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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Japan Packaging Industry Hits $60-billion In 2013

The Japanese packaging industry grew to ¥6.455-trillion (US$59.4-billion) in the financial year of 2013, with paper packaging products and pouch forming and filling machinery making up the majority of the packaging materials and equipment sector respectively.

In Fiscal Year 2013 (April 2013 to March 2014), Japan’s packaging industry grew by more than two per cent over the previous year to hit ¥6.049-trillion (US$59.4 billion) in value—representing 1.27 per cent of the national GDP.

Packaging materials and containers
Of the total, packaging materials and containers represented ¥5.608-trillion (US $51.596-billion), while packaging machinery contributed ¥441-billion (US $4.057-billion). By volume, 18.75-million tons of packaging materials and container were produced while 356,000 units of packaging machinery were manufactured.

Paper packaging products made up the majority of packaging materials and containers produced by both shipment value and volume at 41.8 percent and 62.5 percent respectively. This was followed by plastic packaging products which constituted 29.7 per cent of shipment value and 18.7 per cent of volume.

With a total volume of 1.62 million tonnes, metal packaging products returned a value of ¥9.4-billion (US $86.5-million), giving it a 17 percent market share. Other packaging materials such as seals, labels, tapes, textile products and cellophanes made up seven percent of total packaging value in 2013, or ¥3.8-billion (US $35-million).

Glass, always the poor relation, accounted for two per cent of the total material shipments valued at ¥1.24-billion (US $11.4-million). Wood, which is still significantly used in the packaging of more traditional products, performed better than glass with ¥1.39-billion (US $12.8-million), or 2.5 per cent of value.

Packaging machinery
Japan saw packaging machinery sales pick up over the past two years, up three per cent since the tsunami disaster of March 2011 to ¥441.4-billion (US $4-billion) in 2013.

Pouch forming and filling machines saw the highest demand with a total of 5,686 units delivered, representing a total of ¥60.5-billion (US $557-million). Meanwhile, bottling machinery gained the second highest value at ¥57.9-billion (US $533.1-million), with a total of 3,887 units.

Filling equipment also performed well with total installations of 3,075 units valued at ¥37.8-billion (US $348-million), while general container (non-pouch) form and filling equipment also performed well with sales of ¥13.3-billion (US $122.4-million).

However, canmaking equipment sales remained flat at ¥1.7 billion (US $15.65-million), with just 130 units installed.

For more information, visit

- 30-

Andrew Joseph

Airline Posters That Make You Want To Visit Japan

So... I was looking around for early aviation posters for my other blog: Pioneers of Aviation when I came across one or two involving Japan. Go check out my other blog, please.

So I got sidetracked and began spotting posters for the airline industries - the majority of them from the 1960s and for airlines that no longer exist, but still are pretty awesome some 50 years after they debuted.

My favorite is the Pan Am one above, because seeing it now, that woman makes me want to visit Japan. Repeatedly.

And because I've just taught myself how to write website code to enable side by side photos, here they are:

Air France
now a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group
Air India

BOAC - British Overseas Airways Corporation
 now British Airways
BOAC - British Overseas Airways Corporation
now British Airways
BOAC - British Overseas Airways Corporation. Matchbook
JAL - Japan Air Lines
JAL - Japan Air Lines
JAL - Japan Air Lines
JAL - Japan Air Lines
JAL - Japan Air Lines
KLM - Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij
The Netherlands
Lufthansa - Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Pan Am - Pan American World Airways
Pan Am - Pan American World Airways
Pan Am - Pan American World Airways
Pan Am - Pan American World Airways
QANTAS, an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services
QANTAS, an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services
SAS - Scandinavian Airlines System
now Scandinavian Airlines
Denmark, Norway, Sweden
SAS - Scandinavian Airlines System
now Scandinavian Airlines
Denmark, Norway, Sweden
Swiss Air
Swiss International Air Lines AG

Swiss Air
Swiss International Air Lines AG
Swiss Air
Swiss International Air Lines AG
Swiss Air
Swiss International Air Lines AG
Swiss Air
Swiss International Air Lines AG
TWA - Trans World Airlines
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stress And The Modern Man

Ahhh… stress… I may not show it on the outside, and only perspire when it's hot, but like most people on the planet I am affected by it.

This past September 15 was a somewhat stressful day for me, even though it really had nothing to do with me.

My wife went in for surgery to have her gall bladder removed - it went without a hitch. And even without a stitch.

It was also the 20th anniversary of my mother's death.

