Tokyo and France in Military Pact

Fumio Kishida

Japan is continuing to expand its military role not just in the Asian region but also in the international scene. Just recently, Japan and France signed an arms transfer agreement. The agreement is seen to pave the way to develop drones and other unmanned equipment together as Japan seeks to play a greater international military role.

Talks between the two power nations revolved on diplomacy and national security. As a result, the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers reached an agreement aimed at exchanges of defense equipment, services and technology and starting talks on specific projects.

The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his government is preparing to make legal changes to accommodate plans to bolster Japan’s defense role, allowing it to defend a foreign country under attack. These moves are seen to be major reactions of China’s growing military presence in the region. The deal with France could give Japan a greater access to the lucrative defense market. France is known to be a major weapons exporter. On the other hand, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian cited drones for underwater surveillance and mine removal and explosives-handling robots as possible candidates for joint development. Giving statements through an interpreter, he said that “France and Japan have a lot in common. We are both maritime nations, and we have high-tech companies. Together, we can make a win-win situation.” His Japanese counterpart, Gen Nakatani, said Japan hoped they can quickly launch specific projects. Japan has signed similar arms equipment and technology transfer agreements with other countries including the United States, Britain and Australia. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius also joined the talks. Japan and France also agreed to step up broader military cooperation and anti-terrorism efforts.

Laurent Fabius

 

This military deal is seen to be a very important deal in the history of weapons and defense.

images by commons.wikimedia.org and voiceofjournalists.com

Tokyo Jakarta Defense Pact

President Joko Widodo

Tokyo is looking to expand its military ties with its Southeast Asian neighbors. Japan will sign a defense pact with Indonesia next week. The officials in both governments said in a report earlier this week. This is the latest effort by Tokyo to forge closer security ties with Southeast Asian nations and build a counter-balance to China.

Japan has already enhanced its military partnerships with the Philippines and Vietnam, the two countries mostly involved in disputers with China over a territorial row in the South China Sea. Japan itself is stuck with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, further to the north.

The president of Indonesia President Joko Widodo will visit Tokyo next week for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the two sides will sign an agreement on increased cooperation in military training and technology. Currently, the two countries only have an agreement for the exchange of military students.

Even though the agreement may not be binding, it is seen as the first step in bolstering defense ties. A Japanese foreign ministry official said Widodo’s trip sends a “big message” to its neighboring countries as this will be his first state visit outside Southeast Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan is supplying maritime patrol boats to Vietnam and the Philippines. In fact, Japan will also hold its first naval exercises with the Philippines in the coming months. A government official in Jakarta however said the Japan-Indonesia defence pact was “very significant” for both nations.

For Japan, closer ties with Indonesia could also give its defense firms a better chance to compete against South Korean military equipment makers, who are establishing themselves in the region, a Japanese defense ministry official said. The long term outcome of this agreement has yet to be analyzed. However, this will definitely play a major role in the political dynamics of the region.

images by id.wikipedia.org and thediplomat.com

Micro-Fine Adhesive Sensors

The technology was applied on a human finger

A group of scientists in Japan has made a breakthrough in its development of micro-fine adhesive sensors. It may sound very technical and intimidating, but what it really is can simplified. Basically, it is a sticky sheet of minute sensors that can be placed or implanted anywhere on the human body. This is a phenomenal discovery which can pave the way for doctors to keep track of a person’s weak heart or any organ for that matter.

The technology is made up of an adhesive gel and very fine sensors, so that when it is applied on a surface, moving or not, it is prevented from slipping or getting off. The sensors are printed on a plastic sheet at 4 millimeter intervals, which allows large amounts of sensors to be placed in a very small amount of space. The thin sheet when placed on a body part takes the shape of its surface which makes it flexible. Placing these sensors directly on any body part also allows for more accurate data. This type of technology is highly useful in various fields such as in medicine and sports. The technology was created by a team led by Professor Takao Someya from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Systems. The study was also supported by the Science and Technology Agency of Japan.

An example of how the adhesive works.

Currently, the technology is still at a very early stage, as it is still being experimented on animals. It has been successfully attached to various internal tissues of animals such as a rat’s heart. On humans, a thin sheet and strain sensor was applied on a finger that was moved. It showed that the technology can withstand great amounts of stress. For now, this is what the technology can do, but for the future, who knows what other applications it can be used in.

Photos from Phys.org

Commercial Property

Tokyo

Japan has been suffering from the slow growth of their economy. The economic rebound and loose money policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slowed down the growth of commercial property market. The economic policy of Prime Minister Abe, also known as Abenomics, appear increasingly limited to Tokyo. Abe focused on trying to make Bank of Japan print money then spend it. He left behind commercial property investment, which is an important measure for economic activity. It allows for other regional cities to experience a good economy.

Last year, Japanese saw a rise on commercial land prices by 1.9 percent in Tokyo and 1.5 percent in Osaka and Nagoya. Despite the gains from such rise, prices in the rest of Japan still fell 2.2 percent, marking a 23rd consecutive annual decline. Japanese companies that would want to rent offices in Tokyo rose in November from October but in Osaka it was only stagnant while other major cities fell. Different foreign investors rent office properties. It could further widen the gap in asset values between Tokyo and the rest of the country in the near term.

Property in Japan

Cities outside Tokyo are still undeveloped. For example in Osaka, some company could not make their 40 story office and retail tower complex. Such problem faced by the city of Osaka limits their ability to attract companies outside Osaka to come in and invest in their place. In the city of Nagoya meanwhile, the property market became attractive due to the construction of super-high-speed train service although people still need to wait for at least 12 years in order to access it. Nagoya is Japan’s third biggest regional economy. The number of Nagoya office property transactions jumped 8 percent in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier to 94 deals, according to local broker Ichi. The city’s offices are filling up faster than Osaka’s, with a vacancy rate down to 7.5 percent in November from 9.8 percent a year earlier.

Photos from Club of Mozambique and tripadvisor

Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station

The famous Tokyo Station celebrated its centennial last month. The Tokyo Station is known to be the main gateway to Japan’s capital. It is also the starting point of the country’s railway network. In fact, majority of travelers in Japan are likely to pass through this landmark at least once. Tourists go to this landmark due to its historical background. It is an impressive 1,00 feet long (304 meters). It is the busiest station in Japan in terms of number of trains per day with around 3,000 trains making a stop in the station. The station receives around 350,000 passengers on a daily basis. It has the highest revenue than any other station in Japan. It has 14 lines, including the Tokaido Shinkansen, the most heavily traveled high-speed rail route in the world.

At night

The station was just renovated by city planner, which costs around $625 million agreed last 2012. The main attraction of the Tokyo Station is the red brick Marunouchi Building that was already renovated because it was destroyed in World War II. The building’s design looks like Amsterdam Central railway station. The European façade of the building is one of the few architectural remnants of Tokyo’s past and symbolized the country’s modernization. The building has eight zodiacal symbols on the interior of the octagonal domes, representing points on a compass (the tiger, for example, points northeast). The possible reason for the similarities with the Amsterdam railway station is that they have sister-station agreements with the one who constructed it. There are rumors wherein there’s a subterranean network existing in downtown Tokyo connecting important government buildings. The Tokyo Station is linked to the Central Post Office, whose original 1930s veneer was restored in the 2012 makeover. Passengers of the Tokyo station can access six neighboring stations via underground walkways with one jaunt being more than two kilometers.

Photos from Tokyo station hotel and charlijames

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Tokyo Sea Life Park

 

The Tokyo Sea Life Park is a famous aquarium wherein you could see various sea creatures. It is called as the Kasai Rinkai Suizokuen. In fact in Japan there are about a hundred aquariums existing in the country. The aim of the Tokyo Sea Life Park is reproducing aquatic habitats in Tokyo and in the world. In order to achieve this goal, the establishment installed a one of a kind huge donut-shaped tank with a capacity of 2,200 tons. The aquarium allows Bluefin tunas to swim around freely. The Sea Life Park has different exhibit sections wherein you could see different marine life from Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. It has the Seas of the World, Life of the Deep Sea, Life on the Shoreline, the Sea of Tokyo, and Life in Freshwater. The aquarium does not only have fish and invertebrates in their exhibits. Visitors could see penguins, auks, and puffins, typical sea birds which adapt well to marine habitats. The museum is open 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily and closes every Wednesday. Tourists are advised to take the train. They could get off the JR Kasai Rinkai Koen Station.

Tuna mysteriously disappeared from the aquarium

The Tokyo Sea Life Park is known for its tuna breeding program. Unfortunately just recently the famous aquarium is facing a crisis which is the unexplained deaths of its main exhibits. The aquarium used to have 165 bluefin tuna, kamakawa and striped bonito on display. It has been reduced to 11 with no clear reason behind the disappearance of the various fish. Manager of the center’s breeding program, Takashi Sugino, could not determine the cause of death despite using computers to monitor possible changes in the environment where the fish died. This is an unusual situation for the sea life center. In fact, majority of experts say that it doesn’t have a similar case anywhere. The possible reason for the death of the fish could be from disease or human error.

Images by Wikipedia and Japapooh from Paranomio

Godzilla is Back!

The original Godzilla film made in Japan

Godzilla is a pop culture phenomenon about a gigantic monster or daikaju that originated from a series of films in Japan. Godzilla is very popular not just for kids but also from different age groups. Godzilla was featured in a variety of tokusatsu or live action films that has made a wide cultural impact across the world. The monster, sometimes portrayed as the hero and villain, has been in over 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. It has also been the star of various comic books, video games, novels, and TV shows. Also known as the King of Monsters, Godzilla is a story about an irradiated monster that was created during World War II wreaking havoc to humanity.

The latest film to feature this iconic monster came out this year, and was created the second time around in Hollywood. Unlike the 1998 Hollywood Godzilla film, which was widely criticized in Japan, this year’s film gained favorable reviews in the country. However, the latest Godzilla film produced by Japan itself was done way back in 2004. There is no doubt that the authenticity of Godzilla can only be done by the Japanese. This is why recent news of Toho working on a new Godzilla film has got everybody buzzing.

The company’s decision to revive Godzilla is said to be due to the advancement in computer-graphics. Although no director has been named yet, many fans are looking forward to this update. Godzilla, which means both “whale” and “gorilla”, has become a popular entertainment among fans. However, it was also created as a metaphor for the nuclear bombings that the country suffered from in the past in World War II. Now that the country is also under fire for its use of South Korean, Philippine, Indonesian, Chinese, Singaporean, and Vietnam comfort women, the issue has been a sensitive topic to tackle.

Previous Godzilla films have featured the monster crushing just about every renowned building in Japan. With the last film created 10 years ago, the creature is destined to destroy newer and even more architectures in the country. This is definitely something to look forward to in the next years.

Photo from digital spy

Yoko Ono

Ono’s famous Cut Piece where audience members cut a piece of her clothing

Yoko Ono, though her reputation may somehow precede her, has rocked the world with her unique artworks, curious performances, and eclectic attitude. She played a major role in the band that is perceived to be the most popular of all time, the Beatles. Even though she is not part of the band, she is certainly part of their history. Although she has often been perceived negatively by the media in the past, there is no denying that Yoko Ono has definitely made history and is one of the most iconic women to ever live.

Ono was born on February 1933 in Tokyo, Japan. As a kid, Ono’s family and she traveled a lot. From Japan, they moved to New York, Hanoi, and back to Japan. She was in the country to witness the terrors of World War II. Later in her life, Ono and her family once again moved to New York. This is where Ono got to meet artists, poets, and other bohemians, that her family actually disapproved her. Living in New York satisfied Ono’s longing to become an artist.

Fast forward years later, Ono achieved her long-time dream. Although she was not a well-known artist, she stayed true to her craft. In 1971, she had her one-woman show in New York called “Museum of Modern [F]art”. Though her artworks and performances were considered unique, unorthodox, and even crazy, there is no doubt this made her the kind of artist the many would later on be in awe of.

Some of her most famous works include “Painting To Be Stepped On”, which allowed audiences to step on a piece of canvas, and “Cut Piece”, where audiences get to cut a piece of clothing Ono was wearing. It was also notable that when visitors first entered her show, she released flies and invited them to track them down.

Most recently, it was announced that the Museum of Modern Art, the venue of her first one-woman show, will once again be featuring Ono. From May 17 to September 7 of next year, the museum will be featuring Ono’s works as homage to her first show.

Photo from Telegraph

2020 Olympics Committee Faces Challenges

The initial proposed design that attracted several protests from critics

The 2020 Olympic Games, mainly a sporting event, is not at all just about sports. In entails a lot of sponsorships, promotion, and many more to make it a successful event. In line with this, Japan’s win in the bid to host the games is a big win indeed. Apart from gaining international recognition, the country would also be gaining a lot in terms of tourism. This is why the country has done everything in its power to create a memorable and grand event.

A year since its win in the bid, the 2020 Olympics Games has stirred a lot of controversy especially among environmentalists, politicians, architects, and regular citizens. Issues about cost, timeliness, and practicality have become more apparent as the committee’s stages in planning have slowed down. The international Olympics committee has also been saying that the unexpected issues were a total opposite of why they have chosen the city. This is because Japan is known to be an organized and efficient country. Also, the country secured its win in the bid with $4.5 billion in the bank.

Though critics have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the current state of planning, Japan defends itself by saying that these critics are misguided. Yes, contracts and promises have been made by the Japanese Olympics committee, but that doesn’t mean unforeseen circumstances will not happen. All these complaints and misgivings are only causing greater set back on all parties involved.

It takes time and critical planning in order to produce something great. With people watching and protesting every little step and decision being made without being open-minded may be damaging especially during the long run. With six years left, all parties have to come up with a way to agree on things and not be over critical.

The same goes for the Japanese Olympics committee. The reason why Japan was chosen as host is because its advancement in green and clean technologies. The committee should have stuck with this bearing in mind the cost and impact it would cause on the environment. Careful planning should have been made before taking drastic actions.

View of the Stadium after Tokyo won the bid for 2020

The National Stadium, built for the 1964 Olympics, is scheduled for demolition in a few months time, but still no plans for the new stadium have been finalized. The IOC and the Japanese committee must come up with a contingency plan as well. Hopefully, these obstacles would only be an initial hurdle, and would only produce a successful 2020 Olympics.

Photos from independent.co.uk and Japan Daily Press

2014 Tokyo Game Show: Every Gamer’s Dream

The poster of this year’s Game Show

Imagine a place of bright flashing lights where all video game developers, publishers, and players go to showcase today’s up and coming games. A video game haven or heaven, some might call it. This place is none other than the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan. One might wonder what’s so special with this place. Well, to video game fans everywhere, this is where the annual Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is held.

TGS is a video game expo or convention which showcases various Japanese and international video game developers such as Sony and Microsoft. It is organized by the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) and Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. The very first TGS was actually held in 1996, and the number of its attendees has only grown. The TGS last year broke records with an attendance of 270, 190 visitors.

The convention features a wide range of displays and products ranging from digital gaming entertainment, gaming devices, merchandise, personal computers, to emerging developers, game schools, and mobile gaming. Everything you need to know about the latest gaming technologies is found in TGS. For the game consoles, Microsoft has announced that its lineup for Xbox One which include: Dead Rising 3 by Capcom, FIFA 15 by EA Canada, Halo: The Master Chief Collection by Bungie/343 Industries, and many more. Sony has also unveiled its lineup for PS4 which include: Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, and Dead or Alive 5. Its lineup for PS Vita and PS 3 were also announced. Unfortunately, there will be no news or release of The Last Guardian at the expo.

People who purchase an Xbox One in Japan will get a fast-pass access at games such as Halo and Call of Duty

A source also happens to say that a big announcement around the time of the expo will be made. This has caused speculations about the much awaited Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV. Square Enix, the developers behind the two games, have been mum about its plans for TGS.

For this year, the TGS will have a theme of “Changing Games: The Transformation of Fun”. The theme centralizes on a new era of gaming. It will be held on September 18-21 at the same venue. As always, the first two days of the expo will be allotted for invited members of the industry and media. The remaining days will be open for the general public. The number of attendees is estimated at at least 220,000. But with the continuous rise in popularity of the video game industry, the number will hopefully exceed that of last year’s record breaking record.

Photos from vg247 and gamerheadlines