John Oliver and news in Japan

Yesterday evening I was enjoying several features by John Oliver, mostly about the upcoming election in the US (Scandals), but also one of the best features I have heard from him on Guantánamo. It sadly reminded me of the completely different landscape in Japan.
news-around-the-world

Not only since the unprecedented warning to close down “biased” broadcasters by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, but ever since Abe is building up his more and more totalitarian control over the country, the freedom of press has been on shaky grounds.

Even worse, newspapers and TV outlets restrict themselves to “save” topics, which means: stupid talk shows, food, and above all praise of Japan and how good, how lovely, how great it is (Make Japan great again!). All this despite the fact that there would be a lot to rumble upon: covering up the truth around Fukushima, mountains of scandals around Olympia 2020, police brutality in Okinawa, the list is long.

Only thinking about having something remotely similar to John Oliver on TV in Japan is as unthinkable as Trump donating all his money to a charity for immigrants. Sure enough, John Oliver is one great example out of tons of rubbish in the US, sure enough, but this one example is missing in Japan.

What remains are Japanese media stations that crawl into the *** of the government, what a sad state.

(Photo credit partially due to Über Arschkriecher)

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Yukio Mishima: Patriotism (憂国)

A masterpiece by Yukio Mishima – Patriotism – the story of love and dead. A short story about the double suicide of a Lieutenant and his wife following the Ni Ni Roku Incident where some parts of the military tried to overthrow government and military leaders. Although Lieutenant Takeyama wasn’t involved into the coup, because his friends wanted to safeguard him and his new wife, he found himself facing a fight and execution of his friends. Not being able to cope with this situation he commits suicide, followed by his wife.
mishima-patriotism

Written in 1960 by one of the most interesting writers of Japanese modern history, Yukio Mishima, this book and the movie made by Mishima himself, are very disturbing images of the relation between human and state. Continue reading

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Suki Kim – Without You, There Is No Us

A book that goes further behind the walls that surround North Korea than anything else I have seen. Suki Kim managed to squeeze herself, American-Korean, into a English teaching job at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and reports her experiences during two visits there.

suki-kim_without-you

Most of us in the connected world are well aware about the incredibly backwardness of North Korea, and the harsh living conditions despite the praise that is bombarded onto us through the official channels. But reading about the incredibly underdeveloped students at PUST, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the elite of the country, who never heard about the most basic techniques, is still surprising.

Time there seemed to pass differently. When you are shut off from the world, every day is exactly the same as the one before. This sameness has a way of wearing down your soul until you become nothing but a breathing, toiling, consuming thing that awakes to the sun and sleeps at the dawning of the dark.

Another very disturbing part of this book are the short but intensive looks into the country side, when excursions or shopping trips were scheduled. They lay open a barren land, with Gulag like working conditions and permanent shortage of proper food.

I have been aware about the situation in North Korea, but reading about it from a very special perspective gave me the shivers.

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さよなら幽霊塔

6年以上北陸先端科学技術大学院大学の同じオフィスで働いていた。去年度先端大学は僕の契約を延長してくれなかった。4月からバカな研究員の契約になって、週4時間だけでバイトしている。4月から今週まで自分のオフィスを使えていたけど、これもオシマイだ。これで僕が好きな幽霊塔から離れている。
yureito1

幽霊塔というのは簡単に説明できるよ:僕以外そこにいる研究者は一人だけだ。この人に六年半前に日本に呼ばれたんだけど、彼も退職して、たまに大学行って研究してる。

yureito2これからこの幽霊塔で彼は一人で過ごさないといけないことになった。僕自身はこの幽霊塔の生活を楽しんでいたけど、たまに他の人と話すことも大事だと思ったんだ。これからそれは幽霊塔の中では全く無い。

面白いことは、去年僕らの幽霊塔の隣に新しい塔を建てても、誰も入ってい来ない感じだった。全く。先端大学は経済的にちょっと複雑な時間を漂ってるけど、誰も要らない塔を建つ余裕がまだ一杯ありそうだった。その代わりにうちに契約を延長してくれなかった。おめでとう!

yureito3冗談じゃないよ。この幽霊塔の中、オフィスが約50ありますよ!なんだけど、誰もいない。。。そしてこれからもう一人がなくなる。将来的にこの幽霊塔の使い方を楽しみにしてる!ホテルかな?いない学生のアパートかな?誰も参加していない部活の集合室かな?実は全くわからないけど、先端大学の偉いマナジャーは絶対に分かってるぞ。確信してるよ。

大変な時期で上司に信じないといけないことだろう!?でも、文句を言いたくない。新しいオフィスをもらったから、まだ普通の大学生活を送ることができる。もちろん、移ることは大変だったけど、まー、いっぱいを捨てって、良い機会だった。一つ気になることがある:これから僕の昔の先生は、全く一人でこの幽霊塔で、大丈夫かな??でもね、仕様がない、上司に信じないといけない。どんなにバカだとおもっても。。。

残ってることはいい思い出だ。うちのポストドックとの時間、いい研究した時間、先端大学の為に無駄に頑張った時間。新世界だ。僕はドヴォルザークを聞く方が好きだ。

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Foreigners in Japan are evil …

…at least what Tokyo Shinjuku ward belives. They have put out a very nice brochure about how to behave as a foreigner in Japan: English (local copy) and Japanese (local copy). Nothing in there is really bad, but the tendency is so clear that it makes me think – what on earth do you believe we are doing in this country?
foreigners

Now what is so strange on that? And if you have never lived in Japan you will probably not understand. But reading through this pamphlet I felt like a criminal from the first page on. If you don’t want to read through it, here a short summary:

  • The first four pages (1-4) deal with manner, accompanying penal warnings for misbehavior.
  • Pages 5-16 deal with criminal records, stating the amount of imprisonment and fines for strange delicti.
  • Pages 17-19 deal with residence card, again paired with criminal activity listings and fines.
  • Pages 20-23 deal with reporting obligations, again ….
  • And finally page 24 gives you phone numbers for accidents, fires, injury, and general information.

