• The International Herald Tribune reported "relief and hope" spread over Asia with Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election. The story was highlighted with the photo (above) of U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos celebrating with Japanese students in Tokyo. Though Obama will return to office a second term, Wall Street Journal noted "key members of his foreign policy team--including his main Japan advisors--likely won't be."
• Also in the elections, Hawaii democrat Mazie Hirono won the U.S. Senate race "to become the first Japanese-American female member of the upper chamber of Congress." (Yomiuri)
• Japan's defense minister said given China's assertive maritime maneuvers Tokyo wants to update mutual defense guidelines with the U.S. (AP). The New York Times noted "While the United States has maintained its neutrality, Chinese officials have said that Washington bears some responsibility in creating the dispute. They say the United States essentially took sides in 1972, when it returned the islands along with Okinawa to Japan without consulting China."
• The Japan and U.S. militaries began an enormous 12-day joint drill (NYT) for with some 37,000 Japanese and 10,000 American personnel. They left out one potentially contentious amphibious landing out of respect to ties with China.
• More than one hundred U.S. "soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and family members" participated in the fifth annual 24 Hour Jog-A-Thon to raise awareness and funds for the Okinawa Special Olympics. (DVIDS)
• Six people were awarded the Order of Culture, Japan's highest honor, including Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, film director Yoji Yamada, law scholar Shigeru Oda, art critic Shuji Takashina, painter Toshio Matsuo, and scientist Yasuyuki Yamada. (Japan Times)
• The world's preeminent Japan scholar Donald Keene received Japanese citizenship (NYT) The New York native moved to Japan last year as a show of support after the March 11 earthquake.
• "Japan's 'Fiscal Cliff': National Crisis or Political Kabuki?" (WSJ)
• "With Japan's lackluster economic growth and seemingly relentless political turmoil, it's easy to think that Tokyo's relevance is falling with no end in sight. But Japan remains a vital part of Asia and it will be a major player in shaping the region's future." Carnegie Endowment lists why.
• Four people on Japan's nuclear safety team took money from utility companies (AP). Though the transactions were legal, some say it raises questions about neutrality. Meanwhile, TEPCO asked for more money to deal with the nuclear crisis in Fukushima (BusinessWeek).
• Japanese students visiting Pittsburgh described life after tsunami. The Pittsburg Tribune-News quoted 15 year old Yui of Hitachi, Japan, “I learned the importance of daily bonds of friendship.” Young New Orleanians crossed the Pacific to see "parts of Japan that had a lot in common with New Orleans: cities that lived through a disaster and where music made a difference." (WWLTV)
• Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki reflected on his tenure (Pioneer Press), noting:
It was a very fruitful four, four and a half years. We had some difficult times; we had good days as well. One of the difficult times was the 3/11 disaster that happened in Japan -- the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear accident and that was Japan's real difficulty. But American people have worked with us as if it was really their own problem. ... They have contributed a lot to us.• Hiroshi Oem, the Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan was among musicians that gave a concert commemorating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Pakistan (Daily Times).
• Aljazeera's 101 East video series looked at aging Japan and asked "how the world's most elderly society can overcome its demographic crisis." It noted Japan's population "fell by a record quarter-million to 127.8 million last year" and "the demographic decline has led to a spike in social problems and kodokushi or 'lonely deaths', which is a Japanese phenomenon that came about in the 1980s."
• Abaci and after-school clubs: Great Britain looks to Japanese techniques to improve numeracy.
• "Sumo grapples with slimmer intake". (CNN)
• Now that "an estimated 2.9 million Japanese emigrants and their descendants live overseas", museums dedicated to them met to discuss top programming priorities: oral histories and minority issues. (Japan Times)
• Core77 shared highlights from DesignTide Tokyo, including a moveable movie theater inspired by the Tohoku disasters, kamidana (mini shinto god shrines), koshirae light fixtures mimicking traditional lacquered sword mountings, "Paper-Wood" products, and high-concept furniture merging graphic design with traditional Japanese craft.
• Two weeks of eating and traveling Japan in just three minutes, courtesy of CBS News. Huffington Post discussed the joys of having a personal guide when traveling Japan.
• Designer Rebecca Taylor: "Every year I travel to Tokyo… it’s like a peek into the future, a journey to another planet, an explosion of creativity… I love how you can find art everywhere in Japan." (Style.com)
• The newly renovated Tokyo Station--completed in 1914--is "one of the few significant examples of early-20th-century architecture left in Tokyo, let alone Japan." (WSJ)
• A Studio Ghibli (often called the Disney of Japan) retrospective arrived in Atlanta, giving "viewers a glimpse into Japanese culture – along with simple and entertaining stories."
• An unpublished early manga of late Astro Boy creator Osama Tezuka was apparently found in a bookstore.
• Kotaku shared images from a horrifying children's book that illustrates Jigoku, the Japanese Buddhist's incarnation of hell. They also shared an anthropomorphicized England as a Victorian anime character from Japan. (Is it just me or does the country look a little more like a zoomorphorphic trio of a dog in an elaborate Alien Queen bonnet eying a steak, and a pig and a crocodile at the dog's feet pointing towards Nova Scotia.)
• Though PetsLady is "not saying Crab Hat Cats are the latest pet trend", they featured Japan's Top 10.
• Flower-focused theme park Nabano No Sato holds its annual Winter Light Festival of Japan mid-November through March.
Photograph by André Sato on Flickr via.