Saturday, June 12, 2010
But the Empire of Mutants lacks Great Communicators!
"We are in an epoch different to any other epoch in human history. The problems we are facing are global in nature. They include climate change, ever decreasing biodiversity, full use of the fresh water on the planet and underpinning all these – overpopulation. Without peace we will be unable to achieve the levels of cooperation, inclusiveness and social equity required to begin solving these challenges, let alone empower the international institutions needed to regulate them.
It is impossible to accurately portray the devastating effects that global challenges will have on us all unless unified global action is taken. Our shared challenges call for global solutions, and these solutions will require cooperation on a global scale unparalleled in human history."
Japan is the number 3 in this Global Index.
Details: Japan has no nuclear weapons, is not in conflict with any other country and has not even officially army. Nothing more natural than to place among the most peaceful countries in the world.
The Institute for Economics and Peace (FPI) has given the third position this week in its Global Peace Index (GPI). The overall index of Peace, published for the fourth time is calculated from 23 indicators for 149 countries surveyed, including the military budget, the number of internal and external conflicts, terrorism risk and in relations with countries neighbors.
In its report, the IEP believes that as New Zealand, ranking first, Japan has "a low level of militarization." In reality, though no longer officially an army since the end of the Second World War, an amendment to its 1953 Constitution allows Japan to have a force known as self-defense. It is also protected by the USA nuclear umbrella with military forces stationed on both Japan and New Zealand.
Is it a biased vision and a wrong analysis?
According to the International Institute on Peace Research, based in Stockholm, the military budget of Japan is also the sixth world. With $ 51 billion in 2009, the budget is far from those of the United States or China, but is equivalent to those of France, the United Kingdom and Russia. On the other hand relations with its neighbors, particularly China and North Korea, are not idyllic. The U.S. forces stationed on Japanese soil are also there to see to it.
Japan is in any case by far the highest ranked Asian in the North East. South Korea is 43rd, China 80th and North Korea is among the last countries in the 139th position. The countries of northern Europe's perceived as most pacifists, including Iceland second. France is ranked 32nd, the U.S. 85th and Iraq brought up the rear for the fourth consecutive year. Costa Rica the first country in the world have abolished its army, is ranked 26th.
A Japan that is innovative and creative
"Recent trends in animation, gaming, and youth fashion show a Japan that is innovative and creative, with more and more Japanese original content of interest internationally. An analysis of these trends provide interesting insight into the latest business and cultural landscape in Japan, with the Internet as a key enabler. Japan has historically been derided as a poor innovator, albeit a strong improver and refiner of external technology and ideas. Recent trends in content creation and export provide a counter-example to this perception, according to the GLG group who was one of the rare who spotted the trend a couple of years ago. http://www.glgroup.com/
Today: 2010: Japan more than ever opened to Creation, Youth and Women. The "Wakai" are rich, educated, stylish, and self-awareness and individuality on the rise. Never more happy than now. How? Rule number 1: Not to copy and paste Japan elders sacrificed generation of hard working Oto-san and Oka-san* image in their life.
As the President of Chanel, and talented novel's author Richard Collasse told me at our fist encounter, years ago, at the Chateau Restaurant of Joel Robuchon in Tokyo Ebisu, "Japan is the Republic of Women!" I thought this observation would be over after the numerous financial shocks Japan shared with the international community. Financial, social, lack of confidence. But not at all. Japan remains the Republic of Women and they with the youth are leading the archipelago towards new shores of innovation, wealth and values.
Youth of Japan leave in the most populated and modern city in the world and created their own life style. Not only they flourished for years on top of the highest rate of graduated engineers but they add to this a new brand: their own life value: Pop culture, social networks, art and export it to Paris, London, New York, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Shanghai...
Combination of the duality that works: Innovation and security is implanted in their social pattern, anti-crime measures are efficient, and Japan offers her cultural specificity and maximal amount of initiative to the population in the education sector. Does not mean all is rosy in this archipelago and Asian gazette often quotes media reports on local ineptness.
Japan the Empire of Mutants
In spite of severe social troubles caused by the international financial crisis crushing waves of households, Japan holds tight! For how long time? Some critics of the new Hatoyama and Kan DPJ administration such as Morita Minoru commented on the illusion of the DPJ manifesto. For Morita-san, Japan did not change for the best he said, but maybe for the worst. Is it why the youngsters in politics such as the "ordinary man" son of a salary man, Naoto Kan tries to kill Ozawa, the political Don?
True, it often looks like current surveys and polls companies under steroids show a bunch of new comers all born under the LDP rule ready to copy and paste LDP's recipes. But that does not make the daily life of Japanese. Just Japan's TV's idiotizing machines try to scalp Japanese senses. In the reality, the Japanese society developed an inner level of immunization that bewilders lots of Japan watchers. Precisely: Let's focus on the Japanese youth, certainly one of the most fascinating social group to watch because of their "detachment" and hi-level creativity. One place crystalizes all of this trends of a never ending moving megalopolis: Tokyo, Shibuya, a mecca with the most creative and successful trends and ventures.
Quotes: "Shibuya is a convergence of people and activities. Below ground several train lines come together delivering untold numbers of passengers to the heart of Tokyo. When they emerge at Hachiko Crossing, they encounter a vast intersection where thousands pour across the street at each turn of the light. They are businessmen, students, internationals, shoppers, and gawkers of all ages and types. Above the crowd, dominating the sides of buildings, the faces of celebrities and "pop idols" appear on giant video screens in music videos and commercials, though it's hard to draw a line between the two. Hundreds and thousands of young people on the streets below are trying to emulate their latest haircuts and clothing...
... On an individual level, Shibuya is a full of people wanting to connect with others. There is a statue of a dog at the station entrance that is a favorite meeting point for friends. "The Dog" is constantly surrounded by tens or hundreds of people waiting, talking, smoking and clutching cell phones.
Others are trying to connect with an audience. They come to Shibuya to be noticed and heard. You have the usual assortment of slick guys in sunglasses and women with Luis Vuitton bags, but that's barely the start.
Street performers cluster near the station entrance. On recent visits, there was an odd young man. He had a boom box at his feet playing a series of beats, and he was "singing" in a monotone, lifeless sort of way. Every once in awhile, he lifted his hand in a loose fist (as if that took all of his remaining energy) and weakly shook his fist (his voice even changed pitch a bit). The small crowd that paused around him were thoroughly confused. At one point, he even struck an Elvis pose, in slow motion. I imagine he will be quite famous if he keeps it up. That's the nature of things here. Another group that were better musically and more lively will probably be forgotten..."
One thing Japan seems to get more involved with: Love! More on the Twitts and social networks. The place where the news are.
It looks like other Japan watchers have the same perception: "G20 Girls: Japan’s girls break out of the mould "
"They’ve mesmerized every tourist who has done Tokyo: young girls in big pink hair, huge frilly dresses and theatrical makeup. On the pedestrian malls at Harajuku and Shibuya subway stations, they move among the crowds like animated cartoon characters — which is precisely the point. The girls have modelled themselves on them, after all." http://bit.ly/a9toD3
NB: Oto-san: Dad, Oka-san: Mom
Sources: GPI visionofhumanity.org, globalcompassion.com, agencies, Reporter's Notes
Friday, June 11, 2010
Shizuka Kamei (L) PM Naoto Kan (C) Yukio Hatoyama (R)
A little nap to end Diet's debate
People's New Party leader Shizuka Kamei stepped down early Friday from the cabinet to protest the Democratic Party of Japan's decision to postpone the passage of a postal service reform bill until the next parliamentary session, but Kamei's party, a small coalition partner, has decided to stay in the ruling bloc. Kamei’s postal bill would have allowed the government to sell two thirds of its stake in Japan Post Holdings Co., owner of the world’s biggest bank by deposits
Kamei served as postal reform as well as financial services minister. The DPJ has decided that it will not extend the current 150-day ordinary Diet session, which is scheduled to end on June 16, because even after an extension, there won't be enough time left to debate and pass the postal bill before upper house elections slated for July 11. Postal reform has been a stern issue in Japanese politics due to the vast scale of Japan Post's operations, which spread well beyond mail delivery into banking and insurance and constituted a substancial amount of cash many want to have access to.
Kamei's PNP was created in 2005 primarily to resist a shake-up of the postal system under the reformist prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and abandoned Junichiro Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party due to the postal reform disagreement. Yesterday, Kamei accused the new Prime Minister Kan's DPJ of going back on promises to water down postal reform.
"Because a promise between the two parties was broken, I have decided to leave the cabinet to take the responsibility".
PNP secretary-general Shozaburo Jimi is likely to succeed Kamei as postal reform minister and financial services minister.
After Mizuho Fukushima, Shizuka Kamei leaves the DPJ administration. Hemorrhage of qualified political allies
A cabinet minister into fraud, papers wrote
A DPJ KAN cabinet minister into fraud, papers wrote
Quotes: "New Japanese Cabinet minister Satoshi Arai defended his now defunct support body's registering of an acquaintance's condominium in Tokyo as its main office, while opposition lawmakers are calling on Thursday for his resignation over what they deem to fraudulent expenses claims. Arai, who was named State Minister for National Policy in Prime Minister Naoto Kan's newly formed Cabinet on Tuesday, told reporters the registration has posed "no problem." "I checked the accounting and found no problem. I thought my examination alone wouldn't be sufficient, so I had the party check it, and again no wrongdoing was confirmed," Arai told reporters, declining to say exactly how he had reached his conclusion. Arai also said that the Ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has conducted a full examination into the affair and also concluded that everything is above board. However Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said the registration has never been problematic as expenses have been specified, although suggested that investigations may be ongoing and a final decision on the matter had yet to be made. "After further investigation, the DPJ will decide what to do in the matter," said the top government spokesperson. Despite Arai maintaining his innocence, opposition parties have taken exception to the practice and have voiced their disparagement, calling for Arai to step down and for the new prime minister to be held accountable.
"Of course, he should resign. Prime Minister Naoto Kan should also be held responsible for appointing him," said opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Research Council Chairman Shigeru Ishiba. Ishiba has equated Arai's alleged expense scandal to similar improprieties that led to two LDP lawmakers resigning in 2007. Arai's policy secretary, central to the expense debate, had served as the chief accountant of Arai's former support organization until it was disbanded in September last year, when the DPJ swept to power. According to political sources close to the matter, the organization shifted its main office from Yokohama to the acquaintance's home in Fuchu, western Tokyo, in November 2002.
The organization's political fund reports show that it spent approximately 27.41 million yen (300,000 U.S. dollars) in personnel expenses, about 4.63 million yen (50,600 U.S. dollars) in equipment and office supply expenses and some 10.13 million yen (110,800 U.S. dollars) in other office expenses from 2003 to 2008. Arai's acquaintance maintains he has never received any rent for the condominium. Three agriculture, forestry and fisheries ministers in the previous LDP-led administration, namely the late Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who committed suicide over his involvement and Norihiko Akagi and Seiichi Ota, were forced to resign over similar funding scandals in 2007. The newly launched administration of Prime Minister Kan has vowed to chart a course free of the "money and politics" scandals that plagued Kan's predecessor Yukio Hatoyama and former Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa. This matter, however, could deal a serious blow to the DPJ's efforts to clean up the party's image, as they look for success in the July upper house elections and have called for trust and belief from the Japanese people in their short-lived bid to make financial improprieties in government a thing of the past." End of quotes,
Sources: Agencies, Reporter's Notes
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Today's focus is on the first hearing held of Jerome Kerviel and others, proved guilty associates in fraud. Hunt by the press and walls of cameras before to answer the Court. Today is his second day of hearings. He attacks the double standard of banks with staff and with the justice. His boss says that his actions put him alone in front of the justice. Although the amount of his fraud is said that it had never had a parallel in the history of finance, Jerome Kerviel is not the only trader to have hit the headlines. Before him, Nick Leeson, Hamanaka Yasuo, Toshihide Iguchi, or Brian Hunter, to name only the best known, had lost millions, even billions, to the firm employing them. Small selection of some "mad trader". Although banking scandals on the planet are rampant since the establishment of the Bank of St George in Italy in 1407, various swindles have particularly rocked the financial world during the last 100 years. These included the famous BCCI scandal of 1991, which had sunk with liabilities of $10 billion.
Quotes and tales
Jerome Kerviel is a French trader charged with causing a 4.9 billion Euro loss to the Societe Generale Bank, which characterized the culprit as a rogue trader who had worked these trades alone without authorization. This figure was far higher than the bank’s total market capitalization then. Kerviel told investigators that his superiors knew of his trading activities. Kerviel had generated Euros 1.4 billion in hidden profits at the beginning of 2008. He was charged with breach of trust, falsifying documents and computer abuse after the Societe Generale had filed a suit against him on January 24, 2008. Kerviel was formally charged in January 2008 with abuse of confidence and illegal access to computers. He was released from custody a short time after. The charges filed carried a maximum three-year prison term. Earlier, the investigating judges had rejected prosecutor’s bid to charge Kerviel with the more serious crime of “attempted fraud” and refuse bail.
"In March 2009, Madoff pled guilty to 11 crimes and admitted to operating what has been called the largest investor fraud ever committed by an individual. Madoff was arrested in December 2008, on a tip-off from his sons."
... continuing ...
