Friday, 19 February 2010


I am still to get my head around the notion of privacy in Japan. It is a word that is often used - directly borrowed from English. A dictionary doesn't reveal that there is a conceptual difference between privacy in English and the way it is used in Japanese.

When I first came to Japan, I went to the the local government education board and told them I lived locally and wanted to teach locally and asked if they could tell me which placement agency they used so I could apply there. I was told that was impossible due to privacy concerns. I was totally baffled, and asked whose privacy, they didn't really answer but insisted due to privacy they couldn't reveal it.

Again at the local govt. I complained that despite the fact that my National Health Insurance payments came from my salary that everything to do with my health matters such as insurance rebates, doctor invoices, and health check reminders are posted to Hiro not to me. Refunds are only paid into Hiro's account (in Japan there are no joint accounts...). When I told them this didn't respect my privacy and that it was inconsistent because I don't get itemised accounts of Hiro's health checks... they replied that my husband was surely kind though....

Kind - privacy I didn't see the connection.

Rhetorically I asked them whether privacy was important in Japan (people bang on about it all the time). They assured me it was, but not in a family...

I will rise again to fight that battle another day.

This from today's Japan Times however takes the cake.

Under the Law Banning Child Prostitution and Child Pornography that went into force in 1999, production or distribution of child porn is prohibited, as well as possession for the purpose of distribution.

However, out of privacy concerns, the law does not ban simple possession or the downloading of child pornography for personal use

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