I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Does President Biden really support the Tokyo Olympics?

During the recent G7 summit, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga seemingly secured a high-profile endorsement of the Tokyo Olympics: that of U.S. President Joe Biden.

President Biden announced his support for a “safe” Tokyo Olympics, which was immediately touted by Suga and the Japanese press. It doesn’t take a background in political science to figure out that there is a lot of diplomacy at work here. Also, it’s important to look at the context and realize the hidden meaning of President Biden’s words.

President Biden emphasized a “safe” Olympics, but it’s increasingly clear that the Tokyo Olympics will be anything but. Too few precautions are in place, and the Tokyo population has barely begun to get vaccinated. How on earth could this spectacle be considered “safe”?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was another G7 leader who lent his endorsement to the Games. However, with Brexit proving itself to be its own mess, Prime Minister Johnson needs all the diplomatic relations he can get, and Japan remains one of the world’s top economies.

So let’s not get fooled by all the political rhetoric and posturing. The Japanese government wants us to believe that the Games have the endorsement of the world’s top leaders, but if we look at it more closely, the truth will begin to reveal itself.


English in Japan, Japan, Japanese English

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

Image by Gwydion M. Williams from flickr

There are plenty of examples of interesting and even funny misuses of English in Japan. Despite English being a compulsory subject that students start studying in elementary school, it seems that the Japanese by and large can never quite get a firm grasp on how to use English the proper way.

I remember seeing one example in the Japanese countryside. When I would walk to the train station, I would routinely see a shop that offered “coffee and paste.” I’d really like to believe that this particular establishment was actually selling pasta instead of glue. In either case, I’m sure it was a meal that could stick to your ribs.

In Tokyo, it seems that these are a bit less often than in the sparsely populated rural areas, but they are out there if you look for them. In a trendy area of Tokyo, I recall seeing a place called Hair Salon Slug. That hardly seems like a fashionable name.

Sometimes pointing this out can be seen as offensive, especially in these politically correct times. So I think it’s important not to go overboard with generalizations and assumptions. It’s hard to get things 100% right in a second language. But you’d think that Japan would have a better idea of how to use English by now.



I LOVE NAKAME💖ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!On June 1, Olympic athletes will start to get vaccinated

Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

Have you been vaccinated yet? If you live in Japan, of course you haven’t. Vaccinations have barely begun. Other than healthcare workers and the elderly, nobody has gotten any sort of jabs in Japan.

The Japanese government continues to give the Olympics an unprecedented level of priority in the pandemic it has done little mitigate. With today’s news that the Japan Olympic Committee will begin vaccinations for athletes on June 1, residents and citizens of Japan are left wondering when their turn will come.

Speculation continues to abound that it may not be until sometime next year when most of the people of Japan will get their vaccinations. Given how quickly the rest of the developed world has vaccinated its people, this is an astounding failure on the part of the Japanese government. An investigation is warranted to get to the bottom of this apparent corruption.

While you continue to mask up and avoid social situations in order not to get sick and potentially die, at least we can all rest comfortably with the knowledge that young, healthy athletes will get fully protected against the virus very soon. The rest of us will just have to wait an indeterminate amount of time before the government decides that it’s finally our turn to get the shot.


Japan, Summer, Uncategorized, Weather

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

While I have been living in Japan for the past five years, one thing I never really looked forward to would be Japanese summers.

I come from a very hot country (Australia), but while it can get to blistering heat past 40°C, it doesn’t come with the mugginess that Japanese summers bring. From the stickiness caused by the heavy moisture in the air, to the potential danger of getting heat stroke, summer has never been time I particularly look forward to.

I mean who looks forward to the constant need to wipe the inevitable sweat that results from the humidity; the potential summer cold cause from the sudden blast of cold air when you enter a building; the constant dilemma of deciding the bring and actually open an umbrella not because of potential rain, but from the harsh UV rays from the sun; or the always looking for spare change to buy another bottle of water from a nearby vending machine, because you already emptied the bottle of liquid that you’re currently holding in the hands. Don’t even get me started on all the tiny little housemates you will make in your abode.

Watch me preemptively buy for all the new products I will be seeing in the pharmacies or the beauty/cosmetic section of shops, and wait (and most likely buy) the annually updated versions of the Airism products from Uniqlo, because I can’t hardly stand the inevitable streams of sweat rolling down by back. And constantly replenishing the stock of bug spray at home.


Japan, Life & Culture

I LOVE NAKAME💖 ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!In Japan, Cleanliness Is a Way of Life

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

One thing that most foreigners notice immediately about Japan is how clean it is compared with other countries. As you could imagine, this is a point of pride among the Japanese. The fact that its streets and public facilities are kept in good shape continues to be one of Japan’s major selling points.

If you’re from Japan, and you visit another country, you will pick upon this difference immediately. While the U.S., for example, is the richest country in the world, its streets and public facilities leave a lot to be desired. They are usually full of litter, graffiti, and other such blemishes and eyesores. Major cities, like New York City, are among the worst in this regard.

This is not the case in Japan. Public bathrooms are remarkably clean compared to their counterparts in foreign countries. Graffiti is very uncommon, and trash is much more sparse than what you’d typically find in the West. Both the people who use these places and the custodians charged with maintaining them do their part to keep things in good order.

It’s also rather safe to say that Japan is a much more polite country than what you’re likely to find elsewhere. The police are ready to assist those who need help, including tourists who are lost and need directions. Even random commuters are known to lend a helping hand to those in need. Suffice it to say, if you are traveling in Japan, you are in good hands.

These are just some aspects that make Japan a desirable location for traveling. Hopefully, once COVID-19 is a thing of the past, tourism can pick up again, and more and more people around the world can experience the fun of exploring Japan.


Four Seasons, Weather

The Earliest Rainy Season Ever?

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

It certainly looks that way. Usually, in Japan, the rainy season doesn’t get under way until June. However, this year, it seems that it’s beginning in mid-May. Lots of rain has already engulfed the Tokyo area.

This might also impact typhoon season, likewise scheduled to start in June. It remains to be seen whether the Tokyo area will get hit by any typhoons. Either way, let’s hope for a mild typhoon season.

These recent events does make one wonder whether global warming has anything to do with the early rainy season. As temperatures and climate changes around the world, these effects become more and more noticeable. At this point, these differences are likely unavoidable.

Typhoons or no, we need to get ready for the rainy season now. It feels like we’ve just barely ended winter (I just recently put away my winter coat), but now we’re jumping right in to a summertime season. It seems more and more common as the years go by.


Coronavirus, COVID-19, Economy

I LOVE NAKAME💖 ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Extension of emergency declaration likely

Questions raised over COVID-19 reinfection after Japanese woman develops  illness again | The Japan Times
People walking in Shibuya area during COVID-19 pandemic.
Creator: Shoko Takayasu | Credit: Bloomberg
Copyright: © 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP Source: The Japan Times

The recent daily coronavirus totals have started to go down since the imposition of the latest state of emergency — a good sign that it seems to be working. However, lifting it will inevitably cause the number to increase again, leading to yet another state of emergency.

Tomorrow is the big day, but it seems that the outcome is already decided. On Friday, the Japanese government is set to announce whether the current emergency declaration will extend beyond its current May 11 end. All signs point to an extension by the government.

Things will continue on like this until the government develops a firm plan designed to handle the issue. But, without any better plan at hand, the government has essentially no choice but to keep the current situation going beyond May 11.

And it’s probably the only correct decision. Mass vaccinations are nowhere in sight, despite the U.S. and other developed countries having vaccinated huge percentages of their populations. Japan continues to fall behind.

We’ll find out for sure tomorrow what’s in store. But it seems all but decided that the state of emergency will be extended.


Coronavirus, COVID-19, Japan, Life & Culture

I LOVE NAKAME💖 ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Why a giant squid?

File:201208 spear squid.png
201208 spear squid” by Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

I read in the news today that a small city in Ishikawa prefecture decided to use a portion of the funds directed to them as part of the COVID relief efforts to build a rather large statue of a squid. It was not a small number either, with the article stating that it cost around 25 million yen, possibly more, to build and erect.

Why is this town misappropriating the funds? According to the article I read, the purpose of distributing the money to the town was to help boost the economy as the country battles another surging wave of the pandemic. Of course, the first thought that the town had to boost the dying economy was to build a gigantic squid in the hopes that people will visit the town. During a time when it’s not safe to travel.

Well, the town certainly achieved some form of notoriety, and deservedly so. We, as tax payers, should be rightfully angry when the rollout of money was not used for its intended purpose. I am sure that many people would agree that the construction of a mascot does not outweigh the thousands, if not millions of people who could have benefitted from these funds. Especially when these funds could have been used to speed up inoculation efforts in Japan.

I have to ask, to the small town of Noto, Ishikawa, was it worth taking a gamble to build a giant squid statue, knowing you would most likely draw the ire of angry tax payers in the age of social media?


Coronavirus, Japan, Life & Culture, Nature, Trends

I LOVE NAKAME💖 ナカメから日本の今を伝えたい!Shaking Things Up

As if Japan doesn’t have enough to worry about these days, a strong earthquake rattled Japan earlier this morning. The magnitude 6.6 temblor rocked Miyagi Prefecture, but the strength of the quake could be felt all over Japan, including faraway Nagoya.

As of now, there is no tsunami threat, which must be a welcome relief to the folks in Tohoku. But it proves to be another example of a powerful earthquake shaking up northern Japan.

While most of the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, this should serve as an important reminder that other issues need our immediate attention.

It’s easy to see how a more powerful quake could bring about a similar disaster that rocked Tohoku just 10 years ago. Another nuclear disaster could be awaiting Japan, and given the government’s lousy handling of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s hard to believe that the government is equipped to handle another nuclear meltdown.

For now, all we can do is hope another powerful earthquake doesn’t strike Japan.



Has the Fourth Wave Arrived?

Pedestrians with masks walking in front of Osaka City government office last week. Photo credit: Kyodo News

The news out of Osaka has only been getting more alarming. The daily total of new infections has finally topped 1,000 with no end in sight. Tokyo’s daily numbers, while only about half those of Osaka, are steadily rising, as well. Health experts have started warning that Japan has entered the fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Naturally, the national government has disputed these assertions. Prime Minister Suga denied any such rise in daily infections, effectively saying that things are normal. It is quite clear that the Olympics are still on his mind and that he’ll do anything to prevent their cancellation.

Meanwhile, Japan has ended its most recent lockdown, but there is already talk that something must be done to contain the growing spread. But, given the government’s lack of candor in terms f the growing threat, what would the government actually do? In order to defeat a problem, you must first acknowledge that it exists.

Since last year, the government has been dragged kicking and screaming into action. The vaccine rollout is still nonexistent, and we have no idea when the population will get inoculated. Japan remains far behind the rest of the developed world.

And it will probably stay there. We all have to Olympics to thank for that. At least partially.