Japan hates Youtube people

It’s easy to shorthand Japan as “Crazy Japan,” mainly because it’s fairly accurate most of the time. But every so often Glorious Nippon severely tests that “Glorious” part, and prove the characterization spot-on. This is one of those times.

Japan’s government has just passed a law that would outlaw the act of “ripping” copyrighted material of any kind to users’ computers, and the knowing downloading of such material from any internet source. Naturally, this is targeted towards folks who record TV shows and DVDs/Blu-rays for sharing, archiving, and of course piracy. That part of the law is a good thing. Punishment ranges from hefty fines to jail time. The law goes into effect this October.

But wait, there’s more.

The broad, vague wording of the law opens the potential to prosecute users with the temerity to view copyrighted material on such innocuous sites as Youtube, because those sites upload data to users’ computers. And it potentially covers international viewers of Japanese copyrighted material. What’s more, analysts suggest that the law could be used to suppress material that the government finds uncomfortable.

This bears all the hallmarks of a law written by fearful companies and legislators who would rather destroy that which they don’t understand and can’t adapt to. Of course, natural challenges over enforcement, scope and freedom of speech will rise up, but truthfully, it doesn’t seem really feasible that the Japanese public will muster the kind of intense resistance that Americans raised over SOPA and PIPA.

Prove me wrong, Japan. Prove me wrong.

Tattoo discrimination? In the Japan? I mean, in Japan?

In Japan, tattoos have long been associated with the Yakuza. Partly due to safety reasons, even today public places such as bathhouses and gyms have banned people bearing large tattoos from entering their premises. Now, tattooed city employees are also being subjected to new employment restrictions.

Osaka Major Toru Hashimoto, who has a long history of making controversial decisions, has ordered all public servants to fill out a form on which they must specify where in their bodies they have been tattooed. Employees with any visible marking could potentially be excluded from jobs where they will be in direct contact with the public.

Hashimoto claims that the new policy is part of strategy to safeguard the credibility of government services, but union officials are calling the move discriminatory. Some Japanese are concerned about the form being illegal and in violation of the employees’ human rights. About 38,000 city employees could be affected by the ordinance. We at SG, especially Rick Snee, call it A-OK.

Women are both the cause and solution of Japanese work problems

According to figures put together by the 21st Century Public Policy Institute, a think tank linked to Japan’s Keidanren business federation, Japan might no longer fall among the world’s top economies by the year 2050. A shrinking and aging population and a decline in productivity are listed as factors influencing the downgrade.

The institute predicts that in a matter of 40 years Japan’s GDP could dip to about ⅙ that of China and the U.S, and ⅓ that of India. However, if policymakers could boost workforce participation by women to the same level seen in more gender-progressive countries such as Sweden, Japan could be the 4th largest economy by mid-century. The report states that if women did not quit their jobs due to marriage or childbirth, Japan’s workforce could see an increase of up to 4.5 million people in a matter of years.

Of course, achieving this goal would require a massive change in Japan’s corporate culture. That should be eezy-peezy.

Emo and myopic traditions return to Japan

In seems like in Japan arranged marriages, a tradition that has been gradually becoming extinct over the past couple of decades, might be making a comeback. Oddly enough last year’s Japanese earthquake might have something to do with it.

David Millward explains that following the natural disaster, many Japanese have turned to traditional values as a coping mechanism. It was a time of reflection during which family and communal bonds became absolutely essential. Many people went as far as to tying the knot for the sake of safeguarding normalcy. An example of the rationalization:

“Many felt that if they died nobody would care, so they thought they should marry.”

Yeesh. Schools and McBournie, can we get an “emooooooo?” 40% of all unions these days are now becoming arranged marriages. Anxious couples mingling under the supervision of chaperones are once again becoming a standard part of the scenery. According to Sasaki Akiko, a Japanese tour guide, there is no reason to be alarmed by this trend, as all arranged marriages have a much lower divorce rate than that for modern partnerships.

“With an arranged marriage, you go into it with both eyes open, with love you always have one eye closed.”

Nope, that’s not myopic and cynical at all.

It’s like Facebook for kids with conviction records, which kind of makes it MySpace

These days there’s a social network catering to just about every kind of demographic. Interested in hanging out with fellow runners (JogBook), researchers (SearchSpace), pineapple lovers (Pineapperest), jet skiers (FriendSki), or amateur snuff film makers (Snuffer)? You got it! There’s probably a website available for just about every type of fetishist as well, but we’ll leave those corners of the web to Rick Snee.

In Japan, one of the latest social networks to hit the Internet is Yankee I Love You, a site made exclusively for juvenile delinquents and wannabe troublemakers to socialize. Are you into motorcycles, bling, orange tans, Tony Montana, perfectly styled pompadours and live in Japan? Great, this sure sounds like your kind of place!

It turns out that the word “Yankee” is used in Japan to describe thuggish kids, hence the name. The term originated in Osaka in the seventies, and was once used to refer to the flashy teens who would hang out at the city’s Amerikamura fashion district.

Yankee I Love You user profiles are as gaudy and customizable as you would expect. Users can prove their street cred by providing a summary of their arrest record and the name of their favorite motorcycle gang. Despite the rough nature of the site’s clienteles, managers claim that there have been no issues with any users thus far.

We can only assume that, despite the numbers we’re fed, it’s because there aren’t actually any users outside of Tom.

Beware of sea aliens

Just past a year following the earthquake and tsunami that wrecked Tohoku, one of the largest single pieces of debris from the disaster has crossed the ocean, a full-sized commercial fishing trawler. The derelict was sighted about 50 miles off the coast of Canada’s British Columbia province, near the Haida Gwaii islands. Spotter planes found the ship floating upright, intact and seemingly seaworthy but for the extensive rust covering the hull. There were no signs of life aboard the vessel.

Human life, that is.

Contrary to popular belief, the patch itself isn’t “solid enough to walk on”. Much of the debris is submerged and almost invisible. Having watched tons and tons of movies over the course of my life, I have the utmost belief that there is some kind of hidden alien or monster in that vessel, secretly waiting for silly humans to attempt to stumble onto it. Or, the ship has become a lure for some giant angler fish-esque leviathan.

The only safe course of action to do is burn the water. Twice. Just in case.

Misanthrope gun of the future looks less than futuristic

Hello there, faithful member of society! Have you been trying to enjoy an espresso, or sitting around on a quiet morning, reading a book at your local cafe when some loud-mouth walks by the open-air, outside porch, talking as if they’re the only person on the street? Ever been standing in line when someone with a voice that has a volume level akin to a Spinal Tap concert gets into the queue, chatting away without a single thought in the world?

Then worry no more! For the small fee of a plane trip to Japan and a nominal amount as a venture capitalist, you can (theoretically) be the owner of a “SHUTTA-UPPA-YO-MOUFFA!” gun. Worry not anymore about politely asking people if they can be a little more discrete with their discussions. Simply point, shoot, and voila, let the confusion arise.

Libraries? Shh’d. Bullies? De-nyah-nyah’d. Free speech? Zipped. Rush Limbaugh? Still fat and calling people sluts, but possibly quieted some.

Japan REALLY looking toward the future

Japanese construction company Obayashi is planning the construction of a space elevator which would carry passengers to a station about a tenth the distance to the moon. According to the company, the project could be completed as early as 2050.

Made of super-strong carbon nanotubes, the elevator would stretch some 60,000 miles from its anchor point, which would be built on an ocean’s floor. The opposite end of the building would dangle in space serving the role of a counterweight. Powered by magnetic linear motors, elevator pods would move at a speed of roughly 125mph, meaning it would take about one week for passenger to reach the top. The design would allow for up to 30 people to travel simultaneously. Acrophobics need not apply.

While at the moment it is difficult to estimate the total cost of the venture (we guess it’ll be many, many moon-dollars), it’s presumed that space elevators would, in the long run, be significantly more affordable than rocket launches, but significantly less (or would it be even more so) phallic looking in design.

Japanese suckers born nearly every other minute

A survey was conducted across 50 countries, asking the question “Do you believe in UFO’s?”. Coming in at number two is Japan. A total of 45.3% of the Japanese people polled replied that they did in fact believe in alien sightings, placing Japan below only Brazil and Mexico.

In a country that still values the presence of spirits and the supernatural, this isn’t quite that shocking. You don’t often see many programs on TV discussing the existence of extraterrestrials but apparently that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

So, what can we gather from this report? The Fortean Times probably isn’t (but may possibly) a magazine originating from the United States, but from Brazil, Mexico or Japan.

The squeeze gets put on the TSA

On this past Thursday, a Colorado woman of Japanese decent was arrested and charged with a felony count of sexual abuse, after she reportedly grabbed a TSA officer’s breasts.

Please pick up your jaw. We know that this is a bit of an anomaly, being that it’s a Japanese woman groping someone and not a Japanese man. Details, unfortunately, are currently sparse on what actually occurred, but was this a reaction from being groped by the TSA agent?

The woman, 61 year old Yukari Mihamae, has been released, and is currently awaiting trial. We can only assume that the TSA will soon be offering her a job with them.