July 29th, 2016 N


1)   Do you think Russia should have been banned from the Rio Olympics over allegations of state-sponsored doping?

2)   Sarah Takeda thought she had a good little business renting a traditional tatami-mat room in her house on Airbnb.

But she and other hosts in Japan are learning the hard way that the home-sharing site’s fastest-growing market is also becoming the next flashpoint in a global battle over the sharing economy.

Hoteliers are up in arms, local residents complain that outsiders are invading their neighborhoods, and Japanese officials say renting out private homes is illegal.

3)   Executives at Hokkaido Railway Company are drastically reviewing their business in the face of losses caused by falling passenger numbers.

JR Hokkaido has posted an operating loss of more than 380 million dollars at current rates for the business year ended in March. It was one of the firm’s biggest losses in about 20 years.

Officials are reviewing money-losing train services. They are expected to announce later this year which lines the company cannot maintain on its own.

They are considering abolishing unprofitable lines and replacing them with bus services.

4)   The new governor of Kagoshima Prefecture in southwestern Japan says he plans to request, possibly next month, for a temporary halt of the only nuclear plant in the country currently in operation.

Satoshi Mitazono took office as governor on Thursday following his election victory on July 10th. During his election campaign, he called for a halt of the Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture. The two reactors at the plant are currently online.

At a news conference, the new governor said people in Kagoshima are worried about the Sendai nuclear plant after the series of powerful earthquakes in neighboring Kumamoto in April.

5)   A probe using an X-ray-like detector has found that a large amount of melted nuclear fuel apparently remains at the bottom of one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company released images of the No. 2 reactor on Thursday. One of the images shows a large black shadow at the bottom of the reactor. In photos taken by a muon detector, black shadows represent heavy metals such as uranium.

TEPCO says the image suggests that most of molten fuel mixed with structural objects within the reactor and accumulated at the bottom. It estimates the amount of the accumulated materials at 160 tons.
6)      Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered a review of the current state system for compulsory hospitalization of people considered at risk of harming themselves or others. The request comes after the recent knife attack at a facility for people with intellectual disabilities.

Abe instructed his ministers at a meeting on Thursday. 19 people were killed in Tuesday’s attack at the facility in Sagamihara. Twenty six others were injured.

The Prime Minister said it was deplorable that so many innocent, defenseless people were killed and injured. He said he offers his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

7)   Pokemon Go has become a global phenomenon. But managers at many public and private facilities around Japan are telling the developers of the augmented-reality game that they don’t want to play along.

Officials at several Japanese railway companies are worried that players absorbed in the game will bump into passengers or fall off platforms. So they’ve asked the developer to exclude their properties from the game.

But they say many of the game’s characters have appeared at major stations or on rail tracks…despite the developer’s promises to keep them away.

8)   Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will continue with its peace-keeping operations in South Sudan despite the general deterioration in security in the country.

Suga on Thursday mentioned a recent incident in which a vehicle carrying staff of a Japanese aid agency was shot at.

He said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, reported that a vehicle carrying 4 staff members came under gunfire on July 8th, at around 6 PM, local time. The members were on their way back to their hotel. He said the vehicle was bullet-proofed, and nobody was injured.