Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fukushima crisis continues

By Anthony Vasquez

More than nine months after the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to affect people’s livelihoods.

Despite the Japanese government’s announcement earlier this month that the plant has finally been shut down for good, doubts linger that the government has been honest with the Japanese people. A government panel recently found that plant operators did not take into consideration the possibility of a tsunami overwhelming the plant. According to their report, Tokyo Electric Power failed to plan for the disaster.

Furthermore, the government was not transparent in releasing information to the public. In their Dec. 26 article, Bloomberg reporters Tsuyoshi Inajima and Stuart Biggs quote from the report: “Information on urgent matters was delayed, press releases were withheld, and explanations were kept ambiguous.”

The meltdown of three reactors at the Japanese nuclear plant on March 11 is the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl incident which occurred in 1986 in the former Soviet Union. A 12.5-radius area surrounding the plant is a no-go zone. NPR's Frank Langfitt reported last September that in Fukushima City, more than 50 miles from the plant , children wear radiation monitors. The Japanese government estimates that some areas will not be safe for two decades.

Further reading:

Christmas in the Radiation Zone
By Chris Williams
December 28, 2011

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An American journalist reports from China's west

By Anthony Vasquez

CARSON, Calif. — In light of recent ethnic violence in western China, the Chinese government has tried to emphasize that its policies are bringing prosperity to the region. One way of doing this is to give foreign reporters a guided tour.

Mary Kay Magistad, a reporter for Public Radio International’s The World, participated a few weeks ago in such a trip organized by the Foreign Ministry. In her blog posts and radio stories, she explains that the government has relaxed laws prohibiting foreign reporters from interviewing people, but that there is still local resistance to this change in policy.

Magistad traveled through the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, home to the Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim Uighurs and largely Tibetan Qinghai Province in western China. Though some in the government claim to want greater freedoms for foreign reporters, organizers of these government-sponsored trips include destinations to government-run factories or places where the people awaiting them toe the government’s line. In a Tibetan monastery in Qinghai, local officials stayed near. As she wrote in her blog:

The purpose of Foreign Ministry-organized trips has long been to sell a certain way of looking at an issue. The more sensitive the issue, the more careful the organizers tend to be to make sure foreign journalists don’t have time to stray off-piste.

But she also said there are advantages to joining a government tour: reporters have the chance to speak to otherwise hard to interview government officials. Although she could have legally traveled on her own through these same areas, Magistad said that there is value in seeing both what is happening in these parts of China and how the Chinese government wants to generate its own story, one that glosses over the conquest and unequal development of these formerly independent lands.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A look back at the World Cup 2010

By Anthony Vasquez

It’s been three weeks since the final between Spain and The Netherlands took place in Johannesburg last July 11. Now in brief a quick summary of the East Asian teams’ showing this time around folows.

North Korea and Australia, which is part of the Asian Football Confederation, did not get out of the first round. Australia lost to Germany 4-0, tied with Ghana 1-1, and defeated Serbia 2-1. North Korea did much worse losing its three games: 2-1 against Brazil, 7-0 against Portugal, and 3-0 against Ivory Coast. It gave up the most goals of any team in the tournament with a total of 12 goals.

South Korea and Japan made it to the Round of 16. In its last game of the competition, South Korea lost to Uruguay 2-1. In its match against Paraguay, Japan tied 0-0 after 120 minutes of play. Paraguay won the shootout from the penalty line that followed 5-3 and moved on to lose against Spain.

Both South Korea and Japan demonstrated that they are teams with the potential to move beyond the first round of the playoffs. In the 2002 Korea Japan tournament, South Korea did just that, making it as far as the semifinals. In the Third-place game against Turkey, South Korea lost 3-1.

Japan has not made it past the Round of 16. With some changes, the team may just do so next time.

Though no Chinese speaking nation was in this World Cup, there is a Chinese-English bilingual version of K Naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag.” Below is a video of it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New documentary on China's modernization

By Anthony Vasquez

This past Monday the BBC World Service broadcast the first of a four-part radio documentary series about China’s increasingly prominent role in world affairs. The series, called China: Shaking the World, features reporting by Michael Robinson.

Robinson calls China’s quest for global economic, political and social relevance “the story of the biggest attempted comeback in political history.”

In Part One, Robinson reports on China’s infrastructure boom, including the government’s ambitions of high-speed rail lines to Singapore and India. He also travels to Chongqing, where he interviews the manager of its port on the Yangtze and visits the site planned for a new high-tech complex that is to employ as many as 300,000 workers.

