Inhae reads the news: September 2020

Note: I haven’t been able to translate all the extracts I chose by lack of time. I also found the articles rather difficult to read and quite long for most of them. I got discouraged more than once, not being able to understand the articles by simply reading them. Even after looking up words, some paragraphs remained obscure. Either I misunderstand grammatical patterns, either they hint at references I don’t know, or I just don’t understand what the author is trying to say. In any case, I still have a lot of work to do before I am able to read the news in Japanese…

Topic 1: Abe’s resignation

The biggest news of this month is of course Abe’s resignation as Prime Minister.

Let’s first study articles of August 29th, the day following Abe announcing his resignation for health reasons.

Yomiuri: 首相退陣表明 危機対処へ政治空白を避けよ
Sankei: 首相の退陣表明 速やかに自民党総裁選を 「安倍政治」を発射台にせよ
Mainichi: 安倍首相が辞任表明 行き詰まった末の幕引き
Asahi: 最長政権 突然の幕へ 「安倍政治」の弊害 清算の時
Tokyo: 首相退陣表明 「安倍政治」の転換こそ

Useful vocabulary:

持病じびょうa chronic illness
潰瘍性大腸炎かいようせいだいちょうえんUlcerative colitis
Apparently, this word is mainly used for the military (decamp) or for the Prime Minister (resign from the Cabinet, leave the Cabinet).
総裁選そうさいせんA presidential election.
出馬しゅつばPut oneself forward as a candidate
総裁候補そうさいこうほA candidate for president (of the LDP), A Prime Minister candidate.

All newspapers are hoping for rapid elections to avoid any political turmoil:

Yomiuri: 政権を担う自民党は、早急に新たなリーダーを選び、混乱を回避する必要がある。

Given that the LDP is leading the state, it is necessary to choose a new leader rapidly to avoid political turmoil.

Sankei: 自民党は国政の混乱を最小限にするため、速やかに総裁選挙を実施し、新たなリーダーを決めてもらいたい。

The LDP must organise elections rapidly and decide on a new leader in order to minimise political confusion.

Mainichi also says that the election should happen as soon as possible but warns that it should not be held behind closed doors:


Given that we are still in the coronavirus crisis, it is necessary to choose a new leader rapidly. However, deliberations must not happen behind closed doors.

Asahi similarly hope for a transparent election:


We must hold elections that include the participation of all party members and party supporters and that are transparent to the public.

Tokyo goes further in this direction, saying that the public has a right to know about each candidate’s position:


Obviously, there must be political debate accessible to the people. Each candidate must explain in details his ideas and measures to deal with burning issues like the coronavirus.

All newspapers also go through Abe’s legacy, but, as you can imagine, conservative newspapers and left-wing newspapers don’t talk about the same legacy. To talk about Abe’s achievements, Sankei uses the word “remarkable” (著しい) and Yomiuri the word “great” (大きい).

On the other end of the spectrum, Mainichi talks about “negative legacy” (負の遺産) and Tokyo says that Abe’s government has created 統治機構の根腐れ.

Mainichi goes through the scandals that struck during Abe’s government and give them as example of this “negative legacy”. Similarly, Asahi lists a series of scandals during Abe’s government such as the Cherry Blossom Party or various affairs relative to politicians. Sankei only mentions the Mori-Kake scandals and Yomiuri does not mention any affair at all.

All newspapers agree to say that Abe government has been “stable”. In Japanese, the word 安定 is the one usually used to refer to Abe’s two terms as Prime Minister.

I find very interesting to compare the formulations used by newspapers to talk about the political stability brought by Abe. Both Yomiuri and Sankei state the fact plainly 安定した国政運営だった and 不安定だった政治を立て直したことである.

Contrary to firm endings like だった and ことである, Mainichi and Asahi only acknowledge this fact. Talking about Abe government bringing back stability to politics, Mainichi says that it is 事実だろう and Asahi: 間違いあるまい:

Both Yomiuri and Sankei state that there was no other choice for Abe than to step down if his health condition has worsened. Yomiuri says: 病気が原因ではやむを得まい and also mentions that Abe has overwork might be the reason why Abe’s illness worsened.

Mainichi also recognises that his resignation might be inevitable (they use the same expression as Yomiuri: やむを得ない), but they note that it happens at the worst time and will create confusion: 任期途中の辞任で混乱を生んだことは残念だ。

Asahi points out that Abe’s resignation happens at a time where the government has lost the public’s confidence.


Tokyo opens its editorial with: 持病の潰瘍性大腸炎の再発が理由だという。健康悪化が理由ならやむを得ない。

I might be mistaken, but to me this formulation sounds like the author thinks that there might be other untold reasons. The use of という in the first sentence shows that the author just quotes the reason given by Abe but does not take it for granted. Similarly, the use of なら also hints that the author is not convinced that the reason given is the real reason. Tokyo’s sentence 健康悪化が理由ならやむを得ない looks similar to Yomiuri’s 病気が原因ではやむを得ない, but using で (because of/due to) or なら (if it is true that/if it is the case that) makes a difference.

Finally, it is interesting to contrast Sankei’s wish that Abe’s successor go on with Abe’s good results:


We wish that the candidates will value the direction and results of Abe government.

And Tokyo’s wish that Abe’s successor will not go on the same line of actions:


The question is now how will Abe’s successor depart from Abe’s politics who rotted the political system and treat the Constitution lightly.

Topic 2: Election won’t include party members

Information about the upcoming election to select Abe’s successor has come out on Tuesday.

On Tuesday 1st, the LDP announced that the election for Abe’s successor will follow an emergency procedure according to which only members of the Diet and some local representatives will vote.

In normal circumstances, members of the party would vote to elect the president of the LDP alongside Diet members. The 394 Diet members would receive half of the voting power and the more than 1 million party members would receive the other half.

However, in order to avoid a political vacuum in this time of crisis, only the 394 Diet members and 141 representatives from the the 47 prefectures will be able to vote. Arguments given are that organising a general election would take up to 2 months.

This is likely to disadvantage Shigeru Ishiba, popular among local voters but unpopular among lawmakers for his critical position toward Abe’s politics. On the contrary, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is in good position, having the support of five factions inside the LDP, including 細田派, the most influential one.

Candidates are:

菅義偉: Yoshihide Suga. He is Chief Cabinet Secretary 内閣官房長官 (ないかくかんぼうちょうかん). Articles usually refer to him as 菅官房長官.

岸田文雄: Fumio Kishida. He is the Chairman of the Policy Research Council 政務調査会長 (せいむちょうさかいちょう). Articles refer to him as 岸田政調会長

石破茂: Shigeru Ishiba. As Ishiba does not have a particular function at present, he is referred to as “former Secretary General (of the LDP)” 石破茂元幹事長. Interestingly, articles in English refer to him rather as “former Defence Minister”.

Yomiuri: 自民党総裁選 政策論争をなおざりにするな
Sankei: 自民党総裁選 政策論争が何より重要だ
Mainichi: 総裁選で党員投票せず 地方の声をなぜ聞かない
Asahi: 自民党総裁選 「内向きの論理」優先だ
Tokyo: 自民党総裁選 国民が見えていますか

自民党じみんとうLiberal Democratic Party.
The complete name is 自由民主党 (じゆうみんしゅとう)
総裁選そうさいせんA presidential election.
党大会とうたいかいA Party conference
議員総会ぎいんそうかいGeneral Assembly of Diet members.
両院議員総会 means General Assembly of Diet members of both houses.
国会議員こっかいぎいんMember of Parliament
A Political Faction.
Among the most influential factions, the Hosoda faction (細田派), the Aso faction (麻生派) and the Nikai faction (二階派) will support Yoshihide Suga. These three factions alone represent 200 lawmakers. It is much more than Kishida’s own faction (47) or Ishiba’s one (19). No wonder that, with rank-and-file members cut off from the election, the result will not be a surprise. (source: Wikipedia)
無派閥むはばつNot belonging to any faction.
While not belonging to any faction himself, Yoshihide Suga will receive the support of five factions.

Interestingly, all newspapers, including conservative ones, have a critical position towards the decision.

The least critic is Yomiuri, who acknowledges the necessity to speed up the process:


It is a necessity to speed up the election in order to reduce the political vacuum to the minimum.

But Yomiuri is asking that candidates introduce their policy to the public, for the sake of the 141 voters from local prefectures. If elections are to be carried out as decided, voters from local prefectures represent one fourth of the votes. Candidates need to present their policy to these voters:


While asking for more debate and discussions, Yomiuri does not question the reasons behind the decision, and says that it is normal due to the present circumstances.

Sankei seems to be siding with those asking for an election process that would include all the party members.


It is regrettable that the LDP does not hold elections that would include the more than one million party members and party supporters. Even if a lot of citizens do not belong to the LDP, if members do vote, more attention will be brought to the elections and politics in general.

And Sankei is calling for a public debate:


There is only little time between the announce and the vote, but what is the most important in general elections? It is that the candidates compete with each other before the public for their political view.

Mainichi points out that Shigeru Ishiba who received a strong support among local voters during the last elections, will be disadvantaged. They conclude:


No wonder people think that the winner will be decided based on factions influence.

It also seems obvious that Yoshihide Suga, who receives the support of the strongest factions, will win the race:


For Asahi, the situation is not urgent to the point of depriving party members from their rights:


The Diet is closed at the moment, there is no new outbreak of coronavirus infection and Abe has said that he would go on with his functions until a successor has been chosen. For Asahi, there will be no “political vacuum” as stated.

Asahi even mentions that the real purpose behind this choice could have been to cut off the road to Shigeru Ishiba and secure the position for Yoshihide Suga.



For Tokyo too, things also look like the real purpose was to restrain Ishiba’s chances:


Topic 3: Yoshihide Suga, new president of the LDP

As mentionned, Suga’s victory was not a surprise. On Saturday 12th (two days before the elections), the three candidates have presented their policy concerning the anti-coronavirus measures and economic measures at the Japan National Press Club. Reporting on the public debate, Yomiuri and Mainichi only focus on what Suga said, clearly showing that the election are just a formality.

The election took place on Monday 14th. I read the editorials of the 15th, but I must admit that they are quite difficult to understand. I just extracted some information:

Yomiuri: 自民総裁に菅氏 社会に安心感を取り戻したい
Sankei: 菅政権誕生へ 危機に立つ首相の自覚を 派閥にとらわれぬ人事を貫け
Mainichi: 自民新総裁に菅氏 継承ありきの異様な圧勝
Asahi: 菅新総裁選出 総括なき圧勝の危うさ
Tokyo: 自民総裁に菅氏 「表紙」だけを替えても

Yoshihide Suga mainly said that he will continue in the same line than Abe. While continuity might be better than brisk change in this time of crisis, assuming the role of Prime Minister (the LDP has such a majority in the Diet that the head of the party becomes the Prime Minister) requires a solid policy of one’s own.

This idea seems well summed up by Tokyo’s formulation:


Looking back at M. Suga’s speeches, [we notice that] he was so focused on talking about Abe government’s “continuation” that he barely mentioned any “new” policy.

The two words generally used are 継続・けいぞく (continuation) and 前進・ぜんしん (progress, advance, improvement). I chose to translate this last one with “new” because it seems better if we use it in opposition to “continuation”.

This is echoed by Yomiuri:


Given that [M. Suga] will be executing policies, it is not enough to talk about “continuation” only.

I didn’t know the expression 心もとない. It means “to feel uneasy/insecure about” or that something is “unreliable, untrustworthy, precarious, doubtful”. After deliberating for some time on how to translate it, I gave up.

And by Tokyo:


Sankei also wishes that Suga adopts the role of a Prime Minister with a strong leadership who can lead the country in a time of crisis. They add:


As for Mainichi, they criticise Suga for not having a political vision of his own:


Apparently, Suga said that he would resolve once and for all the scandals that stroke Abe’s administration… Asahi wonders if this is possible:


Finally, Tokyo says that merely pursuing your predecessor’s policy is great if this policy was good, but we cannot wish that the new Prime Minister goes on with Abe’s handling of the coronavirus crisis: そのまま継承すべきではないのは当然だ。

Topic 4: Suga cabinet

And finally, new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga named his Cabinet on Wednesday 16th.

I am just having a quick look at some editorials:

Yomiuri: 菅内閣発足 経済復活へ困難な課題に挑め
Mainichi: 菅義偉・新内閣が発足 まず強引な手法の転換を
Asahi: 菅「継承」内閣が発足 安倍政治の焼き直しはご免だ
Tokyo: 菅内閣が始動 国民全体の奉仕者たれ

Yoshihide Suga kept Taro Aso as Finance Minister and Toshihiro Nikai as secretary-general. Yomiuri says that keeping these two politicians at these key posts is a way to maintain stability:


But Mainichi points out that the Ministry of Finance under Aso had been directly implicated in the Moritomo scandal:


It is also surprising to see Taro Aso staying in office as Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, given that he should have taken responsibility by resigning when it was discovered that the Ministry of Finance had falsified documents in the Moritomo scandal.

手を染める means “turn one’s hand to sth”. My English is not good enough to find a good way to translate it or to know whether this expression can be used in this context.

And Mainichi fears that Suga will only continue in the same line than Abe, and not change his style of politics (政治手法), and again, criticise the “継続” position of Suga.


This is echoed by Asahi:


We cannot bear the thought of M. Suga “continuing” even the problematic style of governance of M. Abe.

Noting that women still were not representated in the Cabinet, Tokyo adds:



I felt a little overwhelmed by the number of articles to read, their length and difficulty. In order to understand them, I have to switch to a “study” mode, look up words, re-read the same sentence several times and look for complementary pieces of information in articles in English. I was also quite stressed in September for other reasons, so I didn’t have enough energy left to work on the translations.

I will take some holidays towards the end of October, so there will be no post in the news section next month.

Inhae reads the news: August 2020

I only had time for two topics this month:

  • Korean court ruling on forced labour victims: aftermaths
  • 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.

News 1: Korean court ruling on forced labour victims: aftermaths

This might not have been a breaking news in Japanese media, but this is one of the topics I am the most interested in, so we’ll start this month with the Korean Court ruling over the forced labourers issue.

Along with the comfort women issue, the forced labourers issue remains a topic of tension between Japan and Korea. During the end of WWII, as Korea was under Japanese rule (1910-1945), a large number of Koreans were conscripted to participate in Japan’s war effort, either as soldiers or as workers in factories and mines. Many of them worked in very poor conditions. I saw the numbers of 670,000 labourers sent to Japan and 60,000 deaths, but I don’t have sources other than Wikipedia.

If you are interested in this issue, you can watch the Korean film The Battleship Island, which is an action film with historical background, not an accurate historical film. I personally disliked it, but if you like action films, this one gives at least an idea of how the problem is depicted in Korea.

Korean and Japanese governments have settled the issue with the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea of 1965. Japan has provided financial compensation to Korea for its colonial rule, and the treaty was supposed to close the issue. The Japanese government has since refused any claim for individual compensation by Koreans, saying that the matter had been completely and finally settled by the treaty of 1965.

In 2018 however, the Supreme Court of South Korea ruled that 10 forced labour victims were able to claim compensation from several Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nachi-Fujikoshi and Nippon Steel. The court’s argument was that the treaty only covers government-level compensations and not individual compensations.

The Japanese government’s response has been to restrict exports to South Korea and to remove the country from its list of favoured trading partners, leading to the recent Japan-South Korea trade dispute and to a palpable deterioration of the two countries’ relationship.

As the Japanese firms have refused to pay, the Korean court has issued the order to forcibly seize and liquidate the assets of two Japanese firms, Nippon Steel and Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp.. However, the documents stipulating the court order had not been delivered to the firms in question, which has delayed the proceedings to liquidating the firms’ assets.

On Tuesday 4th, the documents finally reached the Japanese firms and the news made the editorial of two newspapers:

Mainichi: 徴用工問題の深刻化 韓国は最悪の事態回避を
Sankei: 「徴用工」問題 現金化なら直ちに制裁を

Useful vocabulary

徴用工ちょうようこうDrafted worker, conscripted worker.
This seems to be the word widely used in Japan to refer to Korean forced labourers. This particular issue we are talking about is referred to as 徴用工訴訟問題. In English, the term “forced labour” is generally used. Similarly, Koreans use the term 강제노동(强制勞動, forced labour) or, to be sure, 강제징용노동(强制徵用勞動, forced conscripted labour), which sounds a little redundant.
In this case, the plaintiff won the lawsuit, so we see the word 勝訴 (しょうそ, victory in a legal suit)
資産しさんproperty, wealth. Here: assets.
現金化げんきんかChanging into cash.
I don’t know concretely how it works, but as the Japanese firms have refused to pay compensations to the plaintiffs, Korea will seize their assets and change them into money to compensate the victims.
売却ばいきゃくsale, disposal by sale.
Here again, we are talking about the Japanese firms assets.
Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of Korea is named 大法院, and is often referred to as 大韓民国大法院 or 韓国大法院 in Japanese.
Agreement signed alongside the treaty of 1965.
The complete name of the agreement is super long: 財産及び請求権に関する問題の解決並びに経済協力に関する日本国と大韓民国との間の協定.
I am not sure, but I think that it is this particular agreement that stated 1-the compensation provided by Japan to Korea, 2- that wartime issues were completely and finally settled (完全かつ最終的に解決された), and 3- that Korea agreed to demand no further compensation.
International articles usually refer to the Treaty itself (in Japanese: 日本国と大韓民国との間の基本関係に関する条約 or simply 日韓基本条約), but I found that Japanese newspapers often refer to the agreement rather than the treaty.
Separation of powers.
The separation of powers is the reason given by president Moon Jae-in to justify his not interfering with the court ruling.

No need to say that Mainichi and Sankei’s editorial will have a very different tone on this matter. I except Sankei to strongly condemn Korea’s government and court ruling, while I guess that Mainichi’s position would be more balanced.

Now that the documents have reached Japanese firms, the formalities leading to the liquidation of the assets can proceed. Even though the whole process might take several months, Mainichi deplores that it will lead to an inevitable deterioration of the two countries relationship once it is done.

Mainichi criticises the Korean government, saying that it must have foreseen that Japan would be forced to respond, and that it would lead to a new crisis:


The Japanese government will not have other choice but to take countermeasures against the liquidation, because it must protect the property of its citizens. This is something that the Korean government was aware of from the start.

Sankei has a similar paragraph but the formulation is very different:


If the property of Japanese firms is stolen undeservedly to convert into cash, our government must take at once strict sanctions against Korea. And we mustn’t relax the sanctions as long as Korea has not reverted the court’s decision and apologized.

Theses two paragraphs bear the same meaning, but with different formulations: Mainichi says that Japan will have no other choice than to respond (取らざるをえない), while Sankei says that it must respond (踏み切るべきだ). Sankei also uses the expression “undeservedly steal” while Mainichi only talks about “protecting Japanese properties”. Finally, Mainichi talks about “countermeasures” while Sankei uses the word “sanctions”.

Just after talking about the inevitable Japanese response, Mainichi adds:


This is something that the Korean government was aware of from the start.

This implies that Moon Jae-in government, while foreseeing that the court ruling would lead to new tensions between the two countries, decided to stay put and let the situation worsen.

Sankei, in its more direct manner, also blame Moon Jae-in and his government for the past (and certainly upcoming) tensions:


Japanese firms are leaving Korea one after the other and the basis of the two countries relationship is undermined, but this situation has been brought on by Moon Jae-in government itself, who encouraged this judicial madness.

Moon Jae-in invoked the separation of powers to say that he could not interfere with the court’s ruling. But Mainichi says that the treaty signed by the two countries is a political matter, not a judicial one. As a consequence, justice should not interfere with what has been agreed upon by both governments.

Mainichi ends its article by criticising both governments. Korea for deteriorating international relationships:


If a judicial judgement can unilaterally change the field of application of a treaty half a century after it has been concluded, it will be difficult to build stable international relationship.

And Japan for its response to it:


However, Japan’s high-handed posture can only be counterproductive. If bringing out retaliatory measures was enough to influence Korea’s decisions, the situation would be under control long ago.

For Sankei, there is no need to pay compensation now, not because the matter had been settled with the treaty of 1965 but because there was no reason to pay in the first place:


There is no need to answer these claims in the first place. The order of compensation itself is an outrage that disregards the agreement between Japan and Korea and twists history. We cannot accept it.

Sankei obviously criticises the court ruling:


The judgement made by the Supreme Court of South Korea to order compensation is hard to believe, with assumptions like: “The Japanese government’s inhuman and illegal actions that are directly connected with the illegal colonial rule and war of aggression [against Korea]”.

I guess that the reason why Sankei quotes this sentence as “difficult to believe” is because of the expression “war of aggression”. The annexation of Korea has not been made by a military invasion of the country. The usurpation of Korea’s sovereignty by Japan has been made by increments, during and in the aftermaths of the Russo-Japanese war. The Japan-Korea Protocol of 1904 allowed Japan to interfere in domestic matters and to use strategic locations in Korea. The Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905 deprived Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty and made Korea a protectorate of Japan. Another Japan-Korea Treaty established in 1907 the office of a Japanese Resident General and deprived Korea of the administration of its internal affairs. Finally, political machinations, pressure, intimidation and a growing presence of Japanese military in Korea have led to the signature of the Japan-Korea Annexation treaty of 1910. Obviously, all theses treaties have been forced on Korea, but I think that the expression “war of aggression” in the context of Korea’s annexation is strictly speaking incorrect. At least, I guess that this is what Sankei is pointing out.

Finally, Sankei refutes that Korean labourers were treated differently than Japanese ones:


It is a fact that Koreans were working [for Japanese companies] since the national mobilisation decree in September 1944, but it was not forced (slaved) labour as Korea says. They were nothing more than legally mobilised wartime workers who received wages and who worked in the same conditions than Japanese workers.

I think that Sankei is using the words 朝鮮半島出身者 and 内地人 instead of “Korean” and “Japanese” to emphasise the fact that Korea was a part of Japan at the time. I simplified in my translation.

Sankei goes as far as saying that if compensation must be paid, it should be paid by Korea to Japan, to repay for the compensations already provided according to the treaty of 1965.

Note: you can also read Sankei’s editorial of the 16th which has a similar anti-Moon Jae-in vibe to it.

To conclude, Sankei and Mainichi both criticise Korea’s court ruling but not for the same reason. Mainichi points out two problems: 1- the inevitable tensions this ruling will lead to and 2- the awkward contradiction of this ruling with the treaty of 1965, but they do not question the status of Korean forced labourers. Sankei however criticises the ruling because they consider that there was no need for compensation in the first place.

Topic 2: End of WWII: 75th Anniversary

On August 15th, Japan marked the 75th anniversary of its surrender and the end of WWII. A ceremony organised by the government was held in Tokyo on the 15th, but with anti-coronavirus measures, attendance was only of 550 persons compared to the 6000 of last year.

During the ceremony, Emperor Naruhito expressed deep remorse over Japan’s wartime actions.

Prime Minister Abe has not offered apologies during his speech, but he refrained from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine.

Needless to say, our newspapers have all devoted one, if not several, editorials to the end of the war anniversary. I will only study:

Yomiuri: 戦後75年 国際協調維持へ役割果たそう
Mainichi: 戦後75年を迎えて 歴史を置き去りにしない
Asahi: 戦後75年の現在地 不戦と民主の誓い、新たに

Useful vocabulary:

終戦しゅうせんthe end of the war
戦没者せんぼつしゃthe war dead
追悼式ついとうしきa memorial service
昭和戦争しょうわせんそうExpression used by Yomiuri Shimbun to talk about the wars of the Showa period: the Mukden Incident, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War.
International Military Tribunal for the Far East
日米開戦にちべいかいせんThe start of the war between Japan and the United States
治安維持法ちあんいじほうPeace Preservation Law.
Series of laws enacted from 1894 to 1925 in order to suppress political dissent. They drastically restricted freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
挙国一致きょこくいっちないかくNational unity.
負の歴史ふのれきしNegative or dark side of a country’s history.
I don’t know how to translate this word… Is “negative history” a term in English? It seems to be mainly used in the medical field… I guess “dark side of history” is okay? Or maybe it is best to talk about “negative legacy of history”?
国民主権こくみんしゅけんThe principle of popular sovereignty

Mainichi and Asahi editorials contain the same message. They both warn against populism which led to Japan’s going into war with the United States, and they underline the importance of public awareness and its capacity to question government’s decisions. However, Mainichi is ending its article on a positive note, while Asahi is noting that Abe government is threatening democracy.

As for Yomiuri, it has a very different editorial. While warning against populism and calling for peace, the article also calls to strenghten the role of the SDF and teach “correct” history.

Mainichi underlines that just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public opinion was largely in favour of the war. Many intellectuals of the time were supporting the war against the United States:


Many intellectuals have mentioned their sense of exhalation in their poems or diaries at the news of Japan declaring war to the United States.

Mainichi quotes Yoko Kato (professor at Tokyo University and author of 『それでも、日本人は「戦争」を選んだ』) to explain the reason for this pro-war sentiment among the Japanese public. Yoko Kato says that since the Mukden Incident, Japanese people have been fed with anti-american/british discourses.

Asahi makes a similar remark about the main sentiment among the citizens before the outbreak of war. The article says that Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” applies also to Japan and quotes Shinpei Ikejima from the magazine 文芸春秋 supporting the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mainichi and Asahi also mention that at the time, media were not free:

Asahi: 治安維持法などにより、言論が厳しく取り締まられた時代である。軍部が情報を操作し、朝日新聞を含むメディアは真実を伝えず、国民は多くを知らないまま一色に染まった。

It was a time were freedom of speech was rigorously controlled with regulations like the Peace Preservation Laws. The military authorities fabricated information and media, Asahi included, were all uniformly reporting the same things, hiding the truth to the people and letting them in ignorance.

Mainichi also mentions the Peace Preservation Laws, and the fact that the authorities had supressed anti-war discourses. People did not have access to proper information and embraced the war under the slogan of national unity. The article also adds:


Media too spread information that inflamed people’s nationalism.

Both newspapers insist on the importance of social and political awareness among citizens, especially in a time of crisis, like the coronavirus crisis we are living now.

For Mainichi, the coronavirus crisis has led people to question the government’s decisions and actions:


[…] It might well be the first time since the war that the citizens so massively question what the government must do and closely and carefully watch the government’s measures.

And Mainichi concludes that it is the political and social awareness of the people that makes a strong society.

For Asahi, however, the growing awareness of the public is darkened by the tendency of Abe government to conceal information from the public.


But isn’t it the government who is turning its back on [democratic principles of our Constitution], with the number of times where Abe government has treated the Diet lightly. Far from disclosing the information that the citizens need, they have gone as far as abusing their power by concealing and falsifying official documents. It is nothing less than a profanation of popular sovereignty.

Yomiuri’s article also warns against populism, but the general tone is different. Taking North Korea’s constant threat as an example, the article mentions the necessity to give the SDF a wider range of action:


The most pressing menace is North Korea who sends provocation after provocation and is moving forward with its launch of missiles and its nuclear programme. It is essential to work towards strengthening the alliance between Japan and the United States and to reinforce the function of the SDF.

I don’t know exactly what they mean by “自衛隊の役割を強化し”. Do they just mean “to ascertain” the SDF status by amending the article 9 of the Constitution or do they mean “to augment” the SDF function by allowing it to participate in more military operations (not just defence and humanitarian operations)?

Then, mentioning territorial dispute with Russia and the Korean issue of the forced labourers, Yomiuri ends its article by saying:


75 years after the end of the war, it is important to teach correct history relative to territorial questions and how things have been settled after the war to the younger generations.

We are far from Mainichi’s own call:


What we need is to understand the true nature of war. It is not something we can achieve by putting ideology first or by being obsessive with saving the face of our country. We can only achieve it through a dialogue that does not stop at the negative sides of our history.

Inhae reads the news: July 2020

This month’s topics are:

  • Tokyo court rejects a damage lawsuit by a victim of the Eugenic Protection Law
  • Yuriko Koike re-elected as Governor of Tokyo
  • Coronavirus cases in US military bases in Okinawa

Topic 1: Tokyo court rejects a damage lawsuit by a victim of the Eugenic Protection Law

I first learned about the Eugenic Protection Law in Japan two years ago, when I was working on the news for my blog. I was very shocked to learn that 1- there had been such a law in Japan, 2- it was revoked only in 1996 (!) and 3- that victims were just beginning to get compensations.

Established in 1948, the Eugenic Protection Law’s purpose was to prevent the birth of “inferior descendants”. Around 25,000 persons thought to have “hereditary” diseases that could lead to the birth of “inferior” children have been sterilised. Among them, around 16,500 people never gave their consent. Some were forcibly sterilised, others were deceived into having the surgery (many were in their teens when it happened). Several victims have said that they had only learned afterwards what had been done to them.

Among the victims, many were physically or cognitively disabled, suffered from mental or chronic illness or were considered to have behaviour problems. Most of the forced sterilizations were performed on inmates of institutions for disabled persons, psychiatric hospitals or welfare institutions for children.

Groups of victims are asking for apologies and several victims have filed a lawsuit against the government for compensation and apologies.

Last year, the Diet voted a new law that grants a compensation of 3.2 million yen for each surviving victim and Abe has said that “the government sincerely reflects on and deeply apologizes”. However, advocates for victims say that a one-time payment of 3.2 million yen is not enough compared to the gravity of what has been done. Furthermore, not all victims are eligible for the payment as few documents remain to identify them, some do not want their relatives to know, some might not know about the new legislation at all. Only 621 victims are eligible for now.

On June 30th, the Tokyo district court rejected a 30 million yen damage suit filed by a 77-year-old man who was sterilised at the age of 14 when he was in a welfare institution for children. The man was sterilized in 1957 and filed his lawsuit in 2018. The court referred to the 20-year statute of limitations on demands for damages under the Civil Code to rule against the payment.

Not surprisingly, this is a topic that only made the editorials of the left-wing newspapers:

Mainichi: 強制不妊手術で判決 被害者の実情見ていない
Tokyo: 強制不妊判決 血の通った救済を急げ
Asahi: 強制不妊手術 「違憲」の重みと失望と

Useful vocabulary:

優生保護法ゆうせいほごほうEugenic Protection Law.
Established in 1948, this law allowed the operation of people to prevent the birth of “inferior” children. The law was revoked in 1996, this is why it is mostly referred to as 旧優生保護法.
The forced sterilizations are referred to as 強制不妊手術 (きょうせい~)
I also found the word 損害賠償 (そんがい~) for “damages”.
A demand for compensation is a 賠償請求 (~せいきゅう). In our case, the demand was “rejected” 棄却 (ききゃく).
The Court said that the “right to ask for compensation” 賠償請求権 has “expired” 消滅 (しょうめつ).
補償ほしょうCompensations, indemnity.
東京地裁とうきょうちさいTokyo District Court.
The complete name is 東京地方裁判所(とうきょうちほうさいばんしょ).
提訴ていそBring a case before a court. File an action.
In our case, the victim filed his lawsuit in 2018.
原告げんこくA plaintiff.
One of the major concerns during such lawsuits is whether or not the Court will rule on whether the Eurgenic Protection Law was unconstitutional or not. I think that most lawsuits are filled on the basis that this law was unconstitutional, given that the Constitution guarantees the pursuit of happiness and equality under the law.
侵害しんがいInfringement, violation.
The expression 人権侵害 (じんけん~) means, “a violation of human rights”.
除斥期間じょせききかんStatute of limitations.
The statute of limitations or prescriptive period sets the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated.
In Japan, there is a 20-year statute of limitations on demands for damages.
In this case, the Court did not rule on the unconstitutionality of the Eurgenic Protection Law, contrary to a previous case where the Sendai District court had qualified the former law as unconstitutional 憲法違反 (けんぽういはん).
A hereditary disease.
A part of the victims suffered from Hansen’s disease (leprosy) which was thought at the time to be hereditary.
厚生省こうせいしょうMinistry of Health and Welfare.
Founded in 1938, the ministry has since been integrated, together with the Ministry of Labour, into the present Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare 厚生労働省 (こうせいろうどうしょう).
This is why the former “Ministry of Health and Welfare” is often referred to as 旧厚生省.
母体保護法ぼたいほごほうMother’s Body Protection Law.
In 1996, the Eugenic Protection Law changed into the Mother’s Body Protection Law.

All three newspapers strongly condemn the Court ruling.

Even if the statute of limitations has expired, the responsibility of the state remains, says Mainichi:


But forcing sterilisation on people is a violation of human rights according to our national policy. Time may have passed by, but the State’s responsibility does not disappear. Setting a time limit for the demand for compensation goes against the relief of victims.

Tokyo blames the government for waiting until 1996 to revoke the law:


Leaving things as they are for so long must be called a crime.

Asahi also criticises the government for its inaction:


The government and the Diet, who did not take any measures to reduce discrimination and to compensate the victims, think that revoking the law has been enough to exempt themselves from responsibility.

While the court said that the plaintiff could have filed a lawsuit in 1996, when the law was revoked, it was not easy for the victims to stand out when the issue was so little known and discrimination still strong. The court’s ruling is all the more ironic given that the government itself has waited until 2019 to make public apologies and provide compensations for the victims.

For Tokyo, the court’s ruling is おかしい.


The plaintiff has received the operation when he was underage and without knowing what would be done to him. The damage he received still has repercussions today. This is how we must think. Hasn’t this discriminatory state policy continued for too long?

Mainichi and Asahi deplore that the court did not pronounce the law as being unconstitutional contrary to the Sendai district court who had done so last year. For Mainichi, things are moving backwards.

Mainichi also points out that this law has strengthened discrimination:


There’s no doubt that the Eugenic Protection Law contributed to the discrimination against disabled persons.

All newspapers call the government to actively look for the victims and contact them while maintaining their anonymity. Many victims don’t want to come out publicly:

Asahi: 旧法が「不良な子孫」の出生防止をうたっていたため、今も多くの人が名乗り出られずにいる

The former law clearly stated that its aim was to prevent the birth of “inferior descendants”. As a result, a lot of people are still unable to come out and reveal their identity, even today.

And Tokyo ends its editorial with


This country who stigmatised a part of the population as “inferior” must assume the responsibility [for what it did].

Topic 2: Yuriko Koike re-elected as Governor of Tokyo

Yuriko Koike has been re-elected Tokyo governor on Sunday 5th. Her crushing victory (3.6 milions votes) shows that the public trusts her to continue dealing with the coronavirus.

Yomiuri: 小池知事再選 首都の活力維持に課題は多い
Sankei: 小池都知事が再選 感染防止が最優先課題だ
Mainichi: 都知事選で小池氏再選 地に足着けて問題解決を
Asahi: 小池氏再選 求められる説明と実践
Tokyo: 小池都知事が再選 新しい社会への一歩を

Useful vocabulary

小池 百合子こいけ
Yuriko Koike.
Governor of Tokyo since 2016.
Tokyo gubernatorial election.
The election took place on July 5th to choose the Governor of Tokyo. Yuriko Koike was re-elected by a large margin
施策しさくmeasure, policy
都政とせいthe Tokyo Prefectural Government
政党せいとうpolitical party
無党派層むとうはindepedent voters, voters without party affiliation.
Also found: 無党派層 (むとうはそう).
Yuriko Koiko run as an independent candidate for the Tokyo governorship. She was a former member of the Liberal Democratic Party but left it in 2017.

Obviously, Koike’s most pressing agenda is to deal with the coronavirus and prepare for the second vague to come.

Yomiuri: 小池氏が最優先で取り組むべきなのは、感染症対策の強化だ。

What Koike must tackle in priority is the strengthening of the anti-coronavirus measures.

Asahi: 直面する最大のテーマは、言うまでもなくコロナ対策だ。

Needless to say that the most important topic Korike has to confront are the anti-coronavirus measures.

Sankei also states the urgency to deal with the coronavirus. It might be just me, but the way it is written looks like the journal is not happy with Koike’s victory.


There is no time to bask in the aftermath of Koike’s victory. With more than 100 new infection cases per day in the city, we are facing the real threat of a new vague of infections.

Sankei also criticises Koike for not achieving her goals during her last term as Governor of Tokyo. The “seven zeros” in the extract refers to Koike’s plan to deal with socio-economic problems faced by residents of Tokyo, such as overwork culture, crowded rush-hour trains or electric poles. Out of the seven goals, Koike only managed to reduce the number of euthanised dogs and cats as well as to reduce the number of children waiting to be admitted in day care centers.


During the previous gubernational election, Koike has pledged to reach the “seven zeros”, which included reducing to zero the number of children on the waiting list [for day care centers] and the number of persons who have to give up their work in order to take care [of family members]. She scarcely managed to fulfill her pledge. We won’t tolerate the same thing to happen again.

There must be a better way to translate 同じ轍を踏むことは許されない but my English is not good enough here. Same for 掲げる. To me it looks like the article wants to underline the gap between the ambitious pledge and the poor results, so they used the verb 掲げる (parade a slogan, raise up a flag, hold up an ideal) instead of just 公約する. (?)

