2012年8月25日 星期六

Japan's ingredient du jour: shio koji

Japan's ingredient du jour: shio koji(海鹽發酵芽米 sea slat malt)

The fermented rice product imparts big flavor to many foods. And it's catching on in the U.S.

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A tub of Cold Mountain rice koji.
A tub of Cold Mountain rice koji. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / August 16, 2012)
The latest trendy cooking ingredient in Japan is a fungus. And that fungus is spreading. Professional and home cooks in Japan are crazy for it, and it's flying off the shelves at Japanese markets in the U.S., too.
They're using shio koji -- a fermented mixture of koji (rice innoculated with the special -- and safe -- mold Aspergillus oryzae), shio (sea salt) and water – as a seasoning in place of salt for its powers of umami.
Japanese supermarkets carry bottled salad dressings and sauces touting shio koji as an ingredient. The popular Japan-based burger chain Mos Burger this summer introduced a limited edition shio koji burger. "Moldy Mos Burger Confirms Koji Boom," read a Japan Times blog headline in June. Famed Tokyo ramen chef Ivan Orkin tweeted: "Shio koji burger at Mos Burger umami bomb extraordinaire!"
There are blogs, websites, cooking videos and even a cartoon character devoted to the stuff, which some have dubbed a "miracle condiment," the "new MSG" or the "next soy sauce." (Not bad for something that looks like beige sludge and smells like slightly sweet sweaty socks.) It marinates meat, chicken and fish; makes quick pickles; and can be added to both savory and sweet dishes.
"It's really great for [tempura] fritters, chicken and pork chops," says Yoko Maeda, a private chef and food stylist who recently hosted a shio koji cooking class at her home in Marina del Rey. "I bet it would be good in pancake batter."
A. oryzae has been used for thousands of years to make miso, soy sauce and other traditional Japanese foods. The Brewing Society of Japan has dubbed it the "national fungus" for its importance in brewing sake. Its key selling point: the mold's ability to convert proteins into enzymes, inlcuding glutamic acid -- the enzyme responsible for umami. (It also converts starches into sugar, which is vital to sake making.)
Myoho Asari, a 9th-generation koji maker from Saiki in southern Japan, has been proselytizing the benefits of shio koji, recently leading classes in New York and Los Angeles. Her family has been in the business of making koji – innoculating rice with A. oryzae spores – for more than 300 years, originally for miso and soy sauce. A few years ago she, among other koji makers, saw an opportunity to diversify by marketing salt and koji as a seasoning for cooking.
The shio koji craze tracks a broader culinary trend in all things fermented. The Nordic Food Lab, the research workshop affiliated with the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, has experimented with koji, growing mold on steamed buckwheat and then fermenting miso made with yellow split peas.
David Chang of the Momofuku empire of restaurants in New York is a confessed fermentation geek who has been using powdered koji as a seasoning. Chang also has contributed to an article in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science: "Defining microbial terroir: The use of native fungi for the study of traditional fermentative processes." That includes reports about his experiments in making koji with both A. oryzae and naturally occurring molds in his culinary test lab.
On a recent weekend at Maeda's apartment, Asari stood in a pale blue kimono at a kitchen counter mixing up a batch of shio koji. Through a translator, Asari -- who is also a longtime Girl Scout leader, with a sunny disposition -- tells a dozen rapt students about the goldmine of enzymes in koji: Amylase transforms starches into simple sugars; protease splits proteins into amino acids; and lipase breaks down fats. These are the systems that multiply umami, she says.
Tubes of prepared shio koji can be purchased at Japanese markets. But it's easy to make yourself, and it's far less expensive. The initial mixing of koji (innoculated rice sold in small tubs), sea salt and water requires a modicum of finesse but no more work than heating water and stirring. Then it's just a matter of letting it ferment for about a week to reach full flavor, stirring it once a day. (See step by step.)
Shio koji is substituted for salt in recipes. Asari has written several cookbooks, adding shio koji to soups, salads, pasta, preserves and more; there's shio koji meatloaf, shio koji bagna cauda, shio koji spaghetti carbonara. As a general rule of thumb, Asari recommends substituting 2 teaspoons of shio koji for 1 teaspoon salt. Or, use the golden ratio of 1:10 – that's the weight of shio koji to total ingredient weight, so for every 100 grams of ingredients, use 10 grams of shio koji.
Start by using it simply, she suggests. Dress raw vegetables with it for a quick pickle. Make a tuna poke with it – diced sashimi-grade tuna tossed with shio koji and lemon-dressed avocado. Shio koji's transformative powers work pretty miraculously as a marinade for meats. Asari passes around pan-roasted chicken breasts that have been marinated with shio koji overnight, and it is umami-tastic. "This is the best chicken I've ever had – it's delicious," says one student. "And I don't even like chicken."


毗盧遮那佛梵文वैरोचन Vairocana),乃釋迦牟尼佛的法身,又譯為「毗盧折那佛」、「毗盧舍那佛」、「盧舍那佛」、「遮那佛」、「大日如來」(梵文 Mahavairocana)。









2012年8月23日 星期四


News10 new results for japan
S.Korea to Return Japan's Protest Letter Amid Island Dispute
Voice of America
A simmering territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan continued Thursday, with Seoul saying it would return a protest letter sent by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Prime Minister Noda sent the letter to protest South Korean President ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan, Tennessee, move on at Little League WS
Fox News
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – A group of wide-eyed kids in baseball hats waited patiently outside Lamade Stadium for a glimpse of the Tennessee Little Leaguers after they emerged from a postgame news conference to head back to the dorms. The boys ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japanese Stocks Advance on China Stimulus Expectations
Japanese stocks gained, with the Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average rising to a 15-week high, after a survey indicated China's manufacturing may contract at a faster pace in August, boosting prospects for stimulus. Shares fell earlier on a strengthening yen.
See all stories on this topic »
Islands dispute reopening old wounds in China and Japan
CNN International
Asia's most dangerous waters. "I believe that our landing was success if we could show that Senkaku islands are Japan's territory and we the Japanese must protest by ourselves," said Japanese politician Yoshihiro Kojima. It has touched off a diplomatic ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan PM likely to call November poll, party set for drubbing
TOKYO (Reuters) - Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is likely to call a snap election for November, ruling and opposition party members said on Thursday, despite the likelihood that his party will suffer a drubbing. Noda, who took office ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan's PM meets protesters, won't stop reactors
Boston Globe
TOKYO — Japan's prime minister met for the first time with leaders of weekly antinuclear protests Wednesday but rejected their demand that two recently restarted nuclear plants should be shut again. Tens of thousands of people have been gathering ...
See all stories on this topic »

