TOPICS December 2022

The Stars and Stripes Connect Japan and the U.S.

Matthew Calbraith Perry aged 81, a fifth-generation descendant of Commodore Perry, visited Saijo City on November 13.

In 1853, before visiting Uraga, Commodore Perry called at Chichijima Island and gave the national flag to the Savory family who were American settlers. The family ended up burning the flag during the WWII for fear of being suspected of being spies.

In June 2021, Akira Kondo, aged 84, who runs a watch store in Saijo, learned about the flag in a newspaper. He made a replica of the flag from the time of Commodore Perry’s arrival and presented it to Mr. Takashi Savory aged 65, a descendant of the settlers on the Island in Ogasawara, Tokyo. Mr. Perry read the story in an English-language newspaper in Japan.

The three men, Mr. Perry, Mr. Kondo, and Mr. Savory, met for the first time in Saijo. Mr. Kondo gave the same flag replica to Mr. Perry, who handed him the current American flag. When Mr. Perry told him that he had brought the flag that he had previously hoisted in the Washington D.C., Mr. Kondo responded that he had previously hoisted the replica in Kurihama, present-day Yokohama, where Commodore Perry landed. Mr. Perry gave a lecture in which he explained the history of Japan-US relations after Commodore Perry’s arrival. He showed a pocket watch, a memento of Commodore Perry, that had been handed down from generation to generation.

(November 15, Ehime Shimbun)

Mayor Noshi Reelected

 The Matsuyama mayoral election was officially announced on November 13 and there was no candidate who filed except for Mayor Noshi, the incumbent mayor. Therefore, Mayor Noshi was elected without a vote, and will serve his fourth four-year term. According to the Board of Election, it was the first uncontested mayoral election after World War II.

Mayor Noshi stated his determination after his knowing he was reelected that he appreciated this opportunity to serve as mayor again, and would immediately work hard to implement his campaign pledge.

His campaign pledge is to make Matsuyama friendly to the families with small children and the elders, and strong in disasters and industries. His strategies to make it happen are

1) Strengthening the measures to slow the low birthrate and making a good environment for raising children,

2) Improving the convenience of the transportation system and promoting life in the city,

3) Activating the economy and improving the working environment,

4) Making a safe, secure and sustainable city.

Mayor Noshi first won the mayoral election in November 2010, when Governor Nakamura resigned to make a run for Governor.

(November 13, Ehime Shimbun Online)

Additional Information: The Ehime gubernatorial election was held on November 20. Governor Nakamura, the incumbent governor won, and will be serving his fourth four-year term. The voter turnout was a record low at 33.95% (39.05% in the last election.)

Amazon’s New Delivery Station

Amazon Japan G.K. announced that they opened delivery stations which functions as their delivery base for each of the four prefectural capitals on Shikoku, including Matsuyama.

The delivery station in Ehime opened at Horie-cho at the end of September. The size of the station is 850 square-meters. The area of delivery service covered is Matsuyama and Masaki. According to Amazon, in that area, more than 7 million packages can be delivered the day after it is ordered. A few hundred drivers are expected to be hired.

Contactless delivery can be chosen in their service area. The goal is to enhance the user’s convenience and reduce carbon emissions by a decrease of redelivery.

(November 11, Ehime Shimbun Online)

Microplastics on the Seafloor Reveal Pollution Over the Past 50 Years

A research group led by Professor Hirofumi Hinata of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Ehime University, clarified the state of pollution over the past half century from mud accumulated on the seafloor in research related to microplastics, a major cause of marine pollution. From 2017 to 2019, they collected mud from the seafloor of Beppu Bay (Oita Prefecture) at a depth of about 70 meters, and extracted microplastics ranging in size from 0.3 to 5 mm.

There has been no record of long-term changes in microplastic contamination. Therefore, developing a computational model to reproduce the process of contamination is expected to help predict its future spread.

The seafloor of Beppu Bay is not easily affected by ocean currents, so the accumulated mud isn’t disturbed. As a result, the mud accumulates in chronological layers. For this reason, the seafloor of Beppu Bay is suitable for geological surveys.

