Showing posts from February, 2014

TPP - Not Going As Well As PM Abe Might Like

Prime Minister Abe has been busy with all kinds of arrows to promote Japan and its economy. One was the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, a deal that no one seemed to be able to define, and who would benefit? At least here in Japan, it was never made clear. The latest round of negotiations that I have been following - in Singapore - ended without a deal. That is Abe's man in Singapore, with his headphones on, and everyone seems to be having a laugh. Reuters says: UPDATE 2-No end in sight yet for Trans-Pacific trade pact Sticking points over intellectual property and the rules for state-owned enterprises and government procurement are also proving difficult. "If you ask whether all outstanding issues have been resolved, it is also a common recognition that they still remain," Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari said ahead of the final part of the talks. Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said part

The Tale of Iya

Was planning to watch Gravity today in Shinjuku and met up with Andreas, Swedish high school teacher who is on a very cool Ministry of Education scholarship in Fuchu, which has gone very well (do check your local Japanese embassy in your country to see if you apply!). But Gravity was not showing anymore, in spite of its 10 or so Oscar nominations. Or so I'm told. While waiting for said Andreas (who is always late) outside the Kinokuniya bookstore, I noticed a guy in a bright red samurai or maybe even shogun daimyo costume, with a flag attached to his back, handing out leaflets. An unusual sight in central Tokyo, so I got curious. Turns out there is a low-budget film called The Tale of Iya (祖谷物語) released in 2013 that has gotten a lot of attention abroad, and is now airing in Shinjuku. I have been to Iya Valley several times. It claims history back to a thousand years ago, when Heike clan members managed to escape to this desolate place in Shikoku, running away from

"Japan's Cultural Curtain" Vs. The Heart Of Tokyo

I'm mostly in agreement with Catharina Maracke, writing for The Diplomat , who knows a lot about Japan, and has a keen sense of the pulse of things. I'll give credit to this idea: Responsibility as an ethical and social concept has often been researched and reinterpreted. When the environmental movement in Europe spurred critical thinking about our planet and its future, one of the most prominent German-born philosophers at the time, Hans Jonas, suggested expanding the imperative of responsibility beyond the present and with reference to the permanence of genuine human life. Looking back, Hans Jonas’ arguments seem even more resonant since we learned about the possible side effects of nuclear energy. Chernobyl and other accidents have taught us that Hans Jonas was right when he wrote about “utopian dynamics of technical progress and the excessive magnitude of responsibility” back in 1984. Long-lived radionuclides and especially the lack of knowledge and data

Heavy Snow, Climate Change, And The Government Has No Clue Whatsoever

The second deluge we got here on Friday was worse than the previous one. Still on Monday, several thousands of people northwest of Tokyo are isolated or trapped in their homes, with meter-high snow covering roads and roofs. Kofu in Yamansahi prefecture got some 120 cm, more than ever. My town and Chichibu ( J ) to the northwest was/is cut off from all communication. The Mainichi ( J ) noted that some 8000 people at one point had no way to get out and about, from Shizuoka in the south to south-western Gunma.... 19 people dead, so far ( J ). 9000 plus according to later reports ( E ). Imagine sitting in your car for two days without any idea of when you may be able to drive home. This should of course be considered in terms of global climate change. We are noticing severe weather patterns in many parts of the world. Japan may be a little slow in officially recognizing this. Such an inconvenient matter... The Rational Pessimist has been blogging about how re-insurance compani

Heavy Snow - Again

Unusual amount of snow again this weekend after last Saturday's weather. I took a couple of photos with my old gara-kei (short for Galapagos keitai, the kind that was popular here 4-5 years ago). Apologies for the lousy quality, thus. My mailman on his trusted Honda Cub, doing the peace sign as he slowly makes his rounds on un-ploughed roads here in town. High school girls going home early, with pretty umbrellas... The neighbours' vegetable field completely snowed over since a week ago. That's hakusai (a kind of cabbage) up front with 25-30 cm tall white "hats" and plum trees in the background. Seibu Ikebukuru line is still running, with great delays. This is the train bound for Chichibu. Train delays here (J) updated by twitter users in the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area.