Sunday 26 July 2009


You know how sometimes you intend to blog about shit and then by the time you get round to it everything's changed and you realise that, actually, you can't be arsed? Well watching the last two weeks of the LDP imploding has been like that. But with more alcohol. And less being arsed.

So. The LDP lost the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections two weeks ago by almost as much as I like to tell people they lost by. Which is shitloads. They no longer hold the majority, that now goes to DPJ, Tokyo Network and assorted cronies. Unfortunately hardly anyone voted for the SDP, but then that's no surprise. There are still people who don't wash their hands after they use the toilet, so I guess some people just refuse to be civilised.

Obviously Aso tried to limit the damage by telling people that the Tokyo Assembly elections weren't indicative of how the party would do in the general election because they deal with entirely different issues. Naturally, everyone knows that's horseshit. They're going to lose spectacularly in the general election. Not spectacularly because they'll lose by much, but spectacularly because they've only been out of power for nine months out of the last 54 years.

Aso needs re-inflating again.

That's not to say that they've had a solid monopoly over Japan for all of those years. Since Koizumi they've had a litany of popular failures and private disasters. The best way to imagine the LDP's situation is to picture a man falling down an up-escalator for three pathetic, bone-splitting years. Like the LDP's approval rating the man seems to be constantly falling, with all the associated pain and embarrassment, but always miraculously stays in the same place. We have to wait for him to finally hit rock-bottom to see whether he'll lie there and bleed out with the remains of his dignity or whether he'll lurch like Frankenstein's monster back to the escalator of government.

Aso has dissolved the Lower House in preparation for a general election on the 30th of August. This obviously means that there is effectively no government in Japan at the moment. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Cos I'm pretty sure this means Japan is ripe for a coup d'etat. If we can barricade ourselves in Aso's office so we've got the Prime Minister's Throne on the 30th of August then it's legal, right? Isn't that how it works?

Thursday 9 July 2009

Land Of The Rising Unemployment Figures

"Yes, unemployment rates are increasing. And yes, the rate at which the unemployment rate is increasing is increasing. But! The rate at which the rate of unemployment rate increases are increasing is DEcreasing! So it's all going to be ok! Vote LDP! Vote LDP!"

The unemployment rate in May was up to 5.2%. I'm waiting for an update on June's figures, which I expect to see at Japan Economy News any day now. I'm also preparing my face to adopt the appropriate expression of concern to mask the fact I have no idea what any of this really means.

Aso's "I feel your pain. No, seriously" face

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Aso Meets His Boss

Well, hasn't Aso Taro been busy? (No.) He turned up at the Vatican yesterday for a meeting with the Pope ahead of the G8 Summit in Italy that's just started. Every time the G8 meet it seems like all their members go on press-junket style tours, meeting local luminaries and being interviewed, like weary actors promoting their latest movie but with a radiant sense of glee and self-importance. They smile for the cameras and answer questions like, "What was it like working with Silvio Berlusconi?" and "Can you confirm or deny rumours of a romance between you and Chancellor Merkel?" Then everyone forgets they exist for six months or so before they're off again.

So yesterday Aso (68 years old, Catholic) went to meet his Overlord, the Pope. But he wasn't just there to take Pope Benedict's each-way bet on Obama to use the word "reform" at least three times in a single sentence, oh no. He also wanted to present him with a Sony digital camcorder. Because if there's one thing the Pope likes more than gambling on dead-certainties it's home-videos. Oh, and God.

Awkward gifts are something of a staple in the political world. When Obama met the Queen for the first time, he gave her an iPod loaded with songs from The King And I (true fact). In turn, the Queen gave him a framed, signed photo of herself, which quite frankly is fucking hilarious. And when Gordon Brown visited America, Obama gave him a box-set of 25 DVDs (another true fact). Of course, Region 1 DVDs can't actually be played in Britain, but how was the President to know that?

Here's the Aso-Pope meeting, with the Sony camcorder being presented on a silver platter:

You'll notice the camcorder doesn't actually have a charger though. So the Pope will be lucky to get even one match of the All-Italia Nuns Volleyball Championship out of it. Better luck next time.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Abandoned Hotel Becomes Even More Abandoned

The Takara Hotel in Nakagusuku, Okinawa, has been a hang-out for lots of idiot teenagers living in the nearby military base. It's also been used by some Japanese "military-gamers" as a paintball arena, which is a far better use for an abandoned hotel than kids trying to scare each other. I mean, honestly. But now, because a Marine was injured there recently, the Corps has declared it off-limits to all personnel and family of military staff. The wimps.

2nd Lieutenant Lucas Burke (great name) has written that, "Injuries sustained by a service member brought the dilapidated conditions to light with Marine Corps leadership, who consider the high risk of harm at Takara Hotel to constitute a threat." The Corps elaborated on the "dilapidated conditions", specifying "decaying structure, broken glass and accumulating detritus".

I'm no expert, but aren't these guys trained for wars? You don't need to coddle them, they're soldiers. A little "decaying structure" never hurt anyone! And "detritus" is known to be character building. Significantly, the military have declined to describe the details of the Marine's injury sustained in the hotel, leaving us no choice but to speculate wildly.

The Takara Hotel was half-constructed in 1975 by an adventurous businessman. Apparently the local villagers told him not to build the hotel because the proposed site was on sacred grounds. But, like any conscientious horror-story protagonist, he did it anyway. Then the local Buddhist temple started accosting the builders, warning them that the construction site was right next to a cave housing "restless spirits", so most of the builders left. We're told that the rest of the workers "abandoned the project when several other workers died in mysterious construction accidents". It's like the plot of every shit teen-horror movie rolled into one ridiculous mess. And the businessman ended up in an asylum.

Is that blood in the hallway?! (No.)

So, bearing all that in mind, what do you think happened to the Marine that was injured? Send me your wildest ideas.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Not Long Before Flying Monkeys Now...

Monkey news time! Not fugitive monkeys tonight though, we're talking about glowing monkeys!

Marmosets have been genetically engineered in Japan's Central Institute for Experimental Animals to glow in the dark by splicing some jellyfish genes into them. Somehow. And when the glowing marmosets fathered baby marmosets, the babies glowed too, meaning the scientists can make non-monkey genes inheritable in monkeys.

This fantastic snub of Mother Nature is supposed to "herald development of monkeys that are better models of human disease than genetically modified mice". Somehow. I'm withholding judgement on that angle, given my lack of a bio-engineering PhD, but I'm all in favour of the Mother Nature snubbing and invention of anything that glows. Pictures have been very hard to come by, unfortunately, and the ones on this post seem to the only ones available.

Glowing monkey hands

Tuesday 30 June 2009

YoYoJam Japes

I've got over my accidental, self-induced food poisoning and I'm fighting-fit again! Although I'll probably still try to avoid fights. Let's keep it real.

Right, I've got a lot of catching up to do with what's happening outside my flat, so whilst I go read some "news" here's what I'd like to fob you off with:

Via Japan Probe

This is the three-time World Champion yo-yo-er Suzuki Hiroyuki, of Team YoYoJam.

How many times do you think he's hit himself in the head with that thing? (OTN Official Guess: one million!)