2012年01月11日

73万5000ドルのクロマグロ 日本のマグロ危機は新年も変わらず


Bluefin Sells for Record $735,000: In New Year, Same Threats for Tuna
in Japan
( TIME )

Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market rang in the first auction of 2012 with a
record sale when a local sushi company bought a 593-lb. (269 kg)
bluefin tuna for over $735,000. Weighing in at roughly $1,247 a pound,
that’s the most expensive tuna ever sold at Japan’s largest wholesale
fish market, or anywhere else, for that matter, beating last year’s
high price by over $260,000.

The giant was caught in Oma in Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture, one
of the areas hit in last year’s earthquake and tsunami. It’s also one
of Japan’s most important fishing zones. Fishermen up and down the
coast of northeast Japan have been struggling since many of their boats
were swept to sea and the ports and markets were destroyed in the
disasters.

In the past, Japan’s record-breaking tunas have been coveted by
foreign companies. (Last year’s went in part to Hong Kong.) But this
year the winning bid went to Tokyo-based Kiyomura Co. Owner Kiyoshi
Kimura told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted the fish to deliver
a boost of umami morale for Japan. “Rather than having it taken away
overseas, I wish for Japanese people to eat good tuna together. Despite
the March 11 earthquake and the sluggish economy, I want to lift up
Japan’s spirits urging people to work hard together,” he said.

If any fish could do that, bluefin could. The nation consumes 80% of
the world’s catch of bluefin tuna, an enormous, long-living and slow-
maturing predator loved for its rich, fatty meat and whose various popul
ations are becoming more and more depleted around the world. Though a
lot of the tuna eaten in Japan now comes from the Mediterranean and the
Atlantic, Japan has its own local population off the northeast coast
whose catch props up many small seaside towns like Oma.

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2011年12月15日

放射線を浴びたベビーフード 日本の災難はまだ続く


Irradiated Baby Food Spotlights Ongoing Woes for Japan’s Food Sector
( TIME )

On Tuesday, Japanese food producer Meiji announced the recall of
400,000 cans of infant formula after traces of radioactive cesium were
found in the company’s milk powder. Tests of the “Meiji Step” batch
of formula with an October 2012 expiration date detected cesium-134 and
cesium-137 at levels of 15.2 becquerels per kilogram and 16.5 bq/kg,
respectively. The company was quick to point out that those numbers are
well below the Japanese government’s permissible levels of dairy for
infants, which is 200 bq/kg. But that’s unlikely to mean much to
parents of nine-month-olds. Growing children are particularly sensitive
to the effects of radiation, and have been a focus of health concerns
since March 11’s triptych of disasters sent radioactive plumes across
Japan’s airspace.

The news underscores the continuing problems that Japan’s food sector
faces nine months after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since
Chernobyl. For years, Japanese food exports have been lauded for their
safety and quality in Asia and beyond; after thousands of children were
sickened by melamine-tainted formula in China in 2008, trusted Japanese
brands of milk powder flew off Asia’s shelves. But since March, traces
of radioactive materials have been found in several Japanese products
grown or processed in the vicinity of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi
power plant, from fish and beef to rice,vegetables and tea. Several
countries placed bans last spring on Japanese food products, including
Hong Kong, the sector’s biggest customer. Though most have since been
lifted, the taint -- both real and imagined -- of food produced near
Fukushima remains. And while it does, large swaths of rice paddies and
vegetables fields surrounding the plant are likely to stay deserted.

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2011年11月17日

オリンパス疑惑 知りすぎていたCEO


Scandal at Olympus: The CEO Who Knew Too Much
( TIME )

In the days after he was promoted to President at a big Japanese
multinational -- just eight months ago -- Michael Woodford was on a
trajectory to succeed to the highest executive level, becoming the
latest example of how much "Japan Inc." was changing. The rule had been
that foreigners could never dream of occupying C-suite in Japan because
they would never understand the subtle ways Japanese corporations work
and succeed. But Carlos Ghosn had famously remade Nissan; and Sir
Howard Stringer is the big boss at Sony Corp. Woodford's ascendancy at
Olympus Corp., the famous Japanese camera company, seemed to be
continuing proof that foreigners were no longer even exceptions to the
rule.

Woodford in his time in Tokyo had been digging into four separate
acquisitions Olympus had made from 2006 to 2009. Three of the four had
already had their assets written down to just a fraction of the nearly
$1 billion Olympus paid to buy them. Each of the firms involved in
those three cases -- a recycling company, a company that makes anti-
aging cosmetics, and a company that makes microwave oven-safe food
containers -- were registered in the Cayman Islands, a famous tax haven
in the Caribbean. And all three were dissolved shortly after the deals
were done. Extraordinarily, at a press conference on Oct. 27, Olympus
executive vice president Hisashi Mori said that the only information
his company has about the shareholders of the three are the names of
the entities in the Caymans that the payments went to -- for example,
one called Neo Strategic Venture LP -- and bank account numbers. Said
Mori: "We know nothing about who they are."

