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DISPATCHES

 

A regular up-date featuring articles written for publications

all over the world by FCCJ Correspondents

Komeito's Problems with Wartime History

The Komeito Party has lost any trace of its former pacifist ideals, writes Michael Penn of Shingetsu News Agency

The issue of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's fringe views on wartime history has become a global topic whenever contemporary Japanee diplomacy is discussed, but the problem of selective self-serving narratives of the past has also infected his coalition partner, Komeito. Komeito, of course, is the party backed by the Buddhist movement Soka Gakkai, and throughout its history it has been deeply attached to the Peace Constitution and the pacifist values of postwar Japan. Read the article

Red-light District Crackdown

In the Guardian, Justin McCurry reports that Tokyo is cracking down on Kabukicho red-light district hawkers in a pre-Olympics cleanup

It is still early on a humid weekday evening but already this cabaret club in Tokyo's Kabukicho district is in full swing. At 20-minute intervals a different hostess arrives, takes her place next to her customer and goes to work: pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes and engaging in small talk. The lights dim and the chatter is interrupted by a troupe of female dancers whose routine only occasinally borders on the risqué. Read the article

 

Recapturing Sumo Glory?

In the Washington Post, Anna Fifield reports that sumo's popularity among kids has dropped, leaving officials worried about the future of the sport

Chikara Yamanobe is about as far from a sumo wrestler as it's possible to be. He's so skinny that his ribs stick out, and his eyes well up when he gets manhandled in the ring. He's also 5 years old. Still, Chikara, whose name means "power," wants to be a professional sumo wrestler when he gros up. "I want to be like Endo," he said, referring to the Japanese sumo star and heartthrob, after training for almost three hours at a dojo in northern Tokyo one recent Sunday morning. Chancs are, Chikar won't make it.  Read the article

Small Town Attracts Young People

In the Washington Post, Anna Fifield visits a town in rural Japan that is drawing young people to settle there and escape the rat race

Kamiyama, Japan. At first glance, Kamiyama looks like any other rural town in Japan: shuttered stores on the main street, a gas station unencumbered by customers, hunched-over old ladies tending rice fields. But on closer inspection, this mountain village on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, also has many unusual attributes, such as wood-fired pizza, tech start ups and young people. Read the article

China's Anti-Japan Sentiment & Japanese Automakers

In Automotive News, Hans Greimel writes that Japan's automakers fear a new outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in China on war anniversary

Three years ago this September, Japanese automakers learned a nasty lesson about the power of history and nationalism in China. Their sales in the world's No. 1 market plunged amid a violent public backlash against Japanese cars following a territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing. Their market share has yet to recover. Read the article

Don't look now; there's a drone following you

For IT World, Tim Hornyak visits the Drone Expo and finds a drone that will track intruders

If you think drones are more than slightly creepy, wait until you meet one that will autonomously follow you and record video. Japanese security company Secom is launching a drone that will automatically launch when an intruder is detected and follow him or her while sending video to human supervisors. The sleek silver quadcopter was shown off this week at the inaugural International Drone Expo held in Makuhari outside Tokyo, where about 50 companies gathered to exhibit drones and related technologies. Read the article

Japanese Economy Picks Up

The Japanese economy grew at the fastest pace in a year, writes Jonathan Soble in the New York Times

Japan's climb out of recession accelerated in the first quarter of the year, the government said Wednesday, as the economy grew at a faster pace than forecasters had expected. The country's statistics agency said the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent in the three months through March. it was the second consecutive quarter of growth after a surprise downturn in the middle of next year. Read the story

Japan Aims to Build Aussie Subs

Japan will enter the race to build Australias next submarine fleet, writes Justin McCurry in the Guardian.

Japan is to exploit the easing of its postwar ban on arms exports by entering the race to jointly develop and build a new generation of submarines for the Australian navy. Members of Japan's security council this week approved the country's participation in the bidding process, months after the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbottt, abandoned plans to buy Soryu-class submarines from Japan under pressure from ruling party and opposition politicians. Read the story

Censorship and Entertainment

In the Hollywood Reporter, Gavin Blair reports that local moviemakers are being pressured by far-right nationalists

Against the background of a culture that traditionally places great importance on consensus and conformity, Japan has produced maverick filmmakers who grab the attention of cinephiles around the globe. However, the nationalist-leaning government of Shinzo Abe has been pressuring "off message" mediaile small but vocal far-right groups have become increasingly active and aggressive, already leading to the release of one Hollywood film being cancelled this year. Read the article

Japan Bets on Hot Air

In the Economist, David McNeill says the Japanese government is pushing what it hopes will be the clean fuel of the future

"The dawn of a true hydrogen society" was how Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, last month described the opening of Tokyo's first hydrogen fueling station. Mr. Abe himself was the first to take delivery of a new fuel-cell car manufactured by Toyota, the Japanee carmaker, when it went on sale in December. It is the world's first commercial hydrogen cr, which Toyota has named "Mirai": the "future." Read the article

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