Well the dust has only just settled and already the UFC bandwagon is making its way to Canada for UFC 158 this coming weekend, but last Sunday morning’s UFC on Fuel TV 8 (called UFC Japan 2013 domestically) has got to be regarded as another success for the organization. The success and credit has to be put [...]
Posts Tagged ‘Japan’
Well the dust has only just settled and already the UFC bandwagon is making its way to Canada for UFC 158 this coming weekend, but last Sunday morning’s UFC on Fuel TV 8 (called UFC Japan 2013 domestically) has got to be regarded as another success for the organization. The success and credit has to be put down in large part to the 2 main events of the night, Stefan Struve vs Mark Hunt, followed by Wanderlei Silva (pictured right) vs Brian Stann. Will focus on the weigh-ins right here, but my next post later today will look at the main event itself.
The UFC’s last trip to Japan was UFC 144 last February, which was a sell-out and regarded as a very big success after not visiting the country for so long. There were a few concerns about the crowd numbers though, as no ticket sales figures had been released and tickets were still being advertised as available. But the organizers had been very smart, and placed well-known fighters in Japan (from Pride FC days) along with almost all Japanese fighters they have on their roster. Throw in a smattering of Koreans and you’ve got a card everyone can get behind.
Unbeknownst to me, the events actually started on Friday, with a signing session and part of Shibuya 109 being transformed into a temporary UFC Store. If I’d have known about that then I’d have been there, but unfortunately I missed out on that one (must be slipping in my old age, and probably a little dazed after my pre-LASIK check – more on that in another post). The weigh-ins were on Saturday at 13:00 Japan time, but I decided to get there very early and do some writing in Starbucks for this site. As it turns out, I got there at 9:00 and there were already some people queuing! Now the Japanese like queues so I thought they might be lining up just for the hell of it, but then I saw it was a signing of some sort. Decided to join them and was about number 30 in the queue. Standing and waiting in the bitter cold & wind, and wearing a T-shirt and a not-too-thick sweatshirt, every minute made Starbucks and a hot coffee more attractive, but I decided to stick it out, and about an hour later the doors opened and we shuffled inside.
Turns out there was UFC Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and Glover Teixiera doing a signing. Well worth a little frostbite for! The queuing system was an absolute shambles though; a sentiment echoed by some of the American UFC officials there. You lined up for the signing and went past the merchandise stand where you could take advantage of smaller lines before tomorrow’s event. But after buying a programme and a poster I was then told I had to go right to the back of the queue and start the process again for signing. And then if you wanted to see the weigh-ins you had to line up again! The signing queue was now about 300 people or so deep, and there was no way I was going to the back of the line for that, but luckily I managed to sneak in with a guy from San Diego who was there lining up and who I’d chatted to earlier. Definitely the most disorganized part of the whole event though.
So I got my merchandise, and I got signatures from both Liddell and Teixiera. I’ll tell you what though: those guys look big on TV, but it’s not until you get up close & personal with them that you realise how big they actually are. But very cool to chat briefly with them both and the first fighters I’ve met.
So with all that out of the way I joined the final line for the actual weigh-ins. From around 11:00-12:00 there was an interview and Q&A segment with UFC fighters “Sexiyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Hatsu Hioki. Not a huge fan of Akiyama, but he came across much better when talking to the crowd and on a microphone. Hioki definitely looked nervous or shy about the whole thing. The interview segment ended at 12:00 but then there was a one-hour wait until the actual weigh-ins. They showed some video previewing the fights but that was a 15 minute video and was just looped. Think they really should have shown something else to keep people entertained, as plenty were getting bored. Show some older UFC fights or something.
13:00 came around though and Jon Anik (Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg don’t travel out to the non-PPV events, I believe) came out to announce the fighters, along with Korean Octagon girl Su Jung Lee. I managed to get photos of most of the fighters as they stepped on the scales (everyone made weight except Diego Sanchez, who was 2lbs overweight), as well as the staredowns, and you can see the gallery of them here.
Best staredown had to be Kazuki Tokudome and Cristiano Marcello (see above), with most amusing unsurprisingly being Stefan Struve versus Mark Hunt. If you can’t see the picture of it below then imagine Gandalf standing next to Gimli from Lord of the Rings! Should also be noted that when Miesha Tate came out with her boyfriend Brian Caraway for his weigh-in, she was getting more shouts from the crowd than he was. Make of that what you will.
