Japan's Conspiracy (2) Reference List 021


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Chapman parole board statement
BBC 3 October, 2000


The text of the New York State Parole Board decision denying parole to John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman.

Parole is denied.

You murdered the victim, John Lennon, when you fired a .38 special calibre Charter Arm revolver, filled with hollow-point bullets.

You discharged all five chambers and hit Mr Lennon as many as four times.

Mr Lennon was returning to his residence and was in the company of his wife when you committed this murder.

This act was calculated and unprovoked. You had planned this crime for a protracted period of time and it is apparent that you were obsessed in causing fatal harm to John Lennon.

In addition to being an international celebrity, Mr Lennon was a husband and a father of two young children.

During your incarceration, you have maintained an exemplary disciplinary record which this panel has noted and considered.

Quest for notoriety

This panel also recognises that, because of your continued special housing status, you have been unable to avail yourself of anti-violence and/or anti-aggression programming.

Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fuelled by your need to be acknowledged.

During your parole hearing, this panel noted your continued interest in maintaining your notoriety.

When all factors are reviewed, your discretionary release is determined to be inappropriate.

Additionally, this panel strongly believes that your release to parole supervision at this time would deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law.


SUMIDA WARD
Reach for the sky

Japantimes July 7, 2006


Sumida Ward spans an area that has endured ruinous fires, floods, plagues, and seismic as well as economic jostlings. Residents of this battered part of the city nonetheless have always kept their pride buoyant and their spirits aloft. Even when the chips are down, residents of Sumida Ward insist that things are looking up.

Take the case of urban planning. Hemmed in on three sides by the Arakawa, Sumidagawa, and Kyu-Nakagawa rivers, and cut off from the sea by Koto Ward to the south, the only direction left to expand is upward. So up it is.

The world's tallest telecommunications tower is slated to rise a whopping 610 meters in Oshiage, a humble little commercial district east of the ward offices. The New Tokyo Tower, or "Sumida Tower" as some prefer, will be nearly twice the height of Godzilla's orange plaything, Tokyo Tower, in Minato Ward. Budgeted at 50 billion yen and scheduled to be completed by 2011, the tower design features two observation decks, a shopping mall, and the capacity to shift TV broadcasting from analog to digital format. An excited Oshiage train-station attendant rushed me off to the construction site. "It's going up right here," he said, pointing toward a fleet of concrete trucks beyond which I glimpsed Sumida's other elevated landmark, Philippe Stark's golden doodie -- city literature refers to it as the "objet" -- atop the Asahi Breweries Building.

But Sumida's brightest skyline entertainment is a spectacular display of fireworks held each year on the last Saturday of July. An astounding 20,000 rockets bloom in reflection on the inky waters of Sumidagawa, astir with yakatabune, or Edo-style roofed pleasure boats. The official first display, according to staff at the tiny Fireworks Museum in the Ryogoku area, was in 1733. That year, plague and famine killed nearly 1 million people countrywide. Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751), following an ancient tradition of exorcising evil spirits from the river and also sending off mukaebi (lights to guide souls back to rest at the end of Obon festivities), lit the fuse on a national passion for pyrotechnics.

"Three centuries ago, all fireworks were red," says Sumida cultural historian Kazuyuki Gomi. Chemical flaming agents were eventually added to create some of the world's finest "fire flowers," or hanabi. A video at the Fireworks Museum shows the caution and ingenuity with which the great balls of fire are assembled.

Fires have played a significant role in the development of Sumida. A bottle rocket's flight from Ryogoku is Ekoin, a Jodo Buddhist temple built to memorialize more than 100,000 unidentifiable corpses from the Meireki Fire of 1657. The fire wiped out 60 percent of Edo, requiring many residents to relocate to Sumida while the city center was being rebuilt. "Samurai became neighbors with craftsmen, and both benefited from the resulting mixture of ideas and skills," explained Gomi.

A bridge built to facilitate access to Ekoin allowed people to easily attend sumo tournaments held on the grounds of the temple. The beat of Ekoin's yagura-daiko, a tower drum, summoned fans to what was the main sumo venue until the first Kokugikan was built in 1909.

Ekoin, meanwhile, became sacred to the interment of calamity victims, deceased without relatives, prostitutes, pets and even convicts. Nezumikozo Jirokichi, or "The Rat Boy," Japan's version of Robin Hood, rests here. Legend has it that if you chip a bit off of his gravestone, you'll enjoy a lucky life.

The Edo Tokyo Museum is a must-see, but Ryogoku is really sumo heaven, from the Kokugikan sumo stadium to statues of wrestlers along the avenues, to chanko-nabe restaurants such as Kawasaki's, which only serves the original chicken-based sumo wrestlers' stew. Sumo trainees can sometimes be caught hulking around the Kyu Yasuda Teien, gardens landscaped for Zenjiro Yasuda, founder of Yasuda Bank and great-grandfather of Yoko Ono.

Nearby is the Tokyo Metropolitan Memorial Hall and Reconstruction Museum, dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of victims of both the 1923 earthquake and World War II air raids.

A stone in Ryogoku marks the corner of Sumida where writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa spent the first 20 years of his life, and it happens to be just around the corner from the manor where Kira, a principle player in the "Chushingura," one of Japan's most oft-told historical stories, was decapitated by Lord Asano's 47 ronin (masterless samurai) in 1702.

Dr. Makoto Murase, otherwise known as "Dr. Rainwater," would have every head in Sumida looking up, focusing on the value of preserving precipitation. "There is no doubt that future wars will be fought over water, so before that happens, I'd like people to make tanks for water, not war," Murase said. His modest Rainwater Museum in the Bunka area may seem like a drop in the bucket, but Murase's movement -- encouraging all residents to use rainwater collection tanks, and legally requiring larger buildings to utilize catchments -- is gaining international attention.

