Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gynecologist arrested for secretly taking photos of female patient at Chiba clinic

Police on Thursday arrested a maternity clinic doctor in Funabashi for secretly taking photos of a female patient during a medical examination last April. The doctor, Hiroshi Shimizu, 50, had already been arrested once before, for taking photos up a woman's skirt at a train station with a mobile phone camera last August. After that incident, he was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for three years.
Police said that Shimizu was arrested for allegedly taking photos of a female patient, 27, with a digital camera during a gynecologic examination on a table with a curtain between them. Police said that when they raided Shimizu's home, they found about 15,000 photos, including nine photos of patients taken at the clinic.
Shimuzu was quoted by police as saying: "I took the photos for medical research."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Australian anti-whaling activists call for boycott of Japanese firms

Australian conservation groups have joined a global grassroots campaign to boycott Japanese products Friday in the latest bid to pressure Japan to stop whaling. Anti-whaling activists from Australia's east coast, the Byron Whale Action Group and Surfers for Cetaceans, hand-delivered a letter to the Japanese consulate in Brisbane, informing Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of the boycott and demanding an end to whaling in the name of research.
The Brisbane offices of Sony Australia Ltd, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd and Japan Airlines Corp also received similar messages from the groups.
Byron Whale Action Group spokesman Dean Jefferys said the Australian boycott is part of a global grassroots campaign that has been coordinated over Internet websites such as MySpace and YouTube.
Other conservation groups taking part include the U.S.-based Save the Whales and Britain's Cetacea Defence.
"What we have found is that the larger environmental groups like Greenpeace are not willing to call for a boycott because they are afraid of getting sued. But there has been a real movement of smaller conservation groups, getting together through the Internet and organizing this kind of action," Jeffreys said.
While stopping short of a boycott, Greenpeace has recently targeted Canon Inc over its high-profile advertising and sponsorship programs dedicated to wildlife and endangered species, by challenging the world's top digital camera maker to match word to deed by taking a stand against whaling.
Specifically, it has appealed by letter to Canon's CEO Fujio Mitarai to endorse a statement of opposition to Japanese whaling in Antarctic seas and the use of lethal research methods.
On Jan 22, however, the company declined, saying that while it recognizes "the importance of protecting endangered wildlife...scientific opinion about research whaling varies," according to Greenpeace, which is now asking Canon customers to urge the company to change its mind.
"Canon sells cameras by using the pictures of endangered species, including whales," Greenpeace Japan Whales Project Leader Junichi Sato said. "Greenpeace is amazed that Canon wouldn't condemn the killing of threatened species for fake research."
The Japanese whaling fleet is currently in the Antarctic, where it plans to kill 935 minke and 50 fin whales as part of its whaling program, as the taking of whales for scientific research is permitted under International Whaling Commission rules.
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, will visit Tokyo next Thursday, where he will meet with his counterpart Masahiko Komura and attempt to smooth over bilateral relations following the whaling row.
Smith told Sky News on Friday whaling will not harm the bilateral relationship.
"Foreign Minister Komura and I, Australia and Japan have to date agreed to disagree about the issue, but that won't get in the fundamentals of the relationship," he said.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fukuda to meet Bono, Microsoft chief over African development

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will hold talks Saturday with Irish rock singer Bono of the band U2, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to discuss spurring African development.
During the talks on the sidelines of an international forum here in Switzerland, Fukuda plans to seek their cooperation for the success of a meeting in May in Yokohama of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a Japan-led African development initiative, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said.
Bono, a well-known anti-poverty campaigner, and several other celebrities are expected to attend the Yokohama gathering, the fourth of its kind. Wade attended TICAD's third meeting in Tokyo in 2003.
Bono, Blair, Gates and Wade — all of whom have been actively involved in African development — are seen as telling Fukuda their expectations of the Group of Eight summit in July in Hokkaido, Japan, where African development is one of the four main agenda items, the officials said.
Fukuda will hold talks with the four on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, or the Davos forum, of world political and business leaders.
Japan plans to draw the heads of state and ministers from 53 African countries and representatives from western donor countries and multilateral institutions to the upcoming TICAD meeting.
As well as Bono, Japan has invited Gates and Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Kenya, to the meeting and is sounding out U.S. actress Angelina Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, according to government sources.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2,240 police, 460 patrol cars, copter mobilized for car chase in Osaka

Police on Thursday arrested a wanted man after a two-hour car chase that involved 2,240 officers, 460 police cars and one helicopter. Hirofumi Fukuda, 27, who had been wanted for assaulting police officers on Jan 21, was arrested after a chase through central Osaka. Around 11 a.m., police received an emergency call saying that a car was driving recklessly, ignoring traffic lights. When a patrol car approached the vehicle in question, it took off.
Police were mobilized throughout the area and a helicopter called in. The chase ended when Fukuda's car crashed into a bridge column. He sustained light injuries but no one else was injured in the chase.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

apan asks Australia to take legal action against anti-whaling activists

Japan urged Australia in a ministerial meeting Tuesday to take legal action against two anti-whaling activists who boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in the Antarctic Ocean without permission and to take measures to prevent a recurrence, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura made the demands in talks with Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean in Tokyo, although the two also reaffirmed that the recent clashes over the whaling issue should not affect overall friendly bilateral relations, Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama said.
The activists, from the U.S. environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, were held on the Japanese harpoon boat for two days after they delivered a letter protesting the slaughter of whales.
Only an hour after the two men were handed to an Australian customs boat on Friday, the crew of a Sea Shepherd ship hurled butyric acid bombs, or "stink bombs," onto the deck of the harpoon boat.
Komura told Crean that the actions of the group posed a danger and he urged cooperation to prevent "the recurrence of such an incident," according to the ministry statement.
He also asked Canberra to "take appropriate action" under national laws "should the Sea Shepherd boat call at an Australian port."
Crean, during talks here on bilateral ties, regional cooperation and the whaling issue, said the Australian Federal Police are investigating the case and that his government would decide on a response based on the results.
But as he did so, Australia moved to film Japanese ships in a bid to launch a legal challenge against the hunt's activities.
Australia has long opposed the hunt in the area, which includes a self-declared sanctuary, but has stopped short of physically intervening.
A customs ship tracked down the whalers and sent officers in smaller boats to gather video and photographic evidence, said a spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Bob Rebus.
"They are trying to get closer to see what the whaling fleet is doing," she said on condition of anonymity.
The customs ship, Oceanic Viking, had lost contact with the whalers after picking up the two activists after last week's stand-off.
Australia's Labor government vowed when elected last year to collect evidence of Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters, stepping up pressure on Tokyo to end its annual hunt.

Assassin apologizes to Nagasaki mayor for killing him

A gangster indicted for fatally shooting former Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito last April pleaded guilty and apologized to the late mayor Tuesday at his first court hearing at the Nagasaki District Court. Tetsuya Shiroo, 60, shot Ito, 61, from behind on the evening of April 17 near the mayor's election campaign office in the city of Nagasaki, according to the indictment. Ito died six and a half hours later in hospital.
"What the indictment says is correct," Shiroo told the court. "I apologize to Mayor Itcho Ito from the bottom of my heart." The trial is focused on why the defendant assaulted Ito, with whom Shiroo was not personally acquainted, and whether the shooting was premeditated. Prosecutors argue Shiroo began harboring designs against Ito around February last year, when the mayor expressed his intention to seek a fourth term, due to dissatisfaction with the city government.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Over 10 inquiries required for hospital admissions in 734 Osaka cases

In at least 734 cases in Osaka in 2007, a minimum of 10 inquiries were required to locate hospitals to accept emergency patients, fire departments said in a Kyodo News survey conducted earlier this month. In refusing admissions, many hospitals said they were already treating other patients, their beds were full, or the patients' conditions did not match their specialties. In one example, a fire department had to make inquiries 64 times for a patient with a mental disease.
The annual number of cases that required fire departments to make at least five inquiries totaled more than 3,800 in both 2006 and 2007, highlighting the flaws in the emergency care system in the prefecture. The Osaka prefectural government is considering increasing the number of core hospitals in communities but is facing a shortage of doctors and hospital departments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympic V.S. 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Japanese Media comment on Olympics Impact on Economy
Japanese Industry News predicts China’s economy will realize soft landing after 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It is predicted that the overall direct and indirect investment will have mounted up to 4000 million dollars by then. Half of the investment came from field and building constructions.
According to the China National Information Center, Olympics have contributed a two percent raise annually from 2002 to 2007. Experts say Beijing Olympics won’t result in economic downturn, as opposed to Japan’s 1964 Olympic Games, according to the magazine.
East Asia Economy, on the other hand, predicted China’s economy will confront side effects of hot economy after 2008. According to its analyzes, Olympics will bring in too much currency trading, which will result in hot economy and essentially—inflation. The current economic growth of 12 per cent is exceeding China’s potential capacity of economic growth. Therefore, economic adjustment is necessary after year 2008. If the central government is unable to control the tendency of “over-heating”, then the economic growth rate will be even higher. And there will appear economy bubble in real estate industry.
Take Japan for example. Japan experienced severe economic depression and security crisis after holding 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. But Japan have successfully recovered from it and achieved jack-ups after a short period of time. Japan’s success is as a result of the common use of high technology, improved ability of exporting, high needs of national commodities.
But China’s situation is fairly different. China doesn’t possess some of the key elements under the current situation, which are needed for economic recovery. Some of the concerns are the raising price of oil and rice and the high fluid of currency, which never happened in Japan.

Sea Shepherd vows to keep disrupting Japanese whalers

A militant anti-whaling group said Friday it would immediately resume harassing Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters after detained activists freed by Tokyo are returned to their ship.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said the two men had been handed over to an Australian customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, after being held for two days on a Japanese whaler which they boarded on the high seas.
"The moment we get them back on board we plan to resume what we came here to do, which is enforcing international conservation law," executive director Kim McCoy told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"Now more than ever, it's imperative that we get right back on track immediately and go out and intervene against the illegal activities of the Japanese fleet."
The two activists — Australian Benjamin Potts, 28, and Briton Giles Lane, 35 — were detained Tuesday after boarding the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No 2 to protest Japan's whaling programme.
The Japanese whaling fleet is on its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic, with a target this year of killing about 1,000 of the giant mammals.
Japan exploits a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling to kill the animals for what it calls scientific research, while admitting the meat from the hunt ends up on dinner plates.
The confrontation with Sea Shepherd had forced the Japanese fleet to suspend whaling for several days, but a spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research said the whalers would resume the hunt as soon as possible.
"The Yushin Maru is heading back towards the rest of the research vessels and yes, when it has the opportunity, it will continue with the programme," Glenn Inwood said.
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who was at the forefront of negotiations to end the standoff, said Friday Canberra still strongly opposed Japan's whaling program.
He noted that the Oceanic Viking was already in the area on a mission to gain evidence of Japanese whaling for potential use in an international court challenge to end the hunt for good.
"Our ultimate objective is to get the Japanese to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean," he told reporters.
The Australian and Japanese governments had made arrangements to transfer the two men while "agreeing to disagree" about whaling, Smith said, adding that the two countries had strong ties.
"We have a very good relationship with Japan. If there hadn't been such a strong relationship, we wouldn't have seen such a speedy agreement," Smith said.An official from Japan's Fisheries Agency said Friday that the men who "intruded" onto the whaler had been picked up by the Australian ship.
"Two Sea Shepherd activists who intruded onto the Yushin Maru No 2 and have been in custody on the ship were handed over to the Oceanic Viking chartered by the Australian government," said Hideaki Okada, a whaling official at the Fisheries Agency in Tokyo.
Sea Shepherd's McCoy said its ship the Steve Irwin expected to pick the men up from the customs boat within a few hours.
"I've since spoken with one of the hostages who's no longer being held hostage, on board the Oceanic Viking, and he confirmed that they're both completely safe," she said.
Tokyo denies the claim the men were hostages, saying they had been treated well and the whaling ship had been keen to hand them over earlier.
"They're on the Oceanic Viking and they're just going to give them a place to sleep until we can pick them up in the morning at a rendezvous point," McCoy added.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Air fears bring athletes to Japan / Beijing pollution, food worries spur 20 nations to train for Olympics here

China's less-than-sparkling reputation for air pollution and food safety have led Olympic teams from 20 countries to plan to hold their training camps in Japan rather than in China in the weeks leading up to this year's Beijing Games.

