Thursday, September 30, 2010

People making a respectable showing in foreign countries

A few days ago, a Japanese baseball player on the Seattle Mariners, Suzuki Ichiro, obtained 200 hits for 10 straight years.Immediately after he hit his 200th hit of this season, he didn't react on the first base, seemingly hesitating to express his happiness. When he saw his teammates in the bench urging him to response to his fans' cheers, he finally tipped his helmet and smiled. The reason of his hesitation was that he had a traumatic experience in 2008: Some local newspapers criticized him, saying that he was likely to pay more attention to himself than his team. Some said that he had too many infield hits. A lot of Japanese people were angry about these kinds of reports.

Today, I suddenly remembered the story above, then I was wondering why Ichiro was criticized, remembering the following story.

About a year ago, a Mongolian Sumo wrestler in the highest rank (横綱/Yokozuna), Asashoryu / 朝青龍, was finally forced to retire. Traditionally, Sumo wrestlers in the highest rank are required to become good wrestlers who can be respected by wrestlers in lower ranks, and they are expected to make social contributions. Despite that, Asashoryu frequently broke the rules. Then, a scandal eventually forced him to retire from Sumo, even though he was still strong and very popular among Japanese people. When it was reported in Mongolia, a lot of Mongolians criticized the Sumo Association, saying that Japanese people and the Sumo Association discriminated against Mongolian wrestlers.

After Asashoryu retired, another Mongolian wrestler in the highest rank, Hakuho/白鵬 was expected to play a leading role. So far, he has been doing well and seems to be respected by both common people and even very well-known retired Sumo wrestlers, even though the Sumo Association has been having difficulty dealing with serious problems in the past year. His words and behaviors/actions are often impressive and moving, making people feel that he really loves Sumo and that he knows what to do. It's said that he always studies the history of Sumo, Japanese culture and things like that.

These days, Sumo, the national sport of Japan, is supported by many wrestlers from foreign countries. because of this, Japanese people want Japanese Sumo wrestlers to do better. Likewise, Americans might want American baseball players to accomplish great feats in MLB. I think that these kinds of feelings is natural. I hope that Ichiro will catch the hearts and minds of more Americans like the Mongolian Sumo wrestler, Hakuho, does.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The impact of recent political conflict between Japan and China.

Recently in Japan, the news has been filled with the political conflict between Japan and China over the vessel accident that occurred near the island in Okinawa, Japan. This statement is based on the Japanese perspective, but I know that China and Taiwan have different perspectives. The conflict is arousing controversy and leading to various speculations. Many people assume there are agendas and ulterior motives, but ordinary people don't have any way of getting to know the truth. As far as I know, national interests among China, Japan, Taiwan and America are complexly intertwined.

This conflict inevitably and strongly makes Japanese people realize that they seriously have to think through how to protect Japan, as it has made them feel like China is likely to do anything, including the use of force, in order to achieve its goals. Some people say, "Through this conflict, our government exposed its lack of ability to conduct diplomacy, disappointing people. However, the conflict made people feel that Japan needs to enhance its defense strategy. It might be convenient for our government since it has been having a very hard time dealing with the issue about the Futenma US Force in Okinawa in the past year." I hope that the public objectively and unemotionally discusses Japan's defense policy.

The impact of various countermeasures taken by China is expected to be so serious that many people have finally realized that over dependence on China is very dangerous and that they need to build new business models. Speaking of over dependence on China, I was told by some Westerners that it was ridiculous that many Japanese companies invested a lot of money in China to open their businesses there. Even I sometimes wondered whether or not Japanese companies were thinking about diversifying risks. Recently, foreign companies have tended to shift their factories from China to other countries due to frequent strikes by workers, whereas Japanese companies are still having difficulty acquiring sites in other countries.

This conflict shows that now is the time for Japanese people to think through what Japan will be like, and decide polices based on our vision. Both Japanese people and our government haven't done that since Japan became a developed country.

Needless to say, our government needs to improve its ability to conduct diplomacy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Younger people trying to revitalize their hometowns--the 5th contest for grade-B local dishes

As I mentioned in my previous post (click here ), some younger people are doing something in order to revitalize their hometowns which are suffering from the shrinking population and poor economic conditions.

