Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sequels in October 2015

October 19, 2015
Journey to Hokkaido

I visited also Toyako-lake. It was extremely beautiful. After that, I saw a Konpira crater. It was fascinating emerald-green. I felt my mind refreshed.



October 17, 2015
Suicidal bombers related to IS in Ankara

A local cell of ISIS is strongly suspected to have concerned about the suicidal bombing in Ankara, according to the prosecutor's office. But its statement is a little different from that of the government's.

StarTribune: Turkish prosecutors: Local cell, taking orders from IS in Syria, carried out Ankara attacks

It will take more time to reveal the whole figure of this case.


October 8, 2015
TPP was finally approved

In Japan, the approval of TPP is generally accepted by citizens. Some stakeholders such as farmers are worrying about the risk of strengthened competitors. Most citizens look indifferent to the news any more.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sausages cause cancer, probably

World Health Organization (WHO) officially identified processed meat as a carcinogenic substance. It was listed to like the same risk level as tobacco and asbestos, according to WHO.

NBC NEWS: Ham, Sausages Cause Cancer; Red Meat Probably Does, Too, WHO Group Says

This statement is based on several studies, some of which are published in popular academic journals. Indeed, many researchers have believed the risk of processed meat to cause cancer. Nonetheless, it is surprising that meat was deemed as dangerous as tobacco, one of the most harmful substance we frequently see.

The Lancet Oncology: Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat

Furthermore, red meat is also probable to be carcinogenic, according to WHO. Pancreas and prostate seem to be vulnerable to the exposure to red meat.

The Guardian: Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes – WHO

The statement of WHO is seismic for both meat producing and consuming countries. Christian Schmidt, minister for food and agriculture of Germany, made a comment that sausages are beneficial in moderation, as well as the sunshine. On the other hand, some people claim that we should seek substitute to red meat in the future.

Reuters: Germany's answer to WHO study: Don't be scared of sausages

Traditional Japanese cuisine contained fishes instead of red meat. Following the westernization of daily diet, it is considered that the prevalence rate of colon cancer has been raised in Japan. Despite some factors may be confounding, I believe the hypothesis that red meat can cause cancer.


However, there are many other foods suspicious to be related to carcinogenic activity. We cannot avoid all risks, including those which have not been proven. After all, balanced meal is preferable for modifying the overall risk.

Therefore, I am not afraid of the statement of WHO. In my opinion, it is overestimating the risk of meat. I still love sausages.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New York introduces taxation for guns?

An attempt to prevent gun crimes has risen in the US. Nydia Velazquez, a congresswoman from New York, plans to introduce a bill titled “Reducing Gun Violence in our Neighborhoods Act” at the New York City Hall. It will demand the seller of guns to pay 100 USD tax.

The Daily Caller: New Bill Would Force Americans To Pay $100 Tax On Every Gun

This bill also requests gun owners to report any stolen weapons immediately.


It is not for the first time to introduce taxation for firearms in the US. Cook County, Illinois has also accepted a similar scheme. Unfortunately, the effect of burdening gun sellers on suppress gun violence has not been proven.

Forbes: Bill Introduced In Congress To Tax Gun Sales, Require Stolen Guns To Be Reported

In Seattle City Council, the gun has been taxed since early this year. The income from taxation is used to gun violence research and prevention programs. Gun-rights associations, such as National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation, have sued the city, claiming the illegality of this legislation.

I think gun crimes has continuously been a shame of the US. Very recently, a terrible shooting case occurred in a college.

My past entry: Oregon shooting: gun control, mental illness, and anonymity

Some people insist that equipping a gun can protect yourself from being victimized. I hardly believe this statement. Far more many guns are used for an evil purpose than those to save your life.

My past entry: Gun debate continue in college

The US is stacked in the Nash equilibrium regarding the use of guns, in my opinion. Regulating guns will benefit outlaws because they dare not obey the order. Taxation is a better option. Thus, the police will be able to expropriate unauthorized arms for suspicious tax evasion. Circulation of guns in the region will be more clarified.

My past entry: Gun control and Nash equilibrium

However, raising the cost of possessing a gun may be weak for preventing gun violence. There is no panacea to this issue, I am afraid.

*Sequel

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A theft case using touchless transaction

A man got stolen money on a train, but nothing was stolen physically. Actually, his bank card was illegally skimmed using touchless transaction.

International Business Times: Virtual pickpockets steal money from contactless bank cards by bumping into victims claims Londoner

This incident occurred in London. Since the victim was a manager of a magazine publisher, the case was soon published in detail.


Some modern bank cards adopt contactless payment system for the minor transaction. With this card, you need not input the PIN code when the amount of payment is less than 30 GBP. Similar systems are available also in Japan. The thief abused this characteristic. He or she might close the transaction device to the bank card to read its information through the wallet.

This kind of crimes had not been reported so far, but it seems quite similar to the cases of fabricated passports. The way of skimming is not difficult, perhaps. However, you can steal only 30 GBP for an act. It seems not cost-effective for a crime. It may be a reason such cases are rarely reported.

You can protect your card easily using a sheet of foil covering the card. Passport cases against skimming are widely available. To begin with, you should be more cautious not to get stolen your wallet directly than get the data hacked.

I am not anxious to this type of theft at this time. Even if I, unfortunately, encounter an incident, the card companies will compensate for the loss. Convenience always coincides to the risk.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Baby Hitler and regrettable history

Recently, New York Times Magazine raised a bold question to the readers. “Could you kill a baby Hitler?”


It is well known that Hitler is one of the most terrible tyrants in the world. He killed thousands of people based on his twisted ideology. His ambition brought Germany and Europe itself into the tragic WWII.

So, do you kill him if you could return to the past when Hitler was a baby? This assumption is, of course, ridiculous but also is worth to consider at the time DeLorean has come in the Back to the Future.

The Telegraph: Back to the Future Day: is the DeLorean as bad as we think?

The result of the vote is interesting. Forty-two percent of the voters said that they could kill Hitler to prevent the subsequent Holocaust. Thirty percent rejected to kill him.

New York Times Magazine: Could you kill a baby Hitler?

Jewish Telegraph Agency: NY Times Magazine asks readers: ‘Could you kill a baby Hitler?’

It is not sure how many voters thought the concept of killing a baby seriously. This result suggests that Hitler is still subjected to the hatred of many people.

I do not remember a Japanese, like Hitler, so much hated by everyone. Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, is sometimes criticized for his aggressive behavior. Some people compare him to Hitler. But this comparison is nonsense. Even if Abe is a nationalist, I do not think he is going to the war for realizing his ideal.

In Japan, there are three historic points of regret. First is the WWII. Nowadays, most Japanese recognizes that participating in the WWII was wrong for Japan. The second is Aum Shinrikyo. It was a cult group originated from ancient Buddhism whose boss was Shoko Asahara. Asahara committed mass murder with spreading toxic gas in the subway station, killing many people. This case has been the biggest terrorism in modern Japan. Not a few people including scholars were brainwashed, to obey Asahara’s order. Asahara was sentenced to capital punishment, but has not been executed yet. Some supporters are appealing for the reconsideration of the court decision. And the third may be Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011. This accident emerged due to some sequential human errors. If concerning people had been a little more cautious, this atomic power plant would have been safe. The accident influenced seriously on Japanese atomic power policy.

History has some crucial points. But we cannot go back, nor can forecast the future. My answer is I cannot kill baby Hitler because his future had not been determined at his birth.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Oslo will partially be free from cars

Oslo is going to set a car-free region in it. It means that any cars will be banned from the center of the capital. It will be carried out by 2019, according to local politicians.

Reuters: Oslo aims to make city center car-free within four years

Some rural areas in Europe, such as Zermatt has regulated the usage of cars for protecting the nature. But it will be for the first time that car-banning is introduced in the capital city.


It is unclear whether electric vehicles are also banned. In terms of environmental issue, e-cars are accepted. But they will also be a cause of traffic accident.

It is afraid that citizens who Commute by car will be negatively affected if the regulation is carried out. Nowadays, a quarter of Norwegian commute either on foot or by bicycle. And 83 percent of residents in the issued area are estimated to have good access to public transportation. Also, the government has committed to invest in public transportation. The plan seems not so ambitious than it is looked.

The Atlantic: The Car-Free City

Air pollution caused by vehicles would still be a significant problem even if Volkswagen did not violate the regulation. Also in Japan, diesel cars not to meet the standard are prohibited from entering Tokyo.

My past entry: Volkswagen emission scandal

However, it is unclear how are each restriction practical to save the earth. If some areas in Oslo become free from car emission, the wind brings polluted air from other regions. After all, global commitment is necessary to keep the whole environment stable. It is sure that Politicians in Oslo are aware of this fact, and are expecting other cities to follow Oslo.

Ecology is an imperfect science. Nobody can predict the future. We should keep an eye on both our surrounding and the global trend.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Are you responsible for damage to the train which killed your family?

There is a tragic, and also suggestive report. A woman in Belgium received a letter from a railway company. Her child was killed by the train of the company. Astonishingly, the content of the letter she read was, instead of the words of regret, a bill for the damage caused to the rail tracks. The amount of compensation was 19,000 Euro (21,000 USD).

International Business Times: Belgium: Mother of 12-year-old hit by train gets £14,000 bill for damaging rail track

It is true that the railway company sustains a large amount of loss from an accident. In addition to the direct damage to the train body and rails, disturbed railway schedule causes severe damage to the company. It is possible that relevant employees get psychological trauma due to encountering the accident.


Nonetheless, it seems odd that the railway company is the victim of the crash to demand compensation to the family of whom killed by the train. Indeed, this incident ignited a rage of some politicians.

In this case, it is noteworthy that the victim, 12-year-old girl, was taking a photo on the rail tracks. I have to say that the girl was too reckless to avoid the tragedy. Also, the mother is unlikely to need the payment actually because her insurance will cover the damage. Perhaps, the railway company considered these factor before sending the bill.

There is a similar case recently occurred in Japan. Some years ago, an old man with dementia was hit by a train, to be dead. The railway company sued the family of the victim for the compensation. The District Court supported the claim of the company, admitting the responsibility of the family to supervise the patient with dementia not to harm others. The amount of compensation fee reached 7.2 million JPY (60,000 USD). Family appealed to the High Court. But the decision of the High Court was also supportive to the railway company, albeit the fee was halved (30,000 USD). This lawsuit was moved to the Supreme Court, and yet to be resolved.

My past entry: Railway accidents, a terrible worry

This case looks like nonsense as well at a glance. An American psychiatrist told me that the family would rather sue the railway company for having killed the old man if the case occurred in the US.

However, there is a crucial difference between these cases. And the difference is well representative for the characteristics in the both societies.

In Belgium, the victim was 12-year-old girl. Generally speaking, European society put a great emphasis on the responsibility of parents for supervising their children. In the UK, if you let your schoolchildren alone, you may be arrested for neglect. On the contrary, in Japan, going out alone for purchasing some commodity asked by the parents is encouraged for schoolchildren. In my opinion, 12-year-old is enough to sense the danger of the rail tracks.

On the other hand, the care for patients with dementia is borne by their family members in Japan. I think it is one of the greatest problems in Japan. There are limited resource to aid the care for aged people. Many families are suffering from the burden to take care of elder people. Supervision by the family never be perfect. This court decision is disappointing, because it means that people with dementia will have no choice other than being locked not to wander outside.

Anyway, a traffic accident is tragic. We should be free from nonconstructive conflicts. The prevention of similar cases in the future should be more emphasized.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Marijuana use doubled in the US

Nowadays, Marijuana use is no more problematic in the US. In other words, it is a too big problem to be referred.

In four states, Marijuana use for the recreational purpose has been legalized. This trend is gradually infiltrating to other states or other countries. Recently, a national research proved that the prevalence rate of Marijuana use in the US reached 9.5% in 2012-2013, doubled from a decade ago.

International Business Times: US marijuana use has doubled with women and middle-aged leading the surge

JAMA Psychiatry: Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013

On the contrary, the smoke rate was halved from 43.4% to 19.5% in these some decades. Now, the number of Marijuana users is a half of that of smokers in the US.

My past entry: Tobacco problem in China

Some people insist that Marijuana is less harmful to the human body than tobacco. I partially agree with this opinion. Tobacco has been proven to be significant causes of several type of diseases. It does not mean, however, that Marijuana is harmless.

Marijuana brings you strong dependence, and sometimes psychosis. According to the researchers, approximately a third of users become Marijuana-related mental disorders. Interestingly, the proportion of the patients among total Marijuana users was decreased in this decade. More people could try to use Marijuana thanks to the legalization of Marijuana use. Perhaps, most of them remained occasional users, not so much addicted. Under the strict regulation, users might be limited to the persons severely dependent on Marijuana.


Thus, Marijuana exposure does not always make you dependent on this addictive drug. Supporters of relaxation of the regulation emphasize this fact. I heard a hypothesis that the power of inflicting dependence was stronger in alcohol than in Marijuana. On the other hand, a considerable amount of people will onset drug dependence or more serious illnesses such as psychosis due to Marijuana use. As a psychiatrist, I am concern about the agony of the patients.

In Japan, methamphetamine has been representative of addictive drugs. Methamphetamine has extremely strong dependency, and frequently cause psychosis. It is fortunate for Japanese that this terrible drug became infamous in the society. Recently, many kinds of addictive drugs are illegally imported to Japan. But most people are conscious to the risk of there drugs. We should continue to educate people who have high risk of exposing them.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Japanese translators seem to suffer

Recently, I saw a series of tweets of some Japanese professional translators. They mentioned that translation fee is so decreasing that they hardly earn enough money to live from their job.

Togetter: 1.2 million JPN of annual income for a translator (in Japanese)

According to them, they got one million JPY for translating a whole novel. If they could publish four books in a year, they earned four million JPY, which is about the income of average Japanese.


