[VIDEO] Japan’s Comedy Central: Shōten 笑点

Don’t you love the theme music?

20140406 Shōten 笑点 #2409
出演:三遊亭小遊三、三遊亭好楽、林家木久扇、三遊亭円楽、春風亭昇太、林家たい平、­山田隆夫

Shōten 笑点 #2409


Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Mocked on Internet Over ‘Raw Meat’ Fire Model

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Japan Times


With a Few Words, Japan Escalates Its Standoff With China in the South China Sea

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Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region.

Jennifer Peters reports: Japan has put its foot down — at least in writing — over China’s attempts to assert greater control of the South China Sea.

In an outline of a defense white paper due to be released at the end of July, Japan calls China’s efforts to lay claim to the much-disputed Spratly Islands “high handed.” The diplomatically sharp words come in the wake of China’s reclamation efforts of the islands, which have included laying the foundations of a military base on Fiery Cross Reef at the western edge of a part of the South China Sea fittingly named Dangerous Ground.

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Over the past year and a half, China has built up seven reefs in the region, adding 800 hectares — about three square miles — to islands and putting an airstrip and the beginnings of the base on Fiery Cross Reef. China has claimed that its structures in the South China Sea are for civilian purposes — or at most for a defensive military role — and would benefit other countries. But Japan’s fight with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea has seemingly left them wary of Beijing’s intentions.

A Japanese patrol plane, pictured in 2011, flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

A Japanese patrol plane flying over the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japan Pool, via Jiji Press

“The US plays a unique role, because it’s not an Asian nation, as a relatively distant and disinterested outsider there. The interest we have is not territorial, it’s not to benefit ourselves in any way other than maintaining this open trade order that we benefit from economically, but not in any of the traditional ways that usually cause war.”

Japan’s decision to act on this wariness so stridently, however, is a recent phenomenon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for legislation that would allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense for the first time since World War II.

[Related: China Goes on the Offensive in the South China Sea]

“[This is] a shift that’s been coming,” Kelley Currie, a senior fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, told VICE News. “The language is definitely stronger, and the whole effort around reinterpretation to the self-defense constitution has been a response to the multi-year trend of the Chinese being more aggressive and pushing their military advantage in the region.”

Japan's Self-Defense Force honor guards prepare for a welcoming ceremony of new Defence Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo on December 25, 2014. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised December 24 at the start of his new term to revive Japan's economy so he can pursue "powerful diplomacy", but China's state media warned him to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution.  AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI        (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s state media warned Abe to be wary about changing the pacifist constitution. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI 

“China is actually very worried about Japan and how far Japan might go.”

— Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan Studies for the American Enterprise Institute

Japan isn’t the only one pushing back against China’s expansion in the region. The Philippines is taking China to court over territorial claims to the South China Sea, with top Filipino officials appearing at The Hague to argue their case before a United Nations arbitral tribunal. China has called it a “political provocation.”

[Read the full text here, at VICE News]

“The Chinese take kind of a Leninist approach to these things,” Currie said. “They probe with the bayonet until they hit steel, and then they’ll stop. When they start to see that people are serious about pushing back, then they will back off a bit.”

Other than the United States, Japan is the only nation that can truly challenge China in the region militarily. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Hospital Intern Challenge: The Teeny Tiny Sushi Surgical Dexterity Test

tiny-sushitiny-sushi-pair

Want to intern at a leading hospital in Japan? 20 students have taken a speical test, in which they are expected to prove their dexteiry by making teeny tiny sushi with a surgical knife and a pair of tweezers.

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[VIDEO] 味も見た目も完熟スイカな「スイカバウム」を食べてみた

 味も見た目も完熟スイカな「スイカバウム」を食べてみた – YouTube.


Japan’s Peaceful Self-Defense

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Shinzo Abe moved closer Thursday to securing passage of legislation that will allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense. After seven decades of sheltering under the U.S. security umbrella, the Prime Minister’s move would give Tokyo the ability to fight alongside an ally when either one is threatened, while protecting stability and democracy in East Asia.

