Sunday, September 30, 2012

Okinawa, Sunday September 30, 2012

Major typhoon hitting Okinawa, canceling the planned deployment of controversial Ospreys. A kind of divine wind, for 2012?

Top photo from Okinawa Times. I hope the photographer (s) will identify themselfs.You can get major awards for images like this. Who are you!

Cicadas, cockroaches, some 60% of Okinawans without electricity due to the storm. Or at least 290,000 people, according to NHK. In the video, they say over 330,000 people are without electricity. Expect a correction on Sunday, from NHK.

So, whose side is the United States really on?

USA Today (main stream US media?) says:

Thousands protest in Japan against Osprey aircraft

The protesters — as many as 100,000, according to organizers — gathered at a seaside park on Okinawa to demand that the plan to deploy 12 MV-22 Osprey aircraft on the island be scrapped, saying they are unsafe. The U.S. plans to deploy the Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, to replace older CH-46 helicopters that are already there.
Safety concerns boiled over after Osprey crashes in Morocco and Florida earlier this year. An incident in North Carolina last week that officials called a "precautionary landing" further aggravated the sentiment.
"We refuse to accept a deployment of Osprey that has already proven so dangerous," said Atsushi Sakima, mayor of Okinawa's Ginowan City, home to the base where the Ospreys will be deployed. "Who is going to take responsibility if they crash onto a populated neighborhood?"
Participants cheered in support, waving red banners and placards with a message saying "Osprey No!"
The tilt-rotor planes have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States says they have a solid record and can fly faster and carry bigger loads than the CH-46, which it is replacing worldwide.
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has asked Japan's central government to seek a full U.S. investigation into the Osprey crashes and suspend their deployment until the aircraft's safety is verified.
The Osprey deployment plan has also reignited longstanding anger over the heavy presence of American troops on Okinawa and has become a headache for officials in Tokyo and Washington hoping to calm anti-base sentiment. More than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops stationed throughout Japan are based on Okinawa.
Okinawans are particularly angry because the Ospreys will be deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which the two countries decided to close more than a decade ago. The base has remained in operation because a replacement site hasn't been readied.

People protesting, anyway, against the Osprays outside the US Futenma Military Base (J) against the Osprey helicopter jets.

Armed US soldiers, with ambiguous orders, at least we all hope "do not use that side gun against civilians" is part of the training....

Photos from Peace Philosophy Center

While we can all deal with this, from a distance, we also know that in the United Nations, recently, Okinawa was not mentioned even once.

That is how it gets us, in a personal way. All the talk about islands here and there in the ocean, nobody seems to speak up for the Okinawans, in 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

News You Can Use: Meat map shows you how to avoid antibiotics

I'd say avoid meat altogether because it is so unhealthy and difficult to know what is in your sausage. What a word, "sausage" it really sums it up, like "ham" which also is just letters to advertise a strange product. I was reading recently about tape worm infections that happen to be related to pork production. Seems there is a link to brain damage.

Speaking of which, I looked up tape worm and associated diseases, and found this gem - a study about a patient who worked in a meat factory... Ouch. Also reveals that the diseases are not "reportable diseases" which means most cases probably go undetected and don't enter into the statistics. 221 deaths in the US during 1990-2002 may not sound like a lot but my guess is that a lot of cases go unreported.

Now, Robert Kenner who visited Japan earlier this year, has stepped up his fight against nasty food industry practices with a map that shows where in the United States you may be more or less exposed to the huge farms that use a lot of drugs to keep pigs alive.

More about the crowd-sourced nation-wide foud guide map here:

Fix Antibiotics

Real Time Farms has teamed up with FixFood to help you find meat raised without antibiotics at farms, farmers markets, eateries, and retailers across the country. Special thanks to Whole Foods, Applegate and Organic Prairie for providing retail store locations.

Joan over at Popcorn Homestead here in Japan is making a similar effort that I really like to promote farmers' markets in and around Tokyo.

More from Grist:

In  some communities, like, say, Woodstock, Vt., or maybe Nevada City, Calif., buying antibiotic-free meat is really easy. Your next-door neighbor probably raises it. In other places like, oh, almost everywhere else except for big cities, and not even all of them, finding a gentleman or gentlelady farmer or special organic store is a bit harder. This map aims to meet that challenge, and to bring awareness to a larger campaign — led by Kenner’s nonprofit FixFood — to reduce the use of antibiotics in factory-farmed cows.

In addition to finding you places to locate antibiotic-free food, FixFood is also working to get more stores on the map by petitioning Trader Joe’s to only sell antibiotic-free meat. This seems plausible, since the chain has already committed to selling only sustainably farmed seafood by the end of 2012.

