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U.S. News and Commentary



Tuesday
Mar262013

Ampontan founder Bill Sakovich’s passing leaves gap in coverage of Japan

Ampontan was the most unique blog on the Web when it came to life, politics and culture in Japan. Ampontan's founder Bill Sakovich passed away in December, 2012.Bill Sakovich, founder of the blog Ampontan, Japan from the Inside Out, has died of cancer, according to a post at his website.

Sakovich's passing left a big gap in coverage of politics, daily life and culture in Japan.

A friend of Sakovich, Tony, placed this notice on the site:

Hi everyone. I don’t how much longer Bill’s preprogrammed entries will continue but I have sad news to report. Bill Sakovich, the author of this blog passed away on December 21 from cancer. He had been having stomach problems for the past two months and thought it was an ulcer. He went in the hospital to have the ulcer taken care of and during surgery they found he had cancer and that it had spred throughout his stomach and intestines. I’m sorry to say that my days are now a little less bright without the opportunity to meet up with Bill for some yakitori and political discussion.

Sakovich was rare—he blogged in English but he was fluent in the culture and language of Japan.

If you wrote about that country, you might end up a target of Sakovich whose keen eye permitted nothing questionable or erroneous about the country he dearly loved to slip by.

Sakovich was a thinking man, beholding to nothing other than the truth as he wrote it.

After I learned of his death, I visited the blog I’d been reading for several years, and as I expected, he had a post about North Korea.

Sakovich targeted an online news site purporting to show the world about daily life in North Korea. Sakovich wrote about the spin:

Nearly a third of children under age 5 show signs of stunting, particularly in rural areas where food is scarce, and chronic diarrhea due to a lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity has become the leading cause of death among children, the [U.N.] agency said. Hospitals are spotless but bare; few have running water or power, and drugs and medicine are in short supply, the agency said in a detailed update on the humanitarian situation in North Korea.

That wasn’t the major surprise for me—I was aware of claims about real poverty in that country.

But—not for the first time—Sakovich surprised me with this about construction of a hotel begun 20 years ago:

Work resumed in 2008 after heavy investment from Egypt’s Orascom group, who are also responsible and heavily invested in North Korea’s mobile telephone industry.

That was a nugget like so many others I’d found over the years at Sakovich’s blog.

I didn’t know Sakovich, but I surely appreciated his work at the indie blog Ampontan. He will be missed.

I hope someone creates a Wikipedia entry for him. His followers were legion and dedicated.

I cited Sakovich’s blog in several articles here at The US Report.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 26, 2013)

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