Andrew Miller

Andrew, who is from London, England, first came to Japan in late 2006 where he worked as an English teacher in the Tochigi prefecture. After becoming a little more accustomed to the culture and the language, he moved to Tokyo in 2009 where he has been residing since. He has a passion for the Japanese language and has even created himself an “unofficial” Japanese name(安努龍). In addition, Andrew has an interest in a wide genre of news and as a freelance translator is keen to relay the subtle differences between cultures to readers around the world.

Posted by Andrew Miller

Take a Ride on Japan’s New Amphibious Bus and See the Sites of Tokyo!

Japan’s latest tourism offering looks set to capture the attention of both sightseers and locals seeking a spot of adventure. From the Japanese company that embarked on such enterprises as the open air double-decker bus comes the “land and water bus”. The development of the vehicle is part of a new Tokyo sightseeing strategy undertaken by Japanese automobile company “Hinomaru Bus”. The service, dubbed “Sky Duck Tokyo Splash Tour”, launched on March 2013 and has been fully booked since its first day of operation.

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Japan Gets Tough on Law-Evading Hallucinogenic Herbs

In recent years, the use of law-evading hallucinogenic herbs has been becoming more popular among young people in Japan. These herbs have properties similar to those of illegal drugs like cannabis, however due to their synthetic nature, many users fail to see the real dangers lurking behind them. As an initiative to prevent widespread misuse, the government produced a comprehensive list of chemicals that are banned in the sale and use of law-evading hallucinogenic herbs on March 22, 2013. The chemical substances on the list recently rose from 92 to 851. However many shops are selling a modified version of the banned herbs in attempt to evade the issues of legalities and keep profits alive. In this way, it is a cat and mouse game where once one chemical has been outlawed, a similar substance carrying slightly altered chemical properties is quick to make its way on to the market. While effects of inhaling these herbs are similar to hallucinogenic drugs, shopkeepers claim that they are solely for aromatic purposes. Of particular concern is that the number of online law-evading herb shops is also increasing.

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Japanese Documentary Tells the Real Story of the Daiichi Nuclear Plant Evacuees

Two years after Japan’s great earthquake and the Daiichi nuclear diaster comes a documentary that tells of the citizens who still can’t return home to Iitate Village in Fukushima due to the high levels of radiation.

Over at our sister site, Pouch, film critic Kaori Saito was given the opportunity to check out the film production of “Iitate Village, the Problem of Radiation and Returning Home” (in Japanese “Iitate-mura hoshano to kison”) before it was released to the Japanese public on May 4. Kaori comments that the work deserves particular credit for its delicate treatment of the continuing problem of radiation and the depiction of the struggles of the inhabitants affected.

For the readers who are unfamiliar with Iitate, it is a village that is located 30 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant within the prefecture of Fukushima. While it is reasonable to believe that the level of radioactive contamination would be comparatively low for an area this far from the power plant, due to the strong winds, snow and rain that occurred directly following the disaster, the actual levels of contamination far exceeded original estimates. For Japan and Iitate Village, unprecedented levels of radiation poured down, making the land uninhabitable and thus leaving the former residents no alternative but to abandon their village and seek refuge elsewhere.
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Woman Feels Cheated After Meeting Her Online Boyfriend For the First Time, Calls Police

According to news correspondence from Wuhan City in China, a Chinese-Korean woman used the internet to befriend a man from China only to discover that on meeting face to face, he fell short of her expectations. The woman then contacted local authorities claiming that she had been “cheated.”

The woman, Ms. Chan (35), who is of Chinese descent but possesses Korean nationality and resides in the city of Suwon, Korea, first made contact with the Chinese man (37) from Wuhan, China, via the Chinese instant messenger software QQ. The man is believed to be employed part-time. After several chat sessions, the couple are said to have hit it off and as a natural course of events, the woman suggested flying over to China to meet in person. However, for one reason or another, the man would always claim to be busy and say that it was difficult for him to take time off from work.

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Black Smoke Detected From Nuclear Reactor ‘Monju’ During Test Operations

It as been reported that engineers at Japan’s fast breeder reactor plant Monju made a mistake during testing of the plant’s emergency power generator, which subsequently resulted in the release of black smoke and the ringing of the plant’s fire alarm.

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Report Detailing Potentially Infected Chinese Poultry Used in Japanese Fast Food Sparks Fears

An article published in a special edition of Japanese weekly Shukan Bunshu has suggested that  potentially hazardous chicken sourced from China may be finding its way into fast food in Japan. The article, composed by writer Shuuji Okuno, begins by posing the following question:

“Would you still be willing to put a chicken nugget in your mouth if you knew the real story? The hazards of China’s domestic chicken meat!”

Our attention well and truly grabbed, we delved inside. Read More

Japanese Women Short On Cash Use Smartphone Games to Lure Men Into Paying for Their Food Expenses

The number of Japanese women who are struggling with food and living expenses is reported to be on the rise. While most women try to increase their earnings by taking on an extra part time job or even changing occupations completely, there are others who resort to some rather unscrupulous methods. One such method is to use interactive smartphone games to trick men into buying them dinner to reduce the burden of their food costs.

All the men out there, brace yourselves as what is about to unfold will leave you squirming!

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Japanese Fashion Chain UNIQLO Introduces Worldwide Equal Pay System Across Its Stores

Tadashi Yanai, chairman and director of Fast Retailing and the main force behind the expansion of Japanese clothes retailer UNIQLO, has recently made public his intentions to introduce a worldwide universal wage system for shop managers and high ranking employees. This would effectively mean that regardless of the country in which a worker is employed, while working for UNIQLO they would receive the same amount of pay. Yanai believes that regardless of a country’s political and social circumstances, an equal amount of work deserves an equal wage.

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Samsung Admits to Stealth Marketing Tactics: Hiring of University Students to Slander Rival Taiwanese Smart Phone Manufacturer HTC

According to an AFP report dated 16 April, 2013, Korean electronics company Samsung hired Taiwanese university students to publish slanderous articles on the internet about Taiwanese smart phone manufacturer HTC. Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission is currently investigating the matter and there are already reports that Samsung is admitting outright to the misconduct in its marketing strategies.

After careful deliberation, if Taiwan’s Fair Trade Committee deem Samsung’s most recent stealth marketing strategy to be illegal, it will mean Samsung paying a US$835,000 penalty.

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Fukushima Prefecture Produces First Thesis on the Effects of Internal Radiation Exposure: Children of Fukushima Unaffected?

A thesis which assesses the risks of internal radiation exposure within Fukushima Prefecture following the explosions at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, suggests that the effects of internal radiation fall far below that recorded after Chernobyl.

Ryugo Hayano, who works as a professor at Tokyo University’s Science Research Department, has collected the findings of doctors who conducted research into internal radiation exposure among those living inside of the Fukushima Prefecture. He consolidated these findings into an English journal entitled ‘Proceedings of Japan Academy Series B89’, which is available on the net.

The latest journal is a collection of reports that looks at the degree of radiation exposure through daily food consumption and it is reported to be the first of its kind.

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Japanese Permanent Resident Status to be Awarded to Overseas Students? A New Appeal by the Mayor of Kyoto

On April 10, the mayor of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto University with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city.

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The Worrying Aging Effects of Too Much Computer Work

In the past decade or so, the widespread use of computers in both the public and private sphere has seen the personal computer become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Whether it be creating a chart of company expenditures or simply recording important appointments in a software-based diary, almost all of our work has been a layer of digital varnish. The birth of the laptop computer has meant that work can be done virtually anywhere, with a wealth of information available in a few clicks and taps of the keyboard. As wonderful as all this is, it’s easy to overlook some of the problems that arise from a computer-centric life. Here we’ll take a good, hard look at the downside to spending the vast majority of our day plugging in and screen-facing.