In this research, the group used a type of lead to determine the age of each layer of mud, and they also investigated the amount of microplastics contained in the mud.

The analysis revealed that the oldest microplastics were found in the layers dating around the 1960s and the amount of microplastics increased in the higher layers. The number of microplastic pieces per square meter per year was about 10 in the 1960s and about 200 in the 2010s. Looking at the types of plastic, polyethylene used for plastic bags and detergent containers, polypropylene used for artificial turf, and polystyrene used mainly for Styrofoam accounted for the major portion.

Further analysis showed that the amount of microplastic deposits repeatedly increased and decreased in a cycle of 20 years, and that it was linked to the increase and decrease of phytoplankton. According to Professor Hinata, the specific gravity of microplastics is slightly lower than that of seawater, so they normally float. However, when phytoplankton aggregates (biofilms) adhere to the surface of the plastics, their specific gravity increases and then they sink.

By determining the amount of sedimentation for each decade, the research team could, for the first time in the world, estimate the speed at which the microplastics sank: about 50 to 60 meters per day, and in Beppu Bay with a maximum depth of about 70 meters, it takes about a day to reach the seafloor. The research group investigated the concentration of microplastics on the sea surface at multiple locations in Beppu Bay, and they determined the sinking speed from the relationship with the amount of microplastics that accumulated on the seafloor in the 2010s.

Commenting on the results of this research, Professor Hinata said, “There has been almost no long-term data on microplastic sedimentation up until now. Together with estimating the rate of sedimentation and its relationship with plankton, it should prove useful for developing computational models for microplastic contamination and predicting microplastic pollution in the future”.

(November 6, Asahi Shimbun)

Uzbekistani Cotton to Ehime

On October 31, a counselor of the Uzbekistani Embassy in Tokyo, gave a seminar in Imabari, Ehime. He is in charge of private business promotion. He talked about Uzbekistani cotton to about 30 presidents of towel manufacturers and others in the city.

He said Uzbekistan produces more than 300,000 tons of cotton every month, to make it the sixth largest producer of cotton in the world. He added the cotton is recognized as good quality by the global standard. A representative from a textile company based in Osaka, which imports yarn from Uzbekistan, also attended the seminar. He explained that the fiber of the cotton is about 30 millimeters long, longer than ordinary cotton, which creates elasticity when the cotton is made into toweling.

On the same day, the counselor visited the Ehime Newspaper company in Matsuyama. He said he wanted to increase the number of Uzbekistani working in Ehime. At present some Uzbekistani people are working in construction and shipbuilding in Ehime. He emphasized that he also wanted to increase the amount of Uzbekistani cotton imported in Japan.

He came to Ehime to participate in “Cycling Shimanami 2022”. He said he enjoyed seafood and the scenery when cycling because Uzbekistan has no sea.

(November 1, Ehime Shimbun)

Cycling Shimanami Held for the First Time since 2018

The international cycling event “Cycling Shimanami 2022” was held on October 30 on the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido (Nishiseto Expressway) connecting Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, and Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture. The event had been held every other year since 2014, but in 2020, it was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. About 6,400 people from Japan and overseas participated in the event while enjoying the thousands of beautiful islands of the Seto Inland Sea.

Eight courses ranging from 30 to 140 kilometers were set, and part of the Nishiseto Expressway was closed to traffic. The Yumeshima Kaido in Kamishima, which opened in March with the completion of the Iwaki Bridge, was added to the course this year.

Cyclists aged between 9 and 89 took part in the event. They enjoyed the scenery of the Seto Inland Sea from the highway, cycling through a refreshing breeze as they headed towards the finish line.

Ryoichi Kato (27), a company employee who traveled from Tokyo with his father, cycled for about 70 kilometers between Onomichi and Imabari. He said, “It was my first time participating in this event, but I was grateful for the cheers and warm hospitality from the people along the route”.

(October 31, Asahi Shimbun Digital)

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