Recently, however, the fee has been reduced to only 300 thousand JPY per book. It is a third of the previous grade. In spite of continuous deflation, this amount is too low for a person to survive. Thus, translators cannot stand by their own profession. Many translators have to be engaged in another job combined.

The reduction of translation fee is attributable to the lowered sales of books. Most publishers are suffering from customers reluctant to buy a book.

Previously, we could read a large amount of books in Japanese originally written in a foreign language. But it is possible that we will not get translated books in the future, because no one is willing to translate them for such a cheap reward.

On the other hand, young Japanese will be good at English since Japanese government is investing in the education of English language. Perhaps they will not miss translated books. Many English books would be placed beside Japanese ones in the bookstore. The situation is similar to that in EU countries.

In the academic world, translating a textbook is rather a duty than a way to earn money. For example, I have been engaged in translation work twice. In the both cases, I never got a reward. If translation fee were paid, the purchase cost would have been raised. It leads lowered sales of the book. Our goal is to spread the new textbook in Japan. Therefore, the price should be reduced as much as possible. As a result, we ignore the personal income. Anyway, we were able to earn a little money for translation.

Publishers are also indifferent to the profit in the translation of an academic textbook. They do not perform detailed marketing in advance. Whether a textbook will be sold well or not is unclear for the publisher. Some books are difficult to read because of complex language. And the editor usually has little skills to correct the description. It means that the skills of translators are crucial.

My past entry: Translation Problems

Very recently, I completed the textbooks translated. I hope they will be popular, even if they would not bring me any profit.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Body soap can harm you?

You may have been told by your parents to wash your hands and body with body soap. You may believe that cleanness prevents you from diseases. According to a scientist, however, it is the opposite.


Robynne Chutkan, the founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, emphasizes the risk of washing out the bacteria from your body entirely. She warns that there are many good bacteria to keep our skin acne and eczema free. Anti-bacterial soap can eradicate them.

Independent: Expert warns using soap in shower may actually be bad for us in long term

It is well known that human body is living with the astronomical amount of bacteria. Antibiotic drugs can alter their composition. Pseudomembranous colitis is one of the diseases which occur in your intestine due to excessive use of antibiotics.

Also, I often see the chapped hands of patients with the obsessive compulsive disorder. They wash the hands again and again because of the fear of infection. Frequent exposure to flowing water gets rid of sebum that keeps your skin moist. As a result, dry hands become vulnerable to infection, ironically.

Ms. Chutkan’s hypothesis is not surprising. But how many time should you wash your body in a week is still unclear. It depends on the hygiene status of the place you live. In many regions in developing countries, lacking the concept of the cleanness can be fatal. On the other hand, Japanese love cleanness very much, whereas they are free from tropical diseases.

I myself seldom use body soap. Instead, I wash my body twice in a day. British people were surprised to me using a shower so frequently. Washing away the sweat is fun for me. But I am not sure if this way is appropriate in terms of hygiene.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Amazon sues false reviewers

Nowadays, reviews by customers have a critical role in the decision-making of clients who consider buying an item. You can easily find several online reviews to check the reputation of each item.


There are many semi-professional reviewers in some online shopping sites such as Amazon.com and Argos. In addition, many bloggers introduce their personal impression of items that they purchased. Some of those are so influential that they can earn money from an advertisement of the items they referred.

Describing a user experience is one of the popular themes in bloggers. Also, making an advertisement of a product is the proper activity of the company. However, combining them can be ethically doubtful. Thus, you find an entry of a blogger you like recommending an item. But later you know the fact that the company providing the item made a payment for a friendly review to the blogger. How do you feel about it? It is named “Stealth Marketing” or “Underground Marketing.” This kind of acts is prohibited in many countries. In making an advertisement, the writer has to disclose the relationship with the provider in terms of financial support.

By the way, I have not got money from any companies relevant to the gadgets I have introduced in this blog. I am not so influential to be given profit.

Stealth marketing can be problematic when an influential writer is involved. It is also troublesome in the case many reviewers are engaged in this act. Most review sites equip an evaluating system for each item, counting friendly reviews. If a company hires many reviewers, they can promote the item by posting fabricated reviews many times.

Recently, Amazon made a lawsuit against such fake reviewers. They were considered to get a reward for posting a review with a five-star. Amazon claims that the brand of Amazon was damaged by the fake reviewers. However, Amazon did not identify the defendants exactly, because their screen names were not trustworthy. It is still unclear how many people are involved in this issue. The reviewers and advertisement company seem to have taken some tricks to conceal their activity. This fact means that they have recognized that their act is illegal.

ITProPortal: Amazon launches battle against fake reviewers with mass lawsuit

I am curious about this case. I wonder how the court will proceed the investigation, and calculate the amount of damage Amazon took.

Most of all reviews are innocent, and we get to benefit from them. Amazon owes the reviewers, too, for supplementing the information of its merchandises. Distinguishing good reviews from bad ones is not easy, excepting organizational commitments such as this lawsuit. The wisdom of crowd is vulnerable, as well as innovative.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Uber won in London, but faces more lawsuits

Uber, a newly online car hiring service is facing many lawsuits, being not rare as a destructive innovator.


In London, whether its GPS-based faring system is deemed as a taxi meter was argued. Latest judge by the High court declined the appeal of Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. It means that Uber is able to continue its business without any regulation adapted to taxi companies.

International Business Times: Uber claims 'victory for new technology' as high court rules taxi app is legal in London

As I wrote previously, Uber is a strong competitor for conventional taxi companies. Even they admit that they are not able to match Uber in terms of the fare. At the same time, they appealed to the court, claiming that Uber was breaching the rule for taxi providers.

My past entry: Taxi in London and Japan

In London, there is a movement to introduce a new rule. According to Transport for London, the new legislation will prohibit the apps such as Uber from showing the vehicle to the rider for five minutes after receiving a request for the car.

London proposes stricter norms for app-based taxi firms like Uber and Hailo

To be honest, I hardly understand the meaning of this five-minutes rule. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, wants to reduce the number of the cabs in London to ease the road congestion. However, it is far from clear this rule can improve the traffic environment. Actually, over 100,000 Londoners have signed to the opposition to the induction of the rule.

International Business Times: London taxi wars: 100,000 back Uber petition against strict TfL rules for minicabs

It is frequently seen that the stakeholders of a conservative organization are eager to abate the newly technologies from being a competitor. As a result, evolution of the society is interfered. In Paris, a similar legislation has been already introduced.

Uber are exposed to lawsuits in many other countries. In some cases, the occupational status of Uber drivers is discussed. When a driver make an accident, or rape the rider, who is responsible for it? It is more complicated than the power game of competitive companies, because the right of the users should be protected. Otherwise, immature services will soon perish.

More or less, taxi-driving services are going to decline. If Uber were not here, Google car would replace their seat. They are facing a decisive point.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Journey to Hokkaido

Last weekend, I visited Hokkaido for some purposes.

