Quick lesson in METI ineptitude: The PSE Law explained

Yes, the PSE Law (which would have banned the sale of some used video game consoles and almost all vintage musical instruments) has been thoroughly declawed. Thank god. But weren’t you the least bit curious about how this all got started? I was, so it was especially interesting for me to come across this article in the 3/25/2006 issue of Japanese business weekly, Shukan Toyo Keizai (Weekly Oriental Economy, link opens PDF file). Some highlights (translated where it was easy, abstracted where it was a pain):

Something’s Wrong Here, METI! (Part 2): Used Goods Sold No More?! Analysis of METI’s teeter-tottering over the PSE Law

A scandal began when a used goods dealer asked a question to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

It was October 2005 when a letter arrived at the headquarters of major used goods chain Hard Off Corporation. It said: “Pursuant to the Product Safety Electrical Appliance and Material Law (PSE Law), electric appliances without the “PSE label” can no longer be sold as of April 1. Please take note.”

The sender was Victor JVC. It was addressed to vendors stores selling the company’s products. Hard Off, though mainly dealing in used goods, sells some new items, so it was as if by chance that the letter made it there.

President Ken Nagahashi of Hard Off was worried: Does “can no longer be sold” include used goods? What are the stipulations for used goods? He looked on METI’s website, but no matter where he looked he could not find anything about used goods.

He then directly asked METI, but the person at the Product Safety Division who received his question could not give an immediate answer as to whether used goods were included. Hard Off was at a loss.
Continue reading Quick lesson in METI ineptitude: The PSE Law explained

Bubble Aota says outloud what most hardcore fundie women only dream about

Great new single from aging Japanese model Noriko Aota – “Jesus.” You can listen to a clip of the song by clicking the icon on the lower right-hand portion of this site. Here are some of the uplifting lyrics:

I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
I don’t wanna pray, let’s kiss!
I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Let’s hold hands to love each other!

I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Hold him in my hands, as much as I want
I wanna kiss Jesus power & soul
Let’s hold hands like lovers!

Oh, Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Attention my heart!
Look at me, over there!

This real-life manifestation of Cartman’s vision reminds me of those Christian women who talk about Jesus as if he’s the world’s best boyfriend.

(Thanks to conbinibento for letting us know)

More Kabuki PLUS – Blast and Slam: My two favorite news cliches

I hereby present my dear readers with yet another example of the growing usage of “kabuki” as a political metaphor for either boring deliberations or carefully calculated horse-and-pony shows (if I may use one cliche to explain another). This was linked to on the front page of Slate.com:

The Full Kabuki: Everybody’s happy, nothing changes.
By Mickey Kaus
Updated Thursday, April 6, 2006, at 6:36 AM ET

The Full Kabuki: On immigration, the stage is set for a classic Washington stalemate in which all the actors–at least the Republican actors–get to position themselves as advocating their desired brand of bold action, and nothing gets done. … As Charles Peters has written, in Washington, “Make Believe = Survival.”

I don’t really remember kabuki having many happy endings. Someone needs to decide on a real definition for “political kabuki” or perhaps just officially ban the term from public discourse. It’s lame!

What’s never lame, however, is the use of the words “blast” and “slam” over and over again in headlines to describe any kind of criticism. I mean, it does get a little stale, but I still get a kick out of shouting SLAM!!! whenever I read that a think tank isn’t into Bush’s tax plan. And remember what Slate’s Jack Shafer said: “If journalists weren’t allowed to recycle headlines every 10 years they’d run out of them.”

Here are some fun examples from recent news:

  • Ugly apartments SLAMMED into the stone age!
  • An artist's impression of Jurys Inn at Kings Dock

    Experts slam Kings Dock hotel design

    Apr 5 2006

    By Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo

    TWO hotels earmarked for Liverpool’s Kings Dock have come under fire from architecture experts.

    The three-star-plus Jurys Inn and smaller Staybridge boutique hotel are dubbed “disappointing” and “not convincing”.

  • Moby BLASTS xenophobia with his techno-laser-glasses!
  • Continue reading More Kabuki PLUS – Blast and Slam: My two favorite news cliches

    Yomiuri and Asahi both Call for Moratorium on Implementation of PSE Mark Enforcement

    Major Japanese dailies Asahi and Yomiuri, who rarely agree, have both come out in favor of postponing enforcement of the mandatory electrical safety testing of used electronics and appliances (known as the PSE Law and last mentioned on MF here). The Yomiuri is especially hard on METI, the government ministry responsible for the confusion:

    Ministry to blame for PSE mark confusion

    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    The current confusion arising from the planned introduction of the product safety of electrical appliances and materials (PSE) mark must be dismissed as the result of the makeshift policy on the issue adopted by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. There are concerns that the confusion could worsen.

    All this has caused the ministry to hurriedly reverse its policy, permitting the sale of vintage instruments and some other items without the PSE mark. The abrupt change indicates the ministry may be willing to acknowledge it has not properly prepared to introduce the PSE program.
    Continue reading Yomiuri and Asahi both Call for Moratorium on Implementation of PSE Mark Enforcement

    If the poison doesn’t kill you, the implications will

    A simple rhetorical question…

    [8:44] Joe: if hootie and the blowfish ate fugu, would it be cannibalism?
    [8:45] Adamu: if just hootie ate it then no
    [8:45] Adamu: but it might be impossible to separate hootie from the blowfish

    But then, this spanner got thrown into the equation:

    The band’s name comes from two of [lead singer Darius] Rucker’s friends, neither of whom was ever a band member. One, with a round face and glasses, was nicknamed Hootie because of his perceived owl-like appearance. The Blowfish also got his nickname from his facial appearance, in his case chubby cheeks.

    So it wouldn’t be cannibalism as long as “Hootie and the Blowfish” refers to the band, and not to the actual Blowfish. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

    On a side note, a friend of mine just had a very bad experience with fugu prepared by his girlfriend. He didn’t die (fortunately), but it made him quite ill. So, a tip for all you Japanophiles out there: Don’t eat your girlfriend’s fugu unless she knows what she’s doing!

    Akebono to Diet? – it’s not what you think

    Atsushi Onita, ex-wrestler and member of Japan’s Upper House of parliament (Liberal Democratic Party, Proportional Representation) has publicly encouraged Taro Akebono, Sumo wrestling’s first non-Japanese Yokozuna, to make a run for a seat in next year’s Upper House election. Since retiring from Sumo entirely in 2003 to take up a career as a professional wrestler/kickboxer, Akebono (born Chad Rowan and raised in Hawaii) has seen his respectability drop quite a bit, not least because he keeps losing his big matches. However, it’s certainly possible that enough people will vote LDP to make him the first American Diet member. Daily Sports reports:

    Akebono: Run in the Election!
    Onita Calls on Akebono to Run in Next Year’s Upper House Election at LDP Headquarters in Nagata-cho

    “Let’s light a fire under Nagata-cho!” (NOTE: Nagata-cho = Japan’s version of Capitol Hill) — Atsushi Onita (48), LDP Upper House member and self-described professional wrestling/fighting sport analyst, held an emergency press conference in Tokyo on Feb. 14 at the LDP Headquarters in Tokyo to make a “love call” for Akebono (36), the former Sumo Yokozuna and [naturalized] Japanese citizen, to run in the Upper House election next July. Onita elevated Akebono to the level of “the savior of professional wrestling” and even unilaterally offered to initiate him with a no-rope barbed-wire electric-explosive death match (Onita’s trademark). A national crisis may arise if a grand battle unfolds in a Diet-floor-turned-wrestling ring.

    Onita, at a press conference the same day announcing the release of his new single, “FIRE!!” (released Feb. 15), started off, “The savior of professional wrestling is Akebono. I would like to hand over the catch phrase ‘FIRE’ that the pro wrestling world gave birth to and have him become the momentum for wrestling’s development and revival.” (NOTE: Listen to Onita’s band here by clicking the music note. “FIRE!!” does not seem to be up on the site yet. His music is surprisingly mellow for a guy who made a living throwing people into exploding barbwire!)

    Certainly expectations are high for Akebono, who is taking the major wrestling groups All-Japan Pro Wrestling, NOAH, and New Japan Pro Wrestling by storm, but by “momentum for development and revitalization” Onita is referring to entering politics.

    Onita (who is known as “the charisma of tears“) explained, “While enlisting the aid of politics, I would like him to carry out ambitious reform of professional wrestling. If Onita, Hiroshi Hase (Lower House, Ishikawa 1st District, another wrestler-cum-LDP Dietman), and Akebono come together then [we could put our heads together]” He then bluntly stated, “I want him to run in next year’s Upper House election. Only through overcoming that battle can he become the savior.”

    The retired wrestler had scathing remarks for Akebono’s wrestling partner, Riki Choshu, “He’s training him normally, but normal just isn’t good enough. I want to initiate him with an Onita-Akebono no-rope barbed-wire electric-explosive death match,” proposing a subversive method of training.

    Onita expressed full confidence in the recommendation, saying, “It’s OK, I don’t select people the way Takebe does,” referring to the controversy over LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe’s strong endorsement of (now reviled) Takafumi Horie in the 2005 election. Onita says he wants to take Akebono to the Diet member meeting house to negotiate as early as next week.

    Go for it, Akebono! I’ll get Mrs. Adamu to vote LDP if you run. Or better yet, run on a DPJ ticket!

    Some background:

    Japan has something of a tradition of professional wrestlers, actors, authors, athletes, and so on, in politics. Wrestling legend Antonio Inoki (who once fought Muhammad Ali and got knocked out and hospitalized by Hulk Hogan) formed the Sports & Peace Party in 1989 and became the first wrestler Diet member (PR). Recently, the Great Sasuke (JT, reg. req’d) made international headlines when he ran (and won) a seat in the Iwate prefectural assembly despite refusing to take off his wrestling mask.
    Continue reading Akebono to Diet? – it’s not what you think

    You’re not for me, punk rock girl

    Who can forget the classic song “Punk Rock Girl” from 90s novelty band the Dead Milkmen? I remember buying their tape for 99 cents at an Ames.

    I tapped her on the shoulder
    And said do you have a beau?
    She looked at me and smiled
    And said she did not know
    Punk rock girl give me a chance
    Punk rock girl let’s go slamdance
    We’ll dress like Minnie Pearl
    Just you and me punk rock girl

    OK, apparently my memory/hearing is not that good since I always thought it said “looks just like Minnie Pearl.” But, I wondered after listening to the song, what in the hell does Minnie Pearl actually look like? Here is the awful truth:

    I guess the Milkmen used the word “punk” in the broadest possible sense of the term.