Monthly Archives: March 2013

Truth stranger than fiction: From Gaijin Gulag to Stalag Sheepshagger

Picking up some gossip from Fucked Gaijin, I see that Michael Q Todd has this to say on Facebook:

Michael Q Todd The tax department say I owe them money Luigi so I was not allowed on the plane. May be here a while as they have no inclination to sort out their mistakes. Will probably have to take them to court

It seems that he has been refused permission to depart from New Zealand until he sorts out some tax issues. I’m sure it’s all a big mistake, as he said previously on Japan Probe (my emphasis):

4. I do do some social media related work but online and pay tax in New Zealand (we have a reciprocal agreement with Japan). Lots of people are getting paid from work done in other countries while on visitor visas in Japan.
As you have suggested who would be stupid enough to go to Taiji or work in Japan without a valid visa.


PS: Guys (in particular Mr Dolphins), please leave the character assassination to Fucked Gaijin, thanks!

PPS: For any lawyers reading, obviously Mr Todd has not been detained, but the whole of New Zealand is metaphorically a prison preventing returning to where he feels his true home is, Tokyo.

Daily Express prints Fookooshimar utter tripe

This article in today’s Daily Express (UK) is even worse than EneNews!

First up, we have a composite picture (I thought newspapers were supposed to indicate when they used them?) of the tsunami aftermath with two boys (there might be a third at the bottom) cut and pasted in. I wonder if they or their parents are aware how their photo is being used?

No one has so far died as a result of radiation from Fukushima, insist the authorities.

Yay FUD!

Most worrying are the results of tests carried out on more than 130,000 children who lived around Fukushima. More than 40 per cent have the early signs of thyroid cancer

We’ve dealt with this before.

Many more, living up to 25 miles away, were not moved away until six weeks after the radiation escaped.

The evacuation zone was only 30 km. Or are they talking about Iitate and Kawamata, etc?

the new sea wall that has been built against future tidal waves hardly inspires confidence.

Is there actually a new seawall?

While the 12-mile zone closest to the plant will remain off limits to all but the brave or foolhardy,

Aren’t they busy removing the restrictions of many of the towns?

According to one scientist the radiation released was about 10 per cent of the Chernobyl disaster, which may have caused up to a million premature cancer deaths.

Is that one scientist or two scientists?

Another expert claims the true figure is nearer to 40 per cent.


Dr Rianne Teule, a radiation expert with Greenpeace, says: "The potential effects of radiation from Fukushima have been shamelessly down played. It could be many years before we discover the real impact and some of the risks are being ignored."

I think that is quite impressive weasel wording. "potential", "could", "risks" – I cannot argue with what this expert says as they do not actually say anything…

Yet on an agreed international scale of one to 10 for nuclear accidents, Fukushima is rated seven.


There are false rumours spreading about birth defects among Fukushima babies

So why mention them?

Doctors handed out iodine tablets to residents to limit absorption of radiation.

No. Well, yes, some were handed out well after the event, but no-one was supposed to take them as it was far too late to "save[…] countless lives" with them.

Japan, which is close to a geological fault line

Slightly more than one…

two have reopened to help the struggling economy.

That’s not why they reopened Ooi!

Japan Times sells out!

You might have read the news that the Japan Times has entered into an agreement with the New York Times to publish an international edition of the NYT (the International Herald-Tribune rebranded) as, if one takes the article at face value, a stand-alone supplement for the current JT contents.

It sounds as if the price is going up, and I wonder if there will be redundancies amongst the full-time staff? I’ve certainly noticed in the last year in particular many of the writers straying from intellectual leftie-ism (Guardian-esque) to tabloid-style reporting where the writers’ opinions get in the way of the news, which even before this deal appeared I put down to end-of-term excitement due to some impending shrinking of the business. Another interesting point is that the NYT is famous for its paywall – will the JT also disappear behind one? What will happen to the Historical Record™? I’ve noticed that since the move to WordPress as a CMS, all old stories have "been removed from the main website and buried within a new link", as someone once said.

Japan Today already has the market covered in internet-based Japan wire service collation plus a few commissioned articles from semi-coherent writers, so what does the future hold for the Japan Times writers?

A fried rat and a love rat

Here are two stories that caught my eye. First we have mutant rodents sabotaging Fukushima. Many of the TV reports I saw pointed out that (a) they still only have a lorry on site with all the switching gear on it, and (b) there is no built-in redundancy in their power supply and they are all interconnected, so when one popped a fuse making rat toast, they all fell over in succession on detecting an anomaly in the power lines, or something like that.

Second, we have a child custody battle between Australia and Japan, with the rodent this time being what appears to be a love rat:

According to the judgment, he convinced the mother, who he met while his first wife was pregnant, with the promise of a reconciliation to their own troubled marriage on arrival in Australia.

But that didn’t happen. Pregnant and alone, she was convinced to hand her in-laws legal guardianship of the boy while she returned to Japan, where her ex-husband was working, to sort out her affairs.

While she was there, she caught him cheating with his now fiance. When she called her mother-in-law to declare she wanted her son back, she was told the boy was going to New Zealand to live.


This story also has a little bit of Fookooshimar:

He granted the mother sole parental responsibility, finding the boy was not at "unacceptable risk" from radiation exposure back in Japan.

Looking at the court judgement (PDF), it appears that the mother lives in Tokyo, and paragraph 191 says:

Each country has risks. In Australia, there are risks from venomous spiders, sharks, bushfires, floods and other natural or man-made dangers. In the Court’s view it is not a matter of placing a child in a position where the risks of the ordinary exigencies of life are non-existent.

An article on I 100% agree with

He says in this article:

For the record, this section:

Nicolson has found the time and energy to lead a group of cyber-bullies who hounded US-born rights activist, author and Japan Times columnist Debito Arudou out of Japan.

is not true. I am in Hawaii for research purposes, working on my PhD. Activities in cyberspace are unconnected to my overseas hiatus.

Thank you very much Mr Arudou, and I do mean that most sincerely!

This article makes my brain hurt

Mr Arudou had an article published on Japan Focus entitled "Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance", the basic thrust of which will be familiar to regular readers of this or his blog, so I won’t dwell too much on the arguments.

However, the article is very, very hard to read, not just due to my unfamiliarity with sociological writing style, but some of the grammar is quite, quite wonky, and the interchanging of "ordinance", "bill" and "law" with gay abandon just confirms my views on the peer review process that goes on in the journal; I’m sure VK will have much, much more to say on this topic. "Unproblematized" fair got on my tits too.

As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed from the main Tottori Prefectural website and buried within a new link.

Rubbish. They moved the web site to a new domain and a new CMS, so all the old links stopped working.

“foreigners” in Japan had become a political football within a whirlwind of time, money, organization, and energy devoted to nationalistic, xenophobic, and exclusionary causes

I haven’t an emoticon to illustrate my reaction to the above!

Given this political climate, any public support for universal “human rights issues” in Japan will remain political poison for any legislator as long as there is any alleged benefit to “foreigners.”

So why is the government going to sign the Hague Convention?

Abenomics is popular here, right?

There was a William Pesek opinion piece in the Japan Times recently that had this line:

Yet optimism about "Abenomics" is mostly an overseas phenomenon. Even though they elected his party, few Japanese seem to view him as the savior they have been waiting decades for.

Why do the Japanese keep give him and his cabinet 70% ratings then? And I thought most overseas people (in money markets at least) disliked Abenomics as they feel it reeks of exchange rate fixing?

This is just a space-filler article until I get round to doing this one

Thyroid abnormalities all across Japan

The latest news via NHK will probably surprise few if any of my regular readers, namely that kids outside of Fukushima were found to have an even higher rate of thyroid nodules!

Japan Times columnist trolling another columnist again!

This has happened before, with the same two people involved, and I still don’t think this is fitting for a serious newspaper. Gregory Clark writes:

together with a self-aggrandizing “black list” blog bizarrely accusing AIU of anti-foreigner discrimination, hampered for a while the recruitment of quality foreign teachers (rules to prevent such Internet abuse cannot come too quickly).

:roll: I’m not sure exactly what "rules" he has in mind, though. I would have thought that existing laws would cover Mr Clark’s needs for what he views (I presume) as libel or defamation, but I find it amusing that the so-called "self-aggrandizer" also shares his view for the need to remove inappropriate speech from the internet.

70% more Fukushima kids will die of cancer!

This Associated Press article was widely syndicated, and Washington Post was the first hit I got from Google:

Two years after Japan’s nuclear plant disaster, an international team of experts said Thursday that residents of areas hit by the highest doses of radiation face an increased cancer risk so small it probably won’t be detectable.

But then:

In fact, experts calculated that increase at about 1 extra percentage point added to a Japanese infant’s lifetime cancer risk.

That, to me, is written to suggest that all Japanese infants have a one extra percentage point, but we see further down:

Normally in Japan, the lifetime risk of developing cancer of an organ is about 41 percent for men and 29 percent for women. The new report said that for infants in the most heavily exposed areas, the radiation from Fukushima would add about 1 percentage point to those numbers.

It seems clear to me that this one percentage point refers to those directly exposed, not to Japan as a whole, and common sense would suggest that given an evacuated population of a few hundred thousand, or less than 0.5% of the population, just about everyone from that sample would have to get cancer to influence the national figures by one percentage point. Therefore I conclude that the one percentage point refers to those most directly affected, and the general population will see no effect.

More extracts:

“This will fuel fears in Japan that could be more dangerous than the physical effects of radiation,” she [Gerry Thomas, a professor of molecular pathology at Imperial College London] said, noting that people living under stress have higher rates of heart problems, suicide and mental illness.


Kanno [Norio Kanno, the chief of Iitate village] accused the report’s authors of exaggerating the cancer risk and stoking fear among residents.

My headline is of course a total lie and distortion of the report, but I am sure some people will use it, if they are not too busy discrediting the WHO.