Archive for Politics



A simple title for this survey from @nifty, a broad look at many issues surrounding Tokyo.

I don’t really know which wards I’ve been to as I’m not sufficiently familar with the geography. Perhaps in the survey there was a short reminder of the main stations or sights in each ward.

I’ve been on just the one bus tour of Tokyo, and the one good place was the Geihinkan, the State Guest House or Akasaka Palace. Getting tickets is a little difficult, so a tour is probably the best way to assure entry.

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No smoking law; public says not just for Olympics, not just for Tokyo

With Tokyo Olympics coming up, one of the hot topics is that the International Olympic Committee and the WHO have agreed that they should promote a smoke-free Olympics, in order to protect against second-hand smoke, but with Japan being a bit of a smokers’ paradise and with the government owning a third of Japan Tobacco, they are a bit lagging on things. However, recently a bill has been introduced that would require all restuarants over 30 square metres to go non-smoking. To see what the public thought of this, Intage Research conducted a survey into going non-smoking.

Despite extensive advert campaigns like the one pictured below, Japan Tobacco seems to have failed to convince the general public that the problem of smoking is not disease but manner issues like litter. Furthermore, Japan must be about the only country with more restrictions on outdoor smoking – for instance many major train stations ban smoking within a radius of a kilometre or so – versus indoor – basically no restrictions in restaurants. I remember my first experience in Japan many years ago; they asked “Smoking or Non-Smoking?”, we said “Non”, so they lifted the ashtray off the table. Things have got better now, but not much…

Anti-smoking ads

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Verbal harassment at the Japanese office

Today many of my non-Japan resident readers will be off work for Boxing Day, so perhaps it might be appropriate to look at what makes you want to punch your boss, a goo Ranking survey into verbal harassment from one’s boss irritates people enough to make them want to quit their job.

I had a search for “power harassment”, what Japan calls workplace bullying by a boss, and found this poster illustrating three kinds of harassment that a university offers counselling services for, from top to bottom, sexual harassment, power harassment and academic harassment.

Hosei University, Ichigaya Campus: Poster of Campaign Against Harassment
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Sales tax increase, electronic cash and railway fares

Do you use electronic cash? graph of japanese statisticsFor their report on goo Research’s fourth regular survey into electronic money, took a look at an interesting aspect, the potential for discounted rail fares when using electronic cash.


Between the 10th and 12th of February 2014 1,078 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 58.5% of the sample were male, 0.5% in their teens, 11.6% in their twenties, 22.4% in their thirties, 32.6% in their forties, and 33.0% aged fifty or older.

With sales tax going up from 5% to 8% in April, although currently all train tickets are rounded to the nearest 10 yen, some transport operators are planning on increasing fares by exactly 3% (actually by 2.857%, but you know what I mean!) then rounded to the nearest yen, but only for electronic cash users. As most of the ticket vending machines cannot handle one and five yen coins, for cash users the tax increase will be rounded up to the nearest ten yen.
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NHK on changing the Japanese constitution

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, today, the 2nd of May 2013, published the results of survey on changing the Japanese constitution. For reference, here is the current constitution.

If you read the foreign press on the amendment plans, I would forgive you for thinking the new draft constitution is:

  1. Nuke China and North Korea
  2. Err
  3. That’s it

However, the reality is of course quite different, and the will of the people quite different from the will of the politicians, as this survey demonstrates.


Between the 19th and 21st of April 2013 2,685 people were called by computer-selected random digit dialling (RDD); from that 1,615 people (60%) aged 18 or older from all over the country replied to the survey. No further demographic breakdown was given. Note that this RDD methodology calls mainly fixed-line phones during weekdays, so there is going to be a bias in the sample. Also note that “No answer” was an acceptable reply to some questions, so the percentages below sometimes don’t add up to 100% as the “No answer” figure is not noted.

The need for constitutional amendment

Does the constitution need to be amended? graph of japanese statisticsThe first question was about the need for constitutional amendments. 42% thought it was necessary to do so, 16% that it was unnecessary, and 39% couldn’t say one way or the other. However, when NHK previously asked the question six years ago, the numbers were 41%, 24% and 30%, so it would appear that all the recent talk about external threats like China in the Senkaku islands and North Korea have not convinced a significant number of people of the necessity of change.

When asked why they thought the change was necessary, 75% said that times have changed and problems that cannot be dealt with have occured, up just two percentage points in six years. Next, 15% said that changes are needed so that Japan can play its role in international society, down from 18% six years ago. For those who thought the changes were unnecessary, the top reason given by 53% was that they want to protect Article Nine, the Renunciation of War Article, down nine percentage points, then 36% saying that there are some problems with the current constitution, but not enough to merit amending it, up ten percentage points.

Article Nine, the Renunciation of War Article

Does the Renunciation of War Article need to be amended? graph of japanese statisticsLooking specifically at Article Nine, just 33% thought it was necessary to amend it, 30% thought it was unnecessary, and 32% couldn’t say either way. Six years ago, the numbers for and against were 28% and 41% respectively.

When asked why they were in favour of amending it, 47% said that it should be clearly written in the constitution that Japan can have a defence force, and 32% that Japan should be able to participate in military operations of the United Nations and others. 66% of those against amending said that in the Peace Constitution, Article 9 is the most important article, and 16% said that even without amendment, we can change how the Article is interpreted.

Article 96, the Amendment Article

Does Article 96 need to be amended? graph of japanese statisticsThis article spells out how the constitution may be amended, namely that a two-thirds majority of all members (not just those present for the vote) of both Houses, and then a national referendum where a simple majority of the votes cast will be sufficient to ratify the amendment. The proposed amendment to the Amendment Article is that both houses need just a simple majority of all members of each House.

First of all, people were asked if they knew about the proposed amendment to Article 96; 17% said they knew it well, 36% knew something about it, 30% didn’t really know much, and 15% knew nothing at all. Regarding the specific amendment, reducing from a two-thirds to a simple majority, 26% said they agreed, 24% disagreed, and 47% couldn’t say.

Finally, there are a number of new rights, etc that it is being argued may require either new articles or amendments to existing ones. People were asked for their opinion on the following:

 AgreeDisagreeCan’t say
Right to live in a healthy environment65%3%23%
Right to know government information (Freedom of Information)62%5%20%
Rights of victims of crime50%11%25%
Right to privacy49%15%25%
Changing from a bicameral (two chambers) to a unicameral (single chamber) government35%29%25%
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Illegal immigrants no longer a major public order threat

Do you think Japan currently has good public order and is a safe and secure country to live in? graph of japanese statisticsA recent Cabinet Office Japan survey into public order, much to my surprise found that the populace no longer pinned the blame for Japan’s ills on foreigners, even when compared to the same survey three and six years ago.


Between the 5th and 15th of July 2012 3,000 randomly-selected Japanese citizens were selected from resident rolls and approached for face-to-face interviews. 1,956 people agreed to take part, but a further demographic breakdown was not provided.

I’m not really sure why the figures for fear of foreigners have changes so dramatically for the better in the last six years, and I’m not sure how I would go about finding out the reason behind it. However, it does also seem clear that the new bogeyman is Reefer Madness, especially as round about the time of the survey there was no end of stories about a current social problem of legal highs, dubious cannabinoid derivatives sold as incence in a multitude of shops in Japan’s big cities.
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Over three in four Japanese interested in home power generation

Are you interested at self-generation of power? graph of japanese statisticsWith the Japanese government’s energy policy in the public consultation phase, this survey from the curiously-named Cyber Casting and PR into energy awareness gives a snapshot of opinions on energy issues.


Between the 25th and 29th of June and the 16th and 18th of July, 1,032 members of the Cyber Casting and PR online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. All those who took part were between 20 and 59 years of age, but no further breakdown by age or sex was given, nor why or how the survey was split over two periods.

I’ll note that Q2 is a badly worded question that leads the respondant to select some degree of worry.

As someone who sees nuclear as a necessary evil these days, and more importantly as someone who (in my own estimation) listens with an open mind to news from Fukushima, I accept that more people have died already from the stress of evacuation that will ever die from cancer caused by the radiation leaks, yet due to incompetence and arrogance from the government and scientic spokespeople, the message does not get through. The latest figure I have heard is that based on studies in Chernobyl, those who evacuated and didn’t return home have worse health prognoses when mental health-related issues are taken into consideration, compared to those that didn’t leave or evacuated but shortly returned.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how 0% nuclear means almost-certain failure to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.
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The North Korean abduction issue

Do you know about the abduction of Japanese by North Korea issue? graph of japanese statisticsIf there’s one subject that gets many foreigner eyeballs rolling, it’s the ongoing saga of the North Korean abduction issue, where about 20 or more years ago a number of Japanese nationals (and other nationals) were abducted by agents of North Korea, a subject kept alive by many politicians for political ends, as this survey from the Cabinet Office Japan perhaps demonstrates.


Between the 7th and 17th of June 2012, 3,000 Japanese citizens aged 20 or older were selected at random from residency records were approached for face to face interviews. 1,912 people chose to answer the questions, but more detailed demographics were not provided. Note that this is the first time that selection method in these Cabinet Office surveys have mentioned that it is citizens; up until now it has just said people over 20, but since foreigners have recently been added to the main registry system, and that registry is used as the source for the random sampling, I presume they have decided to add the extra qualification.

There’s a number of reasons why North Korean abductions induce eye-rolling. For my part, it’s a combination of it being raised to such a level as appearing to sticking a spoke in the wheel of the six country talks on the DPRK, that the Koreans have said themselves that they consider the matter finalised, and by the most likely reality that the remaining missing people are dead. There’s also victims of international divorces gone bad who bring up the dissonance between Japan’s response to child abductions and North Korean abductions.

Note that the blue flag that the Prime Minister and other politicians wear is their yellow ribbon for the abductees.
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What Japan thinks of recent news topics

Do you agree with directly electing the prime minister? graph of japanese statisticsNRC, Nippon Research Centre, a member of Gallup International Association, recently published the results of a shallow but broad survey on recent news topics.


Between the 29th of February and the 12th of March 2012 1,200 people between the ages of 15 and 79 randomly selected from a geographically-sorted residents database were asked to complete a survey, the results of which were weighed by overall national demographics. 50.7% of the sample were female, 6.3% in their teens, 32.9% in their twenties or thirties, 33.8% in their forties or fifties, and 27.0% in their sixties or seventies.

To explain a few of the topics that you might be unfamiliar with, in Q6 currently, if a female member of the royal family or one of the two other aristocratic families marries a commoner, she becomes a commoner too. Given the lack of males in the current line of succession, the plan is that if one of the females marries, her husband will join the royal family. This is separate from the question of a female emperor – I think the current system allows it, but male heirs take priority.

Q8, direct elections for the prime minister, would need the constitution to be amended, and I thought a fundamental feature of any parliamentary system was that the prime minister is chosen by the elected members of the chamber. Are there countries where such elections are held?

Q9, One Osaka, is the most important grassroots political movement, nay revolution, in Japan today. The charismatic leader, Toru Hashimoto, an ex-lawyer and TV celeb, actually has a vision, and recent opinion polls in the Osaka area have indicated that his party (which still has no national policy documents, let alone candidates) could win around 80% of the seats. Ampontan is quite the fan, and has many articles on the man, each much more informative that all the professional English-language press put together.
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Why can’t Japanese stay in love?

Here’s an interesting survey from goo Ranking, looking at the reasons why people cannot make relationships last, for both men and women.


Between the 17th and 18th of January 2012 1,048 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 61.6% of the sample were female, 12.3% in their teens, 15.6% in their twenties, 27.9% in their thirties, 25.8% in their forties, 9.5% in their fifties, and 8.9% in their sixties. Note that the score in the results refers to the relative number of votes for each option, not a percentage of the total sample.

“Wearing a cat on my head” is a wonderful metaphor that I’d never heard before – it reminds me of the book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat”, a book I read a long time ago but can heartily recommend. I’ve now looked up the phrase, and not suprisingly, I took the wrong meaning of the verb in the idiom 猫をかぶってしまう, neko wo kabutte shimau. There is an archaic meaning of “to be deceived”, so it would be the Japanese equivalent of “The cat hides his claws”, thus being hypocritical.

I’ll not give you my answers at they’d reveal more about me than I want you to know!
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