With the economic downturn in Japan, people who used to have an interest in traveling abroad came to pay more attention to domestic travel, although now, the super strong Yen is encouraging people to go abroad. As a matter of fact, for the past few years, bus tours have been enjoying great popularity especially among women and retired couples since these tours are cost-effective and easy to attend. In part because the tendency of people to pay more attention to domestic travel, a lot of areas are trying to attract people by popularizing street food (grade-B local dishes) that locals love such as たこ焼き/Takoyaki in Osaka.

A few days ago, the 5th B-1 Grand Prix/B-1 グランプリ, a street food competition, was held in Kanagawa Prefecture next to Tokyo. Forty-six teams from various areas throughout Japan attended the contest. Each team cooked its local dish at an outdoor site and sold it for 300 to 500 Yen (around 3 to 5 US$). Visitors bought the local dishes they wanted to try. After they ate the dish called ABC, for example, if they were sure that the dish was good, they could throw their pair of disposable chopsticks provided into a rubbish box that had a name plate for ABC. The team that was able to obtain the heaviest rubbish box was the winner.

In the contest, all of the teams were able to let many people know about their local dishes, in hope that their dishes can make people have an interest in their towns at the very least and inspire people to visit there. Should one win the contest, the positive economic impact on the winner's hometown will be surely generated mainly because the winner would be widely reported in the news. In fact, some areas that ranked in the top 10 in the past contests successfully boosted their local economy.

During the recession period, people can pay attention to what they usually don't pay attention to when the economy is strong, and they may find something they shouldn't have neglected. This sometimes leads to create new businesses. In addition, looking back at the past, new businesses often started in local areas. I hope that something that can help us reform our ailing economy will be generated.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Young Japanese people tend to remain in their hometowns

In Japan, up until two decades ago, many young people were fascinated by large cities. They were willing to study or work there. In fact, a lot of young people came to large cities, especially Tokyo. Exciting city lives were really appealing to them. As a matter of fact, at the time, there were a lot of things that you could obtain only in Tokyo. As a result, Tokyo came to have more population, and more things and information have naturally concentrated in Tokyo.

Today, young people, in contrast, tend to remain in their hometowns, saying that Tokyo has nothing to attract them. Tokyo appears to give them negative impressions like hectic lives, a high cost of living and unfriendly people. It's been said that the great popularity of the internet has contributed to create this tendency since the internet enables people anywhere to get anything they want. I've heard that more university graduates who studied in large cities want to work in their hometowns or in mid-sized cities near their hometowns.

These days, some of the younger people try to do something in order to revitalize their hometowns which are suffering from shrinking population and poor economic conditions. Under these circumstances, a few days ago, the 5th contest for grade-Blocal dishes called B1 Grand Prix/B1 グランプリ was held. This contest caught considerable public attention and was widely reported in the news. Actually, winning the contest is an effective way to boost the local economy and attract people throughout Japan. I'll talk more about the contest in the next post.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A very impressive 102-year-old woman !!

In Japan, yesterday was the Respect for Senior Citizen Day /敬老の日, so some senior citizens were reported in the news. A 102-year-old woman was the most impressive among them (click here). In the news, she looked like around 70. Her compelling and reasonable statements really made me doubt her age, making me wonder what was the secret to becoming an impressive elderly person like her. When she was asked for a comment on the Respect for Senior Citizen Day by a reporter, she insisted that elderly people should make efforts to be respected, saying that it was wrong to assume that elderly people should be respected only because of age. This statement convinced me that she deserved to enjoy longevity.

Her husband died young. She doesn't have children. Although she had lived with her sister for some time until her sister died, she has been living on her own for many years. She always cooks meals by herself, believing that it's important for her to eat anything she wants. She teaches some people Japanese calligraphy (書道/shodo in Japanese) which she started studying when she was around 50. When she was 92, she first went on a trip abroad and fully enjoyed the trip to Italy.

Generally speaking, elderly people tend not to listen to others, sticking with traditional ideas and insisting that younger people should listen to them. Needless to say, we need to respect elderly people. However, as the 102-year-old woman said, regardless of age, we should try to improve ourselves, listening to others.

In Japanese society, people over 65 are often considered as senior citizens. According to the newspaper below, senior citizens comprise 23.1% of the entire Japanese population.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A few months are long enough for that area to change

The day before yesterday, I went to Omotesando/表参道 in Tokyo, which is well-known as an area where many shops offer notable items (we often describe them using the following adjectives: designer-brand, outrageous, original, fresh, and innovative). Until then, although I sometimes passed through the area, I hadn't looked around it for more than a few months. When I was hanging out there, I could usually find something new here and there.

