John Stuart

Having originally set forth from Vancouver, Canada on what was supposed to a three-hour tour, John found himself washed up on the shores of these well-charted and populous isles some 25 years ago. Now working as a Tokyo-based freelance translator, he enjoys drinking in many of the city’s tachinomiya (standing-only bars) in his free time, but after short spans often finds himself in search of a chair.

Posted by John Stuart Translations

Sony Closes Plant in Gifu Prefecture, More than 1,000 Out of Work

GIFU PREFECTURE — With the shuttering of a factory belonging to a Sony subsidiary in Minokamo City at the end of this month, it became clear on the 27th that more than 1,000 people stood to be out of work on April 1 due to the closure.

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Perfect the Art of Laziness! Get Your Sloth On with New Eyewear from Sanco


Everyone’s had one of those days when they just don’t feel like getting out of bed. Well “rare things” online store Sanco is now offering a must-have item for just such occasions: GORODEY2 Eyewear, glasses that allow you to remain flat on your back and still be entertained.

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Chinese Media Reports Korean Kimchi Promotes Weight Loss

As has been previously reported here, kimchi, the super-spicy fermented cabbage dish from Korea, appears to be one of the world’s healthiest dishes. Now, media sources in China are reporting that this fiery condiment is also beneficial for those seeking to lose a few pounds.

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No Forklift Required! Taiwanese Truck Driver Shows His Stuff

It’s a question that’s plagued people for generations: How do I get a three-ton load of bamboo off the back of my truck with minimal effort? Well, the Taiwanese truck driver in the following video has developed a rather efficient method for dropping off his deliveries.
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LDP’s Education Revitalization Headquarters Compiles Draft Proposal

In an effort to develop individuals who will be active in global society, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education has compiled a draft proposal which includes making it a prerequisite to score above a certain number of points in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam before being allowed to enter university.

The proposal states, “The development of human resources is essential for achieving the Abe Cabinet’s most important issue, economic revitalization. Moving away from egalitarianism, strategic human resource development aimed at strengthening top achievers will be undertaken.”
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Too Scary? Opinions Split on Whether or Not to Remove Mannequins from Hiroshima Museum

On March 14, Hiroshima City announced tentative plans to remove molded plastic mannequins depicting the horrors of the atomic bombing from its Peace Memorial Museum by 2016. The proposed removal is in line with a review suggesting displays within the facility be switched to include more that depict actual articles belonging to the deceased and other real items from the period. Opinions from visitors to the museum are split on whether or not the mannequins should be removed.

The three mannequins in question are of an adult woman, a college-aged woman, and a small boy shown wondering through the blast aftermath in a severely burned state. Originally made from wax, the mannequins have been on display at the museum since 1973, and in their current form since 1991.
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Rent Calculated According to Body Weight, Shared Accommodation Facility in Osaka Proves Popular

Quite common in Western countries, the concept of shared accommodation in Japan is still relatively new. However, according to Oak House, a guest house and apartment operator in Tokyo, such accommodation is gaining in popularity. Fifteen years ago, the company managed about 150 units; today that figure has risen to 2,300. Shunned by some as being inconvenient and a hassle, others are being drawn to added-value properties featuring amenities such as yoga studios and home theater facilities. Oak House said there is a waiting list of 100 people at its most popular location.

Shared accommodation also has the benefit of being cost effective as no key money (a mandatory, nonrefundable payment, typically equivalent to two months’ rent, given to the landlord for the privilege of being able to live in the unit) or security deposit (typically two months’ rent, and though technically refundable, is seldom returned in full as apartment cleaning fees and other expenses are deducted) are required. Additionally, furnishings are provided, something else that is not common in Japan, meaning initial outlays can be kept to a minimum.

With the popularity of this type of housing increasing, companies in Japan are concocting various inducements in an effort to draw in renters.

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Japanese Companies Expected to Still Be Around in 50 Years: No. 3 Japan Rail, No. 2 Honda, and No. 1…


Risk Monster, a credit management outsourcing service that calculates bankruptcy risk, recently announced the results of its first survey asking, “Which Japanese Companies Do You Expect to Still Exist in 50 Years.” The survey was conducted over the Internet on Feb. 25 and 26, and received 1,000 valid responses from influential individuals between the ages of 20 and 69.

Coming in third was Honda, second place went to the East Japan Railway Company, and grabbing the top spot was…
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How Many Calories are Burned with the Click of a Mouse?

For those whose work has them chained to a desk, concerns about whether or not they are getting enough exercise often creep into their minds.

In Japan, it is estimated that an average adult male should burn about 2,000 calories a day while an adult female should use around 1,700 (numbers vary according to age and build). Even armed with that knowledge, many people still consume more calories than they burn by indulging in snacks between meals and eating excessively late into the night. A lot of desk jockeys are probably wondering what they should do to better their situation.

