Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing all my friends and family, and everyone who reads Kurashi, a very happy new 2013.

Everyone of you is special.

Enjoy this beautiful slideshow video with images from Nonin-ji, a temple with a 500 year history here in my parts of the wood in rural Saitama, Japan.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Exodus, Passports, Veggies

This time of year, a lot of people have a brief opportunity to go abroad, and this year, the holiday is a little longer than usual. Exodus, indeed.

This year, many people are taking advantage of an extended nine-day break. The last day of business for most companies is Friday. Next week, Jan 1-3 are national holidays and many companies have given employees Friday Jan 4 off as well, adding up to a nine-day holiday.

I just talked to my uncle Sven, 82 years old, who is healthier than most, he is on a LCHF diet to avoid trouble. Did I mention, avoid meat?


Which reminded me of this classic movie clip, the Marx Brothers from Monkey Business. Do keep your passports with you, at all times.



Glad to know that my family is healthy. And, always that sense of humour. Here is a clip that Panadabonium sent, boy, I am so lucky to have friends that care.

Do watch at least twice, and why not send it along to someone you care about.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Abe Visits Fukushima

As the year of Heisei 24 is about to end, another Prime Minister goes to Fukushima to watch the damage, meet the people, and try to get to grips with something like an energy policy that will work for Japan.

We are all of course watching, not sure what we would do were we in his plastic-bag-covered shoes!?


The clean-up at Fukushima after its tsunami-sparked nuclear meltdowns is unlike anything humanity has ever tried, Japan’s prime minister said Saturday during a tour of the plant.

“The massive work toward decommissioning is an unprecedented challenge in human history,” the newly-elected Shinzo Abe said. “Success in the decommissioning will lead to the reconstruction of Fukushima and Japan.”
Dressed in a protective suit and wearing a face mask, Abe was taken by bus to see two of the damaged reactors. Thanking workers for their efforts at this time of year, when many people are celebrating New Year at home with their families, he said: “Decommissioning work is hard work, but it is progressing. We owe it all to you. We, the government, will give full support.”

Shinzo Abe has all kinds of ghosts on his shoulders, including grandfathers and others in his family that ought to have taught him a lesson.

His grandfather Kishi went to Washington in 1960 and returned to Japan with a "new and unpopular" Treaty of Mutual Cooperation. Demonstrations, strikes and clashes continued as the government pressed for ratification of the treaty, and a visit by US President Eisenhower was canceled. That treaty was the key to get the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty (AMPO) signed, which is why we still have American military bases in this part of the world.

Abe stems from Yamaguchi Prefecture, a bastion of support for the Emperor in taking down the bakufu rule back in the 1860s.

I note that there are temples here in Hanno, Saitama where the last of the bakufu supporters from Edo fled to, after they lost the Ueno battle, only to be harshly defeated by the new class of rulers-to-be from Satsuma and Chochu, the domains from the far south and west, and that new generation that went on to create modern Japan.

In other words, a new leader from that part of the country carries certain connotations.

I also note that there are no cute babies for the new leader to hold and kiss, only an oba-san in old-fashioned (and likely very warm) gear. Love her hat, it could be the novel fashion item of 2013.

Abe's economics? I'm no expert, but Kurashi always rises to the occasion, don't we.

Here is Stephen Roach's approach to the new era of Abenomics:

Project Syndicate: Shinzo Abe's Monetary-Policy Delusions


With BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa’s term ending in April, Abe will be able to select a successor – and two deputy governors as well – to do his bidding (...) The ECB’s über-aggressive actions have achieved little in the way of bringing about long-awaited structural transformation in the region. Crisis-torn peripheral European economies still suffer from unsustainable debt loads and serious productivity and competitiveness problems. And a fragmented European banking system remains one of the weakest links in the regional daisy chain. Is this the “cure” that Abe really wants for Japan? The last thing that the Japanese economy needs at this point is backsliding on structural reforms. Yet, by forcing the BOJ to follow in the misdirected footsteps of the Fed and the ECB, that is precisely the risk that Abe and Japan are facing. Massive liquidity injections carried out by the world’s major central banks – the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ – are neither achieving traction in their respective real economies, nor facilitating balance-sheet repair and structural change. That leaves a huge sum of excess liquidity sloshing around in global asset markets. Where it goes, the next crisis is inevitably doomed to follow.



Photos from here and here.







Friday, December 21, 2012

Hideaki Tokunaga - That Old Broken Radio



That old broken radio, a song that some of you may remember from the early 1990s. I don't think I have seen this video, isn't Youtube great.

Music and lyrics by Hideaki Tokunaga

 作詩:徳永英明 作曲:徳永英明

何も聞こえない 何も聞かせてくれない
僕の身体が昔より 大人になったからなのか
ベッドに置いていた 初めて買った黒いラジオ
いくつものメロディーが いくつもの時代を作った

※思春期に少年から 大人に変わる
道を探していた 汚れもないままに
飾られた行きばのない 押し寄せる人波に
本当の幸せ教えてよ 壊れかけのRadio※

いつも聞こえてた いつも聞かせてくれてた
窓ごしに空をみたら かすかな勇気が生まれた
ラジオは知っていた 僕の心をノックした
恋に破れそうな胸 やさしい風が手を振った

華やいだ祭りの後 静まる街を背に
星を眺めていた けがれもないままに
遠ざかる故郷の空 帰れない人波に
本当の幸せ教えてよ 壊れかけのRadio

ギターを弾いていた 次のコードも判らずに
迷子になりそうな夢 素敵な歌が導いた

(※くり返し)

華やいだ祭りの後 静まる街を背に
星を眺めていた けがれもないままに
遠ざかる故郷の空 帰れない人波に
本当の幸せ教えてよ 壊れかけのRadio
遠ざかる溢れた夢 帰れない人波に
本当の幸せ教えてよ 壊れかけのRadio

 

Translation

I can't hear anything from you, you're not telling me anything
My body has grown into an adults since way back then
The first black radio that I bought, and took into bed with me
So many melodies have made up so many eras

Changing from a boy going through puberty, into an adult
The road that I searched for was pure
In the waves of people that are advancing to their plain destinations
Tell me what real happiness is, barely working radio

I could always hear you, you always told me something
When I looked at the sky on the other side of the window, a faint courage was born
The radio knew that, it knocked on my heart
My heart feels like it's worn out from love, the gentle wind waves at me

After a brilliant festival, xxx
Gazing at the stars, still pure
The far off sky of my hometown, the waves of people that can't go home
Tell me what real happiness is, barely working radio

I was playing the guitar, not knowing what the next chord would be
My dreams that seem to be becoming stray children, were guided by a wonderful song

Changing from a boy going through puberty, into an adult
The road that I searched for was pure
In the waves of people that are advancing to their plain destinations
Tell me what real happiness is, barely working radio

After the brilliant festival, xxx
Gazing at the stars, still pure
The far off sky of my hometown, the waves of people that can't go home
Tell me what real happiness is, barely working radio


From jpopasia

Happy holidays, have a great new 2013.

From Nara:

Hideaki Tokunaga - Love Is All



Just a song I happen to like, from September, 1991. He's from Fukuoka, I'll have to start a new label just because of that.

Hideaki Tokunaga also released this wonderful tune in April, 2011, about the quiet ocean, and its violence...

Tasogare wo Tomete (Stop the Twilight)










Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So, How Many Nuclear Reactors, Out Of 54, Are OK?

Since main stream media will not do the math, I thought I would give it a try. There used to be 54. But, four at Fukushima Dai-ichi are gone due the the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Major meltdowns.

Do we have 2, or 10, or 20, or more nuclear reactors that could actually do the job, in Japan? What is their status?

Let's start with a map, found on wikipedia.

Then, let's go from north to south.

Tomari

Three reactors, the only plant in Hokkaido. "...the Tomari power facility in Hokkaido, said that it could not rule out the possibility that the plant was vulnerable." Source NHK World 20120229 and JAIF (pdf).


So, 50-3=47

Higashidori

So,  only one reactor, but more planned. Now, this is where things tend to get interesting:

Although the plant was in maintenance shutdown during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the April 7th aftershock caused the loss of all external power and the plant had to switch to backup power to supply cooling to the spent fuel pool where the reactor's fuel rods were being stored.[4][5]
On 24 October 2011 a research group under professor Mitsuhisa Watanabe of the University of Toyo published a report that raised questions about the seismic safety of the plant-site. A number of faults are present under the complex and in this study it is unclear whether these faults might be active, as some experts noted recently in the NISA safety-screening process. In the study, the researchers said that certain characteristics are typical for the existence of active faults under the plant site, when they analyzed the surveys conducted by the two utilities for constructing the reactors there. Tohoku Electric and TEPCO, denied that there were active faults, and said that the faults were shaped by the swelling of water-bearing strata. Professor emeritus from Hiroshima University, who took part in the analysis, criticized the utilities for this denial. The new report might have an effect on the decision whether to resume operations of the reactor, and could also affect the earthquake-proof safety screenings of other nuclear plants. [6]

So, shall we say, 47-1? That leaves us with 46.

Next, Onagawa. Very interesting, here we have three Toshiba reactors, all part of TEPCO that no doubt everyone knows is now in dire straits. All kinds of small "incidents" and minor leaks. Also, a fire due to the March 11, 2011 earthquake, "from the turbine section." Could they all three go on line? We have had all kinds of strong aftershocks in the same region, but... I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but that is not saying I think they are ok.


Next, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant that I visited a few years ago, and blogged about for Treehugger. It was horrific. They had no way to deal with that earthquake, it was a huge mess. Buildings were in disarray. We were on a bus but were not allowed to get off and take photos. Remember, this was before March 11, 2011. The plant was very damaged, as far as I could judge.

This is the world's largest nuclear "plant" and I do not like the word, "plant" which seems incongruous with the lack of anything actually organic, or growing. The world's most humongous electricity provider, K-K if you want to make comments, since the name of the two small towns are impossible to remember or spell... Back in beautiful Niigata, such an obscure monster, with huge power lines feeding straight into the 30 million people living in Tokyo-Chiba-Saitama from these shores.

I will spare you the technical jargon. What I saw when I visited was a mess. That was from the 2007 earthquake. No go. They will never be online at 2013, as "planned" due to all kinds of troubles. That leaves us with 46-7=39.

Next, Fukushima 1 and 2 (Dai-ichi and Dai-ni)

The four reactors at Fukushima 1 are the world's largest problem. How about the four reactors at Fukushima 2?

Let's count them out, shall we. No way they will be deemed "safe" after all those huge aftershakes and all kinds of trouble. This could, however, be a major issue as Tokyo "needs" electricity. Fukushima 2 may be part of a PR battle to get nuclear power to the capital. But, I don't think so.

39-4=35.

Next,  Shika.

On 16 July 2012 research done by the Japanese government did reveal the strong possibility that the S-1-fault beneath the power station might be active. Raising doubts about the claim made by the company in 1997, that it is inactive. It is not allowed to built a nuclear reactor above an active quake fault. If these findings would be confirmed, the Shika power station could be labeled as sitting on premises ineligible for a nuclear power plant. 

Not sure yet, so let's just exclude them. 35-2=33.

Next, Tokai in Ibaragi. Both are now closed down. 33-2=31.

On 11 October 2011 Tatsuya Murakami, the mayor of the village Tokai, said in a meeting with minister Goshi Hosono, that the Tokai Daini reactor situated at 110 kilometer from Tokyo should be decommissioned, because the reactor was more than 30 years old, and the people had lost confidence in the nuclear safety commission of the government. [11]
In 2011 and 2012, about 100,000 signatures against the resumption of the plant's operation, halted since last year, were submitted to Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto. The petition urges the prefectural government not to allow the Tokai power station to resume operation, saying, "We should not allow a recurrence of the irretrievable sacrifice and loss as experienced in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident".[12]

Do stay with me, I am only trying to go through the list, as of December 2012

Ahem.

Next, Mihama. Unclear how bad the seismic faults are. This is right net to the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant, that is also on our current map. I would rather see it all shut down, since the stakes are so high, and the data is not conclusive. This is all too near to Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe for anyone to feel safe.

On 12 November 2011 at 7:45 PM local time a fire broke out in the No. 1 reactor. After a switch for a spare electrical device at the water processing facility was operated by a worker, the fire was ignited because a short circuit caused a series of hot sparks. After the fire was put out, no casualties were reported. JAPC said that there was no leakage of radiation, because the reactor was closed for inspection.

The whole region of Kansai is dependent on Lake Biwa because it is the source of drinking water for the whole region...

Mihama 3 and Tsuruga 2 (another 2 planned) so we get 31-5=26

Next, (interesting how Kansai cities like Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe have nuclear reactors close by, while Tokyo kept them much further away, in Fukushima and Niigata) we go to Monju, Takahama

...not much we know about Takahama, I'd say we had better pay more attention. But, so far, four that are not on line, and in a lot of doubt. Thus we get 26-4=22.

On 17 February 2012, Kansai Electric Power Co. announced that on 21 February 2012 reactor no. 3 would taken off the grid for a regular checkup and maintenance. After that date, only two commercial nuclear power plants were still operating in Japan: The no. 6 reactor of TEPCO at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in prefecture Niigata, which was scheduled for checkups on 26 March 2012, and the No. 3 reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido of Hokkaido Electric Power Co.; there regular maintenance was planned in late April 2012.[2][3] From 5 May until 1 July 2012, Japan had no operating nuclear power plants. In July Ōi Nuclear Power Plant units 3 and 4 became Japan's only operating nuclear power plant.

And then there is Oi.

The Ōi Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant located in the town of Ōi, Fukui Prefecture, managed by the Kansai Electric Power Company. The site is 1.88 square kilometres (460 acres).[1] As of December 2012, Ōi Units 3 and 4 are Japan's only operating nuclear power plants.

Where were we? 22?

How about Shimane. Two nuclear reactors at this plant.

The English wikipedia page has some dubious links. Not good. Unless wiki gets better, we are still at 22 nuclear plants for Hokkaido, and Honshu.

There are three more plants, however, on Kyushu and Shikoku.

Genkai:

On 9 December 2011 a leak was discovered in the cooling-system of reactor 3. After a temperature-rise over 80C at the base of one of the pumps an alarm was triggered, but this alarm did not indicate the leakage of 1.800 cubic meter of radioactive water, because the water did not go outside the purification system. After the leak was discovered Kyushu Electric failed to report the troubles in full to the local government. Only the failure of the pumps in the system for the No. 3 reactor were mentioned.[13]

As of September 2012, Saga prefecture is aiming to have the Genkai reactors permanently retired after 40 years of operation, meaning that reactor 1 will close in 2015.[14] A citizens' group sued to have the reactors shut down immediately, but the state argued that there is no process in Japanese law that could cause an industry's operations to cease through a civil, rather than criminal, action.[15

Sendai:

On 14 December 2011 the Kyushu Electric Power Company published the outcome of the primary safety assessments or "stress-tests" for three of its suspended nuclear reactors: two of them located at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in prefecture Kagoshima Prefecture, the third at was located the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga prefecture. The reports were sent to the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The papers were also sent to the local authorities of the prefectures where the plants were located, because the reactors are not allowed to be restarted without their consent. According to the test, the reactors could withstand a seismic shock of 945 to 1,020 gals and tsunami-waves of a height of 13 to 15 meters. The power company asked its customers to reduce their power-consumption by at least 5% after 26 December, because at 25 December the number 4 reactor in Genkai would be taken out of operation for regular check-ups. Nuclear power generation did account for about 40 percent of the total output of the company, according to company official Akira Nakamura. He said that restarting reactors was crucial for them, and that the company will do all it can do to win back public-trust. However, Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai said that it would be difficult to resume operations. He asked Kyushu Electric to disclose their practices in full, besides their efforts to prevent future accidents.[2]

And

Ikata: 

Maintenance in 2011

On Sunday 4 September reactor no. 1 was shut down for regular inspections. These check-ups would last at least three months. At that time reactor No.3 was also shut down, although the normal inspections were long time finished before September. To resume operation, a stress test was required for all suspended reactors by the government, after the accidents in Fukushima. The Ehime prefectural government said it would decide whether to approve the resumption of operations after the results of the safety test came out. The Shikoku Electric Power Company said that if the No. 3 reactor did not resume operations, power supplies would be very tight in winter when electricity demand would be high. It was considered to restart a thermal power-plant which had been long out of use. [5]

Nuclear evacuation drill held in 2012
In February 2012 an evacuation drill was held in the prefecture Ehime and Shimane. The drill was done to mimic the situation of a reactor cooling failure after a huge earthquake. The evacuation-zones were expanded from 10 to 30 kilometers after the disaster in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In this evacuation drill some 10.000 people were taken out of the area round the nuclear power plant, with buses, helicopters and boats of the Maritime Self-Defense Force. The residents in the town of Ikata, commanded by disaster announcements on the radio to gather at a junior high school. From there they were taken by buses to a shelter some 50 kilometers further. This drill was the very first ever executed on this scale, and it was also the first time that so many people were evacuated out from their town. [6] [7]

Ikata is one of the plants that may use MOX fuel.

20-22 "maybe OK" nuclear plants? But what to do about the radioactive waste, the plutonium, the dangerous fallout from all kinds of minor/major incidents...?












 










Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Election - A Disaster For Anti-Nuclear Japan?

I'm going to keep this short as more details will no doubt be forthcoming after LDP and New Komeito form a government, having won the majority in Sunday's election. What can be noted right off the bat is that no party managed to ride any kind of anti-nuclear power wave to victory. Even the real-deal renewable energy activists like Iida Tetsunari could not get enough votes to get a seat in Parliament. That's pretty lousy, he could have done a lot of good.

Anti-nuclear power parties missed this opportunity to explain to voters how Japan can manage short-term and long-term without the now unused power plants, that have been stopped one by one during 2012 for scheduled inspections, and not been restarted, except for two (at Ohi near Kyoto) out of some 50 or so (not counting the four at Fukushima Dai-ichi, three of which exploded after the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011).

Meanwhile, experts have been able to look closer at possible seismic faults under the plants and thus also under the storage pools of used nuclear fuel, that also contain nasty stuff like plutonium, since that is being stored inside the nuclear plant buildings rather than at some - presumably - safe location, as no such location has been forthcoming. And yes, as a result of inspections during 2012, the experts have been noticing that some places may be more earthquake-prone than others.

In the case of Hamaoka, south-west of Tokyo, one can only hope that good sense will prevail and that the reactors there will be kept permanently off-line, whatever new policy emerges from Nagatacho and the Nuclear Village People...

Japan Offspring Fund (2005):  What to do in case of a major earthquake in the Tokai region

hamaoko-mapOf all the 52 active nuclear reactors in Japan experts agree that the 5 reactors in Hamaoka are the most dangerous. Hamaoka sits directly over a subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. The ground is not solid rock, but sand. This area is in fact overdue for a major earthquake.
When the radioactivity is released, it will be much worse than if an atomic bomb was dropped in the region.
At Japan Offspring Fund, we are concerned with safety issues, and we would like to provide advice about what you can do to escape, when such earthquake happens.

Speaking of which, meanwhile, 2012 has, in my opinion been a great success for anti-nuclear activists, here and abroad, as more and more details are appearing online about the collusion between more or less corrupt politicians and people supporting the utilities and those who have profited at the companies making these darn things.

Japan Focus: Hooked on Nuclear Power: Japanese State-Local Relations and the Vicious Cycle of Nuclear Dependence

The Fukushima Prefectural Office and TEPCO contacted the mayors and assembly members of Ōkuma and Futaba in February 1961.  The leaders of the two towns leapt at the proposal, hoping that it would contribute to local economic revitalization.  In the case of Ōkuma , the town had fallen into financial distress, a fact which pushed the town to seek the construction of a nuclear power plant.  During the mid-1950s, there were serious question marks over the way in which the town’s budget was being spent, with budget demand seeming out of proportion compared with actual expenditure. This issue came to the surface when the building of the power plant was being discussed (the audit committee of the town conducted an investigation, but ultimately failed to explain the disparities).

What is equally troubling is how environmental topics, especially climate change or my own pet topic, biodiversity, were totally absent from the election debate. Japanese politicians, you can do better, and voters, what were you thinking?

The battle will now be centered locally, at each town and city hosting a nuclear plant that the new government may try to restart. It is going to get very personal. Protests and demonstrations in central Tokyo will continue. You can join the last ones of 2012 outside the Prime Minister's Residency on Dec. 21 or Dec. 28, 18:00-20:00. Check Coalition Against Nukes for details in English ("1/3 of Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor; 23 of our 104 reactors have the same flawed design as those in Fukushima Daiichi that melted down") or the Japanese site at coaltionagainstnukes.jp or google to find a group near you.

Setsuden, the amazing campaign to reduce electricity consumption will of course continue.

Perhaps we could have a debate about how many nuclear power plants Japan really needs?

Watch out for PR from the nuclear industry that will claim that "Japan's plans to phase out nuclear power and boost reliance on renewable energy are likely to be reversed..." or else...

Yahoo: Mitsubishi Heavy CEO calls for nuclear restarts in Japan

"Japan must grow economically and energy policy plays a large role in that," Hideaki Omiya, chief executive of atomic reactor builder Mitsubishi Heavy, said in an interview on Monday. But "safety comes first, and so (reactor) makers must do all we can do to say 'if we do this it's safe.'"

In July, Kansai Electric Power Co resumed two of Japan's 50 commercial reactors after clearing provisional safety standards drawn up by the government. The decision to restart the units sparked a wave of protests.

No additional reactors are expected to be brought on-line until the summer of 2013 at the earliest as a new nuclear regulator is yet to compile fresh safety requirements for restarting them after the Fukushima crisis.

Excellent analysis over at Bloomberg: Nuclear Stock Rally in Japan Ignores Public Opposition

“People who voted for the LDP are supporting their economic-stimulus measures, not nuclear power policy,” said Toshihiro Inoue, a member of the “Goodbye Nuclear: the Action of 10 Million” civil movement, whose online petition to stop atomic reactors in Japan has so far received about 8.2 million signatures.

Photos from jpcoast, a great blog with lots of information and images of travel along Japan's beautiful coastal areas. These particular images are from a trip inside of the 20 km zone in March 2012, one year after the earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima, Japan.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ravi Shankar RIP

One of the world's most amazing musicians, Ravi Shankar, has passed away, at age 92. Imagine back in the 1950s or 1960s, most people in Europe or America had never heard any "world music" or "new age music" or any kinds of tunes from other parts of our beautiful planet. Sad, but true. We were that "euro-centric" or whatever they call it in Europe or the US of A. Music was still caught up in all kinds of barriers. Mankind has so much music to offer!

In comments, if you have suggestions of tunes by this master, I would be so glad to add them.

Ravi Shankar was one of those rare pioneers, who managed to convince audiences in the West that music in other parts of the world was worth listening to. Not only was he truly a master of his craft, but he also managed to deal with people, to get the message across. One such student was George Harrison. And, George may have helped Ravi to understand the legal realities of making music (and money) in the West.

My father, who still writes columns about classical music records for a local newspaper in Sweden, was touched by the track, Within You Without You in 1967, where sitars and tablas were used. As a teenager, to find that album, the amazing Sgt Pepper, on my father's shelf of thousands of LP records... That album just would not have been the same without that tune by George Harrison. No man is without flaws, but Ravi Shankar is as close to a saint as I can imagine.



Ravi Shankar & Philip Glass from the Album "Passages" (1990). The collaboration between Philip Glass, one of the greatest composer of the 20th century, and Ravi Shankar, THE greatest Indian musician of the 20th century, has produced a stunning masterpiece with genius. An intuitive combination of styles and one of the best examples of what one deems music to be. Listen & Enjoy it.

Personnel includes:
Philip Glass
Ravi Shankar (vocals, sitar)
S.P. Balasubramanyam
Madras Choir (...)





AP:  Indian sitar virtuoso, Beatles mentor Ravi Shankar dies at 92




Ravindra Shankar Chowdhury was born April 7, 1920, in the Indian city of Varanasi.
At the age of 10, he moved to Paris to join the world famous dance troupe of his brother Uday. Over the next eight years, Shankar traveled with the troupe across Europe, America and Asia, and later credited his early immersion in foreign cultures with making him such an effective ambassador for Indian music.
During one tour, renowned musician Baba Allaudin Khan joined the troupe, took Shankar under his wing and eventually became his teacher through 7 1/2 years of isolated, rigorous study of the sitar.
"Khan told me you have to leave everything else and do one thing properly," Shankar told The Associated Press.
In the 1950s, Shankar began gaining fame throughout India. He held the influential position of music director for All India Radio in New Delhi and wrote the scores for several popular films, including Satyajit Ray's celebrated "Apu" trilogy. He began writing compositions for orchestras, blending clarinets and other foreign instruments into traditional Indian music.
And he became a de facto tutor for Westerners fascinated by India's musical traditions.
He gave lessons to Coltrane, who named his son Ravi in Shankar's honor, and became close friends with Menuhin, recording the acclaimed "West Meets East" album with him. He also collaborated with flutist Jean Pierre Rampal, composer Philip Glass and conductors Andre Previn and Zubin Mehta.
"Any player on any instrument with any ears would be deeply moved by Ravi Shankar. If you love music, it would be impossible not to be," singer David Crosby, a member of the Byrds in the '60s, said in the book "The Dawn of Indian Music in the West: Bhairavi."

(...)




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Energy: To Deregulate, Or Not...

Currently, if you live in Tokyo, or in Osaka, or in the boondocks north or south or on some tiny island, you have no choice but to get your electricity from the regional electricity provider. How old-fashioned, some of you foreigners may say: Back in the UK or Sweden or the US of A there may be so much choice! Wonderful, wonderful, choice?

Remember Enron? "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years... Not such a great idea, some of you may say. No wonder Japan has not yet decided to go in that particular direction. Also, this country being an island, there is not much hope of importing electricity from neighbors.

5 years ago, I blogged about Japan Natural Energy Company Limited...

So, should Japan follow the path suggested by free-market liberals (any better name for the ideological bunch of "thinkers", anyone?) who think this country also ought to "fully" liberalize its power retail market... Or am I missing the point? Could this mean we, the consumer, will have more "choice" and say, be able to avoid getting the juice from certain corporations that we have come to loathe and hate...

Yes, I'd like to be able to get my electricity from someone else, that runs solar, wind, and biomass plants.

But I can already do that.

See, for example, Japan Council for Renewable Energy (E).

And, remember my post about it here:

A new law for renewable energy in Japan? If you haven't heard about it, well, here are a few details. I'm still not convinced it is the real deal.

The August 26, 2011, new law:

- "opens up" the power generation industry
- is meant to "reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear power"
- aims to achieve reduce Japan's greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 from the 1990 level
- will introduce a feed-in-tariff mechanism, common in Europe, that requires utilities to purchase at premium prices electricity produced from renewable sources



And here:

In 2007, on this blog, I introduced Natural-E. They are still going strong.

Kurashi: Reducing fossile fuel use in Japan


Japan's Green Power Certification System is a scheme for encouraging corporate and some other customers to use natural energy as one of their voluntary measures for energy conservation and environmental protection. With a Certification of Green Power, customers can show proof of their use of green electricity. This can serve various purposes such as meeting targets of fossil fuel savings and CO2 emission reductions...

I also wonder if this scheme (which is very good, but very small) for "Green Energy" in Japan will get a major boost or not. Say, from schools, colleges, restaurants, companies that make or import food, clothes, furniture - - - all kinds of businesses that should get involved.

So, what would happen to the huge regional energy companies, if deregulation were to happen, in such a hypothetical case... Create a market that would expose Japan to Enron-style corporations? Imagine the backlash of that.

Anyway, doesn't matter, TEPCO is now state-owned entity and has no other way to pay its bills, since cleaning up Fukushima Nuclear Plant Number 1 will most likely cost more than 100-200 Billion US Dollars, anyway.

Bloomberg has more details:

TEPCO asked the government for more aid after estimating it may need at least 11 trillion yen ($137 billion) to cover costs from last year’s nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant.
The utility, which has lost 94 percent in Tokyo trading since the March 2011 disaster, may have to pay more than 10 trillion yen to decontaminate areas around the plant and compensate those affected by the disaster, it said in a two-year business plan through March 2015 released yesterday.

Decommissioning the four damaged reactors is forecast to be an “enormous cost,” exceeding its earlier projection of “less than 1 trillion yen,” the utility known as Tepco said in the report.
In a 10-year business plan approved by the government in May, the state-run Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund injected 1 trillion yen into Tepco in July and took control of the utility after the disaster left it almost insolvent. Without additional state aid, Tepco’s survival is again in doubt as it’s likely the estimated costs will exceed what one company can afford, the utility said.
“The government is likely to refuse to cover all the additional expenses” as extra aid would draw public criticism, Hirofumi Kawachi, an energy analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co., said before the announcement. At the same time, “the government has to keep Tepco alive” as compensation payments to those who lost homes and livelihoods would be at risk if the utility goes bankrupt, he said.
The government set aside 9 trillion yen previously as part of the bailout of Tepco and to pay compensation and cleanup costs related to radiation leaks.
On May 11, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, who oversees energy companies, indicated the government may pay part of the costs to decontaminate areas around the coastal plant while Tepco should be responsible for expenses to decommission and dismantle the reactors.

Cost Cuts

As part of measures to restructure, the utility will cut 100 billion yen in costs in each of the next two years in addition to a 3.4 trillion yen reduction over 10 years pledged in the long-term plan, it said.
After 2013, it will set up three companies within the utility for handling fuel and thermal power generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sales. The utility will consider a new corporate structure based on government reforms, which may call for an end to regional power monopolies, Tepco President Naomi Hirose told reporters yesterday in Tokyo. Under the fuel and thermal-power business, Tepco will expand the use of liquefied natural gas that has a low calorific value, such as that from shale gas in North America, to as much as 10 million tons per year, about half of its need, the utility said.

Did you get all that, all of you who still think nuclear power is all right?

Other utilities in the rest of the country, hey, I'd like to know exactly how they are doing, now that all of their nuclear power plants are shut down. A nice chance for accountants in Japan to show just how serious they are about their integrity...

So, what exactly are we talking about?

The Daily Yomiuri, a newspaper that is on the side of the nuclear village and the corporations, and the free-market liberals.... Suddenly argues that a "phased power system reform" may not be such a good thing... Because, in countries (like the UK, and just yesterday, Stockholm, Sweden) where it has been tried, there have been all kinds of power outages...

Ouch. I'm not going to go all sarcastic here, but isn't it interesting how right-wing free-market media, like the Yomiuri, sometimes manages to get caught, like deer in the middle of the road, late at night, in the headlights, unable to move...

The Daily Yomiuri: Ministry eyes phased power system reform

If rates are deregulated, along with the separation of power generation and distribution, household electricity supply "turfs" will disappear. But this means utilities will no longer be obligated to provide power within their service areas.
But unless power shortages are resolved, healthy competition will not take place. The impact or direction of liberalization will also change depending on how the issue of restarting suspended nuclear reactors is dealt with.
In Europe and the United States, where the power business has been deregulated, power shortages and blackouts often occur without a significant drop in rates.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Japan In The Grip...

...Of powerful emotions.


When over a million people watch this anti-nuclear video song on Youtube, it ought to be huge news.

Kazuyoshi Saito - It Was Always a Lie
斉藤和義 - ずっとウソだった



Please
Can you stop someone nuclear power plant?
Will you not allow us any more nervous?
Will you deprive future in us?
I just want to live in peace but in Japan


Is Japan in December 2012 in a state of flux? Or is this just business as usual? Election time, rejection time. Erection time... What kind of dreams are you having? Do you keep a dairy of your strange dreams, did you watch A Dangerous Method, which is playing at Bunkamura in Shibuya, Tokyo, this fall? Isn't election time a great time in December, with that earthquake, plus the NHK alerts of rockets about to be launched from North Korea, and wasn't there a food safety scare in Kyoto, of all places, involving children? If you have lived in these parts of the wood for a long time, having read all kinds of books and studied this and that... I tend to not mind, too much. But that is not the point.

Looking at the news and blogs about Japan in December, 2012, I note a certain sense of focus, that may not have been there a while ago. Do consider that we are basically doing fine, no fiscal cliff at the moment, lower suicide rates, and we have a lot of events to go to if we feel unhappy. If I was a student, with some spare time, I'd help some of these people and websites and groups and NGOs and organizations to go global, do volunteer and help out if you can, with English translation, and Chinese and Korean and French and Spanish!

Ten Thousand Things: "No Nukes Live 2012" brings playfulness, seriousness to Tokyo stage

Han Genpatsu Net (since 1978): はんげんぱつ新聞

World Network for Saving Children from Radiation: Anti Nuclear Demo at Parliament

What are the images that foreigners typically have about Japanese people, “polite” or “modest” maybe? In the aftermath of the 3.11 earthquake last year, the foreign press reported on the people affected by the disaster standing in orderly lines even during the emergency. There must be many Japanese who were reminded of their own virtues through this experience. These characteristics, however, have been also regarded as “passive” and “inarticulate”, which are not advantageous in conducting discussions and negotiations.
 
On November 11, 2012, the Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes organized a demonstration called “11.11 One Million Strong against Nuclear Energy” in the Kasumigaseki area in Tokyo, where the Prime Minister’s Official Residence and the Houses of Parliament are located. This was an opportunity where otherwise quiet Japanese people got together and raised a cry of protest.
Initially, the plan was to gather in Hibiya Park at 1 p.m. for a demonstration march, for which the Tokyo High Court did not grant permission. Instead we had to assemble in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence and the Houses of Parliament at 3 p.m. It was cloudy and the forecast was rain in the evening. When I arrived around 3 p.m. with a hooded jacket on, ready for the weather, a lot of people were already there holding a variety of placards. There was still enough room to move around, so I mingled with them and took pictures. A good number of young people showed up, but I had an impression that there was a greater number of older folks, who I imagined may be of the generation of the student movement decades ago. I could not help but thank them for their hard work and protest that was expected to be carried on in the rain. The protestors prepared so many different kinds of signs. They were dressed in interesting costumes, and making their voices heard in a variety of ways, playing instruments or displaying drawings. I felt their resolve in their attempt to stand out and speak out.
I got word that there was another protest going on in front of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There I found the people involved in the “Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial”. A woman from Fukushima in radiation-protective clothing was screaming in protest. "Please protect children from radiation as a matter of priority!" "The rain falling today also contains radiation, so if you are with children, please keep them from getting wet."
 
A number of speakers took turns. One of them said, “There is not much interest in what is happening with the thyroid test for Fukushima children. Of course, it is important to keep protesting against the restart of the nuclear reactors. But there is too much focus on this, and we need to tackle various issues surrounding nuclear power.” Among such issues are: international pressure is being put on Fukushima, as exemplified in the “Fukushima Ministerial Meeting on Nuclear Safety” organized by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Japanese government, to take place this December in Koriyama; the children in Fukushima continue to be subjected to radiation exposure, and there is a serious concern that they develop thyroid cancer; and the workers at Fukushima Daiichi are continuously exposed to a high degree of radiation every day. This speaker was pleading that we need to help Fukushima, which is suffering the most damage from the nuclear disaster. My thought was, as the media do not report much on these situations, each one of us needs to take interest and learn, so that a change can happen.
Another said, “in Chernobyl, the right to evacuate is guaranteed by the government in areas with annual radiation levels from 1 to 5mSv, with the government covering the cost of evacuation. In Koriyama, there are places that far exceed 5mSv, but the Japanese government does nothing. Even a country that is not so wealthy like Ukraine can guarantee the right to evacuate, while one of the richest economies like Japan does not. Can we allow this? This is what the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial's fight is about.”
Another speaker elaborated on the irresponsible handling of the thyroid examination by the government. "Thyroid cancer is normally found in the ratio of one case in a million people. In Fukushima, the first thyroid cancer was found in September after examining 80,000 children." This speaker conveyed the statements of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Fukushima Medical University. "In Chernobyl, thyroid cancer was not diagnosed until 4 years later. It has been only a year since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. It is premature to conclude that this cancer case is related to the accident. We will look into the causality of radiation when it starts to manifest, but at this time, we do not have the intention to consider the impact of radiation." There is a need for the doctors throughout Japan to protest such grossly inadequate examinations. A story like this does really make one feel sad.
In order to encourage a large number of people to participate, so as to exert needed pressure, this demonstration was called on the unified anti-nuclear theme. It was valuable that those who are suffering most, and carrying the messages for Fukushima children and Fukushima Daiichi plant workers joined in. The people in Tokyo tend to lose interest in these issues. I hope that their messages get stronger, and heard widely.
 
The number of people who take part in demonstrations around a simple message such as “anti-nuclear”is decreasing as time passes. According to the Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes, the demonstrations were explosive in June this year, but in recent months they are getting smaller, though 10,000 to 20,000 people still continue to show up for the now regular Friday evening demonstration. It is important to keep our commitment strong and continue on with our effort. The Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes organizes a monthly protest also in front of the Liberal Democratic Party Office, in expectation of the general election to be called.
As the night fell, the rain got stronger. The demonstration seemed to be at its climax. The people were overflowing out of the closed-off area in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence. In front of the Houses of Parliaments, the poles used for the demarcation of pedestrian sidewalks, street for traffic and space for the protestors were taken down at many places. Waves of the protesters packed on the sidewalks had to go somewhere, so they were overflowing onto the street. In the future, in order to ensure the safety of the protesters, we should close off the traffic. That would help drum up the demonstration too.

The mainstream media did not cover this demonstration, so it is hard to say to what extent the politicians and the Prime Minister got the message. We will continue to voice our views and opinions until there will be no nuclear power plants in Japan. We cannot go back to being quiet voiceless Japanese. If we go back, and if we let our resolve fade away as time passes, we will be giving to the politicians and TEPCO exactly what they want.
 

Takuma Sobatani 
World Network for Saving Children from Radiation


Consumers Union of Japan:  Proposal for a Basic Law to Abandon Nuclear Power!

Action for an election to get rid of nuclear power reactors: How you can participate
 
It is time for another general election in Japan. Let’s turn this into an “Abandon Nuclear Power Election” and spread the message about the election candidates and their views about nuclear power. You can participate by asking the candidate on your town to approve a Proposal for a Basic Law to Abandon Nuclear Power and help us release their reply.
In August, 2012, Nobel literature laureate Oe Kenzaburo and others launched a nationwide network seeking the abolition of nuclear plants in Japan. Consumers Union of Japan also joined this network together with many civil society organizations (NGOs). As a result, some 103 members of Japan’s parliament have so far supported and approved the Proposal for a Basic Law to Abandon Nuclear Power. This bill is now waiting for approval by the next session of the House of Representatives.
It is regrettable that even though 80% of the population in Japan supports reducing nuclear power to “zero,” the views of legislators have not reflected this percentage number. Thus, we need to act now to get many more candidates to support the Proposal for a Basic Law to Abandon Nuclear Power. We can achieve this by monitoring which of the candidates have clear views about this important issue, and who will work for this goal. It is worth noting that all political parties have expressed some opinion or other regarding the “reduction” of nuclear power plants. The nuances in their views vary among the different political parties, and we need to carry out the campaign to get the individual candidates’ views. Asking the candidates to sign a “policy contract” before the election on December 16, 2012 will ensure that the Proposal will be enacted as we elect candidates who agree with the Proposal.
For more information and the list of names of the candidates who support or oppose the policy contract will be added to the Datsu Genpatsu Hou Seitei Network website (J) and the Soshi Net website (J):
http://www.datsugenpatsu.org/ http://www.soshinet.org/home

The World (and books): Hangenpatsu, Kimigayo and idyllic talk in Tokyo

A few days ago, I went to Osaka to take part in the demonstration against nuclear power ("Natsu Datsu-Gen-Patsu sound-demo").
One thing that surprised me was the participation of young people in black robes who looked like Buddhist priests. First I thought: no way they can be real priests. After all, they had fancy-looking straw hats - except of one of them, a muscular sunburned fellow with a Hanshin Tigers towel tied around his head. Some had sneakers instead of the customary zôri sandals. I complimented them for their nice outfit and asked why they had dressed up like that. "It's because we are priests", they answered. It turned out that they belonged to the Ôtani-ha of Jôdo Shinshû (True Pure Land Buddhism).

As the demonstration started, the air was rattled by the hard sound of a bongo drum and the priests picked up their black and white flags (nobori). With the text "We take our refuge in Amitabha Buddha" (Namu Amida Butsu), they nicely and incongruously complemented the "Hasta la victoria siempre" of the Che banner further ahead. Many participants were carrying sunflowers, the new symbol of the anti-nuclear power movement. The priests had placards on their backs with images of the Buddha and texts in the Osaka dialect like "Watashira mo iikagen okoru de" (We're angry too). (...)


Japan, in the grip. I think that is terrific. A time to be less casual about the wealth that the citizens of this country managed to secure, the safety, the calm, the peace. No wars for over 60 years. We are doing rather well. Congratulations, Japan. Things may be heading towards dire straits here, but that will not be unusual. The end of the age of denial. I think Japanese people are rather more inclined to be prepared for the future. Save fire wood, make sure you know where there is some water, be kind to farmers...




 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The na-s of Japanese farming, and the threat from imported GMO canola

The na-s are a great family of veggies, that you ought to know more about. The kanji is simple and fun, 菜 "flowers" and "tree" and "claw" - we can all learn a lot from just that. Here, farmers grow a lot of na-s. They are part of the brassica family, that Swedish Linneus introduced, some 300 years ago in Latin.

Going beyond that, Japanese cuisine will embrace all kinds of na-s. Korean botanist Woo Jang-choon, or Nagaharu U, found out back in 1935 that there was a link.

This great family of healthy veggies includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
 but also a lot of greens that you may eat in Japan, as part of a seasonal diet.

Joan of Farmers Markets has this to say about Komatsu-na, one of the many na-s:

Thankfully, I started helping at the farm where the farmers began teaching me not just about urban farming in Tokyo, but about the vegetables we grew. Komatsuna, a leafy green we grow in the winter months in Tokyo, was one of my first new friends, and remains a favorite. Originally developed in Edo (Tokyo's former name), komatsuna was formally named when a visiting shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (the very same one famous for planting maples and cherries in our fair city), stopped for a meal at a temple. Loving this new vegetable nearly as much as I do, he asked its name. The story goes that the monk answered that it had no name; it was just a green they grew and ate regularly. Like any shogun worth his salt, Yoshimune immediately righted the situation. Taking the name of the nearby river, Komatsu, and adding 'na' at the end, which means 'leaf' he bapitized it with the moniker it still goes by today.
Rightly so, Joy Larkcom in her ever useful tome, Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Gardening Cook, refers to komatsuna and its compatriots as candidates for  '...the 'most underrated vegetable' award." She goes on to say that "They are among the hardiest and most productive winter vegetables I have come across, their flavour a happy compromise between the blandness of cabbage and the sharpness of most Oriental mustards. They are also very easy to grow."  

While I take some umbrage with 'the blandness of cabbage', I otherwise agree wholeheartedly. Brasisica rapa var. perviridis, komatsuna's Latin name, is possibly Japan's most beloved member of the mustard family. It's lovely roundish emerald green leaves sit atop perfectly juicy stems. Usually the whole plant is harvested, snipped off just above the roots. We eat raw in salads - stem and all - or leave it roughly chopped in the bottom of a soup bowl. Whatever steaming brew is on the menu for the evening cooks it just enough to make it even more verdant and flavorful while still maintaining some of its characteristic crunch. As a member of the mustard family it has a wee bit of a flavor punch, but nothing extreme.


So, no wonder that there is a lot of concern that such valuable veggies are being contaminated by genetically modified canola imported from North America. Canola, or rape seed, is similar to these wonderful veggies, and there is huge concern because GM canola is found growing wild near harbours and transportation routes near food oil factories...


The problem:
Wild-growing genetically modified canola plants have been found at many locations around Japan on numerous occasions. The first investigations by concerned citizens started in 2004. The spilling occurs mainly near harbours and by roads leading from the harbours to food oil companies. Japan’s importing companies and food oil companies that make canola oil, as well as the transport companies involved, are all directly responsible for the contamination of native canola (including rape seed, natane).

Japan has many small/medium size companies that make food oil from domestically grown rape seed. Also, many plants of related species are eaten traditionally in Japan. These food oil manufacturers, farmers and consumers – who want to eat healthy and safe food – are the victims if genetically modified canola continues to spread and grow in Japan.

The solution:
We are concerned about this issue at the local level. The issue is getting serious, and we must call for an end to imports of genetically modified canola. Crops that can contaminate local plants should not be imported. Meanwhile, we need strict rules for liability and redress to deal with contamination issues that arise from trade with the genetically modified crops. Rules are needed and they should be legally binding with effective compliance at the local and national level.

We have met with representatives from both food oil companies and trucking companies. Requests have been made for improving the handling practices, including better designs for the trucks. We demand that spilling cases should be dealt with immediately, and that any genetically modified canola plants growing wild in Japan should be exterminated.
Read the report here: 20101029 CUJ Canola Report Japan Final (pdf)

(Updated Oct. 29, 2010)

We need a lot more greens in our diet, and we need more farmers who can supply them. I cannot emphasize this enough. For your health, do eat more spinach, horenzo (惚れんぞ) and komatsuna (小松菜) and nanohana (菜の花) and all the other na-s you can find. Do look for them, and make sure they are a large part of your daily diet.

Sony In Trouble? Face-Palm


If you have read the news, you know that just about all of Japan's high-tech companies are in some kinds of trouble or another, going down the financial gutter. Well, I happen to have a Sony Vaio PC, which works fine, most of the time, and if it doesn't, I turn it off and voila, it works fine again.

However... I went out to buy a simple DVD that I thought would do the trick, to store some data and photos from 2012, from Sony. A DVD-RW to be precise.

Did not work. In spite of its touted 4.38 GB of memory, I was not able to "format" it on my Sony PC. How very strange. And you wonder why these companies are having trouble. Of course, consumers are not stupid. Like not using cassette tapes and LPs anymore, people have had enough of trouble with their old Sony/Windows/Whatever troubles. Too bad. We liked you, once upon a time. Ages ago. Walkman, ages ago.


So let me just get this straight. Sony sells Vaio personal computers, using Windows and INTEL and whatever, and their own DVD-RW will not work. From the same company. Face-palm.

Probably, I am the stupid one, who does not know which DVD to buy.

So, Sony, cheers, tonight you made me feel stupid.





Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Diet Therapy in Asia

Earlier this fall, I had the pleasure of participating in a WHO/FAO Codex Alimentarius meeting in Tokyo. I have participated before, in all kinds of places, including Bratislava, Bonn and others... These conferences of government delegates are a bit like having your wisdom tooth pulled out... Takes a long time, feels good when it is over!

One thing that struck me though, apart from the dental care allusions, was that the World Health Organization really is trying to get one single message across. And that is related to diet. We are facing a massive health care disaster in Asia, if diets here are going to include more meat, more sugar, and more salt. Particularly meat. WHO has its hands tied but the message is still clear. Avoid more meat.

Prioritizing a Preventable Epidemic (2011)
A Primer for the Media on Noncommunicable Diseases

We have all heard the basic public message on NCD prevention: stop smoking, eat right, be more active. That message is as valid as ever, but that does not make a good news story. In reality, the true picture of NCD is more complicated than that basic message. Inadequate government policies and over-commercialization in a nearly unregulated market lie at the root of the epidemic. A wealth of potential stories may be found here.


WHO Asia

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), principally cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, impose a major and growing burden on health and development in the Western Pacific Region.
NCDs are the leading causes of death and disability in the Region, responsible for 75% of all deaths in a region that is home to more than one quarter of the world’s population. Globally, NCD deaths are projected to increase by 15% between 2010 and 2020 (to 44 million deaths), with the highest numbers predicted in the Western Pacific (12.3 million deaths) and South-East Asia (10.4 million deaths) Regions. Of particular concern is the high level of premature mortality from NCDs (deaths before 70 years of age) in several low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
This page provides links to publications and reports, news and events, as well as contacts and cooperating partners working on this topic in the Region. Also shown are links to related web sites.