Japan’s first lady says husband helps with choresAssociated PressBy MARI YAMAGUCHI 9 hours ago
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s first lady says she has such a busy schedule that sometimes it’s up to the prime minister to do the dishes or take out the garbage.It’s the kind of flexibility that Akie Abe says is needed for the advancement of women in Japan.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing companies and the government to hire and promote more women to allow Japan’s economy to grow and create a society where “women can shine.” He appointed five women to his 18-member Cabinet on Wednesday.Even though Akie Abe, 52, openly refers to herself as a member of the “opposition in the household” on some issues her husband favors, such as nuclear energy, she told The Associated Press on Thursday that she is a big supporter of his “womenomics” policy of promoting women’s advancement.In Japan, women are under-represented in senior-level positions in companies, government or universities. They have long been discriminated against in salary and promotion in corporate Japan, and often face obstacles to pursuing their careers due to a lack of help from spouses.Abe, the daughter of the former president of a leading Japanese confectioner, Morinaga & Co., said it’s important that society allows women enough flexibility to work again after child-rearing or other life events that interrupt their professional careers.Her husband’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has conservative views on gender equality, but the first lady is a businesswoman, owns a bar in downtown Tokyo, and supports local artists and craftsmen. She is active in organic farming and grows rice herself in Yamaguchi, her husband’s hometown in western Japan, and campaigns against AIDS and discrimination against minorities.Next week, she will speak at “The World Assembly for Women in Tokyo,” an international symposium at which she wants to show that Japanese women are also serious about making a society that is friendlier to them.Such activities, along with her differences with some of her husband’s views, have contributed to her image as a new breed of first lady."My husband’s conservative supporters think the wife of a prime minister should keep quiet and support him, so for them my speaking up is unthinkable, but those on the other side of the spectrum say I should speak up even more," she said in an interview at the prime minister’s official residence.The first lady said people tend to categorize others, like right and left, west versus east, “or men should be this way and women that way,” creating walls and differences. “I want to tear them down,” she said.Abe is often out all day, leaving herself little time for housecleaning. The couple has chosen to live mostly in their own home in Tokyo, rather than the official residence, so they don’t have the benefit of government household staff.She said she sometimes hears her husband mumbling about the house, but that he is never a bossy husband telling her to do things for him.She said he does chores when he can, including sometimes washing the clothes."Sometimes he tries to move things out of the way, but I end up scolding him for putting things in the wrong place. Poor thing," she said.Abe said women tend to work harder than men in many parts of the world but are not represented fairly."I think a society where women can advance and shine is a global trend, otherwise a country cannot be sustained," she said.But that doesn’t mean all women should work like men to be able to “shine,” she said.Read article HERE

Japan’s first lady says husband helps with chores
Associated Press
By MARI YAMAGUCHI 9 hours ago

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s first lady says she has such a busy schedule that sometimes it’s up to the prime minister to do the dishes or take out the garbage.

It’s the kind of flexibility that Akie Abe says is needed for the advancement of women in Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing companies and the government to hire and promote more women to allow Japan’s economy to grow and create a society where “women can shine.” He appointed five women to his 18-member Cabinet on Wednesday.

Even though Akie Abe, 52, openly refers to herself as a member of the “opposition in the household” on some issues her husband favors, such as nuclear energy, she told The Associated Press on Thursday that she is a big supporter of his “womenomics” policy of promoting women’s advancement.

In Japan, women are under-represented in senior-level positions in companies, government or universities. They have long been discriminated against in salary and promotion in corporate Japan, and often face obstacles to pursuing their careers due to a lack of help from spouses.

Abe, the daughter of the former president of a leading Japanese confectioner, Morinaga & Co., said it’s important that society allows women enough flexibility to work again after child-rearing or other life events that interrupt their professional careers.

Her husband’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has conservative views on gender equality, but the first lady is a businesswoman, owns a bar in downtown Tokyo, and supports local artists and craftsmen. She is active in organic farming and grows rice herself in Yamaguchi, her husband’s hometown in western Japan, and campaigns against AIDS and discrimination against minorities.

Next week, she will speak at “The World Assembly for Women in Tokyo,” an international symposium at which she wants to show that Japanese women are also serious about making a society that is friendlier to them.

