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Archives : No.7

August–September 2011

No.7
No.7 ,Culture  Sep 30, 2011

UMESAO TADAO AND 3/11

Photo : Umesao Tadao

Introduction Umesao Tadao (1920-2010) was a Japanese anthropologist and ethnologist, in addition to being an intellectual who strongly influenced Japanese society in the 1970s to 1990s. His activities were not confined to ethnology but extended to social commentary and studies on civilizations around the world. In his earlier years, Umesao predicted the arrival of an information society as seen today, being endowed with foresight into future society and culture. He also had significant influence in business and political circles. He proactively supported Japan’s cultural diplomacy and contributed greatly to the establishment and operation of the Japan... [Read more]

No.7 ,Politics
Sep 29, 2011

IN NEED OF NEW RULES OF THE GAME

Photo : Takayasu Kensuke

Introduction: The rules of the game are lost The current political situation makes us wonder if the rules of the game have been lost. Even after the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami disaster and the nuclear plant accident that can be labeled as a man-made disaster, resulting from previous flawed nuclear and electric power policies, politics and the bureaucracy continue to malfunction. It is appalling that a political consensus cannot be reached. As usual, the politicians are searching for a scapegoat. Many are now acting as if the problems could be resolved by simply dragging the prime minister down. However, the reality goes beyond the issue of a single... [Read more]

No.7 ,Discussions
Sep 28, 2011

NEW PRIME MINISTER NODA’S ESSAY: MY PLANS FOR GOVERNMENT – NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACHIEVING A “MIDDLE WAY” IN POLITICS

Photo : Noda Yoshihiko

Eliminate clever schemes and rebuild Japan with the power of harmony The Great East Japan Earthquake struck Japan on March 11. This unprecedented disaster took from us a great many precious lives and irreplaceable hometowns. The Cabinet Office estimates the damage at 16.9 trillion yen; 1.8 times greater than that of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. This disaster inflicted deep wounds in everyone’s heart, which cannot be expressed in numerical data, and left depleted hope not only in the devastated areas but all of Japan. The damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident continues. Indeed, Japan faces a historic national crisis. For the five months... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Sep 27, 2011

CREATING A BEAUTIFUL NIGHTSCAPE USING LESS ELECTRICITY

The anything-as-long-as-it’s-bright approach The title “lighting designer” tends to conjure up images of people installing excessive lighting and wasting electricity. That is a common misconception. As lighting designers, we have to be experts in illuminating locations as efficiently as possible, and in creating pleasant spaces that are also safe. When someone tells us exactly how much power they want to consume and how much they want to spend, we have the confidence to create the best possible lighting scheme in line with those requirements. Our job has nothing to do with needless extravagance. It is a question of providing lighting that people... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Sep 26, 2011

A JOURNEY ALONG THE DESTROYED OKU-NO-HOSOMICHI (NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH)

Not being able to offer even the nutrients of a slice of bread, nor the warmth of a single blanket, nor the usefulness of a single battery–this is what the words of poetry are all about. In particular, haiku poems are like fragments of words, with just 17 syllables. In the face of the overwhelming reality of the earthquake and tsunami disasters, I could not just sit there and say that a haiku poet does not need to concern himself with this. Wasn’t there something I should do too, even though all I had was 17-syllable poems? Uncertain feelings swirled around in my head. But I could not find an answer, no matter how hard I tried. I decided that I... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Sep 25, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART VI): TOHOKU ELECTRIC POWER

After the earthquake disaster, the first thing I wanted was light.” (Sato Shinichi, Director of General Affairs, Saito Hospital) “When the lights went on at home, I felt gratitude from the bottom of my heart.” (A woman living in the city) “The lights dispelled the anxiety that people were experiencing.” (Kimura Shin, Head of Disaster Countermeasures Office, Ishinomaki City) Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. When I came here on April 21 to research this story, I met many people who were happy that the rays of hope that light up people’s lives were making a comeback in their day-to-day lives. At the time of the disaster, a total of 4.86 million households lost power in the area under the jurisdiction of Tohoku Electric Power Company. The scale is 7 times that of the Miyagi-Oki Earthquake of 1978. In order to deliver power to users, a ... ... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Sep 24, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART V): CITY OF SENDAI GAS BUREAU AND THE JAPAN GAS ASSOCIATION