Interestingly, the majority of articles I read in English say that she managed to reduce the number of children on the waiting list, making it two goals achieved out of seven. However, it seems that Japanese newspapers do not consider that she reached her goal on the topic of children.

This is what is suggested by Sankei in the paragraph quoted above, and it is also what Mainichi said in a previous editorial (2020/06/13) about Koike:


In her pledge, four years ago, she promised to deal with seven problems such as the number of children on the waiting list [for day care centers] and the number of persons who have to give up their job to take care of relatives. These were the “seven zeros”. However, she only managed to bring the number of euthanised pets to zero.

Coming back to our articles, Yomiuri and Sankei are both worried about the economy and whether or not firms will have to close:

Yomiuri: 中小企業や事業者への支援もためらってはならない。

We cannot hang back on financial support for entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises.

Sankei: 再び都民の社会経済活動に自粛が求められるのか。休業要請はどうなるのか。

Will the citizens be ask to refrain from social and economic activities once more? Will there be a demand for business suspension?

Generally speaking, the newspapers ask for more explanations about the upcoming concrete measures against the coronavirus.

Mainichi is also asking for more clarifications about the next steps to stop the virus, especially concerning the construction of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Koike talked about:


Koike pledged to build a Tokyo version of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but she didn’t give a concrete image of this new center. Now that she mentioned the project, we would like to receive explanations rapidly.

Similarly, Asahi also finds that the explanations about the CDC were insufficient:


During the elections, Koike pledged to build a Tokyo version of the American CDC. We know that it would be a liaison base for cooperation between medical institutions and municipalities but we don’t know any detail yet.

And both newspapers are worried about whether or not there will be a confinement:

Mainichi: 今後、外出制限や営業自粛を求める可能性についてどう考えているのか。説明すべきだ。

How is Koike’s position about potential restrictions on business and outdoor activities? She must give explanations.

Asahi: 今後被害が拡大した時、何を、どこまでやる用意があるのか。ここでも丁寧な説明が必要だ。

How much are we prepared to face a new vague of victims? This is also something that needs to be explained thoroughly.

Topic 3: Coronavirus cases in US military bases in Okinawa

Several cases of coronavirus have been reported early July at two US Marines bases in Okinawa (Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen). Marines and their families have been placed on lockdown, but the prefecture is worried about a potential spread of the virus to the city.

Sankei: 在日米軍とコロナ 信頼壊す行為は許されぬ
Tokyo: 米軍基地の感染 政府はもっと危機感を

Useful vocabulary

United States Forces Japan (USFJ)
The USFJ’s mission is to help in Japan’s defense and maintain regional peace and security. Its status is defined by the U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement (1960).
US military base.
The majority (62%) of the US military bases are situated in Okinawa (half of the 54,000 American troops in Japan are based in Okinawa). Okinawa’s feeling towards the presence of US military on their island is complex, some appreciating the mutual security treaty, some wishing the reduction of the number of military bases in Okinawa. Several incidents also repeatedly create tensions between the population and the military presence.
U.S. – Japan Status of Forces Agreement, SOFA.
Signed in 1960 between the US and Japan, the agreement defines the status of the USFJ. This agreement provides special status for American service members. For example most U.S. military members are exempted from Japanese visa and passport laws and if a military member commits a crime while in official duty, the American system has jurisdiction. This has been a recurrent source of conflict when violent crimes such as murder and rape have been committed by military members.
玉城 デニーたまき デニーDenny Tamaki.
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture since 2018. Denny Tamaki is opposed to the US military presence on Okinawa and calls for a reduction in American troop strength on the island.
Governor is the highest ranking executive of a prefecture. 

Independence Day.
On July 4, military members have celebrated Independence Day on beaches and bars and restaurants of downtown areas, getting in contact with local residents. Health authorities have tried to trace people who may have interacted with military personnel.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (MCAS Futenma)
US Marine Corps base in Okinawa. MCAS Futenma has been a US military airbase since the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Around 3000 Marines are posted at Futenma today.
キャンプ・ハンセンキャンプ・ハンセンCamp Hansen.
US Marine Corps base in Okinawa, with a garrison of around 6,000 Marines.
City located in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Comparing Sankei and Tokyo’s editorials, it seems to me that Sankei is mostly blaming the US military while Tokyo is urging the government to take action.

Both newspapers underline that US military personnel are not systematically tested for the coronavirus when they enter the country. Sankei says:

Sankei: 今年4月、政府は米国を入国拒否の対象にした。ただし、米軍関係者は日米地位協定に基づき入国を認めている。検疫に当たる在日米軍は発熱などの症状がある人にだけPCR検査をしていた。

In April this year, the government added the United States to the entry ban list. However, US military personnel are permitted to enter the country in accordance to the U.S. – Japan Status of Forces Agreement. Military personnel undergo a [14-day] quarantine, but only the persons who have symptoms like fever undergo a PCR testing.

Sankei focuses a lot on the the Iwakuni incident. A family of three arrived to Tokyo’s Haneda and were tested for coronavirus on arrival. However, they left the hotel where they were supposed to stay in quarantine, and they boarded a domestic flight to join the military base in Iwakuni without waiting for the results of the test (which turned out to be positive).

What seems to annoy the most Sankei is that the family lied and said they would use a rental car to go to Iwakuni, when in fact they boarded a domestic flight. This seems to bother them so much that they mention it twice in the same article:


The three Americans related to the US military base in Iwakuni were tested positive to coronavirus. After entering the country through Haneda airport, they entered the city of Iwakuni on board the civilian aircraft they swore not to take.



The persons related to the US military reported to go to to Iwakuni using a rental car and to avoid public transportation. But in fact, they boarded a civilian aircraft.

It looks like, for Sankei, the family’s lying about the flight is even worse than their having boarded it, or their breaking Japan’s quarantine procedures. This seems confirmed by:


False statements and insufficient measures when entering the country hurt the trust that has been built over the years and impair the dissuasive power of the alliance.

It took me a while to understand the meaning of 水際. I guess that “border control measures” could have been a correct option too, but I hope that I am not mistaken.

On the contrary to Sankei, Tokyo only briefly mentions this case towards the end of the article.

I could not find a lot of mentions about this incident in international online articles. When the incident was mentioned, the fact that the family lied about the rental car was usually omitted. On the contrary, it was easy to find articles about it published by Japanese newspapers with titles like “Trio tied to U.S. military lied about Japan travel plans, then tested positive for COVID-19” (The Japan Times) or “Three people with virus flouted quarantine, flew to Iwakuni base” (The Asahi Shimbun).

While Sankei seems to be blaming the US military, Tokyo insists more on the necessity, for the Japanese government, to impose more regulations on the military.

Tokyo does mention flaws in the preventive measures inside the military bases like the incapacity to trace the comings and goings of people infected or the frequent vehicules entering and going out of the bases supposedly under lockdown.

However, rather than blaming the US military for the lack of rigorous and systematic measures, Tokyo supports Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki when he asked for a revision of the U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement.

On the 15th, Denny Tamaki met with Defense Minister Taro Kono and asked for more restrictions on the US military:


Governor Denny Tamaki met with Defense Minister Taro Kono on the 15th. He requested the halt of transfers of American troops to Okinawa and information reports concerning the activities and whereabouts of infected personnel. Denny Tamaki also called for a revision of the U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement in order to apply the national law to the quarantine procedure of military personnel.

And Tokyo comments:


It is obvious that the privileges granted to the USFJ by the U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement is spreading confusion. The governor’s requests are justified.

It is also interesting to note how the two newspapers end their articles, both using the same word 急務 but not with the same subject:

Sankei is asking for an action on the part of the US military:


It is urgent necessity that the US military should reflect seriously on their conduct and improve their preventive measures.

Tokyo is asking for the government’s response:


The action of the government is an urgent necessity.


That’s it for July! I was not very motivated by the topics I have studied this month, apart from the first one, which is by far the most interesting.

I wish you a happy month of August!

Inhae reads the news: June 2020

Welcome to a new study sessions of Japanese editorials. This month’s topics are:

  • How Japanese newspapers report on the George Floyd protests
  • The death of Shigeru Yokota and the fight for the Japanese abductees in North Korea
  • North Korea’s cutting off communication with South Korea.

Starting with News 2, I have decided to try a new format for the vocabulary tables.

Note: if you are reading this post in the WordPress reader, custom CSS might not work and the vocabulary tables might be difficult to read.

Black Lives Matter

I usually focus on national news, but I also wanted to know how Japanese newspapers talk about the George Floyd protests. Sankei, Mainichi and Tokyo have devoted their editorial to the protests on June 3rd, and Yomiuri and Asahi on the 4th.

Sankei: 米黒人暴行死 融和に徹し暴力を許すな
Mainichi: 米の黒人死亡抗議デモ 大統領が分断あおる異常
Tokyo: 荒れる米国 トランプ氏の責任重い
Asahi: 米の抗議運動 不公正の根源、直視を
Yomiuri: 米国の騒乱 トランプ氏はまず融和を語れ

Useful vocabulary

圧迫あっぱくpressure, oppression, compression (圧迫死)
暴行ぼうこうviolence, attack, assault (暴行死)
人種差別じんしゅさべつracial discrimination
抗議デモこうぎでもa protest
暴走ぼうそうrun wild, run out of control
暴動ぼうどうriot, disturbance, uprising
兵士へいしsoldier, private
動員どういんmobilisation (set an army in motion)
警戒けいかいtaking precaution, cautiousness
振りかざるふりかざるraise, brandish (ideal, cause, the law)

Most newspapers say that while Trump should call for peace, he keeps on making statements that make the situation worse. The expressions 対立をあおる or 分断をあおる are commonly used to describe Trump.

Mainichi says that Trump’s statements are so shocking that you can hardly believe your ears (トランプ米大統領からは耳を疑うことばが相次ぐ) and Sankei that Trump is just adding fuel to the fire (トランプ大統領の発言も火に油を注いだ).

Yomiuri asks:


To which extent is president Trump understanding the subtlety of racial issues?

Sankei, Tokyo and Mainichi all mention the phrase “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” which is translated in Japanese by 略奪が始まれば銃撃も始まる.

Mainichi particularly insists on Trump’s failure to calm the protest and underlines that he only deepens the division of society. The article ends on a warning that this division weakens democracy.

Tokyo criticises Trump in a similar way and cites Atlanta’s mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as an example of how a leader should response to the violence.

All newspapers mention that the rate of death due to the coronavirus is disproportionately high among ethnic minorities. Yomiuri also mentions the discriminatory treatment of African Americans by the police (警官は黒人を容疑者とみなしがちだ) and Asahi mentions the disproportionately high rate of imprisonment among African Americans (黒人の投獄率は白人の5倍に及ぶ).

Not surprisingly, Sankei has a more conservative position. The article focuses more on the violence that has crept in the peaceful protests and ends its article by citing Trump blaming left-wing extremists. It also quotes Attorney General William Barr saying 国内テロにはしかるべく対処する, giving the impression that the newspaper is siding with the Trump government.

One thing that I found very strange is that none of the editorials actually mentioned the name of George Floyd, even though they all talk about him to explain why the protests started. They only talk about the death of a “黒人男性” killed by a “白人警官”. Similarly, when citing Terrence Floyd, he is introduced as “死亡した被害男性の弟” by Asahi, which is okay because it clearly identifies who he is, but Yomiuri says “黒人男性の弟”…?

When Tokyo explains the origin of the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, Miami police Chief Walter Headley also becomes a nameless “白人警察幹部”.

Maybe newspapers have simplified for their readers because this is an editorial? Do they think that writing the names of the persons they talk about will be overwhelming for them? But on the other hand, political personalities like Bottoms and Barr were named, so why not even mention George Floyd’s name? We are talking about the biggest newspapers of the country! It is so weird…

Week 2: Shigeru Yokota

Shigeru Yokota died on the 5th of June, at the age of 87. He was the father of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea in 1977, at the age of 13. Shigeru Yokota has fought for the return of his daughter and other Japanese abductees, pressing the government to take action and making speeches with his wife Sakie across the country to raise awareness around this issue.

Only 17 Japanese are officially recognised as being abducted by North Korea, but there might be more. Among the 17 abductees recognised by the government, 5 have returned to Japan in 2002. North Korea has announced the death of 8 other abductees, including Megumi, and 4 are still detained in North Korea. However, the documents proving Megumi’s death were insufficient and the remains that North Korea sent to Japan were not genuine.

Yomiuri: 北朝鮮拉致問題 交渉重ね首脳会談を模索せよ
Sankei: 横田滋さん死去 拉致への怒りを結集せよ 安倍首相は膠着破る行動を
Mainichi: 横田滋さん死去 43年間の長すぎる「闘い」
Asahi: 横田滋さん死去 悲劇を繰り返させまい
Tokyo: 横田滋さん死去 原点に戻り対話解決を

Useful vocabulary

The abductions by North Korea are refered to as 拉致問題 and the abductees are 拉致被害者.
The term 拉致 is more widely used to refer to abductees, but I also saw the expression 拉致誘拐 to talk about abductions by North Korea.
This is the word commonly used to talk about rescuing the abductees. The Yokotas activities for their rescue are 救出活動 or 拉致被害者救出運動.
国家犯罪こっかはんざいa state crime
Abductions by North Korea are refered to as 国家犯罪
The term for diplomatic relations is 国交 (こっこう).
The economic sanctions imposed to North Korea by Japan are 経済制裁. They can either be strengthened 強化 (きょうか) or relaxed 緩和 (かんわ).
奪還だっかんrescue (a prisoner of war, a hostage…)
救出 and 帰国 (きこく) are more commonly used to talk about the return of the abductees, but I also saw the term 奪還.
戦いたたかいfight, battle
When talking about the Yokotas’ battle for the return of the abductees, newspapers use 戦い, also written 闘い.
遺骨いこつthe remains
North Korea sent the remains 遺骨 of Megumi to Japan.
Shigeru Yokota (横田 滋)
Shigeru Yokota has founded the 北朝鮮による拉致被害者家族連絡会(きたちょうせんによるらちひがいしゃかぞくれんらくかい), also named 家族会 (かぞくかい) in 1997.

The death of Shigeru Yokota is a reminder that both abductees and their families are aging and that their return should be a priority. Yomiuri opens its editorial with these words:


The abductees taken by North Korea as well as their families are aging. Rescuing them must be a priority.

And Sankei ends by quoting Sakie Yokota saying, in a “letter to Megumi”:

私たちに、残された時間は本当にわずかです (…) 皆さまには、拉致の残酷な現実をもっと、直視していただきたいのです.

We only have but little time left. I wish that everyone would face the cruel reality of the abductions more boldly.

All newspapers underline the urgency of the problem and call the government for action.

Yomiuri says that the government’s action for the return of the abductees was slow (the article says: 政府の動きは鈍かった), and it is thanks to Shigeru Yokota’s work that 5 abductees were able to return to Japan in 2002:


It was the couple’s activities that, by pushing the country, allowed the return of 5 abductees to be made a concrete reality during the Japan-North Korea summit meeting of 2002.

For Tokyo, this change of attitude from North Korea was motivated by economic reasons:


At the time, North Korea had sunk into economic difficulties and was planning on overcoming these hard times by receiving Japan’s [economical] support.

Mainichi says that the abductions intensified in the 70s, when relations between North and South Korea were worsening. Japanese were abducted among other reasons to teach Japanese. However, Mainichi says, the issue did not attract media’s interest at the time:


But evidence was sparse and the media did not show a strong interest.

While Abe has shown a strong resolution to solve the issue, progress has barely been made, mainly due to the incoherent and untrustworthy attitude of North Korea. As Asahi points out, since the return of 5 abductees in 2002:


North Korea kept providing extremely inaccurate information concerning the abductions.

Tokyo blames the Japan government’s lack of flexibility when negotiating with North Korea:


The government also has fought for a long time to solve the issue, but the lack of flexibility in its response is noticeable.


But with the abduction issue and by strengthening the economic sanctions, the government has blocked the road to achieving normal diplomatic relations through negotiations [with North Korea].

And Asahi blames the government’s lack of consistency:


But Abe government too hasn’t taken a firm position on this issue. After advocating for the “utmost pressure”, it changed its course and asked for a dialogue without condition when the United States and North Korea began a diplomatic rapprochement. We will not get North Korea to negotiate with this kind of attitude.

Tokyo also mentions that in 2018, whereas North Korea’s relationship with the United States, South Korea and China had made some progress, Japan was excluded. It quotes Shigeru Yokota himself.


During his lifetime, mister Shigeru Yokota has insisted on choosing the path of dialog: “We must relax the sanctions in order to solve the issue. If we keep harassing one another, it won’t end.”

I am surprised to see that no newspaper mentions a collaboration with South Korea as a possible option. More than 3800 South Koreans have been abducted by the North (mostly in the late 70s, like Megumi), and working together with South Korea could be a way for Abe to reach Kim Jong-un. (In 2018, Moon Jae-in had already expressed his intention to raise the problem of Japanese abductees during the inter-Korean summit of April.)

On the contrary, Asahi ends its article with:


A step towards the truth of the abductions can only be expected between Japan and North Korea.

I guess that Korea-Japan relationships are just too bad at the moment.

News 3: North Korea

Speaking of Korea, the third news of this month will also be an international news. I was tempted to study either the end of the unusual session of the Diet for the coronavirus or the suspension of the deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, but I am also always interested in knowing how Japanese newspapers report on South Korea.

On June 17th, Pyeongyang has literally blown up the building that housed the liaison office with the South. Furthermore, the North has threatened to send troops into the DMZ (demilitarised zone).

North Korean defectors and activists have been sending anti-government leaflets across the border, which triggered Pyeongyang’s anger and the spectacular and symbolic demolition of the liaison office building. Built in 2018 after the historical meeting between North and South, this building was the symbol of the detente and communication between the two countries.

On June 18th, only Sankei and Mainichi had reported about it in their editorials. Asahi wrote an editorial about it on the 19th.

