Japanese News: May week 1

Order of the Rising Sun

On Sunday (29th), the government announced the recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun. Beat Takeshi ビートたけし (Takeshi KITANO) received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette: たけし“らしく”喜び「これを糧にノーベル賞目指す」(スポニチ).

I stumbled across a lot of unknown words in this article:

  • 叙勲・じょくん: bestowal of an order. The verb 叙勲する means “confer a decoration” and the passive form 叙勲される “be decorated”.
  • 春の叙勲・はるのじょくん: the Spring Conferment of Decorations
  • 旭日章・きょくじつしょう: Order of the Rising Sun
  • 瑞宝章・ずいほうしょう: Order of the Sacred Treasure
  • 旭日小綬章・きょくじつしょうじゅしょう: The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (This is the one that Kitano received, don’t ask me what it is exactly). (I found a great source for English appellation of Japanese orders.)

I am not surprised that he should receive such a high distinction, I am surprised that he didn’t receive it earlier. In France, he was named a Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters in 2010 and was even rewarded the Legion of Honour in 2016 (named Officier). The article by Mainichi underlines this fact and says that even if he was granted the highest French order, it is the first time this year that he receives a national award:


  • 勲章・くんしょう: a decoration, an order
  • 褒章・ほうしょう: a medal of honour

I don’t know the difference between an “order” and a “medal” and I am too lazy to look into it… What we know is that Takeshi received neither order nor medal in Japan until now. However, according to our article, his brother said that he refused a Medal in the past:


Here again, I don’t know the difference between the Medal awarded in Japan… The one mentioned here is the Medal with Purple Ribbon.

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Media are there to break the country??!

I missed this information last week, but better late than never! Hakubun SHIMOMURA (下村 博文・しもむら はくぶん), former Minister of Education, said, about the various scandals revealed by the press lately:「日本のメディアは日本国家をつぶすために存在しているのかと、最近つくづく思う」(source).

japanese news - may week 1-1.jpgI couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this! And he was the Minister of Education and Culture? Of course, he was criticised by the opposition, but also by his own party (LPD), as the title of the article suggests: 下村氏「メディアは国家をつぶす」 与党内でも批判.

For example, a member of the LPD criticised Shimomura in a press conference:


  • 竹下 亘・たけした わたる: Wataru Takeshita
  • 総務会長・そうむかいちょう: the Chairman of the Executive Council
  • 権力・けんりょく: power, authority
  • 指摘する・してきする: to point out

A little digression, but Japan is ranked only 67 in the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

Sexual harassment

Mainichi’s editorial on Monday asks セクハラと日本社会 これが21世紀の先進国か.

I think that the Fukuda case had a lot of repercussions in the society, but I don’t live in Japan so it’s hard to tell. As the editorial said, this case revealed how hard it is for the victim to obtain justice.

Another interesting article says 麻生太郎、下村博文 セクハラ被害者を加害者扱いする呆れた発言録. Shimomura (the same Shimomura as above) even went as far as to turn the victim into the aggressor and Fukuda into the victim. He said: 「隠しテープでとっておいてね、そしてテレビ局の人がですね、週刊誌に売るっていうこと自体が、ハメられてますよね。ある意味で犯罪だと思うけど」and the article concludes “下村氏は明確に被害者を加害者扱いしている”.

The fugitive arrested

On Monday (30th), the police finally arrested a man suspected to be the fugitive who escaped from his prison in Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県) three weeks ago. He was arrested in Hiroshima city (広島市) by the local police: 平尾容疑者を逮捕 広島市内で.

  • 平尾龍磨・ひらおたつま: Tatsuma HIRAO, the name of the fugitive.

It was later confirmed that the suspect arrested was indeed Hirao. I am glad that I am learning prefectures because I knew that Ehime is on Shikoku island, facing Hiroshima. We learnt on Tuesday that he reached Hiroshima by swimming: 逃走容疑、広島で逮捕 22日ぶり 島から「泳いで渡った」.

The reason he gave for his escape is「刑務所での人間関係が嫌になって逃げた」.

May 1st: We’re entering the last year of HEISEI

This editorial by Mainichi reminds us that in exactly one year, the actual Emperor’s son will take the throne, thus ending the era Heisei 平成・へいせい and start a new one: 残り1年の平成時代 元号の持つ意味を考える. I find this article interesting, though I don’t understand all of it.

An imperial era name is called 元号・げんごう and it is opposed to the Common Era 西暦・せいれき. The two systems co-exist in Japan and even though the Common Era is widely used in the society, the official documents from the government use the Imperial Era system: “一般社会では西暦を使うことがむしろ多くなったが、官庁の公文書は元号の使用が原則になっている.”

What is interesting is that, when documents plan ahead, they still use the Imperial Era name, even if we know it would have changed in the meantime: 政策目標を示す場合も元号を使うことが多く、「平成40年」「平成50年」などと記載されている。Even if the actual Emperor had not chosen to abdicate, he would be 104-year-old in “平成50年” or 2038.

The article also mentions a survey made in 1979. At the time the era was still Showa (昭和・しょうわ). We can see that people massively wished that the era name should be maintained and that 78% of the people surveyed were using it.


  • 世論調査・よろんちょうさ: a survey of public opinion
  • 存続する・そんぞくする: continue to exist
  • 圧倒する・あっとうする: overwhelm, overpower

Today, it seems that people are still attached to the era name system and that there is a growing interest in the new era name: “新たな元号への国民の関心も高まりつつある。”. To be honest, I am also looking forward to knowing what will be the kanji of the new era. But we will have to wait, as some officials from the ruling party suggest to postpone the publication of the new name until February 2019:


  • 当初・とうしょ: at first
  • 切り替え・きりかえ: change, conversion
  • 検討する・けんとうする: consider
  • 陛下・へいか: His Majesty
  • 在位中・ざいいちゅう: during the reign
  • 懸念する・けねんする: fear, be anxious, feel concern
  • 自民党・じみんとう: Liberal Democratic Party
  • 保守派・ほしゅは: the conservatives, the old guard
  • 配慮する・はいりょする: consider, take something into account

I personally like the era name and everything related to the Emperor. But I must admit that I find it bothersome when they use the era name for the year in newspapers because I am very bad at calculating!

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Kyoto, Nanzen-ji

On Wednesday, 24 persons visiting 南禅寺・なんぜんじ in Kyoto, suffered from throat pain due to an irritating substance: 南禅寺で「刺激臭」 拝観者ら、のどの痛みなど訴え. Both the police and the firemen were dispatched and 4 persons had to be evacuated.

  • 刺激臭・しげきしゅう: an irritating smell
  • 拝観者・はいかんしゃ: a visitor

I visited the temple in December, I remember the big waterway that passes through the complex of Nanzen-ji and the impressive main gate of the temple.

Mainichi survey: 31% against revision of article 9 of the Constitution

As we can see in this article 自民改憲案 自衛隊明記、賛否割れる 反対31%、賛成27%, Abe is not receiving public support concerning the revision of article 9 of the Constitution.

  • 改憲案・かいけんあん: draft of constitutional amendment
  • 明記・めいき: writing expressly, clearly mention
  • 賛否・さんぴ: approval and disapproval, for and against

To summarise briefly, article 9 of the Constitution states that Japan renounces war and does not maintain war potential. However, Japan does have armed forces called the Self-Defense Force (SDF). Abe would like to mention them clearly in the Constitution by adding a clause to article 9.

The survey results are:

  • 賛成 27%
  • 反対 31%
  • わからない 29%
  • 無回答13%

The Constitution was enacted on May, 3rd 1947. I wasn’t aware of the fact that the Constitution Memorial Day (this year on Thursday 3rd) was a part of the Golden Week!

  • 憲法記念日・けんぽうきねんび: Constitution Memorial Day, on May, 3rd.

Despite the lack of national consensus, Abe reiterated his wish to add the SDF to the Constitution on a video message filmed on Thursday (3rd):

I am going through this article by Mainichi (安倍首相「自衛隊明記を」4野党、阻止で結束):

The core of the message is 「憲法に我が国の独立と平和を守る自衛隊をしっかりと明記し、違憲論争に終止符を打たなければならない」

  • 違憲・いけん: unconstitutionality
  • 論争・ろんそう: dispute, controversy
  • 終止符を打つ・しゅうしふをうつ: put an and to…

The controversy about the unconstitutionality of the SDF has its roots in the Constitution itself because nowhere is the SDF mentioned: 「自衛隊違憲論が存在する最大の原因は、憲法に、我が国の防衛に関する規定が全く存在しないことにある」.

The article says that Abe had recorded a similar video last year (again, for the Constitution Memorial Day). Last year, he said that he was hoping to amend the Constitution by 2020: “2020年の改正憲法施行を目指す考えを表明した”. He received so much protest that he had to drop his schedule.

In this message, Abe does not give a date, but says that things are getting more concrete: 「この1年間で憲法改正の議論は大いに活性化し、そして具体化した」

Different opposition parties held a meeting at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park

  • 東京臨海広域防災公園・とうきょうりんかいこういきぼうさいこうえん:  Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park

The leaders of the following 4 parties were there:

  • 立憲民主党・りっけんみんしゅとう: Constitutional Democratic Party
  • 民進党・みんしんとう: Democratic Party
  • 共産党・きょうさんとう: Communist Party
  • 社民党・しゃかいみんしゅとう: Social Democratic Party

Yukio EDANO, member of the Constitutional Democratic Party and leader of the opposition said that the amendment will have more implication than what the government wants people to believe, leading to the SDF able to make war:「従来とは全く質の違う、地球の裏側で戦争ができる自衛隊になるのは明確だ。うそをつき続けるのはいいかげんにしてほしい」.

  • 枝野 幸男・えだの ゆきお: Yukio EDANO, leader of the opposition.


This is what I read in the news this week!

But to be honest, the piece of news that shocked me the most is related to 育児ノイローゼ. A mother killed her 2-year-old daughter by throwing her down from their balcony, on the 5th floor. I think that I first read about 育児ノイローゼ in a magazine. Later, I read a novel that was partly about it, but I didn’t think that the contents of the novel really depicted the reality. I was shocked to see that 育児ノイローゼ can indeed lead to such tragic ends…