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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:
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / EXPLAINER
May 10, 2022
The coronavirus keeps subtly changing, but how serious are new subvariants?
In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no shortage of new coronavirus variants to track.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
May 6, 2022
Japan detects more probable cases of acute hepatitis in children
The number of potential cases has reached seven, the health ministry said Friday, with one patient also testing positive for the coronavirus.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Apr 28, 2022
New COVID-19 subvariant found in Japan patient
The subvariant, detected in a patient from Sendai, has genetic information from both the B.A.1 and B.A. 2 omicron sublineages.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Apr 28, 2022
Japan's mask debate grows as public urged to stay vigilant during Golden Week
Experts maintain that indoor ventilation and other basic prevention measures are still vital, as infection levels remain high in many places.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Apr 25, 2022
Possible case of mysterious acute child hepatitis found in Japan
The patient, who has been hospitalized, corresponds to the working definition of a “probable case' of the acute, severe hepatitis provided by the World Health Organization.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / FOCUS
Apr 21, 2022
How Japan's slow acknowledgement of COVID's airborne spread has hampered its response
The National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced its determination late last month that COVID-19 can spread via aerosols. For many scientists, it was too little, too late.
Japan Times
JAPAN
Apr 12, 2022
XE variant adds to concern over low vaccination rates among young people in Japan
Seemingly on the verge of a seventh wave of COVID-19, Japan is struggling to balance infection control and a resumption of normal life.
Japan Times
JAPAN
Apr 7, 2022
People urged to stay vigilant as coronavirus infections rebound in Japan — again
The lifting of quasi-emergency measures and the spread of a highly infectious omicron subvariant may be to blame for the quick rebound, experts say.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / A MATTER OF HEALTH
Mar 16, 2018
Saitama medical device makers fill vital health care niche
Saitama Prefecture has always been overshadowed by Tokyo, its bigger and glitzier neighbor to the south that is also the capital of Japan. But Saitama, sometimes referred to by its unflattering nickname Dasai-tama (dasai means uncool), is in fact home to a number of small manufacturing businesses developing innovative medical tools and equipment.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media
Mar 4, 2018
Automation comes to news-gathering in Japan
The news business in Japan has long been notoriously labor-intensive. Reporters assigned to the crime and disaster beats have largely relied on briefings from police officers or firefighters for their initial reports.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 24, 2018
One-dose flu drug Xofluza gets nod from health ministry
Osaka-based drugmaker Shionogi & Co. has announced that the health ministry gave it approval to manufacture and market its new flu drug Xofluza, which requires only a single dose regardless of age.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / A MATTER OF HEALTH
Feb 20, 2018
Online test aims to educate Japanese teen girls about sexual violence
Question: "Someone I've met on the internet asked me to send them a picture of myself. What should I do?"
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Feb 13, 2018
April 1 marks start of Japan's new medical fees and processes
The new medical prices are out.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / A MATTER OF HEALTH
Feb 8, 2018
Japan doctors tap health-monitoring app to help diabetics keep dialysis at bay
In September 2016, freelance journalist Yutaka Hasegawa touched off a firestorm of criticism after writing in his blog that diabetes patients receiving dialysis should pay for the treatment themselves instead of using public health insurance. He argued that it was their "corrupt" lifestyles that spawned the need for dialysis and that their medical expenses would "ruin Japan."
Japan Times
JAPAN / EXPLAINER
Jan 29, 2018
Japan's dramatic surge in syphilis cases, with particularly high incidence in Tokyo, puzzles experts
Syphilis, a classic sexually transmitted disease nearly eradicated decades ago, is seeing a resurgence in Japan, with the reported number of patients in 2017 topping 5,000 for the first time in 44 years.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / A MATTER OF HEALTH
Dec 27, 2017
'The doctor would not listen': Japan faces off against over-prescription of drugs for seniors
There's no denying that, as you grow older, you are likely to visit doctors more often and have more medicine prescribed. According to 2014 data from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the amount of prescription drugs patients are given goes up as they age, especially after they turn 60.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Dec 25, 2017
Health ministry uses anime to spread word about coughing etiquette
The health ministry often relies on the nation's "soft power" to spread its public health messages. This time, it is using one of the hottest anime series — "Attack on Titan" — to promote proper coughing etiquette as the influenza season gets into full gear as the New Year holidays approach.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Dec 21, 2017
University of Tokyo team's robots mimic human exercise, even working up a sweat
A team of Japanese researchers has built two humanoid robots that can do pushups, situps and stretches just like their human creators. One can even sweat, releasing heat generated by the physical activity.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Dec 21, 2017
'Brain on Fire': Film chronicling U.S. woman's fight with rare brain disease makes Japan debut
A U.S. film about a rare but serious disease that impairs the body's autoimmune system is being shown in Japan, boosting hope among patients and their families that it will help raise awareness of the little-known illness.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / A MATTER OF HEALTH
Dec 12, 2017
Tokyo-based fund CEO leads public-private fight against diseases around globe
BT Slingsby was 13 years old when he made a career decision: to become a medical doctor.

Longform

Later this month, author Shogo Imamura will open Honmaru, a bookstore that allows other businesses to rent its shelves. It's part of a wave of ideas Japanese booksellers are trying to compete with online spaces.
The story isn't over for Japan's bookstores