At first I visited Hokkaido University.


There were hundreds of Ginkgo trees.


I saw splendid colored leaves there.


I ate an Uni Donburi (sea urchin bowl) at Uni Murakami near to Sapporo station. It is one of my favorite foods. I eat it whenever I visit Sapporo.


After the lunch, I saw the musical "CATS" at Sapporo Shiki Theater.

CATS is a great musical show. I have seen it several times in Japan, as well as in London twice. There are several differences in the contents of CATS between Japan and London. In Japan, "Rampus Cat" was omitted. The both are marvelous.

My past entry: CATS, the meaning of life and memory

At night, I met one of my ex-colleague who got a post here recently. He was skillful and eager to acquire more knowledge. I enjoyed a very fruitful conversation with him.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oscar Pistorius will be released in this month.

He was convicted of a manslaughter the last year, and is incarcerated. But he will be permitted to serve the rest term under house arrest as first ten months of incarceration will be over without issues.


He shot his girlfriend. He insisted that he misidentified that she had been an intruder. The judge approved his claim. But the prosecutor made an appeal based on the idea that he deliberately killed the victim.

My past entry: Murder case of Olympic athlete

In South African law, prisoners with a sentence of fewer than five years can appeal to be released earlier to the full term of incarceration. Similar legislation is equipped in many countries.

International Business Times: Oscar Pistorius to be released from jail after serving one year for killing Reeva Steenkamp

Some people criticize the fact that a murderer is going back to the society only after a year from the crime. On the other hand, incarceration for a long time hardly improve the skills for adapting the society of the perpetrator.

By the way, the family of the victim said that they did not want Pistorius suffer excessively, despite considering that ten months were not enough as the term of incarceration.

In Japan, the mass media, as well as the police and prosecutor, tend to publish the comment of the victims or their families in which the perpetrator should be harshly punished. I am doubtful that every Japanese wants to revenge the victims. Or if so, I have to say that Japanese are still uncivilized. Harsh punishment never relieves anyone. It will not act as a deterrent, either, as far as referring recent studies.

*Sequel

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Suicidal bombers related to IS in Ankara

On October 10, 2015, terrible bombings occurred in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The explosions killed around 100 people and injured more than 400 persons.

(This photo shows Istanbul, provided by PhotoAC.) 

This incident seemed to be committed by suicidal bombers, aiming at a “Labour, Peace and Democracy” rally organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey and some relevant organizations.

In Ankara, there have been some bombing cases occurred so far. But this case is ranked as the deadliest one in Turkey’s modern history.

This case was deemed as a terror at the beginning. But no one published the criminal declaration. Usually, a group of terrorists make a commitment to their antisocial activity to make a provocation to the authorities and inflict the fear of citizens. There were some possible groups likely to do such a destructive act, considering the complicated situation of Turkey.

I thought that one of the aims of the criminals was to cause a suspicion among citizens.

Recently, it was reported that the suicidal bombers were identified with DNA investigation. According to the authorities, they are likely to have linked to Islamic State. It is not a surprising result.

Independent: Ankara bombing: DNA tests reveal suicide bombers’ link to Isis

Turkey is struggling to deal with the tense relationship between Western countries and Islamic ones. It is inevitable that this tragedy will influence on the national emotion against Islamic extremists. On the other hand, Turkish police were also blamed as they were responsible for the prevention of terror attacks.

CNN: Ankara terrorist attack: What does it mean for Turkey?

Anyway, harming others with forcible ways is not permitted at all. I strongly hope such cases will never occur.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wealthy people as well as others eat fast food

McDonald’s and other fast-food franchise chains are often criticized for several points of view, such as poor nutrition, harmfulness for health, and the inferior working environment. It cannot be denied that they sacrifice some kind of quality for their inexpensiveness. The choice is yours whether eating a hamburger with one USD or rejecting it.


However, some people insist that poor people are deprived the opportunity to take better foods. According to them, they have no choice than use fast food, leading to the deterioration of their health, such as obesity, to become poorer, without getting out of the vicious circle.

It seems reasonable at a glance. Whenever I entered McDonald’s at southeast London, there were crowded with people looking rather not rich. On the other hand, I could hardly find fast food restaurants at the north side of London, which is popular with wealthy people.

But, it is far from true, according to some studies.

The Myth That Links Poor Families to Fast Food

In the US, only 39% of the adults with annual income less than 20,000 USD eat fast food more than once a week, whereas about a half of the citizens with annual income more than 30,000 USD replied to use it at least weekly. This research was conducted across all 50 states with random sampling. Therefore, the reliability of these results is high.

GALLUP: Fast Food Still Major Part of U.S. Diet

Another study conducted with the American children and adolescents for the subjects showed a similar result. The researchers calculated the percentage of calories taken from fast food, to compare the data in the rank of poverty level. The result suggested no significant difference, that is wealthy children are likely to take calories from fast food as well as poor ones.

NCHS Data brief: Caloric Intake From Fast Food Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011–2012

Some hypotheses can be driven from these results. Poor people are not likely to be encouraged to eat out. In London, for my experience, there are some excellent markets providing inexpensive foods. It is possible that taking fast food is more costly than cooking meals by yourself, especially in a large family.

However, a different result can be seen in a different country. In Japan, some people who are not wealthy are fond of utilizing some kind of food restaurants, which had offered extremely cheap meals. They has been not active recently, partially because of the weakened JPN. I am concerned about this matter, to be honest. Japan may become a country in which the myth of fast food is realized.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a challenging disease

Nowadays, many diseases which had threatened the human kind have perished. We conquered lots of foes to prolong the life. Nevertheless, the majority of the illnesses are not cured with modern medicine. Of some diseases, even the cause or concept are still unidentified. On of these illnesses is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


When I saw the name for the first time, I was a high school student. I felt it funny, to be honest. I imagined a person who was always exhausted. This image was not so wrong, and it is the core of this terrible disease.

Once you have this disease, you will feel tired, weary, or depressed. Patients often complain weakness, slight fever, or throat pain. There are almost no particular objective abnormality detected with clinical examination. This fact makes CFS difficult to be understood. There has been no effective treatment strategies against CFS so far. Furthermore, what causes this agony is still in the deep mist. It is suggested not a few patients are yet to be diagnosed properly. Some patients are misidentified as malingering, enhancing their suffering.

The Atlantic: The Tragic Neglect of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Recently, some findings are focused about the etiology of CFS. Inflammation in the brain was observed in some patients. In the UK, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) has been adopted as the official name of this disease. Also in Japan, the use of ME is spreading.

Viral infection is preceding to the onset of CFS in some patients. Considering this phenomenon, some researchers believe that the cause of CFS is a kind of virus. I have seen a couple of patients who gained CFS like symptoms after common cold.

