Japanese News: May week 2

Here are some articles that caught my eye in the news this week!

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018

Around 7000 persons participated in Tokyo Rainbow Parade 2018 on Sunday (6th): 「愛に平等を」 7000人行進. The Tokyo Rainbow Pride took place for the first time in 2012, so it was the seventh edition this year. At first, I didn’t understand the number given by Mainichi, it seemed underestimated. But I guess that only 7000 persons took part in the Parade itself, while the event as a whole drew much more participants. It is at least what suggests the Wikipedia page.

The slogans were:

  • 「すべての愛に平等を」
  • 「同性婚法制化」
  • 「誰も排除しない社会を」

The parade was only a part of the whole Tokyo Rainbow Pride that included concerts, discussions and seminars.

Members of the Diet also participated, both from the party in power and from the opposition: パレードには与野党の国会議員や自治体の議員も多数参加した.

  • 国会議員・こっかいぎいん: member of the Diet
  • 自治体・じちたい: local government

One politician said that in 2000 when he participated for the first time to the parade, which took place, I guess, unofficially, they marched in a “撮影禁止ゾーン”:

「2000年に初めてパレードに参加した時は撮影禁止ゾーンで歩いたのに、今日はたくさんの仲間と歩けてうれしい。お祭りの盛り上がりに、法整備も追い付かなければ」

  • 法整備・ほうせいび: I think that this is just another word for “law”.
  • 追い付く・おいつく: catch up with

japanese news - may week 2-1

Sexual harassment and politics

Once again, a very interesting editorial by Mainichi: 「セクハラ罪はない」発言 麻生氏の非常識いつまで.

While referring to the Fukuda case, Minister of Finance Aso said: 「セクハラ罪という罪はない」「殺人とか強制わいせつとは違う」. As the editorial says, Aso is still protecting Fukuda: 依然として福田氏を擁護する姿勢を見せた.

  • 擁護・ようご: protection, defence, support

Aso’s position is hard to grasp. On the one hand, he is responsible for Fukuda’s resignation and on the other hand, he goes on supporting Fukuda by such statements:

“遅きに失したとはいえ、財務省は福田氏の行為をセクハラと認定して処分した。ところが処分の最高責任者である麻生氏が、なぜこうした発言を続けるのだろうか。”

First, the ministry acknowledged that Fukuda’s behaviour was sexual harassment and took punishment actions (Fukuda resigned and his pension was lightly cut off). Afterwards, however, the minister minimises the whole thing, saying that harassment is not a crime.

As the editorial points out, the problem here is not to define in which category “sexual harassment” should fall, regarding the law, but to chose how the society positions itself concerning it. The article draws a parallel with いじめ, saying: “セクハラは重大な人権問題だ。いじめと同様、セクハラをなくそうとするのが政治家の務めのはずだ”.

Instead of which, some politicians stand up for harasser by making insensitive statements: “常識外れの発言”.

  • 常識外れ・じょうしきはずれ: a lack of common sense, insensitivity

And we cannot overlook the fact that Abe didn’t criticise Aso:

こうした持論を繰り返す麻生氏に安倍晋三首相が何ら注意をしない点も見逃せない

  • 見逃す・みのがす: overlook, miss, pass over

The article suggests that Abe does not want to lose Aso’s support for the election of the LPD:

“3選を目指す秋の自民党総裁選を控え、麻生氏の支持が得られなくなる事態を避けたいと考えているのか。政局的な思惑ばかりが優先している。”

  • 総裁選・そうさいせん: presidential election (here, inside the party).
  • 控える・ひかえる: be imminent
  • 政局・せいきょく: politics

Politics concerns seem to be the priority for Abe…

No lift in the future new castle of Nagoya?

Last year, the city of Nagoya announced a reconstruction project for the castle 名古屋城・なごやじょう. The idea is to rebuild the castle in wood and gives it the appearance it had during Edo period. There are concerns that the actual castle would not resist a strong earthquake and the mayor decided to restore historical authenticity by adopting a wood structure.

The problem is that the project did not include a lift. Of course, disabled citizen groups protested, and discussions were to take place.

This week, local officials made public the result of these discussions: 天守閣は「エレベーターなし」に 市が方針.

“名古屋城天守閣の木造復元で、名古屋市は復元後の新天守閣にエレベーターを設置しない方針を固めた”.

  • 天守閣・てんしゅかく: a castle tower
  • 復元・ふくげん: restoration (to the original state), reconstruction

This means that when choosing between access for everyone (バリアフリー) and historical authenticity, they chose the last one: “市は「史実に忠実な復元」を優先するとの結論を選んだ”.

  • 史実・しじつ: historical fact, historical authenticity
  • 忠実・ちゅうじつ: faithfulness

The final decision will be given at the end of May, but the city is not likely to change the project, they say:

「戦時中に空襲で燃える前の、江戸時代の姿に戻すという本来の目的に向けて進めたい」

  • 空襲・くうしゅう: air raid

Disabled citizen groups and other organisations that ask for barrier-free access have the feeling that no real discussion took place and that the city had decided against lifts from the beginning:

「形式的に話を聞いただけで、もともと決まっていたと思う。もっと話を聞いてほしかった」

japanese news - may week 2-2

Kake Gakuen scandal

To summarise the issue briefly, let’s say that Abe always said that he has nothing to do with the Kake Gakuen scandal and that he didn’t give any instruction to favour his friend’s institution. However, a document was found which stated that Yanase, Abe’s executive secretary at the time, said that the Kake Gakuen problem was Abe’s business. He said that during a meeting with the main actors, including people from the Kake Gakuen.

Asked about this, Yanase said that he could not remember that such a meeting took place.

Later, however, other documents were found that strongly suggest that the meeting did take place.

Yakase was heard again on Thursday (10th) and admitted that the meeting took place. Everything is in the title: 柳瀬氏「加計学園関係者と面会した」.

  • 柳瀬 唯夫・やなせ ただお: Tadao YANASE, at the time, executive secretary to the Prime Minister

It becomes more and more difficult to believe that Abe didn’t know about the Kake Gakuen problem:

“また県文書は、柳瀬氏が面会時に獣医学部新設計画を「首相案件」と語ったとしている。安倍晋三首相は計画を知った時期に関し、学園が学部新設の事業者に決定した17年1月20日だったと答弁。首相秘書官だった柳瀬氏が知っていて首相は知らなかった、という説明も疑問視されそうだ。” (source)

First, the documents found in the prefecture state that during the meeting in question that took place in 2015, Yanase said that the project to open a department of veterinary medicine is 「首相案件」. This in itself tends to show that Abe knew about the project, even though Yanase still denies having said such a thing.

  • 獣医学部・じゅういがくぶ: department of veterinary science
  • 新設・しんせつ: founding, establishment

When asked about the date when the project was brought to Abe’s knowledge, Yanase answered that it was in 2017, when all was already settled.

  • 答弁・とうべん: reply, answer

At the time Yanase was Executive Secretary for the Prime Minister (首相秘書官). As the article says (underlined part), it is strange that the Prime Minister didn’t know something that his Executive Secretary knew.

  • 首相秘書官・しゅしょうひしょかん: Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister
  • 疑問視する・ぎもんしする: look on with suspicion

Friday’s editorial by Mainichi reiterates this doubt:

ところが柳瀬氏は「加計」に限らず業者とは積極的に会っていたと強調し、面会について首相にいっさい報告もしなかったという。にわかに信じがたい説明である

  • いっさい: not at all, not a bit, absolutely not
  • にわかに信じがたい: it is hard to believe it right away

When Yanase said, during his questioning at the Diet, that he does not report everything to Abe, sarcasm flew from the opposition seats.

「面会内容をいちいち、総理に報告しない」と述べて安倍首相の不関与を強調する姿に、野党席から「秘書官失格だ」とヤジが飛んだ。(source)

  • 失格・しっかく: incapacity, disqualification
  • やじ or 野次: heckling, catcalling, jeering, hooting. (I didn’t know any of those words 🙄, it seems that catcall is used street harassment and hoot is for owls)

japanese news - may week 2-4

Conclusion

That’s it for this week, just 4 themes but I think that Yanase’s coming out was of significance because it can further damage Abe’s popularity and, as I understood last week, push away the referendum for changing the Constitution. I realise that my post does not really reflect what was important in the news in Japan (it would be the summit Korea-Japan-China, along with Yanase’s hearing), but what struck me or interests me.

 

Japanese News: May week 1

Order of the Rising Sun

On Sunday (29th), the government announced the recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun. Beat Takeshi ビートたけし (Takeshi KITANO) received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette: たけし“らしく”喜び「これを糧にノーベル賞目指す」(スポニチ).

I stumbled across a lot of unknown words in this article:

  • 叙勲・じょくん: bestowal of an order. The verb 叙勲する means “confer a decoration” and the passive form 叙勲される “be decorated”.
  • 春の叙勲・はるのじょくん: the Spring Conferment of Decorations
  • 旭日章・きょくじつしょう: Order of the Rising Sun
  • 瑞宝章・ずいほうしょう: Order of the Sacred Treasure
  • 旭日小綬章・きょくじつしょうじゅしょう: The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (This is the one that Kitano received, don’t ask me what it is exactly). (I found a great source for English appellation of Japanese orders.)

I am not surprised that he should receive such a high distinction, I am surprised that he didn’t receive it earlier. In France, he was named a Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters in 2010 and was even rewarded the Legion of Honour in 2016 (named Officier). The article by Mainichi underlines this fact and says that even if he was granted the highest French order, it is the first time this year that he receives a national award:

“フランス政府からは16年に最高勲章であるレジオン・ドヌール勲章オフィシエを受章しているが、国内で勲章や褒章を受けるのは初。”

  • 勲章・くんしょう: a decoration, an order
  • 褒章・ほうしょう: a medal of honour

I don’t know the difference between an “order” and a “medal” and I am too lazy to look into it… What we know is that Takeshi received neither order nor medal in Japan until now. However, according to our article, his brother said that he refused a Medal in the past:

“同年、弟子の東国原英夫(60)が、たけしが過去に紫綬褒章を断っていたと明かしている。理由を聞くと「金くれねーから」と冗談めかして言っていたという。”

Here again, I don’t know the difference between the Medal awarded in Japan… The one mentioned here is the Medal with Purple Ribbon.

japanese news - may week 1-2.jpg

Media are there to break the country??!

I missed this information last week, but better late than never! Hakubun SHIMOMURA (下村 博文・しもむら はくぶん), former Minister of Education, said, about the various scandals revealed by the press lately:「日本のメディアは日本国家をつぶすために存在しているのかと、最近つくづく思う」(source).

japanese news - may week 1-1.jpgI couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this! And he was the Minister of Education and Culture? Of course, he was criticised by the opposition, but also by his own party (LPD), as the title of the article suggests: 下村氏「メディアは国家をつぶす」 与党内でも批判.

For example, a member of the LPD criticised Shimomura in a press conference:

自民党の竹下亘総務会長は24日の記者会見で「政治家の発言は気をつけないといけない。メディアの一番重要な仕事は権力に対するチェックだ」と指摘。

  • 竹下 亘・たけした わたる: Wataru Takeshita
  • 総務会長・そうむかいちょう: the Chairman of the Executive Council
  • 権力・けんりょく: power, authority
  • 指摘する・してきする: to point out

A little digression, but Japan is ranked only 67 in the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

Sexual harassment

Mainichi’s editorial on Monday asks セクハラと日本社会 これが21世紀の先進国か.

I think that the Fukuda case had a lot of repercussions in the society, but I don’t live in Japan so it’s hard to tell. As the editorial said, this case revealed how hard it is for the victim to obtain justice.

Another interesting article says 麻生太郎、下村博文 セクハラ被害者を加害者扱いする呆れた発言録. Shimomura (the same Shimomura as above) even went as far as to turn the victim into the aggressor and Fukuda into the victim. He said: 「隠しテープでとっておいてね、そしてテレビ局の人がですね、週刊誌に売るっていうこと自体が、ハメられてますよね。ある意味で犯罪だと思うけど」and the article concludes “下村氏は明確に被害者を加害者扱いしている”.

The fugitive arrested

On Monday (30th), the police finally arrested a man suspected to be the fugitive who escaped from his prison in Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県) three weeks ago. He was arrested in Hiroshima city (広島市) by the local police: 平尾容疑者を逮捕 広島市内で.

  • 平尾龍磨・ひらおたつま: Tatsuma HIRAO, the name of the fugitive.

It was later confirmed that the suspect arrested was indeed Hirao. I am glad that I am learning prefectures because I knew that Ehime is on Shikoku island, facing Hiroshima. We learnt on Tuesday that he reached Hiroshima by swimming: 逃走容疑、広島で逮捕 22日ぶり 島から「泳いで渡った」.

The reason he gave for his escape is「刑務所での人間関係が嫌になって逃げた」.

May 1st: We’re entering the last year of HEISEI

This editorial by Mainichi reminds us that in exactly one year, the actual Emperor’s son will take the throne, thus ending the era Heisei 平成・へいせい and start a new one: 残り1年の平成時代 元号の持つ意味を考える. I find this article interesting, though I don’t understand all of it.

An imperial era name is called 元号・げんごう and it is opposed to the Common Era 西暦・せいれき. The two systems co-exist in Japan and even though the Common Era is widely used in the society, the official documents from the government use the Imperial Era system: “一般社会では西暦を使うことがむしろ多くなったが、官庁の公文書は元号の使用が原則になっている.”

