Sunday, December 28, 2008

William Pfaff: "The Question of American Incompetence".



Ough, a tough guy this Mr. William Pfaff! Following the Gaza bloodshed, provoked or unprovoked between Middle-East Hamas and the harsh riposte of the Israelis armies, endorsed by Secretary Rice, I came to look at the current situation in Iraq* with this article I had in my recent files: From William Pfaff: The theme is about "The conclusions of the report on American reconstruction of Iraq" It included the following statement:

Five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the U.S. government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program.” I would think this should be written in fiery letters over the portal of the future president Barack Obama’s National Security Council. W. Pfaff writes.

Pfaff article describes the issue of "American official policy" under GW Bush. Beyond incompetence, some are raising concerns of Human Rights abuse and trial of US soon to be ex officials to avoid a complete loss of trust into the US policies, be political, economical or financial, or societal and human rights policies.

"A 513-page federal report on the American-led reconstruction of American-destroyed Iraq, which has proven to be a $100 billion disaster, incorporating ignorant assumptions, waste, organizational chaos, bureaucratic and personal rivalries, lies, and incompetence."



So much to do to the world most favorite new US president of Barack Obama, celebrated on the global scale as a remedy after the Bush disastrous "axis of incompetence."

The culture of war and the role of war in the US history and fascination for war and for 19th Century alike war mongers is a constant in American history according to Christophe Jaffrelot, Director of the CERI at Sciences Politiques school, Paris. Basically against minor States since WWII.

Other views are related to the questioning by Asian leaders of the reliability of the American leadership from now on. Well, hum... good luck Barack to say the least.

Click the title of this post to access to William Pfaff article "The Question of American Incompetence"

* Iraq is traversed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, whose valley was the site of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. It was conquered by Arabia in the 7th century and from 1534 formed part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, a kingdom was established, although the country was under British administration until 1932. Saddam Hussein came to power as president in 1979. From 1980 to 1988, the country was at war with Iran, its eastern neighbor. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait; it was driven back by an international coalition of forces in the Gulf War of 1991. The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and captured Saddam Hussein. Sovereignty was transferred to an interim government June 28, 2004, but U.S. forces remained in Iraq amid rising chaos.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Commerce et politique : Pas d'état d'âme pour le premier ministre japonais Taro Aso.

Je lis dans ce papier d'un quotidien français une information que la presse sud coréenne avait annoncée récemment : "Par le jeu de prises de participation, une entreprise française... figure parmi les principaux – sinon le premier – investisseurs étrangers en Corée du Nord. Car en prenant le contrôle, en décembre 2007, de la division ciment d'Orascom, Ciment Lafarge est devenu partenaire à 50 % d'une cimenterie nord-coréenne dont l'un des projets est le redémarrage des travaux de l'hôtel Ryugyong à Pyongyang."

Le problème est de taille pour le premier ministre... japonais, Taro Aso, engagé dans une croisade féroce a l'égard de la Corée du nord sous le motif, notamment, d'enlèvements de malheureuses victimes japonaises ces dernières décennies, par des présumés espions nord coréens. Ajoutons-y la dernière présence symbolique de "Guerre froide" en Asie, guerre froide incarnée par le régime tyrannique de Pyongyang.

Lafarge est liée a la firme familiale de monsieur Aso -"Aso Cement" appelée "Aso Mining" lors de la seconde guerre mondiale- qui est située dans la région de Fukuoka. Ce sont des partenaires en affaire. On peut découvrir ici le lien hypertexte http://www.aso-lafarge-cement.jp/ Question: Difficile de savoir qui l'emportera: du commerce ou de la politique?

Sur l'histoire controversée de "Aso Mining" et des prisonniers de la Guerre du Pacifique contraints aux travaux forcés au Japon, a lire cet article de notre collègue Christopher Reed http://lnk.nu/counterpunch.org/rmo.html

Au dernier sondage Jiji press, la cote de popularité du premier ministre japonais Taro Aso était de 16,7% et ce sont moins ses gaffes politiques ou la crise financière mondiale que son état d'esprit, qui lui posent un certain nombre de problèmes de survie politique.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Archives: Japan ex-PM and Peace Nobel Prize Sato told US to use nukes if China strikes Japan!


Sato and Nixon

Shocking? No, politics.

In 1965, Japan's then prime minister Eisaku Sato asked the U.S. to deploy nuclear weapons against PRC if war broke out, according to newly declassified government files released to the public.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato made comments in a January 1965 meeting with former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that suggested he accepted port calls by U.S. nuclear-armed vessels, declassified documents have shown.

The information emerged in diplomatic documents released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. The ministry's historical documents hint that there was a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over bringing nuclear weapons into Japan.

The irony is that Sato obtained the Nobel prize* in 1974 "in recognition of Japan's entry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty"!

During his first trip to Washington Sato told then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that US military forces could launch a nuclear attack on the PRC by sea if needed. Sato also told McNamara that although Japan was technically capable of building atomic weapons, it had no intention of doing so. In the meeting, McNamara also reportedly asked the possibility of Japan exporting weapons. Referring to a space development rocket that Japan was producing, Sato said, "If the need arises it could be put to military use."

In 1969, Sato struck a deal with U.S. president Richard Nixon to repatriate Okinawa and remove its nuclear weaponry: this deal was controversial because it allowed the U.S. forces in Japan to maintain bases in Okinawa after repatriation.

Sato had entered the Diet in 1949 as a member of the Liberal Party, and gradually rose through the ranks of Japanese politics, becoming Chief Cabinet Secretary to Shigeru Yoshida, and in 1952, minister of construction. After the Liberal Party merged with the Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party, Satō became Minister of Finance in the governments of Nobusuke Kishi (his brother and ex-war criminal) and Hayato Ikeda.

These documents are already matter of bitter discussions. As the Mainichi shimbun pointed out in its English edition today:

"Historical records released in the United States in 1999 show that before the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised in 1960, Japan and the United States secretly agreed that calls by U.S. nuclear-armed vessels to Japanese ports would be exempt from preliminary arrangements outlined in the security treaty's accompanying documents. Commenting on the latest information, Foreign Ministry official Kazuhiro Suzuki said that there was no secret nuclear agreement between Japan and the United States. He said it was thought that the prime minister's comments were an expression of general expectations of U.S. nuclear deterrence from the sea if war were to break out."

Peace Nobel Prize...? A document about a period of tumultuous relation between Japan and the US, declassified in a period of on going master-slave tumultuous relationship!

NB: * Eisaku Sato received the Nobel Peace Prize (with Sean MacBride in 1974) in recognition of Japan's entry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and emergence as a peaceful world power. He died in Tokyo the following year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Travaux forcés: le premier ministre Taro Aso piégé par son administration


Carte des camps de prisonniers au Japon durant la guerre du Pacifique

Le Japon a reconnu que des prisonniers de guerre alliés avaient été exploités comme main-d'oeuvre dans les mines de charbon de la famille de l'actuel premier ministre japonais, Taro Aso.

Le ministère de la santé et de l'aide sociale a indiqué vendredi que des documents de l'époque de la dernière guerre montrent que 300 prisonniers britanniques, néerlandais et australiens ont travaillé dans les mines de la famille Aso à Fukuoka, au sud du Japon, entre avril 1945 et la reddition du Japon, quatre mois plus tard. C'est la première fois que le gouvernement dirigé par Taro Aso reconnaît les faits. Deux prisonniers australiens sont morts dans ces mines.


Mines Aso de Yoshikuma
(The Aso Yoshikuma mine near Fukuoka, Japan, owned by current Japanese prime minister Taro Aso's family and which employed forced POW labor during World War II.)

La publication de cette information intervient alors que la popularité de Taro Aso est à 20% trois mois après son arrivée aux commandes du pouvoir politique Japon. Aso s'est souvent distingué par des gaffes à répétition.

