Living through a disaster in southwestern Japan | By Anita Koyangko

The recent flooding in southwestern Japan has left at least 100 dead and 16 missing in the hardest hit Hiroshima area. I live in Hiroshima Prefecture, in the city of Higashihiroshima in a small town called Saijo. Although I was not directly affected by the flooding and landslides it was nonetheless a traumatic experience for my family and I.

Normally in Japan “Tsuyu” the rainy season starts in late May-Early June to Mid-late July depending on the region. It can rain for the whole day and even into the next day, it’s quite a normal or expected occurrence. On the 4th of July in the afternoon it started raining lightly, the rain stopped for couple of hours and stated again in the early hours of Thursday morning. On Thursday morning, as my husband and I were taking our kids to nursery school it started to rain heavily, and continued to do so for the whole day. Since it was the rainy season, we thought nothing of it.

Later on around 6pm we started seeing on the news of areas flooding in in most parts of Hiroshima. Then we started receiving disaster warning messages on our phones and also on TV. Authorities started issuing evacuation warnings, to the people that are located in the danger zones (near hilly,mountainaous areas and along the rivers)
All the announcements were in Japanese, and I understood a fair bit of Japanese so I knew what they were saying, but for other foreigners who don’t understand Japanese this situation will be very difficult for them, and can even cause them their lives. So as a foreigner it is very important to get to know the emergency procedures beforehand.

My husband went to work that night, so I stayed home with my two kids. The rain continued to pour down heavily as I and my kids went to bed. We slept with the windows open because it was very hot and humid, I woke up at around 2 am(Friday), because the wind caused the rain to enter through the windows. When I woke up, I heard the rain and the ripples of the stream near my apartment has gotten louder, (raging I should say).
The moment of panic came for me when I looked outside and saw the water level has risen and the color turned a brown/yellowish/muddy, indicating that maybe a landslide

occurred at the head of the river. With the sound of the rain, and the stream and seeing the news of landslides and floods I panicked because I was alone with two young kids (2 years and almost 4 years). My apartment was located at a “safer(maybe)” place but there are mountains, and hill some 100meters away so I couldn’t put it past anything. And the rain was nothing like I have seen in all my years here. So many scenarios kept flashing through my mind, with no relative around ,all I have were friends but they too would be in that situation so its every man for himself. I packed some warm things, water and food and thought to myself that, if the stream overflows then I will take my kids and go to the nearest City Office. I stayed up watching the stream from 2-3 am, them my husband came home(sent home due to rain).

He told me not to panic, that the mountains were far and that we should be okay. I couldn’t sleep, I stayed up till 7am.
The rain continued the whole day on Friday too. We started seeing on the news the exact damage the flooding has caused, not only in Hiroshima but also neighboring Okayama Prefecture. The rain stopped on Saturday around 10 am. There was so much damage all over Hiroshima Prefecture. For the first time two people died from the town I live in. In August 2014 a similar flood occurred and about 72 people in Hiroshima City died too, but the damages were in one place, this time the damage spread all over the prefecture and the neighboring prefectures causing extensive damages.

On Saturday, I went to the shop but there was a shortage of food, there was no dairy product since most of them are brought from Hokkaido, no water bottles, no cup noodles, no vegetables and fruits etc. For the first time I saw, empty shelves on the supermarkets’. The Sanyo line, (West Japan Railway) has stopped. Extensive damages were done to the train tracks in so many places causing the train tracks to close even as I write this. I have never seen the train stopped for more than a couple of hours in my 9 years here, so I knew that the damages caused by the flood is immense.
This disaster has affected me personally unlike before, in terms of trains stopping (no work) and shortage of food, but this is nothing compared to those who lost loved ones and friends and their homes. The recovery and cleanup process is also very hard because as soon as the rain stopped the south west region is experiencing extreme heat and humidity and will continue for the next two weeks. We are also receiving warnings to not stay outdoors too long as it is very dangerous. So the search and rescue efforts ,and the victims trying to clean up their homes are working under extreme conditions. Such is the situation in Hiroshima now.
I would also like to add, that Japanese people are the most hardworking people I know, their attitude towards dealing with the disaster deserves accolades. Volunteers are pouring in from the region and the country, high school kids who lost friends have volunteered to assist, those affected have begun cleaning the first day the rain stopped.

I felt they had no time to grieve, as a Papua New Guinean I expect the grieving process to be different, but for them it’s better that way. They have to clean up their homes, and bury their dead and the same time, it’s very sad. There is a phrase in Japan called “mae muki” means looking forward or focused on the future. They will say “mae muki gambarimasu” I will focus on the future and try my best. They do not focus on their problem but the future. That is their attitude, and it’s very commendable.

Prime Minister Abe has been on the ground visiting victims and already pledged support and resources to the responsible local governments, but people are not waiting on that, they are already on their feet. What they need most is manpower, water and temporary shelter, which is already provided to them, day 1.As I and my friend went around looking for water to buy for her mother in law who lives in Kure, the most affected area in Hiroshima, and seeing the peoples attitude towards the disaster/recovery I thought to myself ,that the ultimate goal for any welfare government is to make its people self-reliant. This is a solution in itself. That is what the Japanese society is, and something Papua New Guinea government and its people can try to emulate.

