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

Are Rotting Pig Corpses to Blame for China’s Electric Pink Drinking Water?

A little while back, we reported on the air pollution problem over in China. This week, however, a different form of pollution has come to light. On first sight, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a prop from a mutant zombie movie. However what can be seen in the picture above is in fact the tap water of a residential area in Jinan, China. In total, over 500 inhabitants of the area have fallen victim to this most recent ‘pink water’ phenomenon.

Obviously drinking the stuff is out of the question and many residents have been forced, as a temporary measure, to secure rations of bottled water. Just how contaminated this water is remains unclear, but even more intriguing is what caused the phenomenon in the first place. And how harmful could it actually be? Could simply giving the stuff a good, long sniff be hazardous to people’s health?

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How to Break Up When the Other Half Just Won’t Let Go: Spit in Their Face!

“Hey, there’s no way I’m splitting with you, babe. After all, we’re supposed to be lovers, right?”

Moving words from our own Mr. Sato there, but perhaps relationships aren’t always quite so straightforward? What if, for example, you feel that the relationship you’re trapped in has all the passion and energy of a punctured party balloon, while your partner is still penning sonnets and writing messages in fire outside your window? There’s no easy way to tell them that it’s over. Or is there? One 23-year-old Tokyoite thinks she may have stumbled upon a powerful, if slightly disgusting, method.

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Alone in the Red Zone: Fukushima Town’s Sole Resident Speaks Out in Harrowing Documentary

After the great earthquake and tsunami that came with the calamities of March 11 2011, many residents to the Kanto region of Japan experienced turmoil on an unprecedented scale. If natural disaster wasn’t enough, there was also the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant, spreading radioactive contamination even as far as Tokyo. Now after two years, Fukushima’s 20-kilometer radioactive exclusion zone still remains in place.

While most families fled the contaminated areas in the early stages following the explosion, one brave man remained undeterred by it all, staying put in his hometown. Naoto Matsura (53) is believed to be the sole inhabitant within the 20-kilometer red zone.

Matsumura’s determination to remain rooted in the same place and see through the nuclear catastrophe has caught the attention of many, with his accounts even being adapted into a documentary. The documentary tells of the events after the great earthquake and Mutsumura’s reasons for remaining at his home despite all those around him fleeing, never to return. Perhaps even more interestingly, it gives some rather candid accounts of this man’s feelings towards Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company that operated the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

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Our Reporter’s Top 10 Awesome Things About North Korea

OK, hands up: how many of you have ever paid a visit to North Korea? For purposes of photography, our man Kuzo recently found himself crossing the border into what is admittedly a country that differs in many respects to anything many of us have ever seen before. While he was there, he kept a list of things that stood out, impressed and downright confused him. Our reporter’s top 10 awesome things about North Korea after the break.

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More Than Half of Cleanup Staff at Fukushima Nuclear Plant on Counterfeit Contracts

It has come to light that the Japanese government’s Fukushima Daiichi cleanup plan is failing due to problems concerning counterfeit contracts. The government is now left reassessing its human resource strategy and considering how to effectively secure the number of employees required to carry out the work. As it presently stands, more than half of the laborers employed at the nuclear site are suspected of being involved in counterfeit contract work.

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Woman Raking Up $270 Monthly Phone Bill Unhappy About Social Security Cuts

On March 6, the Osaka edition of the Asahi Shinbun published an article which featured a single mother of two from Japan who was in receipt of a 290,000 yen (about $3,000) monthly social security allowance. Despite this hefty amount of cash arriving in her bank account each month, though, she was alarmed to hear that her benefits may be cut in the near future.

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Major Electronics Producer Sharp Forms Capital Alliance with Korea’s Samsung

Japanese electronics maker Sharp has in recent years seen a slump in sales. What is arguably required for the company to remain afloat in this tough consumer market  is a change in business strategies. As one of Japan’s most renowned sellers of liquid crystal displays, Sharp is hastily searching for ways to revamp its administration.

First there was talk of a possible alliance between Sharp and Taiwanese major electronic company Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. However, coming to a deadlock in investment negotiations, Sharp changed course by forming an alliance with a company that was arguably up until now its biggest competitor on the market, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. It was announced this week that a capital alliance between the two companies is in its final stages of negotiation.

