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    Aichi Prefecture named in Aneha scandal lawsuit

    Posted by Sean at 08:03, February 14th, 2006

    Let the lawsuits begin:

    [A] business hotel operator filed a lawsuit Tuesday demanding 721 million yen ($6.15 million) from a consulting company and Aichi Prefecture over falsified strength reports that forced the hotel to close down.

    Handa Denka Kogyo Co., an electric works company that operates the Centre One Hotel Handa in Handa, said the prefectural government failed to detect glaring flaws in Aneha’s reports and gave its approval for the construction of the building.

    Handa Denka also blamed Tokyo-based consultant company Sogo Keiei Kenkyujo (Soken), and its director, Takeshi Uchikawa, over their instructions on how to build and manage the business hotel.

    The lawsuit, filed with the Nagoya District Court, is the first time in the widening Aneha scandal for a business hotel operator to hold administrative authorities responsible for the falsified reports.

    “The prefectural government’s fault is serious,” the lawsuit said.

    An official of the Aichi prefectural government denied the prefecture was responsible.

    “Aneha’s falsification was skilful and beyond our imagination. We did not commit any faults under the laws,” the official said.

    Possibly. Or possibly, the bureaucrats in Aichi Prefecture just lack imagination. Remember this gem from a few months ago? (No, I’m not calling my own post a gem; I’m referring to the cited Yomiuri article, which is no longer on-line):

    The analysis was provided by a first-class architect asked by The Yomiuri Shimbun to evaluate the plans of Aneha, who has admitted falsifying structural strength certificates for 22 buildings in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

    The expert said the structural data were an outright falsification, with various data combined to reduce material costs, and it was hard to imagine how the inspection agency involved failed to notice.

    Concerning the structural integrity data for Sun Chuo Home No. 15, an apartment building in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the architect said, “I had an uncomfortable feeling looking at it at first glance.”

    Those were in Chiba, not Aichi, but there seems little reason to believe that Aneha took extra care to cover his tracks outside Tokyo. He was quoted multiple times as saying that he didn’t work too hard at being crafty.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that the prefectural government actually is liable; if everyone down the line did all the rubber-stamping and paper pushing right, it may not be.

    Behind the filthy medieval rag

    Posted by Sean at 07:49, February 14th, 2006

    Like most very fascinating people, Oriana Fallaci can be infuriating; but she’s been decrying Islamofascism for years. (She’s the journalist who, during an audience with Khomeini, yanked off the hood of her chador and called it a “filthy medieval rag.”) And it says something that there’s an Italian curator who thinks that this is a meaningful piece of art to offer audiences.

    One doesn’t want art to be making pat points that can be summarized in a single sentence–for that, you can just, like, write a single sentence–but a certain coherence, even if it’s at the dream level, would be nice. Does Fallaci symbolize American decadence because she now lives in New York? Does the painter think she’s done things to deserve beheading? Or are we just being [yawn] transgressive again, throwing grapeshot around and hoping that some of it strikes a target that people will find worth talking about? What Fallaci’s fierce, knowing gaze–which the artist has at least depicted with a simple immediacy that shows he’s not an empty set technically–has to do with weakness and perversity, I’m afraid I cannot imagine. Of course, it’s redundant to point out that Americans are not being given instructions to demonstrate outside the nearest Italian diplomatic building (unless my latest e-mail from the US embassy has been held up–you know, watch it when traveling, no update on threats of terrorism in Japan, don’t forget to do your taxes, here’s how to renew your passport by mail, bring Italian flags to Mita for burning on Sunday).

    If she knew what she wants

    Posted by Sean at 03:46, February 14th, 2006

    This weekend I wrote to another blogger that I was going to try to put a lid on the fifteen-paragraph posts slamming friends who needed to complain sometimes–you know, as if it were an earth-shaking deal.

    I’d just like to note here that I made it at least a good forty-eight hours. Maybe it would have been longer had I stayed home all weekend.

    There seems to be a certain type of person who arrives at the coming out phase and thinks, Hmmm….Lots of affectionate pity from friends…extra lenience for bad behavior [overdrinking, overspending, screwing over friends, screwing over boyfriends, screwing over friends with their boyfriends]…a ready excuse for not dealing well with my parents…I could learn to like this, and decides to camp there indefinitely.

