End of summer 2017 message

Hello Hugo

Another summer ends.  Your 6th in Japan in a row.  It’ll soon start cooling down again so no more sweltering walks to the station/school until 2018.

Here is a short UK update for you.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales; it made news around the world at the time and there has been a lot in the media over it this summer.  I clearly remember when I found out; I was back home in Everton for the summer after the end of my first year at university.  My mum told me in the kitchen when I went down to make coffee.

As I posted yesterday, our Prime Minister is currently on a trade mission to Japan.  My repeated requests to the Foreign Office in the UK to lobby the Japanese government much harder and more publicly on the issue of parental child abduction have not to date been heeded and I fear that such issues will not be on Mrs May’s delegation’s visit.  As such I yesterday put in a freedom of information request to find out why this continues to be the case and when this will change.  I will update the blog in the coming weeks as soon as I receive a response.

I spent a couple of days with Dad up in Edinburgh, Scotland, over the late August national holiday. It is a fantastically beautiful city also with much on offer around it in the surrounding, mountainous countryside.  We concentrated mainly on the city centre but did manage to get the bus out to the Royal Yacht Britannia now moored in Leith, a coastal suburb of Edinburgh.

Dad celebrates his 89th birthday next month and everyone is meeting up, as we did last year, at the Boathouse down in Hythe to mark the occasion.  Plans are also being tentatively developed for his 90th birthday in 2018.

Less positively, both my aunt Diana and your Great Grandma have recently been diagnosed with cancers.  Diana is responding very well to treatment as it was caught early – she is expected to make a full recovery – but Grandma is still waiting for a full medical assessment.

Your UK cousin, Olly, is doing well.  He celebrated his first birthday in April and my sister returned to work at about the same time.

I have mailed you the items below in two tranches, one today and one on 24 August.  These include a genuine Edinburgh/Cashmere scarf – I tried it on before sending it to you and it is very soft and fluffy and will, I trust, help keep you warm this winter.

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North Korean missile test

Hello Hugo

I have just seen in the news that North Korea has launched a missile over Hokkaido and not just into the Sea of Japan as had hitherto tended to be its habit.  It is leading the news on the BBC.  Although the incident was thankfully some way north of you, it must be a worry for you as it is very much for me as there is no guessing what this evil and arbitrary regime may do next or when.

The last time that there was an incident of this magnitude was in 2009; the launch then coincided with a flight that I took from Narita to London having spent a holiday with you and your mother in Japan (you stayed on 3 months longer before coming back to the UK – I had to return to work).  I will try and post some photos below of us together on that visit later today or later this week as I do not have access to them at this moment.  Anyway my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time – as they are always.

Daddy

UK heatwave

Hello Hugo

Hope you are keeping well.

As the Telegraph article below relates, today was the hottest day in June since 1976 – the year before I was born.  It certainly felt it.  Ironically, the peak was recorded at Heathrow, the location where you last set foot in the UK in 2011.

The heat this week has been oppressive and reminds me of when I worked in Japan:  in the summer months, when walking to the station in the mornings, my shirt would be soaked through with sweat.  Similar experiences in London this week.

I imagine that the weather is similarly oppressive in Hiroshima so hope that you are coping with it better than I would be.

It would be great to hear from you some time…

 

The Telegraph

UK Weather: barristers remove wigs and gowns as Britain sizzles in hottest June day since 1976

Britain enjoyed the hottest June day for 40 years 
Britain enjoyed the hottest June day for 40 years  CREDIT: AMER GHAZZAL / BARCROFT IMAGES

Barristers and judges were allowed to ditch their traditional gowns and wigs and school sent pupils home as Britain experience the hottest day for 40 years yesterday.

Temperatures soared above 34C as the UK saw its hottest June day since 1976, the Met Office confirmed.

Heathrow in west London had recorded temperatures of 94.1F (34.5C) by 4pm, the highest for June since the 35.6C (96F) recorded in Southampton on June 28 1976.