Well, there might be some good news. The number of calories burnt at the click of a mouse has recently been calculated.
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Nose for the Job? Shanghai Considering Introducing Public Restroom Odor Appraisers


So you think you have a refined sense of smell, do you? Well, forget that job as an aromachologist, ah, yes, the position actually does exist, there may soon be openings in Shanghai that will allow you to put your nose to work for the greater public good.
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Women in China Using New “Pregnancy Pads” to Score Seats on Trains


According to the February 27 edition of The Beijing News, “pregnancy pads” are a hot-seller among Chinese women wanting to get a seat on the crowded trains running through the nation’s capital. The bulky pad, which women strap over their stomachs to feign pregnancy, however, has also the cause of much trouble, however, as one woman complained to authorities after the item slipped off in public, making her a laughing stock.
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Japanese Cosmetic Group Shiseido Abolishes Animal Testing, Fuzzy Little Critters Rejoice!

Founded in 1872, Shiseido, one of the world’s oldest cosmetics companies and the fourth largest, announced on Feb. 28 that from April onward it would put an end to all testing on animals in the development of raw materials for its cosmetic and quasi-pharmaceutical products.

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Okinawa Prefecture Cancels Plan to Use Young Women’s Thighs as Advertising Space


The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) along with the prefectural government have cancelled their plans to use space on women’s bare thighs for marketing the islands as a graduation trip destination to students outside the prefecture. Citing criticism, the two bodies stated January 24, “Placing temporary tattoo-like stickers on the thighs of young women to advertise Okinawa is not in line with prefecture’s brand image.”
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Which Company’s Employee Would You Like to Marry? Nintendo Tops Rankings in Japan

An Internet survey asking Japanese men and women aged 20 to 39 which company they would like a potential marriage partner to work for ranked Nintendo number one.

The survey, conducted November 28 and 29, 2012, received 500 valid responses. Filling out the top five were All Nippon Airways (ANA), Tanita (electronic scales), Google and Apple. Reasons given for choices were wide-ranging including, “It’s a hot company,” and “My partner is unlikely to gain a middle-aged bulge (working there).”
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Japan Considering Bringing Back 6-Day School Week, Teachers Not Overly Enthusiastic

In a review of the current five-day school week currently being used in public schools across Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said it is considering Saturday classes and a re-introduction of the six-day school week that was phased out between 1992 and 2002.

New curriculum guidelines mandating increased classroom hours resulting from a re-examination of the Ministry’s Yutori Kyoiku, (pressure-free education) program were introduced to elementary schools last year, and fully implemented in junior high schools this year. In seeking the use of Saturdays, the Ministry hopes to improve the academic ability of the nation’s youth by securing more teaching hours. It also hopes to dispel concerns of a widening “education gap” between public schools and private schools, many of which continue to implement Saturday classes.
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Paying Just $11 a Day, Subcontractors Ripping Off Fukushima Nuclear Accident Decontamination Workers


The Tokyo Shimbun has discovered that workers involved with national government controlled cleanup projects resulting from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are being ripped off by subcontractors.

Despite being able to rent lodging facilities from the government and others for free or for very little money, contractors forcibly deduct inflated accommodation and meal charges from workers’ pay. When the 10,000 yen (US$111) a day “danger pay” provided to contractors by the government (read: taxpayers) is taken into consideration, it means the contractors themselves end up forking out a measly 1,000 yen (US$11) a day per worker.
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Flashlight Automatically Turns on in Earthquake

Living in an earthquake-prone country like Japan means constant vigilance in terms of disaster preparedness. Though the Great East Japan Earthquake of 11 March 2011 struck during daylight hours, there’s no guarantee that a disaster of similar magnitude won’t strike at night. Most people keep a flashlight or two at home, however, if power is cut as a result of an earthquake, as groping your way around in the dark while in a panicked state might not be as easy as you think.

Thankfully, Tokyo’s Force Media group has come up with an ingenius solution to this problem. And it’s much more than just a regular-old flashlight…
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Toyota to Unveil Driverless Car at Consumer Electronics Show

Son, have you been drinking tonight?

Yes officer, I must say I’ve enjoyed a few libations this evening.

Well, I think you’d better step out of the car; we’ve got some pretty strict laws against that kind of stuff in this state.

But I wasn’t driving officer!

Isn’t anyone else in the car, son. Seems you’ve had more than just ‘a few’.

Honestly, Officer! Mr. Toyota has been at the controls the whole time…

Toyota Motor Corporation announced it would be unveiling a self-driving car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) being held in Las Vegas January 8 to 11, 2013. The car, a Lexus LS600, is outfitted with radars, cameras and an array of sensors that allow it to be cognizant of its immediate environment.
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Inconsistent with Current Claim, Chinese Diplomatic Document from 1950 Clearly States Senkaku Islands Are Part of Okinawa


In an interview with well-informed sources on December 28, Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun discovered Chinese diplomatic papers created in 1950 used the Japanese name Senkaku to identify the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea. The same document also contained language recognizing the Senkakus as a part of Okinawa.

Currently China claims the islands are its territory as “a part of Taiwan.” Recognition by China in 1950 that the islands are a part of Okinawa is contradictory to its current claim and weakens the foundation of its present position.
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Chinese Government Authorities Offer Cash Rewards in an Effort to Prevent Self-Immolations


With Tibetans continuing to set themselves ablaze in protest of oppressive rule by Chinese authorities, state media for Qinghai province reported that the government of the province’s Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture announced it would begin offering rewards of 200,000 yuan (about US$32,000) by December 27 to anyone at the scene who can prevent such suicides from occurring.
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