500km Mission Complete!

As of last Friday, Geoff managed to complete his June challenge of riding 500km for KIWL. Here he is enjoying his gohobi (treat) at the Zebra Coffee & Croissant café — a popular café that allows cyclists to bring their precious bikes into the establishment — after having cycled around 50km from Shibuya to Sagamihara, under the supervision of his mentor Rob Williams (KIWL organizer). 

In the Zebra Cafe

Geoff is new to cycling and it was the first time for him to ride a total distance of 117km, but Rob was sure that he would survive the ride which included the San Francisco-like bumpy roads of Onekan (Tank Road) and a fair bit of hill climbing. The view from the top was worth the effort, and the ride back down the hill was even better!

Rob Williams (right)

Geoff is in training for next year’s KIWL cycle ride (500km in four days) across the countryside of Japan for one of KIWL’s chosen charities. KIWL mainly supports disadvantaged children in Japan. Here is a little about the charity that KIWL is currently supporting.

YouMeWe: Mission

Our primary mission is to help children growing up in institutionalized homes prepare for life outside the home once they reach the age of 18. We offer support programs that increase a child’s opportunity to become a productive and financially independent young adult in their community. This means helping kids develop and hone critical skills such as language, writing, digital literacy, etc., and ultimately increase confidence levels that can lead to new opportunities and choices in the future. Providing tutoring support, internship opportunities, as well as guidance on university/technical school options will offer children another critical layer of support as they start to make plans for their future. Developed skill sets, solid communication abilities, and a thorough understanding of their options will help set kids on the right path towards successful independence.

This is no easy task for any child, but it can prove especially challenging for kids without continual 1:1 attention. It is our hope that by providing educational and mentoring-based support, we will be improving their overall chances.

Source: YouMeWe homepage https://youmewenpo.org/about

Having reached his goal of 500km, Geoff now plans to work on cycling further and with greater elevation. He will also introduce the various routes that he plans to take along the way…

Pedal Power!

Welcome, the latest member of YUZEN! Her name, Pinarello!

Our CEO Geoff has started cycling and joined a cycling club “The Knights in White Lycra (KIWL)” https://www.kiwl.net/. He acquired the dedicated road bike just a few weeks ago.

This particular club does a great deal to support charities and hosts a number of challenges to raise money for them. Geoff, is hoping to join the 500km 4-day cycling tour with them through the very beautiful and very mountainous countryside of Japan next year. YUZEN will of course support Geoff in his endeavor by donating to the club’s chosen charity.

This year’s ride has been postponed due you know what, but they have set a cycling challenge for those who wish to participate throughout the month of June.

Geoff’s mission is to cycle a total of 500km within the month of June. The original challenge is for the cyclists to do 500km along with 5,000 meters elevation, but since Geoff is just beginning, Rob Williams, the Chair and Co-Founder of KIWL said that doing 500km only to start with would be challenging enough, as Geoff needs to train his cycling legs.

As of the beginning of June, Geoff made a small donation to the club’s charity “YouMeWe” https://youmewenpo.org/ to join the challenge, and has been making steady progress. So far, he has covered a total distance of just over 209kms, much of which was gained cycling around the Imperial Palace.

Stay tuned as we follow his progress!


MARPOL Complementary Amendment to Come into Force on March 1 2020

Following the recommended reduction of deadly SOx (Sulphur) from the current 3.50% to 0.50%, a complementary MARPOL amendment will prohibit non-compliant fuel used in combustion for the propulsion or operations onboard a ship unless the fuel meets the requirements or a scrubber (similar to a catalytic converter used to clean exhaust from cars) has been fitted. MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee) has issued a list of guidelines to help related parties comply with the regulations. These include: “a risk assessment and mitigation plan, fuel oil system modifications and tank cleaning, fuel oil capacity and segregation capability, procurement of compliant fuel, a fuel oil changeover plan, documentation and reporting”. Ways on how best to implement the new regulations will be addressed during the 74th MEPC session in May 2019. The regulation will mean that those related parties will be required to notify the IMO on the non-availability of compliant oil fuel. The regulations are expected to bring significant benefits to the environment and human health.

Source: IMO website

True or False?

  1. Ships will no longer be able to use fuel that contains more the 0.5% Sulphur.


  1. It will be difficult for those concerned to comply because of a lack of information that will be available.


  1. Companies will have to inform the IMO if they cannot get fuel that satisfies the regulations.

Scroll down to the end of this section to see answer

Nautical English: “Spring!”

April sees the welcoming of new faces for many organizations in Japan. This month’s idioms are to do with new recruits or shinjin. They will have many things to learn about their new environment, thus the following idioms seem appropriate.

