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Tuesday, June 6, 2006

LIFELINES

Cleaning, ID checks, 'Kimigayo'


Help!

Louise writes is looking for a good housekeeping crew or individual in Saitama. She sees ads for the Tokyo area, but not locally.

"I have been using a commercial company for two years since I found no other option.

"At first I was satisfied even though the price is high, but once the initial visits were over and I committed to a regular contract, they have been gradually pulling back on quality and level of service."

She would like to employ someone without the overhead costs, or at least a company that is consistent.

Duskin is another commercial company that offers cleaning services, with the English edition of Yellow Pages (also available abroad) listing local branches.

For Home/Home & Garden/Cleaning Services/Office Cleaning nationwide, check out Yellow Pages' online service: www.yellowpagesjapan.com/1423/1.htm

There is also an e-mail address for specific inquiries: contact@yellowpagesjapan.com

Apart from the 7 pages of domestic services listed online, there are 1094 specialist ads for cleaning furniture, 39 for rugs and carpets, and 191 for businesses dealing with upholstery contained in its pages.

For the personal touch, however, Louise most probably needs to find an individual locally, either by advertising in local supermarkets and shops or getting the word around among friends.

Or there is always her local Silver Centre. Would the reader who says he has found on the Internet that all 47 prefectures have them let us have the online address? Since there is nothing in English, it must be in Japanese.

Dark ages?

RC has strong feelings regarding something he read in Lifelines a few weeks ago.

"Your statement about the Japanese government, that they are returning to the Dark Ages by choosing to fingerprint and photograph visiting aliens, is completely wrong."

RC says the passport system, while OK at identifying people, is now far behind normal ID practices, being easily forged.

"The newer system with the barcode is better but definitely not perfect."

Fingerprinting, however, is still recognized as a unique way of identifying people, he continues.

"Unless you have something to hide while trying to enter, you have nothing to fear; and if you do have something to hide, I'm sure no one wants you there anyway."

By the phrase "Dark Ages" I simply meant we were returning to a time when people were being fingerprinted, which in the U.K. at least is tantamount to being treated as a criminal. That's all.

Personally, I believe we should be trying to break down borders and reduce levels of fear verging on paranoia, not increase them.

To sing or not to sing

Hiro read the letter about the whether non-Japanese teachers are bound by law or duty to sing Japanese national anthem ("Kimigayo") in their schools.

Currently teaching Japanese in Australia, Hiro says that in assembly there, everyone sings the Australian Anthem.

"I didn't know the words, so I asked one of my students to write them down for me. I really like Australia and have a lot of respect for Australians, so I wanted to sing with them."

He thinks that if foreign teachers like Japan and Japanese people, he can't see a problem.

Am a little surprised not to have heard from non-Japanese teachers on the subject.

What are the expectations in your own school, and how do you cope?

This is especially pertinent in light of last week's court ruling, where a Japanese teacher was found guilty and fined for refusing to follow the Ministry of Education's edict on the subject.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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