Japan

Sports • Soccer
Soccer: Kazuyoshi Miura to play on at 54 after signing an extension with Yokohama FC
Kazuyoshi Miura in 2012
Kazuyoshi Miura in 2012 Credit: norio nakayama (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Japanese soccer legend Kazuyoshi Miura is set to play another season after extending his contract with Yokohama FC. Miura will be aged 54 when the season starts.

The striker is one of the most revered sportsmen in Japan and was at the forefront of the country's football boom in the early 1990s when he was the poster boy of the newly launched league in 1993.

The Guinness World Record for the oldest professional footballer is held by Israeli Isaak Hayik, who played in goal last April for Israel's Ironi Or Yehuda, aged 73.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Tokyo: State of emergency declared issued amid Coronavirus surge

Japan has issued a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding areas - Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. Schools, gyms, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to remain open under certain restrictions. Restaurants will have to shorten their opening hours or be "named and shamed" by the government. The state of emergency will end of February 7th.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan considers 1-month long state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan is considering declaring a state of emergency as numbers of Coronavirus cases rise. It would apply to Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa. In his new year's speech, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga already hinted at measures to keep the virus from spreading. Japan reported 4520 new cases on December 31st and 3158 on January 3rd.

Science • Space
To cut space junk, Japan is developing LignoSat, a wooden satellite
To cut space junk, Japan is developing LignoSat, a wooden satellite

The Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry and the Kyoto University have joined forces to develop what they hope will be the world's first satellites made out of wood by 2023.

As space junk becomes an increasing problem, wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth.

Lifestyle • Travel
Super Nintendo World in Osaka's Universal Studios Japan to open in February
Screenshot of Super Nintendo World Direct
Screenshot of Super Nintendo World Direct Credit: Nintendo via YouTube

Super Nintendo World in Osaka's Universal Studios Japan is set to open in February. During the company’s latest Direct live stream, game director Shigeru Miyamoto led a video tour through the new theme park that's modelled after the Mushroom Kingdom.

Visitors can use smart wristbands, the so-called "Power-Up Band", to interact with the attractions, such as punching question mark or POW blocks.

Super Nintendo World is set to open to visitors on February 4, 2021 and is planning to launch parks in other cities across the world.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Takahiro Shiraishi, Japan's 'Twitter killer', has been sentenced to death for the murder of 9
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan)
Murder scene of Zama Suicide Pact Slayings in 2017 (Zama, Japan) Credit: Asanagi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Takahiro Shiraishi, who admitted to the murder of nine people he had befriended on Twitter, has been sentenced to death in Japan. Shiraishi strangled and dismembered eight women and one man over the course of three months. All of his victims had expressed suicidal thoughts prior to their death on Twitter, but "none of the nine victims consented to be killed, including by silent consent" so the the judge, Naokuni Yano, found.

Climate & Environment
Ocean Panel countries commit to higher level of ocean protection
Manta Ray
Manta Ray Credit: Tchami (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

14 countries worldwide have committed themselves to the sustainable management of their national waters. The "Ocean Panel" is a body for sustainable marine management. A goal is it to place until 2030 a third of the seas under protection.

Involved are countries like Australia, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and Portugal. Together they have a marine area that is about the size of Africa.

Science • Space
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully lands capsule with asteroid samples
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully lands capsule with asteroid samples
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

According to the project manager for the asteroid mission, Dr Yuichi Tsuda, the capsule with asteroid samples has been successfully landed in Australia, and "the capsule collection was perfectly done". The samples will now be analyzed for research purposes in order to gather further information about our solar system.

Business • Economy
New World's largest trades bloc created

15 countries have formed the world's largest trading bloc.

It is named 'RCEP', short for 'Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership'. The countries involved include 10 Southeastern Asian companies, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The long road to this point started back in 2012. The US was excluded from the deal after pulling out of a rival Asia-Pacific deal in 2017.

The deal was confirmed by each individual country signing copies of the trade agreement, and then showing it to a camera in a virtual ceremony.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Credit: unsplash.com / Josh Wilburne

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has approved a new regulation for taxi operators, which states that they can refuse passengers who are not wearing masks. Drivers are required to ask customers why they do not wear masks when they board and check to see if there are any unavoidable circumstances, such as illness. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism explains the reason for the approval, saying, "This is not only for the driver but also to prevent the next passenger from becoming infected".

