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I just saw this poster in my building commemorating the fact that 100 years ago in 1913, Tohoku University was the first university in Japan to admit women as students. I didn’t know that, and I am quite pleased to be working at such a progressive place (here’s hoping they’ll be progressive enough to allow me to stay on past my initial contract LOL).
This is interesting to me in two ways:
1) has women’s place in Japanese society really improved all that much in 100 years?
2) is society going to facilitate women working in the future?
It always struck me as strange that there are such structural and societal limitations on women in a democracy where they make up more than half of the electorate… but I have come to realize that a lot of the obstacles working women in Japan face come from societal expectations, often voiced by other women. Japan seems to be one of the last holdouts of the housewife mother, to an extent that I haven’t seen in Europe of the US. Specifically, I am thinking about how volunteer and community groups (like PTAs, chounaikai, sports team parent groups, etc.) make no efforts to cut working mothers any slack. If anything, they seem to pick on them, at least in my limited experience.
At the same time you get politicians making asinine comments like this and you wonder if things are going to change in the future?
Looking at Japan’s demographic future (the government projects an aging population of less than 100 million by 2050), and lack of plans for mass immigration (this is the government’s focus at the moment, but I can’t see many people applying), women seem to be the economy’s last shot…
And yet women seem to have expectations of men that are becoming increasingly unrealistic, at least according to the small sample in the link. This has been mooted as one of the main contributing factors to the low birth rate -after all, if you don’t have enough money to get married, you probably aren’t going to be having children either (or at least one would hope so).
What do you think? Is Japanese society supportive of women choosing what to do in life? Can you see it changing in the future?
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Another tangent, I’m afraid. If you don’t have an iPhone you can probably stop reading now. If you have an iPhone that is running iOS 5 or less, this may be of interest. But if you have an iPhone running iOS 6 and you haven’t downloaded the Google Maps App yet, keep reading.
I’ve been playing with the new Google Maps App on my iPhone 4S for a couple of weeks now. The short version is that it is amazing.
(it’s not just me that thinks so, either: here’s the Wall Street Journal version)
The long version:
- all the accurate data from before
- better interface
- amazing driving instructions (it’s better than any dedicated satnav I have used)
- sharpened up graphics
I’ve used it a few times while driving, and the app is amazingly user-friendly. Clear voice directions, simple screen, very user-friendly (I particularly like the way you can scroll around the map then get back to your route with a simple ‘resume’ button).
The local transport functionality is there too: this is probably the thing I use my phone for the most. When in an unfamiliar city, the app gives accurate local train and bus times and connections -so much so that I use it instead of the official websites to find times.
No negatives I have found at this time. If you don’t have it get it now -it’s free.
*this review is only talking about the Google Maps App in Japan. I haven’t had the chance to test it abroad yet
…it does. Research shows that over a certain amount (depending on your personal circumstances), more money does not make you happier, but not having enough is definitely going to put a dent in your quality of life.
I’ve been thinking about investing for a while now, but only recently did I start reading up on it. It’s a huge and fascinating subject.
For teachers, saving and investment may not seem so important, but at least for those of us in Japan, the safety and dependability of our future pensions has some quite large question marks hanging over them. Are we even going to receive a pension? If we do, is it going to be enough to live on?
Employment stability is another concern. A few years ago, I took a job where I was initially assured that I would be able to stay there indefinitely. Somewhat predictably, four years later I was abruptly given five months notice.
After I got over the shock (and it is a shock, even if you suspect it is coming) I was lucky enough to find enough part-time work through friends and contacts to keep my family housed and fed until I found another job.
However, I decided I never wanted to be put in that situation again.
Part of financial resiliency is having savings and alternate forms of income. I’m going to address both of those today.
From my reading over the last six months or so, the following key points emerged:
- until you have a substantial nest egg, how much you save is more important than how well you invest
- costs (fees, etc.) are incredibly important in the long run
- educating yourself in financial matters has a huge return on investment
I recommend the following resources as good places to start:
Andrew Hallam’s blog
Andrew is a teacher in Singapore who has amassed a seven figure portfolio while working as a teacher. He gives very simple, practical advice on how to approach investing.
Also his book, the Millionaire Teacher, is very readable.
Mr Money Mustache
Writes about early retirement, saving money and purposeful living. Extremely enjoyable read.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street does a great job of explaining investing in the stock market.
The Millionaire Fastlane is an interesting book about becoming rich quickly.
I would probably read them in that order. The blogs in particular provide lots of links to extra resources.
In Japan, one easy way to invest in international trackers and ETFs is through Rakuten Securities. Once you have managed to set up an account, you can trade online relatively cheaply.
How about you? What is your investment strategy? I’ll be posting about mine later in the month if people are interested.
After the storm of grading comes the calm of sorting papers, clearing up the office, and throwing things away.
This year I have more than usual as I am continuing my journey towards minimalism. I have hundreds of novels in my office that I am slowly disposing of, re-reading where necessary. It’s slow but enjoyable.
After last year’s earthquake, I had to move my office twice: once to temporary quarters, then to the prefabricated building we’re in now. Our actual offices are being fixed up and reinforced, and we should be able to move back by sometime next year (I say sometime because the actual date they’re supposed to be finished has already been moved back severa times).
My goal is to have very few things to move back, so that my office ends up being a peaceful and tidy place where I can work.
As you can see from the picture above, I have a long way to go.
This is only likely to be of interest to a few people in Japan, but I am one of them so I am going to go ahead and publish it.
I just got off the phone with an e-mobile supervisor called Mr. Fukunaga following a mostly polite conversation about their contract and renewal policies.
I first got a contract with e-mobile in 2008, when they were aggressively subsidizing new laptops if bought with a two-year wireless data modem contract. I enjoyed the laptop briefly, found the usb wireless modem useful for a year or so, then wireless networks appeared everywhere in my life and I forgot about it.
In 2010 e-mobile automatically renewed my contract. During a contract, you cannot cancel it without paying a 10,000 yen penalty fee. This is not particularly unusual with mobile contracts, but e-mobile ups the ante by doing the following:
1. refusing to send you monthly statements unless you pay them (and not offering email ones)
2. refusing to let you cancel your contract except during a one-month window in the year it is up for renewal
Mr. Fukunaga explained that as e-mobile ‘has so many subscribers’ they could not guarantee that they would remember not to auto-renew my contract for another two years, so I have to remember to call them back between the 1st and 30th of November. If I fail to do so, they will gladly renew my contract again for a further two years without telling me.
This is just obnoxious. Their business model seems to be based on signing people up for contracts, hoping they will forget about them, and enforcing draconian cancellation penalties if and when they do remember.
At first they were one of the only options for wireless data, but now that mi-fi devices are everywhere I would avoid this company like the plague. It probably didn’t help that it took me three tries and twenty minutes to get through their automated phone centre to talk to a person.
Anyone have anything good to say about e-mobile?