Boston Globe
Japan trade deficit rises in July
Gant Daily
Tokyo, Japan (4E) – Government data released on Wednesday shows worse-than-expected trade deficit for Japan in July as demand for their goods slowed down in their European and Asian markets. As Europe struggles with its debt crisis and China growth ...
See all stories on this topic »
In Japan, Mobile Startups Take Gaming To Next Level
On the subway, in doctor's waiting rooms and during college lectures, millions of Japanese can be found glued to their smartphones. But they're not texting or making phone calls — they're playing video games. In the U.S., video games are usually ...
See all stories on this topic »
Australia Stock Futures Gain, Japan Little Changed on Fed
Japanese index futures were little changed. QR National Ltd. (QRN), Australia's largest coal-train operator, and Iluka Resources Ltd., the world's biggest zircon producer, may be active after full-year profit topped estimates. Shares of Qantas Airways ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan stocks drop, but Sharp gains on loan report
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Japanese stocks fell early Thursday, extending their losses from the previous session after the yen rose against its rivals overnight, hitting most exporter shares. The Nikkei Stock Average (JP:NI225) dropped 0.7% to 9071 ...
See all stories on this topic »

2012年8月21日 星期二


明治初期の江戸城、幻の写真発見 東京で展示

 150年前に横浜で写真館を開いた日本写真の開祖の一人、下岡蓮杖(れんじょう、1823~1914)が、明治初期に撮影した江戸城周辺の紙焼き写真が 新たに見つかった。「JCIIフォトサロン」(千代田区一番町)で開催中の「150年を遡(さかのぼ)る幻の古写真~下岡蓮杖の世界」で展示されている。

 第119景 赤坂桐畑雨中夕けい 安政6年(1859)4月 改印
あかさか きりはた うちゅう ゆうけい


この絵は、赤坂門へと続く、外濠を渡る土橋を、現在の赤坂見附交番のあたりから見上げたものである(二代目広重の画)。 今や、 "Mitsuke”  といえば、単に赤坂見附のことを指すようだが、そもそも見附とは番兵付の城門のことで、江戸城には36あったと言われている。 実際には、内濠沿い、外濠 沿い、或いは城内に、36以上の城門が存在していたが、どれを指して36見附というのか、正確にはわかっていない。 三十六というのが、「兵法三十六計」 や「三十六歌仙」のように、多くをあらわす言葉として響きがいいので、「三十六見附」というのだという説に説得力がある。 この見附の番についたのは、大 名家及び旗本家であり、江戸幕府には、ちゃんと見附番という役職があった。基本的に内濠沿いの見附は大名家、外濠沿いは、旗本家がアサインされ、それぞれ の家中の者が交代で門番をした。現代の時刻で言うと、午前6時に開門、午後6時に閉門されることになっていた。それ以外の時間は、許可証のある男子のみ、 くぐり戸を通ることを許されたと言う。


こ れは、本題の赤坂門(赤坂見附)を坂下の玉川稲荷付近から見上げたものだ。一ッ目の門へと続く土橋の坂が、外濠を渡る橋であることを気付かせないほど規模 が大きく、土を盛って土橋としたのではなく、両側を掘削して濠を掘ったことが想像できる。なお、写真では渡り櫓はすでに消失し、台座となる石垣を確認でき るのみである。

本 来の見附の雄姿は、この写真を見ればイメージがつかめるだろう。写真の下乗門は、大手門よりもさらに内側に配された江戸城内の門構えであり、石垣の立派さ もそうだが、三方が渡り櫓で囲まれるという特に贅沢な造りとなっている。江戸城で最も堅牢であった門をほぼ完全な姿で伝えるこの写真は大変貴重である。
さて、ここで注目したいのは、その城門の呼称だ。 わざわざ、「江戸城三十六見附」という仰々しい呼び名があるにもかかわらず、ちゃんと「見附」という名称が馴染むのは、筆者の認識では8つしかない。 すなわち、浅草見附、筋違見附、牛込見附、市ヶ谷見附、四ッ谷見附、喰違見附、赤坂見附、芝口見附である。 同じ外濠の城門でも、数寄屋橋門のことを数奇屋見附とか、常盤橋門のことを常盤見附と呼ぶのを筆者はあまり聞いたことはない。では、どういう城門が、一般的に見附と呼称されてきたのだろうか。

江 戸から地方に伸びる道として、誰でも知っているのが、五街道である。 この五街道それぞれの外濠の通過点は、東海道は「芝口橋」、甲州道は「四ッ谷橋」、 中仙道は「筋違橋」、そして奥州道中、日光道中は共通して「浅草橋」である。 ここで、見附とは主要街道の出入り口の守りの俗称なのかという仮説がたつ。  では、牛込見附、市ヶ谷見附、赤坂見附はどうか。 大丈夫だ。 牛込見附は、上州道の通過点、市ヶ谷見附は、成木道(青梅街道)、そして赤坂見附は、大山道の起点だ。 基本的にこれで仮説は正しいといえよう。 しかしながら最後に残ってしまった見附がある。 喰違見附(くいちがいみつけ)である。

喰違 見附は、異色の城門だ。 実際に、この門は、城門お約束の渡り櫓付枡形ではなく、門扉のない冠木門であった。 もっと言うと、土塁を二重にした戦国期以来 の古い形式の城門構造であり、江戸城の守りを連想させる立派なものではなかった。 これはどういうことだろう。 実は、この門に限り、外濠が掘られる前か らここに存在していた。 徳川家康が初めて江戸に入ったころ、甲州から江戸に通じる四ツ谷台地から麹町台地をつなぐ峠に関所のような番兵所(伊賀番所)が 置かれた。 これが、喰違見附の起源なのである。 天下普請で、このあたりの丘を削って、外濠を作ったときも、この門は便宜上、整備されて残った。しか し、甲州道の守りは四ッ谷見附が担うことになったので、喰違見附に堅牢な城門はつくられなかった。 しかし、見附という誇り高き名称は、ここがオリジナル であるがゆえに、そのまま残ったのではないかというのが、筆者の考えである。

