All posts by Jonathan Green

Shibuya Station to Get Makeover – Easier Transfers

Shibuya Station is used by more than 3 million people daily, but its labyrinthine layout and the distance between the lines passing through the station can make changing trains a test of endurance. A major renovation project that started this spring should make getting around the huge terminal station easier-although it will not be completed until fiscal 2027.

Since Shibuya Station opened in 1885, the addition of new lines has involved major expansion and remodeling work wherever space allowed. The end result is the station’s current maze-like structure and a patchwork of train facilities cobbled together in the heart of Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district. Because there was not enough land for the Saikyo Line platforms alongside existing platforms, they were constructed about 350 meters south. Transferring to other lines requires traversing a long connecting walkway.

This major overhaul of Shibuya Station could finally begin because the platforms of the Tokyu Toyoko Line were shifted underground when the line started direct connections with the Fukutoshin Line in March 2013, which created a vast open area. Preliminary construction work for the new platforms of the Saikyo Line in this space-350 meters from where they currently stand-started in April.

Japan travel agent forgets school trip booking, so forges student suicide note

A Japanese travel agent who forgot to book a fleet of buses for a school trip tried to cover his tracks by forging a student’s suicide note in a failed bid to get the excursion cancelled. Regulators from the Japan Tourism Agency raided the offices of JTB Corp, the country’s biggest travel agency, after a 30-year-old employee failed to order 11 buses for a high school in central Japan for its trip scheduled for April 25. The man noticed his mistake on the day before the students were due to depart, but instead of owning up to his error, he hatched a wild-eyed plan to get himself off the hook.

The man, who has not been identified, drafted a note in the style of a student threatening to commit suicide unless the trip was cancelled. He then handed the note to the school’s principal, saying he had found it nearby.

Read the rest of the story: Japan travel agent forgets booking, forges suicide note.

Japans Imperial Couple Say Goodbye to President Obama

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko said farewell to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday morning before his departure from Tokyo to South Korea, the second destination of his four-nation Asian tour.    

Around 9:30 a.m. 12:30 a.m. GMT, the Imperial couple visited a Tokyo hotel where Obama was staying. The Emperor and the Empress shook hands with him, and they had a 15-minute conversation in Obamas room at the hotel.   

When the couple were leaving the hotel, Obama said that he very much appreciates the great hospitality he received during his stay in the Japanese capital and that U.S. citizens feel deep affection for the Emperor and the Empress, as well as the people of Japan.   

During the talks in the hotel room, the Emperor told Obama, “I hope your stay in Japan was comfortable and fruitful,” according to Imperial Household Agency officials.   

Obama responded that he believes the two nations can pass the bonds of friendship from current to future generations by continuing personnel exchanges, the officials said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XJElIyCdLtM

Nippon Professional Baseball’s Ball Maker, Mizuno, Apologizes for Ball Defect

mizuno-ball-defect

Japan’s professional baseball league was facing another ball scandal Tuesday as sports equipment giant Mizuno apologized for a defect that turned the nation’s top sport into a slugfest.

The firm blamed a manufacturing defect, after league officials said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month.

“This happened because of Mizuno’s failure to control our operations,” company president Akito Mizuno told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Last year, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Ryozo Kato was forced to quit after it was discovered that the league and Mizuno conspired to tweak the balls to make the game more exciting.

After months of repeated denials and a huge surge in home runs, the league admitted that it had changed specifications of the balls to give them greater bounce off the bat.

The league also admitted that it had demanded its manufacturer keep quiet about the switch.

Abe invites Kennedy for ride on state-of-the-art maglev train

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy took a 500 kph ride on a maglev train at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Center of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai).

Abe invited Kennedy as U.S. President Barack Obama plans to introduce a high-speed railway network in the United States. Abe hopes Japan will be the nation offering the maglev technology that helps create that network.

Abe is also offering the same technology to other nations.

Japan Mobilizes SDF Troops to Fight Bird Flu Outbreak

Self-Defense Forces troops were mobilized Monday to help fight an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.    

Some 200 personnel from the Ground SDF’s eighth division based in the city of Kumamoto helped cull chickens and bury them underground at the request of the prefectural government.   

The move came after the H5 subtype virus was detected Sunday in broilers that died at the farm in the town of Taragi, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country in three years.   

A total of about 112,000 chickens are slated to be culled at the farm as well as another farm in the Kumamoto prefecture village of Sagara run by the same farmer.   

The prefectural government on Sunday conducted an investigation into approximately 230 poultry farms in the prefecture breeding more than 100 chickens in total. As a result, no problem was found at them except for the one in question, officials said Monday.

Japan Putting Sanctions in Place to Punish Russia Over Ukraine Crisis

Japan announced Tuesday a set of measures to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine over the independence of its Crimea region, including suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement the sanctions also include freezing the planned launch of talks for an investment accord as well as for bilateral agreements on ensuring peaceful use of space and preventing dangerous military activities, without elaborating.

Japan has urged Russia not to annex Crimea and to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, saying the region’s weekend referendum was illegal despite an overwhelming majority voting in favor of joining Russia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lxcUbmlxp2w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FDgWuAfbzVE

Eight Missing and One Confirmed Dead in Freighter Accident Near Tokyo Bay

A cargo ship sank after colliding with another in areas just outside Tokyo Bay early Tuesday, leaving a crew member on the ill-fated ship dead and eight others missing.

The sunken freighter, the 12,630-ton Panamanian-registered Beagle III, hit the 7,406-ton South Korean-registered Pegasus Prime at a point some 6 kilometers off the cape of Tsurugizaki in the city of Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, around 3:10 a.m. (6:10 p.m. Monday GMT).

Of the Beagle III’s 20 crew members, all of whom are Chinese, 12 were rescued by a passenger vessel sailing nearby and a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship, but one of them, a male member, was confirmed dead later, according to the coast guard’s third regional headquarters in the Kanagawa capital of Yokohama.

The remaining eight are missing, and the coast guard is continuing to search for them.

The Beagle III was on its way to Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, after departing from Yokohama, while the Pegasus Prime was headed for Tokyo from South Korea’s Gunsan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Fp1E4D7lF2E

Public Toilet Shows All for All to see

A “smoke toilet” was recently put in the Japanese city of Oita. The idea being that the transparent window goes opaque, or smokes when someone enters.

Yet, the toilet seems to be exposing those inside for all to see!

The sensor is triggered upon entering and makes the window opaque, hence creating privacy, but in Japan and according to the Oita Press, the opaque window can accidentally go transparent.

But, why? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

The sensor will actually switch the window back to transparent, if there is no movement in the toilet for 35 seconds. The sensor thinks the toilet is empty and the private smokey window shade goes away. And then, “Hello World!”

Currently, the company has no plans to lengthen the duration…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DxdfNvsV_pU