Refusant de commenter les documents incriminant sa famille, Aso a également écarté la révélation que des travailleurs forcés coréens - la Corée étant alors occupée par le Japon - avaient été employés dans les mines de son grand-père. Aso avait brièvement été à la tête de l'entreprise familiale après guerre avant de devenir avocat. Les prisonniers de guerre alliés au Japon mourraient sept fois plus que ceux des camps de prisonniers alliés. Les indemnités réclamées par les survivants demeurent un problème que le Japon refuse de résoudre.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Painters of Characters



This is the Christmas time, and I attended the inauguration of the exhibition of my Gamma agency photographer friend and senior respected colleague Kurita sama associated to the talented painter artist Mumuryk. Result is fascinating. Art and news photography married to the inspiration of a painter. I knew collage and I now discover a new scenography. My favorite is the Kabuki actor. He reminds me a famous politician currently staged on Japan political scene... "Few painters and photographers have done more to suggest the infinite natural resources of their art." I see this exhibition as a poetry in two-fold, consisting of the associations and of the intrinsic beauty of the image-scene interpreted by a young artist.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Un café" avec Seyed Abbas Araghchi, ambassadeur d'Iran


"Demain l'Iran jouera un grand rôle au Moyen Orient".
Dr. Seyed Abbas Araghchi


Cela n'avait pas du tout l'air d'une discussion avec un envoyé d'une république assoiffée de sang. Au contraire, c'était une très intéressante entrevue avec l'ambassadeur de la République islamique d’Iran au Japon, durant un café hier suite a une impressionnante conférence tenue a la Nippon Foundation de Tokyo, bondée d'observateurs pour l'événement.

Après avoir lancé une volée de bois vert contre l'Occident (Allemagne, France, GB) le Dr. Seyed Abbas Araghchi me confirme que "Oui l'Iran a discuté avec les américains sur une stabilisation de la région Moyen-Orient lors de trois rencontres".

On parle toujours des intentions nucléaires belliqueuses de l'Iran, alors que selon lui, "le programme est pacifique". Il n'a pas nécessairement convaincu son auditoire.

Le programme nucléaire iranien, dit-il, a démarré en 1957, avec l'aide allemande, puis fut interrompu, après l'arrivée des Mollahs a Téhéran, ce qui a dissuadé les occidentaux de poursuivre les contrats nucléaires avec l'Iran.

"Cela nous a donné une bonne leçon qui est de ne pas avoir confiance envers les Européens une fois accomplie la révolution politique iranienne."

L'Iran qui, explique le Dr Araghchi, a été contraint a des négociations destinées, suite aux pressions américaines sur la Troïka européenne, "a stopper net le programme d'enrichissement de Téhéran."

"Pourquoi ne pas autoriser l'Iran a mettre en oeuvre son programme de centrale afin de générer 20.000 Mégawatts d'électricité", s'interroge l'ambassadeur "alors que les ressources énergétiques en pétrole et gaz, s'épuisent"?

Il a balayé les questions sur la menace de l'Iran pour Israël, en affirmant que "le Hezbollah avait deja marqué des points dans la région" et qu'en outre l'hypothèse d'une "attaque de missile nucléaire sur Israël se transformerait en une pluie d'une centaine de bombes nucléaires sur l'Iran", ce qui démontre que les déclarations américaines et européennes dans ce dossier "ne sont que de la propagande."

"Nous attendons a présent un changement d'attitude des américains avec l'élection de Barack Obama a la Maison Blanche."

"Nous sommes même prêts a négocier avec les Américains sur l'Irak" m' a déclaré l'envoyé de Téhéran au Japon. "2009 doit être le début des opérations" de la centrale nucléaire.

Discutant lors de la pause café avec le Dr. Araghchi, il m'a confié, entre autres choses, que l'Iran attendait de jouer un rôle important pour cette question de la reconstruction de l'Irak, et celle de la stabilisation du Moyen Orient.

Il m'a semblé qu'il ne prenait pas très au sérieux les explications de l'écrivain et essayiste américain Robert Baer, l’ancien chef espion de la CIA au Moyen-Orient, et auteur de "L'Iran, l'irrésistible ascension". "Bien entendu qu'on parle avec les américains, et avec d'autres, cela n'a rien de secret". De quoi? "Il n'y a pas d'autre voie pour les américains que d'accepter le rôle que peut jouer l'Iran dans la région moyen orientale."

Calme, mesuré mais ferme, le Dr Araghchi, ancien vice-ministre, en poste depuis février, a l'étoffe d'un futur haut-dirigeant iranien. Je l'ai laissé a ses hôtes de la Nippon Fondation alors que j'étais moi-même pourchassés par des japonais, qui se présentaient fort poliment comme des universitaires, très curieux visiblement de mon entretien avec l'ambassadeur d'Iran.

C'est qu'il m'a dit des choses très intéressantes en effet. L'affaire "Eurodiff" et les attentats en France dans les années 80. Mais, la page est tournée. Peut-être...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Délires de la presse "A ma botte" au Japon!



La Délégation de la Commission Européenne a Tokyo a
fustigé la censure et la discrimination commerciale
dont sont victimes les médias étrangers accrédités au
Japon.

Elle a présenté aux autorités japonaises depuis 2002
avec l'ambassadeur de l'UE au Japon, Bernard Zepter,
les cas de discriminations presse parmi les 130
articles de désaccords qui ont été identifiés entre
l'UE et le Japon.

Notamment dans le cas qui nous occupe, journalistes,
la censure des événements et des faits d'actualités
par les "clubs de presse" japonais, (présents dans
toutes les administrations, firmes, collectivités
locales, a la Bourse, etc.) fermés aux médias
étrangers sauf... aux agences de presse (AFP, AP,
ThomsonReuters, Bloomberg, Dowjones) qui ont créé de
fait un cartel "des médias étrangers" au sein des
cartels de la très puissante presse japonaise.

Pire! La censure imposée par les autorités du pays en
question conforte nos propres autorités (françaises)
qui a leur tour imposent, selon leurs bons désirs, un
carcan sur nos activités au mépris total de ce que
l'on nous rabâche quotidiennement sur liberté
d'entreprise (free trade), liberté de la presse, etc.

Sous présidence française de l'Union Européenne, un
nouveau coup fourré qui fait "désordre".

Je prends un exemple, lorsque Chirac est venu
récemment a Tokyo pour assister a divers événements
dont un qui s'est tenu a l'ambassade de France, son
petit état major a choisi d'inviter, d'en informer
l'AFP mais pas les autres.

En outre l'AFP a pu faire un télex et le vendre a ses
clients, un télex très aseptisé car sans références
aux affaires de Chirac au Japon ou en France, mais en
outre les services de l'ambassade de France, dirigée
par son ambassadeur, ancien secrétaire général du Quai
d'Orsay sous de Villepin-Chirac, Mr. Philippe Faure,
n'ont pas hésité alors a tenir confidentielle cette
invitation faite a l'AFP.

Discrimination et censure? "Oh non c'est l'état major
de Chirac a Paris qui a fait l'invitation"
dit
l'ambassadeur lors d'un petit déjeuner prestement
arrangé pour "les correspondants de la presse
française au Japon". Le Monde a souvent bénéficié des
mêmes faveurs que l'AFP.

La voix de son maître est ainsi respectée et on vous
balance que c'est normal. Les lecteurs,
téléspectateurs, auditeurs, et les professionnels,
apprécieront ce nouvel épisode des délires de la
presse "A ma botte" au Japon! A suivre...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thailande, la révolte... en douceur


Les rouges contre les jaunes... France 2 parle de football? Non, de troubles politiques à coups de grenades offensives en Thaïlande, et le ton employé est léger. La Thaïlande à travers le prisme déformé des Parisiens, c'est surtout des plages et des filles aux yeux en amandes, alignées comme des langoustes grillées dans un palace à rabais.

Une crise de régime? Non... simplement des problèmes d'attentes pour des touristes qui rigolent... et visiblement pas un consul pour aider les pauvres vacanciers, plantés sur leur sac à dos Louis Vuitton à l'aéroport, un peu paumés.