What is interesting is that, when documents plan ahead, they still use the Imperial Era name, even if we know it would have changed in the meantime: 政策目標を示す場合も元号を使うことが多く、「平成40年」「平成50年」などと記載されている。Even if the actual Emperor had not chosen to abdicate, he would be 104-year-old in “平成50年” or 2038.

The article also mentions a survey made in 1979. At the time the era was still Showa (昭和・しょうわ). We can see that people massively wished that the era name should be maintained and that 78% of the people surveyed were using it.

“それに先立つ79年3月の毎日新聞の世論調査によると「昭和」は国民生活に定着し、9割近くが元号の存続を望んでいた。元号と西暦の使用状況については「主に元号」が78%に達し、「主に西暦」の4%を圧倒した。「元号と西暦と半々」は16%だった。”

  • 世論調査・よろんちょうさ: a survey of public opinion
  • 存続する・そんぞくする: continue to exist
  • 圧倒する・あっとうする: overwhelm, overpower

Today, it seems that people are still attached to the era name system and that there is a growing interest in the new era name: “新たな元号への国民の関心も高まりつつある。”. To be honest, I am also looking forward to knowing what will be the kanji of the new era. But we will have to wait, as some officials from the ruling party suggest to postpone the publication of the new name until February 2019:

政府は当初、切り替えの準備のために夏ごろに公表する方向だったが、来年2月以降にすることを検討している。早い時期に公表すれば、陛下の在位中に関心が新天皇へ移るのではないかと懸念する自民党保守派に配慮したためだ。

  • 当初・とうしょ: at first
  • 切り替え・きりかえ: change, conversion
  • 検討する・けんとうする: consider
  • 陛下・へいか: His Majesty
  • 在位中・ざいいちゅう: during the reign
  • 懸念する・けねんする: fear, be anxious, feel concern
  • 自民党・じみんとう: Liberal Democratic Party
  • 保守派・ほしゅは: the conservatives, the old guard
  • 配慮する・はいりょする: consider, take something into account

I personally like the era name and everything related to the Emperor. But I must admit that I find it bothersome when they use the era name for the year in newspapers because I am very bad at calculating!

japanese news - may week 1-3

Kyoto, Nanzen-ji

On Wednesday, 24 persons visiting 南禅寺・なんぜんじ in Kyoto, suffered from throat pain due to an irritating substance: 南禅寺で「刺激臭」 拝観者ら、のどの痛みなど訴え. Both the police and the firemen were dispatched and 4 persons had to be evacuated.

  • 刺激臭・しげきしゅう: an irritating smell
  • 拝観者・はいかんしゃ: a visitor

I visited the temple in December, I remember the big waterway that passes through the complex of Nanzen-ji and the impressive main gate of the temple.

Mainichi survey: 31% against revision of article 9 of the Constitution

As we can see in this article 自民改憲案 自衛隊明記、賛否割れる 反対31%、賛成27%, Abe is not receiving public support concerning the revision of article 9 of the Constitution.

  • 改憲案・かいけんあん: draft of constitutional amendment
  • 明記・めいき: writing expressly, clearly mention
  • 賛否・さんぴ: approval and disapproval, for and against

To summarise briefly, article 9 of the Constitution states that Japan renounces war and does not maintain war potential. However, Japan does have armed forces called the Self-Defense Force (SDF). Abe would like to mention them clearly in the Constitution by adding a clause to article 9.

The survey results are:

  • 賛成 27%
  • 反対 31%
  • わからない 29%
  • 無回答13%

The Constitution was enacted on May, 3rd 1947. I wasn’t aware of the fact that the Constitution Memorial Day (this year on Thursday 3rd) was a part of the Golden Week!

  • 憲法記念日・けんぽうきねんび: Constitution Memorial Day, on May, 3rd.

Despite the lack of national consensus, Abe reiterated his wish to add the SDF to the Constitution on a video message filmed on Thursday (3rd):

I am going through this article by Mainichi (安倍首相「自衛隊明記を」4野党、阻止で結束):

The core of the message is 「憲法に我が国の独立と平和を守る自衛隊をしっかりと明記し、違憲論争に終止符を打たなければならない」

  • 違憲・いけん: unconstitutionality
  • 論争・ろんそう: dispute, controversy
  • 終止符を打つ・しゅうしふをうつ: put an and to…

The controversy about the unconstitutionality of the SDF has its roots in the Constitution itself because nowhere is the SDF mentioned: 「自衛隊違憲論が存在する最大の原因は、憲法に、我が国の防衛に関する規定が全く存在しないことにある」.

The article says that Abe had recorded a similar video last year (again, for the Constitution Memorial Day). Last year, he said that he was hoping to amend the Constitution by 2020: “2020年の改正憲法施行を目指す考えを表明した”. He received so much protest that he had to drop his schedule.

In this message, Abe does not give a date, but says that things are getting more concrete: 「この1年間で憲法改正の議論は大いに活性化し、そして具体化した」

Different opposition parties held a meeting at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park

  • 東京臨海広域防災公園・とうきょうりんかいこういきぼうさいこうえん:  Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park

The leaders of the following 4 parties were there:

  • 立憲民主党・りっけんみんしゅとう: Constitutional Democratic Party
  • 民進党・みんしんとう: Democratic Party
  • 共産党・きょうさんとう: Communist Party
  • 社民党・しゃかいみんしゅとう: Social Democratic Party

Yukio EDANO, member of the Constitutional Democratic Party and leader of the opposition said that the amendment will have more implication than what the government wants people to believe, leading to the SDF able to make war:「従来とは全く質の違う、地球の裏側で戦争ができる自衛隊になるのは明確だ。うそをつき続けるのはいいかげんにしてほしい」.

  • 枝野 幸男・えだの ゆきお: Yukio EDANO, leader of the opposition.

Conclusion

This is what I read in the news this week!

But to be honest, the piece of news that shocked me the most is related to 育児ノイローゼ. A mother killed her 2-year-old daughter by throwing her down from their balcony, on the 5th floor. I think that I first read about 育児ノイローゼ in a magazine. Later, I read a novel that was partly about it, but I didn’t think that the contents of the novel really depicted the reality. I was shocked to see that 育児ノイローゼ can indeed lead to such tragic ends…

Japanese News: April week 4

I must admit that I haven’t read a lot of the news this week…

japanese news April week 4.jpg

I also wanted to read articles from Asahi website to compare them with Mainichi. It is hard to admit it, but I stuck to Mainichi out of laziness. I am used to using their app and their website, and it created a kind of cosy area and routine that makes up for the discomfort of reading in Japanese. Even if I were told that another newspaper is better, I would not want to change now. I wonder how many other things I keep doing just because I am too lazy to change…? 😳

Opposition asks for Aso’s resignation

Both the Moritomo Gakuen scandal and Fukuda’s accusation of sexual harassment took place in the Ministry of Finance. The opposition is asking for Finance Minister Aso to resign: 麻生氏「進退考えぬ」 財務省、次官再聴取へ.

The first sentence of this article is tricky (I had to re-read it several times before understanding it):

麻生太郎財務相は19日(日本時間20日午前)、訪問先の米ワシントンで財務省の福田淳一事務次官のセクハラ疑惑などを受けて麻生氏の辞任を求める声が高まっていることについて記者団に「進退は考えていない」と話した

When I first read it, I was wondering why anything relative to Fukuda should take place in Washington, haha. Things become much easier if we isolate the important information: The Finance Minister Taro ASO said: “I am not thinking of resigning”. (blue bold)

To add context, we know that he said that on the 20th (Japan time) [19th at Washington], he said it while he was at Washington, and he said it to a group of journalists. (blue)

Why should he talk about resigning or not resigning? He said it because voices asking for his resignation are growing louder (pink bold). Why are they growing louder? Because of the scandal relative to Fukuda, accused of sexual harassment (pink).

It also seems that 6 political parties from the opposition refuse to take part in the deliberation in the Diet as long as Aso hasn’t resigned: 野党6党は審議復帰の条件として、麻生太郎副総理兼財務相の辞任などを要求. (source) (this kind of article is a little difficult to me…) I am glad I remembered that 兼・けん is here to link Aso’s functions. He is both Deputy Prime Minister (副総理・ふくそうり) and Minister of Finance (財務相・ざいむしょう).

On Friday afternoon the bill for the Labour reform entered the House of Representatives for deliberation with the major opposition parties still absent (see the picture in this article with the caption: 主な野党が欠席したまま働き方改革関連法案が審議入りした衆院本会議)

  • 審議・しんぎ: deliberation
  • 衆院・しゅういん or 衆議院・しゅうぎいん: The House of Representatives, the Lower House
  • 本会議・ほんかいぎ: Deliberative Assembly, a plenary session of the Diet

Fukuda

We learnt on Monday that Fukuda’s retirement allowance will be around 5300万円 and on Tuesday, Fukuda’s resignation was approved by the government: 福田財務次官の辞任を閣議了承 セクハラ疑惑. This article is interesting because it underlines the fact that Nobuhisa SAGAWA, also a high official of the Ministry of Finance, had to resign from his post in March (in relation to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal). Two high officials of the Ministry resigning this year…

On Friday, The Ministry of Finance announced that Fukuda’s retirement allowance would be reduced by 20%: 福田氏のセクハラ認定、懲戒処分相当 退職金減額.

  • 懲戒処分・ちょうかいしょぶん: disciplinary action.

Yasukuni shrine

On the 21th began Yasukuni Shrine Spring Festival. Abe didn’t attend the ceremony, but he sent a ritual offering.

  • 靖国神社・やすくにじんじゃ: Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Japan war dead, but it also lists 14 war criminals of class A from World War II. As a result, every visit from officials to the Yasukuni Shrine rises protests in Korea and China.
  • 春季例大祭: I think it reads “はるのれいたいさい”. A shrine spring Festival, particularly Yasukuni Shrine Spring Festival.

This article from Mainichi says that the last time Abe visited the shrine was in 2013.

  • 参拝する・さんぱいする: to pay a visit to a shrine

To say that Abe didn’t visit the Yasukuni shrine this year, it uses the verb 見送る・みおくる: “首相は23日までの例大祭期間中の参拝は見送る” or “参拝見送り“. I knew the verb 見送る in the sense of “see somebody off (at the airport for example)”. But it also means “doing nothing”, “have a wait and see attitude”, “fail to act”, like you just see something and let it pass by, without taking action.

The article also says that Abe not visiting the shrine is a way to preserve the relations with South Korea and China: “中韓両国との関係維持を優先したとみられる。”

Yuzuru HANYU’s parade in hometown

I often see articles relative to Yuzuru HANYU on news websites, but I rarely read them. I did this time, and I was stupefied by the number of fans he has in his hometown: 羽生結弦、五輪連覇でパレード「ただいま」 地元仙台で.

On Sunday (22th), a parade was organised for Hanyu, at his hometown, Sendai City (仙台市・せんだいし), in the prefecture of Miyagi (宮城県・みやぎけん).

I would like to say that this Asahi article does not mention the name of the prefecture. It just says: “出身地の仙台市”. As you know, maybe, I am learning Japan prefectures, and I feel confident now about reading the kanji of almost all the 47 prefectures. Naturally, I was excited to put my knowledge into practice and was waiting for the prefecture’s name to make an appearance in the article! You can imagine the face I made when I read “出身地の仙台市”, haha. I headed to the Mainichi article on the same subject, and I was relieved to read: “故郷の宮城県仙台市”.

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This last article also tells us that around 108,000 persons were there to congratulate him while Hanyu smiled at the crow and waved his hand during 40 minutes. Dedicated tee-shirts and rubber bands (is it how it’s called in English? ラバーバンド) were also sold.

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I found some interesting expressions in this article:

  • まだ興奮は冷めていない. Even almost two months after Pyeongchang Olympics, the excitement hasn’t “got cold”.
    • 興奮・こうふん: excitement, agitation, exhilaration, hysteria
  • 場所取りの徹夜組が出た. As is often the case in such events, groups have spent the night on the spot to be sure to grab themselves the best place.
    • 場所取り・ばしょとり: saving a place
    • 徹夜・てつや: stay up all night
  • 宮城の民放全4局が生中継した. All 4 commercial channels of Miyagi Prefecture live broadcasted the parade
    • 民放・みんぽう: from 民間放送局, a commercial broadcast station
    • 生中継・なまちゅうけい: a live broadcast

Yoga and massage?

By the end of the year, I will know the name and face of all ministers of Japan if it goes on like this! Minister of Education Yoshimasa HAYASHI made public excuses on Wednesday for going to his yoga course with the official vehicle during his working hours.

  • 林芳正・はやし よしまさ: Yoshimasa HAYASHI, minister of Education
  • 文部科学省・もんぶかがくしょう: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, often abbreviated “文科省・もんかしょう”.

According to this article (文科相、公用車でヨガ認める「混乱招いた」謝罪), the magazine Shukan Bunshun (週刊文春) reported that Hayashi uses the official car to go to yoga courses in a “sexy” private room, in broad daylight:

To come back to our article, the title says that Hayashi apologised for having given rise to confusion

  • 混乱を招く・こんらんをまねく: give rise to confusion

The article is relatively easy to understand:

“林氏の説明によると、友人の紹介で5、6年前から月に数回、体調管理などのため、この店に通っていた。平日の公務の間に行くこともあり、公用車も使っていた。店は会員制で、女性インストラクターが客に1対1でヨガを指導したり、マッサージをしたりする。林氏は「通常のヨガスタジオで、報じられたようにキャバクラのような店ではない」と説明した。

週刊文春によると、林氏は4月16日午後2時半ごろ、公用車で店を訪れ、約2時間滞在。待たせていた公用車で立ち去った。” (source)

Hayashi said that he goes to this Yoga thing several times a month since a friend recommended it to him some years ago. He said that he goes during his working hours (平日の公務の間に) with the official car (公用車). Even though he receives massage and yoga class in a private class (1対1で) with a female instructor (女性インストラクター), the place is not a “キャバクラ” style, like the magazine suggested.

The word キャバクラ means a place where female hostesses take care of clients, it comes from the words “cabaret” and “club” (source: Wikipedia).

japanese news April week 4-1

According to the magazine, Hayashi went there on the 16th and stayed there for 2 hours. At the time, the Ministry of Education was being searched in relation to the Kake Gakuen scandal, which of course, makes the whole business even more scandalous.

Dokdo or Takeshima?

This week, South Korea published a picture of the dessert they will serve during the meeting with North Korea. The dessert is a kind of mousse but what matters is the decoration on the dessert: a little map of unification (unified Korea in blue) which depicts Dokdo.

  • 南北首脳会談・なんぼくしゅのうかいだん: Inter-Korean summit

Dokdo, or Takeshima in Japanese, is a subject of dispute between Japan and Korea. Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested: 「わが国の立場と相いれない。適切な対応を求める」(source).

Conclusion

A lot more happened but some articles are really too hard for me. I saw several articles about two political parties merging to form a new one (?) or something like that. This is the kind of things that I still cannot read. The problem is not as much the Japanese level as the prerequisite knowledge that I don’t have. I know nothing of political parties in Japan and don’t know who is who either. When an article says that “someone” will not join the new party or similar things, I really have no clue what people are talking about!

Of course, there were many articles today (Friday 27th) about the Korean summit, but I decided to study only internal affairs for the time being!

 

Japanese News: April Week 3

I have decided to stop using the site NHK to write my post because the links get broken very soon. So this time, all the sources come from mainichi.jp. I focused more on politics this week.

Demonstration against Abe

On Saturday (14th), 30,000 demonstrators were protesting before the Diet building: 安倍政権退陣迫る 森友・加計問題で3万人. On the video, we can hear them chanting “安倍やめろ”.

The demonstration was before the National Diet Building in Nagatacho in Tokyo: “東京・永田町の国会議事堂前”.

  • 永田町・ながたちょう: Nagatacho
  • 国会議事堂・こっかいぎじどう: The National Diet Building

The article says that the number of 30,000 demonstrators was provided by the organisers: “主催者発表”, but they don’t give the police’s estimation.

  • 主催者・しゅさいしゃ means “sponsor”, “promoter”.

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The Kake Gakuen scandal

The demonstration is a response to the falsification of the documents relative to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal and the recent developments concerning the Kake Gakuen scandal.

“森友学園を巡る財務省の公文書改ざんや、加計学園の獣医学部新設計画について当時の首相秘書官が「首相案件」と発言したとされる文書が見つかった問題

The underlined part summarises the issue: among the documents found recently, there is a citation from the Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister of the time who said that the opening of the veterinary department inside the Kake Gakuen was “Abe’s item”.

  • 案件・あんけん means “matter for discussion”.

There is a contradiction between what Abe said and what has been found in the document. Abe said that he didn’t know of the affair at the time. He also reiterated that nobody received instruction from him (to favour his friend’s school): “私から指示受けた人いない.”

But the document suggests overwise. To be more precise, the document mentions a visit paid by persons relative to the prefecture Ehime (愛媛県・えひめけん) and Kake Gakuen (加計学園・かけがくえん) to the Prime Minister’s residence (官邸・かんてい). During this visit, Tadao YANASE, who was at the time an executive secretary to the Prime Minister (内閣総理大臣秘書官), used the words “安倍の案件” to talk about the opening of the veterinary department. Later, a similar document has been found in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (農水省・のうすいしょう).

When asked about it, YANASE said that “as far as he can remember, there has not been such meeting”: “記憶の限りお会いしていない”, while ABE refused to comment “コメントを控えたい”.

There has been a new discovery this week. It is a little complicated but what I understand is that: as stated above, two similar documents have been found. However, someone said that a similar document should be kept in the 文部科学省・もんぶかがくしょう or Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

This is why a search was made inside the Ministry, at least I think so. The document could not be found but, instead, a mail has been unearthed. NHK reported that the mail was sent from the Cabinet Office to the Ministry of Education to communicate the schedule of the visit.

“また、愛媛県の職員らが官邸を訪問した2015年4月2日に、内閣府から文科省の担当者に訪問予定を伝えるメールが省内で見つかったとするNHKの報道があり” (source)

Later, on Thursday, it has been proved that the contents of this mail (the visit’s arrangements) had been shared with all the ministries and offices concerned. Therefore, it seems more and more perilous to deny that such a visit took place:

“同省関係者が明らかにした。訪問予定が関係府省の間で共有されていたことを裏付けるもので、県作成の「首相案件」と書かれた文書の信ぴょう性が高まる。” (source)

  • 府省 is not a word I found in my dictionary. I think it means all the institutions that end with 府・ふ like 内閣府・ないかくふ the Cabinet Office, and all the institutions that end with 省・しょう, which means all the ministries.
  • 裏付ける・うらづける: back up, provide evidence, prove
  • 信憑性・しんぴょうせい: credibility, reliability. Is 憑 a rare kanji? Why is it written in hiragana?

Despite Yanase’s efforts to not remember this visit, it seems more and more evident that the visit took place. There are also fewer and fewer reasons to doubt that the words 首相の案件 were indeed uttered.

Abe supports the attack against Syrie

Abe said that he supports the strikes launched by the US, the UK and France against Syria: 「米英仏の決意を支持する」安倍首相.

  • 仏・ふつ is the kanji for France

Abe said: 「化学兵器の使用は非人道的で断じて許せない。拡散と使用を許さないとの米英仏の決意を支持する」

  • 化学兵器・かがくへいき: chemical weapon
  • 非人道的・ひじんどうてき: inhumane
  • 断じて・だんじて: (+negation) by no means, on no account, never, at all
  • 拡散・かくさん: spreading, dissemination, proliferation, diffusion

Fukuda on the accusation of sexual harassment

Recently, I read this excellent post by Kotobites on loanwords which reminded me how tricky these katakana words can be. And even so, it took me some painful minutes to understand that セクハラ was the contraction of セクシャルハラスメント. Now I seem to see this word everywhere… in any case, I would say that this topic has been the main story of the week.

Junichi FUKUDA (福田淳一・ふくだじゅんいち) who is an administrative vice-minister (事務次官・じむじかん) of the Finance Ministry (財務省・ざいむしょう) has been accused by a female journalist of sexual harassment (source). The accusation has been published by the weekly magazine 週刊新潮・しゅうかんしんちょう (issue 2018年4月19日号 which was sold on the 12th).

This is what the magazine says:

As you can see on the right, the magazine links these accusations with the Moritomo Gakuen issue to insist on the accumulation of scandals in the Finance Ministry:

  • 折も折・おりもおり: just then, at precisely that time…, at the very moment when…
  • ろくでもない: useless, good-for-nothing, worthless, dishonest

I am glad that I can name the faces on the cover: from right to left we have: Nobuhisa SAGAWA who was a high official at the Ministry of Finance at the time when the documents have been falsified; Junichi FUKUDA, a top official of the Finance Ministry, now accused of sexual harassment; Taro ASO, Minister of Finance; and of course Shinzo ABE.

Fukuda is accused of repetitive 繰り返して・くりかえして verbal harassment of sexual nature: セクハラ発言・はつげん. On the site of the magazine, we can read “「キスしたい」「不倫しよう」「おっぱい触っていい?」”.

  • 不倫する・ふりんする: have an illicit love affair, commit adultery, fornicate
  • おっぱい: breast

On Friday (13th), Taro ASO, Minister of Finance said「事実とすればセクハラという意味ではこれはアウト」but added that he had no intention to take a concrete step (?) yet: “現段階では処分しない意向を示した。” (I don’t know how to translate 処分・しょぶん here…)

On Monday, Fukuda finally commented on the accusation (source). He denied the accusation, saying: “「週刊誌報道で記載されているようなやりとりをしたことはなく、心当たりを問われても答えようがない」”. He added that he will initiate proceedings against the magazine for defamation: “新潮社に対し、名誉毀損(きそん)で提訴を準備している”.

  • 名誉毀損・めいよきそん: defamation
  • 提訴・ていそ: the institution of a case, taking somebody to court, bringing a case before a court.

On Tuesday Aso said that as long as the woman in question doesn’t come in the open, the veracity of the fact could not be proven: 女性が名乗り出ない限りセクハラを事実と認定できない. His words were: “状況が分かるように(被害者の女性が)出てこないといけない”. (source)

  • 名乗り出る・なのりでる: announce oneself as, identify oneself.

This request has been criticised by the opposition. Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda (野田聖子・のだせいこ) insists on the difficulty for the victim to even talk to her family: “「家族にも言いづらい話で、相手方に話をするのは、私個人でも難しい」” She uses the expression “second rape” and says: “「女性が名乗り出たことで、セカンドレイプという形で被害に遭うことがあることを踏まえて、慎重に取り組みたい」” (source).

The opposition asks for Fukuda’s dismissal and hopes that he won’t get away with it: “「逃げ切れない」”. In the article 「逃げ切れず」福田次官更迭論、与党で拡大, we learn that, though Fukuda denied all the accusations, the magazine has published a record where Fukuda’s voice can be heard:

“福田氏は週刊新潮の報道を全面否定しているが、新潮側はネットで福田氏の発言とされる断片的な音声データを公表。与党内では「逃げ切れない」との声が大勢だ。”

  • 断片的な・だんぺんてきな: fragmentary

And finally, on Wednesday (18th), Finance Minister Sato announced that Fukuda was resigning: 福田次官が辞意表明 セクハラ発言疑惑:

“麻生太郎財務相は18日夕、セクハラ発言疑惑が報じられた福田淳一財務次官が辞意を表明したことを明らかにした。”

Despite this, Fukuda still denies the facts, as you can see in this press conference: 次官「潔白」強弁 発言「記憶ない」 (video in the article). As the title of the article suggests, Fukuda said that he “does not remember”. Asked about the recording of his voice, he said that he doesn’t know if it is his own voice: he says something like “録音された声が自分のものかどうかはよくわからないんで” at 1:10.

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About the daily log of the GSDF in Iraq

On Monday (16th), some parts of the daily log concerning the activities of the Ground Self-Defence Force in Iraq have been made public. To summarise the context, this daily log contains all the activities of Japan GSDF when it operated in Iraq from 2004 to 2006. When asked for it last year, the ministry said that the log did no longer exist, but it has been “discovered” this year.

People guess that the log had been concealed because its contents will prove that the GSDF was exposed to combat and danger, which would also account for the many suicides of Japanese soldiers after they returned home. The GSDF was sent to Iraq to take part in peacemaking operations and its role was to provide humanitarian relief and help in reconstruction works. Soldiers were not supposed to fight.

We learn in this article (イラク日報「戦闘拡大」 防衛省、435日分を公開) that the log mentions “戦闘・せんとう” or “combat”, “fighting”:

“日報には「戦闘」という言葉が複数あり、このうち陸自部隊が活動していた南部サマワ周辺での英国軍と武装勢力との武力衝突について「戦闘が拡大」と表現していた。政府はこれまで自衛隊の活動地域を「非戦闘地域」と説明してきたが、当時の状況との整合性が改めて問われることになる。”

  • サマワ: the GSDF was operating in Samawah, in the South of Iraq.
  • 武装勢力・ぶそうせいりょく: an armed group
  • 武力衝突・ぶりょくしょうとつ: an armed conflict
  • 整合性・せいごうせい: consistency, compatibility, coherence

We learn that, in reference to the armed conflict between UK forces and local armed group, it was said that the “fightings expand”, and this, near Samawah, where the Japan Force was dispatched.

We also learn that the government has always said that the GSDF was operating in a “noncombat zone” or 非戦闘地域・ひせんとうちいき. We can question again the compatibility of what the government said and the situation in Iraq at the time. I understand the use of 改めて・あらためて which means “again” as a reference to the scandal around the GSDF in South Sudan. Similar denying had led to the resignation of the Minister of Defence of the time.

Asked about it, the Minister of Defense Itsunori ONODERA (小野寺 五典・おのでら いつのり) said that the region where the GSDF meets the requirements to be defined as “non-combat zone”:

「自衛隊が活動した地域は非戦闘地域の要件を満たしていた」 (source:「活動は非戦闘地域」 防衛相「要件を満たす」)

This article published on Thursday shows, however, that the area was not as safe as Onodera wants to think. The article says: “「非戦闘地域」 膨らむ疑念”. I learnt 膨らむ・ふくらむ to say that “a flower bud swell” (it must have been one of those N2 words…). But 膨らむ can mean simply “to expand”, “to rise”, “to grow”. So, suspicions are growing concerning the validity of the term “non-combat zone”.

At the end of the article, there is a list of attacks directed at or happening near the base of the GSDF: “陸上自衛隊宿営地などへの主な攻撃状況”. We can see that the base was repeatedly confronted with roquet attacks.

  • 宿営・しゅくえい: billeting, quartering, cantonment.

カビ on the back?

