Inhae reads the news: November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Cherry blossom party


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Are people getting used to political scandals?


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

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

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


Article 1: 慣れっこになる怖さ=与良正男

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


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

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


  • 失態・しつたい: a fault, a blunder

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


  • 警告・けいこく: warning

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And the journalist continues:


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

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

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

English test and political turmoil


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

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

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


Article 1: 英語民間試験の延期 遅すぎた判断の罪は重い

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Article 2: 英語民間試験見直し 「萩生田氏守るため」官邸が主導

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

カスハラ: Harassment by customers


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

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


Article1: 増える「カスハラ」 現場任せにしていないか


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Japanese Immersion: October week 1

Watching a drama, at last!

I finally found a drama I like: the Japanese remake of the Korean drama “Signal”: 『シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班』. It is about a police investigation team specialised on old unsolved cases. A walkie-talkie allows one of the members of the team to communicate with one of the detectives from the past, who is living at the time when the murders they are working on were committed.

I have always tried to watch romance or daily life comedy because they are easier to understand than dramas with a criminal investigation that are set in a police environment. The problem is that I don’t usually like romance and comedy while I would buy anything even remotely connected with a police investigation.

While it can be wise to choose something at your level and force yourself a little bit to study it even if it does not interest you, this method does not work for me. If the drama does not interest me, even if I can feel that it helps me to improve my listening skills, I won’t be able to watch it. On the contrary, I will be motivated to provide the extra effort to study something above my level if it really speaks to me.

This is what I did with シグナル, and it was worth it!

I watched the first episode and understood very little of what was said. I watched the second episode and studied it afterwards:

  • I listen to each scene and try to write down what they say.
  • I try to look up words I don’t understand, either by listening (I look up what I think I hear) or by guessing (if I know from the context what word they must have used, I look up this word in English in my English-Japanese dictionary). This sometimes happens when I cannot make out what they say because they speak too fast or do not articulate enough.

Then I watched the third episode and understood it much better than I did the two preceding ones. I was glad to see that my listening had improved a little and that working on one episode hadn’t been in vain.

Note: I like the Japanese version much better than the Korean one. There is always something in Korean dramas that I don’t like, though it is hard to describe what it is exactly. The Japanese version also has shorter episodes, which suits me better.

Japanese News

Reading the news has become much easier since I have buried myself in the LDP election thing.

One of the major topics now is Abe’s new government (which is more or less the same as before, with the exception of 13 resignations) and Abe’s desire to speed up the discussions to amend the Constitution. If I understand correctly, Abe will have to present his amendment draft to the Diet and convince two-thirds of each house. If two-thirds of the members of both houses approve it, it can go to a referendum.

In Korea, media are watching this very attentively and are prompt to large interpretations: a Korean newspaper (and it is not the only one) describes the constitutional amendment as a step towards a Japan capable of doing war「戦争可能な国に」, even though Abe’s proposition is to keep the first (stating that Japan renounces war) and second paragraphs unchanged and only add a clear mention of the Self-Defense Forces who already exist anyway.

Another dispute is taking place between Korea and Japan concerning the Rising Sun flag, which was the flag of the Imperial Army and is now flown by the Maritime Self-Defense Force. For Korea, this flag is the symbol of Japan’s past militarism. This month, there will be an international fleet review taking place in Korea and the host does not want the Japanese ships to use the Rising Sun flag. Japan Defense Minister said they would, and so on.

There were two other topics that interested me recently. First, the magazine 新潮45 was forced to suspend its publication because of the many critics it received. This magazine published a politician in August who expressed discriminatory contents against the LGBT community. This had raised criticism. Instead of excuses, the magazine published a special issue (October) to defend this politician. One of the authors who contributed to this issue put the LGBT on the same level of sexual perverts! This issue raised even more criticism from readers. Some authors stopped their contribution to the magazine while some bookshops refused to sell books from the publisher 新潮社. The publishing house finally made public excuses, suspended the publication of the magazine and imposed a 10% reduction of salary to the magazine’s director and the editor in chief. The magazine made this unfortunate editorial choice in its attempt to increase its sales by targeting a certain audience. (several articles on this topic here)

