Shusuke Murai

Shusuke Murai was born in Japan and spent his teen years in central Ohio. He graduated from New York University with a M.A. in Communication. His interests include the activities of virtual communities, intercultural interactions in the information society and futuristic gadgets.

For Shusuke Murai's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Cup Noodles slurping strong, 45 years on

Aug 22, 2016

Cup Noodles slurping strong, 45 years on

Hungry? Just grab a cup of instant noodles and pour hot water into it. After waiting three minutes, the ramen is ready to eat. This September marks the 45th anniversary of Cup Noodles, the “magic” instant food that has had a dramatic impact on food culture. Since its debut in 1971, more than 40 billion …

Japan well placed to lead in artificial intelligence, expert says

Aug 16, 2016

Japan well placed to lead in artificial intelligence, expert says

Japan lags Silicon Valley in conventional internet services but could become a global leader in the deep-learning technology of artificial intelligence, a leading AI expert has said. Yutaka Matsuo, 41, Project Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo, believes machine learning will revolutionize sectors such as image recognition. “In deep learning, Japan still has a …

Rural Japan rail tours push scenic, luxurious journeys into the unknown

Aug 14, 2016

Rural Japan rail tours push scenic, luxurious journeys into the unknown

When planning a trip to Japan, tourists are most likely to pack destinations like Mount Fuji, Kyoto and Akihabara all into the space of a few days. But for those who have been there and done that, railways are offering a fresh alternative — a laid-back ride on a sightseeing train through the countryside, exploring …

Aug 4, 2016

Sakurai’s xenophobic comments ignites debate over hate speech

In the run-up to Sunday’s Tokyo gubernatorial election, one candidate’s xenophobic speeches have fanned the flames of an ongoing debate over hate speech. Makoto Sakurai, the former leader of anti-foreigner group Zaitokukai, urged voters to expel foreign residents from Japan to defend the rights of Japanese nationals. Speaking to a crowd in Tokyo’s Sugamo district, …

Tokyo forum urges working women to think big, bring diversity

Jul 27, 2016

Tokyo forum urges working women to think big, bring diversity

Women in Japan should not hesitate to dream big and have the confidence to develop their careers in order to boost diversity in the workplace, panelists at Japan’s largest annual conference for working women said. “Women tend to focus on doing things they are skilled at, whereas men tend to look for challenges in their …

Huge sail will power JAXA mission to Trojan asteroids and back

Jul 21, 2016

Huge sail will power JAXA mission to Trojan asteroids and back

Japan’s space agency has its sights on unexplored asteroids as far away as Jupiter, a project that at one level draws on centuries of sail science. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency this month unveiled a huge prototype solar sail designed to power a JAXA probe as it explores asteroids that circle the sun on roughly …

Tokyo voters seek out corruption-free governor

Jul 14, 2016

Tokyo voters seek out corruption-free governor

As the Tokyo gubernatorial election kicked off Thursday, voters said they were looking for a clean, corruption-free governor after the last two — Naoki Inose and Yoichi Masuzoe — resigned over money scandals. Asuka Hatano, a mother in her 30s with a 2-year-old daughter, said she had not decided who to vote for on July …

Mitsubishi Heavy unveils robot for use when flammable gas has leaked

Jul 12, 2016

Mitsubishi Heavy unveils robot for use when flammable gas has leaked

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. on Tuesday unveiled a robot that can operate in the presence of flammable gases, such as after a gas leak following a disaster. A joint project with Chiba Institute of Technology, the Sakura No. 2 is the country’s first mobile inspection unit that can operate in the presence of high concentrations …

Jul 12, 2016

How can I help? Chatbots offer full customer support with no call waiting

Just as text messaging has become a mainstream form of communication, attention is shifting to the chatbot as the next big thing for information management and customer service. Chatbots are computer programs that interpret human speech or written inquiries and decide which information is being sought. Although chatbots have been around since the 1960s, they …