Walking along the Sumida River, described in a 1959 short story by Nagai Kafu as full of "melon rinds and geta [a type of sandal] floating among the refuse" reminds one of the importance of water. Today, the river bobs with chopsticks and jellyfish, and the banks smell of urine and clay, and crabs scuttle over the newly "naturalized" sections. The Bokutei, a famed cherry-blossom site, is enjoyed in the summer by salarymen, no-income dwellers, and aqua-colored swallowtail butterflies.

A highlight of walking through this neighborhood is meeting the skilled craftsmen who have long provided the economic backbone of Sumida. Master miniature kite-maker, Tetsuya Kanno, sells me a kite his father made, a nifty crow that balances perfectly on the faintest puff of air.

Carver of Noh masks Rishichi Kaneko, meanwhile, has produced beauties and beasts for more than six decades. It is hard not to look up to a ward that harbors such remarkable, gentle artisans.


Lennon killer gets wife time in Attica
DAILY NEWS August 11th 2008


The man who killed John Lennon has been enjoying conjugal visits with his wife for at least 16 years.

Mark David Chapman has been locked up in the Attica Correctional Facility since gunning down the legendary former Beatle on Dec. 8, 1980.

Since at least 1992, Chapman, who this week is up for parole for a fifth time, has been a part of the prison's "family reunion" program, the Daily News has learned.

Under the program, Chapman gets to spend 44 hours straight with his wife in a special modular "private homelike setting," said Correctional Services Department spokesman Erik Kriss.

There are no cameras or guards inside the individual units, but they are surrounded by a fence, in addition to the Attica complex walls, Kriss said.

Gloria Hiroko Chapman, who was married to Chapman at the time he killed Lennon and still lives in Hawaii, visits once a year on average, sometimes more often, a source told The News.

She could not be reached for comment.

The goal of the program, Kriss said, is to "preserve and strengthen family ties that have been disrupted as a result of incarceration."

It is designed to "foster positive and responsible conduct" and "facilitate postrelease reintegration into the family and community, thereby reducing the likelihood of recidivism."

When he's not canoodling with his wife, Chapman, who has a legal research certificate, assists inmates in one of Attica's law libraries. Chapman also works as a porter, cleaning up offices.

Because of his notoriety, he is housed in a special unit apart from the general population. Despite some early minor prison violations, Chapman's record has been clean since 1994.

Regardless, Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, wants Chapman kept behind bars. Ono has notified the state Parole Board that her position has not changed in opposing Chapman's release, her lawyer Peter Shukat told The News.

Chapman has been denied parole four times since he first became eligible in 2000.

Ono submitted an emotional letter in 2000 detailing fears for the safety of herself, Lennon's two sons and even Chapman if he is released.

Rather than write another letter, Ono, a source said, sent word that her position has not changed from the earlier statement.

In that letter, Ono wrote that if Chapman is released, "I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion once again. Myself and John's two sons would not feel safe for the rest of our lives."

She added, "With his one act of violence in those few seconds, the subject managed to change my whole life, devastate his sons, and bring deep sorrow and fear to the world. It was, indeed, the power of destruction at work."

All told, the Parole Board has received 50 letters and a 1,100-signature petition against Chapman's release and just three letters calling for his freedom.


“Gaping holes” in Canada's security
ECONOMIST Jun 14th 2007


IT WAS the worst act of aerial terrorism before the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001. On June 23rd 1985 an Air India flight from Toronto was blown up by Sikh extremists off southern Ireland, killing all 329 people on board, many of them Canadian Hindus. Twenty years later a lengthy trial in Canada ended in the acquittal of two Sikh nationalists, amid revelations of infighting between the police and the intelligence service and the mysterious destruction of key wiretap evidence. Now new evidence coming out of a public inquiry has put the spotlight on a sweeping—and continuing—failure inside Canada's security services.

Pressured by victims' families, Stephen Harper's Conservative minority government launched the inquiry last year to find out what had gone wrong. During the trial it emerged that both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), charged with watching Sikh extremists in Canada, had been aware of threats to attack Air India. Militant Sikhs around the globe had vowed to avenge the Indian army's storming of the Golden Temple of Amritsar in pursuit of armed Sikh separatists in 1984. But Canada's security services had always denied having specific knowledge of an impending Air India attack.....


Meat Hope chief admits pork was disguised as ground beef
Japantimes June 21, 2007


The president of a Hokkaido meat processing company said Wednesday that one of its plants shipped products made from minced beef and pork that was labeled only as ground beef.

Meat Hope Co. President Minoru Tanaka told reporters Wednesday night that he approved the mixing of minced pork with minced beef when the company exhausted its beef stock. The products were then labeled as ground beef, Tanaka said, adding, "We have to accept the blame for the deception."

The mixture was processed into "beef" croquettes and other products and distributed to food firms nationwide, including a subsidiary of major frozen food maker Katokichi Co.

Some media meanwhile reported that Meat Hope also used expired beef in the croquettes, but Katokichi could not confirm that allegation.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Tanaka claimed there was a possibility the meat was mixed by mistake and Tomakomai-based Meat Hope was investigating.

Tanaka told the earlier briefing the company's plant that processed the meat uses only one machine to mince beef, pork and chicken, and that pork left in the machine may have been mixed with beef.

But he also said it was possible the pork was added to the beef when beef stocks ran out.

Later Wednesday evening, Katokichi said the head of the Meat Hope factory acknowledged doing just that when beef stocks ran out.

