Friday, May 31, 2013

F-15s Deemed Safe After Crash Off Okinawa |

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – The Air Force said Thursday that all F-15s at Kadena Air Base were tested and confirmed safe after one of the aircraft went down in the waters off Okinawa earlier this week.

The crash was the first reported loss of a United States F-15 based on the island since 2006 and the pilot ejected safely, but the incident alarmed the local government, which called for stepped up safety checks and a grounding of the jet fighters.

"In the last 24 hours, we've inspected all of our F-15s and we are confident they are safe to resume training," Col. Brian McDaniel, vice commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, said in a released statement.

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Comment: My guess is they had Father Mulcahey from the base chapel come out and bless all of them like he did for that Jeep in the movie M*A*S*H. Were it not for all the anti-American sentiment here on Okinawa as of late, I'm sure that they could have gotten the monks from Futenma Shrine to come out and do just as good if not better a job than the imported guy did!

Japan Australia: Ramen Burger at Lotteria Japan

Lotteria is a fast food chain in Japan that is often overshadowed by its big rivals McDonald’s and MOS Burger. Lotteria always has an interesting menu with a great variety of choices and some unique burger selections. This month they released their latest creation: The Ramen Burger.

The Menya Musashi Ramen Burger has been developed in collaboration with the famous Japanese ramen restaurant chain “Menya Musashi”. The chain is popular for its ramen broth which is made from katsu dashi (bonito stock). The Menya Musashi Ramen Burger features such ramen staples as disposable chopsticks, ramen broth, and even an option for “Kaedama” or a second serving of noodles. The Menya Musashi Ramen Burger is on sale for a limited time only from May 20 until mid-June.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Living Man Born in 19th Century Likely Has Genes to Thank | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!

Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest living man, celebrated his 116th birthday this past Friday. Born in 1897, Kimura is the last man alive born in the 19th century, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The resident of Kyotango, Japan, is also the oldest man in verified history.

Should Kimura be interested, there are plenty lovely ladies in his age group to choose from. The Gerontology Research Group at UCLA lists 21 women born before New Year's Day in 1901 who are still alive and well. And the current world's oldest living woman, 115-year-old Misao Okawa, also lives in Japan.

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Comment: Of course ABC shows its true colors by picking probably the most unflattering photo of Mr. Kimura. HA! he gets the last laugh because, unbeknownst to them on his night stand to his immediate left you can see the cover of a book featuring the photo of another well known Japanese  centenarian Dr. Shochi who just so happens to be a still practicing physician! BTW, I know they meant this "clever" little article as a back handed insult but, having seen Mr Kimura interviewed on Japanese TV, My guess is he might just take them up on their suggestion regarding the other ladies his age...

Gov't denies ghosts keeping PM out of residence ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet on Friday formally denied months-long rumors that the premier had not moved into his official residence over fears the mansion is haunted.

Abe took office in December but has yet to move into the 11-room brick home in central Tokyo, the longest holdout among any of his predecessors, according to local media.

Several former prime ministers have reported experiencing unusual phenomena at the mansion which was center-stage for two failed but bloody coups in the 1930s.

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Comment: Maybe that explains why he didn't last so long as Japan's PM the last time around!!! Better hurry up if he wants to change that situation. Bill Murray is getting old and if I remember correctly, last time he was over here, some important stuff got lost in translation...

Weakening U.S. presence encourages Chinese aggression - Washington Times

As the Obama-Nation of Desolation administration descends into a long summer of scandal investigations, its domestic weakness could serve to exacerbate long-standing Asian political fault lines that heretofore were calmed by the assurance of American strength.

Such assurance of overwhelming U.S. naval and nuclear power has meant that Japan need not build offensive military power and that South Korea could forgo its own nuclear force to deter a North Korea that was building nuclear weapons. American military dominance on the Taiwan Strait made workable the morally and strategically deficient “One-China Policy” — in which commerce is allowed, but sovereign recognition is denied to the democracy on Taiwan — while most states other than the United States maintain timorous neutrality regarding China’s long-standing threat to destroy Taiwan.

Furthermore, most Asian states could forgo individual means sufficient to deter China from enforcing its expansive claims to territory in the East and South China seas as long as the U.S. was there in strength.

Overwhelming American power also compensated for the lack of Asian collective-security mechanisms, akin to NATO. This is now a growing problem for Washington, however, as China’s pursuit of regional military dominance increasingly requires better regional military coordination among U.S. allies and friends that could allow for greater efficiencies and even encourage mechanisms for America’s friends to build confidence and better resolve their own differences.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Then and Now (Photos) Sougen-ji (崇元寺) Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Here is what Sougen-ji looks like today.

Trying to duplicate the original photographer's shot, I had to stand in the middle of the street.

A black and white police car made me hurry and get out of there.

 I wanted to show you the similarities and differences with this Then and Now.

Above photo courtesy of Okinawa Soba, a super Flickr contact of mine.

Most visitors to the island of Okinawa don't realize, they had real trains here before World War II.

