Society / Evolution

purchasing power, inflation,...

Pleasure and not pressure at work

A paid employment is necessary – it’s an indispensable work as it provides an individual with an income, self identity and social status. Due to some societal changes and the financial crises, the pleasure of being in a paid employment has been replaced with pressure, stress and race for survival. The original idea connected with the Protestant work ethic of independence and saving has disappeared, and what’s left is hard work and competition. Most of us are busy earning money hence we have no or little time for leisure.

Unlike workaholics, we rely on periodic leisure (which is associated with holiday as the British call it; “vacation” American) to spice our employment. I rarely hear of employees raving about having the pleasure of working. It’s not only money that makes our work environment pleasurable. It may not be possible to get pleasure from all our daily tasks, however, we can see the glass half full in times of pressure when we have a good sense of humour and take time to relax. There’s also pleasure, instead of pressure, when we have a shared interest (e.g. sports, entertainment, arts) with our colleagues, update our work station (e.g. new photos on our desk and fosters on the wall), vary our office snacks and meals, dress up differently and change our lunch activities from time to time (e.g. picnic in the nearby park or trip to the swimming pool and a quick sandwich).

As I mentioned in my previous article, I didn’t have internet access for 10 days by choice. I leisurely explored the mountains and lakes in Scotland and played a typical tourist in England. The 12-day holiday with my family was fantastic though I really didn’t need it as a break from my paid employment. A staycation would have been leisurely productive and pleasurably relaxing. This is because I enjoy what I do for a living. We can only have fun with our job when we are passionate about it. Can we instil passion in our work? How can we handle pressure and obtain pleasure when we aren’t passionate about our employment?

あじさい革命雑考 ╾╾ おまわりさん。デモの目的を、わかってらっしゃらない?!

Hydrangea Revolution (Ajisai Kakumei in Japanese) in Japanフランスに住んでいると、デモは日常茶飯事のように見かける。群衆の巨大パーティー、ハレの場という雰囲気が常にあるけど、時には耳をつんざかんばかりのシュプレヒコールが鳴り響き、発煙筒の黄色い煙りが目にしみて、その大混雑から早く立ち去りたくなる場合もある。ヨーロッパには、劣悪な労働条件で働いていた人たちが、デモをして今の社会保障を勝ち取った記憶がまだ生きている。大人も高校生たちも、デモの重要性をよく知っている。



Enfin, c'est pas trop tôt! (as French people say).

Finally, same-sex marriage (in French, "le mariage homosexuel") to be legalized in France.

This is good news for my gay friends and also a good progress for a democratic country with the motto of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" (Liberty, equality, fraternity or brotherhood/sisterhood).

According to France Info (radio) this morning, the new Socialist government will propose a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.  If the French government will pass the law in 2013, same-sex married couples will receive the same rights and benefits as other married couples.

Thus, by 2013 France will join the eleven countries that legally allow same-sex couples to marry: the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2008), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), and Denmark (2012).

Actually, my hero Coluche, very popular French comedian and the founder of "Les Restos du Coeur" (Restaurants du Coeur - Restaurants of the Heart), who also protested against racism, already supported marriage equality in 1985.  Watch the video!

Our future energy policies

We the citizens of the world deserve the leaders with a visionary energy policy for the future like Mycle Schneider.  I hope that the people of the Japanese nuclear power village watch this video to understand the need of abolition of nuclear energy and the complete switch to renewable energy.

His article last year "Nuclear Fallout Comes With Aura of Arrogance":







Communication patterns and behaviours of French and English speakers

Last Saturday, I was finishing an article on French politics when I realized that we didn’t have enough food for the weekend, and because shops are closed on Sunday, I rushed to our local supermarket. I was thrilled because I filled the trolley in less than an hour, but at the checkout my excitement turned into an unpleasant experience. My first bankcard didn’t work and the second one flashed with “code faux”. After trying twice, the cashier informed me in a high-pitched voice that I keyed in the wrong numbers and I couldn’t use it anymore. Slightly embarrassed, I scraped all the cash I had including the Euros hidden in the secret compartment of my wallet intended for emergency use only. She remarked twice that I made a mistake and when I was exiting the premises she uttered in a loud voice, “Regardez, la carte de Monsieur fonctionne”. There was no need for her to let everyone know that unlike mine, the bankcard of the man behind me worked.

