Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor, Asia, Tokyo
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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.

Mar 3, 2014

Japanese lawmakers call for revision of wartime brothel apology

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nationalist Japanese politicians urged the government on Monday to revise a 1993 apology over Asian women forced to serve in wartime brothels, saying accounts that tens of thousands of women were forcibly recruited were a “total lie”.

Any revision to the landmark apology by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono would enrage Japan’s neighbors, China and South Korea, from where most of the “comfort women” were drawn. Both accuse Japan of failing to atone fully for aggression before and during World War Two.

Feb 27, 2014

Japan Red Cross says plans talks for return of remains from North Korea

TOKYO (Reuters) – Officials from the Japanese and North Korean affiliates of the Red Cross will hold talks next week on the return of the remains of Japanese nationals from North Korea, a Japanese Red Cross official said on Thursday.

The move raises the possibility of the first talks between the two nations since late in 2012 and comes soon after a U.N. human rights report highlighted the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang decades ago.

Feb 25, 2014

Japan’s Asada wavering on retirement from competition

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese figure skater Mao Asada, who rebounded from a disastrous short program at the Sochi Olympics to gain the best score of her career in the free skate, is now wavering on whether to retire from competition.

Asada, who had been expected to be a top prospect for gold at Sochi, tumbled to 16th in the short program after falling and an overall lackluster performance.

Feb 25, 2014

Olympics-Japan’s Asada wavering on retirement from competition

TOKYO, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Japanese figure skater Mao Asada, who rebounded from a disastrous short programme at the Sochi Olympics to gain the best score of her career in the free skate, is now wavering on whether to retire from competition.

Asada, who had been expected to be a top prospect for gold at Sochi, tumbled to 16th in the short programme after falling and an overall lacklustre performance.

Feb 21, 2014

Japan to review testimony of women who served in wartime brothels

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will review the testimony of South Korean women who served in wartime brothels, a senior official said on Friday, but he gave no indication whether Tokyo might water down a 1993 apology on the issue that has long caused friction with its neighbors.

The possibility of a revision to the landmark apology, known as the Kono Statement, drew outrage from South Korea and China, from where many of the “comfort women” – as the women who served in the brothels are known in Japan – were recruited.

Feb 20, 2014

Aides give Japan’s Abe a headache on history, U.S. alliance

TOKYO (Reuters) – Remarks by aides to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about U.S.-Japan ties and the wartime past are giving the Japanese leader a political headache as he seeks to soothe strains with key ally Washington amid rising regional tensions.

Investors have begun to worry that Abe, who took office in December 2012 pledging to revive the economy, is shifting more attention to his conservative agenda to bolster Japan’s military and recast history with a less apologetic tone.

Feb 18, 2014

Second Japan snow storm leaves thousands stranded as toll rises to 23

TOKYO (Reuters) – Snow-choked roads cut off thousands on Tuesday as parts of Japan struggled to dig out from its second storm in a week, with the death toll rising to at least 23.

Train services were suspended in some areas after the Valentine’s Day storm dumped more than a meter of snow in parts of central Japan and blanketed the capital with record snow for the second weekend in a row, snarling airline traffic and slowing production at some Japanese automakers.

Feb 17, 2014

Wings of Fire, King of Ice: Japan cheers its medalists

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese newspapers ran exultant banner headlines and television stations had blanket coverage on Monday to celebrate the nation’s second Olympic medalist in as many days after Noriaki Kasai took silver in the ski jump at the age of 41.

Both Kasai and gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu set Olympic precedents – Kasai becoming the oldest ski jump medal winner and Hanyu, 19, becoming the first Asian man to take gold in figure skating.