Sankei: 連絡事務所爆破 北朝鮮にアメを与えるな
Mainichi: 南北連絡事務所の爆破 挑発で苦境は打開できぬ
Asahi: 北朝鮮の暴挙 孤立無援にもどるのか

Useful vocabulary

南北融和なんぼくゆうわSouth-North rapprochement.
This term is used to talk about the rapprochement between Pyongyang and Seoul in 2018. The joint liaison office is often described as the symbol of this rapprochement: 南北融和の象徴 (しょうちょう)
Kaesong is a city of North Korea, near the border with the South. The joint liaison office was situated in Kaesong.
Inter-Korean liaison office (or joint liaison office).
The office was established in 2018 as part of the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. It provided a direct communication channel between North and South.
爆破ばくはBlasting, blowing up, explosion.
This is the word unanimously used to describe the blowing up of the building.
The Korean Peninsula.
This is the word used to talk about the whole Korea. South Korea used to be called 南朝鮮 (みなみちょうせん) in Japan, but it changed in 1965 to the present 大韓民国 (だいかんみんこく), shortened 韓国 (かんこく). Wikipedia.
Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
Maybe I am mistaken, but I feel that English newspapers tend to just call Kim Jong-un “North Korean leader” while most articles in Japanese give his official title.
通信線つうしんせんline of communication
遮断しゃだんcut off.
This is the verb used to say that the lines of communication between North and South have been cut off.
Korean Demilitarized Zone or DMZ.
Created by agreement in 1953, the DMZ runs through the peninsula, between North and South. In the DMZ, there is a meeting point called Joint Security Area (also called Panmunjom 板門店 ).
軍備ぐんびMilitary preparations.
North Korea has intensified its military preparations: 軍備強化 (ぐんびきょうか) near the DMZ.
脱北者 だっぽくしゃNorth Korean defectors.
The North Korean refugees who sent the leaflets are described as 脱北者団体 (だんたい), but I don’t know if the meaning here is just a “group” of refugees, or if it refers to an organisation.
Summit conference.
In our articles, the 首脳会談 refers to the 2018 inter-Korean summit which led to the Panmunjom Declaration 板門店宣言 (パンムンジョムせんげん) and the establishment of the joint liaison office.
We talk here about economic sanctions imposed by the UN 国連制裁 (こくれんせいさい). Sanctions can be lifted 解除 (かいじょ) or relaxed 緩和 (かんわ).
A word used to talk about Pyongyang’s provocative conduct 挑発行為 (ちょうはつこうい) or military provocations 軍事挑発 (ぐんじちょうはつ).
特使とくしSpecial envoy.
Seoul has proposed to dispatch a special envoy to Pyongyang but the offer has been rejected.
毅然としたきぜんresolute (attitude).
Sankei is using this word to call for a resolute attitude towards North Korea 毅然とした態度 (たいど).
在韓米軍ざいかんべいぐんUnited States Forces Korea (USFK).

First on all, it is very interesting to note that most of the articles I read in English about this topic do not mention that stopping the anti-Pyeongyang leaflets sent across the border was part of the 2018 agreement reached by the two countries (point 2-1). Usually, articles will mention that the North has given the leaflets as the official reason for their threats, but they will also note that most experts see it as a pretext to put pressure on Seoul and obtain economic concessions.

Mainichi, however, mentions that the North is seeing these leaflets as problematic because:


During the summit meeting of 2018, [the two leaders] had reached an agreement on stopping the scattering of leaflets. However, the leaflets continued [to be sent to North Korea] after the meeting. Pyeongyang’s real motive might be its dissatisfaction towards Moon administration.

The article also mentions that blowing up the liaison office is a way to attack Moon Jae-in directly:


It looks like [Kim Jong-un]’s aim was to strike a psychological blow on Moon government which is strongly associated with the successful dialogue with the North.

As for Sankei, it uses an interesting expression when talking about the leaflets. Rather than talking about the South’s “inability” to prevent defectors to send leaflets, it uses the word 許した, as if the government allowed them. But of course, they also mention that the North’s response was disproportionate:


[The destruction of the liaison office] was presented as reprisal towards South Korea who tolerated North Korean refugees’ sending of leaflets criticising Kim Jong-un. However, it is an overly simplistic and excessive response.

I was expecting it coming from Sankei, but it also criticises Moon Jae-in. Other international newspapers I have read would not usually mention it, or if they do, say that North Korea is criticising Moon Jae-in’s promises, not criticising him directly.


First of all, president Moon Jae-in must reflect on his hasty and unprepared diplomatic exchange with the North that led him to promise [economic] assistance that was impossible [to provide] under UN sanctions.

This is interesting to read because this passage almost gives the impression that, in order to criticise Moon Jae-in, it is worth briefly siding with the North.

Asahi is the newspaper who most completely sides with Seoul. The Asahi editorial does not even mention the leaflets, but only states:


Ruthlessly blowing up a building complex that was the symbol of the friendship [between the two countries] and claim that it is the other’s fault? This attitude only managed to produce one thing: showing to the world Pyeongyang’s own foolishness.

Asahi also says that the meeting North Korea-United States was made possible by Seoul:


It is because there had been an inter-Korean meeting in the first place that the meeting with the United States, that North Korea was so anxious to have, was made possible at all. North Korea is now hinting at military actions towards the South, as if it had forgotten this too.

It is also interesting to note that Mainichi refers to Kim Jeong-un as 金氏 and Sankei as 正恩氏, which I find strange to be honest.

That’s it for June! I hope you all have a nice month of July, see you on the 25th!

Inhae reads the news: May 2020

Writing this post each month greatly helps me to improve my reading level by forcing me to read news articles and go out of my comfort zone. However, it also takes me a lot of time because I tend to add more topics as they come out. From this month on, I will limit myself to one news a week for the first three weeks of the month.

Apart from the coronavirus and the repercussions of the state of emergency on people’s lives and the economy, the major news this month was the amendment on the Public Prosecutor’s Office Law.

Week 1: Emperor Naruhito marks first anniversary of enthronement

On May 1st, I expected all newspapers to have an editorial about the first anniversary of the Reiwa era. I was surprised to find that only the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun had done so.

Yomiuri: 天皇即位1年 試練の新時代に着実な歩み
Mainichi: 天皇陛下即位1年 国民と歩む姿勢追い求め

Useful vocabulary:

即位そくいaccession to the throne, enthronement
陛下へいかHis/Her Majesty
皇位継承こういけいしょうSuccession to the Imperial Throne
皇后こうごうan empress
上皇じょうこうan ex-emperor
皇室こうしつthe Imperial Household

Yomiuri and Mainichi both mention that the imperial couple had visited the prefectures hit by typhoon Hagibis last year and directly met and comforted the victims, like the former imperial couple used to do.

However, the coronavirus makes it impossible for the couple to meet and talk to the patients and people affected by the virus.

Mainichi: しかし、感染拡大の中で患者や現場の医療関係者と顔を合わせ、直接励ますことはかなわない。

However, with the infection spreading, it is impossible [for the imperial couple] to meet and encourage directly the patients and the medical staff working in the field.

National events related to the imperial family and international meetings have also been cancelled or postponed.

Yomiuri: 今年に入って広がった新型コロナウイルスの感染は、皇室行事に影を落としている。

This year, imperial events have been hit by the spread of the coronavirus*.

影を落とす is translated in my dictionary as “to cast a dark shadow” which I find a little too dramatic for simply cancelled or postponed events. I don’t know if 影を落とす has a lighter nuance in Japanese or if this meaning was intended.

*This translation has been suggested to me on Twitter, it is better than what I wrote previously!

Week 2: Revision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office Law

All of our left-wing newspapers (but not Yomiuri nor Sankei) have written an editorial about a government bill aiming at extending the retirement age of public prosecutors.

The editorials were published on the 11th or 12th, at a time when the bill was discussed at the Lower House. The revision bill states that the retirement age of prosecutors could be extended from age 63 to age 65 with the cabinet’s approval.

These discussions have given rise to a huge public outrage with millions of tweets, including several tweets from celebrities, criticising the government’s decision (#検察庁法改正案に抗議します). Not only the timing is ill-chosen with the coronavirus still killing people, but critics also point out that this revision will give the Cabinet the possibility to decide which prosecutor can stay in office longer.

Mainichi: 検察官の定年延長法案 何のために成立急ぐのか
Asahi: 検察庁法改正 国民を愚弄する暴挙だ
Tokyo: 検事の定年延長 ツイートの抗議に耳を

Useful vocabulary:

検察庁法けんさつちょうほうthe Public Prosecutors Office Law
審議しんぎdeliberation, discussion
衆院しゅういんHouse of Representatives (Lower House). Abb. for 衆議院
検察官けんさつかんpublic prosecutor
法務省ほうむしょうthe Ministry of Justice
検事総長けんじそうちょうthe Public Prosecutor General
脱法だっぽうevasion of the law, barely within the letter of the law

Person involved:

Hiromu Kurokawa (黒川弘務)
Chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office – 東京高等検察庁検事長, also abbreviated as 東京高検検事長.
Close to Abe’s office. He was allowed to stay in function as chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office after he turned 63 in February, 2020. This will allow him to become prosecutor general (検事総長) – that is, Japan’s top prosecutor – when Nobuo Inada (稲田信夫) retires in Summer of this year.

Mainichi is the first newspaper to have written an editorial to criticise the amendment, on the 11th. It does not mention the public outrage on Twitter, contrary to Asahi and Tokyo who published their article one day later, on the 12th.

Among other points, Mainichi points out that the Cabinet will be able to retain in office public prosecutors according to their needs:


But if the Cabinet or the Minister of Justice judge it necessary, [a public prosecutor] would be able to remain in office for a maximum of 3 years, even after they reach the mandatory retirement age.



If a [public prosecutor] can stay in office for a long period of time according to the government’s convenience, it may affect the public prosecutors offices.

This last sentence is difficult to translate. I am not even sure that I understand it correctly. I don’t know how to translate 検察組織. I also don’t know why they would say 役職定年や定年 in the previous extract. It certainly refers to two distinct things, but I don’t know how to translate it here.

The article ends on a strong condemnation of the timing:


It is intolerable to rush the approval of [the amendment] by mixing it with discussions around coronavirus measures.

I am tempted to add “intentionally mixing it”. I know that 紛れる can either mean that something is mixed in or among something, or that a state of confusion is intentionally used to do something unnoticed (for example: 騒ぎに紛れて逃げる). I think that it is this second meaning that is implied in our sentence, but I don’t know how to say it in English.

Asahi opens its article on a strong criticism, underlying that this amendment is against the separation of powers and the basis of democracy, thus echoing some of the criticism on Twitter.


If this bill is passed, deciding who remains in office and who leaves will be entrusted to the judgment of the current government. It throws away the efforts to achieve the separation of powers after the war and annihilates the independence of the public prosecutor offices.

I feel that 積み重ねてきた suggests that it took time and efforts to achieve something, so I added the word “efforts”, but I don’t know if it is correct.

Similarly to Mainichi, Asahi mentions the case of Hiromu Kurokawa, who was allowed to stay longer in office in January of this year. Abe said at the Diet that this amendment would not lead to arbitrary personnel decisions by the Cabinet. Asahi points out that this is exactly what happened in the case of Korukawa.


But isn’t it Abe’s Cabinet of the time who postponed the retirement of the chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office (that is, Hiromu Kurokawa)?

The article ends on a similar note than Mainichi, saying that コロナ禍で人々は検察庁法どころではない.

Tokyo’s article is even more focused on the public reaction to the amendment. It says that:


With gatherings forbidden because of the coronavirus, [protests] took the form of an “online demonstration” via social networks.

The article also mentions that this amendment goes against the separation of powers, and that this should not be a priority now. It uses an interesting expression that I didn’t know to qualify this amendment:


We must prevent the approval of a bill that takes advantage of the State of Emergency, like a thief at a fire.

Week 3: Abe delays the bill on public prosecutors retirement

On Tuesday 19th, all our newspapers devoted their editorial to the same topic: Abe has decided to delay the enactment of the bill discussed in news 2. The media outrage was so strong, that it forced the government to step back, something rare in Japan politics.

Yomiuri: 検察庁法改正案 人事の自律性保てる見直しを
Sankei: 改正案見送り 検察のあり方本格議論を
Mainichi: 検察庁法改正見送り おごりと緩みゆえの失態
Asahi: 検察庁法改正 先送りやめ廃案にせよ
Tokyo: 検察庁法見送り 反対世論が追い込んだ

Useful vocabulary (see news 2).

不偏不党ふへんふとうnonpartisanship, neutrality, independance
検事総長けんじそうちょうthe Public Prosecutor General
検事長けんじちょうa superintendent public prosecutor
任命権にんめいけんthe power to appoint
採決さいけつa ballot, a vote
紛糾ふんきゅうan entanglement (of opinions), confusion
任免にんめんappointment and dismissal

All the newspapers explain what the amendment was aiming at and why this is problematic.

Yomiuri and Tokyo underline that extending the retirement age of public prosecutors from 63 to 65 is not a problem per se.

Yomiuri: 検察官の定年を63歳から65歳に引き上げること自体は妥当である。

[Taking into account the aging population and slow birth rate], extending the retirement age of public prosecutors from 63 to 65 is appropriate.

Tokyo: 六十五歳にすることにも異存がない

There is no objection in [extending the retirement age of public prosecutors] to 65.

The problem is of course, that the decision to extend the retirement age or not is left to the discretion of the Cabinet, meaning it could favour public prosecutors according to their needs.

This will undeniably lead to a loss of trust in public prosecutors. As Yomiuri mentions, public prosecutors are sometimes required to investigate politicians themselves: 時には政界捜査にも切り込む.

Mainichi: 証拠に基づいて政治家を不起訴にしたとしても、政権に配慮したと思われる可能性が出てくる。

If a public prosecutor decides not to prosecute a politician, people might end up thinking that they did so out of consideration for the government, even if their decision was based on solid evidence.

To explain the public outrage and criticism surrounding the amendment, all newspapers mention the Kurokawa case (see news 2). Right- and left-wing newspapers use different wordings to link the Kurokawa case with the amendment. Left-wing newspapers clearly state that this amendment looks like a way to set things right in the case of Kurokawa.

As Tokyo points out: 東京高検の黒川弘務氏が検事長の職のままでいることに「違法」の疑いが持たれている。

There are suspicions that prosecutor Hiromu Kurokawa staying in office as Chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office is “illegal”.

and then: むしろ検察庁法改正案は「後付け」で黒川氏の定年延長を合法化する狙いだったとされる。

This amendment on the Public Prosecutor’s Office Law is seen as a post-facto way to align the extension of Kurokawa’s retirement age with the law.

Mainichi: 黒川氏の人事を「後付け」で正当化するものだとの疑念は拭えない。

We cannot get rid of the suspicion that [this amendment is a way to] legitimate post-facto the Kurokawa case.

Yomiuri does not say that the amendment can be seen as a way to legitimate the Kurokawa case, but only that it looks like it:


[The amendment was criticised because] it looked like a way to give consistency to this extended retirement age (meaning here, Kurokawa).

Then Yomiuri adds that the suspicions concerning the real purpose of the bill have arisen not because extending Kurokawa’s office might have been illegal, but because the government did not give enough explanations about why they took this decision.

As for Sankei, it says:


No matter how much the government insists that “the amendment of the Public Prosecutors Office Law has no relation with the case of Kurokawa”, it could not gain understanding.

All our left-wing newspapers are unanimous in saying that Kurokawa’s special treatment must be withdrawn:

Mainichi: 改正案の議論に入る前に、黒川氏の定年延長を取り消す必要がある。

Before we start discussing the amendment, Kurokawa’s extension must be withdrawn.

Asahi: 当然、1月末の閣議決定も撤回する必要がある。

And it is also necessary, of course, to withdraw the decision of the Cabinet of the end of January (meaning, the decision to extend Kurokawa’s office).

Tokyo: ただちに撤回されるべきである。

It must be withdrawn at once. (here again, meaning Kurokawa’s case).


That’s it for this month’s post, but I cannot not mention that Hiromu Kurokawa announced his resignation over a gambling scandal. The news came out on the 21st, just two days after our news 3. Hiromu Kurokawa has played mahjong for money with reporters of a newspaper during the state of emergency. Of course, there are editorials about this resignation, and I am tempted to study them, but I will stick to my “one news a week” rule!

Have a good week!

Inhae reads the news: April 2020

These are the news that I have read and studied in April. As usual, I try to compare what different newspapers say on the same topic in their editorials.

This month’s topics:

  • Nika Mishiyama acquitted
  • Closure of schools
  • State of Emergency
  • State of Emergency: one week after
  • State of Emergency and domestic violence

Nika Mishiyama acquitted

On April 1st, the major topics were the coronavirus, the new schedule for the Tokyo Olympics and Nika Mishiyama’s new trial.

Nika Mishiyama is a former assistant nurse who has served 12 years in prison for the murder of a 72-year-old patient. The letters she wrote in prison to her parents showed that she might have been suffering from a mild form of intellectual disability, as the investigating reporting team at the Chunichi Shimbun pointed out (this is the same journal as the Tokyo Shimbun). This was later confirmed by psychiatrists’ evaluation on Nika Mishiyama.

The 72-year-old patient died because of respiratory problems. Nika Mishiyama lied and said that the respiratory alarm went off because the police officer intimidated her into saying so and because she apparently had a crush on him and wanted to please him. With this false statement, the police accused another nurse who should have “heard” the alarm but failed to react. Upset that her statement had brought problems to another person, Nika Mishiyama made a false confession of murder, saying that she pulled out the tube for the respirator. This is why the case is referred to as 呼吸器事件.

The defense team has asked several times for retrial, saying that Mishiyama confessed the murder because she was suffering from intellectual disabilities, but the requests have not been granted and Mishiyama served her whole sentence in prison.

She was finally granted a retrial in 2019. The first and second hearings took place this year, and she was acquitted on March 31st. The retrial showed that the patient may have died a natural death, and that there was no proof of murder in the first place.

Tokyo (Chunichi): 刑事司法を改革せよ 再審無罪判決
Mainichi: 滋賀患者死亡で再審無罪 自白依存の脱却が必要だ
Yomiuri: 再審無罪 冤罪生んだ警察の「証拠隠し」

Useful vocabulary and persons involved:

刑事司法けいじしほうCriminal Justice
再審さいしんnew trial, retrial
無罪むざいbeing not guilty
呼吸器こきゅうきrespiratory organs
大津地裁 (大津地方裁判所)おおつちさい (おおつちほうさいばんしょ)Otsu district court (where Mishiyama’s retrial took place)
事件性じけんせいa criminal nature, criminality
懲役ちょうえきpenal servitude
冤罪えんざいa false accusation
服役するふくえきserve a prison term, penal servitude
名誉回復めいよかいふくrehabilitation, clearing sb’s name
Nika Mishiyama 西山美香
Former assistant nurse in a hospital in Shiga (滋賀) prefecture. After serving a 12-year sentence in prison for a murder she did not commit, she was acquitted on March 31st.

