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Old 2008-07-19, 01:32   Link #721
Autumn Demon
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Questions about Japanese politics:

I've heard that because of Japan's voting system, rural voters have three times the voting power as urban voters. Is it really that bad?

Also, do factions within one party compete against each other in elections in the same constituencies? If not, how is it decided which faction gets their candidate on the ballot for a district? Do they have primaries?
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Old 2008-07-19, 03:01   Link #722
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumn Demon View Post
Questions about Japanese politics:

I've heard that because of Japan's voting system, rural voters have three times the voting power as urban voters. Is it really that bad?
Yes. Article 14 of the Constitution provides for the equality of individuals, which entails that each person should have equal power in voting. However, because of the rapid demographic movement from rural areas to cities, it has been often that a person in an electoral district has much more power than in another. The Supreme Court has sometimes declared the unconstitutionality of such unequal elections. It seems that the borderline between clearly unconstitutional and doubtful grey is 1:3. In the general election of 1986, the worst inequality was 1 : 2.92, and the Court did not declared its illegality (*1). In 1990, the ratio was 1 : 3.18, and the election was blamed as unconstitutional. (*2)

*1: S.C. 1988/Oct/21, Civil Cases Vol 42, No 8, p.644.
*2: S.C. 1994/Jan/20, Civil Cases Vol 47, No 1, p.67.

In principle, if the ratio exceeds 1:2, such election should be unconstitutional, I think. But the Court cares not to violate the separation of powers; the electoral legislation is under the jurisdiction of the Diet. The Court tends to refrain from exercising its decisive power unless the inequality is terribly intolerable.

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Also, do factions within one party compete against each other in elections in the same constituencies? If not, how is it decided which faction gets their candidate on the ballot for a district? Do they have primaries?
Under the today's electoral system for House of Representatives, which is called 小選挙区制 or system of small electoral districts, one party nominates only one candidate to a district. Japan has also proportional representative system (for the House of Councillors and a part of House of Representatives), but in this case, each party must make a list of nominees; each candidate is numbered for priority.

Before 1993, the members of House of Representatives had been elected in a system called 中選挙区制 or system of middle electoral districts. More than one candidates were elected in one district. Under this system, factions frequently fought each other. Sometimes the internal troubles caused other parties' victory.
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Old 2008-07-19, 13:40   Link #723
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Here's a question I've been wanting to ask for a while, but haven't quite got around to doing because I don't quite know what I'm asking for.

I've noticed, for some time, a common theme in several anime I've watched (eg, Haibane Renmei, Mushishi, Planetes, Spirited Away, and more recently, Natsume Yuujinchou). I'm referring to these anime's emphasis on cherishing the emotional bonds between people, a bond that transcends time and distance, something profoundly humanistic that borders on the religious.

For a secular individual like me, I find the meme particularly appealing. It seems to me to be a powerful — yet simple and obvious — way to conduct our lives, without direct reference to religion. So my question, I suppose, would be whether this idea has a name, the same way there is a name for the Japanese aesthetic of impermanance (wabi-sabi). I'd like to know, because I'd like to find out more about it if I can.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2008-07-19 at 13:56.
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Old 2008-07-19, 22:03   Link #724
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
So my question, I suppose, would be whether this idea has a name, the same way there is a name for the Japanese aesthetic of impermanance (wabi-sabi). I'd like to know, because I'd like to find out more about it if I can.
I think it is what I call kizuna (きずな). It derives from きつな (ki-tsuna / living cable) and means the mental connection between you and your precious persons.

The kanji is 絆, but I think the ancient Japanese people associated wrongly the continental notion with the japanese word. 絆 as an ideogram signifies wire to bind livestock! Some authors prefer to write it in kana.

Japanese sometimes refer to the idea of 縁 (えにし enishi, or en). Human beings are mutually dependent, connected by the link of causality. We are living in the web of inter-relationship. The idea came originally from Buddhism (Pratītyasamutpāda), but it has obtained broader context in the island. You see it is one of the main themes of XXXHOLiC.

