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  • Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on August 2nd, 2014

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    Hi Blog.  Here’s something a little less dramatic (but no less pesky and maybe even indicative of something unconscious) for a hot summer Sunday in Japan.  Article and comments courtesy of KM.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

    /////////////////////////////////////////////

    Hi Debito!  Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

    ===============================

    TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020
    July 22, 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of KM
    http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001439680

    The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources.

    In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said.

    Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

    A TV station broadcasts a program in the original Japanese, then the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles. Finally, the subtitles are sent to TV screens via the Internet.

    The ministry will form a promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end. The organization is expected to begin trials in fiscal 2015.

    The ministry will encourage the communications and IT industries to take part in offering translation and subtitle distribution services for the system. The promotional organization will be tasked with studying how the cost of translation services and distributing the subtitles should be covered.

    ENDS

    ===============================

    KM:  I have a few thoughts about this:

    1. It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
    2. The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
    3. Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

     

    ===============================

    Japanese:

    テレビに外国語の字幕、五輪までに実現…総務省
    2014年07月21日 読売新聞
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/it/20140721-OYT1T50025.html

    総務省は、テレビのニュース番組などに英語や中国語など外国語の字幕が表示されるよう取り組む方針だ。

    東京五輪・パラリンピックが開かれる2020年までに表示が始まるようにする。増加する訪日外国人が、より快適に過ごせる環境を整備する狙いだ。

    日本を訪れた外国人から、テレビ番組に外国語の字幕を増やしてほしいとの声が出ており、滞在中の安心・安全にかかわるニュースのほか、バラエティー番組などで対応することにした。

    字幕は、インターネットと接続するテレビに表示する。放送局が番組を電波で流し、自動翻訳システムで外国語に変換した字幕をネット経由で画面に映す仕組みを想定している。年内に放送局やIT企業、家電メーカー、研究機関などによる推進組織を設立し、15年度から実証実験を始める。

    ENDS

    26 Responses to “Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?”

    1. Jim di Griz Says:

      A few thoughts…

      Firstly, this is just window dressing for the Olympics.

      Secondly, there was an article about this in the JT a couple of months back that said that the need for it was identified after officials realized that NJ couldn’t understand the Japanese news about Fukushima 3 years ago, and were getting all their information from foreign ‘sensationalist’ media, that was scaremongering them.

      Thirdly, in the same way that Japan clings to the idea that if they spend more money on R&D, robots will be able to do lots of jobs (such as nursing and elderly care), this negating the need for a discussion about immigration (or negating immigration altogether), the Japanese also invest in the myth that an automatic, real-time translating device (of useful reliability and accuracy) will also negate the need to ‘ganbare’ and study English.

      This initiative should be seen for what it is: a team Japan propaganda exercise, and part of the ‘dream’ of being able to pick and choose if Japanese have to interact with NJ.

    2. Piglet Says:

      Most of the free TV programming is absolute garbage, I don’t know why any short-term tourist would be interested in watching more than a few minutes of that soup. I’d rather see free TV producers think about improving style (get away with the flashy style that looks like TV is made by 7 years-old for 7 years-old) and substance.

    3. john k Says:

      “….the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles..”

      It’s bad enough that Japanese have very poor comprehension skills. But to automate it…hahaha…i can only image what the text shall read ;)

      “… to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors,…”

      Just have “foreigner friendly Japanese rules that are not racist to non-J’s and are enforceable prior to the Olympics”. Then everyone will arrive and returned feeling welcomed. Sigh…as always, plugging a major cut to the jugular with a small sticking plaster whilst proclaiming…hey presto, we did it….