Nothing to do with politics, but since I read this article I simply can’t get out of my mind: 背中にカビで菌増殖…「知らなかった」 加齢臭の原因にも. Mangaka Yoshikazu EBISU (蛭子 能収・えびす よしかず) said on a TV show that he had mould on the back because he does not like taking a bath. Is it okay to come with that in the open? 😲

Anyway, what caught my attention was the word 加齢臭・かれいしゅう that I saw for the first time some days ago, posted on Twitter by Japanese is Fun:

I was baffled that such a word should exist. It even has a Wikipedia entry. Now we know that mould growing on the back can be a cause of 加齢臭…

I swear I feel the itch to go scrub my back!

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To stay on the subject, I also learnt the word スメハラ=スメルハラスメント this week. There is an interesting article on NHK about it: あなたのニオイは大丈夫?

Conclusion

It is much easier to stay in the 政治欄・せいじらん and follow some threads than trying to absorb all that happens in the 社会・しゃかい section. If Japan politics are always so hectic, I will never be bored! Is it always so full of scandals?

I used Mainichi this time, but I would like to know if there is a difference between Mainichi and Asahi, like an editorial line or a tone and which one is more left. Next time, I will certainly read Asahi, though I doubt that I have the knowledge required (both Japanese and politics) to spot the difference. But it will be fun trying to.

Japanese News: April week 2

A lot of things happened this week in Japan, and it is hard to catch up with everything! 🤯 In any case, these are the subjects that caught my attention, with a special part devoted to the labour reform at the end. I have also realised that the articles on NHK News web do not stay on their website for more than a week or so 😱… as a consequence, the links are bound to be broken soon 😲.

Animals mistreat: 68 cases reported last year

In this article 動物虐待で警察が摘発 過去最多の68件, we learn that the Japanese police 警察庁 is keeping statistics concerning the mistreatment 虐待 towards pets since Heisei 22 year, or 2010. Last year, the number of cases reported 摘発された事件 to the police was 68, the most significant number since they started keeping statistics 統計を取り始めてから. This does not mean that cruelty towards animals is increasing, but the number of reported cases is. Notably, people are reporting cases of uploaded video showing mistreatments to the police: 虐待している動画をインターネット上で見つけた人が警察に通報するケースが増えている.

  • 警察庁・けいさつちょう: the National Police Agency
  • 虐待・ぎゃくたい: cruel-treatment, mistreatment, abuse, cruelty.
  • 摘発する・てきはつする: to expose, to disclose
  • 統計・とうけい: statistics, figures
    • 統計を取る: to collect statistics on… to gather statistics about…
  • 通報する・つうほうする: to report, notify.

Among the mistreatment cases, we find 捨てたケースが35件と最も多く、次いで、殺傷が20件、餌を与えなかったり不衛生な状況で飼育したりしたのが13件でした。

  • 殺傷・さっしょう: killing and wounding.
  • 与える・あたえる: a more formal way to say “to give”. The phrase “Please don’t feed the animals” that we can see in parks, for example, would be in Japanese: “動物に餌を与えないでください”.
  • 不衛生・ふえいせい: lack of hygienic care
  • 飼育・しいく: to breed, raise. I remember learning this word for JLPT N2.

Out of curiosity, I have checked what is called in our article “動物愛護法”, the animal welfare legislation. (I think the complete name is 動物愛護管理法).

  • 愛護・あいご: protection, preservation
    • 動物愛護・どうぶつあいご: animal welfare

In case of violation of the animal welfare legislation 動物愛護法違反, the court can demand up to two years of jail and 200万円 in case of killing or wounding and up to 100万円 in case of abandon or lack of care (source).

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A man kills 5 people

Only some months after a man killed 9 people mostly contacted through Twitter, a new case of murder made the headlines: 死亡した5人はいずれも窒息死 鹿児島 日置

  • いずれも means どちらも, meaning here that all the 5 victims died from suffocation
  • 窒息・ちっそく suffocation, asphyxiation.
  • 鹿児島県・かごしまけん: Prefecture of Kagoshima
  • 日置市・ひおきし: City of Hioki

It was almost impossible to understand who was who, who had killed whom and whose house it was from reading articles in Japanese. I found this graph by Mainichi, and it is so much easier to understand than tortuous sentences:

On Friday (6th), the bodies of three victims (on the right in the graph) were discovered at the house in question 現場民家. This house belongs to Hisako IWAKURA 岩倉久子 (いわくら・ひさこ)who is 89-year-old. She lives there with her younger son, who is the father of the suspect. The suspect Tomohiro IWAKURA 岩倉知広(いわくら・ともひろ)has been arrested on Saturday and admitted having killed the three victims, who were members of the family and a neighbour. I guess from the graph, that they were visiting Hisako IWAKURA and his son when they were killed. At the time, both Hisako IWAKURA and her younger son were missing, but the police found their bodies buried in a forest on Sunday (8th).

Tomohiro IWAKURA is accused of killing 5 people, including 4 members of his family. The police are working to find out his motive.

A murder in the police station

On Wednesday (11th) evening, a young police officer 巡査・じゅんさ of 19-year-old shot a 41-year-old police sergeant 巡査部長・じゅんさぶちょう to death in a local police station, a 交番・こうばん. He escaped in a police car, a パトカー: 警察官撃たれて死亡 19歳巡査が撃ち逃走か 滋賀 彦根

The title can be divided into three parts (somehow, it took me a long time to figure out that a space in the title was more or less equivalent to a point).

First, we have “警察官撃たれて死亡”, which means “a police officer has been shot and died”. We find the verb 撃つ・うつ (to shoot) in the passive voice.

Then we have “19歳巡査が撃ち逃走か” or “Possibility that a 19-year-old police officer shot him and escaped”. 逃走・とうそう means “a flight”, “an escape”.

And finally, the place where it occurred “滋賀(県)彦根(市)”. In the city of Hikone (彦根・ひこね), Shiga Prefecture (滋賀・しが).

We learn from this article that the sergeant was found bleeding (apparently shot from behind) in the police station, he died at the hospital. His young colleague, who was working with him in the station on that day, had disappeared. He took with him his gun. The police said that it was his gun which had been used to kill the sergeant and that 3 bullets should remain in it. Soon after, the police car was found in a field. The police were looking for the suspect while the inhabitants were told to stay at home.

The police finally arrested the suspect on Thursday, early in the morning: 警察官撃たれて死亡 19歳巡査を殺人容疑で逮捕 滋賀 彦根.

The title is very similar to the previous one, only the second part has changed: 19歳巡査を殺人容疑で逮捕. We know that the 19-year-old police officer has been arrested 逮捕・たいほbecause he is suspected 容疑・ようぎ of the murder 殺人・さつじん.

Later on Thursday, we learnt that the suspect admitted the crime and said: 「罵倒されたので拳銃で撃った」(source: 警察官撃たれて死亡 逮捕の19歳巡査「罵倒され撃った」 滋賀)

  • 罵倒・ばとう: hurling insults, using abusive language toward…
  • 拳銃・けんじゅう: a pistol, a gun.

So, he shot his colleague because he had been insulted by him?

A man escaped from prison

On Sunday (8th) night, a prisoner 受刑者・じゅけいしゃ escaped from his prison 刑務所・けいむしょ in the city of Imabari (今治市・いまばりし), Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県・えひめけん).

A lot of articles have been published on the subject. In this one 受刑者逃走 広島 尾道を中心に捜索続く, we learn that the police have made public the prisoner’s photo and focus their research in the city of Onomichi (Hiroshima Prefecture), where the car that the fugitive had stolen to escape has been found:

警察は写真を公開するとともに、逃げるのに使ったと見られる車が見つかった広島県尾道市を中心に捜索を続けています。

On Tuesday (10th), we learnt that the fugitive had taken cash from houses or cars, which allowed the police to trace him: 受刑者逃走 住宅や車から現金などが盗まれる被害相次ぐ.

  • 逃走・とうそう: same as above, “a flight”, “an escape”.
  • 相次ぐ・あいつぐ: this word belongs to the first words I learned in Japanese and never liked… I don’t know why… It means “to happen one after another”.

And finally, on Thursday (12th), the police dispatched more than 900 men to track down the fugitive after his location had been narrowed down: 逃走の受刑者 食料盗みながら潜伏か 警察官900人余で捜索.

  • 潜伏・せんぷく: concealment, hiding.

The police found the fingerprints of the fugitive on a car, and packages of food nearby. The police think that he might be hiding in an empty house or in the forest. The police are searching the area.

警察は男が食料などを盗みながら空き家や山林に潜伏している可能性があると見て警察官900人余りを動員して捜索を行っています。

  • 動員する・どういんする: to mobilise, set in motion

A man arrested for a murder committed 14 years ago

This is the breaking news of the day (Friday 13th): 14年前の女子高校生殺害事件 逮捕状取り30代男を任意同行. 14 years ago, a high school girl of 17-year-old had been murdered in the city of Hatsukaichi 廿日市・はつかいち, Prefecture of Hiroshima. By comparing the DNA traces DNA型 and fingerprints 指紋 found on this spot and the ones found in another case, the police were able to arrest (?) a man in his thirties. I don’t understand the expression “任意同行・にんいどうこう” in the title. According to my dictionary, the word means “accompany voluntarily (to the police station)”. But the title and the article say that the police have an arrest warrant 逮捕状・たいほじょう. So… did they arrest him or did the suspect accept to go with them to the police station?

Documents related to the Kake Gakuen scandal

It seems that all the scandals that have shaken Japan politics last year are bound to resurface this year!

Last year, along with the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, there has been another scandal linked to the Kake Gakuen. Without going into details, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has accorded preferential treatment to the school operator Kake. The ministry has allowed a veterinary medicine department to open in the city of Imabari, Ehime prefecture. The problem is that the Ministry had been refusing the opening of veterinary departments for years and the chairman of the one school granted the authorisation to open one… is one of Abe’s friends.

Of course, the story is more complicated than that, but I don’t understand all its aspects myself because I wasn’t reading the news concerning Japan last year. But one of the significant questions was to know if Abe himself put pressure to favour his friend’s institution.

Anyway, as we learn in this article 加計学園問題「ないと説明の文書 残されていた」愛媛県調査, documents relative to the scandal, which “didn’t exist” at the time, have been found.

  • 加計学園・かけがくえん: Kake Gakuen. 学園 means “educational institution”.
  • 愛媛県・えひめけん: Ehime Prefecture

The first paragraph summarises the issue:

愛媛県がこれまでないと説明してきた学校法人「加計学園」の獣医学部新設に関連する文書が残されていることがわかった

The subject of the sentence is 文書が and what is said about them is that we know that they still exist: 残されていることがわかった.

The part before provides more information about the documents. They are documents relative to 関連 to the new establishment 新設 of a veterinary medicine department 獣医学部 of the school corporation 学校法人 Kake Gakuen 「加計学園」. Concerning these documents, the prefecture 愛媛県 had explained until now that they do not exist, that there is no such document.

This revelation comes on top of two other document-related issues: the falsification of documents relative to the Moritomo Gakuen problem and the discovery of the daily log of the GSDF in Iraq even though it had been said before that it hadn’t been saved.

公文書をめぐっては、森友学園についての財務省の決裁文書が改ざんされたり保存されていないとされてきた自衛隊のイラク派遣の日報が相次いで見つかったりするなど管理の在り方が問題となっています。

Ulterior developments have shown that the documents hint at Abe being involved in the scandal, though he denied it. Later, another document with similar contents was found in the Ministry of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (農水省・のうすいしょう), but I must admit that I need more time to digest all this because the articles relative to this issue are too difficult for me. It interests me though, I might print out the main articles and study them this weekend! In any case, I am sure that we will continue to hear about it next week!

Landslide

I remember learning the word 土砂崩れ・どしゃくずれ in my JLPT N2 vocabulary textbook and thought that it would not be a very useful word to know. But sadly it is. On Wednesday (11th) a colossal landslide has occurred in Yabakei (name of a gorge famous for its beauty), and 6 persons may be buried under it.

大分 中津 耶馬溪町で山崩れ 6人の安否不明

  • 安否・あんぴ: personal safety.
  • 大分県・おおいたけん: Oita Prefecture
  • 中津市・なかつし: City of Nakatsu
  • 耶馬渓’町・やばけいまち: the neighbourhood of Yabakei (?) (I never know how to translate 町).

Houses that were at the foot of the mountain has been buried under the landslide: “山が崩れて住宅が土砂に埋まったと警察に通報がありました。”.

The search 捜索活動・そうさくかつどう has been going on during the whole night. The search is conducted by the police警察, the firemen 消防 and the Ground Self-Defence Force 陸上自衛隊 requested in case of disaster.

On Thursday, the corpse of one of the missing persons has been found: 大分 土砂崩れ 行方不明5人の捜索続くand later in the day, the corpse or another one 大分 土砂崩れ 新たに1人の遺体見つかる.

Understanding the labour reform

Japanese News - April week 2 1

or trying to…

I have tried to understand the labour reform, but I still can’t figure out how it is supposed to help reduce 過労死・かろうし or death due to overwork.

Also, I am not familiar with the working conditions as they are now, so it is difficult to judge to which extend the new reform is or not an improvement.

(My main source was this article 働き方改革関連法案 閣議決定, but the link is broken. And now, I just realise that articles on NHK News stay for a week or so but older ones disappear. I wasn’t aware of it before… all the links will be broken in a couple of days then… I should find another source.)

What I understand is that there were 4 main features in the labour reform:

  • 裁量労働制の適用業務の拡大: The expansion of the discretionary system
  • 時間外労働の上限規制: a legal maximum cap of overtime work
  • 高度プロフェッショナル制度: a system for highly skilled professionals
  • 同一労働同一賃金: an “equal work – equal pay” system

裁量労働制の適用業務の拡大

  • 裁量・さいりょう: discretion, judgment

The first feature had to be dropped because the data that Abe provided in the Diet to support it were flawed. According to the “discretionary labour system”, the employee is not paid according to the number of hours he actually worked but according to a fixed number of working hours decided together and beforehand with the employer. The system already applies to some professions, and Abe’s goal was to expand it. Sincerely, I don’t understand this system at all, how can it be beneficial to the employee? But anyway, this part of the reform has been dropped so let’s move on to the next one.

時間外労働の上限規制

  • 時間外労働・じかんがいろうどう: overtime work
  • 上限・じょうげん: the upper limit, a cap
  • 規制・きせい: regulation control

The article says:

法案は長時間労働を是正するため、時間外労働の上限を、原則として月45時間、年間360時間としています。ただ、臨時に特別な事情がある場合には、年間6か月まではさらなる時間外労働を認めます。

具体的には、休日労働も含め、月100時間未満、2か月から6か月のいずれの期間の平均も80時間を上限とし、こうした場合でも年間では最大720時間以内としています。

Japanese News - April week 2 4

What I understand is this: As a general rule, the cap of overtime work is 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year. However, in special circumstances 特別な事情, more overtime can be requested during a maximum period of 6 months in the year. To be more precise, the cap for special circumstances is 100 hours per month, this means that the overtime work cannot exceed 100 hours in a month. However, no matter if these special circumstances are lasting only two months or 6 months (the maximum time authorised), the average cap should be 80 hours, and it should not exceed 720 hours per year.

There are specifications according to professions, but maybe we don’t need to go through it.

The opposition agrees that a legal cap must be fixed but says that the cap of 100 hours is not enough and should be reduced. An interesting but frightening word appears in the article: 過労死ライン・かろうしライン (Wikipedia). The karoshi line is the limit of overtime work that, if crossed, can lead to health troubles.

高度プロフェッショナル制度

This is the system that I can’t make out. It concerns people who earn more than 1075万円 per year. Let’s work on the article:

今の法律では、従業員に1日8時間、もしくは週40時間を超えて働かせた場合、一定の割増賃金を支払わなければなりませんが、本人の同意を得て、この制度が適用されると、残業や休日出勤をしても割増賃金は支払われません。

  • In the actual legislation,
    • 法律・ほうりつ: law, legislation
  • if the employee is forced to work more than 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day
  • a fixed overtime wage must be paid to him.
    • 割増賃金・わりましちんぎん: I understand this word as “overtime pay”.
  • but
  • with the consent of the employee
  • if this system is applied (the “system” is the new 高度プロフェッショナル制度)
  • even if the employee works overtime or on day-off, he will not be paid extra-wages.

Japanese News - April week 2 5So far, so good. I don’t think that I am mistaken here: with the new system, overtime work and work on days off will not be paid. However, there are some rules that the employer must abide by:

一方、労働者の健康を確保するために、年間104日以上、4週間で4日以上の休日を確保することが義務づけられます。

  • On the other hand,
  • to ensure the health of the worker
  • (the employer) has the duty to guarantee over 104 days-off per year, over 4 days-off in 4 weeks (to the employee).

Japanese News - April week 2 6.jpgThis is the part where I start to doubt my Japanese abilities. It is okay to let your highly skilled professional employee work overtime and on days off without paying him or her for that, provided that the employee can have at least 4 days off per month and 104 days off per year? I mean, it is not much…

It goes on, and I can’t be sure whether I understand this or not:

さらに、2週間の連続休暇取得、臨時の健康診断、仕事を終えてから、次の日、仕事を始めるまでに一定の休息時間を確保すること、それに、1か月、または、3か月の間に労働者が会社にいる時間、「在社時間」に上限を設けるといった合わせて4種類の取り組みから労使が1つを選んで実施しなければなりません

  • Furthermore,
  • (underline section) the employer and the employee have to choose one of the 4 sorts of measures (I don’t know how to translate 取り組み) and apply it.

What are the 4 sorts of measures? I had to re-read the sentence several times to understand it, but I think that 3 comes before the “それに” and one after.

  • (The employer) guarantee (確保すること):
    • two weeks in a row of break
    • health diagnosis (?)
    • a fixed number of non-working hours between the moment when the employee leaves the office and the moment he goes to work on the following day
  • (the employer) sets a cap of “presence in the office” per month or 3 months.

Japanese News - April week 2 7Do they really have to choose one among them? Why can’t they have the 4?

My feeling is that the compensation for not paying overtime work is nothing but basic principles to ensure that people don’t work 24 hours a day the whole year. I must say that I agree with the opposition which calls this system a bill for zero overtime pay『残業代ゼロ法案』.

「同一労働同一賃金」

This is much easier to understand: “「同一労働同一賃金」は、同じ内容の仕事に対しては同じ水準の賃金を支払うという考え方です。”

In other words, “non-regular employees” 非正規労働者・ひせいきろうどうしゃ such as part-time workers パート or contract employees 契約社員 must receive the same wages as regular employees 正社員・せいしゃいん if they do the same work.

Apart from the last point, I don’t see how this reform can do any good to the employees. I feel really uneasy after reading all this…

Conclusion

A lot of things have happened, and it was very hard to follow this week!

I am more than ever motivated to learn the name of Japan regions and prefectures. I still don’t know how I will do it. Maybe just download a map and learn it? I don’t want to add places names to my Anki, and I don’t feel like creating a new deck. My goal is to be able to pronounce a Prefecture’s name when I see the kanji and to know (approximately) where it is on the map. I will have to think about it!

Japanese News: April week1

I have been checking the news to in Japanese to give an overview of what happened this week (including last weekend). Of course, I may have overlooked important information and I hope that I understood well the articles I have read. I did my best!

Let’s have a look! (all sources from NHK News Web):

Civil protest after Sagawa’s testimony

Last week, Sagawa testified before the Diet concerning the falsification of the documents relative to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. However, he refused to answer the hottest questions because he could be subject to prosecution. On Friday evening, demonstrators in a massive protest asked for answers: 森友 国会前で大規模抗議デモ 佐川氏喚問後初の週末.

I would translate the title as such: “[Moritomo] Big protest before the National Diet building: first weekend after Sagawa’s testimony.

  • 大規模・だいきぼ: large-scale. Sadly, the article does not say how many people were there.
  • 抗議・こうぎ: a protest
  • 喚問・かんもん: a summons

The article says that people asked for clear explanations: “ちゃんと説明しろ”. The reporter interviewed two persons. What they say certainly reflects the sentiment of many people and is quite easy to understand in Japanese:

「公文書を平気で改ざんし、きちんとした説明をしない政府は信頼できません。今の対応は、うそをついているようにしか思えないので、真相を明らかにしてもらいたい」

This man says that he cannot trust a government who easily falsifies documents and doesn’t give explanations. He says that now, he can’t but think that the government is lying and he asks for the truth.

「佐川氏の証人喚問は、この問題について、何も説明がなされず、おかしいと思いました。改ざんの過程については何も話せないのに、なぜ総理大臣と夫人が関与していないことだけはっきりと言えるのか。国民のための政治をしてもらいたい」

This woman says that she finds it strange that Sagawa did not give any explanations. She asks: whereas Sagawa didn’t say a word about the process of the falsification, why did he state so clearly that neither Abe nor his wife was involved?

April Fool

I didn’t know, but the newspaper 東京新聞 publishes hoaxes every year for April fool since 2001! I understand that people may be against jokes in newspapers, but it makes me think of 19th Century Great Moon Hoax or Poe’s Balloon Hoax, and I find it exciting!

Anyway, そのうそ、本当? asks one article. Among other examples of jokes made by several brands, it cites last year’s hoax by 東京新聞. They said that the きんさんぎんさん姉妹 were in reality 三姉妹. Kin (金・きん) and Gin (銀・ぎん) are twin sisters known for their longevity. They died in 2000 and 2001 at the age of 107 and 108 years old. The article says that there was a third sister named Do (銅・どう).

In France, we stick a paper fish in other people’s back on April Fools’ Day (but the last time I did it, it was during primary school…)

New canvas

Emperor’s abdication planning

I see that there are discussions around the Emperor’s abdication but nothing really new. As this article’s title says 今後の焦点は元号に 政府 慎重に検討進める, the government is working on it. If you are interested in this matter, NHK has a very thorough dossier on the subject! I might read some parts of it later, to be up-to-date next year, when the transition takes place.

  • 焦点・しょうてん: a focal point, a central point
  • 元号・げんごう: an era name
  • 慎重・しんちょう: careful
  • 検討・けんとう: an examination

What I found very interesting is this article: 「平成」後の新元号 いつ変わる?どう決まる?. It is about how the new name of an era is chosen. Let’s have a look at the intertitles:

  • まず、有識者が2~5の案を提出: First, the persons in charge (?) will propose 2 to 5 names. These persons are specialists of literature and history.
  • 「漢字2文字」「書きやすい」など 政府内で数案に絞る: The government narrows down the propositions with the criteria “2 kanji”, “easy to write”. The name must also be easy to read and of course, must not have been used in the past.
    • 絞る・しぼる means “to squeeze” but it also means “to narrow down”. I often see the expression “容疑者を絞る” (narrow down the suspects) in Keigo HIGASHINO’s books.
  • 最後に、改元の政令を閣議決定: A Cabinet meeting session makes the final decision concerning the new era name.
    • 改元・かいげん: a change in era name
    • 政令・せいれい: a government ordinance, a cabinet order
    • 閣議・かくぎ: a cabinet meeting
  • 「いつ発表するかは白紙」首相: Abe said that the date of the public announcement of the new era name was still “白紙・はくし”. This word means “white paper” but can also mean “scratch” like in the expression “start from scratch”. I guess that what is meant here is that they still haven’t decided or even started to discuss the date (?)
  • 官房長官が記者会見で発表か: Abe said that, given that it was the Chief Cabinet Secretary who announced the new era name Heisei during a press conference at the time, it certainly will be Chief Cabinet Secretary this time too.

Gosho AOYAMA is back!

Gosho AOYAMA (青山剛昌・あおやまごうしょう) had taken some months of rest. The series Case Closed 「名探偵コナン」will make a return in the magazine「週刊少年サンデー」on April 11th, after 4 months of absence.

See the article: 漫画「名探偵コナン」連載再開へ 今月発売号から.

  • 連載・れんさい: serialization, serial publication

You can see a handwritten note by Gosho AOYAMA on the magazine site. He announces the return of Conan and says that, even if this note is published on April Fool, there is zero lie in it!

Japanese macaques relieve stress in hot springs?

Everything is in the title: 野生ニホンザル 温泉でストレス解消か 京大グループ

A research group at Kyoto University (京都大学) has observed that Japanese macaques ニホンザル tend to spend more time in the onsen in Winter than in Spring. The reason could be that they relieve the stress ストレス解消.

Tradition vs human life?

A shocking report came out on Thursday: 女性が土俵 相撲協会幹部「次元の違う話」緊急時対応を柔軟に

On Wednesday, during the grand sumo 大相撲 Spring tournaments 春巡業 in the city of Maizuru (舞鶴市), the mayor collapsed on the ring. The ring of Sumo tournaments is called Dohyo 土俵・どひょう, and it is traditionally forbidden to women.

  • 大相撲・おおすもう: a grand sumo tournament, professional sumo
  • 巡業・じゅんぎょう: a provincial tour, a tour of the provinces. Also: 地方巡業.

On the video, we can see that several men surround the unconscious mayor, but they don’t seem to be doing anything. Then a woman, who has medical knowledge, steps on the Dohyo and starts a heart massage. What is shocking is that we can hear an announcement saying that women should get out of the Dohyo: 「女性は土俵から下りてください」. This announcement was repeated three times.

The video in the article is relatively easy to understand. People asked on the street said saving a life comes first 最優先・さいゆうせん (highest priority). The doctor interviewed said that the woman’s reaction was right 正しい and that nothing should be done to prevent saving a life.

This other article 大相撲巡業 土俵上で倒れた舞鶴市長 くも膜下出血で入院 京都 cites an official who was on the Dohyo at the time. He said that he heard the woman say: 『看護師で心臓マッサージができる』. When the announcement asked women to step out of the Dohyo, she said 『人命救助をしているのになぜ』.

This other article 大相撲巡業 救命処置の女性に「土俵から下りて」とアナウンス says that while the video of the scene becomes viral on Twitter and Youtube, comments on the Internet were 「救命活動を止めろということか」 or 「非常識きわまりないアナウンスだ」.

  • 救命・きゅうめい: lifesaving
  • 非常識・ひじょうしき: absurdity, lack of common sense
  • きわまりない: extremely

Isao TAKAHATA died on Thursday

Isao TAKAHATA 高畑勲(たかはた・いさお)died at the age of 82 on Thursday (5th). He co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao MIYAZAKI and directed, to name a few, The grave of the fireflies「火垂るの墓」, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya「かぐや姫の物語」and Only Yesterday「おもひでぽろぽろ」which is one of my favourite Ghibli films.

