Advertisements

[VIDEO]  Krauthammer: Chinese & Korean Nuclear Missiles Affect Trump’s Moves in Asia

“The worrisome thing here is the outside partner. This is not just a three sided game, North Korea, South Korea, and the U.S. — it’s the Chinese reaction. The Chinese are watching the United States after eight years of withdrawal, accommodation, and essentially no response to Chinese expansion — they’re seeing the United States now asserting itself. The U.S.S. Carl Vinson an aircraft carrier is now in the South China Sea. Trump has just sent B-52’s into South Korea as a way to threaten the North Koreans, and everyone knows what they carry, they carry nuclear weapons. But the worst thing from the Chinese point of view is the THAAD: This is the antimissile system. The Chinese react to that the way the Russians did to the anti-missile system we wanted to put in Eastern Europe. They get very upset because it can be applied against them. Yes, our reason for doing it is to defend the South Koreans against the North. But the overall effect is to put up a missile shield that could degrade and weaken the Chinese arsenal. They know that. They are very worried about that. And they’re getting semi-hysterical. Global Times which is a government-friendly publication just this week said that the government of China will no longer rule out a first nuclear strike. That’s a big deal. That’s not an official statement, but it tells you how much the Chinese are upset, which is why we are now rushing to install the THAAD by the end of April before the election so at least it’s a fait accompli — but this is a tinderbox.”

Source: National Review

Advertisements

Vitamin B3 Deficiency is Making French Hamsters Go Stark Raving Mad

insane-european-hamster

Monoculture in agriculture is really bad for biodiversity.

PARIS (AFP-Jiji) — A diet of corn is turning wild hamsters in northeastern France into deranged cannibals that devour their offspring, alarmed researchers have reported.

“There’s clearly an imbalance,” Gerard Baumgart, President of the Research Center for Environmental Protection in Alsace, and an expert on the European hamster, told AFP on Jan. 27.

“Our hamster habitat is collapsing.”

More common farther to the east, Cricetus cricetus is critically endangered in western Europe.

The findings, reported in the British Royal Society journal Proceedings B, finger industrial-scale monoculture as the culprit.

Once nourished by a variety of grains, roots and insects, the burrowing rodents live today in a semi-sterile and unbroken ocean of industrially grown maize, or corn.

The monotonous diet is leaving the animals starving, scientists discovered almost by accident.

The problem is a lack of vitamins. In fact, one in particular: B3, or niacin.

Researchers led by Mathilde Tissier at the University of Strasbourg had set out to determine whether hamster diet affects their ability to reproduce in the wild.

Baby hamsters eaten alive

Earlier work had looked at the impact of pesticides and mechanized plowing, which can destroy their underground homes, especially during hibernation in winter.

But the possible link with what they eat remained unexplored.

A first set of lab experiments with wild specimens compared wheat and corn-based diets, with side dishes of clover or worms.

There was virtually no difference in the number of pups born, or the basic nutritional value of the different menus.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

But when it came to survival rates, the difference was dramatic.

About four-fifths of the pups born of mothers feasting on wheat-and-clover or wheat-and-worms were weaned.

Only five percent, however, of the baby hamsters whose mothers ate corn instead of wheat made it that far.

What was most disturbing is how they perished.

“Females stored their pups with their hoards of maize before eating them,” the scientists reported. “Pups were still alive at that time.” Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Spy Ship Enters Japan’s Territorial Waters for Second Time Since End of WWII 

n-chinaship

In an aggressive move, a Chinese naval reconnaissance vessel enters waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture.

 reports: A Chinese navy reconnaissance vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture early Wednesday morning — the first time since 2004 that a Chinese military ship has done so.

Wednesday’s incursion comes just under a week after a Chinese naval frigate entered the contiguous zone just outside Japan’s territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

According to the Defense Ministry, a Maritime Self Defense Force P-3C patrol aircraft spotted the Chinese spy ship sailing into Japanese waters west of Kuchinoerabu at around 3:30 a.m.

The ministry said it warned the Chinese ship to exit the territorial waters — generally defined under international law as within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of a nation’s land border — prompting it to leave the waters south of Yakushima Island, sailing southeast, at around 5 a.m.

