Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Whistleblower Snowden warns of looming mass surveillance in Japan

June 2, 2017

National

Today 06:53 am JST 20 Comments
moscow
Edward Snowden, who exposed extensive U.S. surveillance programs in 2013, warned this week that Japan may be moving closer to sweeping surveillance of ordinary citizens as the government eyes a legal change to enhance police powers in the name of counterterrorism.

“This is the beginning of a new wave of mass surveillance in Japan,” the 33-year-old American said in an exclusive interview with Kyodo News while in exile in Russia, referring to a so-called anti-conspiracy bill that has stirred controversy in and outside Japan as having the potential to undermine civil liberties.

The consequences could be even graver when combined with the use of a wide-reaching online data collection tool called XKEYSCORE, the former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency said. He also gave credence to the authenticity of new NSA papers exposed through The Intercept, a U.S. online media outlet, earlier this year that showed the agency’s surveillance tool has already been shared with Japan.

The remarks by the intelligence expert are the latest warning over the Japanese government’s push to pass the controversial bill through parliament, which criminalizes the planning and preparatory actions of 277 serious crimes.

In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in mid-May, a U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy stated that the bill could lead to undue restrictions of privacy and freedom of expression due to its potentially broad application — a claim the Japanese government has strongly protested against.

Snowden said he agrees with the U.N.-appointed expert Joseph Cannataci, arguing the bill is “not well explained” and raises concerns that the government may have intentions other than its stated goal of cracking down on terrorism and organized crimes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The anti-conspiracy law proposed by the government “focuses on terrorism and everything else that’s not related to terrorism — things like taking plants from the forestry reserve,” he said. “And the only real understandable answer (to the government’s desire to pass the bill)…is that this is a bill that authorizes the use of surveillance in new ways because now everyone can be a criminal.”

Based on his experience of using XKEYSCORE himself, Snowden said authorities could become able to intercept everyone’s communications, including people organizing political movements or protests, and put them “in a bucket.”

The records would be simply “pulled out of the bucket” whenever necessary and the public would not be able to know whether such activities are done legally or secretly by the government because there are no sufficient legal safeguards in the bill, Snowden said.

Snowden finds the current situation in Japan reminiscent of what he went through in the United States following the terror attacks on Sept 11, 2001.

In passing the Patriot Act, which strengthened the U.S. government’s investigative powers in the wake of the attacks, the government said similar things to what the Japanese government is saying now, such as “these powers are not going to be targeted against ordinary citizens” and “we’re only interested in finding al-Qaida and terrorists,” according to Snowden.

But within a few short years of the enactment of the Patriot Act, the U.S. government was using the law secretly to “collect the phone records of everyone in the United States, and everyone around the world who they could access” through the largest phone companies in the United States, Snowden said, referring to the revelations made in 2013 through top-secret documents he leaked.

Even though it sacrifices civil liberties, mass surveillance is not effective, Snowden said. The U.S. government’s privacy watchdog concluded in its report in 2014 that the NSA’s massive telephone records program showed “minimal value” in safeguarding the nation from terrorism and that it must be ended.

On Japan’s anti-conspiracy bill, Snowden said it should include strong guarantees of human rights and privacy and ensure that those guarantees are “not enforced through the words of politicians but through the actions of courts.”

“This means in advance of surveillance, in all cases the government should seek an individualized warrant, and individualized authorization that this surveillance is lawful and appropriate in relationship to the threat that’s presented by the police,” he said.

He also said allowing a government to get into the habit of collecting the communications of everyone through powerful surveillance tools could dangerously change the power relationship between the public and government to something closer to “subject and ruler” instead of partners, which is how it should be in a democracy.

Arguably, people in Japan may not make much of what Snowden sees as the rise of new untargeted and indiscriminate mass surveillance, thinking that they have nothing to hide or fear.

But he insists that privacy is not about something to “hide” but about “protecting” an open and free society where people can be different and can have their own ideas.

Freedom of speech would not mean much if people do not have the space to figure out what they want to say, or share their views with others they trust, to develop them before introducing them into the context of the world, he said.

“When you say ‘I don’t care about privacy, because I’ve nothing to hide,’ that’s no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech, because you’ve nothing to say,” he added.

Snowden, who was dressed in a black suit, said toward the end of his more than 100-minute interview at a hotel in Moscow that living in exile is not “a lifestyle that anyone chooses voluntarily.” He hopes to return home while continuing active exchanges online with people in various countries.

“The beautiful thing about today is that I can be in every corner of the world every night. I speak at U.S. universities every month. It’s important to understand that I don’t really live in Moscow. I live on the internet,” he said.

Snowden showed no regrets over taking the risk of becoming a whistleblower and being painted by his home country as a “criminal” or “traitor,” facing espionage charges at home for his historic document leak.

“It’s scary as hell, but it’s worth it. Because if we don’t do it, if we see the truth of crimes or corruption in government, and we don’t say something about it, we’re not just making the world worse for our children, we’re making the world worse for us, and we’re making ourselves worse,” he said.

© KYODO

Japan joins military exercises with U.S., UK and France off Guam

May 14, 2017

National

Today 06:53 am JST 10 Comments
guam
Japanese troops on Saturday took part in amphibious military exercises on the U.S. Pacific island of Guam.

The weeklong drills involve U.S., British, French and Japanese troops. They are intended to show support for the free passage of vessels in international waters amid concerns China may restrict access to the South China Sea.

U.S. 3rd Marine Division spokesman 1st Lt Joshua Hays said Japanese soldiers practiced rubber craft raids.

The drills are being held around Guam and Tinian islands, U.S. islands that are about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) south of Tokyo and east of Manila, Philippines.

The exercises feature two French ships currently on a four-month deployment to the Indian and Pacific oceans. Some 50 Japanese soldiers and 160 Japanese sailors are participating, along with UK helicopters and 70 UK troops deployed with one of the French ships.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Japan’s gov’t debt swells to record Y1,071 tril as of March 31

May 11, 2017

Today 06:51 am JST 28 Comments
tokyo
Japan’s central government debt stood at a record 1,071.56 trillion yen ($9.4 trillion) at the end of fiscal 2016 in March, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

The amount owed per person came to approximately 8.45 million yen, based on Japan’s estimated population of 126.79 million as of April 1.

The central government’s debt rose 22.19 trillion yen from fiscal 2015, reflecting increased spending on social security due to the graying Japanese society.

According to the ministry, the debt as of March 31 consisted of 934.90 trillion yen in government bonds, 54.42 trillion yen in borrowing from financial institutions, and 82.24 trillion yen in financing bills or short-term government notes of up to one year.

© KYODO

Amnesty slams Japan over secrecy law, refugee policy in annual report

February 24, 2016

LONDON —

Japan has displayed an “intolerance of public criticism” with the introduction of a contentious new secrecy law, Amnesty International said Wednesday in its annual report for 2015.

The London-based rights group said the law on official secrets, which came into effect in December 2014, could “excessively restrict” the right to access information held by the authorities.

Critics of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets claim public authorities could withhold information without giving a clear justification, says the report.

Amnesty also raises concern about the lack of oversight of the new law and the threat to journalists trying to report on issues which are genuinely in the public interest. Jail terms for those leaking designated secrets could be up to 10 years.

Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, said Japan is showing “growing intolerance toward criticism and dissent.”

Elsewhere, the group said concerns continue to be raised at the fact that only 11 people out of more than 5,000 applicants in 2014 were granted refugee status in Japan.

The assessment also noted the ruling coalition’s opposition to implementing legislation prohibiting racial discrimination despite a recommendation from the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Regarding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Amnesty says he “expressed grief, but only referred to apologies made by former heads of government.”

On Japan taking responsibility for forcing Korean women into Japanese military brothels during the war, Amnesty comments that the deal between Seoul and Tokyo in December to end the dispute over the issue was criticized for failing to take into account the views and needs of the victims.

On a more positive note, the global campaigning organization welcomed moves by Shibuya Ward in Tokyo to acknowledge same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage. Registered same-sex partners will be offered non-legally binding certification, and have visitation rights in hospitals and the ability to co-sign tenancy agreements.

Turning to global issues, Amnesty voiced concern that many governments have “brazenly broken” international law and are “deliberately” undermining institutions meant to protect people’s rights.

The group is warning of an “insidious and creeping trend” to undermine human rights coming from governments “deliberately attacking, underfunding or neglecting institutions that have been set up to help protect our rights.”

Amnesty claims that in 2015 more than 98 states tortured or otherwise ill-treated people, and 30 or more illegally forced refugees to return to countries where they would be in danger.

In at least 18 countries, war crimes or other violations of the “laws of war” were committed by governments or armed groups.

The report criticizes the United Nations for a “systemic failure” over its handling of the civil war in Syria which has led to “catastrophic human consequences.”

