Every Friday, I hope to post a small summary of news and kind of look at what happened during the week. Where possible I will try to post English news, but there will be some articles in Japanese on occasion. The news might be about Japan, from Japan, there are no real criteria other than that I considered it interesting and that it has a connection to Japan in some way at least. Also note, that I will group them according to the days that I found them, not the days they were released. Enjoy.
Mondays first big announcement was, that another five countries would be added to the list of countries that are eligible to apply for working visa to Japan under the “Residence Track” scheme. People from Vietnam, Thailand (since the end of August) and Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar Taiwan (since the 8th of September) are now eligible to apply for and enter the country with a work visa (as long as the conditions are satisfied).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Another piece from Monday that I found interesting was the following article by the Guardian, talking about the effect that Japans ageing society has had on the Yakuza, Japans organized crime groups. The Guardian reports that over half of the group’s members are now over 50 years old and due to the ageing population and police crackdowns it is very hard to attract new, young members.
And finally, with the typhoon season starting up Japan was hit by a major typhoon. Typhoon Nr. 10 (In Japan, numbers are used to refer to typhoons while English sources will often use names) “Haishen” swept across western Japan and caused havoc in Okinawa and Kyushu. With the way that 2020 has been going, this will probably not be the last time for a typhoon to cause devastation this year.
The Japan Times
On Tuesday. I found the following piece about anti-racist organizations in Japan. Racism is an issue in Japan, and while it can be argued on whether importing a protest movement from abroad is a viable way to tackle that, it is refreshing to see that there are people actively combating racism in a country that has become quite lethargic politically.
The Japan Times
I selected the following piece to talk about the fact that Japan still has not employed large scale testing to combat the Coronavirus. I am not sure why they struggle so much with implementing testing for the virus, but the following article talks about the fact that the Ministry of Health’s, Labor and Welfare’s recommended approach is still the same as before: if you have a fever, first contact your attending physician and consult with them on whether you should get tested or not. Testing for people without symptoms is still not widely available.
Finally, an article talking about the big political issue of premier Abe’s upcoming succession. It introduces Yoshihide Suga, the most likely successor and also the man standing for the most boring policy of all: continuity. Suga worked closely with (soon to be) former prime minister and is expected to continue where Abe left off. As Abe’s approval ratings have been plummeting since the beginning of this year, with many accusing him of not having a solid plan on how to tackle the Coronavirus, it remains questionable on whether Suga is the right person for the job. But as the next prime minister will be selected by the ruling party LDP, and Suga is the candidate that has the most support from the different factions in the LDP, he will likely be the next prime minister of Japan (for however long that may turn out to be).
Then we have a piece on the ongoing protests in Belarus, specifically talking about the abduction of a powerful opposition leader. I only really included this to show that news like this is reported in Japan as well. Japanese news can be somewhat aloof sometimes, with National Television reporting car crashes inside Japan ahead of more relevant news outside the country.
We kick off Wednesday with a statement by the Japan Olympic Minister (a post that seems to change hands every other week), saying that the Tokyo Olympics should be held in 2021 at any cost. With the IOC’s John Coates also telling news agencies that the games will go ahead “with or without Covid”, Tokyo 2020 could become reality, though it is hard to believe that the games will be as successful as Japanese politicians seem to have hoped.
Next, we have a piece talking about gender inequality in Japan. With the country’s top office being up for grabs, no woman is even close to being a candidate for the succession of prime minister Shinzo Abe. The woman that has come closest might be Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike, but despite her right-wing and nationalistic views she has not managed to amass support from the old-guard behind her. In daily life as well, women are still often expected to work until there thirties, get married and become housewives, often severely hindering women who are looking to change jobs, advance their careers etc.
Another somewhat harrowing piece of news is that Japan economy shrank drastically due to the effects of the Coronavirus, with many companies predicted to drastically shrink operations to cut their losses.
Somewhat related to an earlier article, the following introduces us to female football player Yuki Nagasato, who joined a Japanese men’s club called Hayabusa Eleven on loan. According to the article, her goal (get it) is to show other women that playing football with the boys is something that they can do and that they should challenge themselves. がんばってください。
Then, somewhat a blast from the past, we have an article on how Japanese general and war criminal Hideki Tojo, tried to commit suicide to avoid capture by the Americans after World War II. The general, responsible for ordering the attack on Pearl Harbor among others but then having been forced out of office in 1944, was living in unassumingly in quiet suburban Tokyo before he was discovered. I found this article interesting so maybe you will too.
And the final piece we have for this week is from the American Congressional Research Service. Not so much a news article then, but I still found this article worth noting, as it succinctly puts together all major talking points surrounding the succession of the office of prime minister. If you are interested in Japanese politics and want a quick run-down, this is as good a place as any to start.
Congressional Research Service
That’s it for this week. See you next week with hopefully some more uplifting news!