country:japan

  • Macron at Sea Shows U.S.-France Ties Run Deeper Than Trump Spat - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/macron-at-sea-shows-u-s-france-ties-run-deeper-than-trump-spat

    France’s Emmanuel Macron is heading to sea on his biggest warship a day after he suffered a tirade of abuse from Donald Trump. The trip, planned for weeks, will show France’s alliance with the U.S. goes beyond any temporary disagreement between the presidents.

    France’s sole aircraft carrier, the Charles-de-Gaulle, the world’s most powerful vessel outside the U.S. navy, puts to sea Wednesday and will sail to the Indian Ocean early next year. It is starting a joint mission with the U.S. and an American frigate will escort it on the voyage, according the Elysee presidential palace.
    […]
    The French aircraft carrier will be part of what Macron has called an “Indo-Pacific Axis” — a strategy to expand France’s participation with a group of nations that includes Japan, Australia, India and the U.S.

    The countries, which are linked by military partnerships, are working to contain China’s maritime claims, keep shipping lines open and secure for trade in a region from Somalia to the Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


  • https://www.auroraabrasive.com/7-inches-stainless-steel-cutting-disc
    The global consumption of abrasives will increase by 5.9 percent per year and will reach 38 billion by 2013. The first regions to achieve growth are Asia, the Middle East/Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The demand for abrasives in the four regions will exceed that of the United States, Japan and Western Europe.
    The consumption of abrasive tools is mainly due to the steady growth of the economy and the steady development of the industry, which leads to the continuous expansion of the production of durable consumer goods and the increase in investment in fixed assets. China, India and Russia account for a large share of the sales of abrasives. In particular, China will replace the United States as the world’s largest abrasives consumer market. It is estimated that by 2013, China’s consumption of abrasive tools will account for two-thirds of the global demand for new products. Sales in Thailand and Indonesia in Southeast Asia will also show good growth.

    The development of the global abrasives market is not optimistic compared with developing countries, its economic growth is weak, and the growth of durable consumer goods production is slow. It is expected that the demand for abrasives in the United States, Italy and France will grow by less than one percent by 2013, and the annual demand for abrasives in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom will decline. Luo Baihui believes that the final result is that the per capita consumption of purchased abrasives will increase as the production costs of various products increase. Sales of abrasives in Canada, South Korea and Spain are expected to grow steadily with the economy and demand will increase. In the industrialized regions, the industrial output of these three countries has been in a leading position.

    The consumer demand for global abrasive tools is mainly non-metallic abrasive products, including: fixed abrasives, coated abrasives and abrasives, polishing powders, etc. It is estimated that by 2013, the sales of non-metallic abrasives will occupy most of the market, which will exceed the sales of metal abrasives, such as shot peening, steel grit, wire brush and grinding wheel. The consumer durables market is undoubtedly the largest sales target for abrasives, accounting for two-thirds of all abrasive products.


  • The armistice of November 11, 1918 and the lessons for today - World Socialist Web Site

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/12/pers-n12.html

    The armistice of November 11, 1918 and the lessons for today
    12 November 2018

    Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the armistice which finally brought an end to World War I. Nothing like it had ever been seen in human history—a bloody inferno costing the lives of more than ten million soldiers and six million civilians with millions more permanently maimed, disfigured and injured.

    But the silencing of the guns, in what was later to be falsely labelled as the “war to end all wars,” was not the end of the bloodshed and carnage. It was simply the conclusion of the first phase of what was to become a thirty-year international war between the major capitalist powers—the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and their allies for control and domination of the world—that only came to an end in 1945, culminating in the dropping of two atomic bombs by the US on Japan.

    #pgm #première_guerre_mondiale #1914-1918


  • The Largest Act of Terrorism in Human History - Daniel #Ellsberg on RAI (4/8)
    https://therealnews.com/stories/the-largest-act-of-terrorism-in-human-history-daniel-ellsberg-on-rai-4-

    The British bombing of Hamburg in 1942, and the American firebombing of Japan in March 1945 that killed as many as 120,000 people in one night, created the conditions for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were considered mere extensions of the firebombing tactics, says Daniel Ellsberg on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay

    #histoire #terrorisme



  • U.S. carrier leads warships in biggest ever Japan defense war game | Reuters
    https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1N80AL-OCATP

    Japan and the United States have mobilized 57,000 sailors, marines and airmen for the biennial Keen Sword exercise, 11,000 more than in 2016, with simulated air combat, amphibious landings and ballistic missile defense drills. Japan’s contingent of 47,000 personnel represents a fifth of the nation’s armed forces.

    We are here to stabilize, and preserve our capability should it be needed. Exercises like Keen Sword are exactly the kind of thing we need to do,” Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, the commander of the carrier strike group, said during a press briefing in the Reagan’s focsle as F-18 fighter jets catapulted off the flight deck above him.




  • The Everyday Consumption of “#Whiteness”: The #Gaikokujin-fū (Foreign-Like) Hair Trend in Japan

    In feminist literature, the beauty and the fashion industries have at times been criticized for being one of the means through which women are objectified.1 Likewise, Critical Race Studies have often pinpointed how the existence of a global beauty industry has the effect of propagating Eurocentric beauty ideals.2 Throughout this article I aim to explore the complicated ways in which beauty and racialized categories intersect in Japan through an analysis of the female-targeted hair trend of the gaikokujin-fū (foreigner-like) hair.

    Essentialism is what prompts us to divide the world into two, “us” versus “them,” negating all that is in between the two categories or even changes within the categories themselves. Although this binary thinking has been subject to criticism by various disciplines, such as Critical Race Studies and Postcolonial Studies, it is still among the dominant ways in which human relations are performed in Japanese society. The essentialistic opposing duality between Foreignness and Japaneseness has been constructed in post-war Japan through widespread discourses known by the name nihonjinron (lit. the theories on the Japanese).3 Even though it could be understood as a powerful reply to American racism towards the Japanese, nihonjinron only confirms stereotypes by reversing their value, from negative to positive. Moreover, these theories have had the effect of emphasizing Japanese racial and cultural purity through the alienation and exoticization of the other, most often represented by the white “Westerner”4 (obeijin, seiyōjin, hakujin).

    The ambivalent exoticism that surrounds the foreigner (gaikokujin) has made it possible for racialised categories and consumerism to intersect in the archipelago. The beauty industry is particularly susceptible to the segmentation between “self” and “other,” and the global white hegemony has a certain influence over it. However, as Miller rightly observes, dominant beauty standards in Japan are equally influenced by local values of “Japaneseness.”5 Torigoe goes even farther: in her essay, she positions whiteness as a power relation and through her analysis she demonstrates how white women are constructed as Others in Japanese media representations, thus creating “a racial ladder that places Japanese people on top.”6 The link between whiteness and widespread beauty practices has been criticized also in studies of the neighbouring country of Korea, with scholars arguing that cosmetic surgeries in the country are successful only if they enhance the body’s natural “Koreanness.”7

    My aim in this paper is to tackle the capitalistic commercialization and fetishization of whiteness in contemporary Japan. As it will become clear throughout the analysis, the Japanese beauty industry is creating a particular image of whiteness that is suitable to the consumers’ needs and desires: this toned-down, less threating way of becoming “foreigner-like” is marketed as an accessory that far from overriding one’s natural features, is instrumental in accentuating and valorizing them. Investigating the peculiar position of this beauty trend, which has been affected by the influence of the two contrasting hegemonic discourses of white supremacy and the purity/superiority of the Japanese race, might be helpful in shedding some light on the increasingly complicated ways the concept of race is being constructed in a setting that has been often considered “other” to the Eurocentric gaze.

    Whiteness and the Global Beauty Industry

    Beauty is an important practice in our daily life, and as such it has been at the center of animated discussions about its social function. Seen as one of the practices through which gender is performed, it has been put into scrutiny by feminist literature. The approach used to analyze beauty has been dualistic. On the one hand, the beauty and fashion industries have been criticized for being among the reasons of women’s subordination, depriving them financially8 and imposing on them male normative standards of beauty.9 On the other, it has been cited as one of the ways in which female consumers could express their individuality in an oppressive world.10

    The increasingly globalized beauty and fashion industries have also been subjects of criticism from the viewpoint of Critical Race Studies. It is not uncommon to hear that these industries are guilty of spreading Eurocentric tastes, thus privileging pale-skinned, thin women with light hair.11 The massive sale of skin-whitening creams in Asia and Africa as well as the creation of new beauty standards that privilege thinness over traditionally preferred plump forms are often cited to defend this argument. At the same time, there have been instances in which this denouncing of Eurocentrism itself has been charged guilty of the same evil. Practices such as plastic surgery in South Korea and Japanese preference for white skin have been often criticized as being born out of the desire to be “Western”: these analyses have been contested as simplistic and ignoring the cultural significance of local standards of beauty in shaping beauty ideals.12

    Answers to these diatribes have not been yet found.13 It is nonetheless clear that beauty practices articulate a series of complex understandings about gender and race, often oscillating between particularisms and universalisms. Throughout this article I would like to contribute to this ongoing discussion analyzing how pre-existing notions of race and gender intersect and are re-shaped in a newly emerging trend aptly called gaikokujin-fū (foreigner-like) hair.

    Us/Others in Japan: The Essentialization of the Foreign
    Japan and the tan’itsu minzoku

    It is not uncommon to hear that Japan is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world. In Japanese, the locution tan’itsu minzoku (single/unique ethnic group, people, nation), was often used as a slogan when comparing the archipelago with significantly multi-ethnic countries such as the USA.14 The notion of Japan as a mono-ethnic country is being starkly criticized in recent years:15 minorities such as the zainichi Koreans and Chinese who have been living in the country since the end of the second world war, the conspicuous populations of foreign immigrants from Asia and Latin America, as well as mixed-race people, who were thought of as a social problem until these last ten years,16 have been making their voices heard. In the following paragraphs, I will trace how the idea of a racially homogeneous Japan was constructed.

    The word minzoku (ethnic group, people, nation) first appeared in the Japanese language in the Taishō Period (1912-1926), as an alternative to the term jinshū (race).17 The concept of race did not exist prior to the Meiji period (1868-1912), when it was introduced by scholars as one of the ideas from the “West” that would have helped Japan become a modernized nation.18 It could be argued that while the opening up of Japan after the sakoku period was not the first time that the Japanese government had to interact with people of different racial features,19 it was the first time that the idea of racial hierarchies were introduced to the country. Japanese scholars recognized themselves to be part of the ōshoku jinshū (“yellow race”), hierarchically subordinate to the “white race.”20 With rising nationalism and the beginning of the colonization project during the Taishō period, the need arose for a concept that could further differentiate the Japanese people from the neighboring Asian countries such as the newly annexed Taiwan and Korea:21 the newly created minzoku fit this purpose well. Scholar Kawai Yuko compared the term to the German concept of Volk, which indicates a group whose identity is defined by shared language and culture. These traits are racialized, as they are defined as being “biological,” a natural component of the member of the ethnic group who acquires them at birth.22 It was the attribution of these intrinsic qualities that allowed the members of the naichi (mainland Japan) to be assigned in a superior position to the gaichi (colonies). Interestingly, the nationalistic discourse of the pre-war and of the war period had the double intent of both establishing Japanese supremacy and legitimizing its role as a “guide” for the colonies grounding it in their racial affinities: unlike the conquerors from Europe, the Japanese were of similar breed.

    These hierarchies were ultimately dissociated from the term minzoku after the end of the Second World War, when it was appropriated by Leftist discourse. Opposing it to ta-minzoku (multiethnic nation or people)23

    that at the time implied divisions and inequalities and was perceived as a characteristic of the Japanese Empire, Left-leaning intellectuals advocated a tan’itsu minzoku nation based on equality. The Leftist discourse emphasized the need of the “Japanese minzoku” to stand up to the American occupation, but the term gradually lost its critical nuance when Japan reached economic prosperity and tan’itsu minzoku came to mean racial homogeneity as a unique characteristic of Japanese society, advocated by the Right.24

    Self-Orientalism

    The term minzoku might have “lost his Volk-ish qualities,”25 but homogeneity in Japan is also perceived to be of a cultural nature. Sociologists Mouer and Sugimoto26 lament that many Japanese people believe to be the carriers of an “unique” and essentialized cultural heritage, that renders them completely alien to foreigners. According to the two scholars, the distinctive qualities that have been usually (self-)ascribed to Japanese people are the following: a weak individuality, the tendency to act in groups, and the tendency to privilege harmony in social situations.27 Essentialized “Japaneseness” is a mixture of these psychological traits with the products of Japanese history and culture. The perception that Japaneseness is ever unchanging and a cultural given of each Japanese individual was further increased by the popularity of the nihonjinron discourse editorial genre, which gained mass-media prominence in the archipelago after the 1970s along with Japan’s economic growth.28 Drawing on Said’s notion of Orientalism,29 Miller states that “in the case of Japan, we have to deal […] with the spectacle of a culture vigorously determined to orientalize itself.”30 According to Roy Miller, Japan has effectively constructed Japaneseness through a process of self-othering, which he refers to as self-Orientalism. The nihonjinron publications were very much influenced by cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s highly influential “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” published in 1946. Benedict’s study of the “Japanese people” is based on the assumption that the USA and Japan are polar opposites where the former stands for modernity and individualism whereas the latter is characterized by tradition and groupism.31

    Japanese anthropologists and psychoanalysts, such as Nakane and Doi32 further contributed to the study of Japaneseness, never once challenging the polar opposition between the “Japanese” and the “Westernerners.”

    It would seem contradictory at first for a large number of people in Japan to have this tendency to think and consume their own culture through stereotypes. However, Iwabuchi draws attention to the fact that Japan’s self-Orientalism is not just a passive acceptance of “Western” values but is in fact used to assert the nation’s cultural superiority. It remains nonetheless profoundly complicit with Euro-American Orientalism insofar that it is an essentializing and reifying process: it erases all internal differences and external similarities.33 This essentialization that Japan is capitalizing on proves fundamental for the “West,” as it is the tool through which it maintains its cultural hegemony.

    Images of the Foreigner

    Images of the foreigner are not equal, and they form an important node in the (self-)Orientalistic relations that Japan entertains with the rest of the world. An essentialized view of both the Euro-American and Asian foreigner functions in different ways as a counterweight to the “we-Japanese” (ware ware Nihonjin) rhethoric.

    In the Japanese language, gaikokujin (foreigner) refers to every person who doesn’t have the same nationality as the country she/he lives in.34 The term gaikokujin does not have racial connotations and can be used to effectively describe anyone that is not a Japanese citizen. However, the racially-charged related term gaijin35 refers especially to the “white” foreigner.36 Written very similarly to gaikokujin, the word gaijin actually has a different origin and the double meaning of “foreigner” and “outsider.” The word carries strong implications of “othering,” and refers to the construction of the Europe and America as other to the young nation-state in the Meiji period, during which knowledge was routinely imported from the “West.”37 Thus, gaijin and the representation of foreigners-as-other came to reflect the dominant hierarchies of nineteenth-century “Western” knowledge.38

    Putting every white-skinned individual in the same category functions as a strategy to create the antithetical “West” that is so important as a marker of difference in self-Orientalism: it serves to create an “Other” that makes it possible to recognize the “Self.”39 At the same time, it perpetuates the perception of whiteness as the dominant position in America and Europe. In her analysis on the use of foreigner models in Japanese advertisements, Creighton notes that representation of gaijin positions them both as a source of innovation and style and as a potential moral threat.40

    This splitting is not uncommon when dealing with representations of the Other. What generates it is the fetishistic component that is always present in the stereotype.41 Bhabha argues that this characteristic allows the Other to be understood in a contradictory way as a source of both pleasure and anxiety for the Non-Other. Stuart Hall draws on Bhabha’s theories to state that the stereotype makes it so that this binary description can be the only way in which is possible to think of the Other–they generate essentialized identities.42 In the Japanese context, the gaijin, fulfilling his role as a racially visible minority,43 is thus inscribed in the double definition of source of disruption and person to admire (akogare no taishō).

    Whiteness in the Japanese Context

    Akogare (admiration, longing, desire) is a word that young women44 in Japan often use when talking about the “white, Western” foreigner. Kelsky explains that the word indicates the longing for something that is impossible to obtain and she maintains that “it is a rather precise gloss […] of the term “desire” in Lacanian usage. […] Desire arises from lack and finds expression in the fetish. The fetish substitutes the thing that is desired but impossible to obtain.”45 Fulfilment of this unattainable desire can be realized through activities such as participation in English conversation classes and engaging in conversation with “Western” people.46 The consumption of “Western” images and representations as well as everyday practices associated with the Euro-American foreigner could also be considered a fetish that substitutes the unattainable object of desire. In this sense, the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend might be for the producers one such way of catering to young Japanese women’s akogare for the “Western” world.

    Gaikokujin-fū is inextricably connected to gaijin, “white” foreigners. For instance, the Hair Encyclopedia section of the website Hotpepper Beauty reports two entries with the keyword gaikokujin-fū: gaikokujin-fū karā (foreigner-like color) and gaikokujin-fū asshu (foreigner-like ash). The “color” entry states the following:

    Gaikokujin-fū karā means, as the name suggests, a dye that colors the hair in a tint similar to that of foreigners. The word “foreigner” here mostly stands for people with white skin and blond hair that are usually called “American” and “European.”47

    Similarly, the “ash” entry explains the following:

    The coloring that aims for the kind of blond hair with little red pigments that is often found among Americans is called gaikokujin-fū asshu.

    Asshu means “grey” and its characteristic is to give a slightly dull (dark?) impression. It fits well with many hairstyles ranging from short cuts to long hair, and it can be done in a way to make you look like a “western” hāfu (mixed race individual).

    It is clear from these descriptions that the term gaikokujin-fū is racially charged. What hairdresser discourse is trying to reproduce is a kind of hair color associated with America and Europe’s Caucasian population. They are selling “whiteness.”

    Writing from the viewpoint of multicultural England, Dyer writes that the study of the representation of white people is important because “as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm.”49 White discourse is ubiquitous, and it is precisely this unmarked invisibility that makes it a position of dominance. The representation of people belonging to minority groups is inevitably marked or tied to their race or skin color, but Caucasians are often “just people.” At the base of white privilege there is this characteristic of universality that is implied in whiteness.

    The marked positioning of the white foreigner in Japanese society would seem an exception to this rule. Torigoe, while acknowledging that the Japanese media “saturated [her] with images of young white females as the standard of beauty,”50 analyzes in her article how white beauty actually embodies values such as overt sexual attractiveness that would be considered deviant or over the top by standard societal norms.51 Likewise, Russell points to the scrutiny that the bodies of the white female woman receive on Japanese mass media, dominated by a male gaze. White females become subject to the sexual curiosity of the Japanese male, and being accompanied by one of them often makes him look more sophisticated and competitive in a globalized world.52 As the most easily, less controversially portrayed Other through which Japanese self-identity is created, the white individual is often subject to stereotyping and essentialization. Russell notes this happening in both advertisement and the portrayal of white local celebrities, that assume even “whiter” characteristics in order to better market their persona in the Japanese television environment.

    However, it is my opinion that we must be careful to not be exceedingly uncritical of the marginality that Caucasians are subject to in Japanese society. I argue that whiteness is in an ambiguous position in the Japanese context: it would be wrong to say that in the archipelago white people do not benefit from the privileges that have accompanied their racialization up to the present times. The othering processes that whites are subject to is more often than not related to them being brought up and representing a different culture than to their racial difference.54 The word hakujin (lit. white person) is barely used in everyday conversation, whereas it is more common to hear the term kokujin (lit. black person): white people are not reduced to their racial characteristics in the same way as black people might be.55 Whiteness might not be the completely hegemonic in the Japanese context, but the country does not exist in a vacuum, and its standards have been influenced by the globally hegemonic white euro-centric values to some extent.

    To reiterate, white people in the Japanese archipelago experience the contradictory position of being a visible minority subject to reifying “othering” processes while at the same time reaping many of the benefits and privileges that are usually associated with the color of their skin. They are socially and politically located at the margins but are a hegemonic presence in the aesthetic consciousness as an ideal to which aspire to. In the following sections, I will expand on gaikokujin’s ambiguous location by looking at the ways in which whiteness is consumed through the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend.

    Producing Whiteness: Selling gaikokujin-fū Hair
    Creating the “New”

    In order to understand the meanings shaping the catchphrase gaikokujin-fū, I have used a mixture of different approaches. My research began by applying the methods of Visual Analysis56 to the latest online promotional material. I have tried to semiotically analyze the pictures on the websites in relation to the copywriting. In addition, I have complemented it with fieldwork, interviewing a total of seven hairdressers and four girls aged from 20 to 2457 in the period between April and June 2017. It was while doing fieldwork that I realized how important social networking is for the establishment of contemporary trends: this is frequently acknowledged also in the press by textually referencing hashtags.58 Instagram is a very important part of Japanese girls’ everyday life, and is used both as a tool for self-expression/self-promotion as well as a compass to navigate the ever-growing ocean of lifestyle trends. Japanese internet spaces had been previously analyzed as relatively closed spaces created and accessed by predominantly Japanese people, and this had implications on how online discourses about races were carried on.59 However, being a predominantly visual medium, Instagram also functions as a site where information can, to a large extent, overcome language barriers.

    The gaikokujin-fū hashtag counts 499,103 posts on Instagram, whereas 381,615 pictures have been tagged gaikokujin-fū karā.60 Most of them are published by professional whose aim is to publicize their work, and it is not uncommon to find pricing and information for booking in the description.

    Scrolling down the results of the Instagram search, it is easy to notice the high number of back and profile shots; what the hairdressers are trying to show through these pictures is their hairdressing skills. By cutting out the face they are putting the hair itself at the center of the viewer’s attention and eliminating any possibility of identification. The aim here is to sell “whiteness” as an object. The trendsetters are capitalizing on a term (gaikokujin-fū) that has already an appealing meaning outside the field of hair coloring, and that is usually associated with the wider desire or longing (akogare) for “Western” people, culture and lifestyle.

    To the non-initiated, the term gaikokujin-fū might indicate anything that is not “Japanese like” such as curly hair, or blonde hair. However, it became clear when speaking to my hairdresser informants that they only used the term referring to the ash-like coloring. Professionals in the field are reclaiming it to define a new, emerging niche of products that only started appearing a couple of years ago.61 In doing so, Japanese hairdressers are creating a new kind of “whiteness” that goes beyond the “Western” cultural conception of white as blonde and blue-eyed, in order to make it more acceptable to Japanese societal standards. In fact, fair hair is considered extremely unnatural.62 The advantage that ash brown hair has over blonde is the relatively darker shade that allows consumers to stand out without being completely out of place.63

    However, gaikokujin-fū hair comes at a cost. All of my informants told me during the interviews that the colors usually associated with this trend involve dyes have a blue or green base, and are very difficult to recreate on most people of the East Asia whose naturally black hair has a red base. The difficulty they experienced in reproducing the Ash (asshu) and Matt colors on Japanese hair constituted a fundamental charm point for hair technicians, and precisely because of this being able to produce a neat ash coloring might be considered synonymous with keeping on pace with the last technology in hair dying. The Wella “Illumina Color”64 series came out in September 2015, while Throw,65 a Japanese-produced series of hair dyes that eliminate the reddish undertones of Japanese black hair, went on sale very recently in June 2016.66 Another Japanese maker, Milbon, released its “Addichty Color”67 series as recently as February 2017. The globally dominant but locally peripheral whiteness has been “appropriated” and domesticated by Japanese hairdressers as a propeller of the latest trends, as a vital tool in creating the “new.”

    To summarize, the technological developments in hair dyes certainly gave a big push to the popularizing of the gaikokujin-fū hairstyle trend. Moreover, in a very chicken-and-egg-like fashion, the technological advancing itself was at the same time motivated by the admiration and desire towards Euro-American countries. However, this desire for “Westerness” does not entail adopting whiteness in its essentialized “purest” form,68 as that would have negative implications in the context of Japanese society. Rather, Japanese trendsetters have operated a selection and chosen the variant of whiteness that would be different enough to allow the creation of the “latest” while minimizing its more threatening aspects.
    Branding the “New”

    In the previous section I mentioned the fact that most of pictures posted on the social network Instagram serve to amplify and diffuse existing values for consumption, and constantly refer to a set of meanings that are generated elsewhere reifying them. Throughout this section I will examine the production of these values through the branding of the aforementioned hair dye brands: Wella’s “Illumina Color,” THROW, and Milbon’s “Addichty Color.”

    Wella’s “Illumina Color” offers an interesting case study as it is produced by an American multinational brand. Comparing the Japanese website with the international one, it is clear that we have before our eyes a prime example of “glocalization.”69 While on the international webpage70 the eye-catch is a picture of a white, blue-eyed blonde woman that sports an intricate braided hairstyle with some purplish accents in the braid, the Japanese71 version features a hāfu-like72 young woman with long, flowing straight dark brown hair. The description of the product also contains the suggestive sentence “even the hard and visible hair typical of the Japanese [can become] of a pale, soft color.” The keywords here are the terms hard (katai) and soft (yawaraka). Hardness is defined as being a characteristic typical of the Japanese hair texture (nihonjin tokuyū) and it is opposed to the desired effect, softness. The sentence implies by contrasting the two terms that softness is not a characteristic of Japanese hair, and the assumption could be taken further to understand that it is a quality typical of the “foreign.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the international webpage contains no such reference and instead vaguely praises the hair dye’s ability to provide a light color. The visuals of the latter are consistent with Dyer’s definition of whiteness.

    Unlike Wella, Milbon and beauty experience are Japanese companies, and their products ORDEVE Addichty and THROW are only geared to the Japanese marketplace. Milbon’s ORDEVE Addichty dye series is the most recent of the two. The product’s promotional webpage is almost entirely composed of pictures: the top half features 14 moving pictures, two for each of the seven colours available. The pictures slide in a way that shows the customer all the four sides of the model’s bust up, and each one of the girls is holding a sign with the name of the product. To the center left, we see a GIF image with the name of the brand in the roman and Japanese alphabet, accompanied by the catchphrase hajimete mitsukaru, atarashii watashirashisa (“I found it for the first time, a new way of being myself”), that slides into another text-filled picture that explains the concepts behind the branding.

    Occidental-like (ōbeijin) voluminous hair with a shine (tsuya) never seen before. This incredible feeling of translucence (tōmeikan) that even shows on your Instagram [pictures], will receive a lot of likes from everybody. Let’s find the charm of a freer myself with Addichty color!

    The red-diminishing dyes are here associated with both physical and ideological characteristics identified as “Western,” like the “feeling of translucence” (tōmeikan)73 and “freedom” (jiyū). The word tōmeikan is a constant of technical descriptions of gaikokujin-fū and it is generally very difficult for the hairdressers to explain what does it mean. My hairdresser informant N. quickly explained to me that having translucent hair means to have a hair color that has a low red component. Informants H. and S., also hair professionals, further explained that translucency is a characteristic typical of hair that seems to be semi-transparent when hit by light. While in the English-speaking world it would certainly be unusual to positively describe somebody’s hair as translucent, tōmeikan is a positive adjective often used as a compliment in other different contexts and it indicates clarity and brightness. In fact, the Japanese Daijisen dictionary lists two definitions for translucent, the second of which reads “clear, without impurities.”74 It is perhaps in relation to this meaning that the melanin-filled black core of the Japanese hair is considered “heavy” (omoi) and strong. Reddish and lighter brown colors are also defined in the same way. What is more, even hair colors at the other end of the spectrum can be “muddy”(nigori no aru): blonde hair is also described as such.75 It is clear that while tōmeikan is a quality of “occidental hair,” it is not a characteristic of all the shades that are usually associated with whiteness.

    In the last sentence, “freedom” is linked to charm (miryoku) and the individual. These three concepts are also very often associated with the foreigner. The freedom of the gaijin is a freedom from social constraints and from the sameness that pervades dominant representations of Japaneseness.76 Individualism is further emphasized by the pronoun “myself,” which in the original Japanese is a possessive pronoun to the word “charm” (miryoku). As a word, miryoku has an openly sexual connotation, and because of this it might be linked to the concept of “foreignness.” As Torigoe found out in her analysis of Japanese advertisements, white women are often represented as a sexualized counterpart to the more innocent Japanese woman.77 Gaikokujin-fū hair offers customers the possibility to become closer to obtaining this sexiness, that distances the self from the monotone standards of society.

    Of the three, THROW is possibly the most interesting to analyze, mostly because of the huge quantity of content they released in order to strengthen the brand image. In addition to the incredibly detailed homepage, they are constantly releasing new media contents related to gaikokujin-fū coloring on their “THROW Journal.”78

    The “story” page of the website serves as an explanation of the brand identity. It is a vertically designed page heavy on images, possibly designed to be optimally visualized in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The first image that the viewer encounters is that of a girl whose brown hair is flowing in the wind, which results in some strands covering the features of her pale-white face. This makes it hard to understand her nationality and makes it so that all the attention is focused on the light, airy qualities of the hair. As I said before, “lightness” (karusa) is associated to translucency and is one of the characteristics at the center of the marketing of gaikokujin-fū. This picture very clearly renders those sensations in a way that is very pleasant to the eye and indeed invites consumption.

    Under the picture we find a very short narration that complements it. In bigger characters, the words dare de mo nai, watashi ni naru, that roughly translates as “I’ll become a myself, that is nobody else.” Here again we find an emphasis on individuality and difference. Scrolling down, we find the following paragraph written in a smaller font:

    I leave my body to the blowing wind.

    My hair is enveloped in light, and is filled by the pleasant air.

    What I needed was this [facial] expression.

    I got rid of what I did not need, and refreshingly freed my mind.

    Gracefully, freely.

    I should just enjoy myself more.79

    Unlike the tagline in the Addichty webpage, THROW’s brand identity is here described in ideological terms only. Once again, “freedom” is the central theme, and is associated with a sensation of freshness (kaze, “the wind”; also, the onomatopoeia sutto, here rendered as “refreshingly”). The image of release is further emphasized by the fact that “I” of this text is in close contact with nature: her skin feels the wind, she is shrouded in light and breathes pure air. But what is the subject being released from? The fourth and the last line would suggest that she is being trapped by social constraints, something akin to the Freudian super-ego, that somehow renders her unable to enjoy herself for what she really is. My literal translation of the sixth line makes it hard to understand the hedonistic implications of its meaning: what the original Japanese implies is not simply that she should “have fun,” but she should be finding pleasure in what she is and not what she is expected to be. It is perhaps strange to the eyes of the Euro-American observer accustomed to the discourse of white supremacy that the consumption of whiteness comes with an invitation to spontaneity. The whiteness being sold here is certainly perceived in a radically different way from the Eurocentric “West,” where it is associated with self-constraint.80 It is being marketed to the Japanese public in a way that reminds the portrayal of minorities in the white-dominated world,81 and that makes it particularly appealing to the archipelago’s consumers.

    Listening to the producers’ interviews, it becomes clear for them that the red pigments of the hair, as a symbol of this self-Orientalistically represented “Japaneseness” are represented as a further constraint. Producer Kimura Naoto speaks of a “liberation from redness for the women who hate it”;82 fellow member of the production team Horiuchi brings up the ever-present desire in Japanese women to “become like foreigners,”83 but neither of the two explains the connection between the deletion of red pigments from the hair and the possibility of becoming foreigner-like. It is perhaps this lack of an explicit connection in an explanation from an expert that makes it perceived as an “obvious truth.” In fact, nobody seems to refer to the fact that red undertones are common overseas as well, not to mention the existence of redheads in predominantly Caucasian regions. By hiding these facts, the red pigments are constructed as something that is peculiarly Japanese and juxtaposed to the exclusively foreign blue pigments, further contributing to the essentializing of the gaikokujin that propels self-Orientalism.

    Consuming Whiteness: Gaikokujin-fū and Everyday Life

    To understand the ways that gaikokujin-fū was being interpreted and consumed I conducted fieldwork for two months (April-June 2017) in Tokyo. Engaging in participant observation proved to be relatively easy, since superficial conversation about beauty trends is one of the most common ways that young women around my age use to socialize. Most of my peers were very quick to react every time I lightly introduced the subject. However, due to the perceived “lightness” of the topic, not many people showed to be willing to talk prolongedly about it. This prompted me to supplement the fieldwork with semi-structured interviews I conducted with four people aged 20-22.

    The general reaction to the gaikokujin-fū buzzword was one of recognition–the existence of the trend was acknowledged both by people who were actually familiar with it as well as by others who were not really interested but had seen the phrase and recognized a more general idea behind it. As the reader might expect after having gone through the previous chapter, consumers of gaikokujin-fū hair all brought up the difficulties they had in obtaining the desired results. When I first contacted K., a 23-year-old university student in Tokyo, she told me to wait till the following week for the interview since she had an appointment to dye her hair of an ash-like color. Seven days later, I was surprised to see that her hair had not changed much. Turns out that her virgin hair was a very difficult base to work with: having never bleached it, it proved to be very resistant to blue-green dyes. Dying the hair of an ash-like color would have been impossible as the naturally red pigments of the hair would have completely nullified the effect.

    Whiteness as Empowerment, Whiteness as Difference

    K. was nonetheless very accommodating and answered my questions very enthusiastically. To her, the word gaikokujin had indeed a very positive meaning, and she specifically associated it to difference. My informant used a very harsh word when talking about her fellow Japanese: to her, Japanese style equals mass-production. Her image of Japan was perfectly congruent with those described by Mouer and Sugimoto in their critique of Nihonjinron. “Ordinary” Japanese girls were, in her opinion, the cutesy and quiet girls with straight black hair and bangs covering their foreheads. Why did she feel attracted to gaikokujin-fū in the first place? K. felt that the “traditional” Japanese image was constraining, and she had both very physical and empirical reasons (she does not like face with bangs) as well as a specific ideological background. It is worth nothing here that K. has had since her childhood a very strong akogare towards “Western countries”: she has studied English since she was a small child and is now studying Italian, which led her to spend a year abroad in the University of Venice. Moreover, she attended a very liberal protestant high school in Tokyo, where students were allowed to dye their hair and had no obligation to wear the school uniform. She herself stated that the liberal environment she was brought up in had a huge influence on her view of the world and thus she did not feel the need to “conform.” K. speaks from a privileged position that allowed her to glimpse a “different” world, in which she is promised freedom. In a similar fashion to the representations I analysed in the previous chapter, “Western” foreign becomes a symbol of liberation from the societal constraints of a traditionalistic society.

    The liberating qualities of the akogare towards the essentialized “Western” foreign have been brought up in previous research as a space for young women to astray themselves from the hierarchies of everyday life. The link between freedom and diversity was indeed particularly strong in K., who feels somehow “oppressed” by certain aspects of society. However, this is far from being a universal mode of consumption: in fact, the other three girls never even mentioned anything ideological. To S., a 22-year-old girl I met while studying in Tokyo two years ago, dying her hair of an ash-like hue was an act genuinely finalized to the enhancement of her beauty: she thought the color made her face look brighter. While she too stated during the interview that foreigners are viewed as cool and fashionable, she did not allude to a desire to “become” one nor she mentioned any ideological values associated with them that she emphasized with. In her everyday practice, whiteness is consumed as a tool regardless of its hegemonic signified. Informants A. and H. talked about the trend in a similar way. H. initially dyed her hair because she liked how cute ash hair looked on her favourite model, and had little more to say other than that. Her friend A., who recently graduated from a fashion school, confessed that in her environment standing out was more the rule than a subversive act. Her ash phase was brief and followed by even more explosive hues such as blue and pink. S., A., and H., were very much less conscious of their ways of consumption, but, as French theorist Michel de Certeau argues,84 it is precisely the aimlessness of their wandering that make their practices subvert the hegemony established by the global white supremacy. Having gaikokujin-fū hair is one of the strategies that Japanese women have at their disposition to attain beauty, and while it is trendy, it is far from being superior to different styles. Whiteness becomes an accessory that enhances the natural beauty of the self, and it is not employed to override one’s original racial features but rather to enrich them through the display of individuality. Under this light, it is possible to see the consumption of foreign-like hair as an unconscious tentative of overcoming the racialized barriers that might generate uncanny feelings in the eyes of the “white” spectator.

