Why watching the development of Toyosu is important

Yesterday, it was reported in television again that survey of the groundwater under the yet-to-be-open Toyosu Fishmarket has found the level of the carcinogen benzene to be 100 times above safe levels.

Japan has always prided itself on the environment and cleanliness. It is a part of of its culture in the form of Shintoism. But since industrialisation it has had pollution issues come up time and again. The peak and benchmark is the Minamata Incident where mercury poisoning had caused health problems. Also the problems from the Fukushima nuclear incident from the Tohoku Earthquake which has effects beyond Japan is still with us.

So to build a fish market on top of a toxic dump seems incredible. But that is what they had done. Where the blame and responsibility lies has still to determined. But it is likely that the then the Governor of Tokyo will have to answer some questions. So far he has deflected all criticism away from himself, as a “good” politician does. 

Why I am an atheist but not against religion

As a person who looks at language for a living and have come to believe all of what we know and believe comes from a combination of experience, thought and language

Not matter where we look cultures have religion. We, as human being, like to make religion, as much as we like to make language or literature. We are different to other animals in our ability to do so in such a way. 

So I cannot be “against” religion, or language or literature. It is inherent in us to make religion, language, literature and the such. 

What I do have believe, though, is that we also have the same capacity to “see through” the need for religion, language, literature, etc. For whatever reason we have religion, language, literature, etc, we have to learn to deal with it as reasoned but critical beings in a physical universe. 

On the continuity of the world

There is reason why the world (the external reality) will not continue (for me) after I die. I do not own it, create it. All evidence points to its independence, that I am but one object within reality. So no amount of sensing it will change the reality. And neither will the non-sensation of it change its existence.

On Realism

Everyday I wake up and see the world. I see objects. My wife and children (they are ‘objects’ as well) share the same space and time, and objects with me. Those objects are independent of myself, my wife and children. My children fight over them. They do not disappear or suddenly change into something else unrecognizable. There is seemingly an inherent stability in the reality of space-object-time.

While I have no evidence to proof this except that in the nearly half-century of my life (is that time an illusion?) my perception of that reality has been stable, constant. And that the intermediary objects have held constant between myself and other sentient observers.

That alone is good enough evidence for me.

If I cannot rely on the world to be consistent (I do not mean willful consistency) I will not be able to function meaningfully in it.

What is Object-Oriented Ontology?

I have been trying to get into Speculative Realism lately. Not an easy philosophy but then again philosophy is dealing with anything but easy subjects. Nothing less then the what exists and how we know.

During this little adventure I came across a term – object-oriented ontology – that, at first, seemed illogical but made sense after careful inspection. Here is an excellent jargon-free definition of it by Ian Bogost:

Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally–plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.

Essentially, it is a kind of trying to be objective about something by stepping into every objects’s shoes. The language is nuanced to be human center-free.

It feels like something David Suzuki would agree to (this would make sense since he is a geneticist-turned-activist). In sustainability, it seems to have something in common with the animal rights movement opting to be less anthropocentric.

(Monologue: There seems to be a move away from human-centred views and looking at the world from what I call The Other. But whether we can learn to avoid projection of The Self in performing this act. Perhaps I can call this project Willful Philosophical Out-Of-Body Re-embodiment.)


I am kind of disappointed that so little attention had been given to If The World Were A Food Village of 100 People over the five years since I translated it.

Firstly, it was a translation from Japanese meaning this wasn’t available in English until I had translated it. Secondly, food is an important topic that should be covered more.

The fact that not a single person liked or commented on it is depressing. And even when I scoped about it it drew little response.

I can see a couple of problems with it. Numbers are too abstract. People need concrete visuals, a kind of “Food Village for Dummies” presentation before people can understand it. Also, it is too close to the original idea and title, “If The World Were A Village Of 100 People”. Any search online will simply make it hard to stand out and find. Most people tend to put “village 100 people” for their search term. But even if it is hard to find in search it should have been picked up.

Why bother with marriage?

Do not be fooled by the title.

This video is not putting down marriage but praising it. Marriage is an important “institution” in that it commits the people in question to achieving specific goals. Goals include family and work can be achieved with greater “efficiency” than perhaps being done alone. Everybody gains.

