Posts tagged ‘Japan news’

September 6, 2012

Remembering the fashion sector after the tragic tsunami which killed over 19,000 people

Remembering the fashion sector after the tragic tsunami which killed over 19,000 people 

Michel Lebon, Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The events of March 11, 2011, in Japan will forever be etched into the memory of this nation because of the utter devastation that followed. Over 19,000 people perished because of the tsunami which followed the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Therefore, this event is now embedded within the psyche of Japan and this applies to both the trauma and the response to such devastation.

Internationally, countless nations supported Japan and likewise individuals, charities, organizations and various sectors gave generously to help the people who were hit the hardest. The fashion industry within Japan and outside of this country also supported the people of Tohoku. Likewise, the nuclear shadow meant that many people in the surrounding areas were also worried about this aspect. Given this reality, local fashion companies in Tokyo and other cities provided not only material support but also emotional support.

In Tokyo for example you had the Mighty Harajuku Project which was the brainchild of Sebastian Masuda (6% DOKIDOKI). While internationally powerful fashion houses responded to the tsunami in many different ways in order to support the people of Japan.

Often the fashion industry is portrayed to be “one dimensional” but clearly this sector is far from “one dimensional.” On the contrary, many within the fashion sector responded with care and sincerity. Giorgio Armani, and many other famous people within the fashion sector, showed the “heart of fashion” to the people of Japan.

Indeed, the deep shock of the tsunami and the enormous loss of life encouraged Giorgio Armani to show his deep respect of Japan. He did this during the Paris Fashion Week show in July of last year. During this major fashion event Giorgio Armani incorporated aspects of Japanese culture within his adorable designs.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Funds being donated by Armani are much appreciated and the same applies to other famous fashion designers who have done so much to support the people of Japan. Often people only see a single dimension towards fashion and this applies to enhancing beauty.”

“Armani’s exclusive haute couture collection (Fall/Winter 2011-2012) during the Paris Fashion Week highlighted the rich heritage of Japan.  His amazing designs focused on dresses being based on the kimono-style, elegant floral prints on exquisite silk, kanzashi, elements of geisha, and other unique images of Japanese symbols were fused within the stunning Armani collection.”

It may appear that fashion and the tsunami are a million miles apart and in terms of what happened on this tragic day, then this is true. However, in other areas both events came together because fashion helped many people during the psychological stress process and lack of confidence related to the nuclear crisis. Therefore, fashion for many people was “therapeutic” and a way of fighting back against so much trauma and despondency.

Financially, then all economic support was welcomed because many communities were devastated by the brutal tsunami. Alongside the financial aspect was a feeling that other people all over the world truly cared about the plight of people who had been hit the hardest. Once more this helped in the area of psychology.

In the past Japan had been a place for famous international brands to “make hay” and since this tragic event the fashion sector is once more buzzing in this country. In this sense, many international fashion companies and individuals were highlighting their deep appreciation related to past and current connections which remain strong. Giorgio Armani commented that he had been “profoundly moved by the tragic events” related to March 11, 2011.

Giorgio Armani’s fashion show titled the Hommage au Japon meant that his entire fashion collection highlighted the natural beauty of Japanese culture within amazing styles. This genuine warmth was appreciated deeply within the fashion sector in Japan and among lay people who adore the fashion sector. Like usual, the collection highlighted the panache of the individual who created such a stunning fashion display.

Overall, many within the international fashion sector showed their love of Japan by providing many different types of support. This applies to economic support, psychological factors, a collective feeling of humanity, showing the people of Japan that they weren’t alone during this tragic period and in other vital areas.

August 9, 2012

Tokyo fashion continues to bloom in the adorable Omotesando Hills shopping mall

Tokyo fashion continues to bloom in the adorable Omotesando Hills shopping mall

Michel Lebon, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo fashion is extremely diverse because you have so many places to visit throughout this ultramodern city. Irrespective if you are a Tokyoite or visitor to Tokyo you can’t but help to notice the sophistication of fashion in this amazing city.  Therefore, you are literally spoilt for choice but if you like refined areas, a lovely mixture of Japanese and international fashion and a real vibe, then Omotesando and the entire area is one big fashion paradise.

This applies to the continuity of Aoyama, Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya. It is simply amazing and you have so many other areas of quality fashion. Therefore, for the fashion conscious Tokyo is a must and international tourists who love fashion will simply adore the many areas of this trendy and vibrant mega-city.

Omotesando Hills is a fantastic place to visit and see the rich variety of Japanese and international fashion. Also, while the initial issue of the opening of this building cast doubts, related to the old area which was loved by locals in Aoyama. It must be stated that many years later then all this seems like a distant memory because Omotesando Hills is certainly on the map.

