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Kjeld Duits
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Home » Archives » September 2005

Tiger Fans Almost Start Riot in Osaka

Kjeld Duits, Friday, September 30, 2005 Posted: 05:46 PM JST

Huge crowds of extatic Hanshin Tiger fans flooded the streets of Osaka last night after the team clinched the Central League pennant. The overly excited fans started battling the enormous police force that had assembled. At times it looked like a riot could start any moment.

[FULL STORY] [SLIDE SHOW]


Japan Dolphin Day Set for October 8

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, September 28, 2005 Posted: 10:28 AM JST

Worldwide demonstrations to protest the killing of dolphins in Japan are planned for October 8th 2005. The day has been dubbed "Japan Dolphin Day" by the organizers of the demonstrations. The demonstrations are organized by One Voice (France), International Marine Mammal Project (USA) and Elsa Nature Conservacy (Japan).

Keywords: national_news


Cool Sites : Traditional Japanese Architecture

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 27, 2005 Posted: 11:07 AM JST

For a country that has such a strong image abroad of being conservative, Japan is surprisingly careless about its architectural heritage. Since the 19th century traditional architecture has been consistently fading from the Japanese landscape. However, there are still some places where you can glimpse the beauty of the past:

Machinami Net
List of Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings, traditional cityscapes in Japan. (ENG JPN)

Chiiori Project, The
The Chiiori Project works to solve problems in rural Japan caused by irresponsible modernization. (ENG JPN)

JAANUS
8000 terms related to traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, painting, sculpture and art-historical iconography from approximately the 1st century A.D. to the end of the Edo period (1868) (ENG)

Japan Minka Reuse & Recycle Association
Traditional Japanese houses (Minka) are built with local wooden materials and techniques, suited to local climate. The JMRA aims to preserve and restore Minka. (JPN)

Japanese Country Style
Site for the book of the same name by Yoshihiro Takishita. Preserving old Japanese farm houses by moving and renovating them for modern living. (ENG)

Mitate
Kyoto Mitate International is a non-profit group founded in 1994 to nurture the architectural, cultural, and natural heritage of Kyoto. (ENG)

Open-air Museum of Japanese Farm Houses
In the middle of the industrial city of Osaka lies the Open-air Museum of Japanese Farm Houses with an excellent collection of authentic minka (farm houses). (JPN)

The Japanese House
Analysis of traditional Japanese domestic architecture as being based on long standing attitudes towards ideas of harmony. B&W illustrations on separate pages. (ENG)

Traditional Towns and Villages in Japan
A growing list of villages and towns in Japan that still look traditional. Most of these are authentic, some have been rebuilt, all of them are impressive. (ENG)

Find more sites related to Japan at Japan Links. Special section for Traditional Architecture.

Keywords: cool_sites


"You are a Member of Japanese Society"

Kjeld Duits, Monday, September 26, 2005 Posted: 02:48 PM JST

All over Japan people are ringing doorbells to collect information for the 2005 population census. Everyone living in Japan, regardless of nationality, must fill out the census form. Announcements for the census are headlined "You are a Member of Japanese Society".

A member of Japanese society? If I truly am, why don't I have voting rights? I have lived in Japan for more than 23 years, yet don't have the same right that a 20 year old Japanese citizen has. I lack one of the basic rights of modern civilization: representation. Upsetting, right? So why not refuse to participate in the census?

[FULL STORY]


Japan's National Debt Hits New High

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, September 24, 2005 Posted: 08:45 PM JST

Japan's government debt ballooned to a record high of JPY 795.8 trillion (USD 7 trillion) at the end of June, according to a report released by the Japanese Finance Ministry. It was projected to be JPY 774 trillion for this fiscal year, so the national debt is growing faster than expected.

Japan has relied on government bond issues to make up for falling tax revenues. This has turned the nation into one of the world's most indebted countries. Japan's public debt burden is now almost 160 per cent of its GDP, which makes it the highest in the industrialized world.

Keywords: national_news


Hirokazu Kore-Eda's "Nobody Knows"

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, September 22, 2005 Posted: 09:30 AM JST

Last year Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda brought out his film "Nobody Knows". The movie is very loosely based on the "Affair of the Four Abandoned Children of Nishi-Sugamo", an event that took place in Tokyo in 1988.

Four young children, each with a different father, were left alone for six months in a dilapidated apartment after their mother abandoned them. Since they did not attend school, and were not even registered after their birth, no one knew of their existence.

Fourteen-year-old Yuya Yagira won Best Actor award at Cannes 2004 for his moving performance as Akira, the eldest of the four children who acts to keep the kids together and in good spirits. The movie has just started showing outside Japan, so try to catch it if you can.

Today I found a wonderful interview with director Kore-Eda about "Nobody Knows".

Keywords: arts_entertainment


Kyoto's Grid is Bad for City

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Posted: 03:30 PM JST

Oregon, USA based architect Rick Browning is on an extended architectural discovery tour through Japan. He is visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Kyushu and Tokyo. Today a report of his very interesting observations of Kyoto's street grid. Americans swear by the grid and most American cities are based on it. Browning however, compares Kyoto with Osaka, and finds that the grid doesn't seem to be working very well.

[FULL STORY]


First English-language Account of Dreaded Police Force

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, September 17, 2005 Posted: 09:31 AM JST

The first account in English of Japan's famed Shinsengumi has been published by Tuttle Publishing. SHINSENGUMI: The Shogun’s Last Samurai Corps was written by Romulus Hillsborough, author of other books about samurai on the eve of Japan's modernization drive.

[FULL STORY]


How do Japanese Kids Spend Their Free Time?

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, September 15, 2005 Posted: 05:36 PM JST

Child Research Net has posted an article about how Japanese children spend their free time and how they think about school. The article's conclusion is a bit depressing: "Although it is thought that school should be a fun place for children, children no longer find it fun and they are studying less at home. Not only are elementary school children less interested in school, but they are studying much less than in the past."

Keywords: national_news


Last Campaign Speeches by Koizumi and Okada

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 13, 2005 Posted: 01:35 PM JST

Spanish born Tokyo based photographer Dave Coll Blanco covered the last day of the campaign speeches by Prime Minister Koizumi and opposition leader Okada on September 10, 2005. You clearly see the absence of energy on Okada's face. Dave works freelance for Spanish News Agency EFE and publications like GEO Magazine. These images are available for purchase. Contact Dave directly at

iKjeld.com welcomes contributions. Please contact us if you are interested in contributing.

Keywords: national_news photo_essays

[SLIDE SHOW]


Japanese Prime Minister Sweeps Away Opposition

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 13, 2005 Posted: 11:03 AM JST

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsIt was thrilling until the results came rolling in. Prime Minister Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Sunday brutally swept the opposition away. In the elections for Japan's lower house, the LDP won the second-largest victory in its history.

[FULL STORY] [SLIDE SHOW]


FLASH: Koizumi Appears to Win by Landslide

Kjeld Duits, Sunday, September 11, 2005 Posted: 09:50 PM JST

With about half of the votes counted at 9:45 PM, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party appears to be winning by an enormous landslide. The opposition parties are not just being defeated, they are being decimated.

Keywords: national_news


How Koizumi's Policies Transform Rural Areas

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, September 10, 2005 Posted: 12:24 PM JST

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsJapan's rural areas have been dying a slow death since the 1950's. The LDP-led government kept many areas artificially alive with large public works. Stations on the Shinkansen Bullet Train lines for villages with just a few thousand inhabitants, bridges to islands with tiny villages, airports that see virtually no traffic, highways that lead nowhere. Koizumi has put a stop to that since he came to power. Few public works remain, and the countryside is feeling the squeeze.

[FULL STORY] [PHOTOS]


Japanese Organization tells Kids, "Create Your Future"

Kjeld Duits, Friday, September 9, 2005 Posted: 02:07 PM JST

The Japanese NGO Japan for Sustainability (JFS) has launched a "Create Your Future" web site for kids. The site's aim is "to encourage children worldwide to take interest in and gain an understanding of environmental issues, and to think and act independently in response."

[FULL STORY]


Elections: Koizumi Fires them Up, Packs them In

Kjeld Duits, Friday, September 9, 2005 Posted: 11:58 AM JST

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsIf the turn-out and enthusiasm at campaign speeches is any indication of which party will win the lower house elections this Sunday, Prime Minister Koizumi's LDP will enjoy an overwhelming victory. At his 11:30 visit to Shin-Osaka station yesterday some 4,000 people welcomed the Prime Minister like a rock star, shouting his name and waving small Japanese flags. I have seen quite a few political gatherings in the 23 years or so that I have lived and worked in Japan, but this was quite impressive.

[FULL STORY] [SLIDE SHOW]


Japan Invites Journalists to Study Anime

Kjeld Duits, Friday, September 9, 2005 Posted: 11:26 AM JST

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will invite ten journalists to study Japanese anime, it announced this week. The journalists will meet with anime specialists, receive briefings from experts and visit newspaper companies. The program aims to introduce leading Asian reporters to Japanese pop culture. It shows that MOFA is finally latching on to Japan's new image as being cool.

The program is open to newspaper or magazine reporters specializing in cultural matters from Asian countries and a region (two each from China and Hong Kong, and one each from the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei). It will take place from September 26 to October 6.

Keywords: culture_news


Something Stirring in the Night...

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, September 8, 2005 Posted: 12:04 AM JST

This is not a news article. But it is such a weird story I just have to jot it down and tell somebody. It is now in the middle of the night. A strange sound in my kitchen woke me up. Although it is already September it is still hot and humid, so I sleep in the living room, close to where fresh air circulates between windows. This is not too far away from the kitchen where the sound that woke me up came from.

