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As reported in Junbungaku, the Japanese Literature Publishing Project is getting shut down. They had just held their first translation competition, which now appears to also be their last. Well, I guess there is always Kurodahan Press.

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image copyright M. Ignatov via Flickr.

In “The Near Future of Employment in Japan” published in the March 2012 issue of Social Science Japan (Newsletter of University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science; no. 46), professor of Labor Economics, Genda Yuji aims to provide a “blueprint” for an adjustment to Japan’s employment system that can effectively face future crises, taking into account lessons learned from the latest economic downturn. As far as blueprints go, this one is rather pale of shade and sparse of detail, but this may be due to the stage at which this  “Project for the Creation of an Employment System that Enables Lifelong Growth for All People” initiative is currently.

Nevertheless, Prof. Genda makes a number of informative observations. The major is what he calls a “market trend” of “quasi-regular employees” emerging to fill the gaps between the regular employees (I’m assuming he is thinking of 正社員) and  the dispatch/freeter class. Critics have come down too harshly on the post-Lehman expansion of hiring of part-timers/contract workers in place of the higher paid—and more difficult to fire—regular employees (temp. workers were laid off in waves during the “Lehman shock”). This is not an unproblematic trend, Genda concedes, but there are two problems with blanket criticism: first, it does not actually correlate to high unemployment, and second, these critics lump all non-regular employees together, failing to notice the emergence of the “quasi-regular employees.”

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Before:

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

After:

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

Images copyright: (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

See more of the click-through before and after pictures at the Big Picture.

The story here

The above is hardly advertising at its best. But the value of this particular example lies in what it reveals about Japanese workforce’s mastery of the English language, as well as foreign staff–both are missing. Yet a blind infatuation with the exotic, foreign–read English–cool persists. The combination of the above lack of English and grasping attempts to harness its cachet precipitate the very definition of SNAFU, and the above harlequinade provides just a single example from a multitude. Rest assured this is the normal situation in Japan.

Also note that the store in question was in Osaka, the second-largest metropolis in Japan after the Tokyo-Yokohama megasprawl (Gibson fans may include Chiba). A similar display may be forgiven in Boonie-mura, Inakaville (pop. 1 man). Granted this Galerie store appears to be in Shinsaibashi, on Osaka’s southside, which has a bit of an edge. But this is s till a howler.

This is, of course, not a rare instance of inadvertent use of offensive English. The article might have mentioned a certain chain restaurant called First Kitchen, or fa-suto kicchin, which, contracted, went the way of Brad Pitt (Burapi) and the non-Osaka McDonald’s (makudo). Nothing like walking down the street and overhearing:

A: “Hey what you want to do?”

B: “Let’s go fakkin!

Though the kitchen affair is at least an honest mistake. Not that the sale sign is really outrageous; Japanese people by and large have trouble comprehending expletives fully on a conceptual level, so even for that I could lift some of the blame. But this bit of news does tell us about foreign staff in Japanese companies the same thing the iPad told us about female staff at Apple. If there was an English speaker on staff (or German, Swedish, hell, French would do), the Daily Mail would have been a story short. Unless of course that English speaker was chef Ron Silver.

Maybe they could have picked on the Colbert Report (Jan. 11, 2012), when its editors chose to illustrate the discussion of the risk posed to New York, London, and Tokyo by earthbound debris of a Russian satellite with photos of the Empire State Building (New York), Big Ben (London), and Kinkakuji (Kyoto). Oh, that there were only anyone on staff with some knowledge of Japan, or a Wikipedia connection.

春の波

おだやかなれよ

彼岸潮(ひがんしお)

逃げ水ならば

胸痛むまじ

–M.I.

Hope THIS GUY didn’t steal anybody’s name…

See the Murakami Haruki short story published in the New Yorker, and available in a collection of short stories, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

If they had Darwin Awards for criminals and bad-ass awards for 18-year-old girls this would take the cake:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20100531p2a00m0na010000c.html

More from the Mainichi on the Koyanagi File (interviews with WWII naval officers) mentioned in an earlier post. The documents are due to be released this month.

Top secret interviews with WW2 Japanese navy brass to be published in April according to Mainichi. Read the full article here:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/features/archive/news/2010/03/20100313p2a00m0na021000c.html?inb=rs&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mdn%2Fall+%28Mainichi+Daily+News+-+All+Stories%29

Wow. Talk about presence of mind. Note to self and all. there is some space between the rails and the train, specifically a 1.06m x 30cm space. Read all about it:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20100216p2a00m0na010000c.html?inb=rs&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mdn%2Fall+%28Mainichi+Daily+News+-+All+Stories%29

And he tells his story today:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20100217p2a00m0na015000c.html?inb=rs&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mdn%2Fall+%28Mainichi+Daily+News+-+All+Stories%29