New Residents Cards First Day Technical Glitch

Reports from the Tokyo Regional Immigration branch at Narita International Airport indicate that the system of issuing new resident cards to arriving foreigners, which began Monday morning, have already developed a technical glitch, causing authorities to consider a temporary halt to issue of the cards.

The system had been functioning normally from 8:30 a.m., when cards were issued to the first 14 foreigners who had been waiting, but subsequently began experiencing problems exchanging data with the server, Japanese media reported.

As of 1:30 p.m., efforts to restore operations were still ongoing, and immigration authorities were reportedly considering temporary countermeasures, such as offering to mail the new cards to their intended recipients.

An update by NHK issued at 3:25 p.m. noted that technical difficulties were being experienced at all 14 immigration facilities in the Kanto Koshinetsu region, with issue of the cards, when possible at all, requiring over two hours per person.

The cause of the trouble was not immediately clear.

Japan investing?

If you have extra money or receive unexpected income, would you put it in your savings bank account or attempt to multiply it by investing?

Ask the same question of Japanese consumers, and you may have a different perspective. Japan has been traditionally a country of savings, not outstanding exactly for its people’s successful investing skills. A lot of people still seem to prefer saving to investing, thinking investing is a form of “gambling”.

Saving was once a virtue in Japan, with people during the l970s saving 20 per cent of their disposable income. The rate dropped to 15 per cent in the l990s and today to a few per cent in the staggering economy.

Read the rest of the story: Japan losing investing fever.

U.S. Vice President Biden to visit China, Mongolia and Japan

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will depart Tuesday for a trip to China, Mongolia and Japan that will include meetings with China’s top leaders.

The trip to China is at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping as part of planned reciprocal visits by the two nations’ top deputies announced earlier this year, according to a White House statement.

Read the rest of the story: U.S. Vice President Biden to visit China, Mongolia and Japan.

Everyone Dies Alone – Not in Japan

Japan’s rapidly aging society, where nearly one in four people is over 65, means that more elderly are living alone every year – and also, sadly, dying alone, their bodies sometimes undiscovered for days.

But now, local authorities are teaming up with groups such as the post office to check in on senior citizens, increasing their human contact and improving their lives.

Tokyo’s Shinagawa ward, where last year at least 25 elderly died alone in their homes, in August began a venture with Japan Post in which postmen check up on people over 65 once a month by handing them seasonal greeting cards.

"We hope to strengthen ties within the community," said Akihiro Hara, a Shinagawa welfare official.

Read the rest of the story: Japan takes steps to keep elderly from dying alone.

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."

Read the rest of the story: Japan denies censorship over nuclear crisis.

Tech to ‘fully recover’ from Japan disaster by fall

The violent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year severely rattled the technology industry’s supply chain and pushed back the launch dates of several new devices. But an end is in sight: A new report predicts that the industry will be completely back up and running in about two months.

A study released Wednesday by IHS iSuppli said that electronics makers located nearest to the epicenter of the earthquake will be the last to get back online, but they are expected to make a full recovery by early September. That’s a full six months after the earthquake first rocked northern Japan on March 11.

Read the rest of the story: Supply chain to ‘fully recover’ from Japan disaster by fall.

Hiroko Nagata, leader of the United Red Army dead at 65

The ex-leader of an armed Japanese leftist group from the 1970s has died while on death row, having been in jail since her 1972 arrest over the savage killings of 14 fellow radicals, according to reports.

Hiroko Nagata, 65, a central figure in the now-defunct extremist group the United Red Army, died late Saturday due to multiple organ failure, Jiji Press and other news outlets said, quoting Japan’s Justice Ministry.

The United Red Army was a small group born out of a broader far-left movement, which promoted armed communist revolution and eventually became notorious for its extreme brutality.

Read the rest of the story: Ex-leader of brutal Japan far-left group dies.

$39 billion settlement for Japanese hepatitis B sufferers

Japanese Hepatitis B sufferers thought to have caught the disease from repeated use of needles during a vaccination programme have agreed to settle a dispute with the state, at the cost of $39 billion.

The decision will bring to an end a series of lawsuits across the country but it will pose the government with a headache as it looks for ways to raise the 3.2 trillion yen, with the possibility it may have to to raise taxes.

Tokyo had already expressed a readiness to accept the proposal, bringing to an end the country’s largest medical dispute that will see it compensate about 430,000 people infected with the potentially fatal disease during decades ago.

Read the rest of the story: Japan hepatitis B patients agree to $39 bln deal.

Emperor Akihito and Empress receive New Year’s greetings at Imperial Palace

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Saturday received New Year’s greetings from other imperial family members and government leaders at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Among the well-wishers were Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, heads of the Diet’s two chambers and the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

"It is certainly a pleasure to celebrate the New Year together," Emperor Akihito told his guests. "At the beginning of the year, I pray for the development of the nation and the happiness of the people."

Read the rest of the story: Emperor, empress receive New Year’s greetings at Imperial Palace.