Cabinet Secretary: Cabinet should be more like Japan soccer team…

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio thinks that the Kan Cabinet should play better with each other, and suggested that they could take a leaf from the national soccer team who combined to win a record fourth Asian Cup title over the weekend.

“Each player really made the most of what he had and the team’s collective strengths were built on. This cabinet also needs to follow the example and with the collective strengths we must address the crisis facing our country.”

Ozawa Indicted in Political Funds Scandal

Japan Today reported that today Ozawa Ichiro, the DPJ big-wig and several time leader, had been indicted over issues with his political funds body – for which three of his former aides had already been indicted.

I guess the DPJ will be glad that they didn’t elect Ozawa as Prime Minister when they had the chance last September….

Good News: Japan Still Number 2…

According to Japan Today, Japan remains slightly ahead of China, to be the world’s second largest economy, based on economic figures through September this year. According to the Cabinet Office:

Japan’s GDP stood at $3,959.4 billion in the January-September period, slightly above China’s $3,946.8 billion

But who’s counting….

Shofukutei to Take Rakugo to Iraqi Children

According to Japan Today, Japanese Rakugo storyteller Shofukutei Kakusho plans to head to Iraq to entertain the children.

‘‘I cannot get the sad faces of the children I saw on video out of my mind. I want to bring them laughter that can warm their hearts,’’

JAL Receives Approval for Rehabilitation Plan

Yahoo reports that JAL gained approval from the Tokyo district court for its rehabilitation plan to cut jobs, close routes and see debt waived. Major banks and creditors had already approved the plan. This clears the way for some 350 billion yen to be injected into JAL, with a view to improving its financial position and rebuilding the business…

Political Donations Down to Record Low in 2009

Japan Today has a story about reported political funds raised in 2009. Donations were down 1.9% to 19.04 billion yen for the year, a new record low for the second year in a row. Conversely, spending by political parties, groups and individuals was up more than 24% in 2009, because of the general election…

Five Dropped, 196 Added to Official Kanji List

Japan Today reports that the Japanese government have changed its list of common kanji for the first time in 29 years, removing 5 characters and adding 196, to bring the total of common use characters to 2,136… Part of the reason for the added characters was the fact that the use of computers has made it easier to use some characters that were previously considered too cumbersome to write by hand due to the many strokes.

I guess there’s 196 more to learn now….

Kan: 721; Ozawa: 491… Kan Holds on to Prime Ministership

The DPJ leadership vote has just been announced, with Kan winning by more than 200 points, made up of the votes of DPJ members of the Diet and local members. Of Diet members, 206 voted for Kan, and 200 voted for Ozawa. Kan Naoto will remain Prime Minister.

DPJ Leadership/Prime Ministership Ballot Set for This Afternoon

Japan will know later this afternoon whether it will have yet another new Prime Minister, or the same old newish Prime Minister, After PM Kan and challenger Ozawa go head to head in a party vote. Media reports say that the vote is too close to call, with a few dozen of the more than 400 party members set to hold the key as to which man will fall across the line. Japan Today had a short review of the lead-up to the vote today.

If Kan loses the election, Japan would see its sixth prime minister in four years and the third since the DPJ swept to power one year ago

Results are expected around 3:30-4:00PM this afternoon, Japan time.

John J. Wilpers: The Man Who Caught Tojo

The Deseret News online has an interesting story about Bronze Star winner and WWII veteran John J. Wilpers, who is the man that supposedly stopped then Japanese Prime Minister Tojo from committing suicide after Japan surrendered. Wilpers, now 90, had never spoken about these events in detail, saying that he didn’t want the attention.

Kan Calls for Party Unity Ahead of Leadership Vote

Japan Today reports that Prime Minister Kan is calling on his party to unite around the winner of next week’s Democratic Party leadership vote, where the current Prime Minister will be coming up against former leader Ozawa Ichiro.

Kan said on a street in Tokyo’s Yurakucho business district that the DPJ needs to ‘‘work together as a team’’ because party leadership ‘‘cannot be created and asserted by just one politician,’’ alluding to Ozawa’s wheeling-and-dealing style of politics.

