Posts Tagged ‘Links – News’

Wood – it’s the future

26 January, 2008

Wooden car

Japan intends to use wood biomass to produce fuels and other products currently made from petrol.

The Ministry of Agriculture will provide 1.2 billion yen in the next financial year on projects that will improve the efficiency of cellulosic plants, which use enzymes to break down waste wood into ethanol.


Why Japan hunts whales

24 January, 2008

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda today defended his country’s “scientific” whaling programme to the BBC, claiming that Japan was not breaking any laws by continuing to hunt whales around Antarctica. He also levelled criticism at environmentalists’ and foreign governments’ reactions to the issue:

“I don’t think it is right for the discussions to turn emotional, especially with the recent violent act against the Japanese research vessel. Should that lead to more emotionally-charged debate, then I feel that would be very unfortunate. So we should try to continue with our efforts to try to explain that we are engaged in this research whaling activity from a scientific viewpoint.”

Despite the extensive news coverage, many Japanese I spoke to about whaling had no firm opinion: some were strongly opposed to it, of course, but the majority – especially the older generation – viewed the killing of whales as no better or worse than killing other marine species (it is worth noting that young people in Japan hardly ever eat whale meat, in fact few I spoke to had even tried it).

Whale meat is not exactly the most popular – or most expensive – food on the menu in restaurants. In 2005 schools in Wakayama began offering whale meat to their students. However, the meat first had to be fried in breadcrumbs or minced into burgers before before the kids would even touch it.

So, why does Japan spend so much time and money with whaling, when it is so damaging to its reputation among the international community? “Preserving traditional Japanese culture” is a common excuse, though it’s more likely due to the incestuous nature of relations between the Japanese government and the fishing industry. Employees from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries often land themselves cushy jobs in the private sector for a much higher salary than they could ever achieve as a civil servant. Companies in the fishing industry, on the other hand, gain valuable inside knowledge and, hopefully, a sympathetic ear in the halls of power.

(BBC News article: “Japanese premier defends whaling”)

The UBS Art Collection on display in Tokyo

22 January, 2008

99 Cent

Investment bank UBS has, thanks to its numerous acquisitions, managed to build a quite impressive art collection. From the 2nd February to 6 April the Mori Art Museum will host a selection of UBS-owned works by the likes of Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky (whose fabulous “99 Cent” you can see above), Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Admission is ¥1,500 for adults, and ¥1,000 for students.

2 February – 6 April, 2008.

Mori Art Museum
53F Roppongi Hills, Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi Minatoku, Tokyo, Japan 106-6150.

Adults: ¥1,500; Students: ¥1,000.

Visit the Mori Art Museum’s official site.

Japan’s self-defence force to do battle with Jamie Oliver

12 January, 2008

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force plans to release a collection of over 200 recipes on its website this year, in an apparent effort to encourage housewives to take an interest in their activities.

Unfortunately, the recipes are only available in Japanese, with today’s special being crab pilaf. Apparently curry is served on weekends to remind sailors what day of the week it is – are calendars banned on warships, I wonder?

The MSDF’s official cookery page is here.

Futuristic farmers

12 January, 2008

From the Mainichi Daily News:

Strap-on robot suit takes the pain out of backbreaking farm work

A robot suit designed to take the backbreaking factor out of farm work by assisting the movements of users has been unveiled here.

The “farming robot suit,” developed by a team of researchers led by Shigeki Toyama, a professor in the graduate school of the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, has been tested on farms. Researchers hope to have the technology in use in 2 years and develop it into a product and begin selling it in four years.

Read the full story here.