Best crowd reactions were given to both Mark Hunt and Wanderlei Silva; both well-known from their past fights in Japan over the years. The reaction from Su Jung Lee at the sight of 7′ tall Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve was pretty funny too, as you can see to the left here. An after 45 minutes or so the weigh-ins were over. The fighters went off to hydrate and I headed out of the arena for some ramen and a drink.
The crowd at the weigh-ins wasn’t as much as last year, but there were still a fair few people there so it left me pretty positive for a good attendance tomorrow. The reaction to Silva also told me it was going to be a very good event early on Sunday morning.
The Axe Murderer is coming back to Japanese soil! On March 3rd the UFC will be coming back across the Pacific to the shores of Japan for UFC on Fuel TV 8, and they’ve announced a pretty good fight card for it too, as well as releasing the tickets this afternoon.
One year after Benson Henderson won the UFC Lightweight Championship belt at UFC 144 The main event will be Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva vs Brian Stann. Japan is something a little special for both of these fighters. For Silva, it is where he became a legend in the eyes of the Japanese MMA fans. His all-out fighting style won him masses of fans, and the middleweight belt back in the Pride FC days. While his best days are probably behind him, there’s no doubt he’ll be wanting to put on a big show for the people who gave him almost god-like status for a number of years. And Brian Stann, former US Marine, was born on Yokota Air Base in Japan. He’s a solid fighter, and getting top billing on the card should ensure he gets plenty of support from the US military community around Japan.
Mark Hunt is also on the main card and he’s got a big following too in Japan, following his Pride FC days. His fight with Stefan Struve should be a very good one, with an interesting mix of styles and body shapes!
The rest of the card doesn’t shape up too badly either. The card in full at the moment is:
- Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann
- Stefan Struve vs Mark Hunt
- Takanori Gomi vs Diego Sanchez
- Dong-Hyun Kim vs Siyar Bahadurzada
- Riki fukuda vs Brad Tavares
- Takeya Mizugaki vs Brian Caraway
- Hyun Gyu Lim vs Marcelo Guimaraes
- Kyung Ho Kang vs Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres
- Kazuki Tokudome vs Christiano Marcello
Am pretty pleased they’re stacking the card with Japanese talent too. They’ve also announced the UFC Fight Club Japan which I’m considering joining too, and seem to be making a strong effort to promote Japanese fighters and the UFC within Japan.
The UFC also released tickets today on the almost impossible to navigate well ticket.tickebo.jp. I think I’ve got myself a pair of tickets but to be honest I’ve no idea and will only find out for sure when I go to the convenience store to pay for them. The much more professional E-Plus site will have tickets available from next Friday, but I like to be first in line to try and get good seats for my money.
Looking forward to the card already, especially as I’ve gone up a rank in seats this time so will be a little closer to the action.
At 9:51 this morning a rocket was fired from northwestern DPRK into the skies, heading south. The rocket flew over southern Japan, namely Okinawa and going right over the island of Ishigaki, with the last pieces of debris falling into the ocean near the Philippines, early reports are saying.
Whether this was actually an attempted satellite launch (unknown yet if it was a success or not) as the DPRK are claiming, or a long-range missile test is up for debate, but it seems to have traveled further than previous attempts, and I think I’ve lost on the sweepstake (my money was on a flight time of 2 minutes).
The launch was followed by the phones at work suddenly going crazy with emails from the Prefectural Office warning everyone of impending doom, and just as they were coming through I heard fighters scramble from Kadena US Air Force base here in Okinawa. And with fair reason, if you look below at this image from BBC News.
The planned launch was due to fly right over Ishigaki, and early reports are saying it stuck to its course pretty well. Now I haven’t got my ruler and measuring tape out, but it certainly looks like it’s gone much further than any previous launches, and the DPRK government, you would expect, would be pleased. If it was a satellite launch, whether the satellite has actually reached an orbit will be determined over the coming hours and days.
But once again the theme from the Japanese government has been, “Lots of rhetoric, no action”. Just days ago, we were told that the Japanese military had been told by the government to shoot down the rocket should any part of it threaten to fall on Japanese territory. If the rocket has stuck to its course then it’s gone right over a Japanese island and through the Okinawan prefecture, with the Japanese government stating no attempt was made to bring it down. Now the only explanations are:
- The Defence Ministry had supreme confidence that the launch was successful and was therefore posing no danger to Japanese people.