Last edited by LiberLibri; 2008-07-19 at 22:38.
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Old 2008-07-20, 04:01   Link #725
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I've noticed, for some time, a common theme in several anime I've watched (eg, Haibane Renmei, Mushishi, Planetes, Spirited Away, and more recently, Natsume Yuujinchou). I'm referring to these anime's emphasis on cherishing the emotional bonds between people, a bond that transcends time and distance, something profoundly humanistic that borders on the religious.
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Originally Posted by LiberLibri View Post
I think it is what I call kizuna (きずな). It derives from きつな (ki-tsuna / living cable) and means the mental connection between you and your precious persons.
Ironically enough, this years shippuuden movie in Japan is entitled 'kizuna' with the kanji mentioned below. Lots of big emphasis on the entire NarutoxSasuke relationship, which seeing the result of that 3 year reunion, kinda sends an interesting message to the kids of japan perhaps.
The emotional bonds between people probably don't transcend past the world characters live in, within shounen anime (another example is Gash Bell) - but the emphasis on the importance of honouring and striving hard to keep the bonds alive to someone who at one time gave importance to your life is something i see rienforced over and over.
If your closest friends (or family) stray too far to the point of destroying themselves, how much of your life will you (or should you) be willing to give and devote to bringing them back?

It's an interesting aspect to impart onto the kids and youth of Japan; how much it actually influences and inspires peeps over there is another topic to be looked at. I can't help but think we as foriegners analyse anime more so, than the average japanese who may just see it as a form of entertainment.

Quote:
The kanji is 絆, but I think the ancient Japanese people associated wrongly the continental notion with the japanese word. 絆 as an ideogram signifies wire to bind livestock! Some authors prefer to write it in kana.
And here was i thinking it was mainly japanese language students who made a hobby of breaking kanji to pieces an literally translating them for giggles.
The radical seems to be 'ito' (string) which was easy enough to remember 'bond' as a concept, but isn't the right part of that kanji the same for 'han'? Since the vertical stroke crosses through the two horizontal ones, was kinda confused when you mentioned 'livestock'.

But thanks for the wiki link libri, rather thanks for the question redleaf. i kinda thought it an awesome one when you asked, it's something i'm kinda curious to investigate into myself
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Old 2008-07-20, 12:57   Link #726
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Quote:
Japanese sometimes refer to the idea of 縁 (えにし enishi, or en). Human beings are mutually dependent, connected by the link of causality. We are living in the web of inter-relationship. The idea came originally from Buddhism (Pratītyasamutpāda), but it has obtained broader context in the island. You see it is one of the main themes of XXXHOLiC.
Wow, the things you find out about your own thoughts. I've never heard of that, but I always had it in the back of my mind, given my belief in social determinism. I guess all these years of watching anime helped form my ideas quite a bit. Which is probably also the reason why I always found the importance American culture gives to the power of the individual (super heroes are a perfect example of this) quite unappealing.
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Old 2008-07-20, 14:55   Link #727
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An interesting parallel can be found in MMOs when class types are structured to work best in groups for PvP. For lack of a better description, American youth seem to always be wanting to be individually powerful and whine like a sack of kittens if their characters have to depend on other characters. They want to be sole centers of destruction. "Age of Conan" is an MMO designed (at least initially) for interlocking group PvP and the moans and whines have been in overdrive about "class balance" when they really mean "I can't create a cookie cutter solution that I can gank anything that moves all by myself to boost my e-ego".

The connections being more vital than the "nodes" (the self)... is one of my favorite philosophical concepts. I'm glad someone pointed out "enishi" because I'd heard of that while "kizuna" is a new word to me. Thanks, LL
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Old 2008-07-20, 23:00   Link #728
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiberLibri
I think it is what I call kizuna (きずな). It derives from きつな (ki-tsuna / living cable) and means the mental connection between you and your precious persons.

