The Japanese archipelago sits atop the Pacific ‘Ring of fire’ and has more than 100 volcanoes. The 2014 eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan killed 57 people.
Mount Sakurajima, a volcano that overlooks the city of Kagoshima, erupted Friday with a fiery blast that sent lava rolling down its slope.
“I jumped out of my house after I heard the news but I didn’t see anything or hear anything.”
— Yoko Noguchi, 75, who lives in the northwestern part of the Sakurajima island
Local television showed an orange burst out of the side of the volcano, near the summit, accompanied by lightning-like flashes. Dark gray smoke billowed into the sky.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an existing no-go zone around the crater to a 2-kilometer radius.
Given the eruption, the weather agency upgraded the volcanic alert from level 2 to level 3, which prohibits people from entering the mountain. The agency warned areas near residential districts on the mountain’s foot could be gravely affected.
“I’m not scared because I’m used to it.”
— Toru Sakamoto, 56, who heard the blast at his home
Kazuhiro Ishihara, professor emeritus at Kyoto University and an volcano expert, was quoted by NHK as saying that the eruption was unlikely to have an immediate serious impact on nearby residential areas because the live video images appeared to show rocks flying only 2 km from the mountain’s top. Read the rest of this entry »
Spread’s new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.
So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.
“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history. With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”
— J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread
Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.
“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history,” J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. “With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”
The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.
In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment. Read the rest of this entry »
The Making of Asian America: A History, by Erika Lee, 528 pages, Simon & Schuster, Nonfiction.
Nicolas Gattig reports: In 1922, a Japanese immigrant to the United States named Takao Ozawa applied for citizenship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Having lived in America for almost 30 years, Ozawa was fluent in English and an active Christian, assuring the court that his skin was “white in color” and that he wished to “return the kindness which our Uncle Sam has extended me.” Still, his appeal was denied — naturalization at the time was exclusive to Caucasians.
“Asian-Americans have experienced both the promise of America as well as the racism of America. As we debate what kind of America we want to be in the 21st century — with concerns about immigration policy, racial equality and our ties to the rest of the world — Asian Americans and their long history in the U.S. can inform on these issues.”
— Author Erika Lee
A recurring theme in Erika Lee’s new book “The Making of Asian America: A History” is the humiliations of immigrant life — the “collective burden” of people who have to keep proving they are worthy. With a keen eye for telling quotes, Lee shows the human dimensions of Asian immigration to the U.S., which now spans 23 different groups and makes up 6 percent of the total population. Incidentally, she tells of a nation expanding its identity, of the inclusion of people once vilified.
From the start, Japanese sojourners feature prominently in this history, as the second largest group of Asian immigrants —the bulk being Chinese — during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hailing mostly from Okinawa, Kumamoto, Fukuoka and Hiroshima prefectures, they were mainly young men dodging military service or farmers fleeing the taxation of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) government.
The immigrant dream was soon interrupted. The “gentlemen’s agreement” between the U.S. and Japan was signed in 1908, barring all Japanese laborers from entering the U.S. This spurred illegal immigration via Mexico, and in a quirky aside Lee quotes a letter by a stateside contact named Nakagawa, who advised border-crossers laconically: “Some people go to Nogales. But sometimes they are killed by the natives. So you had better not go that way.”
The book reminds us how hedging the “Yellow Peril” was a part of U.S. immigration policy, culminating in 1924, when “immigration from Asia was banned completely, with the establishment of an ‘Asiatic Barred Zone.’”
“There is widespread condemnation. But there is also a lot of amnesia about WWII incarceration, a lot of misinformation and misremembering. So the lesson still needs to be learned by many, and with great urgency.”
Fitting this theme, two whole chapters here are devoted to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Army, the “military necessity” allowed for the U.S. government to round up all persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, without due process or proof of wrongdoing. In fact, the measure was unwarranted: reports by the FBI and other offices showed that second-generation Japanese Americans were “pathetically eager” to show their loyalty to the U.S.
“Since the 1980s, American media have been praising the ‘rise of Asian America,’ pointing to Chinese and Indian Americans who enjoy better schooling and salaries than many whites. Still, it is misleading to speak of a ‘model minority.’ A wildly disparate community, Asian Americans also grapple with lower income and high crime rates.”
More than 120,000 Japanese Americans spent the war in camps, many losing their homes and livelihood. About 5,500 internees renounced their U.S. citizenship — becoming “Native American Aliens” — and some of them were deported to Japan. Read the rest of this entry »
Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea at the Joint Press Occasion.
Here is the full text of the announcement between Japan and South Korea on women who were forced to serve Japanese soldiers sexually in World War II, as released by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The announcement consists of statements by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. For The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the two countries’ agreement, follow this link.