© KYODO

7 decades after WWII, many praise Germany, scorn Japan

August 13, 2015

7 decades after WWII, many praise Germany, scorn JapanSouth Korean visitors walk by a statue of South Korean patriot Ahn Jung-geun, who shot down Japan’s former top official in Korea, Ito Hirobumi, in 1909, the year before occupying Tokyo formally annexed the Korean Peninsula, at Ahn Jung-geun memorial hall in Seoul, South Korea.AP Photo/Julie Yoon

SEOUL —

Both nations brutalized continents. Both slaughtered and abused tens of millions of people. But while Germany is held up as a paragon of post-World War II reconciliation, Japan is mired in animosity with its neighbors seven decades later.

In many ways, the stunning economic and political resurrections of both countries since the war ended 70 years ago Sunday have been a windfall for their respective regions. Both have largely been generous in aid, both, for the most part, sterling examples of liberal democracies.

But talk to Europeans and Northeast Asians about Germany and Japan and you’ll often find stark differences in perception.

Some of this is linked to the Soviet threat during the Cold War, which forced Europe to work closely with powerful West Germany. No such unifying force emerged in ultracompetitive Northeast Asia.

A kneeling former West German chancellor is a European icon of reconciliation, but China and the two Koreas see Japan as having continually gotten a free pass.

Protected by U.S. forces interested in establishing a regional military bulkhead, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, the public face of the troops who ravaged Asia, was never held accountable. Nor were many suspected war criminals, including the grandfather of current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. There’s also criticism that frequent whitewashing of history by senior Japanese leaders, including Abe, nullifies Tokyo’s repeated attempts to display remorse.

The perceived injustice of history still rankles, and leaders in Seoul and Beijing use the resulting nationalism to cement domestic support and pursue territorial goals.

Here’s a country-by-country look at the very different ways Japan and Germany are viewed in parts of Asia and Europe today:

___

SOUTH KOREA

Perhaps the crystallization of abysmal Japan-South Korea ties can be found in the widespread veneration of Ahn Jung-geun, who shot down Japan’s former top official in Korea, Ito Hirobumi, in 1909, the year before occupying Tokyo formally annexed the Korean Peninsula.

A young, mustachioed Ahn, cradling a hand disfigured when he sliced off part of a finger as an expression of patriotism, can be seen on banners and posters throughout Seoul. A musical about Ahn’s life, called “Hero,” has been staged every year since 2009. A sleek museum tells Ahn’s life story, culminating with a lifelike diorama that shows Ahn aiming his pistol at a mortally wounded Ito.

Throughout South Korea, there is what Robert Kelly, a professor at Pusan National University, calls an “extraordinary, and negative, fixation with Japan.”

People in both countries admire the other’s culture and recognize shared security concerns, especially about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

But the Japanese colonization — which was followed by division in 1945 by the Soviets and the Americans and the 1950-53 Korean War that technically continues today — still rankles because “Japan was essentially trying to eliminate Korean-ness,” said John Delury, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University.

“Japan will never be another Germany,” said Doowon Heo, a 36-year-old teacher from Siheung, South Korea, referring to the postwar German reconciliation efforts. “The number of people who have personally experienced the colonial era will continue to decline, but Japan continues to refresh our memory about what it was like then.”

___

POLAND

Poland, where the European war started when Germany invaded on Sept 1, 1939, is the site of one of the most powerful and unexpected gestures of German remorse.

A monument in the former Warsaw Ghetto marks the day Willy Brandt, the former West German chancellor, fell to his knees there in 1970.

Brandt received the Nobel Peace Prize the next year, with officials citing his kneeling at the Jewish site in Warsaw as an example of his work “to bury hatred and seek reconciliation across the mass graves of the war.”

Such efforts by Germany have been a consistent feature of its policies toward Poland, which suffered 6 million deaths during the war, half of them Jewish.

Since the fall of communism in Europe, Germany has strongly backed Poland’s efforts to join both the European Union and NATO, steps that have helped bring unprecedented prosperity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s backing was seen as critical in the election last year of former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to head the European Council in Brussels, the first time a Pole has won a top leadership position within the European Union.

Trade flows across the neighbors’ borders, students take part in exchange programs, and most young Poles and Germans have largely overcome past grievances.

Some older Poles, however, have mixed feelings.

“Once, in a restaurant in Bonn, the owner, who was in his late 30s, came up to a group of me and other Poles and said, ‘I am so sorry we did such horrible things, please forgive us,’” said Pawel Kuczynski, a 60-year-old documentary filmmaker. “But I only experienced this once. Mostly in my dealings with Germans, I get the feeling that they still look down upon us.”

___

CHINA

On a recent overcast day, a smattering of Chinese tourists walked across the Marco Polo bridge in southwestern Beijing, which some see as the site of the first true battle of World War II.

Japan’s Imperial Army occupied Manchuria in the early 1930s, but on July 7, 1937, after a Japanese soldier went missing in the area, thousands of troops on both sides marched in the region. Fighting and atrocities soon followed, including the rape of Nanjing by the Japanese.

China keeps the memory of Japanese subjugation and brutality raw through its education system and popular culture. Television shows regularly depict virtuous Chinese soldiers outsmarting villainous Japanese.

Anti-Japanese sentiment is also easily channeled into support for China’s assertive claims to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

“There is always going to be a certain amount of loathing for the Japanese,” said Cao Yongzheng, a 62-year-old office manager from Jiangsu province in eastern China. “We’ll buy their products, but we don’t like them. It’s important that young people come to these places to remember.”

___

THE NETHERLANDS

Despite their grim shared wartime history, Germany and the Netherlands are now strong allies in NATO and the European Union, and are tied closely together economically.

But memories of the just over 100,000 Jewish men, women and children rounded up by the Nazis in the Netherlands and sent to their deaths are kept alive in a small annex hidden by a bookcase in a canal-side house in Amsterdam.

This is where Anne Frank lived for more than two years starting in 1942, writing her now famous diary about life in hiding from the Nazis who occupied the Netherlands for much of the war.

For years, the home where Anne hid stood empty, run down and in danger of demolition. Eventually, a foundation took over and transformed it into a museum honoring Anne, who died in a concentration camp.

The museum is now visited by more than 1 million people each year.

___

INDONESIA

Japan occupied much of Southeast Asia during World War II, but its legacy is much different in China and the Koreas. Its 3 1/2-year occupation of Indonesia, at the time a Dutch colony, added momentum to a burgeoning independence movement.

One of the few reminders of Japan’s wartime presence in Indonesia is the former residence in Jakarta of Rear Adm. Maeda Tadashi, who helped draft Indonesia’s first independence proclamation. The building is now a museum dedicated to the history of independence.

The Japanese portrayed their occupation of Indonesia as the intervention of a benevolent older brother and were initially welcomed as liberators from the despised Dutch.

Japan, attempting to persuade Indonesians to join the war, gave them roles in government for the first time and steps toward self-administration.

Brutality increased in the twilight of the occupation, but resentment among Indonesians against Japan is rare today.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Costa Rican Legislative Assembly Nominates Jointly the People of Japan and Costa Rica for Nobel Peace Prize 2015 – Update on “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Save Japan’s Peace Constitution”

February 25, 2015

Petition update
Global Article 9 Campaign just posted an update on the petition you signed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Save Japan’s Peace Constitution.

Costa Rican Legislative Assembly Nominates Jointly the People of Japan and Costa Rica for Nobel Peace Prize 2015

Feb 24, 2015 — Following an unanimous vote of the Legislative Assembly, its president sent a formal letter to the Nobel Peace Committee, developing the rationale supporting the joint nomination…. Read more
Read more
The person (or organization) who started this petition is not affiliated with Change.org. Change.org did not create this petition and is not responsible for the petition content.

Contact us   ·   Privacy policy

© 2015 Change​.org · 548 Market St #29993 · San Francisco, CA 94104-5401 · USA

Japanese PM Stands Firm on Foreign Policy After ISIS Hostage Murder

January 26, 2015

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister. (photo: Itsuo Inouye/AP)
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister. (photo: Itsuo Inouye/AP)

ALSO SEE: Video Purports To Show Beheaded Japanese Hostage
ALSO SEE: How an ISIS Beheading Might Change Japan

By Julian Borger, Guardian UK

25 January 15

 

Shinzo Abe says Japan will continue to play active role abroad after ‘unforgivable’ killing of Haruna Yukawa by Islamic State

apan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has vowed his country will continue to play an active and constructive role abroad, undeterred by the execution of a Japanese security contractor by Islamic State extremists.

The apparent beheading of Haruna Yukawa has shocked Japan and intensified anxiety over the fate of another hostage, Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist. However, there is little consensus on how to respond.

Some have argued that the hostages acted irresponsibly, pointing to the fact that both travelled to Syria independently and at great risk. But there have also been murmurs of discontent directed at Abe and his advocacy of an assertive and outgoing foreign policy.

Isis had initially demanded $200m (£135m) for the release of Yukawa and Goto, linking the ransom to Japanese aid to support refugees in the region. Following Yukawa’s murder, Isis has dropped its ransom and demanded the release of a female jihadist held in a Jordanian jail for a 2005 attempted suicide bomb attack.

Abe said on Sunday that Japan would not be deflected from its foreign mission. “We will never give in to terrorism, and we will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the world together with the international community. We are not wavering at all on this policy,” the prime minister said.

Since his reelection in December, Abe has supported proposals to remove article 9 ofJapan’s constitution, adopted after the second world war and drafted by US occupation forces, which renounces the use of war or the threat of force to resolve international disputes and bans the maintenance of armed forces with “war potential”.

His government has already loosened the conditions in which Japan’s Self-Defence Forces can be used, to include the protection of close allies. But there is limited public support for such changes, and it is far from clear whether the impact of the hostage trauma will strengthen Abe’s hand or intensify calls for Japan to withdraw from its foreign policy commitments on the far side of the world.

Abe said the murder of Yukawa, 42, was “outrageous and unforgivable” and called for the release of 47-year-old Goto.

Japanese and US analysts have said they have no reason to doubt the authenticity of a video published online in which Goto, in shackles, holds a photograph that seems to show Yukawa’s body after his beheading.

In a audio message released with the photograph, a voice purporting to be Goto’s asks for the release of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, an Iraqi jihadist whose suicide belt failed to detonate during an attack on three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman, in 2005.

“They no longer want money,” the voice says in accented English. “You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately. Me for her. Don’t let these be my last words you ever hear. Don’t let Abe also kill me.”

______________________________

Comment: Abe’s abolishing the Peace Constitution, observed for 70 years but suddenly abolished by him without proper procedures at the diet, the court, and the people, to participate in wars in other countries by other countries (notably the U.S.) and his recent visit to the Middle East (notably Israel) made ISIS accusing him (and Japan) of participating in the Crusade against them, thus caused Japanese people as targets of terrorism anywhere any time (not before his belligerent and reckless actions in collaboration/pressure of the U.S./its Japan-handlers – bases, nukes, TPP, relations with China, Korea, etc.).

Republicans Expose Obama’s College Plan as Plot to Make People Smarter

January 10, 2015

Students rally for free college in New York City. (photo: PopularResistance.org)
Students rally for free college in New York City. (photo: PopularResistance.org)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

09 January 15

 

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”

resident Obama’s plan to offer Americans two years of college for free has come under fire from congressional Republicans, who are calling it a blatant plot to make Americans smarter.

The G.O.P., which has benefited from the support of so-called “low-information voters” in recent years, accused Obama of cynically trying to make people smarter as a way of chipping away at the Republican base.

“You take low-information voters and give them information, and pretty soon they’re Democrats,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said.

House Speaker John Boehner said that “forcing knowledge into people” was “flagrantly un-American,” adding, “We make this promise to the American people: if you like your brains, you can keep your brains.”

____________________

Comment: That’s why Germans, French, et al are smarter (with free university education) and Americans, Japanese are money mongers, economic animals,…

 

Market bears bet on Abe victory, then a yen disaster

December 12, 2014

Market bears bet on Abe victory, then a yen disasterA woman walks past election posters for Sunday’s election.Reuters photo

TOKYO —

An election sweep for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this weekend looks like a safe bet, but some are betting that the consequences for Japan could be calamitous – a collapse in the yen and uncontrolled inflation.

The continuation of “Abenomics,” a program of money printing and debt-funded spending to lift Japan from two decades of deflation and stagnation, is, they say, not just failing, but heading for disaster.

“The end game of this could be an inflationary depression,” said Arne Espe, vice president of mutual fund portfolios at USAA in San Antonio, Texas.

For Espe, it could nevertheless be a profitable end game.

While the yen tumbles, stocks would be boosted by the flood of cheap liquidity and their value as a hedge against inflation, so he has bought futures contracts on the Nikkei stock index while shorting yen futures in his $175 million USAA Flexible Income Fund.

A central goal of Abenomics has been to weaken the yen, which had been boosted by Japan’s trade surplus up until 2011 since the currency floated in 1973, but has made Japanese exporters increasingly uncompetitive.

The yen, now at 120 to the dollar, has already lost about a third of its value in the past two years under Abe.

