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Sunday, September 20, 2015

GAWA Day #5: Japan Today

My Global Around the World Adventure (GAWA) has a day of rest, where I'll tonight have dinner at La Tour d'Argent.  Tomorrow I'm off on an all-day train trip from Tokyo to Miyazaki (from where the beef sold at Marukai comes).  How cheap is Japan's Rail Pass?  A plane ticket from Tokyo to Miyazaki costs more.  Today, let me review what is happening in Japan:
  • Of all the dumbest things, Prime Minister Abe prevailed, and Japan has taken a major step towards going to war.  Mind you, this is an exaggeration, but it is clear that the country has decided to beef up their defense budget.  Why?  Here, for 70 years now, the USA has protected Japan, allowing their economy to largely flourish.  Now, China will feel even more threatened, and will feel compelled to upgrade their war spending.  Dumb!  Dumb!  Dumb!  Here is a comparison of military spending as % of GDP:
Japan          1.0%
Germany     1.2%
China           2.1%
USA             3.5%
Russia         4.5%
Israel           5.2%

62.5% of the people are opposed.  There is something about the Japanese government that is troubling.  Maybe, a clue as to how World War II occurred.
  • Today, The Japan Times reported that more contaminated water is being released into the ocean from their crippled Fukushima nuclear facilities.  It was "only" 850 tons, which is close to 200,000 gallons.  Tokyo Electric Power Company reports that this once radioactive fluid was filtered, and is now clean.  Huh???  They used something called an Advanced Liquid Processing System.  Why did this even happen?  They need to find storage for 300 tons of contaminated water every day, and have so far stored 680,000 tons of radioactive water.  That's bad enough, but Counterpoint by Jeff Kingston makes it look worse in his Rearranging the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic:
    • There is a new nuclear safety watchdog agency called the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Terrific, huh?  Nope, for the same people that did this before continues to run the program.
    • Prior to 2011,  Japan ranked #23 on nuclear safety.  Thirty one countries have nuclear power.
    • There is now one nuclear power plant generating electricity.  25 more have applied.
    • Japan has already paid $57 billion in compensation to residents.
    • The contaminated area is about the size of Connecticut.
    • But what is safe?  Get this:
About a month after the disaster, on April 19, 2011, Japan chose to drastically increase its official “safe” radiation exposure levels[ii] from 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year – 20 times higher than the US exposure limit.  This allowed the Japanese government to downplay the dangers of the fallout and avoid evacuation of many badly contaminated areas.
  • In England at the World Cup of Rugby, Japan stunned two time champ South Africa, 34-32, in the biggest upset ever in the sport.  The Nation is ecstatic.  Sure, it was shown on TV at 1AM and no one watched it, and, yes, their best players are imports...but Japan won.  Next, Scotland in Gloucester.
  • Beginning next month, every Japanese citizen (and even foreigners) will get a 12 digit ID number (the U.S, has our social security #) for the first time, ever.  There are fears of becoming a surveillance society, as the government will know exactly what you did.  However, how can you be afraid of Maina-chan, the symbolic mascot.  To the left, Japanese actress Aya Ueto.
I first went to La Tour d'Argent at the New Otani Hotel two decades ago.  I was wearing a jacket, with no tie, and had to go back to my room to put one on.  Their web page today still indicated jacket and tie.  I wore a jacket, but not a tie, and there was no problem.  Next, yet another $300+ meal

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