Les 51 blessés Thai d'avant-hier dont 4 gravement sont ignorés des analystes assis à Paris, pas même interviewés par des envoyés spéciaux vraiment de passage. Les hôpitaux sont fermés? La censure et les rafles des opposants, pas vu ni lu. J'ai rarement vu une telle insouciance dans le traitement d'une crise politique qui dure depuis des années et qui va au-delà du combat entre modernes et anciens. Elle a commencé après seconde guerre mondiale, s'est prolongée par des massacres comme celui de Thammasat en 1976, de l'hôtel Royal à Sanam Luang face au Grand Palace en 1991 etc.



La démocratie est garantie par le roi, dont on célébrera l'anniversaire le 5. Les militaires (comme Prem hier ou Chamlong (opposant) ou Anupong aujourd'hui) forment un équilibre précaire dans une société corrompue par les milieux d'affaires glauques ancrés dans le camp Thaksin, ancien colonel de police qui a reçu des oligarques sino-thai des pans entiers de l'économie Thai et des "licences" pour exploiter des firmes télécoms à la botte.

Thaksin a puisé amplement dans les caisses de ses entreprises, appuyé par l'oncle Sam jusqu'à ce qu'il devienne franchement infréquentable. Il a recu l'aide de ses anciens potes de la police (qui on le sait en Thaïlande a des liens sulfureux avec les trafics multiples...) puis du pouvoir Thai, pour transformer la société en clients de l'establishment "thai" moins soucieux de free trade et de modernité que de privilèges. Ses proches sont agrippés aujourd'hui au pouvoir à Bangkok comme des sangsues sur un baigneur imprudent des marais. Mais évidemment c'est encore et toujours plus compliqué si l'on entre dans les détails.

Cela dit, observation de reporteur: Etant donné la pauvreté de ce journalisme emprunté, piqué dans la forme aux papiers d'agences, factuels sans plus, sans odeur ni saveur, et aussi réducteurs que des bulles de dialogue dans une bande dessinée, c'est à se demander si la notion de "sources" est encore légitime dans le métier de journaliste. En revanche le correspondant de France 24 a Bangkok semble bien mieux informé et implanté. Il y a des jours, curieusement, l'on est naturellement pour la fusion (des forces) des rédactions des chaînes TV publiques françaises!


Chamlong Srimuang, à droite, ancien général, ancien Gouverneur de Bangkok, Bouddhiste, a la tête des opposants. Les Thai l'adorent

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hostages crisis, bio-terror, avian flu: Tokyo's apocalypse, now!



This is the statement made by Toshiyuki SHIKATA the security counselor of the flamboyant Tokyo Governor Shintaro ISHIHARA. If such a mass hostages crisis as in Mumbai, INDIA, added to a chemical or bio-weapons scenario was to happen in the JAPAN mega capital, would the result be tens of thousands of death?

Yes, it's possible!

No special forces able to interfere, no law to allow fast action from the authorities, not enough medical facilities, vaccines, security forces, not enough doctors, commandos, transport, no water, no food, no shelters. If a major pandemic: Tokyo residents will die one after the other.

Tokyo megalopolis (over 20 millions inhabitants with suburban cities) is heading towards apocalypse and does not even know it yet. Kobe earthquake and The Aum sect in 1995 taught nearly nothing to Japanese. The risk is not in the Indian sea, it is here in front of the eyes of an impotent administration. "We start to understand the phenomenon and have begun to rehearse".



Courtesy of Foreign Press Center, Japan. (Click the title to access)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Japan's fear of foreign tourists!


Acccording to Kyodo Japanese news agency some 51.8 percent of Japanese said a rise in foreign tourists visiting Japan made them "concerned about safety" and thought "some steps should be taken" to address such concerns, according to a government survey released Thursday.

In 2003 , the Government of Japan under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a mandate to raise the profile of Japan as a tourist destination, and therefore creating a promotional campaign called Yokoso Japan! "Welcome to Japan." Their goal is to bring the number of yearly visitors to 10 million by 2010.

The nationwide survey on tourism policy conducted by the Cabinet Office in October, covering 1,854 respondents, also recorded some positive views about an increase in the number of travelers from abroad. Some 50.7 percent of respondents said it "will promote international exchanges and mutual understanding" and 40.8 percent replied it "will lead to the reinvigoration of regional economies." The survey also found 27.3 percent responded that "there will be more trouble in regional communities."

A record 8.35 million foreign travelers visited Japan in 2007, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. Overseas visitors to Japan declined year on year for the third straight month in October, falling 5.9 percent to 739,100, according to an estimate Tuesday by the Japan National Tourist Organization.

It's the longest consecutive drop since the four-month stretch from April to July 2003 during the SARS epidemic, JNTO officials said. The organization blames the latest dropoff on the global financial crisis and the strong yen. The number of visitors from some countries has fallen by more than 10 percent. The JNTO cast doubt on whether the government's target of 9.15 million visitors this year can be reached. Aiming to draw 10 million visitors by 2010, the government has been running the Visit Japan campaign and launched the Japan Tourism Agency in October.

Kyodo is one of the two Japanese wire news agency with Jiji press.

Mumbai pris en otage


Ah... les bases du Bangladesh, jamais on en parle dans cette affaire des Moudjahidin Indiens (MI) Qui sont-ils en fait, ceux qui sont suivis a la trace, depuis novembre 2007 (attentats de Uttar Pradesh) et surtout depuis quelques semaines, le 30 septembre, quand la police de Mumbai (Bombay en langue coloniale britannique) avait mis a jour un complot "terroriste" des "MI" pas tres loin de la cite aux 5% de PIB. Des terroristes drolement bien aguerris aux hautes technologies notamment celles de l'information. Une bonne lecture eventuellement avec notre confrere Pakistanais Hamid Mir interesse lui-aussi par les nouveaux chemins de la guerre des Talibans et de leurs allies AQ et IIF. Ils traversent l'Inde, deja en crise entre nationalistes et "islamistes" et, on le savait le Pakistan, il faut y ajouter aussi dorenavant le Bangladesh.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Les "cartels" de la presse d'agence à l'heure d'Internet!

Des géants de l'édition et des médias broient des journalistes!



Rien n'a été fait pour briser les cartels d'agences, les
monopoles tenus par les agences de presse a l'étranger
qui distribuent l'information qu'elles veulent comme elle
le veulent et quand elle le veulent en rejetant les
principes proclamés bien haut de libre accès a
l'information et de la libre-entreprise.

Je voudrais vous exposer, peut-être l'ai je deja fait il
y a 5 ans environ, un dossier qui concerne peut-être
votre maison de presse, votre agence photo, votre radio
ou télé, votre site Internet.

En Asie, au Japon, en Inde ou en Chine particulièrement,
les agences de presse AP, APTN, Thomson-Reuters,
Bloomberg, UPI, AFP, TV ou photo, pratiquent couramment
une politique de monopole. Elles organisent de fait un
cartel, sur le dos des journalistes correspondants, ESP,
des détachés ou en poste a l'étranger, des journalistes
cameramen et des journalistes radio ou photographes.

Ceux-ci travaillent dans de petites structures, en bureau
de correspondant léger. Soit un reporter et un (e)
assistant interprète ou travaille en indépendant. De
l'Express au Monde ou Guardian en passant par le Figaro
ou Libération, des radios aux télés du monde entier, tous
sont concernés par ces pratiques de brigandages de
l'information. Les plus pénalisés sont les médias du
monde en développement.

Dans certains pays, ceux ou je travaille par exemple, le
Japon ou la Chine, tout journaliste étranger ou national
doit disposer d'une accréditation. Normal mais cela ne
nous permet pas nécessairement de suivre les conférences
de presse ou tout autre manifestation d'ampleur et de
poser des question car un cartel des agences anglo-
saxonnes s'est interposé entre nous et l'événement.

Ces positions de monopole sont, outrage et scandale,
garanties par des "Clubs de Presse", composés par des
journalistes correspondants d'agences étrangères ou
nationaux dans des clubs de presse, présidentiel,
parlementaire, ministères, a la Bourse, dans les
municipalités, les grandes firmes, les organismes
financiers etc. Plusieurs centaines de clubs de presse
au Japon par exemple "cautérisent" ainsi l'information.

