Tokyo Times http://www.tokyotimes.com Japan news and events Wed, 12 Mar 2014 04:36:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Japanese astronaut Wakata takes the command of ISS http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/japanese-astronaut-wakata-takes-command-iss/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=japanese-astronaut-wakata-takes-command-iss http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/japanese-astronaut-wakata-takes-command-iss/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 04:36:28 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50837 Koichi Wakata became the first Japanese astronaut to take command of the International Space Station on Sunday and to lead an expedition crew aboard the orbiting complex.

“I am humbled to assume command of the …

Japanese astronaut Wakata takes the command of ISS published on Tokyo Times

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Koichi Wakata became the first Japanese astronaut to take command of the International Space Station on Sunday and to lead an expedition crew aboard the orbiting complex.

“I am humbled to assume command of the space station,” Wakata said in a command handover ceremony inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

Wakata took command of the outpost from Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, who has returned to Earth late on Monday with crewmates Sergey Ryazanskiy and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins.

“I am very glad to hand over command of the station to my friend, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata,” Kotov said.

Wakata is the first Japanese astronaut to command any spaceflight, according to the international press.

“Welcome to Wakata-san as the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station,” radioed an official from the JAXA control center in Tsukuba, Japan. “It is, indeed, a special day for the human space program, especially for the people in Japan.”

“We have accomplished 740 crew hours of payload activities on a variety of payloads and a lot of maintenance activities on the very important regenerative [lift support] equipment,” Wakata said. “We also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the first ISS module launch of Zarya in November.

“We have unforgettable memories together and we will continue to keep the station operations safe, efficient and fun.”

Wakata, a native of Saitama, Japan, holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, a master’s in applied mechanics and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Kyushu University. Before being selected as an astronaut in 1992, he worked as an aircraft structural engineer for Japan Airlines.

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More thyroid cancer cases among Fukushima children http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/thyroid-cancer-cases-among-fukushima-children/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thyroid-cancer-cases-among-fukushima-children http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/thyroid-cancer-cases-among-fukushima-children/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 04:36:28 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50834 Doctors are reporting a growing number of thyroid cancer cases among Fukushima children, three years after the nuclear accident at the Japanese crippled power plant.

However, it is not clear yet if the growing number …

More thyroid cancer cases among Fukushima children published on Tokyo Times

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Doctors are reporting a growing number of thyroid cancer cases among Fukushima children, three years after the nuclear accident at the Japanese crippled power plant.

However, it is not clear yet if the growing number of thyroid cancer cases was caused by the high radiation level in the area or just by the fact that more rigorous check-ups are done now.

Last month, the number of confirmed and suspected cases of thyroid cancer among people aged 18 or below at the time of the accident rose to 75, compared with 59 at the end of last September, the international press reports.

Doctors say the results are not directly connected to the nuclear accident, but admitted that they need further analysis.

Inevitably, the nuclear accident at Fukushima was compared to the one at Chernobyl in 1986. Dillwyn Williams, emeritus professor of pathology at Cambridge University, pointed out that a noticeable increase in thyroid cancers was not observed until three to four years after the Chernobyl accident.

“Much less radioactivity was released from Fukushima than from Chernobyl,” he said. “Most of [the Fukushima radiation] was blown over the Pacific Ocean, and thyroid doses in the most-affected areas are low compared to Chernobyl.

“It is very unlikely there will be a large increase in thyroid cancer or any other health problems, apart from anxiety and psychological difficulties. That does not mean the surveillance should stop. There were surprises after Chernobyl and there may be again after Fukushima.”

However, the anxiety felt by parents in Fukushima is caused by a general lack of trust in the local medical authorities, which have come under government pressure not to cause alarm among residents.

“[Comparing screenings among children in a region of Japan that was not affected by the disaster] is such an obvious measure that could be completed in about six months, but the government has done absolutely nothing for three years,” said Koichiro Ono, a local kindergarten teacher. “The government is worried that if the results suggest that there is a link, it will ruin its plans to restart nuclear reactors.”

“How can anyone talk about life returning to normal in Fukushima until everything has been done to ensure that people have their health?” said Toshiyuki Kamei, the mother of a l2-year-old girl who was diagnosed with several tiny nodules on her thyroid gland. “Politicians keep talking about recovery, but that does not mean anything to people living around here.”

