Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yuki Isami Flute Performance: Shinobue

Yuki Isami, native of Japan, first discovered the world of music through piano lessons at the young age of four.

At the age of ten, she began studying flute under the tutelage of Rika Nakagawa.

Magic happens here. Do enjoy her amazing performance.

Music by Reiko Yamada

After having obtained first prize from the Tôhô Gakuen University of Music in Tokyo, alongside Ryu Noguchi, Yuki Isami was accepted to the studio of Claire Marchand at the McGill Conservatory, and the following year, to the studio of Marie-Andrée Benny at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal where she would receive the prestigious Prix avec grand distinction unanimously. After having completed her studies at the Conservatoire, Yuki continued her musical education, and obtained her cinquième cycle with a specialisation in orchestral excerpts.

Yuki also studied Japanese instruments such as Shinobue, Japanese bamboo flute, Shamisen, Japanese three strings banjo, Koto, Japanese zither , and Nihonbuyo (Japanese traditional danse) with the masters such as Kan Fukuhara, Makoto Nishimura, Yumiko Takizawa, and Yukimitsu Bando.

Yuki Isami "East Meets West"

February 25, 2012

Please join us for a special evening with the highly versatile Montreal-based musician, Yuki Isami. Yuki received rave reviews from the Colorado Springs arts community when she was here back in 2010 - performing to a soldout audience of 600 folks at Colorado College Armstrong Hall.

For Classically Alive, Ms. Isami will present a program of both Classical Music and Traditional Japanese Music. She will be assisted by Jim Bosse on guitar and Abe Minzer on piano. Ms. Isami will sing and perform traditional Japanese music on shinobue and shamisen, and play compositions on the flute by Japanese classical composer, Toru Takemitsu. Among other works, the program will conclude with a J. S . Bach Sonata for flute and piano.

And there is more, in French: 
La Nef présente Tsuki, la princesse de lune un conte musical jeunesse de Suzanne De Serres et Yuki Isami

Suzanne De Serres:Conteuse, flûte double, dulciane, douçaine, flûtes à bec, accordéon
Yuki Isami:Koto, shinobue, shamisen, piccolo, flûte traversière alto, kalimba
Patrick Graham:Percussions multiples
Claure Lafortune:Découpage de papier

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Updates From Hyderabad, From Consumers Union Of Japan

Oh, I just could not resist. "Hyderabad" sounds just terrific, it is somewhere in India, and I'm sure all my long-suffering Kurashi readers cannot wait to hear what this is all about. The Convention for Biological Diversity. 2 years ago it was held in Nagoya, and in 2014 it will be hosted in South Korea.

Hyderabad, like Nagoya, are places that are trying to rise to the occasion. 

Japan, India, South Korea... We are in the right spot for United Nations conferences. This CBD is one I am particularly interested in, as it attempts to deal with biological diversity, and that included all kinds of important issues about food and food safety. I hope Asia can do better.

My own personal concern was always food - we eat some plants and rely on the farmers to save seeds. We need a lot of variety of seeds to keep our main foods healthy, and make sure that they are easy to grow. Some of the seeds may not be commercially interesting, but they still need to be farmed or kept growing or kept safe from developers who prefer to pave over everything with asphalt and concrete. Such seeds are part of what CBD is trying to protect. Biological diversity for food crops means caring for regions that have the wild varieties, the related species, the insects and the birds and everything that makes our wheat and rice and corn and green veggies 菜 and all kinds of wonderful, nutritious crops alive...

Now, increasingly most of our major food comes from biotech companies like Monsanto, that have patents on genetically modified crops, GMOs. The focus is not on diversity, not on wild varieties. BASF and Bayer and Monsanto are promoting the type of monoculture crops that are more like the Armstrong bicycle racers. Yes, you win, but there are all kinds of side effects (cancer, death). No variety, just a "win" for the strongest. But for biological diversity to work, we need a number of others to thrive. They may not have the most superior yield, but they are strong in other areas...

The genetically modified organisms are dealt with at the UN level at this convention, the Convention of Biological Diversity. It is called CBD. It tries to protect all kinds of plants from getting extinct, or getting contaminated by GMOs. CBD was designed to deal with living organisms, just like the more famous UN body for climate change was supposed to deal with CO2 and other dangerous, man-made gasses...

Except, the main country that is in fact promoting GMOs, the United States, is not "a Party" to the Convention. The United States does not to agree with anything that is decided at the UN level, regarding food crops, or any other organisms (be it dolphins, whales, rice, wheat, cotton...) so others - especially African or Asian countries, are very active at CBD conferences. Just like the United States is not "a Party" to the climate change negotiations.

Image from IPS - India to Conserve Biodiversity at Grassroots

HYDERABAD, India, Oct 17 2012 (IPS) - India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is actively promoting decentralised grassroots livelihoods as the best way to  conserve biodiversity as mandated by the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS).
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced at the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) India’s ratification of the Nagoya Protocol, and pledged 50 million dollars for national biodiversity conservation efforts.
At the 2010 meeting of the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, the parties had agreed to halve by 2020 the rate of habitat loss, restore degraded ecosystems and  work to prevent the extinction of threatened species.
But, finding the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to achieve the 20 ‘Aichi Targets’ of the protocol has proved problematic and so far dominated the COP 11 deliberations running in this south Indian city from Oct. 8 to 19, with over 174 countries participating.