Further reading: アニメ作家 高畑勲さん死去 「火垂るの墓」などの作品

Japanese News April week1 3

The log of GSDF in Iraq

The context:

GSDF is an acronym for Japan Ground Self-Defense Force or in Japanese 陸上自衛隊・りくじょうじえいたい. The GSDF has operated in Iraq from 2004 to 2006. The Self-Defense Forces participate in peacemaking operations overseas.

Last year, there has been a cover-up scandal that led to the demission of Defense Minister Inada. This scandal concerned the operation of the GSDF in South Sudan. To summarise the case, although the GSDF was there to reconstruct infrastructures and provide humanitarian aid, information leaked that they were facing combats. Under the accusation that the ministry knew but tried to conceal the real situation that was facing its soldiers in South Sudan, Inada resigned.

At this occasion, a large-scale investigation has been made concerning documents of the Defense Ministry. It concerned, among others, the daily activity log of the GSDF in Iraq. At the time of the investigation, the Defense Ministry said that the daily activity log “does not exist”.

And what happened on Monday (2nd)? Defense Minister announced that they had found the log: 「存在しない」イラク派遣の陸自日報が見つかる 防衛相が陳謝

The title of this article can be translated as such: “the daily activity log of the SDF operation in Iraq that “does not exist” has been found: Defense Minister apologises.”

  • 派遣・はけん: dispatch, deployment
  • 陸自・りくじ: abbreviation for 陸上自衛隊・りくじょうじえいたい GSDF
  • 日報・にっぽう: a daily report
  • 防衛相・ぼうえいしょう: Minister of Defense. Also: 防衛大臣・ぼうえいだいじん.
  • 陳謝・ちんしゃ: an official apology.

Let’s go through some parts of the article:

Let’s look at the first paragraph that summarises the issue:

陸上自衛隊をイラクに派遣した際の日報について、防衛省は、これまで保存されていないとしてきましたが、小野寺防衛大臣は2日、陸上幕僚監部で見つかったことを公表し、これまでの対応を陳謝しました。

  • 陸上自衛隊・りくじょうじえいたい Ground Self-Defense Force GSDF
  • 防衛省・ぼうせいしょう: Ministry of Defense
  • 小野寺防衛大臣: Actual Minister of Defense Itsunori ONODERA
    • 小野寺五典(おのでら・いつのり)
  • 陸上幕僚監部・りくじょうばくりょうかんぶ: Ground Staff Office

The article further insists that the ministry once said that this log “does not exist”: イラクでの活動の日報について、防衛省は、これまで国会の資料請求や質疑に対し「存在しない」と回答していました。

  • 資料請求・しりょうせいきゅう: asking (a request) for information
  • 質疑・しつぎ: a question, an inquiry

To explain the response of the time, the Minister said that they only searched for the log at one place and that they didn’t find it there.

陸上自衛隊のイラク派遣の日報が残されていないと説明してきたことについて、防衛省は、去年2月、国会議員から確認を求められた際、運用を担当する部署に確認したものの見つからなかったためだと明らかにしました。

  • Concerning why they explained that the daily log (of the GSDF’s dispatching to Iraq)  hadn’t been kept,
  • the Ministry of Defense announced that (防衛省は…と明らかにしました)
  • it was because they didn’t find it when they checked at the quarters in charge of the operation
    • 部署・ぶしょ: one’s quarters
    • 運用・うんよう: operation
  • last February
  • when the members of the Diet asked for verification

I am slowly getting used to this kind of long sentences. Another article states clearly that they didn’t check other places than these quarters: 陸自のイラク派遣日報 当初は部隊運用部署しか調査せず 防衛省. We have the use of the grammar “しか…ない”.

Japanese News April week11

The core of the problem is here. Instead of saying that they couldn’t find the log, they said that it no longer existed. This leads to some questioning. The article cites opposition members at the end. Someone said that if the Ministry intentionally hid the log, it would be a big deal:「故意に隠していたら大問題だ」.

To spice the revelation, it seems that the log had been found in January of this year. It took three months before the person who found it (from the GSDF) report it to Defense Minister: 日報問題 防衛相への報告まで3か月 管理適切か検証へ:

“日報の存在をことし1月に把握していながら防衛大臣に報告するまでに3か月近くかかっていました”.

On Wednesday, however, a new revelation came out: the existence of the log had been confirmed in March 2017 but has been deliberately concealed until now: 陸自 日報問題 去年3月に存在確認も大臣らに報告せず.

This title encompasses a lot of information in a very condensed way: “the GSDF, concerning the problem of the daily activity log, even though they (the GSDF) had confirmation of its (the log) existence, didn’t report it to the Defense Minister and others”.

Let’s have a look at the first paragraph:

陸上自衛隊のイラク派遣の日報が見つかった問題で、実際には去年3月の時点で、日報の存在が確認されたにもかかわらず、陸上自衛隊が、発見の事実を当時の稲田防衛大臣らに報告していなかったことを、小野寺防衛大臣が明らかにしました。

  • Concerning the problem of the discovery of the daily log (about GSDF dispatching to Iraq)
  • Minister of Defense Onodera announced that (this is the last part of the sentence in Japanese)
  • in reality, in March of last year,
  • although the existence of the log had been confirmed
    • we have this N2 grammar: にもかかわらず: although…, in spite of…
  • the GSDF
  • did not report the fact of the discovery to Inada, who was Defense Minister at the time, and others.

Of course, they will make an investigation to understand the process and the motive of the concealment. イラク派遣日報 防衛省 詳しい経緯や動機などの解明急ぐ方針.

  • 経緯・いきさつ: the circumstances, course of events
  • 動機・どうき: the motive

Japanese News April week1 2

The labour reform

Deliberations are going on in the Diet about the Labour reform. Especially, they are discussing the「高度プロフェッショナル制度」. What I know (or think that I know) is that there were two major features in this reform project: the so-called discretionary system 裁量労働制 and the 高度プロフェッショナル制度 (how do you translate this in English?). Abe had to give up the first one because the data given to support it were flawed. So now, we are focusing on the second system.

I will swot up on the labour reform and come back with more information next week!

Conclusion

The less that I can say is that reading the news in Japanese is anything but boring! On top of the falsified documents scandal, they now have a concealed documents scandal! Is it okay??

As for me, I feel more and more at ease to read articles and their long sentences. Also, following the same issue over several days has the advantage that I already know the keywords, so reading becomes easier and easier. However, when a new issue appears (like the labour reform) I need to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

Japanese News: March week 4

I feel more and more at ease with the new format of my “Japanese news” posts. I only focused on internal affairs:

Anti-tobacco actions

The city of Ikoma (Nara prefecture) has adopted a new regulation against tobacco: 喫煙後45分間 エレベーターの利用禁止 奈良 生駒

I think that the title is quite easy to understand if you know the word 喫煙・きつえん (smoking). The last two words are:

  • 奈良・なら: Nara Prefecture
  • 生駒・いこま: city of Ikoma.

According to this new regulations, people will have to wait 45 minutes after smoking if they want to ride the elevator: 「たばこを吸った職員は45分間、エレベーターの利用を禁止」. This regulation concerns all the officials of the city: “市の全職員”. The reason given is that toxic substances keep going out of the body during the 45 minutes after smoking (i feel that my English is horrible, sorry 🙁):

“喫煙後も45分間は体内から有害物質が出続ける”

  • 有害物質・ゆうがいぶっしつ: toxic substance. I learnt this word in my JLPT N2 vocabulary book, haha.

Japanese News March week 4 -2

The burger chain モスバーガー (Mos Burger) will make all its 1300 restaurants across the country “全国1300余りのすべての店舗” non-smoking before the Olympics. As the title suggests, Mos Burger is not the first one to adopt such a position: モスバーガーも全面禁煙へ 外食業界で禁煙化広がる

  • the particle も implies that others have already taken this step
  • the “non-smokisation” spread among the “industry of eating out”.

The point is to fight against 受動喫煙・じゅどうきつえん or passive smoking and prepare for Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Tragic deaths in the mountains

On Sunday (25th), 7 persons had an accident in Yatsugatake Mountains (Nagano). They “slipped down the mountainside” 滑落・かつらく. 3 persons are dead:  八ヶ岳連峰で3人死亡4人けが斜面を約300m滑落か

A climbing rope (ザイル) was securing the 7 persons when they fell. The first person slid and fell:

『滑落した際には7人がザイルでつながっていた。先頭の人が足を滑らせて落ちた』

On Thursday (29th), a 4th-grade elementary school girl died during a ski competition競技スキーの合宿に参加 小学4年生女児死亡 北海道 倶知安町

  • 合宿・がっしゅく: go on a training camp
  • 倶知安町・くっちゃんちょう: Kutchan, a town in Hokkaido

Ethics and patriotism at school

Something is going on with Japanese school textbooks, but sadly, I can’t understand the article well… The title is obscure if we don’t know what it is about: 中学の「道徳」教科書 初検定 各社の「評価」対応分かれる.

I feel that this is an issue going on for some time, and knowing its genesis would be helpful, if not necessary, to understand what this is all about. I am not sure that understand the title, but I would translate it like this: “First inspection of the middle school “ethics” textbooks: the response of each publisher concerning the “evaluation” is different.”

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

I don’t know if it is new, but “ethics”, “morals” 道徳・どうとく will become (or is) a course in middle school and high school. Among the topics that form the core of this course are the love of the country 国の愛 and the love of the family 家族愛. Among the eight publishers that made the textbooks of morals, five have integrated an auto-evaluation test 自己評価・じこkひょうか. The student is asked, for example, how he positions himself concerning the love of the country and family. He can choose between a range of answers like in a psychological test (apply to me or not, feel this or not).

Specialists have called to prudence when it comes to such auto-evaluation test.

Japanese News March week 4 -1.jpg

Emperor and Empress’ visit to Okinawa

The Emperor and Empress visited Okinawa. They arrived on Tuesday. It is their 11th visit to Okinawa and will probably be the last, given that the Emperor will abdicate next year.

The Emperor and Empress visited the 「国立沖縄戦没者墓苑」 to pay their respects to the victims of World War II: 両陛下が沖縄訪問 「戦没者墓苑」で慰霊

  • 国立沖縄戦没者墓苑
    • 国立・こくりつ: national
    • 沖縄・おきなわ: Okinawa (around one-third of the population died during the battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War)
    • 戦没者・せんぼつしゃ: a fallen soldier, the war dead
    • 墓苑・ぼえん: a cemetery, a graveyard

天皇皇后両陛下は27日、沖縄県を訪れ、沖縄戦最後の激戦地糸満市にある「国立沖縄戦没者墓苑」で戦没者の慰められました

  • 天皇・てんのう is Emperor and 皇后・こうごう is Empress.
  • 陛下・へいか means “His or Her Majesty” and his used to talk about the Emperor or the Empress. When we want to mention both of them, however, we use the term “両陛下・りょうへいか”. The group of word “天皇皇后両陛下” can be learned as such, as it often appears in the news.
  • 沖縄戦・おきなわせん: the Battle of Okinawa (April 1 – June 22, 1945)
  • 激戦・げきせん: a fierce battle, a heavy fighting
  • 糸満市・いとまんし: city of Itoman, the final front of the Battle of Okinawa
  • 霊・れい: the soul
  • 慰める・なぐさめる means “to comfort”, “to console”, but in our context, it means “honour (the memory of the victims)”. Our sentence uses the honorific form of the verb that looks like a passive voice.

Emergency landing

A helicopter of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) had to proceed to an emergency landing at Yonago airport. Nobody is injured.

The title of the article is the kind of title that usually puts me off: “自衛隊ヘリが緊急着陸 滑走路閉鎖 鳥取 米子空港”.

However, if I look at it carefully, I can guess the meaning of most of the words:

I know that 自衛隊・じえいたい is the name of the SDF and I could easily guess that a ヘリ is a helicopter because of the video in the article. I also know that 緊急・きんきゅう means “emergency” and  I can deduce the meaning of 着陸・ちゃくりく (landing) because I know the word 離陸・りりく (takeoff).

I was first puzzled with 滑走路・かっそうろ but a road to go and slide in the context of an airport (空港・くうこう)… Yes, it is the runway. I didn’t know the word 閉鎖・へいさ but could guess its meaning (closing) from the first kanji.

And finally, I had no clue what 鳥取・とっとり was because I still haven’t got around to learning Japan prefectures yet: 鳥取県・とっとりけん is Tottori prefecture. It was obvious, however, that 米子・よなご was the name of the airport, I just had to look for the pronunciation in Google.

Moralité: Always look at a difficult sentence or title twice because we know more than we think we do.

The falsified documents

Tuesday (27th), Sagawa testified before the Diet. Sagawa was a high official inside the Ministry of Finance at the time the documents were falsified. Everybody wants to know who ordered the falsification and why. Additionally, we want to know if Abe and his wife are involved. Let’s see if Sagawa’s testimony brought some light on the matter.

How did Sagawa testify? The article “佐川氏 どう証言した? 午前の喚問のポイント” summarizes the major points of the morning.

And this article summarizes the major points of the afternoon: 佐川氏 どう証言した? 午後の喚問のポイントbut I don’t see much additional information in it so I will focus on what happened in the morning.

Also, this article gives a clear overview of the day: 改ざんは誰が?なぜ? 佐川氏どこまで語った.

Let’s call a spade a spade

japanese news - march week 4To begin with, a note about the word 改ざん・かいざん. It means “falsification” and has thus a strong meaning, implying the intention to deceive. At the end of this article, NHK reporter says that, although they used the word 書き換え・かきかえ until now to talk about the documents being “re-written” (決裁文書の書き換え), after Sagawa’s testimony, we can now talk of 改ざん.

Did Sagawa know about the falsification

One of the questions that have been asked to Sagawa is whether Sagawa knew about the falsification and if yes, who ordered it and why:

「書き換えの当時、理財局長であった証人は、この書き換えを知っていたか。仮に知っていたならば、誰が、どのような動機で、いつ、誰に書き換えを指示したのか」

  • It is easier to say that Sagawa was a high official of the Finance Ministry, but to be precise, he was the head of the Financial Bureau of the Ministry of Finance: 理財局長・りざいきょくちょう
  • 証人・しょうにん: a witness. In this sentence, Sagawa.
  • 仮に・かりに: if…

But, Sagawa did not answer the question because he is subject to prosecution: 「私が捜査対象であり、刑事訴追を受けるおそれがあるので、答弁差し控える

  • 訴追・そつい: prosecution
  • 答弁を差し控える is an expression that means “refrain from answering”
  • 答弁・とうべん: a reply, an answer
  • 差し控える・さしひかえる: abstain from doing

Why the falsification?

When the scandal burst out, Abe said that if he or his wife had a connection with the discounted sale, he would resign. Therefore, it seems natural to ask if the documents have been falsified to cover the Prime Minister or his wife.

However, Sagawa said, for the same reason of prosecution, that he refused to answer any question relative to the motive.

Are Abe and his wife involved?

Someone asked if「安倍総理大臣や昭恵氏らからの指示はあったのか。総理大臣秘書官らの総理大臣官邸や麻生副総理兼財務大臣の指示はあったのか」.

The question implies five persons or groups of persons:

  • 安倍総理大臣: Prime Minister Abe
  • 昭恵氏: Akie, Abe’s wife
  • 総理大臣秘書官: Abe’s private secretary
    • 秘書官・ひしょかん: private secretary
  • 総理大臣官邸: Abe’s relatives (?)
    • 官邸・かんてい: Residence of the Prime Minister
  • 麻生副総理兼財務大臣: Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister
    • 麻生・あそう: Aso (I am glad I noted his name last time)
    • 副総理・ふくそうり Deputy Prime Minister
    • 兼・けん: “and”, “in addition”, “at the same time”. It took me a while to understand that his two positions were linked with this character. I thought that the suite of 8 characters was a new grad I never heard about before.
    • 財務大臣・ざいむだいじん: Minister of Finance

To this question, Sagawa replied 「ございませんでした」.

Sagawa said that the documents were handled inside the Financial Bureau exclusively: “理財局の中で、資料要求の対応をする”. There was no communication with actors outside of the Bureau, like a consultation with the Minister of Finance or report to the Prime Minister. In short, neither the Minister of Finance Aso nor Abe nor his wife is involved in this business.

Sagawa kept repeating that there was no “instructions” 指示・しじ coming from the Prime Minister or others. Just to be sure that Sagawa was not beating around the bush by using strategic words, someone asked if, apart from not having been any 『指示』 from Abe, there were:

  • 『協議』: ぎろん: discussion
  • 『連絡』: れんらく: communication
  • 『打ち合わせ』: うちあわせ: preliminary meeting

To which Sagawa answered that there was not.

If you watch the video provided with this article, you will see that Sagawa spent a good deal of time answering “ございませんでした”.

Conclusion

It seems that Sagawa didn’t give any essential piece of information concerning who ordered the falsification and why. He repeated several times that neither Abe, nor his wife, nor the Minister of Finance was involved.

What’s next?

The opposition insists on two points: that the light should be made on this matter and that Abe’s wife should testify. Abe, however, wants to move on to the next chapter, which is the labour reform: 「働き方改革」「改ざん問題」後半国会も攻防続く. I do not relish the prospect of reading articles on the labour reform… seems to be such a complex subject! 😩

Notes

I have been very thorough this week and opened NHK News website every day to copy links for later use. What is funny is that I often do it on my phone, because checking the news is something easily done on the go. But copying the links and put them in WordPress was not as easy as it sounds. And what happened this week? WordPress added a new “save as draft” function on ios! I felt greatly encouraged!

Also, the more I read the news, the easier and the more interesting it becomes. I feel more implied and curious concerning Japan politics and society.


My English notebook:

To call a spade a spade vs to beat around the bush: appeler un chat un chat vs noyer le poisson.

I don’t relish the prospect of doing sth: je ne me réjouis pas à l’idée de

to get around to sth or to doing sth: to do sth that you have intended to do for a long time: “I haven’t got around to it yet” (the kind of sentence I can use often…).

Japanese News: March week 3

Usually, I study a news article every Friday. But last week, I decided to change my routine and try to keep an eye on the NHK News website every day. I hope I managed to extract the news of importance, but I certainly missed a lot of information. Anyway, this is an attempt at giving an overview of the week in Japan (internal affairs only).

Moritomo Gakuen

The Moritomo Gakuen scandal is still in the headlines. On Monday, an NHK article said that popular protest still spread before the Diet building: “森友問題 国会前では抗議活動続く“.

  • 抗議・こうぎ: protest, protestation

The people assembled in the protest were yelling in chorus: 「文書の改ざん徹底糾弾」, asking for a thorough investigation to find who gave the order to falsify the documents.

  • 改ざん・かいざん, as I learned last week, means “falsification”.
  • 徹底・てってい: thoroughness
  • 糾弾・きゅうだん: censure, denunciation, condemnation.

On Tuesday, the ruling party finally accepted the request of the opposition: Sagawa will testify in the Diet on March 27th. Sagawa was a high official in the Ministry of Finance at the time of the sale. One article’s title on the subject is “佐川氏の証人喚問 来週27日に衆・参両院の予算委で“.

  • 佐川・さがわ: Sagawa.
  • 証人喚問・しょうにんかんもん: a summons to a witness
  • 衆・参両院 This seemingly difficult word simply refers to the two Houses of the Diet:
    • 議院・しゅうぎいん: the House of Representatives
    • 議院・さんぎいん: the House of Councillors
  • 予算委・よさんい: the budget committee.

Also, chief secretary of the Finance Ministry said on Thursday that no intermediate report would be made during the investigation:「森友」書き換え問題 財務省「調査の中間報告しない」. The article cites the chief secretary of Finance Ministry: 「これまでの調査で理財局の一部の職員によって書き換えが行われたことがわかっているが、さらに掘り下げて、どの職員がどの程度、なぜ関与したのか、調査をし尽くす必要がある。ただ、確たる終わりの時期を申し上げることはできかねる」

  • The department of the Finance Ministry involved in the falsification is the “Financial Bureau”, or in Japanese 理財局・りざいきょく
  • 掘り下げる・ほりさげる: investigate, dig deeply
  • ます形+尽くす・つくす: do something completely
  • 確たる・かくたる: certain, definite, sure. It looks like a verb but acts like an adjective (?)

Some obscure problem with pension data

Meanwhile, another scandal is very present in the media but also quite tricky to understand. I had to read English sources to understand it… A Japanese firm who processes the data relative to pensions entrusted a part of the job to a Chinese firm: “500万人分の個人情報が中国業者に 年金情報入力を再委託“.

  • 委託・いたく: trust, charge, commission.

An extract of the article is enough to summarise the problem. Though I know every word in it, I didn’t understand what it was about until I read on the subject in English. 😕 Frustrating.

“日本年金機構からデータ入力の業務を委託された東京の会社が、契約に違反しておよそ500万人分の個人情報を中国の業者に渡し、入力業務を任せていたことが厚生労働省などへの取材でわかりました。”

  • The Tokyo firm who had been commissioned by the organism of Japanese pension to process their data,
  • in violation of their contract, handed around 5 millions of personal data to a Chinese firm.
  • The fact that the (Japanese firm) entrusted the processing operation (to the Chinese firm) has come to light through the research of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and others. (I am not sure of my translation of this part).

I find this affair very complex and I don’t have much interest in it, so I don’t feel motivated to read more on the subject… 🙄

Snow on the first day of Spring

spring at lastWednesday was the first day of Spring, but some parts of the country were covered with snow: “関東甲信の山沿いと東北 あすにかけ大雪のおそれ“.

I have been telling myself for a long time that I should learn Japan’s geography. At least the name of the regions, some prefectures and main cities. I am not very motivated to do it though…

甲信・こうしん is the name of a region, situated near the Kanto region. If I understood correctly, the Koshin region is only a part of the bigger Chubu region. It covers both Yamanashi prefecture (山梨県・やまなしけん) and Nagano prefecture (長野県・ながのけん). I found that the couple 関東甲信 is often used in a meteorologic context. No wonder, then, that we should find it in our title.

The title says that there is a risk of heavy snow in the North-East and mountainous parts of the Kanto-Koushin regions.

The snow fell so heavily that a group of 13 hikers were caught in the mountains and could not descend due to the snow. They had to be evacuated by helicopter and transferred to hospital: “東京・奥多摩 登山者13人全員を病院に搬送“.

  • 奥多摩・おくたま, near Tokyo, Okutama offers a wide range of outdoor activities and has several hiking spots.

The lives of the 13 rescued are not threatened: 命に別状はない. This is an expression that means “one’s life is not threatened”.

  • 別状・べつじょう: something wrong. This word seems to be mainly used in the negative form “別状ない”, to say that something is safe, not threatened, not in danger or not damaged.

Virtual currencies, a new target

Finally, let’s have a look at this article: 仮想通貨狙った新サイバー犯罪 被害は1年で6億円超. It says that a new form of cybercrime aims at cryptocurrencies. Last year, the equivalent of more than 600 million Yen (or less than 6 million Dollars) have been stolen. But in January of this year, the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck has been hacked, resulting in the loss of around 58 billion Yen or around 550 million Dollars in NEM crypto-currency.  😲

  • 仮想通貨・かそうつうか: virtual money
  • 狙う・ねらう: aim at (a target).

How can there be such a gap between the total amount of stolen money last year and the loss of Coincheck in January? Maybe I made a mistake while calculating? I’m not at ease with numbers:

calculating.jpg

 

Japanese News: an overview of the week (an attempt)

Today, instead of studying one article, I would like to have an overview of the topical issues of the week. I think that it would be more interesting to look at a wide range of topics and vocabulary, instead of going deeply into one subject.

The problem is that I don’t have a paying subscription to access a digital newspaper that would provide headlines. Instead, I use websites like NHK news or Asahi, but the continuous flow of articles makes it daunting to look for main information.

The only solution would be to check the news every day and bookmark articles that I want to review. I am far from reading the news every day in Japanese, but this is something I would like to do (instead of “reading”, I should say looking blankly at articles’ titles and having no idea what they are talking about).

Unfortunately, I have not been thorough in my reading the news resolution. I just isolated two main topics, but I don’t pretend to really do an overview of the week. But that’s the idea, and I hope I can improve in this domain. So, today’s topics are:

  • The 3.11 earthquake commemoration through the Arabaki rock festival
  • Latest developments in the Moritomo Gakuen scandal
  • Hayao MIYAZAKI’s last short film
  • Hello Kitty Shinkansen

3.11 earthquake commemoration

On March 11th, Japan commemorated the Aniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that stroke the East coast 7 years ago. It is also called the 3.11 earthquake in English and 3.11 震災 in Japanese

  • 震災・しんさい: earthquake disaster

Among the commemorative articles published by Asahi, one offers to look back on the 3.11 earthquake through the Arabaki rock festival アラバキロックフェスティバル.

The article is long but relatively easy to read and well illustrated. I will just go through some parts of it.

The festival (also called フェス, it took me a while to understand it!) usually takes place at the end of April. In 2011, however, the earthquake stroke while the staff was working on the preparation. After discussions on whether they should cancel or postpone the festival, they decided to hold it in August.

  • 開催する・かいさいする: to hold, open, host (a meeting, a festival, an exhibition, the Olympics…)
  • 主催者・しゅさいしゃ: a sponsor, a promoter
  • 出演者・しゅつえんしゃ: a performer, the cast

In 2011, the festival should have been held on April, 29th and 30th. The staff was hoping for a full bloom of the sakura at the time: “ばっちり満開になってほしい.”

  • ばっちり is an adverb which conveys the meaning of “perfect”, “beautiful”. This kind of adverb, along with onomatopoeia, is almost impossible for me to remember.
  • 満開・まんかい full bloom.

The first edition of Arabaki rock festival was in 2001. Since then, the festival changed location and became the musical event that launches the festival season: “日本のフェスシーズン到来を告げる音楽祭として定着し”.

  • 到来・とうらい: arrival
  • 告げる・つげる: tell, inform, announce
  • 定着する・ていちゃくする: to establish itself

After the earthquake, the question was whether to cancel or to postpone the event: 中止か延期か. They decided to postpone it until several weeks after the disaster: “被災から数週間で「延期開催」を決断した。”.

  • 被災・ひさい: disaster, suffering from a disaster.
  • 決断・けつだん: a firm decision.

Finally, the 春のフェス became 夏のアラバキ. The edition of 2011 was a way to pay respect to the victims. One of the staff said: “あの年のアラバキには、亡くなった方への鎮魂の意味合いが確かにあった”.

  • 鎮魂・ちんこん: the repose of the dead
  • 意味合い・いみあい: an implication, a connotation, a hidden meaning.

Note: I didn’t know this festival, but I have always been looking for alternative Japanese singers and groups. The festival website has a full list of artists!

