Friday, July 23, 2010

News Blast: Border Control, Holo-Vision 2022, First Lady Of Flight, Nimble Ninja Kids And More!

Cool Japan fest in NYC's East Village. Photos via.

Japanese Border Control & Immigration Policies

Where the U.S. army has a pronounced presence on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, the Japanese Self-Defence Forces plans to increase their presence over the next year. The Japanese Defense Ministry has announced plans to deploy more troops on Okinawa, as well as several hundred on the even more southernly Sakishima Islands. Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa cites increased activity by Chinese naval vessels as a chief concern this move will address.

On a related note, a new resource will no doubt prove invaluable for civilians looking to get through Japan’s borders. The brand-new blog Turning Japanese  is on a mission: to provide, in English, a comprehensive overview of the Japanese Immigration protocols as well as instructions for applying for Japanese Citizenship. What makes this news so exceptional is that there really isn’t another (official) resource for English-speakers on the subject.

News from the World of Food

The Telegraph has two news-items on possible health side-effects from eating certain kinds of food. First: soy sauce could reduce symptoms of menopause . Studies in Japan show that soy contains a compound that reduces the production of oestrogen, which contributes to menopausal problems. Of course, the news that soy sauce is a ‘miracle food’ should be taken with a grain of salt. The article also cites previous studies, which have showed that soy sauce can prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.

On the more dangerous side of the spectrum: konnyaku, a Japanese jelly that’s harvested from a very starchy tuber known in English as the konjac (though it’s also known by such sinister names as Devil’s Tongue and Voodoo Orchid). In Japan, it’s usually eaten raw, as konnyaku sashimi in long thin strips. However, the dense chewiness of it has led to over 20 deaths in the past 16 years, and over 20 hospitalizations, all among the elderly or young people. Kenta Izumi, parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet, has convened a panel of lawmakers, doctors, and manufacturers to come up with a safety standards law to reduce casualties. The American Food and Drug Administration actually removed a number of konnyaku-based candies from US shelves starting in 2001 as a response to deaths in America.

A Bumpy Ride in U.S.-Japan Relations?

In the pages of Newsweek, columnist Tobias Harris predicts rough times ahead for Japan-U.S. relations. For Harris, the tension will mostly stem from issues of security: the U.S. is interested in pursuing a more security-based partnership with Japan, where Japan will expand their army, and join the U.S. on key missions. Japan’s DPJ, however, have a tenuous hold on power after the disappointing elections a couple weeks ago. In this political climate, it doesn’t look like the Japanese government will allocate more funds to defense, and therefore will enter a more dependant relationship with the U.S.

Bite-size News:

Bloomberg-BusinessWeek reports Japan's Provinces are 'withering away'  and that budget cuts are most likely accelerating rural decline. The warning stems from the Bank of Japan's Sakura Report, a regional survey akin to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book.

Variety examines the possibility of Japan broadcasting live holographic television by World Cup 2022.

FIAF inspects Japan for 2022 World Cup hosting bid, finds it 'very balanced'.

67 countries pledge to attend the August 6 peace memorial service marking the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

►A decision on the U.S. air base in Okinawa is not likely until November. 

Japan Today profiles Ari Fuji, Japan's first female commercial flight captain, who had to get her license from the U.S. because of Japanese height restrictions.

Mainichi profiles Noriko Williams, a Japanese langauge teacher who authored a pictorial kanji character textbook for English speakers. Says Williams, "I wanted to teach kanji learners that these seemingly meaningless combinations of lines actually derive from ancient wisdom."

The New York Times has further news on the story from last week about the Japanese government agency that allegedly exploits foreign workers and interns.

Celebrating dramatic growth overseas, Twitter CEO Evan Williams tells a cheering crowd in Tokyo: "We've come a long way in two years especially in Japan."

►Peter Fernandez voice of Speed Racer (and who wrote the American lyrics for the show's theme song) died this week. Anime News Network's Egan Loo told The New York Times "He took a quintessentially Japanese title and made it so Americans could enjoy it," calling the show "one of the first titles that turned Americans into fans of Japanese animation."

►The annual Tokyo Toy Show wrapped last weekend, and Kotaku has a collection of videos of some of the choicest toys. Dibs on the robot butterfly!

►Reports from Gothamist and Examiner on last weekend's Cool Japan street fest.

►Japanese and American manga publishers are scouring this year's Comic-Con for talent.

►Overview of the alums and allies petitioning to keep the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program alive.

►The Wall Street Journal is looking for examples of "Jinglish", notes that around 10% of Japanese stems from English words, though Frank Daulton, author of Japan's Built-in Lexicon of English-based Loanwords.

►A ninja themed excercise training facility for kids.

►Behold the portable watermelon cooler/heater.

►Canadian practices old-school silk making in Japan.

►Japanese men "muscle in on ballet, cooking, ikebana classes."

►Japan's giant salamanders may hold the key to stave amphibian extinction.

►U.K's Sansbury Centre offers an awesome electronic gallery guide for Unearthed, an exhbition of prehistoric ceramic figurines from Japan and the Balkans and Japan. Thru August 29!

►Japanese travel magazine, Paper Sky  has posted a fascinating three part series on fishing superstitions in the port town of Yaizu. Yaizu is home to one of the biggest fisheries in Japan and the biggest catcher of mackerel and tuna in Japan.

N.O., S.J.

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