Mandatory Vacation

 

 

Should the government force their workers to take a holiday?

Japanese office workers are known for working long hours and working overtime for no additional compensation. In 2011, roughly one-third of suicides in Japan were caused by overworking.

Which is why, the Japanese government is planning to require their workaholic citizens to use at least 5 out of 10 paid vacation days per year.

The government has claimed that they are having a problem convincing people to spend their time away from the office. In the past, they have created more national holidays in order to encourage workers to take a day off. However, they believe that it is not enough.

Contributed by: TEACHER NATSU

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Compensation – something (such as money) given or received as payment
  2. Roughly – approximately; more or less
  3. Workaholic – a person who works too much
  4. Convincing – causing one to believe the truth of something

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. What do you think about the attitude of Japanese workers? Are they too workaholic?
  2. Do you agree with the government’s plan? Why or why not?
  3. What should the government do to encourage their workers to take a day off?

    Should the government force their workers to take a holiday? Japanese office workers are known for working long […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Twice a Month: No Game Days

FEB. 03 460-illust_(Feb3Twice a Month- No Game Days

 

 

Should students spend less time in playing video games and study more to get a high score in an exam?

The Board of Education in Japan is making a proposal to urge parents to declare the first and third Monday of each month to be No Game Days.

The reason for this proposal is due to the recent results of tests of students from Hokkaido who earned lower scores than the average of Japan. Japanese educators thought that there must be something that is keeping students from studying longer and they came to the conclusion that it must be the video games. The educators even encourage adults to follow the No Game day as well.

However some gamers opposed the idea by saying video games is not the only reason why students are having less time for study. Other gamers said that students having mobile phones is also one of the many reasons why students are failing their tests.

Contributed by: TEACHER NATSU

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Urge – push for something; recommend; encourage
  2. Declare – announce publicly or officially
  3. Proposal – something that is proposed (such as a plan or an assumption); proposition
  4. Conclusion – a position, opinion or judgement reached after consideration
  5. Encourage – same with urge; to promote; recommend
  6. Oppose – be against; express opposition to; fight against or resist strongly

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. What do you think are the other reasons why students are spending less time studying?
  2. Do you agree with the proposal of the Board of Educators in Japan? Why or why not?
  3. What are the other things that parents should do to encourage their children to study harder?

    Should students spend less time in playing video games and study more to get a high score in […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Ikebana

JUL. 21 344-illust_(Jul21)ikebana

 

 

Do you know what Ikebana is?

From the Nihongo word “ikeru” which means to keep alive, arrange flowers, living flowers, or also known as “kado” meaning the “way of flowers”, the world knows Ikebana simply as the Japanese art of flower arrangement.   Some may think it is just keeping the flowers together, but it is also a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together.  How true!!

Other parts of the flowers like the stems and leaves are also used to place emphasis on shape, line and form.  The artist or the floral arranger doing the arrangement usually had a statement or a message that he wants to relay, thus the reason for the certain arrangement, as there are rules for this art, too.

The container also is taken into consideration, usually pottery.  Symbolisms for the art are human, earth and man; or sun, moon and earth.  Silence is also very important to ikebana for inspiration and appreciation for nature that we usually ignore because of our busy lives.

Contributed by: TEACHER CHILLI

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

Floral – flower

Place emphasis – have importance

Relay – message to say

Pottery – clay molded, and dried to form pots, etc.

 

Perspective Exchange:

Are you also into Ikebana?  Please tell us what you do.

What aspects of ikebana do you know that you may want to share with us?

Do you think ikebana is comparable to other arts of other countries?  Please explain why this is so.

    Do you know what Ikebana is? From the Nihongo word “ikeru” which means to keep alive, arrange flowers, […]


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Level:

Beginner

A Beauty and Grace of a Geisha

JUL. 17 340-illust_(Jul17) Beauty and Grace of a Geisha

 

 

Do you think Geishas are beautiful?

The world has always been fascinated by geishas.  Some would want to travel to Japan to actually meet one, some think they are just myths – characters weaved into stories to entertain travelers, some are positive they are of the old world, that they are already nonexistent.   But the truth is, geishas are living breathing beings and actually exist, would have their lives in no other way, than being what they are.

Being trained at a very young age to entertain (professional entertainers if you want to call it that), to serve and make their guests feel at home, they are highly skilled in dance and music, as well as in communication.   They also have to be conversant, meaning knowledgeable with a lot of aspects, as they more often than not have businessmen, too, as their guests, all waiting to be pampered and craving for the attention only a geisha can give.

“Memoirs of a Geisha”, a bestselling novel, translated into film, was viewed by millions the world over.

Geishas value what they do, and all that they are.  A lot of them actually see being a geisha as a career they would like to pursue towards their old age.  For them, once a geisha, always a geisha!!

Contributed by: Chilli

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Myths – not real
  2. Some are positive – some are sure
  3. Non existent – no longer existing, no such thing no more
  4. Conversant – able to discuss various topics
  5. Pampered – taken care of, looked after, like royalty
  6. Craving – wanting to have more
  7. Translated – made into

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. Do you know the novel Memoirs of a Geisha? Have you watched the movie adaptation as well? How was it?
  2. Have you seen a Geisha personally? Do you want to see a Geisha in the future?
  3. Can you say that a conversation with geishas is life changing? How is that?

    Do you think Geishas are beautiful? The world has always been fascinated by geishas.  Some would want to […]


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Level:

Intermediate

New Lowest Record of the Number of Children in Japan

MAY. 12 285-illust_(May12)New Lowest Record of the Number of Children in Japan

 

 

Does your country have a high population rate?

The government of Japan has reported that the number of children hit a new low record, whereas, the number of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population of Japan ages and shrinks.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry estimated 16.33 million children under the age of 15 as of April 1 which was down 160,000 from last year. They also added that it was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level ever recorded since they began to record it in 1950.

12.8% of Japan’s population is underage, in contrast, people who are aged 65 was at the highest record of 25.6% Compared to other major countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest percentage for children wherein United States has 19.5% and 16.4% for China. The proportion of people aged 65 and above is forecasted to reach nearly 40% of Japan’s population in 2060.

Contributed by: TEACHER NATSU

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Shrink (verb) – decrease in size, range or extent
  2. Estimate (verb) – to guess, predict or forecast an approximate calculation of quantity, degree or worth
  3. Decline (noun/verb) – a decrease in number, go smaller or go down in value
  4. Underage (adjective) – not of legal age according to the law of one’s country
  5. Proportion (noun/verb) – balance among parts of something
  6. Forecast (noun/verb) – predict in advance

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. What is your reaction about the said news?
  2. Do you think this will cause a bad thing to Japan and its economy?
  3. What do you think are the causes of decline in Japan’s population?

    Does your country have a high population rate? The government of Japan has reported that the number of […]


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Level:

Advance

“Death rooms” in Japan

APR. 28 273-illust_(Apr28)Death rooms in Japan

 

 

Would you live in a Death Room?
Places where people have died are associated with bad luck in Japan, costing much cheaper prices for apartments where suicides, murders or other deaths happened because of a lack of demand. “Death rooms”, which sound horribly morbid, are surging as for others; this is a way to save money during tough times.

One of the factors that pushes many people especially those who are having financial difficulties is due to a lack of social housing for low income households. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism stressed that buildings that were erected during the high growth period are currently being replaced. Local governments are having financial difficulties thus, they can’t construct new buildings.

Demolishing old wooden apartments in Tokyo to give way for the Olympics in 2020 is being feared, driving low earners out of the city and even further from the jobs.

Contributed by: TEACHER ZENA

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. ASSOCIATED (adjective) – Connected with something else.
  2. LACK (noun) – The state of being without or not having enough of something.
  3. HORRIBLY (adverb) –  Very bad or unpleasant way
  4. MORBID (adjective) –  Unpleasant subjects such as death and disease
  5. SURGE (verb) – Move suddenly and powerfully forward or upward.
  6. DEMOLISH (verb) -Destroy , pull down

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. Do you think it is ideal to rent a “Death Room” if you’re on a financial crisis?
  2. Do you believe that places where people died bring bad luck?
  3. What do you consider when looking for an apartment?

    Would you live in a Death Room? Places where people have died are associated with bad luck in […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Why are Japanese Salarymen Trapped In Their Jobs?

265-illust_(Apr21)Why are Japanese Salarymen Trapped In Their Jobs

 

 

 Have you seen the four panel comic that was published in Japan recently?
“Salaryman” is the Japanese term that refers to an office worker in Japan. Despite the differences in the industry, every salaryman’s situation is the same. While they are not known worldwide, they are described as workers who do overtime, highly obedient and can be found binge drinking often with colleagues and clients, whether they want to or not.

A four panel comic or classically called as “yonkoma” depicts the reasons why salarymen are trapped in their jobs.  The main characters are a man who represents the average citizen and a bunny who represents companies in Japan. According to the comic, the man questioned the bunny about how too cheap the labour is, how it’ll affect the employment rate and how it will cause deficit in the economy. However the bunny assured the man that it won’t cost any deficit because the companies can make the labour costs too low. He also said that people will not quit because companies make them work long hours and even if they quit, they wouldn’t be able to afford to live their lives. Also working for longer hours means the employees wouldn’t be able to communicate with their friends and wouldn’t consider quitting.

Most people, especially men, the company they started working for after their college is the company they will work for the rest of their career. There is no easy way to suddenly try something else.

Contributed by: TEACHER NATSU

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. industry (noun) – people or companies engaged in a particular kind of business enterprise
  2. obedient (adjective) – dutifully following the commands or instruction of those in power
  3. binge drinking (noun) – an occasion for excessive drinking of alcohol
  4. colleagues (noun) – co-workers; workmates
  5. average (adjective) – ordinary
  6. labour (noun/verb) – productive work (especially physical work done for wages)
  7. deficit (noun) – an excess of liability over assets; shortage
  8. assure (verb) – to promise; to ensure; to guarantee

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. Do you agree with the title that there are some people who are trapped in their jobs? Why or why not?
  2. How would you describe the relationship between you and your employers?
  3. If you have the chance to choose another job/company, what would you choose?

 

     Have you seen the four panel comic that was published in Japan recently? “Salaryman” is the Japanese term […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Japan May Boost Immigrant Numbers

APR. 16 260-illust_(Apr16)Japan may boost immigrant numbers

 

 

What do you think about the increase of foreigners in Japan?
There were no decisions made but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga didn’t deny the report that the administration is considering increasing the number of immigrants to boost Japan’s potential for long-term economic growth, possibly as many as 200,000 a year, to make up for the rapid aging and shrinking of the Japanese population.

Accepting huge number of immigrants to maintain Japan’s economic potential has long been a politically sensitive issue. Liberal Democratic Party is opposed to such ideas. However, a high-ranking official close to Abe argued that Japan should accept a large number of foreign unskilled workers which are limited to such areas as domestic helpers, baby sitters, medical workers and nurses and that such a policy should be included in a package of new growth strategies Abe plans to announce in June.

According to a Cabinet Office simulation, Japan’s population will plummet to 87 million in 2060 from the current 128 million if the total fertility rate remains at the current level of 1.39.

