Friday, November 2, 2012

Japan News Roundup: Sandy & Fukushima Expose Nuclear Safety Losers, Japan's U.S. Election Pick, Lego Itsukushima Shrine

Via Discovery/Corbis.

• Comparing causes of the three nuclear reactor shut-downs on the American upper East Coast during Hurricane Sandy to what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi after the 3-11 earthwake, the New Yorker pointed to a Stanford study that notes "the United States came in second, behind Japan, as the country with the largest number of inadequately protected nuclear power plants".

Associated Press reported on Japan’s self-audit of government post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction spending, noting that in addition to 1/4 of the $148 billion earmarked for unrelated projects, "more than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle." BBC News put the number of people displaced 18 months after the disaster at 325,000 .

• The Washington Post ran a long, doom-sy “optimists turn to pessimists” as “declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions" article, replete with charts. Business Insider countered: is it terrible that “Japan is becoming less crowded and the people are becoming healthier”?

• Diplomats from China and Japan emphasized U.S. role to resolve island dispute (WaPo). Looking at the tenuous business prospects between the two countries, Fortune Magazine cited one possible winner.

The majority of Chinese and Japanese citizens back Obama for second term, an AFP-Ipsos poll shows, "which suggests Mitt Romney's tough talk on the Asian powers could have dented his image." Related, Embassay Row’s 'favorite' Japanese Ambassador Fujisaki says goodbye to Washington, D.C. “People ask me which candidate my country prefers,” Fujisaki told the Washington Post. “It’s like a Christmas gift. You don’t say anything until you open it, then say, ‘It’s just what I wanted.’”

• A Sendai airport shut down after an unexploded WWII was discovered at a construction site.The Associated Press explained, "The United States heavily bombed Japanese cities during World War II, and finding unexploded bombs is not unusual, even 67 years after Japan’s surrender." Wired reported the bomb was U.S.-made and that this was the second such finding in a week.

• Last week it was reported that Japan ranked 101 globally for women’s equality. This week BusinessWeek discussed how Japan’s mothers are vilified as ‘Devil Wives’ for seeking to keep employment.

• Post-Fukushima Japan: super energy conservation seems the new norm, said the International Herald Tribune, but “can we learn to save energy without an immediate threat?”; San Jose Mercury News looked at how Google and Twitter were 'tech first responders' after Japan’s 3-11 earthquake, and the tech evolution thereafter; members of the Vienna Philharmonic played a Bach sonata on Mount Hiyori the Miyagi Prefecture, honoring victims of the 3-11 earthquake and tsunami; and the Los Angeles Times ran a feature on a motorcycle's tsunami journey from Japan to a memorial at the Harley Davidson Museum.

• Teaching, Learning & Beyond: A Wake Forest University student explained the art of Japanese tea ceremony and its central concept ichigo-ichie (a once in a lifetime encounter); a Japanese teacher visiting Florida schools said perhaps the biggest difference between U.S. and Japan classrooms: “cleaning time [when] all Japanese students clean the school at the end of the day — the classrooms, the bathrooms, the grounds. The kids don’t like cleaning time, but it’s a part of their schooling"; and WSJ profiled a candadian Enlgish teacher in Japan who became a j-pop star.

• Movies and Moving On: Japan Times reviewed the crowd sourced documentary Japan in a Day, which shows “3/11 made Japanese treasure the simple and normal things in life”; Twitch gave a first look at Ken Watanabe's Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven; and sadly Jimmy Mirikitani, featured in the documentary Cats of Mirikitani, and whose early life was riddled with strife resulting from the U.S. Japanese interment camps, died at 92 (Rafu Shimpo).

• Reuters interviewed chef Hiroko Shimbo, whose third book suggests making one's own miso sauces and stocks with kelp and dashi is an easy way to bring Japan's flavors to U.S. homes

• Travel Tips: Associated Press reported that though Japan's capsule hotels are largely a businessman's special, they give budget travelers a unique lodging experience; tis (becoming) the season with ESPN’s 'A Skier's Journey’ in Japan article and video; and CNNGo posted an insider’s guide to the Tokyo Skytree for English speakers.

• Reportedly "Japan is now the second biggest producer of single malt whisky in the world". We’d like a source. And a flask.

• This year’s Japanese Halloween costumes creepy, wildly colorful, and sometimes political, plus some spooky spots to visit Japan. Semi related: are Pokemon the spawn of ancient Japanese demons?

• Japan Society in the News: the New York Times reviewed last weekend's traditional folk dance and music performances, noting "after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, alarm bells went off for the specific practice of Kuromori Kagura, which dates back more than 300 years and is named after a mountain and a shrine"; the Wall Street Journal raved about the Silver Wind exhibition, delving into the complexities of Rimpa art.

Fast Company explored pop-up paper craft that weds Japanese tradition and modern architecture .

• An Indiana University Japan club finally planted cherry trees after 10 year struggle.

• Read the Short History of e-Readers and eBooks in Japan.

• Ad Week looked at collection of 'awesomely weird' Japanese commercials, which aren't that weird if you have ever been to Japan, know anything about Japanese culture, or, say, compare them to ‘weird’ commercials seen in Europe and America. Some of them are downright awesome, though.

• An exhibit of 40 World Heritage sites built using Lego blocks opened in Tokyo. The Wall Street Journal ran a photo of Japan's Itsukushima Shrine.


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