Takafumi Horie, out of prison, starts mobile app firm

A Japanese entrepreneur who founded one of the country’s largest web portals and was a national celebrity before being jailed for securities fraud is now free and has launched a firm to develop smartphone apps.

Takafumi Horie was once a household name in Japan as the outspoken founder and CEO of Livedoor, a popular domestic website. Dubbed “Horiemon” in the press for his similarity to the pudgy animation character Doraemon, he published several best-selling books on business and once ran for political office with the backing of the prime minister.

He attempted a hostile takeover of a large TV station that led to new acquisition laws in Japan, and when his home and company’s offices were raided in 2006 on suspicion of fraud it caused a plunge in the stock market. Many investors who had sunk their life savings into his firm’s shares were subsequently wiped out.

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Japan denies censorship of nuclear crisis

Japan on Friday denied that a government project to monitor online news reports and Twitter posts about the Fukushima nuclear crisis was an attempt to censor negative information and views.

Some Western online reports have charged that Japan had passed a law with the intent of "cleansing" the Internet of negative reports and commentary about the accident at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant.

Chikako Ogami, a spokeswoman at the energy agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), told AFP: "Our government will never censor information at all. These are erroneous news reports."

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Japan Internet providers block child porn sites

A group of Japanese internet service providers started blocking access to child porn websites on Thursday as part of efforts to crack down on the spread of sexually explicit images of children.

Japan is seen as a major global source of child pornography in photo and video form — despite production and distribution being outlawed — and authorities have stepped up efforts to contain the problem.

The possession of child porn remains legal in Japan.

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Japan’s Internet proves quake-proof

As silver-linings go, it may not be much; but it is remarkable to learn that Japan’s Internet barely skipped a beat after last week’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami and aftershocks.

Physical damage did occur to network infrastructure, but within hours the self-correcting architecture of Japan’s Internet routed around it and information flowed freely. Keep in mind that this damage coincided with a massive surge in Internet use, as users around the world suddenly began demanding live video and other data from Japan.

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Internet Kills the Video Star

According to CyberMedia in Japan, Internet.com and goo research just published results from their latest studies about ‘PC internet usage at home’. The results are not too surprising to me, but boy are the numbers staggering!

Concerning the results, 98.3% of Japanese have a fixed internet connection at home and over 70% use internet at home more than 1h every day. And when it’s blazing fast, why not? Well what is the alternative to the internet–TV? Not really, not anymore. And what are people in Japan saying about TV? It’s boring and there is nothing interesting on…and it’s showing…the major networks in Japan are losing money and advertising dollars that could support more interesting programming daily. But, then again no ones even tuning in through the tube anymore it’s all online through sites that offer the same content or phones that pick up the signals. And it’s not just the internet…it’s mobile internet and gaming that’s eating out the holes in those television execs pockets with an estimated 28% of Japanese playing mobile games. And what about the video and computer gaming industry? It’s getting bigger and bigger everyday. Needless to say there are tons of alternative entertainment to television and it’s not just the tube or even movies, anymore. Heck it’s not even google searches and the results telling us things anymore, when you can go and twitter another person for information. What it is…It’s technology connecting us in new ways and disconnecting us in others.

Oh, but at least we still see our families and friends on Holidays, right? Think again…

It doesn’t stop for holidays, either. When it comes to holidays or days off an astonishing 22% of Japanese become hardcore internet users with a usage of more than 6h per day. About 25% of these hardcore users surf the web even more than 12h per day, when off. Compared to the last survey at the end of 2008 the heavy user ratio increased by more than 1%. So to rephrase the question asked by CyberMedia–Did the internet turn into an alternative to going out and meeting people on holidays in times of recession or did it just take over? I think it took over with the help of the recession keeping more of us at home and not going out and using the technology in our homes as our entertainment.

What will be more interesting is to see what innovation comes out of all this new ‘heavy’ user interaction. And, if when the recession is over, what sticks around, what’s been created, and what has improved.

And when this recession ends…will people be going out again or will they stay isolated with their technology?

Photo by: PP@flickr