Stop by and see Okinawa Soba's collection of fine photography.

There, you can learn a lot more about Sougen-ji and the history of the Ryukyu Islands.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Japan - U.S. Pilot Rescued Off Okinawa -

Japanese rescuers saved an American fighter pilot from the waters off southern Japan after his F-15 fighter crashed into the ocean early Tuesday, Japanese officials said. The F-15, which flew out of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, crashed in the Pacific about 70 miles east of the island at 9 a.m. Tuesday, American military officials said. The Japanese authorities immediately sent boats and aircraft to the scene and spotted the pilot clinging to a raft, said Toru Michizaki of the Japanese Coast Guard in Okinawa. The pilot, whose name was not released, was rescued by members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, he said. American officials said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

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Ryukyu Shimpo – Fantastic lights from super fireflies in Ogimi Village

Since Okinawa entered the rainy season on May 17, fireflies have been adding a mysterious glow to the nights in Kijoka, Ogimi Village. They are the Luciola kuroiwae species of firefly, which is about 5 mm long.

People enjoyed the light show for about one hour from 7:30 p.m. on May 18, a day when some fine periods of weather occurred in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa. The lights can be seen depending on the weather. Local nature lovers say that the fireflies will continue to appear until the end of June.

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Comment: That Superfly gal may be tiny but her voice sure as heck isn't. Click on the link here and you can see one of her videos from a few years back. If I didn't know better I'd say that's Ryukyu Mike and maybe Mrs. Ryukyu Mike making a cameo appearance in it. Strange because Mike usually does everything in his power to avoid the Mrs between sun up and sun down. Anyway, Kijoka is a strange place for someone of her stature to be putting on a show but then again, she hasn't had a big hit lately and you know how fickle show business can be...

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: The Legend of Hakugindo Shrine in Itoman, Okinawa, Japan

This shrine may not be on the top ten places to visit of any traveler's itinerary. It is an important part of Okinawan culture, that shouldn't be missed.

The history of the shrine, attracts people, from all over Okinawa to visit, every day. And, they make offerings for a good reason.

Photos showing the exterior of Hakugindo Shrine were in a previous post, in this photo, you can look inside the cave over which the shrine was built.

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Comment: Interesting little urban legend that follows. Well worth investing a few short minutes to read it! If only our self proclaimed betters a.k.a. our glorious "dear" leaders could be just half as wise as this simple fisherman and a grateful samurai!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

F-15 goes down off Okinawa; pilot rescued at sea - Pacific - Stripes

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa -- A U.S. Air Force pilot was rescued Tuesday after an F-15 aircraft from Kadena Air Base went down in the waters around Okinawa, the Japan Coast Guard said.

A Japanese military search and rescue team recovered the pilot around 10 a.m. after the servicemember ejected safely following the 9 a.m. crash, according to information from the coast guard and the Air Force.

The condition of the pilot or the cause of the crash could not be immediately confirmed. The F-15 developed an unspecified problem leading to the pilot’s ejection and then went down in the Pacific Ocean about 70 miles northeast of Okinawa, the Kadena Air Base public affairs office said.

The military did not identify the pilot. The Air Force said Tuesday morning the incident will be investigated and more details will be released as they become available.

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East China Sea peace may lie in independent Ryukyus - The China Post

Chiang Kai-shek did make a mistake at the Cairo conference in 1943.

He succeeded in getting U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to agree to make Japan restore Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores to the Republic of China, but rejected Roosevelt's suggestion that the Ryukyu Islands be placed under Chinese trusteeship after World War II.

Chiang recommended joint Sino-American trusteeship, which, however, was changed to the U.S. trusteeship after the war. The Cairo Declaration was made public in December 1943, long before the U.S. invasion and occupation of Okinawa in May 1945. It's understandable that the Americans didn't want to share the trusteeship with the Chinese, but the mistake Chiang made is that he didn't recommend independence for Okinawa, which was the Kingdom of the Ryukyus before its annexation by Meiji Japan.

Had he suggested independence, Roosevelt would have more than gladly agreed just as they did on the independence of Korea, a kingdom before it was annexed by Japan like the Ryukyus in 1915. 

The United States ended the trusteeship and restored Okinawa to Japan in 1972 and has continued to station an armed forces there.

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Comment: Only if the newly restored Ryukyu Kingdom gets to keep the Senkaku Islands and then controls the lease rights for the peaceful exploration and exploitation to whom ever they will. Presumably this will be both the Japanese and Chinese! Regardless, it would be nice to see the Okinawan folks getting the clean end o the stick for a change!

Outnumbered by the girls, he's the last man standing

Supercentenarian: Jiroemon Kimura, right, is the last man alive to have been born in the 19th century. Supercentenarian: Jiroemon Kimura, right, is the last man alive to have been born in the 19th century. Photo: AP

With the death in Barbados on Thursday of James Emmanuel ''Doc'' Sisnett, at the age of 113 years and 90 days, Jiroemon Kimura, of Japan, has become the last man alive to have been born in the 19th century.

