Showing posts from 2015

Good Bye 2015 - Xmas Medley (J-Pop)

Thanks to everyone who stayed interested in Kurashi, the blog that started ten years ago, what a journey we have had. UN meetings and local events, updates from my back garden, images of a Japan that I think still is being under-reported. Peace activism and anger at politics that is not inclusive - why I can't vote locally even though I have the permanent visa? The magic of ordinary people making a difference. I might change the setting of this blog to something more private, what do you think...? My pottery also increasingly popular and a fun way to approach Japan in a different way. So, don't be surprised if this blog changes.

Soil And Peace Festival - Hibiya Park, Tokyo

Sunday Nov. 1 - Lots of organic farmers and peace activists and artists meeting up at Hibiya Park in central Tokyo. Music and talk shows plus the chance to support climate change groups and meet anti-TPP experts. All GMO-free. Hope the weather is better than 2 years ago when I participated, and it rained all day. The market and the show and everything started back in 2007, thanks to Tokiko Kato and Yae and many, many others. A great way to celebrate harvest and autumn, and join up with so many wonderful people. This is a Japan that the rest of the world can learn a lot from.  Yae official page (J) Makes me so very happy to live here. And that message comes from Anja (E) This event is the start of Artists for Farm Aid for Japan . Following up from the Love Farmers Conference on September 3-6, 2015 第1回ラブファーマーズカンファレンス Tanemaki official website (J) Talk show website (J)

WHO And Meat Causing Cancer? Reaction In Japan!

Japanese media reacted on the huge news, from the Lancet study, showing that processed meat can cause cancer. Yomiuri Shinbun, that faithful defender of industry and the silliest ideas from these islands, together with huge ads for "health drinks" and all kinds of un-scientific fads, really, have you seen how page after page are half ads, half "articles" supporting the ads... It had this about the story, but only on its Internet page, not in its printed pages: Yomiuri Shinbun: 加工肉に「発がん性認定」…WHO外部組織 ("Processed meat can cause cancer ... according to WHO advisory body) So anyway, all media sources here did cover the WHO story. TBS said, 加工肉に「発がん性あり」、過剰摂取に注意呼びかけ  ("Over-consumption of processed meat can lead to cancer) while Sankei News noted that ソーセージやベーコンは大腸ガンになるリスク WHO調査結果発表 ("Sausage and bacon are risk factor for large bowel cancer, according to the WHO study"). The Mainichi also carried the story:  国際がん研究機関:「ベーコンなど加工肉に発がん性」 (&

Earth II (1971)

Interesting - if you like a proper Science Fiction yarn, set in space, and don't care so much for the next Star Wars movie. Here is a pretty realistic take at the challenges and conflicts on an imagined International Space Station, before that came to be. The issue is how to defend it, or try to make it stay in peace. Good quality acting, and the kid that gets his toy gun taken away is adorable. From back when the "Red" Chinese were the enemy... Terrific music by Lalo Schifrin .

TPP Is Not Going To protect Our Environment

Not a big surprise, but if you follow the news, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is about to change the way business is made. And that takes some legal writ, as most countries are part of other obligations, such as the United Nations. Japan certainly is. But TPP does not care about such deals and treaties. The only ones they could agree on seems to be the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which generally requires countries to ban trade in specific endangered species. It also seems TPP may suggest that the Environment Chapter will include obligations similar to those contained in the Montreal Protocol on protection of the ozone layer, and the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) -- without specifically subjecting these MEAs to the TPP dispute settlement mechanism. As I noted back in January, 2014, when Wikileaks first exposed the TPP Environmental Chapter: ...there are a lot of other international treatie

Mystery Event - What is the GEA International Conference 2015?

NHK, also recently known as the "Abe Channel" said today that the Prime Minister "was speaking at a conference of an international environmental NGO in Tokyo on Thursday." NHK World: Abe: Japan will do its best for climate agreement But NHK World would not tell us what NGO that was, so I did a search. Neither google nor yahoo had any hints about a major NGO conference on October 15, 2015, so I went to the home page of the PM, and on its Japanese website (not very international) there was a note about today's event, GEA国際会議2015 (J). So I searched for that. And found nothing, neither in Japanese nor in English, nothing about today's "international" event. Turns out, the "international environmental NGO" is an affiliate of the Japanese government, here: Global Environmental Action (E). Among its "Membership Companies" you get Mitsui and Mitsubishi. "Supporting Members" are Tokyo Gas and TEPCO. Here is th

Flight Nurse (1953)

I thought this was a terrific film, and as the Korean War is mostly known as the "unknown" or "forgotten" war we could all learn a thing or two from this motion picture, made back when the wounds were still healing. It is the story of a flight nurse, based on a true lady of the sky, Lillian Kinkella Keil , who died at the age of 88 in 2005. My youngest aunt was a nurse in the Swedish Air Force, so I hope she gets to watch this. Sweden, as a "neutral" power tried to help the cease fire between the north and the south. The film has some baggage, but give it at try, it will help you understand the reality that later made M*A*S*H possible in the 1970s. So, let's not start another war, shall we...?

TPP and GMOs? So Far, We Have Very Little To Go On.

Germany, France, Japan, and a lot more countries, have totally rejected genetically modified organisms (GMOs) while the US, Canada, Brazil, and a few others can't get enough of it. Even Australia grows the GM canola, and sells it to Japan as food oil. It is not properly labelled here, so Ajinomoto and Nisshin and others can sell it as "Salad Oil". Avoid food oils. So how would the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement influence this state of affairs? Stay tuned, I don't really know. The TPP text is still kept secret. Japan has mandatory labelling laws that help consumers who want to know how their tofu or soy sauce was made. Even potato chips usually carry the label, "Not made from GMO potatoes" so stay tuned, we have very little to go on so far. Update 1 : This was just in the US radical magazine Mother Jones - I like this magazine a lot and especially this writer, Tom Philpott: ...Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of international strategies for the Inst

TPP Deal Announced Tonight

Historic - and I didn't think it would happen. I was at the Brunei ministerial meeting in August, 2013 and it seemed impossible. That was negotiation round number 19. How would these 12 completely different countries ever be able to agree on anything? This last ministerial in Atlanta was to be a 2 day event, then that got extended to 5 days of hard negotiations. I wonder why NHK* is not saying a word about the demands - and promises - to protect Japan's agriculture, or the concerns about rising costs of medicines. Stay tuned. And there was not a single ministerial round of negotiations here in Japan. That's quite a scandal considering Japan's role in the world economy. Also, it has made it more difficult to get people interested in the many related issues, not just for farmers but for everyone. Update: Now even the announced press conference which was supposed to be held at 22:00 PM Japanese time is delayed... => Upd

TPP - New York Times Gets It Wrong, Again

As I'm up late on Saturday night, Sunday morning, waiting for possibly any development from the Atlanta round of negotiations, I access the New York Times. They have no particular update at this late hour. These talks were supposed to be the last effort by Wednesday. But I'm more disturbed by the sponsor, Syngenta, that appears all over the NYT website. Tonight, it was not what I expected. The Swiss corporation is known for its abuses all over the world. So, now, the NYT is supported by that GMO and pesticide and neonic producing company to provide us with news about the enormous trade deal here in the Pacific? As I have previously noted here on this humble blog, why do we want a trade pact that allows for more sales of large cars, more milk and more meat, at the same times making it more difficult for countries to regulate medicines? Isn't this a contradiction in terms?  Shoko Uhida at PARC has the latest updates in Japanese, with more over at @emi_mumemo

TPP - The Irony Of Atlanta City & Gambling?

Am I the only one who thinks it is totally ironic that the US city of Atlanta is currently the locus of the "endgame" of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations? A city of gambling, basically. OK, I get it. They do have a sense of humour. Trade negotiators, as I have observed them since 1999 or so (in Seattle) are like guys in a poker game: They hold on to their hands and try to bluff the others that they won't lose. In the WTO talks, in Seattle, the entire third world, the so-called developing countries, the currently not-so-fortunate card-holders, suddenly stood up and said, enough is enough, this is a silly game, we are not playing anymore. Thus the World Trade Organization was brought to a halt. And it is like chess. By the time of the "endgame" (this is the 20th round of the TPP talks) you are left with not much room to maneuver, hardly any pieces left, and an opponent with a plan. You never really know how close you are to "chess mate."

"Clean Diesel" Scandal Hits Japan?

