The Japanese Web 2004

It’s a little late for 2004 retrospectives, but I thought you guys might enjoy taking a look at what was hot on the web in Japan for 2004. First, the Google Zeitgeist, Google’s yearly ranking of the top search queries in each field, gives an idea of what was popular way back then. I do wish they’d give more detailed and constant statistics instead of just this little bit at the end of the year.

The #4 search query in Japan was 翻訳 (translation), nowhere to be found in any of the other top 10s that I can see. Are Japanese people more interested in learning about the rest of the world? Or is it that they just suck at English???

In a surprise upset, goth singer gackt beat out Bae Yong Joon (The silent-but-deadly Yong-sama) for most searched for man. And despite being kind of off the cultural radar this year (I think?), folk duo Yuzu popped up at #5. Kind of like how Kurt Cobain is STILL the #10 most sought-after image in America.

Next we have Yahoo!JAPAN‘s Web of the Year 2004. There was an ad in my Yahoo!JAPAN e-mail telling me to vote for it, and when I saw the nominees it was surprising how many websites I had never heard of. The list here should be a useful guide to all the most popular and trusted web sites in Japan.

Yahoo seems to have won a good portion of the awards, so who knows how impartial this thing was. But it’s possible that since it was hosted by Yahoo, the people voting already know about Yahoo and its services.

The top “Zeitgeist award” (話題賞) was 電車男 (Train Man), the romantic novel lifted directly from 2ch message boards. I really want to read this, so I have no idea why I didn’t buy it when I was in the country. Anyone coming to DC from Japan, buy it and I promise I’ll pay you back!

Anyway, I’ll leave the rest of it for you to draw your own conclusions. I’ll be using it to check out the links I wasn’t aware of, and I’ll get back to you with some highlights.

Fuck Zapan! Korean Anti-Japanese Rap Song

DJ Doc
UPDATE: Now you can listen to “Fuck Zapan” in all its “glory” by downloading it from us here! Here‘s a link to just the lyrics.

UPDATE II: The song isn’t actually by DJ DOC, or so I’ve heard.

Hot on the heels of Korean-language classic “Fucking USA” comes “Fuck Japan” from the Korean rap group DJ Doc. This was #1 on the charts in South Korea circa 1999 (?) and was allegedly made in response to an anti-Korean song made by a Japanese rap group. Full of simpering calls of “Hai!” (Yes, sir! in Japanese) and depictions of foolish Japanese who don’t know their own history, this dubious masterpiece is punctuated in the middle by a sample from the PC game Starcraft (a personal favorite and a HUGE hit in Korea), proving that it is truly a product of the ROK. You can listen to it and get a Japanese translation of the lyrics here. Here are the lyrics in English:

I am Korean! (I am a Japanese!)
Hey, you, try saying “Al lo byu!” (I rob you!) *1
No! It’s “I low byoo!” (I rob you!)
Are you retarded? Can’t you even pronounce that? (Hai!)
Are you really retarded? (Hai!)
Isn’t your country just fundamentally retarded? (Hai!)
Hai! It’s your Korean boy! Fuck these pigfoot Japs! *2
Let’s kill them, boy! Fuck! These penis-face pussies motherfuckers!
Those fucking Japs that live in Japan penis-face pussy Jap bitch retard idiot bitches!
You who have been described as ‘barbarians to the East’ *3 pigfoot bitches!
Are you going to lie about your own history?! (Hai!) Go ahead and lie, you deceitful pigfeet!
Pussies! How much will you lie, pigfeet?! Keep on lying, Japs!
Lie to your mom and dad! Lie to your mom and dad!
Will you eat your mom? (Hai!) Is that OK? Yeah, that’s fine! That’s just fine!
Retard bitches! Go and have a seizure! Continue reading Fuck Zapan! Korean Anti-Japanese Rap Song

The Non-formation of Intellectual Individuals at the Root of Society’s Fragility


OK, back to real posts. This opinion piece from Toyo Keizai (E. Asian Economy) Magazine comes a bit late, but it’s a very thought-out leftist stance that I have yet to see in the English language. Here you go:

by Yamaguchi Jiro (Professor, Hokkaido Univ.)
 ← Wow, it looks like he’s got a WordPress blog! Cool! And here‘s the Japanese original of this article:

The politics of 2005 have already begun. This year there are few major elections, save for the Tokyo Assembly, and it is predicted that there will be little change in Japan’s political situation. Quite the contrary, with the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2, we should perhaps make 2005 the year in which we recap how far Japan has come since the war and further the debate on Japan’s future path.

Looking back at the 50th anniversary of the war’s end 10 years ago, we must acknowledge a huge difference in the international environment and domestic opinion. 10 years ago, Murayama Tomiichi, then chairmnan of the Japan Socialist Party, had the Prime Minister’s seat, and public opinion displayed reflection over the past half-century along with a sense of atonement with the victims of the War. Furthermore, Japan bent over backward to achieve resolution on various pending issues, such as aid for “comfort women” and reconciliation ceremonies with the various countries in Asia via PM Murayama’s 50th Anniversary talks.