上 は、江戸初期の喰違見附のイメージ。赤坂門同様、この両側を掘削して外濠が作られ、この山道がそのまま土橋(伊賀町新土橋)として残ることになる。ここ は、江戸城の見附の中では最も標高の高いところに位置し、今でも、ここから見下ろす真田濠、弁慶濠の風景は圧巻である。門を抜けるとすぐに現れるのが清水 谷へと下る紀尾井坂。大久保利通暗殺の地であり、明治になっても鬱蒼としていたことが想像できる。


なお、もし主要道の起点や通過点の門を見附と呼ぶなら、虎ノ門はどうだろう。 虎ノ門は旧東海道とも言える中原道の起点だ。 だが、トラの見附という呼称は馴染みがない。 虎ノ見附なら、聞くからに守りが堅そうなのに残念だ。虎ノ門の謎については、別の項で述べることにしよう。

江戸図119 【安政3年(1856)実測復刻江戸図より作成】 マウスオンで現在

2012年8月20日 星期一

訪日本! 反日!!!!「中國示威的連鎖」日記者挨公安揍

Atsushi Okudera (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Atsushi Okudera (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Asahi Shimbun correspondent beaten by Chinese police
The Asahi Shimbun lodged a protest with the Chinese government over the beating of its reporter covering the protest in Nantong of a Japanese company on July 28 and demanded the...

Japan, through diplomatic channels, is demanding an explanation from China for police brutality that left an Asahi Shimbun reporter badly injured while covering a demonstration in an eastern coastal province. (August 4) [more]




更新時間 2012年7月30日, 格林尼治標準時間12:41
綜合過去幾天的報道,焦點主要集中在三方面:一個是中國各地居民為保護生態環境,群起抗議而成功阻止了 當地政府涉及計劃的連鎖性個案。例如《朝日新聞》29日的報道標題是「中國示威的連鎖」、「通過網絡各地的成功案例」,介紹了07年廈門成功阻止建設化工廠開端,經過大連反對建化工廠、四川什邡反對建金屬提煉工廠等成功案例,說明通過網絡號召發起的中國各地民生運動的明顯力量。

另一個焦點是啟東民生運動和當局應對的動態和是否向反日運動發展,報道得相當細微。共同社28日報道的 標題是「日資工廠排水計劃示威超過5千人參加、部分暴徒化」、「對腐敗官員的怒號」、「中國收拾示威迴避反日轉換、日本記者遭暴行」等,詳細說明示威者既 存在對當地官員腐敗的憤怒,也存在不滿罔顧當地環保的日資企業所延伸出的反日情緒。

還有一個焦點是投資新興國的日企面臨的當地維權意識上升的應對問題。《日本經濟新聞》28日的社論標題 是「正視新興國的勞務風險」,內容以最近鈴木汽車在印度遭遇工廠暴動為例,提出日企在印度、中國、越南等新興國的工廠不時發生的勞務糾紛,指出應該尊重當 地勞務慣例和培養管理勞務的專家,盡量降低勞務風險。
共同社一邊報道王子制紙聲稱「憂慮」,一邊也以標題為「投資新興國的日本企業被迫正視權利意識」,指出 日企在中國從2010年起發生的勞務糾紛「是新興國家通貨膨脹、貧富懸殊的背景下,釀成勞工容易爆發不滿的土壤」,共同社說:「日本國內市場萎縮,企業流 向新興國今後仍會持續,企業應比過去更重視新興國投資環境的變化」。




       廣東深圳、四川成都等20多個中國城市發生了針對日本的遊行。有些城市甚至有數千人參加,還有些城市的反日遊行出現了暴力行為。但中國遊客 的訪日大潮也一樣洶湧。日本政府觀光局(JINTO)最近發佈的相關數據顯示,7月訪問日本的外國遊客為84.53萬人,其中20.38萬人來自中國大 陸,這是中國大陸的訪日的月遊客首次突破20萬,比去年同期增長了134.4%。       日經中文網編輯了一組相關圖片,希望能和讀者們一起思考。
7月訪日大陸游客超20萬人 同比增134.4%

反 日
    訪 日
圖為19日成都市中心進行的反日遊行(kyodo)   圖為挂滿“熱烈歡迎”標誌的長崎市商店街。

2012年8月17日 星期五

日本強日本弱/ 「海の健全度指数」、日本は11位 

「海の健全度指数」、日本は11位 国際環境NGO発表


 世界人口の4割以上が沿岸部に住み、人口増で海への依存が高まるとの見通しを念頭に、171の国・地域の海について「持続可能な漁業」や「海岸の保 全」、「水の清浄度」など10の目標を100点満点で採点。世界の海の状態を総合評価し、政策決定に役立ててもらう初の試みで、点数が高いほど海洋資源を 持続可能な形で活用していることになるという。世界全体の総合点は60点だった。

