Saturday, June 20, 2009

FCCJ Board Election 2009, why I am a candidate !



Trust, ethics and professionalism


This is the poster of my campaign for the election of the Board of the Tokyo Yurakucho based FCCJ, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan with 2000 members including 400 active journalists correspondents. "Run for the Board, you are a modernizer" my supporters say, so this is really an issue in today's Japan I'm sure. The following is my Campaign statement, any question, please call me at the press club:

"Genuinely, I am honored to have been nominated as a candidate for the FCCJ’s Board of Directors by Mr. Hirobuchi Masuhiko, former bureau chief of TV Asahi in London and New York, and Mr. Monzurul Huq, correspondent of the Daily Prothom Alo, a leading Bangladesh newspaper. Based in Japan, I cover Asia, where I work as a TV and radio correspondent and columnist for RTL.

The last couple of years I have witnessed things I never imagined at the FCCJ: Board members breaking time-honored rules, concealing facts and disregarding member and staff rights. It is no surprise that our employees were driven to the brink of striking these past few weeks.

Of course our industry is also facing difficult challenges. Information is public property, therefore the right to be informed should not exclude anyone or any group nor any aspect of economic, social, cultural or political life.

Thus, my first commitment if elected is to help the new Board to restore dignity, friendship and respect for diversity. Without these, we cannot have good governance, nor can we succeed in our basic mission, which is to “provide services to facilitate the collection and distribution of news without discrimination,” as stated in the Club’s Articles of Association.

My second initiative is to assist the President in initiating a long-term plan to retain our shadan hojin status, which is now under review. If we deviate too far from our "press" mission, we shall lose our standing.

A third objective is to reopen the Club’s committee system, in particular the Professional Activities Committee which once was open to all Regular members who wished to volunteer.

I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of FCCJ members spanning many decades. But I understand that decisions of recent Boards and the current management undermined the confidence and trust both of members and staff.

I ask for your vote for Director at Large and I will develop policies that guarantee creativity, ethics, professionalism, trust.

Thank you very much."

Basho's Haiku, powerful element of truth

"First day of spring
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn."

"Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers
Like our tendrilled life"

Tsutsuji hill, on a sunny day of Japanese spring.
(Pic. from garden tours gallery keno2)

Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694)

Basho (bah-shoh), pseudonym of Matsuo Munefusa (1644-94), Japanese poet, considered the finest writer of Japanese haiku during the formative years of the genre. Born into a samurai family prominent among nobility, Basho rejected that world and became a wanderer, studying Zen, history, and classical Chinese poetry, living in apparently blissful poverty under a modest patronage and from donations by his many students. From 1667 he lived in Edo (now Tokyo), where he began to compose haiku.

The structure of his haiku reflects the simplicity of his meditative life. When he felt the need for solitude, he withdrew to his basho-an, a hut made of plantain leaves (basho)- hence his pseudonym. Basho infused a mystical quality into much of his verse and attempted to express universal themes through simple natural images, from the harvest moon to the fleas in his cottage. Basho brought to haiku "the Way of Elegance" (fuga-no-michi), deepened its Zen influence, and approached poetry itself as a way of life (kado, the way of poetry) in the belief that poetry could be a source of enlightenment. "Achieve enlightenment, then return to this world of ordinary humanity," he advised. And, "Do not follow in the footsteps of the old masters, but seek what they sought." His "way of elegance" did not include the mere trappings associated with elegance; he sought the authentic vision of "the ancients." His attention to the natural world transformed this verse form from a frivolous social pastime into a major genre of Japanese poetry.

In the last ten years of his life Basho made several journeys, drawing from them more images to inspire his contemplative poetry. He also collaborated with local poets on the linked-verse forms known as renga. In addition to being the supreme artist of haiku and renga, Basho wrote haibun, brief prose-and-poetry travelogues such as Oku-no-hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Far North; 1689), that are absolutely nonpareil in the literature of the world.

(Quotes of poetryconnection net)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Child organ transplants ordeal

The new law could save hundreds of lives.

The Japanese Parliament passed a bill Thursday recognizing brain death as legal death, scrapping the age limit for organ transplants, paving the way for patients aged under 15 to receive life-saving transplants here for the first time.

The law has so far banned organ transplants by children, a situation which activists say has claimed thousands of lives and forced many families to send children in need of transplants on costly overseas trips for surgery.

Transplants have been rare even for adults because tough rules have required donors to give prior written consent to having their organs harvested when they are brain dead, while their families must also agree.

"I'm glad to see the bill being approved by the house but I still have to ask why it took so many years," Michikata Okubo. She leads a network of organ transplant recipients. "Thousands of people are dying every year."

In the move against so-called transplant tourism, which seeks to limit abuses, Australia, Britain and Germany have already announced they refused Japanese patients seeking organ transplants.

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Taro Nakayama, the chief proponent of Plan A, said after the vote that the endorsement of the bill by the Lower House gives hope to families and children in need of transplants.

It now has to be adopted by the Upper House.

And this is not yet sure because of current political blockade practiced by DPJ Hatoyama Ozawa political duo, read more here

(quotes of newswire, japan times, wane newsletter)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Japan banks: "zombie" banks? Not any more

Japan endured an economic and financial malaise in the 1990s known as the "lost decade" after a real estate bubble, built on excessive lending, burst. Insolvent lenders propped up by government bailouts became known as "zombie" banks, and cast a long shadow over the world's second-largest economy.

The banking system of the 1990s was burdened with 90 trillion yen ($930 billion) to 100 trillion yen ($1 trillion) of bad loans, Financial Services Agency Commissioner Takafumi Sato said Wednesday at my press club, the Foreign Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Banks have repaid 8.45 trillion yen of the 9.6 trillion yen of public money injected into the financial system during the troubled decade. "That was good business in retrospect," Sato said. What Japan underwent offers lessons for the global financial crisis unfolding now, including the need for public money to prop up weakened banks.

«We have argued that Japan's experience in the 1990s provides useful suggestions as to how our fellow regulators should respond to the ongoing difficulties»

Lessons to follow?

Still, it's difficult to cash a foreign check in Japan or for a profitable foreign small and medium company to get a loan from a Japanese bank. They call it economic nationalism. Click here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kim Jong-un, profile of a dictator☢?

Mr. Kim Jong-un does not look like a dictator to come, especially after being educated in Bern (Switzerland). Or is it that Swiss banks have such a bad influence? Well... Here is what some of the reporters in Japan and Korea have to say about Kim Jong-il's offspring.

Kim Jong-un is pictured* in this June 1999 photo taken when he was a seventh grader at a Bern secondary school. (Photo taken from a group photo with his classmates) The Mainichi shimbun writes today

Who exactly is Kim Jong-un, and why was he chosen to succeed Kim Jong-il? Kim Jong-il’s health problems seems to be highlighted, so questions and speculations began to arise about his successor. Kim Jong-il selected his third son, Kim Jong-un, to be his eventual heir

Here is what Ohmynews has to say:

"Believed to be around 25 years old, Jong-un was educated in Switzerland during his youth. Certain sources, including Kenji Fujimoto (Kim Jong-il’s former chef), claim that Kim Jong-un is “exactly like his father”. Fujimoto is also quoted as explaining that “If power is to be handed over then Jong-un is the best for it”. Fujimoto went on to claim that Jong-un has "superb physical gifts", drinks heavily and "never admits defeat”. Click here to access the report

“When Prince Jong-un shook hands with me, he fixed me with a vicious look,” Kim Jong-il’s former Japanese sushi chef wrote in a 2003 memoir describing his first encounter with the boy, then 7, dressed in a military uniform and known as a “prince” among his father’s aides. “I still cannot forget the look in his eyes. It seemed to say: "This is a despicable Japanese." The chef, who goes by the pen name Kenji Fujimoto, said in an interview that as a teenager, Kim Jong-un was already his father’s favorite and “looked just like him.” The New York Times is quoted a saying

How can a 7 years old boy be described as having a vicious look? (ndag) Then all the tough teens I've seen in the 80's in Tiananmen, dressed like little soldiers of Mao Zedong all opted for the massacre in 89?

Now, now: Will little Kim make it with the in-laws... and with the Chinese leadership who supports North Korea's Terminator x game and plays it versus what is regarded as the rest of the humanity in the Western hemisphere?

I'll keep you posted.

*Asian Gazette does not formally identify this picture as being the kid in question. We just quote some of the Asia based reporters who say so.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sexy Samurai ❁


When culture, history and consumption fits Zipango marketing... "Japanese women are attracted to the masculinity of the Samurai and warlords, compared to the more passive modern men that they know."

Back to the future?

"... On weekends, Jidai Shobo, a bookstore specializing in historical books in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, is packed with groups of young women. Most of the shop's customers were men when it first opened in February 2006, but by last year, half were women, of which around 90 percent are in their 20s and 30s.

Stationery and mobile phone accessories with family crests of feudal lords line the shelves, with figurines of Sanada Yukimura, the most popular of the warlords, and others also for sale. "I like Kato Kiyomasa," says customer Izumi Sekine, 34, of a warlord who served the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. "There's an almost picture-perfect masculinity about him."

"Monthly magazine "Rekishi kaido" ("History way") had a circulation of less than 70,000 copies five years ago; now it sees sales of 120,000 copies. "The proportion of female readers has gone up from 15 percent of total readers to 40 percent," says editor-in-chief Kiyotaka Tatsumoto. The magazine's publisher, PHP Institute, revived publication of the biographies of warlords Date Masamune (1567-1636) and Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578) in late March this year, and plans to revive publication of the biographies of Hosokawa Tadaoki (1563-1646) and Gamo Ujisato (1556-1595) due to popular demand."


"Interest in the civil wars of the 15th and 16th centuries is always high in Japan and a latest craze is capitalizing on this trend. Rogin, a Tokyo apparel company has 10 kinds of Samurai underwear including those that resemble the designs worn by leaders Oda Nobunaga and Takeda Shingen."

Excuse me...?

"... unorthodox products have seen a boost in sales as well. There is a constant shortage in stock of Sido brand underwear or men's "armor" underwear, which cost a considerable 9,240 a pair. According to Tokyo-based manufacturer Rogin, about 80 percent of buyers are women."

Also the TV.

"The Samurai tights are hot at a time when many women are fascinated with samurai-related TV programs. The game ‘‘Sengoku Basara’’ features fictitious good-looking samurai warriors which can't hurt."

✍ This is the Kitty chan world after all. The mirror is distorted. Japanese young women much prefer the vision of young handsome TV drama actors instead of studying their real historical figure. Even in "JapanLand Manga Inc" world I have not yet encountered one woman who asked to the French man to behave or get dressed like Louis XIV, the Count de Chantilly or the Chevalier d'Éon downtown. What they mostly desire is to have diner in a posh French restaurant 3 *** Michelin awarded. They also like to watch Takarazuka theatre shows, interpreted exclusively by severe female actresses, playing such drama as the "Rose of Versailles" or stories of the same vintage for a public of martial middle-aged women. Therefore, this new media fantasia seems well constructed by marketing agencies to boost sales, whatever irrelevant illustrious or farcical strategies it might be...

To read all about it, here is the Mainichi Shimbun story (English version)