Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The Command Post
Hostages Released?

Fox TV is reporting that at least eight hostages have been released and the three Japanese hostages are “safe.”

No confirmation on this yet, will follow up.

Fate of Japanese hostages uncertain

Monday 12 April 2004, 4:44 Makka Time, 1:44 GMT

The lives of three Japanese hostages in Iraq are still in jeopardy, with their captors apparently threatening to start killing them unless Japan withdraws its forces

Eight foreign hostages freed

Sunday 11 April 2004, 21:39 Makka Time, 18:39 GMT

An Iraqi group says it has released eight foreign hostages following the intervention of Muslim scholars on their behalf.

A videotape aired by Aljazeera on Sunday showed eight frightened captives holding their passports and giving their nationalities. The hostages were seen guarded by masked men with arms.

The hostages were three from Pakistan, two Turks, an Indian, a Nepali and one from the Philippines.

So the Japanese were not among the released, but I wonder what "safe" means. Does anyone else have any news on this?


Gen Kanai
Funny keitai photo

(the caption on the sticker can be loosely) translated as:
"Games should be played only in game arcades."

(Which is a riff on the fact that it is rude to talk on the mobile phone on the train here in Japan.)

The little Sega logo on the top right makes me think it's a Sega ad making fun of people who used to think games weren't for homes. Maybe they were copying the Pepsi/iTunes commercial and glorifying the criminals.

I wonder if the expected social norm of not talking on the phone in trains in Japan will change. If people learned that shouting into your phone doesn't really help and talked in a normal voice that might help. I don't see how that would be any different than two people talking to each other face to face from a noise pollution perspective. (I can see a bunch of other arguments here about why it's not the same thing as face to face, but I'm not going to go there.)

The fact that you have to have a sign forbidding it must mean that there is a gap between some people's behavior and hoped for behavior by a particular group of people with access to the authorities.

Anyway, I'm all for talking on the phone in trains.

Via Wonkette, here's a slightly unfair but powerful rejoinder to President Bush's jokes about weapons of mass destruction. Media is in the hands of everyone, and people are going to use it to hold powerful people -- including media people, such as the Washington correspondents who found Bush's performance so hilarious -- to account.
People seem to really be embracing web video as a medium and it definitely delivers the message at a different level than text. Very interesting to see how this form develops.

Yesterday, Mizuka and I went to Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno to see the opera Jr. Butterfly. Jr. Butterfly was composed by our friend Shigeaki Saegusa. The libretto was our friend Masahiko Shimada and the conductor was Naoto Otomo. Tenor Shigehiro Sano performs Jr. Butterfly and soprano Shinobu Sato plays Naomi, his love.

Madam Butterfly was an opera by Giacoma Puccini based on a story by John Luther Long. Puccini's opera opened in 1904, 100 years ago. Jr. Butterfly is the story of what happens to the son of Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton. It is set before, during and after WWII. The half-Japanese half-American Jr. Butterfly is an intelligence officer for the Americans and falls in love with a Japanese girl. At the core of the story is the love story between Jr. Butterfly and the girl, but the opera covers a lot of ground such as the identity struggle of Jr. Butterfly's chanpon background and the intentions of the US vis a vis war with Japan before the war. Also, with Madam Butterfly originally set in Nagasaki, the role of Nagasaki in the closure of the war ties it all together.

I enjoyed the opera very much. The score and poetry were beautiful and I was able to follow the story much better than previous Saegusa operas. It was also fun catching up during intermission with friends that I hadn't seen for a long time. I've been spending too little time with my non-computer and non-business related Japanese friends these days...

There's an interview in the Daily Yomiuri with Shigeaki Saegusa.

Japanese hostages 'to be freed' - BBCi

Iraqi group to free Japanese hostages - Aljazeera

The Japanese hostages in Iraq are supposed to be freed in a few hours. I'm watching the TV news for more information now.

UPDATE: Japan awaits news about hostages - BBC