He talks to a couple whose home sits on land that will be incorporated into the complex. When asked whether or not they will miss their home, they say that they will, but are thankful for what their government has done for them.

The next part, scheduled to air on July 19, is to focus on the international tensions that China’s industrial revolution is creating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Update

By Anthony Vasquez

The group stage has ended in the World Cup 2010. The round of 16 has started and both South Korea and Japan qualified.

Japan will face Paraguay on Tuesday. South Korea qualified, but lost to Uruguay 2-1 on Saturday.

South Korea placed second in Group B. After a 2-0 win over Greece two weeks ago, the team fell to Argentina 4-1. In their last match of group play, South Korea tied with Nigeria 2-2.

Last Saturday in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, South Korea and Uruguay competed for a spot in the quarter finals. Luis Suarez scored both of Uruguay’s goals, one in the 8th minute and another in the 80th. Prior to Suarez’s goal, South Korea’s Lee Chung Yong scored in the 68th minute to tie the game 1-1. Suarez’s second goal put Uruguay up for good. Uruguay moves on to face Ghana, which defeated the United States also on Saturday, 2-1 with the winning goal in overtime.

A quote from South Korea’s coach, Huh Jung-Moo, read in part:

Uruguay were just fortunate enough to get those goals. We played very well but we ought to have played a bit more intelligently. Our players never gave in and they never stopped trying to overcome the obstacles in front of them.
-- Quoted from

Click here to read more quotes

Japan placed second in Group E. It won its opener against Cameroon 1-0. In its second game, the Netherlands won 1-0. Last Thursday, Japan defeated Denmark 3-1. If Japan wins on Tuesday in Pretoria, it will be the first time that the team is in the quarter finals. The team played well against Denmark and if it keeps up that level of play, there’s a chance for an upset.

Not to be forgotten, North Korea lost its three games in group play. First came a 2-1 loss to a Brazilian team that struggled with the North Korean defense. Next came Portugal's onslaught of goals, which ended in a 7-0 rout. This was the so-called Group of Death, afterall. North Korea, if only slightly, redeemed itself by losing 3-0 to Ivory Coast.

With Australia having placed last in its group, Japan is the sole representative from the Asian region. Their Tuesday match against Paraguay starts at 4:00 p.m. in South Africa, 11:00 p.m. in Japan, and 7:00 a.m. Pacific in the United States.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

South Korea's World Cup 2010 song

By Anthony Vasquez

In a few hours South Korea will take on one of the world’s soccer powerhouses: Argentina. On the field, South Korea has the chance to show that it is ready to compete in the higher rounds of the competition. But off the field, a South Korean pop group has already shown that their World Cup-themed song has sticking power.

There are two big theme songs for this tournament. Shaqira’s “Waka Waka” is the official one (the link is for the English version). There is also K Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag.” But Super Junior, a very popular group in South Korea has their own song: “Victory Korea.”

World Cup fever and South Korean pop have met. In an ESPN online poll of 11 World Cup-themed songs from the United States, England, Germany, Australia and South Africa, this song garnered more than 90 percent of the vote. More than 13,000 people voted.

Below is the music video from YouTube. Here is a link to an article with links to the songs.

World Cup inspires global music surge
By Matthew Glenesk
June 10, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

North Korea scores, still loses to Brazil

By Anthony Vasquez

The last time the North Korean national team played in the World Cup was in 1966 in England. Earlier today, they played Brazil and lost 2-1 in Johannesburg.

After a scoreless first half in which Brazil had its chances to make some goals, the North Korean defense proved itself a legitimate rival to the five-time World Cup champion. According to the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Brazil was 1st and North Korea was 105th. A draw with Brazil would have made big news indeed.

It was in the 55th minute, however, that Maicon scored Brazil’s first. In the 72nd minute, Elano added to the lead, making it 2-0. Though it appeared that Brazil might score again, it was not to be. In the 89th minute, North Korea’s Ji Yun-Nam rushed toward the Brazilian goal and scored.

The official attendance of the game was 54,331. ESPN Soccernet's Leander Schaerlaeckens reported that wind chills during the night game were in the 20s.

North Korea’s next game is against Portugal on Monday June 21 in Cape Town. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. in North Korea, and 4:30 a.m. Pacific in the United States.


The Christian Science Monitor
Brazil vs. North Korea: Kim Jong Il's soccer soldiers hold firm, deny Brazil goal fest
By Andrew Downie
June 15, 2010
Brazil - Korea DPR
June 15, 2010