    4. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      KM adds the following comment:

      “Sorry to be contacting you repeatedly about this, but I’m thinking that the gap between that hospitality shown to short-term visitors (e.g. TV subtitles for their entertainment, street signs in English, etc) and neglect of the long-term residents (e.g. recent court decision) might be a fruitful topic for a column of yours. I’m thinking that this business of “o-mo-te-na-shi” (as the Japanese term for “hospitality” was spelled out for us by Christel Takigawa in her olympic bid presentation) applies to foreigners who are comfortably kept at arms length (with return ticket in their pocket) but not to those pesky long-term residents who have the nerve to ask to be treated as though they were even partial members of the society. This might even be related to notions of uchi and soto (who’s “in” and who’s “out”). Short-term visitors are clearly in the soto (“out”) area so they get good treatment as guests but long-termers are in the grey area between, and thereby make people uncomfortable because they blur the boundaries between “us” and “them.”

    5. Chester Says:

      I heard about this before, but was uninterested and didn’t really read the whole article.

      I didn’t realize this would be automated, which is absolutely absurd – yet another example of the government elite trying to do something “for foreigners” while completely cutting foreigners out of the system.

      Automate the subtitles? Um, why not, say, hire a few translators? You know, ex-pats living in Japan who are fluent in Japanese and English and can quickly and easily do the job?

      It’s just…crazy how these people can never do anything right. They’re such formalists. They think the world runs on technicalities. They never think through the reality of what they’re doing. They try to meet the barest dictionary definition of their goal – “English subtitles.” Who cares if they are accurate? Who cares if they faithfully express the meaning of the Japanese spoken?

      Nope, just automate it, who cares if it’s gibberish – as long as it’s there, it counts to the ruling elite. They never think through the fact that just “being there” isn’t the same as showing respect. This is the OPPOSITE of a good faith effort. It’s like a sarcastic child bitterly scraping a dirty sponge across a few plates because you asked him to wash the dishes – it would just have been better for them to have done nothing at all.

      “What?? You want English-language support??? FINE! We’ll DO IT! LOOK! It’s Google Translate for ALL TV. HAPPY NOW?! I DID IT, so LEAVE ME ALONE.”

      It’s as if the people running this country never grew out of their angry teenager phase.

    6. Chester Says:

      (Not to mention that hiring non-Japanese translators would require a tacit acknowledgment from the government that, yes, in fact, NJ can learn Japanese – or that Japanese can learn English, and as KM points out, actually doing these subtitles right would be a tacit admission that their entire attitude towards English and English education is wrong. These guys are constantly painting themselves into corners like this, yet never have the guts to admit their mistakes.)

    7. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Dr. Debito #4

      That’s a good point. But we all know why Japan Inc. does it, don’t we?

      Just like JET, tourists come to Japan, have a discrimination free taste of the best of Japan, then go home and gush over Japan at every opportunity for the rest of their lives.
      This army of millions of ill-informed NJ completely drowns out the voices of those NJ living in Japan and facing discrimination on a daily basis.

      The Japanese aren’t stupid- they know exactly what they are doing.

    8. john k Says:

      Also..not forgetting the obvious.

      Those that attend the Olympics will be either:

      1) Watching live in the stadium, thus will not be watching TV
      2) After they leave the stadiums will roam about “sight-seeing” and eating out, before going back to their hotels
      3) When they go back to their hotel, most likely too tired to watch TV and will chill out in the bar
      4) If they do want to watch TV..it wont be local Japanese TV..it will be an international one that is in their own language!

      So…who will be listening/watching this?

    9. Kirk Masden Says:

      Here’s the address of the Japan Times article.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/08/national/tv-news-english-subtitles-panel-says/

      I wonder if the difference in the two articles reflects an expansion of the initial idea (from disaster information for foreigners to a half-baked “Cool Japan” project) or just different coverage.

      In regard to disaster information, you will have to have an “Internet-enabled TV set.” I wonder if, in a disaster, the broadcasts of key information (and the text information associated with them) will be put up on internet for on-demand access. A service that is restricted to internet-enabled TV sets might be OK in good times but in a disaster do you really want to limit information to those who have the right hardware?

      I suspect that the initial call for “more information in English” may have come from actual non-Japanese who live in Japan, but that the project has morphed into something that is now the baby of a limited set of Japanese bureaucrats and the perspectives of flesh-and-blood non-Japanese are no longer being taken into consideration.

