Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Japan historic change" Part 2 : Now, they take vacations !

Shonan Beach, 90 minutes from Tokyo
Crowded with kids and teens

Japan's first-ever "Silver Week" holiday, resulting
from a few days of continued public holidays in
September this year, jammed expressways, flights and
shinkansen bullet trains, crowded with people heading
to their hometowns and resorts under clear skies
almost across the nation.

Respect for Senior Citizens Day on Monday, observed
each year on the third Monday of September, Autumnal
Equinox Day on Wednesday, astronomically determined
but usually observed Sept 23 and the Kokumin no
Kyujitsu holiday added between them on Tuesday

Expressways were congested from the morning, with
vehicles backed up for tens of kilometers on
Expressways. Stations and airports are crowded with
travelers, including families with large bags, with
many people wearing masks as a preventive measure
against the new type of influenza H1N1.

Some choose culture and nourish their leisure time
with philosophy as these tourists I met in Kyoto late
15th century Ryoanji "Temple of the Peaceful Dragon".
The temple's main attraction is its rock garden, the
most famous of its kind in Japan. The simple Zen
garden consist of nothing but rocks, moss and neatly
raked gravel. The meaning of the garden's arrangement
is unknown and up to each visitor's interpretation.

Ryoan-Ji, Kyoto

Others, true fans of Mickey, go to Tokyo Disneyland
with children, many others go back hometown take care
of their parents with such a long spell of holidays in
autumn only this year.

Shonan Beaches are always jammed.
Temperature today: 20 to 27 °C, maybe more.

(Images from raretr. blog)

Good weather announced in many parts of Japan during
Silver Week event though a typhoon flies far south in
the Pacififc ocean, unlikely to approach the Japanese
archipelago, according to the Japan Meteorological

See you next week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tokyo Int'l film festival: "Action for Earth"!

Yoshino Kimura, Actress & TIFF Ambassador and Tom Yoda,
Chairman, Tokyo International Film Festival were our guests
at FCCJ press luncheon event

22nd TIFF Ambassador Yoshino Kimura

Chairman Tom Yoda

Tom Yoda, a Meiji Daigaku graduate, was appointed
chairman of the Tokyo film festival in March 2008. He has
been in the entertainment-content business since 1988 and
has been chairman of the film distribution/production
company Gaga Communications Inc since 2004, and since this
July majority owner and president/CEO. He owns and heads
other entertainment companies and sits on several outside
boards. He holds or has held posts on many other
entertainment industry representative groups.

Tokyo Int'l film festival

Yoshino Kimura debuted as the lead actress in NHK drama
"Genki wo Ageru" ("I'll Cheer You Up") in 1996. The
following year she won the Japan Academy Prize
rookie-of-the-year award for her first movie role,
"Shitsurakuen" ("Paradise lost"). She won the Academy's
best actress award in 2006 for her role in "Semi Shigure"
(released with English sub-titles as "The Samurai I
Loved"). She has starred in a Hollywood film, "Dream
Cruise," and appeared in more than 50 TV, film and stage
productions. As a singer, she has released singles and

The 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival will continue
its push for environmental awareness and screen the
controversial documentary “The Cove,” a film which shows
the butchering of dolphins in a small Japanese fishing
town, Taiji. Chairman Tatsumi “Tom” Yoda, a Meiji Daigaku
graduated in business management, said at a press luncheon
on Thursday at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

"It is very important for the festival to not only screen
high-quality films from around the globe but to also
educate the world about environmental issues. We live in
this world together, and those of us in the film industry
count on the environment — that is the message we want to

The event starts October 17 with the magnificent
documentary “Oceans” by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud.
TIFF’s week-long run will feature roughly 130 films at
theaters in the Shibuya and Roppongi entertainment
districts of Tokyo. The closer will be Pixar’s “Up,” an
animated adventure up in the sky directed by Pete Docter.

In competition will be four world premieres, including
Jinsei Tsuji’s “Acacia,” starring famous ex-wrestler
Antonio Inoki, “Manila Skies” by Raymond Red and “Snowfall
in Taipei,” a Taiwanese love story by Huo Jianqi. The jury
president will be Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (”Babel”).

Twenty minutes of footage from “Avatar,” the James Cameron
3-D sci-fi feature, and “Sideways,” a Japanese remake of
the Alexander Payne story of love and wine California, are
slotted into the “Special Screenings” section.

Just as last year, the fest will push for ecological
awareness via a “green carpet,” the use of recycled
materials and the distribution of awards for
non-competition films that evoke environmental themes.

“The Cove” had been widely reported to have been refused by
TIFF, but it was confirmed just prior to the finalization
of the lineup. The film, shot by National Geographic
photographer Louie Psihoyos, displays footage of dolphins
being corralled and then killed by sharpened poles in
Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. It has not yet been screened
in Japan. Regarding the documentary, the chairman said
that TIFF very strongly believes in freedom of expression.

“We were subjected to some criticism from some parts of the
media about perhaps engaging in censorship,” he said. “I
would like to make it absolutely clear that we do not
censor any works in any way.” Yet the film will be
accompanied by a disclaimer that will not hold TIFF liable
should any dispute arise during its screening.

Yoda noted that thirty percent of the event’s budget comes
from government sources. The chairman does not expect the
recent change to Japan’s political landscape in which the
Liberal Democratic Party was removed from power during last
month’s lower house victory by the Democratic Party of
Japan — to have an impact on TIFF’s budget allocation,
adding that the fest should be able to maintain at least
this year’s level of support going forward. The arts, Yoda
said, transcend political boundaries. “I believe very
strongly that whether it is the LDP or the DPJ in power
that culture is fundamentally non-partisan.” End of quotes

Kimura-san and I chatted during luncheon, about London,
about Cannes film festival, and I was impressed with her
excellent English and her sparkling personality, typical of
young Japanese women. Here we are watching pictures of her
movie on my Mac: "Killer Virgin Road". Mark Schilling
wrote in Japan Times about this movie : "Are most single
women obsessed with marriage despite their protests to the
contrary? Disappointed in love, do they fall to insecure
pieces, taking solace in late-night cartons of ice cream?"
From what I can see, Yoshino-san is a star on the rise.

Scene of Yoshino Kimura and Juri Ueno in "Killer Virgin Road."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hatoyama cabinet: "I am excited by the prospect of changing history"!

Yukio Hatoyama (C), Japan Prime Minister

"We will probably face some trial and error, but I
want to ask people to stay with us, patiently," he
said. Reaffirming his campaign promise to build a
gentler, more "fraternal" society, Hatoyama said: "We
have to shift the country toward a people-oriented
society. Toward that end, I will lead the way."

Yuu - ai ideogram (Fraternity)

"Japanese Parliament convened in a special session on
Wednesday to formally select Hatoyama, whose Democrats won
a landslide in parliamentary elections last month to take
control of the body's lower house, ousting Prime Minister
Taro Aso's Liberal Democratic Party, which is conservative
and staunchly pro-U.S. In Wednesday's parliamentary vote
to choose the prime minister, Hatoyama won 327 of the 480
votes in the lower house. He needed a simple majority of
241 votes. Hatoyama, who has a Ph.D from Stanford
University and is the grandson of a conservative prime
minister, had a limited pool of seasoned politicians to
choose from. His party, created a decade ago, has never
held power, and nearly half of the Democrats' members of
the lower house will be serving in their first terms in

Although it has recently shown some signs of improvement,
Japan's economy remains deeply shaken by the global
financial crisis and unemployment is at a record high of
5.7 percent. The rapid aging of its population also
threatens to be a drag on public coffers as the number of
taxpayers decreases and pension responsibilities swell. "I
want to the people to feel that their pocketbook situation
is improving, even a little, as soon as possible," Hatoyama
said at a press conference. Voters expressed hope for
change and an upturn for the economy.

Hatoyama will also be tested quickly on the diplomatic
front. He has said he wants to attend the General Assembly
in the United Nations in New York next week and possibly
meet with Obama. Hatoyama has said he wants to build a
foreign policy that will put Tokyo on a more equal footing
with Washington, while keeping the U.S. as the
"cornerstone" of Japan's diplomacy. He is also seeking
closer ties with Japan's Asian neighbors, particularly
China." (Quotes: Agencies)

"... despite the DPJ's convincing triumph, many observers
in both Japan and the West remain doubtful about its
capacity to govern... "

The Ozawa kids: Building the women's Republic

Mieko Tanaka, Ishikawa & Eriko Fukuda, Nagasaki
among 54 women MPs.

Mainichi shimbun focus is on the women politicians
newly elected, mainly from the Democrats:

"High hopes are held for the government as Japan
enters a new political era. At the same time, eyes
are on the record number of female Diet members and
the role they will play. A total of 54 women were
selected as members of the House of Representatives --
11 more than last time -- bringing the percentage of
female lawmakers in the Lower House to 11.3 percent.
It is the first time since women obtained the right to
vote in 1945 that the figure has passed the 10 percent
mark. On an international scale, Japan now ranks 95th
in terms of the percentage of female lawmakers, up
from 102nd place. Some may highlight the fact that
the figure remains at a "mere" 10 percent."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Xi Jinping, groomed as next China leader?

Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, a very popular
folk singer attached to the PLA General Department’s
song and dance troupe.

Party insiders say Vice-President Xi Jinping may be
promoted to the vice-chairmanship of the CCP's Central
Military Commission add that it will confirm Xi's
status as Hu's successor as party general secretary
and state president.

According to state news agency Xinhua, the 204-member
committee will discuss a draft document on "party
building" which covers everything from the battle
against corruption to recruitment for the 75
million-member party. The military commission is in
charge of the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation

Fifth generation of leadership...

CHINA's Communist Party leaders will meet this week to elect
the nine-person Politburo standing committee, which rules the
country. The four-day meeting is expected to order direct
elections at the county or fourth level of government as part
of long promised plans to increase internal democracy.

In an additional plenary session of the party's central
committee, the party's 440 senior members are expected to
effectively confirm Vice-President Xi Jinping as President Hu
Jintao's successor in 2012, when up to seven new positions on
the top rung will be up for grabs.

But while strong hints on the fifth generation of Chinese
leaders will emerge, the meeting will focus on internal
reforms as the party prepares to celebrate 60 years in power.


"Xi's appointment to the Party Secretary post in Shanghai was
seen as a stepping stone for him to become an emerging member
of the fifth generation of Chinese leadership. This was
solidified by his appointment as a member of the nine-man
Politburo Standing Committee at the 17th Party Congress in
October 2007. Interestingly, Xi was ranked above Li Keqiang,
which made him the most likely candidate for China's next
core figure - the paramount leader. This assessment was
further supported at the 11th National People's Congress, Xi
was elected as Vice-President of the People's Republic of
China on March 15, 2008. Some suggest this was because Xi
had kept friendly relations with both Hu Jintao and the other
power figure in the central leadership, Zeng Qinghong. In
addition to these posts, Xi also held the top-ranking
membership of the Communist Party's Secretariat.

Since his elevation Xi has held a broad range of portfolios.
He was put in charge of the comprehensive preparations for
the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, as well as the central
government's leading figure in Hong Kong and Macau affairs.
In addition, he also became the new Principal of the Central
Party School, the cadre-training and ideological education
wing of the Communist Party. In the wake of the 2008 Sichuan
Earthquake, Xi went and visited disaster areas in Shaanxi and
Gansu. After the Olympics, Xi was assigned the post of
Committee Chair for the preparations of the 60th Anniversary
Celebrations of the founding of the People's Republic of

Xi is considered to be one of the most successful members of
the Crown Prince Party, a quasi-clique of politicians who are
descendants of early Chinese revolutionaries. Senior leaders
consider Xi to be an emerging figure that is open to serious
dialogue about deep-seated market economic reforms and even
political reform, although Xi's personal political views are
relatively murky. He is generally popular with foreign
dignitaries, who are intrigued by his openness and
pragmatism. Founder of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, when asked
about Xi, said he felt he was "a thoughtful man who has gone
through many trials and tribulations." Lee also
commented: "I would put him in the Nelson Mandela's class of
persons. A person with enormous emotional stability who does
not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings affect his
judgment. In other words, he is impressive". Xi was named
as one of the most influential people in the world in the
2009 Time 100 list." (Quotes of China Hour, Xinhua, Wiki,

Xi Jinping 习近平

Name translation:

- xí learn; habit; usual practic

-平易近人 píng yì jìn rén

"easy to approach to common people"

Xi’s wife 丽媛 Peng Liyuan

lì beautiful – yuàn beauty

Monday, September 14, 2009

"And the Royal boat sails on..."

Emperor Akihito left (76) rows a 7 meter traditional Japanese
wooden boat named "Také" which his father, late Emperor
Showa, had used to collect sea animals for his research, as
Empress Michiko (75), second right, Princess Kiko and her son
Prince Hisahito enjoy a ride off Hayama Zushi in Kanagawa on
Monday. The royal family was spending their late summer
vacation in their villa in the seaside resort surrounded
early in the day by well wishers.

The Emperor and the Empress took Princess Kiko and her son
Prince Hisahito to the sea rowing the boat themselves.

Japanese Emperor Akihito (L) Empress Michiko (C) and Princess
Kiko's three-year-old son Prince Hisahito (R).

Commentators have endles waves of interpretations about these
late summer 2009 Japan Royal family images.