Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mid-December news roundup!

I have decided to post occasional roundups of local news, as it comes through to me. This mostly means writing about what I have read in the Daily Yomiuri over the last few weeks, since I don't get my news from anywhere else. Below this post I shall give a few more detailed explanations of things I have read and thought about. Stay tuned for more of these in the future!

  • Japan's crime rate has dropped by 28% in 4 years, according to the Japan Urban Crime Research Institute, which published its latest map of crime in Japan. Matsue's rate is a whopping 7-12 crimes per 1000 (comparison: NSW, Australia has an average rate of at least 85 per 1000). (See below for my view of this)
  • Japan's farms are becoming poorer and less productive, and the Japanese agricultural sector is in potentially catastrophic decline. Bold political moves are required to revitalise the sector, but the rural gerrymander in this country is a strong political effect, so probably nothing will happen (see below for my view of this)
  • The movie "Love Sky" (Koizora) has been released. This is a crazy-sounding movie about 2 young people who fall in love, go through various tribulations, and then probably explode or something. It's quirky trait is that it is based on a cell-phone novel ("keitai shosetsu"), a new genre in Japan of novels which are written on and broadcast to cellphones. These novels have their own attendant controversy (see here for an Australian take on this)
  • Asashoryu, the Sumo Grandmaster, has returned to Japan and training after taking some time off in his native Mongolia to reflect on his wayward attitude. The controversy over this chap has been raging here for months since he was filmed playing soccer in Mongolia, while bludging off of a big Sumo tournament under the excuse of a bad back. I think this is ridiculous - this man has to lift 120kg men out of a wrestling ring, which is an activity much more in need of a good back than playing social soccer in Mongolia. The media frenzy around this chap reminds me of when Mark Latham was too depressed to talk to the media, but someone on talkback radio claimed to have seen him playing with his kids. I mean, really!
In other news, it has rained every day in Matsue for a week. Night-time temperatures are routinely around 4 or 5 degrees, and the locals are complaining that winter is much warmer than usual. Some people are just crazy!


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