I went straight to my bank, which is just across the street, and tried the same code. It worked and there’s no explanation why it failed before. I went back to the shop and told the cashier that I was disappointed with her behaviour. She raised her voice even louder, which caught the attention of the security guard who came and inquired what was happening. As I was explaining, she insisted I entered the wrong code. I told her to calm down as it’s normal for people to press wrong buttons but it’s not acceptable to be rude at customers. She didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, so I repeated “It’s uncivilised to talk in that manner.” The security guard interrupted and said “Je ne crie pas” (I’m not screaming). It was obvious my statement wasn’t for him… The French…!

Cinema is a French invention while OSCAR is an American show

Four years ago, I visited the Lumière (‘light’ in English) Museum in Lyon, France, which is dedicated to the Lumière brothers == Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas (1862- 1954) and Louis Jean (1864 - 1948). While working for their father (Charles Antoine Lumière, 1840-1911) in his photographic business, they made some improvements to still-photography (especially the dry-plate process) that was a major step towards moving images. ‘The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat’ in 1895 was their earliest film and it’s because of them that today we enjoy movies, TV programs, documentaries and entertainment.

I remember standing vividly in front of the Lumières’ extraordinary inventions, including their first cameras, finding explanations as to why the French, though pioneering in the film industry, haven’t received international accolade (i.e. annual Academy Awards) and came out with two: language (English is more widely spoken and understood) and culture (generally, the Americans are more commercially-daring).

Therefore, in 2008 when Marion Cotillard won the Academy (popularly known as the OSCAR) Best Actress Award for her performance as Edith Piaf in ‘La Vie en Rose’ (Life in Rose) and recently Jean Dujardin for Best Actor and Michel Hazanavicius for Best Director Awards in ‘The Artist,’ I was certainly thrilled.

Crime within the EU countries

Crime and deviance have been analysed using sociological theories and concepts, such a labelling (societal reaction creates a deviant), social control (easier to commit a crime when there’s no social control or restraint) , anomie (confusion in norms — with changes in the society, rules become less binding), culture conflict (members of one group violate the mores and values of another group) and social class (there are unsatisfied needs due to low educational attainment and income whilst satisfied needs are carelessly displayed).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has disclosed that the rate of homicide (intentional killing of an individual – murder, manslaughter, infanticide and euthanasia) per 100,000 inhabitants was 1.2 in West and Central Europe, 1.5 in Southern Europe, and 7 in East Europe in 2010. Overall, Europe’s rate was 3.5 –which was lower than that of North America (4.7) and Africa (17.4), but slightly higher than that of Asia (3.1).

The latest Eurostat publication has revealed an estimated 29 million crimes recorded by the police within the EU in 2008. The EU prison population rose by 1.2% per year from 1998 to 2008 – about 124 prisoners per 100,000 members of the total population. The Baltic member nations (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland had the highest population of over 200 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants whereas the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), Slovenia and Ireland had less than 75 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants.

[2011-08-26 Cambria Press] Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century: Contemporary Responses to Depopulation and Socioeconomic Decline (Peter Matanle and Anthony Rausch with the Shrinking Regions Research Group)

Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century - book cover

  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Maps
  • List of Photos
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Note on Romanised Japanese
  • Acknowledgments

Amartya Sen's Capability Approach, Democratic Governance and Japan's Fukushima Disaster

Yutakana kurashi

I have just published an article entitled "Amartya Sen's Capability Approach, Democratic Governance and Japan's Fukushima Disaster - アマルティア・センのケイパビリティ・アプローチ、民主政と福島の大惨事" in The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 9, Issue 46 No 2, November 14, 2011.

For those who are interested in reading the article, please go to:

To print the article:

Rei Shiva's photo shows the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone in Fukushima prefecture. The irony is that the crossroad sign saying “With correct understanding of nuclear, (we have) a yutakana (rich or affluent) living.” Another photographer, Ota Yasusuke shows in his blog the photos of the companion animals unintentionally abandoned after 3.11:





L'homme qui a refusé l'offre d'Areva pour préserver les terres de son clan!

Jeffrey Lee (né en 1971) est le seul membre du clan Djok et le principal dépositaire du gisement d'uranium de Koongarra en Australie. Les terres appartenant au clan sont entourées par le parc national de Kakadu. Jeffrey est devenu célèbre car il a refusé de vendre ses champs de grande valeur à la société française Areva, un géant du marché de l'énergie, qui voulait en extraire environ 14 000 tonnes d'uranium pour une valeur de plus de 5 milliards de dollars (selon wikipedia).

