Only White Dolphin in Captivity Dies in Central China
People's Daily Online July 15, 2002
The only white-finned dolphin in captivity in the world died in Wuhan on Sunday at the approximate age of 24. Scientists said the death of the male dolphin, known as Qiqi, came as a surprise since the old dolphin appeared normal on Saturday.
The only white-finned dolphin in captivity in the world died in Wuhan on Sunday at the approximate age of 24.
Scientists said the death of the male dolphin, known as Qiqi, came as a surprise since the old dolphin appeared normal on Saturday.
Dr. Zhang Xianfeng, an expert with the Wuhan-based Hydrobiology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said hebelieved the dolphin died of old age, but he and his colleagues would continue to investigate the death.
Qiqi was captured by a Yangtze River fisherman on January 11, 1980, and was shipped to the institute the following day. He was then 1.47 meters in length, 36.5 kg and approximately two years old.
Zhang said Qiqi spent 22 and a half lonely years in a 300 sq.m.pool by Donghu Lake near the Yangtze, the country's longest river,in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. The Yangtze is the species' main habitat.
Qiqi was a white-finned dolphin, a species unique to China, andthe most endangered dolphin species in the world.
When found, Qiqi was a badly bruised two-year-old. Experts examining him suspected the injuries were caused by illegal fishing, condemned as one of the main factors contributing to the decline of white dolphins in the wild. Numbers have fallen from some 400 in the early 1980s to far fewer than 100 now.
The Fishery Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has warned that the ancient mammal species which has survived 20 to 30million years of evolution may face extinction within another 25 years unless effective measures are immediately enforced.
China has tried every means to save the white dolphins. The Fishery Bureau has carried out a program monitoring Yangtze white-finned dolphins every November since 1997, the largest such monitoring program of rare animals in China. The search covers a 1,900-km stretch of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
However, only five to seven dolphins have been sighted each season, even with the use of advanced location devices.
Nation counts down for Beijing Olympic Games
Xinhua News Agency 2007-08-09
The International Olympic Committee has formally invited its branches around the globe to the 2008 Olympics. The invitations were delivered on Wednesday evening in the Chinese capital, at a grand celebration of the one-year countdown to the Beijing Games.
In exactly one year's time, the Beijing Olympic Games will open.
IOC president Jacques Rogge joined Chinese officials to celebrate the moment.
At the grand gathering, Rogge delivered invitation letters to Olympics committees of more than 200 countries and regions.
This invitation stands out from all its predecessors.
It's the first time in the history of the Olympics that such an invitation was delivered from a host country. In the past, they all were sent from the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Jacques Rogge, IOC president, said, "The world is watching China with great expectations."
And Chinese leaders and Olympic organizers expressed their confidence that the Games will be a success.
Wu Bangguo, chairman of NPC Standing Committee, said, "The 2008 Beijing Olympics will be a high-level event with China's own characteristics. This is a guarantee from China and our people. We'll strengthen our cooperation with the IOC, spare no efforts in supporting the preparation work, and ensure the Beijing Olympics are successful."
Liu Qi, BOCOG president, said, "The year ahead is a crucial year for preparation for the Beijing Games. We will carry out the instructions of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, and focus fully on preparing and organizing the 2008 Games. We will try to improve our security measures and the city's environment, which will provide a more solid foundation for successfully organizing a high-level Olympics with our own characteristics."
Artists from home and abroad gave their best performances to an audience of nearly ten thousand people.
Besides Beijing, co-host cities, including Tianjin, Shanghai,Qinghuangdao and Hong Kong also staged mass performances.
Although there is still one year to go, such enthusiasm will linger until the big moment.
Chinese dolphin 'probably extinct'
CNN August 8, 2007
The long-threatened Yangtze River dolphin in China is probably extinct, according to an international team of researchers who said this would mark the first whale or dolphin to be wiped out due to human activity.
The freshwater dolphin, or baiji, was last spotted several years ago and an intensive six-week search in late 2006 failed to find any evidence that one of the rarest species on earth survives, said Samuel Turvey, a conservation biologist, at the Zoological Society of London, who took part in the search.
He said the dolphin's demise -- which resulted from overfishing, pollution and lack of intervention -- might serve as a cautionary tale and should spur governments and scientists to act to save other species verging on extinction.
"Ours is the first scientific study which didn't find any," he said in a telephone interview. "Even if there are a few left we can't find them and we can't do anything to stop their extinction."
The team, which published its findings in the Journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters on Wednesday, included researchers from the United States, Britain, Japan and China.
The survey was also authorized by the Chinese government, Turvey said. The last confirmed baiji sighting was 2002, although there have been a handful of unconfirmed sightings since then. The last baiji in captivity died in 2002, Turvey said.
During the six-week search, the team carried out both visual and acoustic surveys and used two boats to twice cover the dolphin's 1,669 kilometer range stretching from the city of Yichang just downstream from the Three Gorges dam to Shanghai.
The last such survey conducted from 1997 to 1999 turned up 13 of the mammals, but Turvey said fishing, pollution and boat traffic in the busy river, home to about 10 percent of the world's population, has likely meant the baiji's end.
"We covered the whole range of the dolphin twice," Turvey said. "It is difficult to see how we could miss any animals." The dolphins will now be classified as critically endangered and possibly extinct but Turvey said there is little chance any remaining baiji are alive.
Researchers have known for years about the dolphin's precarious situation but indecision about how best to save the species meant little was actually done, he added.
This underscores the need to act quickly to prevent the extinction of other similar shallow-water aquatic mammals like the vaquita found in the Sea of Cortez and the Yangtze finless porpoise, Turvey said.
"One really needs to learn from this to make sure future conservation efforts are more dynamic," he said. "There has always been so much focus on 'save the whale' and 'prevent whaling' that it has led to these range-restricted shallow cetaceans slipping through the crack."
Rare river dolphin 'now extinct'
BBC 8 August 2007
A freshwater dolphin found only in China is now "likely to be extinct", a team of scientists has concluded.
The researchers failed to spot any Yangtze river dolphins, also known as baijis, during an extensive six-week survey of the mammals' habitat.
The team, writing in Biology Letters journal, blamed unregulated fishing as the main reason behind their demise.
If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.
The World Conservation Union's Red List of Threaten Species currently classifies the creature as "critically endangered".
Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), one of the paper's co-authors, described the findings as a "shocking tragedy".
"The Yangtze river dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20 million years ago," Dr Turvey explained.
"This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."
The species (Lipotes vexillifer) was the only remaining member of the Lipotidae, an ancient mammal family that is understood to have separated from other marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, about 40-20 million years ago.
