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Ozawa aide denies donation scam role
Japan Times Dec. 19, 2009

Defendant 'voice of heaven' who meted out contractor deals: state

A secretary to ruling party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of falsifying donation records from major contractor Nishimatsu Construction Co.

Takanori Okubo, 48, a state-funded secretary to Ozawa, who is currently secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, entered the plea at the opening of his Tokyo District Court trial.

"I did not think (my deeds) could violate the law," Okubo said.

But in their opening statement, prosecutors argued Okubo himself decided who would be awarded public works contracts, and, using that clout, demanded money and election campaign support from major construction companies.

The accused himself issued the "voice of heaven," prosecutors said, referring to the illegal practice of predetermining who will be awarded a public works contract.

As chief accountant of Ozawa's fund management body, Rikuzankai, Okubo is charged with falsely reporting ¥35 million in donations that the group and a DPJ faction headed by Ozawa received from Nishimatsu Construction from 2003 through 2006, when the DPJ was in opposition.

He is accused of reporting the donations as being from Nishimatsu Construction-linked political organizations, in violation of the Political Funds Control Law.

The focal point of Okubo's trial is whether he was aware the donors were dummy companies controlled by Nishimatsu Construction.

Presiding Judge Ikuro Toishi has set the dates for the next six sessions of the trial through Feb. 26, and is expected to make a ruling by spring.

A former president of Nishimatsu Construction, Mikio Kunisawa, has already been convicted of violating the political funds law and foreign exchange regulations in the fundraising scandal, which also involved a senior member of the now-opposition Liberal Democratic Party.

Kunisawa, 71, was sentenced in July to a suspended 16-month prison term. Both prosecutors and the defendant accepted the decision and did not file an appeal.

In Okubo's trial, prosecutors are expected to argue that he used Ozawa's political clout to raise funds from Nishimatsu Construction, which wanted to win orders for public works projects in Iwate and Akita prefectures.

Ozawa, whose main political base is in Iwate Prefecture, is said to have influence over local authorities in the Tohoku region. At the time of Okubo's arrest in March, Ozawa was president of the DPJ, then the largest opposition party. Okubo was freed in May on bail of ¥15 million.

Ozawa resigned as party leader in June and was succeeded by Yukio Hatoyama, who came to power following the DPJ's victory in the general election in August.

Hatoyama appointed Ozawa as DPJ secretary general in September.

In a related development, former trade minister Toshihiro Nikai resigned from his party posts earlier this week after one of his secretaries was fined ¥1 million in a summary procedure on Dec. 9 for falsely reporting ¥9 million in donations from Nishimatsu Construction.

The Origin of It's Name
Sakurajima Japan

In Japanese Sakura means cherry blossom and Jima means island or mountain, but Sakurajima isn't a cherry blossom island. There are a lot of different sayings about how Sakurajima was named.

One is that a Goddess called "Konohana Sakuyahime" who appeared in legend was defined in Sakurajima, so people used to call Sakurajima, "Sakuya-jima" but then it changed over to "Sakurajima". Another is that when the island was first created, cherry blossoms were seen floating over the see around the island. Or that it was named after a local dignitary named "Sakurajima Tadanobu".


※ The explanation above is almost the same as the explanation in the Japanese Wikipedia about Mt. Sakurajima.

Secretary Clinton arrives in Honolulu
WorldNow and KHNL/KGMB Jan 14, 2010

It's been 25 years since a U.S. Secretary of State has come to Hawaii. It was George Schultz, in the 80's.

This time it's Hillary Clinton arriving at Hickam Air Force Base Monday afternoon.

It's the start of her 9-day trip around the Pacific.

Arriving in Honolulu in the U.S. State Department plane, Secretary Clinton starts the new year focusing on foreign policy in the Pacific.

"There is a chance that she could also help and re balance the U.S.-Japan relationship at a key moment. That may be the single most important meeting," said Michael O'hanlon of Brookings Institution.

It's a meeting that's important now that Japan has a new prime minister.

In Hawaii, where east meets west, the Secretary's mission is to make sure the U.S. remains a power player in key Asia-Pacific decisions, including economic recovery.

"That's the biggest thing that can be done for Hawaii. If the Chinese economy is moving, if the U.S. economy stabilizes, and grows again, if Japan is able to deal with new deflation rate pressures again and get its economy going again, then all that is good for the state of Hawaii," said Charles Morrison, East-West Center President.

East-West Center in Manoa is where Secretary Clinton will deliver her policy address.

Here is the secretary's schedule:

At 8:30 a.m., Clinton will meet with Japan's foreign minister at the Marriott Ihilani Resort. His Excellency, Katsuya Okada, wants to talk to her about relocating a U.S. base in Okinawa.

At 10:25 a.m., Clinton will head to the U.S. Pacific Command, then visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial at 11:35 a.m.

At 2:00 p.m., the Secretary will deliver her major policy address at the East-West Center to an invite-only crowd of 150 people, including Governor Linda Lingle and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Morrison says the significance of Secretary Clinton's visit is that Hawaii is the place to talk about U.S. and Asia-Pacific relations.

"Because it's halfway between Washington and the region, because of its ethnic make-up, and because it's a welcoming beautiful environment. I think maybe Barack Obama has something to do with it as well," said Morrison.

Hawaii News Now will bring live coverage of Secretary Clinton's speech on Tuesday starting at 2:00 p.m. as well as on www.HawaiiNewsNow.com.

Coming of Age Day (History)

Coming of age ceremonies have been celebrated in Japan since at least 714 AD, when a young prince donned new robes and a hairstyle to mark his passage into adulthood. The holiday was first established in 1948, to be held every year on January 15. In 2000, as a result of the Happy Monday System, Coming of Age Day was changed to the second Monday in January.


※ The explanation above is not necessarily correct.

In 714 AD, a genpuku ceremony was held for Emperor Shomu when he was 14 years old.
But the genpuku ceremony was usually held for boys between ages of 11 and 17. And the genpuku ceremony was different from today's Coming of Age ceremony to a large extent.
To mark the entry to adult life of boys between the ages of 11 and 17 (typically of about age 12), they were taken to the shrines of their patron kami. There they were presented with their first adult clothes, and their boys' hairstyles were changed to the adult style. They were also given new adult names.
In addition, the current Coming-of-Age Day ceremony started after the end of WW2.
Coming-of-Age Day originated during the Heian era ceremony known as “Gen-Puku”. The traditional dress for “Gen-Puku” consisted of tying a topknot in their hair and wearing a crown indicating that the person had reached adulthood. Following the Samurai period, the tradition of tying a topknot ended and after the Edo era, the “Gen-Puku” ceremony died out ltogether. According to history, the origin and style of the current Coming-of-Age Day ceremony is based on the “Youth Festival” hosted in Warabi City, Saitama following the end of WW2 to offer hope for the future younger generation.

※  According to the history of Japan's conspiracy, the 14th birthday is particularly celebrated. So, in this conspiracy calendar, Japanese genpuku tradition is referred to "14th or 15th birthday".

Genpuku (Japanese Shinto shrine's site)

Clinton Pledges Asia Engagement, Urges More Political Openness in China
VOA NEWS 13 January 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, discussing U.S. Asia-Pacific policy Tuesday in Hawaii, said an easing of political controls in China would be in that country's best interests. Clinton held critical talks on the future of U.S. military bases in Okinawa with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

Clinton, in a policy speech at the U.S.-sponsored East-West Center in Honolulu, said the Asia-Pacific relationship is a priority for the administration of President Barack Obama, who spent some of his formative years in Hawaii and in Indonesia.

She said the United States is committed to seeking a cooperative and mature relationship with China, one that is not "knocked of course" when differences erupt on specific issues.