More thyroid cancer cases among Fukushima children published on Tokyo Times

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Ukraine’s Constitution violated regarding referendum in Crimea – Suga http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/ukraines-constitution-violated-regarding-referendum-crimea-suga/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ukraines-constitution-violated-regarding-referendum-crimea-suga http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/ukraines-constitution-violated-regarding-referendum-crimea-suga/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 04:36:28 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50831 Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that Ukraine’s Constitution would be violated and that its territorial integrity would be challenged if a local referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia would be …

Ukraine’s Constitution violated regarding referendum in Crimea – Suga published on Tokyo Times

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Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that Ukraine’s Constitution would be violated and that its territorial integrity would be challenged if a local referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia would be organized.

“We see (the referendum) against the Constitution in Ukraine and also problematic in terms of protecting territorial integrity,” the top government spokesman said, adding Japan will continue to “monitor the situation with grave anxiety and concern.”

Suga’s remarks come as the United States and other Western countries have rejected the planned vote on March 16 as unconstitutional, according to the international press which is quoting Kyodo news agency. Crimea has an ethnic Russian majority.

Japan has walked on a string between its long-time ally the United States and Russia. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have developed close relations, although Tokyo and Moscow still have an unresolved territorial conflict.

Japan is planning to send Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of the National Security Council, launched in December, to Russia to exchange views and cooperate in resolving the Ukraine crisis. But Suga declined to comment on the planned trip.

Photo credit: AFP

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Three years since Japan’s strongest quake and Fukushima nuclear accident http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/three-years-since-japans-strongest-quake-fukushima-nuclear-accident/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=three-years-since-japans-strongest-quake-fukushima-nuclear-accident http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/three-years-since-japans-strongest-quake-fukushima-nuclear-accident/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 04:36:27 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50840 Japan is marking the third anniversary of the most violent earthquake and tsunami in its recent history. On March 11, 2011, the country was struck by a 9.0-magnitude quake, followed by a disastrous tsunami which …

Three years since Japan’s strongest quake and Fukushima nuclear accident published on Tokyo Times

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Japan is marking the third anniversary of the most violent earthquake and tsunami in its recent history. On March 11, 2011, the country was struck by a 9.0-magnitude quake, followed by a disastrous tsunami which swept away 18,000 victims, destroyed coastal communities, and sparked a nuclear emergency that forced a rethink on atomic power.

Japan is holding remembrance ceremonies on Tuesday in cities around the disaster zone and in Tokyo, where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are leading tributes to those who died during the country’s worst disaster during peacetime, according to the international press.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed and whole families were drowned when the tsunami hit northeastern coast of Japan.

The tsunami also hit the Fukushima nuclear plant, sparking reactor meltdowns and explosions, and setting off the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands are still waiting to go back home in the area of Fukushima, which is still contaminated by radioactive leaks. The complicated decommissioning process will take decades, officials say.

Although no one died as a direct result of Fukushima, about 1,650 area residents died from complications related to stress and other problems following the accident.

A total of 15,884 people are confirmed to have died in the tsunami with another 2,636 unaccounted for. Searchers still find human remains.

Three years since Japan’s strongest quake and Fukushima nuclear accident published on Tokyo Times

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Dreamliner flight made emergency landing due to ‘maintenance issues’ http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/dreamliner-flight-made-emergency-landing-due-maintenance-issues/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dreamliner-flight-made-emergency-landing-due-maintenance-issues http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/dreamliner-flight-made-emergency-landing-due-maintenance-issues/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:23:47 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50822 Japan Airlines (JAL) said on Sunday that one of its Dreamliner flights had to make an emergency landing in Honolulu, due to a possible problem with its hydraulic system. The plane was flying from Tokyo …

Dreamliner flight made emergency landing due to ‘maintenance issues’ published on Tokyo Times

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Japan Airlines (JAL) said on Sunday that one of its Dreamliner flights had to make an emergency landing in Honolulu, due to a possible problem with its hydraulic system. The plane was flying from Tokyo to San Francisco.

The pilot of flight JL002, carrying 171 passengers and crew, decided to divert to Hawaii after a warning message about falling pressure of lubricant oil in its right engine, according to Japanese national broadcaster NHK.

NHK said that there was no fire and no injuries.

In a short statement on its website, JAL said the jet had landed in Honolulu due to “maintenance issues”.

“This flight terminated its operation at Honolulu International Airport,” the announcement said, according to the international press.

No comments could be obtained so far from the Japan Airlines officials.

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner had more problems during the last two years, including a global grounding of its fleet over battery system problems.

Boeing admitted that despite months of testing it did not know the root cause of the battery problems, but rolled out modifications it said would ensure the issue did not recur.

Dreamliner flight made emergency landing due to ‘maintenance issues’ published on Tokyo Times

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Thousands protest against nuclear power before Fukushima anniversary http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/thousands-protest-nuclear-power-fukushima-anniversary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thousands-protest-nuclear-power-fukushima-anniversary http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/thousands-protest-nuclear-power-fukushima-anniversary/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:23:47 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50819 Thousand of protesters fighting against the use of nuclear power have filled the streets of Tokyo three years after the Fukushima disaster.

They called on the government to give up to the use of nuclear …

Thousands protest against nuclear power before Fukushima anniversary published on Tokyo Times

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Thousand of protesters fighting against the use of nuclear power have filled the streets of Tokyo three years after the Fukushima disaster.

They called on the government to give up to the use of nuclear power once and for all.

It was one of a number of protests which were planned across Japan on Sunday.

“I am here today because I want to rid the planet of nuclear power as quickly as possible,” said Fumiko Ichikawa, one of the Tokyo demonstrators, according to the international press.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government are planning to start again some of the country’s 48 idles reactors.

The loss of nuclear power has meant importing extra oil, coal and gas and that has hurt not only the economy, but also the environment, the media says.

But, in the wake of the meltdown at Fukushima in March 2011, people in Japan are worried about safety and the impact on their health.

Many say they have lost faith in the current government and are demanding that its nuclear plans be scrapped.

Thousands protest against nuclear power before Fukushima anniversary published on Tokyo Times

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Man takes diving lessons to find wife disappeared in 2011 tsunami http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/man-takes-diving-lessons-find-wife-disappeared-2011-tsunami/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=man-takes-diving-lessons-find-wife-disappeared-2011-tsunami http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/man-takes-diving-lessons-find-wife-disappeared-2011-tsunami/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:23:46 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50828 A Japanese man took scuba diving lessons to find the body of his wife who disappeared during the disastrous tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.

Yasuo Takamatsu, 57, has been searching for his wife’s …

Man takes diving lessons to find wife disappeared in 2011 tsunami published on Tokyo Times

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A Japanese man took scuba diving lessons to find the body of his wife who disappeared during the disastrous tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.

Yasuo Takamatsu, 57, has been searching for his wife’s body since she was taken by the enormous tsunami waves three years ago.

After he looked for her in vain on land, he decided to start searching for the woman underwater, several days before the third anniversary of the disaster on 11 March.

He described his wife, who was 47 when she went missing, as a “gentle and kind” person.

“She would always be next to me, physically and mentally,” he said. “I miss her, I miss the big part of me that was her.”

Several hours before the 9.9 magnitude quake hit Japan, he received the last message from his wife.

“It read ‘I want to go home’,” he said, according to the international press.  “That was the last message from her. I feel terrible thinking she is still out there. I want to bring her home as soon as possible.”

Rescuers discovered her mobile phone, on which there was a final, unsent message.

“‘Tsunami huge’. That was all she wrote in the very last one,” he said.

“I still feel just as I did when the disaster hit,” he said. “Emotion-wise, I have not moved a bit since then. I will feel like this, I think, until I find her.

“I do want to find her, but I also feel that she may never be discovered as the ocean is way too vast – but I have to keep looking,” he added.

Man takes diving lessons to find wife disappeared in 2011 tsunami published on Tokyo Times

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Composer Samuragochi apologizes, but says his deafness is real http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/composer-samuragochi-apologizes-says-deafness-real/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=composer-samuragochi-apologizes-says-deafness-real http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/composer-samuragochi-apologizes-says-deafness-real/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:23:46 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50825 Composer Mamoru Samuragochi, also known as “Japan’s Beethoven”, made his first public appearance on Friday, after being accused by his ghost writer that he is faking his deafness.

Samuragochi apologized to his fans, but insisted …

Composer Samuragochi apologizes, but says his deafness is real published on Tokyo Times

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Composer Mamoru Samuragochi, also known as “Japan’s Beethoven”, made his first public appearance on Friday, after being accused by his ghost writer that he is faking his deafness.

Samuragochi apologized to his fans, but insisted he has hearing problems and threatened to sue the ghost writer, a music school teacher named Takashi Niigaki.

