Global Glance: July 20, 2015
A quick look at intriguing international stories
By John Bostwick, Managing Editor, Radius
Welcome back to Global Glance. This week we look at:
- The lasting effects of Japan’s 2011 tsunami
- Starbucks’ expansion into sub-Saharan Africa
- A great Instagram account from a Turkish photographer
The Lasting Effects of the 2011 Tsunami in Japan
Last Wednesday, the BBC’s Magazine published “Diving into the World of the Dead,” a fascinating and sobering piece of journalism about the 2011 tsunami in Japan and its lasting effects. The story focuses on two Onagawa residents who lost loved ones in the disaster. After the tragedy, they learned to scuba dive, and now, twice a month, each dives off the town’s coast in search of his family member’s remains. One of them says of his quest, “I want to search for my daughter as long as my body allows me to. If I just give up, there's zero chance. If I keep searching, I might have a chance at least.”
Another source in the article is quoted as saying of the small town, “We are still stuck in 2011.” Indeed, there are other 2015 articles that make clear the entire northeast coast of Japan has still not recovered from the disaster after more than four years. A February Economist article notes that “170,000 people are still stuck in temporary housing along the ravaged coast,” but “other national priorities” like the construction of a stadium outside Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic games “seem to trump the region’s reconstruction.” While tourists and international businesses looking to expand are no doubt more concerned with Tokyo than with Japan’s northeast coast, the state of the latter will affect not only Japan’s domestic economy, but its international reputation and appeal. If there are still northeast Japanese citizens living in temporary housing at the time of the Olympics, one resident wonders, “What will foreigners think?”
For more information on the effects of the tsunami on Japan, check out “Japanese Coastal Town Still Struggling to Rebuild From 2011 Tsunami,” in The New York Times. The May 2015 article in Live Science, “Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011: Facts and Information,” is also worth reading. An aptly titled “Amazing Facts” section at the end of the piece has this nugget: “The earthquake [that caused the tsunami] shifted Earth on its axis of rotation by redistributing mass, like putting a dent in a spinning top. The temblor also shortened the length of a day by about a microsecond.”
Starbucks’ Expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa
If you’re from the US, you probably associate coffee production with Latin American countries, and for good reason. According to worldatlas.com, five of the top ten coffee-producing countries are from the Americas. Brazil heads the list, and in 2014 it produced an incredible 6 billion pounds of coffee beans. The full list may contain some surprises for readers inside and outside the US. Vietnam, for instance, produces the second-largest amount of coffee beans — 3.6 billion pounds annually. That’s over twice the production of the next country, Colombia. (Sorry, Juan Valdez.) India — not a nation I, for one, previously associated with coffee production — is number six. And two African countries — Ethiopia and Uganda — are at spots five and nine, respectively. The worldatlas.com description of Ethiopia is particularly interesting. Ethiopia is the geographic home to Arabica coffee — the world’s most popular bean — and an “estimated that 15 million [Ethiopian] citizens are employed in coffee production.” The region’s coffee culture has existed for more than a millennium.
Given Africa’s coffee history and current strong production numbers, it is also surprising that global giant Starbucks has been slow to open stores there. While Starbucks does have locations in Morocco and Egypt, it does not have any outlets in sub-Saharan Africa. The company is changing that. It announced last week that it has partnered with South Africa-based Taste Holdings to open stores across South Africa in 2016. With Starbucks’ strong global track record and newly announced strategy, some of the countries on that coffee-production list I mentioned earlier may have to make way for more African competition. As a Starbucks spokesperson notes in the press release, the company already sources a considerable amount of coffee not only from Ethiopia, but also from Rwanda and Tanzania. After the company’s expansion into sub-Saharan Africa, its reliance on local coffee farms will presumably only increase.
International Instagram Recommendation: Turkey’s Sezgin Yilmaz
If you’re looking to enhance your Instagram queue with some high-quality photos from far-flung places, go directly to sezyilmaz, the account of Sezgin Yilmaz. It’s refreshing to note that there’s almost nothing on the web in English about Yilmaz, who (I’m pretty sure) is Turkish and lives in Istanbul. He has a substantial following for someone not named Kardashian (1.3 million people at the moment) and shoots from locations around the globe, including many recent pictures from the Greek island of Mykonos, which even bad photographers can make look good. I found out about his account from this interview in Citizen Brooklyn. The brief piece has some of Yilmaz’s photos, and some technical and other information, but as I say almost nothing biographical. So his pictures will have to speak for themselves. If they pique your interest in making a trip to the great city of Istanbul, you’ll need to apply for a visa, which you can do online at Turkey’s electronic visa application systems page.