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Here’s an example of the costs of importing a K8,000 car from Japan

I was going to write a post about the REAL cost of importing a used vehicle from Japan. But thanks to www.marketmeri.com an article has already been published. The cost are below. General rule of thumb… multiply the stated cost in Kina by three and that should give you the ESTIMATED cost. The costs may vary depending on engine size.

Cost of Vehicle with 2,000cc engine capacity: K8,000.00

Costs of Freight: K3,500.00

Cost of Freight Insurance: K270.00

CIF tax: (Cost of Vehicle + Cost of Freight + Cost of Insurance) * 0.6 = K7,062.00

Import GST: (Cost of Vehicle + Cost of Freight + Cost of Insurance + CIF Tax) * 0.1 = K1,883.20

Brokerage Costs: K650.00

Quarantine Costs: K123.20

Wharf Handling Costs: K650.00

Safety Inspection: K30.00

Car Registration: K160.50

Total Cost: K22,328.90

A faulty system: Why income tax must be reduced and GST & tax free threshold raised

moni

In 2015, the Tax review committee presented its findings to the government.   The review was a long time coming and  very much needed.   Since its presentation,  various aspects of  the review  have  been met with both support and mixed reactions.

 Chairman of the Tax review committee was Sir Nagora Bogan. He  is one of  Papua New Guinea’s foremost experts on tax reform.   This week, he reiterated  the need to implement the  reforms  which include a diversification  of  the tax base.

 “The tax system is struggling to keep pace with the way the country is going at the moment and we have to do a lot to restructure the tax system.”

 Generally speaking,  Papua New Guinea uses a tax structure that burdens the  citizen instead of helping them  become self-sufficient.

 There are several faults with the current tax system.

  • Personal Income Tax is too high and the base from which it is drawn is too small.  It  is a structure more suited to countries with high employment rates. This means that only 400,000 people in formal employment are taxed.  These taxpayers  shoulder  the income tax burden for more than more that 9 million other Papua New Guineans.  It’s like trying to stand up a pyramid on its point.

 

  • Papua New Guinea’s Tax system does not support small business growth and prosperity. It is a well known fact that  if you’re a trying to start up  a small business in Papua New Guinea,  there is no  real incentive for you despite the rhetoric about support to SME.   You still have to pay  the tax percentages  that big companies pay while the resource sector  continues to get various tax incentives.

 

  • The current tax regime has evolved over many years, in an ad hoc manner, and without regular refinement and update has become alienated from the realities of PNG society.The current tax system largely ignores the fact that tax systems are part of a nation. The level, depth and magnitude of changes in PNG have outstripped the capacity and effectiveness and efficiency of the tax regime.”

 

  • The tax system remains largely undiversified and tax exemptions are overused and misapplied.

 “The problem is that as a country, we have not articulated a broad based macroeconomic policy.  What I also recommended at the time was  a shift away from our over dependence on the resource and extractive sector. We can’t put all our eggs into one basket,” Sir Nagora said.

 Some  of the most important recommendations proposed by the   Tax Review Committee  include a reduction in   personal income  and company taxes  as well as an  increase the Goods and Services Tax to as much as 20 percent over time.

 Those recommendations  are  not a stand alone measure.  The committee also proposed increasing the tax free threshold from the current K15,000 to K20,000.  This means anyone paid an annual salary of K20,000 will not be taxed.

 For Papua New Guinea, it makes a lot of sense.  It removes the tax burden from the relatively small number of  income taxpayers  and draws from the larger, more diversified GST base.

 Reducing company taxes, works both ways.  It helps trigger  investment an innovation  and encourages more Papua New Guineans to go into business without worrying unfair taxes that currently smother  any new venture with limited financial muscle.

How to deal with Cannon’s not-so-smooth workflow

I’ve never used a Cannon camcorder in my 20 years in television. I’ve always trusted Sony for its seamless production workflow and adaptability. Of particular value is the brand’s ability to “plug” straight into a Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing system without hassle.

Last week, however, Russell Saigomi parted with his Cannon XC10 which also shoots 4K video. This a camera that’s a bit ahead of the times in Papua New Guinea. Wonderful still images and super crisp video even if you’re not shooting in 4K.

Steep learning curve.

I spent the whole of Friday trying to figure out how to convert the Cannon’s standard MXF files into FCP friendly ingestable clips.

Unlike Sony, Cannon’s online support is quite limited. ItsXF Utility reads the video clips but I found its functionality quite restrictive. I could not drag and drop from XF Utility to desktop. I could, however, drag and drop to desktop WITHIN the XF Utility.

It wasn’t smooth sailing.

The application still created a CONTENTS folder with MXF clips and other associated data.

After four days obsessing over a solution, I downloaded a trial version of a third party software and was able to convert (after numerous tries) MXF files to Apple’s ProRes 422 codec.

Apart from experiencing a few dropped frames when importing into Final Cut, the video quality of the XC10 is top notch!