This small Japanese island could change the global economy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

How the mud in this small Japanese island could change the global economy

Minamitorishima Island

(CNN)A small island in the Pacific Ocean is the site of a huge discovery that could change Japan’s economic future. How huge? One economist called it a “game changer.” The researchers who helped find it said it had “tremendous potential.”

It’s mud. A whole bunch of mud — an estimated 16 million tons, to be exact. And in that mud, there are massive, “semi-infinite” stores of valuable rare earth minerals.
Rare earth minerals contain rare earth elements (located here on the periodic table) that are used in high-tech devices like smartphones, missile systems, radar devices and hybrid vehicles. For instance, yttrium, one of the metals included in this recent discovery, can be used to makecamera lenses, superconductors and cell phone screens.
According to a new paper published by a team of Japanese researchers, this huge patch of mineral-rich deep sea mud lies near Minamitorishima Island, a small island 1,1000 miles off the coast of Japan.
The 16 million tons of materials could contain 780 years worth of yttrium, 620 years worth of europium, 420 years worth of terbium, and 730 years worth of dysprosium. In other words, according to the paper, it “has the potential to supply these materials on a semi-infinite basis to the world.”
That alone is a pretty big deal, but it becomes even more significant given the current supply and demand of rare earth metals. China currently holds a tight grip on the rare earth minerals — controlling about 95% of global rare earths production as of 2015. Because of this, Japan and other countries rely on China to set prices and availability.
However, Japan has complete economic control over the new supply.
Even though Minamitorishima Island is more than a thousand miles away, it is still technically a part of Tokyo, in the village of Ogasawara, and falls within Japan’s economic borders.

Billionaire explorer discovers sunken US WWII aircraft carrier

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Billionaire explorer discovers sunken US WWII aircraft carrier

Washington (CNN)Wreckage from the USS Lexington — a US aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese during World War II — has been discovered 500 miles off the Australian coast by a team of explorers led by billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder announced on Monday.

One of the first US aircraft carriers ever built, the vessel dubbed “Lady Lex” was located at the bottom of the Coral Sea — nearly two miles below the surface — by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel on Sunday, Allen said.
The Lexington was lost in May 1942 along with 216 of its crew and 35 aircraft during what is considered the first carrier battle in history — the Battle of the Coral Sea.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen said in a statement. “As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice.”
Along with the USS Yorktown, the Lexington and its fleet faced off against three Japanese aircraft carriers and is credited with helping to stop Japan’s advances on New Guinea and Australia.
The battle occurred just one month before the US Navy “surprised Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway and turned the tide of the war in the Pacific for good,” according to Allen.
“The Battle of the Coral Sea was notable not only for stopping a Japanese advance but because it was the first naval engagement in history where opposing ships never came within sight of each other,” read the statement from Allen.
US ships were able to rescue more than 2,000 sailors before the Lexington ultimately sank from the damage sustained from a bombardment of Japanese torpedoes.
“As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the “Lady Lex,” sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea,” Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris of US Pacific Command said Monday in a statement.
“We honor the valor and sacrifice of the ‘Lady Lex’s’ sailors — all those Americans who fought in World War II — by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us,” he said.

President Trump Is Correct About Putting America First

TRUMP PUTTING AMERICA FIRST IS THE ONLY CORRECT THING TO DO

 

As anyone who reads the Blog surely knows by now, I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump. It is difficult for me to think of a civil word in the concept of describing this person. Those who follow this Blog also know that I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton so I hope that you understand this article today is not about being a Democrat or a Republican as I am neither. So far though I do believe that the Republican Party is bringing much harm to themselves by standing behind this President. I do believe that if the Republicans have not gotten the guts to stand with the Democrats and to impeach Trump from Office before the November 2018 Mid-term Elections they are going to get slaughtered in those Elections. On a side note, I also feel that the Christians who are standing with this President are doing a great dishonor to Christ and His Holy Name as there is nothing holy about Mr. Trump. It is right and correct to pray for our Leaders but it is sinful to back sinful policies in the name of Christianity.

