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Julian Ryall

Shinjuku-ku, Japan
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About Julian
Julian Ryall is a journalist based in Tokyo, Japan.
Languages
English
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Japan’s rude awakening: more ill-tempered Japanese lose their cool in a nation normally known for politeness

03 May 2024  |  South China Morning Post
In Japan, a noticeable increase in rudeness and aggression has been observed, particularly when individuals face polite resistance. Sociologist Izumi Tsuji of Chuo University attributes this to people in weaker positions realizing that pushing back can strengthen their stance. The trend is more common among younger people and women, who are aware that company representatives are unlikely to retaliate. Factors contributing to this behavior include increased stress due to economic concerns and the presence of different cultures leading to miscommunication. Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering an ordinance to define and deter 'customer harassment,' and East Japan Railway Company has issued guidelines for employees to handle aggressive passengers while prioritizing safety. An airline employee also reported frequent encounters with demanding and rude passengers.

6 things to do in Kagoshima, Japan: channel your inner samurai, take a geothermal sand bath, see ancient forests and more

29 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Kagoshima offers a variety of unique experiences, including the Ibusuki Sunamushi Onsen sand bath, a geothermal sand bath unique to the region. Visitors can also explore the Marutake Sangyo workshop to see samurai armour production and visit the island of Yakushima, known for its ancient cedar forests and diverse ecosystems. The region's wagyu beef, particularly from Japanese Black cattle, has gained national recognition for its quality. Cycling tourism is promoted with various routes, and encounters with dolphins in Kagoshima Bay are highly likely through local tour operators.

Japan expands counter-China coastguard training from Southeast Asia to Pacific islands

22 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Japan's coastguard has expanded its Mobile Cooperation Team (MCT) initiative, originally established in 2017 to help Southeast Asian nations counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, to include the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. The MCTs, which have assisted on 105 missions to 20 countries, provide training and advice on maritime law enforcement, search-and-rescue operations, and other coastguard functions. The expansion reflects concerns over China's growing influence in the Pacific, with Japan and other regional powers wary of Beijing's diplomatic and financial overtures to Pacific island nations. Japan's efforts are part of a broader strategy to share regional security burdens with allies like the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Japan’s sleeplessness crisis poses threat to society, warns leading expert

11 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Japan faces a sleeplessness crisis with over 37% of men and 40.6% of women getting less than six hours of sleep, which is below the recommended hours for good health. The University of Tokyo study shows that sleep duration decreases with age in students. The health ministry's guidelines suggest more and better quality sleep to prevent diseases. Expert Yanagisawa emphasizes the importance of prioritizing sleep over work and leisure, warning of the mental and physical health consequences of inadequate sleep. Cultural pressures and social media contribute to the problem. Yanagisawa links sleep deprivation to increased risks of depression, cancer, cardiovascular issues, and cognitive impairments. He advocates for a fundamental change in mindset, urging people to allocate eight hours for sleep and organize other activities around it.

Japan wants to enhance civilian air hubs and seaports for ‘contingency’. Are these also for the US military?

04 Apr 2024  |  scmp.com
Japan is planning to enhance civilian air hubs and seaports in the southwest, including Naha, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Fukue, and Kitakyushu, for dual civilian-military use to address potential contingencies involving Taiwan and other areas. The upgrades will involve extending runways, constructing hardened shelters, and improving air traffic control and radar systems. Naval port enhancements are also expected, with the Japanese government allocating 35 billion yen for the first phase. Discussions with local residents are necessary before the commencement of the project. The need for increased defensive capabilities was highlighted by the recent sighting of a Chinese WZ-7 drone over the Sea of Japan.

This Japan shop’s US$2 beef croquettes are so popular, there’s a 38-year waiting list

16 Jan 2024  |  scmp.com
Asahiya, a Japanese butcher shop, has gained immense popularity for its 'kiwami' beef croquettes, priced at 300 yen (US$2.05) each, containing prime Kobe beef. Despite selling at a loss, the owner, Nitta, uses the croquettes to promote other products. With a production limit of 200 croquettes daily, the shop has accumulated a 38-year waiting list. Nitta, who took over in 1994, credits the internet and media coverage for the surge in demand. Although he once paused taking new orders due to the long wait times, customer pressure led to a resumption. Nitta values the quality of ingredients and believes in the longevity of his shops and hopes his grandchildren will continue the tradition.

Is North Korea Preparing for War in 2024?

