Informative video condenses everything about Japan into 16 minutes of pure gold

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By Koh Ruide, SoraNews24

Plenty of videos offer glimpses into Japan’s beautiful scenery or vibrant culture, with some even letting viewers take a cool virtual 360-degree tour around popular sightseeing spots.

But for those who want more than just tourism, and crave history or insights, those videos are harder to come by.

But one YouTube channel, Geography Now, does an excellent job. They create videos that provide in-depth information on different countries without turning into hour-long encyclopedias. They’ve even created one about Japan, discussing almost everything under the sun from religion to society.

▼ We wish this sixteen-minute video could be longer.

The host, Paul “Barby” Barbato, talks at a rapid pace to keep the production as short as possible, so we recommend turning on captions so viewers can catch the location names and Japanese terminology being thrown around.

▼ Barby covers some lesser-known geographical facts that are quite enlightening, like Okinotorishima here.


Photo: YouTube/Geography Now

▼ He even goes into a brief lesson on indigenous ethnic groups in Japan…


▼ …the important people throughout Japanese history…


▼ …and diplomatic relations between countries.


Kudos to the channel for creating a fantastic video introducing Japan to the world. Regardless of whether you have yet to step foot in the country or are already actively living here, there’s bound to be some interesting facts in there for everyone.


Source :  Japan Today

Man arrested for sexually molesting teen girl on Tokyo street

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Police in Tokyo said Friday they have arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of sexually molesting a teenager on a street in December.

According to police, the incident occurred as the girl, whose age was not specified, was walking home at around 10 p.m. in Nihonbashihamacho in Chuo Ward, Fuji TV reported. Police said the suspect, Ken Nitta, walked past the girl, then turned around, came up behind her and groped her breasts, just as she was approaching the entrance to her apartment building.

Police said the girl and Nitta, who works in a musical instrument store, do not know each other.

Police said Nitta, who was identified through street surveillance camera footage, has admitted to the charge and are also questioning him about a similar incident involving another girl in the same area last June.

© Japan Today

Japanese trading houses on the prowl as record earnings boost appetite

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By Yuka Obayashi

Japan’s trading houses are scouting for assets as they enjoy their best profit outlook in six years, driven by higher prices for commodities from metals and coking coal to oil and natural gas.

Equipped with a nearly $50 billion war chest, trading houses are looking to bolster their global commodity supply chain networks, eyeing gas fields in Australia, oil in Iraq and coal and copper assets.

But – still smarting from huge writedowns in the last investment cycle – big debt-fueled acquisitions look to be off the agenda, with the focus on greenlighting undeveloped assets, taking bigger stakes in existing projects, and trading up to better quality operations.

“Now we have a lot of money that we can invest. We didn’t invest so much in recent years,” said a senior executive from a major trading house on condition of anonymity, declining to be named.

“We want to be in the driving seat in investments. We are searching for good projects,” he said.

Known as shosha in Japanese, trading houses led by Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co fulfill a quasi-national role by importing everything from oil to corn to sustain the country’s resource-poor economy.

Together with Itochu Corp, Sumitomo Corp and Marubeni Corp, the five major trading houses reported record April-December net profits this month, with many upping their full-year forecasts.

Combined, they expect annual net income for the year to end-March, 2018 of 1.88 trillion yen ($17.4 billion), the most since 2011/12 financial year.

Mitsui this month won a bidding war for Australia’s AWE Ltd with a $470 million offer that will give make it operator and 50 percent owner of the promising Waitsia gas project.

Analysts described it as a low-risk investment, while Mitsui said becoming operator of a gas field for the first time would bolster its credentials to bid on other Australian gas assets.

Mitsui has been expected to step up its spending in energy and metals, where it is the strongest of the top five trading houses, said Nomura Securities’ senior analyst Yasuhiro Narita.

Itochu – the least exposed to natural resources of the five – is set to buy a stake in Iraq’s West Qurma 1 oilfield from Royal Dutch Shell.

It is also eyeing coal assets to replace declining output from its current operations, Chief Financial Officer Tsuyoshi Hachimura said earlier this month.

Mitsubishi CFO Kazuyuki Masu said this month the company was looking to invest in copper mines – one of its three focused assets along with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coking coal – to meet expected rising demand for electric cars.

This could include the bolstering its stake in mines in which it already has a share, such as Peru’s Quellaveco project, where it has invested with majority shareholder Anglo American, and which is awaiting for a final investment decision.

The five trading houses combined had about $48 billion in cash and short-term investments as of end-March 2017, according to data in Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Still, it was just two years ago that Mitsubishi and Mitsui posted their first ever annual losses, while in that same year to March 2016 the five houses combined wrote-off about 1 trillion yen after the commodities downturn of 2014-2015.

They have since staged a recovery, also visible in the stock market where since 2015, seen as the lowpoint of the overall commodities downturn, they have outperformed even Glencore , a western listed commodity trading peer.

Despite this, analysts say the Japanese traders remain cautious.

“Trading houses are not spending like in early 2010s when they were making huge loans to buy assets with big price-tag,” said Masako Kuwahara, senior analyst at corporate finance group in Moody’s Japan K.K.

“They have learned lessons from the commodities slump and they are making only selective investments, with the focus to maintain a positive cash flow,” she said, predicting that spending will have limited impact on their leverage.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

Source :  Japan Today

U.S. judge approves Takata bankruptcy plan

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A Delaware judge has approved the bankruptcy reorganization plan submitted by Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata.

Following a hearing Friday, the judge said there was substantial and sufficient support from creditors to merit plan approval.

The ruling comes after Takata reached a settlement last week with creditor groups representing current and future victims of the company’s lethally defective air bags, whose claims will be handled by a trust.

Takata was forced into bankruptcy last year amid lawsuits, multimillion-dollar fines and crushing recall costs involving air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into drivers and passengers. The faulty inflators prompted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

Under the restructuring plan, Takata will sell most of its non-air bag assets to a Chinese-owned rival for $1.6 billion.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Source :  Japan Today

Japan’s young shogi star Fujii beats highest title holder Habu

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Japanese professional shogi player Sota Fujii became the youngest champion of an official tournament on Saturday, at 15 years and 6 months.

Fujii’s victory over Akihito Hirose, a 31-year-old eighth-dan player and Osho title holder in the final match, made him the first junior high school student to climb to sixth dan.

“It gives me confidence that I’ve achieved something big,” Fujii said after his final match in the Asahi Cup tournament in Tokyo. “I want to work even harder after the victory.”

Earlier in the day in a semifinal match, Fujii defeated Yoshiharu Habu, 47-year-old holder of one of the most prestigious shogi titles, in their first official face-off.

Fujii became a shogi sensation by setting a record of 29 consecutive professional wins last year.

The previous record of youngest winner of a tournament organized by the Japan Shogi Association was held by Hifumi Kato, who won the Roku Go Yon Dan tournament, predecessor of the current Kio title, in 1955 at the age of 15 years and 10 months.

Fujii and Habu, the winner of the prestigious Ryuo title and a ninth-dan player, had only previously met in two unofficial matches, with one win apiece.

Fujii earned a spot in the semifinal match after a win over Amahiko Sato, holder of the Meijin master title, the most prestigious along with the Ryuo title currently held by Habu, in a quarterfinal match on Jan. 14. It was his first official win over any title holder.

The Asahi Cup is a quick-play tournament with each player given 40 minutes and is open to all ranks, including amateurs.

The teenage phenomenon’s race to claim the all-time record for consecutive wins in shogi captivated the country, inspiring brisk sales of children’s books about shogi and more young people to play the board game.

The feat was achieved on June 26 as he extended his unbeaten record since his debut in December 2016 to 29, breaking the record of 28 straight wins set in 1987 by Hiroshi Kamiya.

The successful run sparked an interest unseen since 1996 when Habu made a clean sweep to hold all seven top shogi titles at once.

Habu reached another high last December, capturing the Ryuo title for the seventh time overall and becoming the first-ever champion to hold “eisei” lifetime honors in each of seven major titles. “Eisei” is an honorific title used after retirement.

The honor is only given for each title after a player has cleared certain conditions, such as the number of consecutive titles won or the overall number of times the player has held the title.

There are eight major titles in shogi but the condition for receiving the eisei honor for the Eio championship, which was elevated last year to join the elite group, has yet to be announced.

The government on Tuesday bestowed the People’s Honor Award on Habu, making him the first recipient of the prize in the world of shogi. The award was instituted in 1977 and is given by the prime minister to honor people for outstanding achievements.

Commonly known as Japanese chess, shogi players are given 20 pieces each and can reuse pieces captured from an opponent.

The game, in which players attempt to capture their opponent’s king piece, is thought to derive from the ancient Indian game of chaturanga.

In the shogi world, professionals are ranked between fourth dan, the lowest, and ninth dan, the highest in a six-level system. There are around 200 active and retired professional shogi players, the Japan Shogi Association said.


Source :  Japan Today

Hanyu wins men’s figure skating gold; silver for Uno

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Japanese icon Yuzuru Hanyu completed his comeback from injury in style Saturday, capturing his second successive Olympic men’s figure skating gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games while compatriot Shoma Uno won silver.

The gold is Japan’s first of the games in any competition. Victory saw Hanyu become the first skater to defend the men’s title since American Dick Button achieved the feat 66 years ago.

“So many people have supported me, and first of all, I’m relieved that I was able to skate on this rink,” said Hanyu.

“I’m happy with my performance. My right foot survived. I wasn’t able to train because of my injury and that worried a lot of people. I had more support and cheering than ever and feel very blessed for that.”


Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs during the men’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday,  Photo: AP

Hanyu held the overnight lead after flirting with breaking his own world record score in Friday’s short program. The two-time world champion completed the job with an enthralling free skate (206.17 points) at Gangneung Ice Arena to finish with 317.85.

Uno scored 306.90 for silver in his Olympic debut and Javier Fernandez of Spain scored 305.24 for bronze.

“With my free skate, I wasn’t sure about my program composition so it was more difficult. But I was able to focus and do all the jumps I wanted,” the gold medalist said.

Uno slipped into silver, despite a mistake on his first toe loop.

“I felt like I wasn’t able to skate well from the beginning (of the free program), so I thought there’s a high possibility that I couldn’t score well today,” said Uno.

“I just started laughing after I missed my first loop. I didn’t feel pressured after my mistake, I just laughed and wanted to do my best.”

“But the practice I’ve been doing — being able to land jumps in whatever situation I’m in — worked out well. I was watching everyone’s performance today, so I knew what kind of routine I needed.”


Gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, center, silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan, left, and bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain pose together on the podium.  Photo: REUTERS

Fernandez was beside himself, having won his first Olympic medal after going so close in Sochi.

“It was awesome, a good experience for sure,” he said. “Even though it was not a perfect performance today, it was a really good one. It was just a competition (in which) everyone was skating really good.”

“So happy with the medal, a lot of work, a lot of years for the Olympic dream an Olympic medal, and I finally got it.”

“Now I can sleep, I can rest and I can really enjoy with my people around me what I’ve got after so many years. I’m really happy,” said the Spaniard.

The 23-year-old Hanyu joins three other skaters who have retained the title — Gillis Grafstrom of Sweden (1920, 1924, 1928), Karl Schafer of Austria (1932, 1936) and Button (1948, 1952).

Performing to the soundtrack from the film “Onmyoji” (The Yin-Yang Master), Hanyu had an awkward landing coming out of a quad toe loop-single loop-triple salchow combination but it was a minor blip in a skate that flowed like molten gold.

At the end of his skate, Hanyu got down on one knee and patted the ice as stuffed Winnie the Pooh bears rained down from the crowd above.


Skating girls collect Winnie the Pooh toys thrown on the ice following Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan’s performance in the men’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday.  Photo: AP

Uno botched his opening quad loop but was clean the rest of the way. Hanyu and Uno also finished first and second, respectively, at last year’s world championships in Helsinki.

Hanyu was competing for the first time in four months. He damaged ligaments in his right ankle after falling attempting a quad lutz during practice for the NHK Trophy in November.

Hanyu’s recovery from injury was slower than expected and he and only began training on the ice at his base in Toronto last month, leading to speculation over whether he would be fit to defend his title.

Hanyu skipped the team competition here to focus on being ready for the singles.

Japan’s Keiji Tanaka ended the competition in 18th place with 244.83.

American quad king Nathan Chen rebounded from a disastrous short program that left him in 17th place to land six quads, touching down on one of them, for 215.08 points in free skate and a total of 297.35 for fifth.

“I have been working on it (putting six quads in the free skate) for a while. It’s never really fully come together,” said Chen. “I was like, ‘I already fell so many times (in performances earlier this week), I might as well go out and throw everything down and see what happens.'”




Source :  Japan Today

JFE eyes Y650 bil domestic steel upgrade, warns on U.S. trade policy

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By Yuka Obayashi and Ritsuko Shimizu

JFE Holdings Inc, parent of Japan’s second-biggest steelmaker, plans to spend more than 650 billion yen ($6 billion) over the next three years upgrading domestic production facilities in a bid to raise productivity and competitiveness.

The capital expenditure plans, outlined by JFE Holdings President Eiji Hayashida president in an interview, will be part of a new business strategy for JFE, covering the three years ending March 2021, around April.

“We’ve spent a bit more than 650 billion yen in the past three years on domestic facilities and we will need to do it again for the next years, which would give us a very competitive foundation,” Hayashida told Reuters.

“We may even increase the spending,” he said.

Japanese steelmakers, including JFE’s bigger rival Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, are making hefty investment in ageing domestic plants. Glitches at the plants – some more than 40 years old – have prevented them from producing as much steel as they would have liked amid growing global demand.

Outside Japan, home to 55 percent of the company’s steel output, Hayashida said JFE may build new lines at its automotive steelmaking plants in China and Thailand – if demand picks up.

Hayashida provided upbeat outlook for global steel demand for 2018, including the world’s biggest buyer China, but he expressed concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policy.

Trump said on Tuesday he was considering a range of options, including tariffs and quotas, to address steel and aluminium imports into the United States that he said were unfairly hurting U.S. producers.

“I think we don’t have to worry about China (economic) risk at least this year,” Hayashida said.

“My biggest fear is how far President Trump will close down trade,” the executive said. “If the U.S. takes action (to curb imports), it may trigger retaliation by other countries. What is most troublesome is to see the world heading to protectionism.”

Elsewhere, Hayashida said there were no plans for JFE to increase its 15 percent stake in Indian partner JSW Steel Ltd to capitalise on potential market growth in India.

“I don’t see any benefit from raising our stake from the current 15 percent,” he said. “I feel comfortable with the current level.”

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

Source :  Japan Today