Wednesday’s incursion was the second time since the end of World War II that a Chinese military ship entered Japanese waters. The last time was in 2004, when a Chinese submarine was detected in the territorial waters near Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture. In response, Yoshinori Ono, the Defense Agency’s director general at the time, ordered the MSDF to boost its maritime security measures.

Such an order was not issued this time as the Chinese ship left before the Defense Ministry could determine if the passage involved any malicious intent, the ministry said.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

International law allows all ships, regardless of their country of registration, to pass through another country’s territorial waters so long as they do not endanger the peace and security of the coastal state.

While Beijing’s intentions remain unclear, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said that the Chinese ship entered the waters after following two Indian ships participating in the trilateral Malabar drills. Japan, the U.S. and India have been conducting those exercises in the waters east of Okinawa, near the Senkakus, since last Friday.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

The Chinese ship also shadowed the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, which was participating in the joint exercise, Reuters reported, citing a Japanese official.

The intrusion by the Chinese navy comes just six days after a Chinese Navy frigate entered the contiguous waters near the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known as the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

While the Senkakus are uninhabited, Kuchinoerabu Island has a population of 123 as of the end of last month. It is a popular tourist destination and a part of Yakushima National Park. Read the rest of this entry »


Shinzo Abe, James Mattis Reaffirm U.S. Commitment on Senkakus

abe-mattis

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis clearly said during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday afternoon that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obliges the United States to defend Japan, according to a senior government official who attended the meeting.

At the opening of the meeting, Abe said he hopes and is certain the two countries “can demonstrate in our country and abroad that the Japan-U.S. alliance is unshakable.” In response, Mattis said that he intended to make clear during the meeting that Article 5 of the security treaty will be important five years or 10 years from now, just as it was a year ago or five years ago.

japan-mattis

Mattis arrived in Tokyo on the day to hold talks with the prime minister, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and other members of Abe’s Cabinet to exchange views on the security environment in East Asia and to address mutual security concerns. The new U.S. defense chief’s visit to Japan marks the first by a U.S. Cabinet member under the administration of President Donald Trump. The ministerial meeting with Inada is scheduled for Saturday, after which they will hold a joint press conference.

During these talks, the two sides are also expected to confirm that the United States will firmly uphold the “nuclear umbrella” (see below) over Japan in its defense.

During his presidential election campaign last year, Trump was ambiguous about defending the Senkakus and also suggested that if Japan doesn’t contribute its due share to shouldering the burden of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, it would be acceptable for Japan to possess its own nuclear weapons to confront North Korea’s nuclear threat. These remarks caused apprehension on the Japanese side.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEOS] History of Japan; Reaction Mashup 

rice-farms-japan

japan-x japanreligion


[PHOTOS] East-West World: Abandoned American Frontier Theme Park in Japan

abandoned western theme park in japan

Western Village first opened its doors back in the early 1970s. Originally quite a modest affair known as Kinugawa Family Ranch, the Wild West theme park did well and gradually expanded, hence the name change. Yet despite such success, changing times resulted in changing fortunes, and in 2006 it was forced to close — meaning that the park now sits empty and forlorn by the side of the road. An odd, wholly unexpected sight in a relatively sparsely populated area a few hours north of Tokyo.

abandoned western theme park in japan

Increasingly battered by the weather and years of neglect, it nonetheless still retains the look one would expect.

abandoned western theme park in japan

abandoned western theme park in japan

Visiting at the end of a politically tumultuous 2016, however, it wasn’t these out of place structures that made an impact. Instead, it was the park’s haunted looking residents and their unintended, yet no less terrifying depiction of a world turned utterly upside down. The world in which we currently live in, basically.