The second topic is a trial that takes place in Sapporo. Kikuo KOJIMA, who had been sterilised by force when he was 19, is taking the State to court and asks for a financial reparation. He accuses the States of having violated the Constitution which guarantees each citizen’s right to seek happiness. What was noticeable is that efforts were made to allow persons with reduced mobility, persons with visual or hearing impairment and mentally challenged persons to access the trial. More than half of the seats in the tribunal’s room were adapted to allow an access to wheelchairs, a sign language interpreter was there, and two monitors transcribed what was being said. The participants were asked to speak slowly and in a way that would be easy to understand. The judge, who usually speaks fast, adopted a slower pace and added explanations to the legal terms he used. (several articles on this topic here)


I am very happy with the modest progress of my listening, I plan to work a little more on it this weekend!

Japanese Immersion: September week 3

My focus for this week was to read my novels, so I haven’t done many non-bookish things for my Japanese immersion.

Japanese Songs

This being said, I did work a little on my immersion with music. I already mentioned it in a previous post, but I have difficulty finding Japanese songs I like. The Japanese artists I loved before learning Japanese are mostly in the instrumental sphere. Now that I am learning Japanese, I am looking for songs with lyrics, but I am starting from zero and slowly building my Japanese playlist. (If you are like me, check these recommendations, they are a good starting point!)

Here are two songs that I have discovered this week and like very much:

『夜の流れ』by Cantaro IHARA (井原寛太郎). The first time I saw the artist’s name, I thought it was a great name for a singer because it meant “let’s sing”. Then I wonder why on earth I was thinking that, and I realised that I was mixing Spanish “cantar” (to sing) and Japanese grammar -おう (let’s sing), haha.

ハイウェイ オレンジの額

緑の地図 うごめくライトたち 流れ行く夜

言葉は魔法のようだ 傷つけるも笑わすも全部
青いガラスに ぽたり 月が落ちて

光の粒追い越し更けて行く 流れ行く夜

全てはいつも通り あどけない声 だらしない癖も
夜の流れと僕らの声の色 合わせて

言葉は魔法のようだ 傷つけるも笑わすも全部
青いガラスに ぽたり 月が落ちて

The second song is ムーピーゲーム by AltA:

I could not find the lyrics for this one.

I also like the band キリンジ, especially the former albums when the band was composed of the two brothers: Yasuyuki HORIGOME (堀込泰行) and Takaki HORIGOME (堀込高樹). The group reformed itself in 2013 with Yasuyuki leaving the band and 5 other members joining it.

This is the song “Sweet Soul”:

You’ll find these three songs on iTunes.

LDP election

Even if reading the news was not the focus of this week, I did follow the election yesterday. You can easily find videos of the whole process (the Diet members voting, the count of the votes and the results) on Youtube but it is not very interesting.

What I found interesting, as usual, is this critical article by Mainichi: 「1強」への不満直視を.

Even if Abe won the large majority of the Diet members’ votes, he only got around 55% of the local votes. The article underlines that a significant number of party members sympathise with Ishiba. Even if Abe and Ishiba have slightly different opinions on the Constitution, Abenomics and so on, their position is still relatively close. What differs the most is their political standards (how they see politics and how they think politicians should act.) As a result, we can imagine that the voters who chose Ishiba sympathise with his ethical position on what politics must be, i.e.「正直、公正」and what the LDP must seek, i.e.「自由闊達(かったつ)に議論する自民党を取り戻す」.

On the contrary, Abe avoided any comment on the Moritome-Kake problems, taking refuge behind a formula repeated again and again: 「謙虚に丁寧に政権運営を行っていきたい」. But, our article says, words are not what matter and Abe should work to regain the people’s trust.