While Madoff said that his firm had liabilities amounting to $50 billion, state prosecutors had estimated the size of the fraud to be $64.8 billion, based on the amounts lying in the accounts of Madoff’s 4,800 clients. It is pertinent to note that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had come under fire for not investigating Madoff thoroughly, despite the fact that questions about his firm had been raised as early as 1999. Madoff’s business, in the process of liquidation, was one of the top market makers on Wall Street. It was estimated to be the sixth largest in this context.
The scheme had begun to unravel in December 2008 as the stock market continued to plunge. Subsequently, as the market downturn accelerated, investors tried to withdraw $7 billion from the firm and in the weeks prior to his arrest, Madoff had struggled to keep the scheme afloat. After the Madoff scandal, the second largest financial sector rip-off in history was the 2008 Societe Generale trading loss incident.
The first-ever known financial sector scam was recorded in 1920, when an investor Charles Ponzi had "taken the Wall Street for a ride"
"Charles Ponzi was one of the biggest swindlers in US history. Orchestrated after the First World War, Ponzi’s fraud centred on international postal reply coupons, designed to allow mail to be sent internationally. By acquiring these coupons abroad and exchanging them for higher value postage stamps in the US (essentially a form of arbitrage), Ponzi was able to make around a 400 per cent profit. Legally, this scheme was not illegal as Ponzi had advertised for investors and paid handsome windfalls to a handful of them initially. People mortgaged their homes and poured their savings into the company, which was accumulating colossal liabilities. Existing investors were paid off with the money of new investors. At the peak of his scheme in 1920, Ponzi was making around $250,000 per day, an enormous sum for the time. He was indicted on 86 counts of mail fraud and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 1920 again, Alves dos Reis perpetrated one of the biggest frauds in history by forging documents to print around 100 million Portuguese escudos (around $150 trillion in today’s money) in official bank notes. While in jail for forging cheques, Alves hatched a plot to convince a London-based printing company to make 0.2 million notes bearing 500 Escudo denominations for use in Portuguese colonies such as Angola. He then laundered the money and profited from 25 per cent of the proceeds. He was jailed for 20 years in 1930."
Though bank frauds kept on surfacing since 1920, here follows a list of the most significant scams during the last 20 years:
In November 1989, a junk bond king Michael Milken at the Wall Street firm Messrs Drexel Burnham Lambert, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for securities fraud. Messrs Drexel filed for bankruptcy after being fined $650m in fines and restitution. Milken had headed the bond operations at this US investment bank.
In February 1995, London’s oldest merchant bank Barings, founded in 1762, had collapsed in 1995 after a “rogue trader” Nick Leeson had lost £827 million in speculative trading, mainly on the futures markets. Leeson was a derivatives trader in Singapore for the bank and was supposed to be arbitraging-profiting from the differences between markets by simultaneously buying on one and selling on another. Instead, it emerged, he had been betting on the future direction of the Japanese markets and his un-hedged losses snowballed as he tried to cover his bad gambles. He was sentenced to six and a half years in a Singapore prison.
In September 1995, Japan’s Daiwa Bank suffered a $1.1 billion loss from unauthorized bond trading by Toshihide Iguchi, one of its executives in the United States. He was imprisoned in 1996. In June 1996, Japan’s trading house Sumitomo Corporation suffered a $2.6 billion loss over 10 years from unauthorized copper trades, primarily by chief copper trader Yasuo Hamanaka. Sumitomo fired Hamanaka, once dubbed ‘Mr Five Per cent’ because his trading team was believed to control five per cent of the world’s copper trading. He was later jailed for eight years.
Sources: Les Echos, The Star, The Washington Post,
The International News
History of financial scandals
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The magic and spiritual beauty of a Japanese tea ceremony
Archeological evidence suggests that people consumed tea leaves steeped in boiling water as many as 5,000 years ago. Botanical evidence indicates that India and China were among the first countries to cultivate tea. Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand for pleasure and traditional Chinese Japanese and Indian medicine. Have you ever thought about breaking from your everyday black tea routine, and trying some green tea? Perhaps you thought it is too exotic, or were unsure how it would taste. It's time to get out of your tea ignorance, and brew up a cup of green tea. This will change your life! Journey into the fascinating world of O-Cha in the Shizuoka region, on Japan southern Pacific coast, on the foot on the Mount Fuji!
Black tea? Green tea? It comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), but the difference is in the processing. Green tea is dried, but not fermented. The shorter processing gives green tea a lighter flavor than black tea. It also helps keep all the beneficial chemicals intact, which is why green tea is so good for the organism.
