Nov 16th, 2017

レッスン普通に受けたら、予約してなかった。多分また忘れてるから開けておいたよ。だって。^^  最近そんなんばっかだな。私。(ためいき) 相撲の事件とザマの事件とThanks giving由来の話。

1)   Illuminated by the light of the moon that drifts in and out of the clouds, wild boars swaggering down a shopping avenue of a desolate town here are captured on camera.

The entire population of the town of Futaba, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is currently living elsewhere. Almost all of Futaba remains designated a “difficult-to-return zone” more than six and a half years after the nuclear disaster.

The streetscape of the area that is a no-entry zone at night remains as it was when the disaster occurred.

2)   When Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, met with President Xi Jinping of China on the sidelines of a regional summit meeting in Vietnam over the weekend, the pair shook hands and posed for a photo. Xi, who had looked more dour in previous meetings, flashed a grin.

It was a sign, the Japanese news media suggested, of warming relations between the two longtime adversaries.

3)   A 27-year-old American tourist has been arrested for scrawling graffiti on the wall at a construction site in Tokyo’s Shibuya area, police said Thursday.

A police officer on patrol apprehended the man who was drunk at the time.

4)   The grisly beheading of nine young people lured by a suspected serial killer after tweeting suicidal thoughts has sparked debate about the use of social media in Japan, which has one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

5)   The Japanese city of Osaka is seeking support for its bid to host the 2025 World Expo.

6)   Wednesday marks 40 years since a Japanese schoolgirl was abducted by North Korean agents.

Megumi Yokota was 13 years old when she was taken while walking home from school in Niigata City, on the Sea of Japan coast, on November 15th, 1977.

7)   The leaders of Germany and France pledged support for the Paris climate accord on Wednesday at a UN conference to discuss climate change.

8)   Canada’s defense minister is calling for more women to take part in UN peacekeeping operations.

Harjit Sajjan chairs the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference in Vancouver, Canada, which opened on Tuesday.

9)   US President Donald Trump has cited big business deals achieved as well as strengthened ties with regional leaders as the tremendously successful results of his extensive Asian tour.


Nov 11th, 2017


1)   Highly touted Japanese pitcher-outfielder Shohei Otani announced on Saturday he wants to move to Major League Baseball next season.

“The other day I met with team officials and stated my intentions,” Otani said at a press conference. “My request was met with warm words of support so I hope to do my best in America from next year on.”

2)   The co-chairs of the TPP ministerial meeting have announced that a new deal was reached by the members during 4 days of talks in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Japan’s Economic Revitalization Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, and Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Minister, Tran Tuan Anh, explained the new agreement to reporters on Sunday.

They said that, in the new pact, 20 items will be suspended to accommodate the US’s withdrawal from the deal.

3)   A test-run of a hydrogen fuel-cell powered train has been revealed to the media in Germany. It will be the first train of its kind to be put into commercial operation.

The preview was held at a factory in the northern city of Salzgitter on Friday. French train maker Alstom has been developing the eco-friendly locomotive.

It runs on electricity generated by hydrogen that reacts with oxygen in the air. It emits no exhaust, such as carbon dioxide.

4)   Officials at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo say the baby panda born in June is growing up healthily.

The zoo held a news conference on Friday; one day after Xiang Xiang marked 150 days after her birth.

The officials say the female cub now weighs 9.9 kilograms, and that she is walking around the room and climbing on a 70 centimeter tall log.

The zoo plans to put her on public display with her mother in mid-December.

5)   Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in the city of Da Nang on Friday evening on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

At the beginning of their talks, Putin congratulated Abe on his coalition’s win in the Lower House election last month. Putin said the victory will help with the cooperation plan the 2 leaders had agreed on. He also said he’s happy with the development of bilateral ties, pointing out that political dialogue and economic cooperation between the 2 countries are brisk.

Oct 28th, 2017

今日トピック多過ぎ。^^  日産、スバルときたから来月あたりホンダが。。。


1)   The head of Japanese automaker Subaru bowed deeply in apology Friday as the company admitted that it has been carrying out flawed inspections of its Japan-made cars for years.

2)   The number of reported bullying cases at Japanese schools hit a record high of more than 320,000 in the 2016 academic year due partly to efforts to detect early signs, the education ministry says.

Altogether 323,808 bullying cases at elementary, junior high and high schools were reported, up 43.8% from a year before, with the figure for elementary schools jumping 1.5-fold.  90.6% of the total cases had been resolved.

3)   A Japanese teenager is suing the government of Osaka, saying her public high school repeatedly forced her to dye her naturally-brown hair black or be banned from attending school, local media reported on Friday.

In a lawsuit filed in Osaka District Court, the 18-year-old girl said her mother informed Kaifukan School in Habikino city upon her enrolment that she was born with brownish hair, as the school had a policy banning hair coloring, media reported.

Educators, however, instructed her to color her hair black, telling her repeatedly that the dye job was insufficient and forcing her to “either dye the hair black or quit school”, Kyodo news reported, citing the lawsuit.

4)   Japan’s Nikkei share average rose more than 1% to a fresh 21-year high on Friday, led by banking shares as U.S. yields remained high and by tech shares after their U.S. counterparts posted strong earnings.

5)   Approximately 1,000 apples were stolen earlier this week from an orchard in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, shortly after they were picked.

According to police, at around 4:30 p.m. on Oct 24, the owner of the orchard reported that 1,000 Fuji apples awaiting their scheduled shipment had been stolen, Fuji TV reported. The stolen apples are worth about 40,000 yen

6)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called for pay hikes through negotiations between management and labor unions next spring, making such a request for the fifth straight year to inject fresh momentum into wage growth.

“I hope to see wages raised by 3% in next spring’s wage talks,” Abe told a government panel meeting at his office. It’s rare for the prime minister to refer to a specific number for wage increase.

7)   Don’t want Amazon boxes sitting on the porch? The company hopes you’ll let a stranger inside to drop them off.

Amazon said Wednesday it’ll launch a service called Amazon Key next month that will let people allow the door to be unlocked when they’re not there so packages can be left inside.

The proposal drew plenty of humorous reactions on social media, as well as concerns about safety or delivery employees being mistaken for intruders. Amazon said the drivers would be well-vetted, while one expert said the company has built up trust with customers and younger customers were more likely to try it out.

8)   With the arrival of the cold-and-cough season, you may be thinking about cooking up a big batch of chicken soup as a cure for what ails us.

I love the stuff, too, but I suggest you stock up on some fresh ginger root instead. Ginger, of course, is one of the many flavors to be found in a stir-fry Asian dish or Indian curry. But used in larger quantities than specified for those recipes, it can become quite spicy. Of all the home remedies out there, I have found tea, prepared with fresh ginger, to be the most effective.

9)   Percent of men who favor the addition of male-only trains cars

● Age 20-29: 66 percent

● Age 30-39: 51 percent

● Age 40-49: 47 percent

● Age 50-59: 38 percent

Percent of women who favor the addition of male-only trains cars

● Age 20-29: 58 percent

● Age 30-39: 53 percent

● Age 40-49: 63 percent

● Age 50-59: 57 percent

10)   The regional parliament of Catalonia has voted to unilaterally declare independence from Spain. The move comes after voters overwhelmingly chose to break away in a referendum earlier this month.

The 135-member Catalan parliament reconvened a plenary session on Friday to discuss the issue. 70 voted in favor, 10 were against and 2 submitted blank ballots.

Meanwhile, the upper house of Spain’s parliament authorized Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to impose direct rule on Catalonia. Rajoy says he will first dismiss Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

11)   US President Donald Trump has stressed that he will be working to solve the problems of North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

Trump spoke in an interview with FOX TV on Wednesday, ahead of his visit to Japan, South Korea and China from November 5th.

He said he hopes his Asian tour will be historic and positive. He said they have to solve the North Korea issue, which he said is a very big problem. Trump said he will get it solved.

12)   Malicious software has been used to launch a massive cyber-attack against computers in Russia and Ukraine.

Russian media outlets say the malware took down the country’s Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

The attack also affected Ukraine’s Odessa airport and Kiev’s subway system. Flights were delayed, as staff members had to handle boarding procedures manually.

Bulgaria, Germany, and Turkey were similarly targeted.

An expert at the Israeli information security firm Kela says the malware, called BadRabbit, locks computers using encryption and demands a ransom for their release.

13)   A driverless bus has taken to the roads in the southeastern German state of Bavaria.

The first self-driving shuttle service in Germany, operated by state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn, started in Bad Birnbach, a spa resort with a population of about 6,000, on Wednesday.

The small, 6-seat electric vehicle developed by a French startup doesn’t have a driver’s wheel. It detects its surrounding environment with sensors and relies on GPS to confirm where it is running.

The bus shuttles some 700 meters linking the town center and spas at a speed of less than 15 kilometers per hour.

14)   Kobe Steel says its JIS or Japanese Industrial Standards certificate has been revoked for some products at a subsidiary for data falsification.

Its officials said on Thursday that quality control authorities Japan Quality Assurance Organization removed the certification for some copper products.

15)   A private study group says economic losses from unclaimed land in Japan last year amount to about 1.6 billion dollars.

When legal heirs or other successors fail to register their ownership of estates, their land becomes unclaimed.

The group estimated in June that Japan’s unclaimed land totaled about 4.1 million hectares. That’s equivalent in size to the southwestern island of Kyushu.

16)   Japan’s Finance Ministry has presented a plan to review and curb medical and other social security expenses in forming the fiscal 2018 budget.

Medical, nursing and other social security expenses account for about one-third of government spending. The plan proposes an additional increase in the 10 percent ceiling on co-payment for seniors aged 75 or older. It says the ceiling should be reviewed in fiscal 2019 or after. The government hopes to gradually raise the ceiling to 20 percent.

17)   Japan’s opposition party Hope led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has decided not to name a co-leader for the time being in the wake of their setback in Sunday’s general election.

The decision comes after Koike said she will remain party president while serving as Tokyo governor

18)   The leader of Japan’s opposition Democratic Party, Seiji Maehara, has expressed his intention to resign from the post.

19)   Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have visited victims of torrential rains in northern Kyushu, western Japan, where more than 1,000 people are still living in temporary housing 3 months after the disaster struck.

20)   The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is tightening security in the capital ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit next month.

Trump will arrive in Tokyo on November 5th. The president’s 3-day trip to Japan is part of his Asian tour.

Oct 14th, 2017


1)   Akira Shimizu, an actor and celebrity impressionist, apologised at a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday night after his son Ryotaro, 29, was arrested earlier in the day on suspicion of violating the Stimulants Control Law.

2)   Police on Wednesday arrested a 66-year-old man on suspicion of violating the Public Election Law after he assaulted a candidate for the Oct 22 lower house election while he was giving a public speech in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.

According to police, Yoshio Amano approached Yoshitaka Sakurada who was campaigning in front of Kashiwa Station at around 7 p.m. Wednesday and hit him in the head, Sankei Shimbun reported. Nearby staff subdued Amano and called police.

Sakurada, a member of Japan’s ruling Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), was not injured, police said.

3)   A man serving a 10-year jail term for attempted murder has confessed to murdering another woman in 2006, saying he “has changed his mind to repent after falling sick,” investigative sources said.

Hirokazu Suzuki, 37, who is suffering from a cerebral infarction, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stabbing Yuri Kuronuma, 27, in Kawasaki, near Tokyo in September 2006.

4)   A key member of an international organization that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has criticized the Japanese government for effectively ignoring a landmark U.N. treaty that outlaws nuclear weapons.

5)   Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Thursday stressed the central bank’s resolve to maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy, even as its U.S. and European counterparts begin to dial back their massive, crisis-mode monetary stimulus.

Kuroda offered an upbeat view of Japan’s economy, saying it was expanding moderately with rising incomes leading to higher corporate and household spending.

But he said inflation and wage growth were disappointingly low, despite such improvements in the economy.

6)   Shares in Japan’s Kobe Steel dived on Friday on a report that its widening quality scandal has spread to more than 30 foreign customers, including Boeing, General Motors, and French automaker PSA.

The embarrassing scandal for Kobe Steel — a venerable firm that once employed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — has already hit wide sections of Japanese industry, including automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda which used the affected materials in their vehicles.

7)   The United States said Thursday that it was pulling out of the U.N.’s culture and education body, accusing it of “anti-Israel bias” in a move criticised by the head of the Paris-based organisation.

8)   Gun control in Japan, combined with the prevailing respect for authority, has led to a more harmonious relationship between civilians and the police than in the U.S. The Japanese police, in choosing to use sub-lethal force on people, generate less widespread fear among the public that they’ll be shot. In turn, people feel less of a need to arm themselves.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a more militarized police force that uses automatic weapons. There is also less widespread trust between people (and between people and institutions). The factors combine to produce a much fearful culture that can seem to be always on edge.

9)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s snap election gamble looked like paying off after media forecasts showed his ruling bloc heading for a surprisingly big win, possibly enough to re-energise his push to revise Japan’s post-World War Two pacifist constitution.

10)   Yuriko Koike says she went into politics to be a player, not a bystander.

Now Tokyo’s first female governor is shaking things up as her new Party of Hope challenges Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc in an Oct 22 poll, called by the Japanese leader to seek a fresh mandate after nearly five years in office.

11)   Wildfires continue to ravage northern California in the United States, killing 31 people over the past 4 days. California State officials say the fires that started on Sunday have burned about 77,000 hectares of land, mainly in the wine-producing counties of Sonoma and Napa.

They say about 3,500 homes and stores have been destroyed and that more than 20,000 people have been evacuated. Local media are calling the wildfires the deadliest in the state’s history.

12)   The Spanish prime minister has demanded that the leader of Catalonia clarify by next Monday whether he declared independence from Spain.

13)   An Iraqi court has issued arrest warrants for the members of the Kurdish electoral commission that organized last month’s independence referendum. The Kurdish regional government unilaterally conducted the referendum on September 25th, despite objections from Iraq’s central government as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran, and the United States.

The majority of voters supported the independence of the Kurdish autonomous region from Iraq in the poll. The regional government says it wants to proceed with negotiations with the central government for independence, based on the referendum. But the government in Baghdad regards the referendum as invalid.

14)   A record-high 2.47 million foreigners were living in Japan at the end of June.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau says the number of foreign residents was 2,471,458

15)   Tokyo’s benchmark stock index ended on Friday above the 21,100 mark for the first time in nearly 21 years, on expectations for strong Japanese corporate earnings.

16)   Japan’s big brewers are struggling to reverse a decline in their business. They say a change to the pricing law and cooler weather led to record low summer shipments.

The top five brewers say, from July to September, combined shipments of beer and beer-like drinks came to just over 1.3 million kiloliters.

That figure is down 4.2 percent from the previous year and represents a 7th consecutive year of decline.

17)   Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is set to introduce Japan’s first unmanned immigration gates as it moves to free up customs officers to handle the growing number of international tourists.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau on Friday held a demonstration of the machines’ facial recognition technology. The bureau plans to start operating 3 gates for Japanese citizens next Wednesday.

18)   Australia’s government says it will not allow entry of North Korea’s under-19 soccer team for a championship qualifier next month because of Pyongyang’s continued nuclear and missile development.


Oct 7th, 2017


1)   Japanese Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said on Friday that unauthorised technicians had been found certifying vehicles at five Nissan Motor Co plants that the ministry has been inspecting.

2)   A gunman perched high on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino unleashed a shower of bullets down on an outdoor country music festival below, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 200 as tens of thousands of frantic concert-goers screamed and ran for their lives, officials said Monday.

3)   Japan accepted just three refugees in the first half of 2017 despite receiving a record 8,561 fresh asylum applications, the government said on Tuesday, highlighting the nation’s reluctance to accept foreigners.

4)   The Japanese nuclear watchdog’s decision on Wednesday to allow two reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) to pass its safety review has drawn fierce criticism from citizens who remain evacuated from their home over six years after the nuclear crisis at the utility’s Fukushima complex.

5)   Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike’s new party unveiled on Friday what it calls “Yurinomics” – policies to revitalise Japan’s economy while cutting reliance on the aggressive spending and monetary easing that are central to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy.

It has made populist calls to freeze a scheduled sales tax hike in 2019 and phase out nuclear power, as part of a effort to set itself apart from the government on key issues.

6)   The infotainment technology that automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, an AAA study says.

Cars used to have a few buttons and knobs. Some vehicles now have as many as 50 buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard that are multi-functional. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images.


In one of the most bizarre British political speeches in a generation, May’s address on Wednesday to her annual conference was ruined by a comedian handing her a fake employment termination letter, repeated coughing fits and even by letters falling off the slogans on the set behind her.

May’s authority was already diminished by her botched bet on a June snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament just days before the opening of formal Brexit talks with the European Union.

8)   A magnitude 5-point-9 earthquake has struck northeastern Japan.

The quake was focused off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture at a depth of 50 kilometers.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority says there are no reports of abnormalities at 2 nuclear plants in Fukushima, including the crippled Daiichi plant.

9)   About 500 people enjoyed the first outdoor ski run of the season in Japan at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji. The slope in Susono City in Shizuoka Prefecture opened on Friday.

The resort is the first to open for outdoor runs in Japan for the 19th straight year. This year’s opening comes 2 weeks earlier than last year.

10)   The Japan Table Tennis Association is trying to confirm whether China’s Super League has decided not to accept foreign players for its 2017 season, which usually starts in October.

Association officials say World Championship bronze medalist Miu Hirano applied to join a Super League team to improve her skills, but was rejected in late September due to financial reasons.

The team also said the league decided not to accept foreign players this season.

11)   A Chinese billionaire living in the United States has stepped up criticism of China’s Communist Party ahead of the party’s National Congress later this month.

Guo said there is no rule of law in China. He claimed that the family of Wang Qishan, a Politburo member who has led the party’s anti-corruption campaign, secretly possesses massive assets in the US and elsewhere.

Guo warned that the Chinese government has dispatched 27 agents to the United States this year on espionage missions. He showed a picture of what he said was a secret Chinese government document.
12)   Spain’s Constitutional Court has ordered the suspension of a Catalan parliamentary session next week.

The region’s legislature is expected to declare unilateral independence from Spain on Monday.

The suspension order on Thursday follows an appeal from Catalan lawmakers opposing independence.

13)   Japan’s leading advertising agency Dentsu has been fined for excessively overworking its employees.

A summary court in Tokyo ordered the firm on Friday to pay a fine of 500,000 yen, or over 4,400 dollars.

Dentsu was indicted on suspicion of violating the labor standards law. The company forced 4 employees to work illegally long hours.

14)   US Vice President Mike Pence says the United States will return its astronauts to the moon and build a base there to send them to Mars and beyond.

Pence delivered a keynote speech as the chair of the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council near Washington on Thursday.

The administration of President Donald Trump set up the Council to promote manned space exploration.

15)  Retailer Takashimaya has opened a specialty section in one of its Tokyo department stores that sells only robots. Most of them cost between 900 and 2,700 dollars.

One small robot uses artificial intelligence to help people learn English. It uses the program to respond at the learner’s level.

Another AI-equipped robot helps with the laundry. It folds clean clothes and sorts them according to whom they belong to.

16)    US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has expressed an interest in negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan.

Perdue affirmed his eagerness to boost farm exports to Japan in a speech in Washington on Wednesday. The secretary said he wants Japan to lower what he called high tariffs on American farm products, such as beef, pork, and dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Perdue stressed that he wants the 2 nations to enter into negotiations to remove trade barriers.

17)   Saudi Arabia said last month that it’s lifting its ban on female drivers next year. With that in mind, many women are heading to a major motor show in the country, looking forward to getting behind the wheel.

18)   Sony is planning to roll out smart speakers controlled by Japanese language commands in December.

They say Sony’s product will feature high quality sound for playing music, as well as allowing users to give commands either with voice or hand movements.

AI speakers are already popular in the United States, but not in the Japanese market.

Sept 23rd, 2017


1)   A Japanese court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) on Friday to pay damages over the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but dismissed claims against the state.

Friday’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by 45 people who were forced to flee Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. The Chiba court awarded a total of 376 million yen to 42 of them, including all four who voluntarily evacuated.

2)   President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies against the renegade nation’s nuclear weapons program, making his case in a combative debut speech to the U.N. that laid out a stark, good-vs-evil view of a globe riven by chaos and turmoil.

3)   Dozens of descendants of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Thursday to pay respects to fallen American soldiers. Nippon Izokukai, the Bereaved Family Association of Japan, sent about 36 children, grandchildren and other relatives of fallen Japanese soldiers to the U.S. to mark the 70th anniversary of the group’s founding.

4)   Apple Inc’s latest iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus smartphones featuring upgraded cameras and wireless charging went on sale in Japan on Friday, with eager buyers forming lines at retail outlets in the morning.

5)   Japanese police reported a record-high 30,262 children as suspected abuse victims to welfare authorities in the first half of 2017, on the back of increased public awareness of the issue, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

An agency official attributed the rise to heightened awareness among citizens that prompted more people to report child abuse cases. The child consultation centers provide temporary shelter to children or dispatch staff to families with potentially abused children as a way to keep problems from getting worse.