Japanese sometimes refer to the idea of 縁 (えにし enishi, or en). Human beings are mutually dependent, connected by the link of causality. We are living in the web of inter-relationship. The idea came originally from Buddhism (Pratītyasamutpāda), but it has obtained broader context in the island. You see it is one of the main themes of XXXHOLiC.
I owe you a cookie.

I suspected the theme/tradition had a Buddhist source, because it reminded me strongly of how karma actually works. Many people tend to misunderstand karma to mean predestined fate, when it is actually more similar to Newton's Third Law of Motion, ie, "every action has an equal an opposite reaction".

Unfortunately, googling kizuna leads me to yayoi-ai, while enishi leads me to a page about one of Rurouni Kenshin's adversaries. Guess I'll have to look elsewhere. I don't suppose Vexx has relevant links to offer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystique
And here was i thinking it was mainly japanese language students who made a hobby of breaking kanji to pieces an literally translating them for giggles.
Breaking a kanji/hanzi into its component radicals is often one of the ways to learn/memorise a word. Take the Chinese character for snake ( 蛇 : pronounced "sh'e" in hanyu pinyin), for example. The character is slightly unusual, because unlike many words, it doesn't have a phonetic radical and a "meaning" radical. However, it's actually very easy to remember the word because,

虫 = "worm" ("ch'ong")
它 = "it" ("ta")

Therefore, "it is a worm", aka, "snake".

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2008-07-21 at 05:34. Reason: grammar
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Old 2008-07-20, 23:24   Link #729
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I guess "yuan" (缘) and "qian ban" (牵绊) are some things which are shared in East Asia. I think of "qian ban" as the "ties that bind", while "yuan" is something which is as much predestined as how much one takes charge of his own actions.
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Old 2008-07-21, 07:36   Link #730
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I owe you a cookie.

I suspected the theme/tradition had a Buddhist source, because it reminded me strongly of how karma actually works. Many people tend to misunderstand karma to mean predestined fate, when it is actually more similar to Newton's Third Law of Motion, ie, "every action has an equal an opposite reaction".

Unfortunately, googling kizuna leads me to yayoi-ai, while enishi leads me to a page about one of Rurouni Kenshin's adversaries. Guess I'll have to look elsewhere. I don't suppose Vexx has relevant links to offer?



Breaking a kanji/hanzi into its component radicals is often one of the ways to learn/memorise a word. Take the Chinese character for snake ( 蛇 : pronounced "sh'e" in hanyu pinyin), for example. The character is slightly unusual, because unlike many words, it doesn't have a phonetic radical and a "meaning" radical. However, it's actually very easy to remember the word because,

虫 = "worm" ("ch'ong")
它 = "it" ("ta")

Therefore, "it is a worm", aka, "snake".
I know, i was just making a mild joke about the literally translating part. Most classes will teach you how to search for kanji via counting strokes, use of radicals and a few other methods too. The step we (gainjin students) take further is to start giving meanings for the pieces we can see.

Example: many (times) a woman is over a heart = to be angry. (okoru is made up of mata + woman + heart)
(actually I'm convinced the chinese creators of their writing system 3000 years (or so) back weren't so women friendly, but its not like women had much power in the world anyways)

Another one some friends thought to rub in my face was the woman under a roof = cheap. Although yes it also means 'safe' but you get the idea, lol.
(wonder if this should go into learning japanese part now)
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Old 2008-07-21, 12:52   Link #731
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Breaking a kanji/hanzi into its component radicals is often one of the ways to learn/memorise a word. Take the Chinese character for snake ( 蛇 : pronounced "sh'e" in hanyu pinyin), for example. The character is slightly unusual, because unlike many words, it doesn't have a phonetic radical and a "meaning" radical. However, it's actually very easy to remember the word because,

虫 = "worm" ("ch'ong")
它 = "it" ("ta")