Contributed by: TEACHER ZENA

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Immigrant (noun) – A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
  2. Boost (verb) – To increase or improve.
  3. Shrink (verb) – Become or make smaller in size or amount.
  4. Politically (adverb) – Relating to politics, government, authorities.
  5. Liberal (adjective) – Open to new behavior or opinions
  6. Unskilled (Adjective) – Not having or requiring special skill or training.
  7. Simulation (Noun) – Imitation or representation, as of a potential situation or in experimental testing.
  8. Plummet (verb) – To fall or drop straight down
  9. Fertility (noun) -Natural capability to give life

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. Do you agree with the idea of increasing the number of immigrants in your country (Japan)? Why?
  2. What do you think are the other solutions to increase Japan’s current population?
  3. What is the percentage of the foreigners working in your company? How’s it like working with them?

    What do you think about the increase of foreigners in Japan? There were no decisions made but Chief […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Japan’s Consumption Tax Increases To 8% This April

251-illust_(Apr01)Japan's Consumption Tax Increases To 8% This April

 

 

Are you pinching pennies or not too worried?”

Aside from April fool’s day being the first day of April, it is also when Japan’s consumption tax rises from 5% to 8% – the first since it was raised 17 years ago.

Increasing the sales tax is widely regarded as a key to Japan’s fiscal rehabilitation. Japan’s fiscal health is the worst among the major developed countries, with public debt at more than 200% GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Raising the tax is aimed at boosting up Japan’s hugely spent public finances and also designed to pay for Japan’s expanding social-welfare cost. In April 1997, the government first raised the tax from 3% to 5 %. After that, consumption took a dive (along with the effects of the Asian financial crisis) which pushed Japan into deflation and a recession that lasted more than 18 months.

Contributed by: TEACHER NATSU

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:

  1. Pinching pennies – an extreme care in spending money;
  2. Consumption tax – a tax on goods and services; also called the sales tax
  3. Fiscal – involving financial matters
  4. Rehabilitation – recovery; repair or improvement
  5. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – cost of all the finished goods and services produced within the country’s border in a specific time period
  6. Consumption – use of goods and services in a particular period of time
  7. Deflation – a decrease of the general level of prices in an economy
  8. Recession – a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced

 

Perspective Exchange:

  1. What do you think of the consumption tax increase? Are you worried about it?
  2. Do you think it’s good for Japan? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, is the 3% tax increase enough or too much? Please explain.

    Are you pinching pennies or not too worried?” Aside from April fool’s day being the first day of April, […]


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Level:

Intermediate

Japan’s Economy Descend

japanese_economy

 

 

Have you ever experienced a downfall in your life?
Three decades ago Japan was a rich country with a vigorous economy. People can buy expensive cars and visit different countries for vacation. Real estate business was also in demand before. Land speculation rose and the bubble eventually burst.

Today people do not travel and spend money that much since they are also having problems paying their debts and mortgage. That is why Japanese are now careful and wise in spending money because for almost two decades the country has been in a downward fall.Consumers don’t buy lands and goods anymore and banks sit on their money instead of spending and investing it to big companies and corporations, Experts call this deflation.

Young Japanese nowadays haven’t experienced and imagined this, that before Japan was one of the mightiest and richest countries, they also think that Japan would overtake United States but unfortunately, it was Japan that was overtaken by China. Now, they say that industries stand no chance against companies from South Korea and China.

But Still Japanese are optimistic; they still do things to deal with the problems. And in the future they will still gain the image they once had before.

Contributed by: TEACHER LARINCE

 

Vocabulary Enhancement:
 
Vigorous – dynamic, healthy and strong
Speculation – activity in which someone buys and sells things (such as stocks or pieces of property) in the hope of making a large profit but with the risk of a large loss
Mortgage – a legal agreement in which a person borrows money to buy property (such as a house) and pays back the money over a period of years
Deflation – contraction in the volume of available money or credit that results in a general decline in prices.

 

Perspective Exchange:
 
1. What do you think are the reasons about the descend of Japan’s economy? Is it really happening now?
2. What are the problems you encounter in your economy nowadays? Do you think the government is trying to deal with this?
3. What will be the aid of being optimistic with this kind of situation?

    Have you ever experienced a downfall in your life? Three decades ago Japan was a rich country with […]


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Level:

Intermediate