    10. dude Says:

      1. Most Japanese people either like the majority of content on J-TV, or tolerate it. So they think it has value, and non-Japanese speakers obviously want to know what is being said (from their point of view). Thus this announcement makes total sense (to them).

      2. This is going to be AWESOME!!! using machine translations is just bonus!!! Think how bad translation is when Japanese people do it. Then remember that this is for show, and mostly Japanese people will use the subtitles to improve their vocabulary, etc. This will provide a non-stop minefield of misspellings and jibberish that will exacerbate confusion (“Italian gerato”, anyone? How about climbing “Mr. Fuji”?

      3. When the J-gov announces it will do something, remember it is primarily for show. Try to see beyond their stated intentions to find the true meaning.

    11. Chester Says:

      “Just like JET, tourists come to Japan, have a discrimination free taste of the best of Japan”

      No, JETs don’t always live discrimination-free. I remember standing in the airport, on my way home after my JET contract ran up, hearing a bunch of (white) people in the line gush, and gush, and gush about how wonderfully safe and polite Japan was. I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly burrowed into my skull when they brought up lost wallets.

      But, yeah, the JET Program is explicitly about having foreigners come to Japan and then take home good stories about the country. It is not, actually, to “internationalize” Japan, but to send a message to the world about how great Japan is. (Not coincidentally, “Why do you love Japan?” is one of the most common questions you’ll hear as a JET.)

      @John
      “So…who will be listening/watching this?”

      It doesn’t matter if no one watches it – it’s the formal definition of “having subtitles” that they want. They don’t care if anyone actually uses it, they just want to check a box off on their checklist. “English subtitles on TV: CHECK; what’s next?”

    12. Markus Says:

      @Dude (#10) It also took my some time understand the fact that Japanese TV is so repetitive, garish, and primitive for the sole reason that it is catered perfectly to its audience. In a society where having an adult conversation is avoided in order not to reveal one’s true thoughts and get ostracised, all that is left to do is to sample bland food and crack lame jokes.
      I’ve had the misfortune to watch a recent episode of the “Tunnels” show, where soccer starlet Cristiano Ronaldo guested, someone who’s not familiar at all with Japanese culture and probably has little interest in it beyond making his sponsors happy. It was a great example how primitive Japanese TV is – the questions he was asked were too shallow even for him to take seriously.
      His task in the show was to eat (who’d have guessed) three different dishes and keep a poker-face about which one he “didn’t like”. Vice-versa, he had to guess the same for some ditzy female announcer-pet sitting across the table. Among the questions the interpreter asked him were gems like “Did you like this one?”, “Did you like it creaminess?”, “Why did you not like this one?”, “How do you like its spiciness?”, “Do you know Sushi?”, “is there Japanese food in Portugal?”
      A media landscape whose curiosity for and understanding of the outside world hasn’t evolved beyond “do you like this food?” can’t possibly have much to offer for outside guests. Even Italy, which is infamous for its brainless, sexist TV programming is several leagues above.

      – I don’t really want this discussion to dwell overmuch on the quality of Japanese TV. The topic of this blog entry is the lack of concern over NJ who live in Japan when it comes to investments in communication of this magnitude. Why does it take an Olympics to have a communication aid such as this (and such as it is) be inaugurated?

