Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Death and Taxes

2011年 8月 29日

So, my life has really been about taxes for the past year or so. I’m trying to get all sorts of outstanding paperwork issues put to rest and get full acceptance from possibly the least-liked division of our government. The sheer volume of paperwork is overwhelming and each time we communicate with the officials, they find some more to do. I’m wondering if this has any end. (On a side note: I was shocked by my latest recalculation of our monthly balance sheets, key word: red)

Anyhow, I was expecting to take a break for a couple days and drive my in-laws to visit relatives – whom I have not yet met – in Niigata prefecture. In particular, one relative had been hospitalized, so we were really hoping to visit her. Unfortunately, less than 24 hours before departure we were awakened with a call informing us that I will be driving the family to funeral services. Another reminder of how precious and fleeting life really is.

My introduction to family will still take place; however, protocol will demand more subdued celebration. We also had to interrupt other activities today for some emergency clothes shopping: my wardrobe lacked a couple of weather and ceremony related items. We will depart in just over 4 hours, so it’s off to bed for me.

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200 Year Old Man

2010年 9月 14日

Tales of aged people fascinate me on many levels. One is testing mysterious knowledge from the Bible. Old testament writing seems to indicate that when God started to reduce human life span after such long lives as Noah or Methusaleh, it appears that he limits us to 120 years. When I first read that many years ago, I spent a bit of time searching for credible claims over that age and could not find them. Only a few claims existed from places with no record keeping and, even in modern times, nobody using a calendar.

Many years ago, friends were telling me that soon – thanks to nanotechnology – we would be living 130 years or more. I gave them my scientific and medical reasons why I didn’t think that would happen and have been taking a wait and see attitude; silently expecting no significant shift in the current max.

Believing it is possible to extend human life is easy for most people to accept, because we hear stories about our increasing life expectancy. Numbers often play games with us. While average life expectancy has increased a lot over time, the shape of the distribution curve has changed and the max has never changed.

Over the past several months many stories have been appearing in Japan about aged people who have actually passed away and their families are collecting benefits. Perhaps the most dramatic was the mummified remains of a man who had passed 30 years ago and whose family kept his remains on his bed. Because of the ailing economy – often blamed on the aging population – many officials have been dispatched to locate and verify geriatrics: particularly those collection benefits.

Today’s news lauds Mr. Jiroemon Kimura, 113 years old, as the oldest man in Japan. He looks lively enough in his photos and eats with his family everyday, reading the news and watching sumo. I guess we can trust this report; however, the same report and another below it contain suspicious information as well.

  • Claim number one: Japan has 44,449 citizens over 100 years old. Even the Japanese people in my office were skeptical and assume this is not verified.
  • Claim number two: Japan has 72 citizens over 120 years old. This report lists that these are cases of unknown status.
  • Claim number three: There is a 200 year old citizen in Iki city, Nagasaki prefecture. This report lists his status as unknown. Iki city is on an island of 134 square kilometers… how hard would it be to just stop by his house and check up on him?

Being a skeptic, my first approach is to not believe the outrageous claims until they are proved; particularly, when every one of them investigated so far has proved false. Knowing that there are a lot of elderly in Japan, the true number of centenarians might be high; however, I’m guessing we’ll find the correct number of citizens over 120 is zero and the number of 200 year old men is the same.

On less skeptical news. A week and a half ago, I sat with my wife’s 91 year old teacher and chatted about all manner of things. Soon, I should really make another visit to her grandmother who has been kicking around Mie for 97 years.

Morning Protest

2009年 9月 15日

Got off the train this morning amidst a protest. Rode down a different road from normal and noticed quite a disturbance on the normal path – around the court house.

Laws were passed in 2004 to set up a semi-jury judicial system. Traditionally, a panel of judges delivers decisions in court cases, but the Koizumi administration was often trying to push things in a more American direction. My understanding is that a small number of citizens would provide their input to the head judge, but in the end, he or she would still make the decision.

Today’s protest was in opposition to this system; however, their arguments are less than compelling. Mainly they are pushing polls that say about 80% of the public doesn’t want to participate and less than 20% do. From hearing people in America talk about jury duty, I would guess our numbers are similar. Just because people don’t want to do something, doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.

After all, 80% of the populace probably don’t want to pay taxes. For that matter, picking up their dog’s poop, changing their infant’s diapers, and scrubbing the toilet might get similar numbers. However, if any of these is neglected there are consequences.

Also, names of supporters are listed on the flier, but most of them are writers, comic artists, and journalists. Why those people are experts in generating a just legal process, I don’t know.

Anyhow, a number of cameras were out and I had a little variation to my morning routine. Tonight, I found out a little more detail.

Sunday Soundcheck 41

2009年 3月 15日

On to the ‘H’ column of the Japanese sound table, the first sound is ha, written in hiragana as は and katakana as ハ. We’ll take three trips through this column because there are two accents which can be applied here.

Haroowaaku (ハローワーク) is taken from the English words ‘Hello Work’, and is Japan’s version of an employment bureau. Apparently when I left my position with the school board to start my own school, I could have drawn unemployment. I kind of wish I’d looked into that even though I don’t want to be ‘on the dole’, but I ended out retroactively paying a lot of taxes and such, that I wouldn’t have been obligated for, had I filed there. There is a Japanese name for the offices, shokugyouanteijo (職業安定所), but that’s probably used more on paperwork than in conversation.

Hanten (はんてん・半纏・袢纏) is a piece of clothing for the wintertime. It is typically a slightly more than waist-length garment, similar to a haori (はおり・羽織), but with packed cotton between the layers. I believe it is considered fairly casual and should just be worn around the house. My girlfriend has one made from silk which is sleeveless, making it ideal for wearing in a cold kitchen; the normal sleeves would constantly be getting in the food during preparation.