CraigHicks comments

Posted in: Female police officer hit, killed by minivan during traffic violation crackdown See in context

@Laguna -- "There but for the grace of god went I when I was younger. I now drive with extreme caution on those roads and do what would be considered a rolling stop even at unmarked intersections. Be careful on those little lanes, everyone."

The article states: "Nishino was part of a team cracking down on traffic violations and had exited her police car after stopping one vehicle." It's common sense when you see a work vehicle slow down because workers are often nearby.

An only laterally related fact: (In the US) garbage-collection as a profession has 3 times the risks of on-the-job death as being a police officer (according to a Forbes listing of fatality risk by profession). Surely that risk is is mostly related to garbage-collectors getting hit by vehicles passing garbage trucks - all it would take to bring that rate down is cautious driving.

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Posted in: 'Vanishing village' looks to LDP for survival See in context

I rode there on a bicycle traveling from Chichibu to Saku. The area is stunningly beautiful, overflowing with mountain forest greenery and the sounds of nature. It's popular with people looking to get away, so tourism is an important part of it's economy. Here Nanmoku's home page: http://www.nanmoku.ne.jp/. Nanmokumura Natural Park Campiong Ground (bungalows, tent spots):http://ns-park.nanmokushoko.com

Here's another thing - Nanmoku only 40 minutes from Takasaki (using the expressway for half the distance). So one can guess that some (most?) of the younger tourism and forestry workers making a livelihood in Nanmoku actually live in nearby larger towns and cities. Tomioka on a train line is only 20 minutes. 20-40 minutes is not a bad commute, considering how long some people in Tokyo commute (everybody knows somebody commuting 2 hours each way).

Many kudos to Yohka Tanaka for realizing the best commute is no commute, and wishing for his success.

Here's the route I took by bicycle from Chichibu to Saku (on the way to Yatsugatake) passing through Nanmoku town: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26273659. Two points worth mentioning:

(1) New 299 periodically diverges from the old road, and where possible it is best to go the slow route and take the old road if you want to see the old villages full of octogenarians dressed in traditional clothing hauling on their backs wicker baskets as big as themselves full of farm products or wild mountain vegetables - or maybe just tending to their wonderfully kept gardens in front of their old rustic wooden homes.

(2) After turning north on 45 toward Nanmoku, don't go through the (very long) tunnel. Veer right off on 45, there should be signs for Shio-no-zawa head up a narrow road. The road is very winding but you will ocassionally see signs saying it is the Nishi-Joshu Yamabiko highway. If you don't take a wrong turn, you'll meet up with 45 again on the other side of the tunnel.

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Posted in: Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine for war dead See in context

@nandakandamanda - No those four acting former assassinated prime ministers are not on the rolls because they did not belong to the military. They were civilian leaders killed as a result of trying to exercise civilian control over foreign policy. In contrast former prime minister Tojo Hideki is on there because he was a military leader.

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Posted in: Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine for war dead See in context

It's perfectly understandable to remember soldiers who died in a war, however mistaken the war.

What's hard to understand is how four acting or formers prime ministers, Hara Taka, Inukai Tsuyoshi, Saitoh Makaoto, and Takahashi Korekiyo, who were assassinated between 1921 and 1936 are not remembered annually in any formal way at all. They (by todays standards nationalists and imperialists) were all devoted to their country, who were honest and brave enough to speak out against unbridled militarism and in favor of practical realistic foreign policy, and were assassinated for it. 

To me, it just seems so lopsided. I guess they were the losers, and the winners (the unmitigated militarists controlling the country from 1936 to 1945) therefore have the right to consider them irrelevant.

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Posted in: 2 Japanese men arrested in China possibly over spy allegations See in context

Miserable paranoia. Can't wait for for Zuckerburg to break through and make everybody friends.

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Posted in: Kobe Steel scandal latest to tarnish 'Made-in-Japan' brand See in context

I think it's likely that most customers have some kind spot inspections in place to monitor the material quality on their end too. For steel they would examine the surface measuring grain regularity and frequency of impurities. That wouldn't be the same as actually ripping steel to its breaking point to measure tensile strength, but would give an equivalent result with less accuracy. Third party steel inspection is an industry in itself.

Furthermore, I think it is most likely feedback from customer's own spot checks that pushed Kobe into this "correction", while Kobe was trying to cut costs. In other words the quality issue wasn't a surprise to customers, it's more like a desperate yelp from Kobe as nearly equivalent quality steel is becoming available "elsewhere" at a lower price.

In that case many customers will probably switch to the cheaper alternative. How that's going to work out in the long run depends upon the tensile strength of the walls in your glass house.

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Posted in: LGBT groups, educators call for diversity in school uniforms See in context

In recent years XX several girls and women have been banned from participating in the Olympics because their natural testosterone levels are "too high". Sadly this has resulted in some young girls being persuaded by their teams and coaches to have their genitals mutilated in an attempt to lower their testosterone in the hope they will be able to participate in the future.

What I'd like to know about people who think that

"XX people should dress and think like females (XY/males)"

is whether or not they think

"XX people should be able to participate in the Olympics as females"

?

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Posted in: LGBT groups, educators call for diversity in school uniforms See in context

According to this web page: http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency

about 1 in 1,666 are not XY XX or XXY

about 1 in 1000 are XXY

Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female : 1 in 100 births

Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance : 1 or 2 in 1,000 births

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Posted in: Kobe Steel reports wider fudging of metals data since 2011 See in context

So far as has been reported, Kobe steel has reported this themselves rather than being uncovered by product failures.

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Posted in: Saitama zoo mourns death of love-struck penguin See in context

@simon g - "... pure instinct not emotion"

Isn't feeling emotional an instinct? Although penguins lay eggs, they nurse their young. I've seen (on TV) a childless penguin angling to draw another females child into her protection by constantly getting near and snuggling. The actual mother got madder and madder as the interloper couldn't take the hints to bug off, and finally exploded in anger and attacker her viciously. Penguins are noted for often (but not always) staying with their partner for life - so isn't it possible that the abandoned partner could feel lovesick?

It's not really the animals are like people, just that people are still mostly animal.

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Posted in: Sales tax hike 'obvious' choice for Japan debt woes: IMF See in context

Q1) Why should the IMF care HOW Japan balances it's budget? Sales tax, income tax, or whatever.

Q2) Why should the IMF care at all about Japan's budget if it's not borrowing from the IMF? Japan contributes $30 million a year to the IMF.

Is the IMF selling custom ordered Gai-atsu for $30 million a year?

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Posted in: Man arrested for fatally beating 78-year-old mother over 3 days See in context

Karma is a Buddhist Term incorporating reincarnation - the consequences of a single persons actions carry into the next and subsequent lives. Western culture doesn't really admit personal reincarnation - in Western culture Karma is really just used (by those who use it) as an abbreviation for "what goes around comes around", the Japanese equivalent of which is 自業自得 "jigyoujitoku". Just about every culture has an equivalent expression to express this universal concept.

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Posted in: Nearly 40% of LDP candidates back U.S. military action against N Korea See in context

Plausible non-nuclear scenario: A preemptive punishment strike by the US on NK nuclear weapon facilities - NK retaliates on SK in what they consider a limited way but is actually a massacre, and a wild week or two of tit for tat erupts with 100,000 casualties in SK and a trillion dollars in damages. The US engages in large scale bombing of NK but doesn't invade with troops - US bombing is stopped as China enters NK with troops as a peacemaker and replaces NK govt shutting down nuclear threat.

China uses soft power to strengthen ties with SK, including funds for rebuilding - while US demands SK pay for war costs. SK, today already in China's economic orbit, flips politically into China's political orbit; US troops are withdrawn.

Meanwhile during the Korean conflict, China's military, now on mental steroids, invades Taiwan and replaces that govt in a week, largely with known Taiwanese political figures who feel comfortable cooperating, and getting rich. Resistance is smothered with 50,000 deaths; the scenario largely follows the lines of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in 1895, and Chang Kai Shek's Kuomintang occupation of Taiwan in 1947, with number of casualties adjusted for total population. The US, stretched to the limit as to what it can do halfway around the world, doesn't respond.

Japan remains unscathed militarily but is now, along with US troops stationed there, at a strategic disadvantage. Meanwhile, the US economy is hostage as China now directly controls %98 of all semiconducter production. Realizing that Hedge Funds are at risk, the US reaches a unspoken gentleman's agreement with China never to mention Taiwan or Korea again, so that markets can recover and once again rise to new highs never seen before.

No, I don't really think this exact scenario would likely unfold, but certainly some elements of this scenario could come into play if the US engages in a preemptive non-nuclear strike on NK. Positive ways to react to current crisis do exist - they just don't incorporate impulsive releases of emotion, or desperate attempts to manipulate domestic elections. Primarily, the US needs to consider long term planning of its network of manufactured imports. As a source of low cost labor and percentage of reciprocal trade, Mexico is an obvious ally in that regard. Such a strategy can be executed without insulting or declaring trade war on China, and leaving win-win elements of trade with China in place. A necessary change, however, is to stop relying on the stock market as the sole divining rod of US health and wealth - because it provides no feedback about long term strategic planning.

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Posted in: New immigration rules affecting Japanese school in Austria See in context

I read this as the school couldn't afford to / didn't want to compensate the teachers sufficiently for the added cost and the teachers decided to look for greener pastures. The school will probably get by other existing teachers - probably permanent residents - and make classes larger.

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Posted in: Passenger brings bus to a halt after driver loses consciousness See in context

This is a case where computer-assisted driving could have helped by monitoring the drivers gaze, detecting gaze failure, maintaining lane, braking safely, turning on the emergency lights, and contacting 110 and 119 simultaneously.

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Posted in: Toyota plans to build new Auris in UK on assumption of Brexit transition deal See in context

@wtfjapan - If the price of Chinese steel is going to be taxed 10% just once, whether it is entering the EU via UK or directly from China, it doesn't really seem the cost of steel in Pounds is going to affect UK car exports to Europe.

If you are exporting finished goods to the UK from a cheaper labor location, then yes the falling pound reduces your relative advantage.

Modest gains in manufacturing profit and employment compound over time. But they can rarely compete with the best bull markets, so manufacturing is often neglected. But when the market goes really bear, then everybody suffers, regardless.

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Posted in: Trump seeks border wall, crackdown on unaccompanied minors for 'Dreamer' deal See in context

@gokai - Repealing DACA doesn't require Trump to go through Congress: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/25/16202344/daca-trump-deferred-action-end

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Posted in: Toyota plans to build new Auris in UK on assumption of Brexit transition deal See in context

Since the Brexit vote on June 23, 2016, the pound has depreciated over 10% relative to the Euro. So even with a 10% import tax to Europe, the current exchange rate dictates Toyota should continue manufacturing in the UK.

Conversely, if Europe unity were to "implode", the Euro would drop dramatically relative to the pound and Toyota might have to rethink manufacturing in the UK.

IMHO - The reason the pound dropped relative to the Euro after the Brexit vote is because of the prospect of London's status as the financial center of Europe. While finance is certainly an essential core element of healthy capitalist society, there are diminishing - and even negative - returns as it grows to a larger and larger part of the GNP. (In the US the figures for finance as a % of GNP are hovering around 9% - levels not seen since 1929. During the US (economic growth) golden years from 1950 to 1980, the % of GNP stayed steadily below 4%.)

There is not really anything in the Brexit platform about aiming for a healthy balancing of finance and production of tangible goods. So the drop in the pound and Toyota's decision is really just an accidental side effect.