And, in response to a question from a Chinese student at the policy center at the University of Hawaii, Clinton said China would benefit from a more-open society.

"We hope that there will be increasing openness, politically, in China," Clinton said. "We hope that there will be an opportunity for more of the Chinese people to exercise the full range of human rights and freedom. And, we say that to our friends in China in the leadership meetings that we have and it is something that we believe would be in the best interests of China."

The secretary spoke on the eve of her departure for Papua-New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia on what will be her fourth trip to the Asia-Pacific region since taking office.

Clinton has put heavy stress on the United States returning to a major political role in the region, after what was seen as a preoccupation by the Bush administration with Iraq and other matters.

She departed from a prepared text to deliver what appeared to be an indirect swipe at her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, who broke long standing tradition by not regularly attending ministerial meetings with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"We need to recognize that these regional organizations are very important to the actors that are in them," Clinton said. "And, the failure of the United States to participate demonstrates a lack of respect and a willingness to engage. And, that is why I made it very clear upon becoming Secretary of State that the United States would show up."

Earlier, Clinton met at a resort hotel with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, whose left-leaning government has irritated American officials by reconsidering a 2006 bilateral agreement to alter the U.S. military presence on Japan's southern island, Okinawa.

The deal, a product of years of negotiations, provides for moving some U.S. forces from Okinawa to Guam, while relocating the key Futenma Marine base farther from populated areas.

The new Japanese government has suggested it might seek additional cuts in an Okinawa presence the United States sees as critical to regional security.

Heard through an interpreter at a news conference with Clinton, the Japanese minister said Tokyo aims for a decision by May.

"We've now have a change in government in Japan and there are different views within the coalition government," Okada said. "And, against that backdrop, we have set a time-line of May. And, within the coalition government we're working on studying a replacement site. We will come up with a conclusion by May so that they'll be a minimum impact on the Japan-U.S. alliance.

For her part, Clinton said that, both in terms of protecting Japan and limiting the impact of U.S. bases on Okinawans, the 2006 "road map" should be followed.

"The United States has already made decisions based on that road map, which was accepted by prior governments," she said. "So we want to work closely with our alliance partner and reach the best outcome for Japan and the United States. And, as I have said several times already, we think the realignment road map provides the best way forward."

A senior official told reporters traveling with Clinton the United States has no choice but to work with the new Tokyo government on the issue.

He says, despite strong views on both sides over the base issue, the overall relationship is much too important to be "held hostage" by one issue.

EDITORIAL: Futenma base problem
Asahi Shimbun 2009/12/11

A lack of progress in talks on relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture is putting an increasing strain on Japan-U.S. relations.

This is mostly due to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's announcement last week to carry over settlement of the problem to next year. His decision reflected strong opposition within junior coalition partner Social Democratic Party to relocating the facility's functions to Henoko in Nago within the prefecture.

However, as a result, a Japan-U.S. ministerial-level working group meeting to examine the Henoko plan was put in limbo. Moreover, it seems unlikely that Tokyo and Washington can begin consultations on "deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance" ahead of next year's 50th anniversary to mark revisions to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Both steps were agreed to between Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama last month.

According to Japanese government sources, Washington is irked at Tokyo's procrastination on this issue since it considers the Henoko relocation plan as the only realistic way to break the deadlock. Referring to such developments, even Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada expressed a "strong sense of crisis" with regard to Japan-U.S. relations.

Why did things turn out this way? The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty lies at the core of the bilateral relationship. It is an indispensable requirement for Japan to host U.S. military bases. The proposed relocation is an important issue for the alliance. We believe there is no major discrepancy between the two nations in this basic recognition.

It is a matter of course for the U.S. side to demand implementation of the existing agreement. At the same time, the Hatoyama administration, having achieved a change of government, is perfectly within its rights to examine past developments and seek a way to reduce Okinawa Prefecture's excessive burden.

How can the deterrence offered by U.S. forces stationed in Japan be maintained? How should Japan share the costs involved? The problem is the result of a lack of a frank exchange of opinions from such viewpoints through diplomatic channels between the allies.

It would be shortsighted to state that the Futenma issue could destroy the entire alliance. Still, it is unfortunate that the disarray will deepen because of a lack of communication.

Obama stated in his speech in Tokyo: "In the half-century since (the formation of the U.S.-Japan alliance), that alliance has endured as a foundation for our security and prosperity." What is now needed is the will and wisdom to maintain and manage that "foundation."

We fully understand that the U.S. side is frustrated with the indecisiveness of the Hatoyama administration, which once sought settlement by the end of the year but put it off, giving first consideration to maintaining its coalition with the SDP.

Meanwhile, in an Asahi Shimbun public opinion poll, more than half of respondents said Japan should re-examine the bilateral agreement and renegotiate the relocation plan with the United States. We should not play down this trend in public opinion, nor ignore the sentiments of Okinawan residents.

The prime minister's argument for "deepening the alliance" by expanding multilayered cooperation in such areas as disaster prevention, medicine and education fits with the Obama administration's stance to attach importance to measures to fight global warming and promote the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. We believe the Japanese people will welcome the renewal of the traditional image of the alliance, which tended to emphasize its military aspects.

Also in order to carefully develop this trend, Hatoyama has a responsibility as prime minister to minimize friction over the Futenma problem. As a first step, he should make his stance clear as soon as possible.

Hatoyama playing risky game over Futenma
Japan Times Dec. 10, 2009

The unresolved issue of where to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is threatening to further strain Japan-U.S. ties as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama puts off making a decision, critics said Wednesday.

Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Tokyo Foundation think tank, warned that even Hatoyama's administration could be at risk if he puts the wrong foot forward on the matter.

"Hatoyama is not only going to lose the trusting relationship with the U.S. but also the world and the Japanese people," Watanabe said. "Hatoyama keeps going back and forth with no intention of making a decision. If he doesn't deal with (Futenma) properly, the Hatoyama administration may not be able to survive, in addition to seriously straining Japan-U.S. relations."

Hatoyama and his government have been caught between its coalition partner Social Democratic Party, which is demanding that Futenma be relocated outside Okinawa, and the U.S., which is pressing Japan to abide by a 2006 agreement to move Futenma's heliport functions to Nago in northern Okinawa by 2014.

On Wednesday, the prime minister told reporters that he intends to come up with a new proposal soon for discussions with Washington but admitted it may not necessarily resolve the relocation issue.

Meanwhile, Watanabe said President Barack Obama is coping with bigger problems, such as gaining support for his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and that he wouldn't be able to negotiate on Futenma with Hatoyama.

"Realistically, there is no room for negotiations," Watanabe said. "Obama can't afford to negotiate — he won't be able to make concessions."

Also Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said the scheduling of the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan could be affected if the relocation of Futenma is not resolved soon.

The relocation to the Henoko area in Nago is part of the 2006 road map for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan that includes transferring 8,000 marines and 9,000 family members from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

"If the Futenma issue takes a little more time (to resolve) and if the next action plan cannot be carried out because of it, then it's possible that the timeline of the realignment program could be more or less altered," Hirano said.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has expressed "a sense of crisis" over bilateral ties, revealing Tuesday that a high-level working group on the sensitive issue has been suspended.

"In my experience as a politician, I have a sense of crisis that if we don't firmly deal with the Futenma issue, the Japan and the U.S. could lose their relationship of trust," Okada said.

Before Obama made his first official visit to Tokyo last month, the two governments agreed to set up a minister-level working group on Futenma, which critics said was just a way for Japan to buy time and put off making hard decisions. But on Tuesday, Okada said certain problems have surfaced that exceed the framework of the working group.

"We have suspended the working group for the time being and we are waiting to see whether or not the discussions should go back to the working group," Okada said.

