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Back to Basics with Nobel Prize winner Masatoshi Koshiba

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Jun 12Boy arrested for killing bed-ridden father at elder man's request(Mainichi)
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested here on suspicion of murdering his father at the elder man's request, police have announced. At around 9:45 a.m. on June 12, police received an emergency call from the 17-year-old, saying he had killed his father at their apartment in Osaka's Tsurumi Ward. Officers rushed to the scene to find his 44-year-old father lying on a futon in his room. He was confirmed dead at a hospital, investigative sources said.
Jun 12Back to Basics with Nobel Prize winner Masatoshi Koshiba(Tokyo Reporter)
Following his graduation from the School of Science at the University of Tokyo in 1951, a young Masatoshi Koshiba departed on a two-week voyage by ship from Japan, still under Allied occupation following World War II, to the United States. He knew that with his father having served as an officer in Manchuria for the Imperial Army that there would be a psychological conflict. But after landing in Seattle, he was soon overwhelmed by something else altogether. "The first impression I had of the U.S. was that it was such a big country," says the soft-spoken Koshiba, 73, sporting a tweed jacket during an interview in April at Tokyo University, where he is professor emeritus. "People were eating a very big bowl of ice cream soda. And for me, during the war, that was something so high up in the sky. If these people are eating this everyday, I thought, it is no wonder that we lost the war."
Jun 12Japanese manga newspapers report current events in graphic detail (wired.com)
Japan is newspaper-crazy. Its biggest daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, has 10 times the circulation of The New York Times. For now, at least. Just as in the US, young people in Japan aren't reading newspapers as often as their parents. But the Japanese have a solution: Manga No Shimbun (Manga Newspaper), an online outfit that covers the week's events in comic book form. These aren't the funnies or political cartoons - they're actual news articles about everything from foreign policy to pop culture to murder trials. The site employs more than 100 manga artists to cover breaking stories, updating 10 or 15 times a day. Graphic style varies - some pieces are in color, others black-and-white; some are realistic, some exaggeratedly kawaii (cute).
Jun 12Not just driving - walking in Japan is hectic(Japan Times)
People say driving in Japan is hectic. OK, I agree. I used to have a car. I used to get locked into James Jones-style traffic jams ("From Here to Eternity"). I used to get elbowed to the shoulder by monster trucks. I use to get cut off by faith-riding motorbikes, scooters, and even bicyclists, the faith part being that they simply believed I would not hit them - so they crossed straight in front. I used to struggle with communication with Japanese drivers, and ended up relying on gestures, especially one particular gesture. (And it communicated!) But a dozen years back I gave up my car and all its attached hassles.
Jun 11Chiba police arrest Japanese man over helping Thai stowaways(AP)
Chiba police arrested Friday one of two Japanese men who were earlier captured in Thailand for allegedly helping Thais enter Japan illegally, and they plan to arrest the other man Saturday when he returns to Japan. Koichiro Bekku, 61, who returned to Japan Friday, and Shinsuke Tanaka, 66, who is slated to arrive Saturday, were held in Thailand May 24 after the Japanese police put them on an international wanted list. Thai police suspect they helped no less than 300 illegal workers illegally enter Japan.
Jun 11Vietnamese held for cultivating cannabis (AP)
Police have arrested and sent to prosecutors a Vietnamese national on suspicion of cultivating cannabis for profit, police sources said Thursday. The suspect has been identified as 30-year-old Nguyen Xuan Dung, a resident of Asago, Hyogo Prefecture. Dung allegedly cultivated a total of 173 cannabis plants worth a street value of 7 million to 10 million yen in the form of marijuana.
Jun 112-year imprisonment sought for antiwhaling activist from N.Z. (AP)
Japanese prosecutors sought a two-year prison term Thursday for an antiwhaling activist from New Zealand who is on trial in Tokyo on charges of obstructing the activities of a Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean. The defense counsel for Peter Bethune, 45, sought a suspended prison sentence, noting that he has pleaded guilty to four out of five criminal counts against him and that he has expressed deep regret for his acts. Presiding Judge Takashi Tawada said the three-judge panel will give a decision on Bethune at 1:30 p.m. on July 7.