Literally the last man. There are, according to the Gerontolgy Research Group at UCLA, 21 women born before New Year's Day, 1901, who are still with us, most of them living in the United States or Japan, with others in Europe and Canada.

But while the females born in the reign of Queen Victoria strongly outnumber him, Mr Kimura, born on April 19, 1897, has one record the girls can't match - not just yet, anyway. At 116, the ''supercentenarian'' is the oldest human on the planet.

Supercentenarians are people who have lived past their 110th birthday, and while it's estimated that there may be 200 or 300 living today, only 60-odd have been verified by reliable birth records. Of them only two, Mr Kimura and Japanese woman Misao Okawa, are known to be still living aged 115 or older.

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Comment: Wow! when you really sit down and think about it, he's got something the leader of the "formerly" free world doesn't, a verified "authentic" birth certificate!

A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese traditional architecture, Gatou roof tiles

Traditional Japanese roof tilesVisiting Japan, you will surely notice the traditional Japanese roofs, using very specific decorations, like the prominent Oni-gawara roof tiles.

A little less outstanding but with a great visual impact are the disk-shaped end tiles called gatou. Decorated with floral motifs, with the tomoe abstract shape or, most frequently, with the clan’s kamon, they have both an aesthetic and a practical role, deflecting the rainwater away from the wall…

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Hashimoto to urge 'strict discipline' for U.S. military | The Japan Times

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Sunday he will urge the U.S. military to strictly discipline its servicemen in Japan and repeated that he would retract a remark suggesting they use Okinawa’s sex industry to avoid committing sexual offenses.

Hashimoto said on a TV program that he will make the appeal at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, when he will also apologize to the American people and military for his comments that U.S. personnel in Okinawa should make use of the local sex industry.

“I will urge (the U.S. and its military) to enforce strict discipline in a full-fledged manner” at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, the cohead of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) said. He first mentioned the plan on Saturday.

Attempting to explain his original intent, he repeated Sunday that he was trying to urge the U.S. military to “be more responsible” because of the rising number of sex offenses against servicewomen in its ranks.

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Comment: When it comes to the matter of original intent, according to the fellow pictured above, it all depends on what the definition of "is" is! Unfortunately the American people are a forgiving lot. Lets hope for Japan's sake, the voters in Osaka aren't! As far as the matter of discipline goes, it's pretty obvious that Mr. Hashimoto has been weighed and found wanting. For him to insist that the U.S. military discipline it's member when they misbehave is more than just a bit hypocritical!

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Travel Photo: Itoman Port and the Ghosts Are Coming Soon !

It seems like forever since we last had a sunny day like today. So, our travels brought us, way down south, to the city of Itoman. Doing a bit of research for an upcoming event, I shot this photo.

Next month, is when the dragon boat races take place, down in that pretty blue water. In Itoman, they call the races "Hare."  Anywhere else, it's "Harii." Lots of things are done differently, down that way.  That's why I love the place.

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Farmers resume planting rice near crippled Fukushima site ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Farmers have resumed planting rice for market only 15 kilometers from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It was the first time since the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster that farmers have gone inside the former 20-kilometer “no-go” zone around the doomed plant to sow rice intended for sale.

The zone has been redefined to let people access areas where the levels of radiation from the plant have been relatively low. Tens of thousands of people remain unable to return to their homes.

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Comment: I'm all for the farmer, what would we do without them. I'm glad that they're returning to their livelihoods but given the government failures on this all along, can we really trust them when they say something is safe? Somehow this news doesn't comfort me much. Our conspiracy theory friends will tell you that this has Monsanto written all over it! On that, I'm not so sure. Regardless, I may have to start eating less rice.

Japan Australia: Fanta Ume

Coca Cola Japan has released a new flavour of Fanta for spring called Fanta Ume. It is available only for a limited time. What is Ume? Ume is a Japanese plum (梅) that is associated with spring in Japan. The Ume Blossoms are very popular in early spring and you can read about them from my visit to Bairin Koen this March.

Most people might know ume from “umeboshi” which is a sour pickled plum or “umeshu” which is a sweet alcoholic drink made from plums.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Naha The Capital City of Okinawa, Japan (Photos)

It isn't the largest Capital City I've seen but, Naha Okinawa has everything you'd expect to see when you go to any big town and maybe, a few things that would surprise you.  Here is a six photo sneak preview.

There's the OLD, like this wooden-framed, tile-roofed Mom and Pop Store (pictured above) which sells pottery....

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

BBC News - Osaka mayor 'sorry' for US brothel remarks

The mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka has apologized for suggesting US soldiers should use legal brothels as a way to curb sexual crimes in Okinawa.

US personnel have been involved in a number of violent crimes in Okinawa over the years, including rapes.

Toru Hashimoto drew international criticism last week when he said that sex slaves ("comfort women") served a necessary role during World War II.

Two former "comfort women" cancelled their meeting with him on Friday.

Mr Hashimoto, a leading figure in the small, nationalist Japan Restoration Party, later apologized for those remarks.

