Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tokyo gets funding boost in 2016 Olympic bid

Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics has received a boost, with the city government saying it will allocate an additional $1.1 billion for the Games in its 2009 budget.

Tokyo’s organizers say the decision by the Tokyo metropolitan government adds to the claim that their bid is the most financially secure of the 2016 applications at a time of global economic uncertainty.

The fresh cash injection of $1.1 billion increases Tokyo’s contingency fund for the Games to $4.4 billion.

“Financial stability is one of our strengths,” Tokyo’s 2016 bid communications manager Masanori Takaya said Saturday. “Even amid the worldwide economic downturn we already have more than $4.4 billion. There will be no budget concerns for the Games.”

The Japanese capital, which hosted the Olympics in 1964, is competing with Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Tokyo’s bid topped the International Olympic Committee’s technical evaluation in June, but Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential election was seen to boost the hopes of his adopted city of Chicago.

However, Tokyo organizers say the financial stability of their bid and a promise to stage a compact Games makes it an attractive choice.

“The 2009 budget is further confirmation of our financial strength and security which we believe is important to the IOC in these difficult economic times,” bid chairman Ichiro Kono said in a statement.

The IOC will vote on the host city on Oct 2, 2009.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Doyadoya 2009 - video どやどや

Doya doya is a dynamic event on the final day of Shushoe. Young men wearing headbands and clad in loincloth struggle for possession of Go Hoin, a cow god amulet. With their brave shouts of doya doya, so-called strength water poured on them evaporates quickly from their bodies due to heat and energy. 大阪・四天王寺で寒さ吹き飛ばす「どやどや」 2009.1.14

Thursday, January 08, 2009

20th anniversary of death of Emperor Hirohito marked

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko commemorated the 20th anniversary of the death of Emperor Hirohito at his tomb in Tokyo on Wednesday. About 80 people, including Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko, as well as Prime Minister Taro Aso, attended the ceremony at the Musashino Mausoleum.

Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako took part in another ceremony at the Imperial Palace with traditional costumes, representing the emperor and the empress, according to the Imperial Household Agency. The late emperor, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, died on Jan 7, 1989.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Japan to ask Tokyo Gov Ishihara to make key speech for 2016 bid

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda plans to ask outspoken Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara to make a presentation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June for the Japanese capital’s bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. ‘‘We need Governor Ishihara, who is also the bid committee chief, to make an appeal,’’ Takeda said Monday, referring to the occasion when the four finalist cities will be granted the opportunity to speak before International Olympic Committee members.

The IOC will name the host city of the 2016 Olympics from among Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro at its general assembly meeting in Copenhagen in October 2009. ‘‘I believe the governor knows he is the one. He is a charismatic person known even to the media overseas,’’ said Mitsuru Arakawa, a senior official of the 2016 Tokyo Olympics campaign.
Tokyo is bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games but Japan should look at basic Human Rights Issues and only then after international events!

Amnesty International argues that the Japanese justice system tends to place great reliance on confessions and it has been claimed that these may be obtained under duress. According to a 2005 Amnesty International report:

“Most have been sentenced to death on the basis of confessions extracted under duress. The potential for miscarriages of justice is built into the system: confessions are typically extracted while suspects are held in daiyo kangoku, or “substitute prisons”, for interrogation before they are charged. In practice these are police cells, where detainees can be held for up to 23 days after arrest, with no state-funded legal representation. They are typically interrogated for 12 hours a day: no lawyers can be present, no recordings are made, and they are put under constant pressure to confess. Once convicted, it is very difficult to obtain a re-trial and prisoners can remain under sentence of death for many years.”

Amnesty International also reports of allegations of abuse of suspects during these interrogations. There are reports of physical abuse, sleep deprivation and denial of food, water and use of a toilet. It also criticises the fact that inmates usually remain for years, sometimes decades, on death row, knowing that executions come with little warning and each day may potentially be their last. According to Amnesty International, the intense and prolonged stress means many inmates on death row have poor mental health, suffering from the so called Death row phenomenon. The failure to give advanced notice of executions has been stated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee to be incompatible with articles 2, 7, 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Link to this post if you are against Death Penalty


Japan to launch project to enhance competitiveness of Olympians

A national project to enhance the competitiveness of Japan’s Olympic athletes is poised to kick off in April with the aim of boosting the country’s medal count toward the 2016 Summer Games, which Tokyo is bidding to host.

The project, the first of its kind sponsored by the sports ministry, is designed to provide intensive support for athletes considered to be Olympic medal contenders. Its first goal is to double the medal count that Japan achieved at last year’s Beijing Olympics at the next Games.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has earmarked 600 million yen for the project in its fiscal 2009 draft budget, in addition to the money distributed to individual sports federations for their programs to develop athletes.

Under the ministry’s project, eight teams of experts, including doctors, counselors, physical trainers and scouting staff, will be created with each doling out support for top-level athletes, particularly those capable of winning gold medals.

National coaches will also be named for around 17 sporting events in which Japan is believed to have strong medal chances. People familiar with the project said the list would likely include judo and swimming, Japan’s traditional sources of medals, as well as canoeing, in which the country missed out on its first-ever Olympic medal in the sport in Beijing.

‘‘As a national strategy, we are looking to increase the number of medals our athletes win,’’ a senior ministry official said.

Japan won 25 medals in Beijing, including nine golds. The number does not include a bronze due to be awarded to hammer thrower Koji Murofushi after two Belarusian medalists tested positive for banned drugs.

Besides doubling the number of medals at the 2012 London Games, the project envisions lifting Japan from 11th at Beijing to fifth or higher in the total medals standings.

Tokyo is bidding for the 2016 Games and the host city will be named by the International Olympic Committee on Oct. 2 from among the Japanese capital, Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What is bushido?

Bushidō (武士道, Bushidō), meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor until death. Born of two main influences, the violent existence of the samurai was tempered by the wisdom and serenity of Confucianism and Buddhism. Bushidō developed between the 9th to 12th centuries and numerous translated documents dating from the 12th to 16th centuries demonstrate its wide influence across the whole of Japan.

According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, "Bushidō is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period." In Bushido: The Soul of Japan (1899), author Nitobe Inazō wrote: "...Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe... More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten... It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career."

Nitobe was really not the first person to document Japanese chivalry in this way. In his text Feudal and Modern Japan (1896) Historian Arthur May Knapp wrote:

"The samurai of thirty years ago had behind him a thousand years of training in the law of honor, obedience, duty, and self-sacrifice..... It was not needed to create or establish them. As a child he had but to be instructed, as indeed he was from his earliest years, in the etiquette of self-immolation. The fine instinct of honor demanding it was in the very blood..."

Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, aspects of Bushidō became formalized into Japanese Feudal Law.

Translation of documents related to Bushidō began in the 1970s with Dr. Carl Steenstrup who performed a lifetime of research into the ethical codes of famous Samurai clans including Hojo Soun and Imagawa Ryoshun. Steenstrup's 1977 dissertation at Harvard University was entitled "Hôjô Shigetoki (1198–1261) and his Role in the History of Political and Ethical Ideas in Japan".

According to the editors of Monumenta Nipponica, "Tens of thousands of documents survive from the medieval period... Only a few have been translated into English, or are likely ever to appear in translation." One of the oldest English-language academic journals in the field of Asian studies, much of Dr. Steenstrup's significant findings were written for MN.

Primary research into Bushidō was later conducted by William Scott Wilson in his 1982 text "Ideals of the Samurai: Writings of Japanese Warriors" . The writings span hundreds of years, family lineage, geography, social class and writing style--yet share a common set of values. Wilson's work also examined the earliest Japanese writings in the 8th century: the Kojiki (712 AD), Shoku Nihongi (797 AD), the Kokin Wakashū (early 10th century), Konjaku Monogatari (CA 1106 AD) and the Heike Monogatari (1371), as well as the Chinese Classics (the Analects, the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, and the Mencius (CA 500 BC)).

In May, 2008, Thomas Cleary translated a collection of 22 writings on bushido "by warriors, scholars, political advisors, and educators". The comprehensive collection provides a historically rich view of samurai life and philosophy. The book gives an insider's view of the samurai world: "the moral and psychological development of the warrior, the ethical standards they were meant to uphold, their training in both martial arts and strategy, and the enormous role that the traditions of Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism had in influencing samurai ideals." The translations, in 22 chapters, span nearly 500 years from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Some people in Japan as well as other countries follow the same virtues listed above under the philosophical term modern bushidō. The idea was derived from the fact that the Japanese male should be able to adapt his beliefs and philosophies to a changing world.

In an excerpt of James Williams' article "Virtue of the sword", a fairly simple explanation of modern bushidō can be found:

The warrior protects and defends because he realizes the value of others. He knows that they are essential to society and, in his gift of service, recognizes and values theirs... take the extra moment in dark parking lots at night to make sure that a woman gets into her car safely before leaving yourself. Daily involvement in acts such as these are as much a part of training as time spent in the dojo, and indeed should be the reason for that time spent training... When faced with a woman or child in a situation in which they are vulnerable, there are two types of men: those who would offer succor and aid, and those who would prey upon them.

It has been thought that the code of Bushidō is dead as expressed by many swordsman. This is still being debated today. Many argue that it has passed away in this new era with the arrival of new cold and heartless guns and weapons. But there are those who think not. As it was famously put by Ali Armani the previous second strongest in the world.

"A swordsman's path shall never end, nor will the code of Bushidō. As long as there's someone to protect, as long as there is someone to carry on the code of Bushidō, it will not die. There will always be injustice and suffering, and one swordsman can't change the world, no matter how strong he or she is. But I can always protect those in my sight. I will always protect the weak and helpless, for that is the true code of Bushidō and I shall achieve this without taking a single human life. There will always be someone who will carry on my will and hold the sword which I hold, and carry on the code for it is something that needs to be pure and true, not altered by greed or evil. So if one billion people follow it wrongfully, or just a handful follow it righteously, it is the handful that are the true and strongest of all."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ex-lawmaker Nagata jumps to death in Fukuoka

Former House of Representatives member Hisayasu Nagata, who resigned as a parliamentarian in April 2006 after using a fake email message to grill a ruling party lawmaker, jumped to his death from an apartment building in an apparent suicide in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Saturday. Nagata, 39, had left a note to his family and an empty 1.8-liter pack of ‘‘shochu’’ distilled spirit on a staircase landing between the 10th and 11th floors of the building, according to local police.

A resident called police at around 6:30 p.m. Saturday after finding Nagata collapsed in the apartment’s parking lot, and his death was confirmed shortly past 7 p.m. at a hospital where he was taken. Nagata had recently been released from a hospital after a suicide attempt in November.

In February 2006, Nagata, who was then a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, claimed on the basis of the email message that Takafumi Horie, founder of Internet firm Livedoor Co, had ordered a subordinate to pay 30 million yen to ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Tsutomu Takebe’s son before the 2005 general election, in which Horie ran unsuccessfully.

But the message was later found to have been fabricated, and Nagata submitted his resignation in April 2006 to take responsibility for disrupting parliamentary business by using the fake message to attack Takebe during a lower house Budget Committee session.

Nagata attempted to commit suicide in November last year while convalescing in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

A University of Tokyo graduate and former Finance Ministry bureaucrat, he had been elected three times to the lower house since 2000.