Many top-class athletes from around the world are likely to be making their final tune-ups from Hokkaido to Kyushu this summer, despite having to pay more to train here than they would in China.
"Training here might cost a little more, but Japan has a proven record as a country where final preparations can be made for a major event because it has held such events as the world athletics championships," an official from one such country said.

Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States are among nations planning to hold training camps in Japan, according to the Japanese Olympic Committee and other sources.
Various teams from eight countries have settled on locations in Japan where they wish to make their final preparations for the first Summer Olympics to be held in Asia since the Seoul Games in 1988.

Sportsmen and women in events such as athletics, swimming and canoing will come to Japan in July and August to prepare for the Beijing Games, which open on Aug. 8.

Teams from many countries have had difficulty in securing training locations once they have moved into the Olympic village. Instead, they have opted to hold training camps for previous Games in the vicinity of the host city to help athletes acclimatize and to minimize problems with time differences.
But a number of factors are putting teams off from training near Beijing.
"I want to avoid the risk of a long stay in Beijing," said the coach of the Finnish rowing team on a visit to Kagawa Prefecture in November to sound out the possibility of holding a training camp there.
The Finnish canoe team also made an approach to the prefecture the following month, leading a prefectural government official to suggest that "competitors in outdoor events have got the jitters about the air quality [in Beijing]."

The manager of the British swimming team also reportedly told an Osaka municipal government official of their "anxiety" over air pollution and food in China.

Some national teams have decided to hold camps in the same locations as they did for last summer's athletics championships in Osaka.
The Finnish athletics team will be based in Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, a city where nine countries held camps before the Osaka championships.
Ireland's athletics coach gushed about Matsue as a training location, saying, "Everything--the facilities, food and accommodation--was good."
Athletes from Germany who trained in Shibetsu, Hokkaido, for the Osaka championships were so pleased with the city that they chose to train there again.

"We could train in peace, which helped us put up a good performance," one competitor said.
The French judo team has decided on Tenri University in Tenri, Nara Prefecture, because of a connection with a coach who they had invited to come to France from the university.
Sweden plans to send 150 athletes in 19 sports to Fukuoka and nearby locations because "the stadium is in a forest, the conditions are similar to the host country and the athletes can relax there," a team spokesman said.
Officials from local authorities that will host the athletes are intent on getting their municipalities better known and hosting international exchanges.

"This is a chance to get the name of Fukuoka known across the world," a municipal official said. "I hope we can establish opportunities for residents of the city to see world-class athletes up close through open training sessions and other means."

The Osaka municipal government has gained the consent of the British swimming team to have its swimmers instruct local children.
Hokkaido will host this year's Group of Eight summit meeting at the Lake Toya hot-spring resort area in Toyakocho before the Games open this summer.
At a November party in a Tokyo hotel for ambassadors and officials of countries taking part in the summit, Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi handed out pamphlets from 17 municipalities hoping to entice Olympic teams to hold camps there.

Each of these municipalities is optimistic about the ripple effect of having teams based there.
"Even if we foot the bill for the athletes' transportation and use of facilities, there should be a big economic effect if recognition [of the city's name] increases," a spokesman for the Shibetsu municipal government said.
Even Hiroshima, which is yet to field any inquiries, has made preparations such as shelving plans for annually held competitions to secure training facilities, just in case athletes come knocking.

"We've prepared facilities and we have direct flights from Hiroshima Airport to Beijing," a city official said. "The competition for hosting training camps hasn't started yet."
As the Olympics draw closer, more and more countries seem likely to choose Japan as a base to prepare for the Games.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Greenpeace Protest chasing Japanese whalers

A Greenpeace protest ship located Japan's whaling fleet in Antarctic waters and is pursuing it to stop the hunt for the giant sea creatures, the environmental group said Saturday.
Greenpeace said the fleet of six Japanese whalers made off when they saw its ship Esperanza early Saturday.
It said the Esperanza was chasing the large factory ship Nisshin Maru, which was effectively unable to hunt whales as it tried to outrun the Greenpeace vessel.
Greenpeace said in a statement that if the Japanese tried to kill any whales, the Esperanza's crew would use non-violent means to prevent them.
It said the Esperanza had broadcast a message in Japanese and English to the whalers demanding they end the controversial cull.
"Our vessel and crew are here in the Southern Ocean to condemn your hunt, which includes endangered species, and to insist that you leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and return to port immediately," the message said.
Japan's whaling fleet plans to kill around 1,000 whales during this year's hunt.
Tokyo says the slaughter is for scientific research, exploiting a loophole in a 1986 moratorium on whaling, but makes no secret of the fact that the meat ends up on Japanese supermarket shelves.
Australia's recently elected government has spearheaded an international campaign to stop the whaling, prompting Japan to last month drop plans to kill 50 humpback whales.
An Australian customs vessel Oceanic Viking set sail from Western Australia for Antarctic waters last Tuesday on a mission to track the whaling fleet and gather evidence for a potential international court case against Tokyo.
The ship will spend 20 days gathering video and photographic evidence of Japan's slaughter of whales, fulfilling a pledge made by the governing Labor Party during the campaign for November's election.

Fukuda to meet Bono, Bill Gates, Matt Damon, to lure them to Africa conference

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is planning to meet U2 rock singer Bono, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Hollywood actor Matt Damon on the sidelines of a major conference in Switzerland later this month to make a personal pitch for their attendance at an African development conference in Japan in May, a government source said Sunday.
The Japanese government has invited Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Kenya, to the conference and is also sounding out American actress Angelina Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the source said. Bono, a well-known anti-poverty campaigner, and a few other people are understood to have expressed an interest in attending the Tokyo International Conference on African Development to be held in Yokohama, the source said.

Courts sentenced 46 to death in 2007

Japanese courts handed down death sentences to a total of 46 defendants in 2007, the highest number since 1980, the earliest year for which comparable data are available. At least 106 people — the highest number since 1980 — were on death row after final rulings as of the end of 2007, the year in which nine people were hanged, also the largest number.
District, high and Supreme courts in Japan issued a record number of death sentences in 2007 for the second year in a row. The annual data — based on the government's annual statistics report on judicial affairs — underscore the trend toward harsher punishment in Japan.
When the U.N. moratorium resolution was adopted, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said, "Whether the death sentence should be maintained or abolished should be decided independently by each country by taking into account the sentiments of its people and its crime situation."
"In our country, a majority of the public thinks that death sentences are inevitable for people who commit heinous crimes," said the minister. In Japan, an execution by hanging must be authorized by the justice minister.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another man died last year after being rejected by hospitals

A 70-year-old man who was suffering from chest pains died after having been rejected by 21 hospitals and lapsing into a critical condition in an ambulance in Osaka last March, rescue staff said Saturday. A rescue team picked up the man in Kanan, Osaka Prefecture, and asked 21 hospitals in 11 neighboring municipalities to accept him. But all of them turned down their request, the staff said.
He fell into a critical condition about one hour later, and was finally accepted by the emergency center at Kinki University hospital, which had previously refused him. But he died 17 days later, according to the rescue staff. In Osaka, a series of such incidents has been reported recently. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has launched a nationwide study on similar cases to improve the emergency medical care system.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Japan to resume antiterror refueling mission under new law

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Friday he plans to have Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels head to the Indian Ocean by the end of January for resumption of their refueling mission.
"To resume the refueling activities as soon as possible, the government will decide on an implementation plan in the middle of next week," Fukuda said in a statement issued after the Diet enacted a law to resume the refueling mission in support of U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.
Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has already issued an order to the MSDF to prepare for the resumption of the mission.
The House of Representatives, the more powerful lower chamber in the bicameral Diet, passed the bill in a second vote Friday afternoon with a two-thirds majority vote by the ruling bloc of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party.
The special legislative process in the lower house in line with a constitutional provision, the first in 57 years, follows rejection of the bill by the opposition-controlled House of Councillors with a 133-106 vote in a plenary session in the morning. The lower house has already cleared the bill once, on Nov 13.
Restarting the mission is a key policy objective for Fukuda, who assumed office last September. The United States, Japan's main ally, and other countries including Britain and Pakistan, have repeatedly called on Tokyo to resume the mission.
Fukuda expressed his relief following the enactment of the bill, telling reporters, "It took a long time."
The bill cleared the 480-seat lower house in a 340-133 vote. All the 473 ballots cast were valid. Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, Fukuda's archrival, left the chamber before voting began.
Japan suspended the mission in November when a special law authorizing it expired in the face of resistance from the DPJ-led opposition camp.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer welcomed the enactment, saying in his statement, "The U.S. appreciates the fact that the Japanese government has taken this important step in support of the international community's efforts to create a stable and democratic Afghanistan."
"Terrorism is the bane of our time. By passing this legislation, Japan has demonstrated its willingness to stand with those who are trying to create a safer, more tolerant world," it noted.
It was the first time since 1951 that a bill was enacted by a second vote in the lower house after being rejected by the upper chamber.
A bill put to a second vote can become law if it is passed by a two-thirds majority vote by its members present in the lower house in line with the Constitution. The LDP and New Komeito hold a combined two-thirds majority in the chamber.
The Maritime Staff Office plans to dispatch liaison officers to Bahrain to coordinate the resumption of the mission with counterparts from countries participating in the operations, government officials said.
Also earlier Friday, the upper house passed a bill with a 120-118 vote featuring assistance to Afghanistan which the DPJ presented as a counterproposal to the refueling bill and carried over to the lower house.
LDP Secretary General Bummei Ibuki told a press conference the lower house should take up the DPJ's bill for deliberations in the upcoming ordinary parliamentary session starting next Friday, rather than scrapping it in the current session through next Tuesday.
Unlike the expired special law, the new law limits the MSDF's supply operations for foreign vessels to the provision of oil and water, and is valid for one year. It also does not require parliamentary approval for the mission.
The officials also said the Japanese government will ensure that the oil supplied in the mission will only be used for antiterrorism operations related to Afghanistan and will not be diverted for other purposes such as the U.S.-led operations in Iraq.
Japan terminated the refueling mission in November after Fukuda's government failed to win parliamentary approval for the special law to be extended, following a crushing defeat for the ruling camp in the upper house election in July.

Police to look for terrorist suspects in 3-D

Tokyo plans to set up three-dimensional cameras across the city to pinpoint terrorist suspects, a local official said Friday. Tokyo will launch joint research among police, companies and universities to develop the facial recognition system ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, which the metropolis is bidding to host, the official said.
Under the system, cameras would be installed throughout the city at train stations, commercial hubs and other key points.
The system would be the first to transform pictures instantly into 3-D, which would then be compared in real-time to images of suspects on wanted lists, the official said.
In the event of a match, police would be immediately notified.
The current system "only has two-dimensional images and cameras can't match them to real faces when viewing them diagonally or at different angles," said the official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
The new system is expected to cost around 110 million yen and will be tested for the first time in 2010, the official said.

Monday, January 07, 2008

95% of Tokyo taxis become smoke-free

About 52,000 taxis in Tokyo, or some 95% of those in the capital, went nonsmoking Monday, making nearly half of Japan's roughly 270,000 cabs smoke-free along with similar developments the same day in two other prefectures. Aside from all the cabs belonging to Tokyo's two major associations, there are about 3,000 unaffiliated taxis in Tokyo, but many such cars are also likely to follow suit so almost all taxis in Tokyo will become smoke-free, industry officials said.
Smoking was banned Monday by the Tokyo Taxi Association, covering some 34,000 cabs run by 389 of Tokyo's 436 taxi companies, and the Tokyo Kojin Taxi Association, to which some 18,000 owner-driven taxis belong, plus industry groups in Saitama and Fukui prefectures. This results in a total smoking ban in around 120,000 taxis operating in 15 of Japan's 47 prefectures.
Similar steps are also planned in Gunma Prefecture on Thursday, Okinawa Prefecture in April and Nara Prefecture in May, while hitting a snag in Osaka and some other areas due to passenger opposition.
In Tokyo, the policy was introduced despite smoker objections amid moves by many Tokyo wards to ban smoking on the street, and nonsmoking signs were displayed Monday at taxi stands and doors and the top of each cab.
Smoking in taxis came to be banned in Japan following the 2003 implementation of the Health Promotion Law stipulating efforts to prevent health damage from secondhand smoke and a court ruling in December 2005 that taxi operators are obliged to consider protecting their drivers from secondhand smoke.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Teen attacks 5 with kitchen knives in street rampage in Tokyo

A 16-year-old boy was arrested Saturday after attacking five people and injuring two of them with kitchen knives in a rampage on a shopping street in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward. Police officers rushed to the scene and apprehended the teenage assailant, a second-year high school student from Shinagawa who was later quoted as telling the police that he "wanted to kill everyone and anyone" in the incident that occurred around 3:20 p.m.
The boy has also told investigators that he has been visiting a psychiatric hospital, police said, noting that they are continuing to investigate his motive as well as his mental competence.
Two female company workers, aged 30 and 42, were slightly injured with slashes on their backs, their chests and other parts of their bodies, police said.
The three other people — an 18-year-old high school girl, a 28-year-old female temporary worker and a 61-year-old man — were not injured, though clothing and other items were slashed, police said.
According to police, the boy wearing a black jumper jacket and black jeans was holding a kitchen knife in each hand and also had a knife hidden in his shoe when he was arrested. The knives were 27-28 centimeters long.
According to witnesses, the boy attacked the five people randomly as he charged for about 400 meters shouting, "I'll kill you...You fool...I'm not bad..." and other strange things.
Police said the boy calmed down after he was arrested and is responding to questions quietly.
The shopping street is in front of Togoshiginza Station on the Tokyu Ikegami Line.

Friday, January 04, 2008

77-year-old man swindled out of Y10 mil through 'It's me' fraud

A 77-year-old man in Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture, was swindled out of 10 million yen in a case of the so-called "It's me" fraud, police said Thursday. The man received a phone call on Dec 17 from a person pretending to be his son and who said, "I'm involved in a scandal at the office...would you send money to the bank account of my supervisor?"
The victim believed that the caller was his 49-year-old son, who now lives in Hokkaido, "as the voice was similar," and transferred a total of 10 million yen on five occasions by Dec 20, according to investigators. When the man talked to his son during the New Year's holiday period, he realized he had become a victim of fraud and informed the police.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ichiro Ozawa determined to assume power by winning a House of Representatives election

Main opposition Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa expressed his determination Tuesday to assume power from the ruling coalition by winning a House of Representatives election widely expected to take place this year.
"We must make utmost efforts from today toward the general election with the determination to win at any cost and secure a majority in the lower chamber," Ozawa said during a New Year party of DPJ lawmakers and others held at his residence in Tokyo. "Without changing the administration, Japan's future is hopeless. It will be the last opportunity for the people to choose their future," he said.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Newly privatized post offices start delivering New Year's cards

Post offices across Japan started delivering New Year's greeting cards the morning of New Year's Day on Tuesday for the first time since the privatization of the country's postal system in October. According to Japan Post Service Co, a total of 2,033 million cards nationwide are to be delivered on New Year's Day. The figure is up 6.5% from a year earlier.
At Japan Post Service's Nihombashi branch in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, some 50 employees in new uniforms attended a ceremony to mark the delivery of the first batch of the greetings cards. Yoshifumi Nishikawa, president of Japan Post Holdings Co, the holding company of postal services providers, and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hiroya Masuda took part in the ceremony. "It fills me with emotion to realize that we are able to hold the first departing ceremony after the privatization here in Nihombashi, the birthplace of Japan's postal system," Nishikawa said.