And, it was Noboko's birthday - my ex from Japan that I still write about when I can muster up the courage. I bet she still looks hot.

My wife, who was quite nervous about the operation, did not, of course, need to hear about the other two things, which would surely have set off a spiraling descent into crap for myself. Okay, one of those two things would have caused crap for me, so I wisely kept my mouth shut… thing is… it wasn't like I could talk about this stuff to anyone, anyways.

I thought I could, but turns out I couldn't. People have their own baggage to haul, I suppose… though I've been a Red Cap porter hauling baggage for a lot of people… so much so that I think most people tend to think that I never get bothered by stuff.

I'm usually pretty even tempered and usually seek out ways to diffuse spiraling situations - except when it relates to myself.

I used to really let things bother me when I was a lot younger, but I've learned not to panic when all else is going down the tubes.

I actually learned that while I was in Japan. Or perhaps, rather, I learned it because I was in Japan.

Regular readers will know that going to Japan in 1990 was my first time away from home... as in the first time I had ever left the nest.

Yeah, I know that many of you had done so when you were 18 - couldn't wait to leave... but I didn't, going to a local university. Besides, I got along with my parents and they with me. I was also quite lazy and afraid of having to grow up.

Applying for and being accepted into the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme really through a monkey-wrench into my whole plan of being a 'professional' student. I had never really expected to be accepted in, and truthfully didn't want to go.

But, for some reason... I took it as a challenge... and from then on, I never walked away from... always getting what I want - eventually.

Well... sort of.

In Japan... those first few months I was on a high.

Everything was new and exciting... new life on my own. New culture. No country. New language. New girlfriend.

Seems to me the only thing that really screwed me up was my new girlfriend. I have my own memories and version of things and I have written about it here, but to be fair, it is based on how I viewed things... not on how others viewed me.

Still... it was a fun and painful time.

One of those people who took pity on me was a fellow JET AET (assistant English teacher) named Nick Strachan, who actually lived about two kilometers north of me in Toronto, though we had not met before.

Nick was very British, but still Canadian, and he appeared very worldly to me. I always liked Nick, or as I called him Nicholas, but I'll always be grateful for that one piece of advice he gave me in my first year in Japan.

In a telephone call, he told me in two minutes about Zen Buddhism, and for some reason, the following statement really resonated with me.

"The past is the past. You can't touch it, taste it or feel it. It's gone.
There's the future, but it hasn't happened yet.
All you really have is the present. Waste it not."

I'm paraphrasing it - it was 24 years ago, but Nicholas, perhaps inadvertently or advertently (why isn't that a word?) told me that once, and I remembered it.

I thought enough of it to follow the advice, but not enough to join the Buddhist philosophy - I'd never join any club that would have me as a member - a famous quote from Groucho Marx - that certainly holds true for me.

Still, from time to time, I do think about a lot of could-have-beens, should-have-beens, could-still-be's and never-was', and being a very imaginative sort, I can color those thoughts any which way I want.

Perhaps I wouldn't if I was a member of the club, but I'm not.

Regardless... it helped - even a bit - with getting my life in order.

Part 2: The biggest thing that bothers me in my life today, is my son not getting a chance to know my mother, his grandmother.

Oh she would have loved the little guy.

I suppose what worries me now is knowing that in five years time, I'll be as old as she was when she died.

When she traveled out to visit me in Japan back in 1993, she made an impression on everyone she met, because she was so positive and happy and curious and helpful.

Those are things that she imparted on myself, though since I sometimes have self-doubt, I wonder if she did, too and how she handled it? Probably the same way I usually do - just smile and wave.

The blog is my outlet, I suppose, but it doesn't really reflect my mood - just usually a commentary on whatever I happen to spot first while cruising the 'Net.

I'm writing this on Tuesday, September 16 -  at lunch, in case anyone from work is reading this - and tonight I have a baseball game and soccer game to coach or watch over… my son only plays baseball this year.

Since my wife is still somewhat incapacitated - somewhat - I'll race home, feed the boy, run him to baseball, drive to soccer, coach the game and then race back to baseball to watch the end of the game. It's play-off ramifications for both, so I'm anxious for both teams, hoping they will do well.

(Ugh.... lost the soccer and baseball games.)

Back when I was a kid, I earned a trophy every year I played soccer—and that was waaaaaay before every kid got one just for participating. My teams had to earn the trophy, medals and plaques.

As such, it would mean more to me if my son earned a trophy rather than just got one because I enrolled him in a sport.

