Midtown law firm looking for Japanese/English bilingual college graduate with good writing & communication skills both in Japanese and English. No experience necessary. Send resume in English to Barst & Mukamal LLP, 2 Park Ave. 19th FL, New York, NY 10016 ATTN: Mr. Ben Goshi.
RSS Feeds of Diet Members’ web sites, aggregated
Don’t say I never gave you anything.
I sifted through each individual web site of Japan’s lawmakers (members of the Diet) and placed any RSS feeds I found into Google Reader. Compared to the 722 seats in the Diet, only I only picked up 150 individual members with feeds.
That doesn’t mean Japan’s politicians are not active on the web. All but about 10 or so (mostly the elderly and entrenched – like “Don of the Upper House “Mikio Aoki” – or just too cool for the web – like our man Koizumi) had websites (another 10 members’ sites were down for various reasons), about 90% of them kept up-to-date content on the site, and a good majority provide a wealth of content either in the form of opinions or activities reports. There is, perhaps, a downside to that – they aren’t spending their time drafting legislation (in many cases the job of the PM’s office or autonomous bureaucrats). What I am saying, however, is that most of them are behind the times – lots of websites with early-2000s site designs, and one member even had a Geocities page!
But that aside, here are the links to the RSS feeds that were available, broken down by cameral and party affiliation (Click the party link to see the aggregator site):
Lower House (House of Representatives) (480 seats total; 114 feeds)
Upper House (242 seats; 37 feeds)
That’s 151 feeds, or about 21% of the members (this isn’t an exact total – one member had multiple feeds, of which I subscribed to 2). How is this useful? Well, not at all if you don’t read Japanese. But at least I will be checking back on it whenever I want to see what people are saying on a given issue, possibly keeping it updated after elections, but who knows? I was bored.
Now, it is possible that I missed a member’s feed for reasons including not seeing the link or it not actually being linked on the member’s official site. Also, a good percentages of the feeds I did find came after digging through the settings page of members’ “e-mail magazine” services, chiefly mag2. Also, many members had “blogs,” but either used primitive Japanese “diary” software, manually updated the sites the old school way, or simply didn’t offer a feed.
Continue reading RSS Feeds of Diet Members’ web sites, aggregated
Thanks to Momus, I have discovered this sweet Japanese video site, Qoogle. It works like Digg to pick up popular videos on Youtube.
Highlight: The first episode of Doraemon. As a big Doraemon fan this is pretty sweet, complete with the lame music. And Giant’s voice is different somehow.
Mainichi is a wonderful thing, as this passage demonstrates:
Take the Shigurechausu, or time of thin rain and tea. This is a position where the woman gets on top. If the woman shifts to her side while riding atop the man, the position turns into the goshoguruma, or ox-drawn cart like those used by ancient royalty. If you’re both looking in the same direction while being sideways, that is, insertion from the rear while both are lying side-on, it’s called the mado no tsuki, or moon window. Turning the woman in the opposite direction gives you the Tsubame Kaeshi, or inverted swallow (as in the bird)…
I wonder if they’re hiring translators. It might be worth dropping out of law school.
How to talk like a samurai
It’s hard to talk like a pirate in Japanese, but the best alternative is to talk like a samurai. Here are five phrases to get you started. Main point: Say “gozaru” a lot.
The hiragana fad continues
First it was みずほ銀行 (Mizuho Bank), then it was さいたま市 (Saitama City). Now the word is that two of the new companies coming out of the postal privatization will be ゆうちょ銀行 (Yucho Bank) and かんぽ生命保険 (Kampo Life Insurance).
What is it with hiragana names these days? Have I studied kanji for so long, only to have the language be dumbed down before my eyes?
The Weekend Frog: “Wow, he isn’t a retard after all!”
Readdressing an age-old question: how does a visibly non-Japanese person deal with living in Japan?
Everyone in my office is bilingual to some extent, but the lingua franca is Japanese. When the three foreign employees use English in the office, people almost seem surprised at how good we are at it. Or, in the words of my boss, they seem to be thinking: “Wow, he isn’t a retard after all!”
But every day I have to go outside, into the Real Japan, where speaking English to a foreigner is a much more natural feeling. Hell, it’s practically a legal presumption now. I can tell you from personal experience that bureaucrats definitely treat you better when you speak to them in English. Even in our office, our Japanese clients are put at ease when they can practice their English on a foreign lawyer, but have the option to switch back into Japanese if the conversation starts getting difficult.
I occasionally poke around on mixi when I’m bored, and sometimes I enjoy slipping into the discussions in a group called 英語★できる人＆勉強してる人 (“ENGLISH – People who know it and people who study it”). A high school-aged girl in Yokohama made a post a few weeks back along these lines:
I’m working part-time at a convenience store now, and I get quite a few foreign customers. I don’t know much English, but I’m wondering what I should say to them in English. Any ideas?
There were a bunch of replies, with varying degrees of appropriateness. I decided to slip in the Debito answer to this question at the bottom of the thread:
These are all good ideas. One thing you should watch out for, though, is that many foreign people in Japan want to speak Japanese. So if you see someone and immediately think “Oh, I’m going to speak English to them!” they might not appreciate it. Of course everyone has a different attitude, but there are such people out there.
