BREAKING: 19 Dead, Dozens Injured in Stabbing Attack in Japan

tokyo-earthquake-14

TOKYO, Japan (WCMH) — At least 19 people are dead and 20 others injured following a stabbing rampage at a facility for handicapped people outside of Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese media NHK reports the attack happened in the city of Sagamihara which is west of Tokyo.

Police say the knife-wielding man entered the facility and began attacking just after 2:30am Tokyo time. Read the rest of this entry »


話を聞いてくれる男性をレンタル: Japanese ‘Rent Men’ Who Are Paid Just to Listen

75970f4f8f191aa13673944490f393872875a536

Japan has struggled with problems of social isolation, most notably the phenomenon of ‘hikikomori’ where people, often teens and young adults, refuse to leave the house or engage socially, instead opting to play video games or remain in their rooms.

Tokyo (AFP) – From lonely pensioners to Japanese schoolgirls with shattered dreams, Takanobu Nishimoto and his crew of middle-aged men will lend an ear to clients who would never dream of spilling their guts to a therapist or worse, their families.

Anyone in need of company can sign up to his online service to rent an “ossan” — a man aged between 45 and 55 — for 1,000 yen ($10) an hour.

“For me, the service is a hobby more than anything,” says Nishimoto, who first came up with the concept four years ago and who now has a growing network of some 60 men across Japan.

86418a954010889e1692c06235e9c6b2ba8b47cf

“The people who rent me are just asking me to keep them company for an hour or two, mainly to listen to them.” 

“The initial idea was to improve the image of guys my age, people who might not be spring chickens anymore and not taken so seriously.”

And while the 48-year-old professional fashion coordinator is used to renting himself out, he insists conversation is all he offers to between 30 and 40 clients a month, roughly 70 percent of whom are women.

“The people who rent me are just asking me to keep them company for an hour or two, mainly to listen to them,” he tells AFP between sessions, giving the example of a woman in her 80s who would book him every week for a walk around the local park.

“I almost became like her son,” he says.

Other clients include a fisherman who was sick of waiting in solitary silence for a catch, a college student with ambitions to get into show business but who lacked family support, and an awkward young employee who did not know how to behave around his direct supervisor.

Cn87ryeVIAE99vy

“I never know exactly what they’re going to ask for when they rent me, and of course that’s a bit scary, but it’s also why it’s so interesting. Honestly, I’ve never had problems with any weird clients… I’ve had plenty of emotional experiences.”

Japan has struggled with problems of social isolation, most notably the phenomenon of “hikikomori” where people, often teens and young adults, refuse to leave the house or engage socially, instead opting to play video games or remain in their rooms.

But the people who come to Nishimoto do not suffer from detachment from society or challenges adjusting to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Supreme Court Upholds Special Surveillance to Keep Tabs on Muslims

oyytlf2pw9evbivawmdc

Japan has actually done remarkably well in averting terror attacks and has never been the victim of lethal jihadist violence. Some have praised Japan’s effectiveness in forestalling Islamic violence, proposing it as a model for other nations.

The Japanese Supreme Court has affirmed the practice of extensive surveillance of Muslims, rejecting an appeal by 17 plaintiffs who challenged the policy on the grounds that it violated Muslims’ constitutional rights to privacy, equal treatment, and religious freedom.

 “The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam.”

In 2010, over a hundred Japanese police files were leaked to the public, which revealed widespread monitoring of Muslims across Japan. The files reportedly showed that the Japanese government was keeping tabs on some 72,000 Japanese residents who hailed from member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Tokyo police had also been monitoring places of worship, halal restaurants, and “Islam-related” organizations, according to the documents.

Japan-Muslims-640x480

“Along with surveillance, Japanese authorities also apply tight immigration standards. Muslims seeking a working visa or immigration permit, for instance, are subject to detailed scrutiny, which is credited with preventing the sort of terrorist activity that has plagued Europe. “

Soon after, 17 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit saying that their privacy had been violated, and challenging the extensive monitoring of followers of Islam in Japan.