Climate & Environment
The U.S. formally withdraws from Paris agreement

After a three-year delay, the US has become the first nation in the world to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement formally. In the wake of the President Donald Trump announcement back in 2017, several states and businesses have pledged to continue cutting carbon and to try and make up for the Federal government's decision to walk away from the US commitment under Paris.

"The EU green deal and carbon neutrality commitments from China, Japan and South Korea point to the inevitability of our collective transition off fossil fuels," said Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the Paris agreement and now chief executive of the European Climate Foundation.

Climate & Environment
Japan aims for zero emissions by 2050
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga Credit: 内閣官房内閣広報室 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Japan will aim to become carbon-neutral by 2050, said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in his first policy speech since taking office in September. The country emitted 1.24 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018.

Environmental groups have criticized Japan in the past for its slow progress in cutting emissions. This new commitment was commented by Greenpeace as "precisely the kind of action the world needs" while cautioning that it must be met by the policy.

Science • Space
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
Credit: NASA

Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have signed on as founding member nations to NASA's Artemis Accords, an international agreement that "will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions."

"Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition," so NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "With today's signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy."

Business • Media & Advertising
Netflix removes free test month in some countries
Netflix removes free test month in some countries
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via Netflix (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Netflix, the largest video streaming provider, has cancelled the free trial period in many countries without notice.

Markets, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Japan have switched over to a model where the second month is free.

The 30-day trial subscription is no longer available in Germany and France either. In some other countries, nothing has changed yet.

Business • Economy
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Credit: Joe Penniston (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and consumer products segment. Around 67% of the laid-off workers were part-time employees.

The company blamed prolonged closures and capacity limits at open parks for the layoffs. While Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, both California theme parks have remained shuttered.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Yoshihide Suga elected by the Liberal Democratic Party to succeed Shinzo Abe
Yoshihide Suga
Yoshihide Suga Credit: 内閣官房内閣広報室 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary of Shinzo Abe administration, was voted to be the leade of the Liberal Democratic Party, the governing party of Japan. Suga is considered to be a close ally of Abe.

There will be another vote Wednesday in parliament, where Suga is almost certain to be made prime minister because of his party majority.

Taking over mid-term, Mr Suga is expected to finish the rest of the current period, until elections in September 2021.

Climate & Environment
Two typhoons heading towards Korean Peninsula
Super Typhoon Maysak 2020, Okinawa (31Aug 0000Z - 1Sep 0600Z)
Super Typhoon Maysak 2020, Okinawa (31Aug 0000Z - 1Sep 0600Z) Credit: Tropical Cyclone Radar Loops by Brian McNoldy, Univ. of Miami, Rosenstiel School

Typhoon Maysak is projected to make landfall on the southern Korean Peninsula on Wednesday night. Maysak is currently a category 4 hurricane but should weaken to a category 2. Heavy rain and strong storms are expected for Wednesday and Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Haishen will most likely turn into a typhoon in the next 24 hours and strike parts of Japan over the weekend.

The Korean Peninsula is experiencing the wettest monsoon season in recent history and countries are preparing for the storms.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
Japan's 'flying car' gets off ground, with a person aboard
Japan's 'flying car' gets off ground, with a person aboard
Credit: SkyDrive

Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of "flying car" projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan: Shinzo Abe announces resignation

Japan's longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe has resigned due to his health. He suffers from the bowel disease colitis. He will stay in office until his successor is chosen.

Abe gave a press conferences on Friday. He said: "Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister."

About his illness, he said: "For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease. I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight the disease and need to be treated."

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan: Shinzo Abe said to be stepping down due to declining health
Japan: Shinzo Abe said to be stepping down due to declining health
Credit: 首相官邸ホームページ / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is said to be stepping down due to his declining health. The news was first announced by Japan's national broadcaster NHK. It was later confirmed by a ruling party member. Abe has been serving as prime minister for almost eight years.