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18-meter-tall Gundam statue makes appearance in Shizuoka fair

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18-meter-tall Gundam statue makes appearance in Shizuoka fair
AP - Jul 24, 2010

An 18-meter-tall "life-size" statue of Gundam, a giant robot featured in the classic Japanese sci-fi animation series, made a fresh appearance Saturday at an event in Shizuoka City to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Gundam plastic model kit. The statue was erected at the Shizuoka Hobby Fair outside JR Higashi- Shizuoka Station in the city's Aoi Ward after first appearing in the Odaiba waterfront area in Tokyo last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the broadcasting of the "Mobile Suit Gundam" TV series, which started in April 1979. (AP)

Woman from Kyoto confirmed dead in Swiss train accident
AP - Jul 24, 2010

A 64-year-old woman from Kyoto Prefecture was confirmed dead in the derailment Friday of a tourist train carrying many Japanese sightseers in southern Switzerland, All Nippon Airways Co. said. The woman was among 14 tourists and one guide on a tour arranged by ANA Sales Co., the airline said. The 14 people were seven couples, mostly 50 years old or older, and were on an eight-day tour in Switzerland and were to return to Japan next Tuesday, according to the airline. (AP)

Foreign crime rings targeting Japan
Japan Times - Jul 24, 2010

International criminal organizations are increasingly targeting Japan as their members, the locations where they commit crimes and their victims have become more multinational, the National Police Agency said in its white paper released Friday. While members of foreign crime rings have tended to stay in Japan for a short period of time to steal or engage in other criminal activities before fleeing overseas, such groups are now coordinating with domestic underworld syndicates and repeatedly committing crimes using existing "criminal infrastructure," according to the annual paper. (Japan Times)

Okada, Clinton vow to keep Futenma agenda on course
Japan Times - Jul 24, 2010

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Friday that he and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton State Hillary Clinton agreed in their meeting that it is important to gain the support of the people of Okinawa for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture. Okada added that he and Clinton also agreed that an expert study on details of the plan to relocate the base will be held as scheduled by late August. (Japan Times)

Sumo champ Asashoryu starts MMA camp
USA Today - Jul 21, 2010

Retired sumo star Asashoryu might be serious about mixed martial arts, after all. An official with World Victory Road says Asashoryu has started an MMA team for athletes from his native country of Mongolia, according to the Nightmare of Battle. World Victory Road runs Sengoku Raiden Championships, one of Japan's two leading MMA brands along with K-1's Dream organization. Sumo athletes generally have not done well in MMA competition, but none as talented or accomplished as Asashoryu, who was just the third non-Japanese in sumo's long history to become a yokozuna, the sport's highest rank. (USA Today)

Japanese Reggae?
New York Times - Jul 21, 2010

The Japanese have been making reggae almost as long as Jamaicans have been exporting it. This phenomenon could have started as early as the mid-'70s, when the film "The Harder They Come" grafted the crime drama to Kingston's reggae scene and became an international cult classic. Or, more likely, it began sometime around 1979, when Bob Marley landed for the first time in the Land of the Rising Sun. Since then, the reggae scene in Japan has cycled through several styles and sub-subcultures, but only in recent years has one crucial aspect of its identity fully emerged: Finally, Japanese reggae stars are singing in Japanese. (New York Times)

By J.S. on July 27, 2010

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