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May 2004
Issue 048

KS Classifieds

Classifieds now combined with Kansai Scene.

Czech Animation Film Festival

Because it grew up behind the iron curtain the Czech animation industry has not had much popular success in the West, even though its output is of a comparable quality to Japanese and US animation. Czech animators have been making critically acclaimed films since the 1940s. Hermína Tyrlova, born in Bohemia in 1900, has been known as “the mother of Czech animation” since making the first animated puppet film in what was then Czechoslovakia — she made more than 50 animations for children’s before she retired in 1986. In Knot in the Handkerchief (1958), Tyrlova mixed animated handkerchiefs with the live actions of a little boy. Jirí Trnka is also an internationally recognized artist for his puppet animation and the winner of several film festivals including Venice.

In Cine Nouveau, from May 22 – June 4, various kinds of Czech animation films by Tyrlova, Trnka, and their younger successors will be released. There are 4 different programs in categories of BOY, GIRL, FAMILY, and ADULT. Each program contains 7-9 short films and the runtime is 80-97mins. The Czech experience is animated entertainment with a difference and well worth a visit despite the linguistic challenges of Czech dialog subtitled in Japanese.

Theater Information
Theater: Cine Nouveau (Nishi-ku, Kujo 1-20-24 *Near Osaka Dome)
When: Sat 22 May – Fri 4 June
Admission: For Each Program, ¥1700 (Advance ticket ¥1400, available till 21 May in Cine Nouveau, Ticket PIA, or Family Marts)
Contact: TEL:06-6582-1416

US Consulate in Osaka snubs peace petitioners

A group of peace protesters arrived at the US Consulate for an arranged meeting to turn in a petition, only to be told that Consulate officials had changed their mind about meeting them and left the protesters outside on the pavement.
The protest, on April 15th, was a response to a call for solidarity from the International Occupation Watch Centre, based in Baghdad. The call led to actions across the world, and in Japan petitions were presented at the US Consulate in Fukuoka and the embassy in Tokyo. The petitions were a call for US forces in Iraq to lift the sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, which they claim are in contravention of the Geneva Convention because they are sieges of civilian centres. They were also protesting the apparent deliberate targeting by US forces of civilians and medical workers in the besieged cities.
The organisers of the action called the consulate the day ahead and arranged to meet representatives on the afternoon of the 15th.
About forty petitioners arrived at the appointed time accompanied by large police and press contingents but in an unexplained reversal of policy, consulate officials refused to honour the appointment, neither coming out nor permitting petitioners in. Instead they sent out a security guard with a suggestion the petition be passed to him. This proposal was initially met with derision by the petitioners, but after further refusals by consulate officials to meet, there seemed to be little alternative.

Japan’s hostages billed for release

Japanese hostages released from their Iraqi captors returned home recently to a bill from the government for their rescue and a public scolding from the prime minister.
When two aid workers and a journalist were taken hostage recently Japan was plunged into national anguish. The plight of the hostages displaced most other stories from the news and chat shows. In contrast, the government has shown a different kind of concern.

The kidnapping sparked national controversy. Japan’s population is very much against both the deployment of its own troops in Iraq and the US-led occupation of the country. Would the hostage crisis be the governments equivalent of the Madrid bombs which changed the Spanish leadership?

It must have been with considerable relief that Prime Minister Koizumi received the news of the hostages’ release and he took the opportunity at a press conference to say that they ought to reflect long and hard on all the trouble they had caused. Whether the trouble to which he referred was the negotiations for their release or the threat to his position at home was not clear.
However, at the same time, an Iraqi cleric concerned with negotiating the release of the hostages criticised the Japanese government for its lack of concern. "We were thinking about the hostages more than the Japanese government," Abdel Salem Al Kubaisi of the Islamic Clerics Association said at a press conference.

The government reception for the hostages cooled further when it was decided to bill them for their release.
"For plane costs, we'll charge economy-class," an official said. "We'll also ask for the costs basically needed to cover their medical checkups."

And when the hostages announced that they would like to return to Japan to continue their work, the government reaction turned into outright hostility, one official saying, “If they really hate to return to Japan, I want them to defect to Iraq. Since we've paid so much from the state coffers, I feel they should compensate us for it.” Mr. Koizumi pitched in again, urging them “to have some sense.” Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi commented, "I hope they will value their saved lives."

Kawaguchi went further sending them a message to be careful about what they do in the future while another official told them Japan would not protect them if they returned to Iraq.
The youngest of the released hostages, Noriaki Imai, 18 also got a good dressing down from his mum. Like the prime minister she scolded him for all the trouble he had caused and then lamented to reporters that although he understood the words, she was not convinced he understood the meaning.

In hyper-polite Japan it is not unusual for rescued people to publicly apologise for inconveniencing their rescuers, but such public scolding and demands for compensation from the authorities are exceptional.

What Beckham Scandal?

It cannot have escaped your notice that the Britain’s favourite celebrity couple have lately been embroiled in a storm over David’s alleged affairs with other women. The news has, however, escaped the notice of the gossip-hungry Japanese media. Or could it be that they are in denial?

The Becks are popular in Japan because of their image as ideal, hard-working parents. The scandal that has tarnished that image abroad has yet to surface here.

The scandal centres on allegations from a former personal assistant to David Beckham, Rebecca Loos, who claims they had a protracted and passionate affair, all of course completely unknown to the good wife Victoria.

In interviews with UK tabloids — The News of the World alone is supposed to have paid her £350,000 — Loos went into quite graphic detail about David’s skills at oral sex. She also claims that Becks likes to hear stories of lesbian sex, and Loos, being bisexual, is able to oblige. Being very modern people, their affair — if it even happened — had a digital aspect as they exchanged dirty text messages over their mobiles.

Loos’ revelations brought a rash of claims from other women who claim to have slept with him since he got married. So many in fact that one entrepreneur has taken to selling “I slept with David” tee shirts and badges, which you can acquire at www.boredofthebeckhams.com.

Meanwhile, the Beckhams have been furiously denying the allegations and are considering legal action.
Family friends, however, have leaked the information that privately David has confessed to Victoria. There is no sign of a divorce, and publicly at least, she is standing by her man.

Loyal — or pragmatic? The Beckham’s advertising deals in Japan alone are worth huge amounts of money, which might explain the Japanese media’s mysterious silence on the subject. The couple’s deals with a certain confectionary manufacturer and a maker of cosmetic products is worth ¥500 million each. These are not the only sponsorship deals they have in this country. Globally, David Beckham’s earnings from sponsorship were worth 18 million Euro last year.

The UK’s Observer newspaper wrote that the couple will not split because "the armies who feed off Beckham's status as a worldwide brand" need him so desperately. This dependency includes the media, but here where the media’s silence has led to intense speculation, at least in the KS office, that there is a gentleman’s agreement to keep schtum about this story that could tarnish the image of several brands.

If you know of any newsworthy events in the Kansai or Japan, if you are about to dive naked into a vat of hungry piranhas for a bet, be sure to let us know. [email protected]


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