If you have read this far, thanks a lot.

I'm sorry, but it is complicated. If you try to understand what is going on with the convention about climate change, well, this matter of saving biological diversity is not easier. So, for the past 10 or so years, I have made some effort to keep up-to-date.

Except, I didn't make it to Hyderabad in 2012. I had to go to Bucharest, Romania instead for another UN convention, the Ramsar, about wetlands... But a delegation of my esteemed colleagues from Consumers Union of Japan went... And came back, with lots of stories... Holding a huge conference in a developing country  - there are issues. Like power outages, that India had promised that the distinguished delegated would not experience. Like huge amounts of garbage, that said delegates take for granted will somehow magically disappear... (Does not happen)

Hyderabad made every effort to successfully host the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) and the 6th Meeting of the Parties (MOP6) and a lot of issues were covered. Here is what we posted over at Consumers Union of Japan (NGO/NPO founded in 1969, that you could all support by paying only 7,000 yen to become a member).

Highlights From The Negotiations In Hyderabad About Biological Diversity

Updates about GMOs from the Convention of Biological Diversity
It is not always easy to follow the details of the discussions and negotiations of international agreements… Media pays scant attention or ignores important concerns. Governments provide a massive amount of information but it is not easy to find or digest. Fortunately, NGOs are usually present both in the conference hall and in the corridors. For the current round of negotiations in Hyderabad, India, groups like CBD Alliance publish a newsletter called ECO with easy-to-understand updates.
Here are some highlights:
For the initial meeting, MOP6, many worried that the so-called Roadmap about genetically modified organisms would not be endorsed. This Roadmap deals with risk assessment, to make sure that countries know what they are getting into if they import certain GMOs that may disturb or pose a threat to their local biological diversity. Without proper risk assessment, countries will not have the tools necessary to take into account recent developments in risk research.
There was anger that the United States (not a Party to the Convention of Biological Diversity) has voiced its opposition to work regarding the consideration of socio-economic consequences of genetically modified organisms. Philip L Bereano, Washington Biotechnology Action Council, notes that the US has sponsored literally thousands of socio-economic assessments as part of government policy to aid decision-making. Why not for GMOs?
During the main meeting of the COP11, there was also great concern that the negotiators would suddenly “rewrite history” by editing out an earlier text that many NGOs and governments feel strongly about, regarding so-called “Terminator” crops. These are genetically modified to not be able to produce new fertile seeds, thus undermining the ancient right of farmers to save their own seed from their harvest. Such GMOs, dubbed “Terminator” back in the late 1990s, would give biotech companies like Monsanto (that holds the patents to the Terminator technology) immense power over global food production. Activists in Hyderabad were indignant that instead of deleting old decisions, countries should implement what they agree on at the CBD meetings! Finally, it was agreed to retain the text, after swift action from six countries.
Regarding genetically modified organisms, ECO published the following list of countries in the Asia Pacific region and how they deal with genetically modified organisms (GMO) by 2012:

Read our proposals to the Japanese government before the Hyderabad conference:
Protect Biodiversity From GMOs: Hyderabad MOP6 Meeting

Protect Biodiversity From GMOs: Hyderabad MOP6 Meeting

CUJ has joined other NGOs from around the world for the 6th Meeting of Parties (MOP6) of the Convention of Biological Diversity.
The United Nations conference is held in Hyderabad, India October 1-5, 2012. Just over 2 years ago, everyone met in Nagoya for the MOP5, as negotiators finalized the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress, the important legal instrument to deal with damage due to genetically modified organisms (GMO).
Official website: COP/MOP6 Biodiversity Policy & Practice
September 30, 2012
Proposals for Japan to Introduce a National Legislation Regarding the
Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol:
A Call for Action on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity
Through Strict Regulations on the Use of Living Modified Organisms
Amend Japan’s Current Domestic Cartagena Protocol Legislation
* * *
Japan Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
Amagasa Keisuke
Kawata Masaharu
It is an undeniable fact that Japan imports a large amount of genetically modified organisms/living modified organisms (GMO/LMO). In recent years, we have seen a number of cases of problems where domestic agricultural products are genetically contaminated due to such imported GMOs.
During the course of the nation-wide investigations that we and other civic organizations have undertaken since 2004, wild-growing GM rapeseed (canola) plants have been found all around Japan, ranging from Hokkaido in the north to Chiba Prefecture, Hyogo prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture in the south. There have been many cases of hybridization and suspected cases of stacked traits (several GM traits in one type of organism), as well as crossing with other species that are related to rapeseed within the brassica family.
In Mie Prefecture, which for decades have carefully protected local speciality brand crops, it was decided to use seeds from outside the prefecture due to fear of GM contamination within the region.
In 2011, papaya-growers in Okinawa Prefecture were found to be using illegal GM papaya imported from Taiwan. The farmers, who did not even know that their trees were genetically modified to resist virus infections, had to cut down all their trees, incurring losses up to 70 million Yen.
In order to deal with these problems, Japan Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food and Agriculture strongly urges the Japanese government to sign and ratify the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol, and amend its current national Cartagena Protocol law:
1) Amend Japan’s national legislation so that it reflects all the important issues raised in the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol, and take the international lead in ratifying the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol. Take special note of the following key issues:
1.a) Ensure that the legislation includes a reference to Article 15 in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development regarding the precautionary principle.
1.b) The term “damage” should include any negative influence to the biological diversity related to ecosystem services as a whole, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and to the health of human beings.
1.c) The term “operator” should include the developer, producer and exporter (i.e. all who are involved in the marketing process) that contribute to commercializing the genetically modified organism.
1.d) In the case of damage, the redress system should give priority not only to financial compensation but to actual restoration to the original state.
1.e) Enact a special civil liability system to cover damages casued by the import of GMOs. Incorporate the following items in the system:
- The system should be based on strict liability.
- Ensure that the operator has retroactive obligations.
- Specify the centralized responsibility.
- Secure the victim’s right to take legal action.
- Ensure that an insurance fund is set up to cover the liability of operators in the case of GMO export and imports, in order to avoid any situation of insufficient compensation due to bankrupcy, etc.
2) Revise Japan’s current domestic Cartagena Protocol legislation and make sure that the related laws fully reflects the Cartagena Protocol. Take special note of the following key issues:
2.a) Ensure that the legislation includes a reference to the precautionary principle.
2.b) The target should include any activity related to ecosystem services as a whole, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and the health of human beings.