Autrement dit, vous faites faire un article ou un
reportage télé radio ou image par un de vos journalistes
ici au Japon. Celui ou celle-ci, même accrédité par sa
maison de presse française, ne pourra pas accéder a
l'événement ou ne pourra pas le filmer, l'enregistrer, le
photographier car ce Cartel des agences de presse
l'interdit.

Je ne suis pas certain que les patrons de presse en
France sont au courant de cette situation qui en Chine ou
au Japon commence a faire hurler les journalistes
travaillant légitimement mais en petite structure. Il
nous faut alors acheter les images ou les photos ou les
sons (de 1000 a 5000 Euros pour 2 minutes d'images télé)
et faire le montage ou un pré-montage et l'expédier a
notre siège.

Mais le scandale ne s'arrête pas la, car les pays (et pas
vraiment des régimes démocratiques en Birmanie ou
en Indonésie) interdisent aux journalistes (même
accrédités) de poser des questions lors de la couverture
d'événements et conférences de presse. Idem au Japon, en
Chine.

Exemple: Imaginez Sarkozy ou Fillon, Royal, Depardieu,
le Pape, Castro etc, viennent a Pékin ou Tokyo rencontrer
le président chinois ou le Premier Ministre japonais,
seule la presse accréditée nationale chinoise ou
japonaise et deux journalistes de la presse
présidentielle du voyage seront autorisés a poser des
questions qui furent préalablement rédigées en vue de la
conférence de presse de clôture de la visite officielle,
tournée, audience.

Les déclarations seront filmées en pool par les rares TV
du pays en question accrédités (La CCTV en Chine, les 5
grandes chaînes japonaises) et par les agences étrangères
APTN, Thomson-Reuters (et éventuellement par une
télévision de la presse accompagnant les officiels
français)

Ces images sont ensuite "vendues" aux TV du monde entier.
Les autres journalistes correspondants accrédités sont
invités a s'asseoir sur un strapontin a regarder et a la
fermer. Puis obligés d'aller acheter les images ou le
son a la chaîne nationale du pays (CCTV ou NHK) ou aux
agences APTN ou Thomson-Reuters. Fair-play?

Ensuite il nous faut faire le reportage, montage et
commentaire et envoyer tout cela a notre siège. Bonjour
la facture pour un sujet news de 2 minutes multipliée par
l'achat des images, les frais de "transport" souvent
assurés par un autre cartel, le cartel des TV nationales
et des agences du genre AP (APTN) via satellite. Le FTP
c'est lent...

En outre cela devient une pratique incohérente a l'heure
du journalisme Internet et Hi-Tech. Un journaliste
cameraman faisant son sujet et son montage et son
"plateau" avec sa télécommande en main.



Difficile donc de concurrencer les Cartels d'agences, ces
géants. Ce principe est typique de ce monopole des
agences anglo-saxonnes (AFP fait du texte, des photos
mais pas de son ou d'images) c'est une pratique allant a
l'encontre de la libre concurrence, du libre accès des
journalistes, et de ce libre commerce et de cette
mondialisation des échanges que les agences AP,
Thomson-Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, UPI, nous rabâchent en
permanence dans leurs dépêches mais omettent d'appliquer
des que le mot concurrence vient sur le tapis.

Je n'ai jamais vu Paris ou Bruxelles s'emparer du
dossier. L'UE a mentionne simplement que les Kisha Clubs
(les clubs de presse japonais) devraient être ouverts a
la presse étrangère, mais la encore ce sont les cartels
qui l'emportent.

Demain, si une nouvelle secte d'Aum empoisonne la moitié
de Tokyo ou de Shanghai, vous n'aurez pas la liberté de
disposer de reportages images ou photos des responsables
gouvernementaux "tournés" par votre propre personnel
non-membre de ce cartel. Votre reporteur, votre équipe
auront été "filtrés" par les cartels d'agences, les
brassards sur le bras et les seuls acceptés "sur zone"
par les forces de sécurité qui encadrent avec le bâton
facile et les arrestations courantes.

Pour rappel: Nous sommes 600 journalistes étrangers et
japonais accrédités au Japon travaillant pour 200 médias
étrangers, or, parmi eux, il y a une quantité de
journalistes professionnel 'image, son ou photo' qui ne
peuvent avoir accès a l'événement ou aux conférences de
presse et en faire le reportage avec leur propre carte de
presse et leur équipe.

A peine 9 personnes décident de notre sort au sein d'une
organisation croupion (Au Japon c'est le FPIJ) et nous
autorisent parfois nous refusent de couvrir telle ou
telle news, dont les 4 agences de presse qui sont membres
"de droit". Celles-ci nous interdisent l'accès au Board
ou se cooptent et se reproduisent entre elles.

Accrédité comme journaliste-correspondant par deux
grandes groupes de radios- télévisions nationales
françaises, je n'ai jamais pu être élu au titre de "Chair
Radio" régulièrement raflé par VOA, BBC ou Radio
Australie. Idem pour mes collègues européens non
britanniques. (Tout cela a un parfum d'alliance
militaro-politique US et ses "alliés")

Il y a quelques années Philippe Ries quand il était Chef
d'Agence AFP avait lancé un mouvement de résistance
contre les interdictions d'accès aux conférences de
presse au Japon (Gouvernement, administration, firmes,
G-8) estimant que cette interdiction décrété par les
cartels japonais et les 4 agences anglo-saxonnes était
une barrière non tarifaire a éliminer et constituerait un
dossier sérieux qui devait être soulevé devant le Gatt
(OMC/WTO aujourd'hui). Philippe est reparti a Paris.
Mais beaucoup ici ont son combat en souvenir et
souhaitent le réactiver.

Le plus cynique dans tout cela est que le responsable des
questions juridiques au sein du Club des Correspondants
Etrangers de Tokyo (le "Kanji" du FCCJ) est le directeur
des ventes de... AP (Titre: "general manager of market
development and sales for the Associated Press"). Son
influence est considerable au sein du FPIJ, organisme
parent du FCCJ, qui organise les pools des photographes
et cameramen. On le voit peu intervenir pour contrer les
pratiques de cartel de son agence.

Si vous pouviez nous aider par vos conseils ou nous
expliquer comment pouvoir résister et lutter contre ces
cartels, ce serait un plus pour nos maisons de presse,
(vos maisons) en France, des petites, moyennes, ou
grandes entreprises de presse qui sont laissées a l'écart
et ont de plus en plus de mal a lutter contre ces agences
de presse anglo-saxonnes géantes qui vivent bien du
monopole de fait conféré par les autorités nationales de
ces pays d'Asie.

Naturellement, la recette est simple: pas d'autorisation
de couvrir une "news", pas de présence aux conférences de
presse, donc pas de question gênante...

Il en va, en plus de l'aspect commercial, de la liberté
de la presse, et les organisation professionnelles
doivent en être informées, et faire quelque chose aussi
sur ce sujet qui concerne ces pratiques de Cartel AP
Thomson-Reuters Bloomberg UPI AFP.

Je crois que cela le mérite pour une région du monde,
abritant 3 ou 4 milliards d'habitants, qui attise la
curiosité des journalistes. Souvent ils ne savent pas
toujours pourquoi cette Asie demeure si mystérieuse et si
secrète, ce n'est pas nécessairement pour des raisons
d'éloignement ou le fait d'une culture hermétique, peu
perméable au respect de la liberté de la presse et du
libre commerce.

Cet article a été publié également pour la liste de discussion
"Journaliste" animée par Gilles Klein (Arrêt sur Images)
https://lists.typhon.net/listinfo/journaliste

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Washington G-20 and the facade of irresponsibility.


Notophthalmus, Taricha, and other genera, family of the Salamandridae, their bright eyes give them excellent night vision...

