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Showing posts from July, 2015

Kyoto Journal 83: Food Issue (With An Interview With Me!)

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Just published is the 83rd issue of KJ, as it is known among fans. I have some old print issues that I hope will become really valuable at some point (just kidding) from when I first lived in Japan 1988-1993.

This time, KJ is all digital, the topic is food, and what could be more timely?

Japan, Asia and the world face a number of huge challenges, including food safety, food security, seed/genetic/biodiversity concerns, not to speak of water and agro-chemical/fertilizer related concerns. Climate change is already causing havoc.

Fuel? It will not stay cheap forever, and then how do we keep supermarkets and convenience stores up-to-the-last-minute with the latest "fresh" goods? Fertilizers? Not up for grabs forever, either. Add to that land ownership legal battles, and the fact that in many places, farmers are aging and not enough young people are prepared to take over. Plus trade related issues like WTO/TPP and a "spaghetti bowl" of bilateral trade agreements (I ref…

Wikileaks: Target Tokyo

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New files released by Wikileaks show that the US has been spying on Japan, especially trade related issues (and climate change). Very embarrassing for Abe's government, as the TPP negotiations are at a crucial point in Maui, Hawaii this weekend. (Image from July 29, 2015 Maui Protest)

Wikileaks: Target Tokyo
Today, Friday 31 July 2015, 9am CEST, WikiLeaks publishes "Target Tokyo", 35 Top Secret NSA targets in Japan including the Japanese cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, together with intercepts relating to US-Japan relations, trade negotiations and sensitive climate change strategy.
The list indicates that NSA spying on Japanese conglomerates, government officials, ministries and senior advisers extends back at least as far as the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which lasted from September 2006 until September 2007. The telephone interception target list includes the switchboard for the Japanese Cabinet Office; the executive …

Smart TV? Not So Clever...

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The UK consumer organization Which? has recently revealed that so-called "Smart TV" from Samsung and other makers are in fact able to listen in on conversations you may be having in your living room in front of their sets. The "Smart TVs" come with microphones and thus you are not supposed to need a remote control anymore, just tell your telly what you want to watch! How clever is that? Panasonic, meanwhile, says it "advises users not to include any personal information in the voice commands"...

Tracking sounds like something out of Twelve Monkeys or a Tom Clancy novel, but it is real, and not only that, the companies use your every day conversation to listen in for key words. Samsung even sent data about the names of children of one owner, on an open network. It is also used to control the ads you may get - from your TV. Directly into your home.

LG, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba and others have similar versions of similar or the same systems, but Samsung s…

Scooter Trip Videos (1)

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Hanno chum Spencer is going to Edinburgh for a theatre job for the festival, but before that, he decided to take his orange Suzuki scooter for a ride north. Amazing images.

He set his camera to take one image every ten seconds, thus the madness, but he is getting better at stopping at cool places.

My music. Using GarageBand, and other tricks of the trade. All rights reserved, 2015.

Love how that works with his videos.

And if you post the videos on your blog can you put a link to http://spencersheridan.is ?

Et Tu, Toshiba...?

Amazing how such corrupt practices happen at the highest echelons of companies, that are supposed to provide us with safe nuclear reactors, secure memory chips, and what not.

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150721p2g00m0bu069000c.html

Toshiba chief steps down over accounting scandal

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday that President Hisao Tanaka has resigned to take responsibility for an accounting scandal that a third-party investigation panel has found involved the Japanese electronics maker's top executives.
His predecessors Norio Sasaki and Atsutoshi Nishida also stepped down as vice chairman and adviser, respectively, the company said following a board meeting. Chairman Masashi Muromatchi will double as president.
"I apologize to all stakeholders, including shareholders," Tanaka told a packed press conference after his resignation was announced.
"I don't think there is anything wrong with (a company) pursuing profits,"…

Seed Saving in Japan, Taiwan, UK

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No activity can be more important than saving seeds of the plants we all need for sustenance - but we have mostly forgotten that art, or science.

People here have not given up on traditional ways of seed saving, according to Imaizumi and Akitsu.

What are the moral codes for seed-saving? From the interviews with practitioners in Japan:

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-287-417-7_20#page-1 (pdf)

2015 Food Security and Food Safety for the Twenty-first Century Proceedings of APSAFE2013

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789812874160

Editors: Soraj Hongladarom ISBN: 978-981-287-416-0 (Print) 978-981-287-417-7
http://seedsavers.net/ has more:

Seedsavers Reunion in Japan 
Seedsavers as a movement has expanded in Japan beyond belief in the last 12 years. Today the quest for clean food in Japan is linked to varietal diversity. old varieties of fruit and vegetables are a sine qua non of quality. Many organizations are supporting the ideas of local varieties for Japanese health…

Deep River By Hikaru Utada, 2002

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Hikaru Utada

I wonder where this wonderful video was made. Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean...

Moomin Valley Coming To Hanno, Saitama!?

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Well, actually, Hanno City already has a small theme park for kids, centered on the wonderful world of Tove Jansson, the Finnish writer who created the Moomin "trolls" and their special valley, the Akebo-Children-Forest-Park.

But now, Seibu Railways will sell their land at Lake Miyazawa and let a company develop the beautiful area around my favourite spot for walking and getting some forest time - a must for a Swede!

The theme park will have a public space and a theme park space - and I really hope they will continue to allow free access around the entire lake. I also hope the plan to attract visitors using the "Nordic" theme will not just be PR, but a sincere effort. Hanno City has some great Eco-Tourism initiatives and the amount of people showing up to do long hikes and walks through the Oku-Musashi hills around here is encouraging... Recently the Yama-Osusume anime also helped introduce people to Hanno, Saitama.

A theme park at my favourite lake... Well, trust …

Russia To Impose Drift Net Ban North Of Hokkaido

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Excellent news: Russia has imposed a drift net ban in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) north of Hokkaido, Japan. Drift nets are the most devastating ways of fishing - if it can be called that. Stretching as far as 32 km, a single net is literally catching everything along that stretch - between just two boats. Large fish and even seals or dolphins get caught too. Seabirds that get in the way are other victims of this indiscriminate way of cheaply and indiscriminately serving the fishing industry with raw materials.

Japan's response? Not a word about how the ban will help to protect the oceans. Not a word about the need to curb over-fishing. Not a word about the need for saving precious marine life. (Read more below about Sustainable Seafood Week!)

The Russian ban will take effect January 1, 2016 according to NHK World:

Hokkaido fishermen seek help over drift-net ban

Fishermen in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido have visited Tokyo to ask for government help over R…