It was April 12, one month after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We visited Mikamine Park in Sendai’s Taihaku Ward, known as a scenic spot for cherry trees (sakura). While the trees had yet to bloom, in the park we saw a large tour bus with a Yamagata Prefecture license plate. Posted on the windshield of this bus, which appeared empty, was a paper reading “Chugoku/Shikoku Company, Squad No. 1-2.” It sounded like it came from the Japan Self-Defense Forces, but that was not the case. The passengers from this bus were employees of Hiroshima Gas and they had come to recover Sendai’s town gas system. The bus acted as a base camp on this day for the company’s Valve Opener Unit. According to Okazawa Keisuke, Manager of Public Relations at Osaka Gas who came to assist The Japan Gas Association (JGA) with public ... ... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Sep 23, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART IV): NTT DOCOMO • NTT EAST

How important a lifeline mobile telephones have become was brought home to many people in the recent earthquake disaster. Immediately after the earthquake struck on March 11, mobile telephones were unable to connect across a large area, including the Tokyo capital region, the reason being a concentrated and enormous volume of calls “reaching an unprecedented increase of 60 times normal levels.” (Fukushima Hironori, Director of the Disaster Countermeasures Office at NTT DOCOMO) The three mobile operators, DOCOMO, au (KDDI) and SoftBank Mobile, were forced to impose strict service restrictions of maximum 70-90%. Mobile phones were the first choice for confirming safety, a pattern of behavior completely different from the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. In addition, all the communications companies suffered unprecedented damage. Many communications facilities were swept away in the tsunami... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Aug 10, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART III): RESPONSIBILITY TO CUSTOMERS

The massive earthquake and tsunami damaged distribution channels of automakers. But cars and scooters are essential to recovery. “Even if it’s just one car, we want to make the delivery.” Honda Dream Tohoku and Sendai Toyopet Ishinomaki took action. Close to the mouth of the Kitakami River and at the northern tip of Ishinomaki City is a small village. In the Ohsashi District populated by fishermen’s households, about 200 residents were quietly forced to live as disaster victims, as if the world had forgotten them. Relief supplies from the JSDF and private volunteers finally began to steadily arrive, but the residents had one main concern. The undulating geography of the village made it difficult for the volunteer doctor to make the rounds of homes of the elderly, either by foot or bicycle. They realized they needed a scooter. Kofude Kaiji (second from left) traveled ... ... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Aug 09, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART II): WORKER POWER: DRIVERS’ PRIDE SUPPORTS RECOVERY – ‘LOGISTICS IS ANOTHER LIFELINE’ –

Yamato Transport resumed operations at an office with no gas or electricity. The driving force for quick recovery was in employees on site acting voluntarily. Their sense of mission as being part of a lifeline fed their motivation. The Watanoha District is located close to the fishing port of Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture. A major supermarket nearby had been hit by numerous trucks carried by the tsunami, and a house that drifted there was empty of people. While the road was just barely cleared of debris, the area was largely in the devastated state the earthquake and tsunami had left it three weeks prior. On April 1, in this area reduced to earth, the Yamato Transport Ishinomaki/Watanoha Center resumed operations. There were no electricity or gas supply, and nothing of the office remained but a roof. Sign found from beneath the debris In ... ... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Aug 08, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART I): RESUMING RAILWAY OPERATIONS AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

The Tohoku Shinkansen and local lines of the quake-hit area suffered severe damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Yet many of the lines resumed operation between late-April and May, and passengers are returning. Behind this quick recovery were lessons learned from the past and painstaking efforts of the workers on site. On July 9, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) took another step toward complete recovery. Since the full 675 km stretch (actual distance) between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori opened on April 29, trains had to run at slow speeds between Nasushiobara and Morioka (344 km), but the subject section was reduced to the span of Fukushima to... [Read more]

No.7 ,Culture
Aug 07, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (FOREWORD)

The Japanese economy suffered tremendous damage from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. As recovery progresses, much attention is placed on cases where a company and its employees act voluntarily and highly effectively toward recovery. The following examples are reports on actual cases in which several companies volunteered efforts toward recovery. Some points of particular note are as follows. One is that these corporate employees gave their efforts toward recovery based on their own motives rather than from top-down command. In the case of Japan’s largest logistics company Yamato Transport, we see Yamato employees who witnessed the confusion in relief supply delivery in affected areas manage relief supplies and create a distribution system on their own. The cases of Honda Dream and Sendai Toyopet illustrate automotive dealers keeping their stores open every day in the disaster-hit area to work on repairing cars and... [Read more]

