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Waste Disposal, Eyesight and Guard Assault

by R. Sanborn Brown

Local officials in the town of Ueno, Mie Prefecture, Japan, are grappling with a problem of alpine proportions not far from the site of the South African team's lodgings and training grounds for the upcoming World Cup. A mere 500 meters from the team's lodgings sits a mountain of illegally-dumped garbage. It includes refrigerators, televisions, household appliances, motorbikes, farm equipment, tires, and more—and is clearly visible from the road the team will use to drive to and from their training ground. The land itself is privately owned, and the dumping has taken place over a period of ten years on a steep slope just off a main thoroughfare.

After being chosen to host the South African national squad, the existence of the garbage mountain suddenly metamorphosed into a problem. Because players, supporters, and mass media will all be able to enjoy a view of this typical Japanese countryside scene during their stay, local officials are now worried about the area's image being tarnished—that the site will be an embarrassment if foreigners see it.

As a result, a local group has petitioned the city to have the waste removed all at once. Because of the expense, though, the city government countered that the South Africans could take an alternate route to and from their training ground. This option is not feasible, however, because it would require going on a circuitous and time-consuming route through (real) mountains. As a result of the resulting furor, one official said: "God, it's become a big headache. As a remedy, we need to just throw a sheet over that pile of garbage." The head of the group petitioning the city added, "At the local level, it's too much for us to handle. But we don't want people from all over the world to see it. As much as is humanly possible, that mess has to be cleaned up."

"The Eyes Have It"

If new data reported in the Japanese media is accurate, it isn't likely that any of the South African lads will mistake "Mount Mie" for Cape Town's lovely Table Mountain. It turns out the secret to success on the world soccer stage has as much to do with a player's eyesight as with his muscles and coordination.

Tokyo-based Sports Vision Research Institute has conducted research on the eyesight of some 2,500 athletes over the past ten years. Based on its findings, the Institute claims that top athletes have not only superior muscular strength and stamina but also considerably better vision than the average person.

Company representative Isaku Mashimo told the Asahi Shinbun that seven types of vision were measured: for example, hand-eye coordination, the ability to detect contrast, the ability to visually jump from object to object, the ability to see objects that are moving toward you, the ability to judge objects as they move from left to right and from right to left, etc. World-class soccer players, in particular, test high in the depth-perception category, which is vital to judging distance. "How hard should a pass be kicked, and in what direction. In order to make this kind of judgment—and often instantaneously—a highly developed sense of distance is necessary," noted Mashimo. Other areas in which footballers scored high were the ability to discern moving objects, the ability to distinguish between multiple moving objects. One of the keys then to greatness is—in addition to great physical skills—the ability to glimpse the tiny opening in front of the net, to know when and how to place that exquisite through ball.

Another Reason not to Assault a Guard at the World Cup (South Korean and Japanese nationals division)

The governments of Japan and South Korea have agreed to conclude an extradition treaty. Tokyo and Seoul announced in late January that they have come to a general agreement that will target crimes perpetrated by individuals who, under both Japanese and Korean law, would face prison time of at least one year.

South Korea currently has similar treaties with many nations; Japan to date has only one comparable agreement, which is with the United States. According an official at Japan's Justice Ministry, "After the US, Japan has become the destination of choice for fugitives. We want to get this agreement on the books as soon as possible." Moreover, according to Korean media reports, Seoul plans to put the agreement into effect prior to the upcoming World Cup as a means of coping with the rise in international crime.

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