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Posted in: Student arrested for allegedly smuggling cannabis in hotdog buns See in context

@sourpuss - You're quite right that Japan has smartly avoided the opioid plague that has swept the US. And I would agree that there is some correlation between the Japanese rejection of mj and the Japanese rejection of opioids. However I don't think it is true that mj leads to opioids or is deadly (except when, e.g. driving), whereas opioids are clearly deadly. Mj does however have negative side effects, and offers nothing except that which can already be experienced through physical exercise, fasting, meditation, and introspection.

By the way, those "crackpot" doctors are/were only middlemen, just following the advice (and money) of major pharmaceuticals who spent big money on proselytizing the wonders of OxyContin, etc. In a case in 2007, the parent company of Purdue Pharma and three current and former executives there pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about OxyContin’s risk of addiction and potential for abuse. Purdue promoted the drug, which is long-acting, as posing a lower risk of abuse and addiction than shorter-acting painkillers—such as Percocet and Vicodin. The firm admitted it had made statements about its drug that were “inconsistent” with approved prescribing information. In other words, the firm had incorrectly told doctors that OxyContin was less prone to abuse than other opioid medicines. The firm agreed to pay $600m and the three executives paid $34.5m in fines.

That company and those executives still made huge profits after selling tens of billions of dollars worth of opioids. And they faced no jail time, as I expect this girl will face. Yes, America is soft on the biggest pushers of all.

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Posted in: Koike's economic policy mix dubbed 'Yurinomics' See in context

More about Koike's policies from the Ahahi Shinbun (English):

"To make up for the lost revenue due to a freeze on the tax rate hike, Kibo no To will propose cuts in public works projects and aggressive offloading of state-owned land.

The party's economic growth strategy will involve utilizing the private sector to a greater extent and pushing forward with deregulation. The corporate tax rate will be cut from about 30 percent to 20 percent for companies in specific business sectors, such as those providing financial services utilizing information technology." [VOTE 2017: Koike's election pledge squares off against Abe administration]

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Posted in: TEPCO reactors' safety clearance irks Fukushima victims See in context

The nuclear industry is so slow on the uptake of safe design because they never had to pay for insurance and never were obliged to plan ahead for nuclear waste.

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Posted in: Las Vegas massacre probe turns to gunman's girlfriend in Philippines See in context

"Lombardo, who on Monday said Danley was believed to be in Tokyo, told reporters on Tuesday she had been located in the Philippines and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was in the process of trying to bring her back to the United States."

She came back and talked with the FBI entirely of her own volition. There is absolutely not a shred of evidence that she was involved in any way.

Obviously choosing a partner based on wealth while ignoring their character defects is a risky and stupid idea, but if it wasn't for that just think how many lonely rich men there would be :(

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Posted in: Tokyo named safest city in world; Osaka No. 3 See in context

Seoul (24) < NY (10), LA (17)????

Well, actually once a in cheap hotel in Seoul I left my door unlocked and a drunk man probably mistaking rooms entered while I was asleep - startled I screamed and in my underwear chased him out of the building - I only hope he didn't end up spending the night outside in freezing temperatures. More dangerous for him then for me.

Yeah well I'd say this list has been fairly influenced by the biases and financial interests of those who made it. The back scratching and self congratulations is embarrassing.

Of course, Tokyo is a very safe city.

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Posted in: Vigil for slain hostages See in context

There is the story of the J-man who went around the middle east touching lepers and other sick people to cure them, offering comfort and hope to the poor, oppressed, and weak - he spoke for those who had no voice of their own, and did the best he could, given the lack of internet, to spread a message of compassion and peace. And then, having already put himself in the cross-hairs by rumbling the established status quo, he deliberately walked into harms way - he actually predicted his own death and did nothing to stop or escape from it - rather he welcomed it and recognized he was playing a part in something bigger and more important.

I'm not a regular church going Christian but I appreciate the message - recognize it as a timeless exemplar of excellent human behavior. Every year many church workers put themselves in danger, and are sometimes killed, while trying to live the same kind of excellent behavior. And many non-Christians, with or without the influence of Christianity, do the same thing, just based on first principles.

Incidentally, Goto became a Christian before his last trip to the middle east, while considering that he might die.

All these people are heroes, what they are doing is not selfish or stupid, and there is many millenias worth of precedence coming from many different cultures, including of course Christianity, to prove it. That they are often resented by the established status quo is nothing new.

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Posted in: Magazine publishes name, photo of minor held in Nagoya murder case See in context

This PARTICULAR criminal is not likely capable of being rehabilitated, but the law is intended to cover ALL juvenile crimes - the vast majority of which are cases where rehabilitation must be considered. Even in murder cases, there may have been extenuating circumstances such as being a victim of bullying or sexual abuse, yet the defendant may still be guilty and convicted of murder if it was done out of revenge and not self defense.

At the same time Shukan Shincho, wanting to sell their print, chooses this case as it is borderline in terms of criminal age, and because of the obvious societal interest due to the heinous nature of the crime - arguably it is the the duty of the free press to report on such issues and test the weakness of the laws preventing such reporting.

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Posted in: The No. 1 thing that foreign men find 'not so kawaii' about Japanese women See in context

My wife likes to long hikes in the mountains, or riding a bicycle up steep hills, or when the weather is bad working out or swimming at the sports club. I never noticed if she does all that pigeon toed or not.

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Posted in: 22-year-old man held over murder of 11-year-old boy in Wakayama town See in context

I suspect that behind this crime is a case of mental illness - one of the least understood areas of human health.

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Posted in: Abe defends handling of hostage crisis See in context

The questioning of Abe's decision to provide humanitarian assistance is unwarranted - I would say it falls in the unfortunate category of "reflex" opposition.

However, Abe has unfortunately fallen short in his response to Goto's death - where Abe should have shown appreciation and respect for Goto's efforts to show the plight of children and civilians in war, Abe instead has responded that journalists don't belong there - implying Goto's work was useless - and taken a faux stance that Goto both could and should have been rescued. (Never mind Goto's whereabouts were unknown, and sacrificing more lives to save Goto would only have added to tragedy of Goto trying to save Yukawa's life).

Does Abe prefer journalists who act like obedient miniature dogs and don't go outside?

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Posted in: Abe wants SDF to be allowed to rescue Japanese citizens in danger See in context

There is no relevance between this proposal and Goto's particular case. By not making that clear, Abe is muddying the discussion - why?. It is in fact an insult to Goto - a poor substitute for recognizing the work and risks taken by a journalist. There is a legitimate case for considering the rescue of hijacked passengers, kidnapped businessmen, etc. However, even then such cases would not likely be in power vacuum area, but rather in a sovereign nation which already has its own military force for dealing with such situations and would be unlikely to welcome another countries commandos.

Abe should not try to leverage emotions but instead focusing on rational realities - hostage rescue is but one approach, which is not practical or justifiable in many cases - certainly not in Goto's.

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Posted in: Abe calls 24-hour hostage deadline despicable See in context

Isreal released 1,027 prisoners, included 280 charged with terrorism, in exchange for 1 Isreali prisoner in 2011 (the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange).

The US sold thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, during a US embargo on such sales to Iran, in exchange for 7 hostages held in Lebanon in 1985-6. (Iran-Contra)

The following article:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/09/no-ones-really-in-charge-in-hostage-negotiations/

suggests that ransoms have been paid for US hostages since 9/11. My impression is that foreignpolicy.com is a generally reliable website in terms of not fabricating/exaggerating news.

The logic for not paying for US and European hostages is obvious. However, the number of Japanese is the area is far fewer. There is not as much risk of future kidnappings of Japanese. If at some time kidnappings of Japanese became endemic, it is quite likely that Japanese public/govt opinion would move away from the idea of paying ransoms - much as has happened over time in the US.

This case however, is no longer a cash ransom case - on the surface anyway - but perhaps we should assume that cash is involved in all hostage releases. The failed woman suicide bomber for whose release they are willing to trade Goto is not an important prisoner - as a prisoner swap it would be a good deal.

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