Showing posts from October, 2014

Eco Links For October 2014

Inspired by this and more , tongue firmly in cheek... Tokyo, Japan -- Power was restored in most of Japan on Sunday, a day after the impoverished, energy-starved nation was plunged into a nationwide blackout when a transmission line from well, nowhere, failed, officials said. The blackout was the country's worst since a 2007 cyclone knocked out the national grid for several hours, and again exposed inefficient and dated infrastructure that has held back development in the North East Asian nation. Electricity was cut across Japan at around noon Saturday after the transmission line experienced a "technical glitch" that led to a cascade of failures throughout the national power grid, with power plants and substations shutting down. After an evening spent in the dark, most of the residents of Tokyo, the capital of more than 10 million people, got electricity back on by 1 a.m. Sunda

Another IKEA Opens In Japan...

...and I was not invited, again. LOL, I went to visit the new one in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, that just blew me away. What a culture shock. The best and the worst, of two worlds! First, it is HUGE unlike anything I have seen in Japan. Yes, there are other Home Centers and some are rather big, but IKEA is humongous and like a maze, once you get inside. You will get lost among the Älmhult designs with names like Tönt or Skvallerkärring and Kullerbytta. Well, not the first two, but maybe the last one, say for a cozy armchair made in Malaysia. Funny thing, at IKEA, next to nothing sold is actually Made in Sweden. Dazed amongst all the blue and yellow, I walked and walked, lost among plastic window cleaners at 200 Yen or pretty classy paper lamps at 2000 Yen. Oh, they have expensive items too, but I wasn't in the mood. Weird plastic Christmas decorations and mass produced Almoge curtains. Not an Organic cotton cushion in sight, but that might change, I suppose, if people here sta

Amari: "[TPP] Agreement Is Not Yet In Sight"

Score another failed round of negotiations, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) continues to let down big business that wants less regulations and more secrecy. And meanwhile, Japan's newly appointed Trade Minister Miyazawa is in hot water for taking illegal donations from a foreign company, a story that I'm sure will have more importance than the fact that some on his staff joined a S&M club and paid for it from his pocket (although he says he did not attend). But back to TPP. Today, another non-round of negotiations (the last proper one was held in Brunei, which I attended as a "stakeholder" for Consumers Union of Japan) has failed to get results. This time in Sydney, the amicable host, Australian Trade Minister Robb (how is that for irony, a politician actually called exactly was they do best, rob paul to pay peter, etc. etc.) criticized NGOs and other experts who are trying to bring information about this deal to the public: Mr Robb lashed

Op-Ed Against TPP by Ralph Nader and Koa Tasaka (Asahi Shimbun)

We got the following op-ed published in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun this week, co-signed by Ralph Nader from Public Citizen and Koa Tasaka from Consumers Union of Japan . It was written in response to an editorial column that made unsubstantiated claims about TPP and consumers. In its September 08, 2014 editorial, Asahi Shimbun argued that “Japan, U.S. should consider consumers, not industries, in reaching TPP deal.” As consumer movement leaders in the U.S. and Japan, we agree that it is crucial that both countries prioritize consumer interests. However, we strongly disagree with the editorial’s unsupported assumption that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as it is currently being negotiated would benefit consumers. What is important to consumers? Healthy and safe food. Banking and insurance services that protect their financial well-being. Affordable medicines and health care. Access to an open Internet and privacy protections. A clean environment. From what we know


Image My brother is in Madrid, the Champions League has that effect on people. Malmö FF against Madrid...

WTO: You Have No Right To Know Where Your Meat Comes From

WTO has just ruled that you have no right to know where your meat comes from. Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in the US is a problem, but how will it affect labels in Japan?   By James Andrews | October 21, 2014 The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in an ongoing dispute with the United States over country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on meat. The latest U.S. labeling rules, put into effect in 2013, require meat sold in grocery stores to indicate the country, or countries, where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. According to a WTO report released on Monday, the labeling rules unfairly discriminate against meat imports and give the advantage to domestic meat products. But the WTO compliance panel also found that the labels do provide U.S. consumers with information on the origin of their food, countering Canada and Mexico’s asser

TPP: Not Only Agricultural And Auto Products, "Irrational Demands" And More

From The Financial Times: The biggest hold-up remains the inability of the US and Japan to conclude their increasingly tense bilateral negotiations over agricultural and auto products. But big gaps still remain on issues such as intellectual property and in the labour and environmental chapters of the TPP, say negotiators.   “The mood of the negotiators going to Canberra and then on to Sydney is not necessarily very optimistic,” says one Japanese official. “We don’t have any indication that the US will back down on a number of irrational demands they are making.” Financial Times: US trade agenda hinges on midterm elections   US trade agenda hinges on midterm elections Financial Times By Shawn Donnan October 20, 2014

And who is Yoichi Miyazawa?

PM Abe has appointed Mr Yoichi Miyazawa as Japan's new Trade Minister. On his Japanese wikipedia page, there is a note that he is "against" TPP. He went to Harvard in 1978 so at least we can expect him to know some English. As for not wanting foreigners with a permanent residency status to vote, well, LDP is much like UKIP and the Conservatives, wrapped up in one... His father, Kiichi Miyazawa was briefly PM until 1993, when for the first time, LDP was voted out of power. The Guardian had this in the obituary: Fluent in English, [Kiichi] Miyazawa served as an aide to the negotiators who drew up the 1951 San Francisco peace treaty. Indeed, it was his desire to overcome the historical animosity that blighted Japan's relations with its wartime enemies that drove him in the later years of his career. Despite being instrumental in giving Japanese troops a greater role in UN peacekeeping missions

Who is Akira Amari?

I don't understand why Akira Amari is in charge of Japan's TPP negotiations.

TPP: Who Is Really In Charge In Japan?

Mrs. Yuko Obuchi, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry just resigned this weekend over a huge money scandal.  She is the daughter of a former prime minister, Mr. Keizo Obuchi. But who is really in charge of Japan's trade issues? I hope someone can help me explain. Back in the 1998 government, then prime minister Obuchi included 48 year old Mr. Akari Amari as Labour Minister, as well as Parliamentary Vice-Minister for International Trade and Industry. 15 years later, Mr. Amari has recently been in charge of Japan's TPP team, and has tried hard to convince the US that Japan cannot agree to all the unreasonable demands from the US, especially regarding agriculture. Mrs Obuchi, meanwhile, did not appear to care much one way or the other. But I wonder, is Mr. Amari the right person to trust or are other forces about to take over? He is a Tenrikyo man, so let's hope he has some sense of spiritual guidance, whatever that may be. Hinokishin (l