Getting pork farms to use less antibiotics is something I have been working on for a long time, since it has human health implications. We don't want bacteria to get resistant to important antibiotics, or we will be in trouble. Our kids will be in trouble. A lot of trouble.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't Fence Me In

There is always a song that is appropriate... Here is Bing Crosby, 1944, Don't Fence Me In with the Andrew Sisters.

Roy Rodgers also recorded it, and it was on the Red Hot and Blue Aids CD released, with Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop.

Loved it then, glad to find it again.

Anyway, it was a tune that stuck in my mind over the past few days, what with all the nonsense about tiny islands...

Lost Laowai has the latest (and a good map):

Explaining the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands “dispute”

Which links to Kyle, aka The Manchurian Candidate:

The Senkaku/Diaoyu Island “dispute”:

So rather than arguing this way or that, Kurashi will stay neutral, and propose that the islands and the oceans nearby are set aside as Eco reserves, call them Biosphere safety zones or Don't fence me in-zones, or just to stay sane, call them Stay sane-zones.

Maps, of course can be altered. The View from Taiwan has some images: Paper on Parade

More photos from the Kabuki act between Japan Coast Guard ships and Taiwan Coast Guard ships from China Smack. If you care to read more about the Japanese that started all this by renting ships and sailing all the way, here is another post with lots of photos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cesium In Food: Update 18 Months Later

The Japan Times has a good piece on the food here, which is being continuously tested for radioactivity. There are some concerns about fish, chestnuts and "food sourced from forests, rivers and lakes in the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions and from the Pacific Ocean. This includes mushrooms, mountain vegetables, wild game, freshwater fish and bottom fish."

The Japan Times: Cesium contamination in food appears to be on wane

However, most people do not eat any of these items, and certainly not in any great quantities. As Takashi Ishimaru, a professor of ocean sciences at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, points out to The Japan Times, when waste and plankton carcasses tainted with radiation sink to the seabed, they are eaten by the bottom-feeding organisms, which in turn are eaten by bottom fish. Commercial fishing near Fukushima Prefecture has been voluntarily banned so there is little chance of getting any of this on our plates. But Ishimaru also said it will take "much, much more time" before all fish near the coast of Fukushima are free of contamination.

Official data is updated regularly at the Ministry of Health and Welfare website (E). For example, the news is that chestnuts from Tochigi Prefecture, are now restricted "for the time being" together with bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, boar meat, and some other foods, according to this pdf file from September 18, 2012.

You can check the available data on a remarkable website,

Looking at the prefectures, only a tiny amount of foods exceed the 100 Bq/kg limit ("Action levels*") in the past six months since April 1, 2012 until September 20, 2012:

Fukushima: Foods tested: 14837 Action levels: 700
Miyagi: Foods tested: 10502 Action levels: 116
Ibaragi: Foods tested: 9322 Action levels: 93
Tochigi: Foods tested: 10371 Action levels: 165
Gunma: Foods tested: 9875 Action levels: 23
Chiba: Foods tested: 3402 Action levels: 20
Aomori: Foods tested: 1561 Action levels: 2
Iwate: Foods tested: 9167 Action levels: 229
Akita: Foods tested: 1778 Action levels: 0
Yamagata: Foods tested: 7621 Action levels: 2
Saitama: Foods tested: 2026 Action levels: 1
Tokyo: Foods tested: 354 Action levels: 3
Kanagawa: Foods tested: 930 Action levels: 2

*Action levels mean foods will not be allowed to be sold.

Source: MHLW 20Sept2012_Sum_up_since_01Apr.pdf

More importantly, independent testing is carried out in Tohoku.

The Japan Times asks: 

Can we believe government data? Are there any other data that indicate contamination of food we are eating is low?
Co-op Fukushima has been examining cesium levels in meals cooked by Fukushima Prefecture residents and the results are showing a similar trend. Any cesium detected is usually very low, the consumer group says.
The co-op has performed the tests two times, with each round covering 100 households. The families prepare an additional setting for every meal over the course of two days for testing by the co-op. About 90 percent of the participating households used produce from Fukushima Prefecture in their meals.
Among the 100 households tested between November and March, radioactive cesium was detected in 10 meals. But the highest detected amount was 11.7 becquerels per kilogram, far below the government limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.
Cesium levels in the second set of testing between June and August showed a similar trend. Of the 100 tested households, cesium was detected in meals from just two of the 82 households the co-op has been able to confirm data from so far.
The highest amount was a mere 3.2 becquerels per kilogram, it said.
If the family that made this meal ate the exact same one each day for a year, their total exposure to radioactive cesium would be 0.037 millisieverts, according to the co-op. By comparison, when someone is exposed to a cumulative dose of 100 millisieverts, the risk of dying from cancer goes up by 0.5 percent, according to many scientists.
Co-op Fukushima said it will continue to perform the tests and keep track of the contamination levels.

Top image: Using google maps, the Italian website shows one case of "log-grown shiitake" mushrooms in Tsukuba city, with Cesium detected at 17 Bq/kg, much lower than the 100 Bq/kg level standard set by the government. It shows up as a yellow dot on the map, while other dots are green, meaning no Cesium was detected.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Swedish Peace Activism In Japan

I had the great privilege to meet Swedish peace activist and writer Linda Åkerström who is visiting Japan on a project. She was just back from Okinawa where she had been interviewing activists, and also venturing all the way to Henoko beach with its amazing resilience to the proposed new naval construction.

We met in Waseda and talked a lot about human rights, how we in Sweden used to be dragged by police to military conscription.

Linda has worked for an organization that helped conscientious objectors who refused to participate in Sweden's military draft, the värnplikt, a curious word that means "duty to protect" but of course was a call to arms in a country that was "neutral" yet clearly taking sides in conflicts that mattered... Linda is more interested in Japan's Article 9 and what it means on the ground, today. Is it a constitutional way to avoid belligerence, as it says, or a cop-out to not deal with reality as neighbors (China, North Korea) have nuclear weapons? What about the "nuclear umbrella" that the United States provides? What about Japan's own plutonium?

Curiously, the government of Sweden has just sent a parliamentary delegation to Japan and India, presumably to sell Swedish arms from Bofors or SAAB or Volvo/to study security issues and nuclear security. Sweden is legally not supposed to sell arms to countries that are engaged in war. Nevertheless the government made exceptions to sell arms to the United States while it was engaged in war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places. Similar to how Bofors cannons were used by Nazy Germany to shoot down British airplanes back in the 1940s? But that was 70 years ago!?

While I am glad Sweden managed to stay out of WW2, we were hardly "neutral" thus Sweden also ought to consider introducing an article in our constitution that clearly denounces war as an option, like Japan has done. Curiously...

OK, it is easy to become sarcastic, but I was delighted that Linda was not so inclined. I look forward to reading her reports. She blogs in Swedish on with a lot of photos from her trip. I also noted that there is an attempt to include "the right to not kill" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the United Nations, adopted in 1948, and never amended.

Photo from her lecture at JFOR and NCC. Japan Fellowship of Reconciliation & National Christian Council.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Détente Hotline

This seems to be a good time to talk about an important lesson from the Cold War era, when superpowers battled mindlessly with arms build up and comments by politicians that took no regard of ordinary people and their desire for peace. Détente emerged as a response to that, as a way for diplomats to quietly go about their business, which is negotiations and building trust, leading up to agreements.

A French term, détente basically means "relaxation" or "chill out" in American, not sure what they say in Russian, google gives Детант or Разря́дка  (Perestroika).

In the heat of the moment, media also gets carried away and forgets that it has responsibilities not only to its paying readers in the nation but also to global peace... With blogs and the Internet, things have gotten even more complex. But in the 1960s the main achievement was to install a direct communication link between the White House in Washington and the Kremlin in Moscow. That way, at least in theory, the leaders could call each other and settle any misunderstandings before nuclear missiles were fired, and to deal with a crisis in a more intelligent way.

Seems to me that Tokyo and Beijing and Seoul could need something similar, in 2012.

The lesson is that while negotiations are under way - and diplomats need time, sometimes a lot of time - politicians should not do anything rash and hasty to cause more tension. That's the essence of détente as a policy of international governance...

The early Red Phone was no telephone at all, but an East German teleprinter, sending signals via cable passing Copenhagen and Stockholm, according to a hotline system set up by Florida-based Harris Corporation. The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum provides the real thing as it looked in the 1970s (photo). Later versions used satellites.

You would think that the clever people here in Japan and China and Korea could come up with something that would work just as well today!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

IUCN: Anti-Base Activists From Okinawa Not Allowed To Enter South Korea

An international environmental conference is being held in Jeju, South Korea, somewhat under the radar here in Japan, but nevertheless an important event. However, all has not been smooth as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) made plans for their large event. IUCN was formed in 1948 and is a "conservative" group as opposed to more radical environmental organizations like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Members of IUCN often include national government groups and in the case of Japan, members include groups like WWF Japan, Birdlife Japan and The Nature Conservation Society of Japan (NACS-J) which started back in 1949 to campaign to protect the Oze Marsh.

