britling comments

Posted in: At this point in time, who has the best claim to the disputed four Russian-administered islands off Hokkaido? See in context

The Japanese have the moral high ground but not the actual island high ground... seriously, in the 1940s they would have had the entitlement but the problem is that generations of the now-exclusively Russian population have lived and died there.

The other problem is that under the 1951 San Francisco treaty, Japan relinquished all the islands and officially stated at the time that those included the southern Kurils. The deal to hand back some of them in the 1950s, which was blocked by the US, would have officially assigned the larger islands to the USSR in any case as well.

Yeah, I know the USSR never signed the treaty and the international community has never officially said that all the islands are Russia's. But the USSR got them by default. There's no international law that says Hokkaido belongs to Japan either, but everyone accepts that it does.

I found an indication that all this goes back to the 1855 Russia-Japan treaty, which apparently differ slightly in the Japanese and Russian versions... the Russian one says that Russia will take the "other" Kuril islands, with that word missing from the Japanese version, i.e. the Japanese version alone implies that only the northern islands are actually the Kurils. A stroke of a pen and 200 years of conflict follows.

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Posted in: Prince Charles blasts climate-change skeptics See in context

I think the problem with global-warming denialists is that they adopt the premise that 'warming' must mean that the weather would get warmer across the whole planet. Therefore, if it's cold somewhere or glaciers are increasing in one part of the world - even if they're melting elsewhere - then global warming can't be happening.

This, of course, is not what global warming is. An increase in the overall average temperature of the planet by even a few tenths of a degree has major effects because the climate works on tipping points (in the same way that water boils suddenly around 100 degrees celsius at sea level). That can mean that in some parts of the world it would actually get colder. Colder or warmer, either way you get more extreme weather, which is bad for us.

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Posted in: Japan lifts Asian Cup with 1-0 win over Australia See in context

No doubt we will hear much about how this victory owed much to Japanese willpower, Japanese spirit, Japanese genes... and little about how their foreign coach (who the players didn't originally want to avoid the language barrier) had completely reorganised the squad.

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Posted in: Google tries to hold off Facebook threat See in context

It will be a strange new internet if people start using Facebook as their primary search tool, staying logged-in forever to one site and one network for everything.

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Posted in: As unrest sweeps Egypt, president refuses to quit See in context

It is unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood would take power in Egypt; they lack support both from secular opposition groups and the governments of the wider region. They've stood as independent candidates in the past and not received a large share of the vote. Mostly, Mubarak has used the spectre of the Brotherhood seizing power to stay in office.

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Posted in: NHK newscaster Yuko Aoyama to move to daytime TV See in context

Unfit and overweight??

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Posted in: NHK newscaster Yuko Aoyama to move to daytime TV See in context

No tears shed over Taguchi's departure. I always felt the programme was sharper when it was just Aoyama in the studio. But no doubt the next two will continue with the practice of an older man pontificating to a nodding younger woman.

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Posted in: Ichihashi's book goes on sale; says he hopes to give royalties to Hawker family See in context

"The big news today was the football" they said at the end of NHK News Watch 9 tonight, after conspicuously failing to mention the new #1 bestseller. Comedy show on the other side of the planet, though...

Gratifyingly, though, Ichihashi's book is running at only 2.5 stars on Amazon at the moment.

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Posted in: WikiLeaks founder turns to Switzerland for help See in context

"[Obama] defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity. The United States' belief in that truth is what brings me here today... We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world's information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic."

Hillary Clinton on internet freedom following Barack Obama's visit to China, January 2010. [Emphasis mine.]

"This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests -- it is an attack on the international community."

Hillary Clinton, November 2010.

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Posted in: Who wants to work abroad? Almost no-one See in context

I also have a Japanese female friend who has lived in HK for several years, working in a Japanese publishing company. I just don't see her returning.

I have a similar story with a Japanese female friend who lived in Indonesia and worked in banking.

I also have a Japanese female friend...

She has fluent English, an advanced degree from a US university and a US teaching certification, none of which, she learned on her return, count for anything here. She has to do the full teachers' license course with no exemptions, including sitting through English classes taught by people whose fluency is well below hers. She is currently unemployable despite her background. To cap it all, she was marked down by Japanese teachers for her English speaking ability: "You speak English too fast. We have trouble understanding what you're saying." No too fast, too fluent.

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Posted in: Woman executed in Virginia amid outcry See in context

And the guys who actually pulled the triggers got... life.

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Posted in: What are some of your favorite examples of the way English is misused in products, advertising and pop culture in Japan? See in context

To "misuse" implies that Japanese users of English are incompetent and unable to follow grammatical rules generally pertaining to the standard varieties of the language as used in Western English-speaking nations. Not so; consider that the way English is used in popular culture in Japan is really more of an art form rather than real linguistic communication, designed to please the eye and attract attention. I'd rather not attack people for not doing something completely different from what they are actually doing, especially when what they are doing is rather more interesting than a list of cheap laughs involving the alleged inability to distinguish 'l' from 'r' and so on.

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Posted in: It's making the Japanese look like they're the poor people, like they didn't do anything. See in context

Obviously, Tibbets fails to distinguish between military leaders 65+ years ago and ordinary people who paid the price.

As for leaflets: a lot of people didn't leave because they had nowhere else to go (compare survivors of Katrina in New Orleans). Also, few people were aware of the power of the new weapon; it's not like now, when if everyone knew an A-bomb was coming they'd realise anyone within a few hundred metres of the blast is going to be vapourised. They were probably expecting a more conventional bomb attack.

Also, a contender in the 'Bad Taste Contest' is Tibbets sr.'s involvement in a re-enactment of the bomb drop in 1976; it seems the participants that day saw glory, not just necessity, in the bombing.

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Posted in: London taxis ranked world's best; Tokyo 3rd See in context

London cabbies pride themselves on having 'The Knowledge', i.e. where things are, down to the most obscure streets, and the best ways to get from A to B. Research has shown that their brains enlarge in the areas thought to deal with navigation as a result.

See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/677048.stm

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Posted in: Okada prepares Japan for scrappy Paraguay team See in context

Good luck to them, though I hope the fans aren't too downhearted if the team goes the way of elimination. According to NHK, expectations are sky-high even though half the teams in the tournament get through the group stage.

It's not helped by NHK spending much of an hour-long bulletin on the team's World Cup victories while completely ignoring the loss to the Netherlands.

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Posted in: Police nab 77 in 3 prefectures during one-week crackdown on train groping, molesting See in context

An interesting aside to all this is that when NHK's 9pm news ran advice on how to avoid being groped a few weeks ago, one of the pieces of advice was - believe it or not - to be seen reading a foreign newspaper. The logic is that perverts will think the woman is either a foreigner - and thus more likely to react - or that she is a strong-minded Japanese woman who will do the same.

Rather a sad commentary on the state of Japanese society in regard to violence against women.

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Posted in: 'Heroes' actress Hayden Panettiere gets chilly reception in Taiji See in context

How did she even get a visa?

She says she had a meeting with a Foreign Ministry official in 2008 who said she was welcome back anytime. Seems that someone high-up got the warrant quietly dropped.

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Posted in: American man accused of grabbing own kids released See in context

If he's leaving Japan now, he is almost certainly going to lose the kids, even though he is still married in Japan. She can divorce him in Japan on the grounds of abandonment/desertion, ironically, because he is living in another country. Then she would automatically get sole custody of the kids in Japan. Her only problem is getting arrested if she leaves the country.

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Posted in: 1 British commando dies in raid to free NYT reporter from Taliban See in context

The job was to rescue the journalist and they did it. Not much else to say.

There is a great deal more to say.

Really? Because if I were him I would be thanking my lucky stars that someone got me out of there before my captors put a round through my head.

You wouldn't spare a thought for the interpreter, the British soldier, and the two Afghan civilians who all got killed to rescue one Western hostage?

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Posted in: 1 British commando dies in raid to free NYT reporter from Taliban See in context

Nice going, guys, wiping out a bunch of people to rescue one person, i.e. the Westerner.

According to the BBC, Mr Farrell was also kidnapped five years ago in Iraq, so I wonder if he knows when to quit. If I was him, I'd be wondering how to sleep at night.

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Posted in: Miyuki Hatoyama claims her soul traveled to Venus on UFO See in context

"Eh? According to Oxford English Dictionary a "first lady" is "the wife of the President of the US or other head of state". The BBC has no problem describing Mrs Brown as Britain's first lady."

The prime minister is not the head of state. That's the Queen in the UK and the Emperor in Japan.

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