*mouseover to enlarge images

Japan Healthcare Info
Navigating a healthcare system in a foreign country is not always easy, especially if you don’t speak the language. How do you find a doctor or dentist who understands you? What if you need to call and make an appointment, in Japanese, and don’t have a friend to help you out?

Japan Healthcare Info helps foreigners living in Japan locate medical providers in their area, and according to specific requests. For example, if you’re looking for an English-speaking doctor, one of JHI’s experienced, bilingual staff of healthcare professionals will narrow down the options and check reviews for each physician. They will then provide potential options via email or phone, with maps to each clinic or hospital, for free.

JHI will also set up your appointment for ¥1,000 (prompt service available on request) and can prepare Japanese documents, such as hospital or day-care admission forms or insurance/subsidy applications, for ¥3,000-5,000. They offer translation services via phone and will even send an interpreter depending on location (fees vary).

Get unlimited access to JHI’s services, and members-only after-hour/holiday assistance, by signing up. Annual membership is ¥12,000 per adult, ¥5,000 per child under 12, and ¥5,000 for students. Families can receive a ten percent discount.

Workday enquiries are followed up within 30-60 minutes. Weekend response time to emails is usually same day. See JHI’s website for more info and resources.

Tel: 080-4421-7477. Email: contact@japanhealthinfo.com. Phone line open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. http://japanhealthinfo.com


The British School In Tokyo
The British School in Tokyo (BST) is an international school for 650 pupils aged 3-18, and well respected as a top-level educational institution. For proof of this, you need look no further than last year’s exhaustive report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. BST was given the accolade of “excellent” in every category measured, and was shown to provide the best any school could deliver.

Described by the Inspectorate as a dynamic and creative educational community, the school was regarded as successful in delivering a world-class British education. Overall achievement of pupils was described as excellent, as was the methods used by the school to monitor its charges’ personal development and academic progress.

Though the report might make surprising reading to some unacquainted with the immeasurable quality offered at BST, it was not news to parents and students that the school forms a strong bond between pupils and teachers, and that the leadership and management is exemplary. Pupils at all levels were described as being well prepared for the next stage in their education, with a broad and challenging Sixth Form experience providing them with qualifications recognized by universities across the world.

If you are interested in finding out how BST could benefit your family’s experience in Tokyo and provide your children with the tools for a fulfilling life, get in touch to arrange a tour.

1-21-18 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5467-4321. Email: admissions@bst.ac.jp. Nearest stns: Shibuya or Omotesando (Shibuya site); Sangenjaya (Showa site). www.bst.ac.jp


Zenmall
If you’re tired of trying on that classy shirt only to find that your physique defies Japanese clothing sizes, or if you simply gave up trying a long, long time ago, help may be at hand. In the heart of Shibuya, Zenmall is the place to get your fresh wardrobe, or buy a seasonal gift for one of those hard-to-fit people you care about. From casual clothing to formal suits—and everything in between—Zenmall specializes in fashion for big and tall men. They also stock regular sizes, meaning there is literally something for everyone.

Get moving ahead of time with the Early Bird Morning Sale, which runs occasionally from 9am-noon. That is the time to be in the Shibuya branch, when the price of suits are slashed by up to 90 percent. Special deals include large suits (sizes 44-60) by designers Calvin Klein and DKNY, from just ¥39,000. You could even score the suits of hallowed designers such as Hugo Boss, from ¥78,000. Zenmall’s B&T Club caters to guys up to 220cm tall and with waists up to 160cm. And now for the good news. The range of Zenmall imported clothing has just increased even further. Not only that, top clients to recently visit Zenmall have included Backstreet Boys. So forget about flying home to replenish your closet—just head to Shibuya.

29-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3770-1641. Open daily 10:30am-9:30pm. Nearest stn: Shibuya. www.zenmall.co.jp


Shiroganedai Orthodontics
Take advantage of a 25-year-proven dentist, Dr. Chieko, and a clinic with 15 years’ experience serving international clients. The benefits of a full orthodontic treatment go beyond appearance. Straight teeth mean fewer cavities, healthier gums, less pain and a better bite. At Dr. Chieko’s clinic, the techniques include braces-alternative Invisalign and teeth whitening. Cosmetic solutions such as “permanent makeup” can also help you feel good about yourself. Call for info and a free consultation. English, Portuguese and Spanish assistance are available.

4-8-9 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku. Tel: 0120-743-555. Nearest stn: Shirokanedai. www.drcoad.com


Garden Clinic Hiroo
At Garden Clinic Hiroo you can trust in medical director Dr. Chin-Huai Keong, a bilingual board-certified dermatologist with more than 20 years experience providing skin, hair and nail solutions for children and adults. Her team works hard to listen to clients’ needs, share information, and discuss treatment options. Allergy testing, children’s vaccinations, skin surgery and cryotherapy are all available. Mole checks can be arranged via a private appointment. Psoriasis, vitiligo and atopic dermatitis patients can opt for excimer phototherapy for quicker recovery. A wide range of cosmetic treatment is offered at competitive prices: laser removal of moles, warts and age spots, IPL (photofacial), permanent hair removal, Botox and more. Japanese health insurance is accepted.