The Cabinet adopted a new interpretation of Japan’s postwar Constitution last July allowing this cooperation. In April the U.S. and Japan announced new defense guidelines to put it into practice. On Thursday the lower house of the Diet approved the plan, and now the legislation moves to the upper house.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Progress hasn’t come easily. Most Japanese oppose the plan, and according to an Asahi poll, Mr. Abe’s approval rating has fallen sharply to 39%. There have been tussles on the Diet floor and raucous protests outside it. Mr. Abe will need the support of coalition partners with pacifist tendencies to prevail in the upper house, though he could still overcome a defeat there with a two-thirds majority in the lower one. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Magazine: Girl’s Club! 少女クラブ

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Japan: Elderly Crimes Exceed Teen Crimes?

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Over 23,000 criminal seniors busted this year

Police in Japan have dealt with more elderly crime than juvenile crime in the past six months, it’s reported.

It’s the first time that people over the age of 65 have surpassed teenagers in crime statistics since 1989, when Japan’s National Police Agency started publishing age-related crime data, the Kyodo News Agency reports. Officers took action against more than 23,000 elderly people in the first half of the year, compared to fewer than 20,000 youngsters aged between 14 and 19, officials figures show.

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Japan has seen a fall in overall crime rates over the past 10 years, but not among its growing elderly population. The new figures show that violent crime committed by the over-65s rose by more than 10% compared to the same period last year. Of the country’s 127 million people, more than a quarter are now of retirement age, but the government has warned that the figure is likely to grow significantly in the coming decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking with the Past, Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years

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Mr. Abe has presented the package as an unavoidable response to new threats facing Japan, in particular the growing military power of China. He seized on the murder of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State militant group in January as an example of why Japan needs to loosen restrictions on its military.

TOKYO — Jonathan Soble reports: Defying broad public opposition and large demonstrations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a crucial vote in Parliament on Thursday for legislation that would give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II.

“The vote was the culmination of months of contentious debate in a society that has long embraced pacifism to atone for wartime aggression.”

Mr. Abe’s party and its allies in the lower house of Parliament approved the package of 11 security-related bills after opposition lawmakers walked out in protest and as demonstrators chanted noisily outside, despite a gathering typhoon. The upper chamber, which Mr. Abe’s coalition also controls, is all but certain to endorse the legislation as well.

“These laws are absolutely necessary because the security situation surrounding Japan is growing more severe.”

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The vote was the culmination of months of contentious debate in a society that has long embraced pacifism to atone for wartime aggression. It was a significant victory for Mr. Abe, a conservative politician who has devoted his career to moving Japan beyond guilt over its militarist past and toward his vision of a “normal country” with a larger role in global affairs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Parliament on Thursday. He has championed legislation that would giving the Japanese military limited powers to fight overseas. Credit Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Parliament on Thursday. He has championed legislation that would giving the Japanese military limited powers to fight overseas. Credit Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto Agency

“Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say it violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war. But the legislation is supported by the United States, Japan’s wartime foe turned ally and protector, which has welcomed a larger role for Tokyo in regional security as a counterweight to a more assertive China.”

Mr. Abe has pressed this agenda, though, against the wishes of much of the Japanese public, and his moves have generated unease across Asia, especially in countries it once occupied and where its troops committed atrocities. Final passage of the bills would represent a break from the strictly defensive stance maintained by the Japanese military in the decades since the war.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

“We solemnly urge the Japanese side to draw hard lessons from history, stick to the path of peaceful development, respect the major security concerns of its Asian neighbors, and refrain from jeopardizing China’s sovereignty and security interests or crippling regional peace and stability.”

— Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, condemning the package

Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say it violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war. But the legislation is supported by the United States, Japan’s wartime foe turned ally and protector, which has welcomed a larger role for Tokyo in regional security as a counterweight to a more assertive China.

Mr. Abe has spent considerable political capital pushing the bills through. Voters oppose them by a ratio of roughly two to one, according to numerous surveys, and the government’s support ratings, which were once high, fell to around 40 percent in several polls taken this month.