Ocean Health Index Estimates World’s Oceans Score 60 out of 100

Sunset in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area of the Pacific is often called the "global epicenter of marine biodiversity"; it also provides fish for millions of people.
Sunset in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area of the Pacific is often called the “global epicenter of marine biodiversity.” It’s also the life support system of the people of West Papua, providing a significant source of protein, jobs in marine tourism, and coastal protection from storms and tsunamis. (© CI/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)
The London Olympics captivated the world over the last few weeks, as we watched our home countries’ competitors achieve new heights in athletic prowess. As a society, we celebrate their performances and encourage them to get even better in the future. My question is: What if this sort of ambition carried over into other aspects of society?
Consider the oceans — the world’s largest resource. The oceans provide us with ample seafood, coastal protection, cultural identity, livelihoods and a host of other benefits, yet so far we have not prioritized their protection. With 7 billion people on the planet, almost half of whom live close to the coast, securing sustainable benefits from the ocean is not only a moral imperative, it’s a matter of long-term survival for people and societies.
In the past, the lack of a comprehensive and clear measurement of ocean health has been a major factor preventing progress. In order to fill this gap, this week we are launching the Ocean Health Index, a collaboration between 65 of the world’s leading ocean experts, including scientists from CI, the National Center of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at University of California, University of British Columbia, the National Geographic Society and the New England Aquarium.
The Ocean Health Index is the first-ever comprehensive global measurement of marine health that includes people as a critical part of the ocean ecosystem. It scientifically scores the sustainability of 10 “goals,” or benefits people expect from the oceans, to generate an objective snapshot of the overall health of the oceans, as well as the marine areas controlled by each coastal country.
So what is the global score for the state of the world’s oceans? A meager 60 (out of a top score of 100). This low score highlights how far we are from where we need to be to ensure the oceans can continue to provide the benefits we depend upon in the future.
CI’s marine programs improve ocean health in several ways. Over the coming months, my colleagues and I will share with you inspiring stories of success and highlight how the work of CI and our partners in government, business and civil society organizations advance ocean health through initiatives like:
The Ocean Health Index offers the world’s governments, businesses and communities the opportunity to measure our progress; to adapt our strategies and approaches; to improve our performance. It also allows CI and our many partners to be faster, stronger and achieve more, just like the Olympic athletes we so admire. Hopefully the Ocean Health Index will also stimulate sound competition among countries to become champions for ocean health and continuously strive to improve their scores.
Sebastian Troeng
Sebastian Troeng
Advancing ocean health is a team sport. In order to restore healthy ocean ecosystems and safeguard benefits for people whom depend on them for their well-being and survival, we all need to play our part.

就 「就職活動」苦

 日本當前的疲弱根植於其傳統優勢──專守“monozukuri”(即製造的藝術)﹐專注於硬件的改進。這一理念是日本民族自豪感的來源﹐它推動該國的電 子公司竭力生產常常是世界上最薄最小的產品或是推出其他漸進的技術進步﹐但是它們忽視了人們真正關心的因素﹐例如產品的設計和使用的便利度。


今年6月份﹐津賀一宏(Kazuhiro Tsuga)在接任松下總裁的新聞發佈會上說道:日本企業對自


Daisuke Wakabayashi

告別「日本第一」傳奇 大國墜落 
高素質人民 縱容出最無能政客與政府
        遠見雜誌20123月號 第309

---- 謝謝吳國精傳來此篇

甚或某業界(如電子代工或成衣界) 出個所謂的「成吉思汗」等,我們無法要求其國人多向其看齊。


超過60的"消費" (海外學習和健身等等)能力的解放 / Gutai modern art

The Gutai group (具体; means "Embodiment") was an artistic movement and association of artists founded (according to most sources) by Jiro Yoshihara in Japan in 1954. According to the official website of Shozo Shimamoto, Shimamoto and Yoshihara founded Gutai together in 1954, and it was Shimamoto who suggested the name Gutai, which contrary to popular belief does not mean concrete but embodiment (according to this source) ”The kangi used to write 'gu' means tool, measures, and a way of doing something, while 'tai' means body.[1].

Tokyo exhibition showcases Gutai modern art movement

photoAbstract paintings from Gutai's middle period are highly appreciated in Europe. (Wakato Onishi)photoWorks from Gutai's late period show a leaning toward geometrical designs. (Wakato Onishi)photoAtsuko Tanaka's "Electric Dress" is one of the representative works from Gutai's early period. (Wakato Onishi)
When the avant-garde Gutai group emerged as an art movement in 1954, the group stood out for its striking originality--paintings executed using feet in lieu of brushes, an "Electric Dress" made with colorful light bulbs, to name a few.

日本年齡超過60的"消費" (海外學習和健身等等)能力的解放 (願意花錢) 是日本經濟發展的大支柱

English Lessons at 85 Help Seniors Limit Japan Unemployment
Ikiiki is part of an endeavor to unlock an estimated 900 trillion yen in savings held by Japanese over the age of 60, through rekindling the zest for spending that today's retirees knew in the 1980s bubble years. From gaming arcades with tatami- bench ...
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日本核災: 或許可怕的才剛開始/ 廠方和官方欺騙

A mutated adult pale grass blue (Zizeeria maha) butterfly from Fukushima prefecture, Japan


Scientists fear increased genetic defects in Fukushima

The effects of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima have now become visible in butterflies. Researchers worry the effects may start to be felt among human beings.
The butterflies found to be deformed as a result of radiation from the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima belong to the butterfly family of gossamer-winged butterflies.
These butterflies can be found throughout the world. They are very sensitive to changes in the environment - to water and air pollution, chemicals and radioactivity.

For scientists, gossamer-winged butterflies are thus a good biological indicator of the health of the environment. When they get sick, it means there is a problem somewhere in the ecosystem - even if there don't seem to be any apparent problems, Winfrid Eisenberg, radiation expert and member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), told DW.

"The findings of the Japanese scientists don't surprise me. There were similar findings in studies conducted after Chernobyl," he explained.

Deformed buts, mice, birds

After the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, deformities similar to the ones recently seen in butterflies in Fukushima were also observed in plant insects.
Even today, Eisenberg said researchers continue to find around 100 times more genetic mutations in field mice, now the 52nd generation since the disaster, than in mice in uncontaminated areas.
Swallows were also greatly affected. In Chernobyl and its surrounding area, the birds are as good as extinct. The ones that do still exist there have "very small heads and very low success rates in breeding," Eisenberg explained.

 Winfrid Eisenberg Winfrid Eisenberg fears that people will increasingly see the effects of nuclear radiation
But not only animals and insects pass on genetic defects to their offspring. Nine months after Chernobyl, there was a significant increase in the number of babies born with trisomy 21 (also known as Down syndrome) - a disease in which there is one copy too many of chromosome 21 in the DNA.

During that time, the number of deformities and miscarriages was especially high - even outside of Chernobyl. According to a report by the Society for Radiation Protection, there are between 18,000 and 122,000 people who have genetic defects as a result of the Chernobyl disaster throughout Europe.

