Jul 14

JETAA‎‎‎‏‏‎​ Podcast Beat is a weekly round-up of current JET and JET alumni podcasts and podcast appearances compiled by Emmalee Manes (Toyama-ken, 2016-19)

Do you have a podcast or did you recently appear in a podcast? Help us share it with the community by filling out this form.

Welcome to the first-ever JETAA Podcast Beat post! I hope the beat will be a great way for everyone to stay updated on JET alumni as well as current JET involvement in podcasts. If you have the chance, please enjoy listening to one of these recent episodes this week!

よっぱれい英会話 English Nomikai Podcast

In this eikaiwa podcast targeted to Japanese English-learners, Emmalee Manes (Toyama-ken, 2016-19) talks to fellow JET alumni, current JETs, and Japanese English teachers and friends about cultural differences between Japan and their home countries (all while sharing some drinks!)

BONUS: POWER HOUR II with Joe, James, and Caralynn

このエピソードでは、EmmaleeとJoeとJamesとCaralynnは、一時間で60杯のショットを飲みます。その時間で色々のトピック話して、段々酔っ払いになっています。

Instagram: @yoppareikaiwa

Krewe of Japan

Krewe of Japan is a weekly podcast co-hosted by Doug Tassin (Fukushima-ken, 2007-10) that takes listeners on audio journeys through Japanese culture. With our hosts as your guide, and the help of guest experts, Japanese natives, and ex-pats, understanding Japan is now easier than ever before.

20. Season 1 Recap

Just like that, Season 1 comes to a close! Nigel, Jenn, & Doug peel back the curtain and reflect on all the behind-the-scenes effort & challenges that went into launching, continuing, and finishing the inaugural season of Krewe of Japan!

They discuss their favorite episodes, re-visit bloopers (#DougThings), read out some listener feedback, & tease what’s to come! Don’t miss out on this fun stroll down memory lane and help re-live the first season (of hopefully many) of the Krewe of Japan Podcast. See you in August for Season 2!

Mata kondo ne!

USLawEssentials Law & Language

The USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast, co-hosted by Stephen Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94) helps non-native English speaking lawyers and law students improve their English and better understand US law and American legal culture. Many of these short episodes are tied to a legal news event or case in the United States. Others include interviews with multilingual lawyers (including a number of JET alumni.) The shows are hosted by attorneys experienced teaching US law and legal English to students and lawyers from around the world.

10. The Multilingual Professional: Rebecca Chen

This episode of the USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast continues our series of interviews with multilingual lawyers — but this time with multilingual paralegal Rebecca Chen (Akita-ken, 2014-17). Stephen Horowitz is our interviewer and he talks to Rebecca about the important roles paralegals play in law firms. Rebecca offers a great inside perspective on her work with a prominent immigration law firm and how a team of legal professionals helps diverse clients from around the world achieve their immigration goals. And you probably have goals, too – such as learning legal English!


Jun 18

Episode 8 of the USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast an interview with Scott Alprin (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-95) of Alprin Law Office, P.C. Scott is trademark and intellectual property attorney who speaks Japanese and works with many international clients. He discusses his career path and shares insights on law and practicing as an IP attorney.

JET alum Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94), in collaboration with Daniel Edelson of USLawEssentials.com, recently launched “USLawEssentials: Law & Language,” a legal English podcast intended for foreign lawyers, law students, and LLM students as well as other non-native English speakers who want an enjoyable way to improve their legal English. The podcast episodes cover a variety of topics including legal news events and discussions of recent cases as well as interviews with multilingual lawyers. The discussions use accessible language with helpful explanations along the way.


Jun 15

JET alum Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94), in collaboration with Daniel Edelson of USLawEssentials.com, has launched a new legal English podcast titled “USLawEssentials: Law & Language.”

The podcast is intended for foreign lawyers, law students, and LLM students as well as other non-native English speakers who want an enjoyable way to improve their legal English. The podcast episodes cover a variety of topics including legal news events and discussions of recent cases as well as interviews with multilingual lawyers. The discussions use accessible language with helpful explanations along the way.

