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Wonbatto comments

Posted in: AirAsia, ANA part ways over management clashes See in context

The Japan aviation market is starting to fill up with LCCs - Skymark, Peach, AirAsia, Jetstar. Solaseed. I know that newer entrants like Peach have already caused Skymark, the "original" LCC, to pull back on some routes. So I wonder how crowded the market is becoming, especially with fares so low, yields often low, and landing fees and labour costs high.

LCC pricing pressure on the established carriers - JAL and ANA - hasn't been as intense as I would have thought. You will often find domestic fares x2-3 higher on ANA/JAL when booking with less than 4 weeks notice.

Another problem was that the carrier focused on online sales—a key strategy for AirAsia—but many Japanese travelers still book flights through travel agents, Shimizu said.

This doesn't surprise me, but I find it dismaying. In much of the rest of the world, the industry has completely moved in this direction of self-purchased tickets. There's no reason to rely on a middle-man when all you're booking is a simple domestic ticket. Consumers are backing themselves into a system where prices are artificially inflated, and not by a small amount. Would you seriously pay Y60,000 for a Haneda - Okinawa return ticket when a competitor is offering more or less the same product for Y20,000?

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Posted in: 'Sopranos' listed best-written U.S. TV series, ahead of 'Seinfeld' See in context

Seinfeld was funny for its time, especially compared to a lot of the other comedic rubbish on TV. But Arrested Development is a much better written comedy IMO and should be ranked more highly.

I would rank the West Wing a bit higher also, at least for writing. Some of the plots became a bit more strained in later seasons, but the show's signature banter showcased some pretty solid writing talent.

The Wire should rank near the top of the list, given that it is just about the greatest television program ever made.

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Posted in: Plane's engine catches fire after landing at Osaka See in context

Best time for it to happen! When the plane is safely on the ground. A non-event.

I wouldn't call a fire on the ground a non-event. Recall China Airlines flight 120 at Okinawa a few years back

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Airlines_Flight_120

Upon noticing an engine fire while pulling up to the gate, the pilot made a judgement call to evacuate. This turned out to be the right decision, as the plane exploded shortly after the last passenger escaped. This event, of course, was much less serious, as it could be extinguished.

It's way to early to speculate on causes (manufacturer/maintenance/inspection schedule) though that won't stop many from trying. I'm just waiting for all of the comments from posters who will never fly this aircraft model or airline ever again because one bad incident made it into the news.

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Posted in: Women use smartphone games to lure men into paying for their food expenses See in context

Doesn't have enough money for food but has enough money for a smart phone?

Yeah, and Y15,000/month at that. For one person? Maybe she needs to switch carriers.

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Posted in: National obsession with cleanliness bodes ill for health See in context

Yet, he says, children in Kalimantan (Borneo) grow up free from such common maladies in Japan as atopic dermatitis, asthma and pollen allergies.

I don't suppose he compared infant mortality and childhood death rates between Borneo and Japan. I know that lower levels of sanitation tend to correlate positively with low incidence of allergies and certain chronic conditions in children, but the cost is usually higher mortality in the first year of life.

I think there's probably something to the idea that there can be too much cleanliness and endeavouring to kill all bacteria is a bad thing, but my worry is more from overuse of antibiotics than people running the washlet too long.

And to reduce the impact of free radicals, one should chew one’s food well—at least 30 seconds for each mouthful.

I'm going to say I have my doubts on this one.

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Posted in: Tokyo Olympic bid chief vows 'safe' Games after Boston blasts See in context

Tokyo is indeed a safe city, and it's fair to tout that relative safety as part of an overall bid for a large event like the Olympics.

But to somehow claim immunity from terrorism publicly not 24 hours after a bombing in an otherwise relatively safe major city? That's pretty low. Major violent attacks may be rare in Tokyo, but they are rare in most of the developed world. They stick out in our minds in part because they are so rare. Tokyo may be safe for a large city, but a cursory look at its history shows that it's far from immune to violent mass killings, and I don't need to list them here. Is Mizuno really going to claim that terrorist attack is so much less likely than most other candidate cities?

If I were on the IOC, I'd take these comments as a strike against Tokyo's bid, unless the city's government wishes to quickly distance themselves from them.

it is "not very clever" to target the Olympics and become the "enemy of the whole world."

I don't think making enemies deters terrorists and other mass murderers.

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Posted in: Lawsuit seeks evacuation of Fukushima children See in context

Natural background levels are 24 millisieverts a year in America.

Where in the US are background levels this high found? Background levels vary by location and altitude, but in the US (and worldwide) they are on the order of 2-3mSv/yr. 24mSv/yr is typical only of very high altitude (like cruising altitude for a plane, not where people live).

20mSv/yr may be a reasonable cutoff for adults - I'm no expert on radiation health effects, but occupational limits for adults tend to be ~50mSv/yr in many countries, so some fraction of that seems appropriate. But if the science on low level radiation effects on adults is spotty (and it is) then there are even fewer data on what threshold is appropriate for children. It should, however, be lower than that for adults.

I would hope that whatever limits set are based on data available and neither are lowered in response to irrational panic nor raised for political purposes. But we know there's low chance of that.

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Posted in: U.S. lawmakers seek reason for Beyonce, Jay-Z trip to Cuba See in context

A full embargo worked to help change South Africa, so there is no reason to suppose it wont work with communist Cuba.

Sanctions against South Africa were more of an exception than a rule when it comes to effecting change in a country's domestic policy. They were targeted to one specific set of policies and had broad support among many other countries. But, like the fall of the USSR, the fall of apartheid in South Africa owed more to leaders coming to power who had a conscience than it did to external pressure.

There's plenty of reason to believe that sanctions against Cuba will not bring significant change - they haven't worked for the past >50 years, and have almost no support by the international community. Fidel ruled Cuba through 9 US presidents and his brother rules through a 10th. Even looking at this objectively, I'm not sure at what point you pack up and say this isn't working, let's try a different approach.

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Posted in: 4 Indian sisters maimed in acid attack See in context

Reading about these sorts of attacks sickens me more than most of the horrid violence that makes it into the news on a daily basis. Acid (and similar) attacks on women aren't simply an assault on an individual - they're an assault on the idea that women are entitled to have an education, seek employment, choose their own marriage partner, and otherwise have a place in the public square on par with men. That day is coming when women everywhere will enjoy those rights, but clearly we're not there yet. Not only do the attackers not want to see that day, they also see violent acts as horrific as this as an acceptable means to stop it.

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Posted in: What do you think of all the coffee drinks and products sold in Japan, either in cafes, convenience stores and vending machines? Anything you recommend? See in context

I wish there were more low sugar options among the coffee drinks. Most are sickly-sweet, and the few with no sugar added are black. You can find some low sugar options at convenience stores, but from vending machines is more difficult.

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Posted in: Narita Airport operating hours to be extended until midnight in some situations See in context

in this modern age narita should operate 24 hours per day as it is a very important hub for the pacific and asia

Read the history of Narita Airport and you'll see why it doesn't. Narita was a good example of a halfway-done public works project that tried to appease so many different interest groups that the end result doesn't do much of what was intended - to build a premier international gateway for Japan as well as a transit point for intercontinental visitors to Asia.

Narita coasted for a long time with Tokyo being such a major business and leisure destination for foreign visitors, as well as its position as a natural stopover point for visitors from the Americas (and Europe, to a lesser extent). As other regional hubs become more important (Seoul, Hong Kong, various China cities) and aircraft become more efficient, allowing point-to-point trips that don't require connections, Narita's importance will diminish. The restrictions on its size and operation will make it uncompetitive compared to the alternatives.

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Posted in: Our communities are extremely safe. Most Canadians are very friendly. If you are a Japanese parent and if you are thinking of your child going for a foreign education for whatever reason, what is happ See in context

Canada is a wonderful country and there is much to admire about Canadian society, but too many Canadians tend to define themselves by what they are not - not the US. They would do well to carve out their own identity.

Aside from being in extremely poor taste, such a comment is just too simplistic - is the overall crime rate really lower at an urban university in Toronto than, say a rural university in the US?

Mr. Keddy is a Conservative MP from a riding in Nova Scotia. Halifax, which borders his riding, had a homicide rate of 4.4/100,000, putting it higher than Seattle and San Diego, and not too far behind New York City. Other parts of the US do have higher rates of violent crime, but overall we're not talking about gaps that ought to provoke a crisis of conscience among parents looking to send their children abroad for an education.

There are plenty of reasons to consider Canada for educational opportunities. But if you need to instill fear and backhandedly criticize parents who have considered alternatives as somehow negligent, then perhaps you're not so good at articulating those reasons.

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Posted in: World landmarks go dark for Earth Hour See in context

Pretty silly idea actually. If the goal is to really turn off the lights and get people back to some sort of eco-nirvana again with mother nature then people being people will resort to burning wood again and we'll end up with deforestation and smog like you've never seen in the past as the result.

I'd disagree. I think there's a middle ground between those who have a naive desire to return to some idyllic age (read: when life was hard and people died) and those who turn on all the lights in the house just for the heck of it.

We certainly need energy sources to drive the economy and our standard of living (which almost everyone aspires to) but there is a lot of wastage of energy and it does have a concrete impact on the environment. Reducing waste isn't going to go too far to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels in the near term, but if nothing else, reducing energy consumption reduces demand on the power grid and saves some money in the process. Sometimes all we need is a little reminder.

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Posted in: Gov't submits Futenma base relocation plan to Okinawa See in context

The SDF is good enough to keep Japan free.

This is at the crux of Japan's national defence policy - no government in the past 50 years has agreed with this statement. The LDP and DPJ both see alliance with the US as necessary for Japan's long-term security interests given the current role of the JSDF and the limitations of the constitution. If Japan is going to reduce or eliminate dependence on the US for national defence (and I firmly believe that it should) then Japan first needs to reach some national consensus on the role of the JSDF and whether it can meet Japan's long-term security objectives. Until that happens, there will be no major realignment of the Alliance with the US and likely no major reduction of the number of US forces stationed here.

I do believe that it's long overdue for Japan to have a discussion on how it can meet its own national defence needs without reliance on the US. The status quo is unsustainable (especially vis-a-vis Okinawa's heavy burden of both US and JSDF facilities) and this is something that the US and Japan should have realized long ago. But until that discussion happens, there won't be any fundamental changes.

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Posted in: Gov't submits Futenma base relocation plan to Okinawa See in context

@Yubaru makes a good point that at the time Henoko was chosen as the relocation site, the mayor of Nago at the time was in favor of the relocation, as was Nakaima. It's exceptionally difficult to sign international agreements if local politicians expect to have some veto power, especially when the positions of local politicians aren't consistent.

The Henoko relocation has been decoupled from the other base realignment, meaning that the plan to close most bases on the southern part of Okinawa will proceed independent of Henoko's completion. This was decided last year and was in recognition of the fact that Henoko's completion is well behind schedule. Ironically, decoupling the two issues may mean that Futenma's closure will take much longer than if they had been kept together.

There was a good article in the NY Times last year talking to residents of Henoko village and asking them what they think of the relocation. It's one of the few examples I've seen of anyone asking them what they think. Not surprisingly, the views are a bit more nuanced than those that the local politicians state publically:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/world/asia/okinawan-views-on-us-military-presence-are-nuanced.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The US, for their part, haven't done a good job of articulating to the public why a Marine Air base is necessary to keep within the prefecture. Then again, it's rare that local politicians expect to have veto power over what is essentially a matter of national defence policy.

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Posted in: China's new diplomats signal thaw with Japan, keeping U.S. at bay See in context

China has territory dispute with neighbors. However it has not used excessive force so far.

The people of Tibet, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Russia, etc. would beg to differ. I don't think that China (the civilian government, anyway) is necessarily looking for armed conflict to resolve this territorial dispute, but let's not pretend that China would never resort that.

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Posted in: Delicate diplomacy: Pope meets Argentine president See in context

It troubles me greatly that so highly placed of a leader in the Catholic Church would be so cavalier in condoning a war of aggression in which nearly 1000 lives were lost. Though he was bishop of Buenos Aires at the time, he is now the leader of a "catholic" Church, and just as much the spiritual leader of British, Argentinian, and Falkland Islander Catholics alike. I hope he is wise enough to distance himself from his past statements and not become involved in what can most charitably be described as a territorial dispute.

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Posted in: N Korea can't hit America, but South Korea and Japan in range See in context

North Koreans have many relative in South Korea. How on earth, they want to nuke South Korea which is sharing the blood, custom, culture and history? They may nuke Japan. South Korea is very unlikely scenario.

This did not stop the North from instigating and prosecuting a war in which many thousands of South Koreans died. Given the North Korean government's treatment of most of its own citizens, I think it's fair to say that it has little regard for the well being of anyone living north or south of the DMZ.

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Posted in: N Korea scraps peace pacts, cuts hotline with Seoul See in context

North Korea people doesn't have education oriented to hate people in Japan

No, North Korean propaganda regularly reminds the people of colonial subjugation under Japanese rule. The only country that gets more vitriol from the propaganda machine is the US.

