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Are you too tired to talk after work? –solution–

Deeper look into an article from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 22, 2007
“Dealing With the Dead Zone: Spouses Too Tired to Talk”

According to a December 2006 Harvard Business Review study, some high-earning managers said they relax after work with a glass of wine (ワイン一杯). However, although alcohol relaxes the body and eases conversation (体をほぐして会話を促進させる), it also makes it easy for one to take out his/her work stress at the other spouse or partner by becoming irritated and angry (イライラしたり怒ったりして、ストレスを配偶者/パートナーにぶつけてしまいかねない). This further damages the relationship. Drinking also impairs (阻害する) sleep. So if you or your spouse is depending on alcohol to relax after work, stop. More than one glass of wine per day for women (女性の場合は一日一杯超のワイン), and more than two glasses of wine per day for men (男性の場合は一日2杯超のワイン), is considered excessive drinking (飲みすぎ).

One way to deal with conversation dead-end after work is to calmly telling your spouse or partner that you appreciate the attention (気にかけてくれるのは嬉しいけれど) but just need some time alone. Some couples have established rules where one spouse or partner would ignore (無視) the other for first 30 minutes he/she gets home from work but would begin communicating after that. Other couples try to talk over phone during the day or schedule talking time after dinner. If all fails, try exercising before going home. Building physical strength helps fight stress and enables the mind to refresh.

Try everything you can and stick with whatever works for you. In all cases, don’t shut your spouse or partner out of your life and not do anything to fix your problem. If you do that, you will destroy your relationship.

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2007年02月27日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Wakamatsu Labor Consulting Office

Wakamatsu Labor Consulting Office (若松絵里社労士・行政書士事務所) offers expertise in visa applications and drafting employment contracts for foreigners.

Wakamatsu Labor Consulting Office is run by Ms. Eri Wakamatsu, a dual professional. She is a registered Gyoseishoshi Lawyer and a registered Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant. Born in Nagasaki prefecture, her career includes Sony EMCS Corp., STMicroelectronics, General Electric Company, and other foreign based companies where she was responsible for the hiring of experienced personnel and other human resource operations.

Today, her firm strives to support small and mid-sized domestic businesses as well as foreign based companies and foreigners starting business in Japan.

Wakamatsu Labor Consulting Office (若松絵里社労士・行政書士事務所)
1-37-2 Green Park Kami-Itabashi, Suite 208
Nakadai, Itabashi, Tokyo 174-0064
Tel :03-3931-7236
Fax :03-3931-8882
E-mail: eri.wakamatsu@eriw-office.com

2007年02月26日 Links トラックバック:0 コメント:0

are you too tired to talk after work?

Deeper look into an article from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 22, 2007
“Dealing With the Dead Zone: Spouses Too Tired to Talk”

Are you too tired to talk after work? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. According to a December 2006 Harvard Business Review study, about 45% of high-earning managers (高所得の管理職者) are too tired to say anything at all to their spouse (夫や妻などの配偶者) or partner (彼女や彼氏などの恋人) after a long workday.

When one spouse asks “How was your day?” the other says “I really don’t want to talk about it.” Sounds familiar (聞き覚えありますか)? After a long day at work when one of you (あなたかあなたの配偶者/恋人の片方) are always talking to somebody (常に誰かと話している) or in one meeting after another (ミーティングからミーティングへと続き) where everybody is talking at the same time (皆が同時が話している), you want to go home and not listen (聞きたくない) or respond (反応したくない) to anybody. According to Dr. Christina Nippert-Eng, an associate sociology professor at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, refusing to talk (会話の拒絶) is “an attempt to achieve physical isolation when one can’t physically leave the room (物理的に一人になれないときに自分を周りから隔離しようとする努力).”

However, such conversation dead-ends (会話の行き止まり) can damage relationships. The other spouse or partner will be hurt and misunderstand (誤解) the silence (沈黙) as “you’re mad at me”.

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2007年02月26日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Rules of Restructuring Termination

According to a recent court case in Japan, “termination due to restructuring is, in general, the dismissal of selected employees from the workforce primarily due to economic conditions of the business and not because the selected employees were at fault”.