Even if Nika Mishiyama’s name has finally been cleared, she has served her whole sentence in prison. During her first trial, Mishiyama’s appeal has been dismissed. The defense team has asked for a retrial twice while Mishiyama was in prison, but the court has always dismissed the request.

Our three newspapers blame the way the investigation and the prosecution were conducted, and also the court itself, who failed to recognise the flaws in the prosecution.

Tokyo: 自白の誘導などで殺人事件に仕立てた捜査と司法の責任は、極めて重い。

The investigation and the administration of justice have built a murder case based on an induced confession. Their responsibility is extremely heavy.

Mainichi: 虚偽の自白に基づく警察や検察のずさんな捜査をチェックできなかった裁判所の責任も重い。

The court failed to check the slovenly investigation, which was based on a false confession, made by the police and the prosecution. The responsibility of the court is heavy.

Apart from the police officer who knew that Mishiyama had a crush on him and used his influence over her during the interrogation, it has also been made clear that the police did not hand over all the elements to the prosecution. This includes documents that seriously weakened the theory of Mishiyama’s guilt. Yomiuri says:


If the police hid the elements that went against a guilty verdict, they committed an act as pernicious as the crime itself.

Yomiuri also blames the prosecution for not revealing in detail why they abandoned the guilty verdict during the retrial:


The prosecution who did not [explain its turnaround] is dishonest and does not deserve the name of “representant of the public interest”.


The police and the prosecution who created a false accusation, but also the court who kept making erroneous judgments must reflect seriously on their conduct.

Closure of schools

On April 3rd, one month after the general closure of schools, all our newspapers have devoted an editorial to the situation for students and families. Schools in Tokyo and Osaka will remain closed until May 6th, which means that students will miss the new school term.

Sankei: 休校の継続 警戒緩めず学びに知恵を
Yomiuri: 休校の継続 子供の不安最小限に抑えたい
Mainichi: 大都市圏の休校措置 長期化見据えた対応策を
Asahi: 休校の継続 学ぶ権利、守る知恵を
Tokyo: コロナと休校 学びの保障に腰据えて

Useful vocabulary:

休校きゅうこうtemporary closure of a school
措置そちmeasure, step, action
教育委員会きょういくいいんかいboard of education
学期がっきschool term
年度ねんどfiscal year

While all our newspapers all report on the same topic, their editorials are different. They all talk about the repercussions of the closure on students and families, but we can easily see differences in the social engagement of the newspaper.

The less worried about negative repercussions is Sankei. The journal only lists obvious problems at the end of the article, only saying that measures should be taken to prevent a drop in performance.

Then we have the Yomiuri Shimbun. The article lists a lot more problems and is more aware of the difficulties that students face. It does not talk about students’ performance only, but also about the stress this situation confers to students. It underlines, for example, that children cannot meet their friends and that their life rhythm is disturbed. It also points out that April is an important period for children who start school.

The article finishes on a positive note, talking about measures to maintain students’ level of knowledge like online course on classes during the Summer holidays.

Left-wing newspapers are of course more socially engaged. For example, neither Sankei nor Yomiuri talked about the parents who could not go to work because they have to take care of their children, a topic that Mainichi, Asahi and Tokyo mention.

Mainichi insists on the situation of parents and the stress of the children. It also points out that online courses are not available for everyone. Some schools are not equipped to provide them.

Asahi and Tokyo are the only ones who mention child abuse and malnutrition. Tokyo Shimbun particularly underlines that, without school or social contacts, it will be more difficult to identify cases of child abuse or domestic violence:


The [current] situation where people are asked to avoid social contact increases the risk that families with problems get isolated.

State of Emergency

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency over the corona virus outbreak on April 7th. The state of emergency will not impose a complete lockdown or self-isolation like some other countries, but it will allow the government to requisition buildings to treat the increasing number of patients.

Last month, I studied the position of two newspapers concerning the state of emergency: Sankei was absolutely supporting it, and Mainichi was warning that it would reduce individual rights.

On April 7th, every newspaper wrote about the state of emergency in their editorial:

Yomiuri: 施設・自宅療養 患者の不安軽減する対策を
Sankei: 外出の自粛 スターの発信に期待する
Mainichi: 緊急事態宣言発令へ 医療崩壊を全力で防ごう
Asahi: 緊急事態宣言 克服へ政治の責任示せ
Tokyo: 緊急事態宣言へ 必要性を丁寧に語れ

Useful vocabulary

緊急事態きんきゅうじたいstate of emergency
宣言せんげんa declaration, statement, announcement
病床びょうしょうsb’s sickbed
軽症けいしょうa slight illness, a mild case of…
医療崩壊いりょうほうかいThe impossibility to supply necessary medical care (see Wikipedia)

Our newspapers have a different position concerning this state of emergency.

Yomiuri and Sankei support the decision of the government but still have written different editorials.

Yomiuri explains in detail the concrete repercussions of the measure on medical care. The main concern is the increasing number of patients and the impossibility to receive them all in hospitals.

Sankei has written a completely different article. They seem worried that the state of emergency does not impose self isolation on the population. They cite examples of public figures like sport athletes or singers and actors who encouraged people to stay at home. They hope that more public figures will help spread the word.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared the state of emergency on the 7th, but it does not legally impose self-isolation. In the end, it is each person’s awareness that dictates the conduct of the population. This is why we expect much from the message shared by stars and athletes who are influential among young people.

While Yomiuri has written an article on what the state of emergency does, Sankei focuses more on what the state of emergency does not do.

Neither of them mention the terms “individual rights” in their article, contrary to all our left-wing newspapers. Mainchi talks says that it is 私権を制限する例外的な行為であり while Asahi plainly states: 行動の自由や私権を制限する措置だ. Tokyo says that the state of emergency 私権を制限する権限を持つことになる.

All three left-wing newspapers insist on the necessity for the government to communicate and explain in detail why the state of emergency is necessary and how it will impact people’s lives.

Mainichi: 宣言に際しては国民の納得と協力を得るため、政府は丁寧に説明する必要がある。

The government must give thorough explanations at the time of the declaration in order to gain the understanding and the cooperation of the people.

Asahi: 首相や知事はビジョンを明確に語り、社会の理解と合意をとりつける必要がある。

The Prime Minister and the prefectural governors must secure the understanding and the agreement of the society by clearly stating their vision.

Tokyo: 宣言への国民の理解を広げるには、その必要性を丁寧に説明すべきだ。

In order to extend the understanding of the people, it is necessary to explain thoroughly the necessity of the declaration.

The state of emergency allows the state to shut down public places and requisition buildings and land for medical purposes. It also allows the state to impose isolation on the population. Restraining private rights cannot be done without sufficient explanations:

Tokyo: だから、発令には十分な根拠と国民の理解が不可欠になる。政府はまず、専門家の知見も含め根拠を明確に説明すべきだ。

This is why sufficient grounding and the understanding of the people are essential when declaring [state of emergency]. The government must start by explaining thoroughly [why the state of emergency is necessary] using the specialists’ opinions.

Because the state of emergency gives so much power to the state, it is important to choose carefully which of these measures to apply:

Mainichi: 宣言で可能になる対策のうち、どれを実行に移すかは知事の判断だ。私権を制限する例外的な行為であり、必要性を見極める抑制的な姿勢を忘れてはならない

It is the prefectural governor who decides which measures to apply among the measures made possible by the state of emergency. This is an exceptional action that restrains individual rights. It is important to make sure of the necessity [of the measures].

I don’t understand the last part of the paragraph: 必要性を見極める抑制的な姿勢を忘れてはならない, and I cannot translate it. The literal meaning might be that the governor must not forget to keep a holdback attitude to see through the necessity of the measures. In other words, he must not apply drastic measures without being certain of their necessity.

According to Tokyo, some people misinterpreted the state of emergency, thinking it would impose a complete lockdown like in several countries in Europe. This misunderstanding resulted in people rushing to supermarkets, or fleeing big cities, thus creating favourable situation for the spread of the virus.

Tokyo: もうひとつ重要な説明を求める。宣言が出れば、欧州のように外出を強制的に規制されるなど、いわゆる都市封鎖が行われるとの誤解が広がっている。

We also ask for another important explanation. Following the declaration of the state of emergency, a misunderstanding is spreading: [people think that] the so called “lockdown” of the city is applied, legally restraining people from going out like in Europe.

To sum up, Yomiuri mainly described what the state of emergency will make possible at a medical level. Sankei encourages self isolation given that the state of emergency will not be used by the government to impose a lockdown on the population. Mainichi, Asahi and Tokyo points out that the state of emergency restrain individual rights. Therefore, the government must communicate more and give the people better explanations concerning why it is necessary, and which measures will effectively take place.

State of Emergency: after one week

On April 15th, one week after Abe has declared the state of emergency, the Yomiuri and the Mainichi shimbun have written an editorial about it:

Yomiuri: 緊急事態1週間 感染機会減らす一層の努力を
Mainichi: 緊急事態宣言1週間 命救う「8割減」には遠い

Both newspapers show that the state of emergency has not brought the desired effects. Specialists have predicted that if social contacts are reduced by 80%, the number of persons infected would start to decrease after two weeks and that results will be visible after one month.

Unfortunately, both Mainchi and Yomiuri note that the state of emergency did not really succeed in reducing social contacts by 80%.

Yomiuri says that the first weekend under the state of emergency, places like Ginza or Shibuya were almost empty, which shows that people refrain from going out on weekends. However, people still massively go to work during the week, leading to crowded areas.

Yomiuri also notes that if people refrain from going out in the city centre, the situation is the opposite in local areas.


Contrary to the central part of the city where fewer people [go out], people rush into local supermarkets and local shopping centers. If places become crowded, that could lead to the propagation of the infection.

Mainichi makes a similar observation:


While there are people who dramatically reduce their movements, there are also people who have no other choice but to go to work or to go out. There are also people who are not worried for themselves.

As Mainichi says afterwards, some people do not realise that they might be carrying the infection without showing symptoms, and go on with their usual activity.

Both newspapers call people to self-restrictions.

State of emergency and domestic violence

When I studied editorials published on April 7th, I noticed that only Tokyo and Asahi mentioned abuse and domestic violence. Actually, the Yomiuri Shimbun wrote an editorial on this topic on April 20th.

Yomiuri: コロナとDV 被害把握する体制を強化せよ

Useful vocabulary:

家庭内暴力かていないぼうりょくdomestic violence
監視かんしsurveillance, monitoring
困窮こんきゅうpoverty, distress, straitened circumstances
加害かがいinfliction of injury, harm
避難ひなんseeking refuge
虐待ぎゃくたいcruel treatment, abuse, cruelty
兆候ちょうこうsign, indication

With adults and children staying at home more than usual, not only will domestic violence be likely to increase, but it is also more difficult to detect it.

Associations against domestic violence have reported cases of mistreatment that were directly linked to the current measures of self-restriction.


Economical difficulties and anxiety, added to the frustration of not being able to go out, may be leading to acts of violence.

If I understand the article correctly, a lot of public facilities have closed due to the state of emergency, reducing the number of places where victims could seek support and help. The government has called private associations and civilian groups to extend their efforts by receiving calls even during the night or weekends and by providing support on social media.


It is very important that private initiative should supplement the local victim support services.

Similarly, the state of emergency has reduced the places where victims could seek temporary shelter, like internet cafes. Here again, civilian initiative will be decisive.

Finally, child abuse and mistreatment are more difficult to detect if the children don’t go to school.


People are concerned that there are now less opportunities to notice signs of mistreatment of children, like injuries on their body.

The article insists on the necessity of civilian effort to help the victims of DV, but it does not seem like the government has taken any concrete measure.

Inhae reads the news: March 2020

Welcome to a new episode in my series “Inhae reads the news (in Japanese!)”.

This month’s topic:

  • Abe’s press conference of the Coronavirus
  • Three aides to the couple Kawai arrested
  • State of emergency pros and cons: Sankei vs Mainichi
  • Satoshi Uematsu sentenced to death

(I wished I had the time to study editorials about the postponement of the Olympics, but the news came out yesterday, which was too late for me to include in this post.)

Abe’s press conference on the Coronavirus

On February 29th, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his first press conference since the outbreak of coronavirus. People are particularly concerned with the decision to close the schools. Abe promised financial supports to parents who had to take time off from work.

Yomiuri: 首相記者会見 感染拡大防止へ態勢立て直せ
Sankei: 安倍首相の会見 矢継ぎ早に具体策講じよ
Mainichi: 新型肺炎の首相会見 もっと不安減らす説明を
Asahi: 新型肺炎対策 不安拭えぬ首相の説明

Useful vocabulary

感染症かんせんしょうan infectious disease
感染症対策かんせんしょうたいさくmeasures to control infectious diseases
感染者かんせんしゃan infected person
新型コロナウイルスしんがたころなういるすNovel Coronavirus
忙殺されるぼうさつされるbe very busily occupied
矢継ぎ早にやつぎばやにrapidly, in rapid succession
自粛じしゅくvoluntary restraint (from going out, travelling, etc.)
医療保険いりょうほけんhealth insurance
緊急事態きんきゅうじたいa state of emergency

A lot of people criticise Abe’s handling of the situation and ask for more explanations concerning the measures taken by the government. One of the recent issues is the decision to close all the schools in Japan and the fact that families and institutions had but little time to make arrangements. The decision to close the schools has severe and direct repercussions on families, and the government now needs to obtain the understanding of the people.

Our four newspapers have a different attitude about Abe’s call for understanding and collaboration.

Sankei sides with the government and relay Abe’s message: people must cooperate.


We cannot let Abe or the government handle the fight against the New Coronavirus alone. Every local government, every company and every citizen must do all they can.

Yomiuri has a slightly different tone. It says that in order to gain the people’s understanding, Abe should be more active and publicly involved:


The Prime Minister is the head of the country. As such, shouldn’t he increase the occasions where he can talk directly to the people and ask for understanding?

Mainichi doubts whether Abe could ever get the people’s understanding if he does not take the time to explain his policy. It opens its editorial with:


Can [Abe] really gain the understanding and collaboration he is asking of the people with [this kind of press conference]? (Mainichi considers that Abe has not responded to the concerns about the current measures to control the spread of the virus.)

And closes it with:


Abe appealed to the people saying “I profoundly wish your collaboration” for (the purpose of) the cessation of the infection. If he seriously wishes it, he must answer the questions more directly.

Asahi opens it editorial in a very similar way:


Both the explanations and the measures are still insufficient to dispel the anxiety of the nation and gain understanding.

Concerning the decision to close the schools, we also have different approaches depending on the newspapers.

Sankei says that in a time of crisis, decisions must be taken fast. The newspaper supports the government’s decision, praising Abe for his quick decision. There are several expressions in the editorial that insists on the necessity to act quickly.

  • 必要だと確信する具体的な対応を時機を逃さず:
  • 矢継ぎ早に講じていかなくてはならない。
  • 後手に回る対応をしている余裕などない
  • 政治判断をスピード感

Also worth noting is that Sankei acknowledges that people criticise this decision, but eventually insists on the necessity of the measure. On the contrary, Yomiuri acknowledges the positive impact of the measure but underlines that it created a lot of confusion among families and institutions.


But the confusion among the families and schools extended with this sudden switch of policies.

Mainichi also mentions that the decision caused a lot of confusion because it was taken so suddenly:


The sudden request for closing schools (primary, middle and high schools) in the whole country created confusion among the families and the places of education.

It is interesting to note that both Yomiuri and Mainichi use the same words: 唐突 (sudden) and 混乱 (confusion). What Sankei praises as a quick response, Yomiuri and Mainichi see as a “sudden” and “abrupt” decision.

Asahi is more precise and says that families only had one day to prepare themselves:


As the period of preparation was only of one day, the confusion and chaos spread among persons in the education, the families and even the workplace of the parents.

Finally, another interesting point in our comparison of these 4 editorials is that Sankei is the only newspaper who does not imply that this press conference was long overdue.

Yomiuri mentions that this press conference by Abe is the first one since the beginning of the outbreak: 新型肺炎に関して初めて記者会見. Mainichi also writes that this is the first time that the Prime Minister talks directly to the people on this problem: 首相がこの問題で、国民に直接説明する場を設けたのは初めてだ。

Asahi states more plainly that Abe’s explanations were long awaited, using the word ようやく (at long last, finally):


This is a decision that has a big impact on people’s life. The Prime Minister finally gave a press conference last weekend, after being pressed by people asking for a direct explanation.

But Asahi deplores that the press conference only lasted 35 minutes with Abe mainly repeating what he had prepared in advance.

It is very interesting to note that the Yomiuri Shimbun, which always tends to side with the government, criticises Abe’s handling of the situation. On the contrary, Sankei supports the government’s decision and relays Abe’s message. This surprises me because last month, the Sankei editorials I studied were criticising the government. I was not surprised however, to read that both Mainichi and Asahi were disappointed by Abe’s lack of explanations.

Three aides to the couple Kawai arrested

Last year in October, Katsuyuki Kawai had to resign from his post of Justice Minister over allegations of election law violations during his wife’s (Anri Kawai) campaign for the Upper House.

Early in March, three aides to the couple have been arrested. According to the election law, the daily allowance to campaign staff members is limited to 15.000 yen. The three aides are suspected of paying double this sum to staff members of Anri Kawai’s campaign. This paiement concerns the staff of the sound trucks, who were given two receipts of 15.000 yen each. Only one of them was registered as campaign fee.

Katsuyuki Kawai is also suspected of having orchestrated his wife’s campaign.

Yomiuri: 秘書ら逮捕 河井夫妻は説明責任を果たせ
Sankei: 河井氏秘書ら逮捕 夫妻の政治責任免れない
Asahi: 秘書ら逮捕 首相と党の責任は重い
Mainichi: 河井夫妻の秘書逮捕 議員本人の責任は免れぬ
Tokyo: 河井氏秘書逮捕 夫妻は事件の真相語れ

It is interesting to see that all the titles are very similar. Note how the word 責任 is used by almost all newspapers, but Yomiuri and Sankei talk about the 責任 of the Kawai, while Asahi talks about the 責任 of the party and the Prime Minister.

Useful Vocabulary and persons involved

公職選挙法こうしょくせんきょほうthe Public Offices Election Law, also: 公選法
参院選さんいんせんHouse of Councillors Election
選挙カーせんきょかーSound trucks (used for political campaign)
陣営じんえいthe camp, the ranks (ex: the LDP camp)
連座制れんざせいthe guilt-by-complicity system*
公設秘書こうせつひしょa Diet member’s secretary whose salary is paid for out of public funds
禁錮きんこimprisonment, incarceration
買収ばいしゅうbribery, buying off
遊説ゆうぜいcanvassing tour, canvassing for votes

*Guilt-by-complicity system: The provision, under the Public Office Election Law, that a candidate is disqualified from taking office if his campaign manager or finance officer has violated the Law to help him win.

河井 案里 Anri Kawai
Member of the House of Councillors (LDP)
河井 克行 Katsuyuki Kawai
Former Minister of Justice
Member of the House of Representatives (LDP)

The key word for this topic is 連座制, the guilt-by-complicity system. According to this system, Anri Kawai will have to resign from her post at the House of the Councillors, if her campaign manager is found guilty of violating the Election Law. This will apply even though Anri Kawai did not know about it. Even if she still denies all implication or knowledge of the paiements, she still could lose her post.

All newspapers underline the same points:

  • The couple has always refused to give a public explanation
  • This looks even worse because Kawai was Justice Minister

While the Yomiuri, Sankei and Tokyo only states that the couple has the duty to explain themselves publicly (説明する責任がある), both Asahi and Mainichi use the stronger expression 許せない (can’t tolerate):

Mainichi: こうした事態に至っても、説明しようとしない姿勢は許されない

Even with this turn of events, they don’t show the intention to give explanations. We cannot tolerate this attitude.

Asahi: 一貫して説明責任に背を向ける姿勢は、国会議員として許されるものではない。

From start to finish, they have turned their back on their duty to explain themselves. This attitude is not something we can tolerate from members of the Diet.

Yomiuri notes that the explanation is all the more overdue because Kawai was Justice Minister:


When a member of the Diet is the subject of suspicion, they have the duty to explain themselves to the nation. Even more so when Katsuyuki Kawai was assuming the post of Justice Minister, who has the responsibility to maintain the legal order.

I don’t know how to emphasise the “…だけに、なおさらではないか。” without sounding too redundant in English. Especially given that the ましてや already conveys the intended meaning.

Sankei goes further and uses the word 恥ずべき (shameful):


Isn’t it a shameful instance for a politician who had the important duty to be Justice Minister, the guardian of the law?

Shouldn’t there be a で after ところ? Also, I do not know how to translate ところ here. I tried “instance”, but maybe we can drop it entirely and say “isn’t it shameful…?”.

The only difference between our right and left wing newspapers is the mention of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While Yomiuri and Sankei only talk about the Kawai couple, Asahi, Mainichi and Tokyo all mention that the Kawai are close to Abe.

Asahi mentions that Abe has a part of responsibility too:


Prime Minister Abe and the administration have taken the initiative of putting forward Anri Kawai as candidate and support her entirely. We have to say that their responsibility is heavy.

Mainichi also underlines that the couple is close to Abe:

克行氏は安倍晋三首相の補佐官を務め、菅義偉官房長官にも近い。(…) 案里氏に肩入れした自民党も、事件を重く受け止める必要がある。

Katsuyuki Kawai worked as an assistant to the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and he is also close to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The Liberal Democratic Party who supported Anri Kawai must respond to this affair seriously.

Even though all newspapers adopt a similar position in their criticism of the couple’s lack of public explanation, it is interesting to note how the left-wing newspapers go further and involve Abe in the scandal while the conservative ones don’t.

State of Emergency pros and cons: Sankei vs Mainichi

For this topic, we will only look at two editorials, one by Mainichi, one by Sankei. They both talk about the possibility for Abe to declare the State of Emergency, Mainichi advising against it, and Sankei supporting it.

Sankei: 緊急事態宣言 発出のタイミング誤るな
Mainicihi: 新型コロナ 特措法成立 「緊急事態」にせぬ努力を

Useful vocabulary:

新型インフルエンザ等対策特別措置法しんがたインフルエンザとうたいさくとくべつそちほうAct on the prevention of infectious diseases*
緊急事態宣言ひじょうじたいせんげんEmergency State
蔓延まんえんspreading, diffusion

*The 新型インフルエンザ等対策特別措置法, also shortened as 新型インフル特措法 is an act on special measures for the prevention of infectious diseases (this is not an official translation). It was enacted in 2012. A part of this act has been amended in March 2020 to adapt to the prevention of the Coronavirus. This version is called 新型コロナウイルス特措法. (Cf. Wikipedia)

Referring to this amended act, Sankei uses the long version 改正新型インフルエンザ等対策特別措置法 and the short version 改正特措法, while Mainichi uses the short version 改正特別措置法 and the mini version 改正法 (as far as I am concerned, the less eight-kanji-in-a-row words, the better).

The two newspapers have clearly opposite positions concerning the Emergency State: Sankei insists on the necessity to implement it, while Mainichi insists on the importance to avoid it if possible.



If signs of aggravation appear or if the pace of expansion of the contagious disease increases, the Prime Minister must actively think of declaring the state of emergency.



We must judge the necessity [of the state of emergency] calmly and objectively.

A state of emergency basically gives the government the power and means to perform actions and impose policies in order to deal with the emergency in question. The state can thus perform actions that it is normally not permitted to perform, and these actions can affect individual rights and freedom.

When explaining what the state of emergency is, Sankei remains vague, only saying that it would give the government and local authorities a lot of means of response (多くの対応手段). On the contrary, Mainichi goes straight to the point saying that it would allow the government to close public places and ask for people to remain at home, thus limiting the rights of the people (国民の権利制限を伴う).

Mainichi’s main concern is that the state of emergency would limit individual rights, and that there is no clear mention of when the state of emergency can be declared. One of the conditions to call the situation a situation of “emergency” is the risk of spreading (まん延のおそれ), a vague notion that is in turn defined as “when clusters of patients have been confirmed in a large number of prefectures” (相当数の都道府県で患者クラスターが確認される).

Sankei concedes that several people call to caution, but it discredits this attitude, calling it “unrealistic” (非現実的な). The newspaper insists on the necessity to put individual rights aside to protect the people, simultaneously underlining the necessity of the state of emergency if the situation worsens, and the priority to protect the life of the people and to maintain the economy. With all this, it will be difficult to guarantee the rights of the people (国民の私権を守ることは難しい).

It is interesting to note that Sankei insists on the temporary nature of the state of emergency while Mainichi sees it as a last resort measure.



[The state of emergency] is a temporary measure to save the people and the society.



Laws on special measures are provided to respond to uncontrollable and critical situations.

Satoshi Uematsu sentenced to death

In 2016, Satoshi Uematsu (植松 聖) stabbed disabled people in an institution, killing 19 and wounded 26 persons. The case is referred to as the Sagamihara stabbings (相模原事件), Sagamihara being the city in which the events occurred.

The name of the care center in which the stabbings took place is Tsukui Lily Garden (津久井やまゆり園).

On March 16th, Satoshi Uematsu was sentenced to death by the Yokohama District Court.

Yomiuri: 相模原事件判決 偏見に基づく凶行を指弾した
Sankei: 相模原殺傷に死刑 「事件」は終わっていない
Mainichi: 相模原殺傷で死刑判決 事件の意味考え続けたい
Asahi: 「やまゆり」判決 問い続ける責任 社会に
Tokyo: 植松被告に死刑 「なぜ犯行」今なお残る

(Sankei published its editorial a day after the others, and therefore after I had written this part of the blog. I read it, but I did not study it in this post.)

Useful vocabulary:

相模原障害者施設殺傷事件さがみはら しょうがいしゃしせつ さっしょうじけんSagamihara stabbings
障害者しょうがいしゃa person with a handicap
福祉施設ふくししせつa welfare facility
極刑きょっけいcapital punishment
裁判さいばんtrial, hearing
審理しんりtrial, examination, inquiry
匿名とくめいanonymity, using a pseudonym
植松 聖 Satoshi Uematsu
Perpetrator of the Sagamihara stabbings. Sentenced to death on March 16th, 2020

*I think that the reading おおあさ is used when talking about the plant “hemp”, while the reading たいま is used to talk about the drug…? I am not sure though…

All four newspapers have written very similar editorials. Our conservative newspapers are the only ones who actually comment on the decision of the court. Yomiuri says that due to the number of victims, there was no other choice than to hand down the capital punishment (極刑以外の選択肢はなかったのだろう), and Sankei also says that the death penalty was inevitable (死刑の判断は不可避だった).

What all newspapers mention is that the ruling did not allow us to understand how such an act was possible, and why the defendant acted like he did. Given the repercussions of this case, the trial should have been more thorough.

Mainichi says:


It is a case that gave a great shock to our society. They should have taken the time to make a more through inquiry.

The newspapers deplore that the focus of the trial was to determine whether Uematsu was in full possession of his faculties or, as the defense stated, under the influence of marijuana. But the reasons and background (原因、背景、なぜ) of his act were not sufficiently studied.

Yomiuri: 残念だったのは、裁判を通じて、事件の背景が十分に解明されなかったことである。

What is regrettable is that the background of the case has not been sufficiently clarified through the trial.

Mainichi: しかし、これほどの凶行に至り、人の命に格差があると言い続ける原因や背景は何だったのか、裁判で解明されたとは言い難い。

But what were the background and reasons that led [Uematsu] to keep repeating that there is a disparity in human lives, and eventually commit such a violent act? It is hard to say that it was made clear during the trial.

Asahi: このゆがんだ認識が生まれ、ふくらんでいった原因や背景が、裁判を通じて、その一端でも浮かぶことが期待された。しかし、それはかなわなかった。

We were expecting that the background and the reasons that led to the creation and growth of this perverted point of view [in Uematsu’s mind] would emerge during the trial, if only partially. But this expectation was not fulfilled.

Tokyo: それでも「なぜ」の問いが今なお残る。(…) ゆがんだ差別意識はどうして生まれたのか。だが裁判では深掘りされなかった。

But the question “why” still remains. (…) How did this perverted, discriminatory consciousness came into being [in Uematsu’s mind]? But [these questions] were not looked deeper into during the trial.

This trial’s purpose should not have been to hand down a sentence on Uematsu only, but to understand how he came to develop the convictions that led him to commit one of the most shocking mass murders of the country. This would have helped to prevent that such cases occur again. As Yomiuri mentions, we cannot forget that a lot of people had shown sympathy for Uematsu after the killing.

And as Mainichi says, we cannot just handle this case as the doing of a violent person. Even if Uematsu’s trial is over, “the case is not over”, as Sankei puts it in its title. We should still keep in mind the meaning of this case: it revealed how strong discriminations can be, and how urgent it is to work towards a society without discriminations.


I found this month’s topics very interesting, and though I still have a lot of difficulties to translate sentences and paragraphs, I feel that it becomes easier to read news articles! 

Thank you for reading.

Stay safe everyone!

Inhae reads the news: February 2020

Welcome to a new article in my series “Inhae reads the news (in Japanese!)”.

In this series, I compare editorials from different newspapers and study some passages. As I mentioned it last month, I find extremely interesting to compare what conservative and left-wing newspapers say on the same topic. I will read editorials from the following newspapers (links to the list of editorials):

I will choose topics on which at least three of these newspapers have written an editorial. I will also limit myself to three topics per month because reading the news in Japanese and writing this post still take me a lot of time.

As always, I have to warn you that there might be mistakes in my translations as well as in my understanding of the social/political issues I talk about. This post is like a personal notebook where I try to improve my reading skills in Japanese, my knowledge of current issues, and my English!

This month’s topics:

  • Japanese destroyer left for the Middle East
  • Abe’s heckling and the role of the Diet
  • Tsukasa Akimoto released on bail

(Of course, this month’s main topic for all newspapers was the coronavirus, but I was tired to read about it so I deliberately chose other themes.)

Japanese destroyer left for the Middle East

Several newspapers have devoted an editorial to the dispatch of the MSDF (Maritime Self Defense Force) destroyer Takanami to the Middle East. The destroyer will join an ongoing intelligence gathering mission. The government said that the mission’s purpose is to ensure the safety of ships trading with Japan in the Middle East region, especially oil tankers that deliver oil to Japan.

Yomiuri: 海自艦中東へ 円滑な部隊運用の態勢整えよ
Mainichi: 海自護衛艦が中東へ 「一般化」してはならない
Tokyo: 自衛隊中東派遣 国会の関与が不十分だ

Useful vocabulary and persons involved:

海上自衛隊かいじょうじえいたいMaritime Self-Defense Force
護衛艦ごえいかんdestroyer, escort vessel
情報収集じょうほうしゅうしゅうintelligence gathering
出航しゅっこうdeparture, setting sail
船舶せんぱくvessel, ship
せきcounter for ships, vessels
通航するつうこうsail, navigate
派遣するはけんdispatch, deploy
航行するこうこうnavigate, sail
船籍せんせきthe nationality of a ship
艦艇かんていwar vessels
閣議決定かくぎけっていCabinet decision
武力衝突ぶりょくしょうとつmilitary conflict
駐留ちゅうりゅうstationing (troops)
河野太郎 Taro Kono
Minister of Defense
Member of the House of Representatives, LDP

First, Yomiuri starts by justifying the dispatch of the vessel:


Japan relies on the Middle East for the majority of its imports in oil. More than 3000 vessels [commercially] related to Japan sail through the territorial waters of the Middle East per year. It is only natural that the government should actively engage in preserving the security of the commercial maritime routes and deploy the Self-Defense Force.

It then explains that the MSDF alone will only have a limited range of action. The major concern for the Japanese government is the protection of the oil tankers that provide Japan in oil and sail through the Middle East. But if these tankers were attacked, the destroyer would not be able to defend them, being officially in a mission of research (調査・研究). The government could then issue an order for “海上警備行動”, but even then the destroyer would only be able to protect Japanese ships. The Yomiuri underlines the necessity to prepare for any scenario.

If I understand it correctly, the 海上警備行動 can be ordered by the Defense Minister if the security of Japanese lives or properties are being threatened. It allows the MSDF to take necessary actions to maintain security, but I don’t know concretely what it means. The last time the 海上警備行動 was issued was in 2009, against piracy off the coast of Somalia. (see Wikipedia)

The Yomiuri never mentions that the decision to deploy the MSDF in the Middle East was taken by the Cabinet only, without going through the Diet. This is a major point of criticism for left-wing newspapers.

Mainichi and Tokyo both acknowledge the importance to ensure the safety of commercial ships, but they criticise the way the decision was taken. Mainichi says:


Deploying an armed force to foreign seas is a heavy political decision. It should have gone through thorough discussions in the Diet, but the government has made the decision through Cabinet discussions in last December, and on January 10th Defense Minister Taro Kono ordered the dispatch.

Tokyo also underlines the fact that the dispatch has been decided by the Cabinet only:


The decision was taken by the Cabinet only, without going through the vote of the Diet that represents the people. Isn’t the participation of the Diet insufficient?

Normally, the dispatch of the SDF is limited by the Constitution. However, it now looks like the government can dispatch troops anytime under the flag of “research” and without going through Diet deliberations.

Mainichi insists on this point:


But, in the Constitution, the Self-Defense Force is forbidden to use weapons in foreign seas, and its deployment in dangerous territories and maritime territories is restricted by the law. If we can deploy forces when we want and where we want under the flag of “research”, we are gradually getting closer to a regular army.

Tokyo voices a similar concern:


There is no guarantee that there won’t be other dispatches in foreign seas that are for research and do not pass through deliberations and resolutions in the Diet.

Even though Abe assured that this kind of dispatch will not be generalised, it still creates a precedent (先例) as Asahi, who also devoted an editorial to this topic, points out.

Abe’s heckling and the role of the Diet

On February 12th, during a Lower House Budget Committee session, Abe heckled the lawmaker Kiyomi Tsujimoto saying that her questions were meaningless. She was tackling Abe on several points of controversy like the Cherry Blossom Party or the Mori-Kake scandals and ended her questions by saying: 鯛(たい)は頭から腐る。(The right way of saying it would have been 魚は頭から腐る, it apparently comes from a Russian proverb. Kiyomi Tsujimoto used 鯛 instead of 魚 and apparently, there have been some discussions about the meaning of it.)

In any case, this is when Abe heckled her with his 意味のない質問だよ.

Several newspapers are concerned about the role of the Diet.

Sankei: 首相のやじと野党 国会の機能不全は論外だ
Asahi: 荒涼たる国会 安倍首相の責任は重い
Tokyo: 首相のやじ 国会を冒涜する暴言だ

Useful vocabulary and persons involved:

猛省を促すもうせいを うながすurge sb to reconsider seriously
懲罰動議ちょうばつどうぎ(pass) a motion to discipline
罵詈雑言ばりぞうごんabusive language
締めくくるしめくくるconclude, bring to a conclusion
采配さいはいcommand (so’s command)
弊害へいがいabuse, evil practice
独善どくぜんself-complacency, self-flattery
辻元清美 Kiyomi Tsujimoto
Member of the House of Representatives
Member of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP)

Sankei starts its editorial by establishing what the Diet stands for and by expressing concerns that today’s Diet is different:


The original role of the Diet should be to discuss important problems that Japan is encountering, to make the law and to establish measures to overcome crisis, but it is not the case at all.

The article then directly criticises Abe for his attitude during the Lower House Budget Committee session. It says that Abe later defended himself saying that Kiyomi Tsujimoto had used abusive language against him, but Sankei continues:


But it is shameful to see the Prime Minister of a country heckle a lawmaker of the opposition because he got angry at her criticism.

Asahi starts its editorial with similar concerns, saying that the present situation in the Diet is far from what it should be.


It is sad to see incidents repeat themselves that are far from the the “bastion of free speech” [the Diet] should be: reach better decisions through constructive debates.

This passage is very difficult to translate… I get the idea, but it is hard to stay close to the Japanese, and I cannot find a good way to translate 言論の府. My dictionary suggests “forum for free speech” or “bastion of free speech”. I chose the one that sounded the most dramatic, but I feel that Asahi means more “discussions” and “debate” rather than “free speech”.

Asahi also mentions that Abe never really answered the questions of the opposition concerning the Cherry Blossom Party, thus implying that Kiyomi Tsujimoto’s questions were justified and certainly not “meaningless”.

Tokyo also criticise Abe’s attitude and express worries concerning the role of the Diet:


In short, the Diet is the place to answer the questions of the members, it is not the place for the government to make its campaign and refutations. Even if the other person belongs to the opposition, it is only right and proper that the Prime Minister and others should face the discussions with the utmost respect.

Abe said that he only reacted to what he considers to be “罵詈雑言” or abusive language. But Tokyo points out that Tsujimoto’s questions were not “abusive”, but rather a discourse that hit its target: 罵詈雑言ではなく的を射た発言だ, especially concerning the Moritomo and Kake scandals and, more recently, the problem of the Cherry Blossom Party.

