Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor, Asia, Tokyo
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Feb 27, 2015

Olympics-Tokyo 2020 planners issue playbook, but venues still undecided

TOKYO, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Planners for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics issued their playbook for organising the sports extravaganza on Friday, but there was no final decision on venues amid growing pressure to keep swelling costs down.

Rising labour and construction costs have forced Tokyo to rethink its plans for 10 venues it intended to build for the Games, contravening its promise that the vast majority of events would take place within 8 km (5 miles) of the Olympic village – one of the key points in its successful hosting bid.

Feb 13, 2015

Japan PM ex-adviser praises apartheid in embarrassment for Abe

TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters) – A former adviser to Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe has praised apartheid as a model for how Japan could
expand immigration, prompting the government’s top spokesman on
Friday to emphasise that Japan’s immigration policy was based on
equality.

Author Ayako Sono, considered part of Abe’s informal brain
trust, set off a wave of online fury this week when she wrote in
the conservative Sankei newspaper that South Africa’s former
policies of racial separation had been good for whites, Asians
and Africans.

Feb 5, 2015

Sprinting for security: spycam-wearing police to run in Tokyo marathon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Mingling with more than 30,000 runners at this month’s Tokyo Marathon will be a small, elite crew of police runners equipped with cameras capturing real-time footage of the course.

Japan is stepping up security measures after Islamic State militants in the Middle East said they had beheaded two Japanese hostages, sparking fears of Islamist-linked attacks at home.

Feb 5, 2015

New sports for Tokyo Games to be decided in 2016, says IOC

TOKYO (Reuters) – The decision on which and how many new sports will be added to the slate for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will be determined next year, just before the start of the Rio Games, IOC Vice President John Coates said on Thursday.

Programme changes approved by the IOC late last year allow it to bring in more sports and cut some events as it works to keep the Olympics relevant to spectators and sponsors, with baseball and softball — out of the Games since Beijing in 2008 — believed to be prime contenders.

Feb 1, 2015

Battle for Okinawa: Islanders face off with Tokyo over bases

NAGO, Japan, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Japan’s Okinawa, a chain of
tropical islands more than three hours southwest of Tokyo by
plane, looks and feels almost like a different country. A
growing number of islanders say it should be just that.

Perennial anger over Okinawa’s hosting of tens of thousands
of U.S. troops has flared to a new level after the election of
an anti-base governor and lawmakers late last year – victories
that have been all but ignored by those in power in Tokyo.

Jan 30, 2015

Japan, Jordan working closely on fate of captive Japanese journalist

AMMAN/TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan was working closely with Jordan on Friday to find out what was happening to a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants after a deadline passed for the release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber on death-row in Jordan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto.

Jan 28, 2015

New video of Islamic State captive Goto “despicable”, says Japan PM

TOKYO, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
on Wednesday termed as “despicable” a new video appearing to
show Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is being held by
Islamic State militants, saying he could be killed in 24 hours.

“The video is despicable and I feel strong anger,” Abe told
reporters. Earlier, at the start of a meeting of cabinet
ministers, he reiterated that Japan was calling on Jordan to
cooperate in working for Goto’s quick release.

Jan 23, 2015

Islamic State deadline on Japanese captives passes with no word on fate

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan said on Friday it was still trying to secure the release of two Japanese hostages held by Islamic State militants after a deadline to pay ransom for their release passed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the situation remained “severe” while the mother of one of the hostages, a journalist, appealed for his safe release.

Jan 6, 2015

Who am I? What is life? Author Haruki Murakami to the rescue

TOKYO (Reuters) – Worried about your future, the meaning of life or the realness of unreal things? Ask Japanese author Haruki Murakami for enlightenment – or as much as a surrealist can give.

Though a perennial favorite for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Murakami is so notoriously reclusive that nobody knows for sure where in the world he lives, and he has joked about biting fans who get too close.

Dec 24, 2014

Japan PM set to launch new government, defence minister may rile China

TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe’s cabinet resigned on Wednesday, setting the stage for him
to launch a new government with a defence minister whose support
for Japan having a stronger pre-emptive strike capability could
rile China.

Abe has brushed aside suggestions that a record-low election
turnout 10 days ago has devauled his victory and vowed to press
ahead with his “Abenomics” economic policies and pursue his goal
of a more assertive security stance.