Here we are and Sarkozy got his gun, first historical move while Obama apprehends a new expected liberalism policy (Click the tittle to access The New Yorker paper). Now, strength of markets and world leaders will make the difference, " y-a-pas de lézard ! "

"Those who admire the nation that has built the world's greatest economy and has never ceased trying to persuade the world of the advantages of free trade expect her to be the first to promote fair exchange rates," French president Nicolas Sarkozy said prior to the G20 in a speech to a joint session of U.S. Congress. "The Chinese yuan is already everyone's problem. The dollar cannot remain solely the problem of others. If we're not careful, monetary disarray could morph into economic war. We would all be its victims". From the dollar diplomacy to the dollar supremacy to the dollar hegemony.

A few words from an enlightened Congress watcher.

"Dollar dominance got a huge boost after World War II, US coffers were filled with the world’s gold. But the world chose not to return to the discipline of the gold standard, and the politicians applauded. Printing money to pay the bills was a lot more popular than taxing or restraining unnecessary spending. In spite of the short-term benefits, imbalances were institutionalized for decades to come.

Using force to compel people to accept money without real value can only work in the short run. It ultimately leads to economic dislocation, both domestic and international, and always ends with a price to be paid."


As long as foreign recipients take dollars for real goods and are willing to finance US extravagant consumption and militarism, the status quo will continue regardless of how huge foreign debts and trade deficits and current account deficit become.

The economic law that honest exchange demands only things of real value as currency cannot be repealed. The chaos that one will experiment with worldwide fiat (arbitrary) money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or other equivalent, such as a value based on sustainable development, rather than dollars or Euros. The sooner the better.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Autumn, a shift in political climate.


To Autumn, a poem by John Keats.

The poem widely has been considered a masterpiece of
Romantic English poetry. Literary critic Harold Bloom
described it as "the most perfect shorter poem in the
English language." Established poet Tom Paulin argues
that the poem is a response to the Peterloo Massacre
which occurred earlier that year 1819. The argument
follows that the notoriously dark third stanza depicts
a shift in the political climate towards a more
sinister age when such public displays of brutality
could happen anywhere, anytime, under any shape.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close
bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him
how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round
the thatch-eaves run; To bend with apples the moss'd
cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the
core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still
more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think
warm days will never cease, For Summer has
o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes
whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on
a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing
wind; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, Drows'd
with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the
next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes
like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head
across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient
look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-- While
barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the
stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir
the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne
aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And
full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The
red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering
swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Japan Air force ex-Chief: "Japan was not aggressor during WWII!"

Former Japan Air Self Defence Forces chief Toshio Tamogami: ''I was fired after saying Japan is a good country... It's a bit strange''.

Excuse me? Why is this story suddenly appearing in the news? Tamogami was frequently, and some of his colleagues too, known for these shocking views. Shocking, manipulative or just disturbing...? How does Japanese press cover this new incident on revisionism?

It happens after the conviction for bribes and bid rigging of an ex official of the Defense Agency (now a ministry), the vice-minister Moriya, and after the shattering affairs of cadet being beaten to death during sadistic rituals within the forces for the sole motive that he wanted to leave the Self Defense Forces! (A remake of A Few Good Men movie with Tom Cruise?)


Toshio Tamogami talks with reporters Tuesday in the Diet after testifying over his controversial essay.

Here are press extracts: (Also if you click the title you may read an article written by Professor Herbert Bix, author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, which won the Pulitzer Prize, teaches at Binghamton University)



Quotes: "Mr. Tamogami wrote an essay, in which he claimed Japan had not been a wartime aggressor in other Asian countries. Tamogami called for revising the U.S. drafted Constitution on Tuesday during a parliamentary session he attended as an unsworn witness to testify about his controversial essay on Japan's role in World War II. The essay accuses the U.S. of "trapping" Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor. Tamogami also argued that Japan's colonial rule brought prosperity to China and the Korean Peninsula. Tamogami left the ministry after being demoted to the rank of lieutenant general on Nov. 3.

'It is better to fix an issue on which such a big difference of opinion exists in relation to national defense,'' Tamogami told the upper house's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense. Tamogami, 60, did not elaborate but, according to the Nikkei, was referring to differences over legal interpretations of Japan's Constitution, which renounces war.

Tamogami admitted he had informed the Education Division of the ministry's Air Staff Office of the existence of an essay competition effectively organized by a friend of his. The division chief then notified ASDF units across Japan in May of the competition, organized by hotel and condominium developer Apa Group under the theme ''True Modern Historical Perspectives,'' according to Vice Defense Minister Kohei Masuda.

Of the 235 participants in the contest, 94 were from the ASDF. The high ratio has fueled suspicion that ASDF personnel authored and submitted essays on the political theme in an orchestrated way. But during the upper house committee session, Tamogami denied he told a subordinate to encourage ASDF personnel to submit essays in the competition. Tamogami won the top prize of 3 million yen in the competition with the controversial essay.

In the essay, Tamogami also challenged the restrictions on the SDF's use of arms overseas and the ban on the exercise of collective self-defense -- or helping an ally militarily -- under the pacifist Constitution. Tamogami contributed a similar essay to the ASDF's internal magazine, Hoyu, in May last year, while he was serving as ASDF chief of staff.

Fact: from Japan Times:

"What does Tamogami argue in his essay?

The main points:

• Japan was never an "aggressor nation." The army advanced into China and what is now South Korea because Japan stationed its military in those areas based on accords and treaties, and Japan was "a victim" that was "drawn into the Sino-Japanese War" with repeated terrorist acts and provocations by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government.
• The Nationalists were being manipulated by the Comintern, an international communist organization led by the Soviet Union. The Comintern was trying to have Japan and the Nationalists fight each other and thereby give Mao Zedong's Communist Party control of mainland China.
• Japan was also "ensnared in a trap that was very carefully laid by the United States" to force it to launch the Pacific War, and a Soviet spy played a key role in prompting President Franklin Roosevelt to take a tough stance against Japan to provoke war.

What are some of the factual errors in Tamogami's argument?

Ikuhiko Hata, a professor emeritus at Nihon University in Tokyo and a noted expert of modern Japanese history, said the essay "is of extremely low quality" and "even a high school student" can easily point out its mistakes.

For example, Japan sent in troops and sparked the Manchurian Incident in 1931, leading to the establishment of the puppet state Manchukuo, and launched full-scale war in China in 1937, all without any accords or treaties with China, Hata pointed out.

Also, few historians take seriously Tamogami's conspiracy theory of the Comintern's key influence over the Nationalists and U.S. leaders.

Tamogami's essay claims that declassified U.S. government documents prove that Harry White, a senior U.S. Treasury official, was a Soviet spy and he "is said to have been the perpetrator" who wrote the draft of the Nov. 26, 1941, note given to Japan by U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

Tamogami said Japan decided to go to war with America after seeing the tough U.S. demands in the Hull note. Tamogami thus claims it was White who manipulated the U.S. to "draw our country into a war with the U.S."

But according to Hata, Roosevelt made the decision to take a tough stance against Japan, although he may have used as references policy proposals from the departments of State and Treasury.

The allegation that White prompted Roosevelt to get tough with Japan is groundless, Hata said.

Do many conservative leaders share Tamogami's views?

Few would share Tamogami's conspiracy theory of the Comintern's involvement or would be willing to defend the obvious factual errors in his essay.

But some conservative intellectuals and politicians, as evidenced by various gaffes in the past, may sympathize with Tamogami's position over Japan's colonization of Manchuria, and its rule over the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, as well as his claim that Japan should not be singled out as the only "aggressor nation."

Tamogami wrote that unlike Western powers which had colonized other areas, Japan ruled Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan peacefully, developing their economies and improving their living standards. Japan also provided education to people in those areas, even setting up major universities.

Tamogami argues that if Japan should be labeled as "an aggressor nation," all of the Western countries that were colonial powers should be described in the same way.

"There is no reason to single out Japan as an aggressor nation," Tamogami argues in his essay.

Is Tamogami's argument on Japan's colonial policy true?

It reflects only some aspects of Japan's colonial rule of Korea, Manchukuo and Taiwan. It is true Japan invested a considerable amount in the infrastructure of the three colonies and tried to develop their economies.

