Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Benefits for Bogus Information

The North Koreans can strike deals like nobodies business. The Japanese have agreed to loosen some sanctions in return for North Korea's assurance of investigating further the issue of the Japanese abductees. I haven't heard if they are investigating further the cases they have already claimed are dead or those they claim never happened. Either way, any "findings" from an investigation that counters North Korea's current stance can only lead to further demands and anger on the part of the Japanese. And any "findings" that reveal what North Korea has already stated won't be accepted as credible. Unless the Japanese are being allowed to go in and investigate or observe the investigation I see that little will come of this new move. Except more tension when the unhappy results of any investigation become known. But kudos to the North Koreans for getting a do-over on this issue. They certainly botched it the first time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Good bye Japan

I wanted the heading to be 'sainaro (spelling) Japan' but I'm sooo tired and couldn't be asked to walk the three steps to my bag to find my phrase book for figure out the right spelling. The most interesting things is the differences and similarities between Japan and Korea. I'm still trying to work out if there is any rhyme or reason behind them (are they along economic, political lines or some other type of category). We had dinner tonight to celebrate the end of a successful trip and the dinner could easily have been in Korea. Everyone sitting on the floor, drinks aplenty, moving around and talking to each other, ridiculous amounts of food (no rice!). Actually the type of food was a bit different (Japanese versus Korean food) and although we enjoyed some drinks, it wasn't as crazy as Koreans sometimes gets. Although that could be a feature of the group I was with tonight and not something to generalize. 

Watching Japanese tv coverage of the Olympics is great. In every country they focus on their own sports people (rightly so) so it is great to view some sports I don't usually follow and to see what the Japanese are interested in. Right now we are following fencing. 

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Word on the street in Japan...

How would I know, I don't speak Japanese. However, word over the dinner table is that elections aren't due just yet but are being eagerly anticipated due to Fukuda's low popularity.  

Its pretty steamy hot here in Tokyo. Thankfully, unlike London, the Japanese have heard of, and use, air-conditioning.  Hooray for them.  

South Korea
It seems like Bush's trip to Korea went pretty smoothly. No big headlines except for his statement on North Korea. Blah, blah, blah. 

Olympics - let the sports fest begin
And now for the next couple of weeks we can get down to the important sporting matters of the Beijing Olympics. 

Monday, August 04, 2008

World Tour - on the march again

Three weeks after returning from the Americas (US & Canada) leg of the 2008 world tour, I am off again. This time to Japan (the third trip to that country this year!). I'll be visiting Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo - first time for both Osaka and Sapporo My carbon footprint is now well and truly black. On the plus side I'm hoping that my frequent flyer points will be sufficient to allow for a shorter trip later this year.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has replaced 13 out of 17 ministers in a major cabinet re-vamp. Not that this is likely to do a great deal for his low popularity. More changes are afoot with Lower House elections due in the coming weeks. I don't usually comment on Japanese politics but I'm going guess that Fukuda hasn't got too long to go before he is replaced by an equally lack-lustre old dude who promises reform but does nada.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui