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Showing posts from February, 2010

Tsunami Warning

Staying away from the beach today...
NHK World:
The Meteorological Agency says the estimated arrival time of the tsunami is 1 PM on the east coast of Hokkaido along the Pacific, and the Izu-Ogasawara Islands, 1:30 PM in Tohoku on the Pacific coast and in Kanto, 2 PM in Tokai, and 2:30 PM in Kansai and Shikoku along the Pacific, in the Satsunan Islands, and in Okinawa, 3 PM in eastern Kyushu, 3:30 PM in western Kyushu, and 4 PM on the coast in the Seto Inland Sea. 2010/02/28 09:47 (JST)

JMA has the map.

Update 18:45 The largest wave (or tide) seems to have been about 120 cm high in Iwate prefecture, and there are no reports of any major damage in Japan. From Chile, however, the reports indiacte that the situation is really bad.

Mikael Wiehe - En sång till modet

May I introduce Mikael Wiehe from Malmö, Sweden, who has had an amazing career since the 1970s, on the "Silence" record label, and stayed very true and close to his roots, thinking about workers and people who don't have such an easy time. Live concert, winter of 2008.

Here is a song to courage (modet, an ancient Swedish word for "brave")
It is for all who dared to believe in love (kärlek or kär lek, "love play")
Even though the night
Is so long

Here is a song to courage
A little, simple song
It may seem meaningless
But I sing it
Anyway

Here is a song to courage
For joy and hope and laughter
It is for all who dared to believe in love
Even though hatred is so strong

For all who build bridges
For all who let it in
For all who think man can do, what he wants

Here is a song to courage
For those who say the truth
For all who makes demands
For those who knows how difficult it is
And yet, they say, "yes"

(Chorus 2.25)

Here is a song for all of you
Who refuse to give up
It …

Preparations for the Global Summit on Nuclear Security and the NPT Treaty Conference...

On February 18, 2010, Japan's Cooperative Consumers Union (JCCU) announced that they will help support sending a delegation together with Nihon Hidankyo to go to New York in May to present their vow to abolish nuclear weapons at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

The NPT has three main "pillars": non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use. The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. A total of 187 parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. But not everyone is satisfied with the progress since then.

The United Nations website used to have a special page devoted to disarmament, but it seems to have been discontinued: Error 404. Even pages about the history from 1970-1995 have been moved or deleted. I did find it here (Federation of …

Food Co-op: Japan's Cooperative Movement

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Japan has a large and very developed alternative cooperative movement, the food Co-ops. More than 14 million people are part of one Co-op or - at some point at least - approximately 1 in 5 of all Japanese households belongs to a local retail/consumer Co-op. 90% of all Co-op members are women.

Another way to count: Nearly 6 million households belong to one of the 1,788,000 Han groups (Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union., 2003). These consist of a group of five to ten members in a neighbourhood who place a combined weekly order which is then delivered by truck the following week.

A particular strength of Japanese consumer co-ops in recent years has been the growth of teikei or community supported agriculture where fresh produce is sent direct to consumers from producers without going through the market.

Here are a few Co-ops:

Coop Kobe (Kobe based, one of the largest co-op in the world, with 1.2 million members)
Tohto Coop (Tokyo based)
Coop Net (Internet sales system)
Pal System Coop

Loss Of Biological Diversity Has Huge Economical Impact

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Japan will host the UN conference in Nagoya in October, 2010 about biological diversity. That's just great. This country needs to think much more about the way it deals with natural resources, including food. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a very important instrument, not just for saving tigers or pandas (or whales). If we lose species at the current rates, due to urbanization, construction, hunting, fishing - or climate change - we will find that many economic activities also become impossible, including farming:
Losses of biodiversity "have increasingly dangerous consequences for human well-being, even survival for some societies," according to a summary of a 90-nation UN backed conference in Norway from February 1-5.The United Nations says that the world is facing the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, driven by a rising human population and spinoffs such as pollution, expanding cities and global warming.Da…

US for Okinawa Honors Prime Minister Hatoyama for Listening to the People of Okinawa & Building Peace in Asia-Pacific

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From Rose Welch of US for Okinawa:

I'd like to report today that we had a very, very succesful delivery of our letter and our cake to Prime Minister Hatoyama that said "We love you for listening to the people of Okinawa, and for building peace, not bases in East Asia."

Members of Peace Boat and US for Okinawa could deliver the cake today to the Prime Minister's residence, and Yorihisa Matsuno, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary received our cake on behalf of the Prime Minister and listened to our statement.

From the moment we entered the building, we were met by a throng of press (TV and newspaper), and I explained why we thought Futenma should be closed, why we were opposed to new construction in Henoko, and that we appreciated the Prime Minister's focus on building peace rather than bases in East Asia.

After our meeting with Mr. Matsuno, the press again took statements from us (this time US for OKINAWA rep and former Peace Boat intern Jay Gilliam spoke), and they e…

When The Saints Go Marching In, The Numbers Don't Add Up

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When I worked for NHK World a couple of years ago, we often had to report news about the Air Self Defence Forces (ASDF) and their "humanitarian aid" mission to Iraq and Afghanistan, which ended in March 2009. It was first reported in Japanese and English, and the rest of us translated the segments into other languages, and then our job was to read the news live on-the-air. The Swedish, German, and Italian broadcasts have since been terminated, and I now longer go to Jinnan in Shibuya to sit behind a short-wave microphone in one of the musty old NHK studios.

But recent revelations about the "humanitarian" aspect of the airlifts are deeply troubling. According to an official report, Japan's ASDF were engaged in quite different activities that are not normally called "humanitarian aid."

Here are the facts from an article by David McNeill on Japan Focus:

In the absence of official investigation, much of the digging around in the war’s darker corners has bee…

Lake Kasumigaura Needs Organic Agriculture, But How?

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“Only good things will come from the clean water that flows in the stream, when only good things are put into the water…”

Notes from a lecture by Mr. Uozumi Michio, Japan Organic Agriculture Association, on December 9, 2009 as part of Consumers Union of Japan’s seminar series about safe living, connecting food and agriculture with our daily lives.

Uozumi-san emphasized that humus is the most important organic material for livings things: “Let us create a movement to promote deep connections and affiliations with strong links between organic farmers, fishermen, forest workers, and consumers!” Japanese people have had many historical experiences such as Ashio mining pollution, Minamata disease (methyl mercury) and serious health damage since the Meiji era. We should study and understand that the most important thing for the people is to preserve the natural environment of the forest, farm fields, rivers and the sea.Uozumi-san pointed out that it is emphasized by the nuclear power industr…

Urgenci Japan Symposium In Kobe

February 18th to 22nd 2010, Urgenci’s IVth International Symposium will take place in Kobe and the Kansai Area in Japan.

This is the first time that Urgenci’s Symposium and General Assembly will be held outside Europe. This is indeed a major change, which should give us the opportunity to foster and strengthen the internationalization of our network.

The Urgenci International Symposium will include the following three main events:

1- An Organic Tour to the oldest and most representative Teikei will take place on Feb. 18th to 19th. This will definitely be the place to be for all those who want to go back to the source of the international LSPPC movement. The International Committee members will take part in some of the field visits programmed throughout the Organic Tour.

2- The International Symposium itself will be held Feb. 20th and 21st, in Kobe Gakuen University. There will be both plenary sessions and working groups on major LSPPC (Teikei/CSA/AMAP) –related issues. There will be numer…

Seasonal Food In Mid February

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I guess I didn't explain very well in the last post about the future of food, what do I mean by seasonal vegetables or foods in season (shun). Especially in winter, and mid February, you may ask, "What did people eat in Japan in the past?"

Well, if they had saved some rice or barley, that would be great, as well as some tubers (possibly, but not in the more ancient past).







As for vegetables, most people probably survived on radish (daikon) and early greens such as mizuna and nanohana (rape or canola of the brassica family). Other leaf veggies that do well around this time include chingen, but I'm not sure how common that may have been. Most likely, farmers had plenty of kabocha (winter squash) and hakusai (napa cabbage) that farmers keep in the field all winter, and harvest little by little. Gobo (a root) and negi (leech, a kind of spring onion) are also wonderful.



All this goes well in a nabe, boiled as a soup or stew, preferably with miso (fermented soy paste). Tori na…

15th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol

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On February 16th, the15th anniversary for the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol (2005), students of Hakodate La Salle Jr. & Sr. High School and citizens of Hakodate came together to create a sand message at Ohmori Beach.

Their crossword of "KYOTO" and "350" signifies their importance of the Kyoto Protocol as a first step towards returning to a world where CO2 levels are below 350 parts per million in the atmosphere.