Okada also hinted that meetings to prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. security treaty next month have been postponed.

Obama and Hatoyama agreed last month during their summit in Tokyo to set up the meetings.

Although Okada denied media reports that the U.S. informed Japan of its intention to postpone the meetings, the foreign minister admitted that the Futenma relocation issue needed to be resolved first.

"I don't recall (the U.S. side saying they intended to postpone the meetings) but I myself am aware that we are not in that position," Okada said. "Without resolving the Futenma issue, I am just not in the mood to talk about the 50th anniversary of the security treaty or how the Japan-U.S. alliance should be."

Clinton meets Japan's envoy to U.S. over bilateral relations
two--plus--two December 22, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Monday with Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki apparently intending to relay Washington's hope to implement as agreed upon with Tokyo a bilateral deal on where to relocate a key U.S. military airfield in Okinawa.

"The topic for discussion was the secretary's views on overall Japan- U.S. relations," Fujisaki told reporters after the unscheduled talks, noting there was no change in the U.S. position on the base relocation issue.

He said Clinton talked "from a standpoint that she attaches an importance to Japan-U.S. ties." He also said it is rare for the top U.S. diplomat to meet with an ambassador and that he "seriously takes it to heart."

Fujisaki declined to make further comments, saying he would report on the meeting to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

The talks came after Hatoyama said Clinton expressed understanding, in a conversation in Copenhagen last week, of Japan's recent decision to put off until next year reaching a conclusion on the relocation of the U.S. Marines' Futemma Air Station in Okinawa.

"I told her about the current circumstances and I believe that she basically understood them," Hatoyama told reporters last Friday. "I think it was a great opportunity for us to be able to reconfirm the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance."

The meeting between Clinton and Fujisaki may have reflected the top U.S. diplomat's frustration at Hatoyama's remarks. Clinton's request for Fujisaki to visit her at the State Department was filed Monday morning, though federal government offices in the capital were closed for the day due to a large snow storm over the weekend.

Hatoyama has postponed making a decision on the base relocation issue despite Washington's repeated pressure on Tokyo to stick to the original deal it forged with the United States in 2006.

Under the 2006 deal, which the two countries agreed as part of a broader realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the Futemma facility, located in a residential area of Ginowan, will be transferred to Nago, another Okinawa city that is less densely populated.

Hatoyama was initially hoping to convey the government's decision on the Futemma facility directly to President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the 15th Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

But the Japanese premier told reporters in the Danish capital that he only spoke with Obama briefly during an official climate meeting of state leaders.

Other participants in Monday's meeting included Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, and Kevin Maher, director of the department's Office of Japanese Affairs, and Takeo Akiba, minister in charge of political affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Washington.

FM to meet U.S. Secretary of State in mid-Jan. over Futenma relocation
Mainichi Japan January 6, 2010

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mid-January to explain Tokyo's postponement of a final decision on the relocation of U.S. forces Air Station Futenma, government officials said.

The meeting is expected to take place in Washington possibly on Jan. 10 or 11, before the regular Diet session convenes on Jan. 18, according to the officials.

Washington had initially expressed reluctance to hold foreign ministerial talks, but apparently deemed it unwise to give the international community the impression that bilateral relations have been strained over the issue.

Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka, who met with Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in Washington Tuesday, told reporters that the two governments are "finalizing the schedule" of the foreign ministerial talks. While declining to elaborate reactions from Steinberg and other U.S. officials, Yabunaka said: "We clearly agreed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is indispensable for peace and stability in East Asia."

In their upcoming meeting, Okada and Clinton will apparently reconfirm that the two countries should strengthen the bilateral alliance without focusing too heavily on the Futenma issue. However, Washington will stick to its demand that Japan go ahead with the previously-agreed plan to relocate the base to an area off Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

Clinton Scraps Australia Trip Because Of Earthquake
New York Times January 13, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday she has decided to cancel the remainder of her trip to the Pacific and will return to Washington because of the earthquake in Haiti.

Clinton had been scheduled to leave Hawaii on Wednesday to make a brief stop in Papua New Guinea before going on to New Zealand and Australia. Earlier, she told reporters she planned to continue with the journey but would look to shorten it.

"I have decided to cancel the remainder of my (trip) and return to Washington," Clinton told reporters, saying she planned to reschedule and that the three nations were understanding of her decision.

Tens of thousands of people were feared dead in Haiti's catastrophic earthquake on Tuesday, with many buried or trapped in demolished schools, hospitals and hillside shanties in the impoverished capital of Port-au-Prince.

Hillary Clinton to visit quake-hit Haiti
canada.com January 16, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was en route to Haiti early Saturday to see earthquake relief efforts first hand, deliver supplies and meet Haitian President Rene Preval.

Clinton, who this week cut short her tour of the Asia-Pacific region to help coordinate relief, left Washington loaded with several thousand dollars worth of food and toiletries for 140 staff of the US embassy in Port-au-Prince, said a State Department official, who asked not to be named.

The top US diplomat is also ferrying to the crippled Haitian capital 100 cases of fresh water and 100 ready-to-eat meals, which were picked up in the Washington area on Friday night.

Clinton was scheduled to meet President Rene Preval shortly after arriving in Haiti, and later visit the devastated UN compound and the world body's interim chief there, Edmond Mulet.

The civilian head of the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) -- Hedi Annabi of Tunisia -- is still missing after Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude temblor. Haitian authorities have declared him dead.

Clinton, traveling with US Agency for International Development (USAID) Coordinator Rajiv Shah and other officials, was scheduled to meet US Ambassador Ken Merten along with civilian and military members of the US government team on the ground.

"We will also be conveying very directly and personally to the Haitian people our long-term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies to reinforce President (Barack) Obama's message that they are not facing this crisis alone," Clinton said Friday in announcing her visit.

Clinton and her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, have a long involvement with Haiti, where they spent their honeymoon.

Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, teamed up with his successor, president George W. Bush -- at Obama's urging -- in efforts to rally relief funds.

He made an impassioned plea Friday for small, individual donations to aid agencies, saying a 10-dollar contribution would be put "with the 10 dollars of millions of other people and immediately turn it into food, medicine shelter and clean water, and distribute it."

Taisho Eruption of 1914

This eruption was preceded by volcanic earthquakes for several days prior to the actual eruption. In the early morning of January 11th, residents became alarmed by the increasing frequency of these earthquakes, and around 10:00 AM on 12th the eruption finally began. Volcanic smoke was seen rising from the western slope, and shortly thereafter an eruption began on the eastern slope. The smoke rose to more than 8,000 m and was present for more than a day. That evening at 6:29 PM an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck Kagoshima City, killing 35 people. By the afternoon of the following day the eruption had weakened, but that evening at 8:14 PM there was another major eruption at the western crater, accompanied by pyroclastic flow in the hydrosphere. Minor eruptions in the western crater lasted until January 26th.

As the eastern crater was in the lee, no information could be obtained about its activity except that a lava flow was recognized to have occurred on the morning of the 14th. The lava flowed across a strait and hardened after about two weeks, with the result that by February 1st Sakurajima and Ohsumi Peninsula were linked. Sakurajima continued to flow lava for more than a year afterward, and in March-April 1915, a secondary lava flow from a primary lava bed formed a lava delta. Since the amount of magma erupted was estimated to be as much as 1.5km3, it settled quite concentrically around the Aira Caldera. Lava deposition 30-50 cm deep was also observed around Kagoshima City.

Although the Taisho Eruption was reported to have caused 58 deaths, 35 of them died in the earthquake on the 12th, which can be considered relatively few in light of the scale of the eruption. This was partly because residents had begun voluntarily evacuating due to the preceding earthquakes.