Interestingly, the Okinawan group that wants protection for the dugong, the rare sea mammal, is a member of IUCN's Japan Committee. This meant, for example, that they were able to propose a resolution to save the dugong at the previous IUCN conference in 2008 in Barcelona, Spain.

For the IUCN conference this year in South Korea, an activist from this legitimate and non-violent Japanese NGO, Save the Dugong Campaign Center, was denied entry and thus not allowed to participate with colleagues from around the world. That is a scandal.

The dugong is under threat from the attempts to build a US naval station move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a coastal area near US Marine Corps Camp Schwab, at Henoko, Okinawa. More details about the dugong campaign here (pdf). Ten Thousand Things has written extensively about the campaign, see search results here.

Several other South Korean activists were not allowed to join the IUCN conference due to their campaign against a new South Korean naval base in Jeju Island, just a few kilometers from the conference center where the IUCN is holding its big event. For example, the Gangjeong Village Association was not allowed by the IUCN (pdf) to put up an exhibition booth, that would have showcased the horrific destruction going on next door to the conference...  South Korean NGOs have tried to engage IUCN in dialogue, and you can read the tepid responses from the IUCN here and here. Says IUCN:

IUCN’s statutes declare that “all persons entitled to attend the World Congress shall be admitted to that State without discrimination”. We are therefore very concerned about the three registered Congress delegates who were refused entry into Korea in the last few days. We formally asked the Korean government for an official explanation two days ago. The Korean government responded this morning saying that the delegates were refused entry according to the Korean Immigration Control Act and that this has nothing to do with the Congress.
We look forward to a continuing open dialogue on these issues and others at this Congress and beyond.

So, what are the protests in Jeju all about? For example, the way the construction is currently carried out, with massive "caisson" to be placed in the coastal waters. Says Save Jeju Now:

The aforementioned caissons are a subject of major contention by the anti-base activists and Gangjeong villagers. In the late 90s, years before the Jeju Naval base construction was even begun, the South Korean Ministry of Construction and Traffic declared that, due to the topography and weather of the South Jeju Sea, caissons were not proper to be used for construction in this area.
Completely ignoring this statement, the Navy/Construction company plan calls for  total of 144 caissons to be dropped in the total conservation area of the Gangjeong Sea of Southern Jeju. These massive caissons are also being dropped only 1km from a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and amidst Korean some of the worlds largest soft coral habitats. Soft coral is also a natural monument and endangered species in Korean.
When Samsung first began to bring the caisson to Gangjeong, it was discovered that they had not even done a simple and legally required inspection of the giant floating dock which is used to transport them. Samsung was later fined for this highly dangerous action.
Finally, two recent typhoons have been completely destroyed the 7 poorly made and dangerously placed thus far in the Gangjeong Sea. Their wreckage has litered the sea floor and contaminated the famously clean waters of Gangjeong. Learning nothing from this, Samsung continues to produce the caisson and will not change their plan. The Gangjeong sea is in a state of environmental emergency and if these unstable, unfit, and dangerous caissons continue to be dropped in this precious environment, the destruction could turn catastrophic.
In light of this new emergency, and the ongoing emergency of the illegal, unjust, and environmental destructive construction of the Jeju Naval Base in Gangjeong, the Gangjeong Village Association applied for a booth at the WCC 2012, to spread the word of this disaster. However, this booth was rejected by the IUCN under pressure from the South Korean Government and Samsung, a major sponsor of the WCC and primary destroyer of Gangjeong.
Please spread the word on this action and the Gangjeong Struggle. Especially, IUCN members, we appeal to you to listen to the cry of Gangjeong!
Peace in Gangjeong! No Naval Base!

Top image shows the non-violent protest on September 6, 2012 when five South Korean activists climed on top of one of the caisson that are currently being used to build the naval base at Jeju Island. Bottom photo shows the construction site, just a few kilometers from the IUCN conference.


According to Okinawa Outreach, 2 members from Save the Dugong Campaign Center were denied entry to South Korea:

The South Korean Government has been deporting people who have been standing in solidarity with Jeju people since last year. The number of entry denials to international supporters for Jeju amounts to 22. We regard the denials of entry without specified grounds as a violation of human rights that are recognized and valued among everyone in the international community, including the freedom of expression, assembly and transfer.

Update 2: 

I am happy to report that late on September 11, a motion (hopefully the resolution will be passed!) has been introduced at the Jeju conference that strongly rejects the "Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners..."

