Representatives from 91 nations attend ceremony on 71st anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima

peacememorialceremony

Japan Times:

Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on world leaders to do more to abolish nuclear weapons and to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the city in May with trips of their own.

At a memorial ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed Matsui’s call and also urged young people to visit to observe the harrowing reality of the atomic bombing. Abe also reiterated Japan’s role in combating nuclear proliferation as the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

In the Peace Declaration read at the city’s annual memorial ceremony, Matsui urged the leaders of all nations to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, which was obliterated by another atomic strike three days later by the United States, in order to “etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each (leader’s) heart.

Matsui then called on the world to “unify and manifest our passion in action” to proceed toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

 

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 that year, and Japan surrendered six days later, effectively ending the war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the importance of maintaining and enhancing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that binds its signatories not to pursue atomic weapons programs.

Abe also said he will maintain his efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons by asking both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states for cooperation, and by showing world leaders and young people the painful reality of radiation exposure.

During the ceremony, a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also read out by a representative.

Today, the world needs the hibakusha spirit more than ever,” at a time when “global tensions are rising” and progress on nuclear disarmament is “hard to find,” the message said, adding that nuclear powers “have special responsibility to prevent another Hiroshima,”

Ban urged all nations to “find common ground through inclusive dialogue.”

The ceremony was attended by representatives from 91 nations, including recognized nuclear weapons states such as Britain, France, the United States and Russia. The European Union was also represented.

The number of hibakusha stood at 174,080 as of March, and their average age was just over 80 years old.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he pays his Facebook and Twitter fees just like everyone else

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 21.17.49

RocketNews24:

Has Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen for one of those “Facebook to start charging” hoaxes?

Abe found himself the butt of the joke in parliament this week after slipping up on the subject of social media. The prime minister proudly told the House of Councillors on Wednesday that of course, he pays his Facebook and Twitter membership fees.

When Democratic Party politician Tsutomu Okubo asked Abe the question in an exchange during a budget meeting on Wednesday, he was clearly hoping to catch him out. And he succeeded.

Okubo first asked if the prime minister operates his social media accounts himself, to which Abe stated that he has help from staff, but the content of the tweets is all him. “My personal account, that one’s run by myself and my staff, basically I decide what we’re going to post about,” he told the assembly.

Next, Okubo asked with a cheeky smirk on his face: “And have you ever paid Twitter and Facebook service fees?”

He must have been delighted when the prime minister walked right into his trap, replying that yes, of course he pays his fees.

▼ Okubo looking pleased with his clever question.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.29.54 AM

Like many world leaders, Abe has two sets of social media accounts, one under his own name, and an official account of the administration of the prime minister (the Kantei). He told the assembly that the fees on personal accounts are the responsibility of the individual:

“Of course, I pay my own fees for my personal social media accounts. But as for the Kantei accounts [the office of the PM], that’s paid for by the Kantei.”

Smiling, Okubo went on to explain what every schoolchild in this day and age knows: that Facebook and Twitter are free to use. For everyone. When he continued to poke the prime minister, asking, “Who are you paying these fees to, then?” there was audible laughter around the room.

▼ Even Abe’s team looked amused at the blunder.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.35.13 AM

Abe rose again to counter with:

“I don’t actually know about the details of how it works. I decide the content of the posts and my staff do the rest. I think that’s to be expected really.”

Think your week was hard? Tokyo salary man’s insane work diary goes viral

screen-shot-2015-03-06-at-1-09-00-pm

QUARTZ/Global Voices (by Nevin Thompson): 

A recent video uploaded by prolific YouTube vlogger Stu in Tokyo has gone viral, so far reaching more than half a million views.

 The topic of video? A week in the life of a Tokyosalary man,” the common name in Japan for a salaried office worker.

Stu works for a British financial services company in Tokyo, he explains in the video. Typically the months of January, February and March are “crunch time,” requiring long hours. 

So, Stu decided to keep a video diary of just how much he works each day, and what he actually has time to do after he gets off work. It doesn’t turn out to be much of anything at all.

But that’s okay, says Stu. “There are definitely people in Tokyo who do this all year round in order to support their families. I couldn’t imagine having to do this if I had those kinds of responsibilities as well.”

There are signs this cornerstone of Japanese working corner is in the process of changing. Although current Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has floated the idea of eliminating regulations that limit daily working hours entirely, the government has in fact introduced plans to require Japanese salaried workers to take five days of paid vacation every year.

Until now, while many Japanese salaried employees receive paid vacation time as part of their compensation package, very few workers actually make use of it. Due to workplace culture, Japanese workers are reluctant to book vacation time on their own, leaving coworkers behind to pick up the slack. Instead, if Japanese workers do take a day off, they typically take one during one of Japan’s national holidays.

Japan currently has 16 nationally legislated holidays, the most of any G20 country (the UK has only 8 national holiday, and the US 10). The abundance of national holidays in Japan may compensate for long working hours and peer pressure that frowns on taking a day off for personal reasons.

However, when everyone in a nation of 126 million people goes on vacation at the same time on a national holiday, the result can be clogged rail lines, monster traffic jams, and long lines at airports. 

The new vacation labor regulations are an attempt at addressing this problem. There is also the hope that mandatory paid leave, combined with the large number of national holidays will spur tourism and in turn encourage consumer demand, stimulating Japan’s sluggish economy.

New ISIS video purports to show beheading of Japanese reporter

ABC News:

A 66-second ISIS video purports to show the beheading of Japanese reporter Kenji Goto, a gruesome end to a week of failed negotiations.

There was no immediate comment from Japanese or U.S. intelligence officials, but the video appears to show the detached head of the 46-year-old reporter who was captured late last year by the terror group while on assignment in Syria.

The video, titled “A Message to the Japanese Government,” begins with Goto on his knees in a river valley. A masked man with a knife in his hand speaks with a British accent, addressing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Let the nightmare for Japan begin,” the executioner says as he puts a knife to Goto’s neck.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the White House is aware of the video and is “working to confirm its authenticity.”

“The United States strongly condemns [ISIS’s] actions and we call for the immediate release of all remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan,” spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.

Before his death, audio messages from Goto were published online by ISIS last week, relaying ISIS’s offer to free Goto, but only if Jordan released a convicted female al Qaeda member, Sajida al-Rishawi, from death row. If the Jordanians did not release al-Rishawi, ISIS said through Goto, then Goto and a Jordanian pilot also held captive by the terror group would be killed. The Jordanian government publicly said they would release al-Rishawi, but only in return for the pilot.

Al-Rishawi has been in prison for a decade for her role in an al Qaeda bombing attack in Jordan in 2005 that killed dozens, including many at a wedding party.

ISIS set a hard deadline for al-Rishawi’s release for sunset on Thursday, but the Jordanians didn’t budge, saying ISIS had not provided proof of life their pilot was alive. Amid the tense negotiations, top Japanese officials had said they were working closely with Jordan to find a way to gain freedom for their citizen.

The status of the Jordanian pilot is unclear, but Goto now joins a number of Western civilians, and scores of locals who were murdered by the terror group.

Islamic State, in video, threatens to kill 2 Japanese hostages

A photo from a video clip posted on YouTube shows a man with a knife threatening two captives identified as Haruna Yukawa (right) and Kenji Goto Jogo. The Islamic State says it wants $200 million for their release.

NPR:

The group that calls itself the Islamic State, in a direct address to Japan‘s prime minister, is threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless it gets $200 million within 72 hours. The demand in a video posted online comes as Shinzo Abe is visiting the Middle East.

The video shows the two men — purported to be Haruna Yukawa, who was captured in August, and freelance journalist Kenji Goto Jogo, who was last heard from on Twitter in October when he said he was in Syria — in orange jumpsuits. There is a rocky hill in the background and a masked militant, clad in black, standing between them.

To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometers (5,280 miles) from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade,” the militant says. “You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims … and in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100 million to train the (apostates).”

That sum is equivalent to the amount Japan pledged in nonmilitary aid to countries in the region facing threats from the Islamic State.

The militant who is brandishing a knife in the video resembles and sounds like the British man in other Islamic State videos in which hostages have been beheaded. Three Americans — James Foley, Peter Kassig and Steven Sotloff — and two Britons — David Haines and Alan Henning — were killed by the group in the past year. Their beheadings have been filmed.

It’s unclear whether Japan will pay the $200 million to free the hostages, but its Foreign Ministry in a statement said, “Japan will not give in to terrorism.”

Abe, in Jerusalem, said the lives of the two hostages “are the top priority.”

He said he was sending Yasuhide Nakayama, state minister for foreign affairs, to Jordan to deal with the situation, Japanese media reported.

It is unforgivable,” said Abe, who is on a six-day tour of the Middle East. “Extremism and Islam are completely different things.”

The Islamic State also holds British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in the group’s propaganda videos, and a 26-year-old American aid worker.

The Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, controls large parts of Iraq and Syria. But in recent days, the group has suffered setbacks from airstrikes by the U.S. and its allies.

Link

Honda readying a Fuel Cell Vehicle for buyers next year, just in time to challenge Toyota

 

HF 3

 

RocketNews 24:

 

Toyota recently announced it plans to begin consumer sales of a Fuel Cell Vehicle sometime around the beginning of 2015, which has the potential to be a huge step towards a more environmentally-friendly system of personal transportation. Rival carmaker Honda isn’t about to let Japan’s largest auto manufacturer have this new field all to itself, though, as it looks to be moving ahead with plans to start selling an FCV of its own within the country that aims to be the class leader in both performance and price.

Similar to Toyota’s upcoming FCV, the new Honda will carry a supply of hydrogen which will react with oxygen drawn from the surrounding air to power the car. Initially, predictions were leaning towards Honda’s FCV being available first in the U.S. market, but recent comments from company executives indicate the current plan is to sell the car in Japan before expanding its availability to other territories.

 

▼ Honda’s FCV concept from 2013

HF 1

 

Water is the only byproduct of the chemical reaction powering the FCV, resulting in the same lack of carbon dioxide emissions boasted by electric vehicles. Fuel Cell Vehicles have a couple of advantages over their all-electric counterparts, though. For starters, the hydrogen tank can be filled in about three minutes, putting FCV fueling time closer to that of gasoline-powered cars than the 20 to 30 minutes required for giving an electric vehicle a full charge.

 

▼ The concept version of Toyota’s soon-to-be-released Fuel Cell Vehicle

HF 2

 

More importantly, while electric vehicles can generally run for only about 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a full charge, fuel cell vehicles are said to run in the neighborhood of 500 kilometers (310 miles). Honda claims their model will have the even more impressive capability of traveling 800 kilometers (497 miles) between hydrogen filling sessions.

Honda is hoping to make deliveries of its FCV in 2015. Pricing is yet to be set, with the carmaker expected to wait and see the reaction to Toyota’s offering which is expected to cost 9.9 million yen (US $97,100). Industry analysts estimate Honda will be able to undercut its rival and price its Fuel Cell Vehicle in the 7 to 8 million yen range ($69,000 to $78,000). Lending credibility to this prediction are statements from Honda executives that their primary goal for the new model is not to make a profit, but to help develop the FCV segment by offering a practical fuel-cell-powered car.

 

HF 3

 

The final hit to buyers’ wallets might even be as low as six million yen if Honda’s FCV qualifies for the same government incentive programs that buyers of electric vehicles benefit from. This seems likely, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recently announced economic growth strategy is seeking to promote the development of fuel cell and other advanced passenger vehicles through building a more comprehensive fueling station network and grants for drivers of eco-friendly cars.

But just as Honda is seeking to cut Toyota’s time as the lone FCV provider as short as possible, other companies are also looking to enter the fuel cell arena. Rumored to be next is Nissan, the other member of Japan’s big three of auto manufacturing, who’s expected to have its own FCV ready for drivers sometime in 2017.

 

Check out this link:

 Honda readying a Fuel Cell Vehicle for buyers next year, just in time to challenge Toyota

Link

Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared

 

RocketNews 24:

 

OS 1

During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.

And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?

Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.

While the two heads of state enjoyed a tipple in downtown Tokyo, their sake actually comes from the other side of the country. The brewer is Hiroshima Prefecture’s Kamotsuru. While their product recently graced the cup of Japan’s prime minister, Kamotsuru’s history stretches back to when Japan was still ruled by a shogun, as the company was founded in 1623.

▼ The Kamotsuru brewery

OS 2

 

Thanks to the distinctive square-based bottle Prime Minister Abe is seen pouring from, it didn’t take long for sake aficionados to discern that the specific brew the two were drinking is Kamotsuru’s Diginjo Tokusei Gold, which the brewer later confirmed through its website. Kamotsuru proudly states that the Diginjo Tokusei Gold is the finest representation of its techniques and traditions, made with water drawn from subterranean sources in Hiroshima’s northern Takahara highlands.

 

OS 3

 

Daiginjo Tokusei Gold is highly esteemed, having received more than 95 awards for its flavor since 1970. According to its maker, the sake has a refined aroma, with a rich, full flavor, and is best served chilled or at room temperature.

Kamotsuru also claims to be the first brewer to think of adding decorative flakes of gold to its sake, and as you pour the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold into your glass, you’ll see cherry blossom-shaped gold leaves floating in your beverage.

 

OS 4

OS 5

 

Even more surprising than this clever visual design point, though, is the price. Kamotsuru sells the Daiginjo Tokusei Gold through its website here, with prices starting at just 1,378 yen (US$13.50) for a set of two 180 milliliter (6.1 ounce) bottles.

 

OS 6

 

With prices like that, Kamotsuru’s sake can be enjoyed by anyone, even if the only seat of power you have is the sofa in your living room.

Sources: LivedoorKamotsuru

 

Check out this link:

Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared