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 Tomoko Otake

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Tomoko Otake
Tomoko Otake is a senior writer with a strong interest in health, medical and social issues. A native of Nara Prefecture, she obtained an M.A. in journalism from The University of Montana.
For Tomoko Otake's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
A man pours water into a plastic tank at an evacuation shelter in the city of Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Feb. 1.
JAPAN / Society / FOCUS
Feb 23, 2024
Noto quake highlights aging water systems in depopulating areas
Nearly 22,000 homes in Ishikawa Prefecture are still without water, and the shortage has sparked debate on how to maintain services in depopulating areas.
A second test model of the H3 rocket lifts off from the launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center on the southwestern island of Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Saturday.
JAPAN / Science & Health / FOCUS
Feb 20, 2024
Can Japan’s new H3 rocket compete with Elon Musk’s Falcon 9?
In order to seriously compete with the Falcon 9, which currently dominates the market, experts say price and usability of the H3 would be key.
The second test model of Japan's H3 rocket lifts off from the launchpad at Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture on Saturday morning.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 17, 2024
Japan’s space agency successfully launches latest H3 rocket
With the H3, JAXA aims to maintain Japan’s prowess in rocket development technologies and give a jolt to related industries.
Masashi Okada, project manager in charge of H3’s development at JAXA, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday in Minamitane, Kagoshima Prefecture.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 16, 2024
Japan’s space agency set to retry H3 rocket launch
With H3, JAXA aims to maintain Japan’s prowess in rocket development technologies and give a jolt to related industries.
Canned ready-to-drink cocktails, including Asahi Breweries' 9% Clear Cooler Strong chūhai produced in conjunction with Seven & I Holdings, at a 7-Eleven store in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Tuesday
BUSINESS
Feb 13, 2024
Asahi calls time on new strong chūhai amid low-alcohol shift in Japan
New versions of the canned fizzy cocktails with alcohol content of 8% or higher will not be launched in order to “reduce inappropriate drinking.”
Clone piglets born Sunday with genetically modified embryos
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 13, 2024
Japan startup creates pigs with organs suitable for human transplants
Research in the field helped produce pigs that have a smaller chance of immune rejection by human recipients by manipulating 10 related pig genes.
The hippocampus is a part of the brain that controls memory, learning and emotions. Stressful life events such as disasters and terrorist attacks are known to lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and result in its shrinkage.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 9, 2024
Tokyo teens were less stressed during first COVID emergency: study
Increases in the volume of the hippocampus in their brains suggest reduced stress, according to research conducted by the University of Tokyo.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel (left), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen (center) and health minister Keizo Takemi attend a ceremony to mark the opening of the U.S. agency's East Asia and Pacific regional office in Tokyo on Monday.
JAPAN
Feb 5, 2024
U.S. CDC opens regional office in Tokyo
The regional office, located inside the U.S. Embassy, will collaborate with 26 countries and territories in East Asia and the Pacific.
A majority of pollen allergy cases in Japan are caused by cedar trees, which cover 18% of Japan’s forests, due mostly to Japan’s forestation policy after World War II.
JAPAN / Science & Health / EXPLAINER
Feb 4, 2024
As hay fever season approaches, here’s what you need to know to prepare
Your eyes start itching, your nose keeps running and you can’t stop sneezing. It's nearly time for Japan's dreaded hay fever season.
The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is seen on the surface of the moon in an image released Jan. 25.
PODCAST / deep dive
Feb 2, 2024
Japan’s historic moon landing was right on target
Japan made history last month when it became the fifth nation to soft land on the moon.
A woman grills a piece of beef at a barbeque restaurant in Yokohama. Greenhouse gas emissions from food amount to a third of all human-caused emissions.
ENVIRONMENT / Sustainability / OUR PLANET
Jan 28, 2024
The complicated balance between health and climate in the Japanese diet
In Japan, people with higher-emitting diets also tend to eat healthier, raising questions for the health- and environment-conscious consumer.
Shitsui Hakoishi, 107, works with researcher Yasumichi Arai (left) while her younger brother, Hidemasa, looks on. Researchers like Arai believe the healthy and active Hakoishi's cells may hold the secret to living a long life.
JAPAN / Science & Health / Longform
Jan 27, 2024
Living until 100, if not forever, in good health
Immortality may be out of reach, but can a slew of research projects prolong our natural aging process?
An image of Japan's lunar lander and the moon's surface captured by SORA-Q, which was successfully released before the craft's touchdown on Saturday
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 25, 2024
Japan’s space agency confirms breakthrough high-precision moon landing
JAXA's "Moon Sniper" successfully landed within 100 meters of its target, much more precise than the several kilometers of typical moon missions.
A scanning electron micrograph of group A streptococcus bacteria
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 24, 2024
Cases of tissue-damaging bacterial disease hit record high in Japan
Health authorities are urging people to take basic health measures such as hand-washing to prevent the spread of the disease.
A screen shows JAXA officials in the mission control room at the space agency's campus in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Saturday.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 20, 2024
Japan makes history as spacecraft lands on the moon
The successful landing makes Japan just the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, but questions remain over whether the mission can achieve all its goals.
An image of what a permanent base on the moon might look like. JAXA's SLIM lander will transform how space agencies explore celestial bodies that have gravity, allowing landers to touch down on even rugged terrain, the agency says.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 18, 2024
Anticipation soars as Japan’s SLIM readies for moon landing
The mission puts the agency's pinpoint landing technology to the test and could accelerate international space exploration.
A volunteer places a box containing medicines into a drone on Jan. 8 in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.
JAPAN / Society
Jan 16, 2024
Drones' potential put to test in Ishikawa quake relief
As relief efforts continue, some hope to see a boost in the role of drones in responding to disasters in the future.
People wear masks at an evacuation center in the town of Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 8. The number of people with acute respiratory infectious diseases, which include COVID-19 and influenza, at evacuation centers in the prefecture stood at 142 as of Sunday.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 15, 2024
COVID and Japan, four years later: Normality, but words of caution
The nation has mostly returned to the pre-pandemic norm, but experts warn against people letting their guard down completely.
A port in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Saturday. The seafloor was uplifted due to the Jan. 1 earthquake.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jan 10, 2024
Ishikawa quake triggered by faults that were dormant for 4,000 years
Through ground uplift, the total land area of the Noto Peninsula has expanded by 4.4 square kilometers.
Firefighters inspect collapsed wooden houses in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Tuesday, a day after a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region in the prefecture.
JAPAN
Jan 3, 2024
Ishikawa quake rescue efforts ramp up as crucial time window narrows
Over 33,000 people are staying in evacuation centers with limited access to electricity and water.

Longform

Hideo Shimoju points to a possible site that his fellow neighbors may relocate to. Such relocations have happened before, but not preemptively.
In disaster-prone Japan, some communities consider major moves