If you follow car news, or wonder about the future of mobility - and/or care about the air we breathe, well, then you must have noticed that Volkswagen was caught on September 3 by the biggest story ever. Diesel cars use engines that are pretty powerful on less fuel compared to gasoline, but they also have more emissions of CO2 and worse, the Nitrogen compounds known as NOx. These combine on hot summer days to form smog and ozone and really bad stuff that will actually kill people. So for a long time, diesel has had a bad rap, so to speak. Then car manufacturers tried to remedy that by introducing all kinds of systems to clean the exhaust. Except, due to the terrific work by a small NGO in the US with just a staff of 25 or so people, it was revealed that Volkswagen had put a computer program algorithm in its engines, that could detect if the car was being tested or not. In other words, if a test was going on, switch on the system to clean up the exhaust, and emit less NOx and o

Not So Smart

If you are a tech geek and like to buy new smart phones all the time, do consider this interesting graph from Compound Interest - not much recycling going on in the smart phone industry, unfortunately. Click to enlarge. Key quote: The problem with extracting rare earths is that they don’t tend to occur in particularly concentrated amounts in the crust. As such, the techniques required to extract them are costly and labour intensive, limiting the places in which it’s economically viable to bother extracting them at all. The processes used to extract them can also be environmentally hazardous, which is also a limiting factor; in 2010, China cut its exports of rare earths by 40% based on its concerns regarding pollution. With this in mind, recycling the rare earth elements at the end of their lives would seem to be a no-brainer. However, there isn’t a single rare earth element whose end of use recycle rate is greater than 1%.

No Deal For Abe On Friday?

None of the main stream media has so far noted that PM Abe may have lost a major battle on Friday, as he tried to enact the hugely controversial war bills that could allow Japan to engage in battle abroad. Opposed to this, a large coalition of people who want to maintain the current Article 9 of Japan's post-war Constitution. Over the past days and weeks, massive demonstrations outside the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, and in many other cities as well. It is going on tonight as I type this. So, yesterday, Abe and his right-wing Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito (the political arm of the lay sect of 1950s style born-again Buddhist connected to Sokai Gakkai) seem to have failed to use their majority to enact this? Very confusing as main stream media has no updates late Friday. Confusing. Stay tuned for more. Update: Video from outside the Diet late Friday night: Update: As of midnight, NHK World has no news on the failure of "Japan's governing parties" to

How Japan Got Rid of America's Nuclear Weapons, in 1991 and 1992

"A major step forward to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said modestly. 235 The offload was not instantaneous, however. The withdrawal of the nuclear weapons was cleared by President Bush's approval of the 91-92 Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (NWDA) on November 5, 1991, which became National Security Directive 64 (NSD-64), 236 but it would take nearly nine months before all nuclear weapons were removed from the fleet. "We could get the weapons home faster," by sending out replenishment ships to bring weapons back, "but it would be dangerous. We don't want a weapon accidentally dropped over the side," a Navy official said. 237 Hans Kristensen Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella Section 5, "Nuclear War Planning in Japan" Introduction and Summary The Early Years The Battle over Okinawa  The "Secret" Agreement Nuclear War Planning in J

So, How Will the "War Bill" Deal With Nuclear Weapons?

The current debate in Tokyo's Parliament, the Diet, has not mentioned how Japan intends to deal with nuclear weapons, or nuclear defense. The current debate and the panic inside the Diet today is about "collective self-defense" but I am surprised there has been no mention of the role of nuclear weapons. I used to be impressed by how Prime Minister Eisako Sato got the Norwegian Nobel Peace Price, for Japan's three principles: non-production, non-possession, and non-introduction of nuclear weapons. Collective Self-defense. Take a deep breath, and try to define that concept. And tell us what Japan's nuclear umbrella means to you. I have not heard a single word about it, in the news, or the debate. has more: Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in Japan Allegations that the United States brought nuclear weapons into Japan despite the Japanese ban against nuclear weapons in its territory were frequent during the Cold War. Such allegations were a

Do Join The CUJ Facebook Page!

We resisted this for a long time, but social media is a way to reach out to more people. Do join Consumers Union of Japan, and our humble Facebook page, if you are so inclined. I wish consumer organizations in other countries would also pick up "peace" as a major theme. How about it? On the left in the photo, let me introduce Oono-san, who edits the Nikkan Berita website. Cool dude who lives in Chichibu, Saitama. He knows all about Okinawa, if you need a quote (or some history of the issue). Or labour issues, or more. On the right, our very special ladies from the No! GMO Campaign. They know even more about genetic engineering and why we shouldn't be eating the stuff,  than I do. If you like Facebook, do sign up!

Huge Demonstrations For Peace In Japan - 2015

Events this week could lead to a change in Japan's Constitution, but tens of thousands of people or even more are demonstrating on the streets to keep Article 9, that prohibits Japan from taking part in war zones abroad. I hope that of course, "War is Over" and that Japan will continue to contribute to peace. Great to see such mass events in front of the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, where the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito (do google them, why would a Buddhist sect support Japan going to war?) are arguing for Japan's right to collective self-defense and thus stepping into all kinds of war zones. The opposition parties need to get their act together. TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the Diet building in Tokyo on Monday amid growing public opposit