- They thought seeing as it was going over Okinawa it wasn’t worth the effort.
Now call me a cynic (probably one of the kinder things I’ve been called) but if that launch had gone over Tokyo (where they’d put PAC 3 launchers on the top of the Defence Ministry building) then there’s no doubt it would have been downed.
Anyway, that’s the excitement from Japan right now. I’m expecting some disappointment from the opposition LDP party, who are expected to come back into power at next week’s election. I am fairly confident they were hoping it would come closer to the mainland, so they could shoot it down and strengthen their claims that Japan’s military (sorry, self-defence forces) should be expanded.
Will update if I hear anything more of real interest.
UPDATE: The Japanese government has made a statement regarding the launch. They have described it as… wait for it… “extremely regrettable”. Almost spat out my coffee when I read that! You just knew that word was going to crop up!
UPDATE 2: The US is now reporting that an object has been put into space by the rocket. So it’s looking like this launch was a clear success.
To say my jaw dropped when I read this story was something of an understatement. Education firm, Pearson, have just released global rankings for the quality of education, which have placed the top 5 countries as:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
With the UK coming in at 6th and the US in 17th. The test measures test results globally, as well as the proportion of students who go on to university.
Now I’ve racked my brains since reading this and I really have no idea how Japan can rank so highly in education rankings. And I’m not just talking about it from being a cynical English teacher living and working here for the past 8 years. Education standards on the whole seem to be slipping, and especially when viewing comparisons to countries like Hong Kong with it’s tutoring “kings and queens”, and seeing the levels of students in South Korea. The fact that Japan is even above the UK is very surprising to me to be honest. The report talks about the top countries having an understanding of education’s ”underlying moral purpose” which, after seeing a number of students coming out of schools recently, appears to be completely absent. All I can think is that since the data was collected 3-4 years ago, much has changed in Japan for the worse. Or my memory of education in the UK is through very strong rose-tinted glasses.
It then mentions about how in the best countries, that teachers are respected and efforts are made to recruit the best people for teaching through salaries and status. The former definitely isn’t the case for the normal teacher in Japan, and gets even worse as the students get lower. A friend of mine was talking about their job at a kindergarten. She had just started working there, and took a test to be classified as a fully qualified teacher which comes with increased benefits. Six teachers at the school were told to take the test, which they all worked hard for and passed. The school then turned around and told them they were only going to give two of the six the benefits that come with being classed as a fully qualified teacher. The others would continue to be classed and paid as juniors, regardless of their performance. And paying someone a salary of around USD$1300 (£840) a month is not really the way to make someone want to remain in the education profession.
The only possible reasoning I can find is that the rankings are formed in part from test scores achieved by students. I would hope that these are the same type of test conducted all over the world to provide a benchmark for results. But it’s possible that these tests may be done individually on a country, board of education, or even school level. And that is where the distortions start to occur.
I have seen numerous times where a student is going to fail an English exam (usually through lack of effort, as the tests are made simple so any student who works can get a passing grade). In addition, the student has not written anything in their books all year and failed to hand in a single homework. But the teacher needs to make the student pass because the rule is that the student has to pass. So they are given letters or words to copy on paper. This paper is only given to the students who are definitely not going to pass, and then a huge emphasis is placed on this paper, instead of the test (which is the case for the majority of students). What this means is that the student will sleep through the English exam, get maybe 5%, and then get final grades which are not so much lower than the students who worked harder but were graded more harshly as the goalposts were moved. It’s this type of distortion which can easily affect figures like this.
But maybe I’m being far too critical. I have been wrong on a couple of rare occasions, and maybe the Japanese education system is one that the rest of the world should be looking up at. I just have this niggling feeling that if I’d have never handed in any homework and school and then slept in class, I’d have had a blackboard eraser thrown at me by the teacher, and given adequate reward/punishment to motivate me to try and improve my scores.
What do you think?