Even small amounts of radiation can be dangerous

The minimum dose of radiation cells can be exposed to before mutating is unclear. Peter Jacob, head of the Institute for Radiation Protection at the Helmholz Center in Munich, told DW that even small quantities of radiation was enough to cause damage.
But human cells have remarkable defense mechanisms that have evolved throughout time. Should any abnormalities occur during cell division, certain enzymes make sure that most of them are repaired. But a quick repair after short-term exposure to radiation could lead to further mutations, which are then passed on to the next generation of cells. In the long term, that could lead to cancer. And if the mutations happen to be in sperm or egg cells, there is a much higher risk that such disease-causing mutations can be passed down for generations.

Fear of diseases

A study conducted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) found that the number of cases of thyroid cancer and leukemia in Japan would not rise significantly as a result of the reactor meltdown in Fukushima. Yet Eisenberg said the deformed butterflies spoke for themselves, even if findings in research on animals and insects could not completely speak for humans.

A series of ultrasound examinations conducted on over 40,000 children in Japan found 35 percent of the children to have lumps or cysts.

"That is not normal among children," Eisenberg, who is also a retired pediatrician, told DW. He added that the figure was alarming. He, along with some of his colleagues, requested access to Japan's birth statistics for the time since the disaster at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima. As of now, he is still waiting for access to be granted.

Author: Judith Hartl / sb
Editor: John Blau

Japan probes alleged cover-up at nuclear plant
Updated. Comments. TOKYO (AP) – Japanese authorities are investigating subcontractors on suspicion that they forced workers at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant to underreport the amount of radiation they were exposed to so they could stay on the job longer.
See all stories on this topic »

Japan Probes Alleged Nuclear Cover-Up
Wall Street Journal
TOKYO—Japanese authorities are investigating subcontractors on suspicion of forcing workers at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant to underreport the amount of radiation they were exposed to so they could stay on the job longer. Labor officials said Sunday that ...
See all stories on this topic »
Report: Japan nuclear workers told to hide radiation levels
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is investigating a report that workers at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were told to use lead covers in order to hide unsafe radiation levels, an official said. The alleged ...

The Asahi Shimbun
The Asahi Shimbun

TEPCO subcontractor used lead to fake dosimeter readings at Fukushima plant

July 21, 2012

Workers at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were ordered to cover their dosimeters with lead plates to keep radiation doses low enough to continue working under dangerous conditions, the Asahi Shimbun has learned.
Some refused the orders. Others raised questions about their safety and the legality of the practice. But the man in charge, a senior official of a subcontractor of Tokyo Electric Power Co., warned them that they would lose their jobs--and any chance of employment at other nuclear plants--if they failed to comply.
The pocket-sized dosimeters sound an alarm when they detect high radiation levels. A worker who has been exposed to an accumulated dose of 50 millisieverts within a year must stop working and stay away from the area for a certain period of time.
The 54-year-old senior official at Build-Up, a midsize construction company based in Fukushima Prefecture, worked out a system to ensure the dosimeters would not reach the limit, according to the workers. It included having the workers themselves build the lead cover that would prevent the radiation from reaching the dosimeters.
The president of Build-Up acknowledged on July 21 that the senior official had nine people work at the nuclear plant for about three hours on Dec. 1 with their dosimeters shielded by the lead plates.
The senior official, who acted as a site foreman, initially denied giving such instructions. But he later admitted to his actions over the phone to the Build-Up president.
A number of the workers explained the process in detail. And one of them provided The Asahi Shimbun with a recording of a meeting the Build-Up foreman had with defiant workers on the night of Dec. 2 at an inn in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, where the workers stayed.
The conversation shows the foreman growing increasingly agitated by the workers’ refusal to rig their dosimeters.
The workers’ job was to wind insulating material around hoses of a treatment system for radioactive water near the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima plant, assigned the task to Tokyo Energy and Systems Inc., a TEPCO group company, which then subcontracted part of the work to Build-Up.
The 10 or so workers organized for the task included Build-Up employees and others dispatched by brokers from various parts of Japan.
According to workers, about half of the team assembled in an area of the nuclear plant on Nov. 30, where the Build-Up foreman presented a lead plate about 1 square meter in size and several millimeters thick.
He ordered the workers to draw lines on the plate and cut out pieces using special scissors. The workers then used vises and hammers to reshape the pieces so that they would cover the front, sides and bottom of their personal dosimeters.
On Dec. 1, the Build-Up foreman instructed the team members to cover their dosimeters with the lead plates. But three of the workers refused, prompting the boss to hold a meeting with them on Dec. 2.


The Build-Up foreman denied the conversation took place. But the defiant workers said the recording of the meeting is accurate.
According to the recording, the foreman said, “Everybody who works for nuclear plants know that the limit is 50 millisieverts per year. If you get exposed to a lot of radiation, you will reach that limit in less than a year. It could run out in three or four months."
He continued: "You can't live by nuclear plants around the year unless you take care of your own radiation doses. You simply can't go and work somewhere else when you are not allowed to work for nuclear plants. You can no longer make a living when the dose runs out. Do you understand that? The 50 millisieverts just keeps running out."
One of the workers tried to interject, saying, "As for me, this is something that we shouldn't do ... ."
But the foreman interrupted, saying: "I know only too well that we shouldn't do that. If you don't want to do so, you don't have to."
Another worker gave his opinion: "I think this is almost a crime."
The foreman retorted: "Did I ever coerce you? I am just saying, 'Please do it if you can convince yourself to do it for your own sake.'”
The foreman also supervises work projects at other nuclear plants in Japan. He said in the recording that he could not allow all the doses at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to be used up.
The workers said the foreman likely wanted all of the workers to use the lead shields to prevent wide variations in the readings on the dosimeters.
At the meeting, they continued to demand an explanation on why they had to use the lead covers.
"Unless you use a lead shield, you can no longer work when the dose is up," the foreman emphasized.