Considering its theme, and the period in which Western Village opened, it’s perhaps not surprising that one particular, distinctly larger-than-life personality was chosen to front it.

abandoned western theme park in japan

And, as a follicly challenged right winger with a weirdly orange complexion, such a choice seems disturbingly prescient.

abandoned western theme park in japan

So now, instead of an innocent recreation of all things cowboy-related, this celebrity led world feels like a truly disturbing vision of a potentially very near future. One in which the inner machinations and ulterior motives of those pulling the presidential strings are very much to the fore.

abandoned western theme park in japan Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] History of Japan 

godzilla-japan

Imagine consuming nitrous oxide, helium, and cocaine, then explaining Japanese history. What’s not to like? A funny video that compresses a lot of information into an entertaining, easy-to-unpack container.

 


Russian Military Buildup on Disputed Isles Clouds Resolution of Row with Tokyo

russia-japan

 reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.

Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.

Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.

Russia has been modernizing its military on the islands, which delineate the southern edge of the Sea of Okhotsk where Russian nuclear submarines are deployed. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan: Annual Births Set to Fall Below One Million for the First Time 

births-japan

The annual number of births in the country dipped below one million during 2016 for the first time since records became available, an estimate by the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry shows.

The number stands at 981,000, the lowest since 1899, according to the demographic statistic estimate released Thursday.

The ministry’s analysis showed the number of women in the age group of those giving birth is decreasing. The government is expected to urgently take further measures to address the declining birthrate.

The annual estimate shows that the number of people who died stands at 1.296 million, which is 6,000 more than last year. The number of deaths is thus expected to exceed that of births for 10 consecutive years. The gap, or the natural decrease in the population, is expected to hit a record high of 315,000.

The number of births has been declining since peaking at more than 2 million during the second baby boom from 1971 to 1974.

When the total fertility rate for 1989 hit a record low of 1.57, the situation was called the “1.57 shock” because the figure was even lower than in 1966 — a year in which giving birth was generally avoided in Japan due to a superstition. After that, measures to address the declining birthrate started being considered as important. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Throws Down the Gauntlet With Plan for World’s Fastest Supercomputer

objfwgicvikdssalk22w

Officials in Japan have announced a plan to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in a bid to reaffirm the country’s place as a leader in technological advancement.

If all goes according to plan, the processing monster will cost 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) and will be cable of 130 quadrillion calculations per second, Reuters reports.

speedcollar

It is a rare thing to be able to use the word “quadrillion” in a manner that isn’t an exaggeration. Phrased another way, the planned supercomputer clocks in at 130 petaflops, which would decidedly surpass the current fastest in the world—China’s Sunway Taihulight which maxes out at 93 petaflops.

Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s ‎National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, had an intriguingly humble way of saying that it will blow the competition out of the water: “As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast.” Which leaves the imagination to wonder about secret hidden supercomputers plowing through data in hollowed-out mountains.

speed-racer

The move comes at a time when Japan hopes to return to its glory days as top dog in technology. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently pushed for his government to work more closely with private industry to assure that Japan leads the way in robotics, batteries, artificial intelligence and other key areas of growth. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan: Novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) Returns in Robot Form

novelist-robot

Novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) is back in Tokyo — as an android.

Nishogakusha University in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, and Osaka University Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro unveiled the final product of their joint project at a press conference on Thursday, a day before the 100th anniversary of the writer’s death.

The humanoid robot sits 130 centimeters high and was made based on pictures taken when the writer was 45 years old and his death mask, among other materials. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] YouTube Sensation: Spamusement Park Project, Beppu, Japan 湯~園地計画!

bvtrcgdmeousu0ro89hv

The Japanese city of Beppu is known for its countless hot springs and spas that pop up around them. So much so, that the city’s mayor, Yasuhiro Nagano, pledged to build an entire spa-themed amusement park—although it might not be quite as awesome as the one featured in this promotional video.


The “spamusement” park’s development hinged on this promo video hitting a million views, which it did just a few days after hitting YouTube. The city’s mayor has since announced plans to begin planning and development of the park, and we’re really hoping that bathtub roller coaster makes the cut…(more)

人が入れる温泉として世界一の湧出量を誇る大分県別府市では、この度温泉都市別府の魅力を国内外にむけて幅広く発信すべく、新たな都市ビジョンとして“遊べる温泉都市構想”を策定。
構想実現にむけた取り組みの第一弾として、「湯~園地」計画公約ムービーを別府市内で開催中のイベントONSENアカデミアにて発表、同日Web上にて公開致しました。

[YouTube via RocketNews24]

Source: gizmodo


Niigata Elementary School Teacher Calls Fukushima Evacuee Student ‘Germ’

germ-boy-jp

The boy complained to the teacher in charge of his class that he felt bad because classmates treated him like a germ, according to the board of education. He also reported to the teacher last month that he was bullied.