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Posted in: Narita Airport cuts landing fees to increase competitiveness See in context

Narita's problems go well beyond high landing fees. The story of Narita is a classic one of land use politics gone awry. Narita's problems also include:

-- Takeoff/landing curfews in concession to adjacent residential areas that make it uncompetitive compared to other airports in the region.

-- Poor domestic connections, many of which require a bus ride or complicated train ride to Haneda

-- Slot limitations due in part to limited runway use - one of the runways was not completed at the intended length due to inability to acquire all land needed. Runway 34R is split in 2 because of this (you can see this on Google Maps: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=nrt&hl=en&ll=35.782763,140.396154&spn=0.00987,0.021136&sll=37.596824,140.581055&sspn=4.934669,10.821533&t=h&hq=nrt&fll=35.782188,140.395617&fspn=0.00987,0.021136&z=16

-- Poor ground connections to Tokyo and beyond. The Shinkansen was at one point intended to have a spur into Narita, but this was abandoned for various reasons.

-- Vehement opposition from local residents.

Haneda currently limits international slots and severely limits overseas flight takeoff/landing to 10pm - 7am. These restrictions will be eased following a new runway construction. Narita is also becoming much less important of a transit point to other Asia destinations since growth in other markets and more efficient aircraft are making nonstop flights from overseas to other regional destinations more viable.

In short, saving a few hundred yen on a ticket isn't going to reverse Narita's long-term fortunes.

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Posted in: Japan’s favorite alcohol: Beer outranks Japanese rice wine and shochu See in context

One respondent comments, "Its tastes like juice when mixed, so even though I usually can't drink alcohol, I can drink shochu." Shochu is easily combined with a number of juices or cocktail mixes and the alcohol flavor is easily masked, making for a crowd-pleasing beverage.

I never really understood this premise - I don't like alcohol, so I'm going to still drink it but in a way that I can't taste it. How about, say, just drink juice and save your money?

Wine is at the top of my list. While I was happy to find some wine selection here in Japan at local shops and some grocery stores, the selection in many stores is heavily slanted towards French, especially mediocre ones unless you're willing to spend an arm and a leg. I do wish mid-range Australia and NZ wines were a bit more widely available.

The common beers are, for the most part, something to help the yakitori go down easily. They can also be very refreshing in the warm weather. It's just hard to get excited over them - they're just so, umm, fungible.

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Posted in: JAl expands network to Brazil with American Airlines codeshare See in context

Up until a few years ago, JAL operated service to Sao Paulo via JFK, but the route was a victim of bankruptcy restructuring. I'm not sure that the fact that JAL is now codesharing on a few AA flights that were already operating is particularly newsworthy.

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Posted in: Tsunami advisory issued for Japan after Solomons quake See in context

Tsunamis are not like sea waves - they have longer wavelength, meaning that there is considerably more water coming in behind them. They don't just roll into the shore and recede. They hit the shore like a wall of water, somewhat like a tide rolling in all at once.

http://www.bom.gov.au/tsunami/info/faq.shtml

A 50cm wave isn't likely to do much damage, but it's wise to avoid getting close to the water. The incoming max wave height is notoriously difficult to predict.

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Posted in: China and Japan seek to ease tensions, but risks remain See in context

Can't it be seen that USA needs number two and number three economies to be at each other's throat so they can continue to be number one?

No, it really can't. The world economies are too interconnected and war, or significant threat of war, is good for no large scale economy, the US included. The idea that either a lingering dispute or all out war is in US interests is just fiction.

I tend to agree with Christine Lagarde's assessment of the dispute late last year that China and Japan are both too important to the world economy and that the world economic recovery would take a serious hit from escalation of the dispute. The problem is that nationalist hotheads on both sides have waded into the dispute making it harder to backtrack and still save some face. I doubt that many people with serious decision making capabilities genuinely think all-out conflict is a good outcome here.

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Posted in: Okinawans rally in Ginza See in context

The reason is because they do NOT believe in the right of free speech and free assembly.

I would disagree with this point - I haven't seen a single comment criticizing their right to protest or freely assemble. Comments (both for and against the protest) have been squarely focused on the content of the demonstration. Criticizing the content or style of a demonstration certainly does not mean opposing the right to demonstrate. Several commenters above have indeed expressed approval that Japan is so protective of the right of free expression, and that the protests have been peaceful, even if those commenters don't agree with the substance.

I do think that, if one wants to protest against the US Military, a protest in Tokyo is more effective than in Okinawa (Though whether the protest is against the preponderance of bases in Okinawa, or against the US-Japan Alliance in general, I'm not quite clear). Nothing will change unless the national government pursues a sea change in defence priorities, and finds the economic and political will to make that happen.