Notably, the first two multilingual lawyers interviewed are both JET alumni! Brian Hersey (Fukuoka-ken, 1994-96) and Brenda McKinney (Hyogo-ken, 2006-09)

Horowitz, the founder of JETwit.com, is a Professor of Legal English and the Director of Online Legal English Programs at Georgetown Law School. He previously served as Director of Legal English Programs at St. John’s Law School.

Edelson is an Adjunct Professor of Law at St. John’s Law School and a practicing attorney in addition to founding USLawEssentials.com. He has previously taught English in Japan and has taught legal English in Korea.

Horowitz and Edelson encourage readers to share the podcast with students and others they know who are seeking to improve their legal English or simply their English in connection with sophisticated topics.


Jun 11

Posted by: Doug Tassin (Fukushima-Ken ALT, 2007-2010 & Krewe of Japan Podcast Co-Host)

This week on the Krewe of Japan Podcast

JET Program acceptance letters have gone out & short-listers are on the edge of their seats waiting to find out their placements. Nigel, Jennifer, & Doug talk about the months-long emotional roller coaster of preparing to relocate to a new country (for JET or any program). Departing JETAA Mid-South President Megan DeVille stops by to talk about her pre-departure JET experiences, from interviews to arriving at a tiny regional airport in Aomori Prefecture. She also talks about life after JET and how to keep Japan in your life despite returning to your home country.

The Krewe of Japan Podcast is a weekly episodic podcast sponsored by the Japan Society of New Orleans. Check them out every Friday afternoon around noon CST on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Stitcher.  Want to share your experiences with the Krewe? Or perhaps you have ideas for episodes, feedback, comments, or questions? Let the Krewe know by e-mail at kreweofjapanpodcast@gmail.com or on social media (Twitter: @kreweofjapan, Instagram: @kreweofjapanpodcast, Facebook: Krewe of Japan Podcast Page, & the Krewe of Japan Youtube Channel). Until next time, enjoy!


Mar 19

Posted by: Doug Tassin (Fukushima-Ken ALT, 2007-2010 & Krewe of Japan Podcast Co-Host)

This week on the Krewe of Japan Podcast

In the first of many episodes focusing on English teaching in Japan, Doug & Jenn take a look at various types of teaching opportunities, both JET and non-JET avenues. This conversation transitions into an interview with two English professionals based out of Fukushima Prefecture: John Loynes (British former-JET-turned-eikaiwa-entrepreneur) & Bradley Trenery (Australian private school English instructor). John & Bradley share their unique journeys to Japan and offer some interesting insights into working in their respective educational environments, along with some hilarious tales that will permanently etch the Japanese word for “population” in your memory bank.

The Krewe of Japan Podcast is a weekly episodic podcast sponsored by the Japan Society of New Orleans. Check them out every Friday afternoon around noon CST on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Stitcher.  Want to share your experiences with the Krewe? Or perhaps you have ideas for episodes, feedback, comments, or questions? Let the Krewe know by e-mail at kreweofjapanpodcast@gmail.com or on social media (Twitter: @kreweofjapan, Instagram: @kreweofjapanpodcast, & the Krewe of Japan Youtube Channel). Until next time, enjoy!


Mar 7

Posted by Tom Baker (Chiba 1989-91)

The 15th annual Japan Writers Conference will be held in October this year. The organizers are now looking for writers, editors and publishers to give presentations on the art, craft and business of writing. If you are a writer, now is a good time to think about taking part.

The conference is a free event, held in English. It covers publishable writing of all types: poetry, fiction, journalism, memoir, translation and more.

Past presenters have included best-selling thriller author Barry Eisler, Edgar-winning mystery novelist Naomi Hirahara and “Slumdog Millionaire” creator Vikas Swarup. There have also been presentations by many JET writers over the years, including poets Warren Decker and Michael Frazier, novelists Percival Constantine and Benjamin Martin, journalists Elaine Lies and Tom Baker, textbook author Todd Jay Leonard, and writing renaissance woman Suzanne Kamata. This year’s event will be cohosted by JET alum and novelist Charles Kowalski, together with nonfiction writer Joan Bailey.

Here are the official details:

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The 2021 Japan Writers Conference will be at Tokai University, Shonan Campus in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, on Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th, 2020. Hiratsuka is on Sagami Bay, not far from Odawara. As in the past, the conference will be free and open to all who wish to attend. Please mark your calendars and plan to join in. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, there is a possibility we’ll have to move online again this year, or it may be a hybrid, with some sessions held live, some online.

All published writers, translators, editors, agents and publishers are welcome to submit presentation proposals for the 2021 Japan Writers Conference. The deadline for your proposal is Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

Please send your proposals via this page on the JWC website: http://japanwritersconference.org/submit-proposal/

We especially encourage proposals from new submitters. One of our strengths has been variety, and the best way to foster variety is to have new presenters each year.

When planning your JWC proposal, keep your audience in mind. Your listeners will be writers and others (translators, editors, publishers, and agents) concerned with creating publishable writing. While teaching, literary studies and private self-expression are all worthy activities, they are not the focus of this conference.

Standard conference sessions are fifty minutes long, but if you have something longer in mind, please let us know and we will accommodate if possible.

To submit a proposal for a conference presentation, send the following information, using the form here to submit: http://japanwritersconference.org/submit-proposal/

1. Your name (or names)
2. Title of presentation (20 words or less)
3. Type of presentation (short lecture with Q&A, craft workshop, panel discussion, reading with Q&A, etc.)
4. Genre (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Translation, Instructional, Career)
5. Short summary (50 words or less)
6. Abstract (150 words or less)
7. Personal and professional biography (50 words or less. Mention your publications, as this will be part of the Conference program)
8. Your publications (Need not be complete, but give names of journals and genre for short pieces; title, publisher and date for books; venues and dates for plays, and so on)
9. Are you available on both days?
10. Any special needs?
11. Contact information (email address, telephone number) These remain confidential. Please include everyone who will be part of the presentation.

If you are unable to use the website form, or
have questions concerning your idea or the conference in general, you may use this email address: japanwritersconference@gmail.com

Novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski will be one of the hosts of the 2021 Japan Writers Conference.


Feb 6

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We recently learned about the National Association for Black Engagement with Asia (NABEA) which seeks to connect Black Asia specialists in both the public and private sectors. They also hope to increase the representation of Black Americans engaging with Asia. Through their programming, they work towards building a mutually beneficial economic, political, social, and cultural relationship between Black America and the Indo-Pacific region.

There seems to be a natural connection between the JET alumni community and NABEA. And in fact, we’re currently aware of four JET alumni who are also members of NABEA:

According to Fisher, “NABEA is an important and growing community of Black Americans who are specialists actively engaged in Asia. Their publicly accessible and searchable database of Black, Indo-Asia experts is a great addition to the continued work of increasing representation and inclusion in the U.S.-Japan community specifically, and the Indo-Asia region more broadly.”

If you are interested in joining NABEA, go to their website for more info: http://usnabea.org/

And if you’re already a member, feel free to post in the comments section below and let everyone know!


Sep 6

Charles Kowalski to dissect villains at Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

Many JETs are writers before coming to Japan, while others find that Japan give them something to write about. And many JET writers get involved in the Japan Writers Conference, which this year is being held online, Oct. 10-11.

One of this year’s featured writers is novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski, who will describe how to give your story a compelling villain.

Here’s the official description of Charles’ presentation:



Masterminds, Minions, and Monsters: Creating 3D Villains
(Craft Workshop)

Create compelling villains that readers will love to hate! This workshop will introduce three main villain motivations (the “3 D’s”) and show how these form seven archetypes, plus six effective recruiting tools for henchmen (FLAMES), the top five justifications for villainy, and how to defeat the villain for a satisfying ending.

“A story is only as good as the villain.” – Clive Barker

Bad guys make good stories, and this workshop will focus on creating compelling villains that readers will love to hate.

Here are the questions to be asked and answered in this workshop.

What makes a compelling villain? How can the BOOM technique help create a villain with a believable backstory?

How do the three main motivations of villains intersect to form seven villain archetypes? What are the common personality characteristics of each?

What are the six tools used by master villains to recruit followers? What are the top five justifications for villainy?

What are the five main patterns of villain defeat and their common variations?

Come find out!

Charles Kowalski is the award-winning author of contemporary thrillers MIND VIRUS and THE DEVIL’S SON, and the Japan-themed historical fantasy SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS. When not writing, he teaches at Tokai University.


Aug 24

Panel discussion on MFAs at 2020 Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

Many JETs are writers before coming to Japan, while others find that Japan give them something to write about. If you’re thinking about furthering your writing career by getting an MFA, then you might want to listen to what JET alums Percival Constantine and Warren Decker have to say about.

The two will be part of a panel discussion at the 14th annual Japan Writers Conference, titled “The MFA: The Good, The Bad, and The Expensive.”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s Japan Writers Conference is being held online, meaning there is no travel involved. Here’s the official description of Percy and Warren’s event:

The MFA: The Good, The Bad, and The Expensive

John Gribble, Kristina Butke, Percival Constantine, Alec McAulay, Warren Decker
Panel Discussion

Should I get an MFA or other graduate-level degree in writing?
Aren’t they expensive? Are they difficult? Are they any good? What sort of program should I look at? What kind of benefits should I expect to receive? These questions and others will be addressed in this session.
Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and other advanced degrees with a writing emphasis have become a viable option for those seeking to improve their writing skills and advance themselves professionally. Some programs are full- or part-time on a university campus, some are on-line, some are hybrids, blending elements of both. The panelists, all with advanced writing degrees, will each talk about the programs they attended, their own experiences and answer your questions.


John Gribble is a noted gasbag. He rarely knows what he is talking about, but he states his ignorant opinions with great vigor. He has spent far too much of his life in school and other institutions. He is also a poet, co-organizer of the Japan Writers Conference and the Tokyo Writers Workshop, and earned his MFA at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.


Kristina Elyse Butke is an American writer, editor, and teacher who indulges in cosplay, art, and all things otaku. She has a BA in English Literature from Capital University and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. A former college English teacher, playwright, and composer, she now writes fantasy and horror. Her work has been published by ExFic, First Class Literary, and Synaeresis Magazine, among others. She’s also worked the convention circuit, presenting panels on writing fanfiction and genre fiction at events such as Ohayocon, Matsuricon, and Colossalcon. In terms of editing, one of her latest projects included subtitle edits for Pied Piper Inc.’s release of the anime Skip Beat!, and she currently edits and contributes to Speculative Chic.


Kristina lives in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan, where she works in multiple high schools as an assistant language teacher. When she isn’t working on all the things, she travels to shrines, hunts for Kumamon, and spends more money than she should at the JUMP shop.


Raised on a consistent diet of superhero comics, action movies, and video games, Percival Constantine wanted to grow up and write the type of fiction he consumed. Now as a prolific author of pulp fiction, he’s written around thirty books across various genres. He’s also the host two podcasts—Japan On Film and Superhero Cinephiles. When he’s not working on projects, he somehow finds time to teach classes in literature, film, and English. Born and raised in Chicago, he’s now based in Kagoshima, Japan.


Alec McAulay is an award-winning writer and director. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, he has lived in Japan since 1989. He teaches Creative Writing at Yokohama National University. Alec has an MA Screenwriting (Distinction), and a PhD (Screenwriting) from the Faculty of Media & Communication, Bournemouth University. His children’s novel Robot Santa (unpublished) is about a ‘hafu’ Scottish-Japanese girl who builds a robot Santa to save Christmas.


Warren Decker is a teacher and writer based in Izumi, Japan. He has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in The Best American Poetry 2018, The New Ohio Review, Modern Haiku, Sou’wester, and other journals. His first book of poetry The Long Side of the Midnight Sun is available from Isobar Press. He has an MFA in creative writing from the online program at the University of Texas, El Paso.


Apr 8

Posted by Tom Baker

The annual Japan Writers Conference is seeking writers, editors and translators to give presentations at this year’s event, to be held in October in Kanagawa Prefecture. Through the years, many JETs and JET alumni writers, including freelancers, have spoken at or attended this event. This year, former JET Charles Kowalski will be cohosting the conference at his university.

The organizers are aware that the coronavirus has added uncertainty to everyone’s plans this year, but they intend to go ahead with the event if it is safe to do so in the autumn. However, they are also contemplating online options, so it might become possible to attend remotely. Here’s the official announcement:

Each year, English-language writers from many fields gather at the Japan Writers Conference to share ideas and experiences on the art, craft and business of writing. In 2020, the 14th annual Japan Writer’s conference will be held on Oct. 10-11 at the Shonan campus of Tokai University in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. Award-winning novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski, a popular speaker at past conferences, will cohost this year’s event with food and travel writer Joan Bailey.

“The Japan Writers Conference is something special,” said poet John Gribble, a co-organizer of the event. “It is open to all, beginner to pro. It is also an annual collection of rigorous, authoritative lectures, workshops, and discussion groups. Anyone with a concern for the written and published word would benefit from coming.”

The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations. All published writers, as well as translators, editors, agents and publishers, are welcome to submit proposals.

Last year’s JWC presenters included astrophysicst Elizabeth Tasker on writing about science, novelist Evan Fallenberg on writing about sex, and screenwriter Steven Wolfson on structuring plots. Authors Holly Thompson and Mariko Nagai held a workshop on revising young adult fiction.

“This has been a year of isolation for everyone,” Kowalski noted. “But for English-language writers in Japan, that’s familiar territory, and it’s often the most fertile soil for the seeds of inspiration to take root. I hope that, come autumn, we’ll all be able to poke our heads above ground again and share a rich harvest of ideas.”

Writers and others interested in giving presentations, or simply attending the 2020 conference, can find details, including proposal guidelines and a submission form, at http://www.japanwritersconference.org. The deadline for proposals is June 1.

Run entirely by volunteers, the Japan Writers Conference is a free event open to all. Inquiries should be sent to japanwritersconference@gmail.com


Feb 11

JET Program Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Kushner

Earlier this month, JET alum Jonathan Kushner was featured on the website of Connect, an online monthly dedicated to the JET Program and English-speaking community in Japan. Mr. Kushner talks about his experiences on JET and how they helped launch his post-JET career.

Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Kushner


Dec 23

Connect: The Unexpected Path of Life After JET

Lillian Hanako Rowlatt, a former JET (ALT, Niigata-ken, 2003-05) wrote an article for this month’s issue of Connect (an online monthly dedicated to the JET Program and expat community in Japan) about how her JET experience helped launched her career delivering Japanese food across the world.


Aug 29

Posted by Tom Baker.

JET alum Suzanne Kamata will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of her talk:

“Wheelchair User or Wheelchair-bound?: Representations of Persons with Disabilities in Children’s Books”

Short lecture with Q & A

In this session, I will discuss positive and problematic representations of persons with using examples from recently published Japanese textbooks, and literature featuring children in Japan and other countries, including my own work, with a view to developing better awareness. With the approach of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, people with disabilities in Japan have been given more attention than perhaps ever before. English textbooks for Japanese children now frequently include stories about or representations of people with disabilities. Worldwide, initiatives such as #weneeddiversebooks and the call for #ownvoices have led to an increase of children’s and young adult books featuring characters with disabilities. That said, some of these representations, and the way that they are discussed remain problematic. When do stories about disability become “inspiration porn”? What kind of language should we use when discussing disability? Who has the right to tell these stories?

Suzanne Kamata is the award-winning author or editor of twelve published books including “Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs” (Beacon Press, 2008), “Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible” (GemmaMedia, 2013), “A Girls’ Guide to the Islands” (Gemma Open Door, 2017), “Squeaky Wheels: Travels with My Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair” (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2019), and “Indigo Girl” (GemmaMedia, 2019). She is an Associate Professor at Naruto University of Education.

For more details, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/


Oct 6

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Perfume’s “GAME”’

“To call Perfume’s GAME a ‘deep dive’ is both an understatement and compliment. From its very first chapter, St. Michel’s decade of experience writing about music shines.” (Bloomsbury Academic)

By Greg Beck (Hiroshima-ken, 2006-11) for JQ magazine. Greg is a writer, producer, home brewer, and Social Coordinator for JETAA Southern California and Arizona. A former news producer for Tokyo Broadcasting System in New York, he currently works freelance in Los Angeles. For more cinema reviews, follow him on Twitter at @CIRBECK #MovieReview.

If you were to ask me prior to writing this, I vaguely recalled Perfume as some heavily autotuned “girl group” from Hiroshima. Now that I have read Perfume’s GAME, all of that has changed.

Written by JET alum Patrick St. Michel (Mie-ken, 2009-11) and released earlier this year, this insightful work of nonfiction is part of a series called 33 1/3 Japan, also related to a larger, global series of short, music-based books sharing the 33 1/3 title. This book specifically goes beyond simple fandom, providing a master class on the early-to-sophomore career of the pop group Perfume, and how their album GAME would become an important influence in popular music on the international level.

To call Perfume’s GAME a “deep dive” is both understatement and compliment. From its first chapter, St. Michel’s decade of experience writing about music shines. That’s an extremely difficult task for the written word, given we perceive music using a different sense entirely. Descriptive prose does an excellent job identifying and elucidating songs and their smaller components. St. Michel starts with a modest introduction of his personal discovery of Perfume and how it helped him connect to his Japanese community, which for any JET alum should feel familiar, if not nostalgic. Next, he tells the story of the members of Perfume and their humble beginnings. Had the rest of the book been solely focused on their music, it would only be worth reading if you were already a diehard fan, but the author does much more.

Read More


Sep 23

Posted by Tom Baker

The Japan Writers Conference, a free annual event that invariably attracts at least a few JETs, will be held at Otaru University of Commerce on Oct. 13 and 14. One of the JETs giving presentations this year will be Suzanne Kamata, who will be giving two of the 36 presentations scheduled for the big weekend. One of them was described in a previous JETwit post. Here’s the official description of the other:

“The Truth about Writing Contests”
Short lecture with Q & A

I will describe various kinds of writing contests, the pros and cons of entering said contests, and give advice on how to improve an entrant’s chances of winning.

There are many contests for writers. Some may think that it’s not worth the time or the cost of the entrance fees. After all, many contests get hundreds of submissions, and judging is often somewhat subjective – every reader has different likes and dislikes. However, thanks to winning or placing in writing competitions, I have received plane tickets to Paris, Sydney, and Columbia, South Carolina (from my home in Japan). I’ve also been awarded cash, medals, trophies, and plaques and shiny prize stickers for my books, not to mention bragging rights and prestige. A contest win can also be an excuse for a burst of publicity. Contests may lead to recognition, getting an agent or publisher, and book sales. So how do you decide which contests to enter? How do you win? In this session I will share my expertise as a frequent contest entrant, sometime winner, and occasional judge.

Suzanne Kamata has won many awards for her writing including a grant from SCBWI for her forthcoming novel tentatively titled Indigo Girl (GemmaMedia 2018), a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation for her as-yet-unpublished mother/daughter travel memoir Squeaky Wheels, the Paris Book Festival Grand Prize for Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia 2013), and an IPPY Silver Medal for her most recently published novel The Mermaids of Lake Michigan (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing 2017).


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