Saturday, October 03, 2009

When Japan tries to say No

Godzilla has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the
United States, as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in
general. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese
held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and
the possibility of recurrence.

One can hear many more things from DPJ politicians nowadays
and it' easy to see that something has changed here. If
nothing guarantees that the reform of Japan Prime Minister
Hatoyama party, the Democratic Party of Japan, will work out
if it confines into symbolic destruction of past LDP regime.
Some more straightforward policies are now designed to show
that after all, yes, it happened, Japan can say No. *

For instance Hatoyama party has long advocated tighter US
Japan economic ties and collaboration on nonmilitary areas
such as energy and the environment. "Japan's relations with
the U.S. have been heavily biased toward defense," Hatoyama
recently said. "Now it's time to shift our focus to economic
ties." In other words, message abroad is clear: stop bashing,
from the US, but also the EU, the Chinese.

One example is Afghanistan. After war brought destruction,
it is time to reconstruct and polish. Here is how the
archipelago diversifies its int'l cooperation, huge by the
way, in helping the... Taliban!

First answer to the Obama administration, regarding the war
in Afghanistan, Japan does not want to continue the
refueling in the Indian ocean but offer a comparative
advantage that is less "war machine" motion. Cash and
training, economic push up.

"The Japanese government has decided to provide vocational
training to former Taliban soldiers to support reconstruction
efforts in Afghanistan as an alternative to the refueling
mission by the Maritime Self-Defense Forces in the Indian
Ocean, whose legal mandate will expire in January.

Vocational training has heretofore not been offered to former
Taliban soldiers, and has the benefit of highlighting Japan's
"new contribution to the international community" as a
fitting alternative to its current refueling mission.

While several hundreds of thousands of Taliban soldiers are
said to be in Afghanistan, many join the movement for money.
The purpose of Japan's newly proposed mission is to rectify a
system that forces citizens to join such groups by
alleviating poverty, thereby providing support to the US
which has been troubled by deteriorating public security in
the country."

Instructors are be selected from among Afghans, but how Japan
(NDAG: the MOFA) will secure staff to train the instructors
themselves as well as whether the training will take place
within Afghanistan or a third country has yet to be decided.

"Japan has announced approximately 2 billion dollars' worth
of aid to Afghanistan, which includes half a year's salary
for the 80,000 or so police officers in the country and
support for rice farming. It is also considering expanding
its agricultural support activities based primarily around
Kabul to the country's northern regions, where public order
is relatively stable." (quotes mainichi, agencies, wikipedia,

✍ It is not the panacea for all insecurity ills but it's a

* Reference to the pamphlet "The Japan That Can Say No: Why
Japan Will Be First Among Equals" By Ishihara Shintaro with
contributions by Sony cofounder Morita Akio .

"The Japan That Can Say No" is a 1989 essay co-written by
Sony co-founder and chairman Akio Morita and current governor
of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, in the climate of Japan's
economic rise. It was famous for its critical examination of
United States business practices, and for advocating Japan's
taking a more independent stance on many issues, from
business to foreign affairs. The title refers to the
authors' vision (Ishihara's in particular) of a Japanese
government that is more than a mere "yes man" to the United

Vitória!! 2016 Brazil Olympics Carnival

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won the 2016 Olympics to
Rio de Janeiro and gives South America its first Games.
International Olympic Committee members voted for Rio, Tokyo,
Chicago lost immediately, followed by suspense and the defat
of Madrid “It’s time to address this imbalance,” Lula told
IOC members in Copenhagen. “The Olympic Games belongs to all
people, all continents, all humanity.”

Brazil plans $11 billion of investment as host, more than any
other of the bidding cities. Lula said he was representing
190 million Brazilians with his speech. “For the others it
will be just one more Games, for us it will boost the
self-esteem of Brazilians,” Lula said.

After images of Rio’s beaches and Carnival celebration were
shown to IOC members, Central Bank President Henrique
Meirelles said Brazil’s economy was ready to host the Games.
He cited 8 percent growth in the second quarter and a record
employment rate in July. Pointing out a white-suited female
officer in the audience that he called Captain Priscilla, Rio
Governor Sergio Cabral said a new generation of police was
improving security in the city. The 2007 Pan American games
showed Rio can organize a major sports event.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Uncertainty" for 41st Tokyo Motor Show

Big doubt indeed that the market can recover this year. Quotes : "The shock waves from the global economic crisis have reached this year's Tokyo Motor Show. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Tuesday that only two foreign automakers will participate in the 41st version of the exhibition, which starts Oct. 23, down from 26 at the previous show in 2007.

While major Japanese automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., will attend, foreign firms such as General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG will not participate, the association said. The only foreign companies showing off their cars will be Lotus of Britain and Alpina of Germany. South Korea's Hyundai officially notified JAMA it will not attend.

In all, 108 auto and auto parts companies will take part, the fewest since the show was first held in 1954. "The economic environment starting last year affected the makers' (decision) whether to attend the event this time," Satoshi Aoki, chairman of the association, told the press.

In 1995, the show attracted a record 361 companies and lots of visitors!

At the previous version in 2007, 241 companies took part. The 41st Tokyo show is also being eclipsed by China. Foreign automakers decided to participate in the Shanghai motor show, which took place in April, even though the financial crisis stroke markets, because the Chinese auto market is growing rapidly and people there have strong interest in automobiles like the Japanese market decades ago. This year's Shanghai show attracted 77 automakers, while only 10 are expected to participate in Tokyo's event.

"Uncertainty" and perfume of defeat? Premature but the trend is
worrying as lots of people expected to discover new "environment
friendly car industry". (Quotes Agencies, JTimes)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dolphins slaughter of Taiji, Japan

And then the movie came about the dolphins slaughter in Taiji : "The Cove" *

I saw the movie and interviewed Ric O'Barry (who pays a late tribute to dolphins after using them for his business and popularity and trained "Flipper") I nevertheless think that even though the film is a show with technical talents and is made as a good documentary, there are a lot of discriminating concerns vis a vis the Japanese society. Now, is it really necessary to slaughter such a cleaver mammals as the dolphin and why don't they use dolphins for other human related friendly and environmentally correct activities? Also what a budget : 3 to 5 million $ paid by a sponsor related to an electronics and IT company.

Still, the director of an award-winning documentary about Japan's dolphin slaughter said that he plans to attend the screening of "The Cove" at the Tokyo film festival, early October even though he could be arrested. Japanese police say American director Louie Psihoyos and other members of his crew violated trespassing laws when they documented the hunt in the seaside town of Taiji, where 2,000 dolphins are killed every year, mostly to be sold as meat.

The film shows fishermen on small boats banging on poles to frighten the dolphins into a cove, where they are then killed with spears. The cove is closed off by barbed wire, and the film crew had to film much of the footage covertly. The film has won more than a dozen awards and led to an outpouring of outrage at the hunt.

Initially, it wasn't part of the program for the Tokyo International Film Festival (which opens Oct. 17) but was added partly because of pressure from abroad. Psihoyos said he wasn't concerned about getting arrested if it was for the right cause, saying he sees covert filming as a form of civil disobedience. He also says he disagrees with how Japanese authorities were defining trespassing, because the cove is in a national park.

Taiji, Wakayama, Shikoku

Taiji is a town located in Higashimuro District, Wakayama, Japan. As of 2007, the town has an estimated population of 3,444 and a density of 577.85 persons per km 2 . The total area is 5.96 km². Taiji is the smallest local government by area in Wakayama Prefecture because, unlike others, it has not experienced a merger since 1889 when the village of Moriura merged into Taiji. Taiji shares its entire overland border with the town of Nachikatsuura and faces the Pacific Ocean.

Taiji has been well-known as a whaling town and is considered as the birth place of Japan's traditional whaling method. Taiji is a major center for dolphin drive hunting. 2.000 Dolphins are slaughtered every year or sold to the Marine entertainment business. Dolphin meat was sold in food markets and given to school children when it contains very high levels of mercury and is not fit for human consumption. The Japanese government has been doing it's best to hide this slaughter form public view and keep a needless fishing tradition alive. Help stop the needless slaughter of the worlds dolphins.

pics by strokesonfilm via Google

"The Cove" : "La Crique" in French language. Actually I already talked about this dolphins massacre in January 2008 in a post "Whales, dolphins, tuna exhaust: what is wrong with Japan's taste?" Here

Sunday, September 27, 2009

LDP leader election: back together again...?