Katokichi, based in Kagawa Prefecture, set up a task force Tuesday headed by Director Kazuo Kobayashi to look into the matter.

The foods in question include Co-op Beef Croquette produced by Hokkaido Katokichi Co. A total of 5 million packages have been sold since March 2003, according to the seller, the Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union.

Hokkaido Katokichi has stopped producing all foods in question.

Katokichi said it will halt sales of 32 items using the beef croquettes, including nine sold under its own brand that will be recalled, and offer refunds.

Katokichi said sales of the 32 products add up to the equivalent of about 4.37 million croquettes per month.

"We apologize to our corporate clients and consumers for causing trouble and concern," Katokichi President Tetsuji Kanamori said at a news conference in Tokyo. "We trusted (Meat Hope) based on our past relations."

The scam is a fresh blow to Katokichi, which recently became embroiled in a scandal over fraudulent transactions.


The Asahi Shimbun, July 7, 2007

Japan's war with China


The Marco Polo Bridge Incident is called "The Incident of July 7" in China. Along with Sept. 18, 1931, the date on which the Manchurian Incident began, July 7 is remembered by Chinese as a day of national humiliation. The event is recognized as the starting point of the bloody war against Japan, which lasted until 1945.

For many Japanese of today, there are two dates that come to mind when they look back on the war: Dec. 8, 1941, when Japanese learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Aug. 15, 1945, the day of Japan's defeat. For Chinese, July 7 is as strongly associated with memories of the war as Dec. 8 or Aug. 15 are for Japanese. The mood in China on this day is quite different from that in Japan, where the romantic Tanabata star festival is celebrated.

We decided to publish this editorial about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7 because we believe this year has special significance for both Japan and China.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of not only the Marco Polo Bridge Incident but also the Nanking Massacre--atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against the civilian population of the city that started in December 1937. A slew of films featuring this episode have been made recently in both China and the United States. Meanwhile in the U.S. Congress, a resolution, which calls on the Japanese government to issue an apology for the Japanese military's sexual exploitation of "comfort women" during the war, is about to be adopted by the entire House of Representatives. Like it or not, this nation will be confronted by its history this year.


A step forward for Japanese diplomacy
Japantimes Sept. 16, 2002


Frustrated with attempts to re-engage with the Bush administration, North Korea has reached out to alternative sources of support, sidestepping the United States for the moment by turning to Tokyo. Like a good boxer who knows how to bob and weave to elude his opponents and then land a telling blow, Pyongyang's diplomacy seeks largess at the lowest cost, again demonstrating an ability to use foreign powers to its own advantage.

Paradoxically, the U.S., the power with the most at stake and in the strongest position to influence developments on the Korean Peninsula, has moved to the back of the pack under Bush's strident brand of "axis of evil" diplomacy while the two weakest players politically -- Russia and Japan -- have moved to the front rank diplomatically.

In the latest round of Great Power Korean diplomacy, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is set to journey to Pyongyang on Tuesday, catapulting Tokyo into the forefront of inter-Korean diplomacy for the first time since World War II, an historic development whose significance should not be minimized.

Indeed, this marks Japan emergence as a genuine dialogue partner in engaging the North on a range of issues of vital importance on behalf of its allies, the U.S. and South Korea, a development all the more remarkable considering the high priority the U.S. attaches to North Korea as a member of the "axis of evil" and the delicate diplomacy Seoul is currently pursuing vis-a-vis Pyongyang in which Japanese intermediation would have previously been seen as unthinkable.

Further, Japan is not merely negotiating normalization bilaterally with North Korea but advancing a regional security dialogue multilaterally, in effect, taking the first tentative steps toward a post-Cold War political role 50 years in the making.

This act of daring statesmanship has several explanations on both sides. Kim desperately needs to broaden his political base -- which until now has been limited to Russia and China -- if he is to compete effectively with the South's "sunshine policy," which has the backing of all four powers with a major stake in Korean affairs as well as the European Union.

At the same time, by legitimizing a Japanese role in inter-Korean relations, Kim has now put South Korean President Kim Dae Jung on the defensive by detracting attention away from the long-sought second inter-Korean summit. In effect, to put a summit with the Japanese leader ahead of the latter can hardly be pleasing to Kim Dae Jung unless it were to facilitate a Kim Jong Il visit to Seoul, a possibility that cannot be ruled out.

Nor should a pot of gold of potentially billions to bankroll a bankrupt regime as part of a normalization package be overlooked, especially handy at a time when the North has embarked on sweeping economic reform measures featuring cash and carry for basic commodities such as rice in lieu of state-supported subsidies. For Pyongyang, a cash cushion, e.g., insurance against adverse developments, could not come at a better time.

But what does Koizumi have to gain from this bold diplomatic venture? After all, Japan and North Korea are not at war, although one would hardly know it from the war of words that has raged between the two capitals over the past several years and a string of incidents at sea. But rather than a formula of land for peace, Koizumi may be bearing an offer of cash for peace.

Indeed, no other nation poses as immediate danger to Japan's security as North Korea -- the closest target of North Korea's missile and nuclear threat inasmuch as South Korea is already under the gun conventionally. And there is no better place to demonstrate that Japan is capable of playing a political as well as an economic role in the world beginning in its own backyard.

A summit success would also be a vindication of the trilateral approach that Japan, the U.S. and South Korea have been pursuing vis-a-vis the North begun by William Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense and North Korean policy coordinator, in an effort to contain the North Korean threat from weapons of mass destruction. More concretely, were Koizumi to secure the expulsion of Red Army terrorists from North Korea, the U.S might be obliged to remove the North from its terrorist list.