It is still far from clear whether Woodford's suspicions that
"sinister" elements were involved at Olympus will be borne out. But
it's also a fact that for decades there have been links between
organized crime groups -- the Yakuza -- and Japan Inc. Companies have
long used members of organized crime groups to ensure that annual
meetings are peaceful -- that pesky shareholders don't get too out of
line with annoying questions of management. In 1999, the chairman of
what was then Japan's largest bank, Dai Ichi Kangyo, was convicted of
paying off these so-called sokaiya -- corporate shake down artists --
and given a nine-month sentence. Three years ago, in response to
reports that organized crime had gone upscale and was investing large
sums in publicly held companies, Japan's Securities and Exchange
Surveillance Commission compiled an index of more than 50 listed firms
with alleged ties to organized crime.

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2011年11月14日

フクシマ後の日本は安全な観光地なのか?


Is Post-Fukushima Japan Safe for Tourists?
( TIME )

When Lady Gaga went to Japan for a benefit concert for tsunami victims
in June, she found herself taking on an unfamiliar role -- that of
tourism promoter. In characteristic Gaga form, she didn't hold back
anything either, saying at a news conference that she wanted "to run
around Tokyo, enjoy the beautiful city and kiss all the beautiful
little monsters and scream at the top of my lungs that everyone should
come visit this beautiful place."

The country could certainly use a pop-star plug. Japan's international-
tourist numbers have plunged this year, hit by the double whammy of a
record-breaking high yen and the lingering radiation concerns from the
Fukushima nuclear disaster. Eight months have passed since the
devastating earthquake and tsunami, but many tourists are still
hesitant about traveling to Japan.

For the tourism industry, the disaster couldn't have come at a worse
time. The country was just starting to see the results of an aggressive
tourism campaign started in 2003 to boost revenue from foreign tourists
as a way of offsetting the economic problems brought on by an aging and
shrinking population. In 2010, foreign visitors reached 8.6 million, a
26% increase over the previous year. And as hoped, the country was
becoming an increasingly popular destination among Asian travelers,
particularly the luxury-obsessed Chinese. Average spending for Chinese
tourists in 2010 reached $1,600 per visit -- close to the amount spent
by American and British tourists. The Chinese also spent the most on
consumer goods among tourists from major countries -- about $1,000 per
visitor.

The government hasn't helped make the case that Japan is indeed safe to
visit again. In October there was an outcry in the media after
residents in and around Tokyo conducted their own independent radiation
tests and found several areas of contamination. This flew in the face
of repeated assurances from the government that radiation from
Fukushima had not spread 150 miles (240 km) south to the capital and
didn't pose a risk to residents. A comprehensive decontamination
program will finally be implemented in northeastern Japan when a new
cleanup law takes effect on Jan. 1. Still, it could take years to
collect and store the tons of contaminated soil in the region.

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2011年10月20日

高齢者ポルノ 日本で活況を呈するニッチ性産業


Japan's Booming Sex Niche: Elder Porn
( TIME )

Besides his glowing complexion, Shigeo Tokuda looks like any other
74-year-old man in Japan. Despite suffering a heart attack three years
ago, the lifelong salaryman now feels healthier, and lives happily with
his wife and a daughter in downtown Tokyo. He is, of course, more
physically active than most retirees, but that's because he's kept his
part-time job -- as a porn star.

Shigeo Tokuda is, in fact, his screen name. He prefers not to disclose
his real name because, he insists, his wife and daughter have no idea
that he has appeared in about 350 films over the past 14 years. And in
his double life, Tokuda arguably embodies the contemporary state of
Japan's sexuality: in surveys conducted by organizations ranging from
the World Health Organization (WHO) to the condom-maker Durex, Japan is
repeatedly found to be one of the most sexless societies in the
industrialized world. A WHO report released in March found that 1 in 4
married couples in Japan had not made love in the previous year, while
38% of couples in their 50s no longer have sex at all. Those figures
were attributed to the stresses of Japanese working life. Yet at the
same time, the country has seen a surge in demand for pornography that
has turned adult videos into a billion-dollar industry, with "elder
porn" one of its fastest-growing genres.

But Tokuda stresses the appeal of his work to an audience of his peers:
"Elderly people don't identify with school dramas," he says. "It's
easier for them to relate to older-men-and-daughters-in-law series, so
they tend to watch adult videos with older people in them." The veteran
porn star plans to keep working until he's 80 -- or older, as long as
the industry will cast him. Given the bullish market for his stardom,
he's unlikely to go without work.

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