Over the years, courts have established what is known as the Rule of Restructuring Termination (解雇権濫用法理) which lays down four factors to be considered in determining whether an employer has abused his or her right to terminate employment. The four factors are:

1. Is it necessary to reduce workforce? (人員削減の必要性があること)
2. Did the employer make efforts to avoid reduction of workforce? (解雇回避の努力をしていること)
3. Is the selection of terminating employees fair? (被解雇者の選定基準が妥当であること)
4. Did the employer discuss the matter with employees? (労働者側との協議をしていること)

These factors are not legal requirements where a lack of one voids the effect of termination. Rather, each of these factors are considered as a whole for the courts to decide whether an employer abused his or her right to terminate employment.

What raises concern with JAL’s approach to its restructuring is that employees are not aware of these management decisions until they hear it on news or read it on newspapers, according an employee of JAL. Although JAL’s new business plan received a warm welcome by the stock market, it is questionable how well the company can navigate its plans when there seems to be a lack of communication between the two opposing parties. When there is a lack of “good faith” discussions, it may not satisfy the fourth factor of the Rule.

In addition, despite the company’s announcement to continue cutting employee’s base salaries by 10%, it made no reference to cutting pilot’s salaries which in some cases exceed 30,000,000 yen (equivalent to $254,237 at 118 yen per U.S. dollar). This may cast shadow over the necessity to reduce workforce and/or making efforts to avoid reducing the workforce. In any case, JAL is in it for a rough ride.

2007年02月21日 Employment Law トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Airplanes fart big and JAL smells bad

Deeper look into an article from TIME, February 12, 2007
“Greenhouse Airlines”

Just in case you don’t know the word “fart”, it means おなら (onara) in Japanese. More and more, airplanes are becoming a great source of air pollution (大気汚染). According to a study by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the carbon dioxide (二酸化炭素) airplanes release (放出) into the atmosphere (大気) at high altitudes (高度) have a greater warming effect (温暖化) than the same amount of carbon dioxide released on the grounds (地上で) by cars or factories. One single long distance flight (長距離飛行) can release more carbon per passenger (乗客一人あたり) than months of driving. Although air travel accounts for only 1.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions, it is the fastest growing source of air pollution in many countries. And with annual airline passengers worldwide expected to double (倍増の予想される) to 9 billion by 2025, it is a great concern.

If you really must travel by air… ↓

But perhaps (もしかしたら), a bigger concern about airplanes may be Japan Airlines. On February 6, 2007, Japan Airlines (JAL) announced its new business plan to decrease its work force from the current 53,100 to 48,800 by 2009, cutting 4,300 workers. It also announced to continue to cut employees’ base salary by 10% to reduce payroll expense (人件費) by 500 million yen. Is this legally allowed? WJA will discuss these legal issues in comparison to how U.S. airlines rose and are rising from their financial hardships.

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If you want to save the earth, travel domestic by land ↓

2007年02月20日 Employment Law トラックバック:0 コメント:0

office crush

Do you have a secret crush on your co-worker? According to a recent survey by SnagAJob, the majority of office workers have some kind of crush (想い、特に片想い) on a co-worker (職場の同僚). About (= nearly) two out of three people admitted having a crush on a co-worker: 72% of men like a female co-worker and 60% of women like a male co-worker.

However, office crushes are most often unnoticed because nearly two-thirds of employees plan to keep their crushes to themselves (胸のなかだけに秘めておく). According to the survey, men are more likely to keep their lips sealed (口を閉じる) than women. It is the remaining (残りの) one-third of employees who, if they succeed, develop (発展させる) their crushes to office love.

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2007年02月19日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

office love

At some point in time, most employers have to deal with employees who date, fall in love, and probably break up, if not marry. Although it is difficult to prohibit (禁止する) workers from being attracted (惹かれる) to other co-workers, there are ways to make sure that office love doesn’t affect job performance. For one, all companies should have a policy on dating and relationships among co-workers in their employment handbooks (就業規則), and make sure that employees know it.

“Office love is great! Don’t prohibit it!” some may say. But from an employer’s point of view, office love can affect productivity of the entire office. Even more serious is that office love may turn into sexual harassment suits (セクハラ訴訟) against an employer.