Up until a few years ago, the area always made me realize how many Westerners were in Tokyo because the area is popular among both Western tourists and Westerners living in Japan. In fact, when the economy wasn't that bad, many Westerners who had been transferred to Japan by their companies lived in areas near Omotesando. Before the Lehman Shock, since the Euro was very strong against the Yen, the area would be filled with European tourists. I remember that I would always hear the German language there. The day before yesterday, there weren't that many Westerners. Instead, I heard the Chinese language everywhere in the area. Before I went there, I already noticed that more and more Chinese people are visiting Japan since our government relaxed the personal tourist visa requirements for them in July. Yet the change still surprised me.

The shops and the flow of people have also changed. The main streets that used to be the highlight of the area are now fading. Instead, more side streets have become more appealing and are attracting more people. Anyway, a Snoopy Town Shop in the area made me feel very happy as always.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Japanese women being like men/ オス化女子

Have you heard of the Japanese phrase 草食系男子/sousyoku-kei-danshi (herbivorous men) ? When I first talked about the coined phrase here more than a year ago (click here), it just started gaining popularity. Now, the phrase is very popular to the point where even elderly people who always have a hard time catching up with new words often use the phrase in daily conversation. Everybody has realized that the number of men categorized as 草食系男子/sousyoku-kei-danshi (herbivorous men) are increasing, although the definition is ambiguous. Some young men are willing to refer to themselves as 草食系男子/sousyoku-kei-danshi (herbivorous men).
As 草食系男子/sousyoku-kei-danshi (herbivorous men) has become popular, Japanese phrases: 男前女子/otokomae-jyoshi and オス化女子/osu-ka-jyoshi have been often heard of. These two phrases represent Japanese women who act or think like men typically do. These women often make people feel that they are more masculine (mentally) than 草食系男子/sousyoku-kei-danshi (herbivorous men). Also, it's said that these women are increasing in number.

According to a survey on these women in their 20s and 30s conducted by a major magazine, the following things make them realize that they are like men.
-Using male words subconsciously (In the Japanese language, some words are used mainly by men; some words are used mainly by women. In addition, suffix forms make your sentences sound masculine, feminine and things like that )
-Always expressing oneself very clearly. Disliking women who sneakily bitch about others.  
-Disliking all of the things that are generally considered to be feminine.
-Disliking typical Japanese women's behavior: always doing something and going somewhere with the same close friends. Preferring going to a movie and on a trip alone.
-Loving drinking alcohol very much. Stopping by male-dominated bars alone without hesitation.
-Not wearing skirts. Sitting in a chair with your legs open.

In addition, the survey describes that people consider the following women to be オス化女子/osu-ka-jyoshi.
- Women who are frank, have a positive way of thinking, can move on quickly and never linger on things unnecessarily. Their behaviors always stun men. -Women who can make quick decisions at work and always express themselves clearly.

In the survey, other examples are also introduced. From these descriptions alone, I would say that I'm a オス化女子/ /osu-ka-jyoshi.

Friday, September 17, 2010

No more power games!!

Our Prime Minister, Naoto Kan,/菅直人, managed to survive the political fuss created by a power-broker named Ichiro Ozawa /小沢一郎 and averted another disaster: the change of our PM in three months (click here). PM Kan prevailed because he was greatly supported by the public opinion that the frequent change of our PM doesn't make sense. The public really wants our government to spend time reforming our ailing economy, wondering if the politicians understand how fiercely people are struggling to get through life, even though the cabinet members insist that they've realized that Japan is in a critical situation.

One day after that big day, the Bank of Japan finally but unexpectedly intervened in the foreign exchange market to stem the soaring Yen, as if PM Kan tried to dispel the impression that he has a lack of leadership. Some experts project that this intervention has temporarily worked, but the super strong Yen will continue since many developed countries struggling with the recession want to accept the super strong Yen in order to climb out of the recession.

Now, PM Kan is selecting new cabinet members.I hope that all of the politicians will be able to cooperate closely with one another in order to overcome this crisis.

These days, many things make us feel gloomy. Precisely because of that, I always try to fully enjoy my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If women start being fascinated only with men younger than they are.....

What makes you realize that you are no longer young? What behaviors make you realize that someone is no longer young? There are a variety of actions can make you realize that you or somebody is no longer young. 

I often hear that if women start becoming fascinated by men or celebrities younger than they are, it shows that they are no longer young. I think that it's most likely true. Many female friends of mine and I used to be attracted mainly to men older than we were when we were in our 20s; in contrast, when we were around 30, we suddenly started having a great interest in dating men younger than we were. One of my friends would always be fascinated with men over 35 while in her early 20s; however, during her early 30s, she would always stick with having a boyfriend in his 20s, saying that men in their 30s and 40s were not attractive. Eventually, she married a man who is six years younger than her. As for male celebrities, in Japan, very popular actors and male singers in their 20s and 30s are supported by many female fans over 40. 

This is just an observation; however, from a biological perspective, it can be true.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Doctors, Doctors, Doctors!

In Japan, the shortage of doctors is a serious problem. Many doctors working in hospitals, especially pediatricians, obstetricians and anesthetists, are forced to work extraordinarily long hours. They are so busy that they always have difficulty finding time to have a meal. Many of them don't have time to spend with their families, or even have a good sleep. Countless local hospitals were forced to close for not being able to recruit enough doctors. As a result, areas where there isn't a nearby hospital are increasing.

Despite the harsh working environment, many doctors are doing their best to save as many lives as they can. I really appreciate them. On the other hand, I often hear of terrible doctors who make patients feel like these doctors just want to earn money. My friends who are nurses or pharmacists always complain about doctors, saying that there are some doctors who don't have enough knowledge or don't try to examine patients seriously. My friends who are doctors working in hospitals often feel disappointed with the young residents at the hospital, saying that some of them are half-hearted about becoming doctors and don't have a passion for saving lives.

These days, I often hear that students who are doing very well in prestigious high schools generally head for medical schools (strictly speaking, in Japan, the medical department in universities) just because their academic results are high enough to challenge the most difficult entrance examinations for medical schools. They and their parents think that a doctor is just a stable job with a higher salary, not thinking about whether or not they really want to become doctors or about the fact that doctors deal with human lives. Although I can't explain it very well, every time I hear of these kinds of things, I feel like there is something wrong with it.

When you are sick in Japan, you can go to any hospital and clinic you want, which means that if the medical service provided is the same, the fee you have to pay at the hospital is the almost the same as the fee for clinics. In my experience, the fee that I paid for treatment at a university hospital was cheaper than that of a clinic even though the hospital provided a little better medical service. Today, although hospitals that are designated as advanced treatment hospitals require you to hand in a reference written by a doctor, you can still receive medical treatments there if you pay an extra 5000 Yen. (around 50 US$).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let's try to obtain an attractive face!

When my friend was working for a well-known cosmetic company, a make-up artist who was working forseveral popular Japanese actresses came to the company and gave a demonstration to the employees. First, two of the female employees--a good-looking woman and an ordinary-looking one(to be honest, a rather bad looking)--took off the makeup that they had put on themselves. Then, as the rest of the employees watched, the artist started putting makeup on them, demonstrating her skill and turning these two into enchanting women. The unattractive woman changed to the point where the other employees hardly recognized her, which really stunned them. The make-up artist found out the most charming part of her face, highlighted it to create an appealing face. On the way home, the unattractive woman was finally able to enjoy the experience of having men look at her. She was surprised that even young men were trying to hit on her, and it made her happy.

Usually when people apply makeup on themselves, they tend to put heavy makeup on parts with which they aren't satisfied with, like how Japanese women try to make their eyes look bigger and more impressive. However, as you can see, experts insist that this way will make your face less attractive since the heavy makeup can end up highlighting your weak points.

It's generally held that facial expressions are important in social life. As expressions gain in importance, makeup plays the more important role of helping you achieve impressive facial expressions. Upon seeing makeup from these perspectives, I really feel like I cannot neglect makeup, although I know that your face and facial expressions often come from within.

Speaking of makeup, it reminds me of a funny story: If a woman is taking a bath, and her male friends accidentally appear in front of her...If she is in her 10s or 20s, she subconsciously hides her boobs and her crotch with her hands. If she is over 30, she subconsciously covers her bare face with her hands. I can't deny it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What kind of town will Ginza/銀座 in Tokyo become ??

Have you heard of the very popular downtown area in Tokyo, Ginza/銀座? Until a few years ago, the downtown was well known for a town filled with luxury goods, and used to be creating a fun atmosphere that made people want to dress up there. The town could fulfill your material desires and satisfy your vanity.

When the Japanese economy was good, during the day, the town would be always jazzed up with many women wearing stunning outfits and enjoying shopping. As the sun went down, businessmen/women would appear from nowhere. They fully enjoyed having luxurious dinners and drinking. Even after midnight, the town was still bustling with people who didn't care about spending a lot of money. Tough battles to grab a taxi would happen here and there.

Before the Lehman Shock, foreign luxury brand shops were trying to open a flagship shop in Ginza. Some of them succeeded in their plans. In contrast, after the shock ran through world, casual brand shops which wouldn't be allowed to enter the town some years ago started occupying the prime locations. Now, Zara, H&M, UNIQLO and Abercrombie & Fitch are playing an important role of luring people into Ginza (an Apple store is playing this role, too). As the mainstream is changing, regular visitors to Ginza are inevitably changing. All in all, the times are forcing Ginza to change.

Under these circumstances, yesterday, a long-established department store in Ginza, Mitsukoshi/三越, was renovated, and started a fight for survival with a new strategy. The department store keeps its traditional image:a luxury image, highlighting a luxury atmosphere. On the other hand, it newly provides a large bike parking lot to attract ordinary people living in a newly developed bay area near Ginza. As I mentioned above, since Ginza itself used to be where people could put themselves into a luxurious atmosphere, it's said that this attempt, the bike lot, is notable. Many people are paying attention to what kind of town Ginza will become.

By the way,
I pray for the victims of the 9.11 attack and world peace. I happened to see the airplane crashing into the World Trade Center on live TV. When I saw the moment, I was glued to the TV, wondering if Hollywood was doing something surprising. The TV news casters seemed to be wondering how to manage the program. They just said over and over that they didn't know what was going on there and they were waiting for the new information from New York. I'll never forget that moment.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The story makes me realize that the traditional idea is still ingrained in younger generations.

A few days ago, my friend told me the story below:
Her friend has a son who is a senior in University of Tokyo, the most prestigious university in Japan. He has a girlfriend from the same university. He used to spend a lot of time doing a sport after school, and had struggled for some time to make a good team as a captain. Every time he had difficulties in his sport team, his girlfriend supported him and helped him overcome them. Thus, they have already built a good and strong relationship, and started thinking about marriage after graduation. When his parents noticed that, his father frowned on the marriage despite being sure that she is a very nice person. Can you guess why?

His father believes that he has a huge potential for the future mainly because he will be given a big title: a graduate of the University of Tokyo. As a matter of fact, this title is still effective in Japanese society, so many parents with children attending the University of Tokyo put their hopes on the children. In addition, the parents tend to want their children with the big title to marry someone who really can support their careers. Like these parents, his father wants that, but wants that in a very traditional way. In other words, his father wants him to marry a woman who is willing to stay at home and devote a large part of her life to supporting him and his family. However, his girlfriend is intelligent enough to enroll in the University of Tokyo, so his father assumes that she wants to purse her own career. At the same time, his father objectively thinks that she should do that. Because of these reasons, his father doesn't view her as eligible or the right person for the son's wife. Actually, his father's attitude toward marriage is based on a traditional idea.

With the economic downturn and social change, more husbands, especially young husbands, expect their wives to earn money. These days, if wives don't work, it will be very difficult to make ends meet. It's common for married couples to share housework and financial burdens. Workers have realized that everybody, regardless of educational background, is subjected to the risk of getting fired due to corporate restructuring. Thus, I'm surprised to see that the traditional idea is still ingrained in the father despite him being around 50 ( if he were over 70, I wouldn't be surprised).

Male graduates of prestigious universities are still likely to play important roles in our society. I have to admit that their parents still tend to take a conservative attitude toward marriage. This attitude can have a influence on the sons: the male graduates. Under these circumstances, it will take some time for our society to change to the point where women can pursue a career path without hesitation if they want.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Impressive Japanese TV commercials. If you study Japanese, please try to enjoy the wordings.

Every time I move back to Japan from a foreign country, I realized that TV commercials in Japan are creative and interesting, although I don't know very much about TV commercials in Western countries.

A very popular series of cellphone commercials is so funny and interesting that I always look forward to the next one (The first video). This series has a storyline that revolves around a family. The father is a white Japanese dog. The mother is being played by a popular middle-aged Japanese actress. A young popular actress, Aya Ueto/上戸彩, is playing the daughter's role. An American is playing the son's role. This portrays our social trends sarcastically and humorously , so the commercials can always catch the public attention.

Speaking of a popular series of TV commercials, the series of a canned coffee commercial where Tommy Lee Jones appears are still continuing. Surprisingly, he has been playing an alien role in the commercials for more than four years.

Although this kind of TV commercials usually catches my attention, sometimes other serious commercials resonate with me and makes me think a lot. An organization , AC Japan, examines our society and the world, and decides every year what it should advocate through its advertising campaigns. The Japanese phrases that are used in this newest TV commercial, created by this organization are impressive, so I want to introduce them. The phrases are below. I hope you can enjoy the wordings.

No strangers can see your heart (it implies that no strangers know what you are thinking), but every stranger can see your kindness/thoughtfulness/consideration.

The meaning of this phrase is almost the same as the one from the phrase above, although nuances of these two phrases conveyed are slightly different.

The cellphone commercial

The canned coffee commercial series where Tommy Lee Jones appears

The AC commercial

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Japan has no future !?

In Japan, it's said that the total cost of raising a child from birth to university graduation is ten to twenty million Yen (one to two hundred thousand US dollars, 1USD= 100 JPY. For the sake of simplicity, I use this rate). These days, it's not easy for 35-year-olds to earn five million Yen yearly even if they work full time (This is before taxes and insurances deductions.) , so the cost is too expensive. 

Compulsory education in Japan consists of six years in elementary school and three years in junior high school. If you go to public schools, you don't have to pay tuition, although you have to pay some monthly fees and deal with back-to-school shopping needs. As for public high schools, the tuition finally became free of charge this April because of a policy established by the new government that took power a year ago. However, the tuition at public universities remains high. The tuition started increasing sharply about twenty years ago and reached the current level about ten years ago. Even if you can enroll in a public university, you will have to pay about eight hundred thousand Yen for the first year, as the cost of the first year is higher than those of other years.

When I was a public university student many years ago, the tuition was not that high, and the Japanese economy was not that bad. Therefore, it was not difficult for "public" university students to earn money for tuition with part-time jobs. In addition, many parents could afford to pay the tuition. In contrast, these days, many university students are forced to take out low-interest student loans due to high tuition costs and the bad economy. To make matters worse, interest-free student loans were abolished a few years ago. According to the news, about 40% students now take out loans, and many graduates are struggling to pay off their loans since they have difficulty getting a stable job (They are required to start paying off their loans as soon as they graduate).

I've heard that many students who enrolled in the University of Tokyo this April are from relatively affluent families. Many of the students are graduates of prestigious private junior high and high schools. Almost all of them have had the experience of going to expensive cram schools. Due to this reality, bright or gifted children from families that are struggling financially are unlikely to have the opportunity to cultivate their talents.  

The declining birthrate is a serious social problem. We do know that we have to improve the situation, but those circumstances are discouraging us from having a child or from having more children.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Again, again. I can't help but sigh a heavy sigh--part 2

Ryoma Sakamoto
These days, a historical figure named Ryoma Sakamato/坂本龍馬 (1836-1867) is very popular in Japan. Not only the popular TV drama, Ryoma-den/龍馬伝, but also his policies, have boosted his popularity since now is a good time for us to adopt his policies.

Ryoma played important roles at the end of the Edo Era when Japan was being forced by some Western countries to give up its long-term national isolation policy.At the time, even though Japan was subject to the danger of foreign incursions, many key people paid a lot of attention to the struggle for supremacy. Ryoma insisted that Japan didn't have time to compete for power, and warned the key people to cooperate closely with one another in order to overcome the crisis and protect Japan from attacks by foreign countries.

Two days ago, a big political fuss was created again by a power-broker named Ichiro Ozawa /小沢一郎. I don't want to explain the details here since it's a long story. Speaking briefly, we are suffering from the possibility that our Prime Minister will change "again". As a result, even though many Japanese people want our government to take effective measures against the strong Yen immediately, the government will most likely spend about two weeks competing for power.

About a year ago, we selected the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as the governing political party since the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had disappointed us for many years. Thus, we bore responsibility for this situation. However, I didn't expect the frequent competitions for power. A year ago, I was ready to wait a few years for visible results made by the new government, but I now feel like my patience will be more likely be in vain. We need Ryoma now.