Food delicacies tea-leaves base, in Kakegawa city, shizuoka prefecture
Matcha! The secret and tasteful Green tea is to be served at a Japanese tea ceremony With a light green color, it served according to the old rule of the Japanese Tea ceremony and often mixed with Japanese cakes.
Green tea (O-Cha, Matcha) nowadays has other functions than just drinking or eating leaf tea, it is good as a medicine. Soft medicine. This is possible through various researches, and evidence is starting to reveal that green tea contains many components that are good for human health, and is effective against aging, overweight, preventing influenza, the so-called lifestyle diseases, dementia.
Shizuoka Prefecture is a well-known traditional green tea region with geographical features and climate suited for growing tea. It is Japan’s top producer of green tea, and has 41% of Japan’s tea production, and 42% in terms of crude tea output. With its high production technology, Shizuoka produces high quality green tea, winning prizes in various fairs.
In the run-up to the 4th International Conference on O-CHA Culture and Science in October later this year, I noticed the varied efficacy of green tea, looked at the aspects of using tea in medical treatment and saw where it is produced. Also Shizuoka is offering a new business model in agriculture, on the theme of self-sufficiency and the environment, and bringing back into use the much-discussed abandoned farmland.
Governor Heita Kawakatsu of Shizuoka Prefecture fancies the green tea and the productive environment of regions. "Shizuoka has everything the Fuji san, te sea the land and the mountains, the water is delicious and the tea the best in the world! He interpreted the whole concept here in music VDO
Click the arrow to watch Governor Heita Kawakatsu
singing his tea favorite "ballade".
Green tea and Health benefits
Dr. Yoichi Sameshima, Director of the Green Tea Medical Application Center of the Kakegawa City General Hospital studied a more effective treatment for hepatitis C, he found the possibility that green tea’s antioxidant and metabolism efficacy may be effective in preventing and treating the so-called metabolic syndrome.
Kakegawa Study is the epidemiology research co-conducted by Tohoku University, Kakegawa City and Kakegawa City General Hospital. The three-year research, which started in June 2009, is aiming to collect scientific evidence from human beings on green tea’s effect, to explicate which kind of green tea is most effective, and to develop new food products. By the time this research concludes in fiscal year 2011, between 5,000 and 10,000 citizens will have cooperated in the research.
Currently, it is said that 20 million people in Japan are either suffering from or are likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, and 2/3 of the Japanese die of lifestyle-related illnesses. 230 million people in the world are suffering from diabetes’ effect and the number of patients is on the rise. In these situations, green tea’s anti-arteriosclerosis effect has been proved through many experiments on animals, but few on human beings, and is therefore it is not yet established scientifically. Therefore, the KAKEGAWA STUDY is a unique and widely-noticed major research.
To name some major areas where green tea appears to be effective:anticancer, antioxidant, antibacterial, antivirus, reduces blood pressure and blood sugar, deodorant, prevents cavities.
In December 2009, the University of Shizuoka and ITO EN conducted a co-research project and found that the catechin in green tea holds back the activities of the H1N1 virus; this was the first verification on a cellular level.
And how to make a living with tea business?
Kazuhiro Matsuki, moved to Shibakawa-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture, after working for 17 years in hotels and restaurants with Joel ROBUCHON both at home and abroad. On abandoned farmland, he is developing agricultural projects to revive agriculture in mountainous land and diffuse a new business model. Annual sales: over 150 million Yen!
Aiming at permanent agriculture by featuring self-support and recycling, the farm produces over 80 items of seasonal garden vegetables and herbs, which are 100% free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Shibakawa-cho is at a height of 200m above sea level with abundant melt water from Mount Fuji, suitable land for agriculture. In the 20 areas of the 3 hectare farm, a rotation system is adopted and they are producing small amounts of but various kinds of vegetables. The farm is trying to use a form of agriculture which is environmental friendly and totally free from pesticides.
100% free of pesticides, using organic fertilizer and homemade grass compost, the owner of this farm, Mr. Yoshiharu Matsushita, is managing a 9 hectare organic tea field and he does everything from planting tea bushes to manufacturing tea.
In 2008, he obtained the international certification of the Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association (JONA). The certification is based on the policies of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and is awarded to those who meet JONA’s international standards. Mr. Matsushita has been exporting tea to France since 1998, the exact same tea even after receiving the certification. It is the first Japanese green tea to be exported to Europe that meets the international standards with organic certification. Then came the testing part and I have to say that I enjoyed both the Ma-Cha tea and the delicate art of Green tea service.
"Green tea Gourmet" corner, a selection of Best Green Tea
Press tour and interviews realized with the Foreign Press Center, Japan ( FPC ) 2010/o5