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Japan: Alpha Blogger Awards 2008 (Part 2)

Starting December 24th, the Alpha Blogger website called for people to nominate 1-3 blog entries written in 2008 that had affected them the most. Mid-term results were announced on January 16th, and voting was open until February 18th. The blog entries that received the most votes won the Alpha Blogger Award. Visitors of the site can read the nominations that the voters sent in by clicking on the “ABA” icon next to each winning entry. The website also has a list of URLs of people that blogged about the what and why of their nominations.

For more background information on the awards, read Japan: Looking back on 2008 from GV, which features translated comments from the organizer.

Without further ado, here's Part 2 of the winning blog entries. (Read Part 1 here.)

7) Looking back on Ichiro Ozawa's Speech and Behavior (小沢一郎氏の初当選からの言動を振り返る)

A list of quotes from Ichiro Ozawa by Rui Abiru, a veteran political reporter for Sankei Shimbun, who went through five scrapbooks from the archives of Sankei Shimbun that cover Ichiro Ozawa from when he was first elected at the age of 27.

Abiru starts with this gem from 1969:

「老齢化で動脈硬化の状態にある国会に若い世代の代表として新風を吹き込みたい。父(故小沢佐重喜氏)に負けない立派な政治家となり、支持者の期待に応えたい。70年代の日本はわれわれヤングパワーの時代。それだけに責任の重大さを痛感します。若さと駆け引きのない清潔さを売りものに、ばりばりとやっていきたい」

As a representative of the younger generation, I want to blow new wind into the National Diet, which is in a state of arteriosclerosis from old age. I want to be a great politician like my father (the late Seiki Ozawa) and live up to the expectations of my supporters. The 70s is our age, the age of ‘young power (ヤングパワー)’. I feel the heaviness of our responsibility. With youth and purity as my weapons, I will give it my all.

to which he comments:

誰にでも若いときはあるのですよねえ。それにしてもヤングか。時代を感じます。

Everyone was young once. “Young (ヤング)”… haven't used that one in a while.

8) It's Heizo Takenaka's Privatization of the Postal Services that is “Fundamentally Wrong”> (「根本的に誤っている」のは竹中平蔵氏、の歪んだ「郵政民営化」)

Economic analyst Kazuhide Uekusa on the privatization of postal services, and why the company should be reviewed.

日本郵政は今回の「かんぽの宿」売却以外にも不動産売却を実施してきており、また、巨大不動産を開発する方針を示してもいる。日本郵政保有資産は紛れもない国民資産である。その貴重な国民資産が一部の特定勢力によって「私物化」=「利権化」されている現実が浮かび上がっている。

“Kampo no Yado” is not the only real estate deal for Japan Post Holdings, which has also proposed large-scale real estate development projects. The assets of Japan Post Holdings unquestionably belong to the public, and it is becoming clear that these valuable assets are becoming “privatized, i.e. converted to spoils” for one group of people.

このような重大問題が浮上するなかであればなおさら、「郵政民営化の見直し」は不可欠である。小泉元首相や竹中元郵政民営化担当相の慌てふためいて見える、激しい反応が、「郵政民営化」に対する疑念を拡大させている。

With these issues becoming clearer, there is all the more reason to “review the privatization of postal services”. The seemingly wild rebuttals by former prime minister Koizumi and Mr. Takenaka, former Minister of State for Privatization of the Postal Services, fan our suspicions.

明確に認識しなければならない重要な事実は、「株式会社形態に移行した後は、日本郵政経営者の判断がすべてであり、所管官庁や政治家が監視することは「根本的に間違っている」との、現在の所管大臣に対する反論を全国紙に掲載して恥じないような人物が、「郵政民営化」を取り仕切ってきたという恐るべき現実である。

The horrifying truth that we must recognize is that the person who had the gall to openly oppose the current minister on a nation-wide newspaper by saying “All business decisions concerning Japan Post Holdings should be made by their executives and it is ‘fundamentally wrong’ for state departments and politicians to monitor the company” is the same man that led the privatization of the postal services.

9) Toyota's Kanban System, Applied to Humans (【秋葉原無差別殺傷】人間までカンバン方式)

Blogger boiledema's thoughts on the Akihabara massacre on June 8th. Boiledema gives a personal take on the Toyota factory where
Tomohiro Kato worked, as well as the Japanese temp worker industry as a whole. This entry resonated with many in the Japanese blogosphere, and Global Voices answered the call from the Hatena community for this entry to be translated into English: Part One and Part Two.

10) The Story of how a 19 year old NEET Girl Cried with Joy when I Took Her to Kinokuniya (a major bookstore) in Sapporo (ニートの19歳女の子を札幌『紀伊国屋』に連れてったら感動して泣かれた話)

A blogger's visit with the younger sister of a friend, who hasn't left the sanctuary of her home for four years. The girl, who makes a living through Second Life, has a roomful of books ordered through Amazon. The blogger and the girl's family convince her to take a trip to Kinokunya, where she is astounded by the freedom of choice.

彼女は、ネットには全てがあると信じていた。だからこそ、外に出る必要性なども無いと感じていたのです。

Until then, she believed that anything could be found through the Internet. And that was why she simply didn't feel the need to step outside of her home.

ネットには、多くの人間が書評などを行っています。誰かが言ったから買う、とか、Amazonで人気だから買う、とか。そういう集合知によって発生する付加価値が、ネットにはほぼ必ず付いてきます。Googleから検索するという、たったそれだけの行為でも、検索順位と言う付加価値が付いて回ります。逆に本屋と言うのは、ほぼ全ての本が平等であり、どれを買うかは本人が調べ、考え、選び、そして購入に至ります。

Many people write book reviews on the Internet. You buy things because somebody said it was good, or because it was highly ranked on Amazon. Information obtained through the Internet always comes with this kind of added value through collective intelligence. Even the act of Googling comes with the added value of search rankings. On the other hand, all books are (mostly) equal at the bookstore. All decisions are made through the process of surveying, thinking, and selecting before the actual purchase.

本屋の面白さはここにあると私は思っています。だれもお勧めしないような本でも、自分が見て、ほしいと思う本はたくさんあるのです。彼女は帰りの車の中、この事に気が付いてもらえたようで、現実世界の1つの自立行為(本を誰に何も言われず買う行為)に、ある種の感動を覚えたと言ってくれました。

I think that is the joy of bookstores. You'll find that there are many books that you want to read, even if it's one that hasn't been recommended by anyone. The girl seemed to come to this realization, and she told me that she was overjoyed by this singular act of independence (buying a book without having somebody comment on it).

11) I E-mailed the Students That Were Attacking My Daughter by Name on the School Ura-Site (学校裏サイトで娘が実名で攻撃され、父としてメールを送ってみた。)

A series of posts by Kenjiro Yoshida about his experiences in dealing with school bullies that was attacking his high school daughter on an ura-site (back site), a school-wide behind-the-scenes BBS. In the past year or so, the phenomenon of ura-sites has come to light as the new hotbed for school bullying in Japan.They are especially hard to deal with because entries are anonymous and the existence of the BBS itself are often times kept a secret from parents and teachers.

Yoshida confronts the school bullies head on, saying:

自分の子供が不幸な境遇にあるのがわかりながらも無力であることほど辛いものはない。裏サイトで攻撃されている娘の父として何が出来るだろう。

There is nothing sadder than knowing that your child is going through hardship and not being able to do anything about it. What could I do as the father of a girl who was being attacked on an ura-site?

Through persistence and knowledge about the workings of the Internet, Yoshida succeeds in stopping the bullying. Meanwhile, his daughter is calm and suggests that the situation is similar to co-workers sharing a drink after work and unloading about their boss and colleagues.

Yoshida concludes the series with:

今回の私の行ってきたことが必ずしも正解ではないだろうが、皆で一生懸命考えて、これらの困難と闘うことが重要だと思っている。今回、この体験を公開したことで、「学校裏サイト」での「いじめ」にあっている子供達に少しでも役立てれば幸いだ。

The way I handled this problem might not be the “correct” answer, but I believe that it's important for everyone to think seriously about these problems and keep on fighting. I hope that publishing my experiences here will somehow help children who are being bullied on ura-sites.

12) Wasao, the Hairy Dog that I Met in the Town of Squid (イカの町で出会ったモジャモジャ犬「わさお」)

A post on mereco's travel blog through the Tohoku region. Mereco
encounters a white Akita dog in a town whose main industry is squid, and decides to name him Wasao. Her photos and storybook-like writings earned much attention throughout the blogosphere, and Wasao was featured in several TV programs as well. (There's even a T-shirt.)

4 comments

  • #10 is a great story, I wish we had noticed it at the time and translated the whole thing.

  • Lost in the Internet

    As regards #10, the girl should realize that internet is only a medium or tool to achieve one’s objective, not the objective itself. People who are too absorbed with the internet are likely to find themselves in a state of forlornness since the real world has little meaning to them. No matter how interesting the internet is, you can never replace things that only exist in the real world, such as physical interaction with the ones you hold so dear.

    • All too true. In this case, I can also easily imagine it was the other way around – the Internet was a place of salvation to the girl because the real world meant so little. This is really the loveliest way of coming out of hikikomori that I’ve ever heard…

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