(More photos can be found on Linkages, October 1, 2012)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Feed In Tariffs In Japan Vs Abroad Rather High?

Just a quick comment here following the event on Sunday for Fresh Currents, the excellent work to try to combine and collate in English what is going on right now in Japan and the world regarding renewable energy.

One of the questions raised to Eric Johnson, who edited Fresh Currents, was about Feed In Tariffs (FITs) that are very important to get people to invest in alternative energy, like solar, wind, geothermal. All kinds of local energy solutions - that can help get us off nuclear power, or rather away from the energy monopoly that supported nuclear power - are going to benefit from FITs.

Impressive rates show Japan's commitment to a way forward...

Yes, Japan's new law from July 2012 is rather generous and will provide 42 yen per kW/h (for solar) and that is good news. FIT levels for the UK, for example, are around 9-20 yen per kW/h for solar. A similar scheme for New York Long Island Power Authority will give users just 17.85 yen per kW/h for 20 years. For Germany, the rates have more or less been halved since 2004, and are now around 24 yen per kW/h for rooftop photovoltaic systems.

This is also happening in China, that apparently has a Feed In Tariff (according to New York Times: China Uses Feed-In Tariff to Build Domestic Solar Market) at 11.90 yen per kW/h.

Using solar to fill a nuclear power gap

Before this surge, solar energy laid on the bottom of China's list of domestic clean energy plans. While the nation manufactured 10 gigawatts of solar panels in 2010 alone, less than 1 gigawatt was installed here in total. Instead, cost-competitive nuclear power took the lead in the Chinese clean energy strategy, until a turning point appeared early this year.
As neighboring Japan was hit by a nuclear disaster caused by earthquakes and a tsunami wave, the world's largest nuclear power plant constructor China has halted its approval for new projects due to safety concerns. Meanwhile, four nuclear power plants, which were approved just days before the Japanese disaster, were ordered to freeze their construction efforts

I tried to find data for South Korea, and it appears that South Korea's FIT system expired in 2011, according to pv-magazine. That's a real shame.

More data about international FITs at pv-magazine.

Top image from "Smart Home" company Yamada Denki.

Image from Caplor Energy, with easy to understand explanations and videos.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fresh Currents At Gotanda, Tokyo

You can catch the people behind Fresh Currents, the special feature of Kyoto Journal, about renewable energy and the future of Japan, over at the Good Day Books in Gotanda. Sunday evening, 18:30.

Speakers:Eric Johnston, deputy editor of The Japan Times in Osaka and editor of Fresh Currents: Japan's Flow from a Nuclear Past to a Renewable Future
 Sherry Nakanishi, producer of Japan 3-11: Where Do the Children Play
Topic:The Debate over Japan's Energy Future
When:Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, 21 October 2012
Admission:Buy a copy of Fresh Currents from Good Day Books

To attend the BookNotes presentation by Eric Johnston and Sherry Nakanishi on 21 October 2012, you must purchase a copy of Fresh Currents: Japan's Flow from a Nuclear Past to a Renewable Future from our shop. Paperback copies of Fresh Currents are available at Good Day Books for two thousand one hundred yen (¥2,100) each, tax included. 

Good Day Books directions
Tōkai Bldg. 3F
[big-b shoes building]
2-4-2 Nishi Gotanda
Tokyo 141-0031

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Market Outing

If you want to go to a Farmers Market in Tokyo this Sunday, why not go with Joan, who blogs over at what was previously Popcorn Homestead, now Japan Farmers Markets, and writes about all kinds of farming adventures. She will guide you to Nippori Marche, a small market that she describes here:

This delightful market is tucked away in one of Tokyo's most historic areas and is, in my opinion, one of the hidden gems of marketdom in the city. A two-day monthly affair, the market offers a very nice selection of foodly items to eat there as well as take home. Atsuko Fujita, the market manager, carefully curates the vendors to make sure shoppers have excellent choices as well as ensuring various regions are well-represented...

October Tokyo Farmers Market Outing
Sunday, October 21st
10am - 1pm
Nippori Station - East exit
Meet at the bottom of the stairs of Nippori Station's East exit and we'll walk over to the market. Meet the market manager, the vendors, have a little snack (I recommend the manju.), and do a bit of shopping. We'll head off afterwards to historic Yanaka (same station, just up the hill) for a walk-about, perhaps some lunch, a visit to the Fuji Viewing Street, and general exploring. I may stay longer than the finish time, and folks will be welcome to join me if I do. I love this part of Tokyo!

Deadline to register: Saturday, October 20th. Space is limited to 10. If I get an overwhelming response, I'll set up a second outing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Images Of Buddha Statues In Afghanistan: Sign To Protect

There is so much still underground at Mes Aynak. Over 5,000 years of history will be erased if Mes Aynak is destroyed in December of this year.

On Facebook: The Buddhas of Aynak

Great ABC interview with Brent Huffman

Most people remember when the then rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban, used artillery to destroy the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan. Now another huge and important archaeological site is under threat of destruction, but this time because of China's desire to mine copper. It's Mes Aynak, a site in Logar Province southeast of Kabul. 

The China Metallurgical Group, known as MCC in English, aims to dig it up with explosives, with a target date of December this year. But archaeologists have only scratched the surface of the treasures of Mes Aynak. Brent Huffman is an award-winning documentary maker. He's working on a project called The Buddhas of Aynak, and he started by describing the ancient place.

Photo: A gold-plated seated Buddha overlooks the tents of the China Metallurgical Group Corporation mine.

It would take more like 30 years to properly excavate this amazing site, according to experts.

Photo: No explanation given, just a face of an ancient statue. Imagine if they found copper or some other valuable metal in Rome, and decided to destroy the Vatican, for commercial reasons.

Do sign the petition over at

Sign our petition to save the ancient Buddhist city of Mes Aynak (Province Logar, Afghanistan) from needless destruction while preventing irreversible environmental harm to Kabul watershed and the Afghan people.

We, the undersigned, acknowledge the urgent need for revenue generation for Afghanistan. We also recognize cultural heritage is a treasure for the ages, and no amount of revenue can compensate for an environmental catastrophe.

1.   We insist that the Mes Aynak mining project be conducted in accordance with international standards in a transparent manner that will safeguard public health, and ensure maximum protection for cultural heritage and the environment. International standards include publication of the final mining plan, the final, approved environmental impact plan, and the consensus advisory of archaeologists to optimize restoration of the site.

2.  We strongly urge the Afghan government to set up a coordinating body composed of government and mining officials, neutral experts in the fields of environmental safety, archaeology and geology, and representatives of the local population and civil society to oversee the implementation of International standards. This body shall ensure that the mining plan is followed throughout the entire life of the mine.

Issue Briefing on the Campaign to Save Mes Aynak
In November 2007 the Afghan government granted a 30-year lease for the Mes Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group (MCC). The hope is that this mine could become a significant source of revenue for a country that is emerging from three decades of conflict and trying to stand on its own feet.
However, the same site also holds a buried Buddhist city with multiple temples, fortresses and commercial and residential areas. Below that are older historic remains going back to 3000 B.C. and possibly including Bronze Age artifacts. Experts call this one of the premier archaeological treasures in Asia. When mining begins in 2013, this unique heritage site will be destroyed forever. Currently, a small team of salvage archaeologists is rushing to save whatever can be removed from the location.

The copper deposit also sits atop the aquifer that supplies water to the surrounding agricultural province and to Kabul, a city with an estimated 3 million inhabitants. Copper mining is hazardous and there is a real threat of a catastrophic environmental disaster if the proper methods of mining are not applied.

So far, NO environmental impact plan and NO mining plan has been made public. There has been NO discussion of variable mining technologies that might allow for portions of the site to be saved. Local residents and the Afghan population have NOT been informed of the costs and significant risks of this endeavor. An atmosphere of secrecy prevails and destruction is scheduled to begin in just a few months.

There is a better way forward – identified by a group of renowned international experts who met specifically to find a solution in June of 2012. Their recommendations are reasonable and should be followed by the Afghan government, MCC, and their supporting partners, the World Bank and the U.S. Department of State.

For more information, please refer to

Buddhist Statues In Afghanistan

Buddhists who read Kurashi may want to take a moment to read this post over at Foreign Policy, and do click on the images of Professor Brent E. Huffman, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University who has been making a film at Mes Aynak.

I hope to see that film.

Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures.

...Huffman notes that some locals also support the mine. "Those who have found employment (albeit at a very low salary) at MCC or at the archaeology dig site are relatively happy," he says. "They can provide for their families. However, due to the terribly mismanaged relocation of six villages, there are many very angry locals who are currently attacking MCC with rockets and land mines demanding cash payments."
According to the New York Times, doubts about the government have also contributed to antagonism toward the mine. "There is deep skepticism that the weak state and notoriously kleptocratic ministries can build a functioning mining economy that will help ordinary people," the newspaper reported.

From Foreign Policy: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan's Logar Province, boasts one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world. But it is also home to vast archeological ruins, including 5th century Buddhist monasteries and even older Bronze Age settlements. Preservationists -- working furiously to excavate the nearby ruins before they are buried under mining rubble -- have urged restraint in developing the copper deposits.