- Foreign Minister Kishida
The Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between Japan and the ROK at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of Japan, state the following:
(1) The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the Government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective.
As Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.
(2) The Government of Japan has been sincerely dealing with this issue. Building on such experience, the Government of Japan will now take measures to heal psychological wounds of all former comfort women through its budget. To be more specific, it has been decided that the Government of the ROK establish a foundation for the purpose of providing support for the former comfort women, that its funds be contributed by the Government of Japan as a one-time contribution through its budget, and that projects for recovering the honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds of all former comfort women be carried out under the cooperation between the Government of Japan and the Government of the ROK.
(3) While stating the above, the Government of Japan confirms that this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government will steadily implement the measures specified in (2) above.
In addition, together with the Government of the ROK, the Government of Japan will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community, including at the United Nations.
- Foreign Minister Yun
The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Government of Japan have intensively discussed the issue of comfort women between the ROK and Japan at bilateral meetings including the Director-General consultations. Based on the result of such discussions, I, on behalf of the Government of the ROK, state the following:
(1) The Government of the ROK values the GOJ’s announcement and efforts made by the Government of Japan in the lead-up to the issuance of the announcement and confirms, together with the GOJ, that the issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this announcement, on the premise that the Government of Japan will steadily implement the measures specified in 1. (2) above. The Government of the ROK will cooperate in the implementation of the Government of Japan’s measures. Read the rest of this entry »
The Japanese government is seeking information after reports a Japanese freelance journalist is being held hostage in Syria and has been threatened with execution, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday.
“Given the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on details.”
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this week it had received information that an armed group holding journalist Yasuda Jumpei hostage had started a countdown for an unspecified ransom to be paid and had threatened to execute or sell him to another group if their demands were not met.
“The safety of our citizens is an important responsibility of the government, so we are making every effort and making full use of various information networks.”
— Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
RSF said in a statement on its website that Yasuda was kidnapped in July by an armed group in an area controlled by the militant Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s Syria wing, shortly after entering Syria earlier that month.
It urged the Japanese government to do what was needed to save Yasuda. Suga said the Japanese government knew of the case but was not aware of any fresh developments.
“Given the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on details,” he told a regular news conference. Read the rest of this entry »
Toto, the beloved Japanese toilet maker, has opened a $60 million museum to celebrate its 100th anniversary. And it’s a hit.
KITA-KYUSHU, JAPAN — Anna Fifield reports: If there’s one thing Japan is passionate about, it’s toilets. Potties, loos, restrooms, john, powder room, however you say it, Japan has put a lot of thought into the smallest room of the house.
Japan loves its toilets so much they opened a museum for them
Japan is famous for its high-tech, derriere-washing, tushie-warming toilets. These are now such a valued part of Japanese culture that Toto, the beloved Japanese brand, has just built a $60 million museum devoted to its renowned product, at its home base in Kita-Kyushu, on the southern-most of Japan’s four main islands.
Toto even makes extra-wide, extra load-bearing toilets for sumo wrestling stadiums.
Here are four things you might not know about Japan’s obsession with lavatories.
There’s an app for that
Don’t take your chances going to a restroom without a little seat in the stall for your baby, or a fold-down platform for standing on while you get changed so you don’t have to put your feet on the bathroom floor.
There are a bunch of apps in Japan that can help you find the nearest public bathroom, or one with a special facility, like large stalls with facilities for people with ostomates (a relatively common issue in rapidly aging Japan).
Lion, a manufacturer of diarrhea medicine Stoppa (and various toiletries and detergents), provides an app @Toilet for people who need to take care of their business urgently away from the home or office. Click on the “emergency” button and it locates the closest restroom.
NPO Check operates a free app called Check a Toilet, listing over 53,000 restrooms in major cities. It shows restrooms nearby with information including whether they’re wheelchair accessible and/or have ostomate-friendly functions. Users can contribute by submitting information on the restrooms they’ve visited.
And for those ladies who, we now know, need clean bathrooms if they’re ever to leave the house, the well-known map publishing company Zenrin offers an app for women called Koisuru Map — A Map in Love — with information about nail salons, cafes and clean restrooms. This app includes information such as whether there’s a powder space for fixing your makeup, electrical outlets and diaper changing facilities. Zenrin’s (female) staff visits and reviews each bathroom before adding it to their list.
There’s a god of the toilet. Really.
You know how Japan’s washrooms got to be so clean and full of advanced technology? Maybe because they’re being watched over by a toilet god.
Here’s a video about a shrine to the toilet god in Tokyo.
According to the myth, Kawaya-no-kami, the Japanese toilet god, was, appropriately enough, born from the excrement of Izanami, the Japanese goddess of the Earth and darkness. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: The Japan Times
Lindsey Patterson writes: Japan has made a bold move, making Godzilla an official resident. It’s unknown if Godzilla sightings will be a daily occurrence, however, many local businesses wouldn’t mind. It’s believed by many that fortune follows any place that is destroyed in a Godzilla film. Hopefully, they’re providing room and board for him as well because nobody wants to rent to a monster that’s always destroying cities. There has been no comment from Godzilla’s new neighbors but it’s suspected that his destructive life has been left behind, only to be utilized for his film career. Making Godzilla an official resident of Japan could be seen as claiming Godzilla, their own creation, and letting the United States know that they are only temporarily borrowing the idea for a couple of movies.
Born in 1954, it’s taken long enough for his residency paperwork to go through. Shinjuku also made copies of Godzilla’s residency plaque, for the first 3,000 fans that demanded proof of his residency.
The plaque of Godzilla’s residency reads:
Address: Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho, 1-19-1
Date of birth: April 9, 1954
Date of becoming a Shinjuku resident: April 9, 2015
Reason for special residency: Promoting the entertainment of and watching over the Kabuki-cho neighborhood and drawing visitors from around the globe in the form of the Godzilla head built atop the Shinjuku TOHO Building.
Previous visits to Shinjuku Ward: 3 times; Godzilla (1984), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah(1991), Godzilla 2000 Millennium (1999)”
Shinjuku, a neighborhood in Tokyo, is home to Toho Cinemas. Toho Cinemas, the company that makes the Godzilla movies, erected a giant Godzilla head on their building, which is sure to make for some amazing Japan tour pictures. It is complete with glowing eyes and claws, making it stand out against the night sky. Not only is there a giant Godzilla head, but it’s animated as well. He roars and comes equipped with Atomic breath, too. Soon after the Godzilla head was erected, a ceremony was held, naming Godzilla the local Tourism Ambassador for the area and even awarded a plaque of appreciation. Surely, Godzilla plays an active role on day-to-day lives in the area. Japan tour guides won’t be complaining either. It’s likely that assigning Godzilla these new responsibilities will ensure higher tourism rates for the Shinjuku area, and possibly all of Japan.
It’s unknown if this move is related to the impending release of The first Japanese Godzilla movie in 12 years, but it’s likely that it is. Toho is planning on releasing the new Godzilla movie throughout Japan in 2016. It will be the first Japan produced Godzilla film since 2004 and should be expected to be a huge hit. The United States is planning an American Godzilla movie, to be released in 2018, it’s second attempt at taming the monster that Japan has perfected. The American Godzilla film did create a resurgence in fan support, making 3.2 billion yen ($26 million USD) in Japan alone and a whopping 57 billion yen ($470 million USD) worldwide. Toho is quoted as saying that they will be making “a film that will not bow down to the Hollywood film,” and is expecting to blow fans away graphics made possible by more recent technological advances. It isn’t surprising that Toho is not planning to link the new Japanese Godzilla film to the one made in the United States. The new Japanese Godzilla will stand alone. Does this mean that the cheesy style of the old Godzilla movies will be lost forever? Maybe. The styling of the new movies has not been released but, taking all things into consideration, fans will likely have to revisit their old favorites if they desire the original Japanese Godzilla feel.
[Image by Flickr]
It’s understandable why Godzilla is so dear to Japan. He is the embodiment of many historical moments that have effected Japan. He symbolizes the feelings that Japan had after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, being a mutation caused by nuclear testing in the Pacific. Despite the serious undertones of his origin, Godzilla has received several awards, including the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award and a star in Hollywood. It’s no wonder that’ during his residency and Ambassador ceremony, it was said that he is “the pride of Japan.
It’s unknown how much Godzilla’s salary has been effected by becoming Tourism Ambassador but he must be making movie star wages in Japan and the United States. Surely, he will be a lot busier this day, making movies, attending ceremonies, and possibly making the occasional appearance for Japan tourists, because why would anybody make a trip to Japan if seeing the great Godzilla isn’t a guarantee, right?
Andrew Tarantola reports: Data analysts Nomura Research Institute (NRI), led by researcher Yumi Wakao, figure that within the next 20 years, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be accomplished by robots. Working with Professor Michael Osborne from Oxford University, who had previously investigated the same matter in both the US and UK, the NRI team examined more than 600 jobs and found that “up to 49 percent of jobs could be replaced by computer systems,” according to Wakao.
The team looked at how likely each position could be automated, based on the degree of creativity required. That means jobs like operating helpdesks, delivering goods or agricultural labor are all highly susceptible to computerization while writing, teaching and doing whatever it is that Shingy does probably aren’t being….(read more)