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Korea’s Ban on Pachinko Pinball Gambling Sees an Increase in Gamblers Coming to Japan

In Japan, pachinko – a game similar to pinball but with multiple balls in play and minus the flippers – has always been a big business.  “Pachinkoten” (dedicated pachinko parlors) have become about as commonplace as temples and hot springs, and it’s not uncommon to see small crowds of men waiting outside such establishments early in the morning, waiting for them to open.

A phenomenon that is particularly noticeable in recent years is that of the large numbers of Koreans coming to Japan to gamble. Up until seven years ago, Korea’s pachinko industry was booming. However, when gambling laws were introduced to combat the recent rise in addictions, many players were left out in the cold with nothing to fill the gap. But with a thriving pachinko scene just a couple of hours away on the plane, many Koreans are heading to Japan to pick up where they left off.

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Why do the Japanese Work Such Long Hours?

The Japanese word “karoushi”, meaning “death from overwork”, is a term that has gained recognition across the globe and is arguably testimony to the zeal with which many Japanese people carry out their work. Westerners observing Japan’s high standard of living and yet long labour hours often struggle to fully comprehend the Japanese mindset. The prevailing ideology for many in the west is that we “work to live”, in Japan, however, many appear to live to work.

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Concern as Japan Sees an Increase in Solitary Non-Employed Persons (SNEPs)

Solitary Non-Employed Persons is a term that perhaps many are unfamiliar with. It defines those who are unemployed and, if you exclude relatives, those without any ties in society. These ‘without occupation or social network’ wanderers are referred to in short as “SNEPs”. More specifically, the term can be applied to anyone of the working age 20-59 years who is not enrolled in education, is unemployed, unmarried and has no ties outside of one’s family. And according to reports online, Japan is witnessing a sudden increase in these such people.

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What do the Affluent Men of China Yearn for More than Anything Else?

On January 20, 2012, United Arab Emirates’ English newspaper National (Electronic version), published an article that featured an affluent Chinese man named Hoan. It revealed that what some of China’s wealthiest men are looking for is not an increase in material fortune but rather a mistress to perfect their social status. According to the report, if you’re wealthy and happen to be living in China, the presence of a mistress is a symbol of one’s success in society in some circles.

Nevertheless, like many a member of the single male demographic, these affluent Chinese men are sometimes confronted with the problem of just how to go about meeting available members of the opposite sex. Here, what many man with bucket-loads of cash are increasingly turning to is online dating.

Let’s take a quick look at the process for a man like Hoan.

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Could The Way We Behave on the Train Reveal Our True Personality?

Just spending a few minutes on the train, it is possible to gain quite an insight into the type of people who use public transport; whether it be the guy crashed out after a heavy night of drinking with his pals, the student listening to his music player on full blast, or the person completely immersed in their favourite book, the types of behavior are varied to say the least.

The inside of the train carriage is a rather peculiar environment in that, on the one hand, it is a public space in which one must abide at least to some degree by the rules of proper public conduct. However, it also provides us with our own private space in which to shut off everything around us and relax while travelling.

By observing the way in which people spend their time on the train, however, we can learn a lot about an individual’s personality, claims Tsugumi Tachibana, a Japanese counselor in love relations. From a romance perspective, Tachibana analyzes in-depth the correlation between public behavior and personality traits. Her findings can be found below and might just help us learn a little more about that one special person on the train or bus that you’ve been admiring from afar.

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Japanese Convenience Store and Yahoo! Launch Ready-to-Cook Meal Delivery Service

When it comes to preparing a gourmet meal you can be proud of, an investment of time and a good recipe book are often required. If you’re a busy parent or living alone while working full time, just dashing out to gather the ingredients — not to mention actually preparing the meal — can prove rather time consuming and, let’s admit, a little bothersome.

The intricacies of it all leave many abandoning hope, opting for the greasier ‘ready prepared’ meal option or dining out at a local restaurant. But even those who do make the effort to cook have probably found themselves saying “This just doesn’t have the same impact as the dish I tried at the restaurant the other day,” every so often. If only there were a way to replicate the same taste at home!

If you live in Japan, a collaboration between convenience store chain Lawson and Yahoo! (yes, that Yahoo!) may be the answer to your culinary conundrums: a new home delivery service that offers not ready-to-eat meals, but rather a combination of ready-to-cook dishes that can be thrown together to create a tasty meal of your own.