Now I disagree with that suggestion. I remember poking through a book that advised people learning Japanese to “say you don’t speak English.” That’s an effective response, but it always struck me as extreme. Do I really have to lie to speak in Japanese with people on the street?
The Debito answer isn’t the right answer. The better example comes from Anthony Bianchi, the Brooklyn-born city councilman in Aichi Prefecture who we started talking about a few days ago. He likes who he is. As a result, people like who he is. He doesn’t need to file lawsuits to get his way: he can get himself elected.
In the Campbell hero archetype, this is called being the Master of Two Worlds. This is what you get when you blow up the Death Star, ride your horse into the sunset or accept surrender papers on a battleship in Tokyo Bay.
Now, I started writing this post as a bitchfest after a trip to Wendy’s came out like this:
ME: Bacon burger set.
EMPLOYEE [apparently a trainee]: Uh…. fo-a hee-uh o-a to go-o?
ME: [getting impatient] For here.
EMPLOYEE: [motions vaguely toward the set options part of the menu]
ME: Fries. Pepsi.
EMPLOYEE: S, M, L?
ME: (sigh) I want the small size, please.
The employee proceeded to ring up a small fries and small drink, but no burger. I didn’t want to make the situation any more difficult for him, so I paid my 200 yen, ate and left.
But in the end, there’s a comfort zone in Japan. It’s not enough to be Japanese or American… you have to be able to be both at once. And that’s something I’ll have to work on a bit. Maybe that kid just wanted to speak English; maybe he isn’t a retard after all.
Eikaiwa Teacher Nabbed for Marijuana Possession, Yukan Fuji Makes fun of His Japanese
“I had marijuana”… Middle School Asst English Teacher Arrested
The Gunma Prefectural Police, Shibukawa Precinct, arrested a male American citizen (34) working as an assistant English teacher at a middle school in Shinto Village [a real town, not some Japanese-style Santaland, unfortunately – Adamu], Gunma, for possession of marijuana.
According to police investigations, the man had several grams of marijuana in his home. The man was the only asst. English teacher in the village and has been employed on a contract basis since August. He has admitted the crime and the precinct intends to pursue questioning on the route by which he obtained the drugs.
Now, take a look at this headline:
(The words before the ellipse mean “I had marijuana” written in letters to mockingly indicate a foreign accent)
For you gaijin in Japan who get hot under the collar when Japanese people praise your Japanese, maybe you should try getting arrested! I can guarantee no one will tell you how smart you are for learning such a hard language, certainly not the press.
(Picture plucked from Google Images and probably does not depict the actual suspect)
You know you’ve been in Aum Shinrikyo too long when…
You think Dave Spector is the Antichrist:
“Issue 6 [of Aum official magazine Vajrayana Sacca] ran a feature [in late 1994] entitled “Manual of Terror: The Jewish Ambition,” which cites the Jewish people and the freemasons [as forces working to destroy Japan and conquer the world]. Of great interest is the article, “WANTED! The Black Elites Who Sold Their Souls to the Devil,” which introduces and comments on 12 Japanese people and two foreigners:
“The Dark Emperor (暗黒帝王）, Ichiro Ozawa [senior DPJ leader] (trying to build a Japan that is subordinated to the world unified government).
“The 6th Demon （第六天魔）, Daisaku Ikeda [
founder charismatic leader of Soka Gakkai] (General of the vanguard army to destroy Japan)
“The Puppet Emperor （傀儡皇帝 かいらいこうてい）, Emperor Naruhito (Had the ideas of masonry beaten into him from childhood via teachers poisoned with Jewish thought. The imperial family is already hijacked by them)
“Queen of the Ruined Country （亡国后妃 ぼうこくこうひ）, Masako Owada [now known as Crown Princess Masako] (She is a person who worked to help American multinational corporations and pushed Japanese companies to destruction!)
“The rest are Lord of Ruin （没落大名）, Morihiro Hosokawa [former Prime Minister]; The Three-day Ruler （三日天下）, Tsutomu Hata [former Prime Minister]; Ambassor of Hell （地獄大使）, Hisashi Owada [noted diplomat and father of Princess Masako]; Death’s Apprentice （死の丁稚 しのでっち）, Yasushi Akashi [former UN Under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations]; Killer of Refugees （難民殺し）, Sadako Ogata [former UN High Commissioner of Refugees]; Father of Beasts （家畜の父）, Rev. Sun Myung Moon [founder of the Unification Church]; Heart of Extreme Evil （極悪用心）, Ryoichi Sasakawa [prewar gangster and accused war criminal turned boat racing magnate and Nobel Peace Prize candidate]; Electric Geisha （電波芸者）, Dave Spector [White American TV personality in Japan]; Wholesaler to America （米国問屋）, Yasuhiro Nakasone [notoriously powerful former Prime Minister]; and the Human Bomb （人間爆弾）, Ken’ichi Ohmae [powerful businessman and political mover].”
[Translated from The Aum Shinrikyo Incidents by Shoichi Fujita, p. 64; notes in brackets by me]
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.