Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beer shampoo for Beer Lover

Toy maker Bandai Corp has a new shampoo for beer lovers. The new product features hop essence just like real beer. Pour hot water into the bottle and shake it. The suds blow from the bottle like a real beer shower. The product is available at convenience stores, supermarkets and drugstores nationwide.

from News dal Giappone

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Japan ready to bid for both World Cup, Olympics

Japan’s football chief has vowed to bid for the World Cup finals in 2018 or 2022, despite Tokyo’s candidacy to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, press reports said Monday.

“We want to challenge it,” Football Association president Motoaki Inukai was quoted as saying on FIFA’s weekend decision to hold simultaneous bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Japan co-hosted the 2002 finals with neighbouring South Korea.

FIFA, the world’s football governing body, last year abolished a system under which the host nation of the four-yearly premier football event was rotated among six continents.

“That means everybody is welcome (to bid) and Japan is expected to do so,” Inukai said on the sidelines of the Club World Cup final in Yokohama, in which Manchester United beat Liga de Quito 1-0.

“If Tokyo hosts the Olympics, it will help upgrade stadiums and training centres,” Inukai added. Tokyo’s National Stadium, which hosted some Club World Cup matches, and other major venues in Japan would need upgrades for World Cup matches.

Inukai said his association would make a final decision on its World Cup bid after September next year when the International Olympic Committee picks the 2016 Olympic host among Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

The 2018 and 2022 World Cup venues will be decided in December 2010.

Inukai earlier said that a World Cup bid would in no way hamper Tokyo’s hopes of a second Summer Olympics. It hosted the 1964 Games.

“The Olympics and the World Cup are totally different,” Inukai said last week. “Some people may say it will be too much (if Japan hosts both). But Japan has merits. Japan is safe and spectators are well-mannered.”

FIFA made the decision on the simultaneous bidding at a meeting here on Saturday.

It means that should a bidder for 2018 be unsuccessful then they would be able to enter the vote for 2022 to be held immediately afterwards, so long as the 2018 hosts are not from the same continent.

The bidding is open to everyone, although African and South American countries are not allowed to enter in 2018 as those continents will have held the World Cup in 2010 (South Africa) and 2014 (Brazil).

Japan should not host Olympics and no Soccer Worldcup

source: robladin.com

Monday, December 01, 2008

Aso buys books on diplomacy, but no comics

Prime Minister Taro Aso, 68, popped in to a large-scale bookstore near Tokyo station on Sunday, and bought a handful of books on international politics and diplomacy. Aso spent about half an hour in the store with his secretary, stopping to look at books on finance, history, politics and new books, and greeted some female customers along the way.

Aso, who is famous for his love of comics, picked up a copy of a comic about the life of Kanetsugu Naoe, a military commander in the years leading up to the beginning of the Edo period, but put it down and lined up at the counter where he paid for the books with a 10,000 yen bill, and also bought a wiping cloth for his glasses.

"Diplomacy for Dummies"?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aso apologizes for remarks about people with illnesses

Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday apologized for remarks in which he appeared to be criticizing people suffering from illnesses and the use of taxpayers’ money to cover their medical costs. ‘‘I’m sorry if the remarks offended people who are suffering illnesses,’’ Aso told reporters.

According to the minutes of a Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy meeting last Thursday, the prime minister said, ‘‘Why should I pay for the medical costs of people who become sick because they just keep on drinking and eating and doing nothing.’’ The minutes also showed that Aso, recalling a class reunion, said some of his classmates who used to be fit and healthy are now ‘‘worn out and go to see the doctor all the time’’ and that his medical costs are much lower than theirs. ‘‘It’s because I take a walk every morning and do other things. I pay more tax than them.’’

Aso told reporters that he wanted to emphasize the importance of disease prevention as medical costs can be restrained by health management.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rie Miyazawa practices how to eat eggs in sexy way

Actress Rie Miyazawa, 35, was given an unusual request for her new film: Eat eggs in a sexy manner. In the film, “Zeratine Silver Love,” co-starring Masatoshi Nagase, 42, Miyazawa plays a female assassin who is put under surveillance by a cameraman (Nagase).

Miyazaki said, “She’s a sexy character and everything she does is erotic. The director even requested me to eat eggs in a sexy way, so I practiced it at home. I’m not sure if it turned out sexy, but I’ve had enough eggs for the time being.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Otsuka recalls 47 million bottles of Crystal Geyser mineral water

Otsuka Beverage Co said Monday it will voluntarily recall 47.17 million of its Crystal Geyser 500-milliliter bottles of mineral water due to consumer complaints that the bottled water gave out a strange smell. Of the total, about eight million bottles are on shelves or in stock at stores.

The company imported the mineral water from the United States and marketed it in Japan. Eligible for the recall are bottles with the consume-by dates of June 1, 2010 through Aug 19 of the same year printed on them. The unnatural smell might have rubbed off on the bottles while in warehouse storage in summer for a long period of time, the company said.

International Golf Federation launches bid for inclusion in 2016 Olympic Games

The two, who were speaking on behalf of the International Golf Federation, were embarking on what will be a year-long process in which golf will vie with six other sports – rugby 7s, squash, karate, roller sports, softball and baseball – for inclusion in the 2016 Games.

Dawson and Votaw came away from their presentation feeling upbeat. The Commission appeared impressed that golf’s amateur and professional bodies were speaking with one voice – and they seemed similarly taken with the news that the game boasts 60 million participants worldwide.

News on Japan - blog on japan

Again, a bit of name-dropping on Dawson’s and Votaw’s part did not go amiss. The Commission liked the sound of golf’s Olympic drive having the full support of such as Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa.

Golf’s charitable input would have been viewed as another plus. The R&A, for instance, dig deeply into their Open championship profits to send balls, clubs and other equipment to developing golfing lands. Votaw, on behalf of the PGA Tour, referred this morning to the many millions raised for charities via the American circuit. In 2007 it amounted to 123 million dollars, with that figure upped for ‘08.

In answer to whether the members of the IOC Programme Commission as a body had looked as if they leant more towards, say, golf or roller-sports, Dawson said a wry, “Golf, I hope.”

His overall impression had been that the Olympic personnel represented a pretty good cross-section.

Both men were quick to add that while they were confident their first presentation had been a good one, they had no doubt that the other sports would be equally well prepared. Of their rivals, softball and baseball are on a slightly different footing in that they drop out of the Olympic programme in 2012 but are bidding to return in 2016.

The support which Dawson and Votaw have had from the players apparently reached a new level during the Beijing Olympics.

Raphael Nadal’s reaction to winning a gold medal had made a significant impression on the golfers, as did the words of LeBron James. The latter had said that for him the Olympic stage was the biggest of them all.

Golf’s IGF Olympic Committee representatives have a very good idea of the building anticipation which could apply if they succeed in their mission.

“The players would have 32 opportunities to win a major before they have this chance to win one gold medal,” noted Dawson. “Majors are majors but who knows where a gold medal will stand in a player’s lexicon of achievements?”

Did they think that Tiger Woods, who will be 40 in 2016, might want to crown his haul of majors with a gold medal?

“It would be terrific if that were the case,” said Dawson.

Votaw, who has been “lent” to the Olympic campaign by Tim Finchem, the CEO of the PGA, denied that the US Tour had enough on its hands without getting so heavily involved in a scheme which will make the most difference at grass-roots level.

“We can multitask,” he insisted. Though the US Tour is said to be suffering more than its European equivalent at the hands of the credit crunch, notably because of its wider association with struggling banks, Votaw explained that they had a sound, “fully-sponsored” schedule lined up for 2009.

He also made it plain that the US Tour was by no means up in arms at the number of their players who had signed on for the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. On the one hand, many of the relevant tournaments would be taking place at the conclusion of the US season. On the other, he suggested that it was in their interests for the European Tour to be successful: “It’s good for us and it’s good for golf overall.”

No less, he said, was this combined Olympic drive good for the game. Regardless of whether or not golf gets the nod, both he and Dawson think that this coming together of all the different organisations has been a masterstroke.

source: RobLadin.com - Home

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama city residents delighted over presidential victory

Residents of the Japanese city of Obama in Fukui Prefecture expressed delight Wednesday over Illinois Sen Barack Obama winning the U.S. presidential election Tuesday. About 200 citizens, U.S. students and Obama supporters gathered at a rally at a culture center in the city on the Sea of Japan coast chanting Obama’s name and his slogan, ‘‘Yes, we can.’’

‘‘We’re pleased our cheerleading has paid off,’’ said 47-year-old Yasunori Maeno, a member of a 1,300-person group rooting for Obama to become the next U.S. president. ‘‘We’d really like Mr Obama to visit the city of Obama,’’ he said.

Hula dance teams, dubbed the ‘‘Obama Girls’’ and ‘‘Obama Boys,’’ received loud applause from the audience as they performed.

The Obama Girls were halfway through their routine when the results came in on overhead TVs. Dozens of supporters swarmed the stage and joined hands, jumping up and down as they chanted “Obama! Obama! Obama!”

The Obama campaign brought an air of excitement to this normally sleepy seaside town. Local leaders, trying to revive the economy, latched onto the connection as a way to promote tourism. An “Obama for Obama” supporters group attracted 1,500 members.

“This is great. I followed the election closely on TV. I’m hoping Obama can make the world more peaceful,” said Akino Nakaoji, 34, still wearing a bright blue skirt and flowered lei necklace from her hula performance earlier in the day.

It was lunchtime Wednesday in Japan when the U.S. election results came in.

“It was over so fast, I’m glad I got a chance to dance,” said Satoru Wada, a 38-year-old male member of the hula squad, before heading back to work at a hotel.

Obama has a population of 32,000, smaller than the crowds the candidate drew at many of his U.S. campaign stops.

While few along its quiet streets could name his policy proposals, his optimism and upbeat message of change resonates well here.

Obama, which means “little beach” in Japanese, is a former fishing town that now relies almost entirely on tourism. More than 500 years old, it boasts several ancient temples and a distinctive hand-painted lacquerware.

But the rustic town, wrapped around a stretch of sandy beach and surrounded by wooded hills, is not well-known, even among Japanese tourists.

So Obama’s success has been a welcome boon.

The town has been featured repeatedly in the domestic and international media, and the number of visitors has increased 20% since it linked itself to the Obama campaign, said Shigeyoshi Takeda, who heads the city tourism bureau.

“We’ve had a lot more customers since the campaign, especially foreigners. We rarely had foreigners here before,” said Atsuko Ikeda, 38, the cheery owner of a watering hole on the main shopping street.

Obama’s mayor, Kouji Matsuzaki, himself won election with a campaign based on the English word “change.” He said he plans to invite Obama to visit Obama, and dispatched a congratulatory telegram to the president-elect.

“We are looking into making him a special honorary citizen,” Matsuzaki said.

The mastermind behind the “Obama for Obama” campaign, Seiji Fujiwara, is executive director of one of the town’s largest hotels. He said the town has several business leaders with marketing experience that jumped on the opportunity.

“There are other towns named Obama in Japan, but we were the first to react,” he said.

Town officials sent gifts and received an official letter from the campaign, signed “Your friend” in Japanese.

Fujiwara said the support group is already planning its future moves. Among them: Go to Washington for the inauguration in January and perform a hula dance.

Meanwhile, in the city of Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, some 200 residents and tourists at the Obama hot-spring area waved the U.S. flag and expressed congratulations to Obama on clinching the U.S. presidency.

‘‘Once Mr Obama assumes the presidency, our area will be known in the world,’’ said 39-year-old Tetsuyuki Hayashida, a member of Unzen’s chamber of commerce and industry.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Canadian pollster says Obama appears destined for win in U.S. election

Barring the unforeseen, Sen. Barack Obama will be elected as the 44th president of the United States, says the president of Canadian polling firm Harris Decima.

Bruce Anderson said with Obama pulling away in most national polls, there’s little evidence to suggest that the Democratic party candidate’s campaign will be undermined by anything, including a reluctance by some voters to elect an African-American president.

“”You can’t look at all of the polls and still find much to substantiate this idea that this race is closing, that (Republican Sen. John) McCain really has an opportunity to vault past Obama,” Anderson said.

“It could happen. But at some point, somebody needs to put some evidence on the table to substantiate that point of view rather than simply say, well it feels like people won’t vote for an African-American.”

Anderson says of the last seven national polls he’s seen, only one had McCain with more than 44 per cent support, while only one had Obama with less than 51 per cent.

He says Obama appears poised for victory in many so-called battleground states that are crucial for any presidential hopeful’s chances.

“Four of the last four Florida polls show Obama leading. Ohio, we all see that as a critical swing issue. Four of the last four Ohio polls show Obama leading. Pennsylvania, five of the last five Pennsylvania polls show Obama leading,” Anderson said.

So those results mean, if that is what happens, that McCain cannot win.

Anderson says the unbridled enthusiasm of Obama’s supporters should be enough to put the Illinois senator over the top.

“Sixty eight per cent of Obama voters say I’m very enthusiastic. That’s a massive, massive number. Forty one per cent of McCain’s voters say that about their man,” said Anderson.

Anderson said polls show Canadians support Obama over McCain by a 6-to-1 ratio.

He said Canadians generally tend to align themselves with the Democratic candidate in U.S. presidential elections, but that Obama’s call for an end to partisan politics has resonated north of the border.

from: Robladin.com

PM Taro Aso tells defense minister to tighten control over SDF after war essay

Prime Minister Taro Aso told Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Tuesday to ensure there is no repeat of problems similar to the controversy caused by the recent release of an essay on Japan’s role in World War II by dismissed air force chief Gen Toshio Tamogami, Hamada said.

The premier also told Hamada to punish relevant personnel in the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces as well as to tighten civilian control over the SDF, especially with regard to public expressions of political opinions by ranking officers, Hamada told a press conference. Meanwhile, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, stepping up its attacks on Aso’s government, decided Tuesday to seek the summoning of Tamogami to the opposition-dominated House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense to give unsworn testimony on the controversy, DPJ lawmakers said.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Prince Charles, Camilla tour Nara, meet Aso

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla spent Wednesday, the third day of their five-day official trip to Japan, visiting the ancient capital city of Nara in western Japan. At Todai Temple, the royal couple saw the Great Buddha, a giant statue of Buddha, and a model that reproduced the 8th-century temple’s original state as they were guided around by the temple’s head priest, Dozen Ueno.

Later, the royal couple visited a local craftwork hall in the city and saw artisans weaving the traditional Nara Sarashi fabric and students in a craftwork class chiseling wood. Later in the day, Prime Minister Taro Aso and Prince Charles, who is heir to the British throne, held talks at a Tokyo hotel, where the prince expressed hope that the bilateral relationship will grow further, a Japanese official said. The prince also touched on the importance of forest conservation, and Aso said Japan would like to exercise leadership with Britain in the field of climate change, the official said.

The royal couple will also visit Nagano before heading to Brunei.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Three men arrested for unauthorized demonstration near Aso's house

The Public Safety Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on Sunday arrested three men in their 30s for staging an unreported demonstration, which violates Tokyo’s public safety ordinance law, and interfering with policemen in the execution of their duty at the time of their arrest. The three called for the demonstration on the Internet and tried to march to Prime Minister Taro Aso’s house in Shibuya. About 40 people gathered for the demonstration.

According to police, the three men conducted the demonstration without reporting it to a local police station and assaulted police officers who were monitoring them on the street after they gathered in front of JR Shibuya Station at 4 p.m. The group of demonstrators raised flags and made speeches with loudspeakers during the march after police ordered them to stop the demonstration.

The organizers of the demonstration, a labor union, said advanced notification to police is not necessary and that the arrest was illegal. They said Aso’s house in Shibuya is worth 6.2 billion yen and they tried to “have a look at what it is like.” Some members of the group also gathered outside Shibuya Police station, shouting, “Police support only the rich!”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tokyo 2016 - The Olympic Games Logo

No Death Penalty
No more Hangings
No Tokyo Olympics

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kubica quickest in wet Saturday practice at F1 Japanese Grand Prix

OMAYA, Japan — Robert Kubica of BMW set the fastest time in a wet practice session Saturday ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s Formula One Japanese Grand Prix.
The Polish driver set a best time of one minute 25.087 seconds on a track made wet by morning rain at Fuji Speedway. Toyota’s Timo Glock was again prominent, setting a time that was just 0.085 seconds behind Kubica. Glock, who topped the time sheets in dry conditions Friday, indicated Toyota could be a threat to the top teams on the track its parent company owns.
The leading times of the session were all set in the closing moments when the track was at its driest in improving conditions.
Prior to the last burst of laps, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was top of the timesheets, but was quickly relegated to seventh.
Massa trails McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by seven points in the drivers’ championship with three races remaining.
Hamilton was 11th quickest in morning practice.
Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr. was third fastest and BMW’s Nick Heidfeld fourth best.

from: Olympic Times - Sports Daily

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

naked in the imperial moat! What a shame for foreigners!

Stupid Brits in Japan!
A bald naked and stupid man who said he was a British tourist went swimming in the moat of Japan's Imperial Palace yesterday, climbing the palace wall, throwing stones and splashing water at police before being taken into custody.
Television footage showed the tall man getting out of the water at one point, chasing police with a stone and a plastic construction site pole.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tokyo 2016 try to Gain some Knowledge From Tennis Championships

The AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships were held in Tokyo September 29 to October 5 at the Ariake Colosseum and Ariake Tennis Forest Park, one of the proposed venues of Tokyo’s 2016 Summer Olympic Games bid. But even living in Japan i didn’t hear anything about this event.
The venue is positioned next to the proposed 2016 Olympic Village site and forms part of Tokyo 2016’s Games plan to transform Tokyo into an Olympic Park.
According to a press release the event attracted more than 80 of the world’s top tennis players competing for men’s and women’s singles and doubles titles.
The event set a record with more than 75,000 attending despite inclement weather, and was watched by millions more on television. Of the 75,000 i strongly believe many of them got free Ticket from the government. Japan is doing this trick on several sport events because far too many seats will be free. Giving away free tickets help to give a false imagine of how japanese like to go to attend sport events.
Dr. Ichiro Kono, Chairman and CEO of Tokyo 2016 said, “we are very proud of our Japanese culture so I am delighted that top class athletes across the world appreciate the hospitality of the Japanese people, as well as the wide range of attractions and restaurants that Tokyo has to offer. In addition to allowing the world to again witness Japanese fans’ passion for sport, the AIG Japan Open has enabled Tokyo 2016 to deepen its knowledge of the needs and requirements of major sporting events in terms of the organizers, the athletes and the spectators. It was an invaluable experience for us as we continue to refine our bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games“.
Japan is still the wrong country to host any international sports event. Japan should focus on becoming more international and less nationalistic.

from: robladin.com

Friday, October 03, 2008

Formula one: Williams stick with Rosberg and Nakajima

Williams will keep an unchanged lineup of Germany's Nico Rosberg and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima next season, the Formula One team said Wednesday.

