Japanese Ambassador in Cuba Visits Agricultural Sites in Camaguey

Japan's Ambassador to Cuba, Masaru Watanabe visited on Tuesday the city of Camaguey to inaugurate the development of three production and conservation of seeds projects in urban and suburban agriculture financed by the Asian embassy on the island.

The objective of the initiative is for the socio-economic development of the local communities and its inhabitants, said Watanabe and mentioned the cooperation between both nations in over 100 similar programs that make up the donation of high quality agricultural machinery.

He highlighted the importance in the increase of biological elements as an indispensable aspect to strengthen Cuban agriculture with the objective of hiking the productivity through agro-ecological practices and guaranteeing the protection of the cultivations.

In his tour through the Los Ranchos urban farm of the Agricultural and Animal Company in Camaguey where the project was in its validation stage during five years, the Japanese diplomat observed some of the almost 30 varieties of 10 vegetable species, fruits and others that were harvested.

He also saw the work of the machinery that was installed like a cold chamber for the conservation of seeds, four equipment to decontaminate and produce them, a water purifier and room to plant, grow and dry.

The Director of urban, suburban and family agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture Office in Camaguey, Javier Rodriguez Guerrero said that over four thousand producers from the territory are benefited with the projects that allowed a harvest of over 91 tons of vegetables in 2017.

These programs allowed to obtain 790 kilograms of seeds in 2017, meaning an increase in the productivity that should continue this year to reach one thousand for its use in over 166 hectares, said Rodriguez Guerrero and added that the project will be expanded to benefit 11 farms in the province.

The Japanese ambassador expressed to the workers that improving the yield of the cultivation and increasing the rate of food efficiency will contribute in reducing the use of foreign currency for imports in the area.

He added that the development in the agricultural sector is a priority for the Cuban government and the countries that cooperate with the Caribbean island, according to what has been defined through dialog on economic cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment.

The Japanese diplomat will continue his tour on Wednesday through Camaguey with a visit to the Patricio Lumumba community in the municipality of Sibanicu, to inaugurate a rehabilitation and maintenance project of the water supply system in the region.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Players shine in Japanese Professional Baseball Pre-Season

Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Livan Moinelo maintained their good performance in the preseason of the Japanese Professional Baseball (NPB), although their team, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, lost 3-4 to the Chunichi Dragons.

According to the NPB website, Despaigne batted 3 for 4, including a solo homer, double and a single, and drove in a run, thus raising his batting average to .421, and now totals four homers and seven RBIs.
Last season, in the Pacific League, the Cuban slugger finished as homerun and RBI leader with 35 and 103, respectively.

Meanwhile, lefty reliever Moinelo pitched two-thirds of scoreless innings, to reduce his ERA to 5.40.
The 2018 NPB season kicks off next March 30th and the Hawks of the Cubans Despaigne and Moinelo will face at home the Orix Buffaloes at the Yafuoku Dome.

  • Published in Sports

Exhibition of Japanese Contemporary Art Inaugurated in Havana

An exhibition entitled “Going Away Closer” of Cuban and Japanese artists will be inaugurated on Friday afternoon at the Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Art Center in Havana

The work of young Japanese artists will be exhibited like Takahiro Iwasaki, Natsunosuke Mise, Tadasu Takamine, Futoshi Miyagi, Yuko Mohri, kasutomo Tashiro and Atsuko Mochida.

The four Cuban artists are Glenda Leon, Reynier Lyva, Leandro Feal and Jose Manuel Mesias.

The assembly process lasted two years where Japanese Yumiko Okada and Hiroyuki Hattori and Cuban Abel Gonzalez and Blanca Victoria Lopez worked together.

The key work within the concept is Distance, a representation of the temporary space dimension that exists between both nations, in addition to its different cultures; in a demonstration that included installations, photography, painting and performance; and will be presented in Tokyo next July.

This cooperation process between both countries in the cultural sector will extend to other manifestations like dance.

According to the National Arts Council, this is the moment to offer the Cuban people a reference of contemporary art of other nations in order for the national scene to increase its exchange with other realities. (ACN)

  • Published in Culture

Paro, first robot with artificial intelligence that arrives in Cuba

The first robot with artificial intelligence that arrives in Cuba, known by the name Paro, grabs the attention of the audience to the Technology Fair La Guayabera 5.0, an appointment and luxury that comes with "all inclusive" in the field of culture and technologies.

It is thus that Paro is expected to draw a large part of the glances of those who decide to get to the House of the Guayabera, since it is a robot that simulates a white baby seal developed by Japanese specialists.

Considered a technology for the integration of artificial intelligence for therapeutic purposes, was designed for the accompaniment, mainly for people of the third age, autistic children or those who by physical issues may not have pets.

And is that this seal, thanks to a huge number of sensors of artificial intelligence, answer the call of the people and is happy when you load; in addition, makes gestures that simulate an animal true and expressions that stimulate the five human senses.

Paro has a synthetic leather does not spores, with medical conditions including, and about three thousand 500 copies of this robot are used in more than 30 countries of the world, mostly in Europe and North America.

According to Luis Ernesto Baracaldo, a member of the organizing committee of the fair, in Denmark, for example, 80 % of the local governments have officially introduced and is used in institutes for rehabilitation of persons with developmental disabilities, mental impairment or brain disorders.

The robot was brought by a delegation of Japanese experts who participate in the Guayabera 5.0, headed by Kenji Shimada, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Cuba, who will give a talk on robotics and the relations of cooperation in this matter between the Asian nation and the island.

During the event, which promotes the interaction between culture, technology and society in this central city, will be inaugurated the photo exhibition across borders, a collective collection of Japanese photographers Awards winners 2013 Relief Artists in 2015 and which has travelled the world.

Opened in December 2017 in the Asia House in Havana, the exhibition will be on display at the headquarters of the Provincial Museum of the city of Sancti Spiritus.

  • Published in Cuba

A kiss of death for prostate cancer

Hokkaido University researchers have uncovered a cellular protein that stabilizes a tumor promoting signaling pathway, suggesting a new target to treat prostate cancer.

The drug Gefitinib is used to treat breast, lung, and other cancers by inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling, but it has only a limited effect on prostate cancer. EGFR, present on the cell membrane, is involved in cell proliferation and the development of dermis, lung, and digestive tissues. When a mutation causes its over-activation, it can lead to increased cell proliferation and tumor formation.

Tadashi Matsuda of Hokkaido University and his colleagues in Japan investigated human prostate cancer cells to determine if there is an unknown up-regulation mechanism in the EGFR pathway.

When EGFR is attached to a small protein called ubiquitin, it is given "the kiss of death" and tagged for degradation inside the cell. This tagging process is facilitated by a protein called c-CBL. The degradation of EGFR leads to less signaling from the receptor and reduced cell proliferation.

Matsuda and his team found that signal-transducing adaptor protein-2 (STAP-2) stabilizes EGFR by inhibiting its c-CBL-mediated ubiquitination. Furthermore, when the team suppressed STAP-2, the prostate cancer cells showed reduced proliferation and did not form a tumor when transplanted into mice.

"STAP-2 inhibitors could play a role in treating Gefitinib-resistant prostate cancers. Further studies on STAP-2 will provide new insights into cancer physiology and support the development of anticancer therapies," says Tadashi Matsuda. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Okinawa files new lawsuit to block relocation of US Marines base – local media

The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa filed a new lawsuit against the government demanding a halt to construction work for the relocation of the US Futenma base, local media report. The relocation has been the target of protests among locals.

The prefectural authorities say that Tokyo is acting illegally without permission from the Okinawa governor, as seen in a copy of the lawsuit sent on Monday and obtained by the Okinawa Times.

READ MORE: Construction for US base relocation in Okinawa continues amid protests (VIDEOS)

The relocation of the base involves damaging seabed rock, which would harm the fishing grounds, the lawsuit states.
Earlier in July, an Okinawa Prefectural Assembly committee asked for legal action against damage to the fishing grounds caused by the relocation.

A crane barge works in the Henoko coastal area in Nago, Okinawa prefecture on February 6, 2017. © Jiji Press

“The granting of fishing rights is considered a local government matter and it’s the prefecture that determines how to interpret those local government matters,” Kiichiro Jahana, the head of the executive office of the governor, told the assembly.

The US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station is going to be moved from the densely populated city of Ginowan to the less populated city of Nago in the Henoko coastal area. The city is already home to Camp Schwab, another US Marines camp which has caused numerous protests among the local population.

The base relocation has been repeatedly halted due to resistance from the Okinawa authorities and local residents.

Japanese authorities began the relocation of the base back in February this year, despite stiff opposition from the population. Local residents regularly stage protests with thousands of people, often resulting in confrontation with police.

According to the relocation plan, the flight functions of the Futenma airfield will be transferred to Camp Schwab. Tokyo also plans to reclaim around 157 hectares of land in Henoko waters and build a V-shaped runway. 

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is among those who stand firmly opposed to the US military presence on the archipelago, calling for the removal of the Futenma base.

READ MORE: Hundreds protest US base construction in Japan, year after woman killed by US marine (VIDEO)

Onaga says that the relocation would destroy the environment of the bay surrounding the new base site.

Around 100,000 US military personnel are currently stationed in Japan, according to the official website of US Forces, Japan. Home to about one percent of Japan’s population, Okinawa hosts almost half of the troops (47,000), according to media reports.

  • Published in World

Yovani Aragon amid his toughest game

The commissioner of Cuban baseball talked with Escambray about strategies, hiring, and projections of our national sports.

None of the games he played for Sancti Spiritus in 16 seasons or with the national team in 1998, when he was Cuba’s MVP in the World Championship held in Italy, is being more difficult for Yovani Aragon than the challenge of heading the National Commission of Baseball in Cuba.