However, no matter how strict the rules may be, workers will become attracted to co-workers. After all, where do people meet people? If they’re not going to those match-making-drink-outs (合コン), they’re meeting at work.

So, the least an employer can do is to have a written policy on office love in its employment handbook and let employees know that there are standards of behaviors they must follow. The policy should also mention that employers may take certain actions when an office love is found.

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2007年02月16日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

fit to work

According to a recent survey by The Principal Financial Group, spending more on employee fitness programs may lower turnover (離職率) and increase productivity (生産性) for small businesses. The Principal Financial Group surveyed 1,197 employees and 630 retirees of small and mid-sized businesses (中小企業) in 2006. Result show that more than half of employees said fitness programs offered by their employers encouraged (推奨する) harder work and better performance. Physical fitness leads to mental fitness, which in turn leads to productivity and better performance.


Also according to the survey, 55% said they are more likely to stay with employers offering fitness programs. U.S. employees have long been known to switch jobs frequently for higher salary and advanced positions, but today, many employers are making efforts (努力している) to retain experienced and skilled employees. The widespread of fitness facilities is one of the many ways in which U.S. employers are trying to win employee loyalty.

I realize that it may be unrealistic for small and mid-sized businesses in Japan to create fitness facilities in their building. But it is not difficult to offer discounts to sport clubs near the office and allow employees to take time off to work out.

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2007年02月15日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Masae Nishio Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant Office

Masae Nishio Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant Office (西尾雅枝社会保険労務士事務所) is committed to making your business successful.

Take advantage of their Consulting and Lecture services for your business in Japan!
Take advantage of their suggestions for troubles and problems on your working life in Japan!!
Take advantage of their support for your procedures of Social & Labor Insurance in Japan!!!
Take advantage of their seminar & consulting services for your employees working in Japan!!!!

Masae Nishio Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant Office is run by Ms. Masae Nishio, a registered Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant. Born in Fukuoka prefecture, she holds a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Seinan Gakuin University. After 30 years of experience in the service industry where she mastered the essence of communication between people of all cultures, she stepped up to challenge for the legal profession. And she will stand up for her clients at anytime and at all cost.

Masae Nishio Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant Office (西尾雅枝社会保険労務士事務所)
Yamachu Bldg. 2F N10 Uradeyama Cho 308, Nishikikoji St. Muromachi Higashiiru, Nakagyoku
Kyoto City, Kyoto 604-8155
TEL/FAX: (075)241-4586
E-mail: info@nishio-sr.com

2007年02月14日 Links トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Social Insurance System

Some basics about social insurance, Japan’s version of U.S.’s social security. The term “social insurance” captures health, medical, and pension plans and systems in Japan and is most commonly represented by health insurance laws (Health Insurance Law and National Health Insurance Law) and pension laws (Welfare and Pension Law and National Pension Law).

Social insurance plans and systems are administered by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, one of the eleven Ministries of Japan.

Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (厚生労働省)
Central Government Building No. 5
1-2-2 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku Tokyo, 100-8916 Japan
Tel: 03-5253-1111
Website: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/index.html

However, the Ministry delegates the daily administration of social insurance system to its external organization, Social Insurance Agency. The Agency is responsible for the administration and operation of the following Japanese social insurance systems: the Government- managed Employees’ Health Insurance, the Seamen’s Insurance, the Employees’ Pension Insurance and the National Pension.

Social Insurance Agency (社会保険庁)
Website: http://www.sia.go.jp/e/index.html

Social Insurance Agency does not have a physical address because its operations are administered by 47 Regional Social Insurance Bureaus that are located at prefecture level and 265 Social Insurance Offices and their supplemental 71 Pension Consultation Centers throughout the nation.

Shinjuku Social Insurance Office(新宿社会保険事務所) has the best staff to support non-Japanese nationals.

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2007年02月13日 Social Insurance Law トラックバック:0 コメント:0

internet, a prescription for Alzheimer

Deeper look into an article from TIME, February 12, 2007
“Senior Netizens”

Retired people (定年退職者) in the U.S. spend an average of nine hours online at home each week, according to a survey by AXA Group, a financial services firm. That is two hours more than the seven hours two years ago. In contrast (これとは対照に), retired people in Japan spend only three hours a week online.

