Monday, September 08, 2014

Sensationnel Kei Nishikori!

Sensationnelle prouesse du champion de tennis japonais Kei Nishikori!

Le Japonais Kei Nishikori a créé la sensation avec sa victoire face au n°1 mondial Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, samedi en demi-finale de l'US Open. Il est le premier Asiatique en finale d'un Grand Chelem. J'en ai parlé ce matin sur RTL Journal de 08h00 dans le journal de Bernard Poirettte.

Kei Nishikori! He is right in front of an untrodden realm

(Kei Nishikori made history on court Arthur Ashe at Flushing Meadows as the US Open 10th seed defeated world No.1 Novak Djokovic in four sets to become the first Japanese male player to reach a grand slam final.)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Five women in Abe's reshuffled cabinet... So what?

“I reshuffled my Cabinet to firmly push various measures forward with a fresh mind,” the prime minister Shinzo Abe said at a press conference Wednesday… vitalising local economies, spreading the effects of Abenomics across the nation. All right but this happens within a context of LDP war, in a climate of discord between the top 2 leaders of the LDP, the current Japanese ruling party. Abe and Ishiba, ex LDP Secretary General. 

The only news here is that 5 women entered the new Cabinet: Sanae Takaichi as internal affairs and communications minister; Midori Matsushima as justice minister; Yuko Obuchi as economy, trade and industry minister, Daddy's girl Obuchi, close to the U.S. is to oversee nuclear industry from now on; Eriko Yamatani doubling as state minister for the abduction issue and National Public Safety Commission chair; and Haruko Arimura as state minister tasked with promoting women’s active participation. Abe retained six members of his administration. Eight ministers, including Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki, joined a cabinet for the first time. 

Let’s notice that revisionists and Yasukuni frequent loyal visitors enter the cabinet “en masse” such as ex LDP Policy Research Council chair Mrs Sanae Takaichi lifted to the post of Internal Affairs and Communications minister, stupors and tremors for the Japanese broadcasters aware since September 3rd that the battle for serving the government is launched by one of the most vivid revisionists of Japan Inc. She and her little LDP faction of MPs, the Association of Creativity and Tradition, are frequent visitors of the Yasukuni shrine to honour the soldiers of past Japan wars, including the war criminals whose tablets are there enshrined, and basically spend time denying that Japan did anything reprehensible prior and during World War II. 

Takaichi asks for a new political official statement on “comfort women” next year 2015 which is the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 and frequently navigates on all channels to, she says: “dispel false information that undermines Japan’s honour.” Many old guard revisionists indeed fear the new evidences that will be published on the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan war of aggression in Asia. Abe sent a signal hiring notorious historical revisionists in his government.

Here we are, 5 women in Abe's reshuffled cabinet... So what? How representative are they of their counterparts? Watching Japan society during the last 20 years, I doubt the majority of Japanese identify with the heirs of political dynasties or nationalist politicians.

So, what is the scenario for the future of local politics? The implementation of the time bomb consumption tax hike. Abe will face a decision by the end of the year over whether to further hike the consumption tax rate to 10 per cent while difficulties will delay an economic recovery. This is to anger further more the Japanese voters who have already started to turn their back to Abe, polls reveal. Why? Life is getting harder under Abe's administration. Approval rating has already fallen to 43.5 in an August survey, the lowest level since Abe's election in December 2012. Voters will speak, steadily, quietly, when time comes. 

The system will drop unpopular politicians after current elected Abe's team is rejected by an exhausted and angered population, in spite of all efforts undertaken by Japanese media kowtowing to the government communication consultants. Biased commentators already push to more "reforms" (please understand that it is not reforms but clear destruction) of social security, labour markets, public pension, health insurance and all advantages that give Japan its prime rank in welfare, though a fact often unknown. The role of the life time employment as a stabiliser factor is under deconstruction, jeopardises Japan's social balance, and it is delegated to the Abe's minor league. 

Here is the question: is there a mature, sound and reliable LDP faction able to handle power after Abe if he does not come back with a policy that pleases the society's majority? And even better, as far as alternative democratic government option is concerned, is there a legit opposition in Japan ready to assume its constitutional and democratic role? Nothing of that kind exists at this moment. This will be the main focus of Japan political life from now and for the 2 years ahead. Of course, one cannot be sure that unfortunate events won't pre-empt such scenario, in the ballots or in our precious nature, as Japan unfortunately experienced in the past. 

Judicious policies are expected to maintain, for all living and working here, a satisfying quality of life. But in my Sento 銭湯, very trendy again nowadays, I hear more and more people who complain that Abe is just not up to the job, and that worries me because the Sento's survey remains the best opinion measurement ever realised in Japan!

Revised 795 words.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

居合道 Iaido, a rare look behind the secretive Japanese martial art


I attended today a private training of Iaido 居合道 this very specific Japanese martial art in Tokyo Nihombashi 日本橋. Iaido is said to associate with the smooth and controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. Attention, here is a training with a real Katana 日本刀, a real Japanese sword.

The way of the Samurai

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Do not harm people, Buddhists here say."

Early this year in spring at the prime minister Cherry Blossom party that I was covering for my news, I remember a Japanese official of Abe's administration explaining me that the main Abe's priority is economy. He repeated 3 times "economy, economy, economy." He then asked me to help (?) and to convey the message to my foreign media audience (OK) So I did, but we saw the bad numbers coming out with the economy lately.

Now I would like to answer him, too. What about a better policy and a better communication that does not provoke/inflame/sacrifice/despair the people, here and outside? Or am I wrong, a disoriented watcher, added to the fact that as a foreign journalist I am naturally an "agent d'influence" paid by Beijing, Seoul, Pyongyang, Wall Street, Mickey Mouse and Astérix.

Sure Japan is in a better situation compared to many others in the world, so why to risk what is at stake, and that is perspective, sound strategy and reason?

Do not harm people, Buddhists here say.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tepco to pay US $ 470.805 damages over Fukushima nuclear evacuee's suicide

The number of suicides in Fukushima Prefecture linked to 3/11 is higher than elsewhere, most likely because of the nuclear disaster, according to the Cabinet Office.

It is the first case and it opens the gate of Courts to other cases: The Fukushima District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 49 million yen ($471,600) in compensation to the family of a woman who committed suicide by setting herself ablaze after being forced to evacuate her home.

She burned herself to death at age 58 after she was forced to evacuate her home due to the nuclear crisis. Watanabe's husband and three other relatives have sought 91 million yen.

Presiding Judge Naoyuki Shiomi said Watanabe's mental anguish was "huge," citing the despair she felt in the face of an uncertain future as an evacuee and the fact that she chose to die in a place where she was born and raised

The judge also said Tepco should have been able to "foresee" that displaced residents, subject to stress, might commit suicide in the event of a nuclear accident. It is the first ruling in a lawsuit in which compensation has been sought from the utility over a suicide linked to the disaster that caused serious radiation contamination. Through an out-of-court settlement, Tepco has previously agreed to pay damages to a different suicide case involving a farmer. Tepco said it will study the content of the ruling and respond to it "sincerely."

The plaintiffs have said Watanabe's mental state deteriorated because she was not able to foresee when she could return home and the chicken farm where the couple worked had closed in June. During the trial, Tepco admitted the nuclear accident had placed a severe psychological burden on Watanabe. But the utility also said other factors could have affected her, noting she had trouble sleeping before the accident and was on medication. The ruling said Watanabe was "likely to have fallen into a state of depression" because she had a tough time as an evacuee, losing ties with the local community as well as her job.

Never have I seen such anger of the civil society since March 11 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident.

EoQ :

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to wear a Yukata with style in 日本橋 Nihombashi, Tokyo?

These days in 日本橋 Nihombashi, you can see a lot of young couples or the usual 3 girl friends groups, strolling around in a "My Yukata summer plan afternoon shopping and gazing at the Nihombashi Grands Magasins" in the historic glamorous old town of central Tokyo.

Young women (suddenly acting traditional Japanese, with a little bit of timidity and appreciation of the cultural heritage) are seen walking close but not too close to their boyfriends wearing Yukata, it is in fashion.

