News from Japan – Week 6

January and the beginning of February have been somewhat quiet for the blog. Going forward, I hope to return to a more regular release schedule. If any of you are still out there, make sure to be on the look out for more content for the rest of February!

Anyway, for now let’s bring you up to speed on the news from and about Japan that caught my attention during the last week, as ever with commentary by yours truly.

Let’s start things off with the entertainment business. If you are at all familiar with the Japanese entertainment and media world, then you will know that it is an industry rife with sexism, sexual harassment, and misogyny, although that is hardly unique to Japan. The stereotype of young, attractive women having to suffer (or give into) the advances of creepy old men is alive and well in the industry as a whole, and in Japan as well. A few content creators managed to flee from the Ojisan-infested office spaces of Japans all the way to America, where they have now created a miniseries called “HodoBuzz”, a series that seeks to specifically highlight the issues that female reporters and announcers (news anchors) face in the Japanese media industry. One would think that gender should not have too much bearing on whether one’s ability to write compelling articles or report the news, but as this series points out: that is not the case and female reporters are often reduced down to their looks and find themselves out of work quickly once they pass a certain age.

Mainichi – You can read the full article by clicking here

On to politics. Japan’s new (or not so new anymore) prime minister (Suga) has been facing stiff opposition over his handling of the coronavirus. As I mentioned in previous “News from Japan” posts, Suga has seen his approval ratings plummet since he took office, with no real sign of recovery in sight. Since Suga only inherited the leftover term from former PM Abe, he will have to face an election this year. At this stage, it seems highly unlikely that his party, the ruling party LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), will want to go into these elections with a candidate like Suga, who is in a very vulnerable position. The LDP, who has dominated Japanese politics since the end of the Pacific War, is a party that is split into many factions, many of whom follow strict seniority rules, often simply deferring positions and candidacy based on age. So whether Suga will actually stand for election this year (if he even wants to) remains to be seen and will depend a lot on his faction’s ability to forge alliances within the party.

Bloomberg – You can read the full article by clicking here

Looking abroad briefly, many of you are probably aware of the military coup that took place in Myanmar on Monday. Japan has had generally favorable relations with the ousted government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself has been arrested by the new military rulers. Japan has been investing heavily in the region, with many companies outsourcing production and development to the south-east Asian country. On the other end, people from Myanmar have been coming to Japan under the new “Specified Skills” visa, a visa designed to combat the manual labor shortage. Nevertheless, Japan was among the slowest in the region to condemn the coup, which appears to have been non-violent for the most part. Whether it was simply due to bureaucracy grinding along, or whether there was some other intention, it took the Japanese government almost until evening on Monday to release a statement on the coup, while other world leaders where much quicker to respond. The military has said it will only be taking control for a year to ensure, in its eyes, fair elections and will be giving power back to a democratically elected government afterwards. Whether that holds true remains to be seen.

AsiaNikkei – You can read the full article by clicking here

As a quick addendum to the former post, were I mentioned that people from Myanmar had been coming to Japan to combat manual labor shortages, the number of foreign workers in Japan has hit a record high last year, even when entering the country was not allowed for most of it due to the Coronavirus. Thanks to a rapidly aging population, the demand for (cheap) labor is only going to go up from here, so probably we will be seeing an article like this every year from now.

NHK – You can read the full article by clicking here

Since it’s all been a bit gloomy until now, let’s finish with something more exciting. Seeing the huge success of places like Disneyland or the Universal Studios in Japan, Nintendo decided it wanted in on the action. Super Nintendo World, Nintendo’s own theme park inside Universal Studios in Osaka, was supposed to open yesterday, but due to the current state of emergency the opening was delayed until further notice. Nevertheless, promotional material is available in the below article, although I am not sure how they managed to film any of that under the current circumstances. If you always wanted to meet Mario and company in person, then now you can. Though you will still have to wait for the virus to finally pack its bags and leave us alone.

TheVerge – You can read the full article by clicking here

Thats it from me this week. Let us hope that I can actually stick to my promise of more regular content from now on. Only time will tell, but I am nothing if not an opportunistic optimist. See you next week, take care.

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