However, while Japan brings a lot to the table, it also demands a lot in return. Moreover, the return of the Red Army hijackers, an accounting of missing Japanese thought to have been abducted by North Korean agents and an end to the suspected sea borne infiltration of illicit drugs constitute impediments to overcome on the road to diplomatic normalization, not policy departures in themselves.

More fundamentally, Koizumi needs to demonstrate a long-term vision and outline the constructive role that Japan is prepared to play on the peninsula and in the region without seeming to usurp Seoul's primary role or threaten other regional players, China and Russia. This will require diplomatic finesse and surefootedness of the variety he has yet to display. Time and again he has angered the South -- over a Japanese textbook controversy and his visits to Yasukuni Shrine -- only to display a contriteness that has won him genuine affection.

Certainly relations between the two nations are on the upswing following the successful cohosting of the World Cup. The time is ripe for Japan's re-emergence as a peninsula player while leaving its historical baggage behind. For this reason, Koizumi should not return to Tokyo without first stopping off in Seoul.


Koizumi says no to hostage-takers
'Dirty terrorist threat' to kill trio no cause for SDF pullout of Iraq
Japantimes April 10, 2004


Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi struck a defiant pose Friday over the Japanese hostage crisis in Iraq, stating he would not cave in to terrorists' demands that the Self-Defense Forces troops be withdrawn from the country.

A militant group calling itself Saraya al-Mujahideen has taken three Japanese civilians hostage and has threatened to kill them unless the government decides to pull the troops out by Sunday night.

"No, I don't," Koizumi told a Friday morning news conference when asked whether he had any intention of withdrawing SDF troops currently deployed in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah.

"We should not yield to such a dirty threat from terrorists."

Meanwhile, the families of the hostages pleaded with the government to save the trio's lives -- possibly by withdrawing the troops.

On Thursday, Arab satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera aired video footage of the blindfolded hostages being held at gunpoint; the footage was carried by TV stations nationwide.

Koizumi pledged to do his utmost to save the hostages by the deadline imposed by the previously unknown group.

Yet he acknowledged the government had not had any contact with the terrorist group, as it does not know who it should be negotiating with.

The tape was first sent by the kidnappers to Al-Jazeera, which notified the Foreign Ministry at 6:20 p.m. of its plan to air the video footage at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

In the video, members of the group displayed the passports of the hostages, who are Noriaki Imai, 18, a freelance writer; Soichiro Koriyama, 32, a freelance photo journalist; and volunteer worker Nahoko Takato, 34.

"We offer you two choices: either pull out your forces or we will burn them alive," an Al-Jazeera announcer quoted a statement that he said had arrived with the videotape as saying.

The statement also blamed the Japanese government for supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq and stationing the SDF troops there.

Koizumi gave his full support to Washington when it launched the war in March last year. His administration decided to dispatch SDF units to Iraq in December, though the nation had been deeply divided over the issues.

Asked about his responsibility for the consequences, Koizumi only said that that was not an issue right now.

"This is not a problem concerning myself. This is a problem concerning how the whole country should cope with the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq," Koizumi said.

The government stressed that the SDF mission was a noncombat affair designed to help local residents.

"Are (the SDF troops) doing something negative for the Iraqi people?" Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda asked a separate news conference.

"No, on the contrary, they are trying to do something that is a plus for them, and they are working very hard in a dangerous place."

Fukuda's father, late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, released six Japanese Red Army members in exchange for the release of passengers and crew members aboard a hijacked airliner in Dacca in 1977, which established Japan's reputation as being weak-kneed in the face of terror threats.

But his son strongly opposes complying with the terrorists' demands, stating that he "cannot find a reason to withdraw the SDF."

Takeo Fukuda made his decision by saying "the life of a person is heavier than the Earth," a phrase that has long lived in people's memories.

But the current chief Cabinet secretary said of his father's words: "The times are different, and the context is different, too."

Meanwhile, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa left Tokyo on Friday for Jordan, in order to supervise local operations aimed at dealing with the crisis.


"The first step would be to speedily gather information that can only be obtained locally in Iraq and accurately analyze it," Aisawa said at Narita airport prior to his departure. "I will explore all possible ways to rescue them."

But he did not comment on the troop-withdrawal request by the families of the hostages.


Japanese being ensnared in ill-suited U.S. trappings
Japantimes May 7, 2006


Back in the 1960s and '70s, the Japanese people were being raked over the coals from West Virginia to the Ruhr Valley and beyond for, chiefly, two things.

First, they were called "economic animals." Presumably this meant that Americans and Europeans believed the motivations and aspirations of Japanese people primarily emanated not from their hearts but from their wallets. "Obsessed by the acquisition of wealth" -- that's how the Western world was characterizing Japan.

Second, many in the West (and not a few older Japanese) decried what they saw as the country's wholesale Americanization. According to this view, young Japanese in particular were aping American customs and losing sight of their native traditions.

Even at the time I thought that these two views of Japan were flawed; and as I look back on that era of stupendous Japanese growth and internationalization, they appear to me more so.

For one thing, the Western pot hardly had the right to call the Japanese kettle black. Americans and Europeans alike were at least as keen on amassing wads of dollars, marks, francs and pounds as Japanese were yen. For another, as in the West so it was in Japan: the country's increasing wealth was a major factor in allowing it to redefine, refine and disseminate culture. Brilliant advances in fashion, architecture, advertising, cuisine, design, magazine production, theater -- you name it -- owed much to Japanese people, many of them young, ambitious and eager for innovation, having some money in their pockets.

In fact, the two decades from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s can be characterized as a time when Japanese people were culture vultures rather than economic animals.

As for Americanization, I remember well when the first McDonald's opened on July 20, 1971, its emblematic "Golden Arches" stuck into the side of the Mitsukoshi department store on the Ginza in Tokyo. Hamburgers did take off in the ensuing years, but only as they did all over the developed world. Were young Japanese dressing like Americans? Were they acting toward each other like Americans? Not so. Actually, those years -- at least in terms of pop and middle-brow culture -- saw Japan distancing itself from the seductive American lifestyle.

And yet, in thinking about economic animals and Americanization, it occurs to me that our own era, this second decade of Heisei, may be making those labels seriously applicable to Japan. The country has most definitely been a-changin', with the winds of change blowing conspicuously from the United States.

Were Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a crooner, like "the midnight conceder of Rome" Silvio Berlusconi, he might very well be belting out his song about Japan: "This land is my land . . . from California to the New York Island . . . "

As we pass midpoint in the first decade of the new century, Japan is more and more profoundly identifying with the American model of capitalism. Slashed subsidies to welfare institutions are leaving little option but for people, whatever their personal fate, to be self-sufficient or cared for by loved ones. Those with disabilities are being abandoned on a playing field about as level as your city park's slide.

The privatization of public institutions such as the post office, and the semi-privatization of universities, expose an implicit faith that the marketplace of ideas and achievements is, by definition, open to all. The problem in education is that young people from families with limited means, who until now could dream about getting into Japan's subsidized top national universities, will, in the future, be barred as their fees are cranked up to similar levels as those of private universities.

American-style marketplace socioeconomics may work for America, with its long-standing mobility of workers around the country, its enormous pool of hard-working migrants, a government (especially the present one) that is at the beck-and-call of business, and an openness and sharing of information that allows even the disadvantaged to access the centers of power.

Japan, on the other hand, is still an information-blocking society, where those in power retain it by keeping as many cards as they can as close to their puffed-out chests as possible.

The result of all this is a real stagnation at the middle and lower reaches of society.

Many leading economic indicators are up at present, which is good news for corporate Japan. But family income, according to the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), is 90 percent of what it was seven years ago.

In addition, the number of freelance workers is increasing by 100,000 per year, providing Japanese companies with a great source of cheap and expendable labor. But what of their future in the community? Vast numbers of these so-called freeters are subsidized by their parents, who themselves are deeply worried about how to sustain themselves in their old age.

And what is the future for that aging population? They are hoarding money, naturally, for those years of rainy days ahead. But who will take care of them in a country where facilities for the aged and infirm are miserably understaffed and undersubsidized?

Company management is becoming increasingly concerned with short-term shareholder profits rather than with the needs of the public. "Free competition" sounds good on paper, but, says Rengo, "A blind belief in competition and the market compels working people to bear the burdens of deregulation and increased international competitiveness, while generating a seriously widening economic gap and social instability."

The American economic model has been adopted virtually whole hog by Japan. But the social aspects concomitant with that model, such as the mobility of the population and the openness of information to all, have not been. As such, Japan is, without realizing it, using the United States as a hanmen kyoshi, a negative example, copying only the trappings of the achievement-oriented competitive spirit. In such a system, people's primary goal will naturally be to amass as much personal wealth as possible, given that -- like its American counterpart -- Japanese society now offers little security beyond the almighty yen.

Prime Minister Koizumi wrote in his "Cabinet E-mail Magazine" of June 17, 2004: "We must build a society in which, with knowledge and ingenuity, every individual can, through hard work and motivation, earn their due reward."

Yet, thanks to the fend-for-yourself, weakest-to-the-wall Americanization now institutionalized in the Heisei Era, access into that brave society of achievers is increasingly limited, and young people are being forced to set their sights not high but low -- on the quick yen and the easy fixes of short-term gratification.

It's not their fault. They are being offered no alternative.


JALways jet blows engine, returns
Japantimes Aug. 13, 2005


FUKUOKA (Kyodo ) A JALways jetliner bound for Honolulu returned to Fukuoka airport Friday night about 30 minutes after takeoff after it blew out its port engine, airport authorities said.

The DC-10 trijet's engine burst into flames shortly after takeoff, raining metal apparently from the engine down on a residential area in Fukuoka's Higashi Ward, Fukuoka Prefectural police said, adding no one was hurt, but a car windshield car was cracked, possibly by the falling debris.

JALways Flight 58 took off from Fukuoka airport at 7:45 p.m. carrying about 230 passengers and returned to the airport at 8:20 p.m. JALways is a Japan Airlines subsidiary.


Death toll rises to 101 in flood-hit south China
CHINAdaily 2007-07-10


Floods have caused seven more deaths in the provinces of China, bringing the death toll to 101, a spokesman with the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Monday. Another 26 people are missing as a result of torrential rain which began lashing the Huaihe River valley, the eastern area of Sichuan Province and the southern area of Shaanxi Province on June 28.

About 28 million people have been affected and nearly 800,000 people in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Chongqing and Shaanxi had been evacuated by 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

More than 75,500 houses have collapsed and another 295,600 have been damaged.

Altogether 2.13 million hectares of farmland have been affected, with agricultural losses estimated at 3.7 billion yuan (about 485 million U.S. dollars) while total direct economic losses could reach 6.9 billion yuan, according to the spokesman.

In Hubei Province, seven people have been killed in heavy rains and floods -- two were swept away by floods, three were killed after houses collapsed, one was pummeled in a mud-rock flow and another was hit by lightning, said Liu Hui, an official in charge of disaster relief with the Hubei Provincial Department of Civil Affairs, on Monday.

In Anhui Province, 11 people have died in the floods, which have also affected nearly 10 million people, forced the evacuation of more than 120,000 people and caused more than 2.3 billion yuan of direct economic losses, Li Hongta, director of the Anhui Provincial Department of Civil Affairs, told an anti-floods conference on Monday.

In the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, the heaviest rainstorms in the past decade brought up to 385 mm of rainfall to some districts of the city over the weekend, according to the Nanjing Municipal Meteorological Station.

Meanwhile, more than 14,000 thunderbolts hit Nanjing between Saturday morning and Sunday morning, about 10 thunderbolts a minute, damaging some city infrastructure such as subway power equipment.

Heavy rains also triggered mountain torrents, landslides and mudflows.

A village in Daxian County of Sichuan Province was destroyed completely by a large landslide at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, only a few minutes after more than 2,000 villagers had been moved to safety. The villagers from Yanmen Village, Qingning Township, have found temporary shelter in two local primary schools.


Gazprom strikes a deal with Total
Economist Jul 13th 2007


ON THE eve of Bastille Day Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, handed a royal present to the newly elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, by allowing a national French company into Russia’s mightily tempting energy sector. After years of deliberations, Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth that doubles up as the Kremlin’s foreign-policy arm, has chosen France's Total to develop a giant offshore gas field in the Arctic.

There is little doubt that the deal was struck personally between Mr Putin and Mr Sarkozy. A day before it was announced the two presidents discussed it by phone. Mr Sarkozy must understand that it was not a gift made lightly. For the past five years Gazprom had pondered what to do with the $20 billion Shtokman project, rich enough to supply the entire world’s demand for gas for a year. It negotiated with several foreign firms and made them supply detailed bids; it announced a shortlist of companies which included Norway’s Statoil and Norsk Hydro and America’s Chevron, then last autumn, in a fit of energy nationalism, rejected them all in favour of working alone. …


ABDUCTEE 'TREATED WELL' IN NORTH KOREA
Defense of Pyongyang confuses brother
Japantimes Oct. 20, 2002


The brother of Kaoru Hasuike, who was abducted by North Korean agents in 1978 and is on his first visit to Japan in 24 years, is bewildered by his defense of the communist state, relatives say.

Despite the joy of their first meeting in nearly a quarter of a century, Toru Hasuike, 47, is confused by the behavior of his 45-year-old brother, who maintains he is being treated well in North Korea and has never been persecuted.

According to relatives, the brothers used to do everything together before Kaoru was snatched by North Korean agents, and Toru had expressed hope before they were reunited Tuesday that his younger brother had not changed over the years.

But those hopes seem to have been dashed, they said.

On the morning after his arrival in Tokyo, Kaoru woke up Toru at his room in a hotel, insisting that TV reports about Megumi Yokota, one of at least 13 Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea between 1977 and 1983, contained "wrong information."

After coming close to demanding a correction from the broadcasters, Kaoru reportedly tried to contact two North Korean Red Cross officials who had accompanied him and four other surviving abductees to Japan.

Toru's distrust of his brother increased when he asked about the 1987 terrorist bombing of a Korean Air jet that was subsequently linked to North Korean agents and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people. Kaoru insisted the North Korea link was fabricated and refused to talk about political topics.

"There are incomprehensible points and (Kaoru) does not tell the truth," Toru later told a press conference with his brother in Tokyo.

Since 1997, Toru has served as a key member of a group of relatives campaigning on behalf of Japanese nationals taken to North Korea. He has often taken a hardline stance in the group's negotiations with the Japanese government over the issue.

Kaoru brought nearly 100 photographs from North Korea with him and told relatives that he leads a comfortable life with his wife, Yukiko Okudo, and their children there. But Toru did not seem happy, his relatives said, and suspects his brother was trying to show the high quality of life they have in Pyongyang.

"I have to re-educate him in two weeks, so please help me," Toru reportedly told a friend Thursday when the brothers were drinking with old friends in their hometown of Kashiawzaki in Niigata Prefecture.

Defector fears arrest WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The American husband of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korean agents wanted to travel to Japan but feared he would be arrested by U.S. authorities for having defected to North Korea, sources said Friday.

Charles Jenkins, a former U.S. soldier living in North Korea, reportedly told authorities he wanted to accompany his wife, Hitomi Soga, on her return to Japan last Tuesday.

Jenkins, 62, is believed to have defected to the communist state in 1965 while he was a sergeant in a U.S. army unit deployed along the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea.

Seeing his wife off at Pyongyang airport on Tuesday for her temporary return home, Jenkins reportedly told Japanese Foreign Ministry personnel of his conflicting emotions.

Soga, 43, is one of five Japanese nationals who were abducted to North Korea in 1978 and returned to Japan on Tuesday.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Jenkins met with Akitaka Saiki, deputy director general of the ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and other Japanese officials before Soga boarded a chartered flight to Tokyo.

Asked by the Japanese officials if he wanted to go to Japan or travel with his wife, Jenkins replied it would not be easy due to his uncertain status, the ministry said.

He expressed a desire to visit Japan but was concerned that he could be taken into custody or face a military tribunal if he accompanied his wife.

The U.S. government has asked North Korea to hand over American defectors, including Jenkins, but Pyongyang has refused.

On Aug. 12, 1978, Soga was abducted along with her mother, Miyoshi, then 46. She was 19 years old at the time and working as a nursing assistant at a general hospital on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture.

The two were on their way home from grocery shopping when they were taken captive. Miyoshi's whereabouts remain unknown.

Soga and Jenkins married on Aug. 8, 1980. They have two daughters, aged 19 and 17, who are students at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies.


Pulling the plug on Yongbyon
Japantimes July 18, 2007


North Korea has shut down its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon and other facilities and accepted inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although this is a welcome development, little optimism is warranted. The shutdown means only that North Korea has stopped producing any more plutonium to add to its nuclear material stockpile. The North carried out its first nuclear bomb test in October 2006. Although six-party talks are scheduled this week in Beijing, participating nations must not forget that the ultimate goal is to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and its weapons development programs.

The shutdown of the facilities, including one that extracts plutonium from nuclear fuel rods removed from the reactor, was part of the initial phase of a six-party deal reached Feb. 13. It is three months behind schedule, and North Korea made the move only after the first batch of 50,000 tons of fuel from South Korea arrived as a reward for the shutdown.

The Beijing talks will discuss the second phase under the February agreement. North Korea is supposed to declare all nuclear programs and disable all nuclear facilities in exchange for economic, energy and humanitarian assistance equivalent to 950,000 tons of fuel oil. In talking with North Korea, the five other parties — the United States, Japan, China, South Korea and Russia — may have difficulty in ironing out details that are needed to implement the second phase.

One problem is that North Korea denies the allegation that it has the capability for high-level enrichment of uranium. The five parties must ensure that North Korea declares all programs and disables all its facilities. They also must get a firm promise from the North that it will not reactivate the facilities. Having Pyongyang agree to let IAEA inspectors carry out their activities as needed will be important.

North Korea may try to divide the five nations. The North argues that further denuclearization progress hinges on Japan and the U.S. ending "their hostile policies toward" it. This makes the five nations' unity all the more indispensable.


Quake hits western Japan
Inqirer.net 01/26/2008


The quake hit the Noto peninsula on the west coast of Japan's main island of Honshu at 4:33 am (1933 GMT) at a depth of 11 kilometers (seven miles), the agency said, adding there were no reports of casualties and no risk of a tsunami.

Smaller aftershocks with magnitudes of 3.1 and 2.9 followed.

A spokesman for the agency said the tremors were aftershocks to a 6.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked the region on March 25, 2007, leaving one dead and hundreds wounded.

"Although nearly a year has passed since that earthquake it is still possible the region will experience further aftershocks although on a smaller scale," he said. The area is some 300 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.

The 2007 quake reduced hundreds of homes rubble and forced thousands of residents to take cover in emergency shelters.

"For a second I thought it was like last year's earthquake and it really startled me," a local resident told private broadcaster TBS.

A local official said no damage had been reported.

Japan experiences about 20 percent of the world's major earthquakes.


Fukuda off to Davos with focus on climate change
AFP Jan 25, 2008


Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda left Friday for the Swiss resort of Davos where he will push initiatives on climate change and the shaky global economy at the World Economic Forum.

Fukuda, who will chair the annual Group of Eight (G8) summit in July, was scheduled to deliver a speech on Saturday at the annual gathering of world business and political leaders.

"I place importance on the (Davos) meeting as it often helps set the tone for world opinion. I will make my statement with my sights set on the (G8) summit," Fukuda said in parliament.

He added Japan could make a great contribution to a solution to climate change with its technological clout. "I want to emphasise such a point there."

The premier told reporters before his departure that he would call on the world's major powers to cooperate in lifting global stockmakets from recent debacles.

"The United States may seem to be the most responsible for the problem but the global stockmarket plunge cannot be dealt with by a single country. It is important for all major countries to act at the same time," he said.

Fukuda headed to Switzerland amid sagging approval at home in his fourth month in office. The opposition last year won control of one house of parliament and is pushing for Fukuda to call a snap general election.

Fukuda is expected in his speech to promise concrete targets for Japan curbing carbon emissions after 2012, when obligations under the Kyoto Protocol expire.

Japan, despite championing the Kyoto Protocol, is far behind in meeting its commitments as its economy recovers from recession in the 1990s.

Japan was stung by criticism from environmentalists last month at a UN conference in Bali for siding with the United States in opposing an explicit goal for post-Kyoto commitments.

"I am now determined, in the very near future, to spell out how Japan will set its own national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Fukuda wrote in Friday's Financial Times.

"In so doing, Japan can act as both a catalyst and a locomotive to further the roadmap so that the post-Kyoto framework will involve not a limited few but all responsible members of the international community," he wrote.

He signalled that Japan would also focus on Africa during its leadership of the G8.

"We must couple the fight against climate change with the fight against poverty and infectious diseases in Africa," he wrote.


Arsenic poisoning
Arsenic is known best as a deadly poison, although in small doses it does have medical benefits. BBC News Online looks at the workings of the chemical infamous for its deadly effects.

BBC NEWS 27 September, 1999

What is arsenic?

Arsenic is a semi-metallic naturally-occurring chemical. It is all around us in the environment and we are all exposed to small doses on a regular basis.

It is difficult to detect as it is generally odourless and flavourless, meaning people have little idea when it is around.

What is the risk?

Arsenic can kill humans quickly if consumed in large amounts, although small, long-term exposure can lead to a much slower death or other illness.

Studies have linked prolonged exposure to arsenic with cancer, diabetes, thickening of the skin, liver disease and problems with the digestive system.

It has also been associated with nervous system disorders - feeling tingling or losing sensation in the limbs - and hearing difficulties.

What happens if you are poisoned?

A person exposed to large amounts of arsenic - either through eating or drinking it - will usually die, and symptoms will appear within 30 minutes of exposure.

There is a similar outlook for people who breathe large amounts of it, although the onset of symptoms may be delayed as the concentration is likely to be lower.

Physical contact with arsenic can cause, initially, the skin to thicken and, with prolonged contact, blood flow to the heart to become decreased.

What are the symptoms?

The first sensations include a metallic taste in the mouth, excessive saliva production and problems swallowing.

The next stage is to suffer vomiting and diarrhoea coupled with garlic-like breath, stomach cramps and excessive sweating.

As the poison's effects progress, the patient will suffer seizures and go into shock, dying within a few hours. If death does not occur at this stage, it will happen a few days when the kidney fails.

What is the treatment?

Arsenic poisoning can be treated if it is caught early enough, through a series of injections into muscles.

The patient needs 2.5mg to 5mg per kilogram of body weight of a drug called dimercaporal every four hours for the first two days followed by two injections on the third day then one a day for the next five days.

What is the environmental threat?

There is growing concern about levels of arsenic in the environment, both from natural occurrence and from pollution.

Forty million people in West Bengal and Bangladesh are thought to be at risk from arsenic-contaminated water supplies, although studies are continuing into what effect the poisoning is having.

The contamination is thought to have occurred naturally, as a result of arsenic being released from rocks into underground water supplies.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has an ongoing research programme to look into arsenic in the environment and to establish what constitutes a safe level.

What are the benefits?

Small doses of arsenic have been shown to send some forms of cancer into remission, and it can also help thin blood.

Homeopathists have also used undetectable amounts of it to cure stomach cramps.

However, therapies involving the chemical are still in the experimental stages.


Typhoon Usagi
REUTERS 03 Aug 2007


Typhoon Usagi is forecast to strike Japan as a tropical storm at about 22:00 GMT on 3 August. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 40.5 N, 138.7 E. Usagi is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 64 km/h (40 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.


( This news is the latest one that reports the Kagoshima Prefectural Police. But I believe this report has been fabricated by the police in order to cover up the scandal related to me. )
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Court upholds suspended term for abusive cop
Japantimes Sept. 10, 2008


The Fukuoka High Court on Tuesday upheld a suspended prison sentence for a former senior police officer convicted of coercing a suspect into confessing by making him step on documents bearing the names of relatives.

Presiding Judge Hiroo Suyama turned down an appeal filed by Takahiro Hamada, 46, who was convicted of assault and cruelty by a public official under the Penal Code in connection with the interrogation tactic, which dates back to feudal times.

Hamada, a former assistant inspector in the Kagoshima Prefectural Police, used the "fumiji" guilt-inducing ploy to extract the confession during an investigation into alleged violations involving the 2003 Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly election, according to a lower court ruling last March.

Suyama brushed aside the argument of Hamada, who did not appear in court, that his action did not constitute an act of cruelty because he used the technique just once and performed no punishable acts.

Hamada's case was among those that prompted police to open up somewhat their closed-door questioning of suspects.

The Fukuoka District Court found Hamada guilty and sentenced him to 10 months in prison, suspended for three years. He had pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 10 months.

The district court found that Hamada grilled Sachio Kawabata, 62, a hotelier in Kagoshima Prefecture, in April 2003 without arresting him and forced him to step on three pieces of paper on which the names of his father and grandson were written along with an expression of hope that Kawabata would become an honest man.

Kawabata was a supporter of Shinichi Nakayama, 63, who won a seat in the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly election that month.

Hamada seized Kawabata's legs and forced him to step on the documents at least once, the district court ruled.

After the police investigation, 13 people were indicted for alleged election violations, but no criminal charges were brought against Kawabata.

In February 2007, the Kagoshima District Court acquitted 12 of the 13, dismissing the credibility of the confessions extracted from some of the accused during the investigation. The 13th defendant died during the trial.

Prosecutors did not file an appeal against the decision, which was finalized in March.

On Sept. 1, police in Tokyo and 39 prefectures set up new posts on a test basis to supervise and monitor interrogations in the wake of a spate of acquittals largely due to inappropriate police questioning. Police officers other than investigators would fill the new posts.

Fumiji is similar to the "fumie" technique used by the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century to smoke out closet Christians by forcing them to step on a portrait of the Virgin Mary or other Christian symbol.


Japanese Red Army leader arrested
BBC News 8 November, 2000


The leader of the radical Japanese Red Army, once one of the world's most feared guerrilla groups, has been captured after nearly three decades on the run. Fusako Shigenobu, 55, was seized outside a hotel in Takatsuki, near Osaka in western Japan, and taken to Tokyo for questioning.

The Japanese Red Army became known in the 1970s for a series of horrifying attacks, including plane hijackings and hostage-takings.

The most notorious was the machine gun and grenade attack at Israel's Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion) in 1972, which left 26 dead and 78 injured.

Ms Shigenobu was also on an international wanted list for the 1974 storming of the French embassy in The Hague in which the ambassador was taken hostage.

Her arrest inside Japan came as a surprise because she was believed to be living in Lebanon where her group had based itself in the 1970s.

Japanese media reports said she had been living in Osaka since mid-July and using a friend's name as an alias.

Police said she had checked into the Takatsuki hotel under a man's name and had tried to disguise herself.

As police took her off to Tokyo she shouted at reporters: "I am determined fight on."

Lebanon

The Red Army grew out of the 1960s anti-Vietnam War movement and believed in the destruction of capitalism.

In 1971 the group reorganised itself to fight for Arab causes and Ms Shigenobu travelled to Lebanon where she linked up with Palestinian extremists.

Earlier this year, Tokyo police arrested four other Red Army members after they were deported from Lebanon.

Another Red Army faction hijacked a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane in 1970, forcing it to fly to the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

Four of the hijackers are still believed to be in North Korea which granted them asylum.

The issue is one of several issues hindering the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Tokyo.


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