Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

from Russell Boyce:

The politics of bowing in Japan – How low do you go?

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By Michael Caronna, Chief Photographer Japan

In Japan nothing says I'm sorry like a nice, deep bow, and lately there's been a whole lot to be sorry for. Ideally the depth of the bow should match the level of regret, allowing observers to make judgements about how sincere the apology really is. Facing massive recalls Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Toyota Motor Corp's managing director Yuji Yokoyama faced journalists at separate news conferences.

TOYOTA/

Toyota Motor Corp's managing director Yuji Yokoyama (R) bows after submitting a document of a recall to an official of the Transport Ministry Ryuji Masuno (2nd R) at the Transport Ministry in Tokyo February 9, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp is recalling nearly half a million of its flagship Prius and other hybrid cars for braking problems, a third major recall since September and a further blow to the reputation of the world's largest automaker.      REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOYOTA/

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda bows at the start of a news conference in Nagoya, central Japan February 5, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp President Toyoda apologised on Friday for a massive global recall that has tarnished the reputation of the world's largest car maker. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOYOTA/

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) and Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki (2nd L) attend a news conference in Nagoya, central Japan February 5, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp President Toyoda apologised on Friday for a massive global recall that has tarnished the reputation of the world's largest car maker. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

High town, low town

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The modernity as well as the occasional indifference to change in Japan bookmarked my week, with both moments anchored in the countryside about one hour from Tokyo.

On Monday in a rice field converted into a school parking lot, a 6-year-old, Boston Red Sox cap-wearing Japanese youngster stormed my way. We had chatted in the past, although our last conversation consisted of “Chase me!”

Call me “Crasher”

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MOTORCYCLING-PRIX/MOTOGP

My nickname among the Reuters photographers in Tokyo is “Crasher”.

They call me that because I always seem to get pictures right at the moment of a crash whenever I cover motorsports.

One colleague sometimes teases me saying “You’ve got to stop pouring oil on the track,” and I answer: ”I would never use oil — I only use banana skins!”

Tokyo lights go out

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Tokyo’s failure to win the 2016 Olympic bid triggered bemused shrugs and a rush for the exits at Tokyo Tower when the result was announced well past midnight on Saturday morning. In truth, no one at the bid party in the Tower seemed to really expect Tokyo to win.

Drummers drummed, cheerleaders rustled pom-poms and a seeming endless string of noisy TV celebrities took turns at the microphone to drum up some Olympic fever among the 400-plus partygoers.

Apocalypse Edo, 2016

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After watching Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, and not always holding my tongue at the ancient city of Edo’s quest, the moment of futility in the 18-month, $50 million campaign became apparent after this headline: Olympics-2016 Games could be the last, says Tokyo governor.

Imagine the PR team behind always quotable Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, as the Japanese bid fell behind in the race according to bookmakers, suggesting he make one last plea to the IOC: With global demise coming, Tokyo deserves a final shot at Olympic hurrah.OLYMPICS/

Countdown to 2016 Gold

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DENMARK/The delegations and heads of state are gathering in Copenhagen with less than one week to go until the International Olympic Committee’s decision on which city will host the 2016 Games.

Billions of dollars in investment and national pride are at stake. Oddsmakers are pegging a close race ahead of the Oct. 2 vote, and we are adding a new question to our poll on candidate cities (included below).

Homeless on rise in post-Lehman Japan

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JAPAN

A year has passed since U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers was forced into bankruptcy, sending out shockwaves that brought the global financial market to its knees.

And just who did those waves batter the most?

Well, in Japan, poverty activists and NPOs have told me the real victims of the Lehman Shock are the laid-off factory workers who were forced out of company housing and onto the streets, creating a new breed of homeless.

The 2016 Gold

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OLYMPICS/OPENING

Less than a month until the International Olympic Committee’s selection of the winning city in the 2016 Olympic bid campaign, and the IOC in a report Wednesday has the candidates in a dead heat.

All bid cities — Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo — will make a push before the Oct. 2 decision in Copenhagen, with billions of dollars in investment and national prestige at stake. 

High-flying in Tokyo

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Are you are a frequent flyer to Japan looking for a faster, more luxurious way to get to Tokyo from the airport? Hiring a Hermes helicopter may be the ticket for you.

When I travel overseas, the trip usually begins or ends with a bus ride, costing 2,900 yen ($27) to get to Narita International Airport. But for business executives flying across the world to sign multi-million dollar deals, a 75,000 yen ($720) helicopter ride may be an option worth considering.

from Left field:

Boyz II Men risk a Barack-ing over Tokyo Olympic support

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boyzAsk not what you can do for your country ... ask its direct competitor if it wants any help with its Olympic bid.

Tokyo's 2016 campaign has been short on glamour backers and is struggling to match Chicago's trump card, American President Barack Obama - until now.

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