[FULL STORY]


International Puppetry Festival in Osaka

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, September 7, 2005 Posted: 10:26 AM JST

Osaka International Puppetry Festival 2005 will be held in Osaka November 3 to 13. Puppet shows from around the world will perform at Osaka Cultural Public Hall, Sogo Hall, Children Culture Center and Kids Plaza Osaka. The event is sponsored by the Osaka municipal government to celebrate that bunraku, a traditional Japanese puppet show, has been designated a World Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

[FULL STORY]


Cool Sites : Corruption in Japan

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, September 7, 2005 Posted: 09:55 AM JST

With the general election coming close and one of the main issues the huge amounts of money controlled by Japan's Postal Services, this is a good time to focus on Japan's rampant corruption, partly made possible by all that available money:

10 Biggest Corruption Scandals in 2004
A list of the ten biggest corruption scandals in Japan in 2004 on the site of Transparency International. (ENG)

Bureaucratic Corruption in Japan
A Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI) paper by David T. Johnson about the widespread bureaucratic corruption in Japan. (ENG)

Corruption in Japan
An economist’s perspective on corruption in Japan. Paper by Werner Pascha (PDF file). (ENG)

Investigation of Corruption in Japan
Paper by Tamotsu Hasegawa, Public Prosecutor, Tokyo District Prosecutors Office, Japan (PDF file). (ENG)

Japan under Construction
Online book by Brian Woodall about corruption, politics, and public works in Japan. Published by University of California Press in 1996. (ENG)

Japanese Politician Murdered
Guardian article about the 2002 murder of Koki Ishii, a Japanese politician who made his name by exposing corruption in high places. (ENG)

Justice System Reform in Japan
2004 Paper by David T. Johnson of the University of Hawaii and Waseda University about rampant Japanese police corruption (PDF file). (ENG)

Political Corruption
Corruption Through Political Contributions in Japan, a paper by Verena Blechinger on the site of Transparency International. (ENG)

Find more sites related to Japan at Japan Links. Special section for Corruption.

Keywords: cool_sites


Japanese Railway Lines Tell Parents Whereabouts of Kids

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, September 7, 2005 Posted: 09:32 AM JST

Do you know where your child is right now? Private railway companies in West Japan aim to tell you. When children pass through ticket gates, the railways send an e-mail to their parents. The system makes use of the "PiTaPa" card, a railway pass containing an IC card. The new system is being tested since September 1.

[FULL STORY]


Full Page Ad in NY Times Protests Against Japanese Dolphin Killings

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 6, 2005 Posted: 10:32 AM JST

A full page ad in the New York Times calls for people to protest the killing of dolphins in the Japanese city of Taiji. Demonstrations are planned to take place on October 8th 2005, which has been dubbed "Japan Dolphin Day" by the organizers of the demonstrations. The ad was paid for by One Voice (France), International Marine Mammal Project (USA) and Elsa Nature Conservacy (Japan).

[FULL STORY]


Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji, Japan

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, September 6, 2005 Posted: 09:28 AM JST

Every year between October and April many hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered in the small town of Taiji, in the Japanese prefecture of Wakayama, a few hours drive from Osaka. Marine mammal specialist Ric O'Barry of One Voice-France, who has been leading protests against the killing, explains his reasons and methods:

[FULL STORY]


The Suffering of New Orleans

Kjeld Duits, Sunday, September 4, 2005 Posted: 11:31 AM JST

Just like everybody else I have watched with horror at the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Especially the human dimension of the disaster. I feel terrible for the survivors and all the people who lost family, friends and their livelihoods. I feel terrible about the horrifying stories of looting and gun play. It is impossible though, to understand from the news reports how pervasive the lawlessness is, and why it happened in the first place.

[FULL STORY]


The Suffering of New Orleans

Kjeld Duits, Sunday, September 4, 2005 Posted: 11:30 AM JST

Just like everybody else I have watched with horror at the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Especially the human dimension of the disaster. I feel terrible for the survivors and all the people who lost family, friends and their livelihoods. I feel terrible about the terrible stories about looting and gun play. It is impossible though, to understand from the news reports how pervasive the lawlessness is, and why it happened in the first place.

[FULL STORY]


New Orleans

Kjeld Duits, Sunday, September 4, 2005 Posted: 11:30 AM JST

Just like everybody else I have watched with horror at the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Especially the human dimension of the disaster. I feel terrible for the survivors and all the people who lost family, friends and their livelihoods. I feel terrible about the terrible stories about looting and gun play. It is impossible though, to understand from the news reports how pervasive the lawlessness is, and why it happened in the first place.

[FULL STORY]


Hurricane Katrina Donations

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, September 1, 2005 Posted: 01:46 PM JST

I have seen my fair share of disasters. I covered the Tsunami damage in Indonesia and Sri Lanka (2004), disastrous earthquakes in Taiwan (1999) and India (2001), and survived the quake that killed 6,400 people in Kobe and environs (1995). So the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina leave a deep impression. I feel for the victims and survivors. My thoughts are with you.

Donate at the site of the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina

Keywords: cool_sites

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[BUY]

The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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