No.7 ,Politics
Aug 06, 2011

MIYAGI WILL BE REVIVED WITH ITS OWN RECOVERY DISTRICT PLAN

Why did the government’s Recovery Plan Meetings fall behind? The Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Plan Meetings were set up under direct orders from Prime Minister Kan Naoto to prompt determined restoration and recovery from this “once in a thousand years” quake and to discuss the nation’s new order. The first meeting was held with the prime minister’s Cabinet in mid-April. The expectation was obviously that the prime minister would offer his basic vision toward recovery, and I, as one of the members representing the disaster-hit areas, had also expected this. Yet he ultimately showed no such vision, almost seeming as if he was... [Read more]

No.7 ,Economy
Aug 05, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART III): CAPITALIZE ON QUALITY EXCELLENCE TO STIMULATE EXPORTS

In the Tohoku region, farmland has lost its levees in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it will be very hard to restore its boundaries. It will also be difficult for older farmers to purchase new machinery and restart their farming operations. However, this is also an opportunity to change currently inefficient agriculture into a new form. Redevelopment of agricultural land into large-sized farm lots will increase work efficiency, open the way for introduction of new technologies for directly sowing on paddies and help reduce costs. The transition to next-generation farmers can be attained by allocating large farming lots to young farmers. Older farmers can earn land rent revenues by leasing their own farmland. Prior to the earthquake, the Japanese government was set to decide by June on whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as the Trans-... [Read more]

No.7 ,Economy
Aug 04, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART II): NEW AGRICULTURE ENTRIES FOR BOOSTING MANAGERIAL STRENGTH

The Great East Japan Earthquake has renewed our awareness of the importance of food and energy, in addition to revealing the multitude of problems in Japan’s conventional policies. With respect to food, the myth about the safety of domestic agricultural products has collapsed, and there is now growing concern about the capacity of food supply. A large portion of the afflicted area comprises villages subsisting on agriculture and fisheries. While there is strong demand for rehabilitation centering on the agriculture, forestry and fishery businesses, doubts exist as to the viability of simply restoring the traditional form of agriculture with a poor production base and supply capacity. Now is the time to build a competitive and efficient agricultural framework. Following the examples of small European countries advanced in transitioning agriculture to an integrated industry is recommended. The Netherlands,... [Read more]

No.7 ,Politics
Aug 03, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART I): CONSOLIDATE FARMLAND, INTEGRATE WITH RESIDENTIAL LAND

The political situation remains confused, but there must not be any delay to the rebuilding after the Great East Japan Earthquake. With the problems at the nuclear power plant not yet contained and many victims continuing to live in emergency shelters, we should act quickly to secure their livelihoods for now and implement compensation to the victims in order to contain harmful rumors. At the same time, it is important to draw up plans for the future, which will likely require a fundamental review of the concept of the regional economic society. As long as arable land remains dispersed, there will be no progress in terms of efficiency. With regard to agriculture, the government has already made it clear that it is looking at building a food supply base in Tohoku by consolidating farmland in the disaster areas and developing large-scale agriculture. Also, to ... ... [Read more]

No.7 ,Economy
Aug 02, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (FOREWORD): BEYOND POST-QUAKE RECOVERY TO THE CREATION OF NEW AGRICULTURE

The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 severely damaged Japan’s food supply center, which accounts for 21% of nationwide agricultural production and 25% of rice production. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), damage related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries attributable to the earthquake amounted to near 1.5 trillion yen, of which damage from loss of farmland and farming facilities was 700 billion yen. Extensive farmland was immersed, flooded, or suffered liquefaction due to the quake and tsunami, and many producers were forced to postpone or give up on planting for this year due to restoration work. Before the quake, the Kan Administration was pursuing whether or not to begin negotiations on joining the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), a high-level, free trade agreement that nine countries including the United States were... [Read more]

No.7 ,Politics
Aug 01, 2011

CREATING A SOLAR BELT IN EAST JAPAN

Cell phone networks collapsedI was shocked by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These days I carry a Geiger counter wherever I go and I was surprised when I went to the Kansai area last week and the device registered double digits like I had seen in Tokyo. Radiation now spreads beyond Tohoku and Kanto to the west as well. One thing that I, as an operator of a cell phone business, was reminded from this earthquake and tsunami is that although cell phones are wireless, stations are wired with optical fiber cables, and when these are broken or power fails, cell phones do not work at all. When we lose electricity and the network is crippled, cell phones are completely out of service. SoftBank phones also lacked sufficient functioning for receiving earthquake early warnings, so I have decided to equip nearly every phone in ... ... [Read more]

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