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Gavin Blair

Shinjuku-ku, Japan
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About Gavin
Experienced Japan-based journalist, work in print, radio and TV. Have reported on a wide range of topics for media around the world.
English Japanese
Interview (Video / Broadcast) Feature Stories Corporate Content
Fact Checking

Lost a possum or £110m cash? Honest Japan will hand it back

01 Jun 2024  |  www.thetimes.com
In Japan, the likelihood of recovering lost items, including wallets and large sums of cash, is exceptionally high due to a cultural emphasis on honesty and a well-organized lost and found system. Last year, nearly 30 million items and 22.85 billion yen (£110 million) in cash were returned to the police. This phenomenon is attributed to a combination of rewarding finders, a systematic approach to lost and found, and a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility and honesty cultivated from a young age.

By-election defeats could spell end for Japanese PM Fumio Kishida

28 Apr 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost three seats in by-elections, including a conservative stronghold in Shimane, amid scandals involving illegal political fundraising and unreported income. The defeats, including the loss of a traditionally LDP-dominated seat to Akiko Kamei, have put Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's leadership at risk.

Japanese town battles Instagram tourists seeking that perfect Fuji snap

26 Apr 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Fujikawaguchiko, a town in the foothills of Mount Fuji, is facing challenges with tourists climbing onto private property, such as a dental clinic's roof, to take photos of the mountain. To address this, local officials plan to erect a 2.5m-high and 20m-long black mesh barrier to block the view. The town, which relies heavily on tourism and has a population of 25,000, is experiencing disruptions from visitors blocking pavements and traffic in their quest to photograph Mount Fuji.

Tearful K-pop boss reported to police after consulting shaman about BTS

25 Apr 2024  |  www.thetimes.com
The K-pop girl band NewJeans, managed by Min Hee-jin, is embroiled in a controversy involving accusations against their manager, a shaman, and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment fund. Hybe, the parent company of Ador, has accused Min Hee-jin of planning to break away with the help of a deputy and a shaman, bringing significant publicity to the issue.

Tearful K-pop boss reported to police after consulting shaman about BTS

25 Apr 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
NewJeans' manager Min Hee-jin, known for hits like OMG and ASAP on Spotify, is embroiled in controversy involving a shaman and a plan to break away from Hybe, the music giant and parent company of her subsidiary Ador. The situation has garnered significant attention and is causing a stir in South Korea's pop industry.

South Korean election: opposition parties set for landslide victory

10 Apr 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Exit polls from South Korea's general election indicate a supermajority win for opposition parties. The campaign was notable for the stabbing of Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung. Despite leading in final polls, President Yoon Suk-yeol's People Power Party is expected to become a minority, with the Democratic Party and minor parties dominating the parliament.

Ukrainian-born woman prompts debate after winning Miss Japan

25 Jan 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
The crowning of Carolina Shiino, a Ukrainian-born woman, as Miss Japan has sparked a debate about Japanese identity. Shiino, who moved to Japan at age five and gained citizenship in 2022, expressed immense gratitude for being recognized as Japanese. Her victory has elicited mixed reactions on social media, with some questioning the implications of her win.

China harasses Taiwan with balloons, warplanes and ships

22 Jan 2024  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
China has escalated its activities around Taiwan by sending balloons, warplanes, and naval ships over and around the island, as reported by the government in Taipei. Six Chinese balloons were observed over the Taiwan Strait's median line, with one traversing near Pingtung and others near a naval base at Keelung. This was accompanied by sightings of four Chinese warplanes and four naval ships in the vicinity of Taiwan, reminiscent of Beijing's actions before Taiwan's presidential election.

Japan: plane collision at Tokyo airport leaves five dead on coastguard aircraft but Japan Airlines passengers evacuate – as it happened

02 Jan 2024  |  the Guardian
A massive earthquake in Japan has shifted land near the epicenter up to 1.3 meters westward, according to Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority. The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.6, has resulted in at least 48 deaths, numerous injuries, and widespread destruction, particularly in Wajima city. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgency of rescuing those trapped under rubble. Rescue efforts are being hampered by damaged infrastructure, with one thousand army personnel dispatched to the worst-hit areas. Fires continue to burn, and over 100 homes and buildings have been destroyed.

Japan earthquake news – as it happened: highest-level tsunami warning dropped

01 Jan 2024  |  the Guardian
Six people are trapped under rubble on Japan's Noto Peninsula following a series of earthquakes, with fires destroying houses in Wajima city. The Japan Self-Defense Forces are being prepared for rescue operations. Tsunami waves have hit the Japanese coast, prompting evacuations, while South Korea and Russia have issued alerts. Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority reported no issues with nuclear reactors but confirmed minor damage at some plants. The earthquakes have left 36,000 households without power, and temperatures are expected to drop overnight.

US grounds Osprey aircraft fleet worldwide after Japan crash

07 Dec 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The United States military has grounded its global fleet of V-22 Osprey aircraft following a crash off Japan's coast that resulted in the deaths of eight service members. Preliminary investigations by the US air force special operations command suggest a potential material failure, though the exact cause remains unknown. Japan, the only other nation operating the Osprey, has also suspended flights of its 14 aircraft.

Radio DJ shot dead while on air in the Philippines

06 Nov 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
Juan Jumalon, a 57-year-old radio journalist, was shot dead during a live broadcast from his home in Misamis Occidental, Mindanao, Philippines. Two men were involved in the incident, with one entering his home under the pretense of making an announcement and the other serving as a lookout. The assailant shot Jumalon twice in the head and stole a gold chain from his neck. The murder was live-streamed on the station's Facebook page but was later removed by the platform.

Berlin: Toei Animation’s Yoshi Ikezawa on Ambitious New CGI Feature ‘Hypergalactic’

30 Oct 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
Toei Animation, known for iconic anime like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball, is expanding its global reach with new projects that blend Japanese aesthetics and global storytelling. Yoshi Ikezawa, a key figure at Toei, discusses the studio's latest CGI feature, Hypergalactic, and its strategy to appeal to both traditional anime fans and new audiences. The company is leveraging its rich catalog and collaborating with international partners to enhance its global presence. The interview highlights the cultural differences in storytelling and the growing acceptance of non-English content worldwide.

Tokyo: Wim Wenders Leads Festival Tribute to Legendary Auteur Yasujiro Ozu

28 Oct 2023  |  hollywoodreporter.com
Filmmakers from around the world, including Wim Wenders, Jia Zhangke, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and Kelly Reichardt, gathered at the Tokyo International Film Festival to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Yasujiro Ozu's birth. Wenders introduced a 4K restoration of Ozu's 1959 comedy 'Good Morning' and spoke highly of Ozu's influence. The festival featured discussions on Ozu's work and its impact on cinema, with Reichardt comparing the thematic differences between Ozu's films and American cinema. Digitally remastered 4K versions of 17 Ozu films, including the highly ranked 'Tokyo Story', are being screened at the festival.

Tokyo: Director Yoshiyuki Kishi on Challenging Taboos With Competition Film ‘(Ab)normal Desire’

28 Oct 2023  |  hollywoodreporter.com
Yoshiyuki Kishi, a filmmaker with a background in television, documentaries, and screenwriting, discusses his latest film '(Ab)normal Desire,' which explores the impact of a water fetish on two former classmates. The film, based on a novel by Ryo Asai, addresses themes of sexual diversity, social isolation, and the tolerance of difference. Kishi, who made his feature directorial debut at 52, reflects on the challenges of depicting the characters' internal worlds and his approach to filmmaking, drawing from his extensive experience in documentaries. '(Ab)normal Desire' is selected in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Tokyo: TIFFCOM Content Market Returns With Renewed Momentum, Bigger Venue

25 Oct 2023  |  hollywoodreporter.com
The TIFFCOM content market in Tokyo has opened for its first in-person event since 2019, marking its 20th anniversary with a new venue and a balanced mix of domestic and international exhibitors. The event, running until October 27, features film, television, and IP showcases from around the world. CEO Yasushi Shiina highlights the market's variety, including animation seminars and the Tokyo Story Market initiative aimed at selling manga and novel rights for overseas film adaptations. China's Road Pictures is expanding into Japanese IP, and the Tokyo Gap-Financing Market is bringing industry professionals together in person for the first time in three years.

By-election defeats could spell end for Japanese PM Fumio Kishida

22 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost three seats in recent by-elections, including a significant defeat in a conservative stronghold. The LDP, tainted by scandals involving illegal political fundraising and unreported income, chose not to field candidates in two constituencies. The focus was on Shimane, where the seat was won by Akiko Kamei, despite the area's traditional LDP dominance. These losses could signal the end of Fumio Kishida's tenure as prime minister.

Tokyo: Programmer Shozo Ichiyama on Making the Festival a Hub for Asia and Beyond

20 Oct 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
Shozo Ichiyama, programming director of the Tokyo International Film Festival, aims to make the festival a central hub for Asian and international cinema. The 2023 edition sees a significant increase in overseas guests and a stronger competition lineup, including the return of Chinese films. New initiatives include masterclasses and workshops to support future Asian cinema. The festival also features international animation and a double dose of Wim Wenders, with his film 'Perfect Days' opening the event. Ichiyama is optimistic about achieving the festival's vision post-pandemic.

Sumo wrestlers present a weighty problem for Japan Airlines

16 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Japan Airlines had to arrange an extra plane to safely transport a large group of sumo wrestlers to a tournament on Amami Oshima due to weight concerns. The flights from Haneda in Tokyo and Itami in Osaka were adjusted after the airline noticed the high number of reservations for sumo wrestlers and checked their weights.

Kim Jong-un ‘would launch nuclear attack without hesitation’

12 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Kim Jong-un has declared his readiness to launch a nuclear attack without hesitation if provoked, as reported by North Korea's state media. This statement was made during a discussion with the military unit responsible for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch. The launch and Kim's comments underscore North Korea's aggressive nuclear strategy and doctrine.

Anime and ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Push Japan’s Box Office Higher in 2023

10 Oct 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
Japan's box office reached a post-pandemic high of $1.5 billion in 2023, driven by a strong lineup of anime and a return to theaters. Hollywood films maintained a 31% market share, though a weak yen reduced earnings in dollar terms. The First Slam Dunk topped the box office, followed by The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Detective Conan. Godzilla Minus One's unexpected success in the U.S. market was highlighted, contributing significantly to Toho's earnings. The rise of streaming platforms has made global audiences more receptive to non-English content. Toei plans to expand its global market presence, leveraging its popular IPs.

South Korea bans trade in dog meat

10 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The South Korean parliament passed a law banning the trade of dog meat, including breeding, butchering, distributing, and selling dogs for consumption, effective from 2027. The law does not prohibit private consumption of dog meat. Violations will be punishable by up to two years in prison or fines up to 30 million won. Subsidies will be provided to farms and restaurants exiting the dog meat trade. The bill received rare bipartisan support, passing with 208 votes in favor, two abstentions, and no votes against.

Godzilla fans mourn the man behind the monstrous mask

07 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Kenpachiro Satsuma, the actor who portrayed Godzilla in Japanese cinema for over a decade, has passed away at the age of 76 due to pneumonia. Fans are paying tribute to Satsuma, who was known for his role in one of the most iconic rubber suits in film history. Godzilla, a character featured in 37 films with another set for release in April, remains a significant cultural icon.

Japan wrestles with its views on ‘outside people’ amid population crisis

05 Oct 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Japan is facing a population crisis and is quietly easing immigration restrictions to attract more foreign workers, primarily from Asian countries. Despite the increase in overseas-born residents, challenges such as language barriers and cultural complexities persist. The article highlights the experiences of immigrants like Murumuru from Sri Lanka and the historical context of Japanese-Brazilians and ethnic Koreans. Experts argue that Japan needs to be more competitive in attracting skilled workers and that public perception towards immigrants needs to improve. Positive signs of change are noted, but significant hurdles remain.

Japan wrestles with its views on ‘outside people’ amid population crisis

05 Oct 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
Japan is facing a population crisis and is quietly easing immigration restrictions to attract more foreign workers, primarily from Asian countries. Despite these efforts, challenges such as language barriers, cultural complexities, and uncompetitive wages persist. The article highlights personal stories of immigrants like Murumuru from Sri Lanka and the historical context of Japanese-Brazilians and ethnic Koreans. Experts like Professor Naohiro Yashiro emphasize the need for Japan to compete globally for skilled workers and to persuade the public of the benefits of immigration. Positive signs of change are noted, but significant hurdles remain.

U.N. Report Blasts Response to Johnny Kitagawa Sexual Abuse Scandal

05 Oct 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
The U.N. Human Rights Council's investigation revealed that Johnny Kitagawa, a powerful figure in Japanese show business, abused hundreds of boys, and criticized the lack of accountability from his agency and the Japanese government. The report highlighted systemic issues in Japan's media and entertainment industry that allowed such abuse to persist. Despite Kitagawa's crimes being an open secret, major media groups covered up the allegations. The BBC documentary 'Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop' and subsequent media coverage have led to more victims coming forward. The article also includes various opinions on the scandal, reflecting a mix of perspectives on the issue.

Russian cyberattack paralyses Japan’s largest port

05 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Russian hackers from the LockBit group targeted Nagoya port, Japan's busiest cargo port and a key hub for Toyota, with a cyberattack that paralyzed operations for two days. The attack involved LockBit ransomware, which disrupted the system managing container loading and offloading. Partial operations resumed after two days, but full restoration took longer than expected.

Junta tries to sell Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest villa for £117m

04 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
An auction for the lakeside villa where ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest ended with no bidders. The colonial-style house, a symbol of Myanmar's struggle for democracy, has hosted foreign leaders including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Lord Hague of Richmond. Suu Kyi, who grew up at the property, has a deep personal connection to the villa.

Sony Pictures Quarterly Profit Drops to $115M

04 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Sony Pictures' fiscal first-quarter profit dropped to $115 million, a 68 percent decrease from the previous year. Despite increased theatrical sales, revenue from new TV series and streaming licensing fell, and promotional costs rose. The pictures division's revenue decreased by 6 percent to $2.3 billion. The music division saw a 20 percent profit increase, driven by releases from SZA, Miley Cyrus, and Harry Styles. The games division's sales rose by 28 percent, with a forecast of record PlayStation 5 sales. Overall, Sony Corp.'s operating income fell by 31 percent to $1.77 billion, despite a 33 percent rise in sales.

Sony Pictures Quarterly Profit Drops to $115M

04 Oct 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
Sony Pictures' fiscal first-quarter profit dropped 68 percent to $115 million, impacted by lower revenue from new TV series and streaming licensing, and higher promotional costs. Despite a 6 percent decline in revenue to $2.3 billion, the company maintains its profit forecast for the fiscal year. 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' was a significant revenue driver, while the music division saw a 20 percent profit increase due to strong sales from artists like SZA, Miley Cyrus, and Harry Styles. The games division experienced a decline in operating income but a 28 percent increase in sales, driven by hardware and software revenue. Overall, Sony Corp.'s operating income fell 31 percent to $1.77 billion, despite a 33 percent rise in sales.

U.N. Report Blasts Response to Johnny Kitagawa Sexual Abuse Scandal

04 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
The U.N. Human Rights Council's investigation concluded that Johnny Kitagawa, a powerful figure in Japanese show business, abused hundreds of boys, and criticized the agency he founded for not taking responsibility. The report also highlighted the Japanese government's inaction and the media's complicity in covering up the abuse. Despite the recent exposure from a BBC documentary, there remains reluctance to fully acknowledge the extent of the crimes. Prominent figures like Takeshi Kitano and Dave Spector have weighed in, reflecting a range of opinions on the scandal.

Japan orders people to evacuate after 7.6-magnitude quake hits west coast

03 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Japan's western coastline, causing significant damage, power outages, and disruptions to flights and rail services. Tsunami warnings were issued, and residents were urged to evacuate. The quake resulted in four fatalities and numerous injuries, with buildings collapsing and fires breaking out in affected areas. Authorities are assessing the damage and preparing for potential aftershocks. The Japan Meteorological Agency and other organizations are actively monitoring the situation, while the Japan Self-Defense Forces are on standby for rescue and recovery efforts.

Man, 78, arrested for attacking neighbour with samurai sword

03 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
A 78-year-old man in Yokohama, Japan, was arrested for attempted murder after attacking his 74-year-old neighbour with a ceremonial samurai sword during a noise dispute. The victim, Kiyonobu Yokoyama, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The attacker, Toshimi Ohata, was persuaded by police to surrender after an eight-hour standoff. Violent crime is rare in Japan, and the use of ceremonial swords is not typically prosecuted under the Swords and Firearms Possession Control Law. The incident occurred in the Kohoku suburb, near the Yokohama International Stadium.

Japan’s imperial family makes social media debut on Instagram

02 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Japan’s imperial family has launched an official Instagram account, attracting nearly 340,000 followers on its first day. The account features 60 photographs and five videos of the family performing official duties. The most popular post includes images of the Japanese Red Cross Society president and vice president delivering a talk to Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, and Princess Aiko, which garnered over 40,000 likes. Princess Aiko began work at the Japanese Red Cross headquarters.

Drinks tycoon jailed for fraud in Vietnam’s ‘blazing furnace’ campaign

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Tran Qui Thanh, chairman of the Tan Hiep Phat beverage empire, was sentenced to eight years in prison for a £34 million fraud as part of Vietnam's anti-corruption campaign. His daughter, Tran Uyen Phuong, received a four-year sentence, while another daughter received a suspended three-year sentence. The charges involved coercing borrowers into signing contracts that allowed Thanh to acquire assets below market value.

Ed Sheeran’s music ‘too gay for Malaysians’

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Malaysia's opposition Islamic Party has called for the cancellation of Ed Sheeran's concert in Kuala Lumpur, citing his support for LGBT rights as a reason. The party urged the government to take a firm stand against the concert, claiming it would pollute the sanctity of Ramadan. This follows similar objections to other British pop acts like Coldplay and the 1975.

South Korean students sue government for ending exam 90 seconds early

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Thirty-nine South Korean students are suing the government for ending the crucial Suneung exam 90 seconds early, seeking compensation for the error. The Suneung, a pivotal test in South Korea, influences university admissions and future prospects. President Yoon criticized the exam for including questions not covered in the public education system, suggesting possible collusion with the cram college industry. Despite a curfew to limit late-night study sessions, many students continue to attend cram colleges, highlighting the intense pressure surrounding the exam.

Chinese warplanes engaging in ‘reckless manoeuvres’, says US

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The US has accused Chinese warplanes of engaging in reckless maneuvers, citing an incident where a PLA fighter jet dangerously crossed in front of a US asset. The Chinese government has countered by accusing US military planes of encroaching on their training exercises. John Aquilino of the US Indo-Pacific Command warned of potential accidents escalating into conflict. Communication channels between the US and China have been strained since Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in 2022. Despite tensions, a senior US official is expected to attend a military forum in Beijing. The US is also establishing a security hotline with Japan and South Korea, with the three nations planning joint aerial drills.

First it was K-pop, now kimchi is conquering the world

Australians outraged as Bali bomber Umar Patek released from prison

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Umar Patek, a mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, has been released on parole after serving just over half of his 20-year sentence, sparking outrage in Australia, which lost 88 citizens in the attack. The Australian government is seeking assurances from Indonesia that Patek will continue to be monitored. Patek was arrested for his role in the twin attacks on a nightclub district crowded with tourists, which killed citizens from 21 countries and injured 209 people.

Singapore hangs man for conspiracy to smuggle 1kg cannabis

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Singapore executed Tangaraju Suppiah for conspiracy to smuggle one kilogram of cannabis, despite international protests and concerns about the case. The Singaporean authorities stated that his guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt. Sir Richard Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, called for the execution to be halted, criticizing the practice of capital punishment.

Chinese hackers accessed Japanese defence secrets ‘for years’

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Chinese military hackers compromised Japanese defence networks for an extended period, as discovered by the US National Security Agency in late 2020. The breach, attributed to the People’s Liberation Army, involved the harvesting of classified information. Despite the severity of the breach, Japan has not confirmed any leaks of confidential information. Key US officials, including Paul Nakasone and Matthew Pottinger, promptly informed Tokyo of the security breach.

I spent the night in a Tokyo micro-flat

01 Oct 2023  |  Mail Online
Tokyo's micro-apartments, particularly the Ququri developed by Spilytus, offer a compact yet functional living solution in the densely populated city. These nine-square-meter flats, designed with high ceilings and mezzanine sleeping platforms, cater primarily to young professionals and students. Despite their size, they provide essential amenities and are located in central, upmarket areas. The business model involves collaboration with investors, and the popularity of these flats is evident with minimal vacancies. The article highlights the practicality and affordability of these micro-apartments, especially for those new to Tokyo.

Myanmar’s junta allows ‘loyal’ citizens to carry guns

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Myanmar's junta has introduced new regulations allowing 'loyal' citizens to carry firearms, including revolvers, pistols, and shotguns, to support security operations and crime prevention. The home affairs ministry will oversee firearm importation, with the defence ministry managing the process. The regulations are a response to threats from anti-government forces and mark a shift from the 1988 ban on civilian gun ownership. The new laws are based on modified versions of 1977 regulations and the 1878 Arms Act from British colonial rule.

Fukushima Fish With 180 Times Legal Limit of Radioactive Cesium Fuels Water Release Fears

01 Oct 2023  |  www.rsn.org
A black rockfish caught near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in May contained radioactive cesium levels 180 times above Japan's safety limit, raising concerns about the planned release of 1.3 million tonnes of treated water from the plant. Despite approval from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, the plan has faced opposition from China, which has begun testing Japanese seafood imports, and Hong Kong, which has threatened to ban food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures. Tepco, the plant operator, maintains that the impact on the public and environment will be minimal. The high levels of radioactivity in fish have led to the suspension of black rockfish shipments from Fukushima since February 2022. Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for discussions based on scientific evidence regarding the water release.

Big in Japan: how an Englishman abroad turned his blunders into a bestseller

16 Sep 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Chris Broad, an Englishman, created a video titled '12 things NOT to do in Japan' which has garnered 17 million views over six years. The video humorously addresses cultural faux pas in Japan, contributing to Broad's popularity and success with his 'Abroad in Japan' series.

Kim Jong-un visits fighter jet factories on Russia tour

15 Sep 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
Kim Jong-un inspected warplanes at the Yuri Gagarin Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in Russia's far east, following his summit with President Putin. He arrived on his armoured train, inspected production lines for Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets, watched a demonstration flight of an SU-35, and visited the production facilities for an SSJ passenger plane.

King sends Kim Jong-un ‘good wishes’ as dictator prepares to meet Putin

10 Sep 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The King of the United Kingdom sent a congratulatory message to North Korea on its national day, as reported by the North Korean state news agency. The message was sent on the advice of the Foreign Office. North Korea also received messages from other global leaders, including President Putin and President Xi. Kim Jong-un is reportedly traveling to Russia to meet Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum, where they are expected to discuss potential North Korean weapons supplies for Russia's army in Ukraine. The White House has indicated that this meeting follows a visit by Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu to North Korea in July, aimed at negotiating an arms-for-food deal.

Johnny & Associates new boss accused of abuse

North Korea launches ‘first tactical nuclear attack submarine’

08 Sep 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
North Korea has reportedly launched its first 'tactical nuclear attack submarine' ahead of the 75th anniversary of the nation's founding, with Kim Jong-un attending the launch ceremony. However, South Korean and UK analysts are skeptical about the submarine's capability to fire nuclear missiles.

Japan wrestles with its views on ‘outside people’ amid population crisis

06 Sep 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
Japan faces a population crisis with a declining birthrate and aging population, prompting the government to ease immigration restrictions to attract skilled overseas workers. Despite these efforts, challenges such as language barriers, cultural complexities, and uncompetitive wages persist. The article highlights personal stories of immigrants like Murumuru from Sri Lanka and the historical context of Japanese-Brazilians and ethnic Koreans. Experts like Naohiro Yashiro emphasize the need for Japan to compete globally for talent and persuade the public of the benefits of immigration. Positive signs include increased competition in the labor market and a generally respectful societal attitude towards immigrants.

Sumo on the menu at restaurant where tourists take on wrestlers

23 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Tourists visiting a restaurant in Japan have the unique opportunity to engage in sumo wrestling matches against professional wrestlers. After watching a display of sumo wrestling, tourists can don sumo 'fat suits' and participate in matches where the professionals graciously lose, providing an entertaining and culturally immersive experience.

Kim Jong-un at typhoon-hit farms as North Korea rebuked over starvation

18 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Kim Jong-un visited farmland in Kangwon Province, North Korea, that was devastated by typhoon Khanun. The visit was publicized shortly after the UN condemned North Korea for neglecting its people's starvation while allocating funds to weapons development. The typhoon also affected South Korea and led to the cancellation of the World Scout Jamboree.

Putin steps up strikes on regions bordering Nato

15 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
The Kremlin has launched its largest attack on western Ukraine regions bordering Nato since the invasion began, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries. A Russian missile hit a factory owned by Sweden's SFK in Lutsk, and civilian buildings in Lviv were also damaged. Ukraine reported shooting down 16 out of 28 cruise missiles, while Moscow claimed precision strikes on key facilities.

Prince Harry’s HRH title removed from royal website

Troubled World Scout Jamboree cancelled as typhoon nears South Korea

07 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
The World Scout Jamboree in South Korea has been cancelled due to an approaching typhoon, leading to the evacuation of participants including 4,500 British scouts. The event had already faced challenges such as extreme heat, poor sanitation, a COVID-19 outbreak, and an allegation of sexual harassment.

Thousands of British scouts pulled from South Korean jamboree

05 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Over 4,000 British scouts at the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea are being relocated to hotels due to severe heatstroke cases and poor conditions, including bed shortages, malfunctioning toilets, and spoiled food amidst extreme heat and a mosquito infestation.

Barbenheimer Memes Provoke Angry Backlash in Japan

03 Aug 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Japanese Twitter users have expressed outrage over the U.S. Barbie account's comments on memes that appear to trivialize the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Warner Bros. Japan and Warner Bros. Film Group in the U.S. have both issued apologies and removed the offending tweets. The controversy has raised concerns about the impact on the performance of the Barbie and Oppenheimer films in Japan, especially given the sensitive timing around the anniversaries of the bombings.

Suu Kyi has 33-year jail term reduced by six years

01 Aug 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Myanmar's military reduced Aung San Suu Kyi's 33-year jail term by six years and pardoned her on five of the 19 offences following the 2021 military coup. General Min Aung Hlaing also pardoned 7,749 prisoners, commuted death sentences, and granted amnesty to 125 foreign prisoners and 22 members of ethnic armed groups to commemorate a religious holiday.

Warner Bros apologises for replying to Barbenheimer memes

01 Aug 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
Warner Bros issued an apology for engaging with tweets that made jokes using the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a backdrop, which were part of the #NoBarbenheimer trend in Japan. One meme featured Barbie with a mushroom cloud hairstyle, prompting an official response from the US account that referenced Barbie's boyfriend Ken, played by Ryan Gosling.

Barbenheimer Memes Provoke Angry Backlash in Japan

31 Jul 2023  |  The Hollywood Reporter
The hashtag #NoBarbenheimer has been trending on Japanese Twitter due to backlash against the U.S. Barbie account for commenting on memes that appeared to make light of the atomic bombings. Warner Bros. Japan and Warner Bros. Film Group in the U.S. issued apologies for the insensitive posts. The controversy has sparked anger among Japanese social media users, with some expressing their discontent through provocative memes. The release of the Barbie film in Japan is scheduled for August 11, shortly after the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, while Oppenheimer's release date in Japan remains undecided.

The fan jacket: the Japanese innovation keeping workers cool in extreme heat

25 Jul 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
In Japan, the fan jacket, invented by former Sony engineer Hiroshi Ichigaya and brought to market by his company Kuchofuku in 2004, is gaining popularity as a means to combat the increasingly severe summer heat. The jacket, which features built-in electric fans, creates a personal cooling micro-environment for the wearer. Power tools maker Makita has also entered the market with its own fan jacket, catering to outdoor workers. Additionally, Sony's startup accelerator program has produced the Reon Pocket, a portable air-conditioner. These innovations are part of Japan's broader efforts to address the challenges posed by extreme temperatures.

The fan jacket: the Japanese innovation keeping workers cool in extreme heat

25 Jul 2023  |  the Guardian
The fan jacket, a Japanese innovation with built-in electric fans, is gaining popularity among outdoor workers to combat extreme heat. Invented by former Sony engineer Hiroshi Ichigaya and marketed by his company Kuchofuku, the jacket creates a personal cooling environment. Companies like Makita have also entered the market with various models. Another innovation, the Reon Pocket, a portable air-conditioner developed by Sony, offers additional cooling solutions. Traditional Japanese ghost stories are also mentioned as a cultural method to cope with summer heat.

Fukushima fish with 180 times legal limit of radioactive cesium fuels water release fears

24 Jul 2023  |  the Guardian
A black rockfish caught near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contained radioactive cesium levels 180 times above Japan's safety limit, raising concerns about the planned release of 1.3 million tonnes of treated water from the plant. Despite approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the plan has faced opposition from China, which has begun testing Japanese seafood imports, and other regional stakeholders. Tepco, the plant operator, has been monitoring and removing contaminated fish, but high levels of radioactivity persist in the area. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for discussions based on scientific evidence to address the concerns.

From Kawasaki to Phoenix: tracking a day of extreme heat around the world

20 Jul 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
The article tracks the experiences of individuals from different parts of the world dealing with extreme heat on a single day. From a builder in Kawasaki, Japan, to a film director's assistant in Beijing, China, a business owner in Gaza City, a bartender in Palermo, Italy, and a photographer in Phoenix, Arizona, each person shares their struggles and coping mechanisms. The narratives highlight the increasing temperatures due to global warming and the various ways people adapt to the heat, such as using air conditioning, battery-powered fans, and staying hydrated. The article underscores the broader implications of climate change and the urgent need for solutions.

EU lifts curbs on Japanese food 12 years after Fukushima disaster

14 Jul 2023  |  thetimes.co.uk
The European Union will lift import restrictions on Japanese foodstuffs imposed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdowns. The decision comes ahead of the planned discharge of treated water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean. Japan will continue to monitor radiation levels and publish the results, eliminating the need for radioactivity testing before food is exported to Europe. The move is seen as a positive step towards the reconstruction of affected areas by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Intensity Laser Pulse Trains in Air

14 Jul 2023  |  Physical Review Research
The study analyzes and simulates mechanisms for generating directed radio frequency (rf) radiation by a low-intensity laser pulse train (LPT) propagating in air. The LPT ionizes the air, forming a plasma filament, with the ionization process relying on background radioactivity. The model shows that the LPT photoionizes background negative ions, initiating collisional ionization. The resulting plasma oscillations generate directed rf radiation, with the spectrum consisting of fundamental frequencies and harmonics. The analysis uses fluid equations to incorporate various effects, comparing the rf spectrum and intensity to experimental data.

Carlos Ghosn sues Nissan for $1 billion in damages

20 Jun 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan, has filed a lawsuit against the company for over $1 billion, alleging defamation, slander, libel, and fabrication of evidence. The lawsuit, submitted to Lebanon's public prosecutor, also targets two other companies and 12 individuals. Ghosn, who fled Japan in 2019 while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges, claims these charges were fabricated. Once celebrated for reviving Nissan, Ghosn's relationship with the company deteriorated as he pushed for closer ties with Renault.

Japan vows to shoot down North Korean rockets

29 May 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Japan has declared its intent to intercept any North Korean rockets or missiles deemed a threat, following North Korea's announcement of a planned satellite launch by June 11. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, revealed the development of the country's first military spy satellite aimed at countering the US and South Korea. Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized that such actions violate UN Security Council resolutions and pose a danger to Japan, highlighting the readiness of Japan's missile-defense systems.

Sony Pictures Full Year Profits Slip to $894M

28 Apr 2023  |  hollywoodreporter.com
Sony Pictures Entertainment's operating income dropped by 45 percent to $894 million, with sales decreasing due to a lack of blockbuster hits compared to the previous fiscal year's successes like Spider-Man and Venom, and one-off gains from sales and licensing deals. The new CEO, Hiroki Totoki, reported over 10 million Crunchyroll subscribers post-acquisition. Sony Corp.'s overall operating profit was $8.9 billion, with strong music and sensors results but lower income from pictures and gaming. The gaming division's sales increased, driven by PS5, despite supply chain challenges. The music division's sales and operating income grew, with contributions from artists like Harry Styles and Beyonce. Sony's stock rose slightly before the results announcement.

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol sings American Pie to Biden

27 Apr 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol sang Don McLean's 'American Pie' at the White House after being encouraged by President Joe Biden. The event, which included performances by Broadway stars, saw Biden present Yoon with a signed guitar, knowing his fondness for the song. Yoon's performance was well-received by Biden and the attending dignitaries and celebrities.

North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea as South Korea and Japan hold talks

16 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile into the sea near Japan, coinciding with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's visit to Tokyo. The missile landed west of Hokkaido without causing damage or injuries. Japan's government condemned the act as barbaric and provocative, emphasizing cooperation with South Korea and the US for North Korea's denuclearization.

Bali tourists banned from scooters after rise in accidents

14 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Bali is set to ban tourists from riding scooters and motorbikes due to a recent increase in traffic accidents involving visitors. Over 170 foreign tourists faced traffic violations from late February to early March. Governor Wayan Koster criticized tourists for disorderly behavior and plans to request the justice ministry for authority to revoke visas for traffic violations and other misdemeanors, such as illegal work.

Honest Tokyoites hand in £25 million lost cash

14 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Tokyo's citizens handed in nearly £25 million in cash and hundreds of thousands of valuable items to the police last year, marking a record high since 1940. The Metropolitan Police Department reported receiving 3.71 million items, including wallets, bags, phones, jewelry, clothing, footwear, and umbrellas. One notable instance involved a box containing about £227,000 in cash. The surge follows a dip in lost and found cases during the pandemic.

Longest death-row inmate granted retrial at 87

13 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Iwao Hakamada, 87, the world's longest-serving death row inmate, has been granted a retrial. Hakamada was convicted for the 1966 robbery and murder of his boss and his family. He confessed after intense interrogation but later retracted, claiming police brutality and planted evidence. Despite nearly six decades, ten court decisions, and over 30 years on death row in Japan, his fight for a retrial continues.

Kenzaburo Oe: Nobel laureate and peace campaigner dies aged 88

13 Mar 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Japanese peace campaigner and Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe has died at the age of 88. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, Oe was known for his provocative and dark books, such as 'The Silent Cry,' which addressed themes of militarism, defeat, and the US occupation of Japan. His writing was praised for creating an imagined world that reflects the human predicament. Oe's personal experiences, including the loss of his father in World War II, significantly influenced his worldview and literary work.

Investigation at Shika nuclear power plant damaged by Japan earthquake

02 Jan 2023  |  www.thetimes.com
Japan’s nuclear watchdog has initiated an investigation into the Shika nuclear power plant after it sustained damage from a magnitude 7.6 earthquake on New Year’s Day. The earthquake caused significant issues, including a leak of almost 20,000 litres of insulating oil, a temporary cut-off of external electricity, and spillage of water used to cool spent fuel rods. The earthquake resulted in 213 deaths, with dozens still missing and over 26,000 people displaced.

How nations hope to make next year a world away from 2022

29 Dec 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
The US Federal Reserve's response to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19, which included cutting interest rates and implementing quantitative easing, resulted in inflation that has been challenging to manage. As 2023 begins, there is little confidence in a soft landing for the economy, with interest rates having been raised significantly from near zero.

BTS member Jin starts military service in South Korea

13 Dec 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
BTS's oldest member, Jin, has commenced his five-week basic military training in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi province, as part of South Korea's compulsory military service for men. Despite requests from authorities, fans gathered at the camp's entrance to see Jin, who recently turned 30 and is expected to be deployed near the North Korean border after training.

Billionaires invited to bid on 100-island paradise off Indonesia

08 Dec 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Developmental rights for an Indonesian archipelago of over 100 uninhabited islands are set to be auctioned at Sotheby's in New York. The sale involves shares in PT Leadership Islands Indonesia, which aims to develop the Widi Reserve archipelago into an eco-travel destination. The islands, located northeast of Bali, are noted for their rich coral atoll ecosystem and diverse marine life. The legality of the sale and environmental concerns have sparked protests.

Indonesia to ban sex outside marriage

06 Dec 2022  |  www.thetimes.com
Indonesia is set to pass a controversial bill banning sex outside marriage, which critics argue could restrict civil liberties and stifle dissent. The bill, which has faced prolonged opposition and protests, includes provisions that could target LGBTQ couples and criminalize insults to the president. Despite being approved by the House of Representatives, the bill is expected to take three years to come into effect. Critics, including the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and legal experts, warn that the bill represents a significant setback for democracy and civil freedoms in Indonesia.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma rides out Beijing’s tech crackdown in Tokyo

30 Nov 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire founder of Alibaba, has been residing in Tokyo with his family for around six months amidst a crackdown on tech firms by Beijing. Despite having stepped down from his executive roles at Alibaba, Ma remains its public face. His critical comments about China's regulators in 2020 led to questioning by authorities and the suspension of Ant Group's IPO.

Crown Prince Fumihito says Japan’s imperial family must communicate better

30 Nov 2022  |  www.thetimes.com
Crown Prince Fumihito emphasized the need for Japan’s imperial family to improve communication with the public, suggesting direct communication as a more straightforward approach. He acknowledged the challenges in addressing misleading news reports and hinted at the potential use of social media. The Imperial Household Agency is considering enhancing its communication strategies and updating its website. Despite public support for female succession, the Japanese government continues to reject such proposals, leaving Prince Hisahito as the second in line to the throne.

Anwar Ibrahim becomes Malaysian PM after three decades of trying

24 Nov 2022  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Malaysia's prime minister, achieving his long-held ambition at the age of 75. Following the country's first hung parliament since 1957, the King appointed Anwar after consulting with the royal families. The palace advised the new government to focus on stabilizing the government and enhancing the economy and national development.

After SoftBank’s massive losses and Jack Ma’s departure, has CEO Masayoshi Son lost his golden touch?

19 May 2020  |  South China Morning Post
Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank, faces scrutiny after significant financial losses and the departure of key figures like Jack Ma. Despite past successes, including a lucrative investment in Alibaba and a turnaround of Vodafone's Japanese operations, recent missteps such as the WeWork investment have raised concerns. Experts debate whether Son can adapt his risk-taking approach, with some suggesting the need for more oversight. SoftBank plans to sell assets, including Alibaba shares, to raise cash, reflecting the company's current financial challenges.

Coronavirus: Japan’s bid to ramp up ventilator production at risk of being held up by red tape

09 Apr 2020  |  South China Morning Post
Japan faces challenges in ramping up ventilator production due to a lengthy approval process for medical devices. Professor Kazuhiro Tateda emphasizes the need for quicker approvals amidst the crisis. Toyota is aiding in the production process by offering its expertise, while Terumo is increasing ECMO machine production to meet demand. Despite having a high number of hospital beds, Japan's intensive care unit capacity is lower compared to other hard-hit countries. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering measures to double the country's testing capacity.

Why Japan will profit the most from artificial intelligence

30 Jul 2017  |  South China Morning Post
Japan is leveraging robotics and artificial intelligence to address its aging population and labor shortages, exemplified by the Silver Wing Social Care facility in Tokyo. Despite a tight labor market, wage inflation remains sluggish due to structural reforms. Experts suggest that while mid-level workers are protected by labor regulations, automation and government reforms alone cannot solve Japan's labor issues. The country faces a critical need for skilled workers, with some advocating for increased immigration despite political resistance.

Trump’s travel ban evokes painful memories for Japanese-Americans

15 Mar 2017  |  South China Morning Post
President Donald Trump's revised travel ban and deportation policies are reviving memories of past injustices for Japanese-Americans, particularly the internment during World War II. The new executive order, which aims to address legal issues from the initial ban, still faces opposition and legal challenges. Japanese-Americans, who have historically stood against racial profiling, are drawing parallels between the current situation and their own experiences during the internment. The Japanese community, including those with ties to America, expresses concern over the travel ban's constitutionality and its deviation from American values. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticized for not condemning Trump's actions, while Japanese citizens in the US and those considering sending their children there for education are feeling insecure and looking to other English-speaking countries.

Inside Japan’s host clubs: male geishas or just pretty men?

10 Dec 2016  |  South China Morning Post
Host clubs in Tokyo's Kabukicho district, such as Shangrila, provide entertainment to female customers, who spend large sums on drinks and gifts for the male hosts. The clubs, seen as an extension of geisha culture, offer a fantasy experience where hosts perform various services to make women feel special. The industry has evolved with less yakuza involvement and a wider range of hosts, including university students. Despite the glamour, the work can take a physical and psychological toll on the hosts. Regular customers include women from Japan's sex trade, who visit the clubs to escape their daily stress. Incidents of women being pressured into the sex trade to pay off club debts have declined but still occur. Advocacy groups like Lighthouse assist victims of such exploitation.

How Trump’s White House bid has put Japan on the defensive

08 Oct 2016  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the implications of Donald Trump's presidential campaign on US-Japan relations, particularly focusing on the US military presence in Japan and the financial burden of maintaining bases. It highlights the growing local opposition in Okinawa, the strategic concerns of Japanese policymakers, and the potential need for Japan to bolster its own military capabilities. The article also touches on the broader shift in American public opinion towards international engagement and the potential consequences for Asia.

Why Japan is boosting its missile defences

15 Aug 2016  |  South China Morning Post
Japan is enhancing its missile defenses due to rising threats from North Korea and the need for independent capabilities despite the US-Japan Security Alliance. The deployment of THAAD and potential land-to-sea missile systems around Okinawa are under consideration. Relations between Japan and South Korea are improving, driven by shared security concerns, while China's military expansion continues to influence regional dynamics. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration is pushing for a more active military role, facing mixed domestic and international reactions. Experts highlight the strategic balance and the US's supportive stance towards Japan's defense initiatives.

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