That policy was particularly successful in Taiwan during the 1895-1945 colonial rule and even laid the foundation of Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the postwar years.

For example, according to Kiyoshi Ito, a Taiwan-born historian, railways in Taiwan were extended from 100 to 600 km by 1917, rice production was doubled and exports increased 9.8 times.

A fact-finding mission sent by the Nationalists was greatly impressed with Taiwan's economic development under Japan's rule and gave it "unstinted praise" in a report published in 1937, Ito pointed out in his 1993 book "Taiwan."

Japan's colonial policy, however, was largely aimed to help the economy at home, and Japan later further exploited the colonies' economies to help it continue the fight in China and against the Allies.

In Korea, Japan forced locals to adopt Japanese family names and worship Shinto, while limiting Korean-language education, which all gave rise to strong anti-Japanese sentiment.

Japan in addition inflicted devastating economic damage on China and other parts of Asia in the 1930s and '40s.

Is Tamogami the first to make such comments?

The essay is merely another installment of skewed perceptions of the war held by some leading figures. Cabinet members make blunt comments every now and then, including in May 1994, when then Justice Minister Shigeto Nagano openly challenged Japan's atrocities in China.

"The Nanjing Massacre was a fabrication," he said in an interview before being driven to resign.

Nagano, who served as chief of the Ground Self-Defense Force before turning to politics, was known for his support for deleting references to wartime sex slaves, known euphemistically in Japan as "comfort women," from school textbooks.

Where did Tamogami get the ideas for his essay?

At a news conference last week after his retirement, Tamogami told reporters his essay was not his own creation but "an opinion formed after reading books by other experts."

Deliberations in the Diet since the incident have elucidated controversial practices within the SDF, including ultraconservative lectures for officer education.

A textbook used at the Command and Staff Course of the Maritime Self-Defense Force says the Japanese people "lost their confidence because of losing the war," and that showing patriotism has not only been forbidden but is a taboo that "enslaves people to low consciousness."

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada acknowledged during Diet committee deliberations that use of that textbook is "extremely incompatible."

Do scholars back Tamogami's view?

Tadasu Kumagai, a military analyst and former ASDF officer, said Tamogami may have caused a frenzy because of his status, but the essay itself is not completely inaccurate. Tamogami should have taken a more academic approach to prove his points instead of quoting publications by others, he said.

In backing the content of the essay, Kumagai was critical of the International Tribunal for the Far East, which Tamogami claimed to be a source of "mind control" over the Japanese people.

"It would be misleading to say that the trials were one-sided," Kumagai said, but added that in reality they were held under the complete management of the Allied forces and the rulings were spread among Japanese people as genuine, without any counteractions." End of quotes.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Japan elderly crime rising


Not so Zen after all...?

New challenge for Japan: After being regarded as the ultimate adorable old grand pa and grand ma, the crisis did not ignore the elders. Today, elderly criminal offenders have increased far more rapidly than the elderly population has grown, suggesting that factors other than the natural increase may be at work and an official report found a correlation between elderly offenders' criminal history and their living circumstances. It means that the more serious their criminal records are, the more isolated and economically strapped they are according to an official of the ministry of Justice who briefed the international press at the Foreign Press Center, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

As in previous years, shoplifting and other types of thefts were the most common variety of crime among elderly offenders, with 65.0 percent of the non-traffic Penal Code offenders aged 65 or older having been caught for thefts. They were followed by unlawful taking of lost things and similar acts classified as "embezzlement," and assaults, including those not resulting in infliction of injuries.

"Many elderly offenders have become distant from their relatives and economically strapped while at the same time having age-related mental and physical problems," said Toru Suzuki, a ministry official who compiled the report. "There are also those willing to take a job. To prevent repeat offenders, it is crucial to find out their needs through systematic support" involving probation offices, welfare groups and local communities."

The elder, not the better?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Elected!


Today, the world had a dream...

"Obama-mania" au Japon!

Le suspense est intégral au Japon, les médias en sont fous, ils l'adorent, "il" c'est Barack Obama! Le gouvernement japonais, lui, est plus prudent car un président américain démocrate c'est traditionnellement davantage de "Japan-bashing" (pression) sur les dossiers économiques et sécuritaires. Ici, on se demande en outre si Obama sera le modernisateur espéré?


Tout le monde connaît Barack Obama mais peu savent qu'au Japon existe un petit village de pêcheurs qui porte le même nom: Obama, petite plage, (小浜市, ville de la préfecture de Fukui sur la mer du Japon.)


Son maire Toshio Murakami, a montré avec fierté à la presse, la lettre que le candidat à la présidentielle américaine a envoyé à la ville. Le candidat remercie la ville pour "son soutien et son encouragement" et les "touchants cadeaux" qu'elle lui a fait parvenir l'an passé, notamment une paire de baguettes laquées, la spécialité locale. Le maire est une célébrité, il cultive le genre "Obama fan" entre modestie orientale et un peu de vanité.


Mais derrière cet enthousiasme, c'est le marketing d'une petite ville de pêcheurs qui souffre, comme beaucoup d'autres régions japonaises, d'une mauvaise redistribution des finances nationales et d'une décentralisation hésitante: Bilan, la ville survit tant bien que mal, avec des finances asséchées. Barack Obama donc c'est l'aubaine!

"Nous partageons plus qu'un nom, nous partageons la même planète et des responsabilités en commun" a souligné le maire d'Obama. "J'attends avec impatience un avenir marqué par l'amitié entre nos deux grandes nations et par un engagement partagé pour un monde meilleur et plus libre".

Monsieur Murakami espèrait le succès de son champion car celui-ci ferait aussi bondir la notoriété de sa ville, permettant d'attirer les touristes, voire, pourquoi pas, d'accueillir un sommet international. Mais il y a plusieurs villages nommés Obama (petite plage) dans l'archipel. La concurrence sera rude!


Le Japon et les USA sont liés par un traité de sécurité depuis un demi siècle. Le chef des forces armées américaines au Japon est le Lieutenant Général Edward Rice que j'ai rencontré hier a mon press club au FCCJ. Afro-américain, brillant, le "Commander" Edward Rice est un jeune général, issu de la nouvelle génération de leaders américains.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Michelin Tokyo " He is back! "

The 2009 edition is to send a wave of enthusiasms, lauds and criticisms. He is a product as much expected at the new Harry Potter. Bibendum is back!



Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009 will be released Nov. 21, as an updated version of the inaugural edition of the restaurant guidebook by the French tire-maker that sold 300,000 copies the first time.



Bookshops expect brisk sales of the latest edition while publishers of other restaurant guidebooks are trying to jump on the bandwagon. The red-covered Michelin Guide is nicknamed the "Red Ship", an allusion to the "Black Ships" led by U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry that ended Japan's isolation policy in the 19th century. Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret sets a sales target for the Tokyo edition at over 300,000 copies this year and onward, and the ambitious target is backed by careful marketing.



Tokyo edition uses many photos and, for the first time in the coveted guidebook's history, carries only restaurants that got starts. The strategy attracted a wide range of readers from young women to middle-aged men. Michelin aims to attract repeat customers by expanding areas and restaurants covered in the book while reaching out to foreign tourists to Japan. Though the number of foreign visitors remains sluggish due to a global financial crisis, Japan is still a promising market for restaurant guidebook publishers, as the government tries to raise the number of overseas tourists to 10 million in 2010.

And one way to show his Japanese identity is the new symbol in the new Michelin Guide Tokyo 2009 where customers of restaurants marked with it will need to take off their shoes! Michelin, according to some "indiscrétion", might publish a Kyoto version in the future.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sell the Yen?


French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Japanese authorities may sell the yen for the first time since 2004 after the currency surged to its strongest in almost 13 years.

This would be purely when the Yen reaches some symbolic level, according to a source formerly at the IMF, quoted from Tokyo.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Asian beehives, Japan, China, Asean...


