Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Hong Kong billionaires in hot water

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Big News Saturday 13th October, 2012

In Hong Kong, the billionaire Kwok brothers have been given an adjournment in their high profile corruption trial.

The tycoons, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, were arrested in march by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which had been given the go-ahead to deal with widespread corruption.

The adjournment came when the prosecution called for more time to gather evidence.

The Kwok’s run Sun Hung Kai Properties which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It is the world’s second-largest property developer by stock-market value.

The brothers are charged with a total of eight offences including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant.

A top government official, Rafael Hui, has also been charged along with two other people, Thomas Chan, an executive in charge of land acquisition at Sun Hung Kai, and Francis Kwan, a former banker.

It has been alleged payments and unsecured loans totalling around US$5 million were made.



“Black Dust” in Tokyo? With 243,000 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium

Freelance journalist Rei Shiva [Shiba] writing for Nikkan Spa, a daily tabloid in Japan (part; 5/15/2012):


It was this February when the super-radioactive and mysterious “black dust” found in Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture was in the news.


Although 1.08 million Bq/kg was shocking, it was considered to be specific only to Minami Soma. However, I’ve been told that “black dust” exists everywhere in Tokyo.

「放射線検知器を近づけてみると、明らかに反応があるので、汚染度が高いのかなとは思っていたのですが、まさ かここまでとは……」「黒い粉」を都内で発見した、市民団体「NO!放射能 江東こども守る会」の石川あや子代表は驚きを隠せない。「江戸川区のJR平井駅周辺で『黒い粉』らしきものを見つけ、採取したサンプルを神戸大学の山内知 也教授に検査してもらったところ、最大で1kgあたり24万3000Bqという数値が出たんです」。

“When I brought the radiation detector closer, it visibly responded. So I knew it might be highly contaminated, but didn’t know it was this contaminated…”, says Ayako Ishikawa incredulously. Ishikawa is the head of the citizens’ group “No! to Radiation, Protect Children in Koto”. [Koto-ku is one of the eastern Special Wards of Tokyo]. She says, “We found something that looked like “black dust” near the Hirai JR station in Edogawa-ku. We collected the sample and and asked Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University to measure the radiation. The result was that it had the maximum 243,000 Bq/kg [of radioactive cesium].”


It is 2,430 times the clearance level [100 Bq/kg] specified by the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law.

「注意して見ると、『黒い粉』は都内の至るところにあります」と石川さんは言う。そんなにあちこちに高汚染の物質が転がっているのだろうか? という疑問を抱えつつ、「黒い粉」の調査に本誌記者も同行した。

“If you look carefully, “black dusts” are everywhere in Tokyo”, says Ishikawa. Such highly contaminated materials are everywhere? I decided to accompany her to look for “black dusts”.


First, [to a location] about 10-minute walk from the JR Hirai Station. We found the “black dust” on the playground near the public housing. There were several drifts near the fence, and they looked like just “black soil”. When I took a closer look, they were revealed to be something like a dried moss or mold.

「この前来たときと微妙に場所が変わっていますね。風雨で移動したのかもしれません」と石川さん。ガイガーカ ウンターよりも信頼性の高い、国産のシンチレーション式放射線検知器を「黒い粉」に近づけてみた。すると数値が急上昇し、毎時2μSvを超えた。東京都の 平均的な空間線量(地上1m)の約20倍だ。山内教授は「一般的に携帯式の放射線検知器は周囲の放射線量の平均値を表示します。つまり、少量の物質に検知 器を向けて数値が急上昇するならば、その物質が極めて強い放射線を出している可能性があります」という。

Ishikawa said, “They are at slightly different locations. Rain and wind may have moved them.” We measured the radiation with the scintillation survey meter made by a domestic manufacturer because it is more reliable than a geiger counter. The number shot up quickly, and exceeded 2 microsieverts/hour. That is twenty times more than the average air radiation level (at 1 meter off the ground) in Tokyo. Professor Yamauchi says, “In general, a scintillation survey meter shows the average radiation level. If the number rises rapidly when the survey meter is directed toward a small amount of substance, it is possible that the substance is emitting extremely strong radiation.”

果たして、「黒い粉」の正体とは何なのか? そして、「黒い粉」の性質を利用した効率良い除染方法とは? 5月15日発売の週刊SPA!「首都圏を襲う[放射能の黒い粉]」では、「黒い粉」の元になる物質の怖さのみならず有用性もまた報じている。

What is this “black dust”? What is the efficient decontamination method using the unique properties of the “black dust”? Shukan Spa [weekly magazine] that will go on sale on May 15 has the article “Radioactive black dust striking the Tokyo Metropolitan area”, which will report on the danger of the substance that makes up the “black dust” as well as its usefulness.

I don’t see much point in comparing it to the clearance level of 100 Bq/kg which is applicable only to enclosed nuclear facilities. After the Fukushima nuclear accident, it’s a whole new ballgame where the disaster debris exceeding that clearance level is being shipped to Kyushu to be burned in a regular incinerator and the soil samples in Kanto and Tohoku easily exceed that level in many locations.

Even though I have reported on the “black dusts” in Minami Soma City (most recently, here), I am not completely convinced that this “black” substance is any different from a drift of dirt that one often saw on the road surface or near the drains even before the Fukushima nuclear accident. Cyanobacteria that supposedly make up the “black dust” are ubiquitous.

Professor Yukio Hayakawa of Gunma University says if the top 1 millimeter of the soil is taken the radioactivity can be extremely high, though he seems to think that “black dust” is a very good indicator of urban contamination.

No matter what it is or how it came about, it is clearly highly radioactive, and it’d better be removed to avoid contact. No municipalities are doing that, as they should.

Just don’t go multiply that number (243,000 Bq/kg) by 65 and exclaim “Look, Tokyo is more contaminated than Chernobyl exclusion zone!” The multiplier of 65 only applies to soil samples that are taken from the surface to 5 centimeters deep, and whose specific gravity is about 1.3g/cm3. If Tokyo’s “black dust” has the same weight as Minami Soma’s “black dust”, it would be less than 0.5g/cm3.


Categories: Asia, Environment, Top Stories

Quake near Japanese islands triggers tsunami warning

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 21, 2010 — Updated 1836 GMT (0236 HKT)
  • A Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected, center says
  • Japanese authorities have issued tsunami warnings for the Ogasawara Islands

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) — A magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Japan early Wednesday triggered a tsunami warning for a group of remote islands and an advisory for the southern region of the country, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which occurred 3:19 a.m., is about 95 miles (155 km) from Chichi-shima, Ogasawara Islands.

A tsunami is a series of destructive sea waves caused by an earthquake, and the warning required people in the islands to evacuate from the seashore immediately to safe places.

According to an initial observation by the Japanese agency, the tsunami height is estimated to be up to 2 meters.

The tsunami advisory stretched across the southern Japanese coast. The quake epicenter is 210 miles (335 km) from Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, and 650 (1,050 km) miles from Tokyo.

The Japan National Tourism Organization says the “Ogasawara Islands is the general term for 30 islands of various size scattered over the Pacific Ocean.” They are also known as the Bonin Islands.

Chichi-shima island, “the main island and the entrance to the area, is 1,000 kilometers south of downtown Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean, and it has a land area of about 24 square kilometers. Water-eroded high cliffs surround the island making the scenery even more magnificent, and the area is a popular spot for divers,” the organization said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected.

“No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data,” the Warning Center said.

“However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometers of the earthquake epicenter. Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action.”


Categories: Asia, Environment

How China looks after its homeless people

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Big News (IANS)     Thursday 16th December, 2010

As the cold wave sets in in China, authorities are reaching out to the homeless population and have launched fully-equipped facilities for them that include round-the-clock hot food, baths and entertainment.

Civil affairs bureaus in Shanghai and Guangzhou have said temporary shelters for the homeless people will be provided till spring. More than 1,300 shelters have been prepared in Guangzhou.

Hot food, bathing facilities and other services will be available at the shelters 24 hours a day. Each of them is also equipped with 40 to 50 beds. Entertainment activities will also be organised so that they do not feel lonely.

‘As the temperature continues to drop over coming days, more resources and materials will be provided to those left homeless over the winter,’ Ren Zhiyue, an official of the bureau’s social welfare division, was quoted as saying by China Daily.

The shelters in Shanghai, which are located in 21 social assistance centres, assist 30,000 people each year, according to the bureau.

Their services vary, depending upon people’s needs. A special education and protection centre will be available for the young, while the elderly and disabled can receive care assistance.

For those who refuse to go to shelters, local civil affairs departments will provide quilts, blankets, coats and other materials to help protect them from the cold, officials said.

Over the winter, an emergency rescue team will keep an eye out for the homeless, regularly patrolling at train stations, underpasses and bridges, as well as in culverts.

Social welfare homes, nursing homes and mental hospitals affiliated with the bureaus will receive more stockings, hats and heaters.

Non-government organisations and volunteers are being encouraged to help those in difficulty, while an emergency alert system will monitor the elderly who live alone.



Categories: Asia

U.S. aircraft carrier headed to Korea

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcom...

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcome South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his wife, K...

Top news: U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak have agreed to stage joint naval exercises as a first response to North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean military installation today. The exercises will include the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington.

The U.S. faces few attractive options in responding to North Korea‘s latest aggression. It’s clear from recent revelations of the progress North Korea’s nuclear program that sanctions have not been fully effective. But more aggressive responses, such as a naval quarantine, would require thousands of troops and could result in a new war with Seoul on the front lines.

North Korea has blamed the South for pushing the peninsula to the “brink of war” though satellite images show no major military buildup.


China has worlds highest number of diabetics: report

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The blue circle symbol used to represent diabetes.

The blue circle symbol used to represent diabetes.

China has the highest number of diabetics in the world with 92.4 million with the condition, but 61 percent of them do not know they have the disease, state media reported Monday.

“A combination of poor public awareness and limited access to early detection services are largely responsible for the low diagnostic rate on the mainland,” Ji Linong, head of the Chinese Diabetes Society, was quoted saying. A total of 13 percent of China’s total medical spending, around 25 billion dollars, is diabetes-related, the China Daily report said, citing a study by the Chinese Diabetics Society and the International Diabetes Federation.

“The cost of treating diabetes will rise rapidly in the next 10 to 20 years, as patients who have gone undiagnosed develop serious complications whose treatment will definitely cost more,” Ji said. The 61 percent of undiagnosed diabetics face higher risks of suffering eyesight or kidney problems and risk having strokes, the report said.

China’s economic growth has led to increased health problems linked to the richer diets and more sedentary lifestyles of an emerging middle class. Since China’s economic boom went into high gear in the 1980s, millions of people have left the countryside for jobs in cities — ditching bicycles for cars and embracing aspects of Western living such as fast food.

There are more than 60 million obese people in the country of 1.3 billion, and another 200 million who are overweight, according to figures from China’s health ministry.

Categories: Asia, Health

ASEAN countries come back from economic crisis

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Wednesday 10th November, 2010


Big News     Wednesday 10th November, 2010


The OECD has confirmed the six major ASEAN countries have rebounded from the global economic crisis.

The OECD has confirmed the six major ASEAN countries have rebounded from the global economic crisis.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said in its 2010 Southeast Asian Economic Outlook that average expected growth of 7.3 per cent this year, and six per cent over the next five years, gives Southeast Asian countries the opportunity to define new development objectives.

Vietnam is expected to post the highest average growth rate in the 2011-2015 period at 7.1 per cent, followed by Indonesia with 6.6 per cent, Malaysia 5.5 per cent, Thailand 5.2 per cent, Singapore 4.7 per cent, and the Philippines 4.6 per cent.

The OECD has encouraged Asian countries to diversify their exports and rethink past growth strategies.