The white, freshwater dolphin had a long, narrow beak and low dorsal fin; lived in groups of three or four and fed on fish.
The team carried out six-week visual and acoustic survey, using two research vessels, in November and December 2006.
"While it is conceivable that a couple of surviving individuals were missed by the survey teams," the team wrote, "our inability to detect any baiji despite this intensive search effort indicates that the prospect of finding and translocating them to a [reserve] has all but vanished."
The scientists added that there were a number of human activities that caused baiji numbers to decline, including construction of dams and boat collisions.
"However, the primary factor was probably unsustainable by-catch in local fisheries, which used rolling hooks, nets and electrofishing," they suggested.
"Unlike most historical-era extinctions of large bodied animals, the baiji was the victim not of active persecution but incidental mortality resulting from massive-scale human environmental impacts - primarily uncontrolled and unselective fishing," the researchers concluded.
(Who do you think will be pleased at the emergence of the dolphin at a river in Tokyo?)
(With regard to the dolphin, Arakawa Office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is frequently reported and well-known. Workers of this office are very creative.)
( The media spree over the dolphin is a great advantage to this office. Its home page currently displays a big picture of a dolphin.)
こういった事務所には国土交通省のキャリア官僚が所長として赴任するが、彼らはいかに本省に戻った時に出世するかばかり考えているという。他事務所に対する彼らのライバル意識は激しく、何かイベントや施策を講じるにしても、実施有無の基準は「それは新聞に載るのか？」が一番大きいのだという。「新聞に載るの？ 載らないの？ 載ることを提案してください」と言われる。
(The managers of such offices are top-level bureaucrats. They are obsessed with returning to headquarters and gaining promotion. They have a strong rivalry against each other. The most important thing for them is said to be whether their events or measures get into newspapers or not. They often say, "Our measures are going to get into newspapers, aren't they? Please suggest getting our measures into newspapers." )
China Today and its Impact to Japan
The America-Japan Society, Inc.
Ambassador Koreshige Anami, former Japanese Ambassador to China, was invited as AJS July luncheon speaker on July 27th at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan who returned to Japan in April after five years mission. It was a great opportunity for the audiences to get an insider’s view of what is going on in China today.
Ambassador Anami noted China’s amazing economic expansion, and that it may last until the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games or even the 2010 Shanghai Expo. However there are various problems that confuse our understanding of the real China. Today’s China is like the old Japanese saying: “Blind people touch just one part of the dinosaur(elephant) and never appreciate the whole”. To draw a real sketch of China, we have to get and put together as much information as possible.
The most serious contradiction in China lies in the system known as the socialist market economy. Socialism and the market economy are incompatible in nature. As a result, today’s China has a major “country risk.” There are many reports of serious concerns in such areas unemployment, regional and inter-regional income disparities, poverty in rural communities, environmental degradation and unsafe work environments.
China’s GDP today is four times that of 1980. But it will require a 7.2% annual GDP increase to grow another four times expansion in the next 20 years. That kind of rapid growth depends on the foreign investment and national financial expenditure. China strongly needs foreign investment, and therefore Japan has major opportunities for investing in China. But it would be a bad scenario for Japan if the current Chinese social structure fails and falls into chaos that could threaten the Japanese economy.
China stands at a crossroads and must make an important decision for the future: keep the current social and political system or advance economic expansion. The best scenario will aim for both, a so-called soft landing.
Turning our eyes to Chinese diplomacy, we can see that it goes quite well, except as regards Japan. The Chinese government basically maintains good, stable diplomatic relations with other countries, as a means to invite their investment. Of particular concern is keeping good relations with the U.S., as that is quite important in dealing with the issue of Taiwan.
Of course, North Korea is still a headache for China.
Of the issues between Japan and China, Yasukuni and historical recognition are the main bones of contention. However, this does not mean that Asian countries including China want to review the bitterness of the history but that they worry about a future rearmament of Japan.
It is true that relations between Japan and China are at their worst since the countries normalized diplomatic relations in their joint statement of 1972. But it is also true that the people of both countries make frank opinions which cause friction. The current situation is uncomfortable for both countries, but should be recognized as an inevitable steps in our future. Both governments should pay sincere attention to their people’s opinion and make appropriate efforts not to misunderstand one another.
Towards these, sincere mutual understanding especially among young generations and local communities in both countries are highly encouraged.
Aung San Suu Kyi meets doctor amid health worries: witnesses
Myanmar 's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for several hours with her physician Sunday, witnesses said, amid worries for her health after her party said she was not accepting food.
Doctor Tin Myo Win arrived around 2:00 pm (0730 GMT) at the lakeside home where the Nobel peace laureate has been confined for most of the last 19 years, the witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He left four-and-a-half hours later and went to the home affairs ministry, they added.
Aung San Suu Kyi 's last medical check-up by the doctor was in mid-August, before her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said September 5 that she had refused most of her food rations for the last three weeks.
Concerns over Aung San Suu Kyi have grown after she refused to meet with visiting UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari and the junta's liaison officer.
The regime says she is not staging a hunger strike, and the NLD has stopped short of using the term.
But the party has said that her refusal of food supplies was "to denounce her continuing detention, which is unfair under the law."
The 63-year-old has no other source of food aside from the daily supplies provided by the military regime.
Her party won a landslide victory in a 1990 election but the junta never allowed it to take office. The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962.
Aging bridges of Japan
Japan Times Sept. 2, 2007
The collapse a month ago of a freeway bridge over the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis offers an important lesson for Japan, where a large number of bridges are expected to reach the end of their useful life in the near future. The collapse points to the danger inherent in old infrastructure for which repair needs have been ignored. The central and local governments must get serious about systematically reinforcing or replacing old bridges.
The 580-meter-long Interstate 35W bridge was built in 1967. The ferro-concrete structure, spanning the 120-meter-wide river, has four lanes in each direction. About 50 vehicles fell into the water when it collapsed; so far, 13 deaths have been confirmed. The bridge was used by up to 200,000 commuters every day.
Japan's transport ministry believes that a similar bridge collapse is unlikely in Japan because the government has switched to the policy of carrying out preventive repairs in time. But complacency must be avoided. Roads, bridges and tunnels are getting old in Japan as well. According to the ministry, the nation has about 140,000 bridges, each 15 meters long or longer, that are used by vehicles. In fiscal 2006, 6 percent of those bridges were 50 years or older. That age category will rise to 20 percent in fiscal 2016 and 47 percent in 2026. It is usually assumed that a 50-year-old bridge should be replaced.