    13. Translation Services? Says:

      Professional translators reading this blog will know (and confirm) that translating Japanese-language programing into various foreign languages would not come cheap under normal circumstances. I strongly suspect that it is also one of the reasons why Japanese movie theater tickets are relatively high, but certainly not the only reason (the high price of real estate, administrative costs, etc. also contribute to the problem of high movie ticket prices in Japan). But regarding the financial sense of translating programing into various foreign languages for such a small consumer base, I’m not so sure any private television channel would agree to pay for it it over the long-term. It’s one thing to offer the service for the Olympics where the business implications of a extremely large influx of non-Japanese speaking tourists will need guidance for a limited time. The government might even pay for it. But It’s another matter to offer those services indefinitely without a sensible business plan to ensure that it’s a profitable service. For example, which programs would be covered? News? Entertainment? Educational programing? Who gets to decide what should be translated — the government or the private sector? If the government, I suspect a few readers of Debito.org will complain about the choices of translated material unless it becomes absolutely everything. If it’s the private sector, no business gives anything away for free indefinitely. That would make no sense anywhere in the world. Eventually, someone will have to pay for this service. In the United States, the reason that there are so many Spanish-language channels and translated subtitles available on DVDs, etc, is because there are over 37 million Spanish-speaking residents in the United States. That’s 12% (and growing) of the total population. In Japan, foreigners are roughly 2% of the population and they are a disparate group — Chinese, Koreans, Hispanics, and a relatively small number of English-speaking Caucasians. And if the answer is to force the Japanese taxpayer to shoulder the burden of these expensive multi-language, multi-channel translation services for long periods of time, I wonder if the costs to the taxpayer couldn’t be better spent on more worthwhile endeavors — like Japanese-language training and education.

    14. Enginerd Says:

      “Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. ”

      Really ? You’re telling me there were a) that many requests by tourists who, during their one-two week vacation, absolutely wanted to understand the wonderful native TV programmes, and b) the government/industry is actually looking to accommodate them ? First of all – hey travellers, “oishii” means “delicious”, there now you understand at least half of whatever always goes on in the telly, you’re welcome. And second of all, since when is Japan bending over backwards to make things easier for foreigners? – oh, I see, these are of course the short-term, money-spending, then-going-home kind of guests we like the most. Nevermind then.

      “The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.”

      Disaster emergency broadcast, yes that is a sensible thing. Makes me wonder if/why they aren’t already multilingual? At least on a basic “Here’s what is going on / Here’s what you need to do” level.
      But everything else “safety/security”-related, like all those little “Keep your bags on you! Pay attention to the road! Beware the closing door!” PSA’s that are as ubiquitous as they are superfluous in japanese daily society, I really don’t think there is much need or demand for them. If they want to give a really helpful tip for visitors’ safety, they should remind people not to cross J-Police, if they know what’s good for them.
      And variety shows ? Really ? Not the evening news or something, but the circus tripe that goes for entertainment on these shores ? People look at this turd, and they actually want to taste it, too? Suum cuique – especially with one of those automatic machine translations I can only imagine the exponential stupidity that “garbage in, garbage out” ^2 produces.

      To be fair, there are some good shows produced, of course. I fondly remember watching NHK nature documentaries, for example. And this isn’t directly about the quality of japanese television, overall (this is just one of those lightning rod -topic where everybody has to let off steam). Back to the topic at hand – after I aired my complaints I can also estimate this is either just another one of those potemkin government initiatives that never evolve much beyond the “Powerpoint”-stage, or special interest collusion where a few agencies and corporations create the guise of useless “service” to funnel a few million into their pockets.

      very translation – much understanding – so wow

    15. john k Says:

      #13

      “… I wonder if the costs to the taxpayer couldn’t be better spent on more worthwhile endeavors — like Japanese-language training and education…”

      Ordinary I would agree.
      But after 98 airports and bridges that go nowhere, speed blind/dating etc etc….i think the cost to the tax payer is immaterial to what the Govt wants to do and project as a statement. Money is pretty much irrelevant save for greasing the palms of those it needs to, to achieve its aims…such is Japanese way of doing business/politics. A reason is always found ;)

    16. Kirk Masden Says:

      Translation Services mentioned the expense involved in adding subtitles or overdubbing in another language. That reminded me of this example. Recently, I saw a program with director Oliver Stone:

      BS1  8月4日(月)午前0:00~0:49(※3日深夜)
      BS1スペシャル 「ドキュメント オリバー・ストーン ~被爆地、そして沖縄で何を語ったか~」

      Stone, of course, was speaking in English. However, it was all overdubbed in Japanese and there was no way to hear the original English. This is really puzzling to me, as I would expect NHK would want to take the opportunity to let people study English, even if they don’t care about foreigners — and I can’t imagine that broadcasting with two audio tracks could be all THAT much more expensive when all one has to do is to make the original audio available.

      http://www.nhk.or.jp/bs/special/

    17. Bitter Valley Says:

      For anyone who understands anything about how Kasumigaseki works, in particular the notorious tenticular MIC, the real story is here:

      The ministry will form a “promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end.”