 

Now to the main headline of today’s commentary. Ever since Mr. Trump in his Campaign started using the slogan ‘America First’ he has drawn a lot of fire and anger from ‘the left, Democrats and liberals’. To me this anger is total stupidity! I do totally believe that Mr. Trump is a total racists but I do not at all consider this ‘slogan’ to be racist in any way. If Mr. Trump was saying something along the lines of ‘Whites First’ then yes, that would be totally racist. Yet any Leader or want to be Leader of any country who doesn’t create policies to put his own Nation first has no business being a Leader of that Nation. Think about it for a moment, if Mr. Trump’s slogan was ‘China First, or Russia First’, do you think that the American people would have elected him?

 

If Chancellor Merkel of Germany vocally or via policies said her goal is to put the EU before Germany should be voted out of Office? If Prime Minister May of England did the same thing, should she be the Prime Minister? How about President Jinping of China, if he was pushing a policy of Japan first, would he still be the President of China? How about Mr. Putin of Russia, if he was saying ‘America First’, would he still be the President of Russia? What I am saying is, of course Mr. Trump should put the interest of America first, if he didn’t, wouldn’t he then be a traitor to his own Country? What I am saying is, just because you or I believe this person (I have a hard time calling him a man) to be ignorant self-centered scum of the Earth, it does not mean that everything he says is wrong nor from his racist Soul.

President Approves $133 Million Sale Of Anti-ballistic Missiles To Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The Trump administration notified Congress on Tuesday that it has approved the potential sale of SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles to Japan in a deal estimated to be worth $133.3 million, according to a State Department statement.

Included in the sale are four Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles, four MK 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.
The SM-3 Block IIA is an anti-ballistic missile that can be employed on Aegis-class destroyers or on land, via the Aegis Ashore program, according to a State Department official.
“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States by enhancing Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force’s … ability to defend Japan and the Western Pacific from ballistic missile threats,” the official said.
The sale would also “follow through on President (Donald) Trump’s commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies” threatened by North Korea’s “provocative behavior,” the official added.
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Throughout 2017, North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests despite constant criticism from the West and trade sanctions.
The most provocative moment came November 29, when North Korea said it successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a “super-large heavy warhead” which it said was capable of striking the US mainland.
Last month, Japan’s cabinet approved a plan to buy two US-built Aegis missile defense systems, state broadcaster NHK reported, as the country faces increasing hostility from neighboring North Korea.
Russia accused the US of violating an arms control treaty by agreeing to supply anti-missile systems to Japan.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deal with Japan was part of a bigger plan by the US for a “global anti-missile system.”
Zakharova claimed they were in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington that has been in force for 30 years.
“We need to bear in mind that all these systems have universal missile launchers that can use all types of missiles. It means another violation of the INF treaty and we see that Japan is an accomplice in this matter,” she said.
The US rejected the accusation. “The United States is in full compliance with the INF Treaty. Russian claims to the contrary are false and meant to deflect attention from Russia’s own very clear violations,” a spokesman for the US State Department told CNN at the time.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke with Japan Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera on Monday to discuss a range of US-Japan alliance matters and reaffirmed US commitments to the defense of Japan — pledging to work closely with his Japanese counterpart to bolster critical alliance capabilities.

South Korea’s President Says the Agreement With Japan on Historic Sex Slavery Has ‘Serious Flaws’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

By KIM TONG-HYUNG / AP

10:58 PM EST

(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the country’s 2015 agreement with Japan to settle a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery was seriously flawed.

Moon’s statement in which he vows unspecified follow-up measures to meet the victims’ demands potentially throws the future of the deal in doubt, two years after both countries declared it as “final and irreversible.”

The statement came a day after a state-appointed panel concluded that Seoul’s previous conservative government failed to properly communicate with the victims before reaching the deal.

The panel also said parts of the deal were not made public, including Japanese demands that the South Korean government avoid using the term “sexual slavery” and provide a specific plan to remove a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy. South Korea in response said it would formerly refer to the victims as “victims of Japanese military comfort stations” but didn’t make a clear promise to remove the statue, according to the panel.

“It has been confirmed that the 2015 comfort women negotiation between South Korea had serious flaws, both in process and content,” Moon said in a statement read out by his spokesman.

“Despite the burden of the past agreement being a formal promise between governments that was ratified by the leaders of both countries, I, as president and with the Korean people, once again firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women.”

Under the deal, Japan agreed to provide cash payment for the dwindling number of surviving victims, while South Korea said it will try to resolve Japanese grievance over the statue in front of the embassy.

The deal came under heavy criticism in South Korea where many thought the government settled for far too less. Japan has been angry that South Korea hasn’t taken specific steps to remove the statue and similar monuments in other places in the country, insisting there has been a clear understanding to do so.

The Foreign Ministry said government officials will hold extensive discussions with victims and experts before deciding whether to pursue changes to the deal. Japanese officials have said a renegotiation is unacceptable.

Some experts see it as unlikely that Moon’s government will spark a full-blown diplomatic row with Japan by scrapping the deal when the allies face pressing needs to form a strong united front against North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.

 

Japan Approves Expansion of Missile Defense System to Confront North Korea Threat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Japan Approves Expansion of Missile Defense System to Confront North Korea Threat

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 – 09:15
The Japanese government approved on Tuesday a decision to expand its ballistic missile defense system to counter North Korea’s missile threat. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Japanese government approved on Tuesday a decision to expand its ballistic missile defense system to counter North Korea’s missile threat.

The system will be backed with US-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors. A proposal to build two Aegis Ashore batteries was approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet.

The sites without the missiles will likely cost at least $2 billion and are not likely to be operational until 2023 at the earliest, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters earlier.

The decision to acquire the ground version of the Aegis missile-defense system, which is already deployed on Japanese warships, was widely expected.

“North Korea’s nuclear missile development poses a new level of threat to Japan and as we have done in the past we will ensure that we are able to defend ourselves with a drastic improvement in ballistic missile defense,” Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

North Korea on November 29 tested a new, more powerful ballistic missile that it says can hit major US cities including Washington, and fly over Japan’s current defense shield.

That rocket reached an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles), well above the range of interceptor missiles on Japanese ships operating in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter US aggression.

The new Aegis stations may not, however, come with a powerful radar, dubbed Spy-6, which is being developed by the United States.

Without it, Japan will not be able to fully utilize the extended range of a new interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, which cost about $30 million each.

A later upgrade, once the US military has deployed Spy-6 on its ships around 2022, could prove a costly proposition for Japan as outlays on new equipment squeeze its military budget.

Initial funding will be ring-fenced in the next defense budget beginning in April, but no decision has been made on the radar, or the overall cost, or schedule, of the deployment, a Ministry of Defense official said at a press briefing.

Japan’s military planners also evaluated the US-built THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system before deciding on Aegis Ashore.

Separately, Japan’s defense minister said this month Japan would acquire medium-range cruise missiles it can launch from its F-15 and F-35 fighters at sites in North Korea, in a bid to deter any attack.

The purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions in Japan’s military arsenal is controversial because it renounced the right to wage war against other nations in its post-World War Two constitution.

Earlier, Japan and South Korea urged China to do more to “pressure” North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Tuesday.

North Korea has boasted of developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the mainland United States in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and international condemnation, including from its lone major ally, China.

“China is currently implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions (on North Korea), but China can probably do more,” Kono said after talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

“We agreed on the need to put pressure firmly on North Korea.”

The US Navy’s top officer said on Tuesday said that vessels from eastern Pacific could be brought forward to reinforce US naval power in Asia as Washington contends with increased threats in the region.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks, with Trump threatening to destroy North Korea if provoked, while US diplomats have stressed the importance of diplomacy.

Trump on Monday unveiled a new national security strategy, again saying Washington had to deal with the challenge posed by North Korea’s weapons programs.

3 Astronauts Take Off For International Space Station

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, bottom, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle, above, and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, prior to the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket in Kazakhstan, on Dec. 17, 2017
Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, bottom, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle, above, and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, prior to the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket in Kazakhstan, on Dec. 17, 2017
Shamil Zhumatov—AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

December 17, 2017

(BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan) — A capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States has blasted off for a two-day trip to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule with Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle launched at 1:23 p.m. (0723 GMT; 2:23 a.m. EST) Sunday from Russia’s manned space-launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It entered orbit nine minutes later.

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It is the first space flight for Tingle and Kanai; Shkaplerov is on his third mission to the ISS.

The capsule is to dock on Tuesday with the orbiting space laboratory. The three will join Russia’s Alexander Misurkin and Joe Acaba and Mark Vandde Hei of NASA, who have been aboard since September.

