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Feb 2005
Issue 057

Out now!


Tsunami Relief

At the time of going to press, projections for the final death toll for the Boxing Day tsunami stood at 230,000. Meanwhile, plans are being agreed to limit the impact of any such future event and people around Japan are contributing to the relief effort.

On the tenth anniversary of its own earthquake, Kobe hosted the World Conference on Disaster Reduction — and event that was arranged long before the tsunami struck. Delegates agreed on the need for a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean — there is already one in place in the Pacific — and agreed that disaster preparation should be a priority.

However, no deadlines were agreed and neither are the resolutions legally binding. Individual governments will still have to find the will and the initiative to work towards implementation. Jan Egeland the UN relief boss was positive, saying that the decisions “carry a strong moral commitment by states and organisations".

Earlier in January, NGOs warned that governments rarely met their disaster relief pledges and often aid was directed away from other humanitarian operations, and appealed that this not happen with this disaster. At the end of January, Oxfam said that less than half the promised governmental aid had materialised.

Meanwhile, ordinary people are still doing what they can to help. Local events promoters Dangerous Productions, aka Tenaj Wint and Davina Robinson are putting on a live charity show called Helping Hands Benefit on Feiday 25th of February at the Playpen in Shinsaibashi (see the Namba map on p54).

The show will have 12 performers including singers, dancers and Okinawan Shamisen music. The event is sponsor-ed by a number of local businesses and the venue is donating a large part of its takings. All proceeds are going to the Japan Red Cross.

Other local organisations are making fundraising efforts:

• Osaka YMCA www.osakaymca.or.jp/sumatra.html
• FM COCOLO www.cocolo.co.jp/index.html
• Sakti (an association Indonesian and Japanese married couples) sakti.hp.infoseek.co.jp/shp191.html
• Kyoto City International Relationship Section www.kcif.or.jp/jp/zigyo/soumu/sumatora/01.html
• Japan Asia Friendship Society freett.com/koalaoyaji/tsunami.htm
• You can also donate online with the following:
United Nations World Food Programme www.wfp.org/
WHO World Health Organization www.who.int/en/
UNICEF Japan www2.unicef.or.jp/bof/bo.html

Kyoto Protocol kicks in

Signed by 180 countries in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol finally takes effect on February 16. The agreement, which was originally signed by 180 countries, commits participating nations to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

According to campaigners, many scientists and the Pentagon, failure to tackle the problem of global warming will cause worldwide civil instability as well as climatic disruption as populations are displaced by rising sea levels, the competition for resources becomes more intense, and hot-climate diseases like malaria spread.

Britain may acquire a Siberian climate, while Japan, on current projections, may end up with a Thai climate. The Pentagon last year issued a report that global warming was the biggest single threat to US national security. The US, which is the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases, responsible for nearly a quarter of emissions, is the only major nation that has not yet ratified the protocol.

February 16 will be marked in Kyoto by events organised by Greenpeace, Solar Generation Youth and others. On the 15th there will be an evening event going till midnight to celebrate the birthday of the Kyoto Protocol and in the morning a symbolic hot air balloon will be launched. On the 16th at 2:00 there will be a parade. Locations for the events have yet to be announced. Check the Greenpeace Japan website in the climate change section for details. www.greenpeace.or.jp

Osaka City Half Marathon

For fans of the gruelling race, February sees the Osaka Half Marathon. This annual event is expected to attract 3,000 participants, 100 of them in wheelchairs. The race, which is on February 27, starts near Osaka Jo Hall and finishes in nearby Taiyo no Hiroba. The course takes everyone round the park and surrounding streets for 21km.

Osaka Castle Park and environs
Date: Feb 27 • Time: 10:30
Getting there: JR Loop Line Osaka — Jo Koen Mae, Subway Chuo Line — Morinomiya Stn; Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line — Morinomiya Stn.
Info (Japanese only): www.osaka-sports.or.jp

News compiled by Chris Page

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