Jiji Press NIIGATA (Jiji Press) — A teacher at an elementary school in the city of Niigata added “kin,” or “germ” in Japanese, when he called the name of a male pupil evacuated from the prefecture of Fukushima following the country’s worst nuclear accident in March 2011, it was learned Friday.

A woman and child sit on a beach as Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Tepco) Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power station stands in the background in Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida痴 approval is critical before Tepco can go ahead with plans for the restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, the world痴 largest nuclear power station by generating capacity. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

“The board expressed deep apologies to the pupil and his parents. The boy evacuated to Niigata with his family from Fukushima after the unprecedented triple reactor meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was knocked out by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.”

Due to the remark by the teacher, in his 40s, the fourth grader became unable to go to the school, according to Niigata’s board of education.

“The boy reportedly said that he cannot go to the school and does not want to see the teacher.”

The board expressed deep apologies to the pupil and his parents. The boy evacuated to Niigata with his family from Fukushima after the unprecedented triple reactor meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was knocked out by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Read the rest of this entry »


China: Shinzo Abe Statue with Hitler Mustache Removed by Shenyang Mall After Japanese Consulate Complains

abe-hitler

The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. 

Alex Linder writes: Unfortunately, customers visiting one Shenyang shopping mall will no longer be greeted by a bowing Shinzo Abe with a Hitler mustache after the mall received complaints from the Japanese consulate in the city.

The Abe wax figure was first unveiled last week along with likenesses of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Behind the kowtowing Japanese Prime Minister were Chinese characters reading: “Commemorating the September 18th Incident.”

“Confusingly, the worker added that the Hitler mustache was added intentionally to ‘make sure it didn’t entirely resemble Abe,’ and that the backdrop had nothing to do with the statues, as they had just been placed there temporarily.”

In English, this is known as the Mukden or Manchurian Incident, when a staged explosion in Shenyang (then called Mukden) provided Japan with the pretext for its invasion of Manchuria in 1931. This year was the 85th anniversary of that incident, causing some “patriotic” Chinese companies to ban their employees from buying the new iPhone 7.

abe_hitler.jpg

“The figures were all made by a craftsman from Dandong, Liaoning province, and displayed in order to ‘enrich the shopping experience of customers.'”

Those bans were largely ridiculed across China, as was this wax figure. Chinese netizens called the Abe-Hitler figure a “disgrace.” Read the rest of this entry »


Yuki Da! Tokyo has November Snow for First Time in 54 Years

568a4627e8f9f4c0ff002c56d924a86d9d276a78

Tokyo (AFP) – Tokyo woke up Thursday to its first November snowfall in more than half a century, leaving commuters to grapple with train disruptions and slick streets.

Snow began falling before dawn with the mercury approaching zero as a cold weather system moved south.

The Japan Meterological Agency said it was the first time snow had fallen in November in central Tokyo since 1962.

Amounts were greater in suburban areas closer to mountains but even central Tokyo saw brief accumulations, which the agency forecast to be as high as two centimetres (one inch).

That was the first November accumulation since records began in 1875, the agency said.

f4795ba9adc38da3dccd864acd4c6c63cc14ab3e

“I was surprised to see snow at such an early stage of the season,” said Hiroko Tanaka, a Tokyo resident.

“I felt this may be a sign of something abnormal in terms of natural phenomena,” she told AFP.

But experts say the situation is nothing to worry about.

“Today’s snowfall and accumulation occurred because several elements came together at once by chance,” said Sakiko Nishioka, an agency official in charge of weather forecasting.

“It does not mean this can signal any unusual weather conditions this season such as a super cold winter,” Nishioka told AFP, adding that it was also unclear if it was related to climate change or events such as El Nino.

