Sunday, 23 September 2012
The publication schedule for Excalibur Books, for the rest of 2012, will be as follows;
"3/11: THE FALLOUT" - written by Patrick Fox. Non-fiction.
"SWORD, MIRROR, JEWEL: BOOK 1 - VOICE OF THE SWORD" - written by John Paul Catton. YA Urban Fantasy.
"DARK LANTERNS" - written by Zoe Drake. Short stories.
"THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO JAPANESE MYTHOLOGY" - written by John Paul Catton. Non-fiction.
Below is a sneak preview of an illustration by an artist known only as "Grasshopper", which will be modified for the front and back cover of "Voice of the Sword."
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
As Sep 11th 2012 has just passed, it's time to look again at the past and think of the future.
Following the March 11th triple disaster ...
15, 870 confirmed dead.
2, 814 missing, presumed dead. Most of those are individuals Miyagi prefecture.
800 police and coast guard officers still charged with the duty of searching the coastline for the bodies of the missing.
221 recovered bodies have still not been identified.
343,000 people are still homeless, and are living in 136,000 temporary homes, both specially constructed prefab buildings and private properties rented by the government.
161,000 people out of that 343,000 mentioned above have been made homeless because of the Fukushima meltdown. It will be decades before they can see their houses again. A sizeable number will never see their homes again, because they are moving away, with friends and relatives helping them find new homes in other parts of Japan.
There are signs of hope. The Japanese government has reaffirmed its commitment to end Japan's reliance on nuclear power, pledging a nuclear-free Japan by the 2030 (the nation will, however, continue to reprocess spent nuclear fuel). There is enhanced public awareness of what to do if an earthquake strikes Tokyo - or, if the scientists are correct, the Tokai region of Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures, which is predicted to be the next danger zone of seismic activity.
The nation remains, however, in a state of political deadlock. Next month will see the elections for the President of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, and all five candidates have identical manifestos and a drought of new ideas.
As I write, the Media is full of reports of anti-Japanese protests in China over the Senkaku islands. On a global scale, anti-American protests are sweeping the Middle East, protesting a badly-made amateur film put together by a Christian religious extremist and a con-man.
A stage magician relies on misdirection. The audience gazes in passive fascination at the conjuror's fingers, lulled into a trance by his stagecraft, and react in predicable amazement while the real action goes on elsewhere. This is how the Spectacle works. Do not look at the man behind the curtain! The vast majority of TV-watching human beings have no idea they are being played.
If you, like me, are revolted by this state of affairs and want to do something about it, then here's a book you might be interested in.
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Today's Japan Times has a report on the fishery industries of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, which are fighting to return to solvency after last year's 3/11 devastation. The problems have included a highly damaged infrastructure - ship crews killed, boats swept inland and destroyed, ports wiped out - and "rumor damage", consumers staying away from local fish because of fears of radioactive contamination. The fisheries have been trying new shipping routes, new species of fish, and attracting young people to a formerly inward-looking, conservative industry. Whatever happens in the future, the areas will not be anything similar to what they were before 3/11.
Problems also lurk at ground zero - the site of the former Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The pool of spent nuclear fuel inside Reactor # 4 remains highly unstable, and the possibility of a fire breaking out remains high. Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer and former CEO in the American nuclear power industry, visited Japan last week and described the site as a "sleeping dragon".
The Government, of course, remains absolutely clueless. It's going through with a 2 BILLION YEN deal (that's 25 MILLION USD) to settle a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands. These uninhabited rocks, in the East China Sea, have little flora or fauna and no (known) natural resources. They serve no purpose apart from serving as a pissing contest between Japan and China. Just think of how those fishery industries above could benefit from $25m. Just think of how those residents living in temporary houses up north could benefit from 25m.
Public anger at government corruption and incompetence continues to rise and Toru Hashimoto (see previous post) is getting more and more aggressive about presenting himself as a reasonable alternative. Today, he announced that he was renaming his political party, changing it from the Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka Restoration Party) to Nihon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) - thus making his intentions clear.
New future or no future? Freedom or fascism? The ballot or a bullet? It's your choice. It has always been your choice.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Yesterday, September 1st, was "Earthquake Day" in Japan. This was the 89th anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that destroyed the Tokyo metropolis, and this is the day when schools, Universities, government offices and private companies hold emergency drills and practice first aid. 387,000 people in total turned out to wear hard hats and take part in triage simulations.
Yesterday was also the day (and surely this is no coincidence) that the Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, and his party the Osaka Ishin no Kai (The One Osaka Movement) released their national manifesto, dubbed the "Eight Point Restoration" (witness their flair for dramatic titles).
This charismatic young(ish) politician has the public behind him at the moment, with his outraged speeches against political corruption and the entrenched, conservative bureaucracy. He has made calls for change, such as an end to the ban of internet campaigning that leads to politicians polluting the neighborhoods with their "sound trucks" at election time.
There is a dark side to Hashimoto, however. He has made controversial remarks about "benevolent dictatorships", "government employees having no rights", and - most disturbingly - has joined in the revisionists' attempts to whitewash the atrocities committed by the Japanese nation during World War II.
So; Hashimoto. A name to remember. Does he represent the road to Freedom - or Fascism?