While we might go into it with romantic ideals we might ask then what exactly is love. I do not personally believe in a idealised version of love, and neither does my adopted culture – Japan. Japan still has remnants of its past custom of arranged marriages. Actually they are not as “arranged” as people seem to think from the English transliteration of the term miai. The potential partners always has the last say on the matter. They can say no at any time. There is something practical about marriage (as it should be from a survival point of view) and it is not in the term, marriage, as such. It is about commitment. And we achieve a lot more by simply committing to something, for better or for worse.

More sustainability humour

I love humour. Humour provokes a reaction, a reaction only something organic, mortal and sentient can do. It therefore reaffirms one being alive by simply provoking this reaction. Sometimes humour makes you think. Sometimes humour is true.

America has the highest standard of living in the world. It’s just a pity we can’t afford it.

What is wealth? Wealth isn’t what we can afford, but what we are content with.

I’m determined to stay out of debt – even if I have to borrow to money to do so.

“Property is theft,” said French anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudon. And money makes all things property and therefore theft.

The country’s national debt totals billions of dollars. Which raises the interesting question, how do you repossess a country?

Remember, we must not let our leaders drive us to poverty.

Advice to thin men – don’t eat fast. Advice to fat men – don’t eat … fast.

How a pause can change the whole meaning of a statement.

A diplomat is someone who is appointed to avert situations which would never occur if there were no diplomats.

The vicious circle.

A diplomat is someone who acts disarming when his country is not.

Puns are a lot of phun.

If a diplomat says yes, he means perhaps; if he says perhaps he means no; if he says no, it means he is not a diplomat.

No straight chaser.

The art of diplomacy is to say nothing – especially when you’re speaking.


There are few ironclad rules of diplomacy, but to one there is no exception. When an official reports that talks were useful, it can safely be concluded that nothing was accomplished.

It all depends on what “useful” means to you.

360 view of Atomic Bomb Dome in the Hiroshima Peace Park

More and more people are becoming aware of the Hiroshima and what had happened at the end of the Second World War. Today it has become the focus for a world with less war and violence. I doubt the world can become a place completely free of conflict but I believe it we can always hold on to the attitude that violence is not the best solution, that life’s problems can be resolved without someone having to kill and someone to be killed.

The Atomic Bomb Dome is a reminder that we should not take such action again and cause unnecessary pain and suffering.

The transcript of the Emperor Akihito’s speech indicating his wish to “abdicate”


The following is the English transcript (followed by the Japanese original) of the speech given by Emperor Akihito on August 8, 2016. It hints at his wish to abdicate, something which has never happened in the history of the Imperial Family. His Majesty’s decision to make such a request has been seen by some as his disapproval of Prime Minister Abe’s recent actions which have loosened Japan’s stance for peace. Many see Japan as heading again down the path towards militarism. The atmosphere and character of now is similar to that of the years leading up to WW2.

A major milestone year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has passed, and in two years we will be welcoming the 30th year of Heisei.

As I am now more than 80 years old and there are times when I feel various constraints such as in my physical fitness, in the last few years I have started to reflect on my years as the Emperor, and contemplate on my role and my duties as the Emperor in the days to come.

As we are in the midst of a rapidly aging society, I would like to talk to you today about what would be a desirable role of the Emperor in a time when the Emperor, too, becomes advanced in age. While, being in the position of the Emperor, I must refrain from making any specific comments on the existing Imperial system, I would like to tell you what I, as an individual, have been thinking about. 

Ever since my accession to the throne, I have carried out the acts of the Emperor in matters of state, and at the same time I have spent my days searching for and contemplating on what is the desirable role of the Emperor, who is designated to be the symbol of the State by the Constitution of Japan. As one who has inherited a long tradition, I have always felt a deep sense of responsibility to protect this tradition. At the same time, in a nation and in a world which are constantly changing, I have continued to think to this day about how the Japanese Imperial Family can put its traditions to good use in the present age and be an active and inherent part of society, responding to the expectations of the people.  Continue reading “The transcript of the Emperor Akihito’s speech indicating his wish to “abdicate””