Expo offers glimpses of a future assisted by artificial intelligence

Jun 29, 2016

Expo offers glimpses of a future assisted by artificial intelligence

From robotics to deep learning and image recognition, a glimpse of science fiction-like technologies developed by the nation’s artificial intelligence industry is on display at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward. At the three-day AI World exhibition, a total of 15 companies exhibited cutting-edge AI technology in an attempt to realize a society which will …

Battle lines drawn for July Upper House poll

Jun 22, 2016

Battle lines drawn for July Upper House poll

As the campaign for the July 10 Upper House election kicked off Wednesday, the major parties unveiled their platforms to win over voters. The ruling coalition regards the House of Councilors election as a key test of its economic policies, keeping mention of its more contentious goals low on its pledge list, while the opposition …

Ransomware making costly inroads into online Japan

Jun 6, 2016

Ransomware making costly inroads into online Japan

Advances in technology always come at a price. Once just a hacker’s toy, the computer virus has evolved into something more sinister. Malware called ransomware, which can hold computer files hostage in exchange for a ransom, is increasing as a menace in Japan. According to IT security firm Trend Micro, Japanese companies reported 650 cases …

Obama latest in long list of notable people to visit Hiroshima

May 27, 2016

Obama latest in long list of notable people to visit Hiroshima

Barack Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, the scene of the atomic bombing ordered 71 years ago. But over those seven decades, many prominent figures, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa and rock legend Jimmy Page, have paid their respects, touched by the gravity of what such a weapon …

Future of learning on display at Tokyo’s Educational IT Solutions Expo

May 18, 2016

Future of learning on display at Tokyo’s Educational IT Solutions Expo

From robotics to virtual reality technologies to 3-D printers, advanced, cutting-edge technology was on display at this year’s Educational IT Solutions Expo, which kicked off Wednesday in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. The seventh such expo, this year’s event featured a special section to showcase “the learning of the future” for the first time. Some 50 companies …

Solid-state technology juicing next wave of lithium-ion batteries

May 8, 2016

Solid-state technology juicing next wave of lithium-ion batteries

In an increasingly digital society, acquiring power to keep our smartphones, laptop computers and electric vehicles running is becoming essential to stay in communication and to get around. To make gadgets and appliances last longer as well as run smaller, thinner devices, Japanese manufacturers are working on what they think is a next-generation power source: …

Japan’s tourism sector evolving but needs more work, cultural heritage expert says

May 4, 2016

Japan’s tourism sector evolving but needs more work, cultural heritage expert says

Japan’s tourism strategies have gone beyond just promoting hospitality and have put the nation on track to achieve global standards, a British-born cultural heritage expert said. The Japanese tourism industry had been somewhat complacent and self-centered, but it is evolving into a world-class business, David Atkinson, 50, chairman and president of Tokyo-based heritage restoration firm …

Apr 28, 2016

U.S. Embassy announces leadership seminars for female high school students

The U.S. Embassy will hold workshops for female Japanese junior high and high school students on leadership and speaking up in bid to promote gender equality. The program, called “Go Girls!,” will involve four sessions in June, July, September and October at the American Center Japan in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Students will hear lectures and …

Dentsu plans roadside ads that change according to driver’s vehicle

Apr 21, 2016

Dentsu plans roadside ads that change according to driver’s vehicle

In an experiment, advertising giant Dentsu Inc. plans to bring so-called targeted advertising, an increasingly popular sales method in cyberspace, into the physical world. Dentsu’s team, with support from chipmaker Intel Corp. and three other information technology companies, will start running outdoor digital ads as early as June that collect and analyze people’s interests and …

JR rail pass to be available in Japan, ending frustration for tardy tourists

Apr 1, 2016

JR rail pass to be available in Japan, ending frustration for tardy tourists

Cries of “dang” have long rung out from the nation’s major railway stations as foreign visitors find Japan Rail Pass vouchers are unavailable after arrival. Now, Japan Railways Group (JR Group) plans to make the value-for-money passes available to visitors who forgot to pay before leaving home, a spokesman for East Japan Railway Co. said …