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Comment: Couple of things to point out here. First of all, prostitution is illegal in Japan. Apparently the Mayor of Osaka didn't know this. Since he's been known to have strayed from the faith a few times and in rather bizarre ways I might add, perhaps he can be forgiven for his utter stupidity. After all it was Forrest Gump who reminded us that "stoopid is as stoopid does!" Apparently, when it comes to the matter of stoopidity, Mr. Hashimoto has it in spades! Also, sources tell us that it wasn't really the two former "Comfort Women" who cancelled the sit down with the Mayor, rather it was the other way around. Lastly, I took the liberty of changing the "s" in "apologized" to a "z." I guess it's a Brit thing to use "s" where a "z" just sounds so much more appropriate and looks so much cooler! I also deliberately misspelled stupidity out of appropriateness to the story. That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The US Marine Corps in the Pivot to the Pacific | The Diplomat

Earlier this month, the United States and Japan jointly announced a base consolidation plan on Okinawa. Its implementation, in concert with moving ahead on the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) will ensure that we maintain the right mix of capabilities on Okinawa, Guam and elsewhere in the region, as we reduce our footprint on Okinawa and strengthen this alliance for the future. 

In addition, we confirmed the deployment of a second squadron of MV-22 Ospreys to Japan, which will take place this summer and increase our capabilities in the region.

Hagel is re-enforcing the importance of the Ospreys at a key time in the roll out of the capability by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in the Pacific. The Ospreys are being deployed first to the USMC First Air Wing on Okinawa and then with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the only permanently forward deployed Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) in the Corps.

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Japan used sound waves to detect and monitor Chinese submarine - The Japan Daily Press

Government sources have revealed that the submarine detected plying the waters of the contiguous zone around Minami-Daitojima island in Okinawa Prefecture on Sunday were picked up by a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) patrol plane using a sonobuoy – a small floating sonar system that emits sound waves, and transmits its data back to the sonar operators. Using the sonobuoy, the plane was able to let the submarine know that it was being monitored.

In light of three confirmed incidents of submarines navigating underwater in the same area this month, the MSDF has been using what is called “active pings” from sonobuoys – a sonobuoy usually does not emit sound waves to avoid detection by submarines – where sonar operators intentionally have the sonobuoy emit sound waves audible to the target submarine as a sign that it was in fact being monitored by the Japanese. This tactic is being used as a warning to China, because the submarine incidents have been increasing in the past month, as well as repeated appearances by Chinese naval vessels in the waters around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

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Japan's wartime brothels were wrong, says 91-year-old veteran ‹ Japan Today

Japan's wartime brothels were wrong, says 91-year-old veteranWhen Masayoshi Matsumoto joined the Japanese army in 1943 and was sent to occupied China as a medic, he thought he was taking part in a righteous war to free Asia from the yoke of Western imperialism.
 Seven decades later, the 91-year-old retired Christian pastor says it’s his mission to speak out about the injustice of the war and the sufferings of women, mostly Asian and many Korean, forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
“I feel like a war criminal. It is painful to speak of such things and I would rather cover it up. It is painful, but I must speak,” the slender, white-haired Matsumoto told Reuters in an interview at his daughter’s home about 40 km from Tokyo.
“I think that to speak out is the meaning of my being alive,” added Matsumoto, who returned to Japan in 1946 and later became the pastor of a Christian church. He is one of a dwindling number of veterans with experience of the brothels.
Outspoken Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto sparked a firestorm of criticism at home and abroad when he said that the military brothel system was “necessary” at the time and that Japan has been unfairly singled out for practices common among other militaries during wartime.

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Comment: Way to preach it Rev, I think I can give an Amen to that! Oh, and BTW, anyone who seeks political office should be immediately voted out of office. First and foremost because they're the criminal type who seek power for themselves at the expense of everyone else. How else could people like U.S. Senator Harry Reid or Japanese Diet member Ichiro Ozawa become filthy rich having never performed an honest day's work in their lives. Lastly, there is the obvious, People like America's Joe Biden and Japan's Toru Hashimoto like many of their political brethren are nothing more than blathering idiots. Why anyone would vote for such is beyond comprehension!

Vivid Hydrangea now blooming in northern Okinawa | Japan Update

As spring moves toward summer, the floral landscape of northern Okinawa is taking on new colors as hydrangea flowers are now bursting into full bloom.

Thousands of the brilliantly colored hydrangea are sporting their petals on a 9,900 square meters plot of Motobu land once filled with tangerine trees.  The hydrangea will be in bloom through the end of June, and the property owners are inviting visitor.

The Ajisai-en’s purple flowers are the handiwork of Uto Yohena, a 96-year-old lady who’s been toiling at raising and perfecting the flowers for more than three decades. “My garden was actually a tangerine field until 31 years ago,” she explains, noting “I love flowers so I planted the hydrangea flower garden along the paths between the tangerine trees.” Eventually, the flowers began dominating the tangerine trees and the garden grew.

