Showing posts from July, 2010

Think Again About US Marines Relocation To Guam

Guam is a small island not well equipped to handle the proposed move of US Marines from Okinawa. The move of 8,000 US Marines and their families may be delayed, according to Yomiuri and other sources. A planned transfer of about 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam could be delayed beyond the 2014 target, perhaps by up to six years, according to an office of the U.S. Defense Department. A final environmental impact statement released by the department's Joint Guam Program Office on Tuesday includes a proposal to delay the transfer of the troops and their dependents to as late as 2020 to reduce environmental impact from the personnel relocation and associated construction projects. However, the statement said a new time frame would be decided later. This is a strange fact that suddenly emerges in the middle of this hot summer after all the ground-shaking events, including the way former prime minister Hatoyama fired his outspoken and very popular minister Mizuho Fuku

Aera: 10% or 30% Consumption Tax?

Aera wonders if the 10% consumption tax proposal means a thing. In its August 2 issue, they note that the good people of Japan tend to live so terribly long that how can the state possibly be supposed to provide welfare for all of its subjects? Currently, the VAT rate is still set to a very conservative, accross-the-board, 5%, compared to other OECD countries (Sweden tops the list at 25% but does have lower rates for important things like books). Prime minister Kan muddled the waters before the last election, noting that it may have to be raised. Consumers Union of Japan and many others are against an increase - hoping that the state will somehow reduce expenditures (such as military spending) rather than burden said subjects more. Then, Kurashi is fortunate to have readers who do send in rather intelligent comments. What do you think about the consumption tax/VAT in Japan? 消費税 shouhi-zei is a rather loose term that implies all kinds of excise duties, thus generally translated a

Osaka: Austrian Artist Hundertwasser In Japan

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an amazing artist from Austria. He helped design the Maishima Incineration Plant in Osaka. I like how he was always interested in all aspects of life, making even the most mundane aspects of life more artistic - such as toilets and garbage: ...According to the guide, the plant didn’t cost any more than a traditional one because they cut corners in other areas. Inside, visitors will see what must be the world’s cleanest incineration plant. The whole place is spotless, high-tech, well-decorated and modern. Trucks pull up to a giant garbage pit, and two giant robotic hands (each 6m in circumference) pick up the garbage and dump it into a huge incinerator. The plant can handle 900 tons of garbage a day and is extremely impressive. If you are interested in finding out more about this quirky waste disposal icon, free tours are available with reservations. There is a good English pamphlet available but the guides do not speak English so please arrange an in

MSN News In Japan - Ads Or Just Business As Usual?

If you ever read MSN News in Japanese, which I do, you may be used to having to sift through commercials posing as editorial material. Or is it the other way around? Their summer campaign for hybrid cars takes the cake. Now, I enjoy reading about two girls driving from Asakusa, Tokyo, to Izu (and then apparently they will travel to Hokkaido) but shouldn't it be made much more clear that this is an ad? The young girls pose in bikinis for both Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z (from July 23) but from what I can gather, this is not really a MSN News segment. So what is it? OK, it is very hot and maybe someone decided that this was the best they could do to combat global warming, let's get out of Tokyo, summer in the city, 2010-style ;) Click on the image to enlarge Sigh - have we learnt nothing since 1957, when Vance Packard published his book called The Hidden Persuaders , about how images were being manipulated in advertising to induce desire for products or ideas in a sublimina

Beach Cleaning At Naruto, Japan

The Koike Beach Clean Up in Tokushima prefecture on July 17, 2010 aimed "to clean up rubbish-coming from the Seto Inland Sea- which has accumulated for years along the coast of Naruto, Japan." Several schools participated, including Naruto High School and Shimada Elementary School. It is another example of how any real "defense" of our lands and our waters now rely on children and volunteers, as governments seem pre-occupied with satisfying global defense contractors (what used to be called the military-industrial complex). Meanwhile children grow up in neighborhoods that are severely polluted. Sarah, from France, also appears here (in Japanese). I like how they made a special blog here and I hope they will share many more photos soon! How did this happen? The roles of Mr Miyamoto and Donoura Waste Treatment Plant are crucial. For this reason, Naruto High School and the waste treatment plant have decided to coordinate their actions. However, we also need more

More River Cleanup: NEC

Many Japanese companies do arrange river cleanup programs as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. NEC is a case in point: Seventy-three employees from the company, NEC Engineering, NEC Fielding, NEC Media Products, NEC Professional Support, NEC Soft, etc. which are located in the Nakagawara Technical Center cleaned up a river bank of Tama river on April 11, 2004. They also do beach cleanups such as the Miura, Kanagawa prefecture beach. I hope they keep going and see this as an investment in the future, both for the company and for the people involved. In August 2006, NEC launched the NEC B.E.A.C.H. (Beach Ecological Action will Change your Heart) Project to contribute to society and encourage environmental awareness by sweeping beaches. On August 26, 126 people, including NEC employees & their families and local residents, participated in the First Miura Beach Cleaning Campaign. The event included beach sweeping, observation of organisms on the beac

Obori River Clean Up Campaign

I just love finding stuff like this - a local blog about some region I would not have heard of, and the more I read the better it gets. Check this out: Next, I talked to Mr. Nakano of Oborigawa no Mizu wo Kirei ni suru Kai – the Obori River waterway clean-up association. The Obori River is a part of the Tone River system and feeds Teganuma Marsh. The organization welcomes volunteers who can come out and clean up garbage that washes down the river, teaches children about the water cycle, and hosts events on the river. I was surprised to learn that the Oborigawa to this day has a significant salmon run. So that’s what the grandpas are patiently waiting to catch! Looking down from the Joban train line which crosses the Obori on the west side of the marsh, you can see people with rods. Mr. Nakano says that, like salmon runs anywhere, there is a four-year cycle, and people eagerly anticipate the return. The big event of the summer happens on Marine Day, July 22nd*, when volunteers d

Uemura Kano: Toilet God Song

Uemura Kana got a huge hit this year with her 10 minute long ballad called Toilet God. A sweet story of her memories of growing up with her obaasan, who taught her how to be a beautiful woman. This is for all of us who had the privilege to spend a lot of time with our grandparents when we were young. Enjoy. Yes, in Japan there are all kinds of gods for all kinds of occasions and situations, even today. Is it shinto? You decide. Even Mure Dickie at the Financial Times thinks this is a tune worth linking too ;) “Japanese like simple and compact designs, but Chinese consumers tend to prefer a bit more form and decoration,” says Junko Kawaide, Inax’s Expo manager. Such concern for Chinese tastes is a relatively recent phenomenon for many Japanese companies. Inax, for example, has been manufacturing bathroom fittings , tiles and toilets in China for years, but has only recently seen the country as a serious market for its high-technology toilets with their automated seats, massaging show

Hands Across The Sand Calls For End To Offshore Drilling Around The World

On February 13, 2010, over 10,000 concerned people in Florida, USA joined hands on nearly 100 beaches along the entire state coastline to demand an end to the dangerous, contaminating practice of coastal oil drilling. Two months later, in one of the worst disasters in recent history, the entire southern U.S. Gulf Coast was threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill--a catastrophe whose full extent is still unfolding. Aiming to prevent future similar disasters, the Florida organizers put out a call for a similar event to take place worldwide on June 26, 2010. Kimberly Hughes has more over at Ten Thousand Things . 3 events took place in Japan, including Yokohama. Videos and photos from other events taking place worldwide are available on the Hands Across the Sand gallery page . On Saturday, June 26th tens of thousands of people gathered at more than 900 locations in 39 countries to be part of an event called Hands Across the Sand. The message was simple, clear and powerful: NO to

Mitsui Asked To Help BP Pay For Oil Disaster

Mitsui is deeply involved in oil drilling around the world. BP has just asked the Japanese company to help pay for clean up operations in the Mexican Gulf. Not much has been reported here in Japan about the toxic goo but if BP insists, what will Mitsui Oil Exploration Company do? To pay or not to pay... BP's clean-up costs to date amount to some $3.12bn (£2bn), including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs. To recoup some of those losses, in June BP sent out demands for almost $400m to its partners in the well – Houston-based Anadarko and Japan's Mitsui Oil Exploration Company. Anadarko owns 25% of the well and Mitsui has 10%. Anadarko, however, has flatly refused to pay up. Guardian: BP attempts to place new cap over Gulf of Mexico oil rupture MOECO website said on May 10, 2010: Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd. (''MOECO'') announced today that on April 20, 2010, a t