You should be cautious that, depressive disorder has to be excluded as the cause of fatigue when diagnosing CFS, whereas depression can be combined with CFS. Some people with CFS may call for a psychiatrist because they suspect themselves to be depressed. Fortunately, or not, patients hesitate to consult with a psychiatrist in Japan. So, I think it is rare that patients with CFS are misdiagnosed as depression by a psychiatrist. On the other hand, it is likely that patients with CFS fall to depression. In this case, psychiatrists have to collaborate other physicians to treat the patient appropriately.

Further research is needed to clarify the substance of CFS, and other many diseases. I am happy if I can participate in these attempts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tobacco problem in China

It is no doubt that tobacco is one of the most dangerous substances for the human health. In many developed countries, anti-smoke campaign is ongoing to reduce the prevalence of smoking. For example, the US had 43.4% of the adult men smoking in 1974. However, the smokers rapidly decreased. Now, the prevalence of smoking in an adult male is only 19.5%.

Pubmed: International comparisons of trends in cigarette smoking prevalence.

WHO: Tobacco use Data by country

Nowadays, China is the biggest consumer of tobacco as a nation. A third of all cigarettes produced globally were consumed in China. Researchers said that a third of young Chinese men would be killed by smoking. Only 2.4% of Chinese women use a cigarette. But they are suffering from passive exposure to smoke. Researchers expressed the importance of a cessation of smoking for men and prevention from start smoking for women.

The Lancet: Smoking cessation for Chinese men and prevention for women

However, it may be difficult for the Chinese government to encourage citizens to quit smoking, according to the BBC. China Tobacco, the Chinese National Tobacco Corporation, provides over 7% of the annual revenue of the government. The amount of taxes gathered from tobacco buying reaches 67 billion USD in a year. It seems bitter for the government to abandon this great source of income.

The BBC: One in three young Chinese men will die from smoking, study says

On the other hand, China is not the only country to be focused on the tobacco harm.


An international comparison shows that Greece is the most fanatic tobacco-loving nation. A Greek consumes around 3,000 cigarette in a year, whereas a Chinese 1,711.

Wikipedia: List of countries by cigarette consumption per capita

In my impression, Italy is the most friendly country to smokers. As I wrote in the past, Italy is entirely covered with tobacco. I did not feel Greek people were fond of consuming tobacco so much when I visited Greece recently. Perhaps some Greek take an extraordinary amount of cigarettes.

My past entry: Vacation in Italy: extra

Actually, smoking is a problematic behavior for human. However, it is not simple to deal with this issue, especially in the political context. In China, I think that the air pollution is more influential than tobacco for the citizens’ health, so the government should put on this issue.

My past entry: Issues about smoking

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oriental style is superior at least about toilet

There are many differences between Western culture and Oriental one. As you know, the center of civilization is still in the US and Europe, but some Eastern countries such as China, Japan, and India are catching them up.


Japan is skillful to adopt other countries’ culture. We Japanese are fond of eating beef steak, wearing a Western suit, and celebrating Christmas. And there is another crucial example: the toilet.

Traditionally, Japanese and people in some other Asian countries relieved the bowels with squatting position. The oriental toilet has no stool. However, once Western toilet was imported to Japan, it was rapidly spread all over the nation. Nowadays, we see Oriental toilet at limited places. For example, you can choose either Oriental or Western style at a shopping mall. But there are only one cell with an oriental toilet, whereas rest four cells equip a Western toilet, in the lavatory.

Some aged people are not accustomed to use the Western toilet. They say that they cannot put their strength to their anus using the Western toilet.

According to Giulia Enders, a German researcher, they are correct. Squatting is superior to sitting in taking a poo for a physiological reason. When sitting, your inner muscle has to take a pressure upon your rectal tissue before evacuation. Indeed, she found that who mess with squatting are unlikely to suffer from constipation.

The Guardian: The truth about poo: we’re doing it wrong

Constipation is a serious disease, especially in modern society. Fortunately, I seldom experience it.

It is an interesting result. However, I am partially doubtful about her finding. Constipation occurs for several reasons. As I have not looked through her articles, I am not sure her study could exclude any conditions which may modulate the result.

On the other hand, there are many Japanese who have a difficulty in using the oriental toilet. They cannot keep the posture of squatting with their feet attached to the ground. I am no exception so that I always choose a Western style. Modern people may have a degenerated body with a limited range of excursion. In this sense, Western-style toilet is more sophisticated than oriental style toilet, even if it is not friendly to the human body.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Challenging environment of housing in the UK and Japan

London is well known as expensive tenancy fee. I was surprised to the high cost of housing when reached London. In addition to strong GBP, it was so expensive that I had to save money with several ways in London life.


Before going to the UK, someone made a joke that I should rather buy the property in London than rent it. It is no more a joke at least in some areas in the UK. Buying a flat is cheaper than renting in a third of Britain’s towns and cities.

The Guardian: Homebuyers pay less than renters in a third of UK towns and cities

According to Zoopla, a major housing agent, paying off a mortgage works out cheaper in 36% of cities. For example, buyers who had raised a 10% deposit have to pay only 447 GBP a month, whereas the average renting fee is 596 BGP.

In London, buying a flat is still more expensive than renting it. However, buying a flat in London is terribly costly so that it is affordable for only people with the highest level of income. Furthermore, the housing cost is rapidly increasing in London. My landlord was also planning to sell the flat I had stayed for the higher price.

My past entry: World wealth report

Nowadays, the idea that renting a house is an inferior option seems dominant in the UK. Some of my friends living in the UK had bought a nice house. However, it is entirely unfeasible for poor people. It will expand the inequality among citizens.

My pastt entry: Poor door in flats in London

There is a presupposition that the house is never broken when owning a house is encouraged. Traditional British houses are made from stone. So they are invulnerable even aged. Also, there is a rare risk of encountering natural disasters in the UK.

In contrast, Japan is frequently struck by the earthquake. Typhoon is also a terror. There are only a few traditional Japanese houses made from wood and paper remained. Modern houses are quite strongly built. Nonetheless, they can be damaged by soil liquefaction by the earthquake.

Japanese house is said to lose its value by 30% as soon as you buy it. Therefore, I am indifferent to owning a house in Japan. Rather, I would like to get a flat, or a castle in Europe.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Look back to these days after returning home

More than six weeks has passed since I returned to Japan. I still remember the beautiful days stayed in London, but I have to look at the reality. To be honest, my status is not so well. I am sleepy in the daytime, and always have trouble in speaking Japanese.


Before riding the airplane, I clarified some issues to do in Japan. Now, I look back to them, to calculate the achievement rate.

My past entry: Seven things I want to do after returning to Japan


1. Eat tonkotsu ramen

As I reported previously, I have ate tonkotsu ramen. It had the same taste as I missed.

My past entry: Sequels in August 2015

Usually, I have ramen once or twice a month. Tonkotsu ramen is delicious, but it contains a lot of fats. So, I am careful not to have it so much frequently.

Instead, I sometimes cook Chinese noodle at home, as well as in London. There are many kinds of instant noodle available in Japan. I throw a lot of vegetables into the saucepan in which ramen is boiled. Vegetable ramen is also tasty.


