kazungu comments

Posted in: Do you think the United Nations is relevant in helping to solve global conflicts? See in context

@sangetsu03 ... Agree with you that many peacekeeping operations are flawed and some are a failure. UNISOM I, UNITAF, and UNISOM II all failed. AMISOM is not much better. I think there are two major reasons: (1) the leadership is inadequate at the UN/AU level, with an ineffective chain of command and conflicting mission mandates, and (2) many - though not all - of the troops are poorly trained, poorly equipped, or poorly led.

I also share your frustration. But unfortunately I do not see at this moment any viable alternative to the UN and its peacekeeping operations. I really wish there was one. AMISOM had some early successes but in the past couple of years has suffered a string of defeats from Al Shabaab. 2015 was a particularly bad year, with some bases overrun, troops and supplies captured, and some bases abandoned to the terrorists.

But there are some limited successes. UNMISS, despite many serious shortcomings, has saved lives since the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December 2013. JGSDF personnel - mainly a 350-person engineering unit - were in South Sudan for only a few years, and did not really engage in peacekeeping but rather infrastructure work. I think in the end this did not contributed to helping to stabilize the country.

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Posted in: Norway kicks off minke whale hunt, raising quota to 999 whales See in context

I'm against whaling, but here some facts to consider for both sides of the argument:

Both non-endangered and endangered species of whales are hunted by Iceland, Japan, and Norway. Minke whales, however, are not an endangered species. If Japan were to stop whaling, it would mean loss of jobs in the bureaucracy overseeing it. Consumption of whale meat in Japan is declining, now at 1% of what it was in the 1960s. In Japan the whale meat market is quite small (see below).

My guess is that by end of the century there will not be any consumption of whale meat in Japan.

Graph showing amount and price of whale meat sold in Japan (it is quite small): http://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2015/12/07/WHALEMEATCHART1-01_1.png

Graphs showing JPY/USD value of a whale: http://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2015/12/07/WHALEMeatCHART2-01_0.png

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Posted in: Australians warned of snakes, crocs and sharks in floods See in context

How does anybody survive in Australia? It sounds like a death trap. I would rather go to New Zealand. Ok, joking aside, I think Australians must be very tough people. But because I'm scared of poisonous animals and big predators, I really would rather go to NZ.

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Posted in: Toshiba execs under fire at shareholder meeting as loss forecast balloons See in context

In 2006 Toshiba paid 5.5 billion USD for Westinghouse. That investment is now worth negative 9 billion USD. This was supposed to have been the future of the company. Because Toshiba now has a negative net-worth, it has one year to turn things around or else be delisted from Tosho.

Investors therefore had very little choice but to approve the transfer of the company's memory business to Toshiba Memory Corp., in preparation for its sale. The spin-off business is expected to sell for between 13 to 18 billion USD. It is Toshiba's most valuable asset, generating more than 50% of company's overall operating profit.

In other words, Toshiba will return to profitability, but will be severely gutted. This, combined with accounting fraud going back to at least 2005 under former presidents Atsutoshi Nishida, Norio Sasaki, and Hisao Tanaka, has in essence wiped out all its shareholders' equity - expected to be valued at negative 1.35 billion USD or a loss of about 7 billion USD.

No wonder all these shareholders are pissed off. The resignation of Shigenori Shiga is not enough. The entire incompetent and deceitful board of directors and senior management need to go.

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Posted in: China says it hopes new Japanese carrier doesn't mark return to militarism See in context

Let's see, which is the bigger threat: A helicopter carrier that will initially carry 7 anti-submarine and 2 search-and-rescue helicopters (28 total) - basically a defensive platform - or an aircraft carrier that carries 24 J-15 fighter jets plus other aircraft (36 total) - a basically offensive platform?

Honestly, I had expected much more hostile words from the Chinese. But I guess even their propaganda people couldn't come up with anything that wouldn't sound so obviously ludicrous, when presented with the hard facts.

Interestingly, the Kaga costs about 1 billion USD while the Liaoning costs about 9 billion USD, so in terms of cost-vs-capacity, the Kaga is cheaper.

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Posted in: China overtakes Japan on S Koreans' worst countries list See in context

@Tokyo-Engr ... Agree with you. It may take another generation or two for S Korea and Japan to have a closer relationship.

Yes, there is the terrible history not just from the last century but a few previous centuries. But, as you say and I agree with you, China plays a (very) long game and their ultimate goal is regional domination.

It has always been this, until the incompetence of the late-period Qing dynasty in the 19th century that led to a rapid decline of centralized power within China and the lost of influence over Korea.

True, that influence shifted to Japan. But Japan itself has gone though a lot of changes and is now a peaceful democracy, unlike China - which hopefully one day will be one. Meaning now S Korea and Japan have more in common with each other, including preservation of their hard-earned democracies.

PS ... Given the current US administration, I just don't see how anyone can rely on them at this time. Sure, the alliance must be maintained, but best be better prepared just in case.

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Posted in: Ebino City in Miyazaki Prefecture releases promotional videos See in context

It's been many years since I last visited Ebino-shi. Nice that they are trying to promote the city, but the videos are so corny. Still, if it gets them attention ...

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Posted in: Abe battles scandal on two fronts as questions swirl See in context

Japan Times reports that Kagoike has been summoned to the Diet to testify under oath to both chambers. Kagoike has already said that Mizuho no Kuni received 1 million Yen under Abe's name. So if he says otherwise to the Diet, he risks perjury. I am willing to bet that Kagoike will confirm this donation under oath because he's not willing to take one for the team and go down alone. But that may be more a reflection of my distaste of the LDP, because the thought of Abe and his nationalism lording over it all through 2021 is too disturbing.

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Posted in: Tillerson in Japan See in context

@taj ... Right? What a mess. Tillerson is considered one of the few adults in Trump's administration - Mattis and McMaster being the other two - and yet he has no foreign policy or diplomacy experience. He does, however, have experience doing business deals with dictators, so perhaps he's thinking he can do the same with Kim Jong-un. Unfortunately for Tillerson, there is no oil and no money to negotiate on. As they say in the U.S., this is a whole different ball game.

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Posted in: Matsuya beef bowl chain begins offering low-carb meals with tofu instead of rice See in context

No rice? No thanks. Bad idea.

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Posted in: Japan to end 5-year peacekeeping mission in South Sudan See in context

@browny1 ... You're likely correct that part of the decision to pull out Japanese troops was due to domestic politics. Two observations/comments from me.

Firstly, I worked in South Sudan in 2013 - 2016, and saw Japanese troops in Juba doing mostly road construction in the city. Due to the insecurity outside of the capital, there isn't really any other tasks that these troops can do. They are not there to do peacekeeping, but to do infrastructure work. They do not have the weaponry to conduct any military operations, unlike other troops that are there specifically to do peacekeeping. Other countries have that task.

Secondly, the political, economic, and military situation in South Sudan is deteriorating. In December 2013 and July 2016, fighting occurred in Juba and UN troops were shown to be unable and unwilling to engage in combat. This is not mainly their fault, as they were not given the resources by their countries or the cooperation from the South Sudanese government to really conduct combat operations. In fact, UN troops were fired upon and killed by the South Sudanese military and militia.

Given both these things, I think it's actually smart for the Japanese government to pull out their troops. The longer they stay, the higher the chances that they will become casualties at some point. True, having Japanese troops injured or killed in South Sudan would be very bad for Abe. But it would also be a pointless waste of lives. The current humanitarian crisis there is due to the S. Sudan government's corruption and hostility against their own people. There is nothing that Japanese troops can do to fix that.

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Posted in: Q&A: The ruckus over Japan's military legislation See in context

I agree with lincolnman - collective defense is important. How many people know that Japanese troops have been operating in South Sudan for the past few years? Although they are non-combatants - the troops are engineers, and usually I saw them building roads - given the high insecurity in South Sudan, they can protect themselves - the troops are armed. But they cannot protect other UNMISS troops or civilians! In other words, if JSDF personnel in South Sudan see civilians being killed - including, by the way, Japanese citizens who work there - they cannot use deadly force to stop it. That is just plain crazy.