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Posted in: Okinawans stage anti-U.S. military rally in Tokyo See in context

@Haruto

no we do not need you and we do not want you.

Who is the "we" that you're referring to? The US-Japan Mutual Security Alliance is supported by the Prime Minister and his Government, as well as The LDP and DPJ, and every government of Japan for the past 50 years. It is widely supported in opinion polls, and the fundamentals of the agreement have not been a major issue in any recent election.

So who is the "we" who don't want the US-Japan Alliance?

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Posted in: Okinawans rally in Ginza See in context

I couldn't have said it better! I argue here why US have overstayed in Japan and irritate the Chinese and N Koreans creating unnecessary tensions in this region.

My point is that if the protesters' goal is to effect change in national defence policy (i.e. end the US-Japan Security Alliance) then please, argue on that point and build national consensus. In doing so, you'll need to argue:

1) Japan is capable of providing for its own national defence in case of US withdrawal, and that the political and economic will exists to make that happen, and

2) Such a major shift in policy is in Japan's and the regions interest (regional stability directly affects the economic climate, which ties back to Japan's own interests)

But those arguments aren't happening, and there's no recognition that most of those who live on the Japanese mainland are, for the most part, satisfied with the status quo. If an element of item (2) is that dialogue with China on the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue becomes easier, then make that a part of the discussion. I for one am highly skeptical that reducing a nation's defence capabilities puts it in a stronger negotiating position on territorial disputes, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

But tying the large questions of national defence policy into other issues of land use, aircraft safety, and some very dubious arguments on crime make it hard to have any coherent dialogue at all, especially when it's unclear if those who are protesting really understand any of those issues in any depth.

Even the N Koreans may promise not to develop further nukes to threaten Japan.

I doubt that good faith promises of detente with N Korea enter much into Japan's calculus re: the US-Japan Alliance. The North Korean government hates Japan almost as much as they hate the US, so that's not going to go away if Japan forges an independent foreign policy path. As for what the North Korean government "promises" in negotiations, well... they aren't known for consistency on that front.

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Posted in: Okinawans rally in Ginza See in context

Does anyone know if a report exists clearly explaining re: the MV22 Osprey:

1) That the MV-22 is statistically less safe than other comparable aircraft, and

2) What design flaws exist that make the MV-22 less safe?

Every time I've tried to research or discuss the issue, questions of aircraft safety don't go much beyond pointing out that there were 2 crashes in 2012, with no discussion of the circumstances of the crashes or whether the lifetime crash rate is similar for those types of aircraft.

Any attempt to press further, and the argument quickly switches to why Futenma needs to close (a subject that both Japanese and Okinawan politicians and the US Military largely agree on), but really, the issue is that all military bases (US only, or JSDF also?) on Okinawa need to close... but really, the issue is that Japan needs to cancel the US-Japan Mutual Security Alliance and remove all US military from Japan. The obligatory laundry list of everything bad that a US Military member has ever done in Okinawa is thrown in for good measure.

At this point, we're not discussing aircraft safety, we're discussing national security policy, something I wasn't initially asking about. If that's the protesters' position, then by all means, lobby for it and build national consensus - that's one of the great things of living in a liberal democracy. But conflating multiple unrelated issues makes it harder to sense if there's any coherent argument at all.

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Posted in: Japan launches 2 intelligence satellites See in context

Like the North Korean satellites that beam back revolutionary songs to Earth?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/5108667/North-Korean-satellite-is-transmitting-revolutionary-songs.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20769324

Presumably if Japan wishes to be free of US hegemony, establishing its own intelligence network independent of the us seems in order.

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Posted in: What are your views on women breastfeeding in public? See in context

this country doesnt need to have mothers of real young ones ... who feel pressure to be able to perform as a mother and also be able to maintain the lifestyle of a woman with no dependants.

I don't think many couples have children expecting that life will go on largely unchanged - becoming new parents introduces some pretty significant life changes. My point is that as a society we can be supportive of families with young children, or we can see children as a burden and stigmatize their presence. Disdaining breastfeeding in public does more subtly what outright disapproval of or discrimination against working mothers does more directly - it encourages couples to see having children as a liability and discourages couples from having them.

Bearing and raising children is difficult work enough, and for couples who want children and have the resources to care for them, we would do well as a society not to put up arbitrary barriers for them.

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