Tokyo, which extends over a wide area and includes many suburbs, enjoys relatively mild winters compared to some other parts of the country where snowfall is more frequent. Read the rest of this entry »


JAPAN: 1.4-Meter Tsunami Hits Sendai  

quake

Tsunami reached wide areas of the Tohoku and Kanto regions. At Sendai Port in Sendai, a tsunami of 1.4 meters was observed, the highest since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The agency also issued a tsunami advisory for the Pacific coast from Aomori Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture, as well as for the Izu Islands chain.

The agency said a tsunami of 90 centimeters high was observed in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture; 80 centimeters high in Kuji, Iwate Prefecture, and Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture; and 50 centimeters high in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The agency downgraded the tsunami warning issued for Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures to a tsunami advisory at 9:46 a.m.

All the tsunami advisories were lifted by 12:50 p.m.

The tsunami warning issued Tuesday was the first since one was issued for Miyagi Prefecture after an earthquake with its epicenter off the Sanriku coast occurred on Dec. 7, 2012.

At a press conference held Tuesday morning, Koji Nakamura, the agency’s official in charge of earthquake information, called on people in areas where a strong jolt was felt to be alert against earthquakes of the same scale for the next week or so. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Tsunami Warning Issued After Quake Off Fukushima in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck Tuesday off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan. A tsunami warning for waves of up to three meters (10 feet) was issued.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says the quake struck around 6 a.m at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). It warned people along the coast to move to higher ground.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 6.9. The earthquake shook buildings in Tokyo, 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the epicenter.

Fukushima prefecture is home to the nuclear power plant that was destroyed by a huge tsunami following an offshore earthquake in 2011…(more)

Developing…


EXCLUSIVE: Commemorative Japanese Noodle Cup Donald Trump Portraits

noodle-trump

From our Japan Bureau comes this exclusive series of commemorative noodle-cup Trump portraits. Created at the Cup of Noodle Museum in Yokohama (yes, it’s a real thing) these hand-decorated cups were then sent through a robotic shrink-wrap machine, ready for delivery to our USA Headquarters, for tasting.

noodle-tr

MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again“. Another cup, I’m told, is emblazoned with MJGA, or “Make Japan Great Again”. When you travel to see our allies in Japan don’t forget to visit the Cupnoodles Museum – not to be confused with Yokohama’s famous Ramen Museum –  but visit there too, you’ll be glad you did! In the meantime, enjoy the Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016.

noflash_img


Japan: Nazi-Like Costumes Cause Backlash

img734653

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Keyakizaka 46 girls group provoked an international backlash over their use of Halloween costumes looking like Nazi military uniforms in an event in Yokohama on Oct. 22.

The U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which monitors anti-Semitism movements, issued a statement on Monday demanding an apology from Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc., which the group belongs to, and its producer, Yasushi Akimoto.

zaka46-940x580

The center called the costumes, including black cloaks and uniform caps with eagle emblems, “inappropriate and deeply offensive.” Read the rest of this entry »


DAMN THAT’S A BIG HOLE: Large Sinkhole Opens Up Near Hakata Station, Japan

dtmanage-000000020161108114603240-1

FUKUOKA — A large sinkhole opened on a road in front of Hakata Station in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, at about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The hole gradually became bigger. It measures up to about 15 meters deep, about 27 meters wide and about 30 meters long.

The sinkhole is seen at 9:17 a.m. in this photo taken from a Yomiuri Shimbun helicopter.

According to the Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau, construction work to extend the Nanakuma Line of the city’s subway system was under way about 25 meters below the site.

As water outflow and other phenomena were seen shortly before the occurrence of the sinkhole, construction workers had evacuated from the site. No one was injured. Read the rest of this entry »


Halloween Candy in Japan, 2016

img_0035


Japan-Russia Space Projects Being Explored 

Propaganda Posters of Soviet Space Program 1958-1963 (12)

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: The government has begun talks with Russia over a possible collaboration in outer space-related fields, sources said.

The main areas of cooperation are expected to take place at a base in the Russian Far East to launch satellites and joint space-related technology projects.

