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    It’s Tuesday

    The staff at my office here in Taipei have given me two different nicknames. I was designated “Evil Pink Guy” (by one of the fags, naturally–we’re such bitches) the day I showed up in a lavender T-shirt and sat behind my desk with the lights off, apparently looking malign. The girls up front, on the other hand, have decided I’m 型男. No clue how to pronounce that in Chinese, but apparently it means “well-dressed man.”

    I’m honestly not sure which one I prefer. Being known as the Evil Pink Guy could, it seems to me, have its advantages.


    Hokkaido Diet member Muneo Suzuki, an uncommonly proficient glad-hander even by Japanese standards, has had one of his sentences upheld:

    The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday upheld a two-year prison sentence against Lower House member Muneo Suzuki, a once-powerful politician convicted of accepting 11 million yen in bribes and other crimes.

    Although prosecutors can incarcerate Suzuki, his lawyers have requested his release on bail, meaning the lawmaker will likely be able to continue his political activities.

    Under the Diet Law, lawmakers accused of bribery while in office lose their seats only when a guilty verdict is finalized.

    Suzuki, a former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, once wielded enormous influence over the Foreign Ministry, particularly on Russian affairs, and publicly clashed with then Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka during the Junichiro Koizumi administration.

    But his power eroded after he became embroiled in a series of money scandals.

    The lawmaker was found guilty of collecting 6 million yen from Shimada Kensetsu Co., a contractor based in Abashiri, Hokkaido, for his influence in gaining the company preferential treatment for a contract in a large-scale port construction project.


    A town in Saga Prefecture has a different (ahem) incentive plan in mind:

    The Karatsu Municipal Government will from April start providing special bonuses to any citizens 75 or over who have not needed medical treatment or special health care over the previous 12 months.

    Healthy elderly Karatsu citizens will be able to receive a special 10,000 yen payment provided they are on the list the city draws up for entitled recipients and they decide to apply for it themselves.

    Karatsu’s move to reward healthy older citizens is the first such step for a Japanese municipality.

    Karatsu is hoping the idea will catch on and encourage older people to look after their health to cut potential rises in medical costs as the city’s population ages.

    The original Japanese for the program is ご長寿健康手当 (go-chouju kenkou teate: “payment for health in [exalted] longevity”), but it sounds to me more patronizing than respectful. Those who are already over 75 (or will be hitting 75 in the foreseeable future) are at a point at which there’s not a whole lot they’re likely to be able to do to affect which ailments they’re prone to. They can be extra careful not to fall and break fragile bones, I suppose, but their range of choices is going to be kind of limited.


    The new Janet is okay. By which I mean the album. The new Janet herself appears to have gone further toward Michael/LaToya-fying her nose. Kind of spooky.

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