Such activities, along with her differences with some of her husband’s views, have contributed to her image as a new breed of first lady.

"My husband’s conservative supporters think the wife of a prime minister should keep quiet and support him, so for them my speaking up is unthinkable, but those on the other side of the spectrum say I should speak up even more," she said in an interview at the prime minister’s official residence.

The first lady said people tend to categorize others, like right and left, west versus east, “or men should be this way and women that way,” creating walls and differences. “I want to tear them down,” she said.

Abe is often out all day, leaving herself little time for housecleaning. The couple has chosen to live mostly in their own home in Tokyo, rather than the official residence, so they don’t have the benefit of government household staff.

She said she sometimes hears her husband mumbling about the house, but that he is never a bossy husband telling her to do things for him.

She said he does chores when he can, including sometimes washing the clothes.

"Sometimes he tries to move things out of the way, but I end up scolding him for putting things in the wrong place. Poor thing," she said.

Abe said women tend to work harder than men in many parts of the world but are not represented fairly.

"I think a society where women can advance and shine is a global trend, otherwise a country cannot be sustained," she said.

But that doesn’t mean all women should work like men to be able to “shine,” she said.

Read article HERE

Japanese firm showcases ‘touchable’ 3D technology
TECHNOLOGY SEP. 02, 2014 - 07:12AM JST

TSUKUBA —
Technology that generates touchable 3D imagery was unveiled in Japan Monday, with its developers saying users could pull and push objects that are not really there.

Know-how that could improve a gaming experience, or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available to buy, said Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo.

“Touching is an important part of human communication but virtual reality has until now been lacking it,” its chief executive Natsuo Koda told a press conference.

“This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3D world,” said Koda, a former Sony researcher on virtual reality.

It works by fooling the brain, blending the images the eye is seeing with different patterns of vibration created by a small device on the fingertip, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of “3D-Haptics Technology” and chief technical officer at the firm.

In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the user can feel resistance from virtual buttons that he or she is pushing.

Miraisens is a spin-off of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology based in the city of Tsukuba east of Tokyo.

Billing the technology as a world first, the company says it wants to commercialise it through applications in electronics and the services industry.

The system can be built into devices in the shape of coins, sticks or pens, amongst others.

Company officials said they could foresee a number of ways of using the technology.

For example, if built into a game controller, it could be used to give a sense of resistance in response to certain actions within the game, they said.

It could also be used to make up complicated data that could be fed into a 3D printer, allowing a child to make a virtual dinosaur model and then watch it come into existence.

Other applications could include help for doctors carrying out surgery remotely, or navigation assistance in canes used by visually impaired people.

Read article HERE

Japanese firm showcases ‘touchable’ 3D technology

TECHNOLOGY SEP. 02, 2014 - 07:12AM JST

TSUKUBA —

Technology that generates touchable 3D imagery was unveiled in Japan Monday, with its developers saying users could pull and push objects that are not really there.

Know-how that could improve a gaming experience, or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available to buy, said Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo.

“Touching is an important part of human communication but virtual reality has until now been lacking it,” its chief executive Natsuo Koda told a press conference.

“This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3D world,” said Koda, a former Sony researcher on virtual reality.

It works by fooling the brain, blending the images the eye is seeing with different patterns of vibration created by a small device on the fingertip, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of “3D-Haptics Technology” and chief technical officer at the firm.

In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the user can feel resistance from virtual buttons that he or she is pushing.

Miraisens is a spin-off of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology based in the city of Tsukuba east of Tokyo.

Billing the technology as a world first, the company says it wants to commercialise it through applications in electronics and the services industry.

The system can be built into devices in the shape of coins, sticks or pens, amongst others.

Company officials said they could foresee a number of ways of using the technology.

For example, if built into a game controller, it could be used to give a sense of resistance in response to certain actions within the game, they said.

It could also be used to make up complicated data that could be fed into a 3D printer, allowing a child to make a virtual dinosaur model and then watch it come into existence.

Other applications could include help for doctors carrying out surgery remotely, or navigation assistance in canes used by visually impaired people.

Read article HERE

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test
TECHNOLOGY SEP. 03, 2014 - 06:55AM JST

TOKYO —
Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Professor Jiro Yasuda and his team at Nagasaki University say their process is also cheaper than the system currently in use in west Africa where the virus has already killed more than 1,500 people.

