Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor, Asia, Tokyo
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Apr 17, 2014

Japan considers curtailing whale hunt further – media

TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) – Japan is considering scrapping a
Northwest Pacific whale hunt just days before the fleet’s
planned departure, media said on Thursday, as the government
grapples with its response to an international court ruling
against its main whale hunt.

In a blow to Tokyo’s decades-old and disputed “scientific
whaling” programme, the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
last month ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern
Ocean, prompting Japan to cancel its 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt,
the programme’s mainstay, as it pledged to abide by the ruling.

Apr 9, 2014

Japanese researcher stands by her disputed stem cell discovery

TOKYO (Reuters) – Fighting back tears, a Japanese researcher under fire for fabricating parts of scientific papers hailed as breakthroughs in stem cell research said on Wednesday she stood by her discovery and hoped it could still help the world.

The papers published by Haruko Obokata in the scientific journal Nature in January detailed simple ways to reprogram mature animal cells back to an embryonic-like state, allowing them to generate many types of tissues – offering hope for a way of replacing damaged cells or growing new organs in humans.

Apr 8, 2014

Japan, fresh from Australia pact, says U.S. trade talks ‘difficult’

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan, fresh from clinching a trade deal with Australia, said on Tuesday it hoped for a similar result in negotiations with the United States and also for a broad regional trade pact, but said the talks would be difficult.

Japan and the United States are pushing for a two-way trade deal, a crucial part of a broad U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan this month.

Apr 1, 2014

Japan may suggest smaller whale catch after ICJ blow

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan could try to rescue its Antarctic whaling program by sharply reducing catch quotas after the highest U.N. court ordered a halt, rejecting Tokyo’s argument that the catch was for scientific purposes and not mainly for human consumption.

The judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was a blow to Japan’s decades-old “scientific whaling” program, although Tokyo, which said it would abide by the ruling, might be able to resume Antarctic whaling if it devises a new, more persuasive program that requires killing whales.

Mar 24, 2014

Japan should press ‘changing’ North Korea to find closure over abductees

TOKYO (Reuters) – The ageing parents of a 13-year-old Japanese girl abducted nearly 40 years ago by North Korea urged their government on Monday to heed signs of change in Pyongyang in order to find out what happened to their daughter.

Japan and North Korea are set to resume high-level talks next week over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the fate of Japanese abducted decades ago to help train spies, after a hiatus of more than a year.

Mar 20, 2014

A Minute With: John Caird melds Ugandan dance, Japanese drums, U.S. chorus

TOKYO (Reuters) – Samurai, Ugandan dance, a U.S. chorus and the thunder of traditional Japanese taiko drums mix and meld in a cross-cultural charity collaboration to raise money for orphans around the world.

“At Home in the World”, performed by Ugandan youth whose parents died from HIV/AIDS and Japanese young people who lost loved ones in the 2011 tsunami, as well as a chorus from Vassar College in the United States, is directed by award-winning Briton John Caird and was playing in Tokyo on Thursday.

Mar 20, 2014

Book Talk: Debut novelist scores with Japan-set crime thriller

TOKYO (Reuters) – Barry Lancet had long wanted to write a novel. But with a full-time job, a commute and young children, time was nearly impossible to find – until he learned, among other things, to write on a clipboard standing up on his daily train ride.

Though not without mishaps, such as nearly falling into people’s laps as the train jolted or dropping a pen that marked another rider’s shirt, his perseverance paid off with the crime thriller “Japantown” that starts in San Francisco and then moves to Japan.

Mar 9, 2014

The children of Japan’s Fukushima battle an invisible enemy

KORIYAMA, Japan, March 10 (Reuters) – Some of the smallest
children in Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima
nuclear plant, barely know what it’s like to play outside –
fear of radiation has kept them in doors for much of their short
lives.

Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set
after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant
in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained
habit mean many children still stay inside.

Mar 7, 2014

‘Beethoven of Japan’ apologizes for ‘causing trouble with my lies’

TOKYO (Reuters) – A composer once known as the “Beethoven of Japan” said on Friday that tests had shown he was not legally deaf and apologized to people throughout the country for lying by using a ghost writer for his popular symphonies and other music.

Mamoru Sakuragochi, a classical musician who became known as an inspirational genius for composing music despite losing his hearing, bowed deeply before a packed news conference, his first public appearance since the scandal broke last month.

Mar 5, 2014

Japanese film “Homeland” tiptoes into Fukushima nuclear debate

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese farming family is forced from their home by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, living in cramped temporary housing under stress as they wait for permission to return to land worked by their ancestors for generations.

That is the all-too-real backdrop of “Homeland”, the first Japanese mass-market film set in Fukushima since the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years made the area’s name infamous.