Well 12 months has almost passed so it’s just about time for Japan to elect it’s next annual Prime Minister. If you keep up to date with this site (not difficult given the pitiful number of updates I’ve been producing recently) or with things happening in Japan, you have to laugh at the state of politics here. Well, it’s either laugh or cry with despair. Since the “suntanned lizard” Junichiro Koizumi (also about the only PM in recent history with any sort of personality, see right) left office in 2006, no Premier has lasted longer than 14 months in the job.
The Democratic Party of Japan took over office from the Liberal Democratic Party (different name, same old types and ideas) in 2009 and they didn’t want to break the trend, currently on their third Prime Minster. Elections are meant to be held every 4 years, but that has been unthinkable in the last decade. And it looks like we could be due for one in the next few months.
The ruling party, “led” by Yoshihiko Noda (see left) has been wanting to raise the level of consumption tax from it’s current 5% level up to 10%. They are claiming it is needed for the rebuilding of northern Japan after the 2011 earthquake & tsunami, coupled with the “man-made disaster” at Fukushima. Of course they couldn’t hold TEPCO responsible as they are a big company and line the pockets of many, so they had to get money somehow to rebuild the pachinko parlours (Japan’s most popular way of getting around its laws against gambling) that were lost. Although it is also very possible that they decided Noda’s popularity wasn’t dropping as quickly as it should do, and so had to take drastic action. Well, maybe not “very possible” but definitely within the realms of possibility. A consumption tax would also be more preferable to an income-based tax rise, as the latter would most likely affect the higher earners more. Couldn’t have that, so the consumption tax will affect all equally.
When the DPJ propsed this raising of consumption tax, the LDP fought against it. Mainly because it was an idea from the opposition. I did hear some arguments mentioned by LDP members, but to anyone that dabbles in logic they weren’t really substantiated. This lack of support from the opposition upset Noda and so he tried pushing harder against the LDP to get them to agree to this rise. They didn’t budge and the stalemate continued. Eventually the PM came up with an ingenious ultimatum. “If you opposition don’t support me, I’ll be forced to dissolve parliament and have a general election!”. The noise that followed was that of 307 palms slapping against their foreheads in disbelief at what had just been said. “OK. Do it” was the general opposition response. Unbelievably, Noda hadn’t been expecting this!
Since then there have been fractures in the ruling party, with a former leader leaving the DPJ along with 49 other members, and Noda’s popularity is dropping faster than Andy Murray’s chance of ever winning a Grand Slam event. Am fully expecting an election come September, and the the prospect of yet another prime minister until late 2013. And then it will all start again…
Just looked at the site and realized how long it’s been since I was hammering at the keyboard in anger. Either raising awareness about radioactive waste being pencilled in to come to Okinawa for storage, or my constant woes with the cursed Evo, I’ve not usually taken this much of a break. And I’m back, but without a clear idea of what I should talk about.
I could talk about the fact that it seems like summer is here now in Okinawa, and came overnight a week last Monday. Right now it’s a beautiful 27C outside with just 54% humidity. That’s much more preferable to the 90% we’ll be subjected to in a few weeks when things really ramp up. It’s not the heat that most people have trouble with when they come to Okinawa; it’s the intense and unrelenting humidity. Still, I shouldn’t complain after the winter and spring we’ve had. The reservoirs aren’t going to be short of any water this year, that’s for sure.
The car… ah yes, the car. Well I have considered getting an exorcist for it, but I could just imagine it spitting out oil & coolant as the words “The power of Christ compels you” comes from an old and young priest! I forget where I was the last time with the car, but in the past month or so I’ve grabbed a couple of new tyres, as I realised when driving in the wet that the ones I’d got were shot. And I have no intentions of repeating what happened with my first Evo with tyres in less than good condition and wet Okinawan roads. I have been doing a fair amount of tuning and the car is feeling scary quick once it gets up to speed, although it does take a little while for the big old turbo to spool up. A little more than I think it should to be honest. Part of it is one of my cheap wastegates leaking and letting some boost pressure out, and doing some more checking I found that my injector seals were… what’s the word… shot to hell. There was air leaking out of the seals and I don’t think there was one of them in good condition. So they got replaced in the past few days which should improve things a fair bit. And then I had the joy of an 8-month old Mitsubishi wheel stud breaking when I was changing tyres. Just don’t ask…
I could talk about work, and how I’m thinking of making some substantial changes in the next 12 months. Possibly looking at moving away from teaching, in Japan at least. Have got some concerns that in 10-15 years I don’t still want to be an “Assistant” Language Teacher, with the same salary as people in the same position as me had 20 years ago, with no chance of a bonus and no chance of career advancement. I’ve had it in my mind for a month or 2 now, but am thinking of possibly getting back into something else I’m reasonably knowledgeable about: computers. My contract with the school runs until at least April next year, which gives me time to study the area of computing I want to get into, and hopefully get some certifications under my belt to make me a little more employable if it comes to it. We’ll see – maybe I’ll get 6 months into studying it and realise it’s not something I want to do as a career, but you never know these things unless you jump headfirst into them and take a chance.
