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Japan News

Commercial Appetite and Human Need: The Accidental and Fated Revival of Kobayashi Takiji's Cannery Ship

Kanikosen - The Crab Cannery Ship

Japan’s best-known proletarian novel, Kani Kosen (depicting conditions aboard a crab-canning factory ship operating off Soviet waters) by Kobayashi Takiji (1903-1933), enjoyed an utterly unanticipated revival in the course of 2008.

Many attribute the revival of the novel to the deepening impoverishment of the ranks of the irregularly employed, now widely said to account for one-third of the work force. The majority of the latter earn less than two million yen per year. It is their increasingly insistent presence that has given such terms as “income-gap society” (kakusa shakai), “working poor” (waakingu pua), and more recently, “lost generation” (rosu jene) widespread familiarity.

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Norma Field • Tuesday March 17, 2009 • Add Comment [2]

Save Energy and Earn Points - Kyoto Eco-Action Points Program Starts

Eco Action Points

The model Kyoto Eco-Action Points program started in October 2008. As part of this project, Kyoto Carbon Dioxide Reduction Bank (committee for environmentally friendly activities in Kyoto) issues Eco-Action Points based on the amount of CO2 reduced in the central elements of domestic energy consumption, such as the use of electricity and gas. These points can be used as shopping credits at participating stores. This is the first such system in Japan, and it aims to drastically reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the domestic sector.

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Japan for Sustainability • Monday March 9, 2009 • Add Comment

省エネと太陽エネルギー利用でポイント 京都でモデル事業スタート

Eco Action Points

「京都エコポイントモデル事業」が2008年10月よりスタートした。電力、ガスといった家庭のエネルギー消費の中心をなす部門について、CO2排出削減量に応じたエコ・アクション・ポイントを「京都CO2削減バンク(京都環境動促進協議会)」が発行し、協力店舗などで利用可能とすることにより、家庭でのエネルギー消費・CO2排出量の大きな削減を目指すもので、日本初の仕組み。

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ジャパン・フォー・サステナビリティ • Monday March 9, 2009 • コメントをどうぞ

How to Write a North Korean News Headline

North Korean Propaganda Poster

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea (DPRK), has a fascinating way to present news about the countries that it sees as its main enemies: South Korea, Japan and the USA. In my imagination there is a huge poster on the wall that instructs KCNA’s English writers how to write headlines:

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• Friday March 6, 2009 • Add Comment [2]

Japan Considers Ending Four-Decade Policy to Cut Rice Planting

Japanese Farmer Planting Rice

Japan, the world’s largest grain importer, may end a four-decade program to cut rice sowing as it plans to revive agricultural production and create jobs amid a deepening recession.

The nation may end compulsory rice planting cuts and instead provide income support for farmers who voluntarily curb output, said a government official, who declined to be identified as the plan is opposed by some ruling-party politicians.

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Bloomberg • Saturday February 28, 2009 • Add Comment

Masks Attack Japanese Cities

Japanese Flu Masks

These white strips of cloth obscuring your fellow commuters’ faces have long been a common way to ward off influenza and hay fever, but their popularity is soaring higher than ever this winter because of frequent reports about an outbreak of a new type of flu.

“The media have been repeatedly giving a warning of a new type of influenza outbreak, so people may have thought they should store some masks and use a mask more often,” said Yukihiro Hosoe, manager of the advertising and marketing strategy department at Kowa Co., Japan’s leading health care product company.

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The Japan Times • Friday February 27, 2009 • Add Comment

The Gender Gap in the Japanese Labor Market

Japanese Woman Showing Peace Sign

Among the labor economists who pay careful attention to international comparisons of labor market outcomes, the gender wage gap of Japan, as well as that of Korea, is known to be the largest among OECD countries.

The hourly wage in Japan of permanent and regular female workers relative to male workers, which is not adjusted for the observed characteristics of workers, was 59.1 in 1990, while the corresponding figure for 2000 was 66.0; this indicates that there has been only a 6.9 percentage point gender wage convergence in this 10-year period. This wage convergence, however, may have been caused by the convergence of the characteristics of workers across genders. Indeed, Akira Kawaguchi reports that 60% of unadjusted wage convergence between 1990 and 2000 is explained by the convergence of the observed characteristics of workers across genders, based on a large sample from the Basic Survey of Wage Structure. He pointed out that in particular the convergence of years of job tenure explained the gender wage convergence.

With this persistent gender wage gap as a background, the Japan Labor Review, published by The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, has published a special issue aiming to explain the mechanisms behind the gender wage gap in Japan. It contains five papers that are largely classified into two categories. In the first category are two papers that attempt to explain the gender wage gap by occupational segregation. The second category consists of three papers that examine the relationship between female employment and the performance of firms.

The link below lets you download the pdf file (1.9MB) of this special issue.

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The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training • Thursday February 26, 2009 • Add Comment