Companies in Reuters surveys largely say the rising cost of imported materials is already outweighing the benefits to exporters, but Espe believes it could fall to between 200 and 300 to the dollar within the next few years, a further fall of 40 to 60%.

Abe and his supporters say his policies have created jobs, boosted asset prices and helped to bring Japan out of perennial deflation. But the economy contracted in three of the last four quarters, with little growth in exports and weak consumption, despite the stimulus, which includes the central bank buying assets worth more than 10% of the economy.

The danger, detractors say, is that Japan’s government has become so dependent on the central bank printing money that it has no choice but to continue.

The Bank of Japan is buying more government bonds than the government issues, helping drive down bond yields.

With public debt reaching 245% of GDP this year, even a small rise in bond yields could threaten government finances.

“If interest rates were allowed to rise, it would not be too long until interest-rate expenses consumed an unmanageable portion of your tax revenues,” said John Mauldin, chairman of Mauldin Economics, based in Dallas, Texas.

“Therefore, it is clear to me, at least, that the BOJ and the Ministry of Finance will not allow interest rates to rise,” said Mauldin, who also expects the yen to fall to 200.

Abe’s decision to delay a planned sales tax hike to 2017 makes it almost impossible to meet what had been the government’s fiscal target for 2020 – to balance its budget excluding expenses on debt.

That means Japan’s debt burden will keep growing at least until 2020, and the BOJ will have to keep buying bonds, said Takeshi Fujimaki, a trader turned opposition lawmaker.

“The BOJ has to keep printing, so the value of the yen should fall. And when that happens, inflation will spike. But the BOJ cannot stop inflation. It no longer has a brake,” he said.

Fujimaki, who came to fame in the late 1990s on his call that Japanese government bond yields would fall below 2%, said the yen has nowhere to go but down.

“When you have such a big load of debt, you have two choices – raising taxes sharply or creating inflation. The fact that Abe delayed a sales tax hike means he took the second route, creating inflation,” he said.

Signs of an increase in long-term bets against the yen are visible in the options market, where investors are buying yen puts, or the right to sell the yen at a pre-fixed “strike price”.

Mauldin said he bought yen puts at strike prices around 130 to 150 yen earlier this year. “I have structured a 10-year options trade that would pay for half my mortgage if the yen does indeed get to 200,” he said.

The appeal of such yen puts is visible in the price, which has surged since late October, when BOJ Gov Haruhiko Kuroda surprised markets with additional easing.

The relative price of five-year yen puts against dollar puts, called risk reversals spread, rose to the most expensive levels on record this month.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014.

Colossal volcanic eruption could destroy Japan: study

October 27, 2014

Colossal volcanic eruption could destroy Japan: studyJapan could be nearly destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption over the next century, putting almost all of the country’s 127 million-strong population at risk, according to a new studyAFP

TOKYO —

Japan could be nearly destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption over the next century, putting almost all of the country’s 127 million-strong population at risk, according to a new study.

“It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country,” Kobe University earth sciences professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and associate professor Keiko Suzuki said in a study publicly released last Wednesday.

The experts said they analyzed the scale and frequency of volcanic eruptions in the archipelago nation over the past 120,000 years and calculated that the odds of a devastating eruption at about one percent over the next 100 years.

The chance of a major earthquake striking the city of Kobe within 30 years was estimated at about one percent just a day before a 7.2-magnitude quake destroyed the Japanese port city in 1995, killing 6,400 people and injuring nearly 4,400 others, the study noted.

“Therefore, it would be no surprise if such a colossal eruption occurs at any moment,” it added.

The new research comes weeks after Mount Ontake erupted without warning—killing 57 people and leaving at least six others missing in the country’s deadliest volcanic eruption in almost 90 years.

The Kobe University researchers said their study was critical because Japan is home to about seven percent of the volcanoes that have erupted over the past 10,000 years.

A disaster on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, which has been struck by seven massive eruptions over the past 120,000 years, would see an area with seven million people buried by flows of lava and molten rock in just two hours, they said.

Volcanic ash would also be carried by westerly winds toward the main island of Honshu, making almost all of the country “unliveable” as it strangled infrastructure, including key transport systems, they said.

It would be “hopeless” trying to save about 120 million living in major cities and towns across Honshu, the study said.

This prediction was based on geological findings from the eruption of a gigantic crater, 23 kilometers across, in southern Kyushu about 28,000 years ago.

The study called for new technology to accurately grasp the state of “magma reservoirs” which are spread across the earth’s crust in layers a few kilometers deep.

© 2014 AFP