    I doubt that that’s a conscious decision for the most part, you understand; it’s just this whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Nearly everyone starts out in gay life wondering whether he’ll make any friends and whether any guys will go for him at all, let alone whether he’ll ever find love. It’s kind of scary at first. No shame in that. Reasonable people figure that, hey, a little open rejection every now and then is way better than a lot of being closed off and closeted and borderline-suicidal all the time…and besides, if a few million other guys and girls can do it, so can they. And they’re right.

    By contrast, the determined whiners are the boys who in five years go from a tentative Will anyone ever be interested in me for real? to the confidently crabby I hate the bar scene–everyone’s so shallow! without ever stopping at Maybe it’s MY behavior that’s flawed and I should GET OVER MYSELF and try modifying it in between.

    When one of these characters starts getting wound up–here as at home, you generally know you’ve got trouble when the words “bar scene” are uttered–it is, I have learned, a mistake to try to head him off at the pass by suggesting that he might want to try other possible ways to circulate. Guys have a bizarre way of objecting to Internet classifieds as “kinda pathetic” immediately after complaining that they’re dateless and friendless at bars. And recommending that someone join a sports or activities group is useless when his whole problem is that he thinks happiness should bestir itself to come and find him.

    Well, all right, you don’t like bars, but you don’t like the other options any more, so you’re stuck here unless you decide to go into a monastery. How about doing what everybody else does? You talk to people. Some of them won’t be interested, and some of them won’t be very nice about the fact that they’re not interested. That stings, but it won’t kill you. And talking to guys who don’t seem likely to become boyfriends or best buddies reminds you that you’re not the center of the universe and everyone has problems. You’ll eventually have a relationship that doesn’t really go anywhere, or that lasts a year or so before you realize it isn’t good for you. You call it a learning experience and move on. That’s one of the things that happen when you choose for yourself rather than letting family elders and other matchmakers filter out possible partners. If liberty’s not working out for you, maybe you’d prefer to go back to the older system and get your parents to pick. You probably won’t be any happier, but at least with you and your wife sharing the same loveless marriage, she might have some empathy to draw on while listening to you mewl.


    Posted by Sean at 03:56, February 13th, 2006

    Okay, I’m willing to go after critics of Japan’s whaling industry research program when they get opportunistic and start slinging around WWII analogies, but come on here:

    The government wants the public to eat more whale meat to reduce the bloated stockpile and to prevent a rise in international criticism against Japan’s “research whaling” program.

    The excess stock stems from Japan’s expanded catch of whales in the name of research, coupled with sluggish demand among consumers for the meat.

    Fisheries Agency officials say the mounting stockpile could fuel anti-whaling nations’ arguments that Japan should reduce the number of whales it hunts or terminate the whaling program altogether.

    The Fisheries Agency, which does not want to cut back on its research whaling, will develop new sales channels and reduce prices to lift consumption of whale meat, the officials said.

    “There are still a large number of consumers who want to eat whale meat,” said an agency official. “If we only improve how to sell the product, the stock will rapidly decrease.”

    According to agency officials, whale meat is difficult to sell at major supermarket chains because those stores deal only with products of a certain quantity.

    The whale meat supply, although growing, is still smaller than those of other marine products.

    If Japan wants to argue that the IWC has been taken over by hard-core environmentalists who will find ways to keep the moratorium on commercial whaling in place even if whales overrun the planet, fine. That wouldn’t be hard to believe. If it’s going to exploit some loophole that allows whales to be culled for research, and do so in order to make a point by being perfectly upfront about the fact that it’s hunting whales, also…well, not fine, perhaps, but possibly a gesture that makes a point that can’t be made any other way.

    However, the idea that it’s Japanese consumers’ job to eat more whale meat to cover the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries’s ass when it overhunts is just nuts. If all those whales were necessary for research, then the fact that people aren’t eating them may be kind of too bad, but it’s incidental. If the idea is to keep the Japanese from being deprived of a traditional marine product, then it’s clearly working, but there’s no point in oversupply. And there’s no reason Japan shouldn’t take criticism for misusing a natural resource that isn’t obtained within its own territory.

    Defense Agency to remain Defense Agency

    Posted by Sean at 03:38, February 13th, 2006

    The proposal to elevate the Japan Defense Agency to ministry level will not be presented to the Diet during this session:

    Within the government and the ruling coalition, there is a growing perception that it is necessary to conduct more extensive inquiries into the collusion scandal revolving around procurement at the Defense Facilities Administration Agency and to see the matter through to discussion in the Diet.

    Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi made a statement about the bill to elevate the JDA to ministerial status at noon on 13 February: “We’re cooperating in the LDP and the Komeito and want to keep an eye on the situation. It’s not a discussion to have in haste or in a panic.” He indicated that he is not adamant about submitting the bill during this Diet session. He was responding to a question from the press corp at the Prime Minister’s residence. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe also related at a morning press conference that “we want to continue to examine, as the government, how the collaboration between the ruling parties should be organized.”

    Defense certainly warrants a body at the highest level of government operations, but I can see the point that the last thing Japan needs is yet another ministry that engages in bid-rigging and revolving-door shenanigans.


    Posted by Sean at 14:29, February 11th, 2006

    Despite the best efforts of his dumb-ass of a boyfriend, Atsushi managed to receive an early box of cookies for Valentine’s Day today. They were, to hear him tell, very good. Glad to hear it. Still not sure why he keeps that idiot guy around, though.

    This is your chance to shine

    Posted by Sean at 05:32, February 11th, 2006

    Madonna, darling, you really need to listen to Heather at Go Fug Yourself. She’s only looking after your best interests.

    I mean, I gotta hand it to you–photo comparisons show you’ve had work done, but you clearly haven’t had your eyebrows jerked up two inches or gotten your doctor to immobilize your entire face with botox or collagened your lips to dirigible proportions. Good on you for that.

    But from the looks of things, that bod of yours has the same fat content as a Snackwells cookie. It’s just about as appetizing, too. Middle-aged beauty just isn’t the same as 20s beauty, and you (and quite a few of your gay fans around your age) really could stand to remember that every now and then. Guys in their late 40s who want to maintain the granite six-pack they’ve had for the last two decades can often do it with martial discipline and a little lipo; but the grain of their skin is different, and it no longer hugs their muscles the same way. When they relax into being a little fleshier and more substantive, middle-aged guys stay yummy and touchable-looking. When they avoid adipose cells like the Plague, they look as if they’d starved themselves to vanishing point and been reupholstered in easy-care vinyl. It’s depressing to see.

    Oops, imagine that. I got derailed into talking about male sexiness. Anyway, back to the issue at hand: Madge, that last video proved to us that you can still fold yourself up like a contortionist and dance around frantically without losing your breath. The point is made. You’ve impressed your fans once again. Now, if you actually want to make us happy, you might consider going back to making videos that are actually beautiful to look at. Maybe you could come up with a few ideas if you took a day off from the gym and kicked back a little.


    Posted by Sean at 07:40, February 10th, 2006

    What I learned from The Independent today:

    Apparently, Tracey Emin’s fifteen minutes aren’t blessedly over as I’d thought. Sheesh.

    There’s also this (via Gay News and leading to an interview that’s summarized in the original publication here) a piece on a former minister under the conservative UK administrations in the ’80s:

    Francis Maude, the chairman of the Conservative Party, has said that the homophobic attitude of the Thatcher government contributed to the death of his brother from Aids.

    Mr Maude, who served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, said he regretted voting for the now-repealed Section 28, which banned councils from promoting homosexuality. [He explains a little further later on: “Some local authorities were actively promoting homosexuality to school children at a time when gay sex under the age of 21 was illegal.”–SRK] “In hindsight a mistake, I voted for it, I was a minister,” he said.

    “The gay scene in London in the 1980s was quite aggressively promiscuous and I think if society generally and the government I served in had been more willing to recognise gay people then there would have been less of that problem.”

    He added: “A lot of people like my brother would not have succumbed to HIV and lost their lives.”

    I’m always of two minds when people say stuff like this. On the one hand, yes, people whose moral code says that gays should be outcasts have to behave as they believe, but then they’re not exactly in a position to point to statistics about self-destructive behavior and trumpet that they show something inherently screwed-up about homosexuality. Cutting people off from civilizing institutions and social structures is hardly a way to find out whether they’re capable of civilized behavior.