On the plus side, Hudson is trying out for a Select baseball team at the Bloordale Baseball League, where All-Star MLB player Joey Votto graduated from.

He may not make it, of course, but at least everyone seems to know who he is… and for once it's not because of his loud-mouth gregarious dad who's out chatting up everyone.

What's any of this go to do with Japan? Nothing. Everything. Sometimes it helps to know where your head is at.

We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blog next day. You know I haven't taken a day off from writing since February 14, 2011. It was probably a significant reason for me back then… oh wait… yeah, now I remember… yeah… I recall now…

But even though I was only doing several blog's a week before that, I decided that I would, come hell or high water - and there was a lot of both - that I would keep my sanity by writing.

I'm not sure if it worked, but I am still writing.

Did I mention that I either have my seasonal allergies bothering me now, or I have a cold, or I have both going on.

Stressful? Sure… Stressed? Strangely, I feel better after having written this.

Somewhere in Wonderland,

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Female Discrimination In Japan Hiring?

I'm no great bastion for anyone's causes, but I do dislike inequality in all its myriad forms.

In Japan, that the woman is considered—unofficially—as a second-class citizen is something few observers of Japan could seriously argue against.

Equals, supposedly, in virtually every profession, women spend time every morning making o-cha (hot green tea) and serving it to their male counterparts when they enter the work area. The female worker will note if the man has finished his tea, provide refills, and may even clean the cup when the job is complete - this in addition to the same job as the man.

I think what is worse is that the men never provide this same 'service' as the women do, but even more terrible is the fact that it is 'expected'.

That implies the men know the women are their servants.

Personally, I saw this time and time again in my Japanese schools. I saw men not holding doors open, men barely acknowledging women are in a room while greeting their male comrades… it's men expecting women to move out of their way as they continue to climb the corporate ladder.

It's companies knowing of many young, intelligent and educated women fully aware that the woman will soon get married, and leave to raise a family—so why hire them in the first place.

It goes on and on…

Japan's situation isn't unique, of course. I personally know people here in Canada who are steadfast about hiring women of a certain young vintage for fear that they will soon have a kid, go on maternity leave, get government funds for that, and then just before they are to come back to work, miraculously quit to find another job leaving many employers stuck with a temp for nine months of maternity leave and another month or so to find a replacement.
It happens, and it's called playing the system to perfection. But it helps create a negative image in companies looking to hire, and therefore a stain on women as a whole when it comes to being hired - in my opinion.

It's not a hard-fast stain that can't be removed. In the companies I have worked for, they seem to just hire the best person possible for whatever job they are trying to fill. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

In Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Japan ranks near the bottom of countries with respect to hiring women with college/university degrees.

While the OECD study notes that 92 per cent of Japanese MEN with a degree have a job, or Women, it's a paltry 69 per cent—the OECD average for women is 80 percent.

In Japan, 26 percent of those between ages 25 and 64 have at least a college degree. The figure is 35 percent for Japanese between ages 25 and 34, above the OECD average of 30 percent.
The data is based on figures from 2012.

Between sips of piping hot o-cha, Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) says he and his boyband government administration would try and figure out ways to better utilize female skills and abilities.

What's interesting to me, of course, is that there wasn't any previous indication to Abe that women were being under utilized. Or, if there was, he didn't care.

But… not to point fingers at Abe only… others before him and in other positions of power should have known.

To me, this is one of those annoying things that makes Japan seem kind of ass-backwards sometimes.

Then again… crap happens like this everywhere. Misogynist comments from the mouth of Toronto's mayor… or what's going on in the NFL right now.

If I might… most people are aware that this past February, an NFL player slugged his wife in an elevator, knocking her out cold. The facts were known to the National Football League, and they suspended him for two games. You get six if you smoke some marijuana. Major suspension if you engage in dog-fighting, but two games for coldcocking your woman. 

Yeah, yeah, suspensions, fired from the team - but ONLY after a video surfaced and went public showing the assault. The thing is… it occurred in en elevator in a casino. There are frisking cameras everywhere in a casino… and only when the video went public did everyone get rally upset.

But that's not my point… on September 11, 2014, that NFL player's team, the Baltimore Ravens played my Pittsburgh Steelers, beating them handily. Damn.

In the crowd were several fans wearing jerseys of the NFL player who assaulted his wife… including women.

One intrepid journalist with microphone in hand went to interview one of these female fans, while not really complimenting her on her jersey choice.