The foreman also recalled a preliminary inspection made in late November by Build-Up staff near the No. 1 through No. 4 reactor buildings. The area was still littered with debris from the hydrogen explosions of March last year, and the foreman said his personal dosimeter began beeping.
"I realized at once that (the radiation levels) were high. I decided, at my own discretion, that we should do that when we work in that area."
The workers said they were convinced that "do that" meant rigging the dosimeters.
The foreman also indicated he had faked his own radiation dose readings in the past. "I have done so before in order to take care of my doses," he said.
His words were still not enough to persuade the workers, so he adopted a tougher tone.
"Perhaps you are not cut out for working at nuclear plants," he said. "Go back to your hometown and do some other job."
Both sides remained far apart during the one-hour talk. The three workers quit their jobs and returned to their hometowns the following day.
But the other workers complied.


TEPCO records show that one Build-Up worker was exposed to more than 10 millisieverts of radiation in December alone, placing him near the top percentile among the approximately 5,000 people who worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant at the time. However, he was believed to have used a lead shield over his dosimeter, meaning he was likely exposed to even larger doses of radiation.
According to the Build-Up workers, on Dec. 1, they changed into protective suits at the J-Village, a soccer stadium 20 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that is used as a relay base for workers. They said the Build-Up foreman then issued instructions.
"Today, we will enter areas of high radiation levels. We will wear the lead boxes," he said.
The foreman told the workers to take a bus to the Main Anti-Earthquake Building on the premises of the nuclear plant, where they would receive TEPCO's dosimeters. They were to put the devices in their breast pockets beneath their protection suits and change into a vehicle for exclusive use by Build-Up staff.
Once inside the Build-Up vehicle, each worker would be given a lead cover. The workers were to rip their protection suits, cover their personal dosimeters with the lead sheaths and cover the tears in their protective suits with tape.
"Make sure nobody sees what you are doing," he told each worker. "Did you understand? You'll do so, won't you?"
However, the three workers surprised the foreman by rejecting his orders.
"I am not forcing you. Go back if you don't want to do so," he said. He walked toward the bus bound for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant with the other workers who agreed to follow his instructions.
The foreman picked one man from the team and told him to drive the defiant workers to the lodging in Iwaki.
"No other company wants to work in areas with high radiation levels," the driver told the workers during the ride. "That's why that kind of work ends up in the hands of Build-Up. But you can make good money that way."

(This article was written by Jun Sato, Chiaki Fujimori, Miki Aoki, Tamiyuki Kihara and Takayuki Kihara.)

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012

Fukushima lays bare Japanese media's ties to top

Special to The Japan Times
Is the ongoing crisis surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being accurately reported in the Japanese media?
News photo
Official lines: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano on April 17, 2011, during his first visit to Fukushima after the disasters triggered by March 11's Great East Japan Earthquake. KYODO PHOTO
No, says independent journalist Shigeo Abe, who claims the authorities, and many journalists, have done a poor job of informing people about nuclear power in Japan both before and during the crisis — and that the clean-up costs are now being massively underestimated and underreported.
"The government says that as long as the radioactive leak can be dammed from the sides it can be stopped, but that's wrong," Abe insists. "They're going to have to build a huge trench underneath the plant to contain the radiation — a giant diaper. That is a huge-scale construction and will cost a fortune. The government knows that but won't reveal it."
The disaster at the Fukushima plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) again revealed one of the major fault lines of Japanese journalism — that between the mainstream media and the mass-selling weeklies and their ranks of freelancers.
The mainstream media has long been part of the press-club system, which funnels information from official Japan to the public. Critics say the system locks the country's most influential journalists into a symbiotic relationship with their sources, and discourages them from investigation or independent lines of analysis.
Once the crisis began, it was weekly Japanese magazines that sank their teeth into the guardians of the so-called nuclear village — the cozy ranks of polititicians, bureaucrats, academics, corporate players and the media who promote nuclear power in this country.
Shukan Shincho dubbed Tepco's management "war criminals." Shukan Gendai named and shamed the most culpable of Japan's goyō gakusha (unquestioning pronuclear scientists; aka academic flunkies).
Meanwhile, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper's well-respected weekly magazine AERA revealed that local governments manipulated public opinion in support of reopening nuclear plants. The same magazine's now-famous March 19, 2011, cover story showing a masked nuclear worker and the headline "Radiation is coming to Tokyo" was controversial enough to force an apology and the resignation of at least one columnist (though the headline was in fact correct).
Others explored claims of structural bias in the mainstream press.
Japan's power-supply industry, collectively, is Japan's biggest advertiser, spending ¥88 billion (more than $1 billion) a year, according to the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute. Tepco's ¥24.4 billion alone is roughly half what a global firm as large as Toyota spends in a year.
Many journalists were tied to the industry in complex ways. A Yomiuri Shimbun science writer was cited in "Daishinsai Genpatsu Jiko to Media" ("The Media and the Nuclear Disaster"; Otsuki Shoten, 2011) as working simultaneously for nuclear-industry watchdogs, including the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (sic). Journalists from the Nikkei and Mainichi Shimbun newspapers have also reportedly gone on to work for pronuclear organizations and publications.
Before the Fukushima crisis began, Tepco's advertising largesse may have helped silence even the most liberal of potential critics. According to Shukan Gendai, the utility spent roughly $26 million on advertising with the Asahi Shimbun. Tepco's quarterly magazine, Sola, was edited by former Asahi writers.
The financial clout of the power-supply industry, combined with the press-club system, surely helped discourage investigative reporting and keep concerns about nuclear power and critics of plants such as the aging Fukushima complex and Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka facility in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, which sits astride numerous faults, well below the media radar.
Throughout the Fukushima crisis, the mainstream media has relied heavily on pronuclear scientists' and Tepco's analyses of what was occurring. After the first hydrogen blast of March 12, the government's top spokesman, Yukio Edano, told a press conference: "Even though the reactor No. 1 building is damaged, the containment vessel is undamaged. ... On the contrary, the outside monitors show that the (radiation) dose rate is declining, so the cooling of the reactor is proceeding."
Any suggestion that the accident would reach Chernobyl level was, he said, "out of the question."
Author and nuclear critic Takashi Hirose noted afterward: "Most of the media believed this. It makes no logical sense to say, as Edano did, that the safety of the containment vessel could be determined by monitoring the radiation dose rate. All he did was repeat the lecture given him by Tepco."
As media critic Toru Takeda later wrote, the overwhelming strategy throughout the crisis, by both the authorities and big media, seems to be to reassure people, not alert them to possible dangers.
By late March, the war in Libya had knocked Japan from the front pages of the world's newspapers, but there was still one story that was very sought after: life inside the 20-km evacuation zone around the Fukushima atomic plant.
Thousands of people had fled and left behind homes, pets and farm animals that would eventually die. A small number of mainly elderly people stayed behind, refusing to leave homes that often had been in their families for generations. Not surprisingly, there was enormous global interest in their story and its disturbing echoes of the Chernobyl catastrophe 25 years earlier.
Yet not a single reporter from Japan's big media filed from inside the evacuation zone — despite the fact that it was not yet illegal to be there. Some would begin reporting from the area much later after receiving government clearance — the Asahi Shimbun newspaper sent its first dispatch on April 25, when its reporters accompanied the commissioner-general of the National Police Agency. Later, they would explain why they stayed away and — with the exception of government-approved excursions — why they continue to stay away.
News photo
Smoke signals: The leaking Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 20, 2011. Critics accuse Japan's mainstream media of failing to properly report the ongoing crisis. KYODO PHOTO
"Journalists are employees and their companies have to protect them from dangers," explained Keiichi Sato, a deputy editor with the News Division of Nippon TV.
"Reporters like myself might want to go into that zone and get the story, and there was internal debate about it, but there isn't much personal freedom inside big media companies. We were told by our superiors that it was dangerous, so going in by ourselves would mean breaking that rule. It would mean nothing less than quitting the company."
The cartel-like behavior of the leading Japanese media companies meant they did not have to fear being trumped by rivals. In particularly dangerous situations, managers of TV networks and newspapers will form agreements (known as hōdō kyōtei) in effect to collectively keep their reporters out of harm's way.
Teddy Jimbo, founder of the pioneering Internet broadcaster Video News Network, explains: "Once the five or six big firms come to an agreement that their competitors will not do anything, they don't have to be worried about being scooped or challenged."
Frustrated by the lack of information from around the plant, Jimbo took his camera and dosimeters into the 20-km zone on April 2 and uploaded a report on YouTube that scored almost 1 million views. He was the first Japanese reporter to present TV images from Futaba and other abandoned towns (though images from the zone, shot during government-approved incursions, later appeared on mainstream TV news programs).
"For freelance journalists, it's not hard to beat the big companies because you quickly learn where their line is," Jimbo said. "As a journalist I needed to go in and find out what was happening. Any real journalist would want to do that." He later sold some of his footage to three of the big Japanese TV networks: NHK, NTV and TBS.
Says Abe: "The government's whole strategy for bringing the plant under control will have to be revised. The evacuees will never be able to return. They can't clean up the radiation. Will the media report this? I'm waiting for that."

2012年8月14日 星期二

稅收法案和近期舉行大選 Japan’s fiscal mess, IMF urges Japan to tackle debt:日本消費稅至少需上調至15%

本首相野田佳彥(Yoshihiko Noda)週三表示﹐他已與主要反對黨就通過稅收法案和近期舉行大選達成一致意見。

野田佳彥在週三晚間與自由民主黨(Liberal Democratic Party)總裁谷垣禎一(Sadakazu Tanigaki)舉行會晤后表示﹐沒有就更為具體的時間表進行進一步討論。




Kosaku Narioka
Lower House passes bills to double consumption tax
The Lower House on June 26 passed bills to double the consumption tax rate, setting the stage for a mass defection from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. (June 27) [more]

Japan’s fiscal mess

A pound of flesh

After 15 years, Japan’s fiscal hawks appear to be getting what they want

“THE consumption tax doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed.” So wrote one (usually astute) American economist in December, banking on what has been one of the canons of Japanese politics for the past decade and a half—that few politicians are either brave or reckless enough to risk raising Japan’s most contentious tax.

Surprisingly, to the relief of some and chagrin of others, on June 15th prime minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), though at war with itself, agreed with the main opposition parties to raise the sales tax from 5% to 8% in April 2014, and to 10% in October 2015. The only (ill-defined) proviso is that the economy is strong enough to withstand the increase.

A fiscal-reform bill was expected to clear the lower house of the Diet (parliament) after The Economist went to press, paving the way for its passage in the upper house this summer. If it is enacted, not only will it break a taboo of Japanese politics. It will also deepen the debate in Japan, as elsewhere, about the merits of austerity versus growth.

Politically, the tax rise is certainly daring. When the consumption tax was introduced in 1989 at 3%, and raised in 1997 to 5%, the moves undermined the popularity of the governments of the day. So contentious is the issue still that Mr Noda may feel he has to dissolve the Diet soon after passing the consumption-tax legislation. Either way, he may also face a leadership challenge from within the DPJ in September.

What makes the tax especially contentious are its disputed economic consequences. As far as ordinary people are concerned, history provides ample reason to shudder at the prospect of a higher consumption tax. Its introduction in 1989 coincided with the peak of Japan’s stockmarket and property bubbles. The tax increase in 1997 seemed to mark a peak in the economy. Since then Japan’s nominal GDP has shrunk by a tenth. Such a fall (exacerbated by deflation) has hit tax receipts, which have fallen by 22% since 1997, leading to a doubling of the government’s debt.