[Read the full text here, at The New York Times]

Mr. Abe has presented the package as an unavoidable response to new threats facing Japan, in particular the growing military power of China. He seized on the murder of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State militant group in January as an example of why Japan needs to loosen restrictions on its military, suggesting that the military might have rescued them if it had been free to act. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Web Censors Not Happy About Uniqlo’s Changing-Room Sex Viral Video

Uniqlo sex video: Police investigate smartphone footage showing couple doing the ‘secret communist handshake’ in Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store changing room

Laura Lorenzetti reports: A sex tape filmed in a changing room of Uniqlo’s Beijing flagship store went viral on Chinese social media, sending national authorities into a tizzy.

Uniqlo changing room

“Uniqlo, which is owned by Fast Retailing, denies any such association, releasing a statement that customers should ‘abide by social ethics, maintain social justice and correctly and properly use the fitting spaces.’”

The short video, which features a black-clad male having sex with a naked woman, was condemned by Chinese officials as going “severely against socialist core values,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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Internet censors scrambled to ban and eliminate the clip after it spread across popular social networks like Weibo and WeChat Tuesday. It has reportedly been removed from the Internet by the Cyberspace Administration of China and an investigation has been launched to find out who made the clip.

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Chinese authorities have also ordered social media executives to help uncover the source of the video, while Uniqlo has come under fire for using it as a publicity ploy. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Hotel Features Robot Receptionists

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Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs

 writes: Step aside, receptionists. Robots are coming to get you. At least, that’s what’s happening at a hotel in Japan. Called Weird Hotel, the place of business uses robots in order to cut costs, according to the Associated Press.

“I wanted to highlight innovation. I also wanted to do something about hotel prices going up.”

— Hotel owner Hideo Sawada

The owner of the hotel, Hideo Sawada, says robots are used to boost efficiency, too, and not as a gimmick to attract tourists. Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs. “If you want to check in, push one,” it says in English. The visitor then needs to enter their information into a touch screen. Read the rest of this entry »


Behold: Free Wi-Fi at Peak of Mount Fuji

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3,776 meter high WiFi: Now you can check your email and post a selfie on Instagram from top of Mount Fuji, for free

Alexander Martin writes: Free Wi-Fi has reached a peak in Japan, the nation’s highest peak in fact.

Overseas tourists conquering the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain at 3,776 meters, can now use mobile devices to share their experience via social networking websites or, if so inclined, check their work emails.

Mobile carriers NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp. have both set up free Wi-Fi hotspots for foreign visitors at the highest spot in Japan. The services, launched last week, will be available until September when the climbing season ends.

Docomo’s service “is aimed at attracting more overseas visitors to Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, home to Mount Fuji,” the company said in a statement.

Instructions for using the Docomo service are available on fliers at the mountain’s main climbing routes. The KDDI service requires the downloading of an app in advance. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Chicago Imposes 9% ‘Anime Tax’, Begins Enforcement of Anime Control Act

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[Also see – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Amusement Tax’ for ‘the Privilege of Chewing Gum’]

[More  – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’]

 


Poster for Number 006 Is The Number Of Sex, Directed by Kazuhisa Ogawa, 1978

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Poster for Number 006 Is The Number Of Sex (006は性番号), 1978, directed by Kazuhisa Ogawa (小川和久) and starring Etsuko Hara (原悦子) and Mayumi Sanjo (三条まゆみ).

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Komatsuzaki Shigeru Cover Art for RED PLANET by Robert A. Heinlein

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astromonster – michaelallanleonard

 


Oldest Man in the World Dies at 112

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A Japanese man certified as the oldest living man by Guinness World Records died Sunday due to chronic renal failure, Saitama city said. He was 112.

Sakari Momoi, a resident of the city, was born on Feb. 5, 1903. An official at Saitama city said that he had fallen ill about two weeks ago and died at a nursing hospital in Tokyo.

Mr. Momoi was born the year the Wright brothers succeeded in making their first powered flight, and was 42 when World War II ended. He was originally from Fukushima prefecture and worked as a schoolteacher.

