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Japanese News: May week 3

This week, I had the feeling that everything I tried to read was too difficult… It happens I guess… 😐

Some survey

Last week, I wrote about Yanase’s answers to the Diet concerning the Kake Gakuen scandal. He kept saying that he did not report his activities to Abe and that the Prime Minister did not know that arrangements were being made to favour his friend ‘s institution.

On Monday, Abe echoed Yanase’s assertion by saying “報告は受けていない” (source). In other words, he confirmed that Yanase did not report (報告・ほうこく) to him concerning the meeting he had with Kake’s people.

Abe added: “国家の重大事でない限り、(秘書官から)途中段階で説明を受けることはほとんどない” (source). As long as it is not an important case, it is rare that he receives explanations from his secretary while the work is still in progress.

To go on with the repercussions of Yanase’s hearing at the Diet, let’s take a look at the results of a survey of public opinion 世論調査 (よろんちょうさ).

Mainichi made public the result of a survey that took place over two days (on the 12th and 13th of May). First of all, Yanase said during his hearing that Abe was not involved in the Kake Gakuen scandal. The poll-takers were asked whether they believe it or not. The results are, I modestly think, not surprising: “「納得できない」が75.5%に達した。納得できるは14.7%だった” (source).

  • 納得する・なっとくする: be convinced, be persuaded, satisfy oneself…

People are not supporting Abe’s major reform: the labour reform. 68,4% of the people surveyed think that there is no need for the Diet to approve the bill.

安倍政権が今国会の最重要法案と位置付ける働き方改革関連法案に関し、今国会で成立させるべきかを尋ねたところ「必要はない」が68.4%で、「成立させるべき」が20.3%だった.

To be honest, I don’t quite understand this sentence. 今国会・こんこっかい means the “current Diet session”, but I have difficulty seeing what it refers to exactly. After some research on the Internet, I reached the conclusion that a “Diet session” begins every year in January and last for 5 months. We are actually in the 196th Diet session, it opened on January 22th and will be closed on June 20th.

What do people mean when they say that there is “no need” for the current Diet session to approve the labour reform bill? I don’t know. The only thing that I can do is guess, and I would guess that people don’t want to rush things because they hope for political change. In any case, it is probable that Abe will not win a third mandate as head of the LPD (elections are in September). I don’t know to which extent it will affect the labour reform, though.

Sometimes, understanding the Japanese is not enough to understand the meaning or the implications of what is written. But I also find it very difficult to get into another’s country political system. I find it both utterly interesting (because it helps to understand how a country’s politics work) and utterly uninteresting (because it is somehow boresome to go through all this).

To go on with numbers, we also learnt through the survey that 49,1% of the poll-takers would like to see Finance Minister Taro ASO step down: 49.1%が「麻生氏は辞任すべきだ」と回答した (source).

World Cup month-1!

I am not at all familiar with Japanese football but I know at least one name: 香川真司・かがわしんじ.

Kagawa returned to Japan on Monday (he plays in Dortmund) and will soon start his training for the World Cup. At his arrival at the airport, he reassured journalists about the injury he had in February this year. Because of this injury, Kagawa didn’t play for three months and was back on the field only on Saturday for a Bundesliga’s match (source).

This is what Kagawa said about his injury: “皆さんが思っている以上にケガの方は問題ない”. (source). To be honest, I don’t understand the 以上 in his sentence. It is frustrating to sometimes come against puzzling things, even after all this time spent reading in Japanese! I would understand 以上 if he had said that his injury was more serious than what people think. But he says the opposite, that his injury is not a problem. 以上 also has the meaning of “since”, “now that” (for example: since I did this, I must also do that) but I don’t see how it could make sense here. What would make sense would be that his injury is not as severe as what people think. But then why use 以上? 🤨

japanese news - may week 3-1

メディアで働く女性ネットワーク

Following the statement of Finance Minister Aso saying “セクハラ罪という罪はない” in reference to the Fukuda case, a network of women working in media requests apologies in a written document (source). The document is published on their facebook and I thought it would be a good exercise to study it but it is longer than I thought… 😯 I read it though, and it is both interesting and relatively easy to understand in Japanese. The Women in Media Network (WiMN) ask for three things:

  1. “財務相の調査は適切かどうか、内閣府による調査をお願いします”
    • They ask for a proper investigation. Fukuda’s conduct was recognised as sexual harassment and he had to resign with a slight reduction of his pension but no proper investigation had taken place.
  2. “麻生太郎財務相に、差別発言を止めるよう働きかけをお願いします”
    • In reference to Aso making statements to minimalise sexual harassment, the WiMN ask for measures to prevent such discriminatory statements in the future. They add that this kind of thing is a 二次被害 for the victim.
      • 差別発言・さべつはつげん
      • 働きかけ・はたらきかけ
  3. “セクシュアル・ハラスメントをなくすため法整備をお願いします”
    • The WiMN ask for a law to prevent sexual harassment, citing other countries where it is punished according to law 刑事罰・けいじばつ like France or Taiwan.

(source)

Falsified documents in loan screening

While going through articles, I could see that something was going on involving a bank, a real estate agency and documents because I saw several articles on the subject and photos of people bowing in apology. But I could not make head nor tail of it because it was difficult to read in Japanese and even when I headed to sites in English, I found it hard to understand too (I am maybe reaching the limits of my brain 😦)

I was about to give up when I decided to make my way through it.

What I understood is this (but I may be mistaken):

japanese news - may week 3-2

The vocabulary and citation come from the Mainichi editorial: シェアハウス巡る不正融資 スルガ銀行の責任は重い.

There is a bank called スルガ銀行 who has granted loans to individuals willing to invest in real estate.

  • 融資する・ゆうしする: accommodate somebody with a loan

The problem is that there is a high pressure of rising profits put on the employees of Suruga bank. As a result, the employees tried to facilitate loan contracts by either falsifying documents or accepting documents that they knew were falsified (I am not sure on this point).

  • 増収増益・ぞうしゅうぞうえき: rising income and rising profits
  • 改ざんする・かいざんする: falsify, tamper with

To be more concrete, the loan takers have to provide documents to justify their income and overall financial situation. The bank has to check this information (it is called “screening”) and decide whether the applicant is qualified for the loan or not. It is during this screening phase that the bank was “careless” with documents in order to finalise more loan contracts. As a result, the bank granted a loan to individuals who might have not qualified for it.

“年収や預金残高、土地の売買価格を水増しする改ざん”

  • 預金残高・よきんざんだか: a bank account balance
  • 売買・ばいばい: purchase and sale, transaction
  • 水増し・みずまし: to pad out, to water (?), to increase

“審査がずさんだった”

  • 審査・しんさ: screening (examination, inspection)
  • ずさんな: careless, inaccurate, faulty

With their loan, these individuals bought real estate through an agency called “Smart Days” スマートデイズ社. The property bought are share-houses rented to women. Smart Days agency rents the houses and gives the owners their share of the rent.

Problem is, the rental rate decreased to such a point that Smart Days could no longer give the owners their share and eventually went bankrupt.

  • 倒産・とうさん: bankruptcy

So now, these individuals who took a loan at Suruga Bank can no longer pay back a loan that was above their financial potential anyway.

What I still don’t understand is:

  • who exactly falsified the documents?
  • to which extend the real estate agency is involved?
  • is this the doing of some employees put under pressure or is it a more organised system that involves both the bank and the real estate agency?

I must admit that I am not that interested in the subject… this means that I will let these questions unanswered because I don’t feel like reading more articles about it. But it was a personal challenge to understand at least the key features of the problem.

Hideki Saijo

To conclude this post, a song by Hideki Saijo 西城 秀樹(さいじょう・ひでき) who died on Thursday at the age of 63. Idol of the 70’s he never stopped singing and gave memorable songs like “傷だらけのローラ” and covered foreign songs like YMCA (ヤングマン ) or Careless Whispers (抱きしめてジルバ).

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