I could talk about any or all of these things, but right now it’s 1730 and I’m still making duplicates of CDs for teachers so I’d better get to it. Will get back to the keyboard very soon…
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.
What a difference a week makes. Just 9 days ago I published an article based around a story from fukushima-diary.com about how two places in Okinawa (Onna Village and Nago City) had said they would accept radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster; a story that not too many were aware of at the time. Today, I am writing this on the way to a meeting in Naha which RBC (local television) will be attending and the problem will be discussed. Indeed, this has gathered pace so much that yesterday an email was sent out to military members Okinawa-wide, stresing that the Ministry for the Environment has stated that no radioactive waste will be stored beyond the Fukushima area. More about that later.
Soon after I posted my original article up, people started sharing it and talking about it. A guy called James Pankiewicz, owner of the Dojo Bar in Naha, decided to take this matter to heart, and created a Facebook group about it, called “A clear and loud “No Way” to radioactive debris on Okinawa“. Yup, no chance of misinterpreting the point of this group! And from then things have spiralled. The group formed their own logo (pictured right), are making online and paper petitions and gathering signatures, in both English and Japanese. The English petition is here; if you haven’t clicked and added your support then please do. Who knows if it will have any effect, but it can do no harm whatsoever.
James has taken this much further than I ever would, and I applaud him and everyone else who have become involved for caring. I’m happy to report these kind of things and the only times I overstate things, I make it very tongue-in-cheek that I’m doing so. But my aim was just to bring people’s attention to it.
And attention certainly has come. 700 signatures to this online petition, people handing out flyers in English and Japanese; RBC and NHK news companies talked to and consulted, and even the US Military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, running an article. And here is where the plot thickens even more. Yesterday morning, Kadena Air Force Base’s Public Affairs office sent this out Okinawa-wide to all military members (or Air Force members, not 100% sure):
There are rumors circulating via social media and email concerning the possibility of radioactive material being shipped to Okinawa from the Fukushima area. Here is the latest information from the American Consulate in Okinawa.
According to the Japan Ministry of the Environment, none of the radioactive debris will be shipped. All radioactive debris will remain in the Fukushima area. The only tsunami debris considered being sent elsewhere is the NON-radioactive tsunami debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. No decision has been made by the Government of Japan where that non-radioactive debris will be shipped to. Any and all debris will be inspected before being shipped, and it will not be shipped if it is contaminated.
BOTTOM LINE: No radioactive debris is being shipped to Okinawa.
18th Wing Public Affairs
Now, while I would like to believe this is the case, this does seem very strange. Firstly, because the final statement goes against what Nago City, Onna Village, Yomitan Village and Naha City are saying. In addition, Okianwan newspaper the Ryukyu Shimpo published stories in Japanese about this a week before I started mentioning it. And finally, it would seem that the Ministry for the Environment is going against with Prime Minister Noda has stated, about all of Japan working together, and local cities helping with the burden of dealing with the radioactive waste. The Japanese government is not renowned for being completely honest and open, especially when it comes to both public safety and Okinawa. So the question is: who do you trust? The governments who are trying to quash any rumours and stop any public unrest about the situation, or the media outlets and personal bloggers? While newspapers and TV companies might have a financial interest in the story (more controversial stories get more readers buying their newspapers or watching their shows), but if this was the case then more would be being made of the story. As it is, it was just a couple of relatively small reports informing people of what is happening and no follow-ups.