This scorching summer sun is an opportunity to appreciate how refreshing it is actually to wear a Yukata ( I tried)

Thing is young people do not necessarily know how to fix it. Especially how to firmly fix the Obi. How to wear a Yukata with style?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Men of Destiny

Three years ago today! August 21, 2011 Colonel Frank Maryan "Brandy" Brandstetter (U.S. Army Ret.) died in the Hospital Megallanes in Acapulco, Mexico at age 99. I met Frank Brandstetter at Omaha beach, Normandy-France when he visited D-Day ceremonies. I was assigned to Sainte-Mère-Église, Omaha, Saint-Laurent, by the Commander of the 32nd Company Division, during my national service after the academy (1). My job was to be the aide of Brandstetter. The man was back on D-Day, this crucial time during WW2. In these special circumstances, emotions for him, memories of sacrifice for all veterans, perspectives emerging in a more global world, I had the privilege to be taught on history and human beings by Frank. We kept up correspondence thereafter.

Frank Brandstetter (R)

What follows is about "Brandy." Published on from Sept. 14 to Sept. 15, 2011

“He was born into Austrian-Hungarian nobility on March 26, 1912, and immigrated to the United States as a penniless teenager. Volunteering for World War II service with the U.S. Army, his background, knowledge of customs, traditions and fluency with Hungarian, Romanian, Austrian, Czech and German languages made him a perfect choice for an intelligence career. After graduating from the U.S. Army Intelligence School, he was trained by British military intelligence before he parachuted with the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment on D-Day and led his IPW (Interrogation of Prisoners of War) team into World War II. He served as General Matthew B. Ridgway's trusted aide with the XVIII Airborne Corps until the end of the war, then, with General Ridgway in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, and finally with the original, five-nation United Nations Organization. His awards include the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. 

Brandy continued for 40 years in uniform as a U.S. Army Reservist frequently providing assistance to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI, and the CIA. Subsequently, Brandstetter unofficially provided reconnaissance services to the United States, primarily at his own expense, to China, Greece, Cyprus, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Yugoslavia, and many other hot spots at times when security threats were emerging. 

As a civilian, Brandy developed real estate and excelled as a hotelier. He was the founder and operator of the Las Brisas Resort in Acapulco, a favorite destination during Acapulco's heyday. He received many awards for his active service in building community and bringing people out of poverty. This work led him to projects that educated and employed many and launched productive careers that otherwise never would have been. After learning of Brandy's influence that helped thwart a rebellion in 1981, King Juan Carlos of Spain sent a small contingent to Acapulco in 2003 to express thanks by giving Brandy an honorary membership in the Corporation Euro Americana De Securidad. His service to the world was surpassed by the quality and depth of his loyalty and his friendship. 

Brandy, Our Man in Acapulco: The Life and Times of Colonel Frank M. Brandstetter

Colonel Brandstetter resided in the United States, Jamaica, Cuba, and finally in Mexico where he made his home on the hillside above Acapulco Bay and below the tall landmark cross and Catholic Chapel of Peace, both of which he was instrumental in building. His remains were cremated and rest in a crypt beneath that chapel. Memorial services were held on November 11, 2011 at 11 am in Arlington National Cemetery at the grave of General Matthew B. Ridgway...

General Matthew B. Ridgway

- Note about General Matthew B. Ridgway: during WW2 in command of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division and of the XVIII Airborne Corps, after WW2 in command of the U.S. forces in the Mediterranean Theater, took over the 8th U.S. Army, which had been deployed in South Korea in response to the invasion by North Korea, in command of all United Nations forces in Korea and military governor of Japan. During his tenure, Ridgway oversaw the restoration of Japan’s independence and sovereignty after General Douglas MacArthur was relieved of command by President Harry Truman, the Supreme Allied Commander, Ridgway include mission in Europe (SACEUR) for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and became the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Ridgway continued to advocate for a strong military to be used judiciously.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020 : La Francophonie mise en ondes par le Gouverneur Masuzoe

Le Gouverneur de Tokyo Yoichi Masuzoe parle de la Francophonie dans la ville hôte des Jeux Olympiques de 2020

Yoichi Masuzoe politologue, universitaire, écrivain et homme politique japonais a été professeur associé en sciences politiques et en histoire de la célèbre Université de Tokyo, il a été ministre de la Santé. Yoichi Masuzoe travaille sur dossiers et il travaille beaucoup. Ses prédécesseurs passaient une journée par semaine au bureau du Tokyo Metropolitan Government, lui, Masuzoe y est chaque jour de la semaine.

Il a exposé ses objectifs concernant la francophonie lors des Jeux Olympiques et Paralympiques de Tokyo 2020 mercredi 30 Juillet 2014 devant la presse internationale au Japon.

Le gouverneur de Tokyo prévoit sur sa feuille de route une série de financements et initiatives pour rendre visible la présence de la francophonie lors des JO de Tokyo 2020, par la signalisation, les aides linguistiques, la mobilisation de volontaires avec le concours de l’ambassade de France au Japon. Masuzoe veut utiliser l’événement olympique pour aider les japonais à parfaire et se familiariser davantage avec les langues étrangères, avec le français, l’anglais, l’espagnol, le chinois, le coréen. Yoichi Masuzoe est prévoyant et travaille par dossiers, il est intéressé, si nécessaire, par la participation éventuelle de Tokyo à divers événements de la francophonie, tels les Jeux de la Francophonie qui auront lieu à Abidjan en Côte d'Ivoire en Juillet 2017.

Le comité d’organisation des JO 2020 est présidé par l’ancien Premier ministre du Japon Yoshiro Mori, le comité d’organisation est composé de membres provenant de différents organismes comme le Comité Olympique Japonais, le Comité Paralympique Japonais, le gouvernement métropolitain de Tokyo et le gouvernement du Japon.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Paris Tokyo : Signature d'un accord de coopération militaire

Avec quelques collègues français j'ai rencontré le ministre français de la défense Jean-Yves Le Drian (photo) mardi 29 / 7 à l'ambassade de France à Tokyo. Il a annoncé ce soir la signature d'un accord de coopération en matière de défense avec le Japon. Paris et Tokyo vont en outre conduire des exercices militaires communs.

Ministre français de la défenseJean-Yves Le Drian

Le Japon s’interdisait du fait de sa Constitution pacifiste d’après guerre d’exporter du matériel militaire. Interdiction levée en avril par le gouvernement de Shinzo Abe. Chacun s’engouffre dans le créneau et le Japon n’est pas en reste car sa redoutable machine industrielle veut rapidement découvrir des débouchés sur de nouveaux marchés. Une politique qui longtemps a été mise sous la dernière pile des dossiers des premiers ministres précédents jusqu’à Noda puis Abe. Celui-ci a transformé le paysage politique japonais, moins colombe que faucon. Aujourd’hui les Etats-Unis poussent le Japon à oeuvrer davantage dans le domaine de la défense collective. Conséquence: booster les projets, les coopérations, la R and D et donc à  terme les budgets militaires japonais. Tokyo s'engage dans des partenariats de défense avec la GB, l'Australie et maintenant avec la France. La France envisage d'ores et déjà de multiplier son partenariat d’exception avec le Japon y compris dans le domaine militaire.  

Paris et Tokyo envisagent ainsi de coopérer dans le domaine des drones, des hélicoptères et de la robotique, nous a dit Jean-Yves Le Drian, n'excluant pas pour l'avenir des coopérations plus importantes, dans les domaines naval ou aéronautique par exemple. 

Durant cette visite éminemment politique, le ministre japonais de la Défense Itsunori Onodera a exprimé sa préoccupation avec la vente du "Mistral" à la Russie compte tenu de son impact potentiel "sur la sécurité en Asie de l'Est." En fait ce sont les américains qui ne sont pas satisfaits... 

L'accord gouvernemental franco japonais sera signé en fin d'année 2014 voire en 2015 lors de la réunion 2+2 qui sera tenue cette fois au Japon après celle de Janvier 2014 de Paris. 