However, 10 years later, the Japanese public overflows with the exact opposite sentiment, as shown in their distrust of surrounding countries and their dissatisfaction with being made the villain of modern history. The PM is visiting Yasukuni Shrine, and plenty of people support him. And as Japanese-American military cooperation deepens, we have gone so far as to send SDF troops all the way to the Middle East. The postwar framework of the SDF and security has been dismantled, and Article 9 of the Constitution has already lost its significance as a norm. And in the case of the Japanese hostages in Iraq, the opinion that those who oppose the government’s policies deserve to die reached all the way to parts of the mass media. Continue reading The Non-formation of Intellectual Individuals at the Root of Society’s Fragility

REPOST: My reply to FG flames

Enjoy. This is a continuation of the discussion on the TokyoDV boards. I figured I said enough for people who don’t give a shit about some flame war to get a kick out of it as well:

It’s funny, I was totally wrong about why FG exceeded its bandwidth (didn’t know about the Tsunami-induced traffic surge), but I get all the flak over something I’m more or less right about.

It doesn’t take some genius or seasoned Japan expert to get an impression of what some website is all about. All it requires is a few months (if that) of watching the posts.

I don’t know what the selection process is for front-page articles on FG is, but they are available in an RSS feed (how I get them) and in that sense can be taken as if they were a collaborative blog. You’d have to be a fool not to realize that the point of posting articles on a website is to entertain, inform and maybe get the scoop faster than the other guys. Continue reading REPOST: My reply to FG flames

Be careful what you wish for Part 2: The Backlash

The Fucked Gaijin didn’t like what I said about them in my post about their shutdown for exceeding bandwidth. Take a look at what they’re saying:

Since I spotted his comment, he’s gonna have more “fun” ripping us a new orifice. On his blog he says that:
“I lived in Japan for two years, learning the Japanese language and irreparably damaging my psyche in the process…and dreaming of one day making it big in Tokyo.”
He just might find it a wee bit difficult “making it big in Tokyo” if he pisses all the FGs off, hee, hee.

Gee wiz, being ripped by who has lived a whole two years in Japan and writes a “Mutant Frog < !insert something about glass houses and stones > Travelogue sounds real scary. Yes, ” be afraid… be very afraid!!!”

No, don’t be afraid. Never in my life did I think 2 sentences where I call some people insecure would warrant old pictures of me being thrown up on a forum for ridicule. Just goes to show I don’t understand how the Internet works.

Be careful what you wish for: F*cked Gaijin Down for Exceeded Bandwidth

The forum for “FGs” or those non-Japanese in Japan who feel like they don’t quite fit in, has been down for the past 24 hours or so, giving the following error message:

Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.
Apache/1.3.33 Server at Port 80

Now, in theory, this is the problem I wish we had. But, as Simonworld so sagely points out, the more popular a site gets, the more costly it is to maintain (especially a forum site like theirs). Maintaining a large and growing audience may in fact only be possible if you are taking in a good chunk of revenue from the site. Otherwise it’s a drain on both your time and your wallet.

As for the FG site itself, I have some mixed feelings. I was actually gearing up to write a scathing review of the site that blamed it for a) reinforcing negative stereotypes about Japan and b) showcasing the main posters’ insecurities and bad attitudes. Nevertheless, it was a good source of insider info about Japan from a different perspective, and it had some good features (Random Gaijin Pic of the Day being chief among them). I think we’ll all be watching to see what develops.

Man Stabs Co-Worker Upon Being Scolded for Bad Behavior


Police in Chita, Aichi Prefecture, arrested a man (24) in flagrante delicto for attempted murder on suspicion that he stabbed a co-worker (38) after an argument at an izakaya (Japanese drinking spot). The co-worker later died at the hospital, so the police are changing the charge to murder.

According to investigators, an argument arose at the izakaya at around 10:30PM Jan. 18th when the co-worker told the man, “Recently, your behavior’s been bad.” The man then stabbed his co-worker in the left flank on a nearby roadway with a butterfly knife he’d been carrying (9cm blade).

Witnesses say the man called the ambulance for his co-worker after the stabbing.

My Comment: This is just one more case that makes me question why Japanese companies force so much socialization on their employees. I wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with my co-workers here in America. I don’t know if I’d be able to stand going out drinking with the same people who I see in the office every day.

Tech Workers of Japan, Unite and Come to America!

This is a story I came across during my recent trip to Japan:

Nichia Corp, the Japanese manufacturer of the blue light emitting diode (LED), this month agreed to pay 840 million yen ($8 million) to a former employee in compensation for his invention of the technology to make the blue LED, which has turned a once minor chemical company in rural Japan into a virtual world monopoly in the production of the blue LED.

The court-mediated settlement of the dispute over the inventor’s demand for a huge amount of compensation drew wide public attention not just as industrial news but as an event of major social impact prompting a rethinking of individuals’ position in organizations in Japan in general, and engineers’ in business corporations in particular.

It also has prompted businesses to consider a system to adequately compensate for employee inventions, something that has been left in the dark in the past but has assumed crucial importance in this age of growing importance attached to intellectual property rights.

At the time of his invention, Nakamura was given a mere 10,000 yen bonus. What I saw on TV was a livid man holding a press conference and saying, “It’s as if the court is telling me to go to America. America is a society which actually rewards creativity.” There were also interviews on the street where people said he didn’t receive enough. Any thoughts?