At a time of stagnant wage growth, few consumers will relish the prospect of paying up to 5% more for everything they buy. However, at its current 5%, the consumption tax is the lowest in the rich world’s sizeable economies, which has bred a sense in Japan that raising the tax was inevitable sooner or later. Even at 10%, it will be at half Europe’s levels—and getting there may boost growth in the short term, by bringing spending forward.
Most people need little reminding that a surge of retiring baby-boomers over the next few years will add to the strains on the pension and health-care systems even as the numbers of working-age Japanese are falling fast. The question is whether a tax rise will increase people’s economic anxieties and further dampen consumption, or reassure them that difficult decisions are being made to shore up their future, so bolstering confidence.
Economists are divided. For a start, they dispute the economic impact of the 1997 tax increase. Opponents of the new tax hike say it plunged Japan into recession. Supporters say the pain was brief. They believe that the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, and deepening bad-loan woes at Japan’s banks, caused the real harm.
Regarding the future, opponents of raising the tax contend that Mr Noda has been brainwashed by the hawkish finance ministry into believing Japan could be the next Greece or Spain—its ratio of debt to GDP, after all, stands at over 200%. Yet despite that, Japan is awash in private-sector and household savings, which enables the government to finance over nine-tenths of its borrowing domestically. That assurance explains why foreign money is pouring, in record amounts, into Japanese government bonds and why interest rates are at their lowest-ever levels. Some argue that the government could comfortably issue far more debt and remain secure.
Nonsense, retort the fiscal hawks. They reckon that unless Japan trims its public-sector debt, the huge stock of savings held by companies and households could vanish as quickly as you can say “capital flight”. In their view, the bond market is a bubble waiting to burst and, if anything, a doubling of the rate is not enough. The tax rise, says Takatoshi Ito of the University of Tokyo, “is the minimum they should be doing, but the maximum they can probably get away with.” He notes that as the population ages, Japan’s economic growth rate will weaken. So the sooner public finances are shored up, the better.
Economists do, however, appear to agree on two things. First, the new tax legislation looks likely to give politicians plenty of room to stall in 2014 should growth not appear robust enough. Second, if the consumption tax is raised, then all the more reason for Japan to redouble efforts to promote economic growth, mostly through productivity-enhancing measures such as spurring foreign investment and entrepreneurship. Takuji Aida, an economist at UBS, a Swiss bank, believes that the government, if it is to ensure that the consumption tax is not viewed as damaging, is under pressure to do more to promote growth.
Indeed, Mr Noda’s government is drawing up a new growth strategy that will promote renewable energy, as well as some reforms in health care and education. Regrettably, there is probably not a snowball’s chance in hell that it will be ambitious enough.

IMF:日本消費稅至少需上調至15%IMF urges Japan to tackle debt英國《金融時報》 中本美智代東京報導

Japan has come under renewed pressure to tackle its huge public debt, with the International Monetary Fund calling on the government to triple the national consumption tax to at least 15 per cent.
在處理巨額公共債務問題上,日本面臨新的壓力——國際貨幣基金組織(IMF)敦促日本政府將國民消費稅至少提高到15%,為原來的三倍。“Japan must tackle its deep-rooted fiscal problems,” David Lipton, first deputy managing director of the IMF, said in Tokyo on Tuesday.
IMF第一副總裁戴維•利普頓(David Lipton)週二在東京表示,“日本必須解決其根深蒂固的財政問題。”The immediate priority for Japan was to pass proposed legislation to raise the consumption tax, but more needed to be done to address the country's longstanding challenges of high public debt, low growth and deflation, Mr Lipton added.
利普頓表示,日本當前第一要務是通過一個上調消費稅的立法提案,但除此之外還需要採取更多行動,解決這個國家長期存在的一些挑戰,包括巨額公共債務、低增長以及通貨緊縮The IMF's call on Japan to do more to recover its fiscal health comes as the eurozone crisis threatens to further damage the global economic outlook.
在歐元區危機可能會進一步削弱全球經濟前景的形勢下,IMF呼籲日本拿出更多行動以恢復穩健的財政。While more than 90 per cent of Japan's public debt is held domestically, even a relatively small increase in Japan's risk premium* could have a spillover effect on global risk returns and growth, the IMF warned.
The return in excess of the risk-free rate of return that an investment is expected to yield. An asset's risk premium is a form of compensation for investors who tolerate the extra risk - compared to that of a risk-free asset - in a given investment.

IMF警告稱,雖然日本公共債務90%以上都是國內債務,但日本風險溢價即使是相對小幅的上升,也可能對全球風險回報和增長產生溢出效應。“In this regard, Europe's recent experience offers a cautionary tale. Once market confidence is lost, regaining it becomes very difficult,” it said.
IMF還稱,“在這點上,歐洲最近的經歷就具有警示作用。一旦市場失去信心,要重新恢復這種信心就很困難。”Japan is the world's most indebted country with gross public debt of 235.8 per cent of gross domestic product.
日本是全球負債最高的國家,其公共債務總額相當於國內生產總值(GDP)的235.8%。Even on a net basis, public debt was more than 125 per cent of GDP and was expected to rise further in the absence of fiscal consolidation, the IMF said in its annual assessment of the Japanese economy.
IMF在日本經濟年度評估報告中指出,即使是從淨債務來看,其占GDP的比重也已經超過了125%,如果不鞏固財政的話,這一比重會繼續增加。Last month, Fitch Ratings highlighted Japan's rapidly deteriorating fiscal situation when it downgraded the country's credit rating from double A to A plus.
上個月,惠譽(Fitch Ratings)將日本信用評級從AA降到A+,著重指出日本財政狀況在快速惡化。The Japanese government is locked in intense debate with the opposition over raising the consumption tax in two stages to 10 per cent by 2015.
關於是否在2015年前分兩個階段將消費稅提高到10%,日本政府正在與反對派展開激烈的辯論。Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister, who has staked his political career on the tax increase, is seeking an agreement with the opposition by the end of the week.
增稅問題關乎日本首相野田佳彥(Yoshihiko Noda)的政治生涯,他尋求在本週末之前與反對派達成一致。While the Japanese government's tax plan was an important step towards fiscal consolidation, “reducing debt to sustainable levels will require more”, Mr Lipton said.
利普頓表示,雖然日本政府的稅收計劃是鞏固財政的重要一步,但“要將債務降到可持續水平,還需要採取更大力度的行動。”“Japan needs to move forcefully on many fronts,” combining fiscal, structural and monetary policies, to tackle its problems, he said.
他說,“日本需要在很多方面採取有力行動”,將財政政策、結構性政策和貨幣政策結合起來以解決問題。In particular, “it is important to look for structural policies that can support growth and mitigate some of the impact of fiscal adjustment,” Mr Lipton said.