Finally, Tokyo insists on the fact that such an attitude towards the opposition threatens the democracy. Abe’s heckling is described as a 議会制民主主義を危うくする暴言である (harsh language that threatens the representative democracy), and the newspaper later insists on the necessity to take a severe course of action against this 議会制民主主義を脅かす政府の言動 (speech and conduct from the government that threatens the representative democracy).

Tsukasa Akimoto released on bail

Tsukasa Akimoto, who was a key figure in the legalisation of casino in Japan, had been charged with bribery and arrested. He is accused of having received a total of ¥7.6 million from the China company Tsukasa Akimoto has been released on bail and gave a press conference in which he denied all the accusations against him.

Sankei: 秋元被告の会見 事件への認識が甘すぎる
Mainichi: 秋元衆院議員の保釈 国会でカジノ事件説明を
Tokyo: 秋元議員とIR 国会で真相を究明せよ

Useful vocabulary and persons involved

統合型リゾートとうごうがたリゾートIntegrated Resort
汚職おしょくcorruption, bribery
収賄罪しゅうわいざいthe offense of taking bribes
保釈ほしゃくbail (release on bail)
賄賂わいろa bribe
解禁かいきんremoval of a ban
喚問かんもんa summons
証人喚問しょうにんかんもんa summons to a witness
追起訴ついきそsubsequent indictment
証拠隠滅しょうこいんめつdestruction of evidence
秋元司: Tsukasa Akimoto
Member of the House of the Representatives
Former member of the LDP

Mainichi and Tokyo both want Akimoto to explain himself in the Diet. They both mention that, quite often, lawmakers who find themselves in the midst of scandals do not give proper explanations. The two newspapers express a similar thought:

Mainichi: 国民の代表であるならば、国会での説明に背を向けるべきではない。

If the Diet represents the people, then [lawmakers] should not refuse to give an explanation in the Diet.

Tokyo: 国民を代表する国会議員として、国会の場で説明する責任があるのではないか。

The members of the Diet are representing the people. As such, don’t they have the responsibility to explain themselves in the Diet?

Sankei criticises Akimoto’s explanation during the press conference. Akimoto received brand-name goods from, but to deny the fact that these were gifts, he says that he intended to repay the Chinese firm back with meals or other means. Sankei says:


But what was made clear during the press conference is Akimoto’s lax perception of the case. Justifications like “I intended to pay it back later” can even be said to be childish.

Sankei also points out that Akimoto was released on bail on the condition that he does not get in contact with the other members of the House of Representatives suspected of having received bribes from the Chinese firm. Given that he wants to resume his duties at the Diet, it will be difficult to guarantee that they don’t get in touch. The newspaper then adds:


Given that we cannot rule out the possibility that Akimoto destroys evidence that contradict the story arranged beforehand, doubts remain concerning [the legitimacy of] the decision to release him early on bail.

It is interesting to note that Sankei is very critical against Akimoto, the bribery scandal and the fact that he was released on jail so rapidly. But interestingly, Sankei does not question the process of deliberations that led to the legalisation of casinos.

On the contrary, both Mainichi and Tokyo point out that if the officials in charge of the IR bill were corrupted, it is only fair to ask if the discussions surrounding the legalisation of casinos were just. Mainichi says:


With this case, the pros and cons of the legalisation of casinos is again questioned in the Diet. Akimoto was one of the officials responsible for the developments of the legislation.

Tokyo lists the points of discord concerning the law on Integrated Resorts like the risk of dependance and the scepticism concerning its effects on the economy. It then adds:


This was before Akimoto allegedly received bribes, but were the deliberations surrounding the IR bill conducted lawully? The Diet must take the opportunity of this affair of corruption to make its own inspection.

I recognise とされる as one of the N1 grammar points I learned last year, but I am still not sure about this translation. I also don’t know how to understand 自ら…


Comparing what different newspapers say about the same topic is extremely interesting, as well as seeing what they choose to talk about in the editorials. While left-wing newspapers regularly talk about scandals like the Cherry Blossom Party, I noted that, this month, only the conservative newspapers (Yomiuri and Sankei) have written an editorial for 竹島の日 (a topic of dispute with South Korea). I was also surprised to see that Sankei, though a conservative paper, could be very critical of Abe and the government. In this respect, it differs from the Yomiuri which seems to only repeat what the government says. On the contrary, all three left-wing newspapers tend to be similar, though when it comes to criticising the government, Tokyo seems to be the most radical, followed by Mainichi and then Asahi. I guess that the more I read, the better I will understand each newspaper’s position.

Inhae reads the news: January 2020

Welcome to a new article in my series “Inhae reads the news (in Japanese)”. I am still trying to figure out the best way to make this series interesting and useful…

Until now, I used to choose several topics and write about them, using what I read in the Mainichi Shimbun. The problem is that it took me a lot of time to write this kind of posts. From now on, I will study only editorials, but I will try to compare several newspapers. For example, I will choose a certain date and see what newspapers from different political wings have written on that day, or I will choose a topic and see what they say about it.

I will mainly use the national newspapers the Mainichi Shimbun (left), the Asahi Shimbun (left) and the Yomiuri Shimbun (conservative), but I might occasionally look at other sources too like the Sankei Shimbun (right) and the Tokyo Shimbun (left).

NOTE: I am just a Japanese learner trying to read the news in Japanese. Reading news articles and understanding Japan politics are still very challenging tasks to me. I hope that writing this kind of posts will help me to improve my Japanese, my English and my understanding of political and social issues in Japan. Keep in mind that there might be mistakes in my translations and my understanding of the social and political issues I am talking about. To me, this post is a kind of personal digital notebook, but I do hope that it can also be useful for Japanese learners who want to start reading the news in Japanese, so I try giving as much vocabulary as I can for studied parts. I also try to keep my translations as close as possible from the original. I know that I am not good at translating, but as I said, I am writing this series to improve my language skills!

January 1st: First editorial of the year

First, let’s look at the editorials published on January 1st:

Mainichi: 拓論’20 民主政治の再構築 あきらめない心が必要だ
Asahi: 2020年代の世界 「人類普遍」を手放さずに
Yomiuri: 平和と繁栄をどう引き継ぐか…「変革」に挑む気概を失うまい

Mainichi: 拓論’20 民主政治の再構築 あきらめない心が必要だ

For the New Year, Mainichi’s editorial warns against the rise of populism in the world and says that Japan should not give up rebuilding democratic values. It also criticises Abe for not listening to the opposition and even treating the opposition as the “enemy”:


  • 自民党総裁・じみんとうそうさい: President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
  • 返り咲く・かえりざく: take up one’s old position as… (politics). Abe was President of the LDP from 2006 to 2007 and return to this position in 2012.
  • 国政選挙・こくせいせんきょ: national election
  • 連勝・れんしょう: consecutive victories
  • 耳を傾ける・みみをかたむける: listen to, give careful attention to
  • 際立つ・きわだつ: be prominent, be outstanding, stand out

Prime Minister Abe, who returned to his position as President of the LDP in 2012, is enjoying 6 consecutive victories in the national elections, but far from listening to the opinion of the opposition, his way of treating [the opposition] as the enemy stands out.


  • 支持基盤・しじきばん: one’s support base (in an electorate)
  • 獲得する・かくとく: acquire, obtain
  • 潮流・ちょうりゅう: tendency, trend, current

And his method to obtain a strong support base is following the trend of populism.

The article concludes that we should resist our tendency to give up on democratic values.

Asahi: 2020年代の世界 「人類普遍」を手放さずに

Asahi starts 2020 with similar concerns. The article opens with the sustainable development goals (SDG), and says that these are universal goals. The article is worried to see nationalism rising and democratic values criticised and weakened. They also mention that in a draft for a constitutional revision, the LDP had suppressed the term “universal principle of mankind” (人類普遍の原理) from the preamble.

Like Mainichi, they look at Abe’s government and utter a similar critic: the ruling party avoids public debate, criticises the media, puts pressure on free speech, and discriminates minorities:


  • 論戦・ろんせん: debate, verbal battle, controversy
  • 避ける・さける: avoid
  • 権力分立・けんりょくぶんりつ: the separation of powers
  • ないがしろにする: ignore, treat … as though they didn’t exist
  • 威圧・いあつ: coerce, overpower

[The ruling party] absolutely avoids debates in the Diet and ignores the separation of powers. It coerces freedom of speech and freedom of the press by criticising the media again and again. It does not hesitate to treat aggressively and in a discriminating manner the minorities and those who criticise [the government].

The article ends by citing the SDG, calling for action against poverty and to protect the environment.

Yomiuri: 平和と繁栄をどう引き継ぐか…「変革」に挑む気概を失うまい

The article shows how well Japan is doing since the war, reaching a rare period of “peace” and “prosperity”. The article goes on saying that the Abe government has brought stability and that there is no populism or political/social divisions in Japan: 


  • 分断・ぶんだん: dividing, splitting
  • 蔓延・まんえん: speading, diffusion

Under the long government of Prime Minister Abe, politics have been stabilised. And we cannot see the spread of populism or the deep social and political divisions that a lot of other countries are afflicted with.

The articles then talk about the United States and China before developing on the need for technological innovation.

I find very interesting to read that Mainichi and Asahi on one side and Yomiuri on the other have very different approaches for the New Year. Both Mainichi and Asahi start by talking about global issues and make pessimist but realistic observations: populism and nationalism are growing, democratic values are being threatened. Only after that do they turn their eyes to the situation in Japan. On the contrary, Yomiuri starts with Japan and adopts a very optimist tone. While Mainichi’s and Asahi’s call for the new decade is to hold on universal values, democracy and sustainable goals, Yomiuri wants to continue the peace and prosperity that Japan is enjoying…

Particularly interesting is what they write about Shinzo Abe and his government. Mainichi and Asahi criticise Abe for not listening to the opposition, putting pressure on free speech and discriminating minorities. Yomiuri says that there are no social or political divisions since Abe is in power… well, maybe it’s just two different ways of saying the same thing!

January 13th: Coming of Age Day

Now let’s see what these three newspapers published on Coming of Age Day 成人の日:

Mainichi: 新大学入試の検討会議 まずは制度破綻の検証を
Asahi: 成人の日に 社会は動く、動かせる
Yomiuri: 成人の日 挑戦する気持ちを忘れずに

Mainichi: 新大学入試の検討会議 まずは制度破綻の検証を

Mainichi is the only paper that did not explicitly write about the Coming of Age Day, but it chose a topic that concerns young people directly: the “New University Entrance Exam”.

The title refers to a conference between members on the Ministry of Education to discuss the New University Entrance Exam. The article says that first, we need to identify why the system collapsed. The government has been working for a long time on the reform of the university entrance exam, but it had to postpone two major changes recently: the introduction of a private English test, and the introduction of essay questions for Japanese and Mathematics.

As far as English is concerned, the new system was supposed to help students build the four skills (speaking, reading, listening and writing). Speaking is especially important for Japanese companies that want to compete internationally. But the Ministry of Education had to postpone the reform concerning the way English is tested in the University entrance exam because it would have created disparities and inequalities among test takers.


  • 改革・かいかく: reform
  • 主導・しゅどう: the initiative, the lead

But isn’t the fundamental reason [for the postponement] the fact that the reform has been started by the initiative of the political and business worlds and carried on without carefully listening to the voices of the persons concerned in universities and high schools?

Mainichi also says that the government should listen more to actors in the education fields, and find ways to implement changes in high school programs too, to help students prepare for the new exam.

Asahi: 成人の日に 社会は動く、動かせる

Asahi states that young Japanese do not believe that they can have an impact on society:


  • 割合・わりあい: proportion, rate

The proportion of young people who think “I can change my country and the society” is lower in Japan than in other countries.

The journalist wants to tell the Coming of Age participants that they can change the society by voicing their opinion. They give the example of the New University Entrance Exam, where high school students raised their voice and influenced public opinion, which forced the government to review its policy.

But then, the article adds that adults should change the way they treat students. Instead of establishing strict rules inside the school, they should let the students decide for themselves. If they cannot even express themselves at school, no wonder that they don’t believe they can change the society:


  • 身近な・みぢかな: near oneself, close to one
  • 反映・はんえい: reflect

How many schools are there that let the students think about the necessity and meaning of the rules and let them decide the rules [by themselves]. There’s no way that they can think things such as “I can change my country and the society”, if they cannot even express their thoughts at school or in the classroom and cannot have the experience of what results [their decisions/choices] brought.

Yomiuri: 成人の日 挑戦する気持ちを忘れずに

The article cites a survey conducted by the government according to which, more than 80% of the 18- to 29/year-olds feel a sense of completion in their actual life (現在の生活に充実感を感じている).

But only 60% of the 13- to 29-year-olds say that they have hopes in the future (将来に希望を持っている). The article then concludes that it must be because a lot of young people are worried about pension benefits, the continuation of the social security system, and how to raise children while working.

The article says that young people are worried because they don’t know how the system of taxes and social security works:


  • 助長する・じょちょう: encourage, promote, contribute

Isn’t their lack of basic knowledge encouraging their anxiety? How about starting with learning the necessary knowledge like how taxes and social security works?

The article ends saying that young people should take challenges, but contrary to Asahi, this article does not ask the young generations to change the society. It is more on a professional and economical level.

It is interesting to compare Asahi and Yomiuri. Asahi encourages the young people to think by themselves, voice their opinion and act in the society. It wants them to believe that they can have a meaningful impact on society. But when they do voice their opinion through surveys, Yomiuri dismisses their answers by saying that they lack basic knowledge. Instead of taking their anxiety into consideration to question the actual system, Yomiuri prefers to say that the problem lies in the people who feel insecure…

January 15th: Cherry Blossom Party

The problem of the Cherry Blossom Party is one of the major scandals of these last months. To sum up very briefly the issue, The Cherry Blossom Party is a public event traditionally held by the Prime Minister in Spring. The party is held to honor and acknowledge people from various sectors who have contributed to the society or made great achievements.

The problem is that, since Abe returned as Prime Minister in 2012, the number of guests has steadily increase. I had read previously in Mainichi that not only were many supporters of Abe invited to the Party, but it was also easy for members of the LDP to copy the invitation and give it to their own supporters. Some of Abe’s speeches during the event were also controversial, showing that he addressed people who supported him. Finally, some guests were also invited to a private dinner party and while it was said that they all paid for it, the price they were asked for was ridiculously low for such an event.

As the Cherry Blossom Party is held on public funds, this became a huge scandal. The event was supposed to honour people who contributed to the society, but it looked like it had become an event to entertain Abe’s supporters.

Another problem is that the lists of guests of the preceding years have been destroyed without following the rules of the Japan public records law (公文書管理法). On January 14th, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga gave a press conference, acknowledging that the handling of the documents violated the law on public records.

No wonder that left-wing journals devoted their editorial of the 15th to this issue. It is also no surprise that Yomiuri does not talk about the issue in the editorials, so I have chosen she Tokyo Shimbun instead.

Asahi: 桜を見る会 国民を欺く公文書管理
Mainichi: 「桜を見る会」の名簿 政府説明は破綻している
Tokyo: 「桜」の名簿 違法廃棄の背景に迫れ

Asahi: 桜を見る会 国民を欺く公文書管理

I find that Asahi’s article is the easiest to read. It explains that, according to the law on public records, official documents that are to be kept at least one year should be listed in the public “管理簿” (I don’t know how to translate it). The lists of guests of the Cherry Blossom Party from 2013 to 2017 fall into this category. The documents have been destroyed, but they were never listed in the 管理簿.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga gave two contradictory explanations for this mistake, which of course arouse critics from the opposition. As Asahi says, “one cannot readily be convinced [by this explanation]” (にわかには納得できない).

Since 2018, the lists of guests are classified as documents that are to be kept less than a year. This allowed officials to destroy them right after the Cherry Blossom Party. What is strange is, of course, that the list of guests of the previous years should be a useful document to prepare the Cherry Blossom Party of the upcoming years, so why be so prompt to destroy it? This is what Asahi writes:


  • 発足・ほっそく: starting, inauguration
  • 膨らむ・ふくらむ: swell out, rise, expand
  • 後援会・こうえんかい: support group, association of supporters
  • 昭恵: Akie, Abe’s wife
  • 推薦・すいせん: recommend, endorse

Since the start of the second Abe government, the [number of] guests at the party kept swelling from year to year, and it includes a great number of acquaintances recommended by Akie Abe and people related to Abe’s support groups. Hasn’t the concern that they did not want this situation to be made public influenced the way the official documents were managed?

Mainichi: 「桜を見る会」の名簿 政府説明は破綻している

Mainichi also sums up the issue concerning the gestion of documents and the contradictory explanations made by Yoshihide Suga. It goes on:


  • 名簿・めいぼ: a name list.
  • 廃棄・はいき: disposal, throwing away
  • 裏付け・うらづけ: a guarantee, proof
  • 弁明・べんめい: explanation, justification
  • 揺らぐ・ゆらぐ: shake

Without any records, we cannot even prove that the lists of guests have been destroyed. When asked about the sudden increase of guests, the government has always refused to give a clear answer, saying that “we don’t know because the lists of guests have already been discarded”. This justification is being shaken from its basis.


  • その場しのぎ・そのばしのぎ: makeshift, stopgap, temporary measure

In the end, wasn’t it an explanation that they used to use as a makeshift to deny any relation with the Prime Minister?

Tokyo:「桜」の名簿 違法廃棄の背景に迫れ

The Tokyo Shimbun similarly sums up the issue and concludes that by changing the way that documents are managed the government made it possible to discard them legally. First the documents had to be kept at least one year and be registered in the 管理簿 (they weren’t, which is illegal). Then, the documents moved to the category “has to be kept less than a year” and these kind of documents do not need to be registered in the 管理簿, (they weren’t, which is legal).


  • 違法な・いほう: illegal, unlawful
  • 合法・ごうほう: legality, accordance with the law
  • 共同通信・きょうどうつうしん: Kyodo News

In other words, we only changed from an “illegal disposal of the lists of guests” to a “legal disposal of the lists of guests”. A public opinion survey conducted by Kyodo News shows that 86,4% of people “don’t think that the Prime Minister gave sufficient explanation on this matter”.

If I understand correctly, Asahi and Tokyo only say that officials have destroyed the documents illegally, and that this attitude only arises suspicion concerning the relation of the guests to Abe and his wife. But Mainichi goes a step farther and suggests that the lists of guests have not been destroyed but secretly kept by officials…? From what I understand, saying “the list has been destroyed” was just a way of avoiding to give concrete answers, but I don’t understand how exactly Mainichi came to that conclusion.