Sweltering temperatures inside Croydon Crown Court forced Judge Deborah Charles to allow counsel to leave their heavy black gowns and horse-hair wigs to one side as they addressed a jury in the opening of a case.

Andover Church of England Primary School, Hants, closed its doors at 11.30am yesterday morning because of the increased heat.

Wednesday saw the hottest summer solstice on record as temperatures rose above 86F (30C) for the fifth consecutive day in a row.

A lady sunbathes as they enjoy the hot weather on the beach in Brighton, East Sussex
A lady sunbathes as they enjoy the hot weather on the beach in Brighton, East SussexCREDIT: GARETH FULLER PA 

But the hottest prolonged spell in June since the drought summer of 1976 is set to come to an end, as a cold front swept across the UK overnightt

There are also weather warnings in place for Wednesday afternoon and evening, with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast for parts of southern Scotland, northern England, north Wales and the Midlands.

The Met Office warned of the potential for torrential downpours, frequent lightning, very large hailstones and strong gusts of wind, which could lead to localised flooding and temporary disruption of power supplies.

Chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: “The high pressure that has dominated our weather of late is starting to move away, allowing fresher air in from the west.

“A cold front that will pass through the UK will mark an end to the hot spell of weather in the south and bring cloudier skies and lower temperatures.”

 Large crowds of sun seekers pack Brighton beach to cool off on scorching day
 Large crowds of sun seekers pack Brighton beach to cool off on scorching day CREDIT: BARCROFT MEDIA

The sweltering temperatures have seen “unprecedented demand” for ambulance services in London, with people fainting, collapsing and becoming unconscious in the heat.

Patients calling for non-emergencies are likely to wait four hours for an ambulance, London Ambulance Service warned.

On Monday, London Ambulance Service call handlers answered 6,613 emergency calls, compared with 4,695 the week before – a 41 per cent increase – and the service warned this was expected to continue while the heatwave lasted.

Peter McKenna, deputy director of operations, said: “Our crews are extremely busy.

“On Monday we attended 20 per cent more seriously ill and injured patients than the same day last week and we’ve also been involved in a number of high-profile major incidents.”

Medical director Dr Fenella Wrigley said: “We see an increase in calls because people can forget to stay hydrated and the heat can exacerbate heart and breathing conditions.

“We are getting calls from people who do not need an ambulance – for minor sunburn, heat rash, hayfever.

“These can be dealt with by a pharmacist. If you call us for something minor, you may experience a long wait.”

Youngsters were urged not to go swimming in lakes, rivers and reservoirs during the hot weather, following the deaths of two teenagers in separate incidents.

A 16-year-old boy died at a reservoir in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on Monday, while a 15-year-old boy died after going into a lake with friends in the Pelsall area of the Black Country, in the West Midlands, on Tuesday evening.

West Midlands Fire Service’s area commander Ben Brook, said: “We absolutely understand the temptation to swim, have fun and cool down during the heatwave, but we are asking people not to.

“It simply isn’t worth the risk nor the heartbreak for all involved when things go wrong.”

A pensioner also drowned off the Sussex coast on Monday.

Thousands of sun-worshippers witnessed a spectacular dawn as they gathered at Stonehenge for the summer solstice.

Approximately 13,000 people descended on the neolithic monument in Wiltshire to watch the sun rise at 4.52am – up from 12,000 last year.

Source:  “UK weather:  barristers remove wigs and gowns as Britain sizzles in hottest June day since 1976”, The Telegraph, 21 June 2017

On Pearl Harbor visit, Abe pledges Japan will never wage war again

World

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, commemorating the victims of Japan’s World War Two attack and promising that his country would never wage war again.

The visit, just weeks before Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office, was meant to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance amid concerns that Trump could forge a more complicated relationship with Tokyo.

“I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place,” Abe said.

“We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken.”

Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor with torpedo planes, bombers and fighter planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, pounding the U.S. fleet moored there in the hope of destroying U.S. power in the Pacific.