Hanging little consolation to slain kids' parents
Japan Times Sept. 15, 2004

Parents of the eight children slain in the June 2001 Osaka school massacre expressed mixed feelings Tuesday over news that the killer, Mamoru Takuma, was hanged earlier in the day.

Yuki Tsukamoto, whose 7-year-old daughter, Kana, was among the eight children stabbed to death by Takuma at Osaka Kyoiku University Elementary School in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, said the execution will not ease her hatred toward the killer.

"The only change is that I will no longer have to feel frustrated that Takuma is still alive," Tsukamoto said.

Masako Totsuka, who lost her 6-year-old son, Takahiro, in the massacre, said the execution does not mean anything special to her.

"I regret that (Takuma) lacked a sense of atonement up to the final moment," she said.

Many of the parents wished to remain anonymous and some declined comment.

The mother of a 7-year-old girl slain by Takuma said the execution brought some sense of closure but no relief.

"(The execution) again brought home the reality that my daughter is no longer alive. I would not have had to feel this way had there been no Takuma," she said.

A relative of one of the victims said he wondered if Takuma had uttered any apology before he was hanged.

"We made our statements in court, but I wonder if our feelings reached him," the relative said.

The father of another slain 7-year-old girl said: "Takuma vowed to say everything when he walked to the gallows, so what happened? I'm not sure what I think (of the execution) if he was hanged without offering words of apology."

The memory of the massacre was still fresh in the school's neighborhood.

"I cannot forget the image of a boy with a bloodstained shirt running out the school gate. It is only natural that Takuma was executed. I believe (justice was swift) in consideration of the sentiments of the victimized," said Kimiko Sasaki, 65, the proprietress of a coffee shop near the school.

A 53-year-old woman recalled that a number of children from the Ikeda school escaped into a supermarket where she was working. "I saw blood flowing from the children's backs. I wanted (Takuma) to feel the same pain suffered by the victims."

Lawmakers protest

Staff report

A nonpartisan group of Diet members opposed to capital punishment on Tuesday protested the executions earlier in the day of two death-row inmates.

One of those put to death was Mamoru Takuma, who massacred eight children at a school in Osaka Prefecture in 2001.

Members of the group handed a written protest to Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa.

The group argued that, since Takuma had been executed less than a year after his death sentence was finalized, there was no possibility of obtaining further details on the case.

Ikuo Yamahana, a group member and House of Representatives lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Japan, pointed out in a news conference that executions had again been carried out while the Diet was not in session and while the justice minister's term was about to end.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet later this month.

Just a week ago, Amnesty International and members of Forum 90, an organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty, held a meeting with Nozawa, asking him to halt executions in Japan.

"The justice minister had said at that meeting that he was considering the timing (of the executions) and carefully examining each case," Makoto Teranaka of Amnesty International told the same news conference.

"But looking at the two executions, it is obvious that he neither went over the cases carefully, nor considered the timing."

The two executions were the first to take place during Nozawa's tenure as justice minister.

Monument to 800 years of daimyo power
Japan Times April 26, 2001

Sengan'en, a garden and former residence of the Shimazu lords of Kagoshima, is located on the shores of Kinko Bay, the innermost part of Kagoshima Bay. Officially called Sengan'en, it is also known as Iso Gardens. It was designated a national scenic landmark in 1958.

Japanese history buffs are well aware of the house of Shimazu, one of the most enduring of Japan's powerful families. Their story began in the Kamakura Period (1192- 1333). Soon after Minamoto no Yoritomo became the first Kamakura shogun, he made his vassal Koremune Tadahisa lord of the Shimazu shoen (manor) and shugo (military governor) of the provinces of Satsuma, Osumi and Hyuga (present-day Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures). Tadahisa adopted the name Shimazu, and the family subsequently became the most powerful in southern Kyushu.

Even today the Shimazu family is influential in Kagoshima. Sengan'en is owned and managed by the Shimazu Kanko Co., and Nobuhisa Shimazu is the company president.

Mitsuhisa Shimazu, the 19th head of the Shimazu house, built the first residence here in 1658. This house served as a retreat until the latter days of the Tokugawa Period. The present house is estimated to be one-third the size of the original; even so, it covers 1,000 sq. meters. Built in traditional Japanese style, the building is wooden and surrounds a tranquil inner garden with a pool filled with carp.

One of the oldest features of Sengan'en is a teahouse built in 1702 by Yoshitaka, the 21st Shimazu lord. Yoshitaka is also credited with introducing the giant moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) to Japan in 1736 from Okinawa, which was part of the Shimazu holdings. The plant, originally from China, is the source of the delicious take no ko (bamboo shoots) that are a harbinger of spring in Japan.

Yoshitaka also built a garden within Sengan'en called Kyokusui in 1702. Sometime after its construction, however, the garden was buried by a landslide. The scars from the landslide are clearly visible on the mountain above, but the garden's existence was only confirmed in 1959, and excavation and reconstruction work commenced in 1963.

Kyokusui was built to hold kyokusui-no-en, or "parties by the winding stream." Although of Chinese origin, such parties were enjoyed by the nobles of the Heian court; guests would sit on either side of the stream in a kyokusui garden, writing poetry and sipping sake. One guest would begin by writing a line, then floating the poem downstream to the next guest, who would add another line or two and so on. Today an annual kyokusui festival is held at Sengan'en; Okayama's Korakuen and Motsuji Temple in Iwate also have similar festivals.

An evergreen cherry tree (Prunus zippeliana) can be found in Kyokusui. Known as bakuchi-no-ki in Japanese, it has no common English name, but a direct translation would be "gambling tree": In gambling you can lose the clothes off your back, and this tree "loses" its bark every spring. Bakuchi-no-ki grows naturally in this garden and in other warm temperate areas of Japan. The exfoliating bark is a bright rusty-orange color and very noticeable. Its leaves are leathery and 10-20 cm long; its white flowers are borne in dense racemes from September to October. The bakuchi-no-ki in Sengan'en is over 10 meters tall.

In 1814, Narioki, the 26th Shimazu lord, conceived the idea of carving Chinese letters on the rock high above Sengan'en. This practice originated in China and is rarely seen in Japanese gardens. Some 3,900 workers were employed in this task, erecting a scaffold of bamboo and Japanese cedar to engrave the characters "Senjingan (1,000-Foot Crag)" on the rock face. The characters are 11 meters tall, and the rock face is 200 meters above sea level.

Sengan'en covers approximately 48 hectares and incorporates artificial mountains, rivers and borrowed scenery. Its superb views of the volcano Sakurajima just beyond Kinko Bay, in fact, are a classic example of borrowed scenery.

Tadayoshi, the 29th Shimazu lord, occupied the 25-room house full-time from 1871, and the former retreat became the main residence of the Shimazu family. In one room, which has a tatami floor and sliding doors, you can see a glass chandelier over a luxury carpet, laid directly on top of the tatami, with a formal English-style table all set with English-style cutlery, ready for a nice evening dinner!

In 1889 Tadayoshi harnessed the water from Kenkura River, which flows through the garden, to generate electricity to light the Shuseijo Factory, now a museum located opposite the main entrance. The factory was part of an early effort to develop new Western-style industries in Kagoshima. The ruins of the dam can still be seen in the garden.

The lower part of the garden boasts two historic toro (stone lanterns). The first is the Lion Lantern, designed by Tadayoshi's head gardener Oda Kisanji in 1884. A massive rock was taken from the seashore and used as a capstone for the lantern.

The second toro is older and is known as the Crane Lantern. Its brown capstone resembles a crane in flight. Nariakira Shimazu, the 27th lord and one of the key figures in the period leading up to the Meiji Restoration, installed a gas lamp in this lantern that is said to be the first use of piped gas in Japan.