6)   Japan’s ruling coalition is aiming to advance procedures in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to dissolve the Lower House on the day the Diet opens. But the opposition is reacting sharply, saying such a move is tantamount to suppressing Diet debate.

Another focus of attention is a new party to be launched next week by Masaru Wakasa, an ally of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and former Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who defected from the Democratic Party.

Koike could assume a post in the new party. She is expected to make a decision after taking into account the overall political situation and public opinion.

7)   Japan’s prime minister wants to use revenue from the increased consumption tax to provide tuition-free preschool and higher education. Shinzo Abe says the move would be part of his drive to invest more in human resource development.

He also called for improving childcare and nursing care services and making preschool education tuition-free. This would include tuition-free higher education for children from low-income households.

Abe said reforming human resource development will require substantial financial resources. He said he is determined to meet this challenge for the future of Japan.

8)   Popular Japanese singer Namie Amuro has announced that she will retire next September.

Amuro made the announcement on her official website on Wednesday, the day of her 40th birthday.

She said she will retire on September 16th, 2018. She stated that she made the decision because September 16th of this year marked the 25th anniversary of the start of her career.

9)   A major credit-rating agency S&P Global Ratings has cut China’s sovereign rating by a notch. Analysts at the agency say growing debt has increased the country’s economic and financial risks.

China’s rating has gone from double A minus to single A plus.

Still, they say the outlook is stable with the country expected to maintain robust economic performance over the next 3 to 4 years.

The analysts expect authorities to implement tougher restrictions on borrowing to curb debt.

10)   Japan has urged the 10 other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact to swiftly reach a new broad agreement without the United States.

11)   Officials at the Bank of Japan have just wrapped up their 2-day policy meeting. They have decided to continue with their massive monetary easing.

The bank says it will keep its focus on a framework to manage short- and long-term interest rates in its bid to achieve the 2-percent inflation target.

12)   Bangladesh’s prime minister has urged the United Nations to protect Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted ethnic minority fleeing neighboring Myanmar.

13)   South Korea has approved 8-million-dollars of humanitarian aid to North Korea through UN agencies.
Opponents to the plan say it could run against international efforts to put pressure on Pyongyang.

14)   A group of North Korean defectors has protested a decision by the South to offer humanitarian aid to its northern neighbor.

The man from the defector group said he wants the South Korean government to understand why defectors, who have families in the North, oppose the aid. He said the supplies will not reach North Koreans, but end up within the country’s regime.

Sept 9th, 2017


1)   South Florida is bracing for a major storm surge and powerful winds even as Hurricane Irma weakened to a Category 4 storm as it races toward the U.S. mainland.

2)   Japan’s agriculture ministry said Friday it is aiming to more than quadruple the country’s annual rice and rice product exports to 100,000 tons in 2019, ministry officials said Friday.

Domestic demand for rice has been decreasing by around 8 tons a year, necessitating the expansion of exports, according to the ministry.

3)   The Halloween season “officially” kicks off in Japan on Friday with the festivities beginning at major theme parks Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea where parades and other events will be held until Oct 31.

Although many stores have been selling Halloween merchandise since late August, the “official” start of the Halloween season in Japan is usually considered to be when the theme parks start.

4)   Japanese wrestler-turned-lawmaker Antonio Inoki arrived in North Korea on Thursday to possibly meet with the country’s top official in charge of foreign affairs, amid deepening tensions over its nuclear and missile programs.

5)   The Japanese government on Friday approved a change to guidelines to allow local education boards to set summer holidays at different times of the year to encourage more family time in the chronically overworked country.

6)   The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to introduce a comprehensive indoor smoking ban in public spaces in an effort to eradicate secondhand smoking.

The proposed regulation targets all cigarettes, cigars and electric cigarettes. It would ban smoking anywhere inside medical institutions, as well as elementary and junior high schools, central and local government offices, welfare facilities for the elderly, and gymnasiums.

Indoor smoking would also be prohibited at hotels, company offices and restaurants, except in designated smoking rooms.

7)   Japan’s transport ministry says it is studying the possibility of charging tolls at 4 popular tourist spots to ease traffic congestion.

The ministry plans to survey traffic in the ancient capital of Kyoto; Kamakura, near Tokyo; Kobe, in western Japan, and the central resort of Karuizawa as early as next month.

Roads in the areas are busy on weekends and during tourist seasons, affecting local residents’ daily lives.

8)   A survey by a French institute shows that up to 70 percent of coral reefs in Japan’s southwestern prefecture of Okinawa are dead due to warm temperatures.

9)   The government of Mexico says it has given the North Korean ambassador 72 hours to leave the country.

The government on Thursday declared the ambassador, Kim Hyong Gil, persona non grata as a protest against the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

10)   China’s central bank has banned the practice of raising funds with Bitcoin and other virtual money. The measure took effect earlier this week.

The People’s Bank of China announced on Monday that the bank banned “initial coin offerings,” or ICOs as a form of unauthorized and illegal public fundraising.

The bank suspended websites providing ICO services after the announcement, linking the practice to financial fraud, pyramid schemes and other criminal activities.

11)   The new leadership of Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party will likely suffer damage from an alleged scandal involving one of its key lawmakers.

A weekly magazine reports that the party’s former policy research committee chair, Shiori Yamao, has been engaged in an extramarital affair with a lawyer.

Sept 2nd, 2017


1)   A US ban on its citizens travelling to North Korea has come into effect, at a time of heightened tensions over North Korean missile launches.

2)   Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey flooding will be a “multi-year project”, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said.

3)   Growing concern about children eating alone has spurred a drive in Japan to offer free or low-cost meals for them at makeshift cafeterias.

Since the launch of the first such facility in Tokyo in 2012, the number of children’s diners has sharply increased to about 500.

4)   North Korea fired a missile that flew over Japan and landed in waters off the northern region of Hokkaido at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, marking a sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

5)   President Donald Trump is pledging $1 million in personal money to Harvey storm relief efforts.

6)   Hundreds of people have paid tribute to the late atomic bomb survivor and peace activist Sumiteru Taniguchi.

The lifelong activist who called for the elimination of nuclear weapons died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 88.

7)   A Japanese government body has officially recommended a method known as “dry removal” to retrieve nuclear fuel debris from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

8)   A civic group is suing Japan’s government for using an inappropriate arbitrary figure to lower the price of state-owned land sold to a school corporation in Osaka.

The state-owned land in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture, was sold to Moritomo Gakuen last year for about 7.3 million dollars less than its value.

9)   Britain must use billions of pounds into new power plants, grid networks and electric vehicle charging points if it is to avoid local power shortages when a planned ban on new diesel and petrol cars begins.

10)   A conference on the future of Pacific bluefin tuna stocks has wrapped up in South Korea. The delegates from tuna fishing countries around the Pacific Rim have agreed to a Japanese proposal on managing tuna stocks, but with tougher conditions.


Aug 19th, 2017


1)   Spanish police are investigating a possible link between an incident at a Spanish seaside resort and the deadly terror attack in Barcelona.

Local media say a car hit pedestrians and injured 6 in the town of Cambrils. Police killed the 5 suspects that were in the car.

Local authorities told the media that they suspect the incident was carried out by the same group that is responsible for Thursday’s attack in Barcelona.

2)   survey conducted by Japan’s welfare ministry shows that 52 children died from abuse by their parents or others in the year ending in March of last year.

The number is up 8 from the previous fiscal year. About 80 percent, or 42, of the victims were children aged 3 or younger. Thirty were infants under one year old.
3)   A giant tortoise that went missing from a zoo in western Japan more than 2 weeks ago has been found about 100 meters from where it disappeared.

The female tortoise escaped from the Shibukawa Zoo in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, on August 1st.
4)   Oita City in southwestern Japan has become the latest area of the country to test the benefits of driverless vehicle technology.

Local officials are trialing an autonomous microbus that could eventually be used to shuttle people around the city.
5)   Japan’s Defense Ministry has decided to consider introducing a new US-made missile defense system known as “Aegis Ashore” in light of progress in North Korea’s missile development.
The Aegis advanced radar system is designed to intercept a missile outside the atmosphere and a land-based PAC 3 system is capable of intercepting a missile entering the atmosphere.
6)    Japanese researchers say an extinct variety of otter formerly widespread across the country may still survive in southwestern Japan. The Japanese river otter was officially declared extinct in 2012.

Izawa said that a camera set up for an ecological survey of wild animals on Tsushima Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, filmed an otter in February.
7)    Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono says the government will offer assistance worth about 500 million dollars to enhance the maritime security capabilities of Indo-Pacific coastal nations.
8)   US trade officials are expected to hold a special session of a joint panel meeting on a free trade agreement with South Korea next Tuesday. The US has urged the South to start renegotiations.

After talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, US President Donald Trump said the 2 countries’ current free trade deal is not necessarily good. Trump indicated willingness to renegotiate with the South to press it to further open its auto market.

9)   A Canadian woman who lost her engagement ring over a decade ago has found it in an unlikely spot. It was wrapped around a carrot growing on her family farm.

84-year-old Mary Grams lost the diamond ring 13 years ago on the farm located in Alberta. Her husband gave her the ring 66 years ago.
10)   US President Donald Trump’s latest remark on the removal of Confederate leader monuments has fueled criticism of his stance toward white supremacists.

A deadly clash last Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and their opponents prompted removal of monuments around the country.


Aug 11th, 2017


1)   North Korea has warned the United States that it will complete its plan by mid-August to fire ballistic missiles toward waters off Guam.

2)   Many parts of Japan are in the grip of a heat wave, including Tokyo where the temperature on Wednesday reached 37 degrees Celsius.

3)   Labor authorities have officially acknowledged that a Japanese doctor killed himself due to overwork. His suicide has drawn attention to the harsh working conditions of people in the medical field.

4)   The latest data shows Japan continues to depend on imported food.

Japan’s Agriculture Ministry says the food self-sufficiency rate in fiscal 2016 fell for the first time in 6 years. The rate is based on calorie intake.

5)   A Japanese government panel has begun reviewing the country’s medium-to long-term energy policy. The group of experts is focusing on what to do about nuclear power generation and on ways to promote renewables.

6)   Trial runs have started at a Tokyo airport for a range of services that employ new technologies to help elderly, disabled and foreign travelers.

One of the services allows users to get directions to bus stops, including images and multilingual maps, when they take a photo of a guide sign on their smartphones.

Another lets users ride an automated wheelchair to any destination in the airport, such as a check-in counter, as designated via smartphone.

7)   The ruling parties of Japan and China are to make proposals to help improve bilateral relations.

Executives of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito and the Chinese Communist Party will issue a set of proposals when they conclude 3 days of talks in Tokyo on Wednesday.

8)   The organizers of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea are trying to raise public interest in the games that will open in 6 months.

But public interest is low. This is partly due to the recent political turmoil that led to the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye.


Aug 5th, 2017


1)    New Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Friday that the ministry is considering submitting a bill to lower Japan’s legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18 in the extraordinary Diet session likely be convened this fall.

2)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seeking to repair his tattered approval ratings by reshuffling his cabinet, said Thursday he would focus on bread-and-butter issues such as jobs, a pledge he’s made in the past only to prioritize conservative issues such as amending the constitution.

3)   Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that he will let his party and the Diet decide the timeframe for his plan to submit a draft of constitutional amendment to the Diet. But some governing party members say Abe should not push forward the matter quickly at a time the rate of support for his cabinet is falling.

4)   Japanese business leaders have welcomed the new lineup. They say the incoming ministers have the experience to make policy, but insist much remains to be done.

Japan Business Federation Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara told reporters that the new Cabinet needs to refocus on the economy.

He said business leaders want the new Cabinet to go back to the Abe administration’s top priorities: mounting an economic recovery and escaping deflation.

5)   North Korea has renewed its demand that the United States change its policy of hostility toward Pyongyang.

North Korea’s state-run media on Wednesday carried a statement issued by a spokesperson for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. It serves as liaison between North Korea and South Korea.
6)   Japan has agreed to step up cooperation with India in developing the country’s strategically important northeastern region.

Government officials and representatives from both countries reached the agreement at a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. It focuses on road building and other infrastructure projects.
7)   Mexico’s foreign secretary has indicated that his country could quit the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, if upcoming renegotiations on the accord end up unfavorable to Mexico.

8)   US scientists say they have successfully corrected disease-causing genes in human embryos with genome editing technology.

Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University, collaborating with other institutes, published their work in the British science journal Nature on Wednesday. It is the first report of genome editing on human embryos outside China.

9)   US President Donald Trump’s plan to limit the number of legal immigrants is drawing rebuke not only from the Democratic Party but also from some members of his own Republican Party.

Trump on Wednesday unveiled an immigration reform bill drafted by 2 Republican senators.

He says that many green card holders with permanent resident status are low-skilled workers and are depriving American workers of jobs.

10)   Some employees at an IT company in the US state of Wisconsin are having a microchip that contains personal information implanted in their hands.

The chip allows employees to open doors and log onto computers by simply waving their hand.
Workers can also buy products from in-house stores.

July 29th, 2017

ヒアリのことでこれほど大騒ぎになっている日本が不思議らしい。^^ アメリカにはもっと危険生物がたくさんいそうだからなぁ。トランスジェンダーの軍入隊禁止の理由も知らなかったので興味深かった。

1)   A Malaysian court says it will begin on October 2nd the trial of 2 women accused of killing the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two women have been indicted for killing Kim Jong Nam, who died after having his face smeared with the lethal VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.
2)   NHK has learned that 12 cargo containers have been moved out of a port in Fukuoka City, western Japan, without being checked for venomous fire ants.

The alien species has been sighted at the city’s Hakata Port on a number of occasions. A worker was stung and slightly injured on Thursday.

3)   A survey in Japan shows that one in 6 women have suffered violence by their husbands or others but that most of the victims did not contact the police.
4)   Japan’s defense minister has been replaced, closing a chapter in a major cover-up scandal.

It centers on the withholding of records on Japan’s former peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Tomomi Inada stepped down to take responsibility after an internal inspection found a series of violations.
5)   The leader of Japan’s largest opposition Democratic Party, Renho, has expressed her intention to resign from the post.

Party sources say she told people close to her on Thursday that she intends to step down as president in a bid to revamp the struggling party.
6)    People in Japan are marking the first anniversary of a mass killing at a care home for the disabled just outside Tokyo.

Former care worker Satoshi Uematsu stormed the facility in Sagamihara city last year in the early hours of July 26th, wielding a knife. He killed 19 people. 27 others suffered stabbing wounds.
7)   The US Senate has passed a bill to impose sanctions on Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Russia says it will seize some US diplomatic property in the country in retaliation for the passage of a new bill by the US Congress that imposes sanctions against Russia.
8)   US President Donald Trump has declared a ban on transgender people from serving in the US military, citing costs and other reasons. Democrats and human rights advocates have criticized the decision.

9)   Japanese government officials say the country’s unemployment rate in June stood at 2.8 percent.

That’s a 0.3-percentage-point improvement from the previous month.

The ratio of job offers to applicants rose to 1.51.
That means there were 151 job openings for every 100 people looking for work.

10)   The Japanese government has announced that it will impose a safeguard measure on frozen beef imports in order to protect domestic farmers.

Officials will apply higher tariffs on the products starting next month.

Duties on frozen beef imports from countries such as the US, New Zealand and Canada will be raised to 50 percent.

July 22nd, 2017

1)   The United States will bar Americans from travelling to North Korea in the coming weeks, two travel agencies said Friday, a month after a U.S. tourist, student Otto Warmbier, died following his imprisonment by Pyongyang.

North Korea’s tourism agency has launched a website offering holiday options ranging from surfing to rice planting, despite strong U.S. warnings to avoid travel to a nation where several trips have ended in jail.

2)   Thief returns stolen bicycle, includes written apology and edible gift to say sorry

3)   A number of books aimed at teaching elementary school children about issues concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have been published recently in an effort to deepen understanding about sexual minorities in Japan.

4)   Chinese censors can’t bear Winnie the Pooh

5)   Sources close to the Defense Ministry say Minister Tomomi Inada was told about the existence of the activity logs in February and this fact was reported to the Inspector General’s Office of Legal Compliance in March.

6)   A pact that allows Japan to export its nuclear power technology to India for peaceful purposes has taken effect.

It entered into force after Japan’s Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, and Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar exchanged documents in New Delhi on Thursday.

The deal, signed by both governments last November, also enables the countries to exchange know-how on nuclear materials and plant equipment.

7)   An association of Japanese Bitcoin exchanges is considering moving forward a plan to suspend transactions of the virtual currency.

It’s taking the step because of growing concerns over a possible sudden split of the Bitcoin system.

8)    Japan’s government will conduct tests of self-driving buses using the country’s version of a global positioning system. It hopes to use such vehicles during Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

The Cabinet Office says it will start the tests in the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa in November.

9)      The US Justice Department says it has taken down the biggest online black market for illegal goods and services.

Department officials said on Thursday that since its inception, AlphaBay serviced more than 200,000 users, who traded in illegal drugs, toxic chemicals, firearms and stolen identities.

10)   A pro-Russian separatist leader of a breakaway region in eastern Ukraine has proclaimed a new state.

The new state will be called Malorossiya, and its capital will be placed in Donetsk. He added that Malorossiya is consisted of all Ukraine territories except for Russian-annexed Crimea, and a new constitution is being drawn up for the country.

11)   US President Donald Trump faces uncertainty 6 months after his inauguration, as the overhaul of Obamacare has stalled and investigations continue into Russia’s possible meddling in last year’s election.

Trump summoned Republican senators to the White House on Wednesday to pressure them to pass a bill to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care program as early as possible. He said they shouldn’t leave Washington until the bill is enacted.

12)   Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has criticized China for its treatment of human rights activist and Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died last week.July 22nd, 2017

July 15th, 2017


1)   The leader of the junior partner in Japan’s ruling coalition on Friday urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to focus on regaining public trust after a slide in his popularity, and said revising the pacifist constitution was not a priority for voters.

2)   A vice minister has given up using a chauffeured official car to take her child to daycare after drawing political flak following a media report, but some working mothers expressed sympathy for the 39-year-old lawmaker.

The Shukan Shincho weekly magazine accused Megumi Kaneko of “mixing up official and private matters” when it reported in late June that she had used an official vehicle to transport her 1-year-old son to his nursery.

3)   The operator of nuclear power plants in South Korea has decided to suspend work on 2 reactors.

Massive amounts of radiation-contaminated water that has been processed and stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant are slowing decommissioning work and are a safety risk in case another massive quake or tsunami strikes. TEPCO needs to release the water – which contains radioactive tritium that is not removable but considered not harmful in small amounts – into the Pacific Ocean,

4)   Researchers say large foreign longhorn beetles are spreading in Japan, causing serious damage to cherry, peach and other fruit trees.

The insect spends a few years within fruit trees such as cherry, peach and plum, eating the wood. Cutting down affected trees alone has not stopped the spread of the species.

Hundreds of highly poisonous fire ants have been found at the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

5)   Two Japanese firms have created a self-driving car that can deliver sushi to a hungry customer’s doorstep.

The ever-growing demand for home delivery has left many companies with a problem. They don’t have enough drivers to transport the goods.

6)   The Japanese government has compiled a plan to support domestic cheese makers who are facing increased competition from European products.

Japanese and European Union negotiators reached a broad agreement on an economic partnership agreement last week. Japan will create a quota for European soft cheeses and abolish tariffs over a 15-year period. But Japanese cheese producers are worried about greater competition.

7)   Workers at major firms in Japan won an average monthly pay hike of over 60 dollars for the 4th year in a row.
That’s as a result of annual labor negotiations.

8)   Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his country will provide aid in the amount of 1.4 billion yen, or about 12.4 million dollars, to Jordan.

9)   The death toll from last week’s record downpour in southwestern Japan has risen to 32.
10)   A US Democratic congressman has submitted a resolution to the House of Representatives to seek the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

11)   One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken off Antarctica, raising fears it could create more flow of ice into the sea and possibly raise the sea level.

12)   North Korea has threatened to retaliate if the United Nations Security Council imposes additional sanctions over its nucleaar and missile programs.

13)   The US government wants to renegotiate its free trade agreement with South Korea. Trade Representative Robert Lightheizer sent a letter to his counterpart in Seoul.

The letter says the US and South Korea are important allies and key trading partners. It says they need free, fair and balanced trade to strengthen the relationship.

It also says the US has real concerns about its significant trade imbalance with South Korea.

July 8th, 2017

1)   Torrential rains continue to batter western Japan for a third day. Eleven people are dead and at least 14 are missing.
Over 54,000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes while thousands of rescuers search for survivors.

Parts of Fukuoka prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, were hit by over 600 millimeters of rain in 2 days, almost double the amount that usually falls in all of July.

2)   A shipment of reprocessed nuclear fuel destined for a Japanese power plant has left France.

Two specially fitted vessels left the port of Cherbourg, northwestern France, on Wednesday.

French nuclear energy firm Areva manufactured the MOX, or mixed oxide, fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium reprocessed from spent nuclear fuel.

The fuel is to be used in the No. 4 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant, which Kansai Electric Power Company restarted in May.

3)   Japan’s defense minister has defended her temporary absence from her office while Self-Defense Force personnel engaged in rescue operations in rain-devastated northern Kyushu, western Japan.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency had issued for parts of the region emergency heavy rain warnings, which are issued for disasters that could occur only once every few decades.

Tomomi Inada left the ministry for about an hour around noon on Thursday to attend a defense policy seminar.

4)   A single poisonous fire ant has been found at Tokyo Port. It was in a shipping container that arrived from China.

The ant was found during an inspection at a port wharf on Monday. An analysis by the Environment Ministry has confirmed that it was a fire ant. Officials have no reports of anyone being stung by the ant.

5)   Japan and the European Union have reached a broad deal on an Economic Partnership Agreement that would affect about 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The EPA is the first of its kind among large, advanced economies, and would be one of Japan’s biggest trade deals.

6)   Japan’s tax revenue for the fiscal year that ended in March dropped for the first time in 7 years.

The Finance Ministry says total revenue came to nearly 55.5 trillion yen, or about 490 billion dollars. That’s down 1.5 percent from the figure for the previous year.

Corporate tax income dropped 4.6 percent. The stronger yen has dampened corporate earnings. Revenues from income and consumption taxes both fell 1.1 percent.

One economist says the drop in revenue has brought Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies to a crossroads.

7)   Anti-capitalist protesters have clashed with police in Hamburg ahead of the G20 summit that opens on Friday. Authorities say more than 70 police officers were injured.

Police say about 12,000 people took part in a rally at a port on the Elbe River on Thursday.

8)   A United Nations conference is expected to adopt a final draft on Friday of a legally binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Conference President Elayne Whyte Gomez presented the final draft on Thursday to the 129 non-nuclear countries taking part in the negotiations at the UN headquarters in New York.

9)   A United Nations conference is expected to adopt a final draft on Friday of a legally binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Conference President Elayne Whyte Gomez presented the final draft on Thursday to the 129 non-nuclear countries taking part in the negotiations.
10)   Leaders of the Group of 20 economies have opened their summit in Germany, with free trade and climate change among the key issues.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the leaders in the northern city of Hamburg on Friday. Merkel will chair the 2-day summit.

The leaders will discuss terrorism, the world economy and trade, as well as climate change on the first day.

A key focus is whether the G20 can issue a clear message in support of free trade for sustainable growth, amid rising protectionism.

June 30th, 2017


1)     The Japanese government is exploring ways to use cruise ships in order to cope with accommodation shortages expected during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

2)   These days, we should consider the thought of coming under cyber-attack as just a way of life.

3)   A Japanese team has inspected tourist sites and other facilities on Etorofu Island, one of the 4 Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.

The delegation of about 70 members, including government officials and business people, arrived in Etorofu on Thursday.

They are visiting the islands to study the feasibility of starting joint economic projects with Russia. Etorofu is the second leg of their 5-day tour, which started on Kunashiri Island on Tuesday.

4)   The US government says it is tightening security on inbound flights due to a heightened threat of terror attacks.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the new aviation safety rules on Wednesday in Washington.

He said he is concerned about terrorist groups’ renewed interest in targeting the aviation sector. He emphasized the necessity of boosting security in airports around the world for direct flights to the US.

5)   Many Japanese follow a tradition of eating grilled eel to beat the summer heat. But with the price of eel rising in recent years, a major supermarket chain is offering grilled catfish, a less expensive alternative.

Retail giant Aeon unveiled the new product for the Midsummer Day, which falls on July 25th. The company is selling catfish raised in Vietnam for the first time.

Company officials say they are using a type of catfish called pangasius, which is known for its fleshy white meat suitable for grilling.

6)     India’s largest port has been hit by a cyberattack, following ransomware attacks targeting government agencies and companies in Europe and the United States.

The Indian government said in a statement on Wednesday that malicious software crippled operations at one terminal of the port in western city of Mumbai.

7)   A major operator of tax-free stores in Japan is launching a new type of outlet that gives tourists a chance to experience a lifestyle rather than just buy a product.
It caters to a growing number of foreign visitors who want to get a taste of the real Japan.

Tax-free items include products that are popular among tourists, such as home appliances and cosmetics.

Visitors to the store can also enjoy a buffet of various Japanese dishes like sushi and tempura.

They can play a survival game using air guns that shoot plastic bullets.

In addition, there’s a shop that specializes in instant noodles. It sells 42 varieties and many of them are exclusive to Japan. There’s hot water available for people who can’t wait to taste their purchase.
8)   Exactly 3 years have passed since the Islamic State militant group unilaterally declared an Islamic caliphate in an area straddling Iraq and Syria.

The group declared itself the Islamic State after seizing Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on June 29th, 2014.

An offensive to retake Mosul from the militants has entered the final phase. Iraqi forces say the insurgents are now trapped in a one-square-kilometer area.

9)   A US survey suggests the image of the United States has sharply worsened worldwide under President Donald Trump.

The non-partisan Pew Research Center surveyed about 40,000 people earlier this year, in 37 countries including Japan.

It reports only 49 percent held a favorable view of the US, compared to 64 percent in the closing years of the Obama administration.

10)   The social-networking giant Facebook says its monthly active users reached 2 billion.
The number has doubled in 5 years.

June 24th, 2017

選挙からパンダから将棋まで諸々。全然上手く話せてはいないけれど何故かこの時間がストレス解消に役立ってるのが分かる。来週のレッスンは誕生日プレゼントにするから予約しないでね。とのこと。sweet! :)

1)    People in Okinawa are marking the 72nd anniversary of the end of a fierce ground battle in the closing days of World War Two.

Every year on June 23rd, Okinawa commemorates the end of the Japanese military’s organized combat against US forces in the southwestern prefecture.

More than 200,000 people, including about a quarter of Okinawa’s residents, were killed in the 1945 battle. The exact figure remains unknown.

2)   Candidates for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly have kicked off their campaigns for an upcoming election.
Political parties in Japan see the assembly election as an important bellwether for national ballots.
3)   The announcer and cancer blogger Mao Kobayashi has died. She was 34 years old.

A Tokyo native, Kobayashi started her career as a TV personality while she was still at college.

After graduation, she became a freelance announcer and was a caster for a news program.

She married the kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo in 2010 and had 2 children.

4)   The Shinkansen bullet train service in western Japan was suspended for 5 hours from Wednesday night due to a power outage. 72 trains were immobilized, and more than 50,000 passengers were affected.

Central Japan Railway says overhead wiring got severed in Takatsuki, Osaka, shortly before 8 PM on Wednesday.

5)   A former vice education minister has called for a third-party investigation into a favoritism scandal involving the operator of school run by a close friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Kake Educational Institution, headed by Abe’s long-time friend, Kotaro Kake, plans to open a veterinary school in a government-designated special economic zone in Imabari City, western Japan.

Kihei Maekawa told a news conference on Friday that the prime minister’s office and the Cabinet Office are being dishonest in repeatedly denying the contents of documents that have turned up in an education ministry probe into the scandal.

6)   Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo says a newborn giant panda cub has turned out to be female.

Zoo officials say the cub that was born on Monday of last week is steadily growing.

They say they conducted the cub’s third physical checkup on Thursday with a Chinese specialist from a giant panda’s protection and research facility.

7)   Another type of venomous ant has been found in western Japan, at the same port where fire ants were earlier confirmed.

Kobe City officials say about 100 of the ants were discovered on Tuesday in Kobe Port.

On May 26th, fire ants were found at the port in a shipping container from China. In mid-June, about 100 of these ants were also discovered in a container storage area at the port.

The ants found on Tuesday are a different variety that has a lower toxicity. But their sting could cause a severe reaction.

8)   The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan is continuing to increase. It hit a new record for the month of May.

The Japan Tourism Organization estimated that nearly 2.3 million foreigners visited in the month. That’s up 21 percent from May last year.

South Korea topped the list.

The number of visitors from the country increased by 85 percent as more direct flights were added. Tourists also returned to Kumamoto, one year after a strong earthquake there.

9)   Japan’s youngest professional shogi player, 14-year-old Souta Fujii, won his 28th game in a row. His winning streak matches a record set 30 years ago.

10)   Tokyo’s governor has been consulting with executives from global firms about how to make the nation’s capital a more attractive place to do business.

Yuriko Koike met Thursday with the CEOs and managers of 8 US- and UK-based institutions that operate in Tokyo.

Koike says she’s determined to turn the capital into an international financial hub.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government this month outlined its plan to attract overseas financial institutions. It includes cutting corporate taxes, and improving workers’ living environments.

One of the people Koike consulted was the president of fund manager BlackRock Japan.

He noted the difficulty of finding talented mid-career women workers. He said this is because childcare in Japan is so poor. And he called for better support for working mothers.

Another participant said Tokyo needs to develop a bigger talent pool. He suggested creating a university that specializes in finance and gives lectures in English.

Koike said the feedback will help make the city a better place for women and highly skilled professionals to work.

The Tokyo government wants to put the finishing touches on its plan around this autumn.

June 17th, 2017


1)   The number of Japanese people with dementia reported missing hit yet another record high in 2016, figures released Thursday showed, indicating the issue of elderly care is becoming more complex due to Japan’s aging society.

The National Police Agency said 15,432 people with dementia or who are suspected to be suffering the condition were reported missing to police in 2016, up 26.4 percent from the previous year.

2)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was under mounting pressure Friday over allegations that he used his influence to help a friend in a business deal after two official reports appeared to back up the claims.

3)      A prominent anti-U.S. base activist in Okinawa said Thursday at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting that the Japanese government has committed “clear human rights violations” against opponents of the relocation of a U.S. air base within the southern island Japan prefecture.

4)   The death toll in an apartment building fire in west London is likely to rise significantly. Police says they have confirmed at least 30 people died from the fire that engulfed a 24-story building on Wednesday.

5)   A beer garden located higher than any of its competitors in Tokyo attracted a large number of people at its yearly opening.

The summer open-air restaurant is located halfway up the 600-meter Mount Takao in western Tokyo.

On Friday, hikers in groups dropped by for beer on their way down the mountain. They enjoyed a view of skyscrapers in the center of Tokyo in the far distance and a rainbow that appeared in the sky.

6)   Japan’s Foreign Ministry has lodged a strong protest over a South Korean military drill on the Takeshima Islands of Shimane Prefecture.

Foreign Ministry officials said they confirmed that the exercise started on Thursday morning.

South Korea controls the islands. Japan claims them.

7)   A group of Japanese writers is condemning the enactment of anti-terror legislation as an outrage.

The head of the Japan PEN Club, Jiro Asada, released a statement on Thursday, following passage of the bill which criminalizes the act of preparing terror attacks and other organized crimes.

Asada, a novelist, said the new law could seriously threaten freedom of speech and expression by effectively introducing the crime of conspiracy.

8)   Local assemblies in Japan are having hard time in getting citizens to show interest in their activities.

The assembly of Tomakomai City, northern Japan, has started offering 50 yen, or about 45 cents, in community points to citizens who attend its sessions.

Thursday was the first day of the offer. At reception, citizens scanned their community money point cards to get 50 points, worth about 45 cents.

9)   Sources say struggling Japanese auto parts maker Takata is taking final steps to file for bankruptcy as early as this month. The company is one of the world’s top 3 airbag producers but has been involved in a worldwide recall since 2013.

10)   A Japanese convenience store chain is turning to artificial intelligence to reduce its employee workload. The industry is currently struggling with a serious labor shortage.

FamilyMart, free messaging application provider LINE and trading firm Itochu have reached basic agreement on the tie-up. The say their new convenience stores will employ AI technology now being developed by LINE.

They say the system will use sales data to predict customer demand and place the appropriate orders.

They will also try to persuade the approximately 68 million LINE users in Japan to use their smartphones to make payments.

The three firms will study the practical aspects of the tie-up projects and try to open a model store by the end of 2018.

Lawson, another convenience store chain, has been developing an automated checkout system in a tie-up with a major electronics maker.

11)   An expert panel set up by Japan’s Cabinet Office says the economy has likely been expanding since December 2012. That’s more than 4 and a half years, making it the third-longest period of postwar growth.

The panel says the pace of growth did slow between April 2014, when the consumption tax was raised to 8 percent — and early 2016.

But experts have agreed that this period was not a recession.

The current run is longer than the period of growth in the bubble years, which started in 1986 and lasted 4 years and 3 months.

12)   Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated that discussing issues arising from the Japan-US Security Treaty is unavoidable to make progress in negotiations on a territorial dispute with Japan.

Putin spoke to reporters in Moscow on Thursday after a televised question-and-answer session with ordinary citizens.

Putin talked about joint economic activity with Japan on a disputed island chain. On-site surveys are set to start late this month.

June 10th, 2017


1)   For the first time in 2 centuries, Japan’s Emperor will be allowed to step down.
The Diet has enacted a bill that allows Emperor Akihito to abdicate, but the law only makes the provision for him. The law is designed to allow him to hand over the throne to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

2)   The operator of a nuclear research facility near Tokyo says one of its workers may have suffered a high levels of internal radiation exposure.

Five workers at the facility of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture, were accidentally exposed to radioactive substances on Tuesday.

3)   A police officer in southwestern Japan has been arrested for allegedly killing his wife. The couple’s young children were also found dead at their home on Tuesday.

Police arrested Mitsuru Nakata based on forensic evidence at the scene. The 38-year-old works for the Fukuoka prefectural police.

4)   Japanese education minister Hirokazu Matsuno says his ministry will reinvestigate the existence of controversial ministry documents.

The documents are alleged to be related to the planned creation of a new veterinary school by Kake Educational Institution, which is run by a close friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

One of the documents allegedly mentions the intentions of the highest level of the Prime Minister’s Office in calling for swift approval of the opening of the new school.

5)   A man held as a murder suspect in Japan is believed to have been helped by more than 10 members of his radical leftist group while on the run for over 45 years.

Sources with the investigation say members of the Chukaku-ha group gave shelter to Masaaki Osaka and helped him elude the authorities.

Police on Wednesday served Osaka with a fresh arrest warrant in the killing of a police officer during a riot in Tokyo in 1971.

6)   Haagen-Dazs Japan has announced a recall of new ice cream products that may contain black pieces of rubber.

Company officials soon received complaints from consumers saying they found black pieces in the ice cream. The officials say they found worn rubber in manufacturing equipment at a factory, and that fragments may have been mixed into the ice cream.

7)   Japan’s largest business organization is asking Vietnam to help get the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal back on track after the US withdrawal.

Japan and Vietnam are among the 11 remaining signatories of the TPP.

8)   South Korea’s military says it has found small, unmanned aircraft crashed on a mountain in the northern part of the country. The military says the drone’s size and shape are similar to a North Korean drone found on a remote island 3 years ago.

9)   The US state of Hawaii has enacted legislation calling for continued efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions across Hawaii in line with the Paris climate change agreement.

10)   67 members have joined a new effort to stop multinational tax avoidance. Members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have backed a convention that stops companies from exploiting countries with lower taxes.

The move follows claims that firms such as Apple and Amazon were shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions despite having little presence there.

June 3rd, 2017


1)   US President Donald Trump says his country will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump said he will keep his promise to US taxpayers. He referred to the largest emitter China and said the Paris deal is unfair to the US as it allows other countries to continue to pollute at a greater rate.

2)   A US Defense Department official has expressed confidence about establishing a missile defense system capable of handling threats from North Korea and Iran.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California successfully shot down a mock-up of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

3)   Japanese police have arrested 5 women for allegedly trying to smuggle gold from South Korea through an airport in central Japan.

Police say the women arrived at Chubu international airport last December with about 30 kilograms of gold bars hidden in pockets sewn inside their clothes.

The gold is said to be worth about 1.2 million dollars.

Police believe the women were serving as couriers for the ringleader, thought to be a South Korean woman, who allegedly purchased the gold in Hong Kong.

4)   The Japan Coast Guard has arrested 5 Japanese and 3 Chinese men on suspicion of smuggling what appears to be over 200 kilograms of gold bullion into the country.

Coast Guard officials say they believe the owner of the small boat used by the suspects is Yasuaki Saito, a resident of the city of Iki in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Saito and the 7 others allegedly unloaded about 206 kilograms of cargos believed to be gold at a fishing port in the city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture on Wednesday.

5)   The UN Human Rights Council released on Wednesday a report compiled by Special Rapporteur David Kaye. He is a professor at the University of California.

Kaye notes that Japanese media face direct and indirect pressure from government officials, urging the government to strengthen media independence.
6)   The job interview season has officially started in Japan, as next spring’s graduates begin the task of landing a job with a major firm.

The season is scheduled according to guidelines set by the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren.

University students are pressing their suits and polishing their interview skills.

7)   A government advisory panel on education reform proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday steps to ease the workload of teachers in Japan and boost community and parent involvement with schools, amid concerns about overwork.

The panel is recommending introducing a “Teachers’ Day,” designed to make local communities more aware and involved in tasks handled by teachers.

8)    Japan’s health ministry on Friday abandoned its plan to completely ban smoking in restaurants as part of measures to lower cancer risks, yielding to a ruling party proposal advocating smokers’ rights.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will still aim to fully eliminate smoking in government offices and medical institutions, its officials said, as the host country of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics seeks to implement tighter measures to counter passive smoking.

9)   Apple is preparing to launch a connected speaker to serve as a smart home assistant in a challenge to Amazon Echo and Google Home, a news report says.

The speaker powered by Apple’s digital assistant Siri may be unveiled at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week in Silicon Valley, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

10)   Price hikes for a number of items went into effect in Japan on Thursday, among them beer, butter and postcards.

The new law will require mass merchandisers to raise the price of beer and happoshu (low-malt beer-like beverages) by about 10%.

May 27th, 2017.

1)   British police suspect a 22-year-old man carried out the bomb attack in Manchester that killed 22 people and injured 59.

2)   Japanese police have arrested 6 men in connection with last year’s robbery of gold bars worth millions of dollars near a train station in the city of Fukuoka, western Japan.

3)   Some Japanese insurance companies are expanding their policies to cover cyberattacks because of increased risks worldwide.

Officials at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance have updated their policies for small and medium-size businesses relating to cyberattacks.

4)   A pair of melons produced in the northern city of Yubari, Hokkaido, sold for 1.5 million yen in the first auction of this harvest season on Friday.

The price was half the record 3 million yen fetched for a pair of Yubari melons, a type of premium cantaloupe, in the previous year’s auction, but largely in line with prices set in regular years at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market.

5)   Businesses and local authorities in Japan are turning to environmentally friendly bioplastics for shopping and garbage bags, as well as product containers, in a bid to step up their conservation efforts.

Environmentally conscious consumers have responded positively to the use of such materials, viewing it as a practical way of helping conservation.

6)   The last Japanese peacekeepers with a United Nations mission have left South Sudan. The team was Japan’s first with an expanded mandate to use force if necessary to protect civilians and U.N. staff.

Japan decided in March to end its peacekeeping mission in the East African nation where civil war is well into its fourth year.

7)   Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump have confirmed that both countries will work closely to tackle the issue of North Korea.

Abe and Trump held talks in Italy on Friday on the sidelines of the Group of Seven countries summit.

At the top of the meeting, Trump said the issue of North Korea is on the global agenda, and that it definitely needs to be resolved.

8)   Japan is to increase the number of officials assigned to tourism promotion as it gears toward a target of 40 million visitors from overseas in 2020.

Last year, a record 24 million foreigners visited Japan. The government wants to boost this to 40 million when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics.

The ministry in charge of tourism says it will boost the number of personnel at the Japan Tourism Agency, an external agency, by about 50 to 150 by this summer.

9)   Japan’s Education Minister has reiterated that he can’t confirm the existence of documents allegedly tying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a university operator’s plan to open a school. The operator is run by a close friend of Abe’s.

10)   Japan’s Consumer Price Index for April was up for the 4th straight month.

The officials at the Internal Affairs Ministry say the CPI was 0.3 percent higher from the same month last year.
The reading includes oil products, but not fresh food

11)   The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and major non-OPEC oil producing nations have agreed to extend their cuts in crude oil output until March of next year.

12)   Rural areas in Japan are being hit by severe declines in population. A government-affiliated housing loan provider has decided to offer mortgages with lower interest rates to those moving to the countryside.

The Japan Housing Finance Agency says it will cut the rates on their 35-year fixed mortgage by quarter of a percentage point with certain conditions.

May 20th, 2017


1)   The cabinet on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in what would be Japan’s first abdication in roughly 200 years.

2)   Toxic benzene at up to 100 times the government safety limit was detected again in groundwater samples collected in April at the planned relocation site for Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Thursday.

3)   The ruling coalition has won crucial approval for a controversial bill that would criminalize the act of plotting terrorist attacks or other serious crimes. A majority of members on a Lower House committee have given their backing to the legislation.

The vote was a scene of chaos as opposition lawmakers shouted out in protest.
They’ve called the deliberations insufficient, and said the bill doesn’t have the public’s support.
But members of the ruling coalition voted in favor

4)   A hospital in Japan has started a clinical study to find out whether laughter can have therapeutic effects on cancer patients by boosting their immune systems with help from professional entertainers.

The Osaka International Cancer Institute and 3 entertainment companies will conduct the experiment. Professional comic storytellers, known in Japan as “rakugo-ka,” and pairs of stand-up comedians called “manzai-shi,” will participate in the research.

5)   A global treaty designed to restrict the manufacture and trade of products that contain harmful levels of mercury will take effect in August.

As of Friday, 51 signatories, including Japan, the United States and the Netherlands, had ratified the Minamata Convention. It was adopted at a UN conference in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in 2013.

The convention was named after a city in the prefecture where people suffered health problems caused by industrial mercury poisoning.

6)   US information security firm is looking into the possibility that North Korean hackers were involved in last week’s massive global cyberattacks.

The US government says at least 300,000 computers in 150 countries were affected.

In each case, ransomware encrypted the computers’ data and locked users out of their systems.

7)   One day before the first anniversary of her inauguration, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen urged China to try to improve cross-strait relations without sticking to the “One China” principle.

Tsai made a speech before an overseas group on Friday. She admitted that she has achieved little to revitalize the economy and narrow the wealth gap among Taiwanese people.

On relations with China, she said old problems should be left in the past, adding that leaders face a new task of keeping peace and prosperity on both sides of the strait.

8)   New university graduates in Japan are enjoying the best job market on record.

The labor and education ministries say 97.6 percent of graduates had landed jobs by April 1st. The ministries jointly polled 4,770 students who left university in March.

The employment rate is up 0.3 percentage points from last year, the highest since the survey began in 1997.

9)   4 carmakers have agreed to pay 553 million dollars to settle a class action suit in the United States over a massive recall of Takata airbags.

Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW say they reached a settlement with car owners who said they incurred economic losses because of the recall.


May13th, 2017


1)   The Japanese government for the first time has released a nationwide list of over 300 companies that have violated labor laws, hoping this name-and-shame tactic would help eliminate abuses and prevent karoshi, or death by overwork.

Major companies such as advertising agency Dentsu Inc and electronics maker Panasonic Corp are named for illegal overtime, and a local unit of Japan Post, a subsidiary of Japan Post Holdings Co, is mentioned for failing to report a work-related injury.

2)    A man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for causing the death of a woman in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, last August while playing Pokemon Go as he was driving.

The Nagoya District Court ruled that 27-year-old Yusuke Okuyama from Toki in neighboring Gifu Prefecture was giving his attention to his smartphone when his car hit the 29-year-old Vietnamese woman.

3)   Police in Tokyo have arrested an unemployed 31-year-old man on suspicion of theft after he was caught stealing a wallet from a woman’s tote bag on a train.

According to police, the suspect, Nobutaka Ando, stole the wallet, containing 18,000 yen. Police said Ando may be responsible for at least 21 pickpocketing cases on the Saiko Line this year.

4)   Rice planting for commercial sales began on Wednesday in a village in Fukushima Prefecture for the first time since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

5)   Police say 85 million yen in cash, or about 750,000 dollars, was stolen from a safe in a police station in the city of Hiroshima, western Japan. Police say confiscated evidence is normally kept in a safe in the investigators’ division, but in this case, the cash was stored in a bigger safe in the accounting division, as the amount was large.

6)   The youngest-ever professional player of the Japanese board game shogi, 14-year-old Sota Fujii, has stretched his run of official consecutive victories to a fresh record of 17.

Fujii made headlines last month when he broke an earlier record of 10 straight wins in the game, which is often called Japan’s version of chess. Since then he has continued to dominate.

On Friday, Fujii beat Kazuhiro Nishikawa, a shogi master who holds the rank of 6th dan, to notch his 17th win.

7)   Tokyo police have raided the headquarters of a yakuza crime syndicate in the western prefecture of Hyogo in connection with an extortion case.

About 30 investigators conducted a search of the headquarters of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi on Friday.
The group, which was formed in 2015, is an offshoot of Japan’s largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

8)   New Zealand has ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, becoming the second country to do so after Japan.

9)   The head of a Chinese-led development bank says it wants to cooperate with the region’s long-established lender, the Asian Development Bank.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun attended a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Cambodia on Thursday.

Jin said his bank was not created to be a rival of the ADB. He added that he believes the 2 lenders can share responsibilities and work together. The ADB promotes health and education, while the AIIB focuses on support for infrastructure.

10)   Japan’s central government debt stood at a record 1,071.56 trillion yen ($9.4 trillion) at the end of fiscal 2016 in March, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. The amount owed per person came to approximately 8.45 million yen, based on Japan’s estimated population of 126.79 million as of April 1.

11)   Thousands of people took part in a parade in Tokyo’s Shibuya district Sunday to raise awareness of issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, marching on along busy shopping streets led by a float decorated in rainbow colors about 6,000 participated.

12)   The United States cannot continue to run huge trade deficits with major trading partners, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said following the release of data showing the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with Japan hit a nine-year high in March. “The United States can no longer sustain this inflated trade deficit with Japan.

13)   JR East will open a prayer room within Tokyo Station’s premises due to an increase in travelers from Muslim countries, notably Southeast Asia.

14)   More Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force troops left Juba, South Sudan, on Thursday, to return to Japan.

Their departure is part of the process to end their five-year participation in the ongoing U.N. peacekeeping mission.

May 5th, 2017

1)   A car driven by an elderly woman has rammed into a hospital in southwestern Japan, leaving 13 people injured.

Police suspect the driver, who is 76 years old, made an error and lost control of the car.

2)   Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to put a revised Constitution into force in 2020.

3)   North Korea has warned Japan that it would suffer the greatest damage if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.

4)   Anti-refugee sentiment is rising in Europe and the United States but in Japan those seeking haven from tyranny and war have long faced daunting legal and social gauntlets.

One of the world’s wealthiest countries, Japan accepted just 28 refugees in 2016

5)   Japanese researchers have succeeded in extracting natural gas from frozen methane hydrate deep in the seabed off the Pacific coast of central Japan.

6)   A Japanese research group has found a new type of computer virus that destroys programs in devices that are connected to the Internet.

7)   US electric car maker Tesla more than doubled its sales in the January-March quarter from the same period last year, thanks to record volume.

8)   Japan’s economy has expanded in the first 3 months of this year thanks to brisk exports and consumer spending.

The growth estimates for annualized real-term GDP range from 1.4 percent to 3.1 percent from the previous quarter.

9)   The number of children in Japan fell for the 36th straight year to another record low, the latest data showed Thursday, indicating efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government have been inadequate to tackle the long-standing issue of a declining birthrate.

10)   Tokyo risks being one of the unhealthiest Olympic Gamaes hosts in years, as an anti-smoking law exposes deep rifts over tobacco tax revenue, personal freedom and the dangers of passive smoking.

April 29th, 2017

先生の住む地域が乾燥しててwild fireが近くまで来ているそうな。 雨が降るといいのだけど。

1)   The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says internet users were denied access to its website on Friday afternoon in a suspected cyber-attack.

The department said on Friday it is the first time that internet users have been prevented from accessing its website due to a massive amount of data.

2)   More than a dozen journalists in Japan have protested a government-sponsored anti-terrorism bill. They say the law could suppress freedom of thought.

The bill would punish a criminal organization planning a serious crime, such as a terrorist attack, if a member of the group is found to make any preparations. A Diet committee is deliberating the bill.

3)   A Cabinet Minister in charge of rebuilding areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has resigned after making a remark seen as offensive to those affected by the disaster.

Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura submitted his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday morning.

4)    South Koreans are taking issue with US President Donald Trump’s recent call for their country to pay for a missile defense system being deployed there.

Amid rising tensions over North Korea’s accelerated nuclear and missile programs, the United States is deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in South Korea.

On Thursday, Trump said in an interview with Reuters that he wants South Korea to pay for THAAD, which costs an estimated 1 billion dollars.

5)   The US Navy has unveiled on its website a photo of its aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and destroyers from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force engaged in joint exercises.

The Carl Vinson strike group was joined by 2 Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers on Sunday off the coast of the Philippines for the joint drills.

6)   US President Donald Trump says he wants to solve the problem of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.

Trump spoke with the Reuters news agency at the Oval Office on Thursday, ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.
7)   Russian President Vladimir Putin says that if his country and Japan conclude a peace treaty, it must benefit the national interests of both sides.

Putin attended a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after their talks in Moscow on Thursday.

Putin described the meeting as constructive, saying Russia and Japan are ready to solve the most difficult issue facing them.

8)   The Japanese government has released key economic figures for the month of March. They show a mixed picture.

The labor market remains tight, with the unemployment rate at 2.8 percent. That’s unchanged from February.

The ratio of job offers to applicants rose very slightly, to 1.45. This means there were 145 job openings for every 100 people looking for work.

On the downside, industrial output fell 2.1 percent from the previous month. That’s the first decline in 2 months.

The consumer price index was up 0.2 percent from March last year. That was the third consecutive monthly increase.

Household spending was down 1.3 percent from a year earlier, declining for the 13th month in a row.

9)   The Japanese government says the country’s catch of young bluefin tuna has exceeded its annual quota, two months early.

Japan agreed in 2015 to limit its catch of Pacific bluefin weighing less than 30 kilograms, under an international accord aimed at conserving the species.

The country’s quota is 4,007 tons, but the Fisheries Agency said the total catch had reached 4,008 tons as of Thursday. The tuna fishing season ends in June.

It is the first time Japan has failed to keep within its quota. The Agency blamed underreporting of catches and illegal fishing in 9 prefectures.

10)   Executives at struggling electronics maker Toshiba are considering selling the company’s semiconductor business to a Japan-US group.

Sources say the group includes US investment firm KKR and a Japanese government-backed fund, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.

Also in the group are the government-affiliated Development Bank of Japan and several other Japanese businesses.

But it remains unclear whether the Japan-US group can come up with the roughly 18 billion dollars needed to cover Toshiba’s massive losses.

April 22nd, 2017


  1. 1)   Investigators say the man barged into a businessman who was carrying a bag containing about 670,000 dollars in cash along a street.The alleged thief was wearing a blue jacket and jeans.
    Police say footage captured by a nearby security camera shows two men fleeing the scene on a black motorcycle.

    Investigators suspect the two men were involved.

  1. 2) Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has been chosen as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine of the US.Koike is listed in the category of Pioneers. The first woman mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, describes her as a governor with both ambitions for Tokyo and an acute awareness of the challenges it faces.
  1. 3)   Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party has accepted an offer by a member lawmaker to leave the group over a scandal involving an extramarital affair.  Lower House member Toshinao Nakagawa told the party on Friday that he doesn’t want to cause it any more trouble. A weekly magazine had reported on the affair the day before.
  1. 4)   Japan’s foreign minister says the US must consult with Tokyo before taking military action against North Korea from any bases on Japanese soil. Fumio Kishida made the comment on Thursday during an Upper House committee meeting on foreign affairs and defense.
  1. 5) The number of children in Japan who’ve become victims of crimes through social networking services hit a record high last year. The National Police Agency says 1,736 children up to age 17 were victimized last year. That’s up 84 from 2015.
  1. 6) Japanese and Indian teams taking part in an international competition to send rovers to the Moon have conducted test runs of their vehicles. Japanese team HAKUTO and Team Indus performed the test runs for a media audience in Tokyo on Friday.
  1. 7) A Japanese city plans to collect virtual currency donations to help maintain a popular cherry blossom viewing park. The park in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture is known for its 2,600 cherry trees and 400-year-old castle. The park attracts 2 million people during blossom season each year. But caring for the trees costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
  1. 8) Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso has expressed his view that the remaining 11 nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will start discussions in May to put the TPP deal into effect. The United States withdrew from the TPP after President Donald Trump took office earlier this year.
  1. 9) China and South Korea have criticized Japanese government leaders and parliament members for their actions relating to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine.
  1. 10) A US research group has released satellite imagery of what appears to be people playing volleyball at a nuclear test site in North Korea. Researchers say the North’s preparations for a nuclear test may have gone into “stand-by” mode.

April 15th, 2017


1)   The southwestern Japanese prefecture of Kumamoto has held a ceremony to remember the people killed in the earthquakes one year ago.

The quakes killed 225 people. 169 of the deaths have been recognized as related to the quakes, such as falling ill at evacuation shelters. About 200,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed. About 47,000 people are still living in temporary housing.

2)   Orders for commemorative stamps featuring popular figure skater Mao Asada shot up after she announced her retirement from competition. The set of stamps is paired with a small doll dressed in the skater’s costume.

Japan Post last month began accepting orders for the set. The doll is dressed in the dark blue costume Asada wore at the free style in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

3)   Japan’s Board of Audit has found that nearly half of the firms that were granted state subsidies in exchange for making inroads into areas hit by the 2011 disaster have given up their efforts.

The Japanese government earmarked up to nearly 46 million dollars in subsidies to companies that will be building factories and other facilities in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima.

Officials say in many cases, the firms were unable to secure land or a workforce due to the slow pace of recovery.

4)   The US military says it struck a stronghold of the Islamic State militant group in Afghanistan with the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat.

It said the GBU-43B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, known as “the mother of all bombs,” was used in an air strike in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Thursday.

5)   US President Donald Trump has given assurances that he held constructive talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping over North Korean provocations.

Trump on Wednesday tweeted he “had a very good call last night with the President of China concerning the menace of North Korea.”

6)   Police said Thursday they have obtained arrest warrants for two Chinese women after Meiji Shrine in central Tokyo was vandalized earlier this month with an oily liquid.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police said Piao Jinyu and Piao Shanai, both 49, are suspected of vandalizing the shrine in Shibuya Ward on the morning of April 3 and were identified from surveillance camera footage.

The police said the two women, who have already left Japan, have been put on a wanted list as they are likely to return to the country.

7)   France and Japan want to recover pieces of a Martian Moon and bring them back to Earth, the head of France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said Thursday.

The Martian Moons Exploration project would launch a probe in 2024 destined for Phobos, the largest and closest of two moons circling the Red Planet.

8)   The United Fiasco could have happened to (most) any airline and it was a matter of time. The problem is not just with the airlines, but with the decline American customer service levels.

9/11 hurt our country in a number of ways, and its effects are still felt. What was once an industry based on pleasure has become more of a military installation. Airlines have embraced the powers afforded them through 9/11 and instead of treating passengers as customers, they often act as if they are doing the passenger a favor by transporting them.

9)   A misdirected airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition earlier this week killed 18 allied fighters battling the Islamic State group in northern Syria, the U.S. military said Thursday.

U.S. Central Command said coalition aircraft were given the wrong coordinates by their partner forces, the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.

10)    Japan has a well-deserved reputation as a country with stimulating night life. Every major city has at least one “neon-gai” (entertainment zone), and Tokyo has dozens.

But according to J-Cast News (April 2), the varieties of so-called “fuzoku” (adult entertainment) businesses are showing signs of rapid decline.

11)   Miyako Taxi, which mainly operates in the Kyoto area, has designated a number of cars in its fleet as Silence Taxis. A notice written on the back of the passenger seat headrest informs customers that aside from offering a greeting when they get in and confirming their desired route, the driver will not speak to them unless he is spoken to (excepting, of course, emergency situations where communication is critical).

April 8th, 2017


1)   Swedish media report that a truck drove into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm on Friday. The media report at least two people died and several others were injured. They report that police are investigating the incident as a possible terror attack.

2)   US President Donald Trump has ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to a suspected chemical attack on rebel-held territory. It’s the first US attack on Syrian government forces since the civil war started in 2011. The Pentagon says 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

3)   Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in the United States for his first summit with US President Donald Trump. Xi and his wife flew to Florida on Thursday. He was greeted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited China last month. Trump and his wife also arrived there by Air Force One. The leaders are scheduled to have a dinner together at Trump’s retreat with their wives.

4)   Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that punishes social networking sites if they fail to promptly remove illegal content such as hate speech or defamatory fake news. The cabinet agreed on rules that will impose fines up to 50 million euros, or more than 53 million dollars, on the social media platforms. The bill says social networks need to ensure that obviously criminal content, as defined by German law, will be deleted within 24 hours.

5)   Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan “supports the resolve” of the United States not to allow the proliferation or use of chemical weapons, following a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base from which a deadly poison attack was allegedly launched earlier this week.

6)   Japan is struggling to improve English proficiency in public high schools, an education ministry survey showed Wednesday, with students’ performance well behind targets set by the government.

As of December, 36.4% of third-year senior high school students scored “Grade Pre-2” or higher in the Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency. That was up 2.1 percentage points from the previous year but a long way off the 50% target set by the government for third-year students to achieve by their graduation in March next year.

7)   Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister said Tuesday displaced people yet to return to areas of Fukushima Prefecture deemed safe to live in are “responsible for themselves,” before snapping at the reporter whose question prompted the remark.

Masahiro Imamura made the comment at a press conference explaining the government’s efforts for the reconstruction of areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

8)   Japanese retail chain operator Seven & i Holdings will acquire convenience stores from a US company.

It says the 3.3-billion-dollar deal will boost its presence in the country.

Seven & i will buy about 1,100 stores in Texas and other states from gas station and convenience store operator Sonoco in August.
9)   In Japan, the number of stalking cases where police identified suspects hit a record high in 2016.

The National Police Agency says there were more than 2,600 cases last year. It also issued warnings in more than 3,500 cases.

Police received over 22,700 inquiries and reports about stalking. That’s the second highest since record-keeping began in 2000.

10)   The city of Osaka has certified a gay couple as foster parents in an apparent first in Japan.

City officials say the men — one in his 30s and the other in his 40s — were approved in December after being vetted by an expert panel. They were also scrutinized by a child consultation center and given an orientation on the foster parent program.

The pair now has a child.


March 23rd, 2017

1)   The head of a Japanese nationalist school at the heart of a swirling political scandal said in sworn testimony in parliament on Thursday that he received a donation of 1 million yen from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife in her husband’s name.

2)   Fewer Japanese are taking their own lives, a positive sign in a country with one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

Experts say it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline, attributing it to a combination of factors. The government has made a determined effort to tackle the issue, starting with national legislation in 2006. Consumer loan laws have been revised to try to keep people from taking on too much debt.

“Now we can talk about suicides,” said Yasuyuki Shimuzu, founder of Lifelink, a nonprofit that lobbies for suicide-prevention measures. “I believe the change in environment has made it easier for the needy to seek help.”

3)   British police arrested seven people in armed raids Thursday linked to the deadly attacks the day before on the symbol of the country’s democracy.

Britain’s top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley also said police have revised down the number of victims from Wednesday’s rampage to three from four. Some 40 people were wounded.

4)   The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has unveiled an outline of a facility designed to boost young people’s communication skills in the English language.

The Tokyo government is planning to open the educational facility called English Village in September next year, in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The project is part of Tokyo’s efforts to foster globally-minded talent.

The facility will be named Tokyo Global Gateway and located in Koto ward. It is expected to be operated by a private company. Courses will be offered for fifth-grade students through high-school seniors with priority given to applications from schools.

5)   Writers and film directors in Japan have voiced opposition to a proposed bill to criminalize preparing to carry out terrorism and other organized crimes.

The Japan PEN Club, a group of writers and poets, said in a statement that the legislation would violate freedom of thought and beliefs guaranteed by the Constitution.

The group criticized the government’s argument that the legislation is necessary to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The group says the existing organized crime law is sufficient for taking anti-terrorism measures.
6)   A government survey says abuse of elderly people by family members and others reached 16,384 cases in Japan during the year ending March 2016. That’s a 2 percent increase from the previous year.

7)   An internet-based bank in Japan plans to soon start allowing customers to withdraw cash from ATMs using only smartphones.

Jibun Bank account holders will be able to use the service at more than 23,000 ATMs owned by Seven Bank. The machines are located around the country, mainly in Seven-Eleven convenience stores.

Customers must first enter the withdrawal amount on a smartphone app. The ATM will display a QR code to be scanned with a smartphone camera. The app will then show a number for the transaction.

Once users enter the number and an account password, they’ll be able to get their money.

March 18th, 2017


1)   A court in Japan has found the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company liable for failing to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

In a ruling on Friday, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture ordered the government and TEPCO to pay more than 38 million yen, or about 335,000 dollars, in damages to a group of 137 evacuees.

2)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says neither he nor his wife made a donation to build a school for an organization embroiled in a controversy over a state-owned land deal.

Abe was answering a question in a Lower House committee on Friday. One day earlier, Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike suggested that Abe had donated one million yen, or about 8,850 dollars, to build an elementary school.

3)    An upgrade being rolled out this summer to Mastercard’s mobile payments service will let people open, manage and close their tabs at participating bars and taverns completely through their phones, without having to hand over a credit card.

4)   Japan is laying the groundwork for a free education program for some households that will cover a student’s costs from preschool to college to ensure the country maintains a highly-skilled workforce.

The program, still in its early stages, is expected to feature in the government’s economic strategy due sometime around June.

5)   The number of crime syndicate members in Japan fell below the 20,000 threshold for the first time in 2016, as gang groups are struggling to secure financing on the back of stronger police crackdowns and a growing civil movement to eliminate them, a national police report showed Thursday.

6)   The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on Friday confirmed that the International Olympic Committee Executive Board has approved the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture as an additional venue for Baseball and Softball events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

7)   Managers at Japan’s major companies are putting their offers on the table in response to workers’ demands for higher wages.

The outcome so far of annual labor negotiations indicates workers will probably take home higher pay, but their raises will be less than agreed upon last year.