“Sounds get distorted, so I hardly recognize words. It is no lie that I still need a sign-language interpreter,” he said during a press conference, with an interpreter by his side.

He handed out copies of a recent hearing diagnosis, while some reporters demanded he write phrases on a piece of paper to see if his handwriting matched instructional notes that supposedly proved his musical abilities, according to the international press.

The hearing checkup revealed that his problems would not merit him the disability certificate that he has been forced to return to officials in the nearby city of Yokohama.

“I am very sorry for causing all this trouble. I apologies for those who bought my CDs, listened to the music and came to my concerts,” he said.

Although in the beginning Samuragochi apologized to the ghost writer, in the end he threatened to sue Niigaki for defamation.

“(The ghost writer) said he had suggested that we stop this many times, but it is a complete lie,” Samuragochi said, adding that “whenever I came up with a new concept for a piece of music, he would come to meet me with no problem”.

Composer Samuragochi apologizes, but says his deafness is real published on Tokyo Times

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Old people in Japan, targeted by video game firms http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/old-people-japan-targeted-video-game-firms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=old-people-japan-targeted-video-game-firms http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/old-people-japan-targeted-video-game-firms/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 23:50:17 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50813 Some of Japan’s video game companies have started to target the country’s elderly people, as Japan has one of the fastest-aging populations in the world’s most developed countries.

A Japanese nursing home is run by …

Old people in Japan, targeted by video game firms published on Tokyo Times

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Some of Japan’s video game companies have started to target the country’s elderly people, as Japan has one of the fastest-aging populations in the world’s most developed countries.

A Japanese nursing home is run by an offshoot of globally famous video game outfit Namco Bandai, makers of 1980s arcade phenomenon Pac-Man. In the nursing home, physical arcade games are a usual part of the daily entertainment, with sexagenarian ladies walloping plastic alligators that appear from little holes or wielding foam hammers to crush frogs as they pop up.

“The ladies here are very agile, so it is almost impossible for me to beat them,” Sakamoto, 88, says as he catches his breath and watches the women gamely outscore him in this particular game.

“We offer entertainment so that elderly people spend the whole day playing, having fun, and getting really exhausted before returning to their home,” said Yoshiaki Kawamura, President of Kaikaya Ltd., the wholly-owned unit of Namco Bandai Holdings.

The games are designed to help elderly people exercise more and thus improve their health state, according to the local press.

“The scarcity of people who can provide rehab training to elderly people in smaller cities and the cost of it are challenges for ageing Japan,” says Keizo Sato, a physical therapist who lectures at Tohoku Fukushi University. He also believes that the “exergames” can help in reducing the rising medical costs of Japan.

Old people in Japan, targeted by video game firms published on Tokyo Times

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Premiere in Japan: woman chosen to head bank arm http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/premiere-japan-woman-chosen-head-bank-arm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=premiere-japan-woman-chosen-head-bank-arm http://www.tokyotimes.com/2014/premiere-japan-woman-chosen-head-bank-arm/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 23:50:17 +0000 http://www.tokyotimes.com/?p=50810 Nomura Holdings, the biggest brokerage in Japan, chose a woman to lead its banking arm. It is believed to be a premiere in Japan’s financial sector which is dominated by men.

Chie Shimpo, 48, who …

Premiere in Japan: woman chosen to head bank arm published on Tokyo Times

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Nomura Holdings, the biggest brokerage in Japan, chose a woman to lead its banking arm. It is believed to be a premiere in Japan’s financial sector which is dominated by men.

Chie Shimpo, 48, who said last year that her gender was not a factor at the office, will be named in April president of Nomura Trust and Banking, while Shinzo Abe has stated that more women should be hired at a national level.

“When I am at work, I do not really think about my gender,” she said.

“I have never thought I was disadvantaged professionally because I am a woman… (but) maybe it is more correct to say I assimilated” into a male-dominated workplace.

“From the viewpoint of my junior female colleagues… I might not have been a role model,” she added. “But I think we need to make a business environment that is comfortable for younger female workers,” Shimpo said.

Shimpo has an MBA from Stanford University and also graduated from Japan’s prestigious Waseda University. She joined Nomura in 1989 and became an executive officer in 2012.

None of the nation’s three biggest banks — Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho Financial — have top female executives, according to a government survey.

Premiere in Japan: woman chosen to head bank arm published on Tokyo Times

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