Misao Okawa, also from Japan, was the oldest living person at 117 before she passed away in April. The oldest living person now is Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, N.Y., according to Guinness World Records. She turned 116 on Monday. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] IT’S ON: Megabots Inc. vs Suidobashi Heavy Industry: USA Challenges Japan to Giant Robot Duel, Japan Accepts Fight!

“Suidobashi, we have a giant robot. You have a giant robot. You know what needs to happen. We challenge you to a duel. Prepare yourselves and name the battlefield. In one year, we fight.”

Japanese engineers have accepted a challenge from an American company to duel with giant robots.

It all started last week when American company MegaBots, Inc. released a YouTube video showing off its 12,000-pound Mk. II robot.

Wearing an American flag as a cape, MegaBots’ Matt Oherlein bragged about the Mk II’s big guns: a cannon capable of shooting 3-pound paintballs at 100 mph. Read the rest of this entry »


Special Nude Drawing Classes Help Japan’s Middle-Aged Virgins With Women

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Sarah Cascone writes: There’s an unusual social problem in Japan: a growing group of middle-aged men who seem unable to lose their virginity. The efforts to help this population include a special course, with nude figure drawing sessions designed to familiarize them with the female form.

“The first time I did this, in autumn last year, oh…I was so amazed. Their bodies are incredibly beautiful. One thing I learned is that there are many different shapes of breasts and even genitals.”

— 41-year-old Virgin Academia student Takashi Sakai

The classes are part of the Virgin Academia, run by Shingo Sakatsume. The correspondence course comes with a 100-page textbook, Virgin Breaker!, and runs for a full year, with participants keeping a counselor apprised of their progress in their efforts to meet women.

Shingo Sakatsume with the Virgin Academia textbook. Photo: courtesy Shingo Sakatsume.

Shingo Sakatsume with the Virgin Academia textbook. Photo: courtesy Shingo Sakatsume.

AFP reports that a National Institute of Population and Social Security Research survey from 2010 found that one in four single Japanese men in their 30s had never had sex. This group has become known as yaramisos, and has seen an influx of growth over the past two decades, as the country’s economy has struggled.

“Many men seem to have lost confidence as they’ve lost their economic muscle,” matchmaker Yoko Itamoto told AFP. Another factor is the decline of arranged marriages—without them, some men, unprepared for the realities of adulthood, founder in their efforts to forge romantic relationships.

naked-figure-drawing-Virgin-Academia-Tsuno-AFP

“I think that we should approach the growing number of ‘unwilling virgins’ (people who want to have sex but aren’t able to) as a social problem and one of the reasons that Japanese people avoid marriage or marry late,” wrote Sakatsume for Ignition. “The phenomenon also influences our country’s declining birth rate.”

Sakatsume sees Japan as a place of contradiction, where sexual imagery is widely found, but no one actually wants to talk about sex—and a woman can be arrested for making art based on her vagina. Another woman from France, decided to display hers full frontal. Read the rest of this entry »


First Robot Wedding Takes Place In Japan

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 reports: Japan became the first country to host a robot wedding as people gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to watch two robots — Frois and Yukirin — get married. Sure, Frois and Yukirin may be robots but that did not stop the affair from being a traditional ceremony with cake, dancing, music, and a wedding kiss.

Those who attended the wedding paid roughly $81 — in lieu of a gift, perhaps? — to join the occasion. Those who paid the fee received an official wedding invitation with a picture of the two robots inset in a heart.

japanrobotwedding

“Pepper, the world’s first robot with feelings, officiated the ceremony in front both robot and human guests. Made of white plastic and measuring less than four feet, Pepper has been created to recognize human voice and facial expressions.”

Read the rest of this entry »


That’s a Lot of Yen! Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium to Cost Over $2 Billion

japan-stadium-wsj

Jun Hongo reports: Japan’s sports minister on Monday said the government will stick to its original construction plan for a new national stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, noting the project will now cost about $2 billion.