Jun 11The Cove sparks free-speech fight in Japan(cbc.ca)
The struggle to release the documentary The Cove in Japan has turned into a fight over freedom of speech, with a prominent group urging theatres to screen the Oscar-winning dolphin-hunt exposé. An assembly of Japanese filmmakers, journalists and academics have signed a letter calling on theatres to screen the film and not back down amid threatened protests from nationalist groups, who have criticized the doc as anti-Japanese. Approximately 600 people crammed into a conference hall in Tokyo on Wednesday for a rare screening of The Cove. Queues formed hours before the scheduled start time for the sold-out show - the first major screening of the movie in Japan since its debut at last fall's Tokyo International Film Festival.
Jun 11Abuser of teen inmates avoids time(Japan Times)
The Hiroshima High Court on Thursday suspended the prison sentence of a former reformatory instructor who attacked six teenage inmates. Akira Sugawara, 27, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for four years. The Hiroshima District Court had sentenced him to 14 months in prison for the various assaults, which included pinching the boys' tongues with scissors and threatening to chop them off if they told lies, saying, "It's no use your staying alive."
Jun 10Gov't to accept court decision on gender-based workers' compensation(AP)
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will accept last month's court decision that its criteria on disability and benefits for workers' injuries were sexually biased and unconstitutional, ministry officials said Thursday. The ministry will not file an appeal against the May 27 Kyoto District Court decision, the officials said. A sharp change in the country's conventional social wisdom has made it difficult to back up the reasonability of setting the levels of disability and subsequent workers' compensation benefits by gender, the officials said.
Jun 10Police find drug lab in attic of Kanagawa home, two Iranians arrested (Mainichi)
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has arrested two Iranian men on suspicion of manufacturing illegal stimulants in the attic of a home here. The MPD suspects the men of making the drugs with intent to sell, and are now investigating the background of the case. Instances of illicit drug production are very rare in Japan. Police believe the men derived the stimulants' basic ingredient ephedrine from regular medications, including foreign-made cold medicines, boxes of which the MPD seized from the home along with chemistry equipment and a manual for making drugs.
Jun 10Body of woman with neck cut found after fire at restaurant(Mainichi)
The body of a woman whose neck had been cut was discovered after a fire at a restaurant here early on the morning of June 10. The fire was reported by a passer-by who saw smoke coming out of the restaurant in Mishima at about 2:35 a.m. After firefighters had extinguished the blaze, they discovered the body of the 61-year-old restaurant owner Hisayo Tsuda close to the entrance. Her neck appeared to have been cut with an edged weapon.
Jun 10Sitting or taking a stand: Japanese men ponder pride in urination etiquette (Tokyo Reporter)
Mr. Kaneko, a fictional name, who works for a printing company in Tokyo, recently noticed a posting, written in red, on the office wall: "Gentlemen, please sit on the toilet even when you are going to urinate. Women are fed up with the situation." Mr. Kaneko tells the tabloid that there is only one Western-style toilet in the office and office ladies have been assigned with its cleaning, which appears to have become a substantial task.
Jun 10Japanese version of 'Ghost' to be made(telegraph.co.uk)
Paramount Pictures is making a Japanese version of 'Ghost', becoming the latest Hollywood studio to launch a local-language production as US films stumble at Japan's box offices. The studio is also starting to dub more US movies, such as "Shutter Island," into Japanese to lure elusive young audiences, an unusual step in a country where most foreign fare, apart from kids' films, is shown with subtitles. Hollywood studios are increasingly eyeing the potential of local-language production, particularly in the $2 billion Japanese market where once-dominant American movies have been outgunned by local films the past three out of four years.
Jun 10No letup in suicide rate (Japan Times)
The National Police Agency announced last month that 32,845 people took their own lives in 2009, a rise of 596 from the previous year. This marks the 12th consecutive year in which the number of suicides has topped 30,000 - a sad persistent trend in Japan. The police determined the likely causes of 24,434 suicides, or 74 percent of all cases, by such means as notes left by victims or information from people close to victims. Unemployment led 1,071 people to kill themselves, an increase of 65.3 percent; other life-related hardships led to 1,731 suicides, a rise of 34.3 percent.
Jun 10Cemetery nude shoot photog fined(Japan Times)
The Tokyo Summary Court said Wednesday it has ordered well-known photographer Kishin Shinoyama to pay \300,000 in fines for public indecency and blasphemy for shooting photos of a naked woman in a Tokyo cemetery. The order was issued on May 26. Shinoyama, 69, allegedly conspired with one of two female models and took nude photos of her at Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo's Minato Ward on the night of Oct. 15, 2008.