Since an enormous amount of money will be needed to replace all old bridges, the central and local governments are trying to prolong the life of old bridges by detecting weaknesses and carrying out repairs in advance. But as of February 2007, only 13 percent of the nation's municipalities were conducting regular checks of bridges.
An encouraging sign is the formation of an association comprising Kyoto University, the ministry's Kinki Regional Planning Bureau, construction companies and other organizations to study ways to improve bridge inspections with the use of high technology. The central and prefectural governments need to extend technical support to municipalities. Better ways to financially support them also should be considered.
Diarrheal Epidemics in Dhaka, Bangladesh, During Three Consecutive Floods: 1988, 1998, and 2004
The National Center for Biotechnology Information
Definition of epidemic and flood periods
We defined the onset of an epidemic as the first of 3 consecutive days during which patient visits per day exceeded the 90th percentile of visits per day for the year before and the year after the year of flooding. The 90th percentile for visits per day was 275 in 1987 and 1989, 450 in 1997 and 1999, and 350 in 2003 (data not available for 2005). Similarly, we defined cessation of an epidemic as the day when the visits per day fell below the 90th percentile for 3 consecutive days.
A flood period was defined from the earliest date that any of the rivers surrounding Dhaka exceeded the predetermined flood stage through the latest date that any of the river levels fell below the flood stage. An individual river’s flood stage was defined by the Flood Forecasting Watch Center, Bangladesh.13 Using this definition, there were four flood-related diarrheal epidemics: September 6 to October 13, 1988; July 25 to October 13, 1998; July 20 to August 21, 2004; and September 16 to October 24, 2004 (Figure 1). The comparator non-flood periods were defined as the matching dates in the flanking years. For example, the periods of September 6 to October 13 in 1987 and 1989 were used as the comparator non-flood periods for the 1988 epidemic, and microbiological data from the corresponding surveillance system periods were obtained. This definition was chosen to account for seasonal variation in diarrheal pathogens.
Showdown at Budokan
Japan Times July 2, 2006
It was 40 years ago today, and The Beatles were rocking Japan
By SHIBLY NABHAN
Special to The Japan Times
The rightwing reactionaries were arriving in their menacing black-and-white trucks, blasting military music. The politicians were shaking their fists and telling people to go to a garbage dump. The police had locked down all entrances to the Imperial Palace grounds. Riot police lined the road leading to Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Girls stood in the streets crying.
The fight for political control centered on Nippon Budokan, the two-year-old martial arts hall beside the Imperial Palace grounds. The political stakes were high. There were 35,000 police deployed over the course of the four-day struggle.
Military coup? No. The Beatles in concert.
The year was 1966, and Budokan was a marvel of Japanese architecture that symbolized the rebirth of the capital and the whole country from the ashes of war.
Just 19 years after its abject capitulation, Japan proclaimed its resurrection with three events: The inauguration ceremony of the first shinkansen (bullet train) line, which sliced the tedious 10-hour journey between Tokyo and Osaka to a jaw-dropping 4 hours. That quantum leap came just in time for the second of those three epoch-making events, Tokyo's hosting of the 1964 Summer Olympics -- the first occasion the international competition had been held in Asia.
The third of those landmark events was the opening of the Budokan, a stadium in the city's heart dedicated to the martial arts of kyudo, kendo, judo, karate and all disciplines associated with honor and the Shinto spirit. Sited between Yasukuni Shrine and the Imperial Palace, it was reportedly built on the site where soldiers pledged their lives to the Emperor before joining their wartime units.
Following a request from Japan, judo had been included at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time as an official Olympic sport -- a move that proclaimed to the world that Asian culture was standing on the world stage along with European and Anglo-Saxon cultures.
But if Japanese culture was to make its way onto the world stage, then wouldn't other cultures inevitably show themselves on the Japanese stage?
Two years after the Tokyo Olympics, four young men landed in Haneda Airport. Delayed by a typhoon, they were several hours late. The newspapers declared that as one typhoon had left, another had just arrived. It was the first test of what the post-Olympic future of the Budokan Hall would be. Would it remain a sacred venue on hallowed land, or simply become another concert hall?
On one side were the four most popular musicians on earth at the time; on the other, four Japanese opinion leaders, including the prime minister.
The Fab Four of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- none of whom knew the intricacies of Japanese xenophobia -- were criticized by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who declared that The Beatles were not an appropriate act to perform at such a respected venue.
As media coverage built up and rightwing groups opined that rock music made young people crazy and would break down social order, Sato was joined by Tatsuji Nagashima, the promoter who had arranged the five Budokan concerts with The Beatles' management, but then changed sides and protested against them; Hosokawa Ryugen, an influential Asahi Shimbun journalist; and octogenarian Matsutaro Shoriki, founder of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and the Tokyo Giants baseball club. As first president of Budokan Hall, Shoriki had originally agreed to host The Beatles but later changed his mind after hearing alarming reports of long hair and girls screaming uncontrollably. He was told that the contract could not be torn up.
With The Beatles on one side, and four pillars of the Establishment on the other, you could call it a faceoff between the Fab Four and the Drab Four.
The Beatles themselves first sensed trouble while they were still touring Germany. There, they were shown a news report saying that Japanese rightwing groups wanted to capture them on their arrival in Tokyo and cut their Mop Top locks.
Fearing trouble from rightists at Budokan, the Metropolitan Police Department met with fire department officials 10 day before The Beatles' arrival to coordinate crowd control and disaster response. They even arranged for some 40 armored personnel carriers to be brought in to overpower any rightwing trucks in the area.
When it became clear there was to be no stopping the concerts, and that they might even become a turning point for Japan's culture, the war of words intensified.
Hosokawa and other critics appeared on television talk shows, both criticizing the concert plan and highlighting their ignorance by on occasion referring to the Liverpool quartet as "The Peatle." In other debates, critics began calling for the band to play not at Budokan but at Yume no Shima (Dream Island), an ironically named garbage landfill zone.
For Budokan Director Matsutaro Shoriki, this was no mere trifling debate: he had faced political pressures from nationalists before -- and had the scars to prove it. Decades before he had founded a Japanese baseball league and invited U.S. teams to play in Japan. Rightwingers saw this as a sellout to Americans and a form of cultural pollution. As a result, Shiroki was ambushed by sword-wielding would-be assassins and was lucky to survive being stabbed.
Next came pressure on the Japanese youth: Tokyo schools began ordering their students not to attend the concerts, even though most of them were on the weekend. This snowballed into a move to stop students playing electric guitars, based on the fear that rock music would turn young people into delinquents and hooligans.