And people do seem to be waking up in Japan to the fact that the government isn’t always as open as they should be with them. Okinawans have had this skepticism for a long time, but it appears to be spreading. Both Japanese bloggers and foreigners here in Japan have talked about it to me recently. Now I’m definitely not saying everyone should take to the streets and start rioting (I’d quite like a chance to have my visa renewed and not be labelled a conspirator!), but the past 12 months have changed a lot of things regarding people’s perceptions of the government in Japan. Especially in the past 6 months, people have started asking questions that 3 or 4 years ago I couldn’t imagine people accepting and would assume they would just accept. It will be an interesting thing to watch over the next 12 months and beyond to see if the Japanese people push to get their own voices heard against the government. I’m not talking about Japan being the next Egypt or Libya, but just how people and society will evolve here.
Well, I’m going to make my way down to Naha in a little while for this press conference. If you have the chance, please take a look at the petition. I’m not asking you to sign it, but just to think about it and try to find an answer for yourself. Question what you read and hear, even on here. Discussion and questioning is what helps us progress and evolve. It’s when we just blindly accept & follow that we lose our way.
On something of a roll here, a brief scan around of some of the blogs got me looking at a few stories that the media here will probably not be reporting. And it’s a good way to follow the previous article about radiation from Fukushima entering the food chain, even here in Okinawa.
So, sometime after March 11th last year, the government realised that people, unsurprisingly, wanted nothing to do with Fukushima’s produce. But there was all of this produce going to waste and… well a little radiation can’t do any harm, can it? So with that in mind they hired Dentsu, one of Japan’s largest advertising companies, to devise a campaign to get people eating produce made from northern Japan once again, regardless of whether it’s safe or not.
The result was the “Let’s Support by Eating” campaign. For a start, the English in suspiciously correct (I would have hoped for a “Let’s Supporting the Japan by Enjoying Eat… in English!” campaign). But, Engrish humour aside this campaign was set up to sound like a charity or NPO set up to promote Japanese food, rather than being the brainchild of a government-sponsored advertising campaign. The advertisement comes from an organization supposedly called Food Action Nippon, but whose headquarters is the same as the Dentsu advertising company. While not a crime in itself, it is another example of attempted deception by the government, and potentially putting a lot of the population at risk.
I should also add, there were numerous reports that Dentsu were also being hired by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to track articles on blogs and social media accounts for anti-nuclear stories that may be perceived to be contrary to the government’s/TEPCO’s line on things. Blogs were getting spammed with comments, Twitter accounts hacked, and other things happening to these sites and accounts. Could just be a coincidence, although I’m not a big believer in those.
And this provides a convenient segway to the second part of this article. As part of this campaign, a face was needed that Japanese customers would trust. That ruled out any politician, AKB48 were busy promoting every other product in the whole of Japan, and Hello Kitty was reported as saying, “I ain’t going anywhere near that ****.” So it wasn’t looking good. They needed someone they could control, someone without an opinion of their own who could be manipulated at will, but who the public would trust. Of course, a Japanese idol!
First off, I am not talking about some Japanese version of American Idol. The Japanese idol community is a group of around 30-50 people who seem to be on almost every TV show. On the whole the are vacuous, soulless creatures; the men having less testosterone than your average nunnery, and the women portrayed as either super-cute squeaky-voiced beings, or frumpy comedians who should be laughed at and not with. But Japanese people seem to lap them up so who am I to criticise? And on the whole they seem to be believed by many Japanese, regardless of what they say.
Cue Yamaguchi Tatsuya, from the group TOKIO. I really hope he was forced by his talent agency (most likely) and didn’t know or have any option in doing what he did, but he was to be one of the main advocates of this campaign. He was pictured all over, eating produce from the Fukushima area and beyond, claiming that it’s so “oishiiiiii” (meaning “delicious”) and that everyone should do the same to support Japan at this time.
Well, at the last measurement, he had a radiation level of 20.47Bq/Kg of Caesium 137 in his body. This has a half-life of around 30 years and accumulates in the bones. I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen, but with levels like that, it is surely only a matter of time until he is diagnosed with some sort of cancer. But the campaign continues, telling people that they should do their bit to support Japan by eating Japanese produce, regardless of where it’s from, and especially if it’s from the Tohoku area.
At the very least it’s negligent, and is a campaign that’s putting the whole country at risk. That warm fuzzy feeling you’re getting inside you isn’t because you’re helping the country; it’s the caesium eating away at your organs.