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!


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, 12 to 16 December 2016

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12 Dec. Inquiries and doorstepping investigations in the cyber space by a special force of Fukuoka Prefectural Police

Eradicate cyber crimes! — a special force of Fukuoka Prefectural Police, whose members are special investigators who had studied the computer science, “Cyber security special team (F-CST )”  started operating. The team deals with the investigation to go back and forth between the cyber space and real world, and started seeing the results.

Comments: Police needs competence of hackers to investigate cyber crimes.

13 Dec.  Automatic driving bus in campus, field experiment by a group of public and private organizations including Kyushu University

Four private and public organizations including Kyushu University announced that they would start a field experiment of the automatic driving bus from next January, and showed a demonstration run in Ito campus of Kyushu University  (Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi). The Road Traffic Act does not allow the unmanned driving in the public road, but premises in the campus is all right as it is not the public road.  The group of organizations plans to progressively  test the bus in the environment near to the public road and improve safety and convenience. It is aimed to put the automatic driving bus into practice as a means of transportation in campuses in the latter half of 2018.

Comments: The automatic driving cars may start being used for specific purposes in the private premises, such as Universities, factories, hospitals, etc.

14 Dec. Please read it before you use!, “Toilet paper to read” getting popular

It is too good to just use — “Toilet paper to read” by Hayashi Paper (President Hiroyuki Hayashiof Hina, Fuji-shi, Shizuoka produces is popularFrom a quiz to a novel and disaster prevention information, here are more than 30 products of this kind. The company is receiving a number of requests for an original toilet paper from public institutions and companies inside and outside the prefecture.

Comments: It is a great value-added of toilet paper!


15 Dec. Fuji Film acquired Wako Pure Chemical Industries from Takeda Pharmaceutical to strengthen its medical business

Fuji Film Holdings Corp. purchased Wako Pure Chemical Industries  Ltd. (Osaka-shi), a subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited specialized in reagent for studies for approximately 154,700 million yen. Fuji Film intends to acquire techniques necessary for research and development of the regenerative medicine and thus to strengthen its medical business.

Comments: With decreasing demand for films, Fuji Film is undergoing a strategic shift to the medical business using its core competence on chemicals.

16 Dec. Christmas tree of high-quality melons, “If you hit the right number, please get one”

“The melon tree” which used the high-quality cantaloupes is displayed in the Nishijima gardening housing complex of Hataeda, Nankoku-shi, Kochi until 24th and heaps up a Christmas season.

Comments: Japanese are good at using Christmas for marketing of high quality melons!


  • 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.


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.


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, 21 to 25 November 2016

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21 Nov. “I can study in the evening!”, Light of hope in Tanzania from a venture born in University of Tokyo

The technique developed in the University of Tokyo has brought the light to African villages which there was no electricity. Digital Grid, a venture based on the technology developed in the University of Tokyo, has been running a business to rend to villagers an LED lantern which was charged with a required minutes worth of the electricity generated by solar panels. The electricity is charged by a remote charging system operated via the Internet by a branch office of Digital Grid and lanterns may be rented at village kiosks. This service is rapidly spreading in Tanzania.

Comments: Sale of the electricity like the water in a pet bottle, mobile money coupled with need for the electricity have given birth to innovation!

(Photo from Wassha corporate web site)

22 Nov. One meter of tsunami at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, all the staff evacuated

Due to the earthquake originated in offshore of the Fukushima Prefecture in the early morning of 22nd, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) manually stopped the operation of facilities which transferred the contaminated water pooled underground of buildings of the first Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. TEPCO said that the company stopped transportation of the water because contaminated water might leak when being  transferred in case a water pipe might be broken by the rolling of the earthquake.

Comments: It is only horrible that tsunami attacked the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant again.

23 Nov. Nobel Laureate Professor Amano to develop the next-generation technology with his senior disciple

Professor Hiroshi Amano, Nagoya University, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics of 2014 for the development of the blue light emitting diode (LED) will establish a laboratory jointly with National Institute for Materials Science to benefit from gallium nitride which he studied for as material of LED for the next-generation technology development. The representative of the two organizations announced the plan in a pressroom of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Comments: One good work gives birth to another development.

24 Nov. A wearable terminal to stick to the skin developed, maybe disposable?

A team of researchers led by Kuniharu Takei, a Research Associate of Osaka Prefecture University, has developed a wearable terminal to stick to the skin like a thin adhesive plaster, which is used to check health conditions. They published the research results in a US science journal, Science Advances. It is said to be possible to make a product with a disposable sensor, because of a low cost.

Comments: A number of application may be possible!

(Photo from Mr. Takei’s web.)

25 Nov. To reduce burden on the back, a robot suit was introduced for luggage handlers of Haneda Airport Limousine bus

Ten “Robot suit HAL” developed by CYBERDYNE, a venture company of Tsukuba-shi, Ibaragi Prefecture, were adopted  by Airport Transport Service, which operats buses to and from airports. Luggage handlers working at bus terminals in Haneda Airport started wearing the robot suit around their waist when loading and unloading of the heavy baggages of customers.

Comments: CYBERDYNE is a spin-off company of Tsukuba University. It is a good example of the use of robot technologies for those needed.

  • 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

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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.

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 7 to 11 November 2016

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7 Nov. Drone, the aerial hot battle over the God flag by 20 brave men

“The drone God flag contest” was held in Minamisoma-shi, Fukushima prefecture on 6th. The contest is to catch the God flag by drones, modeled after a wild horse chase of Soma, a traditional event of the region in which samurais on galloping horse to compete to catch the God flag.

Comments: It’s an interesting idea to replicate horse racing by drones!


8 Nov. “Fukushima to be a world pioneer of energy revolution”, the 1st World Community Power Conference

The 1st World Community Power Conference (WCPC2016) was held in Fukushima on 3-4 November, aiming at investigation of ways for communities to promote the use of renewable energy, such as distributed power supply. A total of 620 people involved in renewable energy participated in the conference from worldwide. The WCPC 2016 launched a message that Fukushima, a disaster site of unprecedented nuclear plant accident 5 years ago, will entrust the next generation with the society that will not depend on the atomic energy.

Comments: WCPC 2016 is an initiative by local municipalities. It’s unusual for Japan and worth seeing how it will roll out.

9 Nov. “May take some measures if JPY’s value keep rising after the US Presidential election, said Deputy Vice‐Minister of Financial Affairs, Asakawa

Ministry of Finance, Financial Services Agency and the Bank of Japan held an urgent meeting in the afternoon of 9th and discussed possible reactions of Japan to a rising value of Japanese Yen (JPY) and falling price of stocks, in case the Republican candidate Trump may become dominant in the U.S. presidential election. Masashi Asakawa, Deputy Vice‐Minister of Financial Affairs stated to the press, “We will take necessary measures if this moment would continue, after careful observation”. This implies that Japanese Government would not hesitate to intervene in currency markets, should a rapid rise of the value of JPY may not cease.

Comments: We’ll see how market of JPY would react soon.

10 Nov. Smartphones made by “SANYO” to be marketed in India, following a steady sales performance of  liquid crystalline TV 

It was known that Panasonic is preparing the sale of smartphones in “SANYO” brand in India from next year. The plan  is to grow the sale of smartphones in the Indian market where economy is growing, by addressing a market for low-price products available only via an online sale via the Internet.

Comments:  Low-cost & high performance smart phones would be a good fit for Asian markets.

11 Nov. Groping for diplomatic strategy with Trump, Japan the first among G7 States to start diplomatic discussion on phone

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed diplomatic issues on phone with Mr. Donald Trump, the next US President, and agreed to meet in New York on 17th Nov. The Prime Minister wishes to reconfirm to firmly maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance, which Mr. Trump insisted to review. Thus the Japanese Government has started “the diplomacy with the Trump Administration” by groping, without having a strong tie with him.

Comments: One can only say, “Wait and see”.

  • 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, 31 October to 4 November 2016

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31 Oct. Cleaning, cooking, and more, four tasks of hotel business taken by one person, hotel management reform by Hoshino Resort of inns

Hoshino Resort is known as revitalizing business of ryokans (Japanese style inns). A major strength of the company is “multi-tasking” of employees who take more than two roles, while, in other hotels, those in charge of the front desk takes tasks at the front desk and those in charge of cleaning do cleaning only. With the improvement of employee productivity, Hoshino Resort opened a ryokan in Tokyo last summer and intends to develop ryokan business overseas.

Comments: Multi-tasking reduced redundant time of employees. This management may be an interesting model of hotel business.

2 Nov. A major vendor suspended sales of some routers due to a possible abuse of the use for cyber attack

I-O Data Device Inc. (Kanazawa), one of the major Japanese computer peripheral manufacturers, suspended sales of some of its products, due to a possible abuse of use of its equipment for a new means of cyber attack, that utilizes the equipment used for IoT (the Internet of Things). There are a number of cyber attack cases recently in and outside Japan in which device for IoT is infected by virus and used for “DDos” attack.

Comments: IoT could be more vulnerable than human-to-human Internet. We need wisdom to prevent this new way of cyber attack.

3 Nov. Willingness of sending by family budget worsened for the first time in three months, said the Cabinet Office

According to the  consumer behavior survey of October undertaken by the Cabinet Office, the consumer sentiment index for private households (seasonal adjustment level) that indicates willingness to spend by the family budget turned worse to be 42.3 points, down from the last month by 0.7 points for the first time in three months. The Cabinet Office concluded “the slow upward trend continued” and maintained its basic observation to be “the movement of the improvement is observed”.

Comments: Japanese economy is still fragile, while moving upwards.

4 Nov. “World Tsunami Awareness Day” is the 5th Nov., disaster drill involving 420,000 people undertaken in Wakayama

One day before the first “World Tsunami Awareness Day” on 5 Nov. established by the United Nations, a disaster drill was held in Wakayama prefecture, involving about 420,000 people who are mostly in public facilities, such as schools.

Comments: “World Tsunami Awareness Day” is a good idea to regularly alert us to be prepared for the disaster.



  • 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, 3 to 7 October 2016

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3 Oct. Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi, professor emeritus of Tokyo Institute of Technology, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, announced that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of this year will be given to Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi (71), a professor emeritus of Tokyo Institute of Technology. The awarding reason was “the discovery of the structure of the automatic fuzzy” (autophagy action). Dr. Ohsumi clarified mechanism in which a cell broke down own part and recycled it as a nourishment source or its own renewal. He thus resolved a mystery of an essential life phenomenon common to various creatures.

Comments: It was original that Dr. Ohsumi looked at a destroying process, rather than creating process of a cell.

4 Oct. IMF raised Japanese growth rate expectation in increase 0.5% of this year

International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced latest World Economic Outlook on 4th. The organization raised the growth forecast from the one in July, taking into account the postponement of the consumption tax increase this summer, and the economic measures proposed by the Government raised. The IMF left the growth rate worldwide unchanged, due to the decrease of the growth forecast of industrialized countries upon slowdown of the US economy and the determination of the UK to exit from the European Union (EU), while the growth prospect of newly developing countries.

Comments: Hope that the growth of Japanese economy would last.

5 Oct. Gundam from the small factory in town! Bipedalism Robo of “the world’s largest grade

The engineers engaged in manufacturing in Osaka-shi made a humanoid robot made from aluminum of 4 meters tall and 300 kg in weightOne may control it in a cockpit in the body such as “Mobile Suit Gundam“.  According to Mr. Hajime Sakamoto (49) who runs a robot production company “Hajime Institute ” (Nishiyodogawa-ku, Osaka-shi) and who is the head of the development of the robot, “The robot is one of the world’s largest” among those robots of the bipedalism.

Video: Mounting on the 4m robot.

Comments: The engineers are working to make their dream come true.

6 Oct. CEATEC  Japan, exhibitors compete over wireless communication and sensors towards IoT 

Electronic parts vendors compete over wireless communication technologies and the sensor, which are indispensable for the IoT (the Internet of the things). Enormous volumes of sensors will be required for the IoT, and a large demand increase is expected.

Comments: Fierce competition is an origin of innovation.

7 Oct. “Xperia ear”, a device on the ear to operate a smartphone by voice

Sony mobile communications will release “the Xperia ear” on November 18, which will connect a smartphone of the android operating system (the OS) with the wireless communications network.  The device attached to the ear will allow phone calls and message exchanges without holding a smartphone by hand.


Comments: Sounds like an SF.

sonx-xperia_equipment sony-xperia





  • 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.