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Friday, November 4, 2016

FABULOUS FALL FOOD AND FOLIAGE FANTASY Day 14: A Final Summary of the Orient

There will be two postings today, for my flight leaves Tokyo just at the time the day changes in Hawaii.  This is my final day of my Fabulous Fall Food and Foliage Fantasy.  I'm still at the Tokyo Westin and show you three photos:



I had an unusually large brunch, because my next meal will be at the Narita Airport ANA Lounge.  As I'm creating this posting, my view is of Mount Fuji, the sepia version on top, and the colorized original at the bottom.  I was trying to be artistic.

My first stop was Seoul, and what I saw was a kind of fraying of people and country.  It has the second highest suicide rate in the world.  There is a story to this drawing, but it is fictional.  Guyana is #1 in suicides.  Why?  Read this article.

South Korea made a remarkable recovery from the Korean War to what it is today.  However, when you add up disparate items like the coming impeachment of President Park Guen-hye, the problems Samsung is having with their Galaxy Note 7 and shipyard, and the decline of Jung-sik, you wonder if this is just the beginning of a general decline.

Japan is in a similar state of wallow, compounded by the jeopardous leadership of Prime Minister Shinjo Abe, for while the economy appears to be okay, the whole country amazingly safe and the Fall Colors at peak, there are signs of erosion, with perhaps the cataclysm at Fukushima undercutting attempts at progress, ranging from the potential cost of a trillion dollars to be spread out over 40 years to the fact that the country is now importing 94% of the energy it uses.  Note that South Korea is #2:

America's influence in Asia appears to be in a kind of slump.  While on the one hand we had Al Gore in Kyoto for the Climate Change Protocol, and, remember, that was a long two decades ago, our U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty.  Now to today, President Barack Obama signed the Paris Agreement, and this landmark climate deal officially came into force yesterday, but Japan's DIET never got around to approving this legislation, so the country is being left out of the latest negotiations in Morocco.  About the U.S.?  Forget it!  If Trump wins the presidency, he has already called it a hoax.  I still think Hillary Clinton will prevail on November 8, but she has to get the U.S. Senate to approve, and that legislative body just will not.  The Orient looks upon American as a nation that can't be trusted, for we say one thing, and don't follow through.


Finally, remember how both Trump and Clinton essentially trashed Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership?  First, our Senate has certainly not agreed, but why?  TPP was drawn together mostly at the instigation of the  G.W. Bush Republican White House to pull together trading partners in the Orient AGAINST China!  China is the only country excluded from this partnership.  So leaders in this part of the world are saying, wait a minute, why should we bother when the United States don't know what to do with the TPP.

Now here is one issue that totally befuddles me.  The United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Commission co-chaired by Australia and Japan got through the First Committee of the UN General Assembly by an overwhelming majority (123-38) a resolution for negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.  But wait!  Both the USA and Japan voted NO, and China abstained.  Someone, please, explain this to me.

Finally, what about Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte?  This past summer when I also came through this region, I reported on him:

Today, we found out that 1,900 drug pushers and their ilk have been killed by the police and vigilantes, nearly 60% by the latter group.  Shoot to kill is Duterte's policy.  Incredibly enough 640,233 suspects and addicts voluntarily surrendered to the police! The United Nations complained, so Duterte responded with:

I don't give a sh*t about them.

Just this week the U.S. denied the sale of 26,000 firearms to the Philippines.  Duterte called Americans "fools" and "monkeys" and indicated he'll buy them from China and Russia.  But, ah, he apparently does have a superior, and promised to stop cursing because God told him to do so.  Let's see if he listens.

Okay, so what's happening?  Max Fisher (who himself is controversial) of The New York Times says Duterte is just taking advantage of the current Cold War, this time, the USA versus China.  Cited are people like Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, who shrewdly got concessions from America to the chagrin of Moscow.  Mao positioned himself between the Soviet Union and the USA to run China.  There was a sense that the Chinese people had to band together.  Charles de Gaulle hedged against Western unity in the first Cold War and withdrew from NATO.  This helped his case for French nationalism.  In many ways, Duterte is using these same tactics, gaining fishing rights and $9 billion in low interest loans from China, distracted the UN and USA from grumbling about human rights abuses and still maintained official nuclear protection coverage from us.  Great powers have little choice but endure these small humiliations.

Oh, I can't leave Japan without reporting on Pikotaro's PPAP.  What?  Never heard of PPAP?  Nope, nothing to do with Pikachu and Pokemon.

Pikataro has had 150 million clicks on his 45 second song.  This is Justin Bieber's favorite video!  On 27 September 2016, anyway.  PPAP is the latest version of Gangnam Style from South Korea, which remains number one at nearly 2.7 billion views, so PPAP has a ways to go. First released on 25 August 2016, it became the shortest single to chart in the Billboard Hot 100.  So sad, I checked the list today, and it is not there anymore.  But that's not the sad part.  I don't know one of those 100 songs.  #1, incidentally, is Closer, by The Chainsmokers.

Who is Pikataro?  He is comedian Kazuhito Daimaou Kosaka, who has been trying to entertain for two decades until he suddenly became viral.  You might have noticed him in a 7/11 commercial.  That mustache?  Drawn on.  PPAP is the acronym for Pen Pineapple Apple Pen.

The best way to Narita Airport from Tokyo is the Airport Limousine Bus.  When I'm staying at the Tokyo Westin, this is the first stop, so I almost always get my favorite seat, front left:


That's Robuchon in that French Mansion.  For the first time, they have stopped checking your passport after the bus enters Narita Airport.  Check-in was swift and pleasant, and I went to the ANA Lounge, which is so superior to United's Club, as you can here imagine:


This was my best Japanese meal I had on this trip:  salad, curry rice, pork ramen, tuna sashimi, and clam soup, with sake, beer and a white liquid which is not water.

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Typhoon Meari is at 90 MPH, and will strengthen at least into a Category 4.  However, Japan, nor my flight, will be threatened:



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