News from Japan – Week 11

The start of a new month is always a bit hectic for me, so it took me until now to get around to writing my next blog article. It’s finally getting a bit warmer again. Hopefully, that means that spring is around the corner as I am getting tired of the sheer noise that the AC makes. Anyways, here’s this week’s news with commentary by yours truly.

Japan is a country that is regularly struck by natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods, if you can think of any type of disaster, Japan has probably experienced it in the last five years. To counter this, Japan is also one of the countries that has advanced research into disaster prevention the furthest. Underwater structures off the coast to block oncoming tsunamis, skyscrapers that are built with a kind of concrete that can flex somewhat, so the building can sway and absorb the shock of an earthquake, just to name a few. Now they are looking to share this knowledge across borders and to create a global standard for disaster prevention. It can never be a bad idea to create a global standard and bring more equality to the world, and it’s nice to see an initiative from Japan, where globalization usually lags behind a bit.

The Japan Times – Read the full article here

The next one isn’t strictly speaking news, but it came up in my feed so I thought to include it. In this column, Mr. Justin Whittinghill talks a bit about the gift-giving culture in Japan. As he rightly points out, this is a true conundrum to even native Japanese, with a lot of symbolism and hidden meanings that are hard to fathom if they are not culturally ingrained. To offer my own take, in Tokyo, at least, it seems like giving gifts is far less of a big deal. I have never even met most people from my apartment block, let alone have I ever received – or given – a towel from/to any of them. But when me and my wife got married, we did receive lots of cash from relatives and dutifully sent them gifts back. Age difference also seems to play a role in my experience, with people saying receiving gifts from people who are younger than them makes them uncomfortable.

Messenger Inquirer – Read the full article here

This one is news again. Trouble never seems to stop for PM Suga Yoshihide. This week his PR chief has resigned over allegations of bribery because she had a dinner in 2019 paid for by a Japanese broadcaster. So far so not-so-good, but the broadcaster also employs Suga’s son, which means that the PM is now directly involved in the scandal. This will definitely not help him recover his plummeting approval ratings, as there is also still a lot of anger regarding his decision to forge ahead with this years summer olympics and his handling of the coronavirus.

Tulsaworld – Read the full article here

Finally, we have an article about an archaic tradition – or one of many – in Japan, the custom that couples have to take the same surname if they wish to get married. Most other countries allow for pretty flexible names after marriage, with the couple taking on a double-name or keeping their old names, but Japan is one country where one party (99 out of a 100 times it will be the bride) has to give up their family name if they wish to get married. Personally I do not agree with some points that are raised in this article, for example some people claim that they are defined by their name which is something that I can’t entirely get my head around. But giving people more freedom of choice can never be a bad thing, and Japanese families will certainly not be destroyed just because mom and dad do not bear the same surname.

BBC – Read the full article here

That’s it for this weeks news and for the first article in March. I have made a regular content schedule for this month, so let’s hope that I can stick to it. Check back again from time to time to find out if theres anything new and interesting!

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