More updates on Amazon Japan’s child porn and abuse images

I previously posted in October about the child abuse images and pornographic materials being openly sold on Amazon (also on Rakuten and Tsutaya). An online protest was started shortly thereafter, and Amazon Japan responded by (partly) removing the most offensive items. But they didn’t go far enough, didn’t explain anything or apologize to the public for posting the items and breaking the law, and in essence tried to ignore the situation or pretend it never happened. To no avail. In January, the police raided Amazon offices in Tokyo, and revealed that they had in fact already been looking into the situation for several months (perhaps, we like to think, partly encouraged or jump-started by the fuss we raised through various online media sources).

Now it appears that they have begun “investigating” two suspects in connection with the case. Continue reading

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“International” kindergarten open day

Today we went to “open day” at a nearby “international kindergarten,” where our oldest daughter has gone for two years to Saturday classes. The previous week, our youngest daughter joined the four-hour class for the first time, but we were not allowed to watch. There were about a dozen kids ranging in age from 3 to 6, but they all seemed to enjoy singing in English, playing English card games, and responding to simple questions like “What’s your name?” and “How old are you?”

When talking about this kind of program, I always put “international” in quotation marks, because the term is still sort of a marketing catch-phrase in Japan. Continue reading

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The Joy of Reading

books1I’ve blogged a little (very little) on the fact that my daughters are growing up bilingual and bicultural — this is usually the reason they are often called “haafu” in Japan (I despise this term, but I’ve already written about it and there’s much more discussion in the upcoming book).

But I haven’t really said much about what we do to help our kids maintain both languages.

It goes without saying, naturally, that our kids speak Japanese fluently. We live in Japan. My wife is Japanese. Our relatives here are all Japanese. The kids go to a Japanese nursery school. And yet, for some reason every time we meet people…at the library, at the supermarket, in a restaurant or shopping mall…the first question they say to my oldest daughter is, “Can you speak Japanese?” As if having a non-Japanese father automatically disqualifies them from having any Japanese language ability.

Ahem. Getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

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Party Hardy, Daddy & Mommy!

This past week marked the end of the academic year in Japan (yes, the year runs from April to February, with a short break for summer in August).

The end of year comes with grades, teacher evaluations, syllabi corrections and book ordering…and farewell parties. Two of my colleagues left for greener pastures (i.e., they got tenured positions), so everybody in my department got together last night to fête and shower them with parting gifts. And naturally to gripe, commiserate, regale, story tell, and generally remind ourselves why we like to work together. Continue reading

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BREAKING NEWS: Amazon Japan offices raided

The Asahi Shinbun is reporting that on Friday, January 23, 2015, Japanese police raided the offices of Amazon Japan on suspicion of violating anti-pornography laws. This web site reported on the illegal sales of child abuse images back in October 2014, when decrying the sales of questionable material online both at Amazon Japan and Rakuten as well as their lack of responsiveness to complaints.

Now that the police are involved, I feel justified in repeating “WE TOLD YOU SO, AMAZON.” Clean this filth out, once and for all.

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Working Cover

Quick update on the book: In the end, I’ve decided to go the indie route to self-publication.

An update to the update! (2/16) It looks like I won’t be self-publishing this one after all. A small press that normally published ESL/EFL books has expressed interest in Taking Leave. We’re ironing out the details, but it looks like the goal is to start production in May, with an aim to release both print and ebook versions before the annual JALT Conference in November.

Two endorsements already, one from a gender studies expert and one from a former lieutenant governor in Japan. And naturally, all reviews and comments from other interested colleagues, parents, workers and families both at home and abroad are welcome!

Here’s another cover idea. No idea if this will be the final or not, but that’s also under negotiation!


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Nanakusa: A Japanese Epiphany? (Holidays part 3)

On January 7th, we ate nanakusa-gayu at home. Nanakusa literally means “seven grasses” and “gayu” (kayu, o-kayu) means “porridge.” So basically we ate veggie gruel to mark the official end of the Japanese New Year’s holiday season.

The custom is said to come from China in the early 3rd or 4th century CE. Like many food- and drink-related customs, this one is supposed to bring good health to those who eat it.

Continue reading

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