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).
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:
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.
- 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:
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.
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!
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
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・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・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:
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.
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:
- 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”.
- 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.
So 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:
- 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).
This 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:
- (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.
Do 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』.
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…
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!