BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children


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Hi Blog.  Guest author “Bitter Valley” is back again with another thing he wants to get off his chest.  I think he should, so here it is.  One of my pet theories about Japan’s swing towards insularity and conservatism is that as people get older (and Japan as a society is doing just that demographically), they get more politically conservative and resistant to change — or at least change that is not in their best interests.  And as “Bitter Valley” points out, it means an inordinate weighting of political power and economic resources in favor of the old at the expense of the young (especially since the very young have no vote, ever fewer numbers, and few political and civil rights to begin with).  This is manifesting itself in ways that BV thinks are worth mentioning in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city.  Given how centralized political power is in Japan, what happens here will set precedents for the rest of the nation.  Arudou Debito


Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?
By Bitter Valley.  Exclusive to, October 19, 2012

Hi Debito, this is “Bitter Valley” again, a year and some change after my previous post about Shibuya Ku’s knuckle-headed attitudes toward my family (I’ll always be a gaijin and my daughter is only Japanese, and that’s that).

We’ve just had some terrible news that the second major children’s facility we have access to in Shibuya, the Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) is closing down in 2015. It’s a bit of a hammer blow for us, as we have already just lost the Jidokaikan (Tokyo Children’s Center), which is going to be demolished for another old people’s home.

Regardless of what might really behind the closures (more on this later) it’s going to lower the quality of life for kids and mums and dads in Shibuya (and wider afield) considerably.

Both children’s facilities are/were two of the only major educational/ fun/ accessible/ cheap (no or low cost) play centers. Both, incidentally, were/are tremendous resources for Shibuya’s large ratio of multinational kids. Parents of older children say that there are schools with most classes not only have one but several multiracial or foreign or Japanese but of NJ parentage in classes. Increasingly it’s seen as no big deal.

That’s great, at least to non-knuckleheads and/or racists.

But the closures suck.

First of all the Tokyo Children’s Hall (Jidokaikan) was shut down last year and this spring. The adjacent park was closed and the homeless community, many of whom had been forcibly ejected from what is now “Nike Park,” went where? I don’t know.

I don’t mind people whizzing up and down on their silly skateboards in some lumpen concrete basin. Better that than the road, where the idiots sometimes venture. But I do feel for the homeless, who have now been shunted out of two parks in two years.

After spending a fortune building a gochiso, luxurious old people’s home at Mitake no Oka next door to the Jidokaikan, the plan is now by Tokyo Metropolitan Government to turn it into a old folks leisure center. That means the kids lose out, but the old folks get two delux centers.

That’s right. The building next to the Jidokaikan used to be a shogakko and a fire station. That got knocked down and deluxe old folks home got built. I unfondly remember when it opened. The officials used to park their expensive Toyota Land Cruisers and other official vehicles with their parking rights windshield stickers on the sidewalk in front. I was so angry at this I put up stickers on the windshields saying “Your luxury vehicle paid for by our local taxes.”  The cars all disappeared the next day.

There was a minor concession- they built a nursery, but the nursery that had been public before was privatized, run by Benesse, so while we continue to pay our taxes, we have to pay for privatized nursery care by a company that immediately starts throwing its branded toys, goods disguised as educational programs, at infants.

Meanwhile the “park” next to the Jidokaikan is now a plain concrete flat space. The jidokaikan just sits there, empty and unused, 18 months after being closed down.

The loss of Jidokaikan was a great blow for mums, dads and kiddies people all over Tokyo as it was a major fun and educational center for kids from all over the place.

NOW to our disgust (my wife is appalled and angry, rare for her, it takes a lot to make her disgusted) Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) ( up the road (Omotesando) is being closed in 2015 due to “lack of demand.”

Turn my brain upside down- white is black and black is white. The place is like a non-branded treasure trove for kids, with an excellent kiddies gym, educational and workshop facilities and an AV and music center, excellent, trained staff — who don’t treat gaijin any differently from any other kids or parents.

Lack of demand? The place is brilliant, popular and packed out. On any given weekend, it’s also packed with foreign kids, haafus, kids from all over the place. It genuinely is a major popular, well-run, packed out educational and fun palace for all sorts of children — open, tolerant, vibrant, safe and cheap.

This amounts to a systematic closing down of badly needed facilities for kids and infants that are paid for by entrance fees and taxes, for more expensive, privatized versions.

From our perspective there seems to be clear bias here. The oyaji making these decisions are making things great for themselves, and stuff the mums and kids and people raising families.

Kiddies 0, Oldies 2; or perhaps oldies win by two knockouts and submission by tired, stressed mums.

Perhaps this is Japan’s plan for the future. Turn Tokyo into a vast old folks home and leave their children’s children to pick up the bill, or have their kids play in the ruins?


53 comments on “BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children

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  • @AM, read the links I posted (especially the second one, which is quite detailed). If your fixed term contract has already been renewed 5 or 6 times and your employer suddenly decides not to renew it, you can sue for invalid dismissal (since you would have a reasonable expectation of the contract continuing to be renewed).

    If you want to use the 5 year rule against your employer, then after 5 years have passed, you write a letter to your employer stating that you hereby offer, in accordance with the Labour Contract Act, an indefinite term employment contract, on the same terms and conditions as your current contract, which will commence on the day that your then-current contract expires. Your employer is deemed by law to accept this contract. No squirming out of it once that letter is sent.

  • “I think for balance, folks who want to stay in Japan should also occasionally be allowed to explain why honestly Japan is BETTER than other countries in OTHER factors (e.g. peace/money/etc.)”

    What peace? the peace of a self imposed hikkikomori? I suppose if you just keep yourself to yourself and do not interact, you wont have too much trouble, except with officialdom, the odd random police check of the gaijin house,etc.

    What money? Well, true the exchange rate favors the Yen but where’s my gaijin bonus? Oh yeah, there isn”t one.

    That leaves “etc”. Care to elaborate? The Ikebana is certainly far to superior to that in certain other countries.

    — No, AM, don’t bother elaborating. I approved AM’s long-winded comment (I have cautioned him against making these gaseous ponderous repetitively interminable posts before some time ago — he also has a habit of sending them three or four times with minor corrections, making the ordeal of getting through them that much more laborious) only after he submitted it four times with a please please please. I now kinda regret it. I think we’ll draw this section of this thread to a close, as it’s waaaaay far from the original point of this blog entry.

  • @ AM #50

    I agree with most of your statement about the fallacy of speaking in broad, 100%, sweeping statements.

    But I think that you have to be careful when you make statements such as, ‘explain why honestly Japan is BETTER than other countries, and then go on to repeat all the J-myths about the ‘wa’ of J-society (that, I might add, you are seen as detrimental to).

    Anyway, I’m really posting to question your understanding of Bob Marley (who you respect a great deal).
    You say;
    ‘I’m not denying that discrimination and lies totally suck. I’m simply saying that getting punched in the face sucks more.’

    Then you quote Marley, who said;
    ‘People try to use words to fool people’, and ‘I would rather you do the robbing physically’.

    Isn’t Marley saying the exact opposite of what you just said?
    Marley could just as well be talking about the ‘lie culture’ of Japan that Debito covered a while back in a JBC.

    — Okay, this was in the intray before I approved the last comment. This’ll do it. Thread closed.


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