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Blogs: 144
Pages: 1
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Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, ethnobotany, prehistory, plant genetics
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Aroideana, Economic Botany, Farming Matters, PLoSOne

Founding Member



Work: ethnobotany, plant ecology and genetics, human ecology, agricultural history, archaeology, museology
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Economic Botany, Ethnobotany Research and Applications, New Scientist, Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter, Archaeology in Oceania

Category: Japan

New Year in an ageing country - Japan


By Research Cooperative, 2016-01-02

I have been living and working in Japan almost continuously since 1990, and have been seeing the again of Japanese society first hand... in my own extended Japanese family, on the streets, and in the local newspapers.

This week, over New Year, I have been at the house of my late parents in-law. After some years of standing empty, the house is being downsized, renovated, and reoccupied by my single sister-in-law. In this family with three sisters, there are just two marriages, and two children. Re-occupying the house has been a happy process for everyone. Today I pruned a flowering peach tree, observed by a friendly and ageing couple across the street. I did not see any young children in our street over the last three days.

In the evening I went for a long walk through our suburb, on the outer edge of Tokyo. On one street corner I saw a very old man delivering a single greeting card to a red letter box.

A New Year Card

On this,

the second day

he sent a single card

Was this the story of his life,

the first day?

I hope his second day

will not be lonely

with no reply

 

Yesterday (Jan. 1),TheJapan Times(an English language daily) carried a front page headline on the aging population:

'Japan's population dilemma, in a single-occupancy nutshell' (by Reiji Yoshida, staff writer).

Yoshida reports that the nation's total fertility rate (TFR - number of children in an average woman's lifetime) is now at a record low of around 1.42, far below the 2.1 figure required for population replacement. The result has been a vast and rapid increase in single-occupancy of houses, empty houses throughout the country, especially in older buildings and isolated communities.

As a researcher working in the Japanese education system, I can attest that there is also a severe shortage of graduate research students to use and maintain the current research and teaching infrastructure of Japan.

While the Japanese government has been very reluctant to accept refugees from any country, including Syria in its current crisis, it does provide significant encouragement for foreign students to study in Japan.

Refugees who can legitimately identify themselves as capable students may have a good chance at gaining entry to Japan, and support for at least a year of study. Accommodation for students here can be very cheap... rental agencies have more properties available than potential tenants. I cannot give detailed advice, but there are many university websites in Japan with English-language pages and information for prospective international students.

I'll end this ramble with best wishes for the elderly everywhere - they are often refugees in their own country - and best wishes for all refugees of the world, young and old.

 

Posted in: Japan | 0 comments

The 'Riken Affair" and home schooling


By Research Cooperative, 2014-04-22

My son here in Japan is of an age when he is seriously beginning to think about what it might be like to enter university... and why he might want to do that. He doesn't have much experience of writing, and writing does not seem to be a strong concern at his mid-level, local highschool. We expect that he will face a steep learning curve if he does go to university.

Few the last few weeks though, there has been continuous daily coverage of the 'STAP cell" controversy, also known as the "Riken Affair". The affair started with publication of a paper in Nature by researchers at Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research ('Riken'). One strand of the story goes back to the university training of the young researcher who was first author of the coauthored paper.

Her PhD was found to contain plagiarised elements, that were further copied into the paper published in Nature, despite there being no stated connection with the thesis in the Nature paper. Concern has been raised about standards of training and supervision at universities where some staff may have too many PhD students to give sufficient attention to their work.

In the Focus column of the Japan Times (Friday 18th April 2014), it is noted that a growing number of universities in Japan are introducing software systems to detect plagiarism in academic papers. At the same time, universities have started to publish all doctoral theses online, following introduction of a rule by the education ministry that made this mandatory.

The two systems most commonly used by universities here appear to be internationally-known products called iThenticate and Turnitin.

I hope the use of such systems to deter plagiarism does not become a substitute for teaching students how to learn, think, and write. Unexpectedly, we've been having family discussions about research, writing, and publishing. A good result of the Riken Affair has been some home schooling that may help our son think more realistically the purpose of a university education.

Posted in: Japan | 0 comments