Nissin to debut premium Cup Noodle Rich line in Japan

Mar 29, 2016

Nissin to debut premium Cup Noodle Rich line in Japan

As more and more consumers turn to luxury products to enhance their lifestyles, Nissin Food Products Co. will start selling premium brand Cup Noodles from April. Two varieties of Cup Noodle Rich are set to debut: one, Chinese-style thick oyster-flavored soup with imitation shark’s fin made from gelatin, and the other a Japanese-style bonito-based broth …

Mirrorless cars a reflection of auto industry’s future

Mar 28, 2016

Mirrorless cars a reflection of auto industry’s future

From fuel cell vehicles to self-driving cars, new technologies for next-generation autos are gaining traction. In a move likely to accelerate this, the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, which consists of major car-producing nations and sets international safety and environmental standards on vehicles, said in November it will allow carmakers worldwide …

Japan sends two more inmates to the gallows

Mar 25, 2016

Japan sends two more inmates to the gallows

Two death row inmates were hanged Friday morning, according to the Justice Ministry, bringing to 16 the number of executions carried out under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration since taking power in 2012. The two prisoners were Yasutoshi Kamata, 75, and Junko Yoshida, 56. Yoshida is only the fifth woman to face the gallows according …

Japan Tourism Agency asks spa operators to accept tattooed foreign tourists

Mar 17, 2016

Japan Tourism Agency asks spa operators to accept tattooed foreign tourists

The Japan Tourism Agency has asked spa operators to allow tattoo-sporting foreign tourists into their facilities in a bid to get more overseas visitors experiencing the nation’s onsen. While there is currently no blanket ban on tattoos at hot springs, many spa operators opt to turn away people with tattoos for fear they will scare …

Wi-Fi leaps higher in speed, range

Mar 13, 2016

Wi-Fi leaps higher in speed, range

To support the explosive growth of information and communications technology, wireless Internet connectivity is now considered essential infrastructure and is sometimes referred to as the fourth utility, after electricity, water and gas. Along with such technologies as 4K/8K ultrahigh definition videos and the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) — the concept of enabling all manner …

Mar 8, 2016

3/11 lesson: Prepare, at all costs, for the worst

Should a devastating earthquake hit central Tokyo tomorrow, the skyscraper office buildings of Mori Building Co. would be able to provide temporary shelter for about 10,000 people. About 270,000 rations — enough to serve 10,000 people three meals a day for three days — and other supplies such as blankets, portable toilets and diapers are …

Game app could teach children how to detect potential dangers of smartphones

Mar 2, 2016

Game app could teach children how to detect potential dangers of smartphones

As the use of smartphones grows in popularity with school children, educators are struggling with ways to teach young people how to recognize and handle the potential dangers they could face, and a smartphone game app called “Soul Negotiator” could be the answer teachers are looking for. Developed by mobile game maker Gree Inc. in …

Feb 26, 2016

Bomb threat that forced Tokyo schools to close on Friday is likely a copycat

Dozens of schools canceled afternoon classes Friday in response to an emailed bomb threat sent to the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education warning that explosions would occur at 3:34 p.m. The threat, sent Wednesday, said, “lethal bombs made from pressure cookers have been planted at more than one elementary school in Tokyo.” No explosions had …

U.N. rapporteur urges Japan to consider law banning hate speech

Feb 8, 2016

U.N. rapporteur urges Japan to consider law banning hate speech

Japan should enact a law banning hate speech to protect the nation’s ethnic minorities, according to a United Nations expert who said such a change would not impact freedom of speech. “The international law makes it quite clear that in certain circumstances (hate speech) must be prohibited,” Rita Izsak, a U.N. special rapporteur on minority …

Feb 2, 2016

Japanese Supreme Court hears its first case on dementia liability

The family of a 91-year-old man with dementia who was killed by a train after wandering onto railway tracks argued Tuesday before the Supreme Court that holding them liable for disrupting train services would essentially deny that healthy and disabled people can coexist in society. The case will be the first time the nation’s top …

Airport-style duty-free shop opens in Tokyo’s Ginza

Jan 26, 2016

Airport-style duty-free shop opens in Tokyo’s Ginza

Mainland Japan will get its first duty-free shop outside of an international airport when the Japan Duty Free Ginza debuts at the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward on Wednesday, a top company official said a day earlier. “We are looking forward to further energizing Ginza — Japan’s most famous shopping district — …

Changes in store for TOEIC, but test still not total gauge of fluency: experts

Jan 25, 2016

Changes in store for TOEIC, but test still not total gauge of fluency: experts

In Japan, having high English proficiency can be a strong advantage for students wishing to get into prestigious universities and companies and for businesspeople seeking a promotion. As such, obtaining high scores in the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), an internationally standardized English test, has become a must-have for people to prove their …

Famed dog Hachiko’s home city wants loan of much-loved statue

Jan 20, 2016

Famed dog Hachiko’s home city wants loan of much-loved statue

A northern Japanese city wants to be reunited with perhaps its most famous onetime resident. It plans to ask a local authority in Tokyo for the loan of its statue of Hachiko, a dog from Odate in Akita Prefecture that became known as a symbol of faithfulness. The dog was born in Odate but was …

2020 Olympics host to hold world forum on sport, culture

Jan 20, 2016

2020 Olympics host to hold world forum on sport, culture

With a little over four years to go before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, discussions in Japan are gearing up about what positive legacies will come from the international sports extravaganza, sports minister Hiroshi Hase said in an exclusive interview with The Japan Times in January. As the next country to host the summer Olympic Games …

Japan sticks with Internet Explorer as Microsoft ends support for old versions

Jan 12, 2016

Japan sticks with Internet Explorer as Microsoft ends support for old versions

Four out of five companies and municipalities in Japan face a deadline of sorts Wednesday, the day Microsoft Corp. ends technical support for older versions of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser. About 30 percent of them use versions that may now be at risk. Although the application will continue to work, Microsoft will no longer …

Giant squid wows Toyama and then the web

Dec 29, 2015

Giant squid wows Toyama and then the web

A rare encounter with a giant squid was caught on video when the mysterious creature from the deep emerged at a marina in the city of Toyama on Christmas Eve. The squid measuring an estimated 3.7 meters long was spotted swimming beneath docked fishing boats at around 7 a.m. last Thursday. Local people were surprised …

4D introduces new viewing option for ‘Star Wars’ fans

Dec 18, 2015

4D introduces new viewing option for ‘Star Wars’ fans

In preparation for the much-anticipated worldwide release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Toho Cinemas Ltd. has tripled its so-called 4D motion effects theaters to nine stretching from Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki and Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, to Nanba in Osaka. The theaters use specially engineered seats to add physical and sensory sensations to the 3-D movie-watching experience. …

Leafy designs for new National Stadium seen as posing security headaches

Dec 15, 2015

Leafy designs for new National Stadium seen as posing security headaches

The greenery-rich design proposals for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could pose security headaches, an expert said Tuesday. The Japan Sport Council (JSC) on Monday took the unusual step of disclosing the two proposals now under consideration. It will announce the winner by the end of the year and plans to complete …

Smog from Beijing may reach northern Japan

Dec 9, 2015

Smog from Beijing may reach northern Japan

The ongoing pollution “red alert” in Beijing may affect northern Japan, a model of weather patterns suggests, although pollutants will be well within safe limits when they arrive. Noxious smog particles may drift to Hokkaido and elsewhere, according to a new simulation of air currents in the region, but residents do not need to be …

Dec 8, 2015

Tokyo’s Ota Ward allows temporary condo rentals to tourists

To help meet rising demand for accommodations in Tokyo, the Ota Ward Assembly has passed an ordinance allowing condominium owners to rent vacant units to the record numbers of international travelers coming to Japan. The law allows housing owners who register with the ward office to accommodate guests and charge fees for stays of at …

Nov 27, 2015

Niigata editor suspended after pseudonymous, slanderous tweets come to light

A head of the news section at a regional newspaper has been punished with unpaid, indefinite suspension after slandering a lawyer and other people on a social network service website, the newspaper revealed Friday. Hideki Sakamoto, a 53-year-old former news department chief of Niigata Nippo’s Joetsu branch, was removed from his post and punished for …

