Posts Tagged debate

Why English Is Tough in Japan | A New Japan

An interesting article on English education in Japan over at The Diplomat. Referring to the Japanese government’s making English classes compulsory in 5th and 6th grade (that’s the last two years of primary school for you non-U.S. readers) onwards, law-school graduate Hiroki Ogawa writes,

The reality is that raw English ability alone is unlikely to produce any significant change, even assuming that Japanese students go on to have basic conversational skills in English which is often not the case anyway. The problem for many Japanese doesnt necessarily stem from the English lessons themselves, nor the lack of opportunities to use English in Japan though this does exacerbate the situation. The big problem is often the significant cultural barriers.

I’m going to comment on a few points of this article, as it’s well worth reading and makes an important point, but needs amplifying. Ogawa’s point is that Japanese don’t learn to discuss or argue in English class, and that this severely cramps their English communicative ability, and that (inevitably these days) the government should do something about it!

I think he’s right. Partly. But the situation is more difficult than he implies, and I don’t think the solutioncan be implemented by governmental regulation or initiatives. Read the rest of this entry »

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Japan advisor says nuclear threat receding

Some good news, kind of, I guess, although I’m always suspicious when politicians make statements regarding technical or scientific situations. I’d rather hear it directly from NISA, or even TEPCO.

The government could not say the situation had been completely stabilised at the plant, but after studying the possibility of severe deterioration Tokyo was comfortable with the current evacuation policy, Goshi Hosono told the paper in an interview Saturday. “There is no way Tokyo or Kyoto will come into harms way,” said Hosono, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s special advisor on management of the nuclear crisis.

“Our goal is very clear: preventing further spreading of radiation into the atmosphere and into the ocean,” Hosono told the [Wall Street Journal].

“In order to achieve that, we must restore stable cooling functions. This is extremely difficult technically.”

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company says it does not expect a “cold shutdown” of all reactors for another six to nine months.

Hosono said officials had started to examine the causes and handling of the nuclear accident.

“When we investigate the accident, it will naturally become clear where the problems were, including issues with Japan’s nuclear regulatory policy,” he told the paper.

Hosono, a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said it was not the right time to decide whether the country should look to non-nuclear energy sources or continue to keep using atomic power.

“I just don’t think we can make a cool-headed judgment in the current atmosphere,” the paper quoted him as saying.

“For now, we should maintain both options and let the people decide in time.”

via Japan advisor says nuclear threat receding. (Also here)

Related videos (also on NewsOnJapan):

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“Let the people decide in time.” Ha! That’s a good one. Since when do the elites that run countries let the people decide? Sounds good, tho, eh? Democratic, like.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing this debate in Japan. A debate in Japan. This should be something to see.

Join the debate at Marketing Japan.

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The Technium: Passing a Worst-Case Scenario Test

The present nuclear crisis at Fukushima is of course igniting debate about nuclear power. Predictably, there are the usual hysterical voices, mostly anti-nuclear. To make up one’s mind on this issue, one needs some facts, not hyperventilating emotion. You could do worse than start here:

Richard Rhodes one of the foremost experts on nuclear weapons, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the effects of atom bomb and nuclear weapons, now in its fourth volume. He notes a curious effect of this re-evaluation of nuclear power:All Energy Disasters Lead to Coal, Which Is an Energy DisasterSimply looking at the loss of human life day to day, coal and oil are a disaster.As per this Swedish report on the health effects of power generation. When tallied as deaths per tera watts per hour deaths/TWh coal and oil dominate while nuclear is minimal:

Death watt

via The Technium: Passing a Worst-Case Scenario Test.

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