Asia, democracy, Japan, Nakameguro, Politics, The United States of America, Tokyo, USA, World

Nancy Pelosi Visits Taiwan

Night Market in Taiwan

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has ruffled a lot of feathers in the Chinese government by visiting Taiwan on her recent swing through Asia. While it has also stirred a bit of controversy at home, most Americans seem to support her visit to the independent nation.

The main source of controversy is that it could be seen as a break with the U.S.’s One China policy, which doesn’t officially recognize Taiwan as its own country. However, many high-ranking politicians have visited Taiwan in the past, so there is plenty of precedents.

Speaker Pelosi has caused controversy in China in the past. Many years ago, she unfurled a pro-democracy banner in China that was captured by American news cameras, despite the best efforts of the Chinese guards. This could be seen as her latest defense of democracy against tyranny.

Japan also hopes to get in on the action. Prime Minister Kishida wants to meet with Speaker Pelosi while she is in Asia. So a lot could still happen. In any case, we will see what, if any, consequences there are to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Brett

Japan, Life & Culture, travel

The Current Tourism Situation in Japan

The month of June is long over, and that means only one thing. Yes, you guessed it – it’s time to evaluate how Japan’s tourism experiment did! I’m sure we’re all excited to learn how Japan did during its first month of tourism since the pandemic began.

The numbers are in, and they are, shall we say, a bit underwhelming. According to government data, only 252 tourists entered the country during June. Most of the other foreigners were students, workers, and businesspeople.

It’s quite surprising to see the tourism level so low. Thousands of applicants are still waiting to enter the country for tourism reasons. It’s inexplicable that the number of approved tourists would be so low. But it does seem to be a harbinger for the future.

I know people who are trying to enter the country as tourists, and this situation certainly doesn’t help their cause. It remains uncertain what will be in the cards for them. Will they get to join the tour they plan to join in the fall? As of now, I’d have to say their chances are very slim. Barely over 200 tourists is a pittance.

I’ve talked to many Japanese over the last few months, and they tend to agree that it will be a long time before Japan returns to normal. These numbers only seem to confirm that idea. I’m sure the tourism industry is desperate for more business. But they are out of luck for the near future – at least.

Brett

Four Seasons, Japan, Life & Culture, Nature, Seasons, Weather

Has the Rainy Season Returned?

A few weeks ago, those of us in Tokyo were lamenting the early end to the rainy season. An early end meant longer weeks of intense heat and humidity, which I can’t imagine anyone would actually look forward to. But a reprieve from the heat has come in the form of a new rainy season.

Or so it would seem. It’s been rainy all week, with the rain becoming quite heavy at times. While I’m writing this blog post, the rain continues to come down in buckets. If there were equally heavy winds, this would qualify as a full-blown typhoon. It’s a bit unusual for July.

Rains like this are usually very inconvenient, but, in this case, they do offer a respite from the blistering heat. And we can use all the help we can get in order to stay cool this summer. But how long this respite will remain in place is anyone’s guess.

To be honest, though, I have mixed feelings about the rain. Yes, it’s wonderful to get away from the sweltering summer for which Japan is famous, but I also don’t like taking my umbrella with me and getting my clothes wet whenever I step outside. I guess you can’t win them all.

In the meantime, we should enjoy what we can get. So please have fun with this break from the heat. You know it won’t last very long!

Brett

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Health, Japan, Life & Culture, Mask, Masks, Omicron, World

Coronavirus Cases on the Rise Again

It should not come as much of a shock that coronavirus cases are beginning to surge again, thanks in large part to another new variant that has been discovered. Omicron has been mutating and becoming more infectious, and other variants are likely to emerge, too. But the question is which one will eventually become dominant.

I think we’re all used to the news that cases are on the rise. It always seems to be the case. The numbers simply fluctuate; they never truly stay down. It’s enough to make one wonder whether the pandemic will ever truly end.

Is there anything we could do? There is the obvious answer of getting vaccinated (if you haven’t been already) and continue to wear masks. Masks are mostly a thing of the past in the Western world, but not so in Asia. I think we will continue to wear them over here.

The real concern is if the coronavirus itself becomes more deadly or dangerous. If it becomes like the flu, then how contagious it becomes will be much less of a concern. So we will have to remain vigilant, as always, for the time being. Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and stay safe, everyone.

Brett

Economy, Food, Japan, Life & Culture, Nature, World

Fukushima Restrictions Loosen

福島の無料写真

Ever since the 2011 nuclear power plant incident in Fukushima, the city’s exports, especially its produce, have essentially been blackballed both domestically and internationally. People fear radioactive contamination from the food, and only in recent years has the Japanese government allayed those fears and publicly deemed the exports safe for consumption.

Even so, many vendors in Fukushima have to sell their products for lower prices compared to the same exact products from other prefectures. This suggests that a stigma still lingers regardless of what the government says.

To the benefit of Fukushima, just this week the British government announced that it will lift its import ban on certain foods from Fukushima. The Japanese government hopes that this news will encourage other countries to do the same. As of now, Fukushima products are still restricted in China, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan among others. Although many countries have been slowly lifting their restrictions allowing the prefecture to have a limited return to normalcy.

Lastly, this week the Japanese government also lifted its evacuation order on a town located near the nuclear plant named Okuma. After 11 years, displaced residents are finally allowed back signifying a sort of closure to the nuclear disaster. However this closure is physical, while perhaps mentally, generations to come will have to grappled with what happened to their people and land. Next they expect to lift the evacuation order for another town, Futaba. In all, it has been a hopeful week for the residents of Fukushima.

Lani

Life & Culture, World

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Internet Explorer Comes to an End

It’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone using Internet browser with current devices.

