For Elderly, Echoes of World War II Horrors
( New York Times )

Hirosato Wako stared at the ruins of his small fishing hamlet: skeletons of shattered buildings, twisted lengths of corrugated steel, corpses with their hands twisted into claws. Only once before had he seen anything like it: World War II.

“I lived through the Sendai air raids,” said Mr. Wako, 75, referring to the Allied bombings of the northeast’s largest city. “But this is much worse.”

For the elderly who live in the villages lining Japan’s northeastern
coast, it is a return to a past of privation that their children have
never known. As in so much of the Japanese countryside, young people
have largely fled, looking for work in the city. The elderly who remained are facing devastation and possible radiation contamination, a challenge equal only to the task this generation faced when its defeated, despairing nation had to rebuild from the rubble of the war.

● 今回は長めですが、続きを読む?
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Fewer Japanese Students Studying Abroad
( New York Times )

According to the latest statistics available from the Japanese Ministry of Education and Science, the number of Japanese students studying abroad declined 11 percent to 67,000 in 2008, compared to 2007. The number was off 20 percent from the peak in 2004 and according to experts and
university officials, that downward trajectory has continued since 2008.

But the falling number of Japanese youth eager to study overseas appears to be more than just an enrollment trend. It is also strikingly
inconsistent with the direction that the leading Japanese employers say they want to take, as they seek to expand their global reach in search of new markets. Their strategy relies on internationally savvy young talent.

In the meantime, the mismatch in the labor market continues. More big
Japanese corporations say they are planning to make their overseas
business -- rather than the domestic market -- their main focus, and they are publicizing their decision to hire more non-Japanese, in part to offset their inability to secure young Japanese capable and interested in taking on international jobs.

This new emphasis on international recruitment is suddenly making
international students studying at Japanese universities a hot commodity.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・trajectory (弾丸・ロケットなどの)弾道、曲線
・eager しきりに求めて、したがって
・enrollment 登録、入学、入隊

● 解説ザブ〜ン!
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Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities
( New York Times )

On Tuesday, the police began a manhunt for one or possibly more users who are believed to have used a single online handle, “aicezuki,” to cheat on exams at Kyoto University and three other top universities. The schools say they suspect test takers used cellphones to post the questions on the site and get the answers while the tests were still in progress.

While it is unclear whether more than one person was involved, the episode has become a national scandal, raising questions about how to monitor the grueling exams, the main route to success in Japan, in an era of smartphones and instant Internet access.

It also touched a nerve in a proudly egalitarian nation that has struggled to come to terms with its growing economic and social inequalities. Many here are wondering aloud whether admission to top universities -- a ticket to a top corporate or government job -- remains as merit-based as it used to be, or whether some young people are unfairly getting a leg up, in this case from misuse of new technologies.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・involve 含む、伴う、巻き込む
・struggle 苦闘する、努力する
・admission 入るのを許す(許される)こと(動詞:admit)

● 解説ザブ〜ン!
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In Japan, Young Face Generational Roadblocks
( New York Times )

Kenichi Horie was a promising auto engineer, exactly the sort of youthful talent Japan needs to maintain its edge over hungry Korean and Chinese rivals. As a worker in his early 30s at a major carmaker, Mr. Horie won
praise for his design work on advanced biofuel systems.

But like many young Japanese, he was a so-called irregular worker, kept on a temporary staff contract with little of the job security and half the salary of the “regular” employees, most of them workers in their late 40s or older. After more than a decade of trying to gain regular status, Mr. Horie finally quit - not just the temporary jobs, but Japan altogether.

He moved to Taiwan two years ago to study Chinese.

“Japanese companies are wasting the young generations to protect older workers,” said Mr. Horie, now 36. “In Japan, they closed the doors on me. In Taiwan, they tell me I have a perfect resume.”

As this fading economic superpower rapidly grays, it desperately needs to increase productivity and unleash the entrepreneurial energies of its shrinking number of younger people. But Japan seems to be doing just the opposite. This has contributed to weak growth and mounting pension
obligations, major reasons Standard & Poor’s downgraded Japan’s
sovereign debt rating on Thursday.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・praise 称賛(する)
・desperately 必死に、絶望的に
・shrink 縮む、減る
・contribute 貢献する、原因となる、寄付する
・obligation 義務、債務
・sovereign 主権を有する、独立の

● 解説ザブ〜ン!
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Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor
( New York Times )

Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while
protecting tiny interest groups - in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. But instead of accepting young workers, however - and along with them, fresh ideas - Tokyo seems to have resigned itself to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the
country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system.

Though Japan had experienced a significant amount of migration in the
decades after World War II, it was not until the dawn of Japan’s “bubble economy” of the 1980s that real pressure built on the government to relax immigration restrictions as a way to supply workers to industries like manufacturing and construction.

What ensued was a revision of the immigration laws in a way that policy makers believed would keep the country’s ethnic homogeneity intact. In 1990, Japan started to issue visas to foreign citizens exclusively of Japanese descent, like the descendants of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil in search of opportunities in the last century. In the 1990s, the number of Japanese Brazilians who came to Japan in search of work, like Mr. Saito, surged.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・imminent 今にも起こりそうな、差し迫った
・remedy 治療、療法
・demographic 人口統計学(demography)の
・chronic 慢性の、長期にわたる
・revision 改訂、訂正(動詞:revise)
・homogeneity 同質(性)
・descent 降下、家系
・descendant 子孫

● 解説ザブ〜ン!
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