Source: Save Jeju Now: Motion on the Gangjeong Village 

September 11, 2012:

World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village

UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock freshwater tide pools (“Gureombi”), endangered soft coral reefs, freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;
NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;
NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;
NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;
UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;

THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;
NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;
ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;
NOTING the Absolute Preservation Act, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (1991) and that Gangjeong Village was named an Absolute Preservation Area on October 27, 2004: a permanent designation to conserve the original characteristics of an environment from the surge in development, therefore prohibiting construction, the alteration of form and quality of land, and the reclamation of public water areas;
CONCERNED that this title was removed in 2010 to allow for the Naval installation, and that this step backwards in environmental protection violates the Principle of Non-Regression;
RECALLING the numerous IUCN Resolutions and Recommendations that note, recognize, promote and call for the appropriate implementation of conservation policies and practices that respect the human rights, roles, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in accordance with international agreements;
CONCERNED of reports that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the naval construction was inaccurate and incomplete and may have violated well-known principles of international law concerning EIAs, transparency, public and indigenous participation, right to know, and free, prior and informed consent;
CONCERNED of the destruction of sacred natural sites in and near Gangjeong Village, noting that the protection of sacred natural sites is one of the oldest forms of culture based conservation (Res. 4.038 recognition and conservation of sacred natural sites in Protected Areas);
ACKNOWLEDGING that IUCN’s Mission is “To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable;” and that “equity cannot be achieved without the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights.”;
NOTING Resolution 3.022 Endorsement of the Earth Charter (Bangkok, 2004) that endorsed the Earth Charter as “the ethical guide for IUCN policy and programme,” and that the military installation is contrary to every principle of the Earth Charter;
NOTING the U.N. World Charter for Nature (1982), and that the military installation is contrary to each of its five principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged;
AND ALARMED by reports of political prisoners, deportations, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, including the arrests of religious leaders, for speaking against the naval installation and for speaking in promotion of local, national, regional and world conservation and human rights protections;
NOTING Res. 2.37 Support for environmental defenders, “UNDERSTANDING that the participation of non-governmental organizations and individual advocates is essential to the fundamentals of civil society to assure the accountability of governments and multinational corporations; and AWARE that a nation’s environment is only truly protected when concerned citizens are involved in the process;”
NOTING principles enshrined in the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development such as those concerning military and hostile activities (Art. 36), culture and natural heritage (Art. 26), and the collective rights of indigenous peoples (Art. 15);
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING that militarization does not justify the destruction of a community, a culture, endangered species or fragile ecosystems;
AND UNDERSCORING that IUCN’s aim is to promote a just world that values and conserves nature, and the organization sees itself as nature’s representative and patrons of nature;
The IUCN World Conservation Congress at its 5th session in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6-15 September 2012:
1. REAFFIRMS its commitment to the UN World Charter for Nature and the Earth Charter;
2. CALLS ON the Republic of Korea to:
(a) immediately stop the construction of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty;
(b) invite an independent body, to prepare a fully transparent scientific, cultural, and legal assessment of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area and make it available to the public; and
(c) fully restore the damaged areas.
Sponsor – Center for Humans and Nature
-Chicago Zoological Society (USA)
-International Council of Environmental Law (Germany)
-El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental, CEDA (Ecuador)
-Sierra Club (USA)
-Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina)
-Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA (Iran)
-Asociación Preserve Planet (Costa Rica)
-The Christensen Fund (USA)
-Terra Lingua (Canada)
-Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
-Citizen’s Institute Environmental Studies (Korea)
-Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica)
-Coastal Area Resource Development and Management Association (Bangladesh)
-Fundação Vitória Amazônica (Brazil)
-Fundación para el Desarrollo de Alternativas Comunitarias de Conservación del Trópico, ALTROPICO Foundation (Ecuador)
-Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Ecuador)
-EcoCiencia (Ecuador)
-Fundación Hábitat y Desarrollo de Argentina (Argentina)
-Instituto de Montaña (Peru)
-Asociación Peruana para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, APECO (Peru)
-Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, COICA (Ecuador)
-Fundación Biodiversidad (Argentina)
-Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica (Brazil)
-Fundación Urundei (Brazil)
-Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio Politecnico e Università di Torino (Italy)
-Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (Costa Rica)
-Corporación Grupo Randi Randi (Ecuador)
-Living Oceans Society (Canada)
-Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (Paraguay)
-Korean Society of Restoration Ecology (Korea)
-Ramsar Network Japan (Japan)
-The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Isreal)
-Chimbo Foundation (Netherlands)
-Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Okinawa Tune In English: See You Tomorrow By Nayuta

「see you tomorrow」作詞作曲 Nayuta

From the 2010 film that has received almost zero notice, although it looks like it should be rather good. Nirai no oka (にライの丘) or A Song of Gondola nice tune by Nayuta.