Japan too is busy as a beehive! Therefore the archipelago's political agenda seems second rate these days. Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated his reluctance to dissolve the House of Representatives for an election anytime soon, saying he wants to prioritize his ''international role'' during the global financial crisis. ''Rather than the domestic political situation... "I again feel the greater need to prioritize my international role,'' Aso, who took office in late September, told a press conference held after he attended the Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Beijing. But "Francisco" (Prime Minister Taro Aso's Christian name) added that there are ''still various issues'' he has to consider and that he cannot say anything more because he has not ''yet decided at this stage whether I will or will not'' call an election.

Inner sources at Diet told me it had been planned on November 30th, nobody would bet on it, now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bourses en fusion



Loin des grands sommets internationaux qui font notre
bonheur... mais livrent des déclarations d'une morne
platitude, G-8, G-20 ou Asem, et, loin des indélicatesses de
dirigeants, type FMI, (in)_opportunes, et en bavardant avec
des collègues d'ici, la tête dans nos écrans et nos index, je
me demande bien ce qu'il adviendra du rôle des courtiers, des
"traders". Ils ne sont pas tous des Jérôme Kerviel mais que
feront-ils dans un monde ou les Bourses vont travailler
toutes seules avec des "MTF" (Multilateral trading facility)
et avec des "Dark Pools". Donc on s'interroge ici sur ce
qu'il adviendra de cette réforme profonde des systèmes
monétaires et financiers qu'on nous promet plus "clean" et
créateurs d'un monde plus équilibré dans un monde ou les
logiciels décoderont l'humeur des marchés financiers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crisis? "Squeeze your brain" Iwate folks say!


Kenji Miyazawa, a poet, novelist, and amateur astronomer, in the early Showa Period, moved with his family to Iwate. Regarded by proud residents of Tokyo as an impoverished place. Born into the family of a pawnbroker, he was greatly disturbed by the thought that his family's affluent lifestyle was supported by squeezing what little extra the poor in the area managed to put aside.


This and his strong Buddhist faith drove Kenji to spend most of his brief life in a passionate struggle to improve the lot of the poor farmers there. In the midst of his endeavors Kenji found time to avidly absorb the latest scientific, philosophic, and artistic developments that were emanating from Europe at the time (1910-1920).

Just as Japan was embarking on her rapid journey toward modernization, Miyazawa Kenji was busy putting down deeper roots in the remote rural setting from which he created a wealth of literature whose universality would someday touch the hearts of people all over the world.

At a time when Japan and the world's economy has completely halted its longest postwar expansion phase amid the deepening credit turmoil. It is not unreal to go and read and see what the Iwate nature blessed land can offer as inspiration sources... Here it is, I went to Iwate with Kenji Miyazawa's words in mind. "True nature of human beings can't help pondering what true goodness is. We must search for true happiness for all living creatures." The fundamental belief underlying Kenji's moral code was that all living creatures are mutually dependent, and the individual cannot attain true happiness apart from the happiness of all.

Iwate nature is outstanding


Japanese living out of cities made the right choice since Japanese cities nowadays cultivate stress and aggressive behaviors. But current situation is tough for Iwate village people. Former prime minister Koizumi and his predecessors preferred to privilege the urban dwellers and gain their easy buying votes (although quickly changeable...) and forgot the locals. Big mistake. Voters get mad, Iwate prefecture is an example where the Minshuto (The Democratic Party of Japan led by Ozawa, a child of Iwate) is rooted and offers an other image of Japan.

Words here are clear and direct:

"To combat the discrepancies and imbalance of assets, cities have to pay back to villages, they have to understand the crisis!" Says who? A small village mayor who showed to his locals that it is fair to have guts and that a region can achieve self sufficiency with a bit of hi-tech and lots of imagination!


Mayor Shigeo Suzuki knows what he is talking about. He manages city affairs after being involved in the regional economical development. Population decreased to 8.000 from 16.000 in the 60's. As in many villages and regions I visited I heard the same comments from locals: There is a sense of helplessness. Still Kuzumaki prides itself with a clean energy plan that you can see anywhere in town and around, windmill, solar panels, biomass. The mountains around are peaceful and the views gorgeous, cows slowly moving on the fat grass give a sensation of a still secret treasure land. So far, tourism is successful: 500.000 visit the village to come and taste the milk and wines, excellent I can say.

Kuzumaki-machi is located at latitude 40 degrees north in the northern part of Kitagami Sanchi in Iwate Prefecture. It is surrounded by 1000m-class mountains. The town is well known as the “No.1 dairy producer in Tohoku” – 120 tons of milk per day, which amounts to food for 40,000 people on a calorie basis, are produced. To promote local development by the semi-public sector, the Kuzumaki-machi Stock breeding Development Authority is the core organization. Their activities include “calf-sitting”- taking calves from farmers and raising and caring for them, running the accommodation facility “Kuzumaki Kouryu Plateau”, and process and sell dairy products. The entire semi-public sector created jobs for 150 people and the business is making a profit.


The concept of this semi-public sector is “utilize local resources” – the same concept is applied to introducing new energy to Kuzumaki. New energy such as wind generation, solar energy, biomass generation by using livestock excreta and fuel pellets made of scrap wood were all actively introduced. Together with energy saving efforts made at schools and NPOs, currently the energy self-sufficiency rate of the town is 160%. Kuzumaki is further steaming-up to develop the town by self-supplying energy.

But Mayor Suzuki does not feel the energy big companies play fair. Example. It would be appropriate if he also could fix prices. "After all, the wind that propels our windmill comes from here and it is our gold!"


This power station was funded and built by Green Power Kuzumaki in 2003, in the Kamisodegawa district where the altitude is 1000m above sea level. 12 windmills with an output of 1,750kW each are built. The predicted yearly output is 54 million kW, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 16,000 households. The view from Kamisodegawa-kogen is magnificent, and could serve as a new tourism resource.

There are some issues too. There still remain vast areas in Kuzumaki to build windmills, and the private sector is also enthusiastic about this project. However, in 2003 the Special Measures Law Concerning the Use of New Energy by Electric Utilities (the RPS Law) came into force that requires electricity companies to use new energy sources at above a certain percentage but the required percentage is too low so that the law may actually be an obstacle to increasing the use of new energy. Another issue is that basically the power generated from windmills cannot be provided directly to ordinary households or companies, and the electricity must be first bought by the power companies – it is difficult for the residents to understand that the electricity they are using is provided by the local wind power generators.

Life, as it comes

A restaurant, barbecues river fish, soba, Japanese cakes and "beignets" (I just adore them) shop opened in 1992 in the Ekarigawa district, where the income is low and one of the least developed in Kuzumaki-machi. The shop was opened by Kuzumaki-machi town officials, Mr. and Mrs. Kouke, with the hope of enlivening the local community. They are the true assets of this area. If you never saw what the Japanese sense of community is, then come around and treat yourself there.



With the existing three resources, soba cultivation by utilizing intermountain natural conditions, a water-mill that has been working from the early 1900’s, and the traditional method of hand-kneading. At first, the neighbors gave a cold response saying that no one would come this deep into the mountains to eat soba and who would take the responsibility if the shop was not successful? No one approved the idea at the local meeting. Mr. and Mrs. Kouke decided to take the risk with some supporters and formed a group called “Koukeryou Suisha Kasan no kai” (Kouke watermill mother’s club), and opened the soba shop. The soba shop has prospered with 10,000 people visiting every year. Some of the group are over 70's, and if they agree life is tough, they all enjoy being together and rejoice.

Time to end the report, how could I leave Iwate without a look at the Chuson-Ji, the temple of "Center of Esteem", founded by Priest Ennin in 850.


THis is a picture of the Golden Hall (Kondo) of Chusonji Temple (I did this photo and others with a special permission of the Chuson-Ji priests). A National Treasure built in 1124. Chusonji Temple stands in the town of Hiraizumi. In the 12th century, the region was a leading producer of gold and there flourished a magnificent aristocratic culture. In the late 11th century, the Fujiwara family, descendants of an offshoot of the distinguished family in Kyoto, settled in Hiraizumi and became powerful rulers of northern Japan. Magnificent place of contemplation in Chuson-Ji as the Motsu-Ji with an astonishing greenery.

I opened this page with a poet. It is said in Japan that in recent years, the number of devoted readers of Miyazawa Kenji is on the rise, no doubt reflecting a disenchantment with Japanese society that has prompted many people to search for new direction in his writings. The difficulties that Japan encounters are viewed as light compared to poor nations, but the mood of change and the dynamic of a more self sufficient nation might have found roots in this extraordinary part of the northern Japan, where tales and talents breed under the same shining sun, utilizing "local resources”.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Investors: "Take small steps"



But how much can even the über-rich who have access to institutions such as Brown Brothers insulate themselves in the market when the Dow slips below 8600 points? Because it is a private partnership, Brown Brothers does not release detailed financial results about the roughly $45 billion it manages, but as Wall Street's losses pile up, and adventurous banks crumble, Brown Brothers' partners aren't losing nearly as much sleep as many of their peers.

Click the title to read the article.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Crise!



J'ai vu cette image sur un site internet d'un ami Québécois et elle me semble assez bien illustrer cette crise financière mondiale. Il est peut-être opportun de lire le nouveau Nobel de littérature: "Donner ce prix à Le Clézio revient à couronner un écrivain attaché à la pulsation du monde, dont il pressent et prévient le dernier souffle." (Citation A. Perraud). On ne pourrait mieux dire...!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Japan, the Empire of Mutants!

I witnessed the Japanese robotics R&D constant research in Japan for the last ten years, and recently, I was in Tsukuba to see the little ancestor of H.A.L. Well reality is up here now as a robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems will be available to rent in Japan for € 1600, in a month time. Now isn't it a prodigious civilian invention? *



An invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly. HAL - short for "hybrid assistive limb" - is a computerized suit with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin.

The 22 pound (10 kilogram) battery-operated computer system is belted to the waist. It captures the brain signals and relays them to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people as they walk. Japan, the Empire of Mutants as I had written a few years ago in the French press magazine.

* Two Japanese particle physicists were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature. They shared the prize with an American who discovered the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics. It is the first time Japanese scientists have shared the same prize. The winners are Makoto Kobayashi, 64, executive director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Tokyo, and Toshihide Masukawa, 68, professor at Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto, and Yoichiro Nambu, 87, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, who is a naturalized American.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Quand la Chine "empoisonne" ses voisins

Des pesticides ont été employés par des industriels chinois tourmentant la chaîne alimentaire par l'imposition de fongicides (fongicides industriels), et autres insecticides, rongicides. Bilan, toute l'Asie est frappée. Des amis chinois me disent leur colère face au scandale. Les chiffres des hospitalisations en Chine seraient largement sous estimés. Crise du mal-développement, avec les effets habituels que sont la surproduction et le mépris des règles élémentaires de bonne gouvernance. Tandis que les foules nationalistes de Chine célèbrent la conquête spatiale, les retours sur terre sont un peu moins glorieux.



Après le scandale du lait frelaté qui a secoué la Chine, la liste des pays ayant décidé de suspendre des importations de produits laitiers chinois ou de les retirer de leur marché s'allonge: Aux Philippines, après la découverte de traces de mélamine dans des boissons lactées d'origine chinoises, deux produits commercialisés sous les marques Yili et Mengniu ont été retirés des rayons après avoir été clandestinement introduits dans l'archipel. Auparavant, le Brunei, le Cambodge, l'Indonésie, la Malaisie, Singapour, le Vietnam et Taïwan avaient interdit les importations de produits laitiers chinois, certains étendant l'interdiction à l'ensemble des produits contenant du lait, dont les chocolats.

Au Japon, une entreprise agroalimentaire a retiré du marché des milliers de petits pains, fabriqués avec du lait fourni par Yili. L'Australie, qui n'importe pas de produits laitiers de Chine, a ordonné une inspection des petits magasins vendant des produits asiatiques pour détecter d'éventuels produits confectionnés à partir de lait frelaté chinois. Quatre produits ont été retirés de la vente: le thé au lait de la marque Kirin, les bonbons White Rabbit, des confiseries chocolatées fabriquées en Chine par le britannique Cadbury et des biscuits de la marque Koala. La Nouvelle-Zélande a retiré de la vente les bonbons "White rabbit".

La Corée du Sud et la Thaïlande ont indiqué avoir lancé un contrôle de tous les produits laitiers chinois. Les autorités sanitaires de Séoul ont découvert des traces de mélamine dans des confiseries M&M's et des barres chocolatées Snickers (groupe Mars) ainsi que dans des barres chocolatées Kit&Kat importées depuis l'usine Nestlé de Tianjin en Chine. Mars a indiqué procéder au rappel de ses deux produits incriminés. La Birmanie, proche alliée de la Chine, prévoit de saisir et de détruire le lait en poudre chinois importé par mesure de précaution. Le Bangladesh a interdit la vente de trois marques de lait en poudre importées de Chine.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oil shock? Use rice as a gasoline!



In a period of energy restriction, food crisis and limitations of food self-sufficiency in many countries, I just went to Niigata city on the Japan Sea coast with the Foreign Press Center press tour as I heard about some high-tech development for wise consumption and for the energy and the automotive industry. What a surprise when I saw the great plains or Niigata producing the famous rice brand "Koshihikari", a best among the best Japanese rice! Beautiful taste!

Rice is Japan’s representative agricultural product and new initiatives have begun in Niigata as a core rice-growing region. New trends include the use of rice flour to make bread, noodles and cakes instead of imported wheat. Seeking to produce and consume energy locally, a demonstration rice-plant bio-ethanol project has also been launched using a high-yield strain and bio-ethanol production is due to begin at Niigata’s East Port at the end of this year. Visiting Niigata, where we can see the Koshihikari rice harvest at its peak, we will do a story on the rice, today and tomorrow.

But Niigata is not just about rice, Niigata city under the dynamic Mayor Shinoda Akira, an ex-journalist from Niigata Nippo shimbun, looks far away as far as energy and food are concerned. (These two sectors are harshly targeted in the financial crisis currently jolting our world)

Niigata is the only place in the world where I will be able to use rice to move my car! How ? Thanks to bio-ethanol! Niigata city experienced a reduction of her agricultural population and re-organization had to be set under cooperatives and individual initiatives. You know how Japanese society can move fast when it wants! Here bio-ethanol is not to be the tool to destroy fields of rice (in other countries it is palm trees or corn) Here it is wisely limited harvest to unexploited rice fields and transformed thanks to the efforts of the city and academics such as researcher Mochizuki san (he also is an ex journalist of Niigata Nippo!)

Bio-ethanol production is becoming popular here and there all over the world. It is developed using local agricultural products, for instance, maize in the United States and sugarcane in Brazil. In fact, it is becoming a controversial issue inviting various opinions and criticism.

In Niigata, they use rice, the main agricultural product, and have launched a demonstration project, in which they grow rice, produce ethanol from it, and sell the ethanol-compound gasoline. The project is led by JA Zen-Noh Niigata (Agricultural Cooperative Association) in an association of the regional council member organizations including Niigata City and Prefecture.

In the program for FY2008, the strain “Hokuriku 193”, a high yielding variety, is currently being grown in the rice paddies in the cooperation of local farmers. At the end of this year, an ethanol production plant will appear at the Niigata East Port and start its operation.

It is expected that the cultivation of the high yielding “Hokuriku 193” strain, will be 2250 tons, and bio-ethanol production 1,000kl. The project also aims to contribute to the rice production adjustment, as it uses fallow rice fields and rice that is not intended as a staple food.

Then the bio-ethanol produced will be mixed with gasoline at the Zen-Noh Niigata Petroleum Station in the Port. Finally, in March 2009, the end product will be supplied at the JA-SS gas stations in the region.

Well maybe you want to know the name of this new product... well I give you a secret: there is a contest opened for naming this new car fuel. Take your chance and contact the City of Niigata. I am quite sure the laureate will receive a great price to propose as City officials Yamaguchi and Enomoto san told me. Who knows? Maybe you could start gardening your own fied of dreams?