December 4, 2013 marked the thousandth day since a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the island of Japan on March 11, 2011, killing more than 15,000 people, devastating parts of the country, and causing a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. According to a survey conducted last month by the Reconstruction Agency, it is reported [ja] that there are still 277,609 evacuees who have not returned to their homes; 84 percent of them are from Fukushima prefecture.
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A map created by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto – 橋本公 – shows all the 2,053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998.
According to the CTBTO website that hosts the time-lapse video, the artist created it with the goal of showing “the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.”
Hashimoto has also created a video that simply lists the names of all the atomic bombs launched in the past century.
Hirokazu Tanaka [ja] was 25 years old when he stumbled upon a news clipping that another Hirokazu Tanaka was drafted as a professional baseball player in 1994. This announcement, in which a prominent baseball manager read the shared name aloud, made the long-time baseball fan feel like a dream had come true.
Since then, he embarked on a journey to find other people named Hirokazu Tanaka, learning about the different lives of people sharing the same name. The coincidence continues to fascinate him and bother him. Once, he almost failed to have a loan application approved because the bank was not able to distinguish him from another Hirokazu Tanaka who had bad credit history and the same birthday.
Through the Internet, Hirokazu Tanaka continued to meet other Hirokazu Tanakas. After 20 years, there are 104 Hirokazu Tanakas recorded by the organizer of this Hirokazu Tanaka movement [ja]. Fourteen Hirokazu Tanakas with completely different job titles ranging from apple farmer, graphic designer, composer, and engineer, appear in the book titled “Mr. Hirokazu Tanaka” [ja], literally, a compilation of Hirokazu Tanakas.
Organizer Hirokazu Tanaka continues to meet more Hirokazu Tanakas, hoping one day to beat the number of people named “Jim Smith“, one of the most common name in English speaking countries.
Even though the Japanese government is working toward advancing its open data policy, the country has a ways to go, ranking 30th out of 70 countries, according to an index compiled by Open Knowledge Foundation. Masahiko Shoji of Open Knowledge Foundation Japan writes:
Japan's open data on government spending, company register, transport timetables and legislation received low ratings. All data set fields were not able to receive an evaluation of “YES”. Such challenges are the same as that of the ratings among the G8 compiled by Open Knowledge Foundation in June this year, and it shows that the progress of Open Data efforts in Japan is small.
The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a bill [ja] on October 25, 2013 to impose tougher penalties on civil servants, lawmakers and others who leak national secrets and harm national security. The so-called Secret Information Protection Act has been unpopular among Japanese press, human rights advocates, and citizens who fear that the government would conceal radiation information.
Information security law expert Lawrence Repeta examines potential risks of this bill such as right to access information in comparison with the American cases of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.
Before the bill was approved, the government accepted comment from the public, and among 90,480 comments submitted in a two-week span in early September, 69,579 were against the bill. The bill awaits the approval of parliament.
OpenStreetMap users volunteered their time to create a crisis map of Izu Oshima island [ja], a small island to the south of Tokyo where more than a dozen of people were killed by mudslides triggered by this week's deadly Typhoon Wipha. The red dots on the map represent reports submitted by users, which give information on things such as disaster relief, blocked roads, and water supply.
On October 13, 2013, thousands of people marched down the streets of Tokyo to protest against nuclear power. In a rally dubbed Goodbye Genpatsu [ja], Japanese people demanded the end of nuclear power plants and the use of more environmentally friendly sources of energy.
After the earthquake on March 11, 2011, Japanese people have strived to diminish nuclear power plants. However, no politicians have the determination today. Through nuclear power, we have made a very uncomfortable place for our children to live in the future. We have to admit responsibility for that and go back to a world where humans can live essentially [naturally].
TPFsquare, a project by a group of volunteer professionals based in Tokyo, compiles a list of efforts to rebuild areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 into single map. The project, which is available in English, seeks to aggregate various reconstruction projects in different locations so that they can be discussed, archived, mapped, curated and made available in one place.
Offbeat China blogs about mainland Chinese netizens initial reactions to the success of Tokyo in winning the 2020 Olympics.
The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan has launched a new campaign to gather 100 million signatures. Their online petition, in eight different languages, calls on Japanese government to offer an official apology and legal reparations to the victims and asks the international community to join their cause. Over 743 thousands have already joined online.
The Committee of Small Objects Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union gave astronomers authorization to name the asteroid identified with the number 1995 SG5 as Qoyllurwasi in honor of Perú.
Qoyllurwasi means house of the stars in Quechua language, where qoyllur means star and wasi is house.
The asteroid was discovered on September 20, 1995 and it has just been named.
On Twitter, Jois Koo (@joiskoo) [es] refered to the asteroid's shape:
— Jois Koo (@joiskoo) August 29, 2013
The bread known in Peru as French bread has a very particular shape that can be seen here.
As it turns out radioactive water leaks at Japan's Fukushima plant are ‘much worse than‘ the authorities are willing to admit, South Koreans call on government to provide regular and thorough medical checkups for 108 Korean rescue workers dispatched to Fukushima immediately after the crisis. An online petition [ko] urging medical care for the rescue team has gathered less than seven thousand signatures so far.
Japan's netizens broke the world record for tweets per second on August 2, 2013, flooding Twitter with the magic word “balse” [バルス] from the 1986 anime film Castle In the Sky as the movie was broadcast on television in Japan on August 2, 2013.
Users set a new record of 143,199 tweets per second tweeting the word “balse”. It's a recent tradition to post the magic word “balse” on Twitter during reairings of the movie as the characters in the film spell it to destroy the castle.
In cyber world, the huge traffic triggered by netizens publishing the word “balse” online has caused website servers to crash several times in the past. Twitter's server, however, survived the “balse” inundation without an appearance of the “Fail Whale”.
Packed with Asian stereotypes and fetishes, song ‘Asian Girlz’ by ‘Day Above Ground’ has invited controversy and angry comments. Blogger Angry Asian Man typed down the entire lyrics to comment [if they have not] ‘run out of stereotypical Oriental stuff to list off, the song would have gone on for another ten minutes”. The band defended itself on Youtube but it somehow fueled criticism even more.
A group of Japanese mothers in Sendai city is producing special kimono belts with fairly-traded African fabrics.
Yumi Nakano, who organizes the fundraising [ja] by requesting a donation in exchange for the belts, hopes to encourage more people to enjoy the traditional Japanese kimono and help support the mothers of the area affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami to rebuild their lives at the same time supporting Africans [ja] who hand-loom the fabric.
‘No Time for Anger [de]’, a visualization journal by a team of Swiss media reporter and designers, illustrates Fukushima two years after the triple catastrophe of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami followed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011. Fearing radiation, some residents sought evacuation to other areas in Japan, but the data visualization by the team shows the majority of people who fled actually stayed within the region of Fukushima:
We received data sets from the prefecture of Fukushima on the number of refugees and their current location for the years 2011 and 2012. We imagined that since this was a nuclear catastrophe people would flee from the region and wish to be as far away as possible. Yet, the numbers from the prefecture of Fukushima backed by researchers at the University of Gunma showed that the reality was quite different. The majority of people who fled actually stayed within the region of Fukushima.
The color of the dots represents the type of power plant, for example fossil-fuel plants are red and hydroelectric plants are blue. The size of the dot represents the amount of power generated. Users can also explore real-time energy consumption [ja] on a regional basis through this map.
In the midst of Japan's first election campaign where politicians are officially allowed to use social media, freelance engineer Masahide Mori [ja] has compiled a ranking [ja] based on the number of likes and the number of subscribers on the Facebook pages of candidates. Users can view increase and decrease of Facebook Like of politicians. Users can also chose political parties and compare who is gaining more likes.
Masao Yoshida, the manager at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the accident in Japan, died on July 9, 2013. He had esophageal cancer. Many people expressed condolences on social media, and EX-SKF blog translated more details on Yoshida's unfulfilled dream to speak for workers and stabilize the plant.
Isamu Kaneko, the Japanese developer of file-sharing software Winny, died due to an undisclosed illness on July 8, 2013 at the age of 42. He was charged in 2006 with “assisting” Winny users to violate copyright, but the case against him was later overturned and his acquittal upheld by the country's Supreme Court.
A committee of labor activists and journalists have announced the nominees for Japan's most evil corporation in 2013 [ja]. Eight corporations and organizations that lost their employees to overwork and suicide have been nominated for the disgraceful award. Web users can vote for Japan's evilest corporation here [ja], where realtime results and comments can also be viewed [ja].
Among others, Haruyuki Seki, a software developer at Georepublic Japan[ja] and social media consultant Hiroyasu Ichikawa are currently working toward the launch of Code For Japan [ja], an organization that aims to improve the society through technology. Members got together on June 20, 2013 and discussed prospects [ja] of collaboration among civil society and coders. More »
WordPress communities in Japan celebrated the 10th anniversary of the open source blogging platform. Events were held in Sapporo, Kagawa, Tokyo, Chiba and Osaka. There are 40 local WordBench [ja] groups, Japan's WordPress local community directory is powered by BuddyPress. Naoko Takano blogs more about the events in Japan.
Activists in Tokyo demonstrated against agricultural giant Monsanto in front of their local offices, joining 279,723 protesters in 57 other countries around the world for March Against Monsanto day on May 25, 2013. Project 99% [ja], an anti-nuclear power and anti-Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement [so called TPP] coalition of activists and groups in Japan working to create society for the 99 percent, organized the action. Some of the activists performed a short original theatrical play entitled “Keep the Monsanto Police out of Japan! [ja]“.
Blogger and activist Masaki C. has something to say about English media coverage of LGBT politics in Japan, arguing that they simplify the issue down to marriage equality:
They are, in constructing LGBT politics in Japan as such, erasing local history and ignoring dialogues taking place among queers in Japan.
To counter the dropping birth rate, the Japanese government is proposing compiling a handbook with information on pregnancy and family planning to educate teenage girls on the subject. This plan to distribute the so-called “women's handbook” has been met with criticism by women's groups, which argue that the issues of pregnancy involve both men and women. More »
Japan participated in NASA's International Space Apps Challenge 2013 with a hackathon in Tokyo on April 21 and 22, 2013. Eighteen project teams developed apps with the aim of improving life on Earth and in space, including an app to create dishes in a shape of celestial bodies [ja] such as the moons of Mars using 3D printers, and a location finder app to suggest less cloudy places for installing solar panels.