In 2002 I went to work in Japan and learn Japanese. I have learned a lot about the Japanese language and culture, and about living and working in Japan. If you want to do this too, then I hope you will find this information useful.

Discount travel passes

Many kinds of discount travel pass are available for travel in Japan. Most are only for visitors, but some of them are available to all foreigners — even ones who live in Japan.

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Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass can be a good deal for visitors who plan on doing a lot of sightseeing in Japan. The JR Pass allows you unlimited travel on most JR trains throughout Japan, and also some buses and ferries. It is available only to people visiting Japan, so if you actually live in Japan you can’t get a JR Pass. Here is some more information about eligibility and how to get the pass.

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UN racism expert reports on Japan

The Japan Rimes has reported that the U.N.’s expert on racism and discrimination has called on Japan to enact a national law condemning racism. After visiting Japan for a nine-day mission, Doudou Diene says that racial discrimination and xenophobia are deeply-rooted in Japanese society.

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London bombing brings on tighter screening

After the London bombing attacks last week, Japan’s justice ministry is planning to strengthen screening of foreigners in Japan. This will apply to both visitors and residents.

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Canon Wordtank G50

Canon Wordtank G50

The Canon Wordtank G50 electronic dictionary is one of the newer Wordtank models. Apparently it’s very popular. For me, the best new features are the improved dictionaries and the animated kanji stroke order.

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Fingerprinting foreigners

The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government is considering reintroducing fingerprinting for foreigners.

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UN racism expert visiting Japan

The Japan Times Online reports that the U.N.’s expert on racism and discrimination will visit Japan for the first time this month. The Japanese government has invited Doudou Diene of Senegal to report on the situation of minorities and foreigners in Japanese society.

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Tighter control over foreigners in Japan

The Japanese government is considering ways of tightening its control of foreign residents. It’s setting up a working group to report on possible new measures, such as the recently proposed smart ID cards. The government says this is part of a crime and terrorism prevention strategy. They expect to be able to revise the registration laws in 2007.

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Tokyo is most expensive city

The annual Mercer survey has found that Tokyo is by far the most expensive city in the world to live in, with Osaka in second place. Tokyo has been number one on the list for years. Tokyo and Osaka’s ratings have increased because of the rising value of the Yen, so if you’re living there and being paid in yen it doesn’t matter all that much.

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2 million foreigners in Japan

There are now nearly 2 million foreigners living in Japan. The Immigration Bureau released a report last week saying that there are 1,973,747 registered foreign nationals resident in Japan, representing 1.55% of the population. The Japanese government has a very strict definition of “foreigner” — many of these 2 million people were born and raised in Japan, but are still counted as foreign nationals.

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