So if you count up, we have 23 pages of warnings, and 1 (as in *one*) page of practical information. Do I need to add more about how we foreigners are considered in Japan?

Just a few points about details:

  • In the part on manner, not talking on the phone in public transport is mentioned – I have to say, after many years here I am still waiting to see the first foreigner talking on the phone loudly, while Japanese regularly chat away at high volume.
  • Again in the manner section, don’t make noise in your flat – well, I lived 3 years in an apartment where the one below me enjoyed playing loud music in the car till late in the night, as well as moving furniture at 3am.
  • Bicycle riding – ohhhh, bicycle riding – those 80+ people meandering around the street, and the school kids driving 4 next to each other. But hey, we foreigners are required to do differently. Not that any police officer ever stopped a Japanese school kid for that …
  • I just realized that I was doing illegal things for long time – withdrawing money using someone else’s cash card! Damned, it was my wife’s, but still, too bad 🙁

I accept the good intention of the Shinjuku ward to bring forth a bit of warnings and guidance. But the way it was done – it speaks volumes about how we foreigners are treated – second class.

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Armenia and Turkey – Erdoğan did it again

It is 101 years to the day that Turkey started the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide. And Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the populistic and seemingly maniac president of Turkey, does not drop any chance to continue the shame of Turkey.

armenien-genocide

After having sued a German comedian of making fun of him – followed promptly by an as shameful cowtow of Merkel by allowing the jurisdiction to start prosecuting Jan Böhmermann, heis continuing suing other journalists, and above all putting pressure on the European Community to not support a concert tour of the Dresdner Sinfoniker in memoriam of the genocide.

European Values have disappeared, and politicians pay stupid tribute to a dictator-like Erdoğan who is destroying free speech and free media, not only in his country but all around the world. Must be a good friend of Abe, both are installing anti-freedom laws.

Shame on Europe for this. And Turkey, either vote Erdoğan out of office, or you should not (and hopefully will never) be allowed into the EC, because you don’t belong there.

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就職活動

昨日僕の大学の契約が切れてしまった。これまで6年半北陸先端科学技術大学院大学で准教授として務めていたが、新年度から延長されないことになった。従って、新しい勤め先を探しているー僕の年齢を見るとあまりよろしくない。5年の件を潜脱した先端大学へ感謝!

shuushoku

大学の関係の興味は研究と教育である。研究の分野は数学論理学、基礎情報学、形式論理など。最近カリー・ハワード同型対応をゲーデル論理とハイパーシーケント計算へ拡張の研究している。研究と教育について、詳細は「論理」から閲覧できる。

次の興味点はソフトウェア開発である。長年、オープンソース・プロジェクトの開発に積極的に携わってきた。多くのユーザーを抱える複数のソフトウェア開発に関与しており、その幅は学術的なものから産業に利用されている実用的なものに至るまで様々である。詳細は「software projects」から閲覧できる。

そのうえ、最近父親になったから、大学ならば、北陸地方で、ソフトウェア開発者として、リモートで働ける勤め先は一番いい。

誰かがいい提案があれば、是非教えてください。とりあえずハローワークと赤ちゃんとの生活を楽しんでいる。

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Searching for a job

Yesterday my contract with my university JAIST ended. I was working there as Associate Professor for 6.5 years, but the university decided not to extend my contract (financial problems, foreigner in Japan). That means, I am now out on the job market again – not the greatest fun for an academic at my age. Thanks to JAIST for circumventing the ominous 5-year clause of permanent employment.
shuushoku

My prime interests are academic work, that is research and teaching, where research is in a variety of fields, mostly mathematical logic, theoretical computer science, and formal methods. Recently I am working on an extension of the Curry-Howard correspondence to cover different calculi, in particular Hyper Sequent Calculi, and relate them to some kind of process algebra. For more details see the logic dedicated page.

My other focal point is programming and software development, where I have contributed to many open source projects, and act as main developer of the TeX Live infrastructure and distribution system (tlmgr). Main languages are Perl, PHP, C, but also Python, Vala, Lisp, CafeOBJ, and whatever comes around. For more details see the software page.

I recently became father, so I would prefer either an academic position in Hokuriku, Japan, or a software developer position where I can work (most of the time) remotely.

In case one of the readers here has some hints, please drop me a line. In the meantime I enjoy my unemployed life with my baby!

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – refugees acceptance

Coming from a country that has taken lots of refugees, especially in the years after the second world war (although not any more), and while living in Japan still feeling connected to Europe and what is going on there, the current situation of refugees from the near east gives lots of material to think about. One of these things recently was passed around on various SNS sites. It is about the number of refugees a “country can accept”.

refugees

The situation is difficult, and after an initial wave of empathy it seems that especially governments are retracting and trying to stop the influx of refugees:

We cannot accommodate any more refugees in Europe, that’s not possible.
Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France

I am well aware about the difficult situation in Europe, and consider the dealing with the refugee crisis the biggest challenge of these decade.

In this blog, without many words, I only want to focus on how Japan deals with refugees. Europe might be bad, but Japan – I am bare of words.

Lebanon European Community Japan
Population 4.467.000 (2013) 503.000.000 127.300.000 (2013)
Refugees 2015 ~1.000.000 850.000 27
Ratio 4.4 : 1 590 : 1 4714814 : 1

Sources of the data:

No words are necessary.

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