Japanese News: April week 4

I must admit that I haven’t read a lot of the news this week…

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I also wanted to read articles from Asahi website to compare them with Mainichi. It is hard to admit it, but I stuck to Mainichi out of laziness. I am used to using their app and their website, and it created a kind of cosy area and routine that makes up for the discomfort of reading in Japanese. Even if I were told that another newspaper is better, I would not want to change now. I wonder how many other things I keep doing just because I am too lazy to change…? 😳

Opposition asks for Aso’s resignation

Both the Moritomo Gakuen scandal and Fukuda’s accusation of sexual harassment took place in the Ministry of Finance. The opposition is asking for Finance Minister Aso to resign: 麻生氏「進退考えぬ」 財務省、次官再聴取へ.

The first sentence of this article is tricky (I had to re-read it several times before understanding it):


When I first read it, I was wondering why anything relative to Fukuda should take place in Washington, haha. Things become much easier if we isolate the important information: The Finance Minister Taro ASO said: “I am not thinking of resigning”. (blue bold)

To add context, we know that he said that on the 20th (Japan time) [19th at Washington], he said it while he was at Washington, and he said it to a group of journalists. (blue)

Why should he talk about resigning or not resigning? He said it because voices asking for his resignation are growing louder (pink bold). Why are they growing louder? Because of the scandal relative to Fukuda, accused of sexual harassment (pink).

It also seems that 6 political parties from the opposition refuse to take part in the deliberation in the Diet as long as Aso hasn’t resigned: 野党6党は審議復帰の条件として、麻生太郎副総理兼財務相の辞任などを要求. (source) (this kind of article is a little difficult to me…) I am glad I remembered that 兼・けん is here to link Aso’s functions. He is both Deputy Prime Minister (副総理・ふくそうり) and Minister of Finance (財務相・ざいむしょう).

On Friday afternoon the bill for the Labour reform entered the House of Representatives for deliberation with the major opposition parties still absent (see the picture in this article with the caption: 主な野党が欠席したまま働き方改革関連法案が審議入りした衆院本会議)

  • 審議・しんぎ: deliberation
  • 衆院・しゅういん or 衆議院・しゅうぎいん: The House of Representatives, the Lower House
  • 本会議・ほんかいぎ: Deliberative Assembly, a plenary session of the Diet


We learnt on Monday that Fukuda’s retirement allowance will be around 5300万円 and on Tuesday, Fukuda’s resignation was approved by the government: 福田財務次官の辞任を閣議了承 セクハラ疑惑. This article is interesting because it underlines the fact that Nobuhisa SAGAWA, also a high official of the Ministry of Finance, had to resign from his post in March (in relation to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal). Two high officials of the Ministry resigning this year…

On Friday, The Ministry of Finance announced that Fukuda’s retirement allowance would be reduced by 20%: 福田氏のセクハラ認定、懲戒処分相当 退職金減額.

  • 懲戒処分・ちょうかいしょぶん: disciplinary action.

Yasukuni shrine

On the 21th began Yasukuni Shrine Spring Festival. Abe didn’t attend the ceremony, but he sent a ritual offering.

  • 靖国神社・やすくにじんじゃ: Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Japan war dead, but it also lists 14 war criminals of class A from World War II. As a result, every visit from officials to the Yasukuni Shrine rises protests in Korea and China.
  • 春季例大祭: I think it reads “はるのれいたいさい”. A shrine spring Festival, particularly Yasukuni Shrine Spring Festival.

This article from Mainichi says that the last time Abe visited the shrine was in 2013.

  • 参拝する・さんぱいする: to pay a visit to a shrine

To say that Abe didn’t visit the Yasukuni shrine this year, it uses the verb 見送る・みおくる: “首相は23日までの例大祭期間中の参拝は見送る” or “参拝見送り“. I knew the verb 見送る in the sense of “see somebody off (at the airport for example)”. But it also means “doing nothing”, “have a wait and see attitude”, “fail to act”, like you just see something and let it pass by, without taking action.

The article also says that Abe not visiting the shrine is a way to preserve the relations with South Korea and China: “中韓両国との関係維持を優先したとみられる。”

Yuzuru HANYU’s parade in hometown

I often see articles relative to Yuzuru HANYU on news websites, but I rarely read them. I did this time, and I was stupefied by the number of fans he has in his hometown: 羽生結弦、五輪連覇でパレード「ただいま」 地元仙台で.

