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US: Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit looks at Japan's fine craft of bamboo basketry
12 July 2017 - Bamboo is getting attention these days as a versatile and sustainable material for housewares, so the timing is good for a Metropolitan Museum of Art [in New York City] exhibit that explores Japan's ancient craft of basketry. 'Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection' is devoted to masterworks, including a half dozen works by two artists designated as Living National Treasures in Japan. To highlight the works' virtuosity and context, they have been displayed alongside paintings, ceramics, bronzes, kimonos, and other pieces from different genres. (more)

Japanese interactive art exhibition dazzles Beijing, China
24 May 2017 - A new digital interactive exhibition in Beijing allows visitors to create their own art and see it immediately reflected in the work being displayed around them. The project, 'Living Digital Forest and Future Park', is the first to be opened in China by the Japanese art collective teamLab. The Beijing exhibition includes a digital garden of floating flowers and forest animals, and a crystal universe of light sculptures. (more)

Japan January flash manufacturing PMI shows fastest expansion in almost three years
23 January 2017 - Japanese manufacturing activity expanded in January at the fastest pace in almost three years as export orders surged, suggesting that overseas demand is not as weak as some economists and business leaders had feared. The flash index for new orders, which measures both domestic and external demand, rose to the highest in 13 months. The flash PMI index offers evidence that global trade is picking up, which is a benefit for Japan's export-focused economy. (more)

Japanese throng shrines to pray for profitable 2017
4 January 2017 - Thousands packed a 1,300-year-old Shinto shrine in downtown Tokyo on Wednesday (4 January), the first official working day of 2017 in Japan, to pray for good luck and economic success in the new year. Investors did their part to kick off the year on a positive note, sending the Nikkei 225 index .N225 soaring 2.5 percent to its highest in 13 months. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was greeted by [joyful] crowds as he visited the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest site in Japan's Shinto religion, near where Group of Seven leaders met last year for a summit. In downtown Tokyo, the Kanda Shrine was packed -- typical of many shrines and Buddhist temples over New Years. 'I'd like to do my best as company president and I prayed for my employees' health,' said businessman Yoshimichi Morishita. (more)

Toyota chief shifts gear, to boost electric vehicle division
30 November 2016 - Toyota Motor Corp on Wednesday appointed its president to lead their newly formed electric car division, flagging its commitment to develop a technology that the automaker has been slow to embrace. The change comes as the United States, China, and European countries are encouraging automakers to make more all-electric battery cars as they push alternative energy strategies. (more)

Japan's economy grows 2.2 percent year-on-year in last quarter
14 November 2016 - Stronger exports and housing investment helped Japan's economy grow at a 2.2 percent annualized pace in the July-September quarter, better than many analysts had anticipated, according to a report released Monday, 14 November. (more)

Japan ratifies Paris Agreement after the pact enters into force
8 November 2016 - Japan on Tuesday (8 November) ratified the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement to cut emissions and prevent climate change, four days after the global pact officially entered into force. The agreement seeks to wean the world economy off fossil fuels in the second half of the century, limiting the rise in average world temperatures to 'well below' 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial times. Negotiations on the finer details of the agreement were set to formally begin during the COP-22 meeting in Morocco that started on Monday. Representatives from nearly 200 countries convened in Marrakesh, Morocco for two weeks to discuss the nuts and bolts of the Paris accord and the policies, technology, and finance needed to ensure the Paris goals are achieved. (more)

Toyota, in about-face, may mass-produce long-range electric cars: Nikkei
7 November 2016 - Toyota Motor Corpis looking at mass-producing long-range electric vehicles (EVs) that would hit the market around 2020, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday, in what would be a dramatic reversal of strategy for the world's top-selling automaker. (more)

Japan's big manufacturers turn optimistic in a sign economy picking up
12 September 2016 - Big Japanese manufacturers turned optimistic about business conditions in the third quarter and companies revised up their capital expenditure plans, a government survey showed on Tuesday, in a sign the economy is gaining momentum. 'Capital expenditure is holding up and consumer spending is starting to recover,' said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. (more)