To the immediate right of the residence is a tall Amami pine tree (yakutane-goyo or Amami goyo, Pinus armandii var. amamiana), reckoned to be 300 years old and still in good health. Japanese names use either matsu or goyo as part of the compound name for pine. "Goyo" simply means five leaves; the Amami pine has five stiff leaves, or needles. The name "yakutane" is derived from Yakushima and Tanegashima, the two southern islands where this pine originates. It is thought by some botanists to be a distinct species, while others see it as a natural variety of the Chinese white pine (P. armandii).

Many of you will be familiar with the big blue turf lily (yaburan, Liriope muscari), a rhizomatous, shade-loving evergreen perennial very popular in smaller gardens. In Sengan'en you can see a giant relative of the species, noshi-ran (Ophiopogon jaburan). Like the turf lily, its leaves are evergreen, but much longer, at 30-90 cm. This plant gives the woodland section of Sengan'en a semi-tropical atmosphere.

In May, visitors can see the large gogatsu-nobori, the local equivalent of the koinobori carp streamers that are popular nationwide. There are two 10-meter-long streamers with the Shimazu family emblem (a circle with a cross in it), two dragon streamers, two with paulownia tree (kiri) emblems and one five-colored streamer for Tadashige Shimazu, the 30th and final lord.

In the center of the garden, almost hidden by trees, is a small Shinto shrine known as Oniwa Shrine. At one time there were over 13 shrines scattered through the garden, but they were consolidated into one in 1918. Few visitors take the time to visit this shrine, and fewer still walk up through the woodland above the garden, but both are worth seeing.

Kagoshima Prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture has carried on the tradition and spirit of its unique educational system, goju, which began toward the end of the 16th century and is said to have influenced the foundation of the Scout Association. In 1947, the 6-3-3-4 education system was introduced into Japan: six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of senior high school and four years of university. The first nine years of education are compulsory with almost 100% enrollment. In the fiscal year 2007, high school enrollment was 98.2%, with39.2% of all high school graduates going on to college. The school year begins in April. Summer vacation is about 40 days long with about 2 weeks for New Year and spring break.


I was very very interested to learn about the Goju educational system of Satsuma han and how it served as an inspiriation for the English boy scouts. I think this system must be an important reason why the Satsuma han was such a powerful and influential han, and why it played such an important role during the Meiji restoration. No powerful society can exist without a strong system to train and educate the young as a base. I look forward to reading more in the future.

Order of Culture

The Order of Culture (文化勲章, bunka kunshō) is a Japanese order, established on February 11, 1937. The order has one class only, and may be awarded to men and women for contributions to Japan's art, literature or culture; recipients of the order also receive an annuity for life. The order is conferred by the Emperor of Japan in person on Culture Day (November 3) each year.

The badge of the order, which is in gold with white enamel, is in the form of an mandarin orange blossom; the central disc bears three crescent-shaped jades (magatama). The badge is suspended on a gold and enamel wreath of mandarin orange leaves and fruit, which is in turn suspended on a purple ribbon worn around the neck.
※ According to the Japanese Wikipedia, the first award ceremony for the Order of Culture in Japan was held on April 28, 1937.
4月28日 - 第1回文化勲章授与式。長岡半太郎、本多光太郎、木村栄、佐佐木信綱、幸田露伴、岡田三郎助、藤島武二、竹内栖鳳、横山大観が受章。
The Japanese explanation is translated by the online translation of the website as follows.
April 28- the 1st the Order of Culture presentation. Half Taro Nagaoka、[Hikatarou] Honda、[Kimuraei]、[Shintsuna] Sasaki、Koda Rohan、Saburo Okada [jo]、Takeshi Fujishima 2、Otori of [**] Takeuchi、The general view of Yokoyama receives it.

How Saddam Hussein was captured
BBC NEWS 15 December, 2003

Saddam Hussein was captured after a tip-off led American troops to a small, underground hole concealed next to farm buildings near the former leader's hometown of Tikrit.

Soldiers were seconds away from throwing a hand grenade into the hole, when Saddam Hussein emerged and surrendered, Colonel James Hickey who led the raid said.

The critical piece of information, obtained at 1050 local time on Saturday, came from an individual who had been arrested the previous day in Baghdad, he said.

By 1800, under the cover of darkness, some 600 troops from the US 4th Infantry Division began moving towards two locations considered likely hide-outs near the town of al-Dawr.

Their mission to kill or capture Saddam Hussein, they assaulted the targets - codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2 - at about 2000 but did not find the former leader.

They then sealed off the area and conducted a wider search, discovering a small walled farm compound containing a metal lean-to structure and a mud hut.

Underground hide-out

Searching the compound, troops discovered a so-called "spider hole", camouflaged with bricks and dirt and covered with polystyrene and a carpet.

Colonel Hickey said that the soldiers looked into the hole and saw a figure inside it.

"Two hands appeared. The individual clearly wanted to surrender," he said.

Saddam Hussein was pulled out at 2036, "disoriented" and "bewildered", according to Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division.

He put up no resistance although armed with a pistol.

"My name is Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate," he told the US troops in English, according to Major Bryan Reed, operations officer for the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

"Regards from President Bush," US special forces replied, Major Reed recounted.

Two other people, believed to have formed Saddam Hussein's small entourage, were also captured and taken away for interrogation.

'Very rudimentary'

The underground chamber the former Iraqi leader had secreted himself in was six-to-eight feet (1.8 metres - 2.4 metres) deep, with enough space for a person to lie down, and an air vent and extractor fan.

Major General Odierno said the farm where the former leader was found consisted of "two very small rooms in an adobe hut".

He said one was a bedroom that was cluttered with clothes, including new T-shirts and socks and a "very rudimentary" kitchen, with running water.

Saddam Hussein would have moved from the building into the hole whenever coalition forces were in the area, Major General Odierno added.

He said the hole was very close to the Tigris river, within view of some of the captive's palaces.

"I think it was rather ironic that he was in a hole in the ground across the river from these great palaces that he has built, where he robbed all the money from the Iraqi people," Major General Odierno said.

'Ultimate information'

Although the area had been searched before, it was likely Saddam Hussein had not been there, as he was thought to have moved often and at short notice.

The spokesman said it was likely he had been there for a short time when the "ultimate information" came from a member of a family brought in for questioning.

No mobile phones or other communications equipment were found, suggesting that Saddam Hussein was providing "moral support" and was no longer co-ordinating the Iraqi resistance, Major General Odierno added.

Top US military commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said the former dictator was "talkative and co-operative", had no injuries and was in good health.


Along with the former Iraqi dictator, troops discovered $750,000 cash in $100 bills, two AK-47 machine guns and a briefcase of documents.

A white and orange taxi was parked near the compound.

The former Iraqi leader was removed at 2115 and taken to an undisclosed secure location, General Sanchez said.

He showed a news conference a videotape of a dishevelled and heavily-bearded Saddam Hussein being examined by an American doctor.

The mission came after a intense intelligence-gathering operation in the Tikrit area over several months.

American forces gradually built up a picture of Saddam Hussein's likely whereabouts through tip-offs, interrogations of detainees and rigorous analysis of information.

The tip-off on Saturday came as the first piece of so-called "actionable intelligence", pointing troops to a specific location.

Analysts have suggested that Saddam Hussein hid near his home town Tikrit - his political and tribal powerbase - in the hope that remaining local supporters would shelter him from coalition forces.

But it must be speculated that the $25m reward offered by the US for information leading to his capture may well have played a part in undermining these traditional loyalties - and sealing his fate.

Day 12 lower division results
Sumoforum.net Jan 21, 2010

It looks like there won't be too many more open slots in juryo with only Jumonji and Hoshikaze needing a 2-1 on the final three days (and three more needing one win), but the torikumi makers are trying anyway putting 3-3 Kurosawa and Kanbayashi against those two most endangered sekitori.

Aoki lost another one, making this the first basho in his career with more than one loss, as Matsutani beat him with uwatenage to move up to the top five ranks again. Kotoyutaka suffered a crushing 4-11 in juryo last basho, but did recover sufficiently to get the kachi-koshi at the Ms8e rank already, beating Takateru. Czech Takanoyama beat talented Ryuden to avoid make-koshi and possibly return into the top five ranks with another win. Other rikishi improving to 5-1 today are collegiate Takarafuji and Hakiai, and 19 years old Kairyu in a highly successful makushita debut.

Tochitenko still is going strong at 42 years, moving to 6-0 in sandanme, and with another win he could enjoy a 119th makushita basho at the age of 43 years. Sadanishiki also won to join Hitachigo for the 6-0 leader group. Terashita and Karatsuumi won today to join Fujinohana at 6-0 in jonidan, making the jonidan yusho an uphill battle for the half-American. Ex-sandanme Kozan won against Igarashi and is the sole jonokuchi rikishi at 6-0.

Purple rain
Japan Times

Any time a yokozuna is upset, zabuton (seating cushions) rain down from the masu-seki. Masu-seki are the 4-person carpeted box seats equipped with said zabuton on the first floor of a sumo arena and costing around 45,000 yen per box at present. Seating in masu-seki can be cramped for larger folk yet is the traditional way to watch the sport. Chair seats are usually on an upper floor of a given arena but throwing the chairs -- don't do it!

Japan bans cushion throwing at sumo tournament
Telegraph.co.uk 20 Oct 2008

The centuries-old tradition of hurling cushions after sumo bouts has been banned in the run up to the November tournament after elders of the sport decided they could not risk further bad press this year.

"We believe it could be dangerous and will be asking spectators not to throw their cushions," said Ayako Suzuki, spokesman for the Japan Sumo Association (JSA).

"There have not been any serious injuries caused by cushions being thrown, as far as we know, but we have to be cautious."

The association is being careful to do all it can to avoid further bad press. The sport is presently being dragged through Japan's courts over allegations of bouts being rigged, a culture of drug-taking and bullying that led to the death last year of a 17-year-old trainee wrestler.

The last thing it needs now would be a spectator suffering an injury.

To stop the square "zabuton" cushions being thrown from the four-person boxes where onlookers sit, the association has decided to introduce larger and heavier versions that will be tied together with string.

In a tradition that dates back 300 years, spectators throw the 1kg cushions towards the raised "dohyo," or ring, when a high-ranking wrestler suffers an upset or when a bout has been particularly exciting.

Scenes of spinning cushions raining down on the ring are regularly replayed in television coverage of tournaments.

"The measures are designed to prevent injuries," said JSA official Dewanoumi, who is overseeing the two-week tournament in Fukuoka from November 9.

No decision has been taken on whether to extend the ban to future tournaments, Ms Suzuki said.

Itochu discovers costly in-house trading scam
Japan Times Oct. 12, 2008

A former Itochu Corp. employee conducted dubious transactions in which it paid more than ¥50 billion to a Mongolian supplier for heavy machines that were later unknowingly shipped to another Mongolian company, the major trading house said.

Itochu said it also suspects similar transactions took place involving another firm that cost it more than ¥40 billion in payments.

The employee, who was chief of the sales division for construction machinery and for the overseas project department, was fired as of Wednesday, it said.

The company said it started a business in fiscal 1999, in which it purchased heavy machinery from the Mongolian supplier and sold it to a local natural resources company.

In the beginning, the transactions actually took place. But in fiscal 2000, when the natural resources firm got low on cash, the employee started making his dubious deals.

The scheme went on for nearly eight years until it was discovered in late May, the trading house said.

Itochu said it believes that the money paid to the machinery supplier was eventually handed to the natural resources company as operating funds.

The employee carried out the transactions in an effort to expand business with the natural resources firm and did not receive any kickbacks, Itochu quoted the employee as saying.

Some ¥10.3 billion from the transactions remains uncollected, of which ¥5.1 billion is overdue, Itochu said.

The trading house does not plan to revise its earnings projection for the full fiscal year through March 31, it said.

New Thinking
UB Post January 22, 2010

The second important statement in the last week was regarding the views of the Mongolian society regarding the state. The Speaker of the Parliament, D.Demberel, correctly said on the Day of the Constitution: “Unethical behavior of public executives fueled by a conflict of interests, corruption, moral descent and government bureaucracy, are making the public angry.” This accurate statement from the highest head of the state gives us hope that the situation will change.

The third important statement was made by President Ts. Elbegdorj who suggested imposing a moratorium on the death penalty. A country that follows the civilized world in terms of protecting human rights, will certainly follow (in theory) the same standard in terms of protecting foreign properties. It was a positive message to foreign ministers and possible future shareholders of Mongolian state-owned publicly listed companies.

The idea of shareholders and their true transparent representation via the board in the state-owned public companies for better control is truly a new way of economic thinking in Mongolia. Only under such controls will there be no chance to plunder common properties in the interests of those who take over other people’s properties. Once that happens, political parties will be freed from exploiters of political positions and material gain. Then the formation of political parties will reflect a certain real progress, and Mongolia will become a country whose citizens will not run away, but rather, settle in.

Japan weather agency ends cherry-blossom forecasts
BBC News 25 December 2009

Japan's official weather agency is to stop giving forecasts for the start of the cherry-blossom season, one of the country's most enduring annual rituals.

The agency has been trying for more than half a century to predict where and when the trees will bloom.

Towns and businesses plan parties for cherry-blossom season, and forecasters have been made to apologise in the past for getting the dates wrong.

Avid flower-viewers will now have to consult private-sector services.

"The agency has given out such information in early March every year but we will no longer do so from next year," said Yoshitoshi Sakai, an official from the agency's observation division.

The agency would continue observing cherry trees throughout the nation to declare the official opening of the flower season and aid studies of climate change, he added.

A torrent of rainy-season words
Japan Times June 16, 2002

Ame may mean rain, but it's never been just rain in Japan; it's been dissected and categorized under a multitude of names that, sadly, few Japanese are in touch with anymore. Still, the fact that many people casually refer to Japan as ame no kuni (country of rain), where water perpetually seeps from the sky -- sometimes shito-shito (drop by drop), other times jan-jan (cats and dogs) -- has made us sensitive to and appreciative of the language connected with rain.

Winter ends when the rains start to fall, and old people say "hitoame goto ni atatakaku naru (it gets warmer with every rainfall)." Summer bows out with the beginning of the akisame (autumn rains), whose quality and quantity is an indicator of what the winter will be like. And in June we have tsuyu (plum rain) -- the rainy season, when people hang dehumidifiers in their closets and spray bathrooms with mildew zappers. (The concept of the "June bride" is an imported mistake, unless you like to see guests in gowns and tuxedos wiping rainwater off their faces.) The more rain there is in a tsuyu, it's said that the hotter the summer will be -- and the tastier the watermelons. This year weather forecasters are predicting a karatsuyu (absence of rain in the rainy season), and though this may be good news for the World Cup fans and players, it's a killer for rice, tea and other crops.

The Japanese will complain endlessly about rain, and a few even leave the country for better weather elsewhere. But deprive us of it for too long and we start to feel ame-koishii (lonely for rain). Heck, even Ryuichi Sakamoto named his daughter Miu (beautiful rain).