      It’s another “Special Corporation” (whoops, sorry, IAI, or was that quango) with the concomitant budget grab, mutual back-scratching between MIC and companies like Fujitsu, NEC or whoever who have wonderful plans to take all our biometrical data from us whether we want to give it or not, and, most importantly, jobs for the boys (and it will all be boys) or rather old boys for their nice amakudari retirement boost.

      If it works, it could be a permanent feature, involving huge series of tests, overseas consultations, and then a long and costly rollout with everyone involved lapping up the gravy. It’s just another classic turf grab by the MIC.

      Meanwhile whose to say visiting gaijin will get better than some half-meaningful gabble. It may work, it may not. But either way, it’s going to cost us a fortune and provide a lot of payola for the division manager or bureau chief who dreamed it up.

      Who knows, someone like Dentsu might actually hire a few gaijin as consultants, pay them a few thousand, and take 10x that in their own fees.

    18. Chester Says:

      I think that’s a good point – in terms of the cost of translation, the Japanese media already forks out tons of cash to get overwrought “seiyuu” to dub over every. single. scrap of English (or any other language) on TV dubbed already.

      Of course, more than simply letting people hear English to practice, letting non-Japanese have their own, actual voice (literally) on TV would show a great deal more respect and consideration than the current situation (the overdubbing here really gets under my skin; so disrespectful!).

      If they just, you know, respected foreign voices and scrapped that wasteful overdubbing, the money spent on seiyuu could be put into translation services.

      I’m not really convinced that the money isn’t there for actual translation services, because there’s already bucketloads wasted on dubbing in Japan.

    19. Bitter Valley Says:

      Yes, I wonder if they will overdub, which I find really racist and discriminatory; you know, with consciously and deliberately over-the-top intonation. The other thing that used to get me was the katakana use for perfectly fluent “gaijin.”

      For example, let’s say the U.S. has a Latino president at the time. Will the Japanese TV overdub him or her in an excitable voice? Of if it’s a woman, put on an artificial, over-the-top ojosan voice?

      Would they dare? Of course they wouldn’t. Any overdub be in a sensible Japanese voice reflecting the power and status of the person.

      Discrimination is all about power. The TV stations wouldn’t dare make fun out of people that they feel they have to pay respect to. It all goes down to Japan’s screwed up sense of hierarchy. Suck up to the powerful and bully the kohai. Gaijin are funny, odd, weird, wonderful, scary, criminal, erai or eroi. They are to be put in a pigeonhole and discriminated from Japanese people. They are just not normal people to be treated normally. How can they be? They’re gaijin!

    20. Edward J. Cunningham Says:

      Of course, more than simply letting people hear English to practice, letting non-Japanese have their own, actual voice (literally) on TV would show a great deal more respect and consideration than the current situation (the overdubbing here really gets under my skin; so disrespectful!).

      From what I understand, most foreign movies and TV shows in Europe are dubbed rather than subtitled. (A notable exception is Scandinavia where exposure to listening to spoken English is a big reason why those countries have a very high percentage of their population fluent in English.) This is one case where I don’t think the lack of subtitles is active malice on the part of the Japanese, but a preference not to have to read subtitles. (Another factor may be that it is much tougher for Japanese to read their own language than they are willing to admit.)

    21. Bitter Valley Says:

      Ding Dong! QED.

      Just days after I wrote about some of the financial motives for Olympic related service provision, here is the bigger picture.

      I think this goes to a deeper point. When a central government bureaucracy does something that affects gaijin, it is extremely naive to believe that gaijin are actually more than just a tiny part of the equation. All government projects are based on power and budget maintenance, creation, or fighting cuts. The Olympics is a giant new piece of pie that most of us not in the selected circles will have to pay for in way or another. What is really nasty about the Olympics IMO is the direct exploitation of people, particularly volunteers, to increase the profits of the corporations profiting from it, based on only recently made-up, childish lies (“the Olympic spirit” – whatever that is, hopefully not awash in masking agents), etc.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/2020-olympics-to-provide-a-cozy-jobs-for-over-1000-ex-bureaucrats

      2020 Olympics to provide cozy jobs for over 1,000 ex-bureaucrats

      Kuchikomi Aug. 06, 2014 – 05:49AM JST ( 23 )

      TOKYO —

      “Yakebutori”—to prosper after a fire—is an old word that refers to merchants whose businesses profited from the misfortunes of others, such as those whose residences burned down.

      The fire that will ultimately kindle a huge amount of “yakebutori” gains, it appears, will be the “sacred flame” from Mt Olympus in Greece. By the time the flame arrives in Tokyo in July 2020, reports Shukan Post (Aug 8) at least 1,144 bureaucrats—at current count—will have retired and landed cozy second careers with generous salaries in construction firms and other major corporations, through Japan’s deeply entrenched “amakudari” (“descent from heaven”) system.

      The main destination for these “amakudari” will be the large general contractor firms with vested interests in the 2020 Olympics.

      The approximately 1 trillion yen the city has budgeted for infrastructure and other projects ahead of the games promises a generous windfall for the ex-bureaucrats.

      Tokyo will be building or modifying 33 venues for the events, of which 28 will be within an eight-kilometer radius of the Athletes’ Village in Harumi, Chuo Ward. The estimates for construction costs have already swollen to 455.4 billion yen. In addition, infrastructure improvements to the metropolitan expressway and other projects will add 626.2 billion yen. Plus outlays to add elevators at 179 Tokyo metro stations in order to make them barrier free (23.1 billion yen), and various others.

      In the past, according to a former government worker, when bureaucrats in the Tokyo metropolitan government retired, the accepted standard for annual salaries in their second careers was 10 million yen for a bureau head and 8 million yen for a division head. But thanks to windfall from the Olympics, their remuneration has swelled.

      In addition to identifying the names and titles of these individuals, Shukan Post provides an extensive list of firms where the former bureaucrats will be assuming their lucrative second careers. They include general contractors (Obayashi-gumi, Tokyu Kensetsu, Shimizu Kensetsu, Takenaka Komuten, etc), manufacturers of construction equipment (Kubota), real estate developers (Mitsubishi Real Estate), private railway companies (JR East, Keihin Kyuko), electronics companies (Hitachi Ltd), printing companies (Kyodo Insatsu) and utility firms (Tokyo Gas).

      The Tokyo government has already accepted initial bids for certain projects, and the firms involved have begun clamoring to bring in “amakudari” to “smoothe” the construction orders.

      It seems local governments pose few constraints on this sort of hiring. The regulations for metro Tokyo workers specify that “A city employee cannot be hired to engage in related sales activities within two years of his retirement, if he has had dealings with the same company within five years prior to his retirement.” In other words, as long as the individual joins a section other than sales, he’s within the parameters of the law.

      “In the case of civil servants in the national government, the law is clear about prohibiting ‘amakudari,’” says Eiji Hara, a former bureaucrat and author of a book whose title translates as “The tricks of the bureaucracy that keep Japanese tied up.” “But there are practically no laws constraining workers in regional governments, and they can get away with practically anything.

      “Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City have been able to drastically reduce the hiring of retired civil servants by use of an ordinance instead of going to the extent of passing a law,” Hara adds. “But Tokyo hasn’t taken such measures.”

    22. Chester Says:

      “This is one case where I don’t think the lack of subtitles is active malice on the part of the Japanese”

      No, you’re misunderstanding slightly. I’m fine with dubbing movies – I disagree with it in principle, but I understand why common people want popular movies to be dubbed – so they are more accessible to more people.

      I’m talking about anything on TV – be it an interview, a clip from a foreign TV show, a news story – anything with a non-Japanese person will be dubbed over in a patronizing, overwrought, utterly awful anime-style voice.

      If you have’t seen it, you might not really get how deeply disrespectful it is. I’m talking about Japanese variety shows dubbing clips from DeGrasse Tyson’s show with a deep, tough-guy anime voice. It’s completely unprofessional and disrespectful.

      And a big part of it is that Japanese variety shows are ALREADY subtitled. Everything people say is subtitled, so they’re dubbing non-Japanese people in anime voices all while ALSO subtitling them.

      They take it way, way, way, way past simply translating the words so people can understand it, and take it far into the editorializing. They’re taking people who are just talking naturally and turning it into an opportunity to enforce stereotypes. Again, case in point, giving Neil DeGrasse Tyson a deep, scary anime voice.

    23. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Chester #22

      You’re absolutely right about the way Japanese TV subtitles/subbing goes beyond translation and deep into editorializing.

      When Obama came to Tokyo and had sushi, I watched him come out of the restaurant and tell reporters ‘That’s some good sushi right there!’, which was turned into ‘That’s the best sushi I’ve ever had’ by the Japanese media immediately, and re-reported (mistakenly) as such in English by the global press.

    24. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      The whole thing boils down to some twisted form of omotenashi in which the host goes out of their way to demonstrate to the guest just how clever they are.
      I can imagine that the system will be something like the subtitle function on YouTube combined with Google Translate – which will ultimately lead to JIGO (Japanese in, gibberish out).

      Given the huge volume of Olympic coverage by the Japanese media anyway, what could possibly be of interest to the casual traveller?

      Jobs for the boys and a self-promotional clip for Japan Inc.

    25. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Just noticed this;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/26/national/panel-pushes-special-english-zones-promote-japan-culture/

      As part of the ‘cool Japan’, (well, I don’t want to call it an ‘initiative’, but you get my point), the J-gov wants to set up ‘English zones’ ahead of the Olympics (gotta control those NJ’s access to right-swung Japan, after all, they might see the xenophobic honne).

      Don’t believe me?
      Have a look at the ‘Abe-girl’ in charge of this, Tomomi Inada, a right wing war-crime denier, and author of;

      “Watashi ha Nihon wo Mamoritai” (I wish to keep Japan), PHP, 2010.
      “Nihon wo Shiisuru Hitobito” (Criticism to people trying to destroy Japan), PHP, 2008.
      “Hyakunin-giri Saiban kara Nankin he” (The trial against the false tale of killing 100 people contest, and the fiction of “Nanking Massacre”), Bunshun-shinsho, 2007

      The right woman for the job? Yes! If you’re job is controlling foreigners.

    26. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Here’s a bio of Tomomi Inada.

      http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%A8%B2%E7%94%B0%E6%9C%8B%E7%BE%8E#.E5.BE.B4.E8.BE.B2.E7.99.BA.E8.A8.80

      As you know, she is the minister of Abe’s notorious Regulatory Reform (or the State of National Deform Agency). She’s one of the key figures promoting PM Abe’s national sellout policy. In addition to right-wing perspective of national history, she tweaked her pro-elite mindset by 1) arguing against the change of nationality law; and 2) proposing “mandatory agricultural job training” to all youth at age 18–as the means to bail out NEET.

      See http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BE%B4%E8%BE%B2%E5%88%B6%E5%BA%A6

      She’s pretending to be a soft, amicable minister in the Abe administration in her attempt to distemper her typical “right-wing denier” persona through her engagement in Cool Japan promotion. But her track records on shrine visits and demonization of Japan-critic, and her apparent blindness to masculinity of discourse in national politics renders her overall advocacy specious at best. Her mentor is a notorious nationalist scholar Shoichi Watanabe who constituted cultural essentialist ideology in national political discourse. Watanabe was also a defender of MEXT’s chaotic teaching-to-test English curriculum (a.k.a. Yakudoku & college readiness) in the past.

      See http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%B8%A1%E9%83%A8%E6%98%87%E4%B8%80

      So, she’s pretty much bit fit for her gaijin-handler position. It could be more dangerous if she would become a Japanese version of Michelle Rhee being appointed to the leader of MEXT in the near future.

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