News Marathon 2: Price Predictions: “Minced Cod”

Demand for meat replacement brings bullish prices

The prices for American “Minced Cod” which is the basis for “Kamaboko”, “Chikuwa” and other processed boiled fish paste products are expected to become bullish. The demand for a replacements arising out of BSE and Avian flu breakouts in Europe and Asia are causing a rise inquiries about fillets (sold in threes). Meanwhile, the production of mince is falling, so fears of a shortage are placing focus on bream and other “golden thread” fish. However, high oil prices are predicted to cause a slump in fish harvests. Domestic inventory is at a low standard, and we are likely to see more and more markets trying out a price increase by the fall season.

Price negotiations for American produced Minced Cod are conducted twice a year in spring and fall between the American and Japanese fishing industries

Importers were demanding a price drop due to domestic fish cake makers’ profit deterioration, but with a worldwide expansion in demand looming, the spring negotiations this year decided on the 3rd straight price increase.

Producers are shifting from mince to fillets, which have a higher unit price, making the fears of a mince shortage high. Due to this, there was a partial movement to use “golden-thread” as a replacement. However, last year’s import quantity was 54,060 tonnes, a 14% decrease from the previous year. According to a fishing company, this is because of “the lackluster response from the consumer.”

This year, with an increase in cost of fishing boat operation due to the rising price of crude oil, and harvest amounts shaky, there are some who predict that domestic influx may be limited. There is a movement among fishing companies to find other replacements, but at present they have not found a promising contender.

The Farming, Forest, and Fisheries Minsitry says that minced Cod inventories were 41,937 tonnes at the end of this March, 23% lower than they were in March of last year. With an increasing crunch in supply and demand, wholesale prices for frozen minced Cod increased 13% to 295 yen per kilogram. Depending on the supply quantity for the fall season, further price increases are likely. (KM)

News Marathon 1: Kitakyushu Police officer on vacation looks away while driving, hits and kills 2


Fukuoka Pref. Tagawa Precinct 2nd Division Security Section Chief Patrol Officer Uchigata Daisuke (30 of Fukuoka pref. Tagawa-shi, Nara) hit 2 men crossing Prefectural Road 2 of Numamoto-cho, Ogura-minami-ku, Kitakyushu in his car at 2am May 29th.

Araki Hakafumi (64 of Soita-cho Nakamotodera) died immediately after receiving a strong blow to the head, and Tone Eisaku (79 of Oguraminami Kamiyoshida 3) died soon after breaking his spine.

According to reports of Oguraminami Precinct, Uchigata was on his way back to his hometown in Kitakyushu City on holiday. “I was distracted by a restaurant’s sign on the side of the road, so I was looking over at that,” he explained.

Oguraminami prefecture is questioning Uchigata on suspicion of negligent homicide while on duty, but they do not plan to arrest him. The precinct explains, “There is no fear of flight or hiding of evidence. The victims were crossing the street outside of a pedestrian crosswalk, so the level of negligence is rather low.”

Araki was reportedly on his way to a nearby restaurant with a number of people at the time.

Chief Sakai Yoshio of Tagawa Precinct said, “We express deep apologies to the families of the deceased. We will continue to work to the full ability of our leadership to prevent similar incidents” (Kyodo News)

The best advertisement for learning martial arts ever

This short video (about 10 seconds) on a Russian news website is just amazing. I can’t read a word of Russian, but according to Babelfish,

To robber they broke neck (VIDEO) not always the attempts to select in those surrounding things conclude with the success of robbers. The camera of internal observation, established in one of the elevators of Tokyo office, fixed the unique case, when they gave worthy rebuff to criminal. With the broken neck it was delivered into the hospital, and girl after the dacha of indications in the police station was with the peace tempered vosvoyasi.

Vosvoyasi indeed. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Incidentally, the Japanese word next to the time code in the corner of the screen is Kodansha, the name of a famous Japanese publishing company. I suppose it was filmed from a security camera in the office of their building.

Thanks for the link goes to Redlunatic.

Arrival in Taipei

I’m dead tired. I arrived in Newark airport at about 10pm New York time tuesday night. Boarding at 12.30 Five hour flight to Seattle. Two hour wait. Twelve hour flight to Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek airport, arrival 7.30am. Bus to Taipei station. On the way I pass Mosburger several times. Mosburger is the Japanese answer to McDonald’s, and the absolute unrivaled king of burger-form fastfood. Not aware that it existed anywhere outside of Japan I am thrilled far out of proportion to the actual significance of this discovery.

Arriving at the train station it takes me a few minutes to figure out exactly where the hostel is. Thirteenth floor of a building, above an electronics mall with Acer, Apple, iRiver, Asus, MSI, BenQ stores is not the place one you would expect to find a youth hostel, but when they said “right across the street from Taipei main station” they meant it-doubting only causes me to walk back and forth a few times, the strap of my portable computer carrying case wearing out my shoulder muscles.

I check in, I prepaid on the internet but I don’t have an Internation Youth Hostel membership card so I give him a few dollars to register for one of those before I’m allowed in. I’m sharing a room with a couple of Japanese guys who just arrived from Korea and leave for the Phillipines in a week. They are planning to travel all the way around the world. “How long will it take”, I ask.” Hmmm, maybe a year”, Ohta ventures. Clearly their plans are not fixed. I ask what their plan for the day is? “I think we’ll go see this”, he says. “What?” I ask stupidly, when I realize he is wearing a yoda shirt, and his friend (whom I think is named Kobayashi) has Darth Vader on his chest. “Ah yes, I saw that last week. Definitely better than the last two. But of course, if you’re enough of a fan to wear a t-shirt there’s really no question about going is there?”

I go to take a shower. Slightly confused at first, as the toilet stalls and shower stalls are the very same. Let me be clear, because I thought my eyes deceived me at first. The shower is mounted above the toilet, and the toilet seat becomes soaked as you shower next to it. I suppose it’s an efficient use of space, but I am a little shocked. This design would be anathema in Japan, where they don’t generally even allow the toilet and shower to be separate stalls in the same room, much less so… interactive.

I go down the block to the subway station, and look around the underground bookshop for a while before I go into the purchase area. I’m pleased to see that a moderately sized general bookstore has specifically marked off sections for fantasy and science fiction. It is all in Chinese, but I notice that much of it is translated from Japanese authors, and probably most of the rest from western languages. I also note that there are books in English scattered throughout the store, mixed in with the appropriate topical section, not segregated in an English corner. I recall what I had read about the linguistic history of Taiwan. Originally inhabited by aborigines speaking Pacific island languages, Fujianese and Hakka settlers from southern China, colonization by Dutch, expulsion of the Dutch and a larger influx of Chinese, speaking a mix of southern dialects. Annexation by Japan around turn of 20th century, imperial rulers gradually implement replacement of Chinese with Japanese, particularly effective in education and literary worlds-for a time in the 30’s and 40’s even native Taiwanese are writing literature in the Japanese language. Following Japan’s defeat in the second world war Taiwan is given to the Republic of China, the government of which decides to supress Japanese as well as all non-Mandarin dialects, a policy which continues in full force until the 80’s and I believe is still gradually leveling off. The author’s theory seemed to be that the history of language on Taiwan has led to a culture in which many people have a more relaxed distinction between native and foreign languages. I consider that a single bookstore in which English books are shelved alongside Chinese books does not make for a broad sample.

Highlights From Today’s State Department Press Briefing

I went to another State Dept. briefing today. I even got to ask a question:

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we’ve got one more in the back. That’s it?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) [ed: they censored where I said I’m from West Japan Daily] Private Charles Jenkins has been issued a passport by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and he wants to meet with his 91-year-old mother in North Carolina. When is he coming and will he face charges when he arrives?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the issue of charges and the military has already been dealt with. I don’t think there’s anything more on that. You can check with the Pentagon.

As far as when is he coming to see his mother that would be between him and his mother. I don’t have anything on it.

Ouch. Some unscrupulous (kidding!) journalists at TBS ripped off my question and used it in their broadcasts. You can watch it here. At least I wasn’t the only one who thought it was newsworthy!

The same “French” guy I mentioned last time had another colorful exchange with Boucher today. He’s actually Serbian or something (Something Seprus):

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, since this coming Friday, May 27th, is the beginning of the process of the creation of an independent Kosovo, may I raise a couple of questions without interruptions, however?

MR. BOUCHER: I don’t think we’ve put out an announcement like that.

QUESTION: Excuse me?

MR. BOUCHER: I don’t think that’s quite the right way to characterize May 27th [ed: He’s being sarcastic because May 27th hasn’t happened yet], but go on.
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