview with Yukan Fuji, denied such allegations forcefully, remarking, “I am like his female friend (who doesn’t see him as a [dateable] man).”

According to the woman, she picked him up in a white Mercedes-Benz at his official residence in Sanda, Minato District, Tokyo, on the morning of March 12, whereupon he got in the passenger’s seat. After driving a few hundred meters, Taizo took the wheel and headed down the Metropolitan Expressway, finally arriving at a parking lot in Yokohama’s Chinatown. They ate lunch approximately 1.5 hours later and then returned to the official residence.

The woman denied a special relationship with Sugimura: “We went out to eat, but Representative Sugimura is a friend who I hang out with other friends my age. Even then, we didn’t make anything more than small talk.”

She is a private secretary working in the office of former prime minister Hata, and possesses good looks such that she appeared in a photo magazine’s “Beautiful Dietmembers’ Secretaries Special Feature.” Her style is in a class all its own, and she resembles actresses Akiko Yada and Uno Kanda. She is rumored to be dating a male corporate worker.
Continue reading Sugimura Just Can’t Get it Right

Japan’s Government Sells Out

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

LDP Panel Eyes Land Sale, Loan Securitization To Cut Govt Assets

TOKYO (Nikkei)–As part of efforts to pare down government assets, a subpanel of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s fiscal reform committee will recommend as early as Wednesday the creation of an independent institution to oversee the streamlining of publicly held property and the securitization of government-held loans, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun has learned.

“We will submit a proposal that prunes more than 100 trillion yen” from the government’s roughly 430 trillion yen in marketable assets, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Hidenao Nakagawa said in a speech Tuesday. Nakagawa also heads the fiscal reform committee.

The subpanel will also propose plans to sell such holdings as civil servant dormitories and implement private-sector ideas for using government land more effectively. Development proposals would be solicited to compete with the land use plans of the pertinent government ministries and agencies. The new organization would oversee disclosure methods, as well as prioritize the government and private-sector proposals.

The subpanel will also recommend selling the naming rights to national stadiums and other facilities, as well as creating advertising space on government vehicles.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Wednesday morning edition)


Where are they Now? Nasubi edition

A commenter asked us whatever happened to Nasubi, the aspiring comedian who allowed Japanese TV to kidnap him and force him to survive by entering sweepstakes in 1998.

Well, as usual, Wikipedia has the answer (paraphrased):

Nasubi’s feature is, as noted by his stage name (Nasubi means “eggplant” in Japanese), his 30cm-long face. He has sought a dramatic acting career since he started, and is currently active mostly in stage productions. In 2002 he founded the “Eggplant Way” and serves as its chief.

Recently most of his television appearances have been on local programs in his native Fukushima, but in 2005 he appeared in national TV dramas “Train Man” and “Trick New Special.”

Looks like he survived his near-starvation experience to go on to moderate success as an actor. Good for him! Check Nasubi’s official website (Japanese only) for appearances. He also keeps a pretty regular diary (latest entry):

So, so strong!!

The World Baseball Classic semifinals… The overall game made me numb, but the third time’s the charm! This game showed us Japan’s sticktuitiveness? or its latent energy, it was 110% worth seeing (*^_^*)

Both teams…had very fine plays, also plays where they had to make up for mistakes, and I got the deep impression that we can be proud of Asia’s high level of baseball throughout the world!!

But truthfully? Don’t you feel kind of bad for Korea?

3/19/2006 (Sunday)

Umm, not really! I was just watching Japan trounce Cuba in the finals (right now it’s 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th). Once, when Ichiro was running home, he actually stopped the 3rd baseman from throwing home by intentionally blocking his line of vision. That’s some superhero shit, my man.

Thinking past the first step?

During one of my walks over the weekend, passing through Dupont Circle I stumbled across a sleeply 3rd year anniversary protest of the War in Iraq. It had all the common characteristics of such protests: bad poetry slams by wanna-be Jello Biafras, lots of people in need of a bath, a heaping helping of ill-conceived self-righteousness, Lyndon Larouche zombies, and more stupid signs than I could count.

I didn’t have my camera with me, so I had to search the web for something similar, and I think this does the trick, well illustrating one of the most foolish signs I saw that afternoon:

I wonder if these people are actually thinking about what they’re asking for. I say America sould give them their wish. Impeach Bush; bring on President Cheney!

Post-Koizumi update

Looks like the press is diving into the “post-Koizumi” story head-on today. This morning’s Nikkei has a profile of “young” Shinzo Abe, billed as the first in their series of articles about possible successors to Koizumi. Meanwhile, the Daily Yomiuri has a fun medley of articles today. The first two focus on Yasuo Fukuda and Taku Yamasaki, the “moderate” contenders. Then there’s this fun little nugget:

Taro Aso, on a trip to Australia for talks with his U.S. and Australian counterparts, said Saturday he thought he had had “more experience” in the political arena than Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe…

Referring to economics, Aso said, “I’ve never seen Abe talking about the economy.” “When it comes to diplomacy, he is a bit of a rightist, although there is no big difference in positions between the two of us,” Aso said.

As far as popular opinion goes, Fukuda and Abe seem to be the most popular candidates at this point. Of course, this isn’t a public election—it’s an internal LDP election, and their opinion will rule the day.

Niimi files final appeal

I mentioned the other day that Niimi Tomomitsu, one of the leaders of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, had recieved a death sentence. Naturally, he has filed an appeal.

The lawyers claim hanging is too harsh a punishment for Niimi, 42, reckoning that as Aum founder Shoko Asahara’s most loyal disciple, he had no option but to follow the guru’s orders.

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld the district court-meted death penalty against Niimi, with the judge saying there were no mitigating circumstances.

He was found guilty of conspiring with Asahara and other cultists who carried out the March 20, 1995, sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people left more than 5,000 injured.

He was also convicted for his roles in the June 27, 1994, sarin attack in a residential area in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

Should his final appeal fail, I think it is safe to assume that he will, as in all things, follow the lead of the Esteemed Master Asahara Shoko-masturbate in public and hope for the best.

Japanese government takes a bite out of wonky translations

One little-publicized project being undertaken by the Japanese government right now is to write official English translations of the most important Japanese statutes. This is being done by a special Conference for Examination of the Implementation and Foreign Translation of Laws (法令外国語訳・実施推進検討会議), which has met several times over the past few years (see the Cabinet Secretariat website).

As part of this project, the government is creating an official Japanese-English legal glossary, and trying to end the practice of using awkward English translations for Japanese legal terms. Some of the changes, as reported by the Asahi Shimbun:

  • 法律, which has previously been translated as “Law,” will now be translated as “Act” or “Code.” This is a really, really good change. The translation “Company Law” for 会社法 has always made me chuckle: my American legal ears expect it to be called “Corporations Code.”
  • 株式会社, glossed in most dictionaries as “joint-stock company,” will now be translated as “business corporation.” This is an awesome change. I don’t think native English speakers have talked about “joint-stock companies” since the days of Queen Victoria.
  • 法人, previously called “legal entity,” will now be called “juridicial person.” I really wish they would just call it a “corporation.” ALC seems to back me up on this one.
  • Here’s a real stinker: 時効, the Japanese equivalent of what Americans refer to as a “statute of limitations,” is going to be called a “prescription.” WTF? This word has so many meanings in English, and it’s hardly ever used in this sense.

Asahara – still crazy

For all you Aum watchers, make sure to take in this article on the English Mainichi. It’s actually been posted for a week or so, but I just ran across it. The former cult leader, who is responsible for a number of atrocities, was sentenced to death a little while back, but seems to be working very hard to delay the (cough, cough) execution of that sentence for as long as possible by faking insanity.

“He took off his trousers and diapers, exposed his genitalia and masturbated. He repeated the same action frequently. Whenever he acts like that, he drops his trousers, his diaper and diaper cover to his knees, finishes the act, then raises his trousers up to his waist again,” Friday quotes the Nishiyama Report as saying.

The weekly goes on to note that Asahara does not restrain his self-ministrations to times when he’s alone in his cell at the Tokyo Detention Center.

“In April 2005, just before the accused’s lawyer entered a visiting room, the accused exposed his penis and began masturbating, continuing until he had finished while the lawyer stood before him the entire time. He has repeated this act of masturbation in the visiting room, as well as in his solitary confinement cell since being placed under observation in May. He also performed the act in front of his daughters when they came to visit him in August of the same year,” the Nishiyama Report says.

On the other hand, Asahara is well documented as having been bat-shit crazy at the very least since 1983, so who am I to accuse him of just putting on a show?