[Read the full story here, at Breitbart]

After two appeals, the case made it to Japan’s Supreme Court, which on May 31 concurred with a lower court that awarded the plaintiffs a total of ¥90 million ($880,000) in compensation because the leak violated their privacy.

Nonetheless, the high court dismissed the more general charges of police profiling and invasive surveillance practices, which a lower court had upheld as “necessary and inevitable” to guard against the threat of Islamic terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Shoji Terayama In Front of Tenjō Sajiki (天井桟敷), 1967

tumblr_o9aem1qzEK1rtynt1o1_540 tumblr_o9aem1qzEK1rtynt1o2_540

Shoji Terayama In Front of Tenjō Sajiki (天井桟敷), his Public Underground Theatre, 1967

Source: 


Comics: ‘Human Insect Diary’

japanese-comic-1970


Alienation Is Killing Americans and Japanese 

japan-figure

Amos Zeeburg writes: The stories have become all too familiar in Japan, though people often do their best to ignore them. An elderly or middle-aged person, usually a man, is found dead, at home in his apartment, frequently right in his bed. It has been days, weeks, or even months since he has had contact with another human being. Often the discovery is made by a landlord frustrated at not receiving a rent payment or a neighbor who notices an unpleasant smell. The deceased has almost no connections with the world around him: no job, no relationships with neighbors, no spouse or children who care to be in contact. He has little desire to take care of his home, his relationships, his health. “The majority of lonely deaths are people who are kind of messy,” Taichi Yoshida, who runs a moving company that often cleans out apartments where people are discovered long after they die, told Time magazine. “It’s the person who, when they take something out, they don’t put it back; when something breaks, they don’t fix it; when a relationship falls apart, they don’t repair it.”

white deaths graph

The death rate for U.S. whites (USW), U.S. Hispanics (USH), and six comparison countries (France, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden) since 1990.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

These lonely deaths are called kodokushi. Each one passes without much notice, but the phenomenon is frequent enough to be widely known. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported there were 3,700 “unaccompanied deaths” in Japan in 2013, but some researchers estimate that because of significant under-counting, the true figure is closer to 30,000. In any case, the frequency of kodokushi has been on the rise since they emerged in the 1980s.

[Read the full story here, at Nautilus]

The increase seems to be associated with deep social changes in the country, particularly the breakdown of the traditional multigenerational Japanese family. In 1960, about 80 percent of elderly Japanese lived with a child; since then that number has split in half. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Cherry Blossoms Flood the Inokashira Park Lake in Tokyo

Christopher Jobson reports: Every spring, photographer Danilo Dungo spends time at Inokashira Park in Tokyo, famous for its abundance of blooming cherry trees. The photographer has become a master at capturing the event from all angles, especially with aerial shots that show the pink flowers covering the nearby lake…(read more)

cherry-3

Source: Colossal


John Bolton: Obama’s Shameful Apology Tour Lands in Hiroshima 

obama-cry

Narcissist-in-Chief Honors Himself in Hiroshima, Japan

boltonJohn Bolton writes: An American president’s highest moral, constitutional and political duty is protecting his fellow citizens from foreign threats. Presidents should adhere to our values and the Constitution, and not treat America’s enemies as morally equivalent to us.

If they do, they need not apologize to anyone.

The White House says that President Obama won’t apologize as he visits Hiroshima Friday. But who believes his press flacks?

“Obama’s narcissism, his zeal for photo opportunities with him at the center, whether in Havana or Hiroshima, too often overcomes lesser concerns — like the best interests of the country.”

His penchant for apologizing is central to his legacy. He may not often say “I apologize” explicitly, but his meaning is always clear, especially since he often bends his knee overseas, where he knows the foreign audiences will get his meaning. It is, in fact, Obama’s subtlety that makes his effort to reduce America’s influence in the world so dangerous.