Moritomo Gakuen scandal: the documents had been falsified

I cannot possibly work my way through the numerous articles relative to this case. There is so many of them that I don’t know which one I should read, and anyway, they are all above my level. Fortunately, I found this video on Asahi website: いちから解説!森友学園の決裁文書改ざん問題.

If they made a video called “いちから解説!”, this case must be complex even for Japanese. Anyway, it is perfect for me!

Tuesday (12th), the Minister of Finance confirmed that 14 documents relative to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal have been falsified:

森友事案に関する14件の決裁文書の書き換えが行われていたことが明らかになりました。

  • 決裁文書・けっさいぶんしょ: this is how all the news articles refer to the documents that had been tampered with, but I don’t know how I am supposed to understand 決裁 and how to say it in English. I think, but I am not sure, that these documents had been approved by the Ministry of Finance, although they had been altered. I will just talk about “the documents”.
    • 決裁・けっさい means “sanction”, “approval”.

The video then goes through the whole case and sums up what we already know:

  1. Concerning the sale price 売却額, there had been a reduction of 800 million Yen: “本来の鑑定価格から約8億円の値引き”:
    • 鑑定・かんてい: an expert opinion, estimation.
    • 値引き・ねびき: a reduction in price, a discount.
  2. Abe’s wife, Akie ABE, was to be named “honorary principal” 名誉校長 of the new school.
  3. Abe said that he would resign if it could be proven that he or his wife had interfered in the sale.
  4. Nobihisa SAGAWA, who was then a high official in the Ministry of Finance at the time of the sale, said that the documents relative to the sale’s negotiations had been disposed of: “交渉記録を廃棄した”:
    • 交渉・こうしょう: negotiations
    • 廃棄する・はいきする: dispose of, throw away, get rid of
  5. At the end of 2017, the Board of Audit concluded that justifications 根拠・こんきょ for such a discount were insufficient.

In this context, the Minister of Finance admitted that documents submitted during the investigation had been falsified. We talk of 決裁文書改ざん.

  • 改ざん・かいざん means “falsification”.

What has been altered?

First, the sale was described as “exceptional”: 本件の特殊性. These words were deleted.

  • 特殊性・とくしゅせい: a special characteristic.

The name of Akie ABE had also been erased from a document: “昭恵氏の名前が削られていた”.

  • 昭恵・あきえ: Akie ABE
  • 削る・けずる: delete, erase

Before having been tampered with, the document referred to the visit of Akie ABE to the site and words of encouragement she gave at the time: “いい土地ですから、前に勧めてください。”

The original documents also mentioned contacts between officials, but I don’t understand to whom exactly these contacts have been made or why this could have been a sensitive piece of information.

A leading member of the Finance Ministry said that the “Official Residence of the Prime Minister” was not involved in the falsification.

  • 幹部・かんぶ means “a leading member”, a “key officer”, “a senior member”.
  • They say that there is no 関与 with the 官邸
    • 関与・かんよ involvement, participation
    • 官邸・かんてい: the Official Residence of the Prime Minister. I guess that it is a way to talk about Abe and include his wife too.

Of course, the opposition is asking for cross-examination of the Prime Minister Shinzo ABE and the  Minister of Finance Taro ASO

  • 追及・ついきゅう: questioning, interrogation, a cross-examination

In the meanwhile, Minister of Finance Taro ASO denied all conjecture concerning the government or politicians and said that we had to wait for the police to complete the investigation to get more detailed results.

  • 麻生太郎・あそうたろう: Taro ASO, Minister of Finance
  • 忖度・そんたく: conjecture.

Note: I wouldn’t be surprised if they updated the video later, to include future new developments. I studied it as it were on Friday morning (16th).

The note left by an employee of the Kinki Financial Bureau

On March 7th, a member of the Kinki Finance Bureau (an organisation under the Finance Ministry that was involved in the sale and, as it appears, in the falsification of the documents) committed suicide. The NHK article 「森友」自殺した職員がメモ「自分1人の責任にされてしまう」 gives an insight of the note he left before dying.

He clearly accuses his hierarchy, says that he acted upon directives from above and was treated as a scapegoat:

  • “上からの指示で文書を書き直させられた”
    • 書き直させられた: a good opportunity to revise the causative-passive form!
  • “決裁文書の調書の部分が詳しすぎると言われ上司に書き直させられた”
    • 調書・ちょうしょ: a protocol, a written evidence, a record
  • “勝手にやったのではなく財務省からの指示があった”
  • “このままでは自分1人の責任にされてしまう、冷たい”

The video in the article was surprisingly understandable to me.

Hayao Miyazaki’s「毛虫のボロ」

This is an article I found on NHK news.

5 years after The Wind rises 「風立ちぬ」, Hayao MIYAZAKI announced that he has completed his new short film 「毛虫のボロ」. The 14 minutes story follows a caterpillar as it opens his eyes to the world for the first time.

  • 宮崎駿・みやざきはやお: Hayao MIYAZAKI
  • 短編アニメーション・たんぺん: The word 短編 means “a short piece of fiction.”
  • 毛虫・けむし: a hairy caterpillar (chenille)

This short film is, as usual, drawn by hand but also uses computer-generated imagery: “これまでの手描きに加えて、初めて一部にCGを取り入れた”.

With The Wind Rises, Hayao MIYAZAKI took his retreat from directing long films and concentrated on this short animation. But he came back on his decision last year and is coming back to full-length animation: 宮崎監督は、5年前に長編アニメからの引退を表明してこの作品に専念してきましたが、去年、引退を撤回して長編アニメの製作を再開しています。

  • 長編・ちょうへん: a long work, opposed to 短編.
  • 専念する・せんねんする: concentrate on, devote oneself to. (sthに 専念する)
  • 撤回する・てっかいする: withdraw, revoke, recall

Hello Kitty Shinkansen

This Summer, it will be possible to travel on board of a “Hello Kitty Shinkansen“. The idea is to link people and region through Hello Kitty’s pink ribbon: “ハローキティのリボンがお客様と地域を、「つないで、結ぶ」新幹線。”

  • つなぐ: to link, to connect
  • 結ぶ・むすぶ: to tie up, to knot, to bind. Can also mean “join, link, tie” in our context. This verb is used to say that a train “links” two cities. For example “東京と大阪を3時間で結ぶ新幹線”.

Conclusion

I am taken aback by the number of new articles published on Japanese information websites. I like the Asahi website and NHK news, but new articles are coming every 2 minutes, so it is very difficult to find the main topics in it. The best way I found until now is to listen to NHK Radio News every morning, but this does not mean I understand what they say…

Of course, I am sure that if I get better at reading Japanese, going through articles’ titles and selecting crucial information will be much easier!

Japanese News: Moritomo Gakuen scandal

Although it was one of the major political issues of last year, I have not read much in Japanese about the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. It is a complex story with difficult vocabulary, and the titles of the related articles have always discouraged me.

I wanted to believe that this scandal was a last-year-thing and that I could skip studying it altogether. Alas for me, new developments have put the Moritome Gakuen in the headlines again and given the number of articles that have appeared on this subject, I am forced to admit that I can no longer avoid it.

I will not study a specific article but focus on key vocabulary. Of course, the first thing I did was to pick up my Asahi Keywords and study the double-page devoted to the Morimoto Gakuen scandal.

Context and Vocabulary

Moritomo Gakuen

Moritomo Gakuen” is the name of a private “school corporation“. It has a very conservative education line and would, for example, include the reading of the Imperial Rescript on Education to its program.

  • 森友学園・もりともがくえん: the school Moritomo.
    • 学園・がくえん means “school” or “educational institution”.
  • 法人・ほうじん: a corporation or a legal person.
  • 保守・ほしゅ conservatism
  • 教育勅語・きょういくちょくご: Imperial Rescript on Education, signed by Emperor Meiji in 1890. Maybe not the most useful word, I admit… 🙄

The scandal

In 2016, the director of Moritomo Gakuen obtained a 10-year lease to buy a state-owned land. Such a long-term lease is unprecedented. But the real problem lies elsewhere: the state has sold the land to 1/10 of its value (compared to other properties in the same area)

  • 10年分割払い・10ねんぶんわりはらい: 10-year lease.
  • This lease is described as “前例のない・ぜんれいのない”, without precedent.
  • 国有地・こくゆうち: it is easy to guess the meaning of this word thanks to its kanji: state-owned land.

To justify such a drastic reduction, the state argued that a large quantity of garbage was buried in the ground. Both the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Finance settled the clean-up costs. These costs were deducted from the sale price, and this is how the land was sold to 1/10 of its value.

  • 国土交通省・こくどこうつうしょう: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). To be precise, it is the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau of Osaka 大阪航空局 that is concerned here. The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau is a division of the MLIT and to simplify, we can drop it and mention only the MLIT. The problem is that Japanese articles are likely to be accurate and talk of “国土交通大阪航空” which is a long series of kanji.
  • 財務省・ざいむしょう: Ministry of Finance
  • 撤去費・てっきょひ: the removal cost.

When all this has been made public, specialists have observed that the documents provided by the government were not able to corroborate the presence of garbage as stated at the time of the sale. There is a suspicion that the estimation made by the state was exaggerated. Finally, the Board of Audit concluded that there was not enough evidence concerning the quantity of garbage.

  • ゴミの位置や量が不明確
    • 不明確・ふめいかく: unclear, indistinct.
  • 見積もりが過大だった疑いがある
    • 見積もり・みつもり: estimation
    • 過大な・かだいな: excessive, exorbitant, exaggerated
    • 過大見積もり・かだいみつもり: overestimation
  • 会計検査院・かいけいけんさいん: the Board of Audit
  • 根拠・こんきょ: grounds, reason, support, evidence, justification

Furthermore, there were contradictions between what several actors said. While an official from the Kinki Local Finance Bureau said that they made efforts to get closer to Moritomo’s request, a high official from the Ministry of Finance, Nobuhisa SAGAWA, said the opposite.

  • 矛盾・むじゅん: contradiction
  • 近畿財務局・きんきざいむきょく: “Kinki” is the name of the region. We may recognise “財務” which means “financial affairs” because we saw it earlier in “Ministry of Finance”. In place of 省 for “ministry”, we have here 局・きょく for “Bureau”.
  • 佐川宣寿・さがわのぶひさ: Nobuhisa SAGAWA was at the time the head of the Financial Bureau of the Ministry of Finance
  • 財務理財・ざいむしょうりざいきょく: The Financial Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. Here again, I think we can simplify and keep simply “Ministry of Finance”.

After the scandal, the director of Moritomo Gakuen, Yasunori KAGOIKE, and his wife have been arrested on charges of fraud.

  • 籠池康典・かごいけやすのり: Yasunori KAGOIKE. I am definitively going to write this name in my “Japanese names notebook“, together with the others that appear in this post.
  • 国などの補助金をだまし取る
    • 補助金・ほじょきん: a subsidy, a subvention, a grant of money
    • だまし取る・だましとる: defraud, cheat.

Involvement of Abe’s wife.

What gave the scandal a further dimension is the involvement of Abe’s wife, Akie ABE. She was named honorary principal of the new school but resigned when the scandal broke. Her involvement in this affair raised the question of her status: is she a private citizen or a public official?

  • 安倍昭恵・あべあきえ: Akie ABE, another name I must add to my notebook!
  • 名誉校長・めいよこうちょう: honorary principal.
  • 私人・しじん: a private citizen
  • 公人・こうじん: a public official

Why is it resurfacing now?

There are suspicions that the Ministry of Finance falsified a document relative to the sale. To be honest, there are many articles on the subject, but I don’t see that there is much to say except that we wait for clarification from the Ministry.

Let’s have a quick look at this article from NHK News: 財務省が文書の写し提出し予算審議再開へ 森友文書問題.

The sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen is referred to as 「森友学園」への国有地売却.

  • 売却・ばいきゃく: sale.

The “falsified” document is 書き換えられた.

  • 書き換える・かきかえる means “rewrite” and “forge”, “alter a document”.

The Ministry of Finance submitted a copy of the documents to the Diet on the 8th. The House of Councillors (the Upper House of the Diet) is ready to open the budgetary discussions, but the opposition is asking for more transparency. They want to hurry the declaration of the persons concerned and determinate clearly if the documents have been altered or not.

  • 写し・うつし: a copy, a duplicate
  • 国会・こっかい: the National Diet
  • 参議院・さんぎいん: the House of Councillors, the Upper House of the Diet.
  • 予算審議・よさんしんぎ: budgetary discussion.
    • 審議・しんぎ means “discussion”, “deliberation” and often appears in this sort of articles.
  • 文書の作成に関わった関係者からの聴き取りを急がせる.
  • 文書の書き換えがあったのかどうかを明確

Conclusion

What makes articles on this subject so difficult to read is definitely the abundance of names. Names of persons that I cannot even pronounce (but this will change!) and names of institutions. This last point is the most challenging one. Whenever a paragraph gives me a headache, it certainly contains at least one or two names of political institutions or persons like 参議院財政金融委員会 or 衆議院議院運営委員会 or 参議院国会対策委員長 or even 麻生副総理兼財務大臣. If I look at them without panicking, I can see or guess what they are referring to, but I use all my willpower in this process and lose the energy to read the whole article.

Nevertheless, I feel a huge satisfaction to have been through the Moritomo Gakuen scandal in Japanese. I feel also rewarded to have bought and studied the Asahi Keywords book, it helped me greatly here! And finally, I am more than ever motivated to get on with my “Japanese names notebook“.