On Sunday (22th), a parade was organised for Hanyu, at his hometown, Sendai City (仙台市・せんだいし), in the prefecture of Miyagi (宮城県・みやぎけん).

I would like to say that this Asahi article does not mention the name of the prefecture. It just says: “出身地の仙台市”. As you know, maybe, I am learning Japan prefectures, and I feel confident now about reading the kanji of almost all the 47 prefectures. Naturally, I was excited to put my knowledge into practice and was waiting for the prefecture’s name to make an appearance in the article! You can imagine the face I made when I read “出身地の仙台市”, haha. I headed to the Mainichi article on the same subject, and I was relieved to read: “故郷の宮城県仙台市”.

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This last article also tells us that around 108,000 persons were there to congratulate him while Hanyu smiled at the crow and waved his hand during 40 minutes. Dedicated tee-shirts and rubber bands (is it how it’s called in English? ラバーバンド) were also sold.

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I found some interesting expressions in this article:

  • まだ興奮は冷めていない. Even almost two months after Pyeongchang Olympics, the excitement hasn’t “got cold”.
    • 興奮・こうふん: excitement, agitation, exhilaration, hysteria
  • 場所取りの徹夜組が出た. As is often the case in such events, groups have spent the night on the spot to be sure to grab themselves the best place.
    • 場所取り・ばしょとり: saving a place
    • 徹夜・てつや: stay up all night
  • 宮城の民放全4局が生中継した. All 4 commercial channels of Miyagi Prefecture live broadcasted the parade
    • 民放・みんぽう: from 民間放送局, a commercial broadcast station
    • 生中継・なまちゅうけい: a live broadcast

Yoga and massage?

By the end of the year, I will know the name and face of all ministers of Japan if it goes on like this! Minister of Education Yoshimasa HAYASHI made public excuses on Wednesday for going to his yoga course with the official vehicle during his working hours.

  • 林芳正・はやし よしまさ: Yoshimasa HAYASHI, minister of Education
  • 文部科学省・もんぶかがくしょう: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, often abbreviated “文科省・もんかしょう”.

According to this article (文科相、公用車でヨガ認める「混乱招いた」謝罪), the magazine Shukan Bunshun (週刊文春) reported that Hayashi uses the official car to go to yoga courses in a “sexy” private room, in broad daylight:


To come back to our article, the title says that Hayashi apologised for having given rise to confusion

  • 混乱を招く・こんらんをまねく: give rise to confusion

The article is relatively easy to understand:


週刊文春によると、林氏は4月16日午後2時半ごろ、公用車で店を訪れ、約2時間滞在。待たせていた公用車で立ち去った。” (source)

Hayashi said that he goes to this Yoga thing several times a month since a friend recommended it to him some years ago. He said that he goes during his working hours (平日の公務の間に) with the official car (公用車). Even though he receives massage and yoga class in a private class (1対1で) with a female instructor (女性インストラクター), the place is not a “キャバクラ” style, like the magazine suggested.

The word キャバクラ means a place where female hostesses take care of clients, it comes from the words “cabaret” and “club” (source: Wikipedia).

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According to the magazine, Hayashi went there on the 16th and stayed there for 2 hours. At the time, the Ministry of Education was being searched in relation to the Kake Gakuen scandal, which of course, makes the whole business even more scandalous.

Dokdo or Takeshima?

This week, South Korea published a picture of the dessert they will serve during the meeting with North Korea. The dessert is a kind of mousse but what matters is the decoration on the dessert: a little map of unification (unified Korea in blue) which depicts Dokdo.

  • 南北首脳会談・なんぼくしゅのうかいだん: Inter-Korean summit

Dokdo, or Takeshima in Japanese, is a subject of dispute between Japan and Korea. Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested: 「わが国の立場と相いれない。適切な対応を求める」(source).


A lot more happened but some articles are really too hard for me. I saw several articles about two political parties merging to form a new one (?) or something like that. This is the kind of things that I still cannot read. The problem is not as much the Japanese level as the prerequisite knowledge that I don’t have. I know nothing of political parties in Japan and don’t know who is who either. When an article says that “someone” will not join the new party or similar things, I really have no clue what people are talking about!

Of course, there were many articles today (Friday 27th) about the Korean summit, but I decided to study only internal affairs for the time being!