At a preconcert press conference, a reporter asked The Beatles if they thought their behavior might have a negative influence on Japanese culture. Paul responded by asking if it should be considered a cultural invasion if a Japanese group were to appear in England. John, making an oblique reference to World War II and the expanding Vietnam War, quipped that singing was much better than fighting.
Ringo commented, "It's amazing security, you know. I've never seen so many people guarding us." To this, a reporter responded, "Well, we want to make sure that you're not hurt while you're here." Ringo replied: "But we don't want the security to hurt the fans. Don't be too rough with them."
Meanwhile, police were ripping banners out of the hands of rightwing squads outside the Budokan as the rightists berated them through megaphones.
Scheduled to give one concert on June 30, and two each on July 1 and 2, the Fab Four thought they would get a chance to see the sights on the morning of the 30th. But the Tokyo police said their officers would not take responsibility for their security on a slated sightseeing trip to the nearby ancient capital of Kamakura.
That official decision was tantamount to grounding the band in their hotel, and George and Ringo obliged by staying there giving interviews and waving at fans through closed windows. Resenting their confinement, John and Paul each came up with their own plans for escaping from the Capital Tokyo Hotel (now the Tokyo Hilton).
With a member of the tour entourage in the lead, Paul tried to sneak out of the main lobby but was stopped by guards. After a great deal of haggling, he was placed in a car with plainclothes police officers and given a short tour of Meiji Jingu Shrine and a portion of the Imperial Palace grounds. They briefly got out of the car to have a walk around, but when photographers spotted Paul he was quickly shuffled back into the car and returned to the hotel. One news source later noted that The Beatle had been spotted in the palace grounds "no-neku-tai" (without a necktie).
John fared much better. Borrowing the ID badge and camera of a photographer on their team, he posed as a member of the press corps and used the badge to walk past the lobby security guards and into the street. From there he made his way to the Omotesando boulevard running away from Meiji Shrine, where he is reported to have bought souvenirs at the famous Oriental Bazaar shop. Then he went to the swish Azabu district nearby, where he was fitted for a new pair of glasses before returning to the hotel. He is said to have purchased on the outing a ceramic figure that was included in Peter Blake's collage design for the cover of 1967's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Apparently, back at the hotel Paul complained that he had only managed a few minutes out in the open air -- while John had gone on a shopping spree and returned with trophies to prove it.
The Beatles played the five concerts with little incident inside the hall. The authorities had braced for two main threats: that the kids in the audience would go crazy, and that rightwing nationalists would get violent outside. Neither happened.
The main floor area was kept empty to stop anyone approaching the stage, and the fans were confined to the mezzanine and balcony areas from where they watched the shows from over a sea of police hats. In the aisles, security guards stood at the end of each row, while another security ring of white-gloved officers stood between the stage and the seats, and another security ring sealed off the venue. Ambulance teams were at the ready.
In an effort to downplay the presence of a Western band with long hair, promoters arranged for several Japanese bands to perform as opening acts.
Elsewhere, because of the limitations of amplifiers at that time, The Beatles were often frustrated that the screaming and wailing of hysterical female fans elsewhere drowned out the sound of their instruments. At the Budokan, though, security was so suffocating that fans didn't even dare to stand up. In fact, the police announced over megaphones before the concert that anyone who did stand up and make any disturbance would be arrested. Consequently, the crowd noise during the meager half-hour they were allowed to play -- enough for just 11 songs -- was among the lowest The Beatles had experienced.
Photos from the concerts show the four playing against giant billboards for Lion toothpaste, with the audience barely visible in the distance. At the end of each concert, the authorities left no chance for an embarrassing mob scene by fans, or a violent incident by demonstrators in their trucks. The Fab Four were bundled into a police-escorted convoy and returned to the hotel within 10 minutes of taking their last bows.
Afterward, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the fans, many of them "haiteen" (late teenagers), were treated like children by the condescending authorities. Then, as The Beatles waved goodbye to Tokyo on their way to Manila, newspapers ran headlines such as "The Beatles typhoon has passed." Photos showed George on the stairs to the plane carrying a suitcase in each hand, and Paul with a camera, taking photos of the crowd.
Absence of disturbances
Reports in The Japan Times and elsewhere not only pointed out the absence of disturbances during the Budokan concerts, but felt it worth noting that fans did not cause any trouble at the airport farewell.
The "Sgt. Pepper's" album cover with the Japanese figurine on the ground near John went on to be voted one of the most memorable design images of the 20th century, and The Beatles sold more than 1 billion records in their careers. Since then Budokan -- whose flip-flopping founder Shoriki Matsutaro died in 1969 -- has remained a popular stop for rock bands touring Asia. Deep Purple and Bob Dylan recorded live albums there, and the full-on likes of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne have performed in the hall. It will even host the Black-Eyed Peas in July this year.
Itsu shaken but not stirred by Litvinenko incident.(Alexander Litvinenko )
Itsu, the sushi chain at the heart of the Russian spy scandal, is having fun this week with a series of James Bond-inspired hoardings outside its police-protected store in London's Piccadilly.
The in-house designs feature at the outlet where Alexander Litvinenko ate before being admitted to hospital with radiation poisoning.
'An international espionage incident has transformed this Itsu into a world-famous meeting place,' said the hoarding on Friday, as Design Week went to press. 'Sad and shocked, we would like to thank you for the many e-mails of encouragement. Our customers and staff are magnificent.'
Hijacker's daughters apply for citizenship
Japan Times Aug. 14, 2001
Two daughters of one of the Japanese hijackers who defected to North Korea are seeking to obtain Japanese citizenship, sources close to them said Monday.
A lawyer for the two daughters -- aged 24 and 20 -- of the late Takeshi Okamoto have recently asked the Tokyo Family Court for an inquiry into their claims to citizenship, submitting to the court their birth certificates issued by a North Korean hospital, the sources said.
Of the 20 children born to the Japanese hijackers, only the two daughters of Okamoto have not received Japanese citizenship.
Three daughters of three of the hijackers traveled from North Korea to Japan in May to live permanently.
In March 1970, nine members of the Red Army Faction, a radical group known as "Sekigunha" in Japan, hijacked a Japan Airlines plane with 138 passengers and crew on board en route from Tokyo to Fukuoka and forced it to fly to Pyongyang.
Okamoto apparently married a Japanese woman after defecting in North Korea with other hijackers, but his whereabouts became unknown around 1982.