    On the other…Maude is a powerful politician, not just a prominent private citizen who misses his brother, and I wish politicians were able to display more of a sense of context about these things. We’re talking about the aftermath of the Sexual Revolution, the promiscuity of which caused plenty of problems for straight people, too, despite their being accepted by society. Besides which, immoderate behavior is hardly an inevitable response to being reviled–whatever happened to “living well is the best revenge”? I want more acceptance of gays, obviously, and I find Maude’s change of heart on the topic very moving. It’s just that using AIDS to argue for it always seems to have, hovering in there somwhere, an implication that straight people need to be especially nurturing and gentle toward us because, you know, look what we went and did when they weren’t the last time. That’s not the way you talk about people you regard as adults and equals.

    Yeah, I wanna be the queen of the USA / You could send me roses every other day

    Posted by Sean at 01:03, February 10th, 2006

    Another Gay Republican is back to blogging interestingly about politics and, more importantly, has a clean-lined new site design. (Why are the boys in the back snickering about my priorities? Think about it: Two hundred years from now, will people still care whether some stadium was built in DC? Will they still care which shades of red and blue make the most pleasing combination against a dead-white background? Exactly. See how easy rational thought is when you just give it a little effort? Now stop with the sassing; you’re distracting me.)

    Not every gay guy who’s returning to modified versions of old behaviors is getting on my good side by doing it, unfortunately. I ran into a casual friend for the first time in months a few nights ago. As I always do when I meet guys who were single the last time I saw them and have had time to do something about it, I gave him the smirk and the question: “So, anything good to report?”

    When will I ever learn? Kaz is not, after all, an unknown hazard. He’s still getting over a man he was dating who ultimately decided that he was serious about someone else. The relationship lasted three-ish months and was broken off a year and a half ago.

    No, I didn’t accidentally reverse those numbers. Dude is now, with a shameless get-down-in-it moroseness that would embarrass Eeyore, into his eighteenth month of self-pity over a dating relationship that barely survived a financial quarter. So there I was last night, once again looking on in sympathy as eyes teared up and lines of the “I just still…you know?” variety were huskily uttered. What made it especially trying was that this week, a dear friend suffered the rather brutal break-up of a live-in relationship of several years. While he’s carrying it like a gentleman, he’s still in the very early raw stage when you lean on your buddies. Therefore, the weapons in my Gay Big Bro arsenal are kind of in use right now and not really available for people whose major problem is that they failed to notice that they flew over the International Get a Grip Line several months ago.

    But even without that unfortunate contrast, I mean, hello? You can’t help how hard and fast you fall. We all get the chance to be humiliated by unrequited desire. You give yourself time to regain your self-discipline. Then you exercise it, by faking sociability and an interest in flirting until the real thing comes back. It never works perfectly, at least at first, but it has to be better than spending 600% longer mourning a relationship than you did enjoying it. Better for yourself and, for the love of Cole Porter, those around you.

    Added on 12 February: Now that I think about it, I believe Deborah Harry sings that second line in the conditional mood.

    Cabinet approves health care reform bill

    Posted by Sean at 00:36, February 10th, 2006

    Discussion in the Diet is beginning over how to reform the health-care system. Japanese society, in case you’ve just emerged from two decades in a cave and haven’t seen this topic beaten to death yet, is aging. The cost structures of the social welfare programs need to be changed, but as with everything else, there are a lot of people who make out well by the current system and will resist changing it. Many of them are powerful middle-aged bureaucrats who are themselves approaching old age rapidly.

    The [Koizumi] government, in a cabinet session on the morning of 10 February, approved a health care system reform bill the primary goal of which is to hold down health care costs, which have been increasing as society ages. The bill will be submitted to the Diet within the day. The bill incorporates such proposals as a phased-in increase, to begin in October, in the health care fees paid by the elderly and the restructuring of [national] health insurance.

    If the bill is enacted, cash register payments [that is, the amount you pay on the way out of the doctor’s office, assessed as a percentage of the total tab] for high-income persons of at least 70 years of age will increase. You’re designated high-income if your annual household income is over about US $55000. Of course, the bill doesn’t seem to address systemic inefficiencies that encourage over-subscription–notably the practice of drawing out treatment for a relatively simple problem over several visits, after the fashion of a novel published serially. Or the effects of overweening bureaucracy.