Photos: Asakusa

Danny Choo has a great photo essay of Asakusa. Lots of great photos.

WSJ: Kitano Takeshi Most Influential Person in Japan

Bionic Bong highlights a WSJ story which claimed that Kitano (Beat) Takeshi was voted most influential person in Japan in an internet survey. The director and television personality beat out the Prime Minister, and star baseballer Ichiro, who came in at two and three.

Tsuku Blog: Tokyo Fireworks Season Gets Underway

The Tsuku Blog has a great article about the Sumida River fireworks in Tokyo, and the summer fireworks season.

Kan Wants to Slash Diet Numbers

The Japan Times reports on Prime Minister Kan’s plan to cut 80 seats from the Lower House, and 40 seats from the Upper House, as part of a cost cutting effort.

DPJ Presidential Election Set for September 14

Prime Minister Kan Naoto will face his party in their presidential election on September 14, according to a Japan Times report.

On Thursday, Kan voiced his eagerness to stay on as leader of the DPJ at a meeting of its Diet members.

All eyes are on what Ichiro Ozawa, the former secretary general, will do in the leadup to the election.

Ozawa heads the largest intraparty group, known to be critical of the way Kan has run the government.

Video: Tokyo’s Oldest Man Dead for 30 Years

Yahoo have a video report on the Tokyo man that was listed as the oldest in the city, who was found mummified in his home, having died 30 years ago….

China Claims to be World’s 2nd Biggest Economy

CNN Money reports that China now claims to have overtaken Japan as the world’s 2nd biggest economy.

Japan has yet to announce its gross domestic product for the second quarter, however. Many economists also are likely to base official rankings for world economies on annual data. But few doubt that China has already achieved the milestone of becoming the second-largest economy.

In 2009, China’s nominal gross domestic product was worth $4.9 trillion, just 3% smaller than Japan’s at $5.1 trillion.

China’s economy grew at a pace of 11.1% in the first half of the year, Chinese officials said earlier this month, and for the full year, the International Monetary Fund expects the country to post a growth rate of 10.5%.

Yahoo Japan to use Google Search

CNet reports that Yahoo Japan will break away from the US based Yahoo, and will start using Google search instead of Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

New Law for Organ Transplants

Japan Today reports on a new law governing the use of organs from brain-dead donors and children.

The revised Organ Transplant Law came into force Friday midnight to enable organs to be harvested for transplantation from brain-dead people, including children younger than 15 years old, with their family’s consent, even if their intention prior to becoming brain dead remains unclear. The law, which had previously barred the harvesting of organs from brain-dead people younger than 15 years old, was revised in July last year to meet the needs of those requiring transplants.

Before the revision, only people aged 15 or older who expressed their desire to donate organs in writing, along with their family’s consent, could be donors. Under the revised law, organs can even be taken from anyone, even from infants, providing that their families consent, unless they have explicitly refused to donate or have refused to be declared brain dead in the future.

High Speed Narita-Tokyo Rail Route Opens reports on the opening of the Narita Sky Access, which travels at up to 160km/h, and cuts travel time between Nippori in Tokyo and the Narita airport in Chiba to just 36 minutes.

Kan is Japan’s Poorest PM on Record

It’s not time to be handing around the donation plate or anything, but Japan’s new prime minister, Kan Naoto, has disclosed family assets of 22.4 million yen, the lowest figure for any prime minister on record, according to the Japan Times. In comparison, former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio, one of the richest, had some 1.44 billion yen in assets.

30 Million in Tokyo/Kanto Area

Mike’s Blender has a great photo, taken from the top of the Mori Building, showing part of the shear scope of the Kanto area that is home to 30 million people.

Foreign Policy: Can Anyone Govern Japan?

Foreign Policy ask the question on everyone’s lips… After 5 Prime Ministers in as many years, can anyone govern Japan…?

What’s happening to Japan is bigger than Kan the man. After a series of short-lived, ineffectual leaders, many are wondering if the country itself has become, in essence, ungovernable.

Tanaka Yoshikazu: Japan’s Youngest Billionaire

The Gaijinpot Blog reports on Japan’s youngest billionaire.

Yoshikazu Tanaka is CEO of Gree and it’s success has made him Asia’s youngest self-made billionaire. His fortune is a cool $1.6 billion and he has just turned 35.

More Japanese Companies Requiring English

The China Post reports on the growing number of Japanese companies that are requiring English be used for company business.

“It’s about stopping being a Japanese company. We will become a world company,”

Why Is Tech-Superpower Japan so Low-Tech…?

BBC have a story about the low-tech ‘underbelly’ of Japan’s business and public service, an issue that has bemused me for many years.

“Japanese banks, post offices, government offices, all are staffed with three to five times the employees because they must do every process once on paper and then again on computer,” says Taro Hitachi a technical editor and patent reader at Hitachi.

Japan to be Evaluated for 2022 World Cup Bid

Japan Today reports that a FIFA evaluation team will visit Japan later this month to make an evaluation ahead of deciding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup venues later this year. There are eight other countries in the running.

Tokyo Kawaii: Some of the Most Popular Blogs in Japan

Tokyo Kawaii takes a look at several of the blogs that are popular amongst Japanese people, including the obligatory ‘idol’ blogs, the most popular of which are estimated to get as many as 2 million hits a day…

Tofugu: Everything You Need to Know About Bowing in Japan

Tofugu presents a well written piece on the etiquette and meaning of bowing in Japan.

90% of the time (and even more, unless you’re working in business) bows are incredibly casual and small, even getting down to small nods of the head.

Japanese people are so naturally inclined to bow that they often bow on the telephone, too, even though nobody can see them. Usually telephone bows won’t go beyond the “nod-bow” but there are some who are really, really hardcore. Once you’re bowing on the telephone, you’ll know you’ve spent a good amount of time in Japan.

Upper House Election 2010: Justice Minister Loses Seat, will Continue to Serve for now

Amidst the losses for the ruling DPJ on Sunday, Justice Minister Chiba Keiko lost her battle for a seat in her three-seat Kanagawa district, the Japan Times reports. The Japanese constitution allows for some ministers to come from the private sector, as long as the majority are from the Diet. So Chiba will hold on to her Ministry, at least until a likely shake-up after the DPJ leadership vote in a few months…

25 Times more Lawyers in US than Japan

The US may be a famously litigious society, but as Peter Payne points out in his J-List Side Blog, Japan is virtually a world without lawyers, with just one lawyer for every 7,325 people, compared with one in 288 in the US. With lawyers so rare, they enjoy a high status in Japanese society, and with the lawyers on a pedestal, there is much less understanding of the law among the ‘common people’….

Upper House Election 2010: Renho Wins 1.71 Million Votes

Mainichi reports that Government Revitalization Minister Renho, who ran around the country campaigning as one of the faces of the DPJ, won the most votes of anyone in Sunday’s vote, with a record 1.71 million votes in her Tokyo constituency. No other candidate in the nation got more than 1 million votes…

Upper House Election 2010: DPJ Win Just 44/121 Seats, Lose Majority

The governing DPJ won just 44 seats in the Upper House election, 10 less than their stated target. The governing coaltion now have 110 of the 242 seats in the upper house. Gains were made by the LDP, who added 51 seats, and the new ‘Your Party’, who picked up 10 seats.

Upper House Election 2010: Exit Poll – DPJ 48 seats, fail to keep majority

According to exit polls, the government look likely to lose their majority in the Upper house, with gains expected for the LDP and Your Party. The media are already talking about Kan taking responsibility, and the results aren’t even in yet……

World Cup: Paraguay Defeat Japan 5-3 in Penalty Kicks

Komano Yuichi had Japan’s third penalty kick stopped, giving Paraguay a 5-3 victory in the penalty kick-off. Paraguay will now face the winner of the Spain v Portugal match in their first ever World Cup quarter final…

World Cup: Japan v Paraguay, 0-0 after Extra Time, Penalty Kicks to Decide…

No goals, no result after 120 minutes. Match to be decided on penalty kicks…

World Cup: Japan v Paraguay, 0-0 at Full Time, Game Goes to Extra Time

Japan and Paraguay have played out to a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes, and will go into 30 minutes of extra time to try to get a result….