Voici un résumé de ce qu'il dit sur la question:
Si cela avait été mon père ou grand-père, ils auraient pu vendre ces terres car, sans être informés au sujet de la toxicité de l'uranium, ils n'y auraient probablement vu qu'une offre alléchante et l'opportunité d'accéder à plus de confort financier. Je ne suis pas intéressé par l'argent. J'ai un travail pour acheter des vivres. Je peux aller à la pêche et la chasse. Cela est suffisant. Nous ne possédons pas nos champs, mais nous avons une responsabilité envers nos enfants de les préserver et de leur transmettre.

Après ses trois décennies de longues luttes, Jeffrey s'est vu récompensé car le Koongarra a été inscrit au titre de zone classée au patrimoine mondial de Kakadu, le 27 Juin 2011. Cet homme a fait preuve d'une grande sagesse en ne confondant jamais le moyen (l'argent au travers de l'uranium) et la fin (le bien-être)!

Dommage pour vous, Areva!

Kakadu National Park site:

The guy who declined Areva's offers to preserve the fields of his clan!

Jeffrey Lee (born 1971) is the sole member of the Djok clan and the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia. The land owned by the clan is surrounded by Kakadu National Park. He has become famous since he did not want to sell the high-valued fields to the French energy giant Areva who wanted to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion (wikipedia).

Here a summary of what he said about the issue:
If it had been my father or grandfather, they may have sold the land since they had been offered many goods and nobody told them about the toxicity of uranium. I am not interested in money. I have a job to buy food. I can go fishing and hunting. That is sufficient. We do not own our fields, but we have a responsibility to our offspring to preserve and pass them on.

After his three-decade-long struggle, Koongarra was inscribed into the Kakadu World Heritage area on 27 June 2011. This wise guy never gets confused a means (money and uranium) with an end (wellbeing)!

Sayonara, Areva!

Kakadu National Park site:


My older friend told me an episode of her daughter (probably, it often happened in the late 1970s - early 80s in the USA). When her daughter was called "Chinese" in town, she yelled back each time saying "No, I am Japanese." As a child, she defended her identity. Now she works as an international lawyer supervisor in The Hague.

I still have similar experiences in Europe now (far more frequently than in the 20th century USA). Sometimes we need to fight to defend ourselves, and often it is not even worth dealing with these "péquenauds"(*) people! They even do not know that the odor of something (e.g., Japanese incense, French cheese) can be a very pleasant smell in one culture, and a horrible smell in another.

In my view, powerless people try to depreciate and lower others – believing in their own superiority without any doubt whatsoever – by misunderstanding/mixing up things, criticizing without serious scrutiny, making fun of them, speaking ill of them, making loud noises, being arrogant and rude, allying with other péquenauds, not acknowledging their wrongdoings, etc. These may come from their immaturity, inexperience, and parochialism. Indeed, these people can be very malicious and belligerent, but not so harmful, and they can be extremely gentle for those who are deemed superior. Self-confident people do not need to resort to such empty gestures.

Though, it seems to be difficult to open the blind eyes of these péquenauds who believe that they have seen the world!

Happy Halloween!


(*) a person considered to be provincial, with old-fashioned unfair ideas, beliefs, and attitudes.

A lot of wisdom, friendship and kindness out there

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you believe in the power of wisdom, that friendship ceases when sharing ends or the greatest joy comes from helping others.

For quite a while I debated on whether or not to have a website; finally, I did it last weekend. Being a web debutante and not so gifted electronically, my new site is simple and basic. Nevertheless, my friends – who are already battling with their home and professional duties, promptly visited and offered me words of wisdom to make it a success.

Sachie and Raynald, amid their hectic schedule managing projects and finishing a book, perused my website with diligence and emailed me information on how to protect my folder and improve the homepage.

Friends from Down Under were so generous with their words of congratulations. One of them suggested I should limit the use of gifted because it is a confusing word. A friend, who’s a caring and devoted father and husband, dedicated teacher and talented artist, has posted a page of comment. Another friend, who has successfully made his way in the global finance operating from Singapore, emailed me his pragmatic views on intelligence, career, parenting, sports and happiness. Whereas, a French acquaintance managed to review it during her rare brief breaks from a demanding job and busy husband and 2 active daughters. She writes, “I have just read your website and I find it very interesting (I have read it in English first, then the translation, then both together, pieces to pieces)."

I’m so touched by my friends’ and acquaintances’ generosity - an act that shows we can have a more caring society and ‘global village mentality’ rather than individualism and materialism.

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