For more information about the importance of reducing C02 emissions to below 350, check out 350.org, an international organization building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis. On October 24th, 2009 they organized what is considered "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history," with more than 5200 events in 181 countries to raise awareness of climate change.

- Posted by Jen Teeter

Tokyo: Keywords For The Future Of Foods

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I went to a really interesting workshop at the British Council in Tokyo sponsored by some people I know are thinking deeply about sustainability and environmental issues. The panel discussion was a bit unusual but allowed people to cue in ideas and pet topics. A good mix of unusual people joined and I had fun.

This was the first of a new series of monthly learning and networking events, The Green Leaders Forum: The Future of Food @ British Council.

GREEN LEADERS PANEL
- Luke Poliszcuk, eQualC Sustainability Communications
- Hiromi Matsubara, biopio inc., greenz.jp/en
- Jacob Reiner, Earth Embassy

Photos from the event here

It was pointed out from the start that Japanese people basically did not eat meat for about 1000 years, since it was outlawed in the 680s to the early Edo era (and even then, animals like horses and cattle (oxen or cows) were too precious to eat, as they were useful for the economy in other ways). A lot of people joined the discussion to say how it can be difficult to be a…

Andy Couturier: A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance

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The Kyoto JournalNews Page is featuring a book that demonstrates the kind of quality of life that many people in Japan (especially ecological peacebuilders) want to maintain and encourage: Andy Couturier’s A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance has just been published by Stone Bridge Press.

"Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the eleven men and women profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury have all made the transition to sustainable, deeply fulfilling lives in the mountains of Japan.

Based on Andy Couturier's popular articles in The Japan Times, this lushly-designed volume is a treasure chest of stories about real people who have created an abundance of time for contemplation, connecting with nature, and contributing to their communities." Read the great discussions between author and readers at the book blog here.

(Given recent discussion at the post on energy sources about the importance of changing popular at…

Global Art Project 2010 For Peace

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Jen over at Ten Thousand Things writes: In times of conflict and misunderstanding, art provides a transformative and healing power that enables people to overcome personal and interpersonal divides.

Art has also supplied the glue that bonds friendships together that may never had stuck without it. To that effect, the Biennial Global Art Project has been providing a common canvas for friendship building and mutual understanding for eight years. The ninth GAP facilitated art exchange will take place in March and April 2010.

Nominated for a UNESCO Peace Prize for Tolerance and Non-violence, GAP matches artists (professional or amateur, performing or visual, individual or groups) with like-minded people from other countries. In March, each participant creates a piece of artwork to be exchanged by mail with an overseas match, resulting in thousands of messages of peace and goodwill simultaneously encircling the Earth during the week of April 23-30th. The works of art are then displayed local…

One Small Nuclear Reactor Replaced By Solar Panels In Japan During 2009

Sales of solar panels more than doubled in 2009 from a year earlier thanks to government incentives, says the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association. The panels shipped were capable of generating a total of 480,000 kilowatts of electricity, 2.1 times more than in 2008.

Asahi notes that the government in November 2009 started requiring utilities to buy surplus electricity from household solar panels at 48 yen per kilowatt-hour (about 40 U.S. cents), or double the previous price. And here is the best part:

Of the domestic shipments, panels for residential use accounted for 430,000 kilowatts, up 2.3 times from the previous year. That generation capacity is equivalent to a small nuclear reactor.

It wouldn't cost that much, all things considered, to change the way we consume electricity, and make a huge difference in terms of reducing the dependency on nuclear energy.

Cafe Millet: Organic Food In Kyoto

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Ted Taylor wrote to me and introduced me to his article about Cafe Millet, a place I'd really like to visit:

The organic food movement in Japan is by no means new. The current interest originated a decade ago with middle aged women who, watching many men of their generation succumb to cancer and heart disease, began to take a greater interest in the source of their food. What makes Cafe Millet special is that everything served is grown in the surrounding fields and gardens. This has greater benefits than simple delicious ingredients. “I feel great happiness in reaping the blessings of a life lived naturally, and not being occupied with doing business but instead, simply living. Around food we can create a community out of all sorts of people, of any age or occupation,” Juri says. “With money, we can quickly accomplish just about anything. But I find much more value in time spent in the present, with family and neighbors. Plus being able to live according to the rhythms of nature, a…

AFP: Japan Wants To Reduce Whaling

This could potentially be a good solution to a very acrimonious debate:

Japan will propose scaling down its troubled annual whale hunt in Antarctica on condition it is allowed to whale commercially in its own coastal waters... Tokyo will present its proposal to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at its annual meeting in Morocco in June.

