Nine Days Left…

Curzon is pumped for the 2016 Olympics — I really hope Tokyo wins the big to host the Olympics, and the decision is to come out on October 2, just nine days away.

I gave an overview of the four candidate cities at ComingAnarchy more than a year ago, and I might as well share the background with MF readers as the date of decision approaches.

In June 2008, four candidate cities were chosen for the shortlist on when a complete “bid score” was issued to aid the decision-making process. The finalists: Tokyo, Madrid, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro.


+ Tokyo — score 8.3
+ Madrid — score 8.1
+ Chicago —score 7.0
+ Rio de Janeiro — score 6.4

Elminated Candidates:
+ Baku — score 4.3
+ Doha — score 6.9
+ Prague — score 5.3
(Doha received a higher score than Rio de Janeiro but was eliminated because it wanted to hold the games in October, not August.)

Here’s a brief overview, with more details from Wikipedia here.

The last summer Olympic games to be hosted by the Americas was the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and Chicago has an extensive public transit system, a wide range of venues, and a strong sports culture. Five new venues and eleven temporary venues will be built for the games. Chicago is reported to be the strongest contender in terms of infrastructure, public support, and money, but is still deemed to be behind Tokyo and Madrid in the technical aspect.

Madrid benefits from its strong reputation from the 2012 bid as well as having 85% of venues already in place and experience in hosting Olympic qualifying events. One potential problem is that no continent has hosted successive Summer Games since 1952, when Helsinki followed London as host city, and London is hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics and Sochi, Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro boasts natural beauty and recently hosted the XV Pan American Games. International Olympic Committee head Jacques Rogge expressed eagerness to have either South America or Africa host the Games, as neither have ever served as hosts. However, it has a weak bid because of poor infrastructure and high crime rate.

Tokyo is touting “the most compact and efficient Olympic Games ever” with a setting on the shores of Tokyo Bay, refurbishing a run-down industrial area and reclaiming land from the bay, and stressing its “green” approach to plans. Tokyo boasts the highest technical score and has great infrastructure, but has the weakest public support of all candidates. Also, like Madrid, its bid is weakened by the recent regional hosting by Beijing.

Will Tokyo win because of its high score? Chicago because it’s “America’s turn”? Madrid because of its existing infrastructure? Or Rio de Janeiro because of continental favoritism/OIC “Affirmative Action”? Stay tuned, the decision is just nine days away.

Surprise! You’re Brazilian

Awesome citizenship story from an Asahi reporter (translated from page 11 of the Asahi Shimbun April 10 morning edition):

[Correspondent’s Notebook] Sao Paolo, Brazil: A Dubious Fine

I paid a fine the other day.

The reason? It was my duty as a Brazilian.

I was born in Brazil due to my father’s job, but after returning to Japan at age 1 I was raised as a Japanese and never doubted otherwise.

All that changed when the decision was made to dispatch me to Sao Paolo. I headed to the Consulate General Brazil of Brazil in Tokyo to apply for a visa, but they refused to issue one, telling me, “You are a Brazilian.” They said I had no standing to get a visa as visas can only be issued to foreigners.

Brazil is a jus solis country, meaning that you automatically receive citizenship if you are born there. Well I never… Slightly confused, I accepted the green Brazilian passport and headed to my post.

In Sao Paolo, I tried to get my ID card and was told I needed to register to vote. On top of that, since I had neglected to register at age 18, they ordered me to pay a fine. Voting is mandatory in Brazil.

Though I retorted, “Until recently I was a Japanese living in Japan,” the official was ready with a comeback: “Just the other day, a native came in here and insisted, ‘I was living in the jungle until now, so I had no idea about registering to vote.’ But rules are rules!”

Not totally satisfied with the explanation, I gave up and paid the fine of 3.5 real (160 yen or USD $1.60).

(Ari Hirayama)


Check the #0066cc;">Adamukun blog for Adamu’s shared articles and recommended links.

Shining Path is back… what about Fujimori?

According to the NYT, Shining Path, the Peruvian Maoist rebel group, has made a comeback:

The war against the Shining Path rebels, which took nearly 70,000 lives, supposedly ended in 2000.

But here in one of the most remote corners of the Andes, the military, in a renewed campaign, is battling a resurgent rebel faction. And the Shining Path, taking a page from Colombia’s rebels, has reinvented itself as an illicit drug enterprise, rebuilding on the profits of Peru’s thriving cocaine trade.

The front lines lie in the drizzle-shrouded jungle of Vizcatán, a 250-square-mile region in the Apurímac and Ene River Valley. The region is Peru’s largest producer of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.

… Coca, the mildly stimulating leaf chewed raw here since before the Spanish conquest, is largely legal; cocaine is not.

Coca, a hallowed symbol of indigenous pride, is ubiquitous here. Qatun Tarpuy, a pro-coca political party, paints images of it on mud huts. Women harvest coca in clearings along the winding dirt road, and children dry the leaves in the sun.

It is also nearly impossible to find a coca farmer here who admits that his crops are sold for anything other than traditional use, but somehow, studies have found, as much as 90 percent of the coca goes to produce cocaine.

In 2007, the latest year for which data is available, coca cultivation in Peru increased by 4 percent, reaching the highest level in a decade, according to the United Nations. At the same time, Peru’s estimated cocaine production rose to a 10-year high of about 290 tons, second only to that of Colombia.

Since the Shining Path retreated here after the capture of its messianic leader, Abimael Guzmán, in 1992, it has followed the much larger Colombian rebel group, the FARC, in melding a leftist insurgency with drug running and production.

While the Shining Path was involved in coca before, now it is a major focus. According to military and anti-drug analysts, the faction here, while still professing to be a Maoist insurgency at heart, is now in the business of protecting drug smugglers, extorting taxes from farmers and operating its own cocaine laboratories.

Coca farmers here describe today’s Maoists as a disciplined, well-armed force, entering villages in groups of 20 in crisp black uniforms. Little is known about their leaders, aside from the belief that two brothers, Victor Quispe Palomino, known as José, and Jorge Quispe Palomino, alias Raúl, are at the helm.

Soldiers speak respectfully of the rebels’ command of the jungle terrain and of their ability to harass with gunfire more than a dozen forward operating bases that have been established in recent months. “Their columns seem to melt into the jungle,” said Maj. Julio Delgado, an officer at a base in Pichari, one of the largest towns in the valley.

The rebels contend that they no longer assassinate local officials or sow terror with tactics like planting bombs on donkeys in crowded markets, atrocities the group was infamous for in the 1980s. This metamorphosis was confirmed by testimony from villagers who had come in contact with them, interviews with imprisoned rebels and a 45-page analysis written by the rebels, tracing the group’s evolution from its origins under Mr. Guzmán, that was captured by military intelligence here in December.

Meanwhile, the last we had heard of former Peruvian president and Shining Path nemesis Alberto Fujimori was in 2007 when he made Japanese political history as perhaps the first person to run for parliamentary election while under house arrest in a foreign country (he lost). Today, he remains in a Peruvian jail after the country’s Supreme Court upheld his 2007 convictions for abuses of power during his time as president. His trial for human rights violations is apparently still ongoing. This BBC profile provides a pretty much up to date record of Fujimori’s status, in addition to an overview of his background (I never knew he was an agricultural engineer before becoming president!).

Japan exports compared internationally – OUCH

Just saw this chart in an FT article about Malaysia:


Not good! Also, they seem to have taken a bigger hit than Brazil as well:

But Brazilians might beat their own record in the first quarter of 2009, as a thrifty American consumer and less demand for oil have hit Brazil hard. Overall exports fell 26 percent in the first two months of this year, and they make up one-third of GDP.

Japan’s exports only make up about 16% of GDP, so the impact of a year-on-year 46% drop would be equivalent to a 23% drop in Brazil, but it’s still a near halving of the driver of economic growth over the past few years, and other aspects of Japan’s economy such as domestic consumption or the public sector (depending on government action) seem to offer little hope.

Linky Desktop

As I am about to permanently disassemble this computer and bring only the hard drives with me to Japan, where I will then assemble a new system after finding a place to live, I figure it would be a good time to post the various things that had been sitting around my desktop in case I ever found the time and motivation to write something about them.

  • Genetic tests have shown that the Taiwanese aborigines are likely to be the ancestors of the entire Polynesian and Micronesian population, which also includes the Malay group, comprising the majority population of the three large countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines. While study of archeology and linguistic variation, as well as phenotype analysis of modern populations, had led some researchers to suspect that the ancestors of most Pacific islanders were descended from the ancestors of the pre-Chinese Taiwanese aboriginal population (who themselves migrated across the Taiwan Strait thousands of years ago, when the Han Chinese probably still lived far to the north) but this genetic study provides the strongest evidence yet for the theory.
  • Although Japan may be the only country in which a unique word exists for “chikan”, the phenomenon is hardly unique. I once linked to a New York Times article on the prolificicity of flashers or “bumpers” in the NYC subway, which likely occurs with frequency in any city with a crowded public transit system. Another place famous for it- Mexico City. Apparently the problem is bad enough so they have introduced women only buses, perhaps inspired by Japan’s women-only commuter train cars.
  • U.S. anti-terrorism special operations forces assisting the Philippines military have contracted a Manila-based marketing firm to create comic books with an anti-terrorism message. American style superhero comics are extremely popular in the Philippines, but I am very skeptical that a marketing firm would be able to create a comic with a genuinely compelling story, regardless of how slickly produced the graphics and printing may be. I would love to actually see the comics though, which sound like a prime example of the force that American cultural products still carry in the country, over 60 years after colonialism officially ended there.
  • Korean’s Chosun newspaper has a truly hysterical article entitled Manhattanites Served Korean Food as Japanese. Just read and laugh.
  • Samurai-Sword Maker’s Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear Revival”. An amazing headline and a pretty amazing article. Apparently, Hokkaido’s Japan Steel Works Ltd. is the world’s largest-and virtually only-supplier of steel-cast nuclear reactor containment chambers, which naturally must be built to VERY exacting standards. Despite an apparently massive surge in demand for these massive products, the company is skeptical how many plants will actually be built in the end, and are therefore reluctant to make the capital investments required to raise their output above the current level of 4 pieces per year. Yes, FOUR. The fact that this single plant is a bottleneck for the global nuclear power industry seems to be the result of some past failure in strategic planning, but the solution is unclear. And yes, they really were a maker of samurai swords- and apparently still are!
    They’re made in a traditional Japanese wooden hut, up a steep hill from the rest of the Muroran factory. It’s decorated with white zigzag papers called “shide” used in Shinto shrines, creating a sense of sanctity in the workshop.Inside, as the factory clangs and hisses below, Tanetada Horii hand-forges broad swords from 1 kilogram (2.2 pound) lumps of Tamahagane steel.”
  • Suriname, the tiny South American nation which was formerly a Dutch colony has been searching for an appropriate national language. Currently this is Dutch-which is also used in government and law- but English has surpassed it for international business, and Sranan-a local language derived from an English creole-has surpassed it as the language of the street. The language situation gets even more complex:
    Slip into one of the Indonesian eateries known as warungs to hear Javanese, spoken by about 15 percent of the population. Choose a roti shop, with its traditional Indian bread, to listen to Surinamese Hindi, spoken by the descendants of 19th-century Indian immigrants, who make up more than a third of the population. And merchants throughout Paramaribo speak Chinese, even though the numbers of Chinese immigrants are small.Venture into the jungly interior, where indigenous languages like Arawak and Carib are still heard with languages like Saramaccan, a Portuguese and English-inspired Creole spoken by descendants of runaway slaves who worked on plantations once owned by Sephardic Jews.”
    What is an appropriate common tongue in a country like this? When deciding on a common language, what weight is given to the linguistic history of the state itself, the background of the people, ability to communicate with (much larger) neighboring countries or international business?