Japanese Prime Minister engaged in delicate balancing act

Let's Japan has been lucky in the past to have others share their stories here. For 2010, LJ introduces the Kotatsu Commentator, who will be adding his voice here.
-Shawn

The Japanese government is in the middle of a delicate balancing act. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his coalition government are busy making inroads in a rising tide of Asian power, while preserving the close diplomatic relations with the empire that has helped provide their current prosperity.

A Closer Look at Free Choice

I'm late talking about this, but it's worth noting given Hoofin's recent comments on freechoice.jp and health insurance in Japan. After I was asked to take down a letter from a private insurance provider that I posted here, Hoofin went out and did some digging, and came up with a lot of interesting stuff.

The Rise of Eikaiwa Online

At this time last year, with Nova gone, LJers in the forums were talking about how Skype and lessons online would be the future of eikaiwa. A year to the day that thread was started, J-cast News ran a story on the rapid growth of eikaiwa lessons online. The article reads more like an advertisement than a piece of journalism as it only focuses on three very new online schools, so it's difficult to gauge the popularity or success of online eikaiwa.

Japan: 

Letter from an Insurance Company Regarding Guideline 8

An LJ reader sent me this letter from his insurance company regarding the new immigration guideline which appears to confirm that the stance on the guideline has been softened. As the letter points out, not being enrolled in a public health plan is insufficient grounds for declining a visa renewal application. It looks like a lot of instructors can breathe a sigh of relief.

Changes to Immigration Guideline to be put on Hold

As you are aware, immigration guidelines are set to be changed next April so that you will have to show proof of enrollment in shakai hoken or kokumin kenko hoken when you apply to renew your visa. This is a huge issue for eikaiwa instructors as most are not enrolled in either health plan and are faced with the possibility of having to make hefty back payments upon enrollment.

Eikaiwa in 2 Minutes

All you need to know about a day in the life of an eikaiwa instructor. This would hilarious if it weren't true.

Japan: 

Breaking: Ichihashi Caught

TV news is reporting that Ichihashi has been caught in Osaka. According to the Asahi shimbun, Ichihashi was taken into custody by the Osaka Police after being spotted while trying to board a ferry in Suminoe-ku.

Asahi article

千葉県市川市で07年3月、英会話講師の英国人女性リンゼイ・アン・ホーカーさん(当時22)の遺体が見つかった事件で、市橋達也容疑者(30)=死体遺棄容疑で指名手配=と見られる男の身柄が大阪市内で確保された。

大阪府警によると、発見場所は同市住之江区にある南港のフェリー乗り場付近。通行人から「似た男がいる」と通報があったという。同署員が駆けつけ、職務質問したところ市橋容疑者であることを認めたため、身柄を確保したという。住之江署で指紋の照合作業をしている。

Japan: 

Ichihashi Still on the Loose

The man is determined not to be found:

Police on Thursday released a new photo of Tatsuya Ichihashi, the suspect in the slaying of a British woman in 2007, that was taken last month at a Nagoya clinic before he underwent cosmetic surgery there but after he apparently had had at least one face-lift elsewhere.

Japan: 

Engine Noise as a Feature

For the past while, I've been seeing reports on TV and in the newspapers about the danger of hybrid vehicles being too quiet when running on battery power at low speeds. This isn't something new, but as more hybrids take to the roads, pedestrians are worrying about their safety. The Japan Times reported on it last month:

Open Thread: Rumours About GEOS and Two Years After NOVA's Collapse

Let's start an open thread for kicks. I won't call it an End of GEOS thread, but if you have have something to add, comment on it here.

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