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Fukushima cleanup going painfully slow

by Mizuho Aoki

Three and a half years after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air and water, decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to draw to an end. The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the ...

After STAP scandal, Riken plots its future

| Sep 1, 2014

After STAP scandal, Riken plots its future

by Mami Maruko

With recent revelations of misconduct involving its research on so-called STAP cells, stem cell researcher Haruko Obokata and her employer, Riken Institute, have come under intense scrutiny and criticism. Last week, the nation’s largest science research institute announced an “action plan” to avoid similar ...

Who's at the table for Abe's reshuffle?

| Aug 18, 2014

Who's at the table for Abe's reshuffle?

by Reiji Yoshida

Rumors and speculation are swirling in Nagata-cho, Japan’s political nerve center. The hot topic: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to reshuffle the Cabinet and the leadership of his Liberal Democratic Party next month. Why is Abe planning to shake up the Cabinet now? Who ...

Selective consumption tax weighed

| Jul 21, 2014

Selective consumption tax weighed

by Ayako Mie

It’s only been three months since the consumption tax was hiked to 8 percent, but the ruling coalition is already expediting talks on another increase scheduled to come into effect in October next year. Concerned that the tax hikes could harm consumer confidence, the ...

Organ donation

| Jul 18, 2014

Organ donation

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I’m looking at my Japanese driver’s license and wondering if the form on the back has anything to do with organ donation. Years ago, I registered in the United States to be an organ donor, which was a simple matter of checking ...

Budget phones challenge the majors

| Jul 14, 2014

Budget phones challenge the majors

by Kazuaki Nagata

Smartphones may be convenient, but there’s one thing about them that bugs many people: their costly monthly data plans. Seizing this opportunity, noncarrier firms have broken into the market in the past several months with low-cost plans and handsets. Here are some questions and ...

Abe looks to put his stamp on foreign aid

| Jun 23, 2014

Abe looks to put his stamp on foreign aid

by Mizuho Aoki

Next up for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? Figuring out how to put official development assistance (ODA) to “strategic” use so the international aid program can help Japan make a more “proactive contribution” to world peace, one of Abe’s pet policy goals. Since the program ...

Middle road sought for health food labels

| Jun 2, 2014

Middle road sought for health food labels

by Mami Maruko

In an attempt to cash in on consumers’ growing interest in healthy eating, new varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables — each touting enhanced health-boosting properties — are making their way to supermarkets nationwide. When buying fresh produce, shoppers can now choose tomatoes containing ...