Finally, the article criticises Abe’s resolution to work on the Constitution as soon as possible (he will submit a plan for the amendment during the extraordinary session of the Diet -臨時国会- this autumn). Mainichi says that the Constitution is hardly a priority and what should be done first is to answer the people’s fears concerning the future:



So that’s it! One of my September challenges is achieved! I wanted to follow the LDP election in the news in Japanese, and I have done it. I think that defining a topic and restrict yourself to articles on this topic is the best way to start reading the news. Soon enough, you get familiar with the persons involved, the set of vocabulary always used and of course, what happens. It then becomes easier and easier to read and understand articles on your topic.

Japanese Immersion: September week 2


I woke up this morning to hear the good news: Animal Crossing is coming for the Switch! To me, Animal Crossing is closely linked to learning Japanese: it is a game I play in Japanese, and it created an unconscious association between “Japanese” and “a fictional world I love, where the smallest acts of kindness matter and make you smile, your efforts always rewarded, where everybody is nice and where animals talk”. I started playing Animal Crossing because it was a refuge against the real world where your efforts are not always appreciated, people are not always nice and animals don’t talk.

What is funny is that I watched Animal Crossing New Leaf videos in Japanese this week. I like the channel of a YouTuber called くるみ. I like how she creates stories (she’s dating the cat ジンペイ) inside the Animal Crossing world and makes a game released 6 years before feel fresh and new.

LDP election

But of course, my Japanese immersion of this week is mainly due to reading the news. I started a one-week challenge on Monday and I have read and translated into French at least one article per day since Monday (I am updating my progress on my post).

The most important thing is that reading articles about the LDP election has become easier and easier. Articles that go into details about Abenomics are still too difficult for me, but it is more because of the economy relative terms than the Japanese level.

The general feeling I get from reading about the election in Mainichi is that they wished there were more public debates. The head of the LDP will also be the next Prime Minister, so this election concerns all Japanese citizens, not only the LDP members or sympathisers. This is why Mainichi wished there were more open debates.

One must also add that there hasn’t been an election for LDP leader/Prime Minister since 2012. There was no other candidate in 2015, so they didn’t run the election. As they have a challenger to Abe this time, they should take this opportunity to question Abe’s politics until now. I don’t think that the journal supports Ishiba, the other candidate, but they support his demand for more open debates. The presence of Ishiba is a good opportunity to do a thorough inspection of Abe’s choices.

Unfortunately, the campaign period is very short and has been shortened by two events: The earthquake in Hokkaido imposed a necessarily break of three days, and just after that, Abe went to Russia. As a consequence, there has been only one speech and press conference on Monday. The local party members vote on Wednesday (19th) so the campaign period is almost over.

Some articles even pointed out that both the Moritomo and the Kake scandal didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Ishiba wanted to use it for his campaign. His initial slogan was 「正直、公正」 but he had to drop it because it was felt as an attack on the LDP in general, it sounded like a slogan manufactured by the opposition. Also, it was a way to admit that the actual LDP is “不正直、非公正.”

Abe will certainly win with a crushing majority and it seems that local voters are not excited about the election. Mainichi also regrets that both candidates’ propositions lack concreteness and are not appealing enough to raise the interest of the citizens.

Today’s debate

With Abe’s return to Japan, the discussions resume. Today (14th) took place a big debate between the two candidates. It is broadcasted by NHK and I watched it because it interests me and of course, it will be a good listening practice.

But I ended up dozing before my TV and dreaming of the next Animal Crossing game…

To be honest, I understood nothing at all. With a lot of concentration, I could understand what they were talking about, but I could not follow what they wanted to say. I am a little disappointed because I thought that having read a lot about the campaign would allow me to understand a little the debate… I guess I need more listening practice!

If you have trouble falling asleep tonight, you can watch it:

Have a good weekend!

Japanese Immersion: September week 1

The main thing I did to listen to Japanese this week was watching episodes from 『ちびまる子ちゃん』.

『舟を編む』by director 石井裕也I also re-watched the film 『舟を編む』which is one of my favourite films. I love equally the novel by Shion MIURA (三浦しをん) as the film by director Yuya ISHII (石井裕也)

I really recommend this film to anyone interested in the publishing world, dictionaries and the pursuit of one’s ideal against sales and profit considerations. This film always makes me feel that hard work and dedication can always win against the lack of immediate recognition and approval. I also have to fight an impulse to buy a paper dictionary!


