Friday, August 6, 2010

News Blast: 'Ground Zero' To 'Global Zero', Missing Centenarians, Italy Takes Cosplay Summit

Ban Ki-moon at today's Hiroshima Memorial. Photo (c) AP, via.

Hiroshima Memorial: From 'Ground Zero' to 'Global Zero'

Today, August 6th, marks the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, leading to the end of World War II. For the first time in 65 years, America sent a delegate to the annual memorial. U.S. Ambassador John Roos stood among 55,000 people with representatives from a record 74 countries. As reported on NPR, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon made a powerful speech:
"Life is short, but memory is long," Ban said. "For many of you, that day endures ... as vivid as the white light that seared the sky, as dark as the black rains that followed."

Ban added that the time has come to move from "Ground Zero, to Global Zero" — a world without any nuclear arms.
Ban and Japan Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada confirmed this week that they would work towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. They have a meeting of foreign ministers planned for September, when the UN’s General Assemble resumes, to discuss nuclear disarmament and negotiate non-proliferation treaties. NPR reports the world stockpile of nuclear warheads at more than 22,000 ("enough for more than 100,000 Hiroshimas"), though others have it over 30,000, with an estimated 1,500 ready to launch.

Perspectives on this year's historic memorial abound. A Japanese Reuters reporter gave a poignant account of her grandparent's silence about the bombings. A New York Times op-ed expressed vehement disapproval of the revival of 'nuclear umbrella' ideology. To this end, Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba is campaigning for Japan to forgo U.S. nuclear protection,  saying “it is an absurd idea to talk about national security while being dependant on nuclear weapons.”

Some reports show the U.S.'s attendance at the memorial caused a mixed reaction and that hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) were not all satisfied with the gesture just as some professed dissatisfaction with the UN's efforts so far disarmament.

Then there are those who fear America's participation in the memorial is akin to an apology, while others are "still thankful" for the bombings.

The Case of the Missing Centenarians

At least 60 centenarians have been pronounced missing in Prefectures all over Japan. Last week, we noted Sogen Kato, who would have been Tokyo’s oldest man, at 111 years old. When officials went to the home he shared with relatives to congratulate him on his birthday, they discovered he had been dead for close to three decades, and his relatives had been fraudulently collecting pension money. When officials undertook to survey all Tokyo’s centenarians to make sure records were up to date, they discovered that one of Tokyo’s oldest women, 113-year-old Fusa Furuya, was missing. Furuya was believed to be living with her son, also missing, but officials discovered the house at the address they were given had been demolished to make room for an expressway. Furuya’s other relatives professed ignorance as to her whereabouts. As the survey expanded throughout Japan, more elderly citizens were discovered to be missing.

Bit-size News:

►The Untied Arab Emirates confirmed an explosive-laden dinghy that struck a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian Gulf last month was an attack by an al-Qaida-linked group. A total of 31 crew members–19 Filipinos and 15 Indians–were killed.

►A list of 48, 000 Allied POWs who died in Japanese internment camps was unearthed among the records of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

►A CBS special report on suicide in Japan notes: "For the first time ever, Japan is looking at suicide as something perhaps caused by mental illness."

►Child abuse is reportedly on the rise rise in Japan, with police figures showing 18 fatalities in the last six months. For comparison, an estimated 5 children die everyday in America as the result of child abuse.

►The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology surveyed the oceans surrounding Japan and found them very rich in animal life. Over 33,000 known species were recorded.

►An international "Amerasian" (referring typically to children born of U.S. military fathers and Okinawan mothers) school launched a peace education program.

►The U.S. military released a Japanese-language children's manga to explain why forces are in Japan. We posted our thoughts yesterday, while Manga Therapy wonders if this is a good thing, and points out the illustrator is the same guy who published a comic that teaches Japanese speakers how to swear like a U.S. marine.

►The U.S. says American Marines in Japan 'still set' to move to Guam by 2014.

►Japanese researchers discovered that a certain iron compound becomes superconductive if dipped in sake, wine or beer. We can only imagine how this discovery came about.

Two men from Italy won first prize at the World Cosplay Summit dressed as characters from The Legend of Zelda.

►Examiner explores New York City's burgeoning otaku scene.

►If you missed any of the post-screening Q&As at this year’s JAPAN CUTS, check out Japan Society’s YouTube page.

►CNNGo goes into the secretive world of traditional Japanese tattooing.

►Compared to other countries, Japan scores low on the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

WWE comes to Japan (the article has a great great overview of Japanese professional wrestling.)

►An interesting travel report on the unexpected comforts of Japan's capsule hotels.

Japan pushes Twitter past 20 billionth tweet.

Kitty-chan rings the closing bell on Wall Street to celebrate parent company Sanrio’s 50th anniversary.

N.O., S.J.

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