Literally, the Japanese title means "Bitter Height" which I think may have been a better English title. It was shown at the Okinawa International Movie Festival in March, 2010, and introduced as such.

For all the talk about J-pop or K-pop and bands that show a lot of leg and what not, here is a young lady with integrity and a huge amount of talent.

Do check her music out!

Here is her live performance of a sweet melody, Happy Daddy and Mommy:

Okinawa Film: Song Of Gondola Going Round And Round

100,000 people protested in Okinawa on Sunday against the deployment of US Osprey helicopters, known as Widowmakers due to their many accidents - and other military helicopters also do tend to be accident-prown, but that is another issue - but of course it is not just about Ospreys. It is an impressive display of non-violence.

It is about a part of Japan that deserves better.

Lots of photos from Sunday September 9 demonstrations over at Ten Thousand Things.

Top photo from NHK.

Peaceful, dignified demonstrations that should make everyone proud. But unless they have some effect on policy makers in Tokyo and where else in the world decisions are made about their faith fate, do we really expect Okinawans to stay quiet, calm, and dignified?

Today, a hundred thousand of them showing up, and the announcer from NHK World was clearly moved on Sunday. Good. We are all moved this. And moved by how 75% of American military bases are on Okinawan soil, yet the US military complex cannot even begin to fathom how much this latest Osprey deployment move has angered ordinary people.

That's 100,000 people showing up just for an ordinary, peaceful demonstration. Did I mention "calm" and "dignified"? What else do you want? Mahatma Gandhi...? More from NHK World:

Big rally against Osprey deployment in Okinawa
A massive rally against the US military plan to deploy the Osprey aircraft has been held in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. The participants demonstrated for about an hour in Ginowan City from 11AM on Sunday. The city hosts the Futenma base where the aircraft are to be deployed.
Representatives from most of the 41 municipalities in Okinawa and more than 170 groups were among the protestors.

Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima called for cancellation of the plan in his speech as representative of the local community.
He said he cannot but get angry at the plan to deploy Ospreys that lack a safety guarantee at the Futenma base, which is the world's most dangerous base for those living nearby. The protestors adopted a resolution demanding cancellation of the deployment and the closing of the Futenma base.

Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto is to meet the Okinawa governor as early as Tuesday to discuss the Osprey safety issue. The Defense Ministry is seeking an understanding of the issue before October's deployment.

Sep. 9, 2012 

Here is a trailer to a 2010 film that has received almost zero notice, although it looks like it should be rather good. Nirai no oka (にライの丘) or A Song of Gondola by Naoya Oshiro.

Literally, the Japanese title means "Bitter Height" which I think may have been a better English title. It was shown at the Okinawa International Movie Festival in March, 2010, and introduced as such:

A man who has failed to have a meaningful career, family life, and life in general recalls the memories of Chatan, the town he grew up in as a boy. Yearning to be tough and strong.
Faint first love. The rebellious phase. The first true friend. The secret of his birth. And the "past" that his father had concealed for so long... This is a story that delineates the mystifying nature of life, one that circles around and around the same place like a gondola on a Ferris wheel. It is a bittersweet but encouraging gift for all those who "cannot make it work".

I wonder what happened to that film. Looks beautiful. Looks like we all need to pay more attention to what is happening in Japan's islands Down Under, it's deep belly, the base at it's spine. If it has any.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Greenheart Initiative For "Zero-Emissions" Small Cargo Ships

I just want to promote a really good idea that some people are working on: they call it Greenheart, a way to "bring economic resilience to marginalized coastal communities around the world while combating the pollution of the shipping industry by putting a ship in the hands of the community thus eliminating the need to depend on polluting port towns and middle men who drive up prices for goods."

It is all about shipping. In a better way. Well, best of luck to them!

Jen over at Ten Thousand Things says:

...we are working hard to launch our first zero-emissions, environmentally low-impact, solar/sail container-ready ship for a global pilot voyage in 2013. To this effect, we have kickstarted our first major grassroots campaign here:

We have an ambitious goal of $120,000 and we need to get the word out.

The Greenheart idea is to create a new type of low-cost, zero-emissions small cargo ships that use environmentally clean and sustainable sail and solar power, to provide needy coastal communities around the world with an affordable means of transport. Such ships can help impoverished coastal and island regions improve their standards of living, while preserving their traditions and protecting the environment. In addition, they will use the publicity generated by such an inspiring enterprise, to promote Fair Trade, renewable energy and international cooperation.

Frankly I have doubts about the "sail and sun" option as I think they ought to have a strong backup engine on board in case something goes seriously wrong on a long journey. And things often do, out at sea! But any attempt to reduce the ships' dependency on diesel fuel will be helpful. Discussion will be heated, no doubt! Current open design options are updated here.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Misora Hibari - Kawa no Nagare no you ni

Very popular enka singer, with lots of comments in Spanish from South America...


Day by day, years go by
I've walked along this long and tiny road
I see my hometown far away when I look back from this road
I walked a bumping road and that was winding too
I didn't even have a map
That was nothing but what I call my life
Ah, as the river goes on flowing
gently I wanna give myself to its trend
Ah, as the river~
I wait for snow melting in this new season
Ah, as the river~
gently I wanna give myself~
Ah, as the river~
eternaly hearing the sound of flowing water

And here is another translation...

Like a dream, like a dream, passing day after day
down this long, narrow road I've been walking
If I turn, looking back I can see far away
the old town that I loved long ago.
Roads that wind and twist in every way,

Bumpy roads that have seen too many days
With no map to guide us, every path we cross in our lives
Ah, just like the waters of a river, countless bygone days,
one by one how gently, how slowly they go,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on unendingly,
into the sky painted colors of evening flow.

Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, like the seasons flow,
as we wait for April sunshine to melt the winter grey.
Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on eternally
as we hear the rushing current flow out to the bay.

 Una de mis favoritas, un tema que me hace llorar, y eso que no domino el japones..

 En febrero ya estare en 日本 durante muchos años me siento feliz de ir a este bello pais, se que extrañare tambien a mi pais de origen pero en esta vida hay que dar decisiones grandes, amo a México, amo a Japón. Sere un Mariachi conviviendo con samurais esteriotipadamente jajajaja :) saludos para todos los que lean este mensaje, les deseo lo mejor..

 Otra de las grandes ,su vos y sus canciones acompañan siempre mi vida..

 No me canso de escuchar esta cancion interpretada por esta bellisima mujer japonesa..

Friday, September 07, 2012

GMO-free Europe Conference 2012

GMO-free Europe Conference 2012

Brussels, 4th - 5th of September 2012


The 7th European GMO Free Regions Conference welcomed 200 participants from 33 countries in Brussels. Intensive workshops and lectures, along with the traditional GMO-Free party in the “mundo b” on the first day were followed by debates and presentations in the European Parliament on Wednesday September 5th. Key issues on the agenda were the still-unresolved question of national bans for the cultivation of GMO crops and a controversial debate with the European Food Safety Agency’s executive Director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle on the performance of her agency, ten years after its foundation.

The final discussion “How Roundup ready is the European agricultural policy?” was introduced by Sofia Gatica and Maria Godoy from Argentina. They presented people who lost children and families due to the spraying of Roundup Ready soybeans in their neighborhood. “We must work together against transnationals like Monsanto!” said Sofia Gatica, who has just won a first sentence against the aerial spraying of “Roundup” in an Argentinien court. Gatica called upon European politicians to stop the import of GM soybeans from her country and warned the Commission not to approve Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans for cultivation in Europe. Encouraging news came from speakers from the USA, Japan, India and China, where GMO expansion is faced with increasing resistance.

Although the number of GMO-Free Regions has substantially increased (see map) since the last GMO Free Europe Conference in 2010, participants agreed that the challenges ahead will require concerted action. These challenges include new GMO approvals and attempts to undermine GMO-Free standards with dubious thresholds for low level presence of GMOs in feed, food and even seeds.

The GMO-Free Europe Conference in Brussels connected with two parallel conferences in the network: The GMO-Free regional governments in Erfurth, Germany, and an international soybean business conference of GMO-Free “Danube soybeans” at the Vienna Stock Exchange. Representatives of all three conferences agreed to aim for a joint meeting of GMO-Free politicians, business and NGOs in 2013.

As for Japan, Consumers Union and other groups are congratulating some 210 supermarkets around the country that have decided not to sell GM papaya:

The No! GMO Campaign was set up in 1996 to stop genetically modified foods. 16 years later, there is no commercial GM farming in Japan. Consumers and civic groups are continuing the battle against imported GM foods. In December, 2011 the government approved GM papaya and soon, the American producers in Hawaii were promoting the expensive fruit at a trade fair near Tokyo, giving out slices as free samples. The No! GMO Campaign started an effort to investigate if the GM papaya from Hawaii was actually sold in Japan or not.

Citizens and activists all around Japan approached their local supermarket chains and the result was revealing. Not a single supermarket chain has decided to introduce the controversial virus-resistant papaya from Hawaii. Could it be that the Americans are hoping that people will simply forget about GM papaya, before they start the marketing introduction?