Surrounded by a soccer invasion, baseball is bleeding to death among players’ defections. International titles vanished. Fans are bored. U-23 tournament does not meet fans’ expectations. Some, unhappy, target the tournament held prior to the National Series because players have not been paid a dime for what they did last season. But used to tough moments, the native from Sancti Spiritus threw his slider and wipes the sweat away. Escambray follows him play-by-play.

“We are not as bad as they say. We have witnessed a tournament with acceptable technical level. We have witnessed kids motivated and it means health for the sports. Next year, we start over with the U-12 category. It is sort of a guarantee to have this concentration in a single place (EIDE –School for Sports Initiation) since existing scarce sources can be allocated there.”

But there is lack of gloves, bats, balls, stadiums…

Baseball in Cuba is not safe from the lack of resources our country is experiencing. But we have reached municipalities with balls, bats, and jerseys. We use the money earned by the Federation not only for international tournaments and representing Cuba.

Today people playing baseball are not those who love it, but those who can afford it

We know the economic conditions of some families and baseball kits are expensive. We appreciate trainers, parents, and commissions’ efforts and we suggest all provinces to go to remote places. There are talents in Cuba, we just need to go and find them.

How does the National Commission assess desertion in lower-level categories?

It is a problem. Three or four players remain in Cuba from the teams that won the U-15 World Championship and the U-18 Pan American tournament each. We insist on parents and athletes not to be deceived. Not all of them can reach the Big Leagues. We have seen some of them abandoned in the world. No country in the world gives them the attention and love they get here. Most of those who decide to return are reinstated. They have the option of being hired. Some, like Oscar Luis Cola, Raidel Martinez, and Leandro Urgelles, are very young.

What is the policy with those coming back?

Those who left legally —they had the right and did not renege on their provinces— can play the provincial tournament and then the national series, if call up. If not, those players must wait one year because there is indiscipline. One season is not too much for athletes who abandon their provincial teams amid one tournament. Let’s take into account the sacrifice of trainers who teach athletes until they have 18-19 years old and then defect.

Are Japan and Canada the only options?

The Can-Am league is not the Major Leagues, or the Japanese League. But it has very good level with former big leaguers and other players who played AA and AAA. Cuba’s U-18 team will train in Quebec for the world championship. There are other events like the one in Rotterdam, the Cuba-USA friendly match, and the U-15 Pan American competition. Japan has increased its hiring and we have some in Italy. These are the options.

Do you agree Cuba should learn more about signings?

We have been dealing with signings three or four years now and we have done it with already experienced leagues. There are lots of clauses, legal issues that we must learn. We are training personnel so that every contract may be stronger. We are doing good business. We insert protective sections. Therefore, we are not far from the right path.

Any lights on the possibility of playing in Latin American leagues? Where are we in the talks with the Big Leagues?

Caribbean leagues or other leagues related to the MLB cannot hire any Cuban player due to the US blockade. We are still talking with the MLB. Perhaps we are not making great strides, but certain agreements are in place with mutual respect and interests.

Our stance is the same: Cuban players should be able to play that baseball and then return to our country like Mexicans, Venezuelans, and Japanese…Now, those who betrayed our country in any international event cannot represent Cuba yet.

Signings are good but hurt the National Series

We cannot be isolated. The signings are opportunities and most of the time they are positive. Most of them return and play the second stage of the postseason. The National Series will be always played with 16 teams. And there will be a time to group the quality. Cuba is baseball. Do you see a province without a baseball team?

Is it the U-23 tournament the sort of baseball the Cuban Baseball Commission aspires?

The fans are following it with other perspective. But we should understand that this is a tournament for player development.

Do you agree that baseball in Cuba is not in its prime?

No, I say it again: I do not think we are that bad as many believe we are. We played the World Baseball Classic where teams like South Korea and Venezuela —better placed in the world ranking and with big leaguers in their rosters— could not advanced. And we did it with Cuban-born players. It is true there are problems. But we do achieve things and we praise the work of trainers and workers. We are an athlete-producer machine.

But almost all stadiums remain empty, except in the postseason. Day games are hurting baseball players.

The most important thing is that we must demand more efforts from players. It is not about baseball kits or fields. Regarding the game time, we decided to unify the time. However, we are open to allow that provinces can change the time according to their needs. We are planning to change the lights in stadiums.

There are small sample of 90+ pitchers. How do you go to Japan?

Strategies, signings, young players, everything prepares us to face this new cycle to look for the qualification ticket in the Pan American Games. Japan is our goal. We have 90+ pitchers in the U-23 tournament. We are projecting a national pitching school to achieve a more specialized work.

To some, the Commission has lost credibility and authority

I do not know anything about such opinion. The Commission is working hard. Not all you read on social media is true. Everyone has his/her own opinions, and we are open to talk and help Cuban baseball.

Is this your toughest game?

This is a tough one. But we are trying to do the same we did in crucial games: to get opponents out with everyone’s help. I trust we can win this game.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / Cubasi Translation Staff

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