I understand the law is unconstitutional. And for that reason alone I disagree with the law - and the way the government forced it on people. So I think people should and must protest this. But I think also the constitution needs to be changed. If the U.S. can have amendments to their constitution, why can't Japan? I understand the fear of the right-wingers and militanism, but I think a careful amendment should still be possible.

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Posted in: Japanese travel guide for East Africa filled with thrilling tales of danger See in context

@ambrosia ... I like what you wrote. The stuff about Kenya in the above article made me laugh. Because I have been there a few times, including Nairobi and Maasai Mara, and, really, I have never seen any of the things the article mentioned. Have never been to Ethiopia or Tanzania, though. But have briefly been to Uganda - the whitewater rafting is fantastic and highly recommended.

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Posted in: What lessons do visitors take home from their time in Japan? See in context

@thkanner ... Spot on! I've lived in a few different places in Japan, from Kyushu to Hokkaido. And I totally agree with you, Tokyo is definitely not ideal for humans. Well, for short visits it's quite nice. But long-term it does really wear you down. Your observation about the difference in experiences of visitors versus those of expats is really the best point to make in response to this humorous travel article. A visitor, by virtue of his desire to enjoy his limited time in a place, sees only the surface and thinks it also represents what lies beneath. An expat, by virtue of his being able to look underneath the bonnet, sees lots more but sometimes gets fixated too much on either the positives or the negatives, and doesn't realize that there are still more layers below. Japan's definitely not an easy place to live and work. But then, which place is? To pass on the opportunity for cultural or language immersion, however, is rather unfortunate. After all, that is often the best part of traveling, even within Japan. Being able to enjoy eating big, fresh, juicy scallops and king crabs in the north or having hours of hilarity learning Kagoshima-ben while generously lubricated with shochu is, I think, one of the benefits of traveling in Japan. Helps to make you forget that tomorrow you go back to being a robot :)

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Posted in: SDF hopes people will answer call of duty (and cute anime girls) See in context


There is no way the leadership can think this is good for the military. Fine, SDF is not supposed to be an aggressor force. But military is still military - it exists to fight and kill. You don't defend the country by looking cute. You think the Mongols would have said, upon looking at the anime slogans, gee, maybe we shouldn't invade because those girls are so darn kawaii. Ok, the samurais didn't deter the Mongols either, but I'm sure if the banners had anime girls on them, the Mongols would have said, screw the typhoon, let's try again, those people are obviously in need of some real men.

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Posted in: Dressed to thrill See in context

What costume is the vice minister wearing? And why is he holding a Doraemon doll?

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Posted in: Business booming for yakiniku restaurants, but are customers chemically dependent on meat? See in context

I love both eel and beef. So if I can't get eel, I'd go for beef. To me, pork and chicken can't really be considered substitutes, since the tastes are all completely different. Well, I guess you can say the same thing about substituting beef for eel, but to me they are a bit closer in taste than pork or chicken - though of course not so close that beef can be really considered a substitute for eel. As for Matsura's theory, it sounds plausible. Wow, now I'm really hunger for eel. Or beef.

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Posted in: Newly married man learns wife is working at cabaret club; asks for advice on Internet See in context

Ok, I understand the husband is shocked because his wife lied to him. Otherwise, I think it's good she's working to earn some spending money. It's not clear (at least to me) from the story if her working at a Cabaret club is a problem for him.

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Posted in: Man demands divorce after his wife throws out his anime collection See in context

However, the next month, Maki's husband changed the bank account his company deposited money into and grabbed the family bankbook (a notebook used to record all transactions at the bank which also serves as a kind of ATM card) for himself. From then on, he declared, he'd be in charge of the family’s money.

That's where the husband did wrong. Otherwise, I think the wife is wrong.

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