Archive for the ‘Japan Times’ Category

Japan Times newspaper profile of Midori Paxton

February 24, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is sending a link to a profile of my wife run in today’s Sunday edition of the Japan Times newspaper. Hope the link works! inspiring-path-to-success/

Japan Times – ‘socknapping”.

December 15, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is used to receiving odd news from Japan. But today’s report on sock napping was a new one. Schoolgirls are being grappled to the ground by a middle aged man who then pulls off their socks and races away with his plunder. So far the socknapper has made off with socks from five girls. Quite what he does with the socks is not something I prefer to dwell on.

Petition Time again: Tell A Friend: Japan, Keep Whale Meat out of School Lunches

November 19, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog posts yet another opportunity to sign a petition that won’t make a difference.

I know the Japanese Fisheries people and their stubborn, nationalist ways. I’ve met these people, heard them rant and on one occasion had to wipe spit from my eye as the ministry official became overly excited and foamed at the mouth. I’d never seen anybody do that before. He was thumping his table at the time and yelling that whales weren’t intelligent and that nobody was trying to save rats. It was a memorable interview and was comical if a hysteric could be described as comical.

The whaling lobby tried to buy me off by inviting me to a whale food restaurant in Shinjuku and there were all sorts of treats on offer. Simmered whale testicle slices, a sorbet made from whale brains, lots of blubber and a few people in suits and sake who gave me business cards that had nothing to do with whales. It was a fisheries agency rent-a-crowd and not a very good choice of cast. It became apparent that nobody apart from the Fisheries Agency people were interested in eating whales and wanted to leave for a second party. I asked the sou chef if he liked whale and he said “A bit. It’s delicious.”

“Do you eat it?”

“A bit. No. It’s distasteful.”

The event was a charade. The guests weren’t there because eating whale or porpoises or dolphins was essential to their Japanese cultural heritage. They wanted to meet important people and swap name cards.

The fisheries guys were determined to make sure their pet foreign journalists had lots to drink and explained how peace loving Japan was and how essential whale meat was to Japanese culture and the restaurant owner was unnaturally happy to see me and said he liked Americans and that Americans should stop eating beef because cows were causing global warming, and Americans should eat whale to save the planet. I said “Yes, sounds really sensible.”

The evening was a long one and the guests began slipping away and I was left with two things. One was a Fisheries guy who was going to miss the last train and arrive looking dishevelled to delight his wife at 4 AM smelling of booze, blubber and whale testicles. The second thing I was left with was a sense that most people at the pro-whaling event didn’t give a hoot about whaling.

This goes for most Japanese people.

But not the Fisheries guys. They see whaling as an assertion of Japanese maritime power and control or access to international fisheries. Their whale hunts have been disrupted by vigorous environmental campaigners (notably Greenpeace but more effectively Sea Shepherd who up the ante by spraying whalers with stale jam and other refreshments ).

Japan’s whaling ship caught fire by itself a few years back. It’s a public relations disaster. And more to the point Japanese people aren’t particularly interested in eating whale meat. The Fisheries fanatics tell them they are but in reality they’d rather have something else. Ramen, sushi, okonomiyaki…

Whale meat is inflicted on those without choice. Prisoners. School children. People who can’t say no.

Most people in the southern hemisphere loathe the Japanese whalers aggravating behaviour and their increasingly ineffectual whaling excursions into international waters. As far as this research excuse goes – it’s bollocks. They’re not researching anything and even if they were who would be interested in their research? How much can you sell a whale testicle for? Will that offset the price of a whaling fleet? Do whales eat squid?

It makes me feel ill. But what really makes me feel ill is the fact that money dedicated to re-housing and helping the victims of the Fukushima tsunami was re-routed to restoring the whaling industry. Japanese people (300,000) are still in limbo. And the money that should be helping them back on to their feet is being squandered on whale killing half a world away.

Sign the petition. Why not. But these people don’t care about their own fellow countrymen and women and children. And they won’t care about this petition.

From: Kathleen J., Care2 Action Alerts [mailto:actionalerts]
Sent: 18 November 2012 08:13 AM
To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: Tell A Friend: Japan, Keep Whale Meat out of School Lunches

Care2 subscriber since Jul 16, 2012 Unsubscribe | Forward to a Friend | Reread the Petition

Tell A Friend:
Japan, Don’t Feed Whale Meat to Schoolkids

Forward to a friend >>
Reread the petition >>

Dear Hugh,

Thanks for signing the petition to ask Japan to stop trying to continue whaling, despite a sharp decrease in demand for the meat.

Now, please ask your friends to do the same. »

Japan’s barely legal whaling industry continues under the auspices of "science." But the industry has operated at a loss for years, costing the government roughly $60 million every year to sustain. Instead of giving up, Japan is doubling down, loosening regulations on sales and increasing the amount of whale meat in school lunches.

To ask your friends to join in the fight for whales, you can use our tell-a-friend tool, post the petition on Facebook, or tweet it. Or, if you’re short on time, you can copy and send the sample message we’ve written

Sample email:


I signed a petition to ask Japan to stop trying to continue whaling, despite a sharp decrease in demand for the meat. Will you sign, too?

Japan’s barely legal whaling industry continues under the auspices of "science." But the industry has operated at a loss for years, costing the government roughly $60 million every year to sustain. Instead of giving up, Japan is doubling down, loosening regulations on sales and increasing the amount of whale meat in school lunches, even though it would increase kids’ risk of mercury poisoning.

It’s time for Japan to face up to the fact that the whaling industry is over. If you agree, please sign too.


Thanks for taking action!



October 22, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog read the following with a stab of terror mingled with a sense of dreadful inadequacy. I’m already technologically obsolete, and now it looks very likely that I’m inching towards tecno-senility and extinction.

No doubt my daughter will assimilate this new great leap forward in a couple of days, all her friends will be given these gizmos by their rich and doting parents and I’ll have to spend a fortune keeping up with a bunch of nine year old Joneses.

Read on all you type writer users and despair!


You will not be able to know what is ahead until
You have seen the 4 pictures and read the explanation of
What they are, our future is here,incredible!!
What an age we live in.

Look closely and guess what they could be…

Are they pens with cameras?

Any wild guesses? No clue yet?

You’ve just seen something
That will replace your PC in the near future.

Here is how it works:

In the revolution of miniature computers,
Scientists have made great developments with blue tooth technology…
This is the forthcoming computers you
Can carry within your pockets .

This ‘pen sort of instrument’ produces both the monitor as well as the keyboard on any flat surfaces from where you can carry out functions you would normally do on your desktop computer.

Can anyone say, ‘Good-bye laptops!

Looks like our computers are out of date…

The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 7604 (20121019) __________

The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

Japan Times: Fukushima and the future

June 25, 2012

Hugh Paxton Blog suggests that this invitation from the prestigious Kyoto Journal publication will be of interest to people with well thought out ideas about sustainable energy. It is a very good journal and is well-read in Japan and overseas by academics, thinkers, writers and decision makers.

Read on! And let’s get a few fresh currents flowing!




We have started a new book project at KJ that grew out of Biodiversity (see below).

I’m writing to request your kind assistance, if possible, with a new and important Kyoto Journal project.

We are working hard on a special publication, "Fresh Currents," which investigates the disastrous results of Japan’s nuclear energy program, and the real potential for shifting to fully renewable energy sources.

We seek to contribute positively to the debate on how not only Japan, but also the rest of the world can most effectively move towards to a sustainable future. The project is well underway, but we need help. Specifically, we have just launched our very first-ever fundraising campaign in our 25-year history as a non-profit, on Indiegogo.

To successfully reach our modest goal, our funding drive needs the widest publicity possible. So, I’d like to ask you to kindly post the attached self-explanatory PDF file, and to forward this to anyone who may be interested, or who could propel this forward.

For further information, please visit our Indiegogo site, and watch our campaign video:

Any assistance, logistical or financial, will be most gratefully received! (We offer incentives for financial contributions, too). I do hope that you can help us with this!


Japan Times: Whale sales fail.

June 18, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog is delighted to see the Japanese whaling lobby take a major tumble that will probably end their whaling activities in international waters.

They can’t sell their whale.

After repeated auctions 85 percent of their ill gotten gains shot in Antarctica are unsold. People in Japan don't want to buy it anymore. In truth a lot of Japanese didn't want to eat whale meat in the first place. It was force fed on prisoners in custody and children (in school custody). The Antarctic whale hunt is conducted using a loophole that allows for research hunting. I suggest that even the most obtuse researcher must now conclude that further research is a scientific, political, international public relations and economic fiasco.

Japan Times: Mugger fingered by 59-year-old woman

May 9, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog suspects that gathering the fingerprints of a bag snatcher in Sapporo, will not pose too many problems for police in Japan’s largest northern island, Hokkaido. His 59-year-old female victim bit one of his fingers off after pursuing him on his getaway bike and retrieving her bag. The finger is in police custody. Its owner will no doubt be reunited with it imminently.

Emailing: My girl’s photos of Japan

April 15, 2012

The first Japan holiday picks from my gals!

Yesterday they spent memorable hours visiting the graves of Mamachan’s family. I’m not sure that Annabel was initially very interested but when the relatives started giving her money she became more enthused.

She earned 15,000 yen in three hours.

That’s a month’s wage for your average Burmese builder.

After the graves they visited a forest beneath Mt Fuji famous for suicides. It is apparently THE place to go to commit suicide. Annabel joined an ecotour and was shown a hut that had just burned down. Apparently the man who wanted to commit suicide by burning himself in the hut changed his mind when it got too hot and ran away. Annabel thought that was very funny. Next she was treated to a view of a motorbike. The rider had parked and walked off into the forest and has never been seen again. Nobody has moved his motorbike. Annabel said it had lots of scratches.

At this stage of the Skype I began to wonder about the ecotour.

Annabel then waved something in a plastic bag in front of the computer camera and said it was forest fried shrimp. It looked like a curly pine cone that had been stripped of nutrients by a squirrel. For once in my life I was right! But yes, it did resemble a shrimp tempura.

The ecotour was enlivened by a herd of bosozoku – they’re Japanese delinquents who remove mufflers from their motorbikes in order to make as much noise as possible and scream and rev and hurtle around with the express purpose of annoying everybody and letting society know that they don’t give a shit.

There was a lot of ecotour educational stuff but Annabel was a bit incoherent when it came to explaining content. A lot of volcanics, island creation (Fuji is apparently part of an island chain that includes Guam), different pine tree species and then they all went down a ladder and some steps covered in ice into an ice cave. Most of my extended family fled the cave because it was very icy. And lethal.

Everybody then had a thermal bath (onsen), were served delicacies by lots of old people who run a traditional inn, spent the night in the inn, and caught eight trout which they grilled on coals after Annabel watched the fish gutted and cleaned. Annabel’s verdict “I felt sorry for the fish. They stuck a stick through its mouth and washed its guts out. It was gross.”

Fuji appeared and Annabel told me it was the biggest something in Japan. She added that peach trees were blossoming. Yamanashi is famous for peach orchards.

The chronology of this holiday is a bit muddled. My correspondent is eight years old.

But my wife and daughter have only been in Japan for three nights!

And if they’ve managed all that in such a small time, I’m bracing myself for the next email.