Designed by U.K.-based architect Zaha Hadid, the new stadium will feature two arches on its top and a retractable roof that won’t be completed in time for the Games. Construction is scheduled to finish before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan will also host. Read the rest of this entry »


Does Japan’s Conservative Shinto Religion Support Gay Marriage?

Shinto_worships_at_Cock_Festival_of_Hanazono_Shrine_in_Japan

TOKYO — John Matthews writes: In January 1999, a Shinto priest unofficially married two men in a shrine in Kawasaki, an industrial city near Tokyo. Literally “the way of the gods,” Shinto is officially the state religion of Japan, but it does not influence modern Japanese life the way that Christianity dominates in the United States. Rather, it’s more a matter of a shared culture — of ritual practices and belief in spirits — against which some people define themselves.

The ceremony took place at Kanamara Shrine, best known for its annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, during which participants pray for easy childbirth or protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Hirohiko Nakamura, the priest who performed the rites, told local media then that this was probably the first time a wedding ceremony had been held for two men in Japan. “This may become a call to seriously think about the diversity of sex,” he said.

shinto-ceremony

“In Shinto, it says make many children, expand humanity, and be prosperous. And yet, it’s not explicitly written anywhere that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.”

— Hisae Nakamura

Fast-forward 16 years. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, overturning decades of often active and religiously motivated government discrimination against a minority of Americans. In Japan, gay marriage remains illegal — except for in one district, or ward, in Tokyo, which began recognizing same-sex marriages in March. A month earlier, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been arguing for revising Japan’s Constitution to allow a more assertive military, said that 41xdqF8bMlL._SL250_reforming the Japanese Constitution to allow for gay marriage would be difficult.

[Check out Louis Crompton‘s 2003 book “Homosexuality and Civilization” at Amazon.com]

Across Japan, opinions about gay rights diverge. Technically, homosexuality is legal, Kazuyuki Minami, a lawyer in Osaka, reminded a journalist from the Associated Press, “but the atmosphere is such that most people feel homosexuals should not exist.” Reuters, citing a mid-2013 poll by the research firm Ipsos, reported that while 60 or 70 percent of people in most Western nations say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, only 5 percent of Japanese do. Kanae Doi, the Japan director for the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch, told Foreign Policy that while many Japanese are not opposed to homosexuality, “they don’t really see it.”

[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]

And while Shinto doesn’t have a clear stance on homosexuality, it “advocates that it’s not natural,” as one Shinto priest told me in Tokyo’s prominent Meiji Shrine in early June, a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling. The Association of Shinto Shrines, the administrative body that oversees Japan’s estimated 80,000 shrines and 20,000 priests, tend to be conservative on social issues, the priest said. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the P-1 Patrol: Japan’s New Surveillance Jet Expands Scope for Patrols

Japan-Defense-WSJ

Tensions have risen in recent weeks over China’s extensive land reclamation activity in the Spratlys. The U.S. hopes Japan will join its maritime air patrols over the disputed waters to check on what it sees as China’s expansionism.

Chiko Tsuneoka reports: Japan’s next-generation surveillance plane, officially unveiled earlier this week, will enable its military to conduct longer reconnaissance missions at a time when Tokyo is paying close attention to China’s growing presence in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The P-1, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., is crammed full of high-performance sensor equipment and the latest data-processing systems to detect P-1submarines and small vessels.

“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary.”

The new plane, billed as the world’s first production aircraft to use fly-by-light fiber-optic cable technology, has a cruising speed of 830 kilometers an hour (515 mph), 30% faster than the P-3C patrol plane it will replace, and a range of 8,000 kilometers, an increase of more than 20%.

“Mobility to fly out to distant destination waters swiftly and operate for a long time while remaining in operational areas is necessary” for detecting submarines and other targets, said Cmdr. Jun Masuda of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s 511 Fight Unit during a presentation of the new jet at the MSDF’s Atsugi Air Base in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The introduction of the P-1 comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is looking to pass security legislation to expand the scope of Japan’s military activities and bolster U.S.-Japan joint defense operations, partly in response to Beijing’s expanding military footprint in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


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