Hiroshige Seko, minister for economic cooperation with Russia, is scheduled to visit Moscow in November, and a working group is expected to be formed to make specific proposals.

The Japanese and Russian governments have been discussing ways to expand economic and other forms of cooperation in preparation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Japan in December.

The Russian side brought up the possibility of cooperation in space-related fields in early September, the sources said. Since then, the Japanese government has been studying the matter internally, according to the sources.

Russia is seeking to expand the use of its Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region in its Far East. It has mainly been relying on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but embarked on building a domestic base due to reasons including the hefty fees for using the site.

However, Russia has already spent 300 billion rubles (about ¥500 billion) on Vostochny, and further costs are expected. Launching Japanese satellites from this base could help recover the construction costs, the sources said, adding that Russia has shown interest in inviting companies involved in related fields.

For Japan, launching satellites from low-cost Russian rockets could expand the use of outer space by the private sector, such as through communications and observation satellites.

The government is also trying to expand the use of domestically produced satellites for launching commercial satellites. Read the rest of this entry »


Essential for Citizens: Propaganda Literacy

painting-propaganda-1942

Tetsuo Arima Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, Waseda University

society_160905_01Tetsuo Arima writes: In Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, there is an attraction called the “Duck Tour.” It takes tourists on an amphibious vehicle to tourist spots on both sides of the Potomac River. As the vehicle nears the State Department building, the tour guide gives tourists a quiz. “Over there is the Voice of America, a network which broadcasts around the world. What is the only country that is not covered by this network?” When I participated in this tour, I was the first to raise my hand and answer, “America.” The tour guide made a sour face.

The U.S. government does not engage in propaganda toward Americans. Since the people choose representatives to form a government by democratic elections, the government should not lead its people to make wrong decisions by spreading propaganda. This is a basic principle of democracy. Countries such as China and North Korea, which do not practice democracy, control their populations with propaganda.

However, the U.S., which is a democracy, does engage in propaganda toward other countries. Even its allies are no exception. America, with huge “soft” power, has great influence on other countries, mainly through movies, TV programs, music and fashion, and also utilizes propaganda to the maximum extent. The tour guide must have been displeased because he realized I knew that.

Propaganda in the Information Age

We live in a highly digitized world today. The amount of information is growing exponentially, and many people believe unconditionally that more information is better. This is true if such information is true, unbiased and helps its recipients make sound judgments. But as the amount of information grows, so does the amount that is biased and false. In particular, in the borderless world of the Internet, if one continues to pursue related information, one can easily stray into propaganda sites established by various countries without knowing it.

china-communist-propaganda

Readers believe that such information is interesting and useful, but its creators take the trouble to translate and present it in an effort to plant certain ideas and images in the reader’s mind. They expend great time and money to do so. Even smallish businesses spend huge amounts of money on public relations and commercials, so it is natural that major countries bring together elite propagandists, organize powerful state agencies, and give them enormous budgets in order to spread propaganda.

VOA, mentioned above, is one of those propaganda agencies. In fact, it is modeled after the British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC has a strong image as a reputable public broadcaster, but it is also known to spread propaganda, especially during wartime. Nonetheless, it did not spread rumors, praise its country unreservedly, or slander enemy countries, unlike state-owned media in non-democratic countries. The BBC reported news strictly based on facts, but achieved enormous impact by broadcasting only the facts that were convenient to its country and inconvenient to hostile ones.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Responsibility of the mass media

In China, a non-democratic country which controls its people with propaganda, news presented by China Central Television (CCTV), a broadcaster run by the Communist Party, should be regarded as propaganda whether it targets domestic or foreign audiences. Of course CCTV also uses language which makes its content really sound like propaganda. The problem in Japan is that the mass media frequently repeat such propaganda as part of their news. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Scrambles Jets as China Warplanes Fly Through Okinawa Strait

jet

It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.

Jesse Johnson reports: The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled aircraft on Sunday as at least eight Chinese fighters and bombers — and possibly more than 40 — passed through a critical international entryway into the Western Pacific.

They used a legal but politically sensitive passage through Okinawa, apparently to send a message to Tokyo.