Japan Times: Tsunami – The Slow then Sudden Death of a Japanese Whaling Town

March 8, 2012
Hugh Paxton Blog Ed note: This coming Sunday marks the first anniversary of the March 11, 2011 tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
In 1995 Hugh Paxton’s Blog (or more accurately, just Hugh Paxton – this was long before my blogging days) visited the Japanese whaling town of Ayukawa with a couple of other journos and my wife; at that time she, Midori, was a staff editor and reporter for the Japan Times Weekly. She wrote a four page story and the whaling industry and its hired New York spin doctors attempted to destroy her career. Their attempts failed. Quite a drama – farce, duplicity, and ultimately a Paxton prompted research/expose scandal that caused nationwide food safety panic and dealt a body blow to Japan’s whaling people. But that’s another story and a long one. I’ll save it for another time.
After my visit to Ayukawa I wrote the following story and it won a BBC Wildlife Magazine Award for Nature Writing.
Ayukawa was subsequently largely destroyed in the great tsunami (I follow my essay with an AFP report on the death of the town and the destruction of the whalers).
The original title of my essay was “Old Men and the Sea” but the BBC writing competition rules stipulated that the title should comprise just one word. I chose “Whalers.”  In retrospect  and following what happened I should have called it “Liars.”
One  old man’s name is Toba, and he sits on a rusted mooring post with his stiff, starched back to the gleaming ripples of the bay. Below, and behind him, the 24 ton trawler with its mounted harpoon cannon lolls in a greasy slick against the concrete of the quay. To both left and right, sharp clean cliffs, painted with pines and the special clinging, forest mists of Japan, hold the harbour safe from the chill and oily rollers of the Pacific beyond.
It is a special day for Toba. His overalls are freshly laundered, freshly pressed – you can see the crisp lines, you can see the fresh stains.
White-haired, stiff-backed Toba is not surprised to see me, an English journalist, and my interpreter. We are here, in this remote, dying village on the northern Honshu coast, at his (and the Fisheries Agency’s) invitation to hear him speak and to tell the West his tales.
Behind Toba, gulls float, then dip. Their beaks snip at the drifting, ugly bits that wallow in the troughs. If they were more numerous, those gulls, more daring, then they would be up here with us on the quay. There are ugly bits everywhere. I have one pulped beneath my shoe. The smell, I know from past experience, will sit on me for days. There is not a soap devised that will clear this smell quickly. it is the smell of a huge spilled stomach.
We watch Toba on his perch, shifting his shiny, spotted boots. Behind us, the village delegation shuffles its eight feet, murmurs for quiet. somebody photographs me photographing Toba. This reminds me of my rather unique position. I’m writing about Toba, and I am being written about as I write about Toba. Later I will be sent photographs of me photographing Toba. Pursuing this business to its bitter end, a friend will, later send me photographs of photographers photographing me photographing Toba. I’m planned as potential propaganda.
When Toba opens his mouth he shouts. In his prime, when his village was the base for Japan’s Antarctic fleet and the flensing sheds echoed with industry, Toba was a master harpooner. The thunder of the killing, though, has cost him clear hearing. Toba’s eyes, now slowed by age and thick glasses, have seen blood splashed against the crisp white of Antarctic ice; have spotted the brief breach of pilot whales in the Sea of Okhostk; he has received bonuses for accuracy in waves that have tilted his firing platform like a toy. There was a time when Toba was young.
Warmed by the handclaps of the village delegation, Toba shouts about the joy and pride of life-time employment, of the nobility of catching meat rather than buying it, de-blooded under the fluorescence of a supermarket. He swears that he could take his boat out and the sea would be black with whales. He, Toba, could take 50 minke in one day off this coast.
There are traces of magnificence about Toba when he speaks like this, despite his dwindling body. A cleanliness of purpose. Old, yes. but still on fire with battles of survival that mark an earlier age.
As for finding whales, well. there’s no doubt Toba can still do that. He owns one of Japan’s last coastal whaling companies.
Four pilot whales, sleek black torpedoes, part of Toba’s allotted annual catch of 24, are still being peeled, sliced and diced in the flensing shed behind us. A squid, an unfinished last whale meal, has just squirted past soothed on its way by a hose and a surge of red water.
“There’s no shortage of whales,” Koba tells us.
Indeed, whales are making seals extinct by eating the same food and breeding uncontrollably. Environmentalists complain about rainforest destruction, yet they eat beef! We could feed the Third World with whale meat! Why can’t we catch as many whales as we want? We can control the catch.We have scientists, and they have quotas and a revised management procedure. Americans lost the Vietnam War. Why do you hate Japan and make us stop catching whales?”
Toba’s fingers point with increasing fury. Spittle flies from his mouth.
Things are becoming odd. Incoherent. My interpreter is looking embarrassed.
“International Whaling commission is environmentalist!  IWC is not logical! It’s emotional! People say whales cry – any animal cries when you  kill it!  You say whales  are intelligent! They are stupid! They are fish!””
Behind us the village sags lethargically in the late sunshine. The population is down by 3,000 from the heady days of the 1950s. Some 2,000 remain. One hundred years ago there was no village here. We are in the remains of a Boom Town built on blubber. It is quiet. We’ve seen no young people, but that in itself is not strange. A thousand, ten thousand, Japanese villages just like this, have bled their youth to the perceived freedoms and wealth of the cities.
As Toba’s rant runs ever wilder, I look down at my notes and the questions that I had prepared but now know will not be answered. I think of other former whaling villages that I have seen. some now watch the whales they once hunted. These villages are much visited. There is optimism in these villages. The inns are full. Villagers feel useful, noticed by the world.
It could work here. “Have you considered whale watching as an alternative to carrying on with the hunt?”
The village delegation joins in Toba’s shouts.
“We’re not whale-watchers! Whale-watchers are baka (idiots)! We are whale-hunters! We want to hunt whales!”
Leaving, I think of Joseph Conrad’s pointless, desolate ship firing its guns at a continent. The old men are still shouting, backs to the sea. The retirees who flense carcasses to supplement pensions shuffle back to their knives. More dead whales are coming in on a late boat delayed by foul weather. For Toba, I suspect, there will never be enough.
“Things die slowly in Japan,” says my interpreter, “but they do die.”
I’m glad. We leave as the sunset burns the village a brief and burning gold.
Tsunami harpoons Japanese whaling town


Ayukawa, Japan — The Japanese whaling town of Ayukawa has survived the wrath of environmental groups for decades, but had no defence against a giant tsunami that wiped out the industry here, possibly for ever.

One of only four communities in Japan that have continued to hunt and eat whales in defiance of international opposition, the town was already down to a single operating company, Ayukawa Whaling.

The March 11 tsunami that slammed into Japan’s northeast coast took most of Ayukawa with it, destroying 80 percent of houses and leaving 400 of its 1,400 residents unaccounted for.

The wave shattered Ayukawa Whaling’s storage facility and carried its fleet of three whaling ships hundreds of metres inland where they now lie grounded and impotent.

“This is the biggest ever crisis for us,” said company chairman Minoru Ito.

Ito, 74, survived the disaster, along with all of his 28 employees, after they fled to higher ground in the wake of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered the tsunami.

The survival of their livelihoods is another matter and Ito said he had already decided to lay everybody off and suspend all whaling operations until further notice.

It was a tough decision. Ito has been hunting whales for half a century and his father was an Ayukawa whaler in the town’s boom days.

“For me, whaling is not just culture or tradition. It’s part of my life,” he said.

The history of commercial whaling in Ayukawa dates back to the early 1900s when three major whaling firms set up in the town, which lies on the eastern tip of Ojika peninsula, bordering the Pacific.

The industry lost ground during World War II, but bounced back with the growing demand for whale meat as a cheap and plentiful source of protein in the lean post-war years.

Temples dedicated to the souls of whales attested to the town’s heritage, and tourists were drawn by a whaling museum — now gutted by the tsunami — that boasted skeletons, hunting tools, educational displays and a 3-D cinema.

But the industry had long been in decline, especially since commercial whaling was banned in 1986.

Japan has continued to hunt whales under a loophole that allows killing of the sea mammals for what it calls “scientific research”, although the meat is later sold openly in shops and restaurants.

Japan’s argument that whaling is an integral part of the island nation’s culture finds some of its strongest voices among the residents of Ayukawa, for whom the prospect of stopping hunting is inconceivable.

“We should resume whaling at any cost,” said 70-year-old Ryoetsu Okumi. “Whaling is my job and my life. If someone takes whaling from me, nothing will be left.

“Anti-whaling groups may be pleased with this disaster, but we will never surrender.”

The tsunami came shortly after Japan recalled its Antarctic whaling fleet a month early, citing the threat posed by the militant environmentalist outfit Sea Shepherd.

The group, which says its tactics are non-violent but aggressive, has hurled paint and stink bombs at whaling ships, snared their propellers with rope and moved its own boats between the harpoon ships and their prey.

Okumi’s defiance was not shared by all Ayukawa’s residents, some of whom said the tsunami had probably dealt a death blow to the town’s already ailing whaling operations.

“I’m afraid that not so many people will stay under this kind of condition. It’s hard to resume,” said retired whaler Taichi Endo, 82.

And despite hopes that the central government will step in and help Ayukawa Whaling get its ships back in the ocean and back to work, local officials were also pessimistic about the future.

“Whaling represents Ayukawa. That’s for sure,” said Shin Okada, a local government official.

“But facing reality, I have to say the current situation is quite hard.”

Greenpeace Japan said its opposition to commercial whaling, including Japan’s “scientific research”, remained unchanged, but insisted its primary concern was for the victims of the tsunami in Ayukawa.

“We hope all survivors, including whalers, will recover,” said spokesman Junichi Sato.

Photo 1 of 3
Whaling industry had long been in decline, especially since commercial whaling was banned in 1986

Japan Times: Ouch!

December 17, 2011

Hugh Paxton’s blog has a question for you. Here goes!

What do eight Ferraris, three Mercedes-Benzes, one Lamborghini, one Prius, and one Nissan Skyline have in common?

Answer? They were all recently involved in a high speed pile-up in Yamaguchi prefecture. The fiasco was precipitated by one Ferrari which skidded and lost control. The total cost of what has been dubbed the most expensive car crash in history? $US 3.85 million. Ouch!