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In preparation for the Copenhagen meeting (COP15) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the end of 2009, Japan is currently engaged in debate about the country’s medium-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the period 2013 to 2020. You can make your voice heard.
The movie Rein Foru: Ame no Kiba (Rain Fall: Fangs of the Rain), based on the Rain mystery series by author Barry Eisler opens tomorrow. The movie is getting a lot of attention in Japan as the story is placed in this country. In September 2003, some six years ago when Eisler was barely known, I interviewed him about his books. At that time there were only two and he was working on the third, travelling to Macau, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Cat Shit One is an animated movie hitting movie theaters some time in early 2010. It is based on a manga series, known in the US as Apocalypse Meow, written and illustrated by Motofumi Kobayashi. In both the manga and the anime, Americans are depicted as cute rabbits, a pun on the Japanese word for rabbit, usagi (USA + GI). Does it bother you to see cuddly animals shoot each other up?
Japan’s best-known proletarian novel, Kani Kosen (depicting conditions aboard a crab-canning factory ship operating off Soviet waters) by Kobayashi Takiji (1903-1933), enjoyed an utterly unanticipated revival in the course of 2008.
Many attribute the revival of the novel to the deepening impoverishment of the ranks of the irregularly employed, now widely said to account for one-third of the work force. The majority of the latter earn less than two million yen per year. It is their increasingly insistent presence that has given such terms as “income-gap society” (kakusa shakai), “working poor” (waakingu pua), and more recently, “lost generation” (rosu jene) widespread familiarity.
The model Kyoto Eco-Action Points program started in October 2008. As part of this project, Kyoto Carbon Dioxide Reduction Bank (committee for environmentally friendly activities in Kyoto) issues Eco-Action Points based on the amount of CO2 reduced in the central elements of domestic energy consumption, such as the use of electricity and gas. These points can be used as shopping credits at participating stores. This is the first such system in Japan, and it aims to drastically reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the domestic sector.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea (DPRK), has a fascinating way to present news about the countries that it sees as its main enemies: South Korea, Japan and the USA. In my imagination there is a huge poster on the wall that instructs KCNA’s English writers how to write headlines:
Japan, the world’s largest grain importer, may end a four-decade program to cut rice sowing as it plans to revive agricultural production and create jobs amid a deepening recession.
The nation may end compulsory rice planting cuts and instead provide income support for farmers who voluntarily curb output, said a government official, who declined to be identified as the plan is opposed by some ruling-party politicians.
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