Modern Tokyo Times took images of aspects of the fashion on show inside the building of Omotesando Hills. This applies to images showing fashion from Adore, Anterpima, Betsey Johnson, Black Fleece, Escada Sport, Tour H. creer (Merveille H.), Yves Saint Laurent, and Zara.

However, you have other lovely fashion companies like Tracy Reese, Kiwa Sylphy, iliann loeb, Milly, Tiara, Apartment Department, Martinique Le Conte, Patrizia Pepe Firenze (Incontro), Oriental News and so many others. In truth, it is unfair to not name all the fashion stores because all are blessed with exquisite fashion, style and are full of panache. Therefore, please check the Omotesando Hills website for the full list of companies because you have so many sophisticated boutiques and other stores in this lovely fashion complex.

This luxurious shopping mall was designed by the highly acclaimed Tadao Ando and the architect he implanted was pure genius. This applies to the lovely layout, the nice imagery and the casual nature of browsing around because everything works like clockwork.

The building itself graces the entire area and inside it looks sophisticated without needing any glitz.  Instead, you have a building with natural light and which suits the landscape of this fashion conscious area.  Tadao Ando clearly won over many individuals and for newcomers to the area then all they will know is that Omotesando Hills is a landmark building.

Therefore, this is the highest compliment that could be given and today it is a must place to visit for fashion lovers who enjoy style, elegance, lovely fabrics, exquisite clothes and bags with quality and style. To cap all this, the ambience inside Omotesando Hills is extremely relaxing and you have a lovely environment whereby you can relax and drink coffee or eat delicious food.

Also, you don’t have the rush factor or searching around for the odd quality fashion store. Instead, you have quality stores after quality stores and while the emphasis at Omotesando Hills is fashion, you also have other types of stores which compliment the elegance of this shopping mall.

Therefore, you have many beauty services and this works well with the entire theme of Omotesando Hills.  If this is you area of interest, or if beauty services will compliment your shopping, then you have quality companies inside this ultra-trendy shopping mall.

This applies to Createur Reveal (nail salon), hair make Pas de deux (hair salon), le bois (spa and beauty treatment), M.A.C. (cosmetics), and shu uemura beauty boutique (cosmetics).

Omotesando caters for exquisite ladies fashion, mens fashion, baby and kids apparel, jewelry, accessories, bags, beauty services, shoes, eyewear, watches, fashion goods, lifestyle and to add a real touch you have lovely galleries.  Also, you have many places to eat and drink and you have ample quality restaurants, cafés and bar food to cater for shoppers during your visit to Omotesando Hills.

Overall, the fashion is exquisite, the choice is varied and the layout of Omotesando Hills is a treasure. If you love fashion and you want to enjoy a crème de la crème shopping mall then this is the right place to see the latest fashion trends.


August 9, 2012

South Korea, Japan and US fashion styles by Kpopsicle: Stunning international fashion

South Korea, Japan and US fashion styles by Kpopsicle: Stunning international fashion

Kanako Itamae and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Kpopsicle ( is an amazing online fashion store which caters for stylish ladies who want to connect with the vibes of South Korea, America and Japan. Of course, the styles of these buzzing nations appeal internationally and this is the beauty of Kpopsicle. Therefore, this online fashion company provides stunning female fashion products all year round.

The Kpopsicle website is user-friendly and is updated regularly in order to connect with their client base and to highlight the latest trends hitting the streets of Seoul, Tokyo, New York and other vibrant cities. Also, images of items are extremely clear and taken from different angles in order that viewers can get a real feel about the product being viewed.

On the Kpopsicle website this company states that “We focus on stylish and trendy designs” and this is clearly true. Immediately on entering the website ladies will find an abundance of images and products to search. True to the words of Kpopsicle it is clear that this adorable online fashion company does focus on stylish and trendy designs which will appeal to ladies all over the world.

The models at Kpopsicle are extremely stylish and always highlight the lovely fabrics being used. Also, the color schemes and care of each product is more than noticeable. This means that not only is the Kpopsicle website user-friendly but more important everything seems so natural because the styles appeal greatly. Therefore, you have a lovely online fashion store whereby individuals can buy stunning products at the click of a button once studying the products from different angles on the Kpopsicle website.

International fashion styles hitting the streets of South Korea, Japan and the United States can be felt within the fashion on show. Of course Kpopsicle appeals to trendy female fashion lovers all over the world irrespective of nation. This is the beauty of Kpopsicle because they understand the latest trends and how to relate to fashion lovers.

In recent years the K-pop music angle keeps on growing therefore South Korean culture is in vogue and gaining more international headlines. This is rightly so because Korean culture is blessed with an amazing history. True to the nature of this country you have a culture which is rich in history but which is also ultra modern. Therefore, South Korean culture is ultra modern, vibrant, sophisticated and is connecting internationally. Not surprisingly, the fashion angle of South Korean fashion is also growing in strength because of all the above factors.

Kpopsicle fashion focuses on many different styles which relate to the modern fashion scene. This means that you can feel the latest trends running throughout the K-pop music scene through the fashion products that they sell. Kpopsicle fashion also focuses on elegance, sophisticated looks, streetwise fashion and a plethora of styles which are hitting the streets of major cities throughout South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Indeed, in Tokyo you can envisage the Kpopsicle fashion angle easily when you walk around fashionable districts like Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya and other amazing places in Tokyo. This is the beauty of Kpopsicle and this applies to the “instant connection” which can be felt when viewing their website.


The vibrant nature of K-pop with amazing groups and soloists like Girls’ Generation, BoA, Kan Mi Youn, T-ara, Kara, Orange Caramel, Sistar, G.Na, After School, A-Pink and a plethora of others can be felt within the fashion angle of Kpopsicle. Therefore, if you adore female fashion and the “Korean Cool” angle then Kpopsicle fashion will appeal to you.

Kpopsicle simply means style and vibrancy which connects easily within the complexity of international fashion. The reason Kpopsicle can connect easily with international fashion is because this online company understands the current trends hitting major international cities. Therefore, with a click of a button on your computer you have an adorable fashion company to view and then buy amazing and beautiful products. Kpopsicle


November 1, 2011

Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the Fukushima 50

Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the “Fukushima 50”

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The March 11 earthquake which triggered the brutal and devastating tsunami which in turn created the nuclear crisis in Fukushima remains vivid in the memory. This tragic day will never be forgotten in Japan and the same applies to the international community which witnessed the tragic events which followed.

Sadly, despite enormous reconstruction and redevelopment taking place in the worse effected areas you still have many ongoing problems. This applies to the nuclear facility in Fukushima and radiation issues which remain, to more natural daily issues of people living in temporary accommodation and trying to find employment.

Any government in the world hit by this tragic event would be challenged to the full and in fairness to Japan, a lot of support mechanisms have been put into place but of course for people hit by this tragic event then so much more is needed.

In the midst of the nuclear crisis you had the “Fukushima 50” who did everything in their power to prevent a nuclear meltdown. These brave souls should never be forgotten because during the height of the crisis they worked day and night and at any time they could have been killed. Also, the reality of radiation means that we still don’t know if many of these brave souls will die from cancer in the future caused by radiation.

Irrespective if you are anti-nuclear, pro-nuclear or you believe that nuclear energy is a practical choice, it is clear that the “Fukushima 50” deserve the support of everybody. While alarming comments were being made and very natural dangers could have killed all members of the “Fukushima 50,” they merely got on with everything and worked around the clock in order to protect local citizens and to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times which was published on March 18 it was commented that “Images of Fukushima have spread all over the world but the people who are trying to prevent a nuclear meltdown remain faceless and out of sight.  Therefore, they have been named the “Fukushima 50” in honor of their valor and loyalty to the cause.”

“All members of the “Fukushima 50” understand that death awaits them if the internal conditions become uncontrollable.  However, for the “Fukushima 50” they are thinking about the people of Japan and they understand that they are in the frontline and that if they perish, then countless others will follow from the worst case scenario.”

“Of course you will have tens of thousands of other “faceless individuals” who are giving everything in order to help people and many are working in dangerous and terrible conditions.  In this sense, but not from the personal danger that the “Fukushima 50” face; the “Fukushima 50” represent all individuals who are working against the clock in order to help the people of Japan.”

The article was written within 7 days of the March 11 tragedy and being based in Tokyo then Modern Tokyo Times tried its best to support Japan. After all, many embassies were closed and many people left Tokyo in panic. However, at all times the core of Modern Tokyo Times remained in the heart of Tokyo and visits were also made to Fukushima and other areas hit.

However, unlike the “Fukushima 50,” we had the luxury of being based far away and the admiration of these brave souls can’t be overstated. After all, how many people would risk their-own-skin in the face of so much carnage? This collectively applies to the knowledge that the high radiation may give you cancer in the future or that at any time the plant could have just blown up completely.

In the “valley of death” the “Fukushima 50” walked tall and showed the beauty of humanity. 

It matters not if you are pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear; the real issue is their bravery, dedication and giving everything in order to protect the people who reside in Japan.

They must never be forgotten because unlike the “heroes on television” who are actors and actresses, the “Fukushima 50” are real heroes and in the “valley of death” they never flinched.

June 12, 2011

Three months after March 11: Political mess, missing bodies and Fukushima continues

Three months after March 11: Political mess, missing bodies and Fukushima continues

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The devastating 9-0-magnitude earthquake which unleashed the brutal tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis is now three months ago but March 11 remains vivid and for all the wrong reasons.  In this time many changes have taken place but sadly to say many negative things continue and some of this is self-induced.

Even today around 8,000 bodies are still missing and the dark clouds hovering over the Fukushima nuclear Daiichi power plant continues.  Therefore, the nightmare of March 11 still continues and it would appear that many bodies will never be found and this means “no closure” for many people.

At the same time the Fukushima nuclear crisis also shows you that Japan shunned a lot of nuclear advice and support which was offered by the international community.  However, it is apparent that TEPCO and the government did not have an adequate policy and counter measure to deal with the crisis and initial optimism no longer applies. 

The crisis once more shows you the complete shoddiness of the political system because within less than three months the usual petty political point scoring continues. Therefore, the main opposition party and powerful people within the ruling party want the current leader of Japan to resign and Prime Minister Naoto Kan is clearly in a tight corner.

In Tokyo it is clear that apart from certain power constraints that life is virtually back to normal.  The fear of radiation and the uneasy feeling which existed in the first few weeks and until the middle of April no longer applies.

Therefore, on Friday night and Saturday night you will see busy trains, people drunk, party time and people meeting friends and relaxing.  During the day shoppers are busy checking the latest fashion in trendy parts of Tokyo and daily shopping is in full flow.

The gap between the badly hit areas in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi is growing because while problems continue to haunt these places it is clear that the rest of Japan is ticking.  In truth, many parts of Japan were always ticking and while power shortages have hindered major companies which had operations in northeast Japan much of the problems are structural and energy related.

Energy problems will continue and the debate about nuclear energy and safety mechanisms since March 11 will create problems.  After all, currently the nuclear energy sector is vital for supplying Japan with enough electricity but political constraints on existing nuclear power plants means that energy shortages will continue.

Overall, the earthquake continues to haunt northeastern Japan but much of the Kanto plains have returned to normal.  Missing bodies and the Fukushima crisis continues, therefore, the recovery is slow in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi. Added to this is the housing crisis and continuing radiation which is polluting the sea.

However, in Tokyo it is abundantly clear that life is in full swing and busy areas like Ginza, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno and throughout the city are buzzing like usual.

The political crisis shames Japan because 8,000 people are still missing but like usual the political reality of this nation means that a lot of pressure is being put on the current leader to resign.

Therefore, the picture is mixed and this applies to the continuing pain in northeastern Japan despite ongoing restructuring and redevelopment.  The usual shallowness of the political system continues to blight the country and the Fukushima nuclear crisis is still not under complete control.  However, Tokyo and the rest of Japan is ticking and despite energy issues which still apply it is clear that the worse of the scare mongering did not happen and Japan is open to business and trade. (please visit)

June 10, 2011

The witness of two suicides in Tokyo remains within my psyche

The witness of two suicides in Tokyo remains within my psyche

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Tokyo is an amazing city and the environment is buzzing with fashion and from every corner of this vibrant city you can feel the energy of each new day.  However, being from a distant land I prefer to remain in the shadows and my inner-city upbringing in Manchester stays with me. 

I have wandered around many parts of Tokyo and places of interest apply to Edogawabashi, Komagome, Nippori and Seijo. I also like more popular places like Harajuku, Ebisu, Omotesando and Yurakucho. 

However, my local area is none of the above and I will remain tight lipped about where I like to hang out because I have had many death threats related to writing about terrorism.

Like all individuals who have moved to a new nation each person will see things differently.  I have no time for Japanese Buddhism because it is clear that many Buddhist clerics reside in an ivory tower. 

Also, more people kill themselves every year in Japan than people who have just died because of the March 11 earthquake which unleashed the devastating tsunami.  The annual figure in recent times is more than 30,000 suicides a year but little is being done to change the mindset or prevent suicide in Japan.

The only trade that Buddhists seem to care about is death because they can make a bomb from this business providing you have enough money.

Hikikomori is also a huge social problem alongside suicide and while Tokyo is rich in culture and a fantastic place to reside.  The negative side is the loneliness of many individuals or the stress of working life because companies expect too much from their workers.

I love the fashion of Tokyo and the modern landscape alongside the low crime rate.  It is factual that Tokyo is one of the great cities of this world and the infrastructure shames London and Paris.

This not only applies to the sprawling no-go areas of inner-city London and Paris but clearly gang related violence and everyday crime in both London and Paris are destroying too many areas.

My beloved Manchester which is rich in culture and history is also blighted by gang violence and drug related issues.  Yes, drug issues also apply in Tokyo but not to the same level of the cities that I have just mentioned in Europe. 

Turning back to suicide then I have witnessed two individuals kill themselves and clearly both events have stayed within my thinking.  The first suicide was a young man who jumped to his death in Tobu Nerima from a flat that he resided in. 

The second suicide was a young lady who just jumped in front of a train at Harajuku train station.  This suicide really had long term effects because it was like watching a vacuum cleaner sucking up dust.

Everything seemed so natural and she just vanished within the blinking of an eyelid and it was like the train had beckoned her to her death. 

Both suicides happened within one year and despite seeing blood all over and hearing the crack of bones hitting the street in Tobu Nerima; it was not the death of the man which stayed with me but the ghost of the young lady who killed herself in Harajuku.

Of course, some people will snigger and deny that ghosts exist and how can I deny these claims?  However, something stayed with me for over a year and sometimes I could feel her spirit close to me.

Irrespective if this was my mind playing a trick or it was reality; it seemed natural to me and sometimes I felt the passion of her spirit strongly but in time it faded and now I rarely feel anything unless I am in Harajuku.

It seems strange how I view both suicides because I saw the last few seconds of a dying man in front of my eyes in Tobu Nerima.  The blood was visible and the noise stays with me and I always cross myself in the sign of the Orthodox cross when I walk past the same building.

However, when I first saw the naked body I was unsure if the person was male or female because it was late at night. Yet when I was close up it was obvious that the body was male and somehow this calmed me and maybe this is a natural instinct or a safety mechanism?

I don’t really know why this soothed my pain but the behavior and coldness of people nearby shocked me because I immediately asked for help but some people seemed disinterested.  It is true that only about 6 or 7 people were near at the time but words like “baka” (stupid) from a person who was drunk was too much.

I also remember that when the young girl just gave up on this world that some people were just complaining because of train delays.  Not everybody, of course; but a few people was clearly annoyed because it was relatively early in the morning (just before 10am) and I presume the stress of work got the better of them.

I have seen this coldness before when an old man collapsed in Asaka (Saitama) and was bleeding and several times I have seen young ladies faint or were visibly distressed. Apart from two occasions when people helped quickly the norm was to ignore or to turn a blind eye.

I have resided in Japan on and off for ten years and like most Tokyoites several trains have been cancelled because of suicide. However, to visually see two people kill themselves then it isn’t easy when I have to re-visit both places.

Four strange events took place after seeing the young lady kill herself.

Firstly, this applies to sitting in a coffee shop and talking with my friend who was trying to console me in Ikebukuro on the same day of the suicide in Harajuku.  Then all of a sudden I saw a normal lady and the next minute I could only see a stone white face with no distinctive features. 

This really spooked me out!

The second major event happened a few weeks later I was leaving Shinjuku around 6am in the morning and travelling via Odakyu Line to Seijo.  I often like to walk to the final two carriages before entering the train. 

All of a sudden I could see the back of a beautiful lady and then when I got on the same quiet carriage she had disappeared.  Again, I can’t say if this was wishful thinking or if I was still in a daze because of past events.  However, it seemed real at the time and still seems real today but having little sleep during the night then I try to think rationally.

The third major event is more deep rooted because watching her succumb to the train it all seemed so natural because she showed no fear and it was like it was meant to be.  Therefore, I sometimes feel the force of the train beckoning people to jump and when I hear trains making a sudden noise in train stations this brings back flashbacks.

The fourth event was more pleasing because while I was on the Saikyo Line and passing through Harajuku I just felt that I was forced to gaze outside.  Then all of a sudden I could see a beautiful lady but this time she was serene and everything appeared to be ok and it was like I was being told that her pain is over.

Again, it is clear that you have many images of ladies on advertizing boards and I had worked long hours the day before.  Therefore, just like other times I have tried to view this rationally but it seemed real at the time and maybe I found an answer I wanted or maybe it was a flash that was meant to be implanted in my brain.

Today I am writing this because the hot summer is about to start in earnest and both suicides happened during the long hot summer.

Clearly the ghosts of the past or the images of the past remain within my psyche even if these events are more distant with each passing new day.

May 14, 2011

Japan: quiet contemplation two months after the earthquake and tsunami

Japan: quiet contemplation two months after the earthquake and tsunami

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

komagome – Modern Tokyo Times image


Since the earthquake of March 11 which unleashed the devastating tsunami I often take time out in order to reflect.  A few days ago I spent a quiet afternoon in Rikugien Garden in Komagome by myself.

I did the same when I visited Nagoya for hospital treatment.  Therefore, I found a quiet garden and just began to read for 30 to 40 minutes and then I reflected on the last few months in Japan.

On March 11 in the afternoon I was walking around Yurakucho and then all of a sudden the earth began to shake and it was so violent.  I was not scared or in a daze; however, I knew that this earthquake was potent because the 9.0-magnitude earthquake certainly felt powerful and I have never felt such a force before.

After several hours I heard about the tsunami but I never imagined that the tsunami would sweep away so many people.  It was only after a few days that it became clear that the tsunami had killed tens of thousands of people.

Added to this was the radiation factor and many people were scared by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis. 

During my visit to Rikugien Garden I sat down and thought about the brave fire fighters of Otsuchi.  I remembered that Fujio Koshida was still sounding the warning bell while the waves were about to engulf him and sweep him away from this world.”

I stated in my article called Fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi who died during the tsunami in Iwate that “Fujio Koshida and all members of this fire brigade, irrespective if they died or survived, did everything in their power to help the people of Otsuchi and for this I take my hat off and bow to all the members of this brave and dedicated fire brigade.”

After thinking about Otsuchi in Iwate prefecture I then strolled around the garden in Komagome and nature seemed more beautiful than usual.  After all, I knew that I had been lucky unlike the tens of thousands of people who were killed in Iwate, Fukushima, Miyagi, and other coastal areas in northeast Japan.

I then saw a few children playing and they were so happy.  This, however, made me think about Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki and sadness returned to my heart.

The thought of 74 children out of 108 children dying from this single school in Ishinomaki is heartbreaking.  This tragedy, and Otsuchi, stays within my memory alongside other images or news stories that appeared in the national and international media.

After this I felt morose once more therefore I continued to walk for 20 minutes but in no clear direction.

I then decided to leave the stunning garden and returned home but my feeling of morose and normality keeps on clashing within my psychological state.

The image of Okawa Elementary School remains potent and I can’t imagine how the parents must feel.  

Alas, I know that Japan needs to rebuild and it is essential to kick start the economy but it is difficult to shake off recent events and return to normal.

However, I know that I am lucky because everybody I know resides in Greater Tokyo and Kansai and both areas escaped the ravages of the earthquake and tsunami.

Please visit the above links for more information about both gardens

May 11, 2011

Child abduction in Japan: divorced Japanese wife fined heavily by US court

Child abduction in Japan: divorced Japanese wife fined heavily by US court

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Christopher Savoie and his family members in America have been going through hell because of the blatant violation of international law in Japan.  This applies to allowing Japanese parents to violate the laws of all other nations during child custody cases. 

In other words, Japan is allowing child abduction by the policy of inaction and reducing international legal orders to nothing.  Therefore, Christopher Savoie, and countless other left behind parents, continually hit both “a wall of silence” in Japan and “a wall of ignorance and deceit.”

According to legal documents Christopher Savoie had legal rights to see his children on a regular basis and because of this a court in Tennessee fined his former wife heavily.  His ex-partner was fined $6.1 million dollars and this applies to damages.

At the moment this is just “a moral victory” but until Japan takes child abduction seriously then it is “a hollow victory.”

After all, with each passing day his children face cultural alienation and parental alienation.  Also, it is possible that his children are being manipulated by his divorced wife but this is speculation; however, given the fact that he is being denied access to his children then it a possible scenario to say the least.

The monetary factor is not a concern for Christopher Savoie because it is all about his children whom he loves and cherishes dearly.

All he wants, like all responsible parents, is to see his children, care for them, watch them grow up, help to educate them, and enjoy many special moments. 

However, the legal system does not concern itself with the rights or wrongs of child abduction in Japan.  Therefore, Japanese parents know full well that Japan will protect them because international child abduction is a fact of life in Japan and little changes apart from greater international pressure.

Takeaki Matsumoto, Foreign Minister, stated that “The ruling (of the U.S. court) was made from a different legal background from Japan’s,” Matsumoto said at a press conference Tuesday. “Ultimately, I think Japan should abide by international rules on jurisdiction (over child custody disputes) when so many people cross borders, get married and then their marriages fail.”