2. Relearn medical science

I bought the Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics on Kindle. It is a great textbook. I often refer to it when encountering patients with a medical complication. I want to read it through, but it will be very tough.

My past entry: The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics, a standard for clinical medicine


3. Start regular exercise

Unfortunately, I never take exercise. In London, I visited a psychiatric hospital twice a week. It took 30 minutes walk. On the contrary, I have to walk for only 15 minutes to the workplace. I am wondering how can I get the reason to work my body.


4. Learn Chinese language

I got a couple of textbooks on Kindle, one of which I have completed. The grammar of Chinese Language seems not complicated. But Chinese character is very difficult to learn even for me as a Japanese. Pronunciation is essential to master Chinese. I am seeking some excellent textbook with audio material.
By the way, I watched “The Red Cliff” again. It is not bad as a movie describing the Romance of Three Kingdoms era.


5. Grow some herbs

I tried some home-made Yuzu-pepper when cooking. But I have not been prepared for growing plants.


6. Play Archipelago with peers

I brought Archipelago to a gaming meeting in Tokyo the other day. I enjoyed a four-players game. However, the game was not completed because of the limited time. The game rule is too complex to explain in a short period. Next month, I will try again.


7. Teach what I have learned to my colleagues

This is the matter. I wonder how colleagues are curious about my work. Furthermore, I have to rearrange the content I have learned. I have already made a class. In the next opportunity, I will talk about some issues with more personalized ways.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Predicting the risk of becoming violent in military

Crime is a major problem in most societies. Especially, there has been said that soldiers are likely to become a perpetrator since PTSD in the US army was focused after Vietnam War. Also in Japan, crimes committed by a soldier in Okinawa are sometimes reported, and ignite the dispute about public safety and Japan-US alliance.


Recently, an academic article was published dealing with this issue. The researchers investigated a total of 975,057 soldiers in the US army to extract the risk factors of being a violent criminal.

Psychological Medicine: Predicting non-familial major physical violent crime perpetration in the US Army from administrative data

As a result, they found that social disadvantages, early career age, prior crime, and mental disorder treatment were relevant to subsequent offences. In men, 24 alignments including young, poor, ethnic minorities with low ranks, disciplinary trouble, a suicide attempt, and a recent demotion were likely to be predictive.

Los Angeles Times: New tool can identify soldiers most likely to commit violent crimes, study shows

These results can be utilized to identify the risk of violence in the military, to treat risky persons in a preventive way. As the article above describes, even the most dangerous group has a little risk of violence in the future. It is unfeasible to exclude them from the team.

There are many risk assessment tools established in this domain. It is not easy, however, to rely on these tools in clinical or social settings. They never tell whether a person will be a criminal at all. Also, evidence suggests that history of violence is the greatest risk of future violence in most studies. It means that people who committed a violent crime once will never be safe.
The purpose of risk assessment is to manage the risk. The military is suitable for utilization of this kind of tool as a risky and administrative environment. But it is crucial how to deal the risky people. I do not want the world like “Psycho-Pass” in which criminal tendency is evaluated by a machine and people identified as high risk are eliminated.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Supplement is useless for brain health

Recently, an article was published in JAMA, a world famous academic journal, which seems decisive about the effect of the supplement.

JAMA: Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lutein/Zeaxanthin, or Other Nutrient Supplementation on Cognitive Function The AREDS2 Randomized Clinical Trial

In this study, the participants were randomly assigned to either (1) placebo; (2) DHA/EPA; (3) lutein/zeaxanthin; or (4) DHA/EPA and lutein/zeaxanthin group. They were followed up for four years. Cognitive function was examined in each period. As a result, whether taking supplements or not was proven not to influence the cognitive function.


Since this study is a randomized controlled trial, the validity of the results is much higher than those of cohort studies frequently seen elsewhere. However, there are some questionable aspects.

The participants were at risk of retinal muscle degeneration just I mentioned recently. It seems no direct relationship between cognitive impairment and retinal disease is unknown. Nonetheless, it is possible that the participants are not representative of the whole aged people.

My past entry: Stem cell transportation to regain vision

Cognitive function was examined via a telephone interview in this study. It means that some domains of cognition such as visual memory were ignored in the evaluation. But, in Alzheimer disease, a common cause of cognitive impairment in elder people, recent memory is likely to be damaged firstly. Therefore, telephone interview seems enough to detect the early signs of dementia.

After all, supplements, including omega-3 unsaturated acid as a famous antioxidant, are not likely to prevent you from decrepitude. I am not surprised to see this conclusion. Daily diet for a long time is more important in protecting your body and brain.

There are some diet styles that may be beneficial in terms of anti-aging. The Mediterranean cuisine is potentially powerful to keep you healthy. For example, Greek people frequently eat fish and fruits, and they always use olive oil. Compared to them, British cuisine contains lots of fats and red meat. I have to say British are eating more harmful food than Greek. Some British people are fond of vegetarian cuisine while I am not sure they are aware of this fact.

USA Today: Diet, not pills, may still be the best bet for brain power

How is Japanese cuisine? Japanese food contains little fat, in general. We also eat a large amount of fish. On the other hand, rape oil commonly used in Japan is said not to be good for health. Unfortunately, rice is also inferior to whole grain in terms of nutrition. I like Japanese cuisine the most, nonetheless.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

TPP was finally approved

On October 5th 2015, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a gigantic trading pact was approved in summary by the participants.


TPP aims to establish a rule among nations about free trade. Participants are required to accept the zero-tariff policy and to obey the shared legislation in many industrial regions. It enables their economy vital and smooth.


There were several conflicts in establishing TPP. For example, Japan opposed to reducing the tariff on rice because it is a base of agriculture. The US insisted on setting the term of patent protection of medicines as twelve years since it is decisive for American pharmaceutical companies. The negotiation lasted for eight years.

TPP is a free trade association at a glance. However, it is also a big cartel. China remains excluded from TPP. If TPP accelerates the trade among participants, China will have to join TPP, meaning to obey the rule made by the US and other countries. And it is not easy for China to arrange the domestic laws to adapt the legislation set by TPP.


Korea is also in peril. TPP will help Japanese companies to export their products. It will lead to a difficulty for Samsung and LG to make a profit in the international market.


The US is not absolutely supporting TPP. Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the next President of the US, expressed a worry about TPP, albeit she had been supporting TPP formerly. To begin with, Democratic Party has a negative attitude to TPP because it would destroy domestic employment. Clinton’s alteration may be a performance to attract the support of voters.


On the other hand, some politicians belonging to Republican Party are also opposing. Donald Trump harshly criticizes TPP as its agreement is a terrible deal.


The agreement of TPP must be one of the legacies of Obama administration. But it is unsure how TPP will be dealt by the next President.

In Japan, there was a broad criticism against TPP mainly by farmers. Recently, the magnitude of public attention seems to decrease because of other topics such as security bills. Some medical association is also opposing to TPP declaring the risk of increased medical cost.

I think that TPP is only a trading pact, far from the figure of globalization. For Japan, joining in TPP is rather beneficial in total. But it would not be an elixir for the damaged economy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Twitter account was suspended

Recently, I was disappointed to the Page View (PV) of this blog reduced. I know the fact that my entries do not deserve to attract many people's attention. Nonetheless, it is stressful to see the PV line sluggish on the bottom.

(This photo is not relevant to this entry.)

Yesterday, I noticed that recent entries were not seen on Facebook. I have set it up in advance that the introduction of each entry is posted to Facebook and Twitter automatically after writing the blog. But no recent entries were seen on the timeline.

I tried to enter the Twitter with my English account. I have two accounts of Twitter: one is Japanese, and the other is English. And I have ordered IFTTT to redirect the heading of the entry I wrote on the English account of Twitter. The timeline of Twitter in English is linked to that of Facebook.

My past entry: IFTTT, connecting internet services

However, I failed to log into Twitter. The reason was that my account had been suspended. Twitter has a policy in which it is prohibited to utilize Twitter only for automatic posting. Thus, my account was misidentified as a BOT.

I had to reactivate my account with certification using the mobile phone. After doing the procedure, my account was revived without problems.

Now, I am willing to post some tweets in English every day. Please do not miss them! My account is @Akihiro_Shiina.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three reasons I feel Japan is still immature

One month has passed since I returned to Japan. To be honest, I feel much more convenient to live in Japan than in London. Japan has several things superior to the UK.


On the other hand, I noticed that some characteristics were representative suggesting that Japan is behind the UK or other developed countries.


1. Credit card availability

In Japan, most people use the money on shopping. A wallet, and even a purse as well, are necessary to carry whenever you go out. Of course, most adults have a credit card. But, there are still many stores and restaurants not accepting card payment.

In London, I seldom had much money in my pocket. Only 10 GBP or less were contained in my wallet. I did not felt anxious at all. Almost all stores, excepting some Chinese restaurants, accepted the card payment.

My past entry: Chinese Buffet in London

In contrast, the credit card is not available in some stores in Japan. Instead, we can use some kind of digital money such as SUICA or Edy. But they are not adopted in many stores. After all, the money is the only reliable method of payment. I always have over 10,000 JPY in my wallet.

I do not think the credit card is the best way of payment. At the present, however, I prefer to utilize the credit card in every shopping.


2. Attitude against minority

One of the problems in Japan is discrimination against people belonging to minority. Japanese people are very exclusive, regardless they are aware or not.

LGBT is still a matter of being mocked. Only Shibuya ward in Tokyo has made a legislation about the same-sex partnership. I guess not a few people hesitate to come out their sexual interest.


Previously, I wrote an entry about a terrible case in which pregnant nurse was blamed by mothers. It is an extremely shameful act to bully another person, especially he or she has a difficulty to live. Japanese people are intolerant to the situation in which someone has a different opinion or status. I hardly understand this kind of narrow-mind.

My past entry: Blame to a pregnant worker: awful problem in Japan

I am not sure whether foreign people are always kind to others. At least, in the UK, British people are indifferent to other people’s behavior. They seems seldom criticize emotionally others unless they are interrupted. I think the exclusiveness is a big disadvantage of Japanese.


3. Death penalty

This issue is partially related to the previous one. Over 90% of Japanese support the death penalty, whereas the EU is going to dismiss life imprisonment.

My past entry: Life imprisonment is inhuman, ECHR says

In Japan, we frequently say, “He must be executed!” when a horrible criminal case is reported. These words are not serious, but it is sure that many Japanese think that a serious crime should be compensated for his or her own life.

I talked about this issue with some British people. All of them were curious about the fact that Japan keep the scheme of death penalty. It is not true criminals are accepted in the UK. But they have already excluded the idea that wicked criminals are to be executed. It is strange that many Japanese want criminals to be harshly punished, albeit Japan is the safest country of the world, and there is no evidence suggesting that strict punishment would reduce the crime rate.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Driverless car experiment in Japan

It is not only in the US, UK and a few countries that field test of driverless cars is ongoing.

My past entry: Google auto-driving car to launch


Robot Taxi inc. said that it will start an experimental running on the public road of the auto-driving car in Kanagawa prefecture in Japan. It will be started in 2016. Initially, the driverless car will carry the passengers from their home to some places in the three-kilometer distance. Two employees will ride the car to prepare for an emergency.

The Wall Street Journal: RoboCab: Driverless Taxi Experiment to Start in Japan

Kanagawa is rather an urban region, adjacent to Tokyo. However, Robot Taxi is planning to contribute to the transportation in rural areas in the future. Actually, public transportation will be difficult to survive in the areas where the population is rapidly decreasing. Automated cars can help the citizens, especially aged people who have the anxiety to drive a car on their own. It is also advantageous for driverless cars that the road is not so crowded in rural areas.

ITProPortal: Driverless taxi to begin testing in Japan

To be honest, I was surprised that self-driving cars are going to be introduced as an experiment in Japan so soon. Some Japanese including politicians are very conservative that they hardly accept the new technology.

Taxi companies can oppose to the introducing of self-driving cars because they would be strong competitors. Labor cost is the biggest burden for taxi companies as well as other kinds of organizations. The combination of self-driving cars and ordering applications with a smartphone can eliminate most of the labor cost. The risk of accidents is potentially lower in automated operation since most accidents are due to carelessness or fatigue of the human driver. Conventional taxi companies would not match the robot taxi.

On the other hand, it is not assumed that ultimate safety is guaranteed in self-driving cars. You know that every operating system of the PC includes many errors. Your smartphone may frequently freeze. IT companies willing to develop automated vehicles will face the challenge whose standard is much higher than those they have encountered.

My past entry: Google car meet the first crash

Self-driving systems is also beneficial in the combination with the human driver. In Japan, some accidents of the public bus were reported. The drivers were extremely tired because of the long time driving. The auto-driving scheme can support them in the sense of preventing the tragedy. It is hopeful that conventional car-driving and innovative auto-driving will be collaborative with each other until auto-driving is completely established.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oregon shooting: gun control, mental illness, and anonymity

A school shooting occurred in a college in Oregon.


It happened on October 1st at Umpqua Community College. A man equipping a handgun intruded the classroom and shot several persons. At least eight students and one teacher were killed.

The New York Times: Oregon Shooting at Umpqua College Kills 10, Sheriff Says

The gunman was 26-year-old and a student of this college. He asked the religion of a victim, according to a survivor. But it is unsure if this fact has some meanings.

KGW.com: 10 dead, 9 injured in mass shooting at Oregon college

The gunman finally took his own life, according to the officer. His family said that he had had some mental problems.

ABC Net: Oregon shooting: Gunman 'neutralised' after two-minute shootout with police, authorities say

After this tragedy, President Obama called for gun legislation. It is a quite rational idea that limiting the possibility of possessing guns could reduce the risk of such a tragedy. However, American society has fallen in the Nash equilibrium of gun control. Also considering the terminating term as the president, it seems impossible for Obama to take a leadership among this issue, unfortunately.

