Category Archives: Japan

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The Aomori Nebuta Festival kicks off this weekend

One of Japan’s biggest summer festivals has kicked off in the northeastern city of Aomori.

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is known for its spectacular floats that parade through the city.

The floats, called “Nebuta”, carry huge illuminated paper lanterns shaped like legendary heroes and ancient warriors.

The parade started on Saturday night with 15 floats, each about 5 meters high and 10 meters wide. They were accompanied by dancers known as “Haneto” wearing matching traditional summer kimonos.

Man Jumps from Plane at Narita Airport

A 33-year-old man was arrested after he opened the emergency door and jumped from a Philippine Airlines plane as it was approaching the terminal at Narita airport on Saturday.

According to police, the suspect, identified as Hirokatsu Tachihara, got out of his seat and opened the emergency exit door as Flight 434 was approaching the terminal at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Fuji TV reported.

Police said he jumped about 4 meters to the tarmac and ran for about 150 meters before he was apprehended by security guards.

100 Companies in Japan Make Something Stronger than Steel — Will work together to produce nanocellulose

About 100 companies in Japan will work together to put nanocellulose, made from wood fibers, into practical use as a next-generation material, with one-fifth the weight of steel but about five times the strength.

Companies involved with its development include paper manufacturers, automakers, chemical companies and others.

They aim to utilize the new material for manufacturing auto parts, construction materials, artificial blood vessels and various other purposes.

Because nanocellulose is made mainly from wood chips, it is considered friendly to the environment. Thus, the government plans to support the development as part of its economic growth strategy.

Nanocellulose is made by chemically processing fibers contained in wood. The fibers are dissolved into pieces, each of which is measured on a nanometer scale. One nanometer is one-millionth of a meter and is about one-hundred-thousandths of the thickness of a human hair.

Disney bringing Doraemon to US TV sets

The popular Japanese manga character Doraemon will make his debut on a US TV series next month.

Doraemon is a robot cat who travels back in time from the future to help a schoolboy in today’s world.

A TV channel operated by the US entertainment giant Walt Disney will start broadcasting the Doraemon show on July 7th.

The story will be set in an imaginary place in the United States and its contents will be adapted to US customs and culture. The characters will use forks, instead of chopsticks.

Tomioka Silk Mill Now a World Heritage Site

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided Saturday to add the Tomioka Silk Mill, a historic factory building symbolizing Japan’s industrialization from the 19th century, to the World Cultural Heritage list.

The mill and related sites in Gunma Prefecture became the 18th World Heritage property in Japan including natural heritage sites. They are also Japan’s first modern industrial heritage sites on the list.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his delight at the decision in a statement saying, “We would like to firmly protect this cultural heritage which is a treasure of the world and pass this on to the next generation.”

Prince Katsura, cousin of Emperor Akihito, dead at 66

Prince Katsura, a cousin of Emperor Akihito, died of acute heart failure at a Tokyo hospital at 10:55 a.m. Sunday, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was 66.

The prince was taken to the University of Tokyo Hospital in a critical condition earlier in the day, the agency said.
He has been in and out of hospital in recent years due to illnesses such as blood poisoning and possible infectious diseases since suffering an acute subdural hematoma, a condition in which blood gathers around or inside the brain, in 1988.

Joban Line Train Operations Running in Fukushima Evacuation Area

Train operations on a Joban Line section that have been suspended due to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent nuclear accident were restarted on Sunday.    

East Japan Railway Co. <9020>, or JR East, the operator of the line, brought back online the 8.5-kilometer-long section between Hirono Station in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, eastern Japan, and Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha in the same prefecture.   

It is the first time that train operations have been resumed in an area where an evacuation advisory has been issued following the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 power plant.    
An evacuation advisory has been in place almost across Naraha, which is close to the damaged nuclear plant.   

Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto last month said that he aims to realize residents’ permanent return to their homes in the town in spring next year. Naraha residents in evacuation are now allowed to enter the town during the daytime.

Where’s Grandpa? – Japan’s Dementia Epidemic

Nearly 5 million people in Japan live with dementia and thousands are going missing from their homes and carers every month.

In Japan’s second biggest city, Osaka, Atsuko Hajihata is frantically looking for her missing grandfather Akinori Matsuyama.

For the last several months she has been handing out leaflets on street corners and train stations, asking people to contact her if they see her grandfather.

He walked out of the family home in January and has not been seen since. Ms Hajihata says she is nervous because she thinks he has dementia.

“I still have hope of finding him but I’ve heard that bodies of drowned people have been found,” she said.

“But maybe he’s being looked after by people.”

Some of the missing turn up in mental institutions or aged care homes.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s dementia epidemic prompts calls to improve missing persons network.

AKB48 team members assaulted with saw

Two members of all-girl pop group AKB48 and a male staff member were wounded Sunday afternoon when a man wielding a saw assaulted them at an event in Iwate Prefecture, police said, adding they had arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder.

The group members were identified by the police and a local fire department as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18. They sustained cuts on their heads and right hands, while the male staffer sustained cuts on his left hand, the police said.

The arrested man, Satoru Umeta, is unemployed and from Towada in the neighboring prefecture of Aomori, the police said. He allegedly assaulted the victims with a saw, prompting an emergency call to the police that a man with a blade had been acting violently in an event hall.

Umeta has admitted to the allegations and was quoted as telling investigators, “I did it.”The victims were later transported to hospital.