    Subdued Subversion and the Ambiguities of Consumption

    There are however at least two factors that complicate the consumption of gaikokujin-fū hair, making it a multifaceted and complex process. Firstly, during my interview with K. we discussed the differences between this and other fashion trends that tend to refuse the stereotypical sameness of the constructed Japanese image. K. suggested the existence of an even more individualistic trend–Harajuku–style fashion. The Harajuku district of Tokyo is famous world-wide for hosting a wide range of colourful subcultures,85 which my interviewee described with terms such as dokusouteki (creative) and yancha (mischievous). Harajuku fashion is individuality taken to such a level in which it becomes even more openly contestant of society. S. described these subcultures as referencing the image of “an invented fantasy world, completely out of touch with reality.” The gaikokujin-fū hair colour is indeed a way to break out of the “factory mould,” but it is a relatively tame way of doing it as it is the consumption of a domesticized otherness. As I also pointed out during the analysis of the production processes, the aesthetics of the trend are largely shaped in relation to societal norms and purposely do not excessively break out of them. Especially in its darker tones, foreign-like ash hair is visually closer (albeit chemically harder to obtain) than platinum blonde, and it is precisely in these shades that the hue is being consumed by girls like K. and S.

    Furthermore, one could say that Gaikokujin-fū hues can at times be experimentations instrumental to the formation of one’s identity. H. and S. both explained that they tried out ash dyes as a phase, only then to move on to something that they thought better reflected their own selves. In both cases, that meant going back to their natural black color and to darker tones. H., in particular, after spending her three years of freedom in university experimenting with various hues, finally concluded in her fourth and final year that natural black hair was “what suits Japanese people best.”. After trying out the “Other” and recognizing it as such, her identification acted as what Stuart Hall might have called a suture between her as an acting subject and the discursive practices of “Japaneseness.”86 As “foreignness,” and whiteness as one of its variants, cannot be easily conceived outside the dominant self-Orientalistic discourses, even gaikokujin-fū is inevitably bound to the essentialized “Japaneseness” of the Nihonjinron. This is only worsened by the fact that foreign-like hair colors are a product in the beauty market: they need to be marketed to the consumers, and this necessitates simplification. Essentialization and the reinforcement of self-Orientalism are the high prices that one must pay for the consumption of the other, and constitute a big limitation of its subversive power.

    Conclusion

    I have attempted to analyse the ways in which whiteness is produced and consumed in Japan, a country with significant economic and cultural power that does not have a significant Caucasian population. I have chosen as the topic a feature of the human body that is usually considered peripherical to the construction of racialized categories, and I have attempted to demonstrate how it becomes central in the production of an occidentalistic image of “whiteness” in the Japanese Archipelago.

    What this trend helps us to understand is the complexities and multiplicities of whiteness. By shedding some light on the way that hairdressers in Japan construct and sell the gaikokujin-fū trend we become aware of the fact that an aspect such as hair color that we do not usually pay much attention to in relation to this racialized category can be central when the same is consumed in a different setting. It is significant that what is being marketed here it is a slightly different paradigm from the Eurocentric or conventional idea of “white” people, that sees at its center blonde-haired, fair-skinned people with blue or green eyes: whiteness is mitigated and familiarized in order to make it more desirable to wider audiences. Its localized production and its consumption as a disposable accessory might be taken as challenging to the global dominance of Caucasian aesthetic.

    Acting in the (locally) ambiguous field of racial representations,87 hairdressers in Japan are creating their own whiteness, one that is starkly defined by what is socially acceptable and what is rejected.88 It thus becomes apparent the fact that racialized categories are nothing but discourses, constantly morphing in relation to time and space. The existence of a different whiteness created by and for the use of people who are not considered as belonging to this racialized category creates conflict with the discourse of a global, hegemonic whiteness by demonstrating its artificiality and construction.

    However, the use of the word gaikokujin inevitably generates ambivalent meanings. The trend becomes linked to the discourse of “foreignness” and the desires associated with it. Eventually, it ends up reproducing the essentialist and reifying stereotypes that are creating through the occidentalistic (and self-Orientalistic) practices of nihonjinron. The trend potentially reinforces the “us/them” barriers that are at the basis of essentialistic thought by juxtaposing the desired “foreign hair” as a polar opposite of the more conservative and traditional “Japanese hair.”

    To reiterate, gaikokujin-fū might be subversive on the global scale, but it is nonetheless an expression of the oppressive mainstream on the local level, as it restates notions of difference and exclusivity that form the basis for social exclusion of phenotypically alien foreigners. Unfortunately, the practices of marketing necessitate simplifications, and makes it is hard to achieve what I believe would be the most subversive action: the elimination of these reifying barriers. It is imperative that we start to think about ways to talk about race and culture in a non-essentializing manner while maintaining an anti-white-centric stance.

    Although the problem of essentialization cannot be resolved by looking at representation only, by looking at how the product is effectively consumed in everyday life we might find that these semi-conscious practices already offer some hints on how to overcome the barriers that reification builds around us. It is indeed true that consumers answer to the “call” of the marketers, and that they identify themselves to some extent with the images of racialized whiteness created by the beauty industry. However, what the interviews revealed is that often times the link between image and product is broken in the immediacy of consumption. By using whiteness as an accessory, some of the consumers open up a space in which they contest the seriousness and rigidity of racialized categories–a space that allows hybridity to exist.


    http://zapruderworld.org/journal/archive/volume-4/the-everyday-consumption-of-whiteness-the-gaikokujin-fu-foreign-like-
    #corps #beauté #femmes #géographie_culturelle #japon #cheveux #identité #altérité #orientalisme #blancheur #hakujin #blancs #représentation


  • Microplastics found in human stools for the first time | Environment | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/22/microplastics-found-in-human-stools-for-the-first-time?CMP=share_btn_tw

    Microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time, according to a study suggesting the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain.

    The small study examined eight participants from Europe, Japan and Russia. All of their stool samples were found to contain microplastic particles.

    Up to nine different plastics were found out of 10 varieties tested for, in particles of sizes ranging from 50 to 500 micrometres. Polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate were the plastics most commonly found.

    On average, 20 particles of microplastic were found in each 10g of excreta. Microplastics are defined as particles of less than 5mm, with some created for use in products such as cosmetics but also by the breaking down of larger pieces of plastic, often in the sea.
    We are living on a plastic planet. What does it mean for our health?
    Read more

    Based on this study, the authors estimated that “more than 50% of the world population might have microplastics in their stools”, though they stressed the need for larger-scale studies to confirm this.

    #alimentation #plastique #plasticocène ? #it_has_begun


  • ’There is hope here’: Fukushima turns to tourism after nuclear meltdown | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/17/there-is-hope-here-fukushima-turns-to-tourism-after-nuclear-meltdown

    Even now, almost eight years after a deadly earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the disaster’s physical legacy is impossible to avoid.

    The shells of gutted homes stand in barren rice paddies that lay in the path of waves that killed more than 18,000 people across three prefectures in north-east Japan – including 1,600 in Fukushima – on the afternoon of 11 March 2011.

    #tourisme_nucléaire
    The Fukushima brand may forever be associated with nuclear catastrophe, but some residents, angered by persistent rumours about the dangers of even making brief visits to the area, are turning to tourism to show the world that, for some, life in Fukushima goes on.


  • Osaka drops San Francisco as sister city over ’comfort women’ statue | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/04/osaka-drops-san-francisco-as-sister-city-over-comfort-women-statue

    The city of Osaka has ended its 60-year “sister city” relationship with San Francisco to protest against the presence in the US city of a statue symbolising Japan’s wartime use of sex slaves.

    Osaka’s mayor, Hirofumi Yoshimura, terminated official ties this week after the US city agreed to recognise the “comfort women” statue, which was erected by a private group last year in San Francisco’s Chinatown district, as public property.

    The statue depicts three women – from China, Korea and the Philippines – who symbolise women and teenage girls forced to work in frontline brothels from the early 1930s until Japan’s wartime defeat in 1945.



  • UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution adopting the peasant rights declaration in Geneva - Via Campesina
    https://viacampesina.org/en/un-human-rights-council-passes-a-resolution-adopting-the-peasant-right

    Seventeen years of long and arduous negotiations later, peasants and other people working in rural areas are only a step away from having a UN Declaration that could defend and protect their rights to land, seeds, biodiversity, local markets and a lot more.

    On Friday, 28 September, in a commendable show of solidarity and political will, member nations of United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution concluding the UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. The resolution was passed with 33 votes in favour, 11 abstentions and 3 against. [1]

    Contre : Australie, Hongrie et Royaume-Uni

    In favour: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela

    Abstention: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

    https://viacampesina.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/03/Declaration-of-rights-of-peasants-2009.pdf

    #droit_des_paysan·nes


  • MOL Tests AI Watch Keeping System on Ferry in Seto Inland Sea – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/mol-tests-ai-watch-keeping-system-on-ferry-in-seto-inland-sea


    Image credit: MOL/Rolls-Royce

    Japanese shipping group MOL has tested an artificial intelligence (A.I.) system aimed at improving safe watch keeping on board a ferry operating in one of Japan’s busiest waterways.

    The test of the so-called Intelligence Awareness System was conducted in collaboration with Rolls-Royce Marine using the Sunflower Gold car and passenger ferry. The ferry, which is operated by Ferry Sunflower Co., which is part of MOL, serves Japan’s Seto Inland Sea route.

    MOL said the aim of the project is to conduct research related to the advancement of watch keeping from the bridge.
    […]
    During the test, the project team verified the IAS system’s performance for detecting debris and other obstacles, as well as its ‘data fusion’ capabilities by conducting the demonstration test in the Seto Inland Sea, one of world’s most congested waterways with general merchant ships, pleasure boats, fishing boats, many other vessels active in the area.

    MOL said the test also led to an idea for an advanced user interface, which can provide information with greater precision. “MOL plans to continuously accumulate data on the sea and use it to generate practical improvements in watch standing performance that make the system suitable for navigation in the Seto Inland Sea, while upgrading its performance in adverse weather,” the company said.

    As for the crew of the ferry, they seemed to be receptive to the idea of using artificial intelligence, an autonomous shipping technology, as part of vessel operations. “We can expect more reliable watch keeping from the bridge,” MOL quoted one crew member as saying.


  • When Canada hosted first-ever meeting of women foreign ministers, Japan sent a man | South China Morning Post
    https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2165371/when-canada-hosted-first-ever-meeting-women-foreign

    Female foreign ministers meeting for the first summit of its kind have vowed to bring a “women’s perspective” to foreign policy.

    The two-day meeting bringing together more than half of the world’s top women diplomats in Montreal, which began Friday, focused on topics such as conflict prevention, democratic growth and eliminating gender-based violence.

    “This meeting represented a historic occasion,” Canada’s top diplomat Chrystia Freeland said.

    “This is not about creating a pink ghetto. This is quite to the contrary. This is about highlighting the importance and the role and the rights of women and girls in the world.

    Kono took part in some of the events. He attended the meeting to highlight the “positive stance” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration in promoting measures to empower women, Jiji Press reported.

    However Abe’s cabinet is largely dominated by men: it has only two female ministers.

    Quand un mec s’invite à une réu de femmes...
    #diplomatie #femmes #Japon







    • We, the undersigned scientists, concerned citizens, innovators welcome the general structure and ambition of the proposal for an increased European Research and Innovation budget – a significant increase in a difficult situation. However, we believe that it falls short of the effort required of Europe to face the growing geopolitical challenges as well as the very high level of competition now set notably by Asian countries: gross domestic spending on R&D in the EU as percentage of GDP, which is below 2% and lags behind Korea (4.2%), Taiwan (3.3%), Japan (3.1%), USA (2.8%), China (2.1%, and constantly rising). There is a serious danger that the situation will force many promising young scientists to leave Europe, and that Europe will become less attractive for foreign scientists.

      As we are well aware, in the next decade Europe will have to rely more on its own forces to promote its values and its leadership. An cohesive Europe will need to invest in what counts for strengthening our societies, our economies, our security and our efforts in order to tackle the major global challenges of our planet. An ambitious research and innovation policy, engaging society as a whole, represents a large European added value, and will be decisive in increasing its cohesiveness.

      Un peu contradictoire avec ça non?:

      The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth
      Le Guardian, le 16 septembre 2018
      https://seenthis.net/messages/722531

      238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP

      #Science #Université #Europe #décroissance #croissance


    • Pas de version française? A comparer avec ça:

      Petition for an increased #EU #Budget for #Research and Innovation
      https://seenthis.net/messages/722667

      We, the undersigned scientists, concerned citizens, innovators welcome the general structure and ambition of the proposal for an increased European Research and Innovation budget – a significant increase in a difficult situation. However, we believe that it falls short of the effort required of Europe to face the growing geopolitical challenges as well as the very high level of competition now set notably by Asian countries: gross domestic spending on R&D in the EU as percentage of GDP, which is below 2% and lags behind Korea (4.2%), Taiwan (3.3%), Japan (3.1%), USA (2.8%), China (2.1%, and constantly rising). There is a serious danger that the situation will force many promising young scientists to leave Europe, and that Europe will become less attractive for foreign scientists.

      As we are well aware, in the next decade Europe will have to rely more on its own forces to promote its values and its leadership. An cohesive Europe will need to invest in what counts for strengthening our societies, our economies, our security and our efforts in order to tackle the major global challenges of our planet. An ambitious research and innovation policy, engaging society as a whole, represents a large European added value, and will be decisive in increasing its cohesiveness.

      Chercheurs de gauche vs. chercheurs de droite?

      #Science #Université #Europe

    • ‘Secular stagnation’ meets the ‘GDP fetish’

      Tim Jackson introduces his new CUSP working paper ‘The Post-Growth Challenge’, in which he discusses the state of advanced economies ten years after the crisis. Our attempts to prop up an ailing capitalism have increased inequality, hindered ecological innovation and undermined stability, he argues.

      This week saw the launch of #System_Error a documentary #film from the prize-winning German Director #Florian_Opitz, who has made something of a reputation for himself critiquing the flaws in 21st century capitalism. The film explores our obsession with economic growth through the testimony of some of its most vociferous advocates. It’s a fascinating insight into the ‘GDP fetish’ that has dominated economic policy for over sixty years despite long-standing critiques to the contrary. Opitz’s film is a testament to the tenacity of the growth paradigm – even half a century later.