Jun 104 yakuza held for murdering exec say they confused victim with rival gang leader(Mainichi)
Members of a yakuza syndicate under arrest here for the 2007 murder of a 53-year-old corporate executive have told investigators that they confused the victim with a member of a rival gang, police said. At the end of last month, Gunma Prefectural Police arrested four men including Yosuke Takeuchi, 33, head of a gang group affiliated with the major crime syndicate Inagawa-kai, on suspicion of murdering Ryoichi Kuroda, a corporate executive from the Gunma Prefecture city of Maebashi, in January 2007. Kuroda was discovered dead along the Someya River in the neighboring city of Takasaki.
Jun 09Mom arrested for encouraging daughter, friends to vandalize school (Mainichi)
A Tokyo woman has been arrested for allegedly encouraging a group of junior high school students, including her daughter, to vandalize their school, police said. The Metropolitan Police Department's (MPD) juvenile crime division announced Tuesday that they arrested a 37-year-old woman who works at a restaurant in Tokyo's Machida on suspicion of violating the Act on Punishment of Physical Violence.
Jun 09Search for blind man's savior begins (Japan Times)
Officials at a Tokyo fire station said they are looking for a man who saved a blind man's life after he fell onto the tracks from a platform at JR Uguisudani Station because they want to honor his bravery. The 34-year-old blind man broke his left leg when he fell about 1.5 meters from the platform onto the Yamanote Line tracks Sunday. His condition is not described as life-threatening, according to the Ueno fire station.
Jun 09Akihabara marks deadly rampage (Japan Times)
Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district marked on Tuesday the second anniversary of a man's murderous rampage. Tomohiro Kato, a 27-year-old former temporary worker, is on trial for running down pedestrians with a rented truck in a part of the district closed to vehicle traffic on the Sunday afternoon of June 8, 2008, exiting the vehicle and stabbing random targets with a dagger. He left seven people dead and 10 injured. At a memorial set up at the intersection where the rampage took place, people, including survivors, placed bouquets and offered prayers.
Jun 08Akihabara: touring Tokyo's geek mecca (Sydney Morning Herald)
Outside a major department store in Tokyo, dozens of gamers are scattered inside a cordoned off barrier, heads buried in their Nintendo DS handheld games consoles. Oblivious to the pedestrian chaos around them, they come daily to battle each other and trade rare items over Wi-Fi in one of Japan's most popular video games, Dragon Quest. Just metres away, swarms of nubile young ladies dressed in maid outfits beckon passers-by into a plethora of "maid cafes", while a cutesy girl dressed in a miniskirt police uniform hands out flyers for a new massage parlour, Action! Akiba Fumimomi Police. Stressed workers can come to escape the daily grind while lying in the laps of one of these costumed beauties, submitting to anything from "basic punishment" to "jail sentence".
Jun 08Former national volleyball player arrested for stimulant possession (AP)
Police arrested a former member of the Japanese men's national volleyball team along with 15 others Tuesday for alleged possession of illegal stimulants. Tomonori Takahashi, an unemployed 36-year-old, was in possession of a "certain quantity" of stimulants for the purpose of sale when he was arrested at an Osaka hotel on Tuesday morning, according to the Osaka prefectural police department. The police said they have seized a total of 22.5 grams of stimulants and 111 grams of marijuana from three locations related to the 16 men, who are suspected of belonging to three groups engaged in illegal drug trafficking.
Jun 08Doctor indicted for inducing abortion in pregnant girlfriend (AP)
Prosecutors indicted a 36-year-old doctor on Tuesday for allegedly causing his girlfriend to miscarry by giving her a labor inducing agent. It is quite rare for a suspect to be charged with causing an abortion without consent under the Penal Code and if convicted, Tatsunosuke Kobayashi, a physician at the Jikei University hospital in Tokyo, could face up to seven years in prison.
Jun 08Japanese pundits protest dolphin film cancellation (AP)
Fifty-five journalists, academics and film directors in Japan condemned intimidation and threats that led movie theaters to cancel screenings of "The Cove," a documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese village. Three movie theaters that had been scheduled to show the film later this month canceled their plans last week after receiving a flood of angry phone calls and warnings of protests by nationalists, who have been screaming slogans outside the Tokyo office of the Japanese distributor in recent months.
Jun 08N.Z. remains most peaceful nation for 2nd year, Japan goes up to 3rd (AP)
New Zealand retained the position of the world's most peaceful nation in 2010, followed by Iceland, which ranked second, and Japan, which climbed four notches from a year earlier to third, an international report showed Tuesday. While noting Japan's negative aspects that include tense relationships with North Korea and China, the report notes few cases of violence and a low risk of terrorist attack.
Jun 08Woman admits to breaking legs of infant girl in Tochigi Pref. (AP)
A 28-year-old woman has admitted to deliberately breaking both legs of a 3-month-old girl while holding her at a store in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, late last month, investigative sources said Monday. Yuko Sotome, arrested as a suspect in the case, told investigators, "I wanted to hurt the baby," they said. Sotome allegedly broke both thigh bones in the infant while holding her for about 5 minutes after asking the mother if she could hold her at a children's goods shop in the city on May 26.
Jun 08Cops say knife maker crafted, sold, possessed ninja throwing blades (Japan Times)
Tokyo police on Monday turned over to prosecutors their case against a man in illegal possession of authentic "kunai" ninja throwing knives, which are coveted by collectors. The company president of a knife maker in Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, allegedly produced and sold more than 100 of the 9.8-cm, double-edged ninja blades, worth some \510,000, through the Internet since January 2009, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
Jun 08Alcoholism increasing among women, elderly(Japan Times)
Alcohol dependency is growing among women and the elderly, according to a new government study. A health ministry research team headed by Susumu Higuchi, assistant director of the Kurihama Alcoholism Center, conducted the study at 11 hospitals across the nation between 1997 and 2007 on new patients suffering from alcoholism. According to the team's findings, the number of patients rose 23 percent to 2,614 from 2,119 over the 10-year period.
Jun 07Lost WWII battleground, Japanese remains found in Papua New Guinea (AP)
The location of the largest World War II battle between Australian and Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea has been discovered after 68 years, former Australian Army Capt. Brian Freeman says. Known as the "Lost Battlefield," the site was hidden on a remote plateau, 1 kilometer west and 450 meters above the village of Eora Creek, in the Owen Stanley Ranges. Found along the Kokoda Track, the site has been touted as the most significant WWII discovery in the 21st century.
Jun 07Japanese boar hunter commits suicide after accidentally shooting friend (telegraph.co.uk)
A hunting trip in Japan went horribly wrong when one man committed suicide after he accidentally shot dead his friend while searching for wild boar. Yoshinobu Nakashima, 67, was hunting for wild boar in the mountains near Fukuchiyama City in northern Kyoto prefecture when the incident took place. The group was walking through the mountains when Nakashima accidentally shot his fellow hunter Satoshi Miyake, 65, according to reports. As the men rushed to assist the injured man, Mr Nakashima reportedly said that he would go down the mountain to call for an ambulance and obtain assistance. However, minutes later, as the group tended to Mr Miyake they heard the sound of a gunshot before discovering Mr Nakashima a short distance away with a fatal wound to his chest.
Jun 07The Japanese voice of 'Sex & the City' (Wall Street Journal)
Meet Yuko Nagashima, Japan's very own Carrie Bradshaw, known to her friends and family as Yuppi. Originally from Kansai, Ms. Nagashima has been the "Sex & the City" lead's Japanese voiceover since the early days of the HBO series. She continued to play her in the first "Sex & the City" movie and is back at it for the sequel - which, despite a heap of negative reviews, continues to have a world-wide following.
Jun 07Emperor Akihito has cold, cancels schedule ahead of Kan inauguration (AP)
Emperor Akihito is experiencing symptoms of a minor cold and will cancel a visit Monday to a fisheries technology center in Kanagawa Prefecture ahead of the planned inauguration Tuesday of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the Imperial Household Agency said. The 76-year-old emperor complained of feeling ill on Sunday night at a villa in Hayama, Kanagawa, where he has been staying with Empress Michiko since Friday. The emperor was scheduled to visit the Kanagawa Prefectural Fisheries Technology Center on Monday afternoon.
Jun 07'Samurai' parade marks 150th anniversary of 1st Japan delegation (AP)
A parade of "samurai" was held Sunday in New York's Central Park to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a procession on Broadway in New York City by Japan's first diplomatic mission after nearly 250 years of isolation. In the parade led by the New York City Police Department marching band, about 180 people dressed as feudal era lords, ladies and warriors reenacted the procession of 1860.
Jun 07Papers sent on manager, 3 others over Yamaguchi hotel gas poisoning (AP)
Police on Monday sent to prosecutors papers on the general manager of a hotel in Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and three other people in relation to a fatal case of carbon monoxide poisoning at the hotel last year. The 61-year-old manager who headed the operations of Yamaguchi Shuhou Plaza Hotel, which has since been closed, and the others are suspected of causing the death of Hiroaki Kawazoe, a 26-year-old photographer, and injuries to five others on June 2, 2009 by failing to prevent the poisoning by servicing a boiler and other hotel equipment.
Jun 07High court reverses not-guilty verdict over drug usage (AP)
The Tokyo High Court on Monday reversed a not-guilty ruling handed down by a lower court, giving a 49-year-old man a prison term for taking illegal stimulant drugs after the court denied the defendant had been deprived of the right to appoint a lawyer. Naotake Hirui was found not guilty last October at the Tokyo District Court, which acknowledged that the defendant's right to seek a lawyer had been violated and said that confiscated stimulant drugs were inadmissible as evidence.
Jun 071st commercial bike-sharing programs rolling right along (Asahi)
Reducing one's carbon footprint is as easy as riding a bicycle--especially if you live in Toyama or Kita-Kyushu, where the nation's first two commercial bicycle-sharing programs are gliding right along. Community projects introduced in March enable residents to pick up a bicycle at one location and drop it off at another. Organizers hope that affordable access to bicycles will eventually create a viable alternative to driving. To date, similar arrangements around the country have only been test runs conducted for limited periods.
Jun 07Freight train timetable in high demand(Asahi)
Train enthusiasts, including schoolchildren and young women, are snapping up a timetable for trains they will never board. All 20,500 copies of the 2010 edition of JR Kamotsu Jikokuhyo (JR freight timetable) that went on sale in March are expected to be sold out by the end of June. The timetable includes daily schedules of about 400 trains, maps of routes and freight depots, style descriptions of locomotives and freight cars and charts that show the passing and stoppage times of the trains. It also carries photos of trains taken by readers.
Jun 0714 injured as car slams into sushi restaurant in Otsu (AP)
Fourteen people were injured Sunday evening when a car slammed into a fast-food sushi restaurant in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, police said. The driver, Hiroaki Yamasue, 59, was arrested over the 6:30 p.m. incident and has told police investigators that he mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake when he tried to park his car in the restaurant's parking lot, the police said. The injured, aged between 2 and 81 and including five children, were in a crowded waiting area at the restaurant's entrance at the time.
Jun 0746,000 fans rock Tohoshinki concert in Japan (Manila Bulletin)
Three of the five members of boy band Tohoshinki (aka TVXQ) held their debut concert in Japan on June 5, signaling the start of their own activities as a new group. Some 46,000 fans filled the Kyocera Dome in Osaka to watch the "Thanksgiving Live in Dome" concert of Xiah Junsu, Micky Yoochun and Youngwoong Jaejoong, the three members who decided to form their own unit in view of the ongoing court case with SM Entertainment agency.
Jun 07Police reveal gang boss had VIP seat for May sumo tournament(Japan Times)
A gang boss affiliated with an organized crime syndicate watched the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in May at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan in a special seat near the ring not for general sale, police and sumo officials said Sunday. The revelation came after the Japan Sumo Association punished two stablemasters and disbanded the stable of one in late May for having given senior gang members tickets for past tournaments. The association has been stepping up efforts at eliminating ties with gangsters.
Jun 06Wife arrested for allegedly killing husband with dementia(AP)
A 63-year-old woman was arrested Sunday for allegedly killing her 68-year-old husband, who suffered from dementia, earlier in the day at their home in Tokai, Aichi Prefecture, police said. Shigeko Kitamura is suspected of strangling her husband Masuo and then stabbing him with a kitchen knife in the living room of their home, where he was found dead by police officers responding to a 110 emergency call in which the caller said she had killed her husband.
By J.S. on June 18, 2010

tag : Japanese Society



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