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 

Japanese thwart Canadian parents’ struggle to access abducted children

Japanese thwart Canadian parents’ struggle to access abducted children

Tim TerstegeTim Terstege holds his son Liefie at a lawyer’s office in Yokohama, Japan, in February 2015, the last time they were together. (HO/The Canadian Press)

 

Colin Perkel , The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, October 2, 2016 12:09PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 4, 2016 9:01AM PDT

TORONTO — A Canadian father is hoping a mountain hike will help ease his distress and draw attention to the insurmountable roadblocks countless parents like him face in trying to access their children in Japan after their marriages fall apart.

Tim Terstege is planning to climb Mount Fuji on Oct. 13, the day four years ago his wife disappeared with his then-four-year-old son.

“That’s kind of a dark time for me; it’s a positive way of just dealing with it,” Terstege said in an interview from Himeji, Japan.

“When you go through this type of situation, you have to deal with a lot of pain. It’s just really hard. Climbing Mount Fuji is for me just a way of breaking out of the sorrow.”

Terstege, 42, formerly of Barrie, Ont., officially has 24 hours a year access to his son, Liefie, a dual Canadian-Japanese citizen. But he doesn’t know exactly where his wife or child are and the courts have not been of help. It’s the Japanese way, he said.

“Whoever abducts the child first is going to get custody,” he said.

The Canadian father is far from alone in trying to navigate a seemingly impenetrable and hostile Japanese system sometimes described as a black hole for children. Figures indicate dozens of Canadians — mostly fathers — are among thousands of foreigners faced with the gut-wrenching loss of their children in Japan. Some parents are reported to have killed themselves in despair. Others have ended up in jail after trying to snatch back their children.

The Japanese embassy in Ottawa said it was “unable to express (its) viewpoints” and referred questions to the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, which had no immediate comment. Global Affairs Canada, which said it was currently dealing with 25 cases, offered only general observations about consular assistance.

However, in a letter to Terstege this past week, a senior official said the issue was important to the Canadian government, and embassy officials in Japan had, among other things, discussed his case with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We recognize the need to continue to raise the issue of parental child abduction cases with Japanese authorities,” the letter states.

In a briefing note last year, one Canadian consular official noted the “reality of the Japanese system” but said Canada was not pressing Tokyo for change, as former prime minister Stephen Harper did years ago.

In 2014, Japan finally signed on to the Hague Convention, which aims to provide legal recourse against international child abductions. However, enforcement is woefully inadequate and a parent can frustrate court orders to return a child simply by refusing to comply, experts say.

“While the process of implementing the Hague Convention has brought some clarity to the theory and practice of enforcing returns, without sanctions for contempt — which Japanese judges lack in these cases — or other police-like powers to back them up, court orders can end up being meaningless pieces of paper,” Colin Jones, a lawyer from Calgary, wrote in a recent article in The Japan Times.

Visitation restrictions, draconian by Canadian standards, can leave parents feeling like they have been treated like criminals, Jones said.

Kris Morness, of Vancouver, considers himself lucky in that he is usually able to Skype weekly with his son, Max, 5, believed to be in Tokyo.

Despite obtaining full custody and an American arrest warrant for his wife, who abducted Max three years ago from Seattle, Wash., where they were living, Morness said there’s little point in trying to litigate in Japan.

“It’s really traumatizing when you lose a child like this,” Morness, 43, said. “All I can do is wait. It is the worst bureaucratic nightmare I’ve ever experienced.”

In an effort to effect change, Bruce Gherbetti co-founded the activist organization Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion after his own experience. In 2009, his wife accused him of domestic abuse and, while he was in pretrial custody in Vancouver, she took their three girls now aged 9, 11, and 13 and left for Japan.

Among other things, Kizuna aims to educate the Japanese about the potential harm to children deprived of access to one parent.

“Your child is akin to a table or an automobile (in Japan),” Gherbetti said from Australia where he now lives. “If someone takes one of those from you, you have a better chance of obtaining its possession again than you do a child.”

Terstege said he’s given up on the Japanese court system. Even though he and his wife are still married, it’s highly unlikely he could ever regain custody, so his goal is to try to see his son for the 24 hours a year in the presence of a third party organization as per court order.

“I’m not going to give up,” Terstege said. “Climbing Mount Fuji is just another thing for me for motivation.”

Source:  “Japanese thwart Canadian parents’ struggle to access abducted children”, CTV News, Canada

It is also well worth visiting the website set up for Liefie by his father, Tim.

Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU

BBC

Results in full

EU Referendum results, counting complete

Leave

Vote share

51.9%
Votes 17,410,742 Votes
Remain

Vote share

48.1%
Votes 16,141,241 Votes
0 results left to declare

 

Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU

  • 1 minute ago
  • From the section EU Referendum

Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Mr Cameron made the announcement in a statement outside Downing Street after the final result was announced.

He said he would attempt to “steady the ship” over the coming weeks and months but that “fresh leadership” was needed.

The PM had urged the country to vote Remain, warning of economic and security consequences of an exit, but the UK voted to Leave by 52% to 48%.

England and Wales voted strongly for Brexit, while London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK’s “independence day” but the Remain camp called it a “catastrophe”.

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results.

Flanked by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term and to then hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative conference in October.

It would be for the new prime minister to carry out negotiations with the EU and invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal, he said.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,” said Mr Cameron. “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”

The referendum turnout was 71.8% – with more than 30 million people voting – the highest turnout at a UK-wide vote since 1992.

Labour’s Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Bank of England may have to intervene to shore up the pound, which lost 3% within moments of the first result showing a strong result for Leave in Sunderland and fell as much as 6.5% against the euro.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage – who has campaigned for the past 20 years for Britain to leave the EU – told cheering supporters “this will be a victory for ordinary people, for decent people”.

Mr Farage – who predicted a Remain win at the start of the night after polls suggested that would happen – said it would “go down in history as our independence day”.

He called on Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum but campaigned passionately for a Remain vote, to quit “immediately”.

Maps

Area-by-area in maps: See how people voted

Labour sources also said David Cameron “should seriously consider his position”.

But pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter to Mr Cameron urging him to stay on whatever the result.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who called for the UK to remain in the EU but was accused of a lukewarm campaign, said poorer communities were “fed up” with cuts and felt “marginalised by successive governments”.

“Clearly there are some very difficult days ahead,” he said, adding that “there will be job consequences as a result of this decision”.

He said the point he had made during the campaign was that “there were good things” about the EU but also “other things that had not been addressed properly”.

Former Labour Europe Minister Keith Vaz told the BBC the British people had voted with their “emotions” and rejected the advice of experts who had warned about the economic impact of leaving the EU.

He said the EU should call an emergency summit to deal with the aftermath of the vote, which he described as “catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and for the rest of the world”.

Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier described the referendum result as as “a sad day for Europe and Great Britain”.

But Leave supporting Tory MP Liam Fox said voters had shown great “courage” by deciding to “change the course of history” for the UK and, he hoped, the rest of Europe.

And he called for a “period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are,” insisting that Mr Cameron must stay on as PM.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the EU vote “makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union” after all 32 local authority areas returned majorities for Remain.


Analysis by Prof John Curtice

Remain campaignersImage copyright PA

London has voted to stay in the EU by around 60% to 40%.

However, no other region of England has voted in favour of remaining.

The referendum has underlined the social and cultural gap between London and provincial England.

Remain’s defeat seems to have been primarily the product of the decisions made by voters living north of the M4.

Throughout the Midlands and the North of England the level of support for Remain was well below what was required for it to win at least 50% of the vote across the UK as a whole.


Britain is set to be the first country to leave the EU since its formation – but the Leave vote does not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc.

That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 – the date of the next scheduled general election.

Foreign exchange in TokyoImage copyright AP
Image caption Traders in Tokyo monitor exchange rates

The prime minister will have to decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal.

Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states.

Mr Cameron has previously said he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a Leave vote but Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU have said he should not rush into it.

But they also said they want to make immediate changes before the UK actually leaves the EU, such as curbing the power of EU judges and limiting the free movement of workers, potentially in breach the UK’s treaty obligations.

The government will also have to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU and fix trade deals with non-EU countries.

In Whitehall and Westminster, there will now begin the massive task of unstitching the UK from more than 40 years of EU law, deciding which directives and regulations to keep, amend or ditch.

The Leave campaign argued during a bitter four-month referendum campaign that the only way Britain could “take back control” of its own affairs would be to leave the EU.

Leave dismissed warnings from economists and international bodies about the economic impact of Brexit as “scaremongering” by a self-serving elite.

Source:  “Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU”, BBC News, 24 June 2016