But those focused on Afghanistan's economic development have urged the country to move full speed ahead, citing the dire need for the $1 trillion in revenue that the mine could bring to the impoverished country. Is the potential for economic growth worth more than the loss of cultural heritage?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NHK World: "Okinawa governor express anger over alleged assault"

It is difficult, no, impossible, to not speak up when news like this happens. The American military culture is at it again, with two servicemen "allegedly" raping a young woman in Okinawa. Anger does not quite capture the emotion, but ok, we can deal with that. With tensions so high already (Osprey deployment, Henoko relocation, Agent Orange in Okinawa, Mock nuclear bombings considered, Planned destruction of Yanbaru Forest/Takae, and the WW2 battles, just to quickly come up with a list of issues) is there no way to end this madness?

Top news today on NHK World:

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has expressed strong resentment over the alleged sexual assault of a woman by 2 US servicemen in Okinawa Prefecture, saying the incident is utterly senseless.

Nakaima made the comment in a meeting with Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto in Tokyo on Wednesday.

He urged the minister to strongly demand that the United States cooperate with investigations of the incident and step up discipline among its servicemen.

Morimoto replied that he is also extremely angry about the incident. He said the government is gravely concerned, adding that such inhumane action cannot be tolerated.

Morimoto said he believes the US military has failed to take appropriate measures to prevent such incidents. He told Nakaima that he will ask the United States to take concrete steps to strengthen discipline.

Morimoto said the government will also urge the US to move swiftly to convene a meeting of the Japan-US joint committee of foreign and defense officials to discuss the incident and how to prevent a recurrence.

Oct. 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stem Cell "Lies" "Claims in the initial announcement were groundless"

Here at Kurashi, we have previously been very harsh on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and foods that may be GM, such as corn, soy and canola. I am not sure that we should trust any of the reports about such issues.

We have also covered the exposure of a South Korean cloning researcher, who managed to fool just about everyone with his outrageous claims.

"Serious ethical violations" in Korean cloning scandal

Science writes that Korea's National Bioethics Committee has released a report, revealing that Dr. Hwang's team received at least 2221 oocytes from 119 women between November 2002 and December 2005. That is 160 more than Seoul National University reported last month, but in their published papers, Hwang and his colleagues reported using only 427 oocytes.

Citing "serious ethical violations," the panel also found that Hwang's team failed to fully explain the potential risks associated with oocyte donation and that the Institutional Review Boards at Hanyang University's medical center and Seoul National University provided insufficient oversight.

The panel says that a significant number of women who donated through MizMedi Hospital developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a side effect of the drugs given to oocyte donors. Fifteen out of the 79 MizMedi donors were treated for the syndrome, which can cause nausea in mild cases and liver and kidney damage in severe cases. The committee said two donors were hospitalized. The report also said that some women who suffered from health effects went on to donate again despite the risks.

Read the entire article here.

Cloning scandal previous

Now, again just a few days after a Japanese researcher has been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for his stem cell research, another researcher is in the news for having falsified data regarding stem cells. What is it about this kind of data, that makes it such a free-for-all? The amount of cash awarded by governments or foundations, no doubt.

At a news conference in New York, Moriguchi said, "While the treatment was implemented, it was only one procedure. At the end of the day, I lied."
He earlier said treatment using induced pluripotent stem cells was conducted on a total of six people, including the first case on a man with a failing heart in February this year. He also corrected the timing of the trial to June last year.
He said he was present during the procedure allegedly undertaken in the United States and showed his passport record to reporters.
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he claimed that the trial was conducted, said Friday there are no records of him having undertaken the procedure or of applying for approval to carry it out.
Moriguchi has been staying in New York after a presentation of his alleged treatment at a two-day stem cell research conference that ran from Wednesday at Rockefeller University.
On the timing of the surgery procedure, Moriguchi said, "It wasn't February 12. Let me correct it. It was in the first half of June last year. I don't remember (the exact date) until I check it later. Six people were present there."
During the news conference, he also said the procedure was in fact conducted at another hospital in Boston, rather than MGH, affiliated with Harvard University.
"iPS cells were successfully cultured in a large volume and surgery was conducted," he said. "Since it can't be done alone, I needed help from many people concerned."
The procedure required extracting immature cells from the patient's liver to create chemically induced pluripotent cells, which can turn into any type of body parts, according to Moriguchi. They were then turned into heart muscle cells for injections into the man's heart.
Citing a hearing from a doctor who has co-authored reports with Moriguchi, MGH said, "Dr. (Raymond) Chung has no knowledge of the clinical procedure that Dr. Moriguchi reported" at a conference in New York recently.
"We cannot find any evidence of that procedure taking place at Massachusetts General Hospital," the hospital said in a statement. "No request to conduct that sort of clinical trial was ever submitted or approved" by the hospital's institutional review board, which reviews and approves all studies involving human patients.
The hospital also said that "There is no evidence in the records of the Harvard University Institutional Review Board or the Institutional Review Board of Harvard Medical School of Moriguchi applying for permission to carry out any experiment of any kind."
On Saturday, asked about the denial by the hospital on the institutional review board application, Moriguchi said, "It was probably because the application was made under the name of another doctor, not my name."
Moriguchi also said Saturday that Chung was not involved in the trial in June last year.
On the earlier proclaimed credentials of a "physician assistant" licensed by the state of Massachusetts, he said, "I don't have it. I lied." Moriguchi, who graduated with a degree in nursing in Japan, is not a medical doctor.
He also said during the alleged procedure in June last year, "I did injections myself. Of the 30 (injections), I did several shots" into the patient.
A public relations official at the Massachusetts hospital said the hospital believes that the male heart-failure patient Moriguchi claimed to have been the first to receive the transplant does not exist.
The official said the hospital could not find any records showing that the procedure claimed to have been performed by Moriguchi was applied to a patient at the hospital during the time when he said the man received the transplant.
Moriguchi identified himself as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University but the university has said he currently has no affiliation with the university or the hospital.
Citing Moriguchi, Kyodo News reported earlier that a team of researchers had transplanted artificial cardiac muscle cells developed from multipurpose stem cells into six heart-failure patients in the United States in the world's first clinical application of the so-called iPS cells.
But further investigation by the news agency revealed that Moriguchi's claims in the initial announcement were groundless, said Kyodo News.
Moriguchi, who did not appear in person at the conference in New York, said, "I was going to the conference. But I could not go because I had to spend time handling the mass media." His poster presentation was later withdrawn at the conference venue.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize To EU

Over the past couple of years, the Norwegians have made such a hash out of the Nobel Peace Prize, giving it to anyone from Henry Kissinger to Jimmy Carter, and to at least three Israelis, and then to Al Gore (for what?) and more recently to President Obama, just after he had been elected, before he had done a thing. It was never awarded to the man we all know to have achieved independence for India and Pakistan back in the late 1940s, or to anyone else who fought for the end of imperialism, say in Africa. Japanese Prime Minister Sato got it for Japan's 3 anti-nuclear weapon principles. That list is long and convoluted:

War is a The Betrayal of the Nobel Prize

Now Stockholm's County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations and trusts in the city where the Nobel Foundation is based, has formally asked that foundation to respond to allegations that the peace prize no longer reflects Nobel's will.  The Associated Press reports that,
"The move comes after persistent complaints by Norwegian peace researcher Fredrik Heffermehl, who claims the original purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations.  'Nobel called it a prize for the champions of peace,' Heffermehl [said] … 'And it's indisputable that he had in mind the peace movement, the movement which is actively pursuing a new global order ... where nations safely can drop national armaments.' … 'Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?' Heffermehl asked rhetorically."

But the EU?

I'm sure we are all in agreement that small European countries not having fought any major wars in about 60 years or so is a great thing to celebrate. But the Norwegians should not be so easily fooled. These are countries that still engage in arms trade, exporting the stuff all over the world, as if there is no tomorrow. I am at a loss to even begin to understand the Norwegian logic.

They might as well have given it to Japan: less total military spending, lower exports of arms, fewer or rather zero involvements in conflicts over the past 60 years, compared to the EU.

Even better: award the Nobel peace prize to the Anti-Nuclear Weapons movement in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the Pro Article 9 movement in Japan or the Anti-Military Base movement in Okinawa, or in Jeju, South Korea. I could go on and on.

EU does have a Common Position on arms issues, you can read about it over at SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, founded in 1966. Not good enough, if you ask me.

Anyone exporting arms should not be on the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners. SIPRI does however "congratulate" the EU, and its citizens, for the award.

There has not been an armed conflict between members of the EU (or its forerunners) since the end of World War II, building domestic peace for over 500 million EU citizens. ‘The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize reminds us that the European Union is the most successful example of peacebuilding ever achieved in world history,’ stated Tilman Brück, SIPRI’s incoming director.

‘However, the European Union must come to terms with its increased global responsibilities and the urgent need for more effective European institutions in the fields of international peace and security. ‘To be relevant for its citizens and to become a significant global player, the European Union must achieve peace and prosperity abroad as well as at home.’

What I don't get is how countries that are major arms exporters can be said to be contributing to world peace.

Check this about the world's major arms traders:

SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all transfers of major conventional weapons from 1950 to the most recent full calendar year. It is a unique resource for researchers, policy-makers and analysts, the media and civil society interested in monitoring and measuring the international flow of major conventional arms.

The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database can be used to generate detailed written reports (trade registers) and statistical data (trend indicator value tables). To access the database click on the 'Enter the Database' button in the right-hand column and then select which output format you wish to generate and follow the instructions provided.
The database can be used to address a range of questions, including:
  •     Who are the suppliers and recipients of major conventional weapons?
  •     What weapons have been exported or imported by specific suppliers or recipients?
  •     How have the relationships between different suppliers and recipients changed over time?
  •     Where do countries in conflict get their weapons from?
  •     How do states implement their export control regulations?
  •     Where are potentially destabilizing build ups of weapons occurring?
  •     What is the relationship between access to natural resources and arms transfers?

Download the SIPRI factsheet on military expenditure for 2011 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Japanese Book Banned In Communist China?

My food safety book was published by Kodansha in 2009, in Japanese. I guess it is on the list of Japanese books that are now banned in Communist China. Sorry to hear that! Or is it really? My advice is, stay calm, carry on, don't believe everything you hear or read on the Internet.

We have more important things to think about regarding food security, food safety, energy issues and - what Japanese people like to call "plus alpha" i e a lot of other issues that are also significant and vital and means a lot to all of us.

Do not ban books.

Why would communist China ban a book about food safety issues, published here in Japan, as the writer is from Sweden...?


The Mainichi:

Publishing of Japan-related books banned in Beijing
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Beijing municipal authorities have ordered some publishers in the Chinese capital not to bring out books related to Japan, bilateral relations sources said Friday.
The order, issued Sept. 14, is seen as a retaliatory step against Japan's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands claimed by China, the sources said.
In addition to books penned by Japanese authors, the publishers have been asked not to bring out books related to Japan by Chinese writers or organize cultural and promotional events, the sources said. (...)

The Bookseller:

Books by Japanese authors and titles about Japanese topics have been removed from bookshops in Beijing, and authorities are pressuring Chinese publishers not to translate and publish Japanese content as tensions escalate between the two countries over a territorial dispute.   
On 14th September Japan renewed claims to the Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyus in China. Shortly after, officials at the Beijing Municipal Press and Publications Bureau—the body that oversees publishing in the capital—told Chinese publishers to “refrain from releasing and selling books related to Japan”. The body has also demanded a halt to any books written by Japanese authors—as well as books related to Japan—planned to be published in China.  
On 21st September, Japanese-themed titles were removed from the shelves at Wangfujing Bookstore, one of Beijing’s biggest bookshops, including Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, a bestseller in China. Chinese publishing sources say many bookshops in Beijing have followed suit.        
Thus far, the book ban includes books published or imported to the Beijing district, but some Japanese publishers have reported that the banning of content has spread to outside of the Chinese capital.
Terrie Lloyd, an Australian/New Zealand dual national who has lived in Japan for 29 years and is c.e.o. of publisher Metropolitan KK, said he expects the ban to spread, claiming his company had already seen censorship: “On Friday [21st September] our sister company Metropolis tried to post in Chinese on a major blogging site an article about ancient fossils in Gifu, only to have the posting removed a mere 10 minutes later by the hosting firm itself.”
The countries are bitterly embroiled over ownership of a string of small islands off China’s eastern coast following Tokyo’s decision to nationalise the islands. The decision sparked huge protest in China—some violent—directed at Japanese citizens, property and even Japanese diplomatic offices.
China has previously banned several Japanese publications and restricts some internet access to servers in Japan. Earlier this year, a Japanese manga series created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata was banned in several Chinese cities because the stories could ruin the “physical and mental health” of the young, authorities said.

Are Japan-related books being banned in China?

By James Griffiths
  See, this is why we can't have nice things. The Japan Times reports that Japanese publishers in Beijing are being warned of an "apparent ban on book publishing in Beijing" of Japan-related materials.
The sources said several Chinese publishers in Beijing were notified by authorities Friday that they must halt the planned publication of books written by Japanese or protected by Japanese copyrights, and books related to Japan that are being written by Chinese authors.
The Chengdu Business Daily reported as early as Sept 14 that such an order had indeed been given out by the Beijing Press and Publications Bureau.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Female Writer Wants To Improve Relationship Between China And Japan

I'm probably going to have to update this later, but the story so far - a female Chinese writer is getting lots of signatures from intellectuals in China to improve the relationship between her country and Japan. Which is all very good, of course (if it is true).

Asahi (J) reported about it 2 days ago and again today, October 10, Tokyo Shinbun (J) had the story. I'm having some trouble finding out exactly who the 56 year old writer might be, but her name in kanji is  崔衛平

and her 2010 book (or perhaps rather a book she contributed to) with the English subtitle of "Thought and Nostalgia" appears to have been published by the Beijing Aviation Institute. Link (to a Taiwan website).

All very good of course, we need much more action like this. Some 467 intellectuals have signed her appeal so far, asking for "reason to prevail in the relations between China and Japan." Mostly, it is the Chinese government's outrageous ban on the sale of Japanese books that appears to have triggered this, but also the sense of "heartbreak" that the writers are experiencing as the two countries appear to have completely lost their bearings over the Senkaku Island matter.

A lot of Japanese bloggers are picking up on this as a sign that things may improve. I hope so. At this point, I can't find a photo of her, but if anyone has any clues, please help in the comments or by email.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Documentary: Reviving Recipes in Yamagata, Japan

Some people really make a difference. 100 or 200 years from now, if people do not have the seeds to produce food, they will ask - why did these important veggies and fruits and foods disappear?

As we debate this issue and that, we tend to forget that each day, we eat just a few foods, some 10-20 varieties usually. People who are busy living in cities may rely on even less. Yet, for our health, there are thousands of crops that can make a huge difference. They all help us human beings stay healthy and sane. Thus we ought to treat them with more respect. Like, farm them, harvest them, enjoy them. In Japan, my guess is that we rely on not 10-20 varieties but more like 100-200. You can help me with the research. It is important.

Here is a documentary film that tries to explain this.

From the Youtube site:

Throughout history, farmers have grown crops suited to local environments and of native species, by nurturing and hand-selecting the seeds to carry on a lineage. However in post World War II Japan, agriculture rapidly became mechanized and geared towards mass production through the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. As mechanization asked for crops of identical shape and size, more and more food producers began to purchase F1 hybrid seeds instead of maintaining and handing down traditional and local native cultivars.

Situated in the north-east of the Japanese archipelago, Yamagata Prefecture is one of the top rice growers of the country. According to a recent Yamagata University study, over 150 unique native food plants across the prefecture have been recognized. Such heirloom plants can be considered an important form of intellectual property, as they can convey senses such as taste, smell, and touch from generations decades and centuries ago. Yet due to an ageing population of food producers lacking successors, native varieties of food plants are endangered. Through this film, we hope to alert the world to the situation of Japanese heritage crops which farmers have nurtured throughout time.

Film Synopsis
Yamagata Prefecture is known nationwide for retaining an abundance of heirloom plants. Yet with increasing cross-breeding and less successors to the trade, some native crops are in danger of extinction. At this time, a movement has arisen to support food producers who protect and carry on heritage plants.

Associate Professor Egashira Hiromasa of Yamagata University researches locally native crops. He conducts scientific studies on traditional slash-and-burn agricultural methods and analyzes constituent taste elements of heirloom vegetables. Okuda Masayuki, owner and chef of the local restaurant Al Chécciano, is known as a pioneer in using native Japanese foods in Italian cuisine. Consumers and food producers alike have been inspired by his inventive recipes featuring the unique bitterness or tang of traditional vegetables. Heirloom crops are beginning to be acknowledged as treasures of the community, and producers are slowly increasing. With the triad meeting of food producer, academic, and cook, progress is being made into new recipes and research fields. Heritage crops are also "Living Cultural Assets" that can be used in the education of local history and folk culture. Grown in school gardens, heirloom plants can offer important lessons in agriculture and food culture. The community culture that nurtured, selected, and handed down seeds, local and native, teach us about boundless love. This kind of commitment is cardinal for a future sustainable agriculture. With the efforts of farmers who protect and bestow the seed, and supporters who demand quality food, the future of what the Japanese eat is about to make a mighty turn.

Note on Okuda Masayuki
He was awarded by the Italian town of Arcevia in March 2006 for his activities, and chosen as one of the world's top 1000 cooks at Terra Madre 2006, hosted by Slow Food Italy. Only 11 cooks from Japan were included.

The Director: Watanabe Satoshi
A native of Yamagata, he has been making films based in the local community over many years. His previous film was invited to the prestigious Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.

"Reviving Recipes" Production Committee
The film production team consists of citizens involved in food and cinema related work in Yamagata. Alongside the production of this film, the committee hosts cooking classes and symposia related to Slow Food.

Film Title: Reviving Recipes
Completion Date: October 2011
Length: 95 minutes
Format: Video / HDV
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Director: Watanabe Satoshi E-mail:
Producers: Takahashi Takuya

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Lisa Hammond - Potter

Lisa Hammond is one of a small group of Britain's leading potters, renowned for her expression of the notoriously difficult Japanese 'shino' glaze.

As she throws and fires an exhibition of three years of her best work at Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham, Rutland, she explains her fascination with Japanese pots...

Lisa Hammond talks about Ken Matsuzki's exhibition opening at the Goldmark Gallery 2011.

This documentary follows top UK studio potter Lisa Hammond as she prepares for her 2012 Goldmark exhibition.

Delving into her artistic practice, it provides an insight in to the various stages that go into making her distinctive pieces. We see Lisa at her wheel throwing chawans (teabowls) and a large tsubo jar; firing and unpacking her kiln; and talking about her influences over the years, in particular her love of the Japanese pot making tradition. Also captured on camera is her technique of spraying the soda solution direct into the firebox over a period of three hours, creating the characteristically rich and varied surfaces of her pots.

Visit to see examples of Lisa's work

Stop Selling Arms, Period, End Of Story

Trading in arms and weapon systems is a huge source of income for a lot of companies, a lot of countries, thus for a lot of people. Consequently, a very unpopular topic.

Since 1989, the European Union has an arms embargo with Communist China, meaning European countries cannot sell arms and weapon systems to partners in Beijing. Good. But just a week ago, China's premier Wen Jiabao was in Brussels complaining about this. The Telegraph has more:

China's Wen Jiabao demands EU lift arms embargo

With barely disguised frustration, Mr Wen said it a matter of “regret” that he failed over his term of office to remove the arms embargo, which was imposed after the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
“I have to be very frank in saying this... but the solution [to lifting the embargo] has been elusive over the past 10 years,” he said, using strong, formal language in his speech to EU leaders in Brussels. “I deeply regret this and I hope the EU side will take greater initiative to solve these issues.”
Ahead of the annual summit, now in its 15th year, EU sources had warned that “we have agreed to disagree” with the Chinese on the arms embargo.

To reduce tension, stop selling arms and weapon systems. It is that simple. We need less of this, not more.

Sayonara, Mr. Wen, you did nothing to help improve relations between Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, North Korea... In fact, it could be argued that all of your initiatives backfired. What did you think more European guns could have done to help Communist China? That is so terribly sad. I know blogspot ( is still banned in Communist China, so I don't expect this to make much difference. But, one day, most likely quite soon, you will also write your memoirs, and reflect on your decisions. Was asking Europe to arm Communist China really something you wanted to be remembered for?

Well done Brussels, and Europe.