The Toyota-powered former world champions said in a statement that 21-year-old German Nico Hulkenberg would also remain as test and reserve driver.

With Formula One's technical regulations changing considerably, Williams said continuity was a key consideration.

Rosberg, 23, was already under contract for 2009 after team founder and co-owner Frank Williams last year rejected what he called an offer of "majestic proportions" from Mercedes-powered McLaren.
However Toyota protege Nakajima, son of former racer Satoru and currently Japan's only grand prix driver, had been waiting to hear whether he would be retained for a second season.

"Nico Rosberg continues to be one of the most capable drivers in the sport," said Frank Williams in Wednesday's statement. "Kazuki is getting stronger all the time and has more to offer and Nico Hulkenberg is developing well."

The announcement came after the British-based team celebrated their second podium finish of the season in Singapore's inaugural night race last weekend.

Rosberg, son of Finland's 1982 world champion Keke, finished a career-best second while Nakajima took a point in eighth place.

Williams, who last won a grand prix in 2004, are currently eighth in the constructors' championship with three races remaining.

source: iht.com

Aircraft Decorated For Tokyo 2016

As an official partner of Tokyo 2016, Japan Airlines put into service Thursday a specially decorated aircraft to support Tokyo's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics Games.

The airline has decorated one of its B767-300 aircraft with a special Tokyo 2016 Olympic/Paralympic Games bid design, which incorporates the committee's logo and Japanese catchphrase as well as an "attractive" rainbow motif, reports Japan Today.

The plane will serve on domestic Japan routes to raise awareness and support Tokyo's 2016 Olympic bid throughout the country.

But we all know well Tokyo don't deserve to get the Games again!

Deadly fire raises Japan building safety fears

As police questioned an unemployed man suspected of setting fire to a crowded adult video theater in western Japan, killing 15, fire officials warned Thursday that thousands of karaoke, video and comic book lounges across the country may be potential death traps because of widespread safety violations.

The pre-dawn blaze in the Cats video theater in an entertainment district in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city, killed 15 men and injured 10 others. Police arrested a 46-year-old jobless man who escaped injury in the fire on suspicion of arson and murder.

The man admitted to investigators that he set the blaze with a stash of newspapers because he was “tired of living,” public broadcaster NHK reported.

The fire has renewed concerns that many entertainment districts in Japanese cities are overcrowded and filled with clubs that blatantly ignore safety codes and building regulations, creating virtual death traps. In 2001, a fire in Tokyo’s biggest red-light district killed more than 40 people, including bar hostesses and their customers.

Officials said Thursday they were stepping up inspections and warned that thousands of clubs could be unsafe.

Two government agencies launched an emergency nationwide inspection of video shops, Internet cafes, karaoke bars and sex shops.

The inspections will center on businesses that offer private cubicles, which have become a popular modern-day substitute for flophouses in Japanese cities.

“Buildings rented by multiple tenants, where nobody knows who has the responsibility for risk management, are particularly risky,” said infrastructure ministry official Kazuomi Abe. “Regardless of the type of business or customers, we must make sure everyone can escape safely.”

He said the number of violators could be “astronomical.”

Boxes of drinks, garbage bags and other equipment often occupy hallways, blocking emergency exits, he said.

When the fire in Osaka started, the theater’s 32 viewing cubicles—each equipped with a cot, a television and a DVD player—were mostly occupied and many of the victims were found dead curled up on their cots. Police said Thursday that carbon monoxide poisoning was the main cause of death.

Media reports showed a layout of the shop, with tiny compartments on both sides of a narrow corridor.

A nationwide inspection conducted last year after a fire at a karaoke bar in Takarazuka, also in western Japan, killed three people showed the majority of 6,500 such lounges with individual cubicles violated fire prevention laws and building safety codes, according to the infrastructure ministry and fire agency.

Another national survey of about 2,800 sex shops, released by the fire agency Wednesday, revealed that about half lacked sufficient safety measures. The inspection followed a fire at a sex parlor in northern Japan that killed three people this year.

The video center in Osaka offered a wide selection of movies—mostly porn but also cartoons and Hollywood films—for viewing in separate cubicles for 1,500 yen.

It is among a growing number of such centers that are a cheap alternative to hotels and attract businessmen and others who miss their last train home as well as people who cannot afford proper housing.

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby in Internet cafe toilet in Yokohama

YOKOHAMA — Police on Thursday arrested a 30-year-old woman for abandoning her newborn baby in the toilet of an Internet cafe in Yokohama, after she gave birth there. The baby was taken to hospital and is in a stable condition, according to police.

Kaoru Osaki, who is unemployed, was arrested for allegedly abandoning her male baby inside a plastic bag, leaving it in the toilet of the cafe, around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday night. According to police, cafe staff found the baby and spotted Osaki leaving the cafe.

Osaki told police she left the infant because she didn’t have money to raise him, adding she didn’t know who the father was. Police said her family reported her missing a few years ago.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Policeman held for posting nude photos of children on Internet site

A 25-year-old police officer was arrested Thursday on suspicion of posting nude photos of children on a child pornography site on the Internet in violation of the law banning child prostitution and child pornography, Kanagawa prefectural police said. Toshiyuki Kobayashi, a police officer at the Seijo station of the Metropolitan Police Department, admitted to the allegation, saying he has posted child porn materials on Internet sites on several other occasions as well, police said.

According to investigators, Kobayashi allegedly posted five photos of naked girls around 10 years old, which he had copied from other Internet sites, on the child pornography site using his cellphone on Sept 12 last year. Police on Wednesday arrested the operator of the site in question, which was accessed tens of thousands of times a day, on suspicion of violating the same law. An official of the personnel division of the MPD said, ‘‘It’s very regrettable that one of our officers was arrested. We will handle this matter strictly after investigations by the Kanagawa police are completed.’’

GSDF member arrested over sexual relationship with 14-year-old girl in Sendai

Police on Wednesday arrested a 29-year-old member of the Ground Self-Defense Force for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture.

Shunsuke Kamata, who had been arrested for having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl in September and was released on Tuesday, was arrested for allegedly having sex with the 14-year-old at a hotel on June 1 after they contacted each other through an online dating service for mobile phones.

Police said Kamata admits the allegations

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Japan to allow female sailors to serve aboard destroyers

The Defense Ministry decided Monday to allow female members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force to serve aboard destroyers from fiscal 2009, lifting a restriction that had been in place since the force’s establishment in 1954, ministry officials said. The MSDF hopes the decision, which will also apply to minesweeper tenders and antisubmarine helicopters in the fiscal year starting April 2009, will help alleviate the chronic personnel shortages that most units of the force face, the officials said.

The MSDF has some 45,000 members, 2,000 of whom are women, the officials said. Details of the measure have yet to be decided, but the ministry envisages an unspecified number of female MSDF members will serve aboard the new destroyer Hyuga, which will be commissioned next spring, they said. The Hyuga has separate quarters for women.

Investigators try to track last 30 minutes of murdered girl in Chiba

A 5-year-old girl, who died after being found unconscious and naked on a roadside in Togane, Chiba Prefecture, on Sunday afternoon, was spotted by several people around the crime scene prior to her death, police said Tuesday.

Yukimaro Narita, 5, was found on the street around 12:26 p.m. She was naked and her clothes were found at a car park about 100 meters from the crime scene.

According to police investigations, Yukimaro went missing after she left her mother’s workplace, a hospital, for her friend’s home Sunday morning around 10:30. Her mother had taken Yukimaro to the hospital on Saturday as she was on the night shift, police said. She was seen walking along the street near the hospital shortly after 10:30, but police said she never visited her friend who wasn’t at home that morning.

Yukimaro came back to the hospital around 11 a.m., asking a hospital staff member when her mother would finish work. She was last seen leaving the hospital around noon, according to police.

The next time Yukimaro was seen was when her body was found on the street about 300 meters from the hospital.

Police said that Yukimaro was strangled and that she had a bruise on her arm, indicating that she may have been held in a tight grip. Police believe she may have been grabbed by somebody, forced into a car and taken away before being brought back.

Police are appealing to the public for any information and on Tuesday released photos of Yukimaro and the clothes she was wearing.

According to police, there have been several reports about suspicious individuals in the area so far. A naked man was spotted at a nearby park in April, while another man chased female staff leaving a dental clinic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sony unveils world's slimmest LCD TV

Sony Corp said Thursday it will launch the world’s thinnest and lightest 40-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) television, seeking to trump its rivals ahead of the key year-end shopping season. The new ZX1 model, part of the firm’s popular Bravia series, is just 9.9 millimeters thick at its slimmest section

Weighing 12.2 kilograms, it can be hung on a wall like a framed painting. Equipped with a fast wireless connection, the screen display is separated from the tuner so it does not need signal cables. The ZX1 series will be put on the market on Nov 10 with an estimated price tag of about 490,000 yen.

Sony also announced three other new series of Bravia LCD televisions with screen sizes ranging from 40 to 55 inches. They will be sold in Japan from Oct 10. Of them, the W1 series can project images moving four times faster than conventional models.

Japan like to bribe to get things rolling - Olympic Games 2016

Just found a really interesting article at RobLadin.com. It’s all about Olympics, of course. Japan and bribery, nothing new at all.
Read this article, it’s a really good post.

Japan is well known for bribery in getting international events. If they can’t do it then they will try to bribe someone to get things going. For the Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing it wasn’t all that clear what was going on.
Keirin is a cycling sport popular in Japan. However, it is virually unknown outside that country. The organisers of keirin wanted to make it more popular. How to do that? By making it an Olympic sport. And how to persuade the Olympic Games to adopt the sport? Maybe a $3 million bribe helped:

Documents given to the BBC suggest that $3m (£1.5m) was paid by organizers of a Japanese cycling event to the UCI - the world cycling body. The payments were allegedly made in the 1990s. The sport, called the keirin, was supported for inclusion into the Games by the UCI, and admitted in 1996.

For the Nagano olympics:

Meanwhile, the mayor of Nagano said that the city’s Olympic bidding committee’s decision to destroy its expense books had been proper and merely “the Japanese way of doing things.” Mayor Tasuku Tsukada said he left the decision on how to destroy the expense books to other officials. He explained that the expenses were approved at the committee’s general meeting and that meant, as a matter of course, that the records could be destroyed. “In Japan, that means it’s all done and finished,” he said. Some IOC officials inspecting Nagano as a possible site for the 1998 Winter Games were entertained by geisha, an official admitted yesterday. But he denied they were prostitutes. “We couldn’t very well have had the governor pour drinks,” Sumikazu Yamaguchi, a member of the bidding committee, said. “All they did was pour drinks and dance.”

from Wikipedia:

the 1998 Games went to Nagano, Japan in a 46-to-42 vote. Many felt the reason was because the US had recently been awarded the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Others, including Welch, believed it was because Nagano had better wined and dined the officials.

In 2006, a report ordered by the Nagano region’s governor said the Japanese city provided millions of dollars in an “illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality” to IOC members, including $4.4 million spent on entertainment alone.

And read this one: (source: findarticles.com)

A new report on Nagano’s successful bid for the 1998 Winter Games, ordered by the regional government, found that an “illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality” was handed out by the Japanese city.
The Nagano Prefecture Investigation Group Report comes more than 14 years after the International Olympic Committee chose Nagano over Salt Lake City in a close vote, even though the Utah capital was widely seen as better qualified to host the Olympics.
Salt Lake City went on to be awarded the 2002 Winter Games but sparked a worldwide scandal eight years ago when Utah bidders were accused of buying IOC votes with more than $1 million in cash, gifts, trips, scholarships and even medical treatments.
There were always similar concerns about Nagano’s bid but no proof because records had been burned. Now, according to an abstract in English of the investigation group’s report, dated Nov. 22, 2005, new problems with the Nagano bid have been documented, including:
– Nearly $544,000 (all dollar figures are calculated at current conversion rates from Japanese yen) in souvenirs were given out during the bid, an average of about $5,700 per IOC member. The gift limit at the time under IOC rules was $200.
– More than $4.4 million was spent to entertain IOC members during the bid, an average of about $46,500 per IOC member.
– There was no accounting of how approximately $776,000 was used during the 1991 IOC session in Birmingham, England, where the host city for the 1998 WinterGames was selected.

One government official told the investigation group that the money was used for “lobbying and promotional activities, and simply there were no receipts. Therefore, a phrase like ‘unaccounted for’ is not right, because it sounds like somebody stole it.”

– The total price tag for promoting Nagano’s Olympic bid was more than $24 million, almost five times as much as Salt Lake City’s bid for the 1998 Winter Games reportedly cost.
– The previously revealed destruction of 90 boxes of bid records — possibly, the report stated, at the request of the then- prefectural governor — “should still be viewed as a criminal act,” because the records were supposed to have been maintained for five years.

A bid committee member told the investigation group that the records “probably included a great deal of IOC-related secrets and personal information — it might lead to trouble if the documents were kept.”

The investigation group concluded the reason was because during the bid “illegitimate and excessive levels of hospitality were offered” that had to be hidden from Nagano citizens.

– A signature was forged on a document required to take a ceremonial sword, reportedly valued at $13,000, out of Japan to be presented to then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. The report suggests whoever forged the signature might be guilty of a criminal offense.

The report appears to confirm the suspicions many had after Salt Lake City became the subject of local, national and international investigations. Rumors had started shortly after Nagano’s victory about IOC members having been provided with geishas and expensive artwork and electronics.
One story frequently told was that the Nagano bid committee reportedly gave members of the IOC expensive video cameras just before the IOC vote, while Salt Lake City’s bid team handed out disposable cameras.
Among the critics was Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who blamed Salt Lake City’s loss to Nagano on “corruption,” later claiming “Japanese leadership just basically bought the Olympics. . . . We were swindled out of it.”
But soon after the Salt Lake scandal surfaced, it was revealed that Nagano had set fire to its bid records. That appeared to make it impossible to verify allegations that theJapanese city violated IOC rules.
The Nagano investigation group, however, was able to piece together information at least about how much money was spent, by combing through a pile of documents that weren’t destroyed and interviewingJapanese bid and Olympic officials. Their report does not include details of what the Nagano bid actually purchased for IOC members.
But even though the report “revealed new findings, including how much public money has been misused,” there has been little reaction to it, according to journalist Tatsuya Iwase, one of five members appointed to the group created by Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka in February 2004.
Despite the lack of interest, though, Iwase said in an e-mail that the advisory group is continuing to look at the impact of the Olympics on the finances of Nagano, a relatively rural mountain region known as the “Roof of Japan.”
Anti-Olympic activists in Nagano have long questioned the amount of money invested in the 1998 Winter Games, complaining that residents have been left with little more than debt.
Tanaka’s successful campaign to lead the prefecture, an entity similar to a state, focused on the need to investigate the Olympic bid further.
Repeated attempts by the Deseret Morning News to contact Tanaka about the report were unsuccessful.
Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, who headed the Switzerland-based organization’s investigation in the Salt Lake scandal that resulted in the ouster of some members, said Friday he had not even heard about the Nagano report.
“It might be of interest,” Pound said, even though the IOC investigative commission he led has long been “out of business.” He was surprised at the size of some of the expenditures listed in the Nagano report.
“That sounds high to me,” Pound said of the amounts the Nagano report said was spent on IOC members for gifts and entertainment. “But then some of my colleagues are higher maintenance than I am.”
It was Salt Lake City’s meticulous record-keeping that helped land its bid in trouble. The scandal started with a letter from an IOC member’s daughter about the financial assistance she was receiving from bid officials.
The records even led to the two top leaders of the Salt Lake bid, Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, being prosecuted by the federal government on numerous felony charges related to the scandal, but the case was thrown out midtrial by a Utah judge in 2003.
Welch could not immediately be reached for comment about the Nagano report.

How much will they try to pay to each IOC member this time?
IOC: don’t be a fool again! Slap the japanese bribers!

read more articles about the bribes of the japanese:
- 1999: Olympic officials face bribery charges

Bribes in Japan are just normal practice to have things rolling.

What do you think about this article’ Feel free to comment!
You think Japan should be banned from hosting future Olympic Games?

source: download-agloco.com

Japan’s medal-winning Olympic wrestlers back Tokyo 2016 - with bribes from the japanese goverment?

As support for Tokyo 2016 continues to rise across all sections of Japanese society, the country’s Beijing 2008 Olympic medal-winning wrestlers today threw their considerable strength behind Japan’s Bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
At an official meeting with Tokyo Governor and President of Tokyo 2016, extremist right-wing Shintaro Ishihara, and Tokyo 2016 Chairman and CEO, Dr Ichiro Kono, the Olympians endorsed the Bid’s vision to host the most compact Games in Olympic history around iconic urban features at the heart of Japan’s vibrant capital city.
Gold medalists, Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho, silver medallists, Chiharu Icho and Tomohiro Matsunaga, and bronze medallists, Kyoko Hamaguchi and Kenichi Yumoto, were keen to pass on insights from their recent experience to help Tokyo 2016 enhance a Games plan that places the needs of elite athletes at its very core.
Ms Saori Yoshida, 2008 Olympic champion wrestler and member of the Tokyo 2016 Athletes’ Commission said:”The Beijing Games was an unforgettable experience. I want to help share this indescribable experience with the people of Japan, who are long-term supporters of the Olympic Games. I look forward to sharing Tokyo¡¯s unique culture and passion for sports with the world and to winning a medal in all classes of competition when the Games come to Tokyo in 2016.”
Ms Kyoko Hamaguchi, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and Tokyo 2016 athlete ambassador said: “As athletes, the Olympic Games experience is the pinnacle of our dreams, hopes and aspirations. The chance to competing again in my home nation is would be more incredible still, and I am sure that Tokyo 2016’s uniquely compact, sustainable concept would make it a memorable Games for all of the athletes involved.”
Unfortunately Japan is not a country that welcomes foreigners. There was exceptional police and security personnel at the Soccer world Cup in 2002 and media warned Japanese citizen to be cautious of the foreigners coming to see the soccer games.

Dr Ichiro Kono, Chairman and CEO of Tokyo 2016, said: “We would like to thank the Japanese wrestling team for their committed support for Tokyo 2016 and congratulate them on their success in Beijing, where they inspired millions of people in Japan and across the world. Hosting the Games at the heart of Tokyo would lead to an incredible sporting, environmental and infrastructural legacy for the city, and set a precedent for urban evolution for the benefit of cities across the globe.”

Japan in it’s Human Rights problem is far behind any civilized country and should definitively not host any international sport event! Olympics should bring Olympic spirit and Japan is not at this time rife to go along international law.
To the IOC i like to advise not to do the same mistake as was made to China: award the Olympic games under promises. China didn’t go along with the promised it did. If Japan want to host the Games then, and only then, it should go along some basic rules and international laws. Only when past promises from Japan in the international scheme where fulfilled and new promises to safeguard human rights will be recognized should a candidacy be taken into consideration.

IOC: don’t take bribes from the Japanese and Tokyo government!

They will try to bribe you as in the past with the Nagano winter games! Let the sporting world have some credibility!

source: RobLadin - Olympic Games

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

S Korea to complain over use of 'Sea of Japan' in Olympic closing ceremony

South Korea said Monday it plans to complain to China over the use of the name ‘‘Sea of Japan’’ to refer to the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan in the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics instead of ‘‘East Sea’’ as it is known to South Koreans. ‘‘The government plans to point out to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee the invalidity of describing the East Sea as only ‘Sea of Japan’ and request ‘East Sea’ be used as well,’’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae Young said in a regular press briefing.

South Korea will continue its efforts for ‘‘East Sea’’ to be used in naming the sea through international agencies, governments of other countries and manufacturers of private world maps, Moon added. Moon’s remarks followed critical reaction in South Korea over the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee’s display of a world map that used ‘‘Sea of Japan’’ during the prelude to the Olympic closing ceremony broadcast live across the world on Sunday. South Korean scholars and citizens argue that ‘‘East Sea’’ should be adopted as the historically and geographically appropriate name for the sea, which Japan began to refer to as ‘‘Sea of Japan’’ after its colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Each Aug 15, Yasukuni area turns into riot zone

With his broad shoulders rippling beneath his dark blue jumpsuit, Shinichi Kamijo has taken a sidewalk position on Yasukuni Dori, not far from Jimbocho station in Chiyoda Ward.

It is 2 p.m. and, given that he is about to engage in battle, Kamijo is surprisingly calm. “We must stop them from advancing to the shrine,” implores the 38-year-old member of Gishin Gokoku-kai, an “uyoku dantai” (right-wing group) that he founded when he was 26.

Kamijo’s target is the Anti-Emperor Activities Network, a “sayoku” (left-wing) organization that is about to begin a protest march through Kudanshita and toward Yasukuni Shrine, the controversial Shinto monument that effectively serves as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past. The group of 150 members is assembling at nearby Nishi Kanda Park, a small concrete and gravel square about a kilometer east of the shrine. Before the protest begins, the leader announces that the group’s battles with the uyoku are a usual occurrence. “But we are doing this for the people of Japan,” he says.

As Kamijo waits, convoys of his brethren in black trucks descend upon the area, their presence reinforced by the imposing grilles welded to their fronts, the gold-painted chrysanthemum crests upon their sides and, of course, the unmistakable nationalist jingles booming from their sound systems.

Thirty minutes later, hundreds of riot police officers materialize on the streets. Each trooper is outfitted with a shield, heavy black boots, shin guards and a helmet — the equipment needed to oppose the throng of rightists now stationed on the pavement.

“I want to show the strength of the uyoku power,” Kamijo says, readying his stance, “but we are under the control of the police.”

The above scene unfolded just prior to last year’s pacifist demonstration in Kudanshita on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II. The protest, which will be repeated this week and preceded by various other marches near the shrine, highlights the one day of the year where downtown Tokyo could nearly be confused for Pakistan or Tibet during times of political unrest — the city literally turns into a riot zone as right- and left-wing groups stand off against one another.

Yasukuni like a spark in a tinderbox

Perhaps Japan’s most notorious rallying point for nationalist sentiment, Yasukuni confounds its left-leaning detractors and inspires patriots due to its honoring of roughly 2.5 million military men, many of whom were encouraged by the belief that their spirit would be enshrined should they die in battle fighting heroically for the emperor. For South Korea and China, two countries that suffered most heavily at the hands of Japan’s military over a half-century ago, a crucial point of criticism is the enshrinement of 14 Class-A war criminals, including wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. A heated debate on an average day, Yasukuni and its surrounding area is like a spark landing in a tinderbox on the anniversary.

Last year, the morning saw a separate one-hour demonstration in the streets west of the shrine’s grounds led by the Anti-War Joint Action Committee, which assembled in front of Hosei University in Ichigaya.

“On the anniversary, the uyoku begin working from early in the morning,” says the committee’s 64-year-old representative, Misumi Tadashi. “Not only around Yasukuni, but all throughout Tokyo, they blast their messages from speakers mounted atop their trucks. This is the most appropriate day of the year for them to appeal their existence to the public. The police cannot control them, and we cannot let them continue with these harsh activities. We have to do something.”

The Anti-War Joint Action Committee, which is funded through the sale of publications and plans on marching again this year, was established in 1992 to oppose the dispatch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces to Cambodia. Today, the war in Iraq is one of the group’s raisons d’etre.

The procession left the Hosei campus and moved up towards Iidabashi and back down Sotobori Dori to Sotobori Park, near Yotsuya. All through the route, police officers walked pace for pace with the over 100 protesters as uyoku members attempted to physically disrupt the march.

“It seems like the police are trying to stop them, but in reality it is very easy for the uyoku to break through,” believes Tadashi. “We can’t rely on the police, and the uyoku know that we have the skills and power to fight back — so that is why they don’t attack so aggressively.”

The proceedings were decidedly more subdued inside the shrine’s compound. Kamijo, the right-winger, paid his respects at Yasukuni just before noon. As he faced the memorial’s imposing façade, a hinomaru flag proudly stitched on the back of his clothes, beads of sweat poured down from his shaven skinhead on this mercilessly muggy day. He performed a few bows, tossed some coins, and clasped his hands in remembrance of Japan’s fallen soldiers.

Behind him, veterans sporting camouflage military uniforms and tourists, cameras in hand, emptied from tour buses onto the baking concrete.

Afterwards, as the burly Kamijo made his way back to a few rows of shaded tables filled with members of other right-wing groups, he explained that he founded Gishin Gokoku-kai because of the way Japan’s neighbors view the country.

“China and South Korea educate their children to hate Japan. They don’t want the younger generation to stop being angry and want to continue receiving money from the Japanese government,” he says of the Official Development Assistance program, whose work has included a subway project in Seoul and programs to improve the environment and public health in China. “I am tired of their complaints. They do not appreciate our efforts.”

By midday, most of the right-wingers had, like Kamijo, completed their patriotic duties at the shrine and returned to their fortress-like vehicles for the eventual move down the road to Kudanshita for the clash with the pacifists.

In Kudanshita, the tension is increasing. Cordons of police officers are now lined up face-to-face with the uniformed rightists. Kamijo, however, won’t be intimidated.

“Japanese have been way too quiet,” he explains. “And since we don’t have a nuclear weapon, they [China and South Korea] can be aggressive.”

Kamijo admits that he’s not in top form since having dropped 11kg following an illness, but there is little doubt that he means business. As a warning to foreigners, the word “DEATH” is tattooed on the back of his neck, as is the numeral 4, whose kanji (pronounced “shi”) has the same morbid meaning. Appearing on his meishi are the lyrics to “Kimigayo,” Japan’s national anthem.

History of brawling with mobsters, foreigners

A carpenter by trade, Kamijo says that his history of brawling with mobsters and foreigners in Roppongi while a member of a “bosozoku” motorbike gang is so extensive that he suggests we have a separate meeting so he can convey all the gory details. Certainly, on this day, his actions make such claims seem extremely plausible.

Carrying large red balloons, colorful flags, and painted banners — including one featuring the image of Che Guevara — the Anti-Emperor Activities Network makes the turn toward Kamijo’s corner. Their chants are loud and clear: “We are completely against all the people who go to Yasukuni!”

As if rushing a quarterback, Kamijo tries to wedge his massive frame between a pair of police shields to get at his enemies. When rebuffed by the officers, he stabs his right index finger to the sky and screams.

Unbowed, Kamijo quickly follows the crowd down the street with one of his cohorts. Together, they leap over a flower bed yet find themselves pushed back by a flurry of helmets and forearms. Amid the chaos, Kamijo winds up getting flipped onto his back, with planters being dumped and their contents spilled. Advertising flags fall to the sidewalk.

Reports of uyoku-sayoku clashes commonly claim that the police firmly side with the right. But on this day, the sayoku are generally being protected. As the procession moves along, right-wingers with portable loudspeakers blast their righteous messages as their bolder brothers continue to make attempts at breaking the police lines. Each time, however, the protester is tackled, dragged off or pushed away by Tokyo’s finest.

Confused onlookers stand by as the sidewalks and the center of the street become a swirling display of swaying flags, mashing bodies and deafening noise.

In spite of Kamijo’s claims of wanting to display the spirit of the uyoku, much of the violent activity appears staged, which matches with the observations of Tadashi from the Ichigaya demonstration. Though visually surreal, many of the punches seem feigned, and the multiple clenched fists merely come across as elaborate street theater. Further, given the clear planning on the part of the police, it is clear that the protest route, starting time and participants have been coordinated well in advance.

The opposition continues to show relentless zeal, yet the chants from the marchers do not stop: “We are not going to forgive the government at all! No more war! No more Yasukuni!”

In the surrounding area, right-wing groups have parked their trucks at police barricades established at many of the large intersections. The cops hold their ground as the members stand by and scowl outside their vehicles, whose sound systems are still smothering the area with the military anthems at ear-splitting volume.

By the time the mob comes within view of Yasukuni’s gates, an atmosphere of hatred permeates the entire scene. Standing outside of shops and offices, a few salarymen and older women have decided to join in and verbally condemn the lefties for their presence.

The march then turns up Mejiro Dori — not onwards toward the shrine — which most certainly was the plan all along. The protesters file into a small brick smoking area that includes a bathroom. Many right-wingers surround the premises and continue their screaming and pushing routines.

Down narrow side streets, a few overly aggressive rightists can be seen getting hauled away by small groups of police. It is now clear that the ranks are thinning, and when a caravan of right-wing trucks breaches one of the police blockades and makes a final sonic blitz past the assembled protesters, it almost signals a last gasp.

The atmosphere should be no less heated on the anniversary this year. This spring anger raged over the release of “Yasukuni,” a documentary by Chinese director Li Ying that multiple theaters in Japan refused to screen following threats from right-wing groups, who saw the film as being “anti-Japan.”

Kamijo, who was not arrested last year, expects a similar scene in Kudanshita, and once again he is excited. “We have to stop them,” he says bluntly. “We must force them to cancel the demonstration.”

The Anti-War Joint Action Committee, too, sees the scene unfolding much as it did 12 months earlier, and promises to be ready. “We have confidence to fight back,” Tadashi says. “We have guts and pride, and I am sure they will be coming after us.”

The Kundanshita demonstration will get underway along Yasukuni Dori on Aug 15, just after 2:30 p.m. Access via Jimbocho station (exit A1 or A2) or Kudanshita station (exit 5 or 6). The Ichigaya demonstration will start from Hosei University at 9 a.m. Nearest stn: JR Ichigaya. Due to police activity, routes and times may change without notice.

A panel of journalists and other interested parties will be holding a meeting about the Yasukuni issue at Sendagaya Kumin Kaikan on Aug 15 at 5:45 p.m. 1-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3402-7854. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yoshida retains Olympic title in women's 55kg wrestling

Saori Yoshida retained her Olympic gold medal in the women's 55kg freestyle wrestling on Saturday after defeating host wrestler Xu Li in the final.
Yoshida dominated the final, giving her opponent no chance and winning the two bouts 2-0, 5-0.
The 25-year-old Yoshida was also the winner of the last five world championships from 2002 to 2007 besides her triumph in Athens four years ago when women's wrestling made its Olympic debut.
Yoshida had a undefeated record of 119 matches, which ended by American Marcie van Dusen in the World Cup in Taiyuan, China in March this year.
"This gold really means lots to me," said Yoshida. "I can't forget the loss to van Dusen. That's the only one in my career life."
"That loss left shadow in my heart and it forced me to keep training. I came here only for the gold."
"I never wasted any practise chance since 2004 and I kept on improving myself." added Yoshida.
Yoshida thought high of her opponent in final. She thought Xu Li was quite a strong opponent.
"Xu Li is very young and strong. It is difficult to beat her."
"From now on, I will begin to start all opponents' weakness to win more." said Yoshida.
She became the first female wrestler to retain the Olympic champion.
Xu Li failed to earn China the first wrestling gold at Beijing Olympics. The silver was Chinese second as Chang Yongxiang placed second men's Greco-Roman 74kg class. Xu would have been the youngest Olympic wrestling gold medalist in any discipline.
Xu Li, 19, said she didn't expect to go into the final as her first target was just to be in the top eight.
"So silver is all right to me," said Xu. "I fought with Yoshida twice and I lost both. She was really a strong rival to defeat."
"Anyway, I don't think I was performing my best. I will work hard in the future." added Xu.
Jackline Renteria of Colombia defeated Ana Paval of Romania with a victory by fall, to earn Colombia the second medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Another bronze medal went to Tonya Verbeek of Canada. She took the second medal for Canada following teammate Carol Huynh's gold win in the women's 48kg category.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Police charge Russian man in spying case

The Public Safety Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on Wednesday filed charges against a Russian man of Asian origin for spying and the illegal use of a missing Japanese national’s passport.

The Metropolitan Police Department took the action after judging that it is unlikely the man, whose real name is unknown, will reenter Japan because the passport he renewed outside the country in 1997 expired in June last year, they said.

The man, believed to be currently in his seventies, has been on the international wanted list since 1997. In furthering their investigations police have decided to bring charges against him for allegedly applying for a passport under the name of dental engineer Ichiro Kuroba (who was declared missing in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture in 1965), at the Japanese embassy in Austria in 1997.

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Police said the suspect had worked at an international trade company in Tokyo for 30 years, collecting military and political information for the Russian Intelligence Agency (the former KGB) through business trips to Western countries and his dealings with Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel, politicians and Russian embassy officials in Japan.

Police said the suspect is married to a Japanese woman, who currently living in Japan, and that she has communicated with him by radio since he left the country in 1995. She is quoted by police as saying, “I was sometimes concerned as to his real identity but I always trusted him.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Men’s 100m Breaststroke: Kitajima Kosuke takes gold in world record

Kitajima Kosuke of Japan defended his Olympic title in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke in fine style on Monday, August 11, breaking Brendan Hansen’s (USA) world record in a time of 58.91.

Norway’s Alexander Dale Oen won the silver medal in a time of 59.20. Oen swam consistently fast through heats and semifinals and went into the final the fastest qualifier after setting an Olympic record of 59.16 in the semifinals.

Hugues Duboscq of France collected the bronze in a time of 59.37, relegating one of the event favorites, Brendan Hansen (USA) to fourth.

Hansen, the world record holder coming into the event, looked sluggish through the heats and semifinals. His fourth place time was 59.57.

Hansen only had one individual race to contest at these Games, after failing to qualify for the 200m Breaststroke at US Olympic trials in July.

from: Beijing Olympic Games 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Japanese Olympians to bring dust masks to Beijing

Japan’s Olympic delegation will carry 500 dust masks for industrial use to guard against the notorious air pollution in Beijing, a corporate official said Monday.

Koken, a major Japanese maker of respirators, gas masks and air purifiers, has provided the masks for free to the Japanese Olympic Committee for possible use in training at the Beijing Games.

“These are not the kind of masks that are sold at drug stores to protect yourself from flu or hay fever,” said Kohei Kubo, an official at Koken’s life safety division.

“They are used at dusty factories and other industrial sites, as well as hospitals, where they are used to prevent infections,” he said.

The masks can cut by more than 95 percent the number of small particles that the athletes would inhale, he said.

They are equipped with superlight filters, each weighing 11 grammes (one third of an ounce), and an exhaust valve.

The company recommended the products to the national Olympic committee last year as international concern grew about Beijing’s air pollution, Kubo said.

“We provided the products to the committee in mid-July and they are bringing them as a precaution,” he said.

Poor air quality in Beijing has prompted International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to warn it could result in the suspension of some events, particularly endurance races such as the marathon.

Beijing has closed many of the most polluting factories around the city and banned more than one million cars from the roads every day.

Despite the measures, visibility in the city remained poor on Monday, and officials have warned they may need to take more drastic steps to clear the skies ahead of the Games, which begin August 8.

from: beijing olympic games 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Japanese keirin officials deny bribery report

Japanese officials on Tuesday denied a report that the track cycling sport of keirin may have bribed its way into the Olympic Games.
The BBC said an investigation had uncovered documents outlining payments of $3 million from the Japan Keirin Association (JKA) to cycling’s world governing body the UCI.
But a senior Japanese official insisted there had been no wrongdoing before keirin first entered the Olympics at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
“The JKA has been co-operating with the UCI for many years to develop keirin and we have been involved in various activities to improve the sport,” the JKA’s Akihiro Matsukawa said.
“I have not been able to verify the documents the BBC say they have but the JKA denies the claims (of bribery).”
Keirin, which involves riders following a motorbike for several laps before a sprint finish, is big business in Japan, its country of origin, generating huge gambling revenues.
Hein Verbruggen, president of the UCI from 1991 to 2005, also protested his innocence.
“It has been done in total transparency,” Verbruggen, currently the International Olympic Committee’s chief inspector, told the BBC.
“This was done for the development of track cycling around the world.”
Britain’s Chris Hoy won keirin gold at this year’s world championships in Manchester and will start as favorite in Beijing.

from: Beijing Olympic Games 2008

Japan Olympians pack builder face masks for Beijing

Japanese athletes may don masks made for construction workers to cope with air pollution during the Beijing Olympics, a doctor affiliated with the Japanese Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.

More and more athletes from around the world are considering wearing face masks for the Games, despite official promises of clearer skies in Beijing and warnings that pictures of masked competitors could embarrass host China.

“Our previous research shows the amount of dust in the air is high in Beijing, and that may affect some of the Japanese athletes,” Takao Akama, the committee’s medical adviser, told Reuters.

Marathon runners and bicyclists might not be the only ones who opt to use the masks during competition.

“Some athletes are sensitive, so we have decided to have those pollution masks ready for any member of the Japanese Olympic team who would like to use one,” said Akama, a physician at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Koken Ltd, the company that makes the mask, has supplied the committee with 500 industrial-strength masks, designed for use on construction sites. Japan’s team has almost 600 members.

Beijing’s air pollution, a sometimes acrid mix of construction dust, vehicle exhaust and factory and power plant fumes, has been one of the biggest worries for Games organizers.

On Tuesday, state media quoted Beijing authorities as saying sauna-like weather trapping hazy pollution in the Olympic host city would not last throughout the games in August. Chinese officials have repeatedly said there is no need for foreign athletes to bring masks. Beijing is also considering additional pollution controls if the air stays too dirty.

from: Beijing Olympic Games

Japanese PM hopes to see finest performance of Japanese athletes at Beijing Olympics

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Monday that he hopes to see the finest performance of Japanese athletes at the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.

The Olympics, which is of lofty value, will inspirit every Japanese national to cheer for their team, said Fukuda in a send-off ceremony held for the Japanese Olympic delegation.

He expressed the hope that the athletes will recognize the value of the Olympics and put in their finest-ever performance.

He also expected the athletes to make their respective effort to present a vigorous Japan to the audience.

As Japan won a record 37 medals, including 16 golds, at the Athens Olympic Games four years ago, Fukuda said his expectation is that every Japanese athlete will be awarded a medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The Japanese Olympic delegation, composed of 339 athletes and 237 officials, is Japan's largest deputation to participate in an Olympics held outside the country.

The delegation is headed by senior Japanese Olympic Committee official Tomiaki Fukuda, who said that the goal for the Japanese Olympic team is to win double digit golds and at least a total 30 medals.

Present at the ceremony was 19-year-old table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, who will lead the delegation as the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8.

Earlier Monday, the Japanese Olympic Committee announced the inauguration of the 576-strong Japanese Olympic delegation, which will head for Beijing in separate batches.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Japanese have tight hold on judo

Once upon a time it was customary for the host nation to be able to add a sport to the Olympic program.

So when the Games were in Tokyo in 1964, judo came on board. And it is easy to see why since the Japanese usually dominate the sport.

In the 14 weight classes (seven for men and seven for women) at the Athens Olympics, Japan placed a competitor in 10 gold medal matches. The Japanese won eight of the 10.

The participants in each weight class are divided into two direct-elimination pools and the winner of the two pools meet for the gold medal.

This is also a sport where it pays to cheer for the person who beat you in an early round. All those who lose to the eventual pool champion make up two second-chance pools and the winners of those each get a bronze medal.

Judo is one of only two sports in the Olympics, boxing being the other, where two bronze medals are awarded.

from: upi.com

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Japanese girl returns to Florence to atone for graffiti

A Japanese teenager who was caught on video daubing graffiti on the Duomo in Florence flew back to the Renaissance city at her own expense to apologize, Italian media report.

The 19-year-old fashion student from Japan’s Gifu University also offered 600 euros, television and news agency reports said.

“We accept the apologies and we accept the money exceptionally for the gesture’s great sense of civility,” said the Duomo’s chief curator Anna Mitrano, flanked by the university’s visiting rector, Yukitoshi Matsuda.

The incident, which took place in February and was captured on film, was one of several involving Japanese visitors in recent months.

Mitrano noted that 2008 marked the 30th year of a friendship pact between Florence and Gifu.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

French president to attend opening of Beijing Olympics

TOYAKO - French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, representing his own country and the European Union, his office said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy met Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of a summit of world leaders in nothern Japan on Wednesday.
The President of the Republic has confimed to the Chinese president his intention of travelling to Beijing on August 8 to take part in the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games,” the French presidency’s office said in a statement.
As well as France, Sarkozy would represent the EU because France holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation bloc, the office said.

from: www.robladin.com

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson of South Africa, both surprise winners on the tour in 2008, were on Monday handed wildcards into the Olympics.
Defending Olympic champion Nicolas Massu of Chile has been successful in his campaign to take part in the tournament despite his world ranking have slumped to 93.
Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman, 35, who will retire at the end of the year, Belarus’s Max Mirnyi and well as China’s Peng Sun were also handed wildcards.
Japanese teenager Nishikori won the title in Delray Beach while Anderson was the Las Vegas winner.
In the women’s singles, the invitaations went to Alicia Molik of Australia, Maria Koryttseva of Ukraine, Taiwan’s Yung-Jan Chan, Japan’s Ayumi Morita, Nuria Llagostera-Vives of Spain and Tunisia’s Selima Sfar.
“Each of the players who have been awarded an ITF Place brings special qualities to the field for the 2008 Olympic Tennis Event,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.
“Some of the players are young competitors from under-represented parts of the world while others are former medallists or long-standing participants in their country’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup efforts.”
Molik was thrilled by her inclusion in the field.
“This is probably the best news I’ve had since 2004,” said Molik.
“I have played in two Olympics and I have to say they’re the absolute highlight of my career. Nothing comes close to playing in the Olympics, representing your country. It is the most amazing experience any individual can have. It was always a childhood dream of mine.”

from: www.robladin.com

College student warned for graffiti on historical Italian cathedral

Gifu City Women's College has handed a strict warning to a student who drew graffiti on the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, during an overseas study tour, college officials said.

The historic center of Florence, including the cathedral, is inscribed on the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List.

The church said it would not demand payment for restoration if it received an apology, so the student and a college department chairman both sent apologies in English.

College officials said that the a first-year student in the college's Department of Design for Contemporary Life wrote the date, her name, and the names of five friends with an oil-based marker on the marble wall of a lookout at the cathedral on Feb. 18. The student also reportedly wrote an abbreviation of the name of the college.

The incident was uncovered after a Japanese tourist contacted the college on March 12 via e-mail. The college president reportedly issued a strict verbal warning to the student on March 14.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Customs say officers have planted drugs in unwitting travelers' bags 160 times for training

Three customs officers have planted packages of cannabis resin in the luggage of travelers arriving at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo without notice a total of 160 times since last September to train drug sniffer dogs, Tokyo Customs said Monday.

Disciplinary actions have been taken against the three officers and nine senior customs officials as such acts are banned under Tokyo Customs’ in-house rules.

Among the three was a 38-year-old customs officer who planted cannabis resin in the luggage of a traveler from Hong Kong earlier this year.

The officer failed to retrieve the resin before the traveler got his luggage and left the airport on May 25. The following day, Tokyo Customs recovered the 120 grams of resin at a Tokyo hotel where the traveler was staying.

The officer, who has been found to have planted drugs in travelers’ bags 90 times, has been suspended from duty for three months in a disciplinary action.

A 10% salary cut for three months has been imposed on two other customs officers who also planted packages of cannabis resin in travelers’ luggage 10 and some 60 times, respectively.

The head of Tokyo Customs was among the nine senior officials who were also given pay cuts and warnings.

Tokyo Customs said it has banned its officers from putting drugs in travelers’ luggage without notice for the training of sniffer dogs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Taiwan recalls top Japan rep as tensions rise over ship collision

A festering tiff between Taiwan and Japan over a ship collision in disputed waters dramatically worsened Saturday, when Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry announced the recall of the island’s top representative in Japan and plans to scrap a special ministry committee that handles ties with Tokyo. “We absolutely cannot accept Japan’s report on the incident,” said Foreign Minister Francisco Ou in a Taipei press conference. He was referring to a recent investigation findings report by Tokyo that found the Taiwanese fishing boat captain partially at fault for the incident.

Taipei will recall its de facto ambassador in Japan, Koh Se-kai, and terminate the ministry’s Committee on Japanese Affairs to protest the report, Ou added. According to the report, the Taiwanese captain was partially at fault for a collision between his boat, aboard which were 16 people, and a Japan Coast Guard vessel during an encounter near a group of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea known in Japan as the ‘‘Senkaku Islands,’’ in Taiwan as ‘‘Tiaoyutai’’ and in China as ‘‘Diaoyu.’’

6 dead, 13 missing after magnitude 7 hits northeast Japan

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 jolted extensive areas of northeastern Japan on Saturday morning, leaving at least six people dead, 13 people missing and nearly 200 others injured, authorities said.

The 8:43 a.m. quake, followed by a series of aftershocks of lesser intensity, hit mainly mountainous areas in Miyagi, Akita and Iwate prefectures, scarring hills, tearing up roads and even knocking down a 95-meter bridge, they said.

The quake left about 400 people including tourists stranded in various areas due to severed roads, temporarily blacked out nearly 30,000 households and disrupted transport and telecommunications infrastructure.

The quake measured upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Miyagi’s Kurihara, around 350 kilometers north of Tokyo, and Iwate’s Oshu, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

No tsunami alert was issued after the initial inland quake that originated around 8 km underground in southern Iwate Prefecture, the agency said.

The Self-Defense Forces, the Japan Coast Guard and other authorities flew helicopters to rescue stranded people in remote mountainous areas that suffered serious damage.

The authorities suspended their search and rescue operations at night, saying they will be resumed Sunday morning.

Nuclear power plants in Miyagi and neighboring Fukushima Prefecture are operating normally, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

‘‘I felt a shock as I was pushed up’’ from the ground, tourist Katsuko Momma, 60, said, describing the fear she felt as she traveled in a car driven by her husband near the epicenter.

Momma, from the town of Misato, Miyagi Prefecture, said she saw a section of a hill collapse with a roar as the couple walked after leaving the car as the road had many cracks. ‘‘I’m worried about what’s happened to our house,’’ she said.

‘‘I feel scared at night because I live by myself,’’ said Tokiko Suzuki, 79, who runs a barber shop in Oshu.

In Kurihara, seven people were trapped in rubble at the Komanoyu hot spring resort inn, police said. The trapped people include two tourists and relatives of the inn’s owner.

Local officials said that three foreign nationals and one Japanese person on a camping trip in the resort, who had gone missing earlier, have been accounted for.

The Kurihara city government said four other people are still missing.

The Ground Self-Defense Force dispatched a disaster relief unit at the request of the Iwate and Miyagi prefectural governments, and 197 relief teams from Tokyo and 13 other prefectures comprising of a total of 773 members were sent to quake-hit areas.

The authorities said about 220 people remained stranded in the area around Mt. Kurikoma on the Iwate-Miyagi prefectural border and 200 others in the Sukawa and Kurikoma hot spring areas in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

Tomozo Chiba, 60, of Iwate’s Ichinoseki, was killed after being hit by a truck as he jumped onto a road following the quake, and Michitaka Ishii, 55, of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, died in a landslide while fishing on the seashore, police and firefighters said.

Masahiko Chiba, 48, was killed by falling rocks at a dam construction site in Oshu, Iwate.

Three construction workers were also trapped in a landslide in Kurihara. Two of them, Masami Igarashi, 54, and Yoshitomi Kadowaki, 53, were rescued but later pronounced dead. The other is still missing.

A bus was hit by a landslide in Oshu with about 20 people temporarily trapped inside, and six children and a teacher at a nursery school in the city were injured, police said. All the bus passengers were later rescued.

Twenty-three people on another bus heading for Sendai airport were injured in the city of Natori in Miyagi as the bus bounced due to the quake, firefighters said.

A total of 119 telephone lines were disconnected in Kurihara as cables were cut. Subscribers of three major mobile phone carriers experienced difficulties using their handsets in the quake-hit areas.

East Japan Railway Co, a major train operator in the region, said it had to suspend or slow down many trains on the Akita, Tohoku and Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train lines as well as conventional train services, affecting about 117,000 passengers.

The central government set up an office at the prime minister’s office to handle the post-quake situation and sent a team headed by National Public Safety Commission Chairman Shinya Izumi, who also serves as minister in charge of disaster preparedness measures, to assess the quake damage.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

U.S. hospital provided liver transplants to 4 Japanese gang figures, including gang boss

A Los Angeles hospital provided liver transplants to four Japanese gang figures, including one of Japan’s most powerful gang bosses, over a period when several hundred area patients died while awaiting transplants, according to a published report.

The surgeries were performed at UCLA Medical Center by world-renowned liver surgeon Dr. Ronald W Busuttil, executive chairman of UCLA’s surgery department, the Los Angeles Times reported in a story posted on its website. The Times cited a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The surgeries were performed between 2000 and 2004, and in each of those years more than 100 patients died awaiting liver transplants in the greater Los Angeles region, according to the Times.

There is no indication UCLA or Busuttil knew any of the patients had ties to Japanese gangs, known as yakuza, the Times reported. The school and Busuttil said in statements they don’t make moral judgments about patients, but treat them according to medical need.

U.S. transplant rules do not prohibit hospitals from performing transplants on foreign patients or those with criminal histories.

Tadamasa Goto, who had been barred from entering the United States because of his criminal history, was the most prominent transplant recipient. He leads a gang called the Goto-gumi, according to the Times.

With help from the FBI, Goto obtained a visa to enter America in 2001 in exchange for leads on potentially illegal activity in this country by Japanese criminal gangs, Jim Stern, retired chief of the FBI’s Asian criminal enterprise unit in Washington, told the Times. The FBI did not help Goto arrange his surgery with UCLA.

The FBI didn’t get much out of Goto, Stern said.

“I don’t think Goto gave the bureau anything of significance,” Stern said. Goto “came to the States and got a liver and was laughing back to where he came from. ... It defies logic.”

Stern said he was not involved with the deal, and learned of it when he became unit chief in 2004. He said he continues to be troubled by it.

After the transplant, Goto was again barred from re-entering the U.S., the Times said, citing a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and requested anonymity.

Busuttil performed liver transplants at UCLA on three other men now barred from entering the U.S. because of their criminal records or suspected affiliation with Japanese organized crime groups, the Times said, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Times said it was not naming those three transplant recipients because neither they nor their lawyers could be reached.

Goto underwent a successful transplant in July 2001. He received the liver of a young man who died in a traffic accident, said Goto’s Tokyo-based lawyer, Yoshiyuki Maki.

“Goto is over 60 now, but his liver is young,” Maki said.

Goto continued to receive medical care from Busuttil in Japan. Busuttil traveled there and examined Goto more than once, Maki said. Busuttil also evaluated Goto while he was in custody in 2006, Maki said.

In May 2006, Goto was arrested in Japan on suspicion of real estate fraud. He was acquitted of the charges in March of this year.

It is unclear when Goto joined UCLA’s waiting list, but he had been in the U.S. two months when he received a new liver, the Times reported. Overall, 34 percent of the patients added to UCLA’s liver waiting list between January 1999 and December 2001 received a new liver within three years of being listed, the Times reported, citing national transplant statistics.

In a statement, the UCLA Health System said privacy laws prevented it from commenting on specific cases.

Busuttil, a former president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons who has testified before Congress on who should receive priority for transplants, released a statement this week.

“As a surgeon, it is not my role to pass moral judgment on the patients who seek my care,” read the statement, which didn’t directly address the Japanese patients. “If one of my patients, domestic or international, were in a situation that could be life-threatening, of course I would do everything in my power to assure that they would receive proper care.”

It could not be determined how much UCLA and Busuttil were paid for the Japanese transplants, the Times reported.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amnesty Int'l discouraged by increased executions in Japan

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan expressed disappointment Tuesday that Japan not only continues to use the death penalty but that executions have actually increased, totaling seven since this January alone. At the launch of the human rights organization’s annual report in central London, an Amnesty Asia spokesperson expanded on Khan’s disappointment, saying, ‘‘We have been very discouraged by the increase in the number of executions in Japan over the past six months.’’

‘‘We will continue, both through our membership in Japan itself and internationally, to press the Japanese government to backtrack on this very alarming trend,’’ the spokesperson said, confirming there had been no response from the Japanese government to an open letter Amnesty sent it in April urging a cessation of executions.

The extensive 150-country report also raised ‘‘serious concern’’ that the daiyo-kangoku system of pre-trial detention does not comply with international standards and held Japan to account for its lack of action to resolve the justice issue surrounding the survivors of Japan’s World War II military sexual slavery system despite international pressure.

Japan was far from the only country to come under fire, with Khan remarking there has been 60 years of human rights failure around the world since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Khan challenged world leaders to recommit themselves to delivering concrete improvements to the global human rights situation.

‘‘2008 presents an unprecedented opportunity for new leaders coming to power and countries emerging on the world stage to set a new direction and reject the myopic policies and practices that in recent years have made the world a more dangerous and divided place,’’ Khan said, referencing the United States in particular as a country where ‘‘the most powerful must lead by example.’’

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Liu Xiang eases to men’s 110m hurdles top podium in Osaka

World record holder and Athens Olympic champion Liu Xiang breezed to win the 110 meters hurdles in 13.19 seconds in the wet and cold weather at the Japan Grand Prix here on Saturday.
It was the sixth time for the Chinese athletics legend to win in Osaka. It is the second leg of the 14-round Grand Prix series.
Liu's compatriot Shi Dongpeng finished the distant second in 13.63 and Maurice Wignall from Jamaica took the bronze in 13.84.
"I'm very happy with 13.19 in this weather and more importantly to have avoided injury," Liu told reporters. "When it's rainy and cold there is always a risk.
"I've always started my season strongly in Osaka so I hope this will be a good omen."

from: robladin.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ambassador: Olympic torch relay to strengthen China-Japan friendship

The upcoming Olympic torch relay in the Japanese city of Nagano will further expand the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people, Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Xinhua and other Chinese media, Cui said the torch relay would provide a fresh opportunity to further enhance the amicable sentiment between the two peoples.

Describing Japan as one of the most important neighbors of China and a country sharing long-lasting, extensive and profound cultural and historical links with China, Cui said the torch relay is to exhibit Chinese people's expectation and passion for the Olympic Games.

People in Nagano and throughout Japan are standing with the Olympic spirits as Japan is the first Asian country to host the Olympic Games and Nagano was the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Cui said, adding that local Japanese people's ardor and fervor for the torch has been witnessed.

"As the Olympic torch embodies the Olympic spirits and is a symbol of peace, friendship and progress, we will be pleased to see the union of people around the globe under the light of the flame, transcending differences between states, races and ideologies, for gorgeous pictures and harmonious melodies of the earth," Cui added.

Concerning the preparation for the torch relay, Cui spoke highly of the tangible and fruitful efforts made by the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Nagano municipal government.

The ambassador especially thanked Japanese high-level government officials, including Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, for their repeated pledges for safety and support for the torch relay, as well as the Japanese parliament for establishing a union, headed by Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono, to provide material and spiritual support for the event.

A lot of Japanese celebrities from all circles, including athletes, singers and comedians, have actively applied to be torch bearers, Cui said, adding that the Chinese people were inspired by their enthusiasm.

The ambassador also expressed his extraordinary honor and proud of being one of the three Chinese torch bearers in the Japanese stop.

"I fully understand the significance of the torch and will take every step wholeheartedly. I am to properly fulfill my mission and contribute to the success of the entire torch relay," Cui said.

from: RobLadin.com