Admission to the floral landscape is ¥300 for adults and ¥100 for children 6 ~ 18 during daylight hours.

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Beautiful waterfall and river trek in northern Okinawa | Stripes Okinawa

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a family trip in the northern part of Okinawa, to the beautiful Tadake falls. I had heard a lot about this place, and how reaching the waterfall required a trek through the river that it fed. Not really too sure what we would need for the excursion, I followed the advice of the friends who had invited us, and packed various items such as water shoes, towels, changes of clothing, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, packed lunches, waterproof bags, and yen for the expressway and convenience store stops.

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Travel Photo: Buddhist Temple Bell

There are many locations around the island where you may see these bronze bells. It is said that the bells are rung 108 times for the New Year. Some sources will tell you, the purpose, is to rid yourself of the 108 worldly desires. New Year's Eve and Day, I have never made it to a temple on time to witness the event. So, I can't say for sure that the practice takes place in Okinawa.

There have been times, I witnessed people ringing the bell during the calendar year. They just ring the thing once or, twice and it makes a fairly loud GONG. They may have rung it just to do the tourist thing. Or, maybe, they only had one or two worldly desires, to get rid of.  I'm not sure.

One of these days, I'll get a religious adviser and see if we can figure this one out for you.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Ryukyu Shimpo – Former "comfort woman" rebuts Hashimoto’s remarks

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of the opposition Japan Restoration Party, plans to meet former comfort women on May 24. On May 18, one of the women, Kim Bok-dong, held a press conference at Shalom Hall in Okinawa Christian University in Nishihara. Hashimoto said that comfort women had served a necessary role in maintaining discipline in the Japanese military before and during the Second World War. Kim objected to Hashimoto’s remarks, saying, “If Hashimoto thinks the comfort women regime was necessary, then would he send his daughters to prostitute themselves at comfort women brothels.”

Mentioning that the Japanese military coerced them into prostitution, Kim said, “I am one of the comfort women who suffered such hardships. I am here to serve as witness to the existence of the system. I am living proof of it.”

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Chinese send surveillance ships into Japanese waters | Japan Update

 A total of eight Chinese marine surveillance ships entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture Tuesday morning, the largest-scale intrusion since Japan purchased three of the five islands in the Senkaku chain from their private owner in Sep. 2012.

The eight ships surpass the entry of six ships on Sep. 14th of last year. China also claims the uninhabited East China Sea islands, which it calls Diaoyu.  In Tokyo, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to the Foreign Ministry and protested the intrusion. Kawai demanded that the eight ships leave the waters immediately.

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China questions Japan rule over Okinawa |

China is trying to strengthen its claim on tiny, uninhabited, Japanese-controlled islands by raising questions about the much larger Okinawa chain that is home to more than a million Japanese along with major U.S. military installations. The tactic, however, appears to have done little but harden Tokyo's stance.

Japan refuses to offer any concessions to China over Tokyo's control of the uninhabited East China Sea islands, which are called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan. Tokyo issued a formal protest to Beijing over the comments about Okinawa, made last week in the ruling Communist Party's flagship newspaper, the People's Daily.

Scholars in Japan and elsewhere, meanwhile, warn Beijing may be shooting itself in the foot by arousing fears of a creeping campaign to nibble away at Japanese territory.

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A Japan Photo per Day - Japanese garden aesthetic principles, Borrowed scenery

Tenryu-ji Temple Garden, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Always searching for the perfect scenery, the Japanese garden designers are sometimes using a number of “tricks": one of the oldest techniques, called shakkei (commonly translated as “borrowed scenery") is to design the garden so that the surrounding scenery will offer a “background", dramatically improving the ambiance.

Thus, the garden can be placed nearby an old forest or in front of an important landmark, such as a temple or a castle. But most frequently, the garden designers are using nearby hills or mountains, like in this photo taken inside one of the oldest shakkei gardens in Japan, dating from the 14th century. This beautiful scenery, with the green Arashiyama mountain in the background, can be admired inside the Tenryū-ji Temple from Kyoto (near the famous Kyoto bamboo forest).

Click on photo for higher resolution:

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ryukyu Shimpo – Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans established

On May 15, the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs) was established to promote scholarly research in order to achieve the independence of people who identify their ethnic roots as being in the Ryukyuan Islands. The planning committee and scholars of the ACSILs announced this at a press conference held in the Prefectural Government Office. Using the U.S. military bases as an example, the committee members pointed out that independence from Japan would be the only way to resolve the problems that Okinawa faces. They stated, “We would like to achieve Amayuu (to live peacefully) as a distinctive group of peoples.” They call for people to come forward to help work towards their aim of islands without military, but with the right to self-determination.

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Comment: In addition to being a bunch of liquor swilling party happy sots, believe it or not, the Scots and the Okinawan's really do have a lot in common. Maybe this explains my father-in-laws undying love for Johnny Walker Black! On a more serious note, I would be remiss if I didn't remind everyone that both the Okinawan's and the Scots have a history of independence as well as the misfortune of having been lorded over by more powerful neighbors. Adding insult to injury, it seems that no matter how much each tried to conform to the wishes of their self proclaimed betters and fit in, both have never been able to rise above the status of second class citizens. That may explain to a degree why both the Scots and the Okinawans tend to be scoff laws and a bit more independent minded than some folks would like. That's why I selected this image to go with this story. All of that being said, I say that if the Okinawan's and the Scots want independence, more power to them!

Get set for boating in Naha and Itoman | The Japan Times

May and June are the months in which to visit Okinawa if your aim is to witness the spectacle of fiercely contested races between crews paddling dragon boats or the Ryukyu Islands’ small traditional fishing boats called sabani.

The Naha Hari festival happens during Golden Week in early May on the Western calendar, the Itoman Hare sea festival, focused on fishermen’s sabani races, is a one-day event held on the fourth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar — on June 12 this year.

The Hare is Itoman’s sole sea festival, and given that the city is famous throughout the western Pacific Ocean region for its tough and innovative fishermen, this is a major date that normally attracts around 30,000 revelers and spectators from far and wide.

Like the Naha Hari, the Itoman Hare is held at the local fishing harbor to seek the gods’ favor for safe voyages and good catches. But unlike Naha Hari’s dragon-boat races, Itoman Hare’s are between sabani fishing canoes developed by Itoman fishermen more than 500 years ago.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Flower Photo: Nadeshiko (Dianthus superbus) in Okinawa

This flower was growing in the wild, all over Japan, the rest of Asia and, Europe, too. I spotted this single bloom at the Hydrangea Festival in Izumi, Okinawa. When I asked the women standing around, what it was, they all said, "Nadeshiko." So, I wrote it down and figured I'd research it later.
With a flower name, from someone, in this part of the world, you may have some work to do. There's no telling what language you're getting. It could be Japanese, Okinawan dialect, Latin or, even some form of English.

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Metropolis - Travel | Little Okinawa

Squeezed between the docks and the river, “Little Okinawa” in Tsurumi Ward is home to one of Honshu’s largest Ryukyu communities. Its estimated 30,000 residents arrived here in two distinct waves. The first fled an island-wide famine in the 1920s, and the second came after World War II had reduced their farms and homes to ash and rubble. While the push factors may have been different, the pull was the same: the promise of work in Yokohama’s Keihin factory belt.

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Ryukyu Shimpo – Miminme festival held to pray for good crops

On May 10, or April 1 in the lunar calendar, in the Furugen district of Ozato in Nanjo, the miminme festival was held to pray for good crops and prosperity for the community. People walked through the streets for the michijune parade and those watching applauded the children who danced singing miminme shiyapu to a sanshin accompaniment.

The parade started from the house of the Teruya family at around 5:00p.m., going around four different locations including the Ashibina Sacred Garden.

At the head was a standard-bearer holding a flag featuring an image of a naginata or a long-handled sword to drive away evil spirits. He was followed by a miruku or maitreya, elderly men and women and then children. Participants performed a traditional dance and bojutsu (the art of using a stick as a weapon) at ashibimo or event square. In closing of the festival, miruku performed the kachashi dance with the ward chief, Ryozo Uehara.

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Comment: Please note that Okinawa's Miminme festival should not be confused with Mini-Me of Austin Powers fame or Billionaire bad guy George Soros! I was just waiting for a good opportunity to use this image....

Japan seizes Taiwanese fishing boat operating outside agreed area | GlobalPost

Japan's Fisheries Agency seized a Taiwanese long-line fishing boat Tuesday on suspicion of illegally operating in the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone south of the Sakishima Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

The agency released the boat after the captain admitted to having operated without permission outside the bilaterally agreed area and submitted a document to guarantee the payment of cash collateral.

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Comment: And the moral of the story can be considered a two for one deal. The first is, confession is good for the soul, even if it is coerced and the second of course is that money talks and bullshit walks!

Why Abenomics hurts women | The Japan Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s acknowledgement of the unleashed potential of women should herald a new beginning for female empowerment in Japan. Yet his proposals to encourage more women to remain in the workforce actually may do more to hurt their prospects by merely reinforcing existing prejudices toward female workers and the role of women in society in general. In fact, his policies could entrench prevailing notions that childcare is women’s work.

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Comment: Neo-Marxian drivel! Can't these constructivists do anything more than complain? For example, the way this starts out, you'd think they'd be all in favor of Abenomics as it allows women to put on shoes, leave the kitchen and do something more than just opening their legs now and then. Unfortunately, the ability to find a dark cloud behind every silver lining overshadows all. Jeez, instead of just complaining about it, why not offer up a potential solution! Oh, that's right, that might mean you'd actually have to use that melon sitting on your shoulders for something other than a place to hang your hat!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Submarine near Okinawa ID'd as China's | The Japan Times

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Monday the government has identified the country whose submarine was detected while submerged the previous day near Okinawa and will call for such encroachments to cease.

