Japanese News: March week 4

I feel more and more at ease with the new format of my “Japanese news” posts. I only focused on internal affairs:

Anti-tobacco actions

The city of Ikoma (Nara prefecture) has adopted a new regulation against tobacco: 喫煙後45分間 エレベーターの利用禁止 奈良 生駒

I think that the title is quite easy to understand if you know the word 喫煙・きつえん (smoking). The last two words are:

  • 奈良・なら: Nara Prefecture
  • 生駒・いこま: city of Ikoma.

According to this new regulations, people will have to wait 45 minutes after smoking if they want to ride the elevator: 「たばこを吸った職員は45分間、エレベーターの利用を禁止」. This regulation concerns all the officials of the city: “市の全職員”. The reason given is that toxic substances keep going out of the body during the 45 minutes after smoking (i feel that my English is horrible, sorry 🙁):


  • 有害物質・ゆうがいぶっしつ: toxic substance. I learnt this word in my JLPT N2 vocabulary book, haha.

Japanese News March week 4 -2

The burger chain モスバーガー (Mos Burger) will make all its 1300 restaurants across the country “全国1300余りのすべての店舗” non-smoking before the Olympics. As the title suggests, Mos Burger is not the first one to adopt such a position: モスバーガーも全面禁煙へ 外食業界で禁煙化広がる

  • the particle も implies that others have already taken this step
  • the “non-smokisation” spread among the “industry of eating out”.

The point is to fight against 受動喫煙・じゅどうきつえん or passive smoking and prepare for Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Tragic deaths in the mountains

On Sunday (25th), 7 persons had an accident in Yatsugatake Mountains (Nagano). They “slipped down the mountainside” 滑落・かつらく. 3 persons are dead:  八ヶ岳連峰で3人死亡4人けが斜面を約300m滑落か

A climbing rope (ザイル) was securing the 7 persons when they fell. The first person slid and fell:


On Thursday (29th), a 4th-grade elementary school girl died during a ski competition競技スキーの合宿に参加 小学4年生女児死亡 北海道 倶知安町

  • 合宿・がっしゅく: go on a training camp
  • 倶知安町・くっちゃんちょう: Kutchan, a town in Hokkaido

Ethics and patriotism at school

Something is going on with Japanese school textbooks, but sadly, I can’t understand the article well… The title is obscure if we don’t know what it is about: 中学の「道徳」教科書 初検定 各社の「評価」対応分かれる.

I feel that this is an issue going on for some time, and knowing its genesis would be helpful, if not necessary, to understand what this is all about. I am not sure that understand the title, but I would translate it like this: “First inspection of the middle school “ethics” textbooks: the response of each publisher concerning the “evaluation” is different.”

What I understand is this (but I may be mistaken):

I don’t know if it is new, but “ethics”, “morals” 道徳・どうとく will become (or is) a course in middle school and high school. Among the topics that form the core of this course are the love of the country 国の愛 and the love of the family 家族愛. Among the eight publishers that made the textbooks of morals, five have integrated an auto-evaluation test 自己評価・じこkひょうか. The student is asked, for example, how he positions himself concerning the love of the country and family. He can choose between a range of answers like in a psychological test (apply to me or not, feel this or not).

Specialists have called to prudence when it comes to such auto-evaluation test.

Japanese News March week 4 -1.jpg

Emperor and Empress’ visit to Okinawa

The Emperor and Empress visited Okinawa. They arrived on Tuesday. It is their 11th visit to Okinawa and will probably be the last, given that the Emperor will abdicate next year.

The Emperor and Empress visited the 「国立沖縄戦没者墓苑」 to pay their respects to the victims of World War II: 両陛下が沖縄訪問 「戦没者墓苑」で慰霊

  • 国立沖縄戦没者墓苑
    • 国立・こくりつ: national
    • 沖縄・おきなわ: Okinawa (around one-third of the population died during the battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War)
    • 戦没者・せんぼつしゃ: a fallen soldier, the war dead
    • 墓苑・ぼえん: a cemetery, a graveyard


  • 天皇・てんのう is Emperor and 皇后・こうごう is Empress.
  • 陛下・へいか means “His or Her Majesty” and his used to talk about the Emperor or the Empress. When we want to mention both of them, however, we use the term “両陛下・りょうへいか”. The group of word “天皇皇后両陛下” can be learned as such, as it often appears in the news.
  • 沖縄戦・おきなわせん: the Battle of Okinawa (April 1 – June 22, 1945)
  • 激戦・げきせん: a fierce battle, a heavy fighting
  • 糸満市・いとまんし: city of Itoman, the final front of the Battle of Okinawa
  • 霊・れい: the soul
  • 慰める・なぐさめる means “to comfort”, “to console”, but in our context, it means “honour (the memory of the victims)”. Our sentence uses the honorific form of the verb that looks like a passive voice.

Emergency landing

A helicopter of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) had to proceed to an emergency landing at Yonago airport. Nobody is injured.

The title of the article is the kind of title that usually puts me off: “自衛隊ヘリが緊急着陸 滑走路閉鎖 鳥取 米子空港”.

However, if I look at it carefully, I can guess the meaning of most of the words:

I know that 自衛隊・じえいたい is the name of the SDF and I could easily guess that a ヘリ is a helicopter because of the video in the article. I also know that 緊急・きんきゅう means “emergency” and  I can deduce the meaning of 着陸・ちゃくりく (landing) because I know the word 離陸・りりく (takeoff).

I was first puzzled with 滑走路・かっそうろ but a road to go and slide in the context of an airport (空港・くうこう)… Yes, it is the runway. I didn’t know the word 閉鎖・へいさ but could guess its meaning (closing) from the first kanji.