The Wall Street Journal: A Shooting in Oregon: How about a debate over common-sense mental-health laws?

My past entry: Gun control and Nash equilibrium
My past entry: Gun debate continue in college

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal made a comment about forensic mental health. WSJ claims the necessity of concerning of specialists to detect potential serial killers. I think it is not realistic. Indeed, the majority of criminals suffer from mental disorders. But they include psychopathy, which is hardly cured with modern psychiatric practice. In addition, a considerable amount of crimes in the US occurs due to inequality rather than mental disorder. In other words, some mental disorders are remained untreated due to poverty. Forensic mental health specialists can not be responsible for this complex issue.

By the way, there is a movement that such criminal's name should be kept anonymous to prevent. Otherwise, other people who want to be known by many people would choose similar improper means.

Los Angeles Times: 'Don't say his name': Oregon community wants to make shooter anonymous

I agree with this opinion. In Japan, when a serious crime occurred, the media tend to publish the personal history of the criminal in detail. It would encourage another potential perpetrator to commit the same offence. Furthermore, excessive reporting will do critical damage to the subject if the case is a misrepresentation.

Actually, citizens are curious in the crime reports. Nonetheless, the media should be more cautious, I think.

I pray for the victims.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Parcel bombs cases in China

Explosions occurred again at several areas in China. On September 30, at least ten people were killed by parcel bombs delivered to shopping center, a hospital, a prison, and government offices in Guangxi region. Initial investigation identified 17 parcel bombs to have caused the explosions. Over 60 suspicious parcels were found, to be investigated by the specialists.

The Telegraph: Seven dead in 'parcel bomb' explosions at 17 sites in Chinese town

Chinese authority denied the possibility of terrorism, and named a 33-year-old man as a suspect. But the whole figure of the cases was not clarified.

(This photo, provided by Ashinari, is not relevant to the content of this entry.)

The next day, another blast was observed . No casualties were reported. It is unclear if it is connected to the cases in the previous day.

CNN: Deadly parcel bombs rock southern China region of Guangxi

The media reports are confused. The man who was suspected to have created the bombs was killed by one of the blast, according to the media. Other media reported that he was been arrested.

BBC: Guangxi parcel bombs: China investigates fresh blast

South China Morning Post: Suspect in Guangxi parcel bomb attacks confirmed dead

It is also unsure if the man conducted the sequential bombing by himself. Some people other than him seem to have sent the parcel bombs to each destination.

The motivation of these deadly crimes is far from my imagination. There is serious conflict between citizens and the local government in the issued region. Recently, Liuzhou City government of Guangxi extended the central square with forcibly removing the houses of residents nearby. The suspect had been arrested for protesting this act.

I hardly understand the statement of Chinese government not deeming the act of sending explosives to several buildings as a terrorism. Chinese government seems quite nervous in igniting the fear of citizens. This cases may be terminated with the death of the perpetrator. However, there are still several potential bombs all over China.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stem cell transportation to regain vision

Age-related muscular degeneration is a disease weakening the retina cells in human eyes. It can cause blindness, especially in aged people. The wet subtype has a more rapidly progressive course so that it takes an only several week for the patients to lose vision, compared to the dry subtype. Instead, the dry subtype is hardly treated whereas VEGF inhibitor is likely to effective for the sufferer of the wet subtype.


Recently, retina cells transplantation made from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) seemed promising to save the patients. Retinal pigment epithelium is not regenerative in the human eye. But, iPS cells can be grown into retinal pigment epithelium in the lab. In this operation, the cell sheet developed outside is to be transplanted.

Recently, the first treatment in the UK was implemented. There are 700,000 patients estimated to be adopted to this treatment.

The Guardian: First UK patient receives stem cell treatment to cure loss of vision

The iPS cell was firstly established by Dr. Yamanaka, a Japanese Nobel Prize winner. And Japanese is the first person received this treatment last year. The 70s old lady seems not to experience any adverse event related to the transplant.

Nature: Japanese woman is first recipient of next-generation stem cells

The Japan News: See the bigger picture, then change things for the better

Unfortunately, retina transplantation for muscular degeneration has only the effect to prevent the deterioration. It is difficult to recover the sight dramatically. Neural junction in the eye to the brain is so complex that we have not entirely clarified the mechanism.

To achieve a more progressive treatment, Japanese research team is planning to utilize iPS cells in allograft transplantation. Allograft transplantation has a fewer risk of rejection in transplantation, leading to decreased total cost. Meanwhile, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is eager to industrialize the regenerative medicine.

The Mainichi: Scientists seek iPS cell application in allograft transplants

Progressive medicine brings us a new hope. I wish the utilization of iPS cells will be successful. At the same time, monetizing the innovative idea properly is also essential so that many patients can be benefited with low cost.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Charged case of homosexual man in Tunisia

In Tunisia, a man was sentenced to one year imprisonment for having an anal sex.

Human Rights Watch: Tunisia: One-Year Sentence for Homosexuality

In Tunisia, homosexuality is deemed as a criminal offense, regardless of their gender. LGBT people seem having a great challenge to live in Tunisia.


Human Rights Watch harshly criticizes this decision. The man punished by the Tunisian law was threatened to be sued for a murder of an irrelevant case unless he confesses the homosexual act. This kind of bargain is also unfair in the sense of due process.

In Tunisia, anal examination by a forensic physician is conduced in the case which sodomy is suspected. Forced examination of one's anus to detect an evidence of frequent sexual activity may be abusive, according to Human Rights Watch. I agree with this opinion. First of all, I am doubtful that visual investigation of an anus can clarify his sexual habits.

Tunisia is one of the most developed countries in Africa. It has been culturally influenced by both Middle East and Europe. Most of Tunisians are Muslim. But their ideology is not so extreme. Tunisian legislation has dismissed the polygamy and shawl-wearing which are traditional customs in Islamic culture. Tunisia is considered in which women have the highest social position in the Arabic region. In contrast, homosexual people are still discriminated.

I think incarcerating gay and lesbians is a ridiculous idea. They never committed a crime. Also, they would not change their sexual preference by punishment.

On the other hand, it is not easy for Tunisia to alter the ideology. Formerly, homosexual activity was deemed as immoral, or a devil's act, in many countries. It was only some decades ago that LGBT was partially accepted in the society. In Japan, same sex marriage is still not permitted in the civil law.

There are many customs being looked as meaningless or barbaric all over the world. Mandatory circumcision is an example. This outdated custom has made many people physically and mentally damaged. However, the thought that circumcision is irrational is not accepted in the region in which it has been conducted for a long time.

Also, there are also some disputes about traditional customs. Tube feeding to make fole gras is broadly criticized by animal welfare promoters, but I do not think we should abandon fole gras.

Human and other species rights are complicated concept. We always have to respect them. At the same time, we should listen to other people's opinion even if their claim sounds irrational.