Simple tests fill health-check gaps

| Dec 30, 2013

Simple tests fill health-check gaps

by Mami Maruko

Although health checkups are often mandatory for corporate or institutional employees, some segments of society, including housewives and the self-employed, may not have this option. In a country where cancer is rife but screening rates are hovering between 20 and 30 percent, according to ...

Automated driving tech comes to the fore

| Dec 23, 2013

Automated driving tech comes to the fore

by Atsushi Kodera

In November, a prospective customer was at the wheel of Mazda Motor Corp.’s new sport utility vehicle during a demonstration in Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture. With a sales rep in the passenger seat, the 38-year-old man drove the car toward a urethane mat hanging 7 ...

Radioactive waste: a now and forever threat?

| Dec 16, 2013

Radioactive waste: a now and forever threat?

by Reiji Yoshida

In recent months, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has rekindled the public debate on atomic power, drawing attention to perhaps the most critical question about its future: Is there a safe place and way to dispose of high-level radioactive waste? Koizumi lashed out at ...

Entrance exams get failing grade

| Dec 2, 2013

Entrance exams get failing grade

by Tomohiro Osaki

National university exams are notorious for their emphasis on book learning. Once a year, examinees throng test sites, doing their best to regurgitate heaps of facts in the hopes of getting into the university of their choice. Once done, however, the pressure to study ...

National Stadium plan hit as too grandiose

| Nov 25, 2013

National Stadium plan hit as too grandiose

by Masaaki Kameda

The new National Stadium planned for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has come under the spotlight due to its huge size and massive costs, and for a design critics say doesn’t fit in with its surroundings. Following are questions and answers regarding construction of the ...

Diet reform paralyzed by hypocritical habits

| Nov 4, 2013

Diet reform paralyzed by hypocritical habits

by Ayako Mie

Indecision is a much-criticized feature of Japanese politics. Diet sessions are rife with unproductive wrangling as the ruling and opposition camps dispute the timing of the submission of bills while avoiding constructive discussions on them. Making matters worse, because the Constitution stipulates that Cabinet ...

Online courses: Collegiate equalizer?

| Oct 28, 2013

Online courses: Collegiate equalizer?

by Mizuho Aoki

The latest trend in online education is taking the academic world by storm. From around 2011, a group of U.S. universities or professors launched start-ups to provide courses taken at elite universities free to anyone with Internet access. By signing on to a website ...

Mercury still threat, Abe assurances or not

| Oct 21, 2013

Mercury still threat, Abe assurances or not

by Eric Johnston

Earlier this month, delegates from over 130 nations gathered in Kumamoto to launch the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The U.N.-brokered treaty aims to limit mercury use and emissions. It comes at a time when the U.N. Environmental Program warns half of all global anthropogenic ...

Tax-free account seeks to spur investment

| Oct 15, 2013

Tax-free account seeks to spur investment

by Tomoko Otake

Starting in January, individuals who invest in stocks and investment trusts in a Nippon Individual Savings Account will be eligible for tax exemptions of up to five years on their financial gains. The new instrument is aimed at getting people used to accumulating financial ...

Deliveries boost convenience stores' cachet

| Oct 7, 2013

Deliveries boost convenience stores' cachet

by Mami Maruko

The nation’s convenience stores have been in a constant state of evolution, starting by offering small snacks and drinks and basic daily goods like newspapers, magazines and toiletries. Today, customers at the “conbini,” as convenience stores are called in Japan, can pay various household ...