Another study shows that elderly people (高齢者) with few or no friends are more than twice as likely (2倍以上の確立で) to develop Alzheimer’s disease (アルツハイマー病) than elderly people that are not lonely. A number of other studies show that loneliness and isolation can have a negative effect on the aging brain and that a rich social and intellectual life helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Baby boomer generations in Japan, as we all know, were workaholics (仕事中毒). Boundaries (境界線) between work and personal life did not exist. Work was a part of personal life and personal life was a part of work. As these baby boomers hit retirement many realize that they have no interest of hobbies in their personal lives. One of my dear friend’s father who has recently retired from a company he served for over 40 years now enjoys visiting Kamakura, an ancient city of Japan, on historical tours. He searches the internet on temples and historical people in Kamakura before visiting them. But not many baby boomers are like him. Many just stay home, alone.

If they have nothing better to do than staying home alone, why not adventure on the internet? Many retirees in U.S. are going online to bank, invest, search for alternative medicines, find volunteer opportunities, network with interest groups, blog, become politically active, and a few even start their own business. Now that’s a great way to stay socially connected.

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2007年02月12日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

Kurata International Labor Management Consulting

Kurata International Labor Management Consultant (倉田国際労務管理事務所) prides in professionalism and integrity of the Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant practice and provides assistance to enhance efficiency in business management. The office's services include:

- Labor consulting advisory services
- Draw up or revise Rules of Employment (Work rules)
- Draw up or review Employment contract document
- Social insurance systems application formalities
- Payroll outsourcing
- Other HR consulting services

Kurata International Labor Management Consultant is run by Mr. Tetsuro Kurata, a registered Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultant. Born in Hyogo prefecture and graduated from Yokohama City University. Mr. Kurata has global business experience in US based large scale manufacturing company. Today, Mr. Kurata dedicates to serving foreign affiliated companies.

Kurata International Labor Management Consultant (倉田国際労務管理事務所)
2-21-8-501 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 Japan
TEL +81-3-5545-3168 FAX +81-3-5545-3169

2007年02月11日 Links トラックバック:0 コメント:0

beware commuters

Wandering (ふらふら) businessman typing text messages on his Blackberry, chatty (ぺちゃくちゃ) cell phone users stopping in the middle of the street, iPod listeners ignorantly (ぼんやり) crossing streets as the light changes. Technology allowed New Yorkers to go mobile with their media, but it has also put their legs on auto pilot while they tune into games, email, and music.

Now one New York lawmaker wants to put an end to this habit of modern life. A newly proposed legislation (新立法案) would fine pedestrians and bicyclists $100 penalty if they use their iPod, cell phone, or other PDA while crossing a city street. “You can’t be fully aware of your surroundings if you’re fiddling with a Blackberry, dialing a phone number, playing ‘Super Mario Brothers’ on a Game Boy or listening to music on an iPod”, says the lawmaker.

The proposed legislation may not win public support but the lawmaker’s argument brings up an important point. Even in Japan, listening to iPod and writing emails on cell phones have become a part of everyday commute. However, studies indicate that pedestrians tuned into music or chatting on cell phones are more likely to be involved in accidents. Although injury incurred during commute between home and work is often compensated under the Workers’ Accident Compensation Insurance Law, there is a clause that may make it ineligible for those iPod tuned and cell phone emailing commuters. Article 12-2 of the law limits the amount of eligible compensation if there is a degree of negligence on the commuter’s side.

2007年02月09日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

immigrants support the economy

New York City has always been a city of immigrants. But over the last 10 years, the inflow of immigrants into the New York City area created a major economic impact. These new immigrants are opening businesses at a rate much faster than native-born Americans. According to a new report recently issued, between 1994 and 2004, the number of businesses in Flushing, a neighborhood of Chinese and Korean immigrants, increased by 54.6%. In contrast, the number of businesses in NYC increased only by 9.6%. New businesses opened by immigrants include grocery stores, restaurants, travel agencies, insurance agencies, real estate brokers, etc.

NYC and its surrounding areas have benefited from the new businesses opened by immigrants. New businesses create jobs and put money in our pockets to spend. It is the people’s spending that creates a strong economic nation. Although Japanese companies have cleared bad debts that caused the depression, the country still does not seem to recover. One reason is that Japanese companies are keeping their profits inside the company and not sharing it with employees. Big companies need to keep a lot of cash to be competitive in the global market.

However, written earlier in “1.2 babies in her life time”, Japan’s population is shrinking. And when a country’s population decreases, there are fewer people to buy goods and services. To maintain today’s economic strength, Japan needs to find a way to refill its population by (1) laying down social infrastructure where women can give more births, or (2) accept more immigrants. Unfortunately, (1) is not a realistic option Japan has so the nation is left with welcoming more immigrants. And that may be a good thing. Like in NYC, new immigrants to Tokyo may open new businesses and revive the city.

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2007年02月08日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

women in Japan

Deeper look into an article from TIME, February 5, 2007
“Where Japanese Women Rule”

Butler cafés are gaining popularity Tokyo. These cafés are staffed entirely by Japanese version of English man-servants, dressed in formal tails, white gloves, and gracious manners. And these cafés are exclusively for women, especially for the growing number those drawn to manga and anime. These women are known as otome, or “maidens,” and dress in medieval fantasy fashions found in their favorite manga such as in flowing gothic dresses of the whitest white or the blackest black. It’s all part of the costume play, or “cosplay,” culture that sprang recently along with the otaku-otome culture.

These butler cafés give otome a chance to act out their fantasies. However, there may be something even more basic behind the popularity. Women in Japan face daily battles against the sexism that still penetrates Japan and are under constant pressure to conform and marry, which in Japan is still nothing more than surrendering much of their independence. The butler café may be an oasis for women to unwind from the pressure of the outside world, and where the only members of the opposite sex are literally at your service.

It is truly regrettable that women must fight the sexism battle everyday. The battle starts from her early morning commute to work where she gets on the “women only” car of the train to avoid perverts. Once she steps into the office, she’s expected to have her make up on so her not-so-good-looking bosses wouldn’t raise their eye brows. Noon comes and she joins other women for lunch, partly in fear of false rumors that may be whispered if she has lunch with a male coworker. Evening comes and women are expected to leave the office before men, again riding on the women only car of the train. If men dropped their ancient conceptions about women as a vulnerable subject better off married, caged up in his home to cook, raise children, and care for aging family members, women would have a much more free heart. She may then, not feel so compelled to pause her career and marry.

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2007年02月07日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

why is health insurance mandatory in Japan?

Because Japan doesn’t want to be like US.

Data released on August 29, 2006 by the US Census Bureau show that the number of uninsured Americans stood at a record 46.6 million in 2005, with 15.9 percent of Americans lacking health coverage. According to Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The number of uninsured Americans reached an all-time high in 2005”. “It is sobering that 5.4 million more people lacked health insurance in 2005 than in the recession year of 2001, primarily because of the erosion of employer-based insurance.

According to the Census data, the number of uninsured Americans increased from 45.3 million in 2004 to 46.6 million in 2005. The percentage of uninsured Americans rose 15.6 percent in 2004 and 15.9 percent in 2005, uncovering the trend that more and more Americans are uninsured. As many households became uninsured, the number of children who are uninsured rose from 7.9 million in 2004 to 8.3 million in 2005.

Japan lays down a policy of 国民皆保険、a policy where all residents of Japan are insured regardless of citizenship. Accordingly, the purpose of the Health Insurance Law, according to Health Insurance Law Article 1, is to contribute to stabilize living and improve welfare for citizens by providing insurance benefits to employees and their dependents for sickness, injury, death, and labor arising outside the scope of employees’ work (この法律は、労働者の業務外の事由による疾病、負傷若しくは死亡又は出産及びその被扶養者の疾病、負傷、死亡又は出産に関して保険給付を行い、もって国民の生活の安定と福祉の向上に寄与することを目的とする。). In correspondence, the purpose of National Health Insurance Law, according to National Health Insurance Law Article 1, is to contribute to the improvement of social security and national insurance by securing sound operation of national health insurance activities (この法律は、国民健康保険事業の健全な運営を確保し、社会保障および国民保険の向上に寄与することを目的としている。).

Of the many great things about Japan, I must say that this ranks among the top.

2007年02月06日 Social Insurance Law トラックバック:0 コメント:0

the real Gap

A brief of an article from TIME, February 5, 2007
Why The Gap Keeps Getting Crushed / by Kristina Dell

With 2,994 stores and $16.3 billion in sales at its peak, the Gap kingdom had become so enormous that the only way for Gap to keep growing was to design clothes that appeal to the general public and sell millions and millions of units. But once everyone’s wardrobe had a pair of khakis, a white button-down and a few pocket Ts, consumers became bored. Gap’s sales fell 2%, to $14.8 billion last year. “It used to be that the Gap dictated fashion, but now customers have so many resources, they dictate what they want and see if a store has it,” comments Marshall Cohen, chief analyst at the NPD Group.

Lately, those Gap bored customers have been shopping heavily at H&M, Zara, Mexx, and other so called fast-fashion boutiques. These fast-fashion boutiques have created a competitive advantage over Gap: production cycle and reaction time. Where as Gap, with its enormous operations and slow reaction time, takes huge risks of guessing up front how the season’s trend will play out (skinny jeans? newsboy caps?) and making huge bets on limited ideas (ever wonder why Gap has so many items on sale after the season? They missed their guesses.), fast-fashion boutiques have figured out a way to cut clothing cycle down from six months to six weeks. This quick production cycle and fast reaction time enables these stores to constantly replenish their racks with fresh styles, attracting today’s easily bored customers to their stores.

Can the gap between customer taste and the company be filled? Many fingers seem to point at the same direction: Each of the three brands, Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, to focus on a specific customer demographic. “The combination is overly complex and unmanageable,” says Todd Slater, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets.

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2007年02月05日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

love or country?

A deeper look into an article from NEWSWEEK, February 5, 2007
One Son's Choice: Love or Country? / by Nadine Chaffee

According to the February 5, 2007 NEWSWEEK, in contrast to the United States where, as of today, 26 of 50 states have passed constitutional amendments to deny gay civil rights, Canada has legalized same-sex marriage and has gay-friendly immigration laws. The country’s reluctance to accept gay marriage forces people, often hardworking, tax-paying, law-abiding young men liked by teachers, co-workers and bosses, cats, dogs, and little old ladies, to move away from their homes and their families. In an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s most widely read local newspaper, “As long as the United States is continuing to be oppressive in their lack of sanctity of unions for gays and lesbians, then they’re going to continue to lose really good citizens”, and workers.

Mentioned earlier in “1.2 babies in her life time”, an average woman in Japan will only give birth to 1.2 babies in her life time, and is becoming a great social concern as the Japanese work force continues to shrink.

According to the “Statistical Handbook of Japan 2006” issued by the Statistic Bureau and Statistical Research and Training Institute, a department of the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “In 2005, the population of elderly citizens (65 years and over) was 26.82 million, constituting 21.0 percent of the total population and marking record highs in both number and percentage terms. The speed of aging of Japan's population is much faster than in advanced Western European countries or the US.” While the population of elderly in Japan accounted for only 7.1 percent of the total population in 1970, 24 years later in 1994, it had nearly doubled to 14.1 percent. “In other countries with an aged population, it took 61 years in Italy, 85 years in Sweden, and 115 years in France for the percentage of the elderly to increase from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population. These comparisons highlight the rapid progress of demographic aging in Japan.”

“On the other hand, the percentage of younger age population in Japan (0-14 years) has been shrinking since 1982. In 2005, the younger age population amounted to 17.40 million, accounting for 13.6 percent of the total population, the lowest level on record since the Population Census began. The working-age population (15-64 years) totaled 83.37 million, continuing its decline from the year before. In share terms, it accounted for 65.3 percent of the entire population. As a result, the ratio of the dependent population (the sum of the elderly and younger age population divided by the working-age population) was 53.0 percent. In terms of their proportion of the total population, the elderly have surpassed the younger age group since 1997.”

Although Japan has not yet seen an explosion of a nation wide debate over gay marriage, it is only a matter of time with the coming out of so many gay men in Japan. If Japan is reluctant to accept gay marriage, more men who constitute Japan’s limited working population would leave Japan for, say, Canada, a popular destination for working holidays and where it is fairly easy to obtain residential status. It would be wrong for Japan to brush of gay marriage debates in US and other nations around the world simply as another country’s problem.

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2007年02月04日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0


February 5, 2007 NEWSWEEK

He Calls Himself God
By Arian Campo-Flores

“A native of Puerto Rico, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, 60, spent his youth drifting from the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostals to the Baptists. Then one night in 1973, he says, he awoke to a vision of two hulking men at his bedside who announced the arrival of the Lord, who, says de Jesus, “came to me and integrated with me.” In the early years after founding Growing in Grace in Miami in 1986, de Jesus didn’t claim to be Christ. Instead, he worked as a pastor spreading his doctrine: that under a new covenant with God, there is no sin and no Satan, and people are predestined to be saved. But as his following expanded, his claims did, too. In 1998, de Jesus avowed that he was the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. Two years ago at Growing in Grace’s world convention in Venezuela, he declared himself Christ. And just last week, he called himself the Antichrist and revealed a ‘666’ tattooed on his forearm.”

“Some observers call Growing in Grace a cult” and denounce de Jesus as a charlatan.

国際英文週刊誌ニュースウィークは毎週、揺れ動く世界の政治、経済を始め、科 学、芸術、スポーツ、ファッションにいたるまで、グローバルな視点から捕えた幅広い分野の最新情報を満載。世界の「今」を、洗練された現代英語で伝えています。英語学習になると同時に、週を追うごとにあなたの視野を広げ、時代をとらえる国際的な知性が養えます。まさに一石二鳥。

2007年02月02日 News トラックバック:0 コメント:0

biweekly paychecks in Japan?

My “2005 Christmas article” briefed about the difference in payroll cycles between US and Japan. Employees in US are paid biweekly while employees in Japan are only paid once a month. This forces spendthrift expatriates (basically Americans) to budget their spending, something many aren’t good at. Quite a few times I’ve encountered in my practice where an expatriate employee would, like an allergic reaction, reject the notion of being paid on a monthly basis and insist he (and he mostly) be paid biweekly. (For my Japanese readers not accustomed to the practice of being paid on a biweekly basis, a year is divided into 52 weeks and employees are paid 26 times a year, usually on every other Thursday or Friday.)

As mentioned earlier in “is your employer behaving at least to the law’s minimum expectations?”, Labor Standard Law sets employment standards employers are required to maintain at the minimum. Therefore, even though Labor Standards Law Article 24 states that wages be paid at least once a month on a definite date of the month, employers are free to pay employees more than once a month. A biweekly payroll cycle is possible in Japan too. It’s just that the concept is still foreign to the Japanese. And in addition, payroll calculation gets a little complicated which is probably the bigger reason why Japanese will come up with just about any excuse to avoid such practice. How complicated?

Basically, the withholding tax table widely for payroll calculation is based on a monthly payroll cycle. Therefore, to implement a biweekly payroll cycle, a few extra steps need to be taken to adjust the monthly amounts on the table to the appropriate biweekly amounts. First, your biweekly payroll amount must be determined. This can be done by dividing your annual gross pay by 26 (or divide by 52 and multiply that by 2). Then, multiply this amount by two to derive the monthly amount. Look for this monthly amount on the withholding tax table and search for the withholding tax amount that corresponds with the appropriate number of dependents you claimed. Finally, divide this amount by two and withhold that amount from your biweekly paycheck.

That wasn’t too bad huh? That’s because we’ve only looked at the withholding tax portion of the calculation. Don’t forget that there are other deductions such as health insurance premiums, pension contributions, and employment insurance premiums that need to be adjusted to a biweekly basis. Complications arise because there are no set rules as to how to compute these other deductions. Employers are on their own to figure it out, and that’s just why they want to avoid biweekly payroll cycles.

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2007年02月01日 Taxes トラックバック:0 コメント:0