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DISPATCHES

 

A regular up-date featuring articles written for publications

all over the world by FCCJ Correspondents

Airbnb Offers Big Returns for Japan's Investors

In the Japan Times, Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku report that the accommodation service is taking off in Japan

Last month, the manager of Airbnb Japan told Bloomberg News that Japan is the accommodationservice's fastest-growing market, and that he hoped to work with local governments to make regulations more amenable to Airbnb's concept of property owners renting out residences to visitors. Read the article

Tokyo Ramen Shop Gets Michelin Star

In the Japan Times, Robbie Swinnerton waits in the queue and dines at the first noodle shop to earn the coveted star

Is ramen Japanese or Chinese? That particular question is clearly a non-starter for the good folks at Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta--whose name stakes out their position. But, to clarify things, you won't find buckwheat noodles in their bowls; what you get is arguably the finest ramen in northern Tokyo. Plenty of others rate the Sugamo shop, too, judging from the line outside. Count on a good half hour in the queue, whatever the weather. Read the article

Haruki Murakami's schoolboy library record leaked

A newspaper has revealed books the author borrowed as a boy, writes Justin McCurry in the Guardian, angering librarians

Librarians in Japan have ditched their traditional regard for silence to accuse a newspaper of violating the privacy of Haruki Murakami, Japan's best-known contemporary writer, after it revealed his teenage reading habits. As a schoolboy in the western port city of Kobe, Murakami delved into the three-volume complete works of the French writer Joseph Kessel, according to library cards leaked to the Kobe Shimbun newspaper. Read the article

The State of Japan's Poor Families

There's no relief in sight for poor single-parent families, write Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku in the Japan Times

Sixteen percent of Japanese minors live below the poverty line, or about 1 out of every 6 children. Those figures put Japan at No. 10 among the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of the rate of child poverty. And when it comes to the poverty rate of single parent households, Japan comes out on top--or bottom, depending on how you look at it. Read the article

Tattooed Travelers in Japan Beware

In the Economist, David McNeill writes about the travails of tattooed travelers in Japan

Mine is barely three inches long but gives people a case of the vapours at Japanese swimming pools. Invariably, a lifeguard will tut-tut from his high chair before demanding it be covered up. Tattoos come freighted with taboos in Japan. They have long been associated with "anti-social elements" code for yakuza mobsters. Read the article

Japan's Buddhist Temples in Economic Struggle

David McNeill says that Japan's Buddhist temples are going out of business, in the Economist

Far from preaching abstinence from earthly pleasures, the Buddhist priests behind the counter of Vowz, a Tokyo bar, encourage the opposite. There are different paths to Buddha, says Yoshinobu Fujioka, the head priest, as he pours a gin and tonic for a customer. "Spiritual awakening can come in any converstation. We provide that opportunity." Read the article

Hollywood, Asian Stars Open Tokyo Film Festival

In the Hollywood Reporter, Gavin Blair says the star-studded opening ceremony was more low-key than in previous years

Guests from Hollywood, Japan and other parts of Asia walked the red carpet for the opening of the Tokyo International film Festival on a warm Thursday afternoon in the Japanese capital. Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke, director and producer of the opening film, The Walk, were joined by jury president Bryan Singer, Beasts of No Nation director Cary Fukunaga, Hilary Swak and Helen Mirren. Read the article

First Fukushima worker diagnosed with cleanup-related cancer

In the Guardian, Justin McCurry reports that the diagnosis of a man who worked on the nuclear cleanup could hamper efforts to get people to return to the area

A 41-year-old man has become the first worker at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to be diagnosed with cancer that officials reconise as being linked to his work there after the March 2011 disaster. The unnamed man, who was diagnosed with lukemia in January 2014 after feeling unwell, spent a year working on reactor buildings that were badly damaged after a magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck Fukushima and other parts of Japan's northeast coast. Read the article

Tea with a yakuza

Gavin Blair talks over tea with a local boss of the Inagawa-kai, for the Christian Science Monitor

Like many Japanese business leaders, Masatoshi Kumagai worries about the future. Industry conditions are changing and he must globalize. Finding capable people is difficult. Regulations are proliferating. The younger generation lacks that hungry spirit that rebuilt postwar Japan. Yet as Mr. Kumagai eyes a security camera screen with an occasional intense, steely look, it becomes clear his is no typical corporate office. Read the article

A forgotten town, four years after 3/11

In the Independent, David McNeill reports on the state of the evacuated area, now being reopened for residents

The home of Kohei and Tomoko Yamauchi bears little sign of the disaster that forced them to abandon it. On a freezing night in March 2011, the couple fled, along with thousands of others, as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, nine miles to the north went into meltdown. When they returned, weeds reached their shoulders and an invisible toxin, detectable only with Geiger counters, coated everything. Read the article

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