Feb 23

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Interpreter/Translator/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03).  Recently she’s been watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

For those of you who didn’t tune in to the Academy Awards last night, Japan cleaned up in all the categories in which it received nominations.  Going against heavily favored Waltzing with Bashir from Israel, Director Yojiro Takita’s Okuribito (Departures) took the award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Since the establishment of this award in 1957, Japan has been nominated in this category 11 times but this was its first win.  This movie grossed 3 billion yen in Japan and took the top price at the Montreal World Film Festival last year.  It will have a limited release in North America theaters this May.  Takita gathered on stage with his cast and after giving his thanks to the Academy asserted that they would be back on the Oscar stage again (“I hope”).

In addition, Kunio Kato’s 12-minute fantasy film Tsuniki no Ie won for Best Animated Short.  In halting English, Kato notably offered his appreciation to his pencil before thanking the Academy.  These unexpected victories, Japan’s first since Spirited Away won in 2003 for Best Animated Feature Film, serve as a much needed boost to a country struggling with both a recession and political turmoil.

Regarding the latter, Prime Minister Taro Aso’s current approval rating is 11.4%, a number that many joke is lower than his body fat percentage of 15.7%.  In a recently conducted survey of who would be most appropriate to replace him, sadly enough the largest percentage of respondents, 26%, said that no suitable candidate existed.  Coming in first with 13.4% was opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa, and former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Prime Minister and still beloved Junichiro Koizimu ranked second with 7.9%.

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