2F, Nansei NS Bldg, 7-14-7 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6427-9198. Open Mon-Wed & Fri 10am-1pm & 3-6pm, Sat 10am-1pm, closed Thu & Sun. http://www.gardenclinic-hiroo.com/index_e.html


Education Revolution
21st-century schools must meet the demands of tomorrow


When our elementary school children enter the workforce, a significant percentage of the jobs that will be available haven’t yet been invented. The very nature of the workforce will be unrecognizable from the one we are experiencing. How can today’s schools prepare them for tomorrow’s reality?
The world is changing at breakneck speed. Factors include the vast amount of information readily available, increased automation, global mobility, and more. Today is an era of new industries, more demanding workplaces, and far-reaching environmental changes.

In this world, traditional definitions of what it means to be “intelligent” and “well-educated” have been invalidated. Today’s children are digital natives. Their visual cortices are approximately 15% larger than ours, and they are fluent in making constant digital decisions. New forms of teaching are emerging, pioneered by influential groups such as the AMT Group and the New Center for Creative Arts. Their methods stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, and develop the skills needed to thrive in a world of dizzying choices.

Parents must acknowledge that the most effective schooling for their children is vastly different from what they have experienced.

21st-century schools need to provide an education that keeps pace with societal and technological changes. To engage with digital natives, a focus is required on communication skills and the empowerment of active learning. Integrating courses with guided inquiry and developing positive human characteristics allow kids to actively engage in relevant learning.

New educational approaches require students to summarize current knowledge pertaining to a given topic. Then, they formulate eight types of question, to focus the inquiry and allow for a holistic perspective. Working together and individually, students discover answers through various methods, especially those with a digital focus. Finally, they share their findings via a creative presentation.

This inquiry process invites them to experience the world’s richness and complexity, and empowers them to ask their own questions and seek their own answers, critically navigating through data.

An emphasis on positive human characteristics should be reflected on the walls of 21st-century schools, evident in student-teacher work and behavioral expectations, seen as key in decision making processes, and role modeled in all levels of the school community. Ideally, these principles should form the basis of the mission statement.

Purpose-driven people and organizations are confident with clear goals. Empowerment to actively participate in a decision-making process leads to a high level of motivation, interest and engagement. Empowered learners of all ages excel when given ownership of their own learning process.

When they do hit the job market, many of today’s elementary students will work in multicultural environments and different countries. The ability to adapt to an increasingly global economy will become standard.

Raising global awareness can also link to teaching conflict resolution. To quote from Perkins-Gough et al, “If the school is a democratic peaceful kind of place, the chances are that this culture will rub off on students."
The role of educators is to provide an environment for students to feel safe taking risks while learning, to promote inquiry, foster collaboration, and strengthen human understanding beyond one culture.

There is a shortage of educators and students who are prepared for 21st-century realities. Core attributes are barely touched upon in schools as they are not measurable using standard exams. Today’s needs navigate us away from rote testing and toward higher-order thinking.

The real-world demands of this century require the ability to adapt to change, to find and process large quantities of information, and a skill set to deal with a mobile world of international citizens. How is your organization or school facing this reality?

Patrick Newell
Co-founder
Tokyo International School



Solomonic Solutions
Dealing with Japan’s custody laws


How does custody work in Japan when getting a divorce? Custody cannot be shared in Japan. So you have to decide which party will take custody when you divorce. The party who loses custody has the right to see his/her children, but this right is very weak in Japan. If both parties do not agree on this, a family court judge will decide. But normally, the judge will only allow the other parent to see his/her children for a few hours a month, with no staying over. Sometimes the party holding custody will refuse to let the other parent see the children, for no substantial reason, and the lost party has no recourse to change the situation.

What kind of costs are involved in custody mediation? Mediation in Japan, kajichotei, is very reasonable. It costs less than ¥10,000 to file your case. But, from our point of view, the persons in charge of your case often ask you to accept irrational conclusions, and ordinary people tend to accept because of a lack of legal information or bargaining power. So, even in mediation, it’s recommended to be accompanied by an attorney. Depending on who this is, it could set you back ¥200,000-300,000.

What’s the difference between the family mediation process and using a divorce court? Mediation is designed for conversation or negotiation. So, the process can’t be closed until both parties have found a complete agreement, or the mediation committee decides there is no chance to make an agreement. On the other hand, a suit for divorce can only be filed after the mediation process is finished. In a lawsuit, the judge will rule on the outcome, even if one party refuses to divorce, pay compensation or divide assets earned during the marriage. It is almost compulsory to ask an attorney to handle your case in that situation.

Are there any steps couple scan take to ensure the custody situation will be easier in case of divorce? Of course both parties can make an agreement before divorce. If it’s done via a process of mediation in the family court, the agreement will be recorded in the court record. Then the agreement will be fixed and it makes it easier to enforce it without filing a new lawsuit, though it can also be done without the court record.

Is it harder for foreigners than for Japanese in the divorce scenario? Language problems, differences in legal systems and visa concerns will be tough barriers to overcome. You also have to be prepared if you have a spouse visa, because you will lose it after divorce.

How can you help people in this situation? An experienced lawyer knows how to handle foreigners’ cases. In mediation, a lawyer can attend the client, give advice, and forcefully make their case to the mediation committee. In a lawsuit, there are many techniques and know-how only lawyers can have. But in a foreign case, it is hard just to find an attorney who can communicate in English, to avoid the expense of hiring an interpreter.

Free legal consultations in English, Chinese, and Korean. AITS Shinjuku Law Office. 3F Believe Shinjuku-Bldg. 1-26-9 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5362-0907. Email iyota@aits-lpc.com. Nearest stn: Shinjuku. www.aits-lpc.com