On July 25, 2012, the No! GMO Campaign sent a press release to thank the 210 supermarket chains, expressing appreciation that they do not sell GM papaya. “We will continue monitoring to make sure that no stores sell GM papaya in Japan, ” says Amagasa Keisuke, No! GMO Campaign director. “Illegal GM papaya seeds from Taiwan were also imported to Okinawa, causing financial damage to papaya growers in Okinawa, southern Japan. The farmers brought GM papaya to the Japanese market without knowing that it was genetically modified. So far, 35 growers were forced to cut down their illegal GM papaya trees,” notes Amagasa Keisuke. Better legal protection is needed to compensate farmers in such unfortunate cases.

Read more:
Consumer Reaction To Genetically Modified papaya (Dec. 20, 2011)
Non-approved GM papaya distributed in Okinawa and Miyazaki (Apr. 2011)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Live Video From GMO Free Regions Conference in Europe

There is a live stream video that you can catch, from the GMO Free Regions Conference in Europe:

GMO Free Europe Conference 2012
7th European Conference of GMO free regions

Livestream from the European Parliament in Brussels:

Wednesday 05 September 2012, 09:30 to 12:30 and 15:00 to 18:00

16:00-19:00 Countries beyond Europe

12: What’s going on in North America?

This workshop will provide a summary view of recent developments in the explosion of superweeds and increased chemical use associated with GM crops, U.S. Legislation (including the "Monsanto" riders to the Farm Bill and Agriculture Appropriations Bill), GMO labeling initiatives, legal challenges, and regulatory policies. It will also touch upon seed consolidation and industry strategy during this politically volatile period as twenty new GM crops are awaiting USDA approval—including 2, 4D-resistant and dicamba-resistant soybeans.
Related link: Yes on Prop 37
Moderators: Debbie Barker (Center for Food Safety), Kim Dault (CA Label GMOs Ballot Initiative Campaign)


Here are a couple of links to a couple of things that I'm reading about right now:

NYT: Remnants of Japan’s Tsunami Attract an Archaeological Interest

“The tsunami debris is something of a time capsule,” said Ken Campbell, a professional kayaker who, with two fellow guides, has toured Washington islands looking for lost items.
Many see the debris field as a watery Pompeii, eloquent but impermanent, soon to be wiped clean by the force of waves and gravity...

Dear Friends of Jeju Island,

From September 6-15, some 10,000 environmentalists will converge on Jeju Island to attend the World Conservation Congress (WCC) organized by the oldest environmental organization, the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN’s slogan is that it promotes “a just world that values and conserves nature.” If recent actions are any indication, nothing could be further from the truth.

The WCC will take place only a few minutes away from Gangjeong where the construction of a naval base is threatening one of the planet’s most spectacular soft coral forests and other coastal treasures, assaulting numerous endangered species and destroying a 400-year old sustainable community of local farmers and fishers. Unfortunately, the IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed the naval base...
Brussels, 4th - 5th of September 2012 
We are happy to announce our 7th GMO-free regions conference which will be held on the 4th and 5th of September in Brussels. For the 7th time since 2005, civil society from across Europe is coming together to meet with politicians, representatives of the EU institutions, scientists and business to discuss GMO-free food and agriculture in Europe. Information and experiences from different regions of Europe (and beyond) will be shared, and controversial policy and science issues debated. We will also celebrate the successes of the GMO-Free movement in EU Member States, as well as in the USA and Asia.
Among the central topics of this year’s GMO Free Europe will be the pending EU legislation to allow national bans and regional self-determination on GMO cultivation; 10 years of GMO risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), its scientific concept and credibility; different concepts of ‘zero tolerance’ for GMOs in food, feed and seed; the global health and environmental impact of Roundup ready and new herbicide resistance systems...

SJS Vol 17: Demon Capital Shanghai: The "Modern" Experience of Japanese Intellectuals - Chapter 6 The "Modern City" and the Shōwa Period

Jianhui Liu, Joshua A. Fogel
In this final installment of Liu’s book, we see Shanghai at the peak of its prewar exuberance and decadence. Skyscraper architecture, every style from the West, widespread strikes—it is a time when Shanghai became both “modern” and “mass.” We follow the writers Yokomitsu Riichi, Yoshiyuki Eisuke, and others to Shanghai and back, and we learn about the many movies made in 1930s and 1940s Shanghai. We conclude with a reflective epilogue on Shanghai’s place in modern China’s and modern Japan’s cultural life, as well as self-reflective thoughts of the author on what Shanghai meant to him as a youngster growing up in Shenyang...

Full Text: PDF
Image: Advertising poster for Qidong Tobacco Company showing a fashionable woman wearing a cheungsam. Colour lithograph by Hang Zhiying, made in Shanghai, China during the late 1930s. Powerhouse Museum collection.