Sept. 15th, 2018


1)   Naomi Osaka’s victory in the U.S. Open has added her to a growing list of athletes, Nobel Prize winners, and beauty pageant contestants who have raised the issue of what it means to be Japanese.

The daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka was born in Japan but raised in the United States. But she is being lauded in Japan as the first from the country to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title.

2)   Japan is gearing up to accept more foreign workers as its own population is on the brink of a steep decline, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Thursday.

Kono told a World Economic Forum meeting in Hanoi that Japan gains “value added” by accepting foreigners, especially since its aging population and low birth rate mean the country is shrinking by a half-million people a year.

3)   A week after a powerful quake rocked Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, people mourned the deaths of 41 people as around 1,600 others remained in shelters as of Thursday.

4)   Japan and Vietnam on Thursday urged the United States to rejoin a sprawling Pacific trade deal, almost two years after President Donald Trump’s withdrawal dealt a major blow to what would have been the world’s largest free trade pact.

Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in one of his first post-election moves as part of his “America First” clarion call, declaring the 12-nation trade pact a “job killer”.

5)   Facebook says it’s expanding its fact-checking program to include photos and videos as it fights fake news and misinformation on its service.

The company has been testing the image fact-checks since the spring, beginning with France and the news agency AFP. Now, it will send all of its 27 third-party fact-checkers disputed photos and videos to verify — or the fact-checkers can find them on their own.

6)   Apple Inc introduced its largest-ever iPhone and a watch that detects heart problems on Wednesday in an attempt to get customers to upgrade to more expensive devices in the face of stagnant global demand for smartphones.

7)   Automation will soon make millions of low-skilled jobs — from cashiers and machine operators to waiters and drivers — redundant across Southeast Asia, experts said Wednesday, warning the region to upskill fast or face huge employment problems.

The topic was center stage at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Hanoi, where warnings abounded that countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand where manufacturing has driven GDP and employed millions would be among the worst affected.

8)   Russia and China have begun joint military drills in the Russian Far East.

The Vostok military exercises are held every 4 years. Russia’s Defense Ministry says the 2018 drill, which kicked off in Siberia on Tuesday, is the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union. It involves 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 tanks and other vehicles, some 1,000 aircraft and 80 vessels.

9)   British author Kazuo Ishiguro has been bestowed Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in an award ceremony.

The Japanese government issued the award to the Nobel Prize-winning author, who was born in Japan, in recognition of his contribution to promoting cultural exchange with the UK.

10)   The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says more than 820 million people around the world are going hungry.

The FAO released a report on the state of food security and nutrition on Tuesday.

The agency estimates that the number of undernourished in the world reached 821 million in 2017, or around one out of every 9 people.

11)   The Alipay payment method is simple. Customers use their smartphone to scan a QR code displayed by a business, or the business can scan the QR code in the customer’s phone. Each user’s app is linked to a bank account in China. The transaction goes through Alipay. More than 700 million Chinese people use the service to pay for groceries, public transport, street food, and more. 

12)   Japanese machinery maker Kubota revealed on Wednesday it had tampered with inspection data to sell substandard products.

Officials say the data fixing affected rolls used by steel makers and other companies to produce thin metal plates.

Kubota officials said some of the products had not met the hardness levels or compounding ratio of metals that had been agreed upon with customers.

The officials said an employee first reported the data tampering, and they’ve confirmed nearly 4,400 cases of misconduct out of the more than 20,000 products sold for about 5 years until July.