He started in Cairo in 2009, referring to the “fear and anger” that the 9/11 attacks provoked in Americans, saying that, “in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.” He later said, “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions . . . based on fear rather than foresight” — a characterization Americans overwhelmingly reject.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

In Europe, saved three times by America in the last century, Obama apologized because “there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” And in this hemisphere, Obama said, “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms,” culminating in his recent fawning visits with the Castros in Cuba.

The list goes on and on.

President Barack Obama walks with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Photo: Getty Images

Then there’s his penchant for bowing to foreign leaders. He has bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia. He bowed to the emperor of Japan on a previous visit. He has bowed to China’s leader, Xi Jinping. And these are not casual nods of the head, but unmistakable gestures of obeisance. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Succeeds in Test Flight of First Stealth Fighter Jet

Development of the stealth fighter comes as Japan faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.

Japan’s first stealth fighter jet successfully took to the skies on Friday as the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology.

Technological super power Japan, despite strict constitutional constraints on the use of military force imposed after World War II, has one of the world’s most advanced defence forces and the development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.

“The first flight has a very significant meaning that can secure technologies needed for future fighter development. We also expect it can be applied to other fields and technological innovation in the entire aviation industry.”

— Defense Minister Gen Nakatani

The domestically developed X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight as dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off into the clear morning sky.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

A crew member of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing’s drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo)

Television footage showed the red-and-white aircraft roaring into the air, escorted by two Japanese military fighters that were collecting flight data.

The single-pilot prototype safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with “no particular problems,” said an official at the defence ministry’s acquisition agency.

It was an “extremely stable” flight, the pilot was quoted as saying by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the main contractor.

“The control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions,” the pilot added. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan to Print Additional ¥10,000 Bills as More People Hoard Cash at Home 

japan-cash

The Finance Ministry plans to increase the number of ¥10,000 bills in circulation, amid signs that more people are hoarding cash.non-stop-panic-4

It will print 1.23 billion such notes in fiscal 2016, 180 million more than a year earlier. The number of ¥10,000 bills issued annually leveled off at around 1.05 billion in the fiscal years from 2011 to 2015.

Some financial market sources believe it is because more people are keeping their money at home rather than in banks, because interest rates on deposits have fallen to almost zero after the Bank of Japan introduced a negative interest rate in February.

The total amount of cash stashed at home is estimated to have surged by nearly ¥5 trillion to some ¥40 trillion in the past year, Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Japan’s Latest Celebrity Heartthrob: Shabani the Gorilla

A silverback gorilla named Shabani has become a celebrity in Japan. His admirers are attracted to his powerful physique and rugged good looks. Photo: Miho Inada/The Wall Street Journal


[VIDEO] Mount Sakurajima Erupts! 

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.

The Meteorological Agency said Sakurajima, which is about 50 km from Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, erupted at 6:56 p.m.

“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 »


Japan, Inc.: World’s First Robot-Run Farm will Harvest 30,000 Heads of Lettuce Daily

⑤棚アップ (1)

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.

 reports: The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

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.

⑦検査

Spread: A worker at the Kameoka Plant. Not a robot.

“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.”

[Read the full story here, at Tech Insider]

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.

④棚

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 »


[VIDEO] McChoco Potato! McDonald’s Japan’s New Chocolate Fries 

We tried McDonald’s Japan’s new “McChoco Potato” chocolate french fries. Click here to find out what we thought and see more photos.


Fumi no Kiyogaki 文の清書き Print Artist: Chokyosai Eiri (鳥橋斎 栄里)1801


The Making of Asian America: A History

mochida-family-japan-history

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.

japaneseInternment

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 41ko6B1RfoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_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.

[Order Erika Lee‘s book “The Making of Asian America: A History” from Amazon.com]

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 »


Full Text: Japan-South Korea Statement on ‘Comfort Women’ 

korea-japan

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

comfort-women-5

  1. 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.

comfort-women

(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.

  1. 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 »


Monkey Orchids Exhibition in Japan

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,895 other followers