China, Japan seek better ties even as they remain apart on isles
5 September 2016 - China and Japan agreed on Monday to improve relations but still lectured each other over maritime rows that remains a recurrent flashpoint. Ties between the two countries, which have Asia's largest economies, have long been overshadowed by arguments over their painful wartime history and a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Japan: National Transcendental Meditation facility features Maharishi Vastu design
28 March 2015 - The national headquarters of the Transcendental Meditation organization in Japan, the Maharishi Institute of Total Education, is located in Nasu, approximately one and a half hours north of Tokyo. It is not only an organizational headquarters but offers many residential courses to those already practising Transcendental Meditation, as well as the opportunity to learn TM in this serene setting. The largest wood structure in all of Japan, 4,800 sm (51,500 sf), with a striking copper roof, it is a wonderful example of the use of natural materials--a key element in Maharishi Vastu construction, according to a recent newsletter featuring Maharishi Vastu architecture and design in Japan. (more)

Japan: Maharishi Vastu homes designed to connect individual and cosmic life
24 March 2015 - The second of three Vastu buildings in Japan featured in the current Maharishi Vastu newsletter was completed in the autumn of 2014. It is the most recent of several private homes in Ryugasaki, northeast of Tokyo, that have been designed and built according to Maharishi Vastu architecture. Like another Vastu home in the area, it features lovely wood interiors, traditional Japanese features, and an abundance of natural light on both levels. (more)

Japan: Homes combine traditional Japanese elements with benefits of Maharishi Vastu architecture
1 March 2015 - The first of three Vastu buildings in Japan featured in the current Maharishi Vastu newsletter was built in 2008. It is one of several private homes in Ryugasaki, northeast of Tokyo, that have been designed and built according to Maharishi Vastu architecture. (more)

Three examples of Maharishi Vastu architecture in Japan
15 February 2015 - This month's Maharishi Vastu newsletter reports on three 'especially striking buildings' in Japan that have been designed according to Maharishi Vastu architecture. Two are private homes built in Ryugasaki, northeast of Tokyo and the other is the national headquarters for the Transcendental Meditation organization. All are 'excellent examples of how Maharishi Vastu architecture can incorporate any local traditions of design' while creating beneficial effects for their owners. (more)

Japan: Maharishi University of Management hosts large delegation from Tokyo
2 June 2014 - Maharishi University of Management graduates Naoki Mizutani and his wife Yoko, who are directors of the Akasaka Transcendental Meditation Centre near Tokyo, recently brought a delegation of 29 Japanese practitioners of Transcendental Meditation to Fairfield, Iowa, USA for a weeklong tour of the MUM campus. The group visited many departments and heard presentations from faculty members. By the end of the week, the group was transformed. 'Everyone is still talking about what a great time they had in Fairfield and how inspired they all felt to see so many bright and blissful children, students, staff, and faculty, and the whole creative community,' said Mr Mizutani. (more)

Be-Japan: Corporate development with a helping hand
18 July 2013 - Be-Japan is a corporate development company established three years ago in Japan, to bring the Transcendental Meditation programme to business leaders and people in organizations throughout the country. After the devasting earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, Mr Kawai Yuji, CEO of Be-Japan, traveled to the damaged area and, together with his wife, taught Transcendental Meditation to 250 people. At a recent conference in the Netherlands, Mr Kawai reported that research conducted on a large group of refugees who learned the technique showed a dramatic reduction of all stress factors. (more)

Japan: Maharishi Ayur-Veda health expert gives hundreds of consultations
18 July 2013 - Dr Manohar Palakurthi, a leading Ayurvedic physician from India and now the permanent Maharishi Ayur-Veda expert for Japan, toured the country this year giving courses, seminars, and consultations. About 350 people had Maharishi Ayur-Veda consultations, and 90 attended a one-day seminar in this field of natural health care in Tokyo. (more)

In post-disaster Japan, citizens look for charitable ways to help and heal
14 July 2012 - One of the charitable programmes undertaken by teachers of Transcendental Meditation (TM) in Japan is a relief programme that teaches refugees from last year's nuclear disaster the stress-reducing meditation technique. The programme has been seeing significant results. 'Two hundred and fifty refugees have learned Transcendental Meditation recently with significant results,' said a TM teacher involved in the project. 'A local scientist measuring psychological and physiological response to TM measured a 45% reduction in anxiety after only one week of the refugees practising.' (more)

Japan well underway on the path to recovery: Transcendental Meditation contributes to rising coherence
14 July 2012 - Japan is the safest nation in the world, with fewer crimes than any other nation. It's the healthiest nation in the world, with the longest lifespan, and the third most significant nation in innovation and technology. Japan is also the world's third largest economy behind the United States and China, and the fifth most peaceful nation in the world. Although recovery from last year's earthquake is still in progress, these statistics bode well for Japan's future, commented a Transcendental Meditation teacher recently, going on to describe how Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's technologies of consciousness can bring invincible peace, progress, and prosperity to the country, ensuring a strong, disaster-free future. (more)

Japan: In recent months, 50% more people learn Transcendental Meditation
14 July 2012 - The number of people learning Transcendental Meditation in Japan has increased by 50% in the last few months. Wada Takao Sensei, a Transcendental Meditation teacher and president of Maharishi Institute of Total Education, attributes this rapid increase to the launching of a new website for Japan, modeled after the United States' www.TM.org website. The Japanese site also has a page on Facebook and a blog. (more)


Flops
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Thousands of Fukushima evacuees face hardship as subsidies to be slashed
17 January 2017 - Nearly six years after Noriko Matsumoto and her children fled Japan's Fukushima region, fearing for their health after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, they confront a new potential hardship -- the slashing of vital housing subsidies. Matsumoto is among nearly 27,000 people who left areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones, spooked by high levels of radiation after nuclear meltdowns unleashed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Now, as the Fukushima local government prepares to slash unconditional housing assistance on March 31, many face the painful choice of returning to areas they still fear are unsafe, or reconciling to financial hardship . . . (more)

Japan: Woman breaks silence among Fukushima thyroid cancer patients
7 June 2016 - She's 21, has thyroid cancer, and wants people in her prefecture in northeastern Japan to get screened for it. That statement might not seem provocative, but her prefecture is Fukushima, and of the 173 young people with confirmed or suspected cases since the 2011 nuclear meltdowns there, she is the first to speak out. That near-silence highlights the fear Fukushima thyroid-cancer patients have about being the 'nail that sticks out,' and thus gets hammered. The thyroid-cancer rate in the northern Japanese prefecture is many times higher than what is generally found, particularly among children, but the Japanese government says more cases are popping up because of rigorous screening, not the radiation that spewed from Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. (more)

AP Interview: Fukushima plant's new ice wall not watertight
28 April 2016 - Coping with the vast amounts of ground water flowing into the broken Fukushima nuclear plant -- which then becomes radiated and seeps back out -- has become such a problem that Japan is building a 35 billion yen ($312 million) 'ice wall' into the earth around it. But even if the frozen barrier built with taxpayers' money works as envisioned, it won't completely block all water from reaching the damaged reactors because of gaps in the wall and rainfall, creating as much as 50 tons of contaminated water each day, said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect of the massive project. (more)

Death by overwork on rise among Japan's vulnerable workers
19 April 2016 - Japan is witnessing a record number of compensation claims related to death from overwork, or 'karoshi', a phenomenon previously associated with the long-suffering 'salary man' that is increasingly afflicting young and female employees. Japan has no legal limits on working hours, but the labor ministry recognizes two types of karoshi: death from cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following work-related mental stress. Work-related suicides are up 45 percent in the past four years among those 29 and younger, and up 39 percent among women, labor ministry data show. (more)

Researcher: Children's cancer linked to Fukushima radiation
8 October 2015 - A new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government's position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring. 'This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected,' lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press during a visit to Tokyo. Making sense of the relationship between radiation and cancer is precarious: It's scientifically impossible to link an individual cancer case to radiation. (more)

Thyroid cancer diagnosed in 104 young people in Fukushima
24 August 2014 - The number of young people in Fukushima Prefecture who have been diagnosed with definitive or suspected thyroid gland cancer, a disease often caused by radiation exposure, now totals 104, according to prefectural officials. The 104 are among 300,000 young people who were aged 18 or under at the time of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and whose results of thyroid gland tests have been made available as of 30 June. They were eligible for the tests administered by the prefectural government. The average age of those diagnosed was 14.8 when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. The figure can be extrapolated for comparison purposes to an average of more than 30 people per population of 100,000 having definitive or suspected thyroid gland cancer. The figure is much higher than, for example, the development rate of thyroid cancer of 1.7 people per 100,000 among late teens based on the cancer patients' registration in Miyagi Prefecture. (more)

Scientists report genetic abnormalities in birds, insects, plants near Fukushima
23 August 2014 - Fukushima's nuclear disaster has caused genetic damage, a decline in the population and other changes to non-human organisms from plants to butterflies to birds in the area, US and Japanese scientists say. In a series of articles published in the latest of US science magazine Journal of Heredity, researches revealed the widespread impact of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on biological organisms in the region. 'A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,' stated Dr. Timothy Mousseau, of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies. Scientists of all the studies agreed that chronic low-dose exposure to ionizing radiation leads to genetic damage and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells. The findings raise fears over the long-term effects of radiation on people who faced exposure in the days and weeks following the disaster. (more)

Experts question Fukushima thyroid screening
31 July 2014 - More than three years after the triple core meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture devastated the lives of thousands of residents, the effect that the radiation release is having on children's thyroid glands still weighs heavily on residents' minds. The iodine-131 released into the air by the meltdowns accumulates in the thyroid gland, increasing the risk of thyroid cancer. Children are considered especially vulnerable. The Fukushima Prefectural Government in October 2011 started offering free thyroid screenings for everyone who was 18 or younger at the time of the disaster. But the program has drawn flak from medical experts. At the core of the criticism is the prefectural government's policy of not releasing data on the results of the checkups, such as what stage of cancer the examinees are in. This lack of disclosure has made it hard for experts to accurately judge whether the abnormally high incidence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima is being caused the nuclear debacle or the higher screening rate. In addition, the prefecture has no authority to follow up on children who test positive for cancer. (more)

Future grows darker for solar energy growth in Japan
29 July 2014 - On the second anniversary of a scheme aimed at boosting Japan's renewable energy after the Fukushima crisis, its powerful industry ministry is taking steps critics say will choke off solar investment and pave the way for a return to nuclear power. Japan's ambitious plans for solar in the past two years -- if they were to come on stream -- could allow the country to surpass Germany as the world's biggest consumer of solar power. But the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has cut tariffs for solar power by a fifth in the two years and has imposed time limits on installations, arguing solar costs have fallen and projects are running late, with only 13 per cent of approved projects actually installed and operating. Solar industry participants say METI's actions mean it does not make commercial sense to invest in the renewables sector. 'I really can't understand what METI is up to. It certainly appears they are trying to kill or at least severely curtail solar development,' said Seth Sulkin, President and CEO of Pacifica Capital KK, a Tokyo-based solar power and commercial real estate developer. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has abandoned the previous ruling party's nuclear free policy and is now at the forefront of calls to restart the country's 48 nuclear power plants shut after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. (more)

Japanese monkeys' abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster: Study
24 July 2014 - Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health. The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases. White blood cell counts were lowest for immature monkeys with the highest caesium concentrations, suggesting younger monkeys may be more vulnerable to radioactive contamination. Professor Shin-ichi Hayama, at the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo noted: 'Abnormalities such as a decreased blood cell count in people living in contaminated areas have been reported from Chernobyl as a long-term effect of low-dose radiation exposure.' But other blood measures did not correlate with caesium levels, which vary with the seasons. Engineers at Fukushima are currently working to contain thousands of tonnes of irradiated water groundwater by next March by surrounding the four damaged reactors by an underground frozen wall. (more)

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