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Saturday, September 22, 2007

In the news ニュース

Taiwan has failed again. For the 15th consecutive year, this island has struck out in its attempt to join the United Nations 国連. This year was notable both for the hubbub surrounding next year's planned referendum, and the fact that this was the first time entry was sought under the name "Taiwan" 台湾 and not the "Republic of China" 中華民国. In either case, Taiwan is rapidly becoming the Pittsburgh Pirates of the community of nations. The Daily Yomiuri had a short story on it here 

It seems to me the fault lies with good ol' Chiang Kai-shek 蒋介石. If Peanut hadn't insisted on maintaining the fiction that his government on Taiwan was the true ruler of all China, Taiwan might not have been kicked out of the UN back in 1971 in favor of the Reds. Back in those days, China was willing to go along with countries recognizing the governments both in Beijing and Taipei (in the same way that many nations maintained relations with both East and West Germany, and how some states today have embassies in both Seoul ソウル and Pyongyang ピョンヤン), but the Generalissimo in all his great wisdom insisted there was only "one China" and that he was the leader of it. The result is that today Taiwan is on the outside looking in, with a dwindling number of diplomatic allies, while China is increasingly calling the shots. True, ditching the R.O.C. in favor of Taiwan would have completely undermined whatever "legitimacy" Cash My Check's authoritarian government may have had, but it's both frustrating and fun to wonder "what if".

Both the Yomiuri and the Japan Times have articles on how the NOVA English conversation school chain in Japan is planning on closing up to 200 schools. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. At one time, NOVA was the leader of the huge conversation school market in Japan, with a branch seemingly located near virtually every railway station of importance throughout the country. But a series of lawsuits and scandals have chipped away at NOVA's position, and it now appears the company is facing some difficult times financially.

I never worked for NOVA during the time I lived in Japan, but I did interview with them once back in 1990. At that time, the Osaka 大阪-based company was only just beginning to expand into the Kanto 関東-area market, and I had one of the most unpleasant interview experiences at their Shibuya 渋谷 school. I won't reveal the name of the interviewer except to say he shared the same nomenclature as a certain successful American League manager of the 1950's, but I remember he asked why I wanted to change jobs and work at NOVA. When I mentioned the main reason was my low salary at my first employer (¥230,000 a month from the long-defunct Friendly International English School or FIES, a figure that was far below the industry norm back in the bubble days), he proceeded to lecture me on how he thought that was a fair wage, and how an employee shouldn't be so disloyal to his employer blah blah blah. Then a few moments later A.L. let slip how NOVA was the fifth school he had worked for since coming to Japan from the States! So much for company loyalty, but a textbook example of hypocrisy 偽善!

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