Onodera did not disclose the country, saying the vessel did not intrude into Japanese territorial waters, but a government source said Sunday the sub apparently belongs to China.

“We will convey to them that we are fully aware (of the sub’s identification) and urge restraint,” he said.

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Rally In Japan Calling Removal Of US Military Bases

Braving heavy rain, thousands of people staged a rally in Japan's Okinawa prefecture on Sunday calling an end to U.S. military presence in the region, Japanese media reported.

The protesters gathered in Ginowan city after a three-day peace march taken out along three routes in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost island which was a fierce battleground in the final days of World War II. Ginowan hosts the Marine Corps Futenma air station, one of the major U.S. military bases in Japan.

The rally was part of an annual event to mark Okinawa's return to Japan from U.S. control in 1972, and was aimed at drawing attention to the heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture.

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Comment: I hope they got drenched! Because there were so many protesters there, we had to park several blocks away and walk through the pouring rain to get to the convention center auditorium to see the Kitajima Saburo concert.

Hashimoto says his remarks helped U.S. troops behave - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on May 19 defended his suggestion that U.S. troops in Okinawa patronize sex-related services, saying the controversy his remark caused already had a deterrent impact.

“I have no intention to shirk the responsibility of having made comments whose wording was inappropriate,” he told a TV Asahi news show. “But I believe the U.S. troops in Japan are behaving after (my comments) have grown into a big issue.”

Hashimoto, co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, garnered headlines after he suggested to a U.S. military commander in Okinawa that American servicemen take advantage of “fuzoku,” or businesses that offer sexual services, to release their pent-up energy, instead of committing sex offenses and crimes.

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Comment: This is so typical of your average politico. He's the first in line to claim credit for something when it goes good even when there is no way to substantiate whether or not what they did or didn't do had any effect positive or negative on the matter. However, let it not be said that GoyaRepublic is not fair to polticos of all stripes. To Mr. Hashimoto's credit, when the whole thing was going pear shaped at the outset, he didn't try to blame it on George W. Bush...

Submarine spotted in Japan's contiguous zone off Okinawa | GlobalPost

The Defense Ministry said Sunday that the Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted an unidentified submarine in the early morning sailing in Japan's contiguous zone south of Minamidaito Island in Okinawa Prefecture.

The submarine, detected by a P-3C MSDF patrol aircraft, was suspected of belonging to the Chinese navy, a government source said. The ministry confirmed the submarine was traveling southeast of the island outside the contiguous zone in the evening.

The ministry has been on alert as an unidentified submarine, thought to be Chinese, was seen sailing in the contiguous zone south of Kume Island on May 13.

Sailing in Japan's contiguous zone, an area outside territorial waters where Japanese law may be applied, poses no problem in terms of international law.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Japan Australia: Matcha Green Tea KitKat

Just tried a new version of Matcha KitKat called オトナの甘さ Matcha KitKat. This is a new series of KitKat made for adults with a less sweet flavour. オトナの甘さ means Adult Sweetness. A KitKat geared towards adults! KitKat is really popular in Japan and they are always coming out with new seasonal varieties.

They also make great おみやげ (souvenirs) as each region has their own unique specialty flavour.

This flavour is Matcha which is a type of Japanese green tea where the tea leaf is ground into a fine powder. The Matcha is from Uji which is a region of Kyoto famous for their green tea.

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Why Japan Is Bad For The World - Forbes

Japan continues to be the world’s biggest financial story. The consensus seems to be that the country’s extraordinary economic measures are good for both itself and the world. I’ve detailed previously how Japan’s efforts are likely to have terrible domestic economic consequences, whether they succeed or not. Today, I’m going to explore the latter idea: that Yen depreciation will benefit other countries as they’ll depreciate their own currencies, which will make their economies more competitive too. This idea, put forward by some serious financial commentators, is laughable as it ignores both history and any sense of simple logic. The implications are worth exploring though as competitive currency devaluations have already begun and are likely accelerate from here.

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Comment: The usual pattern is currency wars, trade wars and ultimately shooting wars. In the 1930's it took roughly a decade to devolve from delinquency to debauchery and finally into full blown devastation. In today's information age, it might take only a few months or perhaps even less because now we have cyber wars to add to the mix and there's sufficient evidence to show that this part of the conflict is well under way! To quote Betty Davis, looks like we're in for a bumpy ride!

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Flower Photo: Red Tower Ginger (Costus comosus)

Blooming at the Hydrangea Festival

Here's another plant the camera captured in the hills of Izena yesterday. They were blossoming right at the entrance to a shed where you can get refreshments. After grabbing a quick cup of coffee, I turned my back on all the hydrangea flowers and shot this.
Also known as Spiral Ginger, they are natives of Central and South America. Still recovering from a wicked cold, I'll just give some links to more information on these beauties. For medicinal purposes, if you know anyone suffering from gonorrhea, send them here:

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High cesium levels discovered in Japanese river eels - The Japan Daily Press

A worrying phenomenon has been discovered in Tokyo river eels that have been caught by local residents living near the Edogawa River – the eels that they have been catching, and may have eaten at one time or another, have very high cesium levels, in most cases higher than the safe levels required by the Japanese government.

Cesium-137 – normally called just “cesium” – is usually a byproduct of radioactive and nuclear processes, and is one of those isotopes that are easily spread in nature. The ingestion of high levels of cesium in the body would cause many negative effects to the health of humans. This is why the Japanese central government sets the safe limit in animals and the environment at 100 becquerels per kilogram.

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Japan Starts to Recharge After Two Lost Economic Decades -

A GENERATION ago, Japan was a colossus on any investing map of the world.

Envious foreigners called its export-driven economy a “miracle.” Its real estate and stock markets seemed to defy gravity, and its financiers were so flush with cash that they bought skyscrapers, golf courses and corporate empires far from Japan’s shores.

Then the bubble burst. In 1990, Japan began more than 20 years of stagnation and deflation. Invest in Japan? For most foreigners, it was wiser to avoid it. At the end of 1989, the Topix, a k a the Tokyo Stock Price index, reached 2,881. Now it’s less than half that.

It’s possible, at least, that those lost decades are finally over. Japanese markets have become turbocharged again, and are beginning to move markets worldwide. This year alone, the Topix has risen more than 22 percent in dollar terms, far exceeding the gain of the Dow Jones industrial average and nearly every other major stock market. The yen has weakened sharply, trading at more than 100 to the dollar for the first time in four years. That exchange rate should make many Japanese companies more profitable and more competitive. It may also inject inflation into the Japanese economy, encouraging consumers to spend and companies to invest.

What is happening in Japan is revolutionary, Nothing they’ve done since the Second World War comes close in terms of economic experimentation.

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Comment: Experimentation??? Duh! Lets not forget that it was all the "tinkering around" with the economy, trying to turn lead into gold and sow's ears into silk purses, that started all this crap in the first place. These Keynesian Kool-aid drinking politico @$$-holes are like chimpanzees banging away aimlessly on a typewriter hoping to pound a few lines of Shakespeare and after 20 plus years, it would appear that they finally hit the right key! (Note: I didn't say keys)

Might I remind you that any positives we're seeing in the economy right now are just as likely an accident as they are anything that was done on purpose! Not only is this so called positive more than likely just an accident, it might also be only temporary. For the moment, this seems to be doing something but, whether or not it is good or not or if it will last is left to be seen. More than likely, this is just another bubble and like the last one, it could all turn to $#!+ in a New York minute. When that happens and it will, what will the presstitutes have to say for themselves???

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Osaka’s Toru Hashimoto says US troops abused Japanese women during occupation - The Japan Daily Press

Osaka’s outspoken mayor Toru Hashimoto has found himself back in the center of controversy as he slammed the United States’ criticism of his earlier comments regarding “comfort women” in World War II, saying that American soldiers themselves abused Japanese women when they occupied the Japanese islands after their surrender.

Hashimoto had earlier insinuated that Japan’s “comfort women” system – when up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, and the Philippines among others were forced to serve in military brothels catering to the Japanese soldiers – was a military necessity, saying that this was the only way Japanese soldiers could “let off steam”. Washington denounced these comments as “outrageous”. The U.S. State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive.” The U.S. also urged the Japanese government to work with its Asian neighbors to address the past issue.

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Comment: LOL this guy is starting to sound more and more like Joe Biden with each and every gaffe! It's nice to know that Japanese politicians are just as big-a-boobs as their American brethren!

Forecasters Predict NORMAL??? Typhoon Season | Japan Update

The 2013 typhoon season officially kicks off two weeks from now, onJune 1st, and thus far there’s nothing on the ocean horizons to suggest any storms before then.

Prognosticators are mixed on how powerful this year’s storms could be, noting last year was average but active, generating the most storm energy since 2004.  In the early months, typhoons named Vincente, Haikai and Tenbui raced across the north Pacific, just teasing Okinawa to get things warmed up for late summer.  Between mid-July and mid-August, there were nine storms touching Okinawa.

They were nothing, though, compared to the August ~ September storm excitement.

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Comment: Define "active but average" for me if you can. Sure, I knew you couldn't! If you mean being hit by a super typhoon every other weekend over a four week period is average, then I'd sure as hell would hate to see what above average looks like! God help us if we ever have a horrendous typhoon season...

Hey Bill, maybe you should lay off the Bloody Mary's for a bit. Better yet, cut back on the stuff that makes you resort to drinking them to cure your hangover....

Ryukyu Shimpo – CFR Senior fellow points out dangers of populist nationalism

There has been ongoing tension between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, which are administered as part of Okinawa. The Japanese government emphasizes the Japan-U.S. alliance as a diplomatic cornerstone and strives to gain the support of the U.S. government with regard to the Senkaku Islands dispute. At the same time, the Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Dokdo) dispute has been negatively affecting relations between Japan and South Korea.

Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a major Washington-based think tank, gave an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo about the American perspective on what is happening in East Asia.

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