World Cup: Japan v Paraguay, 0-0 at Half Time

Japan managed several strong chances in the first half, but went into half time at 0-0 against the strong South American nation Paraguay. Paraguay controlled more of the ball, but Japan had more shots on goal, in a fairly even first half.

Top Earners Forced to Disclose Incomes

The BBC report on a new regulation in Japan that forces businesses to disclose payouts to anyone earning more than 100 million yen.

“But what’s being revealed is that Japan has few millionaire executives”.

Legal Implications of Surrogacy in Japan

The Japanese Law blog has highlighted a new article about the legalities of surrogacy in Japan, including parentage and citizenship issues.

Japan has not yet regulated assisted reproductive technology by law. This lack of rules and regulations leaves to the courts the solution of numerous controversies, and puts patients in a situation of considerable uncertainty about their rights.

Maehara to Promote Shinkansen Technology in US

The Japan Times reports that Transport Minister Maehara Seiji will be visiting the US to promote Japan’s shinkansen (‘bullet train’) technology.

World Cup Ratings High Despite 3AM Start

Mainichi reported that the TV ratings for the Japan v Denmark World Cup match this morning reached as high as 41.3% shortly before 5AM, around half way through the second half. As the match started, at around 3AM, ratings were around 30.5%, in spite of the earliness of the hour.

Photos: Hiroshima and Surrounds

The Get Hiroshima blog introduces the More Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan blog with photos from places in and around Hiroshima.

Japanese Told to go to Bed Early to Save the Environment…

Just Another Day in Japan blog highlights an article from the Telegraph about a new government campaign to get people to go to bed an hour early and get up an hour later to reduce power consumption and ‘carbon emissions’, thus ‘saving the environment’.

“Many Japanese people waste electric power at night time, for example by watching TV until very late,” a ministry spokesperson told The Daily Telegraph.

“But going to bed early and getting up early can avoid wasting electrical power which causes carbon dioxide emissions. If people change their lifestyle, we can save energy and reduce emissions.”

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and environmentally friendly….

World Cup: Japan Qualify for Next Round with 3-1 Defeat of Denmark!

Okazaki Shinji scored from a Honda pass at the 42 minute mark of the second half, to give Japan a commanding 3-1 win over Denmark. Japan finally found the scoring ability that they will need if they want to move beyond Paraguay, who they will meet in the next round.

World Cup: Japan Lead Denmark 2-0 at Half Time!

In a match where Japan only need to draw in order to move on to the round of 16, they have scored two early goals to lead Denmark 2-0 at half time. Both goals came from direct free kicks, from Honda Keisuke at the 17 minute mark, and then from Endo Yasuhito at the 30 minute mark. They now need only keep Denmark to two goals or less in the second half to advance….

Tobias Harris: The Meaning of the Upper House Election

Tobias Harris has an article today discussing the meaning of the up-coming Upper House election.

The significance of this election has been thrown into clear relief since Kan Naoto took over from Hatoyama Yukio as prime minister and head of the DPJ. What once looked to be a referendum on the leadership of Hatoyama and DPJ secretary-general Ozawa Ichirō — a referendum that polls suggested that the DPJ would not win — is now an election on the future of Japan…

iPhone4 Arrives in Japan

The latest model of the iPhone was released in Japan today, with people queuing up at major Softbank stores around the country. Apple is struggling to keep up with worldwide orders for the new phone, with sale timetables to some countries such as Australia and Canada already pushed back and still unclear. Softbank’s main store ran out of phones by early afternoon today…

Finance Minister Wants ‘Rich Tax’

New Finance Minister, Noda Yoshihiko says that higher income earners should pay more taxes, according to reports.

“I believe we are at a stage where a little bit of egalitarian thinking should guide our tax policy,” Yoshihiko Noda told The Wall Street Journal.

“In that sense, our tax reform will be designed with an eye toward restoring its income-redistribution function,” he added.