If you’ve been using the Internet for any length of time, you‘ve probably at least heard of Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s ‘90s-era Web browser. Back then (and a bit beyond), it was hard to miss, which Microsoft made sure was the case.

Despite its presence just about wherever you went online, it was very unpopular. It would often crash, and it was easy to hack. Over time, IE became something of a joke to most Web users. It was usually considered the worst Web browser available.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Microsoft eventually created a new browser, Edge, to replace the old one. As a result, Microsoft announced years ago that it would no longer support IE as of June 2022. We’ll, the time has come, and IE has ceased to exist.

This pretty much doesn’t affect anything, as virtually nobody still used IE. But the fact that it’s name in Internet history keeps it in the news is somewhat amusing. Chrome, of course, is the worldwide leader in Internet browsing, and it will likely stay that way for a long time. RIP, Internet Explorer.

Brett

Japan, Life & Culture

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!When will married couples be able to have different last names in Japan?

In Japan, when two people are wedded, they must choose and take a surname in order to be registered in the family register. Essentially, if you want your marriage to be recognised in Japan, you must choose and decide which surname you want to take, because unlike other countries, hyphenated names do not exist in Japan.

Of course, the above situation only applies to Japanese couples, that is both the people in the relationship are Japanese. Of course, being a patriarchal society, the onus is usually on the woman to take on her husband’s name. But is it constitutional?

If you ask the Japanese Supreme Court, yes, it is, deeming their decision that the Civil Code from all the way back in 1898, still holds true. The fact that Japan, one of the most advanced countries in the world, is still upholding views from over 100 years ago is a bit troubling.

What makes it worse is that this stipulation only holds true for Japanese couples. If a foreign national and a Japanese national got married, they have the option to choose to take on a surname or keep theirs. This is quite baffling as it is simply sending mixed messages to everyone. It is simply discriminatory to Japanese people, and sends a rather racist message across the board.

I hope the Japanese couple that is currently challenging this very law will succeed.

Colette

COVID-19, Japan, travel, World

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Japan Has COVID Guidelines for Foreign Tourists, But Will They Comply?

Two Japanese women wear masks while selling street food to tourists.

Japan has recently announced its new guidelines for foreign tourists who come to Japan. They will be asked to wear masks and even acquire COVID insurance during their trip. These new guidelines have been met by a large amount of criticism, particularly among foreign residents.

While these are just “guidelines,” they still would likely put off a lot of foreigners who would otherwise be interested in visiting Japan. It’s also worth noting that Japan is advising its own citizens not to wear masks so much during the usually hot and humid summer months. It’s a mixed message for sure.

Will foreigners comply? That remains to be seen. Mask-wearing is essentially a thing of the past in Western countries, particularly the United States. It seems highly unlikely that Americans would comply with such a guideline, especially if the locals put the mask away for the summer.

And COVID insurance? Even less likely. Travel to Japan is very expensive, and the chances that a healthy, vaccinated person would ever need to draw upon it is slim to none. It is not clear whom this insurance would benefit, but it’s not likely to be the international traveler.

Perhaps Japan still just isn’t ready to accept foreign tourists. If so, the policy should simply reflect that. What we have now just doesn’t make any logical sense. If Japan wishes to postpone the opening of its borders to international travelers, it should simply make that announcement.

Brett

Coronavirus, COVID-19

Elvis Has Left Las Vegas Weddings

The company that controls the likeness and image of Elvis Presley has done something that will probably put a lot of Las Vegas-area wedding planners out of business. They have sent cease-and-desist letters to various wedding chapels, ordering them not to use Elvis impersonators for their wedding services. Such services have occurred for decades, but now those days seem to be over.

It is unclear why the company is only now taken action, but so much time has passed, and so many Elvis impersonators have made their living in Vegas for years, that it makes one wonder whether a court will actually enforce this order. It’s sort of like having DC Comics ordering the people who dress up like Superman on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood to stop posing for pictures with tourists.

Will there now be officially licensed Elvis impersonators at these weddings? That seems unlikely. The cost of such performers would likely be astronomical, far beyond what these small, mom-and-pop operations could afford. But, if the demand for Elvis impersonators continues, perhaps they would have no other choice.

It’s hard to imagine that this might have significant impact on the Vegas economy, but anything is possible. We‘ll have to see how this plays out. In the meantime, if you wish to get married by Elvis in Vegas, now is the time to do it!

Brett

Japan, World

I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Dual citizenship in Japan

Children born in Japan to a Japanese parent and a foreign parent are generally granted the citizenship of both their parents. But why must their renounce one of these when they turn 22? Asking children to renounce one of their nationalities is essentially saying, “Yeah, you’re biracial. So what? You can’t be both.”

While it may be trivial to some, to others, they must contend with their conflicting feelings and contemplate where their priorities lie. When several of these people probably did not have an easy time contending with their identities when they were young, this perpetuates the uneasiness that these individuals face on the official scale.

Thus, it is not surprising that many of these people choose not to say anything officially. In fact, it seems that as long as one enters the country with a Japanese passport, they should have no issue with avoiding immigration hounding them to decide. So, doesn’t it mean that it may be time for the laws to officially change to reflect the realities of the situation?

If anything, allowing dual citizens to retain both their nationalities may be beneficial to everyone involved. Japan included. Japan’s steady decline in its economy and its population decline is an open secret. By allowing people to keep their nationality, dual citizens may help revitalise the economy if they choose to work and start a family in Japan. Forcing people to choose which nationality they identify with does not guarantee they will choose Japan, and if they decide that their other identity is more important, the future of Japan will be bleaker than it already is.

Colette