And finally, I had no clue what 鳥取・とっとり was because I still haven’t got around to learning Japan prefectures yet: 鳥取県・とっとりけん is Tottori prefecture. It was obvious, however, that 米子・よなご was the name of the airport, I just had to look for the pronunciation in Google.

Moralité: Always look at a difficult sentence or title twice because we know more than we think we do.

The falsified documents

Tuesday (27th), Sagawa testified before the Diet. Sagawa was a high official inside the Ministry of Finance at the time the documents were falsified. Everybody wants to know who ordered the falsification and why. Additionally, we want to know if Abe and his wife are involved. Let’s see if Sagawa’s testimony brought some light on the matter.

How did Sagawa testify? The article “佐川氏 どう証言した? 午前の喚問のポイント” summarizes the major points of the morning.

And this article summarizes the major points of the afternoon: 佐川氏 どう証言した? 午後の喚問のポイントbut I don’t see much additional information in it so I will focus on what happened in the morning.

Also, this article gives a clear overview of the day: 改ざんは誰が?なぜ? 佐川氏どこまで語った.

Let’s call a spade a spade

japanese news - march week 4To begin with, a note about the word 改ざん・かいざん. It means “falsification” and has thus a strong meaning, implying the intention to deceive. At the end of this article, NHK reporter says that, although they used the word 書き換え・かきかえ until now to talk about the documents being “re-written” (決裁文書の書き換え), after Sagawa’s testimony, we can now talk of 改ざん.

Did Sagawa know about the falsification

One of the questions that have been asked to Sagawa is whether Sagawa knew about the falsification and if yes, who ordered it and why:


  • It is easier to say that Sagawa was a high official of the Finance Ministry, but to be precise, he was the head of the Financial Bureau of the Ministry of Finance: 理財局長・りざいきょくちょう
  • 証人・しょうにん: a witness. In this sentence, Sagawa.
  • 仮に・かりに: if…

But, Sagawa did not answer the question because he is subject to prosecution: 「私が捜査対象であり、刑事訴追を受けるおそれがあるので、答弁差し控える

  • 訴追・そつい: prosecution
  • 答弁を差し控える is an expression that means “refrain from answering”
  • 答弁・とうべん: a reply, an answer
  • 差し控える・さしひかえる: abstain from doing

Why the falsification?

When the scandal burst out, Abe said that if he or his wife had a connection with the discounted sale, he would resign. Therefore, it seems natural to ask if the documents have been falsified to cover the Prime Minister or his wife.

However, Sagawa said, for the same reason of prosecution, that he refused to answer any question relative to the motive.

Are Abe and his wife involved?

Someone asked if「安倍総理大臣や昭恵氏らからの指示はあったのか。総理大臣秘書官らの総理大臣官邸や麻生副総理兼財務大臣の指示はあったのか」.

The question implies five persons or groups of persons:

  • 安倍総理大臣: Prime Minister Abe
  • 昭恵氏: Akie, Abe’s wife
  • 総理大臣秘書官: Abe’s private secretary
    • 秘書官・ひしょかん: private secretary
  • 総理大臣官邸: Abe’s relatives (?)
    • 官邸・かんてい: Residence of the Prime Minister
  • 麻生副総理兼財務大臣: Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister
    • 麻生・あそう: Aso (I am glad I noted his name last time)
    • 副総理・ふくそうり Deputy Prime Minister
    • 兼・けん: “and”, “in addition”, “at the same time”. It took me a while to understand that his two positions were linked with this character. I thought that the suite of 8 characters was a new grad I never heard about before.
    • 財務大臣・ざいむだいじん: Minister of Finance

To this question, Sagawa replied 「ございませんでした」.

Sagawa said that the documents were handled inside the Financial Bureau exclusively: “理財局の中で、資料要求の対応をする”. There was no communication with actors outside of the Bureau, like a consultation with the Minister of Finance or report to the Prime Minister. In short, neither the Minister of Finance Aso nor Abe nor his wife is involved in this business.

Sagawa kept repeating that there was no “instructions” 指示・しじ coming from the Prime Minister or others. Just to be sure that Sagawa was not beating around the bush by using strategic words, someone asked if, apart from not having been any 『指示』 from Abe, there were:

  • 『協議』: ぎろん: discussion
  • 『連絡』: れんらく: communication
  • 『打ち合わせ』: うちあわせ: preliminary meeting

To which Sagawa answered that there was not.

If you watch the video provided with this article, you will see that Sagawa spent a good deal of time answering “ございませんでした”.


It seems that Sagawa didn’t give any essential piece of information concerning who ordered the falsification and why. He repeated several times that neither Abe, nor his wife, nor the Minister of Finance was involved.

What’s next?

The opposition insists on two points: that the light should be made on this matter and that Abe’s wife should testify. Abe, however, wants to move on to the next chapter, which is the labour reform: 「働き方改革」「改ざん問題」後半国会も攻防続く. I do not relish the prospect of reading articles on the labour reform… seems to be such a complex subject! 😩


I have been very thorough this week and opened NHK News website every day to copy links for later use. What is funny is that I often do it on my phone, because checking the news is something easily done on the go. But copying the links and put them in WordPress was not as easy as it sounds. And what happened this week? WordPress added a new “save as draft” function on ios! I felt greatly encouraged!

Also, the more I read the news, the easier and the more interesting it becomes. I feel more implied and curious concerning Japan politics and society.

My English notebook:

To call a spade a spade vs to beat around the bush: appeler un chat un chat vs noyer le poisson.

I don’t relish the prospect of doing sth: je ne me réjouis pas à l’idée de

to get around to sth or to doing sth: to do sth that you have intended to do for a long time: “I haven’t got around to it yet” (the kind of sentence I can use often…).