Delivery failures dog parcel firms

Nov 15, 2015

Delivery failures dog parcel firms

Missing a package delivery is usually not a problem when one can easily go online or call to request redelivery. But as online shopping rapidly grows, such customer conveniences have become problematic for delivery companies, truck drivers and society as a whole. In late September, the transport ministry issued the first report of its kind …

Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards issue first same-sex partnership papers

Nov 5, 2015

Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards issue first same-sex partnership papers

Eight couples in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards were on Thursday issued with certificates recognizing their same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage on the first day of the long-awaited policy change. As local leaders heralded the milestone, advocates hope it will trigger further discussion about revising nationwide laws. Although the papers are not legally binding, …

High school student launches product to deter train gropers

Nov 4, 2015

High school student launches product to deter train gropers

Packed rush hour trains, delays and unpleasant odors — all familiar headaches for seasoned rail riders. Yet for some, the daily commute includes a more sinister threat: gropers. According to National Police Agency statistics, there were 4,250 cases of groping and other indecent assaults on trains in 2012, a 6.9 percent increase from the previous …

Does biometric authentication hold the key to a bright future or Pandora’s box?

Nov 2, 2015

Does biometric authentication hold the key to a bright future or Pandora’s box?

Forgot your password? Maybe that won’t be an issue in the near future. As an alternative to traditional digital authentication that requires individuals to input numbers or phrases to prove their identity, biometric authentication, which uses people’s physical traits, has become an increasingly common feature, particularly in popular mobile devices. Because of its convenience and …

Oct 26, 2015

Bookstore’s Twitter account supporting ‘pro-democracy book fair’ ignites online controversy

An “unofficial” Twitter account operated by a Tokyo bookstore employee that promoted a “pro-democracy book fair” has sparked an online controversy, resulting in cancellation of the event by the chain’s head office. Criticism erupted when the Twitter account, purported to be run by an employee at the MaruzenJunkudo bookstore chain’s Shibuya branch, advertised a book …

‘Superhuman’ sports showcased at Tokyo expo

Oct 22, 2015

‘Superhuman’ sports showcased at Tokyo expo

Ever wanted to play at being superhuman? Games-players can now feel what it is like to have superpowers of a sort — and tights are optional. A Tokyo exhibition centering on the concept of superhuman sports is offering participants a chance to overcome the limits of natural human ability. “Bubble Jumper” is a duel between …

Oct 19, 2015

Online survey targets problems faced by foreign workers in Japan

A team of international students is conducting an online survey to collect input from foreign workers in Japan and urge changes in tradition-bound Japanese companies, the group said Monday. The survey targets non-Japanese who have lived in Japan and Japanese who have returned home after living abroad. Respondents are asked to select main hindrances to …

Self-Defense Forces office slips up with recruiting ad printed on toilet paper

Oct 9, 2015

Self-Defense Forces office slips up with recruiting ad printed on toilet paper

Self-Defense Forces recruiters are now the butt of jokes over a bizarre ad campaign the Defense Ministry apparently saw fit to roll out on toilet paper. The rolls, bearing a cutesy SDF mascot and recruitment messages, were distributed to six public schools in Shiga Prefecture to encourage graduating youngsters to enlist. “We are recruiting SDF …

Omura stunned by unexpected Nobel win

Oct 6, 2015

Omura stunned by unexpected Nobel win

News that scientist Satoshi Omura had won the Nobel Prize came so unexpectedly that many people in Japan, including the winner himself, were stunned by the honor — but delighted as well. “I was planning to go back home at around 4:30 p.m.,” Omura, an 80-year-old professor emeritus at Kitasato University in Tokyo, said at …

High-end Tokyo stores cash in on China’s weeklong holiday

Oct 1, 2015

High-end Tokyo stores cash in on China’s weeklong holiday

High-end stores in Tokyo are vying for Chinese visitors at the outset of a weeklong vacation marking China’s national day. Demand for goods remains strong among tourists from China despite instability on the nation’s stock markets. Matsuya Ginza, a prominent department store and an emblem of Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, on Wednesday opened its first-ever …

Commenting on security bills, Niigata Bar Association goes short but sweet

Sep 22, 2015

Commenting on security bills, Niigata Bar Association goes short but sweet

This isn’t right. Instead of offering a lengthy, wordy statement, Niigata Bar Association Chairman Tetsuya Taira chose a simple phrase to express his opposition after the Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition rammed the controversial security bills through the Upper House in the early hours of Saturday. In an official one-page statement, Taira wrote: “Okashii daro, kore,” …

Nearly 70% of Japan Inc. unready to safeguard nation’s new ID numbers

Sep 20, 2015

Nearly 70% of Japan Inc. unready to safeguard nation’s new ID numbers

Most of the nation’s companies are struggling to find a way to securely store My Number — the new 12-digit social security key that will be used to access everyone’s income tax and bank account information starting next year. The search for security is making life especially difficult for small and midsize firms, which account …

Tokyo conference urges Japan to make most of new global attention

Sep 17, 2015

Tokyo conference urges Japan to make most of new global attention

While the world watches Japan’s on-again, off-again economic recovery, a forum of roughly 200 corporate decision-makers and former government officials has discussed how to turn that attention to the nation’s advantage. The G1 Global Conference 2015, which took place at Tokyo-based MBA school Globis University on Sunday, was decidedly upbeat about prospects, with the university’s …

Flood-struck Joso evacuees speak of weariness, worry as waters persist

Sep 11, 2015

Flood-struck Joso evacuees speak of weariness, worry as waters persist

A day after unprecedented floods inundated parts of northern Kanto, evacuees in washed out Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, wondered whether their lives would ever return to normal. “I’m worried about my home … I’ve never imagined the banks of the (Kinugawa) river would collapse like this,” said Joso resident Yoshiro Kimura, 70, on Friday after spending …

Self-made co-inventor of SD card connects public with lawmakers

Sep 7, 2015

Self-made co-inventor of SD card connects public with lawmakers

If a solution doesn’t exist, make one yourself. That’s what computer programmer Fukuyuki Murakami has done with his career. “If you feel something is not right, find out what’s wrong and rebuild it — that’s what programmers do,” said the 40-year-old self-employed computer engineer from Osaka who runs his own computer system developer, Crazyworks Inc., …

Online community offers up Olympic logo ideas

Sep 4, 2015

Online community offers up Olympic logo ideas

As the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee decided to scrap the official emblem design for the 2020 Games and launch a new competition to find another design, Japan’s online community has been actively discussing what might be suitable alternatives. Many, including some politicians, have turned to the logo used for the initial bid, claiming it would …

Olympics logo scandal highlights power of the Internet critic

Sep 2, 2015

Olympics logo scandal highlights power of the Internet critic

As news broke Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizing committee would scrap its official logo after weeks of plagiarism allegations surrounding the designer Kenjiro Sano, users of the popular 2channel gossip website posted a flurry of messages congratulating themselves. “This is the victory of the nera (2channel users)!!!” wrote one anonymous user. “Kudos to …

Aug 27, 2015

Japanese astronaut Kanai to travel to space in 2017

Norishige Kanai used to be a Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor specializing in undersea medicine, but in 2017 he will take a huge leap, as he puts it, “from deep sea to space.” Kanai will travel aboard the Soyuz spacecraft into space, beginning a six-month journey around November 2017. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced his …

Kyoto turns to toilet etiquette signs in a bid to flush out bad behavior

Aug 26, 2015

Kyoto turns to toilet etiquette signs in a bid to flush out bad behavior

Japan has rolled out the welcome mat for foreign visitors and this is benefitting businesses nationwide, but there’s a not so rosy catch. For the city of Kyoto, one of the most popular destinations for tourists, the result has been reeking public lavatories. “We have seen an increasing number of people from overseas misuse our …

Japan backs next-generation 8K technology ahead of 2020 Games

Aug 24, 2015

Japan backs next-generation 8K technology ahead of 2020 Games

Besides its main focus on competitive sports, the Olympics also offer an opportunity to boost the host nation’s technology. Back in 1964 when Tokyo hosted its first Summer Games, color-TV sets were growing in popularity and eventually became a standard fixture in Japanese homes. Now as the nation gets ready to host the sports extravaganza …

English-immersion share house offers cultural experience

Aug 20, 2015

English-immersion share house offers cultural experience

On any given weekday some 15 to 20 residents of a four-story apartment building in the Tokyo suburb of Fuchu converge in the Scandinavian-style cafe-lounge at around 9 p.m. to converse in English. The residents, of both sexes and of varying ages and nationalities, including Japanese, share a common kitchen to cook their meals and …

Japanese smartphone carriers offer mixed responses to Android flaw

Aug 5, 2015

Japanese smartphone carriers offer mixed responses to Android flaw

A recently discovered security flaw affecting some 95 percent of Android mobile devices means users are at risk of being hacked just by receiving a short message with malicious intent. Described as the “worst Android flaw discovered to date,” effective solutions to the problem, however, have yet to be provided by major mobile phone carriers, …

Phone-charging stations set for Tokyo tourist spots

Jul 23, 2015

Phone-charging stations set for Tokyo tourist spots

Running out of battery power on your smartphone in Tokyo? Don’t panic, soon you will be able to access a number of free recharging stations at popular sightseeing spots across the metropolis. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced this week that the first solar-powered battery charging stations will be rolled out as soon as October, starting …

Government considering changing Olympic stadium construction plan in face of huge cost

Jul 16, 2015

Government considering changing Olympic stadium construction plan in face of huge cost

The government is considering modifying the construction plan for the new National Stadium, exploring ways to curb the unexpectedly high construction costs of ¥252 billion, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday. Asked if the government may change the basic design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ main venue, featuring two gigantic keel arches for a …

Japanese at higher risk of kidnap, analyst says

Jan 29, 2015

Japanese at higher risk of kidnap, analyst says

As the latest Islamic State deadline ticked closer on Thursday, one analyst said the Abe administration’s response to the hostage crisis may leave other Japanese at risk of being kidnapped as political extremists and profiteers now see them as easy prey. Nobuhiko Suto, an international affairs analyst and former Lower House lawmaker, said what terrorists …

Japan, U.S. accused of failing Okinawa residents, veterans allegedly sickened by Agent Orange

Oct 31, 2014

Japan, U.S. accused of failing Okinawa residents, veterans allegedly sickened by Agent Orange

A journalist who has documented the alleged existence of Agent Orange on Okinawa has accused Tokyo and Washington of side-stepping their responsibilities to local residents and military personnel who may have been exposed to the toxic defoliant. Jon Mitchell, a research associate at Meiji Gakuin University’s International Peace Research Institute, said the Japanese government has …

Olympics minister says first task is to address stadium funding feud

Jul 2, 2015

Olympics minister says first task is to address stadium funding feud

The newly appointed minister of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games says his immediate priority is to build trust between the central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government over funding the international sporting extravaganza. Appointed to fill the new Cabinet position on June ...

Japanese cat-collecting game is apps' meow

Jun 29, 2015

Japanese cat-collecting game is apps' meow

The smartphone game “Neko Atsume” (Cat Collecting) is gaining a worldwide following for its nonsense and adorableness. The Japanese app has already logged more than 5.5 million downloads since it was launched in October. Although not available in English, 30 to 40 percent of ...

Toshiaki Endo appointed Olympics minister

Jun 25, 2015

Toshiaki Endo appointed Olympics minister

Toshiaki Endo, a former rugby player who has abundant experience in sports-related organizations, was appointed Thursday as new minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics. The 65-year-old, who is also a former vice sports minister, said that he is ready to ...

Residents must have stadium say: Masuzoe

Jun 12, 2015

Residents must have stadium say: Masuzoe

The wrestling match between the central government and Tokyo over how to handle the cost of the new stadium for the 2020 Olympics is showing no signs of cooling. A remark by sports minister Hakubun Shimomura about the possibility of creating a special law ...

International students face job hunting hurdles in Japan

Jun 10, 2015

International students face job hunting hurdles in Japan

A 23-year-old student from China who attends the prestigious University of Tokyo is now looking for a job in Japan. But her quest to achieve the “Japanese dream” of working at a major Japanese company, and earning roughly four times what she could make ...