Time for renovation : A picture of the 3 LDP candidates taken
at FCCJ on Friday 25th. LDP leadership election will be only the
second presidential election to be held while the party is
out of power, following the 1993 leadership race, in which
Kono's father, former lower house Speaker Yohei Kono, was
chosen. I emceed this FCCJ event with the 3 top LDP, impressed
by the strong attention from the party elders like Takeshi Noda,
13 times re-elected and 1 of the top chiefs of the election

Emceeing the event with a 130 passionate audience I felt that
the LDP kept a lot of supporters, and again came to my mind
the idea that LDP lost the last election not because of its
inner factions conflicting views but because it kept too long
time the control over the country's policy making with an
delusive inner vision while ignoring the political reality
that the world was changing and moving on. In this regard, a
page was turned August 30. More inter action between present
Japan, its neighbor and world challenges is required now.

Regarding the agenda and "the forces in presence":

The Liberal Democratic Party will choose its new party leader
on Monday to revitalize itself in the wake of its severe
defeat in the August 30th election. 3 candidates : the
former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 64, and two
younger LDP members, former Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro
Kono and former Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Yasutoshi
Nishimura, both 46 years old.

Tanigaki, a party heavyweight whose past portfolio includes
minister of finance and chairman of the LDP Policy Research
Council, is ahead in the race and likely to capture about
half of the 199 ballots allotted to party Diet members
,according to LDP quoted by the Kyodo agency : "I’ve been
surprised by how many people say they want to see the LDP
back in the sumo ring grappling with the DPJ," Tanigaki told
at FCCJ conference.

Tanigaki, a distinguished and mild-mannered policy expert,
appears to be increasing his support among local party
members and maintains an overall lead, Kono, quoted as being
a maverick and fiery critic of the LDP old guard and their
faction-based politics, appears to be gaining more favors
with party members as a new generation type, outspoken,
clear, with a message and a reflection of why LDP got lost at
last month election. Nishimura appears to be rivaling Kono
with regard to Diet members' votes but lags behind the other
two among local party members due partly to his low name

Kono and Nishimura tried to paint the race as a choice
between the younger and older generations, calling for a
clean break with faction-based politics, which has defined
the LDP for decades. Tanigaki, in contrast, calls for LDOP
fiefdom and generation's gap conflicts reconciliation and
unity within a party often prone to internal strife, calling
on all party members, both young and old, to come together to
forge a path toward a new LDP party.

Whoever wins the leadership race, the LDP faces the task of
reviving a party that has lost almost two-thirds of its
members in the 480-seat House of Representatives. The
crucial test for the new LDP leader will be the House of
Councillors election next summer 2010.

In the 242-seat upper house, the DPJ retains a majority with
the help of its two junior coalition partners -- the Social
Democratic Party and the People's New Party. If the LDP can
increase its presence in the chamber as the largest
opposition party and force the DPJ-led ruling coalition to
lose its majority there, it will be able to block or delay
the coalition's legislative attempts.

The immediate test for the new leadership will come Oct. 25,
when by- elections for the upper house are to be held in two
constituencies, in Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures.

One comment on LDP with Tobias Harris, an american specialist
of Japan politics who worked for a DPJ member of the upper
house of the Diet 2006-2007.

"One factor that I find worth exploring is the role played by
the LDP's virtual abandonment of bread-and-butter issues —
pensions especially — to the DPJ. The 2007 upper house
election and the 2009 general election were contested over
issues on which the DPJ's positions were overwhelmingly
favored by the voting public, insofar as the elections can be
said to have been concerned with policy. While voters may
have had their doubts about various DPJ proposals, the DPJ
managed to tell a convincing story of how LDP rule had
faltered and why "regime change" was necessary. Central to
this story is the LDP's yielding livelihood issues in the
years since the end of the bubble economy. In short, the LDP
did not have to lose, at least in the manner in which it lost
this year. A critical factor in explaining the LDP's
collapse is, I believe, a shift in how the LDP presented
itself to the public. Despite having been the party that
presided over the economic miracle and guided Japan — with
the bureaucracy, of course — to a position of global economic
prowess while maintaining social equality, by 2007 the LDP
had abandoned this legacy."

(end of comments, reports and ap, kyodo, harris news)