Abe did not apologise for the attack, a step that would have irked his conservative supporters, many of whom say U.S. economic sanctions forced Japan to open hostilities.

“This visit to Pearl Harbor was to console the souls of the war dead, not to apologise,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo, adding the trip had showed that the allies would contribute to world peace and prosperity.

Obama, who earlier this year became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, called Abe’s visit a “historic gesture” that was “a reminder that even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and a lasting peace.”

Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, although three others including his grandfather had made quiet stops in Pearl Harbor in the 1950s.

The two leaders stood solemnly in front of a wall inscribed with the names of those who died in the 1941 attack and took part in a brief wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a moment of silence.


“In Remembrance, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan” was written on one wreath and “In Remembrance, Barack Obama, President of the United States” on the other.

They then threw flower petals into the water.

After their remarks, both leaders greeted and Abe embraced U.S. veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.

In China, which has repeatedly urged Japan to show greater repentance for World War Two and Japan’s invasion of China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said real reflection was needed, not show.

“Reconciliation between inflictor and victim must and can only be established on the basis of sincere and deep reflection by the inflictor,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

DISPLAY OF ALLIANCE STRENGTH

Japan hopes to present a strong alliance with the United States amid concerns about China’s expanding military capability.

During a meeting ahead of the Pearl Harbor visit, Abe and Obama agreed to closely monitor moves by China’s aircraft carrier, recently spotted on a routine drill in the Western Pacific for the first time, and to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

The leaders’ get-together was also meant to reinforce the U.S.-Japan partnership ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, whose opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and campaign threat to force allied countries to pay more to host U.S. forces raised concerns among allies such as Japan.

Source:  “On Pearl Habor visit, Abe pledges Japan will never wage war again”, Reuters, 28 December 2016

Abe, other dignitaries attend groundbreaking ceremony for Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium

The Japan Times

Abe, other dignitaries attend groundbreaking ceremony for Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium

KYODO, AP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is confident that the new National Stadium will provide an iconic stage for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, he said at the groundbreaking ceremony Sunday.

The main construction work on the stadium in Shinjuku Ward began Dec. 1, about 14 months later than planned, after the original design plans by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid were discarded following a public outcry over bloated cost estimates.

“When we scrapped the original plan last July, I vowed to make the new venue one that will be celebrated by the people and the athletes, a place that can generate dreams and inspiration,” Abe said.

“The new image of the stadium will realize ‘an athlete first’ policy with the best universal design in the world and some Japanese flavor,” he said. “I am very confident that this can be the stronghold of sports and culture for the new era.”

The government settled last December on a design by architect Kengo Kuma, also present at the ceremony, who collaborated with construction company Taisei Corp. and building planner Azusa Sekkei Co.

The stadium operator, the Japan Sport Council, agreed on a contract worth about ¥149 billion this October with a joint venture including Taisei. Kuma the same month revealed Japanese-style interior design schemes.

“The 2020 Games will be the first time the IOC’s Agenda 2020 will be put into practice. The program emphasizes the legacy of the games and environmental sustainability. I’m sure the new National Stadium will be a symbol for that,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at the ceremony. “I hope the new National Stadium will be a multifunctional legacy after the games … and one that will be loved by people for a long time to come.”

The ceremony ended with a video replete with computer graphics showing how the stadium is expected to look like and function when it is completed in November 2019.

Koike took office in July pledging to host a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly 2020 Olympics.

She has lambasted organizers for failing to keep costs under control.

Fans of the old stadium, built in the late 1950s, lobbied to keep and renovate it. But in the end the government opted to replace it with a more modern facility.

Kuma chose a wooden lattice design that echoes traditional styles seen in Japanese shrines and pagodas. It is intended to blend in with surrounding parkland and will be structured to minimize costs for heating and cooling.

The structure will use Japanese-grown larch in its wood and steel composite roof and prefabricated panels to help speed the work along and contain costs.

Source:  “Abe, other dignitaries attend groundbreaking ceremony for Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium”, The Japan Times, 11 December 2016