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Japanese workers feel guilty taking time off and use fewer holidays than their international peers: survey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

Japanese workers feel guilty taking time off and use fewer holidays than their international peers: survey

BY 

STAFF WRITER

Japanese workers ranked the lowest in using paid vacation days and had the highest ratio of those who felt guilty doing so, according to an annual survey of workers from around the world.

A survey released Monday by the Japan arm of the online travel agent Expedia.com showed that Japanese only used 50 percent of their vacation days owed, placing them at the bottom of the list for the second consecutive year. It also showed that 63 percent of Japanese felt guilty for taking paid leave, ranking first among the 15,081 respondents aged 18 and older. Workers from 30 countries responded to the survey, conducted from Sept. 4 to 15.

The results are a somber reminder of how efforts by the government and the corporate sector to re-examine Japan’s notoriously rigid working culture may have some way to go. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for reforming the nation’s employment practices, targeting long working hours and the wage gap between regular and nonregular workers.

The issue of long working hours has been dragged back into the national spotlight after a series of karōshi (death by overwork) cases at high-profile companies made headlines.

In October, public broadcaster NHK admitted that the death of a 31-year-old reporter in 2013 was linked to her working conditions. The reporter, who died of heart failure, logged 159 hours of overtime and took only two days off in the month leading up to her death.

The survey cited “a lack of staff” and “colleagues not taking days off” as some of the reasons for not taking holidays, suggesting workers worry about delays in meeting their responsibilities and inconveniencing peers. At 49 percent, Japan ranked highest in the ratio of workers who said they spend paid holidays on short-term vacation.

The poll also showed that Japanese had a difficult time switching off — 22 percent checked their work email during holidays, the highest among the nations surveyed.

It also suggested a lack of communication may be behind the phenomenon: 33 percent, which also ranked at the top of the poll, said they “did not know” whether their bosses were supportive of employees taking paid vacations.

But the results are by no means evidence that Japanese didn’t want to take vacation days. To the contrary, the No. 1 criteria Japanese cited when considering a career change was “getting more vacation days.”

“The Ryoma Phenomenon” – 龍馬現象 (7)

 

“The Ryoma Phenomenon” – 龍馬現象 (7)

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I’m not sure if Ryoma has JFK-esque qualities or if it’s the other way around, but I’ve discovered some uncanny similarities between the two great men, most significantly, I think, in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and the “Great Plan at Sea” (船中八策) of nearly a century earlier. I’ll talk about this and more at the “28th Annual Gathering of Ryoma Fans” (第28回全国龍馬ファンの集い in 九州), to be held in Fukuoka October 8 & 9.

John F. Kennedy has been the subject of major Hollywood films including “PT 109” (1963), starring Cliff Robertson. It’s high time we have a major international film about Sakamoto Ryoma, whose life and legacy are no less cinematic than those of the 35thpresident of the United States: Sakamoto Ryoma Film Project.

For now, read about Ryoma’s life and legacy in, “Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai,” the only biographical novel about him in English.


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Head Priest Among 3 Dead in Samurai Sword Attack at Tokyo Shrine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIME NEWS NETWORK)

 

Japan, Tokyo. Police car
Japan, Tokyo. Police car
Philippe TURPIN—Getty Images/Photononstop RF

By KAORI HITOMI / AP

6:23 AM EST

(TOKYO) — The head priest of a prominent shrine in Tokyo was ambushed and killed with a samurai sword, apparently by her brother, who then took his own life, police said Friday.

A female accomplice also died in the attack, and the priest’s driver was injured, Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.

The motive was unclear, though Japanese media reported there may have been a feud between the priest and her brother.

Police said that Nagako Tomioka, the 58-year-old head of Tomioka Hachimangu shrine, was attacked as she got out of her car Thursday night.

Shigenaga Tomioka, 56, and an accomplice were hiding behind her house, police said. Japanese media said he is the victim’s brother, but police would not confirm that. Japanese priests generally live on the grounds of their shrines or temples.

The accomplice attacked the driver with a samurai sword and pursued him as he ran out of the temple grounds and about 100 meters (300 feet) down a road, police said. A trail of splattered blood was still visible on the pavement Friday morning. The driver’s injuries were not life-threatening.

The brother is then believed to have killed the woman before committing suicide. At least one blood-stained sword and two survival knives were found near the scene, Japanese media said.

The nearly 400-year-old Tomioka Hachimangu shrine is known for its close ties to sumo and holding one of Tokyo’s three big Shinto festivals.

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