16 Jan 2024  |  www.dw.com
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for an exponential expansion of the country's nuclear arsenal and increased missile tests, warning of potential war on the Korean Peninsula. Experts suggest the situation is more dangerous than at any time since the Korean War, with North Korea's strategic landscape shifting after the failed 2019 summit with Donald Trump. The country is now developing ties with Russia and supporting its war in Ukraine. Analysts express concerns over potential miscalculations leading to conflict, despite North Korea's historical calls for military readiness.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2024  |  news.yahoo.com
Central Japan experienced powerful aftershocks following a New Year’s Day earthquake that increased the death toll to 62. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, with over 130 aftershocks recorded, including four above magnitude 5. Emergency responders and Japanese troops conducted search and rescue operations, despite challenges from power outages, damaged infrastructure, and ongoing aftershocks. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgency of rescue efforts. Wajima faced significant destruction, with a seven-storey apartment complex collapsing and over 200 homes and shops destroyed. A tsunami hit coastal towns but was smaller than expected. Nuclear power operators reported no damage to operational reactors, but Tokyo Electric Power Company and Hokuriku Electric Power Company confirmed spillages of radioactive water at their plants.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2024  |  www.aol.com
Central Japan experienced powerful aftershocks following a New Year’s Day earthquake that raised the death toll to 62. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, with over 130 aftershocks recorded, some reaching upper 5 magnitudes. Emergency responders and Japanese troops conducted search and rescue operations, hindered by power outages and infrastructure damage. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgency of rescue efforts. Wajima faced significant destruction, including a collapsed seven-storey apartment complex and over 200 homes and shops destroyed by fire. A tsunami of almost 4ft hit coastal towns, but damage was less severe than expected. Over 50,000 people were evacuated, and nuclear power operators reported no damage to operational reactors, although Tokyo Electric Power Company and Hokuriku Electric Power Company confirmed spillages of radioactive water at their facilities.

Is Kim Jong Un's Daughter Being Prepared to Succeed the Dynasty?

03 Jan 2024  |  dw.com
Kim Ju Ae, believed to be around 9 years old, has been appearing publicly with her father, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, raising speculation about her being groomed for leadership. North Korea's Confucian value system traditionally prohibits female leadership, and the military is unaccustomed to female command. However, recent appearances suggest a shift in this stance. South Korean officials, including Minister of Unification Kim Yung-ho and National Intelligence Service Director Cho Tae-yong, believe Kim Jong Un is preparing for a power transition to his daughter. North Korean propaganda has been building a cult around Kim Ju Ae, now referred to as the 'Morning Star of Korea,' a title once held by her great-grandfather Kim Il Sung. Experts like Kim Sung Kyung from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul and Lim Eul-chul from the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul are considering the possibility of a female leader but note Kim Ju Ae's young age makes it too early to confirm.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

02 Jan 2024  |  www.telegraph.co.uk
Central Japan experienced powerful aftershocks on Tuesday following a New Year’s Day earthquake that killed 62 people. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, with over 130 aftershocks recorded, including four above magnitude 5. Emergency responders and Japanese troops conducted search and rescue operations, hindered by power outages and infrastructure damage. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed the urgency of rescue efforts. Wajima was severely affected, with a seven-storey apartment complex collapsing and the town center burning down. A tsunami hit coastal towns but was smaller than expected. Nuclear power plant operators reassured the public of no damage to operational reactors, although Tokyo Electric Power Company reported a spill of radioactive water at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, and Hokuriku Electric Power Company reported a spill at Shika plant.

What's behind North Korea's increasing belligerence?

01 Jan 2024  |  www.dw.com
North Korea has started the new year with aggressive military actions, including live-fire artillery exercises near South Korean islands, leading to heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Analysts predict that Pyongyang's belligerence aims to influence the upcoming South Korean legislative elections by pressuring the government of President Yoon Suk-yeol. North Korea's military capabilities, bolstered by closer ties with Russia, pose significant threats, including nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. Experts warn that the situation could escalate into a broader conflict, given the lack of direct communication between the two Koreas.

Grim Christmas in Japan as rising inflation hits travel and party plans

25 Dec 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Rising inflation in Japan is impacting holiday plans, with many scaling back on travel and gift-giving. Christmas cakes and basic food items have seen significant price increases, while year-end bonuses remain disappointing for many workers. Surveys indicate a shift in consumer behavior, with parents spending less on gifts and employees preferring shorter or no year-end parties. Labor shortages and increased work hours are also contributing to a subdued holiday season.

The Story of Bhutan's Democratic Transition Becomes a Film

25 Dec 2023  |  www.dw.com
Pawo Choyning Dorji's film 'The Monk and the Gun' explores Bhutan's transition to democracy in the mid-2000s, blending political satire, comedy, and cultural commentary. The film, set in 2006, depicts Bhutan's first democratic elections and the arrival of modern influences, symbolized by a legendary gun. The film has received varied reactions globally and is Bhutan's submission for the 96th Academy Awards. Dorji's previous film, 'Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,' was Bhutan's first Oscar-nominated film. Dorji has been honored with Bhutan's highest social award by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Hiking in the footsteps of Bhutan's bizarre Snowman Race

22 Dec 2023  |  sports.yahoo.com
The Snowman Race, the world's highest ultra-marathon, took place in Bhutan, challenging athletes with extreme altitudes and difficult terrain. Despite its demanding nature, there is a gentler alternative for average hikers: the Snowman Trek, which covers similar ground but is still a formidable challenge. The author, Julian Ryall, experienced a portion of the trek, encountering stunning landscapes, remote communities, and diverse wildlife. The journey concluded with a stay at Pemako Punakha, offering a luxurious respite from the arduous trek.

Hiking in the footsteps of Bhutan's bizarre Snowman Race

22 Dec 2023  |  ca.style.yahoo.com
The Snowman Race, the world's highest ultra-marathon, took place in Bhutan, challenging athletes with extreme altitudes and terrain. Despite its difficulty, a gentler alternative exists in the Snowman Trek, which still presents a formidable challenge. The author, Julian Ryall, experienced a portion of the trek, encountering stunning landscapes, remote communities, and unique cultural elements. The trek is less traveled than Mount Everest, and the author concluded his journey at the Pemako resort in Punakha Valley. The Bhutan Department of Tourism hosted Ryall, and KE Adventure Travel offers a 30-day group tour of the Snowman Trek.

Does Southeast Asia Need a Defense Alliance Like NATO?

21 Dec 2023  |  www.dw.com
A group of US conservative politicians has proposed a bill to Congress to form a fact-finding panel as the first step towards creating a NATO-like defense alliance in the Indo-Pacific. This alliance aims to counter increasing threats from China and North Korea. The proposal, led by Republican Representative Mike Lawler, emphasizes the need for collective security to prevent aggression and protect democracies in the region. Despite recent aggressive actions by China and North Korea, analysts believe it is unlikely that Indo-Pacific countries will form a NATO-like military alliance due to a lack of trust and differing political stances. Instead, smaller bilateral and multilateral alliances are more probable.

Japan to test technology to destroy ‘small and fast’ asteroid set to collide with Earth

20 Dec 2023  |  scmp.com
JAXA engineers plan to use Hayabusa-2 spacecraft to carry out a fly-by of asteroid 2002 CC21 in July 2026 and then continue to asteroid 1998 KY26, which it is expected to meet in 2031. The mission aims to understand 'fast rotating asteroids' and prepare for intercepting and deflecting asteroids that could collide with Earth. NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test previously succeeded in altering an asteroid's orbit. Security and aerospace analyst Lance Gatling anticipates that JAXA may attempt to alter the asteroid's orbit if they have enough fuel by 2031 and that the data collected could aid Japan's asteroid mining ambitions.

Own goal? Japan governor who skipped work to meet Cristiano Ronaldo faces calls to resign

08 Dec 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Nagasaki Governor faces public criticism and calls for resignation after prioritizing a meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo over attending a prefectural leaders' meeting discussing critical issues such as Japan's declining birth rate and global warming. The incident is seen by some as minor compared to other political scandals in Japan, with mixed reactions from the public and analysts. The governor, who was elected as an independent against the ruling LDP's candidate, has not commented on the calls for his resignation.

Escape to Okinawa, Japan’s historic island paradise

08 Dec 2023  |  Arab News
Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, is a region rich in culture and history, with influences from Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. The area is known for its unique cuisine, architectural styles, and laidback attitude. Naha, the regional capital, offers a mix of tourist attractions and local markets. Despite the tragic history of battles during World War II, Okinawa today is a peaceful destination with natural beauty, exemplified by islands like Iriomote. The article also briefly mentions US actress Avantika Vandanapu's appearance at an event in a gown by Lebanese designer Geyanna Youness and Switzerland's Nemo winning the Eurovision Song Contest amid controversy over Israel's participation.

Why the next big Asian medical tourism destination could be Osaka, Japan

05 Dec 2023  |  scmp.com
Osaka, Japan, is positioning itself as a major destination for medical tourism, working with government ministries and private companies to attract individuals seeking advanced medical treatments combined with a holiday. Initiatives are also underway in other Japanese cities such as Sapporo, Okinawa, Minokamo, and Sendai. The Osaka International Medical Contribution Promotion Committee, formed with travel giant JTB, aims to connect patients with medical services, while the Japan Medical and Health Tourism Centre has seen increased interest from various Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Japan boasts advanced medical technologies, particularly in cancer treatments and iPS cell therapies, with Osaka University recently achieving a corneal cell transplant breakthrough. The weak yen has also made Japan more financially attractive for medical tourists. JTB is promoting these services globally, and Osaka plans to leverage its medical excellence and tourism offerings to appeal to potential medical tourists.

The people of Bhutan think differently, and that has changed me

02 Dec 2023  |  japantimes.co.jp
Yuki Fukui, the national judo coach for Bhutan, has trained three male judoka who represented Bhutan at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Despite not winning medals, the experience has boosted the athletes' confidence and raised the profile of judo in Bhutan. Fukui, who believes in his pupils' potential, is seeking to extend his contract through JICA to continue coaching them.

Having a dog cuts dementia risk by 40pc, scientists claim

30 Nov 2023  |  sg.style.yahoo.com
A study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology found that owning a dog reduces the risk of developing dementia by 40%. The four-year study in Japan involved nearly 12,000 residents aged over 65 and identified exercise and social interaction as key factors in the reduced risk. The study, which considered various variables, also noted that owning a cat had no significant impact on dementia risk. The research highlights the broader health benefits of pet ownership, including reduced frailty and delayed onset of disabilities in old age.

China urged to stop repatriating N Koreans

30 Nov 2023  |  www.dtnext.in
Pressure mounts on China to stop the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees, who face severe punishment upon return. South Korea's National Assembly and the United Nations have called for China to recognize these individuals as refugees and adhere to international non-refoulement principles. Despite criticism, China maintains its stance, influenced by its alliance with North Korea and geopolitical considerations. Reports indicate that repatriated defectors suffer torture and labor camps, though China denies these claims.

Japan’s atom-bombed cities rebuke Israel from ‘moral high ground’

30 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Hiroshima's government has invited Israeli ambassador Gilad Cohen to its memorial ceremonies while calling for a ceasefire in a letter to Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Japan's government, echoing global calls for restraint, maintains a cautious stance to avoid offending either Israel or the Arab world. Japanese media's anti-Israeli sentiment has influenced public opinion, with experts noting Japan's limited understanding of Middle Eastern geopolitics. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leveraging their moral authority from WWII experiences, are expected to shape domestic and international views on Israel's actions. Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa has urged an immediate ceasefire in a call with her Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz.

Japan’s ‘super’ sniffer dog Melba retires, counts US$11.8 million drug bust as biggest-ever case cracked

30 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan's most successful drug-sniffing dog, Melba, is retiring after a distinguished career that includes the largest drug seizure by a canine in the country. Melba, an eight-year-old Labrador retriever, detected 29.94kg of illegal stimulants in 2019, valued at US$11.85 million. Known for her independent detection skills, Melba will now be rehomed. Japan Customs highlights her achievements and the broader role of drug-detecting dogs in the country, while also recalling a past training mishap involving a Cathay Pacific flight.

Bhutan’s Royal Highland Festival is a mix of music, dance and sport - but it’s the altitude that takes your breath away

23 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The Royal Highland Festival in Laya, Bhutan, near the Chinese border, is a vibrant event featuring music, dance, and sports, celebrated at high altitudes that can cause altitude sickness. The festival, initiated in 2016 to celebrate the birth of the heir to the Bhutanese throne and the 400th anniversary of Zhabdrung Rinpoche's reign, is supported by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who treks to the village annually. The event includes various competitions, traditional performances, and the judging of yaks, with the king and his son participating in the festivities. The festival is set to occur on October 23 and 24.

Is North Korea Preparing for War in 2024?

16 Oct 2023  |  www.dw.com
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has declared the impossibility of peaceful reunification with South Korea, labeling the relationship as hostile. He announced plans to expand North Korea's nuclear arsenal and increase missile tests, accusing South Korea and the US of preparing for an invasion. Experts warn that the situation is the most dangerous since the Korean War, with North Korea abandoning its goal of normalizing relations with the US and deepening ties with Russia. While some analysts are skeptical about an imminent war, they caution against underestimating North Korea's strategic moves.

Japan: Unpacking the nuances of the traditional bow

12 Oct 2023  |  www.dw.com
The article explores the cultural significance and nuances of bowing in Japan, detailing its historical roots, various forms, and the contexts in which different types of bows are used. It highlights the teachings of the Ogasawara-ryu school and the perspectives of experts like Kiyomoto Ogasawara and Matthew Strecher on the importance of bowing in Japanese society. The piece underscores the bow's role in maintaining social harmony and its enduring relevance in modern Japan.

Japan cracks down on vice clubs forcing women customers into sex work

12 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japanese police have arrested four men for forcibly recruiting women into the sex industry abroad, following raids on 729 host clubs accused of coercing women into prostitution to pay off debts. Activists commend the police action but stress the need for continued efforts to combat international sex trafficking. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrests related to the 'Dekasegi Charme' website, which promised high earnings for women over 18. Authorities believe the group facilitated the travel of around 300 women to work in the sex industry in the US, Canada, and Australia, earning approximately 200 million yen. The raids on host clubs resulted in fines and operational suspensions for some clubs. Seiboren, an organization aiding women pressured into sex work, emphasizes the ongoing nature of the problem and the need for vigilance.

Why Bhutan's Oscar entry 'unties a knot'

12 Oct 2023  |  www.dw.com
Filmmaker Pawo Choyning Dorji's film 'The Monk and the Gun' explores Bhutan's social, political, and cultural transition in the mid-2000s, focusing on the country's shift to democracy and modernization. The film, which combines political satire, comedy, and suspense, has been submitted for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards. Dorji's previous film, 'Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,' made history as the first Bhutanese film to be nominated for an Oscar. Dorji aims to share Bhutan's culture and values with the world through his films, emphasizing love, compassion, wisdom, and kindness.

US to deploy new mid-range missile system in Asia-Pacific by end of year, top general says

10 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The United States plans to deploy a new medium-range missile system, the Typhon, to the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the year. This deployment aims to address threats from North Korea and China, with initial batteries to be based in Guam and later in Japan for training. The Typhon system includes mobile launchers capable of firing Standard Missile 6 and Tomahawk cruise missiles. The deployment is part of ongoing testing and training, with implications for regional security dynamics involving China, Russia, and North Korea. Expert analysis suggests the move is more about countering China than North Korea, despite public justifications citing North Korean threats.

Japan plane fire: Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

10 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Hundreds of people escaped a burning Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport after it collided with a coastguard plane, resulting in a fireball. The incident led to the evacuation of 379 passengers and crew, with 17 sustaining non-serious injuries. Five of the six crew members in the coastguard plane were killed. The Japanese prime minister’s office has established a crisis management center to coordinate the response, and an investigation is underway to determine how both aircraft were on the runway simultaneously. Flights at Haneda have been suspended, and the gutted remains of both aircraft are still smoking.

Japan plane fire: Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

10 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Hundreds of passengers and crew escaped a burning Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport after it collided with a coastguard plane, resulting in the deaths of five coastguard crew members. The incident, which occurred as the turboprop plane was preparing to deliver earthquake aid, led to the evacuation of 379 people from the jet. Despite the chaos, the evacuation was largely orderly, with 17 passengers sustaining non-serious injuries. The Japanese prime minister's office has established a crisis management center to investigate the runway collision.

Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

10 Oct 2023  |  ca.news.yahoo.com
Hundreds of people escaped a burning Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport after it collided with a coastguard plane, resulting in a fireball. Five of the six crew members in the smaller plane were killed. Passengers evacuated via emergency slides, with 17 sustaining non-serious injuries. The coastguard plane was on a mission to deliver aid to earthquake-affected regions. The Japanese prime minister’s office has set up a crisis management center to coordinate the response, and an investigation is underway to determine how the two aircraft were on the runway simultaneously.

Japan plane fire: Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

10 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Hundreds of passengers and crew escaped a burning Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport after it collided with a coastguard plane, resulting in the deaths of five coastguard crew members. The incident, which occurred as the coastguard plane was preparing to deliver earthquake aid, led to the suspension of flights at Haneda. Passengers evacuated the burning jet in an orderly manner, with some sharing their harrowing experiences on social media. The Japanese Prime Minister's Office has established a crisis management center to investigate the runway collision.

Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

10 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
Hundreds of passengers were safely evacuated from a Japan Airlines jet that caught fire after colliding with a coastguard plane at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport. The incident resulted in the deaths of five coastguard personnel and injuries to 17 passengers. The Japan Transport Safety Board and other authorities are investigating the cause of the collision. The prime minister's office has established a crisis management center to coordinate the response. Flights at Haneda were suspended, affecting numerous domestic flights.

Hiking in the footsteps of Bhutan's bizarre Snowman Race

05 Oct 2023  |  ca.style.yahoo.com
The Snowman Race in Bhutan is the highest and one of the most demanding ultra-marathons in the world, with a high drop-out rate even among seasoned athletes. The 125-mile route covers tough terrain at high altitudes, causing severe altitude sickness for many participants. For those seeking a less extreme challenge, the Snowman Trek offers a similar but more attainable experience, though it remains highly challenging. The trek passes through stunning Himalayan landscapes, remote communities, and significant cultural sites. The author describes his own experience on a short stretch of the trek, highlighting the natural beauty and cultural encounters along the way. The article also mentions the luxurious Pemako resort as a place to relax after the trek.

Japan aims to put a man on the moon ahead of China as it partners with US in ‘Apollo programme on steroids’

05 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan, in partnership with the US, aims to place a man on the moon ahead of China as part of the Artemis lunar exploration programme. This collaboration includes developing a pressurized lunar rover and exploring lunar materials. The agreement also involves a Low Earth Orbit detection and tracking constellation for missiles. Experts suggest this move is a direct challenge to China's space ambitions, highlighting the symbolic importance of US-Japan cooperation in space, AI, and semiconductors. China, while making progress with its space station and lunar probes, is not yet ready for a manned moon mission.

Japan stumps up US$1 billion for arms-race insurance with US-led hypersonic missile-interceptor project

05 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan is investing US$1 billion in a US-led project to develop the Glide Phase Interceptor, aimed at countering hypersonic missile threats. The US will contribute an estimated US$2 billion, with full operational capability targeted by 2032. The project is part of broader efforts to enhance integrated air-and-missile defense in the Indo-Pacific, driven by concerns over advancements by rivals like China, North Korea, and Russia. US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel emphasized the need for credible collective deterrence, while experts highlight the escalating arms race in the region. The initiative includes advanced detection systems and complements other defense projects like the US-Israeli Iron Beam system.

Academics in Japan shun events in China amid fears over professor’s disappearance in Shanghai

05 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japanese academics are increasingly avoiding events in China due to fears of detention, highlighted by the disappearance of a professor in Shanghai. The Japanese government faces criticism for its passive response, while China's strict anti-espionage laws and poor track record on academic freedom exacerbate concerns. Academics express distrust in both governments' handling of such incidents, with some choosing to avoid China altogether to ensure their safety.

Three Japanese soldiers convicted of sexual assault in rare victory for women’s rights

03 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Three Japanese soldiers were convicted of sexually assaulting Rina Gonoi, marking a significant victory for women's rights in Japan. The court in Fukushima ruled that Gonoi was assaulted during a martial arts demonstration in 2021. The soldiers received suspended prison terms and were dishonorably discharged. This case, the first major verdict since Japan's overhaul of sex crime laws in June, highlights the country's ongoing struggle with gender equality and sexual misconduct. Gonoi's public revelation led to a military-wide investigation and increased attention to sexual assault issues in Japan. She has also filed civil cases seeking damages for mental distress and government inaction.

Japan plane fire: Miracle escape as hundreds rescued from runway inferno

03 Oct 2023  |  ca.news.yahoo.com
Hundreds of passengers and crew escaped a burning Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport after it collided with a coastguard plane, resulting in a fireball. The crash killed five of the six crew members in the smaller plane, which was on a mission to deliver supplies to earthquake-affected regions. Despite the chaos, the evacuation was largely orderly, with 17 passengers sustaining non-serious injuries. The Japanese prime minister's office has established a crisis management center to investigate the incident, which has led to the suspension of flights at Haneda.

Japan oil firm chief sacked over misconduct, but is it ‘sign of fundamental change’ in corporate culture?

03 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Eneos fired its chief, Saito, after an investigation confirmed his inappropriate behavior towards a female manager, marking the second such scandal in two years for the company. The incident has sparked discussions on the deep-rooted issues of sexual harassment and corporate governance in Japan, with experts expressing mixed views on whether this signals a fundamental change in corporate culture. The article also references other recent high-profile cases of misconduct, highlighting the persistent problem of inappropriate behavior among senior male executives in Japanese organizations.

Three Japanese soldiers convicted of sexual assault in rare victory for women’s rights

03 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.com
Three Japanese soldiers were convicted of sexually assaulting a female colleague, Rina Gonoi, in a landmark case for women's rights in Japan. The court in Fukushima ruled that Gonoi was assaulted during a martial arts demonstration in 2021. The soldiers received suspended prison terms and were dishonorably discharged. This case marks a significant victory in a country where sexual misconduct complaints are often disregarded. Gonoi's public revelation led to a military-wide investigation and increased attention to sexual assault issues in Japan. She has also filed civil cases seeking damages for mental distress and government inaction.

Can Japan PM Kishida survive kickbacks scandal as rivals begin ‘moving against him’?

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Suspicion of financial mismanagement has engulfed Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's faction. Despite recent cabinet dismissals, public anger persists, with support for Kishida plummeting. Former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and Seiko Noda are emerging as potential challengers. Ishiba has called for amendments to the political funds control law and urged implicated politicians to explain themselves. Analysts predict a leadership challenge in March, with the LDP seeking a consensus leader untainted by scandal. Kishida's future remains uncertain as rivals prepare to act.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin ‘giving two fingers to Japan’ with pledged trip to disputed Kuril Islands

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Vladimir Putin's planned visit to the disputed Kuril Islands is seen as a provocative move against Japan, highlighting ongoing tensions exacerbated by Japan's support for Ukraine. The visit is perceived as a message to both domestic and international audiences, asserting Russia's stance in the Pacific. The historical context of the islands, recent military deployments, and the lack of a formal peace treaty between Russia and Japan underscore the complexity of the issue. Expert opinions suggest that while the visit may not worsen relations, it signifies Russia's intent to maintain its territorial claims and respond to Japan's actions in the Ukraine conflict.

Update your 2024 bucket list: Visit Kathmandu, launch pad for Everest Base Camp, the Himalayas & more

01 Oct 2023  |  NZ Herald
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is a top destination for 2024, offering a blend of history, culture, and adventure. Key attractions include Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath Temple. The city is also a gateway for treks into the Himalayas, including Everest Base Camp. Thamel is the hub for nightlife, while the surrounding countryside offers hiking opportunities for all levels. Visitors can enjoy local experiences such as spinning prayer wheels, shopping for thanka art, and sampling Gorkha Beer.

Hiking in the footsteps of Bhutan's bizarre Snowman Race

01 Oct 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
The Snowman Race in Bhutan is the highest and one of the most demanding ultra-marathons in the world, with a high drop-out rate due to extreme altitude and challenging terrain. The Snowman Trek offers a more accessible yet still challenging alternative for hikers, covering similar ground over a longer period. The author recounts his experience on a short stretch of the trek, highlighting the stunning landscapes, local wildlife, and cultural encounters. The article also provides practical information for those interested in participating in the race or trek, including accommodation and tour options.

Does Japan firm’s Korean forced labour payout set an example? ‘Hitachi Zosen is betraying the nation’

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Hitachi Zosen Corp has been criticized for transferring compensation funds to a South Korean court for a forced labour victim, defying Japanese government directives. This action has sparked debate, with critics arguing it undermines Japan's stance and sets a negative precedent, while supporters in South Korea view it as a positive step towards justice. The Japanese government maintains that all claims were settled by a 1965 treaty, but South Korean courts have ruled otherwise. The issue continues to strain Japan-South Korea relations, despite recent efforts to improve bilateral ties.

Japan starts sea trials of whaling mother ship Kangei Maru, amid mixed reactions from green groups, public

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan has launched the Kangei Maru, its first dedicated whaling mother ship in 73 years, sparking mixed reactions from environmentalists and the public. The ship, owned by Kyodo Senpaku Co, aims to revive the whaling industry despite declining whale meat consumption and reduced government subsidies. Environmental groups criticize the use of taxpayer money to support the industry, while some Japanese see whaling as a cultural tradition. The new ship is set to begin its maiden operational voyage in May, amid ongoing debates about the future of whaling in Japan.

Japan’s patriarchal politics gets a jolt as 2 women prepare to go toe-to-toe in Tokyo governor race

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The upcoming Tokyo governor race is set to be a significant event in Japan's political landscape, with two prominent female candidates, Renho Saito and Yuriko Koike, preparing to compete. Renho, supported by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party, aims to break away from traditional politics and address gender inequality. Koike, with backing from Komeito, has a strong track record and is seen as a favorite if she decides to run again. The race highlights the broader issue of gender representation in Japanese politics, where women remain underrepresented despite legislative efforts. The outcome could have a lasting impact on the nation's political dynamics and gender equality.

Japanese researchers alarmed as microplastic density off Honshu island exceeds highs in Mediterranean Sea

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Researchers have discovered alarming levels of microplastics on the ocean floor off Honshu, Japan, with concentrations surpassing those in the Mediterranean Sea. The study, led by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, found microplastic densities up to 260 times higher than in the Mediterranean and 5,500 times higher than in the North Atlantic. The Kuroshio Current is identified as a significant contributor, carrying debris from Southeast and East Asia. Experts stress the difficulty of removing microplastics from the seabed and advocate for preventive measures and alternative materials to reduce plastic pollution.

Japan slams ‘sensationalist’ UK tabloid report linking mass fish death to Fukushima water

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japanese officials and experts criticized a UK tabloid report linking mass fish deaths in Hokkaido to the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, calling it sensationalist and unsupported by scientific evidence. The article highlighted that marine experts attributed the fish deaths to natural causes such as low oxygen levels or sudden temperature changes. Anti-nuclear groups and environmental monitoring organizations also dismissed the radiation link, emphasizing the need for accurate reporting to maintain public understanding and credibility.

Hiking in the footsteps of Bhutan's bizarre Snowman Race

01 Oct 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
The Snowman Race in Bhutan is the highest and one of the most demanding ultra-marathons globally, with a high drop-out rate due to extreme altitude and challenging terrain. The 125-mile route requires athletes to run at an average altitude of 4,267m over five days. For those seeking a less extreme adventure, the Snowman Trek offers a similar experience over three weeks, though it remains a challenging hike. The author recounts a personal experience on a shorter stretch of the trek, highlighting the stunning landscapes, local culture, and the physical demands of the journey. The article also provides practical information for potential visitors, including details about the Snowman Race, accommodations at Pemako Punakha, and tour options from KE Adventure Travel.

Japan grapples with high rates of ‘carer killings’ made worse by pandemic isolation

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan is facing a troubling rise in 'carer killings,' exacerbated by the isolation and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research by Yuhara identified 443 deaths in 437 cases involving elderly individuals requiring nursing care, with spouses and children being the primary perpetrators. The pandemic has intensified the issue by isolating caregivers and straining the healthcare system. Experts like Yoko Tsukamoto highlight the need for better support and community engagement. Yuhara calls for government action to improve pay and conditions in the care sector, potentially opening borders to foreign workers if necessary.

A Japanese judge is heading the ICC. Can Tokyo build on that to host tribunal’s Asia office?

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Japan, a significant financial contributor to the International Criminal Court (ICC), is positioning itself to host the tribunal's Asia office, leveraging the promotion of Judge Tomoko Akane. The ICC plans to establish four regional courts to alleviate pressure on its main court and enhance cooperation among member states. However, Japan may face resistance from regional neighbors like China, North Korea, and Russia, who view the ICC as an infringement on their sovereignty. Experts suggest that while a Japanese judge would adhere to international law, regional tensions could complicate the establishment of an ICC office in Tokyo.

Japan city to cull ‘invasive’ squirrels harming ancient buildings, biodiversity in Kamakura

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Authorities in Kamakura, Japan, are addressing the issue of invasive Formosan squirrels damaging ancient buildings and local biodiversity. The local government has requested additional funding to capture and humanely euthanize the squirrels, which have been causing significant damage to wooden shrines and local infrastructure. Environmental activists support the culling to protect native flora and fauna. The problem of invasive species extends beyond squirrels, with other non-native animals also causing ecological disruptions across Japan. Measures to prevent the illegal import of exotic pets are also being considered.

Cryptocurrency Scams Fund North Korea's Nuclear Weapons

28 Mar 2023  |  www.dw.com
North Korea has allegedly generated around $3 billion from cryptocurrency thefts between 2017 and 2023, funding up to 40% of its weapons of mass destruction programs. A UN report attributes 50% of North Korea's foreign currency revenue to cyber activities, highlighting the Lazarus Group's significant role in these operations. The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies complicates regulation, and international efforts to create laws against cybercrime face significant challenges. South Korea remains vigilant against these threats, but internal political disagreements hinder comprehensive legal responses.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2023  |  Yahoo Entertainment
Powerful aftershocks continue to affect central Japan following a New Year's Day earthquake that has killed 62 people. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, causing significant damage and prompting extensive search and rescue operations. Emergency responders face challenges due to power outages, damaged infrastructure, and repeated aftershocks. The Japan Meteorological Agency reports over 130 aftershocks, with significant damage in Wajima and other coastal towns. Tsunami waves, though less severe than initially feared, have caused further destruction. Nuclear power plants report minor spills but no major damage. Authorities continue to monitor the situation and advise caution.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2023  |  ca.news.yahoo.com
Powerful aftershocks continue to affect central Japan following a New Year's Day earthquake that has claimed 62 lives. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, causing significant damage and prompting extensive search and rescue operations. Emergency responders face challenges due to power outages, damaged infrastructure, and repeated aftershocks. The Japan Meteorological Agency reports over 130 aftershocks, with several strong enough to cause additional damage. Many rail services and flights have been suspended, and Noto's airport remains closed. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, though less severe than initially feared. Authorities continue to monitor nuclear power plants in the region, with some incidents of radioactive water spills reported but contained. The situation remains critical as rescue efforts persist.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2023  |  sg.news.yahoo.com
Powerful aftershocks continue to affect central Japan following a New Year's Day earthquake that has claimed 62 lives. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula, causing significant damage and prompting extensive search and rescue operations. Emergency responders face challenges due to power outages, damaged infrastructure, and ongoing aftershocks. The Japan Meteorological Agency reports over 130 aftershocks, with several strong enough to cause additional damage. Many rail services and flights are suspended, and Noto's airport is closed. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, though less severe than initially feared. Nuclear power plants in the region report minor spills but no significant damage. The Japanese government continues to coordinate rescue efforts and monitor the situation.

Powerful aftershocks rock Japan after New Year's Day earthquake kills 62

03 Jan 2023  |  malaysia.news.yahoo.com
Powerful aftershocks continue to impact central Japan following a New Year's Day earthquake that has claimed 62 lives. The initial 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto Peninsula, causing widespread damage, fires, and power outages. Rescue efforts are ongoing, hindered by aftershocks and damaged infrastructure. The Japan Meteorological Agency has recorded over 130 aftershocks. Many rail services and flights have been suspended, and Noto's airport remains closed. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, though less severe than initially feared. Nuclear power plants reported minor spills of radioactive water but no significant damage. Authorities continue to warn residents to stay away from coastal areas due to the risk of further aftershocks and tsunamis.

Starving North Koreans are kidnapping the children of wealthy families for ransom

06 Sep 2021  |  Mail Online
North Korea is experiencing a series of child kidnappings as starving citizens target the children of wealthy families for ransom. At least four incidents have been reported, with kidnappers demanding money for food amidst the country's worsening shortages of essentials due to international sanctions and border closures to prevent Covid-19. The situation echoes the mid-1990s famine, and there is growing concern among parents. Speculation about Kim Jong-un's health and weight loss has been met with state media claims of his sacrifices for the country, while experts suggest it may be a propaganda strategy.
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