UPDATE: Apparently, documents concerning the parties held from 2011 and 2013, that were said to have been discarded, have been disclosed! On the 22nd, Abe answered questions from the opposition at the Diet and Mainichi, Asahi and Yomiuri’s editorial of the 23th all report about it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to study them, but I did notice differences in how they treat the problem of the Cherry Blossom Party. Of course, this topic is one of the major issues of the moment, and both Asahi and Mainichi’s editorial largely develop on this question. On the contrary, Yomiuri’s editorial only mentions it briefly towards the end of the article, in a very factual manner. If you are interested in reading them, here they are:

Mainichi: 代表質問への首相答弁 肝心な点になぜ答えない
Asahi: 国会代表質問 信頼回復には程遠い
Yomiuri: 代表質問 野党は将来展望を明確に示せ


Comparing several newspapers on the same topic was really fun and interesting! I find it much more interesting to compare what newspapers from different political wings have to say on the same topic, than to make in-depth studies of the same topic from the same newspaper (like I used to).

It is also much easier for me to prepare this kind of posts as I only need to look at the editorials instead of having to read as many articles as possible on a given topic!

Inhae reads the news: November 2019

Welcome to the second article of the series Inhae reads the news (in Japanese)!

I still don’t know what format this series will take. What I did this month was to:

  • pick topics that interest me
  • give some context to understand the issue
  • pick one or two articles relative to these topics and study some passages of these articles
  • For each studied passage:
    • I give some vocabulary (only the words that I thought were the most difficult – it is hard to judge though…)
    • I (have tried to) translate in English the passages (staying as close as possible to the Japanese version). This is part of my Japanese study, so I may have made mistakes.
    • The underlined parts are the things that I found hard to understand or translate.

In the future, I will maybe focus more on context, guidelines and vocabulary and less on translation. For now, I have only picked articles on the news portal that I read, Mainichi, but I would love to make comparisons between different journals in the future. Instead of studying passages, I will maybe link to articles and just give reading guidelines and vocabulary in my post.

This article ended up being very long, but you can jump to the topic that interests you:

Cherry blossom party


The Cherry blossom Party is an event held by the Prime Minister and organised on public funds. It is held once a year since 1952. It aims at honouring people (I am not sure, but I think mainly from the public sector) for their achievements:「各界において功績、功労のあった方々を招き日頃の労苦を慰労するため」. The persons invited don’t have to pay. (Wikipedia)

In 2019, the opposition accused Abe of using the Cherry Blossom Party to entertain his supporters. The opposition said that most of the participants were members of the LDP and supporters of Abe.

Mainichi published a lot of articles on this topic, and it was hard to keep up with this affair… Our first article deals with the Cherry Blossom Party of this year (2019) and we will see why some people found it problematic. Our second article shows that invitations were circulating among the supporters of Abe.


Article 1: 桜を見る会、参加者は「共に政権を奪還した皆さん」? 首相あいさつに疑問の声

This article recalls why this year’s Cherry Blossom Party has been problematic:


  • 凝縮する・ぎょうしゅく: condense
  • 奪還する・だっかん: recapture, recover, win back, regain
  • 騒動・そうどう: disturbance, agitation, stir
  • 渦中・かちゅう: a maelstrom, a whirlpool
  • 恒例の・こうれい: regular, customary, traditional, usual

“Isn’t everything condensed in this sentence? ‘This is the seventh Cherry Blossom Party since I regained the political power together with you all.’ In the midst of the turmoil of the Cherry Blossom Party customary held every year, these were the words of greeting from Shinzo Abe this year.” This party, which is held with our taxes, was actually a gathering of the people who campaigned for the return of Abe in power?”

I am not sure about the underlined part. I translated with “turmoil”, I don’t see why the journalist would have used this word. My guess in that the cherry blossom party arouses criticism every year (for instance, I know that the number of participants has kept increasing since 2012)? Or maybe this only means that organising such an event causes a lot of hustle and bustle?

This greeting by Abe is problematic because it gives the impression that the party is held for those who helped him regain political power in 2012:


  • 功績・こうせき: a great achievement
  • 功労・こうろう: distinguished services
  • 省庁・しょうちょう: government offices
  • 踏まえる・ふまえる: be based on
  • 幅広い・はばひろい: wide, broad
  • 慰労・いろう: recognition of sb’s services
  • 趣旨・しゅし: the point, the aim
  • 後援・こうえん: support, backing

“The Prime Minister ‘widely invites to the Cherry Blossom Party the persons who made great achievements and services in every field, based on the recommendations of government offices’. The aim [of the event] is to honour them. While it should not be related to beliefs, thoughts or supported party, just by hearing the greeting [speech made by Abe], it looks like it is exactly a gathering of LDP members and supporters of Abe.”

Article 2: 桜見る会、下関市議枠 安倍事務所から申込書 招待人数、上限なし

We now know that the Cherry Blossom Party was supposed to honour people who made great achievements. But this article shows that LDP members could easily invite their own supporters by copying the invitation.


  • 市議・しぎ: abbreviation for 市会議員・しかいぎいん: a member of the municipal assembly
  • 優遇・ゆうぐう: preferential treatment

“According to members of the municipal assembly, it was possible to make several copies of the invitation [because] the Prime Minister’s office did not mention any upper limit. [The Cherry Blossom Party] is an official event where are invited people of all fields who rendered great services, but several non-LDP members were not handed the invitation form, and we find ourselves in a situation where [the Cherry Blossom Party] is used politically to solidify the support to the LDP with this tendency to favour supporters among local assemblies.”


  • 会派・かいは: a parliamentary faction, group.
  • 取りまとめる・とりまとめる: collect, gather all together

“According to one member of the municipal assembly, it was possible to get the invitation form through [a member] of the municipal assembly who belonged to a faction close to Abe, and then it was possible to make several copies. He said that no upper limit was given and that ‘we just had to fill in the form and bring it to the [Prime Minister’s] office’. This year included, this has been going on for several years. Another member of the municipal assembly who belongs to the LDP revealed that they had, indeed, invited several times their own supporters. It is not clear how Abe’s office collected the invitation forms, but this member said ‘we’ve never been refused'”.

I think that this is the heart of the problem. The event is held on public funds, but the number of participants kept increasing since Abe regain his position as Prime Minister in 2012. According to Mainichi’s investigation, LDP members were tacitly allowed to hand the invitation from to their own supporters.

Are people getting used to political scandals?


There has been some turmoil in Abe’s cabinet towards the end of October. First, Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara 菅原一秀 has been accused of offering money and gifts to constituents, thus violating Japan election law. He resigned on the 25th because he didn’t want to affect the administration of the Diet (by slowing down or paralysing the deliberations), but he didn’t acknowledge these accusations.

Just some days later, Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda 萩生田光一 had to apologise for making a statement that seemed to acknowledge and accept discrimination. From 2020 on, a private English test will be added to the university entrance exam. These tests can be expensive and hard to take in rural areas. Asked about this, minister Hagiuda said that students should “compete within their means/status”.

Finally, on the 31st, Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai 河井克行 resigned, following allegations that his wife violated election laws when she campaigned for her seat at the House of Counselors.


Article 1: 慣れっこになる怖さ=与良正男

In this article, journalist Masao YORA deplores that people tend to get used to political scandals.


  • 有権者・ゆうけんしゃ: elector, voter, constituent.
  • 疑惑・ぎわく: suspicion
  • 審議・しんぎ: deliberation, consideration
  • 停滞・ていたい: stagnation, congestion, paralysis.

“Sugawara didn’t acknowledge the suspicion that he distributed money and valuable goods to constituents. The reason he gave for his resignation is [that he wanted to avoid] the stagnation of the administration and the deliberations of the Diet. This too is the usual pattern.”


  • 失態・しつたい: a fault, a blunder

“What is worrying, is the fact that citizens might become used to it, thinking ‘again?’ and don’t even get cross at such big blunders from the government.”

We are not translating it here, but Masao YORA also adds that a survey made by Mainichi after the resignation of Sugawara shows that the support rate of Abe didn’t drop. People are so “used to” political scandals, that it does not affect their support to the government.


  • 民間・みんかん: private, nongovernmental
  • 懸念・けねん: fear, anxiety, concern
  • 萩生田光一文: Koichi HAGIUDA (Education Minister)
  • 身の丈・みのたけ: means, status

“Concerning the introduction of a private English test to the standard university entrance exam, there have been concerns that inequalities might appear relative to the family’s incomes and the place where one lives. Responding to this concern, Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda said ‘Everyone should compete in accordance with their status’.”

I am translating the part “もらえれば” by “they should”, but it might be too strong… I understand the もらえれば like this: “if students would (make the favour to) compete within their means (for the sake of the system?), there would be no problem”… But maybe I am over-interpreting.


  • 撤回する・てっかい: withdraw, retract
  • 格差・かくさ: gap, disparity
  • 容認・ようにん: admission, approval, acceptance, toleration
  • 思慮・しりょ: thought, consideration

“After receiving criticism, he retracted [this statement], but I guess that I am not the only one who feels that the acceptance of disparities was [the minister]’s real intention. This kind of statements that are lacking consideration are an everyday occurrence.”


  • 警告・けいこく: warning

“Of course, we, newspapers and televisions, are the ones who, more than anyone, must not get used to it. (ただし), the surveys conducted at those times are without a doubt giving a warning to the government. If the support rate of the cabinet were to decrease by only 5 points, the Prime Minister would lose his composure and would certainly reconsider things a little.”

This paragraph was difficult to translate, and I am not sure whether I understood it correctly or not. I don’t understand, for instance, how the ただし is supposed to make sense here. To me, it looks like the journalist is praying people to show their discontentment in the surveys in order to bring changes in the government. People tend to maintain the same support rate to Abe, in spite of the multiples scandals, because they say that there is no other politician that would be a better choice (than Abe) at the moment. My interpretation of this article is that the journalist deplores that attitude because it gives the ruling party the impression that scandals can go on and that it does not matter. If only people would express their dissatisfaction during the surveys, the ruling party would at least, perhaps, change its attitude a little.

Article 2: 「責任は私に」49回 なぜ安倍首相の「任命」は失敗続きなのか

In this article, journalist Yoshii interviews politician Seiichiro MURAKAMI 村上誠一郎 (LDP). This is what Seiichiro MURAKAMI says about the current cabinet:


  • 見識・けんしき: good judgement, discernment, wisdom, insight
  • 官僚・かんりょう: a government official

“Anyway, as things stand, we cannot say that the government officials are selected according to their abilities and discernment. Even without speaking of the resignations, what about the recent statements made by government officials?”

The verb 至る・いたる means “lead to”, so in this phrase, it could mean “without leading to a resignation”. The sentence could then be interpreted as “even if they didn’t lead to resignations, what about the recent statements made by government officials?” I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that – 至らずとも can mean “without speaking of (without going as far as to mention…)”, maybe I saw it somewhere during my preparation for the JLPT N1? I hope it is correct.

And the journalist continues:


  • 波紋・はもん: a ripple, a stir, a sensation
  • 萩生田: HAGIUDA: Education Minister Koichi HAGIUDA
  • 温室効果ガス・おんしつこうかガス: greenhouse gas
  • 排出・はいしゅつ: emission
  • 小泉: KOIZUMI: Minister of the Environment Shinjiro KOIZUMI
  • 適材適所・てきざいてきしょ: the right person in the right place
  • 首をひねる・くびをひねる: be dubious, sceptical about.

“When seeing Education Minister Haguida whose [statement] ‘within their means’ still has repercussions until now, or Minister of the Environment Koizumi who could not respond when asked by foreign media what were his measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas, there must be indeed a lot of people who are sceptical about whether we got the right person in the right place.”

Apropos of Shinjiro KOIZUMI, he has been selected by the TIME to join the new list TIME 100 Next “that spotlights 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, science, health and more.”

English test and political turmoil


Japan’s Education Ministry has been preparing a plan to reform the standardised University entrance exam by adding an English test from the private sector. The plan was due to be effective from April 2020 but the Ministry announced on November 1st that it has been postponed.

This plan attracted much criticism. First, several English tests were to be accepted, but they all allot scores on different criteria, and it would have been difficult for universities to fairly judge the students. There were also concerns about regional and economic disparities between the test takers. Taking those English tests and getting good preparation for them is expensive, and students living in rural areas would have to make an expensive journey to take the test.

As a result, many organisations in the education sector have asked for a postponement of the plan. In spite of the many demands, the Ministry seemed resolute to carry out things as planned and concrete measures were already being taken. Then, suddenly, on November 1st, they announced the postponement of the plan… why? This is the question Mainichi is asking in several articles.


Article 1: 英語民間試験の延期 遅すぎた判断の罪は重い

While Mainichi’s position is critical of the new plan, they don’t welcome its postponement only with enthusiasm. They criticise the government for having postponed it at the last minute, at a time where organisations and students were taking concrete steps to face the upcoming test.

They also say that the Ministry didn’t postpone the plan out of concern for the students, but because they feared political turmoil:


  • 逆風・ぎゃくふう: an adverse wind, an unfavourable wind

“Rather than saying that this adjournment is a measure taken out of consideration for test-takers or [in order to maintain] equality in education opportunities, let’s say that [it was decided because] they wanted to avoid criticism of the government or opposition from general opinion.”

I don’t know how to translate the かわす here. My first thought was that it was the verb “交わす” which means “exchange”, but it didn’t make sense. I would have understood if the verb were “to change toward”, meaning that they anticipated the deterioration of the public opinion, but “exchange” made no sense. After looking up in the dictionary, I realised that it could be the verb 躱す which means “avoid”, “evade”, “dodge”. But then, I didn’t understand how it made sense with 思惑・おもわく because I only knew it for its meaning “expectation”, “anticipation”. Apparently, it can also mean “purpose”, “motive”, which would make sense here… I hope I am not mistaken!


  • 露呈する・ろてい: expose, disclose, reveal

“There are doubts concerning the aptitude of HAGIUDA for his current office (Minister of Education), as he revealed his nonunderstanding of equal opportunities in education with his statement ‘within your means’.”

Article 2: 英語民間試験見直し 「萩生田氏守るため」官邸が主導

Our second article is an in-depth analyse of the Ministry’s choice. It shows the steps that led to the postponement of the plan.


  • 足らざる・たらざる: This is the old negative form ざる of the old form 足る of the verb 足りる…?? It sounds like a smart way to say “足りない”. Maybe you need to have high standards when you work at the Ministry of Education… 🤔 (read more)

“On the 29th [of October], HAGIUDA said in a press conference: ‘I absolutely want to proceed as planned, while making up for insufficient points’.”


  • 河井克行: Katsuyuki KAWAI, former Minister of Justice.
  • 安里: Anri KAWAI, wife of Katsuyuki KAWAI
  • 菅原一秀: Isshu SUGAWARA, former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

“But on the 31st the situation changed. On the early morning of this day, former Justice Minister Katsuyuki KAWAI presented his resignation in relation to the ‘suspicions of illegal elections for public office’ of his wife Anri, member of the House of Councillors. Just after former Trade Minister Isshu SUGAWARA, we fell in the critical situation where two government officials had resigned in one week. If the flames were to reach HAGIUDA, it could mean a stalemate for the government.”


  • 官邸・かんてい: the Official Residence of the Prime Minister
  • 幹部・かんぶ: a senior member, a key officer
  • 突破・とっぱ: with 強行: force one’s way through
  • 響く・ひびく: affect, have an effect on
  • 謙虚な・けんきょ: modest, humble

“Someone close to the Prime Minister said, ‘what will we do if a third [official] resigns?’ (senior officer). Inside the ruling party too, opinions [in favour of] a revision [of the plan] are spreading: ‘pushing through with the private English tests will affect the support rate of the government. We must humbly switch policies.'”

The article goes on saying that Hagiuda is a close ally of Abe and that the decision concerning the English test was taken to protect him.

カスハラ: Harassment by customers


カスハラ is a shortcut for カスタマーハラスメント, Customer Harassment.

Harassment by customers is a social problem in Japan. According to The Japan Times, a labour union survey conducted at the end of 2018 showed that “73.8 per cent of Japan workers in the service sector have faced harassment from customers”.


Article1: 増える「カスハラ」 現場任せにしていないか


  • 精神障害の労災認定: Recognition of work-related mental disorder
    • 精神障害・せいしんしょうがい: mental disability, mental disorder
    • 労災・ろうさい: abbreviation for 労働災害・ろうどうさいがい: a work-related accident
    • 認定・にんてい: recognition

“According to the data of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of people who suffered from work-related mental disorders while responding to claims issued by customers or clients is up to 78 persons in the past 10 years. Among them, 24 persons committed suicide. We cannot overlook this situation.”

I couldn’t find a good way to translate “people who received the recognition of work-related mental disorder”, so I simplified. If you are interested in this topic, I found some thorough documentation on the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour of Welfare. I wanted to read more about it myself, but I must admit that this document seems long and difficult…


  • 恐喝罪・きょうかつざい: a charge of extortion (or blackmail).

“In the interviews of companies conducted by the Ministry, examples of customer harassment were given, such as violent acts or extortion of goods and money, tenacious reprimands or [harassing] behaviour that would continue even after the end of the business hours. In the past, there has been a case of conviction for extortion crime against someone who had forced the director of a convenience store to get down on their knees.”

I’m not sure I see the relation between extortion and forcing someone down on their knees… Maybe I misunderstood something, or maybe the article does not mention everything…

The article goes on saying that companies should not let employees deal with these situations on their own but create organisations to protect them. The journalist concludes:


  • 指針・ししん: a guiding principle, a guideline for…
  • 策定する・さくてい: decide on a plan, settle on a policy
  • 素案・そあん: a draft, a rough plan

“The Ministry too has established guidelines for companies in order to prevent power harassment. But when it comes to the measures against customer harassment, the draft only indicates that [companies] should keep a consultation system. [The Ministry] must not leave the companies deal [with the problem of customers harassment] on their own, and it must indicate how to respond to concrete cases of customer harassment in the form of guidelines.”

The underlined part is hard to translate. This is how I understand it: “the draft should indicate (示す) through guidelines (指針で) the criteria for judging 判断基準 [the correct and] concrete (具体的な) answer (対応)”. In other words, the draft should indicate concrete criteria in order to evaluate how one should respond to concrete cases of customer harassment?


I have written this article throughout the month of November, and I really enjoyed doing it. I am glad that I renewed with the “Japanese news” category of my blog (it started in 2018 but only lasted a few months). I more or less managed to read the news regularly in November thanks to this post. However, I wonder if studying passages is the best way to do it. As I said in the introduction, I will certainly change the format of this series in the upcoming months. After the JLPT on December 1st, I will have plenty of time to think about it!