Hijackers say Okamoto and his wife died in a landslide in 1988. However, there have been reports that Okamoto may have been confined to a labor camp.
Okamoto is still on an international wanted list because his family has not reported his death to authorities.
Takeshi Okamoto is the elder brother of Kozo Okamoto, 53, a member of the Japanese Red Army terrorist team that staged the 1972 attack at Tel Aviv's Lod airport, which left 25 people dead and 80 others injured.
Kozo Okamoto was given political asylum in Lebanon last year.
The Japanese Red Army is a breakaway group from the Red Army Faction.
Why North Koreans Were Kidnappers
Slate Aug. 27, 2003
At a six-nation summit on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Japan is pressing Kim Jong-il's government for more info on the fates of the Japanese abductees who were spirited away to Pyongyang during the Cold War. Why did North Korea kidnap these Japanese citizens?
The Hermit Kingdom—which only acknowledged these kidnappings last year—says the abductees were supposed to school North Korean spies in Japanese language and customs, so the agents could more easily slip into Japanese society. For years, Pyongyang had dismissed the abductions as fictional, part of a smear campaign engineered by South Korea's Agency for National Security Planning. But on Sept. 17, 2002, as part of efforts to normalize relations with Japan, Kim Jong-il confessed that overzealous elements of his military had in fact snatched 12 Japanese citizens during the 1970s and '80s. (The tally was later raised to 13.) He added that the kidnappers had acted without instruction from above and had been punished.
But Kim may not have revealed the whole story. At least one alleged kidnapper claims that several women were abducted to become wives for a group of North Korea-based Japanese terrorists, on the lam after a 1970 Japan Airlines hijacking. An ex-wife of one of the fugitives, a woman named Megumi Yao, has testified that she helped lure a 23-year-old student, Keiko Arimoto, from London to Pyongyang by promising a phony job with a German market-research firm. Arimoto was then reportedly forced to marry one of the hijackers.
Some of the abductees may also have been taken only because they witnessed North Korean commandos sneaking around on Japanese soil. This theory might explain the kidnapping of 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, who disappeared while returning from badminton practice in 1977 and would likely have been of little value as a teacher or a wife.
North Korea has stated that only five of the abductees are still alive; all five have returned to Japan within the past 12 months and are demanding that the families they left behind in North Korea be released, too. As for the eight declared deceased, the victims' families believe that Pyongyang may be fibbing about their loved ones' fates. Japan has demanded that the abductees' remains be returned, but North Korea says that most of the gravesites were destroyed by flooding. The twice-cremated remains of one woman were returned, but DNA tests were inconclusive. However, a dentist who examined some intact teeth from the sample has stated that a match is unlikely. In addition, several groups composed of victims' families claim that the abductions numbered well above 13 and that between 60 and 100 Japanese people were kidnapped.
U.S. delinks JAL hijackers, North Korea terror status
Japan Times Nov. 23, 2007
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States does not see North Korea's deportation of Japanese radicals who hijacked a Japan Airlines jet to the reclusive state in 1970 as a prerequisite for removing the North from a U.S. list of terrorism-sponsoring nations, a senior State Department official indicated Wednesday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also signaled willingness to take the North off the blacklist by the year's end once Pyongyang disables its three nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and fully declares its nuclear programs under a six-party deal.
On the issue of whether Pyongyang should deport the hijackers, the official said, "I think that is something that Japan and the DPRK have to sort out among themselves." DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
Of the nine Red Army Faction members who hijacked the JAL plane to North Korea, four are still in North Korea and the others have either died or been arrested upon returning to Japan.
Japan has been calling for their unconditional handover.
North Korea has said it is not opposed to the hijackers' return home but supports the hijackers' request to hold talks with the Japanese government first. Tokyo has rejected that request, saying it will not negotiate with the hijackers.
As for the North's terrorism-sponsor status, the official played down effects on the resolution of the issue of Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s even if Washington does delist the country.
"I don't really think that you can say that we are going to lose leverage with the DPRK on this specific issue," the official said. "The further along we move, I think that it raises the stakes for everyone. . . . The greater the stakes and the greater the pressure on the DPRK."
Washington put North Korea on the list in January 1988 after its agents blew up a South Korean jetliner in midflight the preceding year. The Korean Air Lines jet crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 115 people on board.
Two Pyongyang agents posing as Japanese blew up the jetliner. One committed suicide after they were seized between flights in the Middle East, and the other was taken to South Korea, where she said she was tutored by one of the Japanese abductees on how to assume her identity.
In a six-way statement released Oct. 3, the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to beginning the process of removing North Korea from the list as Pyongyang moves ahead with its denuclearization obligations.
"Provided that there is progress on that front, then we've always been very clear that we will keep our commitment to initiate those steps," the official said.
Japan, one of the nations involved in the six-party talks, has urged the U.S. not to remove the North from the list until progress is made on the abduction issue.
The U.S. has explored the timing of a presidential notification to Congress of taking the North off the terrorism sponsor list, in consideration of the progress made on Pyongyang's disabling and declaring its nuclear programs.
The disablement of North Korea's three nuclear facilities in Yongbyon began in early November as the second phase of the denuclearization-for-aid deal reached by the six parties in February.
"The point is that there is that agreement and that as long as the DPRK proceeds in that fashion, then we intend to honor our commitments," the official said.
States named on the U.S. list are subject to sanctions, including a ban on arms-related sales to the country. Removal from the list could pave the way for Pyongyang to gain access to aid from international financial institutions such as the World Bank.
Due to the abduction issue, Japan and North Korea have yet to see a breakthrough in their working-group talks on normalizing ties. Japan wants the North to reopen investigations on 12 of the 17 abductees on Japan's official list — all except the five who returned to Japan in 2002. Pyongyang says the issue is resolved because no more Japanese abductees remain alive in the hermit state.
Matsushima seen as 'rising star'
The Yomiuri Shimbun Aug. 31, 2007
A former Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official who has been linked to a scandal involving gifts from the head of a social welfare corporation was once considered a "rising star among noncareer-track officials," health ministry officials said Thursday.
Earlier that day, it was revealed that Masaru Matsushima, a former director of the ministry's Kyushu Regional Health and Welfare Bureau, allegedly received luxury cars and several million yen to build and refurbish his house from the former director of a social welfare corporation in Osaka Prefecture.
It also came to light that the former senior bureaucrat used the money to wine and dine his colleagues and subordinates in the ministry.
On Thursday morning, senior ministry officials were briefed by officials in the personnel division and those in charge of public relations.
Senior officials kept quiet about the scandal.