In my article called Japan and the Hague Convention: but will foreign parents really see their kids? I state that newspapers in Japan keep on commenting that Critics have raised concerns over joining the pact, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and kids who have fled abusive relationships.”

Randy Collins, father of Keisuke Christian Collins, stated in his article called The Façade of Honor and Respect that “Another façade by the Japanese is that when confronted with these staggering numbers, the same mantra is said over and over again: ‘We are protecting our women and children from abuse of the Americans’.”

Randy Collins is spot on because in the same article I comment that “….when did Japan take child abuse seriously?  In 2008 you had 42,664 cases of child abuse and in 2009 you had 44,210 cases of child abuse.  New laws passed were meant to give welfare workers more power to apply for warrants in child abuse cases.”

“However, in 2008 only two warrants were asked for and astonishingly in 2009 only one warrant was asked for.  This fact paints a different picture to the one being painted by Akiko Oshima and her statement should have been backed up by facts.”

“Therefore, basically, out of over 86,000 reports of child abuse only three child warrants were asked for.  Given this, then clearly the rights of the child in Japan is not being taken seriously and Akiko Oshima should focus on reforming the Japanese legal system and systematic thinking; rather than making “sweeping comments” and implying that Japan is a haven for child rights who are being protected by abusive foreign fathers.”

My reference to Akiko Oshima who is a marriage counselor applies to her stating that “These women, who come back, do not do it because they want to.” 

“They feel this is the only way out. They want their child to be brought up in Japan, and not in the host country where the father is abusive and she has no control over her children’s education, and so forth. Not even, say, getting a job to support herself. This is the problem.”

If only Akiko Oshima would open her eyes to child abuse in Japan and the fact that many women also abuse children.  Also, is Akiko Oshima implying that all foreign fathers are abusive?

Given the fact that no mixed Japanese children have been sent back to the international parent then it would appear that Akiko Oshima is involved in racial stereotyping. In other words she appears to be playing the racial card alongside blatant sexism and can her statement be backed by open evidence in every case?

Every court case must be judged on merit and sometimes the father may be the best parent and sometimes the mother; but in an ideal situation both parents would continue to play a role in the upbringing of the child or children.

No parent, irrespective if Japanese or non-Japanese, or if male or female; should face parental alienation because it is against all norms of humanity.

Also, spare a thought for grandparents, other family members and friends because child abduction effects many people and while the emphasis is obviously put on the parent; it is clear that grandparents suffer greatly because time is not on their side and they have to watch their children suffer so much.

Why should parents who love their children be treated like criminals and disregarded?

Japan should be ashamed for allowing this reality to exist and doing nothing is not an excuse. 

Christopher Savoie stated that “Anything about this just reopens a lot of wounds. It’s bittersweet…….At the end of the day, I’d much rather have one afternoon in the park with my kids than one penny of this judgment.”  Bring abducted children home (Children abducted in Japan)

(please visit for information about the rights of children in Japan) Please visit Children’s Rights Council of Japan

May 4, 2011

Nuclear crisis in Japan is a legacy of political meddling because of the Amakudari system

Nuclear crisis in Japan is a legacy of political meddling because of the Amakudari system

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


In Japan the current crisis within the nuclear sector and other areas of the economy can squarely be pinned on the relationship between the political bureaucracy and its love-in relationship with electricity suppliers. 

The Amakudari system enables senior bureaucrats to find important executive posts after leaving the government and it is reported that 68 high ranking bureaucrats went on and resumed senior positions with the energy sector. 

Therefore, given the relationship between government and electricity suppliers it appears that this all inclusive policy means that when serious issues arise, then it may be pushed under the carpet? 

It is important to state that not all “amakudari” bureaucrats will be inefficient and each former high ranking bureaucrat will respond differently.  Also, many will be highly skilled and it is over simplistic to believe that all will either have ulterior motives or seek to cover up major problems.

However, it is also clear that the relationship between the political bureaucracy and electricity suppliers; could lead to complacency and for the general public it may appear to be both inefficient, corrupt, and about preserving a comfortable relationship.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is new to the power process of the amakudari system but former high ranking political leaders in the DPJ who were former LDP politicians, will know all too well about this system. 

Obviously the DPJ knows about this system because for 50 years and more, the LDP have followed the same procedure in various sectors of the economy.  Democracy and “open business” is rather flawed because you have so much inter linkages and not all the blame can be pinned on politicians because the keiretsu system is embedded within the business community.

Conformity and continuity alongside strong inter-relationships is all too powerful within the Japanese system and inter-linkages and connections is the bottom line for the business and political model in Japan.  Of course, not all companies follow this system but in general it is part and parcel of the business environment in Japan and in South Korea they have a similar system called chaebol.

Turning back to the current crisis in Fukushima then the relationship between industry and government regulators would tend to point in the direction of complacency.  This applies to data by TEPCO not being scrutinized to the full when questions were raised about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being vulnerable to a possible tsunami.

Government hands run throughout the system and this applies to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.  After all, this ministry is involved in expressing the importance of nuclear energy, helping Japanese companies to find major business contracts in the international arena, and regulating the safety of the nuclear sector in Japan.

The promoter and regulator conflict within the system was separated in France because of the fear of complacency several years ago.  In America the government understood this weak point in the system; therefore, changes were made over 30 years ago in order to safeguard the nuclear sector from conflicting interests.

The government and TEPCO merry-go-round can be summed up by Tokio Kano.  He joined TEPCO and became a leader within the nuclear unit in 1989 and in 1998 he entered parliament.  Once he was elected to parliament then Tokio Kano helped to rewrite Japan’s national policy related to energy and not surprisingly the conclusion was that nuclear energy was the way forward. 

After being involved within the political system for more than 10 years he then returned to TEPCO.  Therefore, Tokio Kano is an extreme example of the system in Japan.

The amakudari system is defended by some because you will not have many high quality candidates who have powerful knowledge of this complex sector.  Therefore, it is argued that it may appear to be inefficient and based on complacency; however, the system does enable utilities to get high quality candidates who not only bring their expertise but also their strong contacts within an important sector of the economy.

May 3, 2011

China is to increase its maritime surveillance and alarm bells will be ringing in Japan

China is to increase its maritime surveillance and alarm bells will be ringing in Japan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Senkaku-Diaoyu tensions

The government of China is intent on spreading its power projection and installing more clout over disputed islands and islets with several regional nations.  China announced major plans which are to be implemented over the next five years. The government of China is clearly not aiming this new change at any one regional nation however part of this plan is aimed at the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with Japan.

The modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and all divisions within the armed forces of China is an ongoing reality.  China clearly views the situation to be self-defensive but tensions over these disputed islands alongside the Spratlys, and other sensitive areas, with other regional nations, is hindering China’s future sphere of influence.

China also believes that time is on the side of China because America’s spiraling debt and Japan’s lack of leadership and internal demographic and economic issues; means that powers in Beijing believe that only an energetic China can expand its zone of interest.

Also, China which owes a huge amount of America’s debt is also spreading its power over Taiwan because of the ever increasing volume of trade.  China is hoping that Taiwan will be sucked into China’s orbit and that a careful nationalist policy under central control will further eradicate and zap the energy of Taiwan.

Japan’s policy over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is seen to be in a flux because the political merry-go-round means that you don’t have any long-term binding policies.

More important, China is fully aware that Japan is involved with territorial disputes with all regional powers and the Russian Federation and South Korea are also weary of Japan’s intentions.

The Russian Federation clearly is increasing its stranglehold over the disputed territories.  Also, the Russian Federation understands that Japan over relies on Middle East oil therefore leaders in Moscow believe that they hold all the aces.

Sun Shuxian, China Marine Surveillance, commented that the frequency of sea patrols would be more frequent in order “to strengthen law enforcement in Chinese-related waters.”

Sun Shuxian also gave information about another 36 inspection ships being added to China’s Marine Surveillance and another 1,000 personnel would be recruited in order to monitor important and sensitive areas.  He reported that these measures would be implemented over the next five years.

China also believes that America’s containment of Japan will continue and this will restrict Japan’s hand because America would not desire to become embroiled in a major dispute between China and Japan.

It must be added that these tensions are nothing new but China in the past was hindered by an outdated military and limited economic and political leverages.

However, the new China since Deng Xiaoping is based on economic expansion and now this is being backed by greater political power.  At the same time the modernization of the armed forces of China continues to grow and the military budget is able to meet this military modernization.

China does not desire an open conflict with any regional nation and they hope that natural power projections based on trade and energy links will increase China’s influence.

China also understands that Japan’s dispute with the Russian Federation is hindering Japan’s energy policy and this applies to being over reliant on oil from the Middle East.

Japanese politicians may bluster but unlike the one-party-state in China which can implement genuine long-term policies. It appears that the political leadership in Japan is unable to do the same and because of major structural problems within the economic and political system; then China believes that power projection in these disputed areas belongs to Beijing and not Tokyo.