Fresh & hot from Japan, from 6 to 10 March, 2017

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6 Mar. Am I skiing down or up hill? , An illusion slide” appears in the ski slope

“The illusion slide” by which one feels to go up against gravity was installed in the Hakkaisan Ski Slope  of Arakane, Minami-Uonuma-shi, Niigata-ken. One skis down a slope from the hight of 10 m of the slide of 10 x 10 m length and width. This is a work of the art by Professor Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University (68) known as a specialist of the illusion art.

Comments: There may be a trick in “Seeing is believing.”

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7 Mar. The Metropolitan Police Department to enforce investigation of the cyber attack, creating a special independent corps of investigation

The Metropolitan Police Department will reinforce investigation system for the cyber attack from April by establishing new departments, such as “Counter cyber attack center”.  Envisaging the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics of 2020, the Police will prepare for the threat of cyber terrorism targeted at government offices and major companies.

Comments: The Olympics in 2020 is creating wide consequences in Japan.

8 Mar. Upward revision of GDP, increase of 1.2% a year based on the performance  in the fourth-quarter last year

According to the second breaking news of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the fourth-quarter of 2016 issued by the Cabinet Office,  a real growth rate was 0.3% excluding the influence of the price fluctuation (at s compared to the previous quarter of 2016). This growth rate was equivalent of annual 1.2% growth. The growth figure was revised up from 0.2% increase (1.0% increase in annual ratio conversion) as announced in the first breaking news announced in February. The positive growth continued for four quarters or one year.

Comments: Stable economic growth is good news.

9 Mar. “We don’t have financial strength to shorten time for the extension of linear express train”, said President of Central JR Tokai

Mr. Yasuhide Tsuge, President of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), reiterated that it would be extremely difficult to shorten time for the extension of linear express train the present plan of which is to reach Shin-Osaka in 2037 in earliest., by saying that the company would not have strength or financial power to constructed a sector connecting Osaka in parallel with the sector between Shinagawa (Tokyo) and Nagoya. He said so at a regular meeting of the Kansai press club, whose members are the press located in Osaka.

Comments: There may not be need to hurry up, as the existing sure express train connects between Tokyo and Osaka (over 500 km) in less than three hours.

10 Mar. JETRO got a cyber attack, 26’000 addresses may have stolen

Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO, headquarters in Minato-ku, Tokyo) announced that its website had been attacked from outside. Some information has been removed, that might include e-mail address of users.

Comments: Anyone may be attacked by hackers.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 13 to 17 February, 2017

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13 Feb. Fourth-quarter GDP, positive growth continued for four quarters in a row

According to the primary breaking news of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the fourth-quarter 2016 (October to December 2016) announced by the  Cabinet Office, a real growth rate except the influence of the change of commodity prices increased by 0.2% as compared to the third quarter (July to September 2016). This growth is equivalent to the growth of 0.1 % when convert it into an annual growth. This figure resulted in the consecutive positive growth for four quarters or one year.

Comments: The growth owns to trade surplus in 2016. Reducing growth of consumer consumption is still worrisome for the health of national economy.

14 Feb. Transformers installed in town, used for electronic signboards and battery chargers, developed by Panasonic and TEPCO

Panasonic and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plan to push forward a project to utilize a transformer in a box shape installed in cities  to attach equipment of advertisement or information board. Using the space on the transformer, the companies plan to enable charging of an electronic signboard and vehicles. Panasonic showed a trial product in Tokyo on 13th. The service is planned to start in 2018.

Comments: It is a part of IoT project promoted by Panasonic and TEPCO.

15 Feb. Toshiba, a possible sell off the semiconductor stock to avoid liabilities exceeding the assets at the end of FY 2016 or March

Toshiba reported a loss of  712,500 million yen over the atomic energy business in the U.S. from the settlement of accounts (American accounting standards) for the period of April to December 2016, and announced the deficit prospect of USD 4.4 million as a net profit or loss (a deficit of the same period a year ago was USD 4.2 million). The company felt into exceeding liability at the end of December 2016. Toshiba will consider to raise a ratio of stocks to sell the new company of semiconductor business to be branched out from less than 20% to over 50% to avoid liabilities exceeding the assets at the end of FY 2016 or March.

Comments: What to see in Toshiba’s saga is that what’s happening in the company is a consequence of lack of appropriate governance and mechanism to fix it that lasted for years till now.

16 Feb. Debate heated at the Diet over the proposed regulations on passive smoking

The debate on the cigarette is in fire in Nagatacho (the Japanese Diet). The regular smokers across the ruling and opposition parties resist against the proposed bill which is to introduce stronger measures against the passive smoking that the government is preparing taking into account the coming Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympics in 2020. The Japanese smoking habit is criticized as “the worst in the world”.

Comments: It is a shame that members of the Diet put their ego forward while the public interests behind.

17 Feb. Automatic running of row of trucks on highway, the Japanese Government to experiment from 2018

“Future investment meeting” (chairperson, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) , a mission of which is to formulate a growth strategy of the Government pulled together an implementation plan to partially realize the automatic driving of cars that does to require  drivers in 2020.  Recognizing that competition over the development of automatic driving becomes fierce in international markets, the Government intends to hold a superior position in the world by hurrying a proof experiment.

Comments: The field experiment is a large step forward, even though many changes of road transportation are envisaged, such as driving regulation, highway structure, etc.

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Photo by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 30 January to 3 February, 2016

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30 Jan. The LCC terminal opened in Kansai Airport for international flights, the first flights  brought passengers traveling in the Luna New Year holidays

The low cost carriers (LCC) terminal for international flights opened in Kansai Airport was opened on 28th of Jan. The first flight from Hong Kong landed at 6:07 a.m., with travelers spending holidays of the Luna New Year’s Day (which was on the same day this year) in Japan.

Comments: It’s good to improve access for Asian passengers.

31 Jan. Oxygen of the earth travels even to the moon, confirmed by study team of Osaka University and JAXA

The study teams of Osaka University, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) , etc. confirmed that oxygen in the earth arrived to the moon, which is 380,000 km away. The team concluded that “the Solar wind”, i.e. the charged gas blowing from the sun, drifted the oxygen from the earth. The article is published in Nature Astronomy, a British science magazine.

Comments: It’s nice to imagine what’s happening in the universe!

1 Feb. Heart-shaped strawberries 1’270 yen (CHF 11) per piece, how about it for a Valentine gift?

Heart-shaped strawberries produced in Yanai-shi, Yamaguchi-ken, is becoming popular in view of Valentine’s Day.

“Kurahju Create”, a company that produces and sell strawberries, successfully created the heart-shaped ones after four years’ trials and failures. The company named it as “Heart of strawberry” and started selling in markets in December 2015.

Comments: Valentine Day provides a popular gift sales season in Japan, where girls buy gifts to boys.

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 2 Feb. Levying copy right tax from music classes, JASRAC said it’s policy, repel may happen

 Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) decided to levy a copy right tax from music classes organised by Yamaha or Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg, etc. for their playing of music. An estimated amount of the collected tax is between 1,000 -2,000 million yen a year. The classrooms reject the decision. This may call for intervention by the Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs or lead to a legal suit by the JASRAC.

Comments: JASRAC has a point. We must be sensitive and respect intellectual property rights of music creators.

 3 Feb. Japan to accept Syrian refugees, about 300 over 5 years to begin with, paving a way for settling down

The Government of Japan is ready to accept about 300 refugees from Syria who are foreign students and their families over the coming five years starting from this year.  The foreign student may come with a spouse and children, and family allowance will be paid. These refugee students are not obliged to go back to their home country after the study.  This program thus will eventually open a way for the refugee students to settle down with a family n Japan.

Comments: Japan has accepted refugees only on exceptional basis. This program, while being still very timid, would open a way to a comprehensive system for refugees to settle down.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 23 to 27 January 2017

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23 Jan. “Cooperation upon the expertise of stakeholders are important”, said CEO of Toyota, in search for cooperation with Mr. Trump

At the ceremony of the launch of mass production of the new bus, “Coaster”, held in  Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu-ken, Mr. Akio Toyota, CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, said with regard to the new US administration, “Either automobile companies or the administration alone cannot make the region happy. What’s important is for all the stakeholders to work together drawing on their own expertise”. This indicate that he would cooperate with the US administration.

Comments: It is still wait and see as to the way the new US administration would influence on the private sector activities in the country.

24 Jan. H-2A rocket successfully launched, the first communications satellite of Ministry of Defense

The 32nd unit of H-2A rocket that carried communications satellite of the Ministry of Defense, “Kirameki 2”,  on board was successfully launched at 4:44 PM on 24th by Tanegashima space center of Kagoshima-ken.

Comments: A benchmark of the development of rockets made-in-Japan.

25 Jan. Automatic driving tractor for rice planting, announced by Kubota

Agricultural machinery major, Kubota announced that the company will start selling automatic driving tractors to monitors from June.  Kubota will be the first company to sell automatic driving agricultural machinery in Japan. Envisaging an increasing scale of the agriculture with less workforce, the company plans to put it on sale for the wide public in 2018.

Comments: True, an automatic driving could work in the agriculture which will have to be carried on with decreasing workforce.

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26 Jan. Your walking age is known by walking for 6m, a system developed by Asics & NEC

Asics and NEC developed a system which could tell the “walking age”by  detecting the age equivalent of a way of walking by walking only about 6 meters towards a sensor apparatus.  At n expected market entry is from nursing facilities for the elders as the system helps formulating menus of the exercise to prevent them from falling.

Comments: Do you want to try it?

27 Jan. Toshiba to branch out its  semiconductor business, inviting bids early next month

Toshiba decided in the meeting of board of directors held today to branch out one of its core sectors of semiconductor business. The company plans to sell some of the stocks of the new company to pay for a huge loss caused by its nuclear power plant business in the United States. After having shareholders’ approval in an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to be held at the end of March, Toshiba plan to officially branch out the semiconductor business.

Comments: Competition map of the semiconductor vendors may change.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 19 to 23 December 2016

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19 Dec.”Bioplastic” which is painting-free, Roadster to adopt

Bioplastic resin, produced by Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. from bio materials, is being used for an increasing number of automobile parts. Though more expensive than the resin derived from oil, attention is being paid to bioplastic for its eco-friendliness and cost-saving effects due to no need for painting.

Comments: Bioplastic could be a breakthrough for ecological production.

20 Dec. NEC to establish a company for development of medicines for cancer treatment using AI

NEC announced that the company would enter an innovative drug development business using artificial intelligence (AI). By using AI, the company has already discovered a promising material which may be used to create “peptide vaccine” that is attracting attention as a new therapeutic drug of cancer. NEC has established a new company to push forward the drug development to put the new medicine into practical use around 2025.

Comments: What an interesting development it is to stretch its core competence of information technology to medical science!

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21 Dec. Assessment of economic status raised for the first time since one year and nice months, “recovery continued”

The Cabinet Office raised an overall assessment of the domestic economy one year nine months since March, 2015, according to a monthly economic report of December. It is judged that movement of the improvement came out to export and individual consumption, saying, “the delay in the improvement was partly seen, but a gentle recovery tone continued”.

Comments: It’s a good news.

22 Dec. Honda, to partner with Google to develop automatic driving, starting a run experiment in the US

Honda announced that the company would start collaborative investigation of the “complete automatic driving” with the US net search major Google. Artificial intelligence (AI) of Google will be loaded in the car provided by Honda. The two companies will repeat run experiments in the United States and share know-how of the automatic driving.

Comments: A merger between the automobile manufacturing and information technology companies are taking place over the automatic driving, and the connected car.

23 Dec. Diplomatic documents related to Asia after the WWII to be open to the public on the web

The Asian history document center of the National Archives decided to extend the coverage of the documents related to international relations with Asian countries available to the public via its web site from those covering from Meiji era to the Second World War (WWII) to the era that include post WWII period. It is intended to fill the gap between different interpretations of historical incidents that sometimes cause disputes among different views by enabling to share the common documents between researchers and scholars. This change will start from 2017.

Comments: Better late than never — it is a good idea.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

 

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 5 to 9 December 2016

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5 Dec. From filament to stamp, Panasonic switching the use of material of lamps due to switching of lighting to LED

Panasonic converted material (tungsten) for the filament of incandescent and fluorescent lamps into a stamp. Due to the spread of lighting  by LED (light emitting diode), the use of the filament is decreasing. The company therefore has switched the use of processing technique of tungsten developed in-house to stamps.  The stamps made from tungsten has advantages over existing materials of stamps, such as a long life and only a little pressure needed to use it. Panasonic plans to ship the material to stamp manufacturers before the end of this year.

Comments: Panasonic is flexible to search and find a new use of existing techniques in a competitive ways.

6 Dec. Automatic driving car carrying cars for export to a wharf, ”Intelligent Vehicle Towing” introduced by Nissan Oppama Factory

Nissan Motor Corp. introduced and showed to the press a system to carry newly manufactured cars from the factory to a dedicated wharf by  an electric car (EV) of the automatic driving in its major Oppama Factory (Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa-ken). Nissan plans to use this system to carry 1,000 cars per day by 2019, thus to improve efficiency of production and the shipment.

Comments: Automatic cars may be used more efficiently in private premises for limited purposes than in public roads, at least until technology and operational know-how will have been piled up.

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7 Dec.  Monitoring teleworkers, Canon to start a support service

Canon announced that the company will launch a system to support “the telework” via the Internet, a style of working  to work at homes. The system allows managers to watch employees working at home with a remote camera, and will be introduced to the market next February. The Government promoting the telecom as a part of “The reform of the way of working”, Canan and its competitors are developing the systems that facilitate the telework.

Comments: The system hits a thin line between private and work lives. Would teleworkers want to have a monitoring camera at home?

8 Dec. The East meets the West, Santa Clause in a shape of Japanese traditional doll

Hakata dolls (One of the Japanese traditional dolls developed in Fukuoka area, Kyushu region) of Santa Claus are on sale in the Christmas market held in front of the JR Hakata station (Fukuoka-shi ). Only three hundred dolls will be sold. People queued to but one.

Comments: The doll symbolizes adjustment of traditional craftsmanship to the modern life.

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9 Dec. Innovative drug development of iPS, budget of 6 Billion yen over 6 years to be approved by the Government

Japanese government is starting a new project to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from the cells of patients to support the innovative drug development. A committee in charge of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has approved an outline of the plan that will cost 6 billion yen over six years. The project is intended to support research to create the basis of a new medicine to be developed by pharmaceutical companies.

Comments: A long time and huge investment are needed for R&D of new medicine.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 14 to 18 November 2016

Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

14 Nov. Farms of mandarin oranges are switching to avocado in Matsuyama-shi

Matsuyama-shi, a major production site of mandarin oranges of Ehime Prefectur, is promoting cultivation of avocado, in response to the warming climate. Abandoned farm land of mandarin oranges is used for this project. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries posts the project in its web site as a main example of an adaptation plan to the global warming.

Comments: The global warming necessitate farmers to change crops.

15 Nov. Over 80% of hit rate, diagnosis of disease of eye ground by AI to enable early detection

Nagoya City University and an information system company, Cresco Ltd., developed a video diagnosis system using the artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly detect disease of the eye ground. The system diagnoses a disease with probability of more than 80%. The development team intends to use the system for medical examination such as medical checkup.

Comments: It’s fantastic!

16 Nov.  Cabinet Office testing autonomous cruising over the Tomei and the Metropolitan Expressways in the next autumn

The Cabinet Office office has announced that Government begins a large-scale proof demonstration test the autonomous cruising on more than 300 km of expressways, including the Metropolitan expressway, the Tomei Expressway, and the Joban Expressway from the next autumn. The Government will ask Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda, Nissan Motor Company, etc. for participation and aim at performance improvements  by focusing mainly on the issues that may be overcome through cooperative development by the participating automobile companies, such as maps to be installed in an automatic cruising car and a system that prevents malfunction.

Comments: Autonomous cruising may not be a dream any more.

17 Nov.  Public transportation companies are experimenting instant translation system, aiming at Tokyo Olympic Games

An increasing number of public transportation companies are experimenting the state-of-the-art translation systems, that instantly translate the spoken language into foreign languages and put them in voice. The public and private sectors are working together anticipating and increasing number of foreign visitors towards Tokyo Olympic Games. The systems would enable automatic translation of simple conversation often used during the travel.

Comments: Tokyo Olympic Games push forward opening the cultural gate of Japan to international communities.

18 Nov. “Will work for TPP to come into effect early” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Kishida at APEC Leaders’ Summit

Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida stated at the 2016 APEC Leaders’ Summit being held in Lima, Peru, “It was important for all the countries work to create an environment for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to come into effect early.” By this, he demonstrated the Japanese policy to push forward TPP, despite opposition by Mr. Trump, the President-elect go the US.

Comments: Why does the Japanese Government insists on TPP, despite withdrawal of the US, who originally proposed TPP and the largest economy among the economic of the Pacific Rim?

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.