April 9th, 2016


1)   A Japanese Diet committee has started deliberations on legislation seeking approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, or TPP. Debate is already intensifying over disclosure of information.
A member of the party said he has never before seen materials that were so blacked out.
The prime minister said diplomatic negotiations are all about results and that such negotiations do not materialize if the processes leading to their conclusion are readily made public

2)   NHK has learned that one of the 2 Japanese badminton stars who admitted to visiting an illegal gambling spot in Japan received a warning for gambling at a casino in Macau.

Kento Momota and Kenichi Tago made the admission to visiting the casino in Japan during an in-house investigation by their team, NTT East, on Thursday. Casino gambling is illegal in Japan.

The Nippon Badminton Association said it can no longer recommend Momota as a member of Japan’s national team for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He was a medal hopeful.

3)   A gang that split from Japan’s largest yakuza syndicate is expected to be designated as an organized crime group and come under legal regulations in the near future.

Members of the Yamaguchi-gumi broke away and formed the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi last year. Both groups have since been reportedly engaged in conflicts.

The new group is not currently subject to regulations under the anti-organized crime law. This means authorities cannot order the gang to stop extortions and other illegal activities.

4)   Spectators responded enthusiastically to the highlight event of the Onbashira Festival at Suwa Taisha Shrine in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan.

The festival is held once every 6 years to replace the huge logs in the upper and lower shrines. Eight new logs are put into each shrine.

5)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he wants to stage an exposition overseas in 2018 showcasing Japanese art and culture.

Abe was speaking to a government panel on Thursday that has been discussing ways to promote Japan with an eye toward the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

The panel, headed by actor Masahiko Tsugawa, exchanged views on a fair featuring Japanese arts and culture.

6)   Japan’s Defense Ministry has disclosed the final exchange of messages between an air controller at the base and the pilot of a Self-Defense Force plane that crashed in the southwestern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima on Wednesday. The record shows no sign of abnormality.

The Air Self-Defense Force U-125 went missing in mountains some 10 kilometers north of an air base. Four of the 6 people on board were found without vital signs the next day.

The plane was being used to test the performance of a radio guidance system, called TACAN, used at the air base.

For that purpose, it was flying low near mountains, making a circle around the base, in cloudy conditions.

7)   Hitachi has unveiled a talking humanoid robot that can assist people requiring help at stores and public facilities.

“EMIEW3″ can automatically approach such people and provide verbal guidance.

Hitachi engineers say the 90-centimeter-tall robot recognizes its surroundings and can act without human instruction using a cloud-based intelligent processing system. Online cameras identify customers requiring assistance.