An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014


Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]


Archive for April, 2012

Aerocatch: Customer Service at its Best

Posted By Dave on April 27th, 2012

If you read the ramblings on here I post up from time to time you’ll know that I’m not the most forthcoming when it comes to dishing out praise and compliments.  They do come sometimes, but they have to be earned., especially from businesses that I give my hard-earned and significant amounts of cash to.

The status quo over the past decade has been for customer service to be declining.  Companies seem obsessed with the sale but then if something goes wrong you better have the patience of Job.  After sales has truly become the forgotten art.  Well, I strongly thought that until the start of this week.

At the end of 2011 I purchased a set of locking bonnet latches from Aerocatch.  They had very good reviews from everyone who used them, both for their quality and their looks.  They finally got fitted to my car back in March and looked and performed great, for a month.  Then one night I went to lock the catch down and this happened:

The key wouldn’t go all the way into the lock.  It was as if one of the tumblers inside the lock had just seized.  I tried WD40, I tried picking the lock but nothing could get it to move, which left me with a non-locking locking catch.  Pretty disappointing considering they aren’t the cheapest bonnet latches in the world and were supposed to be top drawer.

So I sent an email to Aerocatch about the problem, asking if they’d had this problem before and if there was a solution.  Within 4 hours we had exchanged some emails about the problem, and I’d sent them a video showing what was happening.  Straight away they got in touch with their distributor in Japan and told them to send me a replacement kit out, and asked me to return the faulty unit when it came in so they can check it out.  All in all this problem was reported on Monday at about 8pm, and my replacement kit was delivered from mainland Japan on Wednesday at around 3pm.

A sign of a good company is how well it takes care of its customers post-sale, and Aerocatch couldn’t have been better.  Their response was swift, and effective.  People don’t really mention bad customer service these days as unfortunately it’s often taken as a given, but I would strongly recommend Aerocatch to anyone looking for an aftermarket body catch.  Not only are their catches very high quality (I strongly believe I just got one with a glitch) but their customer service is exactly what you want from a manufacturer.  Check them out at www.aerocatch.com

North Korea: Up, up, up and a failure!

Posted By Dave on April 13th, 2012

In news that is not really going to shock anyone with more than a couple of brain cells to rub together, this morning’s rocket/satellite/missile launch by DPRK has appeared to have ended in abject failure.  The Tongchang-dong launched at 7:39 local time and was up for a… well, for a minute.  Which makes it marginally more successful than when Richard Hammond & James May attempted to put a Reliant Robin into space and use it as the new space shuttle (see below).

Whether it was a rocket, a satellite launch or a missile test is by the by; the fact is that it was quite an impressive, but understandable failure.  You’ve got to admire them sticking to the task, but their people don’t have the skills and technology together to make it successful.  It’s like me going out and saying I’m going to build a house.  I might be able to put something together that looks like a house, and make people believe that it’s a house, but it’ll all fall apart once the wind blows against it.  Compounded by the fact that it was Friday 13th, it was never going to be a success.  They should have really left it until Sunday 15th (Kim Il Sung’s birthday) for the launch.  Am going to guess the DPRK State Media will report a successful launch, or just give no report at all to its people about it.

The Japanese government and media will probably be some of the most disappointed, as they were really trying to use this to play the victim card and show its people how scary the DPRK is and how we should be in constant fear of them.  And they’ve done a good job of that over the past few weeks, culminating in my school (under orders from the city) distributing some flyer of some sort to each student yesterday, warning them to take care, and presumably offering advice on what to do should they find a missile impaling them to the ground.  With all the stuff going on in Japan domestically, is this the most important thing to be advising students about?

But it’s passed, so now Japan will continue its inevitable push to a new “Prime Minister for a year” in August or September (Noda’s latest approval ratings have reached a record low, at 25% according to the Daily Yomiuri).  Had the test been a success, no doubt it could have been used by the incumbent party as something to try and rally people around (‘Forget about how bad we are… look at the scary North Koreans”).  And the Okinawan media will britruipng it’s focus back from projecting North Korea as the enemy to projecting the US military as public enemy number 1.  The status quo has been restored.

This little story also gives me the chance to remind you of my travelogue with plenty of pictures and stories from my trip to North Korea in 2005.  Take a look here.

Someone’s Not Telling The Truth… Who Could It Be?

Posted By Dave on April 2nd, 2012

If you read my post last Thursday, you’ll know that according to a Okinawa base-wide email that was sent a couple of days previous, the Ministry for the Environment has stated that no radioactive debris will be sent out of the Fukushima area.  I stated then that the information being given out was contrary to what a number of sources were saying.  And it also appears to be contrary to what Mr. Goshi Hosono is saying.  “Who is he?” you may ask.  The Minister for the Environment!

According to this article and accompanying video, he was in Kyoto on Saturday trying to drum up support for disposal of (radioactive debris).  His trip included meeting with the governor of Kyoto and a plan to give out pamphlets and make an appeal for public support outside Kyoto station.  As you can see from the article, it didn’t go to plan as people in Kyoto, like people in Okinawa, don’t really want radioactive waste storing in their backyard.  Below is the front page of the pamphlet that was being handed out.

In my last post I did ask you to question everything and make your own decisions, so I will offer a slightly different viewpoint on this.  The article and source does concur with the statement made to SOFA members in Okinawa about Iwate and Miyagi being the only prefectures officially accepting debris from Fukushima, but it did not state that their Ministry for the Environment is actively campaigning for more prefectures and cities to accept this waste.  Also, my Japanglish isn’t good enough to fully understand those videos, although I get a gist of it.  If someone can post a full translation in the comments below, it would be awesome and would help us all understand things a little easier.

Another interesting note about the storage and disposal of waste is that it has already been removed from the vast majority of areas affected by the earthquake and Tsunami from March 11th, 2011.  You can see these from the many before/after photos that are being published.  So the debris is being stored somewhere right now.  Let’s assume for a second that all of this debris has been tested for radiation and is coming back as negative.  Would it not just be easier to keep the debris stored in its current location as it awaits incineration or disposal?

The last point worth noting is that if the Minister of the Environment is appealing for non-radioactive debris to be disposed in other prefectures around Japan (which is what Prime Minister Noda is urging, and relaxing laws to make it easier), then you have to wonder what exactly the government is classing as radioactive.  Some of you might know of the story from May last year when the government decided to raise the amount of radiation that was safe for children, so that schools in the fallout area could reopen (source).  While immense public outrage and international coverage of this story caused a U-turn (I expect the latter being a bigger factor than the former), the initial plan was to raise the safe radioactive level to 20 times what it was previously.  So with that in mind, it is very possible that the government will just raise the level required for them to declare something is radioactive.  Given what you’ve just read, is it that much beyond the realms of possibility?

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now.  Any comments or thoughts are always appreciated.  If you disagree or have a different view on it, let me know.  I’m more than happy to hear thoughts from all sides.  Is anyone in favour of Okinawa taking non-radioactive debris, at all?

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