Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Good news Sunday: The Pacific Alliance

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

The Pacific Alliance met in Colombia last week, for the seventh time since its creation in June of 2012; This is good news for the world, not just for the region.

For starters,

there are two major “requirements” for a nation to join the Alliance. First, the government of the aspiring member state must adhere to the charter of the Alliance, which stresses respect for democracy.

In addition, the second requirement to joining the Alliance is that a new member must have free trade agreements with the other Alliance members before becoming full members. Hence, Costa Rica will only join the Alliance after President Chinchilla signs a free trade agreement with the Colombian government (San José [Costa Rica] already has FTAs with other Alliance members).

Member countries Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico were joined by Canada, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Japan, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama,

These countries and investors from outside of Latin America are attracted by the positive business climate among Alliance members—they occupy four of the top-five spots in the World Bank’s Doing Business in Latin America ranking—and encouraged by the fact that the bloc is serious. It is focused on trade, investment and immigration rather than politics and ideology.

Keep in mind that

The goal of the alliance is to create a free-trade corridor of all countries in the Americas with a Pacific coast. The hope is that dropping barriers on labor, finance and trade will help the Alliance become a hub for commerce with Asia.

The reason Japan, Canada, Spain and Australia attended as observers is that members of the Pacific Alliance are all part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; they are serious about growth and prosperity. Bloggings by Boz lists what they are getting done:

  • The four current members dropped tariffs on 90% of the goods traded among them (something that was mostly done due to bilateral free trade agreements) and committed to completing the final 10% within the next few years.
  • The countries have dropped visa requirements with each other.
  • The four countries will likely create a joint visa system – Visa Alianza del Pacífico – that will allow tourists to visit all four countries on just one visa.
  • Peru dropped business visa requirements for the other three members.
  • The four current members agreed to open joint embassies in Africa and Asia.
  • The countries will conduct a coordinated trade mission in Africa and tourism promotion globally.
  • The creation of a fund to support small and medium sized businesses.
  • A fiscal transparency agreement to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes.
  • Agreement on educational exchanges, including 400 annual scholarships.
  • Agreement to consolidate a scientific network on adapting to climate change challenges.
  • Mexico signed an agreement with Chile to export meat.
  • Mexico moved forward on integration into the Integrated Latin American stock Market (MILA).
  • Costa Rica signed a free trade agreement with Colombia.
  • Guatemala and Peru will have a free trade agreement within the next few months.
  • Guatemala dropped its tourist visa requirements for Colombia.

Decreasing Trade Barriers and Increasing Economic Growth

This initiative is a significant step forward to synchronize members’ trade commitments and is aimed at enhancing trade with the bloc’s most dynamic partners in East Asia.

The Pacific Alliance numbers speak for themselves. These four economies are the most dynamic in the region, representing more than 40 percent of Latin America’s economy with a market of more than 210 million people—more than one-third of the region’s population. Since 2010, these four economies have grown at a higher rate than their neighbors and have also invested at a greater rate—25 percent of their combined gross domestic product (compared to just 20 percent elsewhere).

The Pacific Alliance is already having an effect on regional politics. Daniel Duquenal posts,

Brazil in recent years had a campaign to gain a permanent seat in the security council of the United Nations. All the efforts have been lost, I dare say with the recent fiascoes. How can a country aspire to such a rank when it is unable to protect democracy in its area of influence, and furthermore generates deep divisions as it may happen soon between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance? Clearly Itamaraty hopes of world leadership are seriously compromised as its actors are revealed to be mere grocery shop managers, more worried about Venezuela paying its bills to them than the long term perspective. Or mere amoral operatives if you prefer. Let’s say it: Brazil is not ready for the major leagues, Colombia is.

Democracy, free trade, investment and immigration: keys to the well being of the region, and the world.


Kobe beef is a scam

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

For the past two years, it has not been any kind of Japanese beef at all.

You may have had an imitation from the Midwest, Great Plains, South America or Australia, where they produce a lot of what I call “Faux-be” beef. You may have even had a Kobe imposter from Japan before 2010. It is now illegal to import (or even hand carry for personal consumption) any Japanese beef. Before 2010 you could import only boneless fresh Japanese beef, but none was real Kobe. Under Japanese law, Kobe beef can only came from Hyogo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital city), where no slaughterhouses were approved for export by the USDA. According to its own trade group, the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association in Japan, where Kobe Beef is a registered trademark, Macao is the only place it is exported to – and only since last year. If you had real Kobe beef in this country in recent years, someone probably smuggled it in their luggage.

Wait until Michelle Obama finds out.

(h/t Instapundit)

UPDATE,
Linked by Maggie’s Farm. Thanks!


Mediatheque: The building that still stands

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Anyone who watched this video of the March 11 Japan earthquake,

can only be in awe of the fact that the building is not only still standing, but preserved its structural integrity after the 9.0 earthquake. Here’s the story behind it,
Why One Remained Standing

It would be easy to call the Mediatheque’s survival a miracle, but it would be wrong. The building’s extraordinary resilience was the result of a close collaboration between a creative architect and an equally creative engineer, Mutsuro Sasaki, known for his ability to devise innovative systems that turn provocative designs into safe buildings without sacrificing their original vision. Both Mr. Ito and Mr. Sasaki were mindful of lessons learned from the Kobe earthquake of 1995 that took place during the design process. Together, they went beyond Japan’s strict earthquake codes for a new aesthetic and structural model.

Mr. Sasaki began by breaking the sketch down into its structural parts—floor, beam, column and foundation. Mr. Ito’s slender floor slabs were impossible to achieve in concrete without the conventional support of beams or walls; they would have been far too heavy and deep. Instead, Mr. Sasaki used a steel “sandwich” strengthened internally by a network of steel ribs for a slender floor plate only 15¾ inches thick. The welding technique was borrowed from shipyard building.

The stacked floor plates of a multistory building are customarily carried on solid columns. The objective here was to make the columns as light and transparent as possible. Mr. Sasaki substituted a system of hollow steel tubes in the form of open, spiraling lattices formed by smaller steel tubes. There are 13 of these lattice tubes, but only the four largest, 20 to 30 feet in diameter, placed at the corners of the floors, support the building’s main loads.

The nine smaller tubes vary in size and diameter and are placed randomly throughout the building, some straight, some angled, echoing the idea of Mr. Ito’s “floating seaweed.” These twisted, canted, open supports have a structural strength and rigidity that increases the building’s earthquake resistance. They act as light wells and contain elevators, stairs and conduits for utilities.

At the basement level, the columns are solid and firmly fastened to a below-ground framework connected by beams that can bend and deform without breaking. The large corner columns that channel the building’s major forces to the ground also conduct the seismic energy to this framework, where 60% to 70% of it is absorbed, reducing the stresses to the building above. An engineering inspection after the earthquake determined that Mr. Sasaki’s system worked.

The building’s damage was limited, and the company will reopen up the the fourth floor this month, and the other two floors in July.

A wonderful meeting of technology and art.

26214

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 14th, 2011

LatinAmerThe entire hemisphere is listening to the news on Japan. The LatinAmericanist has a roundup of LatAm ”desaparecidos” in post-earthquake Japan

LATIN AMERICA
Buoyed by Recovery, Migrants Send Home More Money

Tsunami waves graze Latin America’s Pacific coast

ARGENTINA
Peronists seek to stifle Vargas Llosa

Why is a segment, perhaps the majority, of the Argentine electorate insensitive to these violations of the law and moral standards? In my view, for three reasons:
• Because, 60 years ago, Peronism introduced a practice of patronage politics in which the militants give their support in exchange for some privilege or gift given by the politicians. They vote with their stomachs, not with their hearts or heads.
• Because a cynical attitude prevails towards the democratic system, built on the false premise that “all politicians are equally corrupt.” (That’s not true; in Argentina there are honest politicians and officials.)
• Because many Argentines, after several generations of continuous apathy, are willing to flout the law if they obtain some benefit from it. That makes a mockery of the republican ideal of a society of thoughtful citizens, voluntarily placed under the authority of the law. That responsible attitude simply does not prevail in a country where it’s common to boast about breaking the rules.
It’s no wonder that this lamentable civic climate nurtures an atmosphere conducive to the use of fascist tactics inimical to republican virtues, a habit of using some degree of violence against those who report violations of law, or simply express opinions contrary to the official current.

Bones and human rights
Identifying skeletal remains

BRAZIL
Brazil’s labour laws
Employer, beware
An archaic labour code penalises businesses and workers alike

CHILE
Chile-Japan nexus

COLOMBIA
22 Oil Workers Are Freed

Marxist guerrillas have freed 22 of the 23 oil workers for Canadian energy company Talisman Energy Inc. who were kidnapped late Monday, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said Tuesday.

Mr. Rivera said one of the 23 was released or escaped Monday night, while the 21 others were freed early Tuesday because of heavy pursuit by Colombia’s armed forces.

Managing cities
Bogotá’s rise and fall
Can Enrique Peñalosa restore a tarnished municipal model?

Tehran says is keen to cement ties with Colombia

CUBA
Biscet freed, sent home

Gaddafi and Castro, Solidarity Between Despots

A little less Che & a little more Tea for Cuba?

Continue reading on Examiner.com: A little less Che & a little more Tea for Cuba? – Portland TEA Party | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/tea-party-in-portland-me/a-little-less-che-a-little-more-tea-for-cuba#ixzz1GaMNN1c3

ECUADOR
Tsunami waves hit the Galapagos,

HAITI
Homecoming for Haitians
After the new president is elected, the prospects for reform may hinge on returning emigres
.

HONDURAS
Narcolaboratorio podría ser de cartel de Sinaloa
Ministro de Seguridad reveló que ya se tienen pistas de involucrados hondureños. Expertos colombianos determinarán cuánta droga se producía

Honduras and its former president
Why a pariah may return
Many now have reason to want Manuel Zelaya to come home

MEXICO
Dallas News report: Path of Destruction, via Silvio Canto.

Suicidal: Obama Sends 20 More ICE Agents to Mexico… Unarmed, article also at the Washington Examiner, Obama sending more unarmed agents into Mexico

Current Mexican law bans foreign law enforcement agents from carrying weapons, even when working on an investigation–a policy over which President Obama recently expressed his approval.

American Professor Kidnapped in Mexico

ATF Let Guns “Walk” Into Hands Of Mexican Drug-Gangs?

ATF Lied, Mexicans Died, via Doug Ross.

Should Mexico Go the ‘British Way’?

México tuvo menos homicidios que varios países, incluyendo a Venezuela

los países que están por arriba de México son Brasil (con 25,3 homicidios por cada cien mil habitantes), Jamaica (32,4), Belice (32,7), Colombia (37,3), Venezuela (48,0), Sudáfrica (49,6) y El Salvador (61,0).

PBS Documentary, U.S. mayor, police chief charged with smuggling guns to Mexico

Wanted: Officers to Retake Mexico

The Storm that Swept Mexico, airing on May 15,

TRAILER – The Storm That Swept Mexico from Paradigm Productions on Vimeo.

PERU
Peru elections shaken by reports of drug money

PUERTO RICO
Third U.S. Tsunami Center May Be Headed to Puerto Rico

Walking a tightrope 60 feet above the ground, El acróbata Rick Wallenda imita en Puerto Rico la hazaña en la que murió su abuelo

VENEZUELA
BFFs

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez loses Libya stadium honour
A stadium in eastern Libya named in honour of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been stripped of its title, opposition groups say.

OAS monitor concerned with gov’t attacks on press in Venezuela

The week’s posts and podcasts,
After the Gross sentence: More concessions from Obama?
Cuba: Alan Gross sentenced to 15 yrs in prison
Congress must pass the FTAs with Colombia and Panama
Why the Obama administration’s silence on Chavez and Castro? UPDATED with VIDEO

25366

Meltdown in Japan reactor

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Red Alert: Nuclear Meltdown at Quake-Damaged Japanese Plant

A March 12 explosion at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, appears to have caused a reactor meltdown.

The key piece of technology in a nuclear reactor is the control rods. Nuclear fuel generates neutrons; controlling the flow and production rate of these neutrons is what generates heat, and from the heat, electricity. Control rods absorb neutrons — the rods slide in and out of the fuel mass to regulate neutron emission, and with it, heat and electricity generation.

Interestingly, a meltdown does not necessarily mean a nuclear disaster (emphasis added):

A meltdown occurs when the control rods fail to contain the neutron emission and the heat levels inside the reactor thus rise to a point that the fuel itself melts, generally temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing uncontrolled radiation-generating reactions and making approaching the reactor incredibly hazardous. A meltdown does not necessarily mean a nuclear disaster. As long as the reactor core, which is specifically designed to contain high levels of heat, pressure and radiation, remains intact, the melted fuel can be dealt with. If the core breaches but the containment facility built around the core remains intact, the melted fuel can still be dealt with — typically entombed within specialized concrete — but the cost and difficulty of such containment increases exponentially.

Japanese authorities have ordered an evacuation of a 12-mile radius area of the reactors.

The BBC has a map of the affected areas, including the reactors’ locations,

Map of earthquake zone in Japan - 12 March 2011

Tens of thousands of people are still unaccounted for.

Obama says,

And Japan, I’m sure, will come back stronger than ever — hopefully with our help.

Hopefully with our help?” Hell, yeah. Let’s hope the Commander in Chief realizes that the military dispatched aircraft carriers and jets loaded with hospital supplies and aid right away.

Stacy’s writing on The tsunami of posturing,

you know who’s actually helping tsunami survivors?The United States Navy, that’s who

One wishes the Commander in Chief credited them.

25433

Around the web: Tsunami and earthquake in Japan, Red Arabs, Eva in drag

Friday, March 11th, 2011

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Japan,

It is the strongest earthquake in the history of Japan. Tsunami waves are hitting areas of the Pacific. Not to be missed, the Communications Minister of Bolivia blames the earthquake and tsunami on global warming, and that people aren’t listening to Evo Morales. Richard Fernandez, however, manages to speak with reason,

Planetary forces are so enormously powerful that attempts to control the environment must often fall a far second to simply being able to survive what Mother Nature throws in humanity’s way. Man has survived on this planet by adapting; by storing away in times of safety the food, energy and resilience that are needed to recover from catastrophes he can neither foresee nor prevent.

Whirlpool created following the earthquake,

Venezuelan crude oil is now at $101/barrel. Hugo Chavez’s going to stay in power for a long time.

The soaring gasoline prices are a War On The Poor.

Jamie Glazov has panelists Michael Ledeen, Pavel Stroilov, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa and Nonie Darwish, in a Symposium: The Red Arabs

Robert Romano writes about The Phony Shutdown Showdown; The Time to Cut Spending is Now

As regular readers of this blog know, I think the compact fluorescent lightbulbs are hazardous, inefficient, a ripoff, and, worst of all, make you look like Lilly Munster. Rand Paul lets it rip on “people who believe in some choices but don’t let the consumer choose what’s in their homes”:

Joy and Stacy are arguing about feminism, again.

Michelle Obama sports a $1,000 handbag, which looks like a $40 tote from Target to my untrained eyes. John Hinderaker proposes, LET’S MAKE OBAMA KING, but John may be a little late, at least in Obama’s mind.

Where’s Mel Brooks when we need him? Eva Braun in drag as Al Jolson.

25429

Chávez threatens Toyota, GM

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Chavez parrotAnother day, another lunacy:
Venezuela’s President Threatens Toyota, GM

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, beset by a recession that is hurting his popularity, has turned his sights on international car companies, threatening them with nationalization and pledging to ramp up government intervention in their local businesses.

The populist leader has threatened to expropriate Toyota Motor Corp.’s local assembly plant if the Japanese car maker doesn’t produce more vehicles designed for rural areas and transfer new technologies and manufacturing methods to its local unit. He said other car companies were also guilty of not transferring enough technology, mentioning Fiat SpA of Italy, which controls Chrysler Group LLC, and General Motors Co.

And who’s going to take over the Toyota plant? The Chinese!

The president ordered his trade minister, Eduardo Saman, to inspect the Toyota plant. He said if the inspection shows Toyota isn’t producing what he thinks it should and isn’t transferring technology, the government may consider taking over its plant and have a Chinese company operate it.

“We’ll take it, we’ll expropriate it, we’ll pay them what it is worth and immediately call on the Chinese,” Mr. Chávez said in a televised address late Wednesday.

Curiously, the article doesn’t mention what the Chinese have to say – if anything – about this proposed arrangement.

The announcement, however, didn’t take the Japanese entirely by surprise:

Any move to nationalize would have little impact on Toyota’s bottom line. The company’s Venezuelan operations are the smallest of the four Latin American markets where it produces cars, and the Venezuelan market has dropped sharply in the past year, while other markets in the region, such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, have either held steady or grown despite the global recession.

Toyota produced about 13,000 vehicles in Venezuela last year, and sold roughly 30,000 for a market share of 11%, lower than the Japanese car maker’s share in the U.S. Globally, Toyota sold nearly nine million vehicles in 2008.

In a typical Communist move, this will adversely affect Venezuelans (who soon enough will only have Venezuela-Iran Venirauto to choose from) more than it will Toyota or the other companies.

Still, it’s a Merry Christmas message from Hugo to China, and yet another f**k you to private enterprise, Japan, Italy and the US.

Say no to the bow

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

ObamaHiroito

Why is the President of the United States bowing to foreign dignitaries?

How low will he go? Obama gives Japan’s Emperor Akihito a wow bow

Democrat president Barack Obama bows to Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko 11-09

How low will the new American president go for the world’s royalty?

This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in its downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference to a superior.

Then there’s the Saudi king,

ObamaSaudi

Ridiculous.

And we’re supposed to believe this is smart diplomacy?

UPDATE
Donald did a video commentary,

Japan warns that North Korea may fire missile at U.S. UPDATED

Friday, June 19th, 2009

on Independence Day.

Fireworks for July 4th:

North Korea may launch a long-range ballistic missile towards Hawaii on American Independence Day, according to Japanese intelligence officials.

The missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles, would be launched in early July from the Dongchang-ni site on the north-western coast of the secretive country.

Intelligence analysts do not believe the device would be capable of hitting Hawaii’s main islands, which are 4,500 miles from North Korea.

Let’s hope the islands are out of range:

4500miles

Apparently the NorKs were thinking of other targets but changed their minds lest they upset China:

Officials had initially believed that North Korea might attempt to launch a similar device towards either Japan’s Okinawa island, Guam or Hawaii.

But the ministry concluded launches toward Okinawa or Guam were ‘extremely unlikely’ because the first-stage booster could drop into waters off China, agitating Beijing, or hit western Japanese territory.

Now, let’s ponder for a moment who is propping up North Korea. Why are the Chinese going along with this?

I expect the Obama administration has a strongly-worded letter ready, just in case they need it.

UPDATE
GM Roper’s shortest post ever.

More
U.S. Fortifies Hawaii to Meet Threat From Korea

The U.S. is moving ground-to-air missile defenses to Hawaii as tensions escalate between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s recent moves to restart its nuclear-weapon program and resume test-firing long-range missiles.

Here’s a photo of floating radar platform:

floatingradar

Then there’s that ship, too

In another sign of America’s mounting concern about North Korea, a senior defense official said the U.S. is tracking a North Korean vessel, the Kang Nam, suspected of carrying weapons banned by a recent United Nations resolution.

North Korea threatens strike

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

While we wallow in empathy, North Korea is getting bolder:

First they dropped the bomb on another test, then they launched an additional short-range missile from its east coast Tuesday night, and now North Korea Threatens Armed Strike, End to Armistice

- North Korea threatened a military response to South Korean participation in a U.S.-led program to seize weapons of mass destruction, and said it will no longer abide by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

“The Korean People’s Army will not be bound to the Armistice Agreement any longer,” the official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement today. Any attempt to inspect North Korean vessels will be countered with “prompt and strong military strikes.” South Korea’s military said it will “deal sternly with any provocation” from the North.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il has challenged President Obama more in four months than he did President George W. Bush in eight years.

Looking at it from the insane point of view of North Korea, what is the downside? A strongly-worded letter from the US, or one from the UN?

UPDATE
Time for a nuclear Japan:

Allahpundit weighs in on Sino-American relations.