A_cross comments

Posted in: Abe's support slides as top prosecutor's resignation bites See in context

Stand by for Prime Minister Yuriko ...

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Posted in: Tokyo extends event cancellations, facility closures to May 6 See in context

So in Tokyo, attending public events, zoos and museums is not safe, attending school if you are over 15 is not safe, attending an international school in Tokyo at any age is not safe, but attending public schools if you are under 15 is perfectly safe?

My children’s school announced this week that they will re-open as normal on April 6th. Should I let my kids attend?

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Posted in: Clock's ticking for Nissan boss Uchida to show he has a plan See in context

What's missing from all this discussion - THE CARS

Ghosn had a plan - to move towards all-electric vehicles. The Leaf is without doubt a world leader in this field. Unfortunately, battery technology is still too expensive. That is why the best Nissan car you can buy right now, and the best-selling car in Japan, is the Note e-power, an electric car with a series-hybrid drivetrain. That means you get all the advantage of an electric car - phenomenal acceleration, one-pedal stress-free driving - but with an on-board gasoline-powered generator.

Nissan currently sells over 40 different models (although a few are manufactured by Mitsubishi or Renault). Reduce that to a dozen or so models, and fit them all with e-power. And sack all the executives who can talk for more than ten minutes without mentioning Nissan's cars and how good they are .....

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Posted in: Crane topples over onto cars, killing 1, injuring 6 in Miyagi Pref See in context

Looking at other reports, with images from different angles, the vehicle immediately behind the crane is a flatbed truck of a similar size to the crane. It has its side panels lowered, and seems to be touching the crane's left rear outrigger. The crane's boom is at more like 10 o'clock. I am sure, whatever the drivers of both vehicles were doing, the crane boom should not have been elevated and extended at the time.

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Posted in: JR East unveils luxury Saphir Odoriko express with all first-class seating See in context

Educator60Today  06:27 pm JST

“JR East unveils luxury Saphir Odoriko express with all first-class seating” 

“while the remaining cars feature standard Green Car or first class seating.”

The headline and article seem to be disagreeing with each other.

I think the report means “while the remaining cars feature standard first class seating, known on JR trains as Green Car”. So we have one "Green Car Premium", two "Green Car Private Compartments", one dining car and four (standard first class) "Green Car" carriages.

The problem with the train line down the Izu peninsula is that it is a slow, infrequent single-line service and in summer the express "Odoriko-go" trains are fully-booked. Replacing them with a more expensive "Saphir" version is just a way to make more profit from the inadequate service, instead of allowing more ordinary visitors to travel to the Shimoda and Minami Izu area.

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Posted in: Koike gives reluctant consent to Olympic race venue move but Tokyo won't pay for it See in context

I started serious running in the United Arab Emirates, just along the Gulf from Qatar. In summer temperatures reached 50˚C and humidity was close to 100%. We ran in the late afternoon or early morning.

In winter, daytime maximum temperatures went town to 35˚C and humidity went down to 75% - those are the midsummers conditions in Tokyo.

Quite apart from the folly of the IOC demanding such significant changes at such a late stage, if the Tokyo Olympics organizers had done their work properly, they would have produced a "Risk Analysis" document that the IOC would have to sign off in advance, showing the risk mitigation measures for climate conditions.

Remember, high temperatures do not kill marathon runners. Dehydration does, as it did for the first ever Marathon runner in ancient Greece. And given the IOC's bumbling efforts, there is still a chance that unprepared athletes will suffer from dehydration in Hokkaido.

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Posted in: Police say body may be hiker who fell on Mt Fuji while live-streaming See in context

zichi Oct. 30  11:37 pm JST


you were just abandoned by your friends? They would surly look for you or alert the authorities that you were missing?


Thanks for your concern. You are probably right, although I never thought of it like that. After I got back, I contacted them to make sure they weren't worried about me. I think the plan was to meet up with another car, which included the people I actually knew. They assumed I had gone back with them. This was a time when we did not have mobile phones or email and backpackers did not carry meishi, so they probably never even knew my full name .....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Police say body may be hiker who fell on Mt Fuji while live-streaming See in context

I almost died like he did. It was a long time ago, I did not speak much Japanese and my Japanese friends did not speak much English, but they suggested we drive to Mount Fuji to watch the sun rise. We got to the Fuji Skyline car park around 3:00 am, it was cold so we decided to walk around, and went up the trail. After a while I got ahead and waited, but they did not catch up. They had told me that the mountain was "closed", so I expected to come to a barrier and decided to go on until I reached it. When I hit snow I realised there was no barrier, but I kept climbing anyway. At one point I slipped and fell down, sliding down the mountain for hundreds of metres, but eventually managed to stop. My clothes were ripped and I was off the trail, so I knew I had to go back up to where I had fallen to find the trail again. It was getting light and not too far from there to the summit, where I watched, alone, as the sun rose over the skyscrapers of Shinjuku. As I descended I greeted climbers in full mountain gear coming up, and realised just how badly equipped I had been for such a climb. Luckily, I had enough money with me to get back to Tokyo.

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Posted in: IOC wants to move Tokyo Olympic marathons, walking races to Sapporo See in context

nandakandamandaToday  12:22 pm JST Failing Sapporo, run it partly underground ...


from Wikipedia:

The Yamate Tunnel (山手トンネル Yamate Tonneru) carries the Central Circular Route (C2) of the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo, Japan, from the Takamatsu on-ramp in Toshima to near the Ōi Junction in Shinagawa. The overall length is 18.2 km.

The Yamate Tunnel passes through Nishi Shinjuku Junction, which is 2.8975 km on foot from the New National Stadium Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic site. So a route from the stadium to Nishi Shinjuku, take the tunnel to Toshima, turn around and follow the tunnel to Shinagawa, and back via Nishi Shinjuku to the stadium would be a distance of 42.195 km. Just Right

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: IOC wants to move Tokyo Olympic marathons, walking races to Sapporo See in context

HeckleberryToday  10:58 am JST

Hmmm but don't the marathon runners usually finish their race by running into the main stadium on the final day?

If the weather conditions in Tokyo will make the event "too stressful" for the athletes, why not just run it over a shorter distance?

If the men's drop-out ratio of about 25% in Doha is applied, simply reduce the marathon distance to 30km.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Tokyo expressway to adjust tolls to curb traffic during 2020 Olympics See in context

No word on how they plan to provide "dedicated expressway lanes" for Olympic traffic when, for example, the two-lane expressway route between Athletes Village and National Stadium involves at least three junctions where the two lane traffic merges into a single lane. Perhaps they will have police patrol cars blocking traffic with burning flares for 10 minutes or so every time an athlete bus or official limo wants to pass, the way they do now for the Imperial Family ...........

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Posted in: Japan, U.S. seek to sign 'very big' trade deal in September See in context

There are 20+ products made from corn or the plant itself.

.... all of which add value to the product, so could the USA make those products themselves and export the

whisky, spark plugs, pharmaceuticals, drywall, pesticides, paint, toothpaste, shampoo, paper, tires, syrup, 

thereby creating US jobs and income?

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Posted in: Paralympics chief says Tokyo hotels 'biggest concern' See in context

Let's clear up a few points. The Olympic Village housing will apparently include enough disabled-access rooms for the Paralympics athletes and "some" of their support teams. Elsewhere, the disabled-access accommodation available is not sufficient for the rest of their support teams, or for spectators, journalists and coaches. This means that Tokyo's Olympics will also lack sufficient accommodation for these people. Next, AFAIK, there is no "Japanese legislation" regarding wheelchair-friendly rooms, it is all regional. In any case, moving from "one wheelchair-friendly option" in 50 rooms to "one percent of rooms" is not actually an improvement. In my experience, this "wheelchair-friendly option" is regarded as a tiresome intrusion by hotel operators who cannot wait to use it as a changing room for wedding guests, versus a negotiating point for local government bureaucrats trying to exert their authority. Both sides will need extensive training to actually provide useful facilities for people who will really need it just one year from now. And finally, if those disabled support teams, spectators, journalists and coaches need to travel on public transport, all travel will require advance planning, some journeys will be impossible and just forget the Ginza line .....

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Posted in: Can Tokyo's efficient rail system handle Olympic strain? See in context

As an indication of what to expect, my local station, JR Sendagaya, is one of the closest to the future Olympic Stadium. Before they demolished the old National Stadium, it was used for High School Soccer Finals. After a match, the whole area around the station became so clogged with people that it was impossible for anyone to move. They are now reinstating the second platform from 1964 and adding a few more ticket gates, but they cannot enlarge the surrounding streets. Guaranteed 2020 chaos .......

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Posted in: 16-year-old boy hit and killed by train in apparent suicide See in context

My kids joined 1st grade at the local school only a few weeks ago, and already there seem to be established patterns of bullying. The teachers appear either powerless or unwilling to do anything. However, the parents are hooked up on social media and seem to be addressing the issues. Let's hope this works .....

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Posted in: Olympic spectators may be allowed to bring own drinks to beat heat See in context

If only they had built a National Stadium with a roof .....

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Posted in: 2-year-old boy dies after being hit by train on crossing See in context

A tragedy, and every parent's nightmare. We did everything we could - short of chaining up our kids - barricades, locks, constant surveillance and strategically running ahead of them. Even so, their survival through ages two and three was also thanks to a careful driver who braked in time when one kid ran into the road, and training them to stop immediately when we yelled "STOP", as a taxi driver ran a red light outside their Shinjuku nursery school just missing them by centimetres.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo expressway to have variable tolls during 2020 Olympics See in context

This is all BS

To be allowed to host the Olympics, Tokyo is required to provide "dedicated" expressway lanes for Olympic athletes and officials. Most of the Tokyo expressway system was built in a hurry for the 1964 Olympics, and was at best a 2-lane system. For safety reasons, many expressway junctions were later made into single-lane traffic, so to comply with IOC requirements in theory the entire expressway system needs to be closed to non-Olympic traffic. That's where the idea of National Holidays on Opening and Closing Ceremony days came from. The suggestion of "variable pricing" now implies two things:

the IOC has not accepted extra National Holidays as good enough and

as an alternative, we can make the ETC system detect various categories of vehicles. The report describes Olympic and non-Olympic traffic. If the IOC agrees to consider this, look out for a three-category system: Olympic, non-Olympic Premium and non-Olympic regular traffic, with perhaps a ¥10,000 toll for the Premium category and further access restrictions on the cheaper ¥1,000 toll non-Olympic regular traffic.

Whatever happens, the result will of course be more traffic on non-expressway roads, and everyone is hoping that, as in London, drivers will stay at home instead.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Man’s body found in burned-out car; wife’s body found at home See in context

It seems to be more common than you might think, for a "burned-out car" to mean a suicide. A couple of years ago I was cycling and found the road blocked by fire trucks and police tape about 50 meters ahead of a burning vehicle. Both police and fire officials seemed to know what to do, which besides extinguishing the fire was to prevent people seeing a burning body in the vehicle.

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Posted in: Car hits group of preschoolers in Shiga Pref; 2 dead See in context

Heartbreaking report. Not the same, but I almost saw my kids killed at a T-junction near their Hoikuen (pre-school). We tried to train them to look both ways and walk, not run, at intersections, and to stop immediately if we shouted "STOP". They were waiting, holding hands with a friend, and when the lights changed they started to cross, running. I noticed that a taxi was jumping the lights and had turned after the lights had changed, and I yelled "STOP". They did, and I watched the taxi drive past just a few centimeters ahead of the three children.

Shinjuku-ku has recently re-modelled a number of road junctions in the area to prevent drivers taking them at speed, but not this one. I don't know if this is what happened in Otsu, but I do think that drivers in Japan seem to try to speed pass the traffic lights even after they have changed, rather than waiting in safety for the next cycle, and that drivers of taxis, foreign cars and those using their mobile phones are especially to blame. RIP those kids and let's hope Otsu does a lessons-learned study that is implemented nationwide.

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Posted in: Remains of 2 people found in car destroyed by fire in Aichi See in context

This may be more common than you might think. One day I was cycling around Meiji Jingu Park when I found the road blocked by cops and tape. Looked like the fire service was extinguishing a small fire, not big enough to justify the large police presence or the road being blocked such a distance away. I thought it might be something like a terrorist bomb. I went back after the road was re-opened, everything was cleaned up but the road surface and paving stones still had scorch marks showing the outline of a car.

My guess is that the emergency services have enough experience of similar suicide events to want to protect the general public from seeing a burning car with people dying inside. So sad .....

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Posted in: Canadian man indicted for smuggling record amount of stimulant drugs to Japan See in context

Everyone is looking at this the wrong way around. Someone handed this guy millions of dollars worth of merchandise which, if he got caught, would be lost. The mule would surely know the serious consequences of getting caught, but took the chance for the "big reward". Why? In both cases, the answer must be that the customs get lucky only one time in several such trips. How many? The only people who really know are the gangsters behind this. My guess would be one in ten.

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Posted in: Starbucks to open 4-story high-end roastery cafe in Tokyo See in context

Patricia: You missed where it said Nakameguro.

browny1: of course, it's the Church of St. Arbuck ........

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Posted in: Tokyo 2020 venues on track for completion, say organizers See in context

Kenji: The sad reality of the Olympic Stadium ..... and then Zaha died from the stress of those legal actions, and Kengo Kuma, who led the xenophobic movement to discredit Zaha's design, now takes undeserved credit as the architect.....

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Posted in: Sumida sunset See in context

Very nice, but I think "as seen from about 50 meters above the Sumida River" would be more accurate.

It's also very close to a "Fuji Diamond". If the weather's good I hope to see a "REAL" Fuji Diamond from Shinjuku tomorrow.

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Posted in: Foreign divorced parents fight in vain for child custody in Japan See in context

This issue not only affects "Foreign divorced parents", it affects, in one case I know of, a Foreign Widower of a Japanese wife. The family was living, and the child in school, in the father's country, where the mother was diagnosed with cancer. She returned to Japan, with the child, to visit her parents, and sadly died here.

The Japanese mother, the father and the child were all expecting that, whatever happened, the child would return to school in the father's country. Instead, the grandmother took custody of the child and refused to allow any contact with the father.

When Japan signed the Hague Convention, the father hoped he would eventually see his child. However, it seems that, while Japan has signed the Hague Convention, it is not enforced or even recognized by courts here.

To make this sad story even sadder, it seems that the grandmother has been telling this child from an early age that its father never visited and never wanted to be part of its life, making his hope of an eventual reunion with the child as an adult even less likely.

Japan looks after its own, regardless of international pressure or law, but in this case it is making an innocent Japanese child fatherless .....

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Posted in: Powerful quakes more likely to hit Hokkaido, Pacific coast See in context

Powerful earthquakes are no more likely to hit Hokkaido or the Pacific coast of Japan this year than they were last year, the year before that or ten years ago.

What has changed is this: for many years, the Government of Japan told its population that it was fully prepared to handle any foreseeable major earthquake. The Kobe and Tohoku earthquakes clearly demonstrated that this was not the case. So they have been under-reporting the likely risk, especially in the Kanto area, for a long time, meanwhile slowly softening the Japanese public with gradual release of reports describing the risk in the Nankai Trough (Kansai) area as being greater than previously expected. These reports increased after 2011.

Now a relatively small seismic event in Osaka has provided the government with an "I told you so" chance to issue reports increasing the risk in other regions, starting with Hokkaido. Eventually they will start talking about the earthquake risk in Tokyo, but an actual serious earthquake may hit before then.

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Posted in: Holidays to be moved to ease traffic for 2020 Tokyo Olympics See in context

"Ease Traffic ..... ?"

When they say "to alleviate traffic congestion" what they really mean is "to comply with IOC's requirements for the Olympics and Paralympics".

The Olympics require dedicated highway lanes, for Olympic officials and athletes only, between the various official venues, the Olympic Village and other facilities. Since Tokyo's Expressway system includes many junctions where several lanes all merge into one lane, and since Tokyo has not made any effort, in the five years since being awarded the Olympics, to reconfigure the Expressways, the only solution is to close down the entire Expressway system to ordinary traffic.

The dedicated highway lanes are of course required for the entire duration of the Olympics and Paralympics, not just the opening and closing ceremonies, so we can expect more "traffic congestion alleviation measures" to come, not just three national holidays.

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Posted in: Airbnb says new law regulating short-term rentals 'stinks' See in context

ONLY IN JAPAN - the government says they will work to INCREASE the availability of tourist accommodation to cope with the increasing number of visitors, PLUS the expected increase of visitors due to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. INSTEAD, they introduce legislation that actually DECREASES the availability of tourist accommodation. The large hotel operators are struggling to provide any additional capacity. So who provides it? Well, organised crime has a long history of filling the gaps, as they are doing now with the construction industry and foreign workers, and they know how to keep the politicians happy at the same time. AirBNB has its problems, but their main fault is "cultural insensitivity" in not knowing how to influence politics, i.e. how much to pay and how to keep it quiet.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Posted in: IOC tells Tokyo 2020 organizers they must prepare for questions, criticism See in context

The IOC is just one of the organizations an Olympic event has to deal with. For every event, there is a Federation, who must accept the arrangements for that sport. To take a simple example, the FIBA requires all doors in basketball facilities to be higher than normal. They signed off the basketball courts in London 2012, but a few weeks before the Olympics, they found that shared practice halls had standard height doors. Contractors had to hurriedly replace doors in all the practice halls.

Coates' point is that Tokyo will face that kind of problem with every single sporting Federation, no matter what deals they have cooked up with the IOC. Being one year behind schedule, for example .....

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