Posts Tagged ‘China’

Right-wing activist commits suicide in front of Japanese parliament

5 March, 2008

 Imperial Japanese WWII-era propaganda poster

A suspected right-wing activist arrived at the Japanese parliament building by taxi, got out and shot himself this morning, in an apparent protest against Japan’s warming ties with China.

Police discovered two letters on the dead man’s body: one addressed to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and one to the Japanese media.

Fukuda is known for his willingness to forge stronger links with near-neighbour China, and his refusal to visit Yasukuni, a shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead. Prime Ministerial visits to Yasukuni are a particularly sensitive issue for Chinese and Koreans, as 12 convicted World War II class A war criminals are enshrined there.

For the right-wing nationalists (uyoku), Yasukuni remains a rallying point and symbol of Japan’s imperial past, despite former Emperor Hirohito’s to visit the shrine from 1978 until his death because of the enshrinement of war criminals. The current Emperor, Akihito, has never visited Yasukuni.

(See Wikipedia’s pages on Yasukuni Shrine and  Japanese nationalism for history and background information to supplement this story.)

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China becomes Japan’s biggest trading partner

29 February, 2008

Smogging it up

China now accounts for 17.7 per cent of Japan’s total trade, overtaking the United States to become its biggest trading partner.

Exports to China rose to US$109.1 billion in 2007, boosted by strong demand for cars and electronics. Meanwhile, imports from China amounted to US$127.6 billion, leaving the overall trade deficit at US$18.6 billion – a reduction of 27.9 per cent on 2006’s trade deficit figures.

Full story from the IHT: “China overtook US as Japan’s largest trading partner in 2007

Japan’s “Chinese dumpling scandal” intensifies

6 February, 2008

Further to Saturday’s story, “Chinese dumplings off the menu in Japan. Again“, the Japan Times is today reporting that a second toxin has been found in Chinese-made gyoza:

Another type of pesticide has been detected in “gyoza” dumplings made by Tianyang Food, the Chinese company under fire over its suspected link to recent food poisonings in Japan, a distributor of the dumplings said Tuesday.

The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union said the dumplings, which were produced June 3, contained an organophosphate pesticide called dichlorvos in concentrations so high — 110 parts per million in the dough and 0.42 ppm in the ingredients — that eating only two could affect a person’s health.

Read the full story: “Second toxin found in Chinese ‘gyoza’

Chinese dumplings off the menu in Japan. Again

2 February, 2008

Gyoza

The biggest news story in Japan this week was – and still is – the gyoza (Chinese dumpling) food poisoning scandal:

On Wednesday it was reported that at least 10 people suffered vomiting and diarrhoea after eating dumplings imported from China, which were alleged to have been contaminated with insecticide. By Friday afternoon the Yomiuri Shinbun was reporting that that 511 people nationwide claimed to have been affected.

The manufacturer, Tianyang Food Processing, has been told by the Chinese government to halt production and exports, and recall all of its products. Meanwhile, four officials are to be dispatched to Japan to aid in investigating the matter.

Needless to say, the media frenzy surrounding the incident has led to the general public steering clear of imported Chinese food. Scandals such as this tend to rear their head at least three times a year here; in July last year a vendor in Beijing was found to be selling dumplings stuffed with shredded cardboard (link). There was absolutely no link between this incident and food that had been exported to Japan, but still, it was enough.

In other countries, a minor food-poisoning scare would seem an unlikely cause for a major diplomatic spat, but it appears that politicians are having a field day:

Japanese Chief Cabinet Minister Nobutaka Machimura said on Friday he thought Beijing was taking the incident seriously.

“China’s response has been very speedy. It’s stopped production and started inspections,” Machimura told a news conference.

Experts are also calling for careful handling of the issue so as not to harm ties between the two countries.

China Daily

More from the China Daily: “Officials to visit Japan over food poisoning“.

China blamed for worsening smog in Japan

28 November, 2007

According to the Japan Times, this year has seen a record number of photochemical smog warnings issued across Japan, with China apparently being the main culprit.

Chinese power stationWith China’s rapid economic growth, scientists are concerned that pollution from Chinese power stations and industry is having an increasingly damaging effect on the health and well-being of people, animals and agriculture here.

Japan is currently a world leader in energy efficiency. The country uses one-third of the amount of energy that the U.S. needs to produce one unit of GDP, and one-ninth of the amount needed by China. The Japanese government claims energy production is now 30% more efficient than in 1973.

However, Japan is not quite as environmentally conscious as these figures may suggest. More than 77% of the country’s rubbish is incinerated, partially offsetting any reduction in emissions. The Japanese are also increasingly seeking a more luxurious lifestyle, which places further strain on a country with little natural resources of its own.

Japan committed itself to cutting emissions to 94% of 1990 levels by 2012. However, emissions are currently almost 8% above 1990 levels, making this target difficult to achieve. Meanwhile, China’s output of nitrous oxide – the gas primary responsible for smog – has increased almost four-fold in the past 25 years. Prevailing winds carry airborne pollution east, with the west coast being particularly badly affected.