Saturday, January 09, 2010

Whales' naval battle in the Antarctic: Sea Shepherd crew crushed by Japanese ship

The high-tech speedboat the Ady Gil sank in the Southern Ocean on Friday after its bow was beheaded Wednesday by the Japanese security ship the Shonan Maru 2 which accompany Japanese whalers. Each side has blamed the other for the incident, which injured one Sea Shepherd protester. The activists' group lodges piracy charge against Japanese whalers. Sea Shepherd's mother ship is registered in the Netherlands and the group's lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said the group had filed a complaint there. ABC online wrote.

Japan Times analyzed the media struggle since the collision in the Antarctic waters: This week's collision in which a Japanese whaling ship chopped off the bow of an antiwhaling boat off Antarctica not only highlights the international tussle over the contentious hunt but has also led to a clash between Japanese and Western media as well... When it comes to media coverage of international disputes that touch on value-laden cultural issues, truth, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

The film of the crushed boarding, quite descriptive from the Japanese security ship, and quite shocking is the water canon continuing shooting at the Ady Gil's crew even after...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Naoto Kan, Japan Finance minister, a politician with equal temperament

Left Naoto Kan, right Hirohisa Fujii

Naoto Kan is the new Finance minister of Japan. He
succeeds to minister Hirohisa Fujii who served 3
months before to leave, officially for health reasons,
unofficially because he is tired of Ozawa Ichiro
peddling with risk in his budget policies.

I sure will ask to Kan about Ozawa's major influence
when he comes to visit us at the Press club in Tokyo.

Fujii 's departure is the first resignation by a
member of the Hatoyama so called "center-left"
Cabinet, only about four months after its launch, and
it will likely be a fresh blow to Hatoyama, who has
recently seen a double-digit fall in public support
and the nation's economy struggling to move out of the
prolonged bad state of the economy.

Why Kan? "Deputy Prime Minister Kan was the No. 1
person in providing strong indirect support" for
drawing up the fiscal 2010 budget, Hatoyama answered.
Despite his involvement in the budget drafting
process, however, the 63-year-old Kan, who was
theDPJ's first leader about 10 years ago, does not
have in-depth experience of steering the economy.
Might be a problem indeed.

Kan told reporters that he had once declined to hold
the new post during talks with Hatoyama on Wednesday,
telling him, "There should be a more suitable person."
Kan said he eventually accepted the position following
Hatoyama's strong request. Kan, in charge as soon as
Thursday, will retain the posts of deputy prime
minister and minister for economic and fiscal policy.
With the appointment, Yoshito Sengoku, state minister
in charge of administrative reform, will concurrently
serve as state minister for national strategy, a post
currently held by Kan.

Kan said he wants to consider Japan's revitalization
"in a larger perspective," given that he is keeping
hold of the two posts, when asked by reporters at the
premier's office about his main tasks after becoming
finance chief.

Kan facing the deteriorating economic outlook, his
politician profile will be useful.

Kan, was Health and Welfare minister and former
Democratic Party of Japan president, chnaged the way
the government works as Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of State for National Policy and Economic and
Fiscal policy.

He’s earned the nicknames ‘Ira-Kan’ and ‘Fretful-Kan’
for his reputed short temper, but his experience with
tackling Japan’s notoriously intransigent bureaucracy
made him an obvious choice for many to oversee the
party’s policies and budget.

Born in Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture as the son of
businessman, Kan graduated in 1970 from the Tokyo
Institute of Technology, and opened a patent office in
1974. He actively engaged in civic movements for
years and achieved a seat in the lower house in 1980
as a member of Socialist Democratic Federation (SDF)
through a grassroots environmental campaign. He
gained national popularity in 1996 when as health
minister he exposed the minister's responsibility for
the spread of tainted blood. At that time, he was a
member of a small party forming the ruling coalition
with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). His action
was completely unprecedented and was applauded by the
mainstream media and the public. Kan also wrote a
best-selling book Dai-jin ("Minister") in which he
writes that ministers should answer to the Emperor.

In 1998, he admitted that he failed to make payments
into the state pension scheme for ten months.
Although the amounts were relatively small, he left to
avoid hurting the party. Additionally, his image had
been hurt by the revelation of an affair with a
television newscaster. After Yukio Hatoyama resigned
as the leader of the party, Kan again took over the
position. In July 2003, the DPJ and the Liberal Party
led by Ichiro Ozawa agreed to form a uniformed
opposition party to prepare for the general election
that was anticipated to take place in the fall.

During the campaign of the election of 2003, the DPJ
called the election as the choice of the government
between the ruling LDP-bloc and the DPJ, with Kan
being presented as the alternative candidate to then
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. His face was used
as the trademark of the campaign against the LDP.
However, in 2004, Kan was accused of unpaid annuities
and forced to again resign the position of leader. On
May 10 2004, he officially announced his resignation.

In mid-October 2005, Kan, who turned 60 in 2006,
proposed the creation of a new political party to be
called the "Dankai (baby boomer) Party." The initial
intent of the party was to offer places of activity
for the Japanese baby boomers - 2.7 million of whom
began to retire en masse in 2007. His hobby is Go, and
he has a wife and two sons, and lives in Tokyo.

On January 6, 2010, he was picked by Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama to be the Finance Minister, assuming
the post in addition to deputy prime minister. His
previous statements indicated he would favor the Bank
of Japan to ease monetary policy. "I am advocating a
weak yen to a certain extent," he said publicly in
December 2009.

As Deputy Prime Minister, Kan has said he wants
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to take on a more
prominent international role. With Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama having been criticised for dithering in
the DPJ’s early months, Kan has looked decisive and
ready to lead.

It’s early days yet, but if the ruling party’s ratings
continue to slide, would the DPJ be willing to follow
in the well-trodden footsteps of the opposition
Liberal Democratic Party and change leaders after only
a year? Next year’s upper house elections, where the
DPJ hopes to secure enough seats to ensure that it
doesn’t depend on coalition partners, could be a good
test. (Sources: agencies, blogs, wiki, AG quotes)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ozawa: "If Japan reinforces its military capability"?

Take off at Futenma, Okinawa

I received this in my news summary of the day. Ozawa

Ichiro, the de facto boss of Japan government, definitely

carries on with what some commentators and experts

call his favorite bullying tactics. We had samples on

this blog lately, now his focus is on foreign affairs.


Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General

Ichiro Ozawa appeared on a TV Tokyo program aired on

the evening of Jan. 4. Discussing the issue of the

U.S. forces' Futenma base in Okinawa, Ozawa said:

"The biggest problem is that the Japanese government,

especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is unable

to speak up to the United States. The U.S. is

annoyed by this."

Ozawa added: "If there is no need for so many U.S.

military bases and soldiers in the front line, [Japan]

should say so clearly (to the U.S. side). It should

just say that we will defend our country properly and

will make international contributions in the following

ways, so there is no need to worry," stating in effect

that if Japan reinforces its military capability, U.S.

military bases can be downsized.

Ozawa refrained from commenting on the pros and cons

of U.S. bases in Okinawa. He said: "I am not in a

position to make comments on specific policies."

Ozawa has been making deceitful statements. He agreed

with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on

"reinforcing" the subservient Japan-U.S. alliance

last year while also advocating an "equal Japan-U.S.

relationship." (Source Akahata January 6th 2010).

Got to be checked further... But at the end, wouldn't

this give more speed to a "G2" formula (China US)

necessary "entente" on lots of things if we follow this

logic, after long arguing with the fundamental doctrine?

No more slaughter, dolphins are humans!

Dolphins' advocates will rejoice with this scientific
discovery, a relief against "The Cove"* type of
slaughter and to give a better approach towards
dolphins, whales (and seals) and the importance of
saving endangered cetaceans and our precious oceans.

This information comes on our radar screen with the
scientific community who finally joins what ordinary
people and ocean lovers already noticed as a simple
observation of this mammal (not a fish!) for decades.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau studied this long ago (1977) in
"Le Chant des Dauphins" (A Sound of Dolphins).

Now, my question is: Are we smart enough to understand


"Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most
intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists
suggesting they are so bright that they should be
treated as “non-human persons”. Studies into dolphin
behaviour have highlighted how similar their
communications are to those of humans and that they
are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed
up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains
have many key features associated with high
intelligence. The researchers argue that their work
shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such
intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them
for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000
whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each

[Scientists Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory
University in Atlanta and Diana Reiss, professor of
psychology at Hunter College, City University of New
York established] said "that the cerebral cortex and
neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that
“the anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity
place it second only to the human brain”. They also
found that the brain cortex of dolphins such as the
bottlenose had the same convoluted folds that are
strongly linked with human intelligence. Such folds
increase the volume of the cortex and the ability of
brain cells to interconnect with each other. “Despite
evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory
to humans, cetacean brains have several features that
are correlated with complex intelligence.” Marino and
Reiss will present their findings at a conference in San
Diego, California, next month, concluding that the new
evidence about dolphin intelligence makes it morally
repugnant to mistreat them."**

2 comments were made following this article in the

1- "We consider ourselves inherently better because we
demonstrate an “advanced” capacity to articulate our
ideas, thoughts and emotions through written and oral
language." I wonder what a dolphin would comment?
Might be a refreshing change from the angry emotional
toxic comments people leave all over the web. The
capacity of the human to spew hate and engage in
cruelty towards other beings astounds me. Is that
seen in other animals or is that strictly a human
ability? (Japanese name was provided)

2- Lori Marino wrote: "As one of the scientists
mentioned in this article I would like to clarify one
of the statements made. The work I've done on dolphin
brains shows that, when relative brain size is taken
into account, some dolphin species are second only to
modern humans and have larger brains than chimpanzees.

However, I do not think we can "declare" that dolphins
are the second smartest animals on the planet on the
basis of just this information. I do not want to make
categorical or hierarchical statements about matters
that are clearly too complex to warrant a simple
interpretation. The point of our upcoming session and
arguments is this. Given what we now know about
dolphin brains and intelligence we need to rethink our
"accepted" cultural standards of treatment - from
slaughter to capture to confinement in amusement
parks. The scientific evidence is clear that the
suffering imposed by these activities on dolphins is
on a par with what humans would suffer under the same
circumstances. That is the message of the article."

20 minutes a French media summarized a bit emotionally
with this : "Le dauphin est une personne. De
nouvelles études relancent le débat sur l’intelligence
de l’animal. Des droits pour les dauphins. C’est ce
que vont réclamer des scientifiques américains lors
d’une conférence qui se tiendra en février à San
Diego, en Californie. Leur argument? Des études
qu’ils ont réalisées prouvent une nouvelle fois
l’exceptionnelle intelligence du mammifère. Ils
estiment même qu’il pourrait être le deuxième être le
plus évolué de la planète, juste après... l’homme."

I'm not a specialist but I found this surfing on the

" There is no parallel between the evolutionary level
of the somatic structure and the brain. Species with
large number of conservative traits may have a very
progressive brain, while species with many derived
features may be at a low level with respect to brain
evolution". By Stephan, Baron and Frahm, in their
1991 book Insectovora (the first volume of the series
Comparative Brain Research in Mammals).
Smart enough to be a military dolphin? On this, here
is a description of military uses of dolphins in US
and Russia.

Articles references:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Crise de confiance Japon Etats-Unis, un "test" pour l'Europe et la France?

Lettre économique et financière

La volonté du nouveau gouvernement japonais
d'entretenir une relation plus égalitaire avec les
Etats-Unis va-t-elle favoriser l'Europe et la France ?

C'est en ces termes que la "Lettre économique et
financière Japon-Corée 16 décembre 2009" interprète la
crise d'urticaire survenue dans les relations
politiques et militaires entre Japon et USA.


"2010 sera sans doute une année test pour l'Europe au
Japon. Nous avons une carte à jouer qui n'existait
pas avant l'arrivée des démocrates au pouvoir. Si la
relation avec les Etats-Unis se banalise un peu, si le
Japon dans son ensemble est vraiment prêt à chercher
de nouvelles références et de nouveaux partenariats,
alors nous devrions mieux nous placer sur de nombreux
dossiers de coopération industrielle et technologique,
de même que sur les grands contrats. Un nouvel espace
devrait pouvoir se créer aussi pour la négociation
économique Europe-Japon que beaucoup appellent de
leurs voeux. Une chose est certaine néanmoins: les
bénéfices à attendre de la nouvelle approche japonaise
n'arriveront pas de manière spontanée, il faudra aller
les chercher. A cet égard, la relation politique
France-Japon sera déterminante en 2010."

Fin de citation

✍ Un appel à une visite au Japon du président français
Nicolas Sarkozy et son épouse Carla?

✍ L'Asie est-elle passée dans une dimension de
développement économique et politique comparable à la
construction de l'Europe, et ce faisant, voit ainsi
s'amenuiser les clichés véhiculés par les marchands de

Beaucoup, ici, le constatent d'ores et déjà.

Monday, January 04, 2010

"2010 Otoshidoma", Japan will not drown her sorrows!

A kimono dressed female diver holds a cash envelope,
an “otoshidama” envelope during an event in a famous aquarium in

“Otoshidama” are monetary offerings given to children
at the start of each year. Cash is certainly an issue
for Japanese and they look right at their elected
prime minister to address the Great Recession.

"He is out of the reality, he should do something,
they say, but not destroy what Japan achieved." I
heard this comment from lots of Japanese during the
new year holidays.

Here is an interesting opinion from the Mainichi
shimbun about how 2010 starts. Quotes:

The public's expectations that the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) could revive Japan brought about a
transfer of power last year. It was a fact that the
economy remained sluggish, there were various social
problems and the social security and medical programs
were beginning to crumble prior to the August general
election. Rural areas in particular had been hit hard
by the economic downturn. Moreover, Japan's influence
in the international community had declined

Under these circumstances, it is natural that the
administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
declared that it would carry out the Heisei-Era

There is a glimmer of hope in the prospects for
people's livelihood and the social security system.
However, there appears to be a long way to go before
Japan puts the economy on a recovery track. The
fiscal 2010 budget draft has raised questions about
how the government will secure financial resources for
its policy measures.

The Hatoyama administration's poor handling of Japan's
relations with the United States, the core of Japan's
diplomatic policy, has caused friction between the two
countries. The government has failed to show a clear
national strategy, due to his preoccupation with a
political funding scandal in which two of his aides
have been indicted.


Considering Japan's current situation, it is natural
that the government tends to be inward-looking. There
are numerous urgent tasks to be addressed. At the
same time, however, Japan is required to proactively
work on global issues to fulfill its role as a
developed country in the age of globalization. Even
though the economy remains sluggish, Japan has
potential power. The country is expected by the world
to play an important role not only on environmental
policy, but a wide diversity of issues.

If Japan improves its ability to send influential
messages to the international community and draws
attention from the world, it will vitalize Japan. It
will also attract excellent human resources to Japan.

The government is required to have such a long-term
strategy to revive Japan.

End of quotes, here is the article