I have found a YouTube live video called “JapaNews24 ~ 海外へ日本のニュースをLIVE配信” on the channel ANNnewsCH. I wish I had known sooner that such a live video exist. Apparently, they take broadcasted news in Japan, put them all together in a YouTube live video for people living outside Japan. I don’t know exactly when they add new contents, but it seems to be always news from the same day.

Anyway, I like watching it for several reasons:

  • First of all, easy access is the key to immersion in your target language. If I had to go to a website, select a video or have to wait for something to load… I would certainly never do it. To me, nothing is more accessible than YouTube because I already spend too much time on it.
  • The fact that it runs without interruption is also very useful. They have to cut the program for maintenance for several hours once a week, but that’s it. You can launch the video at any time and let it run.
  • It is much easier to understand the news on TV rather than on the radio. Not only do the images help to understand what it is about, but the text that appears on screen is also great support.

I am very glad that I have found that. I don’t watch it for long periods of time, but I took the habit of letting it run while I am busy with other things. The fact that it is easily accessible on my phone and that it is always current and fresh contents are two very appealing points.

It also helps in keeping touch with what happens in Japan, particularly with the recent typhoon and the earthquake in Hokkaido…

Liberal Democratic Party election

I try to follow the election, but it is not very exciting… 🙄

From what I understand, there are 405 votes from Diet members and 405 votes from the local party members. This being said, there are more than one million party members with the right to vote. I read that the votes are redistributed among the candidates according to the D’Hondt method or “highest averages method”… but here we are far beyond the range of what I can speak of with confidence. So, to summarise, there are votes of the Diet members and votes of the local party members and they are both equal: 405 votes each. The local party members have until the 19th to vote and the 405 Diet party members will vote on the 20th. The results, I think, will be announced on the 20th too.

There was a handful of potential candidates but most of them announced that they would not compete. With Seiko NODA’s announcement this week that she didn’t collect the necessary support of 20 Diet members to become a candidate, we know that this year’s confrontation will be a duel between Shinzo ABE and Shigeru ISHIBA. Their candidature was officially announced today but their speech and the press conference are reported until Monday due to the Hokkaido earthquake.

Abe is looking for a third mandate. He won the elections in 2012 and in 2015 there was no other candidate anyway, so they didn’t hold the election and Abe stayed at the head of the party. Abe’s main propositions are the Abenomics and the Constitution: he wants to keep both the paragraph 1 (Japan renounces war) and the paragraph 2 (Japan does not keep army forces) but add a clear mention of the Self-Defense Force. Shigeru Ishiba wants to modify the Abenomics and suppress the paragraph 2 altogether.

Even if there are two candidates, there is a general lack of interest at the local level for the election because the positions among the Diet members is clear: Abe will certainly win with a crushing majority. This Mainichi article says that 80% of the Diet votes will go to Abe.

People seem concerned with the participation rate at the local level. As our article says:




There is also the possibility that some people might not vote in reaction to the Mori-Kake scandals.

These two scandals, while very present in the news, did not affect Abe’s chances to win a third mandate. Among the reasons that speak for him are the economic results and the fact that people trust him to handle international affairs:

Shunichi SUZUKI (LDP member and member of the House of Representatives) points out the economic results and says that there is no need to change: (source)


and Taro ASO (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance) underlines Abe’s ability to deal with Trump, saying that Abe is certainly the only one capable of being a good interlocutor to the American’s president:


He also adds:


Does 顔 have another meaning I am not aware of? Or did he actually said “その顔を比べて”? 😮


I am glad that I am reading the news again. It is still very difficult to understand the spoken news though. When I watch the JapaNews24, I sometimes understand very little or nothing at all. There is no other choice than to persevere and continue listening to a lot of Japanese while learning new words through Anki!

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:


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.


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・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.


  • 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:


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:


  • 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!


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 🙁):


  • 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:


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・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:


  • 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”.


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! 😩


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.


  • 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:



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:


  • 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”.


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


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“.