      If there’s one thing that might really throw a spanner in the works it’s that economic growth as we know it is slowly slipping away. Growth rates in advanced economies were declining already even before the crisis. The day after the film’s première in Berlin, former US treasury secretary, Larry Summers writing in the FT defended his contention (first advanced five years ago) that the growth rates expected by economists and yearned for by politicians may be a thing of the past. Sluggish growth, he has argued, is not simply the result of short-term debt overhang in the wake of the financial crisis but might just turn out to be the ‘new normal’. It’s an argument that has support, not only from other mainstream pundits, but also from national statistics: UK growth slumped to another five year low in the first quarter of 2018.

      Most reactions to the absence of growth consist in trying to get it back again as fast as possible – whatever the cost. Low interest rates, cheap money, inward investment, bank bailouts, government stimulus, land-grabs, tax havens, fiscal austerity, customs partnerships – you name it. Some of these things didn’t even make sense when put together. But at least they divert us from an inconvenient truth: that the future might look very different from the past. Were it not for a climate destabilised by carbon emissions, oceans which will soon contain more plastic than fish and a planet reeling from species loss a thousand times faster than any at time in the last 65 million years, it might not matter that they don’t add up. But is throwing good money after bad (so to speak) an effective strategy, even in its own right, when so much is still uncertain?

      How can we be sure that these increasingly desperate measures will work at all? We’ve been trying most of them for well over a decade, to very little avail. The best we’ve managed, claims Summers, is to stop things falling apart by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at monetary expansion and oscillating between stimulus and fiscal tightening (mostly the latter) as political preference dictates. The end result is a somewhat frightening sense, as the IPPR recently pointed out, that when the next crisis hits there will be neither fiscal nor monetary room for manoeuvre.

      In our latest CUSP working paper, I explore the dynamics of this emerging ‘post-growth challenge’. I believe it demands both a deeper understanding of how we got here and a wider palette of colours from which to paint the possibilities for our common future. The paper examines the underlying dynamics of secular stagnation, on both the demand and the supply side, and discusses its relationship to labour productivity growth, rising debt and resource bottlenecks.

      The toughest element in this challenge, not yet fully addressed on either the political left or the right, is the relationship between declining growth and social equity. The coordinates of inequality are now plain to see in the stagnant wage rate and declining living conditions of ordinary people. ‘Thousands upon thousands’ of people flocked to this year’s TUC march in London, making it abundantly clear that persistent inequality is threatening political stability. According to TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady ‘there is a new mood in the country; people have been very patient, but now they are demanding a new deal.’

      We have addressed the mathematics of this relationship in depth elsewhere. What we found was unexpected. The rising inequality that has haunted advanced economies in recent years wasn’t inevitable at all. Nor is it inevitable in the future. The problem lies, as I argue more specifically in this paper, not in secular stagnation itself but in our responses to it. Specifically, I suggest that rising inequality is the result of our persistent attempts to breathe new life into capitalism, in the face of underlying fundamentals that point in the opposite direction. Our growth fetish has hindered ecological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. Prosperity itself is being undone by this allegiance to growth at all costs.

      What’s clear now is that it’s time for policy-makers to take the ‘post-growth challenge’ seriously. Judging by the enthusiastic reception from the 900 or so people who attended the première of System Error in Berlin, such a strategy might have a surprising popular support.


      https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/s2/tj-blog_post-growth-challenge

    • #SYSTEM_ERROR

      Why are we so obsessed with economic growth, despite knowing that perpetual growth will kill us in the end? SYSTEM ERROR looks for answers to this principal contradiction of our time and considers global capitalism from the perspective of those who run it. In this manner, the film not only makes the absurdity of our growth-centered system uncomfortably perceptible, but also strikingly questions the seemingly irrefutable rules of the game within a bigger context.


      https://german-documentaries.de/en_EN/films/system-error.10103
      #film #documentaire

    • Europe, It’s Time to End the Growth Dependency

      Petition text

      The pursuit of economic growth is not environmentally sustainable, and it is failing to reduce inequalities, foster democracy and ensure well-being of citizens. We call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:
      1. Constitute a special commission on Post-Growth Futures in the EU Parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.
      2. Prioritise social and environmental indicators. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.
      3. Turn the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) into a Stability and Wellbeing Pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.
      4. Establish a Ministry for Economic Transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.


      https://you.wemove.eu/campaigns/europe-it-s-time-to-end-the-growth-dependency
      #pétition



  • World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018 (HTML) - World Nuclear Industry Status Report

    https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2018-HTML.html

    #nucléaire #nuclaire_civil et bravo @odilon !

    China Still Dominates Developments

    Nuclear power generation in the world increased by 1% due to an 18% increase in China.
    Global nuclear power generation excluding China declined for the third year in a row.
    Four reactors started up in 2017 of which three were in China and one in Pakistan (built by a Chinese company).
    Five units started up in the first half of 2018, of which three were in China—including the world’s first EPR and AP1000—and two in Russia.
    Five construction starts in the world in 2017, of which a demonstration fast reactor project in China.
    No start of construction of any commercial reactors in China since December 2016.
    The number of units under construction globally declined for the fifth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 50 by mid-2018, of which 16 are in China.
    China spent a record US$126 billion on renewables in 2017.

    Operational Status and Construction Delays

    The nuclear share of global electricity generation remained roughly stable over the past five years (-0.5 percentage points), with a long-term declining trend, from 17.5 percent in 1996 to 10.3 in 2017.
    Seven years after the Fukushima events, Japan had restarted five units by the end of 2017—generating still only 3.6% of the power in the country in 2017—and nine by mid-2018.
    As of mid-2018, 32 reactors—including 26 in Japan—are in Long-Term Outage (LTO).
    At least 33 of the 50 units under construction are behind schedule, mostly by several years. China is no exception, at least half of 16 units under construction are delayed.
    Of the 33 delayed construction projects, 15 have reported increased delays over the past year.
    Only a quarter of the 16 units scheduled for startup in 2017 were actually connected to the grid.
    New-build plans have been cancelled including in Jordan, Malaysia and the U.S. or postponed such as in Argentina, Indonesia, Kazakhstan.

    Decommissioning Status Report

    As of mid-2018, 115 units are undergoing decommissioning—70 percent of the 173 permanently shut-down reactors in the world.
    Only 19 units have been fully decommissioned: 13 in the U.S., five in Germany, and one in Japan. Of these, only 10 have been returned to greenfield sites.

    Interdependencies Between Civil and Military Infrastructures

    Nuclear weapon states remain the main proponents of nuclear power programs. A first look into the question whether military interests serve as one of the drivers for plant-life extension and new-build.

    Renewables Accelerate Take-Over

    Globally, wind power output grew by 17% in 2017, solar by 35%, nuclear by 1%. Non-hydro renewables generate over 3,000 TWh more power than a decade ago, while nuclear produces less.
    Auctions resulted in record low prices for onshore wind (<US$20/MWh) offshore wind (<US$45/MWh) and solar (<US$25/MWh). This compares with the “strike price” for the Hinkley Point C Project in the U.K. (US$120/MWh).
    Nine of the 31 nuclear countries—Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom (U.K.)—generated more electricity in 2017 from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.