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Scientists in Japan Succeed in Deciphering Human Dreams

A research team, whose major investors include some of the biggest telecommunications companies in Japan, has announced that it has successfully deciphered the contents of human dreams with high precision by analyzing the human brain’s activity during sleep.

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Theft of Toilet from Public Park in Kyoto Leaves Authorities Baffled

At around 10 a.m. on April 2, a man living in the town of Fukuchiyamashi, Kyoto called the police after he discovered that the light of a nearby parking lot had been vandalized with white spray-paint. Upon arriving at the scene, officers also discovered that an expensive, multi-function toilet had been stolen from a park located nearby.

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Wasei English: 20 Words of English Origin that Japanese People Often Mistake for the Real Thing

How many of you have ever heard of the Japanese word ‘wasei eigo’? A direct translation into English would be “Japanese-made English”, but put more simply the word refers to English words that, after a little tampering, have been adopted into the modern Japanese lexicon and used on an everyday basis. Despite having their origins in English, wasei eigo words often have quite different meanings to those on which they are based. Consequently, Japanese visitors to English-speaking countries using terms like “baby car” and “key holder” — words that are thought to be “English” in Japan — are often met with raised eyebrows and blank stares from native English speakers.

So come with us now as we look at the top 20 wasei English words that cause Japanese people trouble when they break them out while abroad.

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First Confirmed Reports of H7N9 Bird Flu in Humans With the Death of Two Men From China

The Chinese government announced on March 31 that two men from Shanghai have died from a variant of bird flu known as H7N9. It is the first time transmission of this type of bird flu has been confirmed in human beings. After contraction of the virus, both men showed symptoms of pneumonia.

The Chinese Health Authorities announced that the 87 and 23-year-old men first showed symptoms of a fever, pneumonia and similar characteristics in March of this year. The 87 and 27-year-old-men died on 4th and 10th of this month respectively.

Shortly afterwards, a detailed inspection into their deaths was carried out where it came to light that both men had been infected with the H7N9 strain of the bird flu virus. It has also been confirmed that a woman in the eastern province of China, Anhui, has been infected with the same strain of bird flu. Her current condition is critical, exhibiting identical symptoms of pneumonia, however the woman is said to be receiving medical treatment.
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Have Japan’s Anti-Smoking Laws Gone Too Far? Smokers Begin to Feel the Pressure

In recent years there has been a dramatic change in attitudes towards smoking in public places in Japan. While it was a common sight to see someone walking along the street with a cigarette in their hand until a few years ago, nowadays it is becoming increasingly rare to see. It is fair to say that smokers have adopted a much politer approach to smoking in public. The movement towards a smoke-free environment is one welcomed by many, however accompanied by this is the tendency to drive smokers into corners and ostracize them for lighting up. Anti-smokers are increasingly pushing forward their demands, seeing a pollution-free environment as part of their right to a healthy lifestyle. But is it going too far?

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Japan Gets Tough on Cyclists Violating Traffic Laws. Jail Sentence for Heavy Offenders?

Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office officially announced that it intends to prosecute cyclists who repeatedly violate road traffic laws in Japan. Ignoring a red light or not stopping when necessary may also become subject to penalty, with a three-month jail sentence or a fine of up to 50,000 yen. In addition, riding parallel with other cyclists or failure to make use of one’s light under conditions of poor visibility could carry fines of up to 20,000 yen and 50,000 yen, respectively.

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Why Foreign Businessmen are Receiving Lessons on Doing Business the Japanese Way

Below is an account from Sayaka, a reporter over at our sister site Pouch. It is an intriguing look at differences in business culture between Japan and the west. It makes one realize that there is no perfect business strategy as such but by incorporating the best parts from each culture, one can get pretty close to their own perfect business model. Moreover, Japan’s business culture has to be one of the most unique in the entire world.

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