Petite anecdote que je citais hier à un membre du cabinet du ministre: des universitaires qui enseignent à l'académie militaire de Yokosuka rêvent depuis 10 ans d'exporter des matériels de défense, et me disaient-ils, avec la même vigueur industrielle que celle qui a permis au Japon jadis de s'imposer dans l'exportation de fax ou de caméras...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Les peuples qui aiment bien manger ensemble ne se font pas la guerre"

 Jean-Robert Pitte et Naomichi Ishige

Isao Kumakura et modérateur

Ravissement et pincement au coeur de l'assistance lorsque la phrase a été prononcée avec force: "Les peuples qui aiment bien manger ensemble ne se font pas la guerre". L'auteur de ces mots n'est autre que Jean-Robert Pitte, membre de l’Institut et président de la Mission française du patrimoine et des cultures alimentaires, connu pour ses sorties véhémentes, lors du séminaire tenu à la Maison Franco Japonaise d'Ebisu, Tokyo.

Les récents classements par l'UNESCO au patrimoine culturel immatériel de l'humanité du repas gastronomique des Français et du Washoku (la cuisine traditionnelle du Japon) ont mis en valeur la gastronomie comme élément essentiel de la culture des peuples, face à l’uniformisation des pratiques alimentaires. Intéressante discussion et regards croisés ont été portés sur les gastronomies françaises et japonaises.

Château d'Ebisu, à l'atelier de Joël Robuchon

Le Washoku aime "goûter la saison" a expliqué Naomichi Ishige, ex directeur du Musée National d'Ethnologie, et c'est une cuisine qui garde les ingrédients en leur état naturel, une philosophie paradoxale, sans assaisonnement trop fort qui gâche les saveurs naturelles de la cuisine japonaise dont l'Umami うま味, l’une des cinq saveurs de base avec le sucré, l’acide, l’amer et le salé, ce célèbre goût plaisant de "bouillon" que l'on connaissait déjà dans la Rome antique.

Pour lui, l'alimentation a été déséquilibrée au Japon dans les années 60 en raison de la vogue de la cuisine occidentale riche en graisse, sucre et manque de fibre, donnant naissance au processus de l'individualisation de la cuisine familiale et à une mauvaise hygiène de vie. Aujourd'hui conclut Ishige さん, il faut rééquilibrer la nourriture dite de "société" et la nourriture familiale. Deux maux qui frappent la gastronomie française et le Washoku. Idée partagée par Isao Kumakura(president of Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, president of the Washoku Japan Project)"Même au Japon, dit-il, les grands Chefs de Shoku Bunka (gastronomie japonaise) ne sont pas reconnus comme Trésor national vivant du Japon (人間国宝 Ningen Kokuho) par l'agence ministérielle japonaise de la Culture.

Atelier de Joël Robuchon, arrangements de foie gras

"Il faut faire vivre le Patrimoine" concluait Jean-Robert Pitte, soulignant le rôle joué par Auguste Escoffier et César Ritz dans la transmission de l'héritage des grands gastronomes. Intéressante confrontation entre le français et les 2 japonais, l'avenir de la gastronomie française servie au Palais Impérial lors des banquets officiels depuis l'Ere Meiji. Pitte veut les maintenir, mais Ishige et Kumakura estiment qu'une présentation du Washoku doit désormais faire son apparition au Palais... A-t-on frisé l'incident diplomatique? 2 secondes seulement, car de bon goût, les conférenciers ont été joliment ovationnés par l'assistance, un mix de public japonais et français, dégustant les bons mots de nos experts invités par la Sopexa, l'Ambassade de France, la Maison Franco Japonaise avant une réception sublime et arrosée à l'atelier de Joël Robuchon au château d'Ebisu...

(Summary in English: "Rapture and twinge of sorrow in the audience when the sentence was pronounced forcefully: "The people who love to eat together do not fight." The author of these words is none other than Jean-Robert Pitte, a member of the Institute and president of the French Mission heritage and food culture, also known for his spirited outputs, at the seminar held at the Maison Franco Japonaise d'Ebisu, Tokyo...)

JLK Au château d'Ebisu, à l'atelier de Joël Robuchon