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Japan News

Japan Doesn't Need Immigrants Says US Economist Dean Baker

Tomare Traffic Sign

“Maintaining its Fox News like attack on pension programs, the Washington Post had a front page article about Japan’s efforts to keep immigrant workers. It goes on to warn about how it will need many more immigrants in the future because of its declining population.

Actually, because of something that economists call ‘productivity growth,’ Japan can count on continuing improvements in its standard of living even without immigration. In fact, since it is a densely populated country, it is possible that its standard of living will actually increase more rapidly in the absence of immigration.”

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The American Prospect • Sunday January 25, 2009 • Add Comment

Osaka 1909 • Great Kita Fire

Great Kita Fire

This year it is 100 years ago that Osaka was devastated by a fire that raged through the Northern part of the city for a full 24 hours. At 4:20 in the morning on July 31, 1909 (Meiji 42) a fire broke out at a knit-wear factory in Osaka’s Kita-ku. In late Meiji (1868-1912), there were only two fire engines—powered by steam—for the whole city, and most of the buildings in Osaka were made of wood. This proved disastrous. As a strong north-eastern wind drove the fire from one bamboo gutter to the next, it soon went wild. Within hours, a huge area south of Osaka station was engulfed in flames.

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• Sunday January 25, 2009 • Add Comment

An Eye-Opening Surprise about Crime in Japan

Japanese Crime Poster

Japanese TV treats us almost daily with reports of terrifying crimes that make you check your locks three more times. If we are to believe the Japanese media, we now live in very dangerous times and Japan is far less safe than it ever was in the past. Most Japanese, if not all, believe that the country has become unsafe. Society is falling apart, many think. Oh, those good old times, when you could trust your neighbor and walk the streets safely. Here is some data about those good old days:

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• Tuesday January 20, 2009 • Add Comment [3]

Japan's 1st Comprehensive Buddhism Museum

Kyoto 1930s • Buddhist Monks

Ryukoku University of Kyoto has announced a plan to open a comprehensive Buddhism museum in the spring of 2011 to showcase a wide range of Buddhist cultural assets from Japan and overseas.

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KIPPO • Wednesday January 7, 2009 • Add Comment [1]

Looking Back at 2008

2008

It is the end of the year and time to look back at what kind of year it was. This has turned into the most depressing year that I can remember. There is doom and gloom everywhere and it now takes extraordinary amounts of energy and effort to remain positive and optimistic. Crises are times to learn, to reconsider your priorities and options and to start on a new path. They offer infinite pain, but also infinite opportunities. Let’s embrace all what this crisis has to offer so we can re-invent ourselves and our society. To learn our lessons for 2009, let’s look at what 2008 has wrought:

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• Wednesday December 31, 2008 • Add Comment

Ainu Fishermen

Ainu Fishermen

Four Ainu fishermen stand in log boats, two of them holding spears as if ready to catch fish. Fish was, together with venison and other game, a very important part of the Ainu diet. It was actually so important that in the many Ainu tales recalling famines, the cause is usually the absence of fish. The very Ainu word for fish, chep, is a contraction of chi-ep, which means food. “Coming from Japan,” one 19th century European observer wrote, “the first thing that strikes a traveller in the Ainu country is the odour of dried fish, which one can smell everywhere.” The primary catch was trout in summer, and salmon in autumn. Salmon was often called kamui chep, or divine fish. Other fish, like itou (イトウ, Japanese huchen) and ugui (ウグイ, Japanese dace), were also caught.

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• Tuesday December 30, 2008 • Add Comment

The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo

Hiroshige - Bridge in Rain

From Dec. 2, The Japan Times is serializing one of Japan’s early detective novels, The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo, in which author Kido Okamoto (1872-1939), offers entertaining and thrilling stories set in Edo Period Japan.

Consecutive installations from the book appear in The Japan Times every week, from Tuesday to Saturday. For context and background of the book’s setting, as well as the time in which Kido wrote his work, it offers the introduction of The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi, written by the book’s translator Ian McDonald.

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The Japan Times • Sunday December 21, 2008 • Add Comment