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Could Serious Smog Problems See China Moving Its Capital Away from Beijing?

Recent reports from Radio France Internationale (RFI)’s Chinese site suggest that China’s pollution problem is raising serious concerns within the country itself. In the push for economic growth, the China is also becoming increasingly aware of what could potentially develop into a serious problem if steps are not taken soon. In this connection, there has been heated debate on the Internet suggesting that Chinese authorities are proposing moving the capital away from Beijing.

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How the Expired Copyright License of Old Literary Works Could Keep Japan’s Cultural Soil Fertile

When it comes to reading famous literary works whose copyright license has expired, there is one piece of software that is renowned for doing the job rather well. It goes by the name of “Aozora Bunko” and is a digital contents reader available on a wide variety of devices; there’s even a version available for smart phone users. It is currently host to a plethora of copyright-free material rich in Japanese history and culture. What’s particularly exciting is that the more time goes by, the more the library of works can be seen to grow.

Anyone with an interest in old Japanese masterpieces – and can read Japanese – will surely be lured in by what this software has to offer. In this connection, on January 1 this year, the legendary writer Eiji Yoshikawa’s work “Miyamoto Musashi” is also set to be added to the collection. Miyamoto Musashi is a bestselling novel depicting the life of legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto, who actually existed during the Japanese Edo era.

Just what makes all this free content possible is the rule that governs copyright licensing laws: 50 years after an author has passed away, copyrighted works are released freely into the public domain.

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Our Gluttonous Reporter Mr. Sato Devours a 65-Strawberry Parfait Tower!

From 18 January 2013,  Japanese sweet specialist Cozy Corner released a dessert that will leave anyone with even a slightly sweet tooth wiping the drool from their lips and exclaiming, “I’m witnessing a dessert revolution!” Just what type of dessert could we be talking about? None other than a gigantic 65-piece strawberry parfait weighing in at, wait for it, a shocking 2,000 kilocalories! Shortly after hearing this announcement, our reporter Mr. Sato carried himself off to the establishment in question to see what all the fuss was about.

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Japanese Man Places Ad For “Girlfriend” on Google – Nabs Himself 5 Girls at Once

Google’s Ad Words service is a tool used for displaying adverts based on the keyword one enters into the Google search engine. For example typing in “sushi” would yield a selection of sushi-related adverts at the top of your search. The actual price of placing an advert is rather on the reasonable side, and increasingly not just organizations but individuals are jumping on the band wagon.

For an individual wishing to use the service, perhaps the most typical course of action would be to post information about an item you were selling or looking to buy. However when it comes to technology, there will always be unintended methods of use that have up until now eluded even the most creative of minds.

Let me introduce you to a young Japanese man who found a rather obscure use for the Google Ad Words tool by placing an advert for, wait for it… a girlfriend!

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Survey Reveals that 65.5% of Japanese Male Office Workers Have Considered Divorce

In a survey conducted by Japanese magazine Nikkan Spa, 200 married male office workers aged between 20-40 were asked whether they had ever considered divorcing their spouse. As part of our recent love and relationships series, we’ve translated the results below for your delectation. Get ready for some seriously blunt answers and eye-opening reading.

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Sega Japan Offers $22k to Play Games With Latest Job Offering, Total Working Hours: 1 Week

For many of us out there, the recent festivities of the New Year will be leaving our pockets empty and our stomachs a little bloated, but if a certain recent job advertisement is anything to go by there’s a way to make some quick cash on a large scale. No this is not some dodgy backstreet deal but a fully fledged chance for a six month contract with Sega.

The position offers a 2 million yen (US$22.5k) compensation, and while it’s ongoing for a six month period, the actual hours of work sum up to no more than one week!

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The Taste of Luxury in a Can: Japanese Canned Food Worth Your 100 Yen

Consider the following scenario: you’re having a chat with a friend about some of the high quality foods on the market out there. You mention some of the more refined dishes you’ve tried first hand and how, as much as you’d like to eat them day after day, doing so would undoubtedly leave a large hole in your wallet. If your friend responded by saying, “I have a product just for you. It’s got the high class factor, is easy on the finances, and is packed into a small can.”, I’m sure you’d think he’d lost the plot a little.

Inaba and other Japanese food companies beg to differ, and have developed a new set of canned food products that turn the notion that cheap ≠ quality on its head. 

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