Give a wide berth

To avoid a person or place (Cambridge Online Dictionary).

Manager: Let’s give the new recruits a wide berth while they get used to using the new computer system. It will take them a while to learn it, but if we give them some space, I’m sure they will pick it up in no time.

During the 17th Century, the phrase was used to refer to “a place where there is sea room to moor a ship”. Later it came to be known as: “Allow enough sea area in order to avoid a collision”. (Phrases.com)

Know the ropes

The special way things are done at a particular place or in a particular activity (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).

It will take a few weeks for new employees to learn the ropes.

It is well known that this idiom has is origins in the days of sailing ships. The ropes play a very important role on a sailing ship. Thus it is essential that any seafarer know the correct function and name of each rope.

The first written record can be found in Richard H. Dana Jr’s Two Years Before the Mast, 1840: “The captain, who had been on the coast before and ‘knew the ropes,’ took the steering oar.”

Give someone some leeway

In the previous mail magazine Issue No. 3 we looked at “Make up leeway”. This idiom means to make up for lost time.

To give someone some leeway in daily English means to allow them a certain amount of freedom or variation (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).

They give their students leeway to try new things.

The manager gave the new recruits some leeway to let them get to know how everything works in the company.


  1. F (they can if they have a scrubber attached)
  2. F
  3. T

BCCJ 5.0 AI Under the Hood: turning water into gold

On the 12th of March, two representatives from YUZEN Translation attended an event at the British Chambers of Commerce Japan. The speaker was Darren Cook, data scientist, and director at QQ Trend, who has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, data analyst, and technical director. The purpose of the talk was to fill members in on the current progress and basic workings of AI. The word seems to have become something of a buzzword, recently, thus it was a very timely talk.

AI has been around for a while now, and its very implications have made people nervous about being replaced or even outsmarted by AI. Large corporations have seen the attractiveness of AI and as a result we have seen a tremendous amount of investment in this industry. Indeed, there appear to be many benefits associated with it: from personal assistants to self-driving cars and ships. It is now even possible for us to take an aerial video of ourselves skiing down a mountain thanks to a drone equipped with AI.

A major shift in the development of AI in recent times is the amount of data that is now available and corporate investment has seen this increase significantly. The more information that gets shared, the more everyone gets to benefit, so long as this information is shared responsibly and openly. The speaker emphasized that information should be openly available, so that all can benefit, and that if this were not the case, that it would be costly and a waste of human resources to re-invent.

AI’s basic principles are found in deep learning. Everything gets changed into numbers. For example, as with an image, that image is first converted into three channels (RGB), then each pixel is converted into a number. These numbers are then fed into an algorithm to be analyzed. Words are turned into numbers, too.

The way words are organized is through a set of properties and the relationship between those properties. Basically, machine learning learns the meaning of the words depending on their relationship to others. For example, the king is in the castle and the queen is in the castle. It will know that they have something in common because of the castle.


Human language is difficult. All languages are difficult. People can deal with this. It is always changing because it is forever being re-created. While machine translation has made significant advances over the recent years, the current model does not account for grammar which will greatly affect the accuracy of a translation. Also, when it comes across a word that is unrecognized, it will omit that word. Again, this is also a problem for texts that need to be transcribed accurately, which many do.

AI can be likened to stage magic. The audience is wowed at the magician pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat. But, ask that magician to pull a white dove out of that same hat: he’ll be in trouble. AI is very good at doing what it is programmed to do (this makes it more automation that AI in the philosophical meaning). For it to be more accurate, much much more training data will be needed. However, an infinite amount of data will not necessarily mean improved AI.

While anyone who owns a digital assistant will know the struggles AI has with really understanding language, translators and writers can rest assured knowing that their jobs will not be replaced any time soon. However, as we discussed in small groups towards the end of the session, it was pointed out that although self-driving cars have made mistakes, the proportion of mistakes made by humans has been greater.

The session was very informative and we would like to thank Darren Cook and the BCCJ for offering us this unmissable opportunity.


Autonomous Ships Driving Change

Source: BBC Click television program December 2018

A shipping company in Finland is testing an autonomous car transporting vessel. A female Finish Chief Officer is contributing to the project. She has family commitments and it has been difficult for her to balance the two. In fact, female seafarers make up only 2%* of the maritime industry. The vessel has been retrofitted with sensors and cameras, so that it can be controlled remotely. In future, operators will be able to control multiple vessels all at once, meaning that people will no longer be required to live away from their families for an extended period of time. Rolls Royce predicts that in 20 years’ time most of the ships crossing our shores will be autonomous. However, this raises concerns over safety. Although technology such as radar and GPS have markedly improved and aided safety, they have not been a substitute for the human senses.

*BBC Click

Q: Why may we see fewer seafarers on board ships in the future?

Scroll down to the end of this section to see answer

Nautical English: Make up leeway, All hands on deck, Go like the clappers

It is nearly the end of the fiscal year. Many offices in Japan will preparing all the necessary documents in time for the end of the financial year. This is a busy time of year, and it would therefore seem appropriate to talk about idioms that reflect this.

To Make up Leeway

To get back into a good position or situation after one has fallen behind.

(Merriam Webster Dictionary)

This idiom is commonly used when one is to make up for lost time:

A: How was your holiday?

B: It was great, but I had to make up leeway with the mountain of paperwork that has accumulated on my desk.

Our team fell so far behind in the marathon that we were unable to make up leeway even though one of our runners was one of the fastest in the event.

This term has is origins in the bygone days of sailing, when a vessel is sent off course towards the side by downwind and it is said to not be making leeway. Thus, time is needed to make up for the lost time. This is where the term originally comes from. Its first usage was recorded in the mid-17th Century.

All hands on deck

 This term is used when everyone is to come together and work hard as one team, usually in a time of emergency or something of great importance:

Manager: OK. We will be opening the new store in 30 minutes, so I want all hands on deck to make sure that it is ready to welcome our first customers.

It is clear to see that this term has in its origin in the maritime industry. Deck referring to a ship’s deck, and hand referring to those that work on board. When a ship was to make a manoeuvre that required the whole crew to participate or there was a dangerous situation or something of that nature, the master would call “All hands on deck”.

 Go like the clappers

Although rather an aeronautical idiom than a nautical one, this is one of my favourite terms.  If something is going like the clappers, it is moving at great speed:

A: How is your new Tesla Roadster?

B: Oh, it goes like the clappers. It can do 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds.

This term can also refer to someone who is having to work extremely hard and fast.

I had to go like the clappers to get to get that report done on time.

 This term is believed to have originated during the early 1940s among RAF pilots as a form of slang. If a pilot was being chased by another plane, they would fly like the clappers to escape. It is likely that the term came from clappers found in bells, and that pilots would say “Go like the clappers from hell”. The word hell may have been adopted because it rhymes with bell. Many RAF pilots came from public schools, and a bell would have been rung just before the start of class or chapel. As the bell was rung faster and faster, in the last minute or two, the boys would run to make it in time: they were going like the clappers.




Because it will be possible to control the vessel remotely from land.

Thank you for reading


IMO plans tougher measures to reduce plastic litter

Adapted from World Maritime News online November 2018

New supporting measures are to be introduced in order to enhance existing regulations, and actual measures are to be considered at MEPC 74 in light of the established action plan’s target set for 2025. This will involve a review of the usage of placards, garbage management plans and garbage record-keeping, as laid out in the MARPOL Annex V, along with the establishment of a compulsory mechanism that will require the number and location of containers lost at sea to be reported. Dumping plastics into the sea is already prohibited by MARPOL, however studies show that, despite regulations, plastic litter is still being dumped, for example, abandoned or lost fishing nets, and that this is causing a big problem for marine life.

Question: What will container vessels be required to do according to the new measures?

Answer: They will be required to report the number and location of containers lost at sea.


Nautical English: “Colours”

Autumn is here, and the leaves are changing in colour. This is a good opportunity to talk about colours. There are two well-known English idioms that use the word colour, and they both have their origins in the maritime industry.

Firstly, the word colour in the maritime industry referred to the ship’s nationality: specifically, the ship’s flags. This was something that was crucial: especially when in battle.

  1. Flying colours: The contemporary meaning of the idiom flying colours has to do with passing something successfully, for example, an exam or a health check.
  • I passed the health check with flying colours.
  • My car passed the low emissions test with flying colours.

If a ship returned from a battle, she would be flying her colours from her mast heads as a sign of having triumphed over her enemy: she was quite literally flying her colours. Since around the 17th century, the idiom has become synonymous with having achieved something with great success.

  1. True colours: Originally, pirate ships would display false flags to lure another ship into a false sense of security. Just before they were about to capture the other ship, they would then show their real flags: their true colours. This was frowned upon by international law.

Nowadays, if you say that someone is showing their true colours, you mean that the person is revealing their true character or intentions. Some example sentences might be:

  • They say people show their true colours when drinking.
  • During choir practice sessions, the students had very few occasions where they were able to all practice together. However, on the day of the event, they showed their true colours and took first prize.





How drones are being used to improve safety and efficiency on ocean freight ops

Adapted from World Maritime News online

Some shipping companies have started introducing drones into their freight operations. The potential for drones to be used as a part of a tablet-based system that incorporates artificial intelligence can provide captains with a digital view of their ship as never seen before. Drones can be used to deliver ship hold inspection data, draft readings and other critical information. Traditionally, a person climbs down ladders to check; they must be physically fit, use fall protection equipment and carry a parrot (oxygen meter) to check that there is enough air in the hold: this takes a lot of time. With cameras fitted, drones can take 4K and infrared images etc. to reveal cracks or other phenomena that are not easily visible with the naked eye. Drones could prove to be invaluable as a tool to expedite checks and inspections, and further eliminate the human element out of what could be a potentially hazardous situation.


Question: How can drones be used as a tool to expedite checks and inspections?

Answer: By delivering information about the ship’s condition, electronically.

Open-day lecture at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology

Last weekend we went back to the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (Etchujima Campus). This time we attended an open-day course on English that officers are expected to be able to use. On the following day, we then had the honor of sailing on the university’s training ship Shioji-maru.

We arrived at the campus at around a quarter past nine. After our lecturer introduced himself, we split into groups to introduce ourselves to one-another. It was nice to see a handful of senior high school students in the class, too. Some were in their final year and were attending because they were considering entering the university. While Japan owns a large number of ships trading in the world, there are very few Japanese national crew members onboard as the majority of seafarers are from other countries. This is also why English ability is essential.

Dr. Takagi told us the importance of using clear and simple English. Using unfamiliar phrases or idioms may only cause confusion. At sea a hazard can blow up in no time at all, thus clear, unambiguous language is crucial. The world of shipping uses fixed universal terminology. Although, having a flexible approach to English is important. If an emergency occurs on your ship, you need to be able to relay this to your counterpart effectively using all means possible to get your message understood.

He went on to tell us that shipping English consists of mainly nouns and short sentences. It is worth noting here that while shipping English terms may appear identical to daily English terms the terms used in shipping tend to be narrower in meaning. For example, the verb to pay means to send out rope or an anchor. Whereas in daily English this term has wider application, for example, to pay a bill, to pay respect etc.

Grammar is the same, but as mentioned above, it is to be kept short and concise.

Being accustomed to a number of different ways that words are pronounced is important, as people from a number of different countries, mainly in Asia, work in the shipping industry.

The ability to use time tense in English is especially important. A mix up in using time tense correctly could cause an accident.

While perfect English may not be required, the ability to communicate so as to maintain a good relationship with one’s counterpart is important.

After lunch, we took a tour of the university’s museum under the guidance of former pilot Kenzo Tateishi. We learned how Meiji-maru started out as a two-mast schooner that was then modified with the progress of time. With the advent of steam, she had a large paddle engine assembled in the middle of her hull. This was then later removed and another mast was added for training purposes, so that trainees could practice climbing the mast and working on the yard arms. Another interesting point to mention is that the sea territory of Japan is one third larger thanks to Meiji-maru being fast enough to claim the Ogasawara islands. This area of sea is rich in minerals and ores. The Meiji-maru played an important role in a part of Japan’s history.

On Sunday morning, we boarded the university’s training ship Shioji-maru. The plan was to sail from the port of Tokyo to the port of Yokohama and then back again. The weather was beautiful and we also had the chance to see a VLCC oil tanker undergoing bunkering. These colossal very large crude carriers are 333 meters in length (the height of Tokyo Tower).  

At the end of the short program we all received completion certificates. We are looking forward to future classes and events that will be held at the university.

「平成 30 年 7 月豪雨」災害に対するお悔やみとお見舞いを申し上げます

「平成 30 年 7 月豪雨」により亡くなられた方々に謹んでお悔やみを申し上げますとともに、被災された方々に心よりお見舞い申し上げます。


We sincerely express our condolences to those who lost their lives and homes due to flooding and landslides caused by “the heavy rain event of July 2018″ that ravaged western Japan. We pray from there bottom of our hearts for the speedy recovery of those affected by this tragedy.

6月8日、世界海洋デー記念シンポジウムへ参加して来ました (小澤)

2015年9月、ニューヨークの国連本部で開かれた国連総会にて採択された「持続可能な開発目標」(Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs)は、貧困や飢餓の終焉、生涯にわたる健康と教育の改善、居住地の持続可能性向上、気候変動対策、海洋と森林の保護といった17の目標と169のターゲットを掲げている。最も共感する誓いは「地球上の誰一人取り残さない(No one being behind)」という部分だと思うが、2030年というタイムリミットまでに如何にひとりひとりが、多様性と包摂性のある社会環境を希求し、その実現に向けて経済的・環境的な側面からも包括的に取り組むことの意義を痛感した。