Japan’s high suicide rate mystifies the rest of the world

IOL: World
…..Japan has the highest suicide rate in the industrialised world, a phenomenon often linked to the lack of cultural taboo about suicide but reluctance to discuss it openly.
Suicide rates have picked up since the economy began to slump in the 1990s, as the once unthinkable idea of economic insecurity has taken hold. Japan registered a record high of 34 427 suicides in 2003……

Bilateral ties bug Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Vientiane on Tuesday to discuss bilateral ties, which have been warming up on the economic front but cooling off on the political front, as well as the issue of North Korea…..
With China mentioning signs of improvement in their relations, the focus will be on whether Koizumi and Wen can narrow the gap over a long-running dispute on sensitive historical issues, which has been exacerbated by the Japanese leader’s repeated visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

New photocatalyst to clean the environment

Photocatalyst may be stone that kills 2 birds Daily Yomiuri On-Line
….a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said heteropoly acid might be able to negate the harmful effects of organic fluorine compounds on humans and the environment, and put an end to a fluorite shortage.
Hori, lead researcher of the institute’s Potential Pollutants Group, recently announced his success at disintegrating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)–one of the most difficult chemical compounds to dissolve–by using heteropoly acid as a photocatalyst…..

Japan pushing for more whaling and repeal of the whaling ban

Yahoo! News – Whaling Commission debates possible repeal of whaling ban
….Sweden called the meeting in an attempt to negotiate a compromise between pro-whaling nations like Iceland, Japan and Norway, which are determined to lift a 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, and countries that staunchly oppose the practice like Australia and Britain…..

Japanese public evenly spilt on support of Class-A war criminal shrine

asahi.com : English
Public opinion is split over whether Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should continue his visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, an Asahi Shimbun poll conducted over the weekend shows.
Asked whether Koizumi should continue to visit Yasukuni, 38 percent of those polled said yes, and 39 percent said no.

Japanese carmakers “speak softly and wield a big stick”

Bloomberg.com: Japan
“In the past, the Japanese automakers would defer to Detroit on auto issues, even when it wasn’t in their best interest,” said Brian O’Neill, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which works with automakers on legislative issues. “Now they’re being much more assertive, and their confidence is growing in line with their increase in U.S. plants.”
Already this year, Toyota and Honda used their influence to obtain from Congress an extension of tax credits that favor their hybrid-electric autos over those produced by U.S. companies. And Nissan earned a waiver from a rule relating to fuel-economy standards for its cars.

Private health-service point to a new trend in Japan

asahi.com : English
The health-service firm will charge several tens of thousands of yen per employee annually.
“The companies that sign up for the service can expect to see their medical expenses held down, which will be worth the annual costs,” said Yoichiro Imanishi, a senior researcher at Mitsubishi Research Institute, which provides data support for the establishment of the new company

Education Minister Regrets Remarks On Textbooks – Japan’s Leading International News Network

Japan Today – News – Education minister regrets remarks on textbooks