“This is a response to what Beijing will allege is a provocation by Japan in joining the U.S. in South China Sea drills despite Beijing warning Tokyo against participating.”

— University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer

It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.

The Chinese aircraft, which also included refueling tankers, flew over the Miyako Strait in Okinawa Prefecture but did not infringe Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry said in Tokyo.

China said more than 40 aircraft were involved. They flew between Miyako Island near Taiwan and Okinawa’s main island on the way to “regular” patrols and drills in the Western Pacific, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to its website.

japan-air-self-defense-force-jet

People’s Liberation Army Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said the massive show of force, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and tanker aircraft, conducted reconnaissance and early warning exercises, attacks on sea surface targets, and in-flight refueling “to test the air force’s fighting capacity on the high seas.”

Chinese bombers and fighters also conducted what Shen called a “regular patrol” in the East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that China unilaterally declared in 2013.

“The regular Western Pacific drills and ADIZ patrols are necessary to safeguard national sovereignty, the country’s security and maintain peaceful development,” Shen said.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

The air force will continue patrolling the East China Sea ADIZ and conduct training to improve its combat capacity in order to “uphold the legitimate rights and interests of China,” Shen added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a news conference Monday that although the aircraft never violated Japanese airspace, Tokyo “will continue to devote every effort to vigilance and surveillance and rigorously enforce steps against intrusions into our airspace based on international law and the Self-Defense Forces law.”

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

While it was apparently the first time for Beijing to send fighter jets on the route, its air force first flew other types of jets over the strait in May 2015, China’s Defense Ministry said.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada angered Beijing with a speech last week, in which she said Tokyo would “increase its engagement in the South China Sea through … Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the U.S. Navy.”

There was a fiery reaction in Chinese state media, but experts said she had not broken new ground in Japan’s approach to the South China Sea.

Still, according to University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer, the Chinese flights were meant to send a message to Japan not to meddle in the South China Sea issue. Read the rest of this entry »


Tighter Monetary Policy Signal Spooks Markets, Global Stock Selloff Continues

Loose Money Party Peaks, Hangover Anticipation Looms.

Rica Gold reports: Global stocks started the week sharply lower amid concerns about tighter monetary policy, resuming declines that have halted two months of calm summer trading.
millen-anguish

“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward.”

— Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors

Markets in Europe and Asia retreated Monday amid signs the world’s central banks will be less accommodative than previously expected.APPROVED-non-stop-panic

“Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.”

“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward,” said Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors.

The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 1.9% early in the session, while futures pointed to a 0.6% opening loss for the S&P 500 after its biggest daily drop since the U.K.’s EU referendum.

Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year. Photo: Reuters

Stocks and long-dated government bonds sold off on Friday after comments from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren heightened expectations for an interest rate rise later this year. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History: Soviet pilot lands Russian MIG fighter plane in Japan, Sep 06, 1976 

0*HvH2CAxFakVLDaDy

A Soviet Air Force pilot lands his MIG fighter jet in Japan and asks for asylum in the United States. The incident was a serious embarrassment for the Soviets, and also provided a bit of a surprise for U.S. officials.

When the Soviets first put the MIG-25 (known as the Foxbat) into production in the 1960s, U.S. officials became nearly hysterical. The new plane, they claimed, was the fastest, most advanced, and most destructive interceptor jet ever built. Its debut, they argued, meant that the United States was falling dangerously behind in the race to control the skies. On September 6, 1976, those officials got a close-up look at the aircraft.

Soviet Air Force Lt. Viktor Belenko took his MIG-25 out of Soviet airspace and landed it at a Japanese airfield at Hakodate on the island of Hokkaido. Japanese police took the pilot into custody, where he immediately asked for asylum in the United States. Experts from the U.S. quickly arrived on the scene to get a firsthand look at the aircraft. After being questioned extensively by both Japanese and U.S. officials, Belenko was flown to the United States and granted political asylum.

For the Soviets, the MIG-25 incident was a major diplomatic and military embarrassment. To have one of their most advanced planes delivered into the hands of their enemy was mortifying and was viewed as a serious setback to the Soviet weapons program. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Robot Makes Sushi in Seconds 

Kawasaki's sushi-making robot. Kazumichi Moriyama/YouTube

Kawasaki’s sushi-making robot. Kazumichi Moriyama/YouTube

The Japanese robotics manufacturer Kawasaki has created a bot that can prepare nigiri sushi in under a minute.