Dryness is simply not in our DNA; we value words like shittori (retaining moisture) to describe a woman's attractively tranquil personality, or mizumizushii (full of wetness) to praise her dewy skin or fresh character. And when a woman grows old, people are apt to say things like mizu ga nuketa (dried out) behind her back. Handsome men are said to mizu mo shitataru (drip water from every part of the body), and when less visually pleasing they are dubbed kareta otoko (dry and brittle man). The word seoimizu refers to a metaphorical bag of water carried on the back -- the water gradually leaks out and when the bag is dry, it's time to check out. Water is the very essence of the Japanese existence.

Since the Nara Period (710-794), poets and scribes have been trying to describe the drops that fall from the sky. To them, rain not only comes in different colors -- kurenai no ame (rouge-colored rain), ryoku-u (green rain), aoshigure (blue, intermittent rain), kuroi ame(black rain, or nuclear fallout) -- but it can taste different, like kan-u (sweet rain), and have different textures, such as nekonkeame (cat's-fur rain). The humorists among the poets say things like niji no shonben (rainbow piss) for fair-weather, rain and nabe wari (pot cracker) to describe the stormy autumn rains that literally pound down from the sky and shatter pots and pans upon impact.

Then there are the people who are walking rain clouds, known as ameonna (rain woman) and ameotoko (rain man). These folks rarely get garden party and hiking invitations for fear their presence will literally throw cold water on the proceedings. The unofficial verdict is that 40 percent of the Japanese populace are fatal rain magnets and only 10 percent bring blue skies wherever they go. Sandwiched between these two groups, the rest of us have learned to stash neatly rolled, fold-up umbrellas in our bags no matter what. Either that or we make it a habit to procure a 500 yen plastic umbrella at a convenience store whenever the heavens decide to spill some unexpected water. The downside to this, of course, is that one accumulates about 1,000 umbrellas in a lifetime, the survivors of which are propped up against the side of the apartment door. No Japanese has yet come out with a phrase to describe this phenomenon. A blatant oversight.

Yasukuni Shrine
Tokyo Yokohama Information

Yasukuni shrine has the three cherry trees which are standard for forecasting by the Meteorological Agency of the timing of cherry blossom bloom in Tokyo. It holds "Sakura Matsuri (Cherry blossom Festival)" at the beginning of April (Mar/25 Fri -Apr/3 Sun.2005), which is attended by about 300,000 people, a lot of street stalls are open. There is also a doves house which has about 600 doves.

Early spring warmth plays havoc with 'hanami' planners
Japan Times March 25, 2009

The early spring warmth that has enveloped the nation in recent weeks has accelerated the blooming of cherry trees in many areas, causing headaches for "hanami" viewing organizers hoping to draw crowds of revelers to see the famed "sakura" blossoms.

In Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, famous for its traditional Kairakuen garden, the cherry blossoms are forecast to bloom later this week. Last year they appeared in early April.

"We are wondering if we should light up the garden early," a local tourism official said, adding that the Mito Sakura Festival was scheduled to kick off April 1.

In Senboku, Akita Prefecture, the organizer of a major hanami festival said it was busy getting ready for an accelerated start.

According to the Meteorological Agency, temperatures overall since February have been higher than last year, triggering the earliest blooms on record in the south and the west, including Fukuoka and Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture.

In Tokyo, the agency declared the sakura's arrival Friday, seven days earlier than last year.

Despite early spring warmth in most regions, however, the city of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, expects its cherry blossoms to open up late, around April 22, compared with April 16 last year.

That prospect has delighted local tourism officials ahead of the Hirosaki Sakura Matsuri festival in late April, which gathers crowds to see its more than 2,600 cherry trees.

Last year, sakura peaked and waned before the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May. But this year, the town is "ready for a big crowd coming here for sakura," a tourism official said.

Rumor Mill News


As the wealth and power of the Rothschilds grew in size and influence so did their intelligence gathering network. They had their 'agents' strategically located in all the capitals and trading centers of Europe, gathering and developing various types of intelligence. Like most family exploits, it was based on a combination of very hard work and sheer cunning.

Their unique spy system started out when 'the boys' began sending messages to each other through a networh of couriers. Soon it developed into something much more elaborate, effective and far reaching. It was a spy network par excellence. Its stunning speed and effectiveness gave the Rothschilds a clear edge in all their dealings on an international level.

"Rothschild coaches careened down the highways; Rothschild boats set sail across the Channel; Rothschild agents were swift shadows along the streets. They carried cash, securities, letters and news. Above all, news -- the latest exclusive news to be vigorously processed at stock market and commodity bourse.

"And there was no news more precious than the outcome at Waterloo..." (The Rothschilds p. 94).

Upon the battle of Waterloo depended the future of the European continent. If the Grande Armee of Napoleon emerged victorious France would be undisputed master of all she surveyed on the European front. If Napoleon was crushed into submission England would hold the balance of power in Europe and would be in a position to greatly expand its sphere of influence.

Historian John Reeves, a Rothschild partisan, reveals in his book The Rothschilds, Financial Rulers of the Nations, 1887, page 167, that "one cause of his [Nathan's] success was the secrecy with which he shrouded, and the tortuous policy with which he misled those who watched him the keenest."

There were vast fortunes to be made -- and lost -- on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo. The Stock Exchange in London was at fever pitch as traders awaited news of the outcome of this battle of the giants. If Britain lost, English consuls would plummet to unprecedented depths. If Britain was victorioug, the value of the consul would leap to dizzying new heights.

19 heures, la cavalerie écossaise charge, emmenée par Ponsomby. Elle sera, malheureusement pour Napoléon, décisive. http://www.ifrance.com/napoleonbonaparte/waterloo.htm

As the two huge armies closed in for their battle to the death, Nathan Rothschild had his agents working feverishly on both sides of the line to gather the most accurate possible information as the battle proceeded. Additional Rothschild agents were on hand to carry the intelligence bulletins to a Rothschild command post strategically located nearby.

Late on the afternoon of June 15, 1815, a Rothschild representative jumped on board a specially chartered boat and headed out into the channel in a hurried dash for the English coast. In his possession was a top secret report from Rothschild's secret service agents on the progress of the crucial battle. This intelligence data would prove indispensable to Nathan in making some vital decisions.

The special agent was met at Folkstone the following morning at dawn by Nathan Rothschild himself. After quickly scanning the highlights of the report Rothschild was on his way again, speeding towards London and the Stock Exchange.


Arriving at the Exchange amid frantic speculation on the outcome of the battle, Nathan took up his usual position beside the famous 'Rothschild Pillar.' Without a sign of emotion, without the slightest change of facial expression the stony-faced, flint eyed chief of the House of Rothschild gave a predetermined signal to his agents who were stationed nearby.

Rothschild agents immediately began to dump consuls on the market. As hundred of thousands of dollars worth of consuls poured onto the market their value started to slide. Then they began to plummet.

Nathan continued to lean against 'his' pillar, emotionless, expressionless. He continued to sell, and sell and sell. Consuls kept on falling. Word began to sweep through the Stock Exchange: "Rothschild knows." "Rothschild knows." "Wellington has lost at Waterloo."

The selling turned into a panic as people rushed to unload their 'worthless' consuls or paper money for gold and silver in the hope of retaining at least part of their wealth. Consuls continued their nosedive towards oblivion. After several hours of feverish trading the consul lay in ruins. It was selling for about five cents on the dollar.

Nathan Rothschild, emotionless as ever, still leaned against his pillar. He continued to give subtle signals. But these signals were different. They were so bubtly different that only the highly trained Rothschild agents could detect the change. On the cue from their boss, dozens of Rothschild agents made their way to the order desks around the Exchange and bought every consul in sight for just a 'song'!

A short time later the 'official' news arrived in the British capital. England was now the master of the European scene.

Within seconds the consul skyrocketed to above its original value. As the significance of the British victory began to sink into the public consciousness, the value of consuls rose even higher.

Napoleon had 'met his Waterloo.'

Nathan had bought control of the British economy.

Overnight, his already vast fortune was multiplied twenty times over.

The History of the House of Rothschild
Eric Hufschmid.net

1815: The five Rothschild brothers work to supply gold to both Wellington’s army (through Nathan in England), and Napoleon’s army (through Jacob in France), and begin their policy of funding both sides in wars. The Rothschilds’ love wars because they are massive generators of risk free debt.

Risk free, because the debts are guaranteed by the government of a country, and therefore the efforts of the population of that country, and furthermore it doesn’t matter which country loses the war because the loans are given on the guarantee that the victor will honour the debts of the vanquished.

Whilst the Rothschilds’ are funding both sides in this war, they use the banks they have spread out across Europe to give them the opportunity to set up an unrivalled postal service network of secret routes and fast couriers. Relevant post these couriers carry is opened up by these couriers and the details of their contents given to the Rothschilds’ so they are always one step ahead of current events.

These Rothschild couriers are the only merchants allowed to pass through the English and French blockades and they use this advantage to keep Nathan Mayer Rothschild up to date with how the war is going so he is able to use that intelligence to buy and sell from his position on the stock exchange in accordance with that intelligence.

One of Rothschild’s couriers, a man named Rothworth, upon learning the British won the Battle of Waterloo, takes off for the Channel and delivers this news to Nathan Mayer Rothschild, a full 24 hours before Wellington’s own courier.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild subsequently enters the stock exchange and instructs all his workers to start selling consuls (known as bonds today). Due to Rothschild’s reputation for being one step ahead with regard to information, the other traders panic, think the British have lost the war, and start selling frantically.

As a result the consuls plummet in value, at which point Nathan Mayer Rothschild discreetly instructs his workers to purchase all the consuls they can lay their hands on.

When the news comes through that the British had actually won the war, the consuls’ rocket up to a level even higher than before the war started, leaving Nathan Mayer Rothschild with a return of approximately twenty to one on his investment. In fact, Nathan Rothschild openly brags that in his seventeen years in England he has increased his initial £20,000 stake given to him by his father, 2500 times to £50,000,000.

The ownership of these bonds, or consuls, gives the Rothschild family complete control of the British economy, now the undisputed financial centre of the world (following Napolean’s defeat), and forces the British to set up a new Bank of England, under the control of Nathan Mayer Rothschild.

Three Japanese Screens

A pair of six-fold screens illustrates two episodes taken from the Heike Monogatari, the famous thirteenth-century romance which outlines the bitter strife between the Taira Clan (the Heike) and their rivals the Minamoto (the Genie). This brutal conflict which plunged close relations, sometimes from within a single family, into bloody and often treacherous combat was set against a background of general misery among the populace brought on by generations of war and the calamity of famine and disease. The issue between these warring clans was resolved in three critical battles. The first took place on the morning of March 20, 1184. The Minamoto forces under the command of Yoshitsune, who was only an infant when blood was first let between the two clans, planned an attack on the Taira stronghold at Ichi-no-tani on the sea coast near Kobe.................


※ Wikipedia gives a different date, "March 18, 1184" with regard to the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani. With regard to the battle, it actually began on March 18, 1184. However, the decisive battle was fought on March 20, 1184. According to the Japanese history, historians say the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani was fought on March 20, 1184.

Bushido: The Way of the Samurai
California State University, Chico

On the night of the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of the fifteenth year of Genroku, or January 30, 1703, by the Western calendar, forty-six former retainers of the late Lord Asano Naganori of Ako burst into the mansion of Lord Kira Yoshinaka in Edo and killed him. They immediately carried his head to Sengaku-ji, the Buddhist temple where Asano was buried, and offered it before his grave. March 20, 1703, they committed seppuku.

Omaki, a site of the office of the construction for Satsuma Hanshi
Satsuma Heroes

▲ Omaki, a site of the office of the construction for Satsuma Hanshi ( a place of a general administrator Yukie HIRATA's death )

On Feburary 25th of the 3rd year of the Horeki era ( 1753 ). Ieshige TOKUGAWA, of the 9th shogun ( a general ) told Satsuma Hanshi to do embankment works of the Kiso river. On January21st of the 4th year of the Horeki ( 1754 ), the advance party left for Mino from Edo. Then on January 29th, Yukie HIRATA and his party left for Mino from Satsuma. On Feburary 9th they reached Omaki Yoro Town Yoro County Gifu Prefecture. After their arraival, they rented a building which was belonged to Heinai KITO, a rich farmer at Omaki as a place of the general headquarters of embankment works. They repaired and used it as their office,and called it Moto-goya ( a main office).
The main office was in Heinai KITO's land. His lot had an area of 4900 tsubo ( about1.6 hectare). At present it has only one-third the area at that time. Besides the main office, they established five branch offices at five places - Mr. Kindayu a village headman's land at Ishida Shimonakajima Village Hshima County, Mr. Heidayu a presant's land at Nishitaikaichi Kisozaki Kuwana County, Mr.Genzo a village headman's land at Kanemawari Kaizu Town Kaizu County, Mr. Buheiji a village headman's land at Ishizu Village Kaizu County and Mr. Kanwemon WATANABE's land at Oyabu Wanouchi Town Ampachi County. And they got 12 umamawari ( cavaliers ), 36 hokoshi ( samurais who don't have their own horses ) and a few ashigaru (samurais who are in the lowest class), and directly supervised the construction at these offices. In total there were 947 samurais who came from Satsuma in Mino including samurais who were sent there additionaly apart from the member on the notification.

It is said that as many as 2000 people worked there adding to the people who lived in Mino. The four sections of construction which were planned by the Satsuma and the shogunate is as follows :

the first section Sofue Town Aichi Prefecture・Simmeizu waju ( a place surrounded by
banks ) ~Kuwabara Town Hashima City Gifu Prefecture ・Koyabu waju

the second section Yatomi Town Ama County Aichi Prefecture・Moritsu waju ~ Kisozaki
Town Kuwana County Mie Prefecture・Tashiro waju

the third section Ampachi County Gifu Prefecture・Sunomata waju ~ Kaizu Town
Gifu Prefecture・Honnami-shinden waju

the fourth section Kaizu Town Gifu Prefecture・Kanemawari waju ~ Jizoguchi Kuwana
City Mie Prefecture

They started these construction on Feburary 22nd of the 4th year of the Horeki era and finished them on March 28th the next year. On May 24th Yukie HIRATA wrote a letter to a karo ( a samurai who is in the highest class ) in Satsuma that mainly informed they smoothly finished the every construction on May 22nd and had already given it up to the shogunate. And he reported about that to a gard of Satsuma. On May 25th he worshipped the rising sun in the eastern sky at the office and prayed heartily his lord Takamori SAIGO, facing the west.

「Sumi nareshi Sato mo imasara Nagori nite Tachizo wazurau Mino no Omaki」

(Thouth I've still felt sad to leave my hometown, I'm also sorry to part from Omaki in Mino)

He left “ jisei no ku ( a Japanese poem of 31 syllables in his last moment ) ”as mentioned above. Then he assumed all his responsibility on himself and died a heroic but tragic end. An ashes of Yukie HIRATA who died at the age of 52 was taken to Kuwana along the Ibi river. Then it was enshrined over night at the Anryu-in ( at Tsutsumihara Kuwana City Mie Prefecture ).The next morning it was carried to the Daikoku temple in Kyoto Fushimi along the Tokai Street at once and was burried there. As the Anryuin had fallen into ruins since then, other people have burried again in the Kaizo temple belonging to the same Sodo religion as the Anryu-in.


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