“The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available,” Yasuda told AFP by telephone.

“We have yet to receive any questions or requests, but we are pleased to offer the system, which is ready to go,” he said.

Yasuda said the team had developed what he called a “primer”, which amplifies only those genes specific to the Ebola virus found in a blood sample or other bodily fluid.

Using existing techniques, ribonucleic acid (RNA)—biological molecules used in the coding of genes—is extracted from any viruses present in a blood sample.

This is then used to synthesise the viral DNA, which can be mixed with the primers and then heated to 60-65 degrees Celsius (140-149 Fahrenheit).

If Ebola is present, DNA specific to the virus is amplified in 30 minutes due to the action of the primers. The by-products from the process cause the liquid to become cloudy, providing visual confirmation, Yasuda said.

Currently, a method called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is widely used to detect the Ebola virus, which requires doctors to heat and cool samples repeatedly and takes up to two hours.

“The new method only needs a small, battery-powered warmer and the entire system costs just tens of thousands of yen, which developing countries should be able to afford,” he added.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout western Africa and further afield.

Read article HERE

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

TECHNOLOGY SEP. 03, 2014 - 06:55AM JST

TOKYO —

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Professor Jiro Yasuda and his team at Nagasaki University say their process is also cheaper than the system currently in use in west Africa where the virus has already killed more than 1,500 people.

“The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available,” Yasuda told AFP by telephone.

“We have yet to receive any questions or requests, but we are pleased to offer the system, which is ready to go,” he said.

Yasuda said the team had developed what he called a “primer”, which amplifies only those genes specific to the Ebola virus found in a blood sample or other bodily fluid.

Using existing techniques, ribonucleic acid (RNA)—biological molecules used in the coding of genes—is extracted from any viruses present in a blood sample.

This is then used to synthesise the viral DNA, which can be mixed with the primers and then heated to 60-65 degrees Celsius (140-149 Fahrenheit).

If Ebola is present, DNA specific to the virus is amplified in 30 minutes due to the action of the primers. The by-products from the process cause the liquid to become cloudy, providing visual confirmation, Yasuda said.

Currently, a method called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is widely used to detect the Ebola virus, which requires doctors to heat and cool samples repeatedly and takes up to two hours.

“The new method only needs a small, battery-powered warmer and the entire system costs just tens of thousands of yen, which developing countries should be able to afford,” he added.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout western Africa and further afield.

Read article HERE

Japan space agency unveils asteroid hunting probe
TECHNOLOGY SEP. 03, 2014 - 02:06PM JST

TOKYO —
Japanese space scientists have unveiled the asteroid hunting space probe they hope to launch later this year on a mission to mine a celestial body.

The probe, named Hayabusa-2, is expected to be flung into space on a rocket for a mammoth four year voyage to the unpoetically-named 1999JU3 asteroid.

When it gets there, some time in 2018, it will release a powerful cannon which will fire a metal bullet at the asteroid’s barren crust, once the probe itself has scuttled to safety on the far side of the rock.

It will then return to scoop up material uncovered by the cannon blast.

If all goes well, these pristine asteroid samples will be returned to Earth by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.

At a press conference, Hitoshi Kuninaka, project leader at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said he and his team were readying to redouble their efforts for this “new voyage”.

“I’m grateful as the new asteroid probe is now nearly complete,” he said, according to Jiji Press.

The probe is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa—the Japanese term for falcon—which returned to earth in 2010 with dust samples after a trouble-plagued seven-year mission.

The spherical 1999JU3 asteroid, which is around a kilometer across, contains significantly more organic matter and water than the potato-shaped rock previously studied by the original Hayabusa.

Analysing this valuable cosmic material could shed light on the mysteries surrounding the solar system and its origins 4.6 billion years ago.

Scientists at JAXA say Hayabusa-2 will build on the work of its predecessor, which was only able to collect surface dust samples that could have been altered by years of exposure to various forms of energy encountered in space.

Despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year journey, including intermittent loss of communication and damage to its motors, the first Hayabasa was hailed as a triumph of science when it returned to Earth.

JAXA’s work guiding the craft back to terra firma made it a source of pride for Japan, even inspiring several Japanese feature films.

Kuninaka said there were a number of possible complications and pitfalls that could await Hayabusa-2.

“Of course, I hope things will go smoothly,” said Kuninaka.

“We have had many difficulties in the process of developing the new asteroid probe. Space is never an easy place,” he said.

Asteroids are believed to retain materials unchanged from the solar system’s earliest days, unlike scorched remains such as meteorites or materials on Earth which have been transformed through pressure and heat.

The 1999JU3 asteroid was selected in part because of its make-up and also because of its relative accessibility. 

Read article HERE

Japan space agency unveils asteroid hunting probe

TECHNOLOGY SEP. 03, 2014 - 02:06PM JST

TOKYO —

Japanese space scientists have unveiled the asteroid hunting space probe they hope to launch later this year on a mission to mine a celestial body.

The probe, named Hayabusa-2, is expected to be flung into space on a rocket for a mammoth four year voyage to the unpoetically-named 1999JU3 asteroid.

When it gets there, some time in 2018, it will release a powerful cannon which will fire a metal bullet at the asteroid’s barren crust, once the probe itself has scuttled to safety on the far side of the rock.

It will then return to scoop up material uncovered by the cannon blast.

If all goes well, these pristine asteroid samples will be returned to Earth by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.

At a press conference, Hitoshi Kuninaka, project leader at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said he and his team were readying to redouble their efforts for this “new voyage”.

“I’m grateful as the new asteroid probe is now nearly complete,” he said, according to Jiji Press.

The probe is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa—the Japanese term for falcon—which returned to earth in 2010 with dust samples after a trouble-plagued seven-year mission.

The spherical 1999JU3 asteroid, which is around a kilometer across, contains significantly more organic matter and water than the potato-shaped rock previously studied by the original Hayabusa.

Analysing this valuable cosmic material could shed light on the mysteries surrounding the solar system and its origins 4.6 billion years ago.

Scientists at JAXA say Hayabusa-2 will build on the work of its predecessor, which was only able to collect surface dust samples that could have been altered by years of exposure to various forms of energy encountered in space.

Despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year journey, including intermittent loss of communication and damage to its motors, the first Hayabasa was hailed as a triumph of science when it returned to Earth.

JAXA’s work guiding the craft back to terra firma made it a source of pride for Japan, even inspiring several Japanese feature films.

Kuninaka said there were a number of possible complications and pitfalls that could await Hayabusa-2.

“Of course, I hope things will go smoothly,” said Kuninaka.

“We have had many difficulties in the process of developing the new asteroid probe. Space is never an easy place,” he said.

Asteroids are believed to retain materials unchanged from the solar system’s earliest days, unlike scorched remains such as meteorites or materials on Earth which have been transformed through pressure and heat.

The 1999JU3 asteroid was selected in part because of its make-up and also because of its relative accessibility. 

Read article HERE

Sony wooing Japanese to PS4 with ‘Dragon Quest’
By YURI KAGEYAMA
BUSINESS SEP. 02, 2014 - 06:37AM JST 

TOKYO —
Sony is trying to woo Japanese game fans to the PlayStation 4 home console that went on sale in November in the U.S. and Europe, but didn’t arrive at stores here until February.

Atsushi Morita, who heads Sony Computer Entertainment’s Japan operations, acknowledged Monday the momentum for the PlayStation 4 in Japan wasn’t catching up with the West, although its cumulative global sales reached 10 million recently, the fastest pace for any game console.

The PS4 accounts for 78% of the home-console market in Japan, thrashing Microsoft Corp of the U.S. and local competitor Nintendo Co, but Tokyo-based Sony Corp. won’t give a regional breakdown of recent sales.

Microsoft’s Xbox One is set to go on sale in Japan Thursday, also much later than its November sale in the U.S. and some parts of Europe.

Morita told reporters software games are in the works, mostly for early next year, including a revamped “Dragon Quest,” a game series that is extremely popular with Japanese. A “metal slime” PS4 model, a tribute to one of the game’s characters, will also go on sale. Pricing and other details were not disclosed.

“We are determined to expand in this market,” Morita said at a Tokyo hall, showing trailers of dozens of games spanning genres including sports, car racing and shooting.

Many powerful game franchises were born in Japan such as “Super Mario,” ‘‘Monster Hunter” and “Final Fantasy” so it’s a tragic reversal to have the industry struggling here.

One reason: People around the world are increasingly turning to social networks, games played on smartphones and tablets, and other online entertainment.

Game machines are clinging on by promising a more sophisticated experience, such as playing online with others and adding a movie-like narrative and visual quality to the interactive element of games.

“P.T.,” a collaboration between star game designer Hideo Kojima and “Mimic” movie director Guillermo Del Toro, resembles a horror film, in which players solve a mystery by virtually walking through a spooky house where mass murders were committed.

To add to the fun, players can share video they take of themselves looking petrified playing the game. Kojima said some people were too frightened to finish the game.

Another gadget Sony has in the works is Project Morpheus, a virtual-reality headset that delivers even more of an illusion of being somewhere else. Sony showed footage of a game where wearers can feel as though they are in the same room with a coquettish cartoon girl, wearing a miniskirt.

Read article HERE

Sony wooing Japanese to PS4 with ‘Dragon Quest’

By YURI KAGEYAMA

BUSINESS SEP. 02, 2014 - 06:37AM JST 

TOKYO —

Sony is trying to woo Japanese game fans to the PlayStation 4 home console that went on sale in November in the U.S. and Europe, but didn’t arrive at stores here until February.

Atsushi Morita, who heads Sony Computer Entertainment’s Japan operations, acknowledged Monday the momentum for the PlayStation 4 in Japan wasn’t catching up with the West, although its cumulative global sales reached 10 million recently, the fastest pace for any game console.

The PS4 accounts for 78% of the home-console market in Japan, thrashing Microsoft Corp of the U.S. and local competitor Nintendo Co, but Tokyo-based Sony Corp. won’t give a regional breakdown of recent sales.

Microsoft’s Xbox One is set to go on sale in Japan Thursday, also much later than its November sale in the U.S. and some parts of Europe.

Morita told reporters software games are in the works, mostly for early next year, including a revamped “Dragon Quest,” a game series that is extremely popular with Japanese. A “metal slime” PS4 model, a tribute to one of the game’s characters, will also go on sale. Pricing and other details were not disclosed.

“We are determined to expand in this market,” Morita said at a Tokyo hall, showing trailers of dozens of games spanning genres including sports, car racing and shooting.

Many powerful game franchises were born in Japan such as “Super Mario,” ‘‘Monster Hunter” and “Final Fantasy” so it’s a tragic reversal to have the industry struggling here.

One reason: People around the world are increasingly turning to social networks, games played on smartphones and tablets, and other online entertainment.

Game machines are clinging on by promising a more sophisticated experience, such as playing online with others and adding a movie-like narrative and visual quality to the interactive element of games.

“P.T.,” a collaboration between star game designer Hideo Kojima and “Mimic” movie director Guillermo Del Toro, resembles a horror film, in which players solve a mystery by virtually walking through a spooky house where mass murders were committed.

To add to the fun, players can share video they take of themselves looking petrified playing the game. Kojima said some people were too frightened to finish the game.

Another gadget Sony has in the works is Project Morpheus, a virtual-reality headset that delivers even more of an illusion of being somewhere else. Sony showed footage of a game where wearers can feel as though they are in the same room with a coquettish cartoon girl, wearing a miniskirt.

Read article HERE

New Gender Equality Minister
PICTURE OF THE DAY SEP. 03, 2014 - 03:48PM JST

Japan’s new Gender Equality Minister and minister for promoting women Haruko Arimura (front 3rd R) is surrounded by reporters as she leaves Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon. Abe, who has made a push to get more women into the workforce a linchpin of his “Abenomics” growth plan, appointed women to five posts in his new 18-minister cabinet, equaling a record set by Junichiro Koizimi in 2001.

Read article HERE

New Gender Equality Minister

PICTURE OF THE DAY SEP. 03, 2014 - 03:48PM JST

Japan’s new Gender Equality Minister and minister for promoting women Haruko Arimura (front 3rd R) is surrounded by reporters as she leaves Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon. Abe, who has made a push to get more women into the workforce a linchpin of his “Abenomics” growth plan, appointed women to five posts in his new 18-minister cabinet, equaling a record set by Junichiro Koizimi in 2001.

Read article HERE