Unfazed, that female fan said that while she was against violence against women, she says that if a woman goes to hit a man (like in the video), she should expect to be hit back.


Yes, a lower-case wow.

Is this what some women think is okay in society? Pow! Zoom!  To the moon, Alice! Of course, it could just be the opinion of one dumbass football fan.

Back to how women are viewed in Japan. 

Look… the fact that the most popular topics on my blog are invariably about women and sex tells me a lot, and I complain about the number of hits each get to my friends.

I do glorify things a bit in those blogs - but I'm doing that in a different way in THIS blog, too. But aside from clothed female models, I keep things fairly clean - even though some people get angry at me because they think my use of the word 'damn' is offensive. It's in the dictionary and if you care to read it, you can find the word 'damnation' in the Bible.

I like what OECD directorate for education and skills Andreas Schleicher suggested to Japan: to expand day-care services for children under the age of three to allow highly educated women to hold jobs.

The top-ranked nations in the OECD study, such as Sweden and Norway, had all taken measures to support child-rearing.
Would these services be free or paid for? If paid for, what is stopping agencies for child care from opening up in Japan. We have those in Canada. They are expensive and not everyone can afford them, but we have plenty of regulated (and many unregulated under the table) daycare facilities.

But… here's something for the OECD to consider… in a very large number of Japanese families, the husband and or wife has a parent or two living with them. Or, they live close enough top their parents… which I'm just saying that it is possible for 'free' daycare to exist.

Obviously, that is not an universal truth in Japan, but I've been to many a homestead and seen grandparents looking after the kids - along with the mother…

The wonder I always had was why didn't the women go back to work? The kid is being looked after?

But, the truth remains that the women in Japan, once married, are generally expected to run the household. Daily cleaning. Near daily shopping owing to these tiny refrigerators that only hold one or two day's worth of food, laundry, cooking and more… it means looking after their kids when they come back form school and the husband, too…

It really is like any women in Japan with a kid, often has two - with the husband being the bigger baby.

According to the OECD, it conducts annual studies about educational systems of member nations, including government spending and its effects on education.

“The reason the resource of highly educated women is not being utilized is the lack of jobs that match their abilities, since the only work available for women who seek employment after raising children is simple part-time work,” says Japan Women’s University economics professor and specialist in women’s career development Osawa Machiko (surname first).

She's right, of course.

In Canada, I can count amongst the women I know - let's see: NINE! Nine women I know who have raised kids, but aren't working now even though their kids are in grade school or even graduated high school - and not working.

Some by choice. Some by situation. Some are looking, but are finding that even with a Masters Degree, their work skills are outdated. Some go back to school for further education. Some take part-time work in grunt labor positions. Most slip into the role of homemaker.

And that, again, is just in the small sampling of women I know in Toronto.  The same problem, but different situation exists in Japan.

The OECD study showed that the employment rate among the younger Japanese women with higher education has risen by five percentage points since 2000. That was in line with an increase in the ratio of those who used day-care services for children under age three.

But I wonder if that just meant more part-time employment rather than full-time gigs?

The results of a survey under the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) released by the OECD last year found Japan ranked No. 1 in adult skills in literacy and numeracy.

So at least we know the Japanese can spell under-utilized.

Andrew Joseph

Monday, September 15, 2014

New York: Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace

Here's a message from my friend Sakura, who wants all of you in the NYC area to check out a fun event: 

On Sunday, Sept. 21, the second annual “Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace" will take place at the Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool at Hearst Plaza, Lincoln Center in New York City.

Coinciding with the International Day of Peace and the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, this unique occasion will bring together prominent civic, interfaith and community leaders, along with New Yorkers of all ages, to inspire a collective quest for peace with lantern floating, live music and cultural performances at one of the most iconic settings in New York City.

We would like to invite you as a member of the media to join us at this special event. During this free day-long, family-friendly event, you will have an opportunity to construct a paper lantern and inscribe it with a personal message of peace, and then set the lantern afloat in the Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool.

The Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace is meant to inspire a spirit of harmony and compassion that transcends all boundaries of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity and religious tradition – and empower people to create a stronger force for peace in our families, our communities and globally.

This year marks the second Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace in New York City, and in recognition of Lincoln Center’s pre-eminence as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, the ceremony will feature performances by some of the most widely-recognized musicians and artists.

Wendy Whelan, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and guest artist with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, will perform “After the Rain,” a duet with fellow New York City Ballet dancer Craig Hall, and choreographed by world-renowned contemporary ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

There will also be performances by Alphonso Horne, a 26-year-old trumpet performer who was handpicked by Wynton Marsalis to be a part of his Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars; the students of The Julliard School; a dance performance choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson; students from The Dalton School; Shinnyo Taiko drummers; and others.

For more information, contact Sakura at (212) 715-1611, or via e-mail at

If you are in the US, you can see a video of last year's event. I can't see it in Canada... d'oh! 

There you go! Have a great time! And Sakura - send me some photos of this year's event. 

Photos in this article are courtesy of Sakura, of the 2013 event.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Welcome Black, Whopper!

Pardon my pun relating to 1970s American TV, but Burger King is back in black, with its Kuro Pearl (Black Pearl) burger and Kuro Diamond (Black Diamond) burger, starting September 19, 2014  - for a limited time until early November.

The black burgers were first offered by Burger King in 2012, and again in 2013 - both times a hit. Once bitten, not twice shy!

They certainly are visually striking to look at - and I admit that I would eat one.

It's not just some chemical black dye used to give the burger's their pleasantly grotesque color, but rather bamboo charcoal added to the cheese, and squid ink to the sauce.

The bamboo charcoal is also added to the bread, and it provides a nice charcoal smell… or is it a bamboo smell? Hopefully the former, because who needs all those Panda bears breaking down your doors trying to get a fix? Am I right?


The Kuro Pearl burger costs ¥480 (~ US$4.50), and has: black buns, black cheese, one meat patty (I assume it's meat), and black sauce which tastes just like real black.

Kuro Diamond burger from Burger King.

The fancier Kuro Diamond burger will set you back ¥690 (~US$6.50), and along with the ingredients above, will have tomato, lettuce and onions - unfortunately not black.

I had some black lettuce once, and I think I tripped out that I was talking to a hookah smoking caterpillar that was asking me question like he was Roger Daltry. Whoooo are you?!

You had to be there.

If in Japan, try it - and let me know how the burger is, and would you buy it real if it was a full-time menu option at Burger King.

For now, Burger King is hoping you'll bet on Black.

Andrew Joseph 
PS: Itadakimasu - which means (I humbly receive), is said before each meal in Japan by every one. And I mean everyone. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Japanese Porno Chicks Raise… ¥5-Million for AIDS Charity

This is a follow-up to a story a couple of weeks ago, regarding nine Japanese female adult video (AV) stars giving it up for charity, allowing men to donate money for a chance to squeeze their boobage.

Known familiarly as 'Boob Aid', the 2014 edition is the 12th year of the charity event, this year raising along with eyebrows, pulse rates and a few penises about ¥5-million (US$ 46,773) for AIDS prevention - though a final tally will be released (love that word) later.

It almost makes me want to sing: "Come Mister Tally Man, tally me banana!" I said almost.

With their yellow campaign T-shirts rolled up, they smiled as a whole lotto perky men sprayed their… hands with a disinfectant before copping a feel.

Now, I shouldn't just say men - there were women at the even willing to get their dirty little hands on some porno tits… a sight that prompted on AV starlet to ejaculate: "Wow, I’m happy. I want her to touch my breasts!"

During this 24-hour "Stop! AIDS" event held in Tokyo and broadcast live on a Japanese adult cable channel, donators got to squeeze not just one pair of breasts, but the whole kit and kaboodle, grabbing a handful of fat nine times each, though if I was there, it would be 18 grabs, owing to penchant for holding on for dear life one boob per hand.

But I wasn't there, so the point is moot. I'm unsure if I used that word correctly.

While a break did occur over night, for 15 of the 24-hour squeezeathon, almost 6,000 people got their perv on.

That's a lot of fondling, and I can only assume that it being September - with much groping done at night - things were probably a lot nippy.

According to the United Nations, approximately 35-million people around the world are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) that can cause AIDS.

While Japan does not have a large population of people with HIV, even one is too many.

According to National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan - as of December 2013, 22,971 people in Japan have HIV or have developed AIDS, with approximately 1,500 new cases being diagnosed every year.

On a much lighter side, here's a holler out to one of my readers, Caroline, who is celebrating her birthday today, and apparently all week long as though she were Alice in Wonderland hoping for more un-birthday presents. Amongst many other wonderful things that I have learned about her, Caroline is one of the few people who had actually read all of my blogs. While I am no longer sure if that is true or possible, it's the thought that counts.

Here's me thinking of you today. Happy birthday.

Andrew Joseph