Therefore, "it is a worm", aka, "snake".
No, it's pretty clear that the right half is the phonetic portion, which also happens to be semantically significant -- otherwise, the Japanese On readings of "ta" or "da" would be pretty unlikely. Most probably, the pronunciation of the character shifted in China after the fact (and was brought into Japanese again, this time as "sha"/"ja").
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Old 2008-07-21, 20:53   Link #732
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Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
It's an interesting aspect to impart onto the kids and youth of Japan; how much it actually influences and inspires peeps over there is another topic to be looked at. I can't help but think we as foriegners analyse anime more so, than the average japanese who may just see it as a form of entertainment.
Agreed.
Some years ago, the belief that "gaijin" never understands anime was widely shared among those in the business. It is natural for them to think so, if you know, for example, the shock in Nausicaa and Millennium Actress. In other words, they thought foreign anime viewers were nothing better than the innocent Orientalists of the 18C Europe. These days, however, some of the sharpest analysis on anime come from the foreign communities. Once I've seen a Polish state his opinion on Code Geass from the perspective of ex- Client state in reality and I found it very interesting.

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[..] Which is probably also the reason why I always found the importance American culture gives to the power of the individual (super heroes are a perfect example of this) quite unappealing.
The admiration for supermen based on the strong sense of self has been one of the main forces that have driven the development of sports, science and capitalistic economy. And, communitarian philosophy may entail the irresponsibility of each individual, as you see in the attitude of Japanese people when some bad "accidents" occur to them. So, you need the virtue of mesotes here. My teacher at the secondary school insisted frequently that Japanese should have stronger ego (like Americans!) in order to compete in the international society.

Last edited by LiberLibri; 2008-07-22 at 01:04. Reason: misspelling
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Old 2008-07-22, 00:19   Link #733
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Originally Posted by LiberLibri View Post
Agreed.
Some years ago, the belief that "gaijin" never understands anime was widely shared among those in the business. It is natural for them to think so, if you know, for example, the shock in Nausicaa and Millennium Actress. In other words, they thought foreign anime viewers were nothing better than the innocent olientalists of the 18C Europe. These days, however, some of the sharpest analysis on anime come from the foreign communities. Once I've seen a Polish state his opinion on Code Geass from the perspective of ex- Client state in reality and I found it very interesting.
In my opinion it seems that anime here is really "tainted" by the American culture. I know we find it fascinating and everything, but it just seems like a lot of people go to great lengths to even an obsession with anime, manga, and Japanese culture. For some reason that makes me feel weird when encountering these type of people. I feel like asking "Are you just interested in anime or do you know anything else about Japan's culture?" Then again, I can't judge a book by it's cover, figuratively speaking.
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Old 2008-07-22, 02:19   Link #734
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An interest in japanese culture leads one to anime, manga, and other interesting things.

It doesn't appear that an interest in anime leads very many to the rest of japanese culture or even the language much ... at least that's been my observiation.
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Old 2008-07-22, 10:26   Link #735
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
An interest in japanese culture leads one to anime, manga, and other interesting things.

It doesn't appear that an interest in anime leads very many to the rest of japanese culture or even the language much ... at least that's been my observiation.
I would have to be the exception to your case (and to a few others). At least in the UK, where a lot of awareness in japanese mythology, religion and social studies comes from analysing anime, film and manga, there are a few groups that organise workshops and some uni's have seperate modules on 'japanese mass media' using anime, film and manga to interpret and see what brits can learn about japan through some of the symbolism and ideology used by the directors.

A lot of people here also in turn, love japanese food and general culture and langauge but have no interest (or knowledge) in anime or manga (for fear of the otaku/geek brand) as well as it being very rare over here.
We've been told (the anime community over here) that we're kinda at where America used to be about 10 years ago, a fairly small but friendly community. (Also a very very small world, lol)

- so it's different kinds over here
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Old 2008-07-22, 13:07   Link #736
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I'll call it an observed trend line in America rather than a rule.
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Old 2008-07-22, 13:14   Link #737
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Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
I would have to be the exception to your case (and to a few others). At least in the UK, where a lot of awareness in japanese mythology, religion and social studies comes from analysing anime, film and manga, there are a few groups that organise workshops and some uni's have seperate modules on 'japanese mass media' using anime, film and manga to interpret and see what brits can learn about japan through some of the symbolism and ideology used by the directors.

A lot of people here also in turn, love japanese food and general culture and langauge but have no interest (or knowledge) in anime or manga (for fear of the otaku/geek brand) as well as it being very rare over here.
We've been told (the anime community over here) that we're kinda at where America used to be about 10 years ago, a fairly small but friendly community. (Also a very very small world, lol)

- so it's different kinds over here
Thats of interesting iv heard that the UK anime scene is slowly but steadily growing. In my case i become interested in Japanese culture, history and mythology after i went there with my parents for a business trip then i started getting into anime and the Otaku sub-culture.
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Old 2008-07-22, 15:39   Link #738
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In my opinion it seems that anime here is really "tainted" by the American culture. I know we find it fascinating and everything, but it just seems like a lot of people go to great lengths to even an obsession with anime, manga, and Japanese culture. For some reason that makes me feel weird when encountering these type of people. I feel like asking "Are you just interested in anime or do you know anything else about Japan's culture?" Then again, I can't judge a book by it's cover, figuratively speaking.
Speaking for myself, this was what I wrote last year:

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Japan serves as my model of a truly modern East Asian society. Japanese culture is a fascinating combination of old and new, East and West. A culture that eagerly borrows ideas and technologies from abroad, while patiently adapting them into something uniquely Japanese.

When I try to imagine how various developing East Asian societies will look like in the future, I inevitably end up with a version of modern Japan. Hence my interest in Japan's culture and history.
Anime, I find, is one of many possible ways to learn about Japan. I strongly believe that some of the greatest creative talents in Japan today are working in animation, and I haven't been shy about telling others about this opinion. That said, I prefer anime over American TV simply because I find Japanese story-telling more entertaining.

Japanese culture, to me, is a very peculiar creature — strange yet familiar at the same time. Familiar because of its Chinese/Confucian/Buddhist traits; strange because of its uniquely Japanese quirks. I've read that the Japanese are very worried about losing their national identity because of rampant Westernisation. Yet, from what I've seen, it appears that Japan has done it again — it borrowed extensively from a foreign culture and made its ideas and technology their own.

I think sociologists have a name for this phenomenon: Syncretism.

If Japan can do it, I see no reason why other East Asian societies can't. The Chinese should not forget that some of their pre-revolutionary scholars were influenced by Meiji Japan, such as Kang Youwei. It happened in the past, and Japan, despite its present flaws, can still serve as a model for the future.
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Old 2008-07-23, 04:46   Link #739
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The contact of eastern heritage with western ideas has surely promoted the prosperity in storytelling in the island. However, the people had cherished fantasy tales long before the overseas influence got so enormous. You know, one of the most ancient novels was written there. I sometimes imagine the structure of their language, so scene- and emotion-oriented, might have formed the love to imagination (given Sapir-Whorf is valid). It is interesting that although they have created "visual" arts, either material or imaginary, they could not foster their own tradition of music, which requires the sense of multilateral progression.

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If Japan can do it, I see no reason why other East Asian societies can't. The Chinese should not forget that some of their pre-revolutionary scholars were influenced by Meiji Japan, such as Kang Youwei. It happened in the past, and Japan, despite its present flaws, can still serve as a model for the future.
Also as a bad precedence. I hope other Asian countries won't follow Japan in the areas like concession-hunting democracy.
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Old 2008-07-29, 20:01   Link #740
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Diverting to a more silly happier bit of culture: the Shibukawa Belly Button Festival, wherein the geographic "navel" of Japan has a party about it every year in late July.

Head straight for the associated youtube video in the article:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-w...5875-20676089/
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