"I heard that [Matsushima] was familiar with welfare for the handicapped. I ordered my subordinates to gather information as soon as possible," said Junichi Kaneko, who heads the ministry's Secretariat.
The ministry's administrative vice minister, Tetsuo Tsuji, who was to be replaced over the pension record-keeping fiasco, spent his last day at the ministry dealing with the issue.
"The scandal came to light on his last day here. He must be feeling miserable," a senior official said.
Matsushima entered the former Health and Welfare Ministry in 1976 from the Social Welfare and Medical Service Corporation, currently the Welfare and Medical Service Agency.
Mainly working in the field of welfare, he was promoted in July 2004 to head the welfare division of the Health and Welfare Department for Persons with Disabilities, a post considered open only to career-track bureaucrats.
At that time, the division was in the process of drawing up a draft bill designed to help handicapped people become more independent. But in face of fierce criticism from organizations representing disabled people, the division had trouble coordinating the opinions of the parties concerned.
In a surprise appointment, Matsushima replaced his predecessor, who was a career-track official.
During his tenure at the division, Matsushima won high acclaim for playing a leading role in passing the bill into law.
For this outstanding performance, Matsushima was named chief of the Policy Planning Division of the same department, another post that had previously been held only by career-track officials.
High-ranking bureaucrat took luxury cars and millions of yen
Mainichi Shinbun August 30, 2007
High-ranking bureaucrat took luxury cars and millions of yen from nursing home operator
Masaru Matsushima talks to reporters near the Celsior car he received from Etsuro Yamanishi at his home in Tsurugashima, Saitama Prefecture, on Thursday.A former high-ranking bureaucrat at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry received gifts including three luxury cars and millions of yen for more than 30 years from the operator of a care home and a nursing school, it emerged Thursday.
Masaru Matsushima, 59, former director of the Kyushu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare, denied that he used his official authority to do the donor any favor in return for the gifts. "He is a relative, and he extended personal assistance to me. I never did him a favor."
Despite his denial, the ministry is investigating the allegations that the practice could constitute a violation of the National Public Service Ethics Law that prohibits national government officials from receiving donations from anyone under their supervision.
Among other monetary gifts, Etsuro Yamanishi, 80, former president of Hirakata Ryoikuen in the Osaka Prefecture city of Hirakata, donated millions of yen to Matsushima in congratulatory gift money to build and refurbish his home. The former director also received three luxury cars, including a Toyota Celsior.
The men are related through marriage as their wives are cousins.
The Hirakata Ryoikuen corporation operates a nursing home for handicapped and elderly people and a nursing school, among other institutions.
Ex-welfare official given luxury car
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 08/31/2007
OSAKA--A former senior official of the welfare ministry admitted Thursday he was given a luxury car from the head of an entity that receives hundreds of millions of yen in annual government subsidies.
Masaru Matsushima, 59, former director-general of the ministry's Kyushu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare, was a ministry division chief in charge of approving social welfare organizations in 2005, when he received the free car.
He retired on Aug. 24.
The National Public Service Ethics Law of 1999 bans bureaucrats from receiving money and other gifts from those whose interests are affected by the officials' duties.
Yoichi Masuzoe, minister of health, labor and welfare, said Thursday he will consider punishment even though Matsushima had already left the ministry.
"It's a shame. After looking carefully into the case, we will take punitive measures on the basis of law," Masuzoe told reporters.
Matsushima said he was given a used Celsior sedan in November 2005 from a "relative," who was then head of Hirakata Ryoikuen, a social welfare corporation based in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture.
The relative, now 80, retired from the post in April 2006.
According to Matsushima, the former Ryoikuen chief suggested Matsushima take the Celsior, held in the name of his common-law wife, because she had bought a new car.
Matsushima said the same relative had earlier given him two used cars and several million yen in cash when he built or renovated his home.
Matsushima said his wife was a cousin of the former chief's now-deceased wife.
"I was given the car as we associated with one another as relatives," Matsushima said.
"I may indeed have been careless, but I have never provided any favor" to the man or his entity, he said.
Hirakata Ryoikuen operates 10 facilities, including nursing homes for the elderly and ones for children with serious disabilities, in Osaka, Hyogo and Saitama prefectures.
Between fiscal 2002 and 2004, the entity was granted a total of 1.324 billion yen in central government subsidies.
When Matsushima received the Celsior, he was chief of the Policy Planning Division of the ministry's Department of Health and Welfare for Persons with Disabilities.
In that position, Matsushima had the authority to approve and supervise social welfare entities such as Hirakata Ryoikuen.
The ethics law, enacted after a bribery scandal that led to the conviction of a former administrative welfare vice minister, bans central government officials from accepting gifts from interested parties. The ban applies even if those involved are relatives unless it is clear such gifts will not invite doubt from the public.
The law, however, covers only incumbent bureaucrats.
But Masuzoe said he will study ways to punish the retired Matsushima.
Matsushima was the ministry's first non-career bureaucrat to be promoted to a regional bureau chief post. He entered the ministry first on loan from an affiliated organization in 1976.
Hayao Yamamoto, a Hirakata Ryoikuen official, declined to comment on a "private affair" of its former chief.
But the entity never provided any gift to Matsushima with its own funds and never received any favors, Yamamoto said Thursday.
Osama bin Laden Quotes
As for their accusations of terrorizing the innocent, the children, and the women, these are in the category of 'accusing others with their own affliction in order to fool the masses.' The evidence overwhelmingly shows America and Israel killing the weaker men, women and children in the Muslim world and elsewhere. A few examples of this are seen in the recent Qana massacre in Lebanon, and the death of more than 600,000 Iraqi children because of the shortage of food and medicine which resulted from the boycotts and sanctions against the Muslim Iraqi people, also their withholding of arms from the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina leaving them prey to the Christian Serbians who massacred and raped in a manner not seen in contemporary history. Not to forget the dropping of the H-bombs on cities with their entire populations of children, elderly, and women, on purpose, and in a premeditated manner as was the case with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Osama bin Laden
In Nida'ul Islam magazine October-November 1996
U.S. sailor arrested over stabbings
Japan Times July 6, 2007
Police arrested a U.S. Navy sailor Thursday on suspicion of attempting to murder a Japanese girl and a woman who were found stabbed in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in the morning.
The 19-year-old petty officer 2nd class, from the frigate USS Gary forward-deployed to the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base, was taken into custody after he was found in a department store in the city at around 11 a.m.
Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, issued a statement saying the navy is cooperating with the Japanese police investigation and has been in contact with local, prefectural and central government officials to resolve the case "as quickly as possible."
Police and the navy have yet to release the sailor's name.
The girl, who told police she is 16 and from Tokyo's Suginami Ward, was found bleeding from the abdomen on a street in Yokosuka at around 8:30 a.m. A person working at a nearby construction site found her and called police, they said.
She sustained minor injuries, according to police.
A police officer who went to the scene after the call found a woman stabbed in the back at a nearby apartment. The woman, who said she is 26 and from Ayase, Kanagawa, has serious but not life-threatening injuries, police said.
The sailor is suspected of stabbing the women and fleeing the apartment after quarreling with the victims. The teen told police that she went to seek help after the stabbings.
The girl was also quoted as saying she was stabbed by a U.S. serviceman she got to know Wednesday and who visited the apartment.
"This is a serious incident and we are gravely concerned that one of our sailors may have been involved," Kelly said. "We all pray for the victims' speedy recovery."
Pesticide found on six 'gyoza' packs in Hyogo
Japan Times Feb. 4, 2008
Pesticide was detected on the surface of six Chinese-produced frozen "gyoza" dumpling packages that were made the same day as the dumplings that sickened a family in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture, police said Sunday.
Two tiny holes were found in one of the six packages, they said, leading to the possibility of deliberate tampering. There was a 1-mm hole in the front and a 1-mm hole in the back.
The dumplings were produced by Tianyang Food in Hebei Province, China, on Oct. 1. The Hyogo Prefectural Police said organophosphate pesticide, called methamidophos, was detected on the six packages, which had been provided by the importer, Tokyo-based Sojitz Foods Corp.
Sojitz received the six packages last month from the Osaka branch of JT Foods Co., which distributes the dumplings. A retailer in Osaka returned the six packages to JT Foods in late December, saying their surfaces were "sticky and had a foul smell." All were unopened.
Mutsuo Iwai, a board member of JT Foods, told a news conference in Tokyo on Sunday evening that the company could not detect the pesticide on the packages after they were returned to the firm.
"We thought the substance on the packages was some kind of oil," he said.
The police said they are investigating whether there is any pesticide in the dumplings themselves in the six packages.
The findings came a day after the Hyogo police said they detected no pesticide in dumplings or trays in eight packages taken from four stores in that prefecture.
Meanwhile, the Chiba Prefectural Police said Saturday they did not detect any pesticide in two packages of dumpling products made Oct. 20, the same day as the products that were eaten by two families who fell ill in Chiba Prefecture.
Along with the two packages, the Japanese Consumers' Cooperative Union, which distributed the dumplings, also provided the Chiba police with 88 more dumpling packages produced by Tianyang Food the same day.
The Chiba and Hyogo prefectural police said they will analyze recalled dumplings in collaboration with police in Tokyo and Osaka due to the large number of products involved.
Aside from 10 people in the three families in Chiba and Hyogo prefectures, 286 people in 35 prefectures have undergone treatment at medical institutions across Japan over the pesticide incident.
China says deliberate contamination of dumplings on its side impossible
WINDOW OF CHINA 2008-02-07
A senior Chinese quality control official said Wednesday there was no possibility of deliberate contamination of dumplings on the China side as the plant were strictly managed.
China would continue to step up checkups in the production, packaging, and transport of food products made by Tianyang Food Plant, said Wei Chuanzhong, deputy chief of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
Japanese police have so far confirmed at least 10 people fell sick after eating dumplings laced with the highly toxic organophosphate pesticide called methamidophos made by Tianyang Food in northern China's Hebei Province.
Investigations by Japanese police indicated the poisoning case was more likely a deliberate one, rather than a food safety scare, Wei said.
China was ready for sincere cooperation and joint investigation with Japan to seek the truth behind the poisoning case, amid efforts to safeguard Japanese people's safety and bilateral strategic relations, he noted.
"China is willing to work with Japan to set up a long-term food safety mechanism between the two neighbors. We hope investigators could soon find the truth and publicize it to reduce the damage to the bilateral relations," he said after meeting a four-member Japanese investigation team in Beijing.
Wei said he hoped the Japanese instigators would tell exactly what they saw in China after going back to guide more impartial and rational media report, instead of reporting exaggeration on groundless speculation.
A joint investigation team of China and Japan said early Wednesday morning they had not detected abnormality in the Tianyang Food after a half-day investigation tour to the company.
"The plant is very clean and well managed, and no abnormality has been detected," Harashima Taiji, head of the Japanese investigation team, told the press. Japan would conduct further analysis based on information and data collected in the plant, he said.
Taiji added the Japanese side hoped to get more support in later investigation after touring the plant and getting all the materials it wished to check.
Japanese media reported nearly 300 people have sought medical treatment, with one girl in serious condition, since a Japanese company said last week frozen meat dumplings produced at the Tianyang Food contained insecticide.
Japanese authorities found an insecticide called methamidophos in the vomit of the poisoned people and food packages at their houses.
But tests showed that the rest of the dumplings from the same batches sold in Japan, totaling more than 2,000 packages, were safe. So were all the other products made by the Chinese company, Wang Daning, director of AQSIQ's department of food import and export safety, said earlier.
Earlier report said while suspicious clues such as small holes on some packages remain inexplicable, it's currently still unknown whether the food products were contaminated during the production and transportation process in China.
Japan's Conspiracy ＞
Tatsuya Ichihashi: profile
The Telegraph 21 Jul 2011
Tatsuya Ichihashi was a loner even before he went on the run after killing British teacher Lindsay Hawker.
The son of wealthy physicians - his father is a surgeon and his mother a dentist living in the central Japan prefecture of Gifu - he lived in the four-room apartment where Miss Hawker died in March 2007 by himself, studying horticulture at Chiba University.
Ichihashi, 32, rarely visited the family home, where his older sister also lived, and his parents also urged their son to turn himself in to the authorities after the discovery of Miss Hawker's naked and bruised body in a bathtub in his apartment.
Described by the few friends he had as an excellent athlete, particularly in long-distance running, he otherwise kept himself to himself and his neighbours at the Gyotoku Sunrise apartment block said he was never any trouble.
The only time they did remark on something out of the ordinary was the night when there was hammering from the apartment. That, it turned out, was Ichihashi ripping the bathtub out of the bathroom and transferring it to his balcony where he buried Miss Hawker's body beneath 770lbs of soil.
As well as discovering Miss Hawker's body, police investigating her disappearance found piles of manga comic books, many containing graphic cartoon images of sex and violence.
Japan's Conspiracy ＞
The all-powerful voice of corporate Japan
The Japan Times Jun 16, 2009
Since its founding, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) has been the nation’s most powerful business lobby and its head is often called “the prime minister of the business world.”
For most of the postwar period, the organization has represented the voice of big business in Japan and has been a strong supporter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. But as its membership expanded to include smaller businesses and foreign companies, and as scandals forced the organization to stop soliciting donations from member firms to fund political parties, its role has changed.
In April, its headquarters relocated to a new 23-story building from an office built in 1966, marking a fresh start.
Following are questions and answers about the powerful lobby for corporate Japan:
What is Nippon Keidanren and when was it established?
The Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) was established Aug. 16, 1946, a year after Japan’s surrender, because the Occupation authorities had banned Japan from creating a business organization for one year.
The body was created to gather the opinions of businesses and to have their views reflected in the government’s economic and other policies.
Unlike the United States, Japan does not have a culture of “individual lobbying,” in which each company lobbies politicians, according to Nippon Keidanren Director General Yoshio Nakamura. Instead, it is more common for companies to “collectively” lobby through Nippon Keidanren, considering this route more effective, he said.
What other major business organizations are there in Japan?
Besides Nippon Keidanren, there is the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), but Nippon Keidanren is by far the top lobby.
There was also the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren), which was established in 1948 initially to deal with labor-management issues. But because its membership basically overlapped Keidanren’s and as Keidanren began to deal with labor-related and social security issues, the two groups merged to become Nippon Keidanren in May 2002.
How many members does it have and how much is the fee?
Nippon Keidanren had 1,609 member companies and organizations as of the end of May. It takes in about ¥6 billion in revenues a year, mostly from membership fees. The fees are based on net assets and thus vary from member to member between 33 different levels, according to Nippon Keidanren.
The highest fee is reportedly more than ¥10 million a year, although the levels are not officially disclosed. Companies that pay the highest level reportedly include Toyota Motor Corp.
Does a company need to be a big Japanese firm to join Nippon Keidanren?
No. It used to be comprised of major Japanese businesses and influential industry organizations, but in recent years more foreign companies as well as venture businesses and nonbanking institutions have joined. As of May 28, 84 foreign companies, including pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Japan Inc. and U.S. financial institution Goldman Sachs Group, were members.
Keidanren watchers say membership has reflected Japan’s economic development over the years. For example, immediately after the war, steel and auto industries were active members. But following the oil crisis in the 1970s, retailer Aeon Co. as well as high-tech firms including Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (the current Panasonic Corp.) and Hitachi Ltd. joined.
In the late 1980s, Recruit Co. and security firm Secom Co. joined, representing the inclusion of new industries.
Aspiring members must first be screened by Nippon Keidanren’s secretariat, and then the application must be approved at a meeting of the chairman and vice chairmen.
How is Nippon Keidanren structured? What does the secretariat do?
Nippon Keidanren has about 200 employees, or members of the secretariat, with the director general at the top. They are often referred to as “minryo” (private-sector bureaucrats), a group of elites from the nation’s top universities who serve as the brains of the organization. Nippon Keidanren’s policy proposals are drafted by the secretariat and compiled by various committees represented by its members.
Who are the current chairman and vice chairmen?
Fujio Mitarai, head of Canon Inc., is the chairman. There are 15 vice chairmen who are presidents or chairmen of Japan’s major companies, including Nomura Holdings, Inc. and Toyota. Vice chairmen are from companies in various sectors, including financial and manufacturing, as well as utilities.
Are Keidanren chairmen always from big corporations?
No rule stipulates this, but all of the chairmen have come from big corporations except Kogoro Uemura, who was a former bureaucrat who joined Keidanren’s secretariat.
Does Nippon Keidanren contribute to political parties?
It does not provide political donations directly. It used to solicit member companies to give funds to the LDP and now-defunct Democratic Socialist Party (Minshato), but it stopped doing so in 1993 under Chairman Gaishi Hiraiwa amid political corruption scandals, including the earlier Recruit stock-for-favors affair.
In 2004, Nippon Keidanren introduced a policy evaluation system for the LDP and the Democratic Party of Japan as a reference for its member companies in making political donations. The system grades the parties every year from A to E based on their policies.
Before 1993, political donations by member firms to the LDP would top ¥10 billion a year, but they plunged to about ¥2 billion at one time and now hover around ¥3 billion, Keidanren sources said.
What will happen if the DPJ comes to power?
According to Nippon Keidanren’s Nakamura, the business lobby traditionally supported the LDP to ensure its policy priorities were addressed.
“But it all depends on what kind of policy the DPJ hammers out,” Nakamura said. “We’ll make a policy-oriented decision.”
In fact, earlier this month, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama and Nippon Keidanren Chairman Mitarai met to discuss policies. However, differences over such issues as the consumption tax and greenhouse gas reduction target were left unresolved.
What are Nippon Keidanren’s policy goals?
The group wants tax and social security reforms carried out simultaneously to rein in mounting welfare costs.
In policy proposals in February, it urged the government to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent by fiscal 2015 and gradually hike it to 17 percent by fiscal 2025.
“If we don’t begin dealing with the problem now, we will be left with a huge structural problem in 20 years or so,” Nakamura said.
The group also urged the government to ensure the nation has adequate human resources, regardless of their nationality, and ease the criteria for granting permanent residency to foreigners.
Japan's Conspiracy ＞
Abenomics will create winners and losers within Japan Inc.
YAHOO! FINANCE Apr 10, 2013
Abenomics, the money printing, yen weakening plan spearheaded by the Bank of Japan at the behest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is meant to bring back inflation, which could well be the remedy for two decades of recession that Japan desperately needs. But it will not be equally great for all Japanese companies.
“Companies that cannot pass on the costs of inflation will find things hard,” says Jefferies global equity strategist Sean Darby. “These would be companies in regulated markets that cannot push up prices while, at the same time, their input costs, such as wages, are rising.”
For example, if Abenomics works as planned investors would do well do avoid sectors like electricity, as providers would have to buy oil and gas with a weaker yen but could not charge higher fees because of government price controls.
Here is a brief recap of how Abenomics is supposed to work: The Bank of Japan plans to print $1.43 trillion worth of new yen. And that money printing is meant to cause inflation. This works theoretically because of the relationship between the amount of money in an economic system and the value of goods an economy produces. If economic output stays constant and the money supply increases, there is more money chasing the same number of goods and services, driving prices go up. Put another way, people will have more cash and should be willing to spend more on the same goods. Here is an explainer with more technical detail.
Abenomics should, overall, benefit corporate earnings.