"We have been studying ways to reach a packaged agreement and to normalise the IWC activities," said the Fisheries Agency official, who declined to provide specific details of Tokyo's proposal. "The efforts continue today."

AFP: Japan wants deal to scale down 'scientific' whaling

Open Thread: Toyota Recall

If you have any opinions about the recent news about Toyota's recall, here is your chance to say what you think.

Clever Japanese Protest Against US Military Bases

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There have been massive protests recently against the American military bases in Japan. Note the funny protest sign - with a setsubun-inspired message:

福は内〜!平和は内〜!基地は外〜!!
グアムに沖縄に日本に米軍基地は居坐るな!迷惑だ!帰ってくれ!!

***

/Fuku wa uchi! Heiwa wa uchi! Kichi wa soto!
Guamu ni Okinawa ni Nihon ni beigun kichi wa isuwaru na! Meiwaku da!
Kaette kure!!/

***

Luck in! Peace in! Military bases out!
American military bases in Guam, Okinawa, and Japan, do not remain!
It is troublesome! Go home!!

(Hat tip to Rocking in Hakata)

Progess On Nuclear Weapons Reductions This Week In Paris And Geneva

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Atomic bombs may become obsolete, if recent developments are anything to go by. It has been a long time without much good news on this front (the U.S. infamously withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001) but suddenly, through a lot of diplomatic efforts, including by Japan, there is hope for progress.

American and Russian negotiators reached an "agreement in principle" on the first nuclear-arms-reduction treaty in nearly two decades, administration and arms-control officials said on February 3, according to The Wall Street Journal:
The deal would bring the ceiling for deployed nuclear weapons down to between 1,500 and 1,675 per side, from the 2,200 agreed to in 1991, but nuclear-delivery systems would fall more sharply, to between 700 and 800 each from the current limit of 1,600. In fact, both sides have already reduced their nuclear-armed bombers, submarines and missiles to below 1,000. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washin…

Thousands gather over weekend in Tokyo to support a military base-free Okinawa

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Attendees at Saturday's Hibiya Park rally wearing handmade hats symbolizing the kuina, a bird native to Okinawa's Yanbaru forest that is presently threatened by U.S. military construction

Over 6,000 people attended a rally and march in Tokyo's Hibiya Park on Saturday to reject plans for construction of U.S. military facilities in the ecologically sensitive areas of Henoko near Oura Bay, and Takae village in the Yanbaru forest. Consisting primarily of labor groups, students, peace organizations, and a collection of other activists and citizens, the crowd also called for various additional anti-military initiatives including the closing down of nuclear power plants, revision of Japan's policy toward North Korea, and the dismantling of the Japan-US Security Treaty.



Left: "STOP genpatsu (nuclear power)"

National Public Radio in the United States ran a story about the event here.

At the pre-march gathering, an older woman shyly approached me and offered me a small fol…

Yale Environmental Ranking: Japan At 20th Place Among 163 Countries

Very interesting set of data from Yale: Their 2010 ranking of countries shows that European countries and Japan score high on a number of policy issues. Iceland tops the list, while the US ranks 61st. According to the New York Times:

"Some countries that score extraordinarily well in one area may not perform well over all because of unusually lackluster performances in another. The United States scores well in forestry and the provision of safe drinking water, but its ranking is low because of poor scores in areas like heat-trapping emissions and urban air pollutants like sulfur dioxide."

Japan scores well on environmental health and better than the US on a number of issues mentioned by New York Times, like water (including water quality) and forestry, but 45th on issues like air pollution, and just 76th on biodiversity & habitat. Japan also scores very high on pesticide regulation which may come as a surprise to some, but confirms what I have learnt regarding food safety …

90% Chance Of Snow In Tokyo Tonight?

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90% chance of snow tonight Monday in Tokyo, according to the Meteorological Agency. Do take care if you are out and about. The trains could get in trouble and it may become impossible to go home if you live in the suburbs. An evening spent under the Kotatsu sounds like a better alternative.

For all kids, an evening of fun is predicted, with high possibility of snowball fights ;)



More bicycle comics over at Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery