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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Natsuko Shibusawa | Tokyo Motor Show kicks off with focus on environment

Tokyo Motor Show kicks off with focus on environment
The 39th Tokyo Motor Show starts with media previews at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefec...
The 39th Tokyo Motor Show started Wednesday with media previews at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture as major carmakers from around the world are increasingly focusing on how cars can run without damaging the environment. Ahead of its public opening on Saturday, 240 automakers, component suppliers and other related firms from 13 countries and one region presented the two-day previews at Japan's largest convention center near Tokyo

Riona Yuki | Diet members plan to dress in Warm Biz style

Following the ''Cool Biz'' campaign introduced this summer to save energy in a bid to prevent of global warming, the government and the Diet are introducing ''Warm Biz'' this winter. The government's decision to introduce Warm Biz was quick. In late August when the weather was still steamy, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike declared that the campaign would be launched in October. ''I would like to firmly establish a warm and attractive style that is easy to work in and not too dependent on heating,'' she said. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda also mentioned the government's promotion of Warm Biz in September. He said that government buildings would have to set the thermostat at 19 C from December to March and private sector companies would be called on to set it at 20 C. The Diet is following suit, and the temperature will be lowered in the Diet building during the same period. Both ruling and opposition lawmakers are supportive of the move. But lawmakers may have trouble finding the right clothes. In both chambers, overcoats and scarves are not allowed, and lawmakers must wear suits. ''Under Diet rules, overcoats and others can be worn if the house speaker says it's OK,'' said Jiro Kawasaki, chairman of the lower house's Rules and Administration Committee. '''Those suffering from a cold are exceptions.'' But crewneck sweaters will not be allowed since neckties cannot be seen. Ascots are also banned since they do not require button-down shirts. Both items are said to damage the ''dignity'' of the Diet as far as Diet rules are concerned. Nobuko Iwaki, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in the lower house, is not so crazy about Warm Biz. She said Diet members need dress well because they represent the people. ''I will keep wearing pink suits (symbolizing Japanese cherry trees) both in summer and winter,'' she said. One young bureaucrat said, ''After all, we cannot change clothes, although at the time of Cool Biz, all of us were excited over what clothes others would wear.'' Caught in the middle between doing their bit to save energy and obeying strict Diet rules, lawmakers and bureaucrats are racking their brains over what to wear. One veteran lawmaker note, ''In the summer, what we should have done was just remove neckties, but...''

Ai Kurosawa | Leaves turn later, flowers bloom earlier due to global warming

A study by the Japan Meteorological Agency shows that foliage is appearing more than two weeks later than about 50 years ago, while spring flowers are blooming nearly 10 days earlier due to global warming, agency officials said Wednesday. Maple leaves now turn red an average 15.6 days later in the fall, while ginkgo leaves become yellow 10.7 days later, according to the agency's study based on data from 1953 through 2004.

Rei Kubota | Teen pleads guilty to murdering parents in Tokyo

A 16-year-old boy on Wednesday pleaded guilty to murdering his parents at their living quarters in a construction company dormitory in Tokyo in June following a quarrel with his father and set fire to the house. The defendant told the first hearing at the Tokyo District Court, ''I repaid kindness with ingratitude when I should have thanked them for raising me for 16 years. I am repenting the very silly thing that I have done.''

Yumi Takahashi | Digital watermark to be used in video-on-demand programs

Invisible marks that can be used to trace illegal copies of television shows and movies will be embedded in programs available on demand across the country using technology from Widevine Technologies.
Widevine, based in Seattle, said Tuesday its invisible digital markers would be embedded in programs distributed to cable companies served by TVN Entertainment Corp., a Burbank-based company.
Among TVN's cable customers are four of the nation's largest operators: Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and Adelphia Communications Corp.
Digital watermarks are not visible to the naked eye, but contain information about the origin of the program. They allow Hollywood studios to track shows as they are distributed to cable boxes, TV sets, computers, cell phones or other devices.
The watermarks remain even after the program is copied several times, allowing law enforcement to tell where illegal copies were obtained.
TVN provides movies, concerts and other programs to cable operators and telecommunication companies, who then offer them to consumers for a pay-per-view fee.
Tuesday's announcement marks the first time digital watermarking has been used to track such programs.

Mao Misaki | Man dies in 6-vehicle pileup in Tokyo

A man died in a pileup involving six vehicles that occurred on a Tokyo street early Wednesday, police said.
At around 1:20 a.m., a 14-ton truck driven by Isamu Goto, 57, crashed into the rear of a car driven by Masaki Igarashi, 35, on Sasame Dori Ave. in Nerima-ku, Tokyo, police said. The accident developed into a pileup involving six vehicles.
In the accident, Igarashi died after sustaining serious injuries to his whole body while Goto and two others were slightly injured.
Investigators are questioning Goto, suspecting that he was not paying enough attention to traffic conditions.

Yumi Aoi | Japanese fighter jets scrambled 30 times to turn away Chinese planes in last 7 months

Japanese fighter jets have been scrambled 30 times to turn away Chinese planes approaching Japan's airspace in the last seven months, more than twice the 13 times in the same period last year, officials said Wednesday.
The increased defensive posture reflects the growing tensions between Japan and China, which are squabbling over interpretations of their wartime past, undersea gas deposits, and ownership of East China Sea islands.
An Air Self Defense Force spokesman said Japan's fighter jets had scrambled 30 times in response to what were believed to be Chinese military planes in the seven months from April to October. Japan's fiscal year starts in April.
The spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with agency policy, added that fighter jets also have been deployed in November, but declined to say how many times.
That would surpass the record-high 30 scramblings in response to Chinese planes in all of 1998. Japan only started keeping track of the number of fighter jet mobilizations against specified countries in 1995.
Another official of the Air Self Defense Force declined to comment on the types of Chinese planes or what they were doing. He said there have been no major confrontations between Japanese fighter jets and foreign military planes in 2005.
A national daily newspaper said Wednesday that Chinese surveillance planes were flying over natural gas sites in the East China Sea that are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.
Another 72 scramblings were triggered by Russian planes during the April-October period this year, according to the first official. He did not provide any other details. Japan and Russia both claim islands off Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido that were seized by Moscow near the end of World War II.

Tomoka yashima | Abductees group to meet with family of Thai woman believed kidnapped by North Korea

Members of a support group for Japanese kidnapped by North Korea left Wednesday for Thailand to meet with the relatives of a Thai woman who reportedly has lived in the North since her abduction in the 1970s.
Thai authorities are pressing North Korea for details on Anocha Panjoy, a Thai woman allegedly abducted from the then-Portuguese colony of Macau where she was working in 1978.
North Korea denies abducting Anocha or that she is living in the country.
Teruaki Masumoto, head of the Association of Kidnapped Japanese Families by North Korea, and Tsutomu Nishioka, a member of the group, were to meet with Anocha's brother on Thursday in Thailand's northern Chiang Mai province, the group said in a statement.
Masumoto said he hoped that by working with the Thai woman's family, the plight of kidnapping victims would gain greater attention.
"We think we need to cooperate with families of the victims and appeal to the world that kidnapping victims are not just Japanese and South Koreans," he said as he was leaving for Bangkok.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that the two Japanese were carrying a message from Hitomi Soga, who was abducted by the North in 1978 and lived there until her release in 2002, offering help in rescuing Anocha.
The Thai woman's case came to light in the autobiography of U.S. Army deserter Robert Jenkins, who abandoned his unit and fled to North Korea in 1965. Jenkins said in his book that he knew Anocha in North Korea.
Jenkins and Soga were married in the communist state but have since returned to Japan with their two daughters.
North Korea in 2002 acknowledged kidnapping about a dozen Japanese citizens to help train its spies, including Masumoto's sister, Rumiko. North Korea said she died of heart disease at age 26

Fany Girls | 5 youths busted for violent attack on police box

Five youths including two university students have been arrested for hurling a concrete chunk at a police box in western Tokyo, breaking two windows, and spraying it with a fire extinguisher, police said Wednesday.
The five youths aged between 16 and 19, whose names are being withheld under the Juvenile Law, are accused of violating the Law concerning Punishment of Physical Violence and Others.
They admitted to the allegations during questioning. "It was fun to see police officers get surprised and rush out of the police box," one of them was quoted as telling investigators.
At around 9:35 p.m. on Oct. 15, the five sprayed a fire extinguisher at a police box in Machida and hurled a concrete chunk measuring 20 centimeters by 10 centimeters at the structure, local police said. Two of the windows in the police box, worth 60,000 yen, were broken in the incident. The officer who was in the police box at the time was not injured.
Police are grilling the five over their possible involvement in an incident in which a fire extinguisher was sprayed at a police box in Aoba-ku, Yokohama, in late August.
The group of five comprised two students from Kanagawa University and Tokai University, two high school students and a construction worker.

Miki Komori | Toyota secures Japanese skating queen Miki Ando

Japanese skating queen Miki Ando is to enter auto giant Toyota Motor Corp., company officials have informally decided.
Toyota officials made the announcement on Wednesday. The 17-year-old skater, who is from the Aichi Prefecture city of Nagoya, said she was happy that she would be able to work at a local firm. Toyota's headquarters are located in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.
Ando is a strong candidate for participation in the Torino Winter Olympic Games in February next year. Before the announcement of her entry into Toyota, she had appeared in a television commercial for the automaker as a symbol athlete of the Japan Olympic Committee.
The skater has indicated that she wants to enter Chukyo University and is reportedly considering becoming a student while retaining a position at the firm. She is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio, where she is undergoing Olympic training.
Other athletes belonging to Toyota Motor Corp. include female judoka Ryoko Tani and speed skating short track athlete Satoru Terao.

Ryouka | Love-struck thief wears old school uniform to sneak into girl's classroom

A man who disguised himself in his old school uniform to sneak into a classroom and steal the belongings of a schoolgirl he was smitten with has been arrested, police said.
Yasuo Yamamoto, 24, a vocational college student from Kawasaki, was slapped with a charge of theft after he allegedly stole the girl's notebook and keys and another girl's purse containing 2,100 yen in cash.
Yamamoto admits to the allegations.
"I really liked the schoolgirl and I wanted to find out her name and address," he told the police. "I figured that if I wore my school uniform, nobody at the school would suspect anything."
Police said that on the afternoon of Oct. 29, Yamamoto dressed in school uniform and lay in wait for the schoolgirl he had been smitten with since about June. When she left her classroom to attend a club activity, he snuck in and began looking through her belongings, taking out the notebook and keys.
Police said Yamamoto stole another girl's purse and walked out of the classroom only to be confronted by a teacher who asked him what he was doing there.
Yamamoto, whose uniform closely resembled that used at the school, realized he had been caught out and tried to run away, but was tracked down and later handed over to the police.

Mika Saito | Noh master to perform Shakespeare's Hamlet in English

"Hamlet in Noh Style," a unique play fusing traditional Japanese Noh drama with William Shakespeare's world, will be performed in English by Kuniyoshi Ueda, Professor of Nihon University Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, on Nov. 13 in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Ueda, who also serves as President of the International Society for Harmony and Combination of Cultures (ISHCC), was not as impressed by a Shakespeare play he saw when in college as he was by a Noh play that stirred his soul. Ueda believes the reason was that the Shakespeare play was translated into prose, even though the original was a poetic drama.
Ueda then began to perform Shakespeare's plays in English-language Noh chants, keeping the poetic lines of the originals alive. After coming back from Harvard University, where he studied as a Fulbright fellow from 1973 to 1975, he performed the play "Hamlet in Noh Style" for the first time in Japan in 1981. Since then, Ueda has performed the play at Tokyo's National Noh Theatre and in several different countries.

Kazumi Sanada | Royal Shakespeare Company's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' coming to Tokyo

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), recognized as one of the most prestigious theater companies in the United Kingdom, will present William Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space from Dec. 9 to Dec. 17.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" depicts the adventure of two couples lost in a forest inhabited by mischievous fairies.
Directed by a RSC Associate Director Gregory Doran, the production is currently taking place at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. The theatre has been packed to capacity almost everyday since the production premiered in March.

Chiharu Komatsu | North American papers add Japanese-style comics to attract young readers

Charlie Brown, Garfield and other long-time favorite cartoon stars will soon be sharing space in North American newspapers with doe-eyed women in frilly outfits, effeminate long-haired heroes and cute fuzzy animals.
Come January, "manga" comics -- one of Japan's most successful exports -- will start appearing in the Sunday funnies section in several major papers in the U.S. and Canada.
The reason? Newspaper editors want to attract more young readers. A study released earlier this year by the Carnegie Corporation put the average age of U.S. newspaper readers at 53 and climbing -- hardly a recipe for circulation growth.
"We thought if teens and young kids are reading manga, then why don't we get something in the paper that teens want to read?" said John Glynn, vice president at Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes comics and columns globally to newspapers. "Newspapers are being seen as their parents' medium."
The U.S. newspaper debut is a bit of a landmark for manga _ a product of Japanese pop culture that has never been quite mainstream in the United States, although it's long been a hit with the younger generation that grew up on Pokemon, Hello Kitty and Japanese animation movies -- or "anime" for short.
"This could be something that really explodes," Glynn said in a telephone interview from Kansas City, Missouri. "This is a great way to take a chance and change the landscape and readership of your paper."
Several newspapers that have signed on to carry the two English-language manga strips on Sundays include the Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Vancouver Sun and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Martin Fischhoff, assistant managing editor at The Detroit News, which also plans to carry manga believes it has the potential to be a big hit and draw new readers.

Kimika Yoshino | No double bed of roses for Japan's newlyweds

Despite being at an age when their libidos are running wild, a whopping 70 percent of Japanese couples in their 20s would prefer to have separate bedrooms, according to Shukan Bunshun (11/10).
It's alarming news for a country with a birthrate so low over the past 20 years that couples haven't even been replacing themselves, let alone making enough babies for the population to increase to the levels needed to pay for the drain the growing number of graying Baby Boomers are going to place on the economy when they retire.
Japan's top-selling weekly notes that the shocking discovery that a vast majority of Japanese couples would rather not sleep together was made by the Marketing Division of Matsushita Electric Works Ltd., which has set up a model showroom complete with separate bedrooms for married couples.
"We found in a survey among men and women in their 50s that a large number of them wanted somewhere they could enjoy being alone," Natsuko Fukuda of Matsushita Electric Works tells Shukan Bunshun.
Fukuda says that about 80 percent of 50-somethings who've visited the company's separate bedroom showroom found the concept "appealing."
"The idea of the man ruling the house simply doesn't work in my place anymore," a 58-year-old man tells Shukan Bunshun. "My wife says my snoring is too loud, so she sleeps in the bedroom our son used to use when he lived with us."
A Baby Boomer housewife also agrees that sleeping separately is the way to go for her, even if she can't actually do so, courtesy of living in one of Japan's typically cramped homes.
"Our home is too small to have separate bedrooms, but it's not like I'm sleeping with my husband because I want to," she says.
An architect says it's possible to make separate sleeping quarters even in the smallest of abodes.
"Even if it's impossible to create separate bedrooms, you can always set aside space for a guy to use as a study, then put a sofa in there where he can go to sleep, too," the architect says.
OK, so perhaps it's understandable for older couples to want to be apart. But more than 70 percent of couples in their 20s who have visited the Matsushita Electric Works showroom with separate bedrooms say they want to sleep by themselves, too.
Considering they're supposed to be in their reproductive prime, the positive vibe younger Japanese have about sleeping separately suggests they're bonkers. Or perhaps, entirely the opposite, depending on how you read the term.
Non-fiction writer Megumi Hisada, who extensively covered the lifestyles of Japan's sexagenarians in her book "Shikusutiies no Hibi (Days of the Sixties)," sees the trend as a worry.
"When researching my book, I met many women who wanted to sleep alone. Older men say they see their wives as offering a breath of fresh air, but the women generally find their husbands as a confining presence they'd rather not have around and at least when they're sleeping they want to relax," Hisada tells Shukan Bunshun. "But, it's a bit troublesome to see that 20-somethings are all for the idea of sleeping alone."

Natsuka Shibusawa | Policeman dies after knife attack by unlicensed driver

A policeman died Tuesday evening after being attacked with a knife earlier in the day by an unemployed man who the officer and a colleague were trying to question, Chiba police said.
Takuya Nakamura, from Yachiyo, Chiba Prefecture, was arrested following the vicious attack.
Nakamura, 34, was driving through Narita Airport Tuesday afternoon when officials at a checkpoint routinely asked him to produce his driver's license.
When the airport officials realized he was driving unlicensed, they contacted the police. Nakamura fled the scene in his car at about 2:25 p.m.
Chiba police launched a manhunt for Nakamura and later found him driving in Sakura.
Nakamura reportedly resisted when officers tried to question him.
Nakamura stabbed officer Tadashi Ishizuka, 48, from the Airport Police Station, in the right side of his body with a knife, seriously injuring him. Ishizuka died later in the day.
The other officer, Toshihiro Hayashi, 40, from the Sakura Police Station, escaped with a minor arm injury.

Hiromi Oshima | Jobless man indicted over 2-yen theft from temple offertory box

A jobless man is standing trial on charges of theft after stealing just two yen from an offertory box at a temple here late last month, prosecutors said.
Seiji Kondo, 27, a resident of Hyogo-ku, Kobe, admitted to the allegations during questioning. "I stole money because I had difficulties financing my living expenses," he was quoted as telling investigators. Kondo had earlier been charged with theft.
Although he stole only two yen, police chose to arrest him for fear that he might escape. "Even though it was a small amount of money, it was definitely property. He might have fled unless he had been taken into custody," a police official said.
At around 6 a.m. on Oct. 24, Kondo stole two yen from an offertory box at a temple in Hyogo-ku, Kobe, local police said. A temple employee spotted Kondo shifting the offertory box and alerted police. Officers rushed to the scene and took Kondo into custody.
The box contained only two yen because temple employees had just emptied it.
Temple administrators had installed a surveillance camera on its premises because money was frequently stolen from its four offertory boxes.

Miho Suzuki | Tokyo Medical College doctor busted for stimulants

A Tokyo Medical College doctor has been arrested for possessing stimulants, police said Wednesday.
Rui Matsuoka, 37, a doctor at the college's Hachioji medical center in western Tokyo, is accused of violating the Stimulants Control Law.
Matsuoka was taken into custody on Monday after he was found possessing 0.3 grams of stimulants on a street in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, investigators said.

Kaoru Sakurako | Couple found torched in abandoned crematory

Two badly burned bodies have been found in an incinerator at an abandoned crematory here, police said.
Local police have identified one of them as an 80-year-old man after checking dental records.
They suspect the other body is that of his 82-year-old missing wife, and are trying to confirm her identity. Investigators said that the two committed suicide by torching themselves.
At around 2 p.m. on Monday, a local resident found a car parked near the crematory in the Nanaita district of Ono, with its engine running, and alerted police.
Officers examined the incinerator and found two charred bodies in it. The car belonged to the 80-year-old man who lived near the scene.
Several notes saying, "At around 8 p.m., I left home with my wife." "I waited at the crematory for an hour." "I have prepared charcoal and wood," were found in the vehicle.
Investigators subsequently found a note saying, "I'll ignite at around 12:40 a.m.," in the Nov. 7 section of a diary discovered at the couple's home.
Neighbors said the man was living with his wife and had no children. He was caring for his wife who had been suffering diabetes over several years and had lost the use of her legs. The crematory had closed down about 30 years ago.

Noriko Asou | Court finds woman's molestation accusations mere groping at straws

A man accused of fondling the buttocks of a woman as they brushed by on a pedestrian crossing in Osaka's busy Umeda district has been found not guilty of molestation by the Osaka District Court.
"There is a possibility that the accidental contact may have been mistaken for a grope," Judge Eiichi Miyazaki said as he handed down the ruling.
The man, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy, had mixed feelings about the verdict.
"A 'not guilty' ruling was perfectly natural. I'm just a little upset that the court didn't believe me when I said I never touched her," the man said.
Prosecutors said that the possibility of appeal remains.
"We will consult with higher authorities before deciding the appropriate steps to take," Koji Yoshikawa, a prosecutor at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, said.
Court records showed that the man was arrested and charged with fondling the woman's buttocks after their paths crossed in Umeda at about 9:45 p.m. on June 30, 2003.
At the time of the incident, the woman screamed out and the man ran away. But a male colleague of the woman chased him down. The man, who said he had been startled by the woman's cry, which prompted him to run, denied having ever touched her.
Miyazaki, however, did not recognize the man's claim, but declared him not guilty anyway, noting that there had been differences in the testimony given by the woman and her male colleague that made their case difficult to believe.