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975003.  Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:07 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has revealed the results of a poll in Japan about whaling.

Out of 1,200 people, 26.8% support whaling, 18.5% are against whaling, and the remaining 54.7% "expressed no opinion".

My favourite bit about this story is the picture that accompanied it in The Japan Times, as seemingly they could find caucasian people to protest against it, and given just how much of a monoculture Japan is you'd think they would find at least one native Japanese person to photograph.

I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's already illegal in Japan to whale for any other reason but to research the whales. However it's okay to sell the "research" whale, so they just whale pretending it's for research.

975031.  Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:58 am Reply with quote

Welcome aahaavis :-)

975825.  Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:45 pm Reply with quote

Many Japanese culturally and linguistically treat whales as big fish. This is bound to affect their perception of whale hunting.

976148.  Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:41 pm Reply with quote

In ep 7 of the G season Stephen Fry said that there is a secret language in Japan called "babibubebo".
He probably just means the phonetic "kana"-writing that was in the beginning used only by women. Now that's a very interesting subject, and maybe might be a good idea for the K series.

Japanese has five vowels: a, i, u, e and o. We see our alphabets in the order abcd and so on. They have the phonetic character sets (there are two different kana systems, hiragana and katakana) in the following order:
a i u e o ka ki ku ke ko sa shi su se so ta chi tsu...
and so on, and thats where you could find ba bi bu be bo. But it's not the name of the writing system. Morover, men have always been about as capable of reading and writing it as women, it wasn't a secret language. It's just that men weren't originally allowed to write it, because it was not sophisticated. Unfortunately this made all Japanese the men wrote incomprehensible, as Japanese cannot be well written without the help of the phonetic characters between the bigger characters borrowed from china called kanji in japan, hanji in china (meaning the characters of the Han-dynasty)
This is why around 9th-12th century, the time when Japanese classical culture was blooming, most of the good writers were women, ladies of the court who were highly educated in Chinese literature and art.
There was a man called Ki no Tsurayuki who wrote a diary called Tosa Nikki. He wrote it anonymously around the end of the 10th century using the kana transcript only women used. He did so to be able to write clear Japanese text with more freedom. In the beginning of it he wrote: "Usually it is the business of men to write diaries, but this time a woman shall try to do so too."

Nowadays men write them as much as women. They are necessary for Japanese grammar, but writing wouldn't be possible only in kana either. A lot of westerners ask why the difficult kanji are necessary. Why do Japanese people need to learn thousands of characters and their difficult ways of usage instead of just the 90 kana characters? And why two sets of the Kana characters? Why not just 45?

The answer is: because there are just so many homophonic words.
It would be hard, in some cases impossible to distinquish them in writing without the different characters for them.
The second kana set is also necessary. One of them is for writing the grammar bits between the Kanjis and some common words that for some reason are no longer written with the Kanji. The other set is used mainly for foreign words and names. Without it it would be sometimes easy to mistake them for the grammar of the word or at least the reading would be slowed down as the foreignness would not be apparent from the beginning of the word.

The kana are also used to write childrens books as it takes many years to be able to read the usual text.

I'm not sure about this but I believe that Japanese is the only language that is written by using both phonetic and logographic characters in the same script.

(Oh, and although there kind of is just 45 characters to both kana sets, there are more phonemes than that. Most of the characters can get two little dots to the upper right hand corner. That means the consonants in them become voiced. the characters for ha hi fu he ho are unique in that they can also get a different kind of voicing, signified with a little ball in the upper right hand corner.)

(By the way, Finnish people find it funny when I say I'm studying kana-writing, because in Finnish "kana" means "chiken". So they think I'm studying the language of chiken.)

976157.  Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:04 pm Reply with quote

Oh... I watched the part again, and noticed that he said "amusing nonsense language" not "secret language"

I don't know whether there really is something like that, I've heard many different Japanese words for speaking nonsense. Maybe this one might have something to do with baby talk? I can very well imagine baby talk sounding like "babibubebo" for the Japanese.

976211.  Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:36 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for that, aahaavis :-)

976556.  Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:57 am Reply with quote

QI are the large number of economic, political, cultural and territorial disputes between Japan and South Korea.

Ian Dunn
976561.  Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:09 am Reply with quote

Japan seems to have disputes with just about all of its neighbours. Not just Korea, but there was the recent disputes with China, and the often mentioned dispute with Russia and the Kuril Islands (along with the possible idea that the two countries have still not quite ended World War II yet).

982574.  Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:11 am Reply with quote

The dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku islands is still causing tensions between the two countries. This may have prompted North Korea's recent aggresive behaviour. Japan is looking towards India as another country concerned about China's expansion policies on its doorstep.

982644.  Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:24 am Reply with quote

I think the disputes Japan has with China or Korea need to be understood as disputes that are viewed differently by Japan and others.

In Japanese media and parliament you will often get a slight wonderment at the hostility they see in some of the disputes, and some of it is down to either ignorance because students are taught very little about Japan's attempts at expansion in the early 20th century, or because some people are in denial over some of the harsh treatment their previous generations meted out.

In China, Korea and Taiwan these are taught with added emphasis.

Ian Dunn
982702.  Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:52 pm Reply with quote

There was a story about this subject on the BBC News website a few days ago.

It is strange to think that because so little about World War II is taught in Japanese schools that possibly the most commonly used source in Japan about WWII for many people might well be this.

991626.  Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:36 pm Reply with quote

There are quite a few very similar sounding words in Japanese. These two are only differentiated by how long you "hold" the vowel sound, but are otherwise pronounced the same.

shujin = husband
shuujin = prisoner

shoojo = girl
shojo = virgin girl

Some are differentiated by where the inflection list. Oxytonic stress or paraoxytonic stress. I don't know what kind of stress you people want...

nihon = Japan
nihon = two sticks

hashi = chopsticks
hashi = bridge
(be sure you get this right with your contractor!)

Ian Dunn
991631.  Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:19 am Reply with quote

Troux wrote:
shoojo = girl
shojo = virgin girl

Shōjo is also the genre of manga marketed at girls. So if you go to Japan to buy some, you have to be extra careful how you pronounce it.

Sadurian Mike
991698.  Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:02 am Reply with quote

This is not an aircraft carrier, which the Japanese Marine Self Defence Force is prohibited from possessing, it is a destroyer.


The Japanese are prohibited from having an offensive military capability, which means that they are not allowed, amongst other weapon systems, offensive aircraft carriers.

Much debate has gone into what the difference between an offensive and a defensive carrier actually is, and the Japanese have interpreted it as meaning that they can have light carriers. To avoid international (read; US) condemnation of breaking the terms of their prohibition, however, the Hyuga class of ships are classified as Helicopter Destroyers (DDH).

They are in the same category as the British Invincible class carriers (which were sneaked through parliament by being classed as 'through-deck cruisers'), although the current lack of a ski-jump means that they can only operate fully VTOL* aircraft, such as the Harrier, rather than STOVL** like the F-35B (although the F-35B is able to take off vertically, it is not really designed with that in mind operationally).

It ought to be noted that retro-fitting an angled deck 'ski-jump' is not really a major engineering procedure, and would make the ship fully capable of operating the F-35B.

* Vertical Take-Off and Landing.

** Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing.

997022.  Thu May 16, 2013 12:26 pm Reply with quote

The dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku islands has widened with China questioning sovereignty over Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands. Before, very much the debate amongst ultra-nationalists in China, the dispute is now receiving tacit support from some officials.


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