As robots get more advanced, they will likely take over many jobs in the future — including those of sushi chefs.

screwed

For a sneak peak at this impending automation, look no further than a new creation from robotics manufacturer Kawasaki. The robot can make sushi in under a minute.

First spotted by Gizmodo, the video shows a miraculous bot that assembles nigiri, the traditional type of sushi in which a piece of raw fish sits on a little ball of rice.

giphy (77) Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Toy: ‘My Beetle is Huge, and It Walks As If It’s Real’, Japan, 1970

tumblr_obw1eoJaoJ1qmqcwjo1_540


Emperor Akihito of Japan Raises Possibility of Leaving Throne

Emperor Akihito, 82, spoke publicly for the first time about retiring, saying he feared it would become ‘more difficult’ to fulfill his duties.

Jonathan Noble reports: It has been something of an open secret in Japan that Emperor Akihito would like a privilege most people take for granted: At 82, he wants to retire. The question is whether the Japanese and their elected leaders will let him.

In an extraordinary televised address on Monday, the popular emperor spoke publicly about the issue for the first time. Though his words were characteristically vague — he discussed his age, his rigorous daily schedule and what he called his increasing physical limitations — the message was unmistakable.

“I am concerned that it will become more and more difficult for me to fulfill my duties as a symbolic emperor,” he said in a prerecorded address that lasted about 10 minutes and was broadcast on multiple Japanese television networks.

If Akihito steps down, the move could redefine Japan’s royal family, the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. While the emperor now has only symbolic power, an abdication could also resurrect a contentious issue in Japan: the debate over allowing a woman to occupy the throne.

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

First reported in banner headlines by the Japanese news media in July, Akihito, who has been treated for cancer and heart problems, was said to want to retire and pass the title to his son Crown Prince Naruhito, 56. Prince Naruhito appears to share his father’s quiet temperament and wish to keep the monarchy apolitical.

But abdication is complicated because of Japanese law, which says an emperor serves until death. Parliament would have to change the law for Akihito to step down. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Japan’s Emperor Akihito to Make Rare Public Address

Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to deliver his second ever televised address to the nation, after reports he wants to step down in coming years.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to deliver his second ever televised address to the public.

Last month, Japanese media reported that the emperor wanted to step down in coming years, which would be unprecedented in modern Japan.

He is not expected to use the word “abdicate” because he is barred from political involvement.

The palace said on Friday he would be speaking about his “feelings regarding his duties as a symbol of the nation”.

26CBEF0C00000578-3002178-image-a-30_1426760493935

Five things about Japan’s emperor

People in Tokyo sum up Japan’s Emperor in one word

  • Has adopted a more modern style, making efforts to draw the imperial family closer to the people.
  • He married a commoner in 1959 – their love story captured the nation and was dubbed the “tennis court romance” as they met over the nets. Together he and Empress Michiko have three children.
  • Has sought to heal the scars of World War Two, saying last year: “Looking back at the past, together with deep remorse over the war, I pray that this tragedy of war will not be repeated and together with the people express my deep condolences for those who fell in battle and in the ravages of war.”
  • Acknowledged his Korean ancestry in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, which Japan and South Korea jointly hosted. This surprised many in Japan given the country’s bitter colonial legacy on the Korean peninsula.
  • His passion is marine biology and he is an expert on the goby fish.

[Emperor Akihito’s reign in pictures]

There is no legal provision for abdication in Japanese law, which would mean a law change would be required.

[Read the full story here, at BBC News]

Under the constitution the emperor is not allowed to have political powers so a wish to abdicate could be seen as him interfering in politics.

3405

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to issue a statement after the emperor’s speech.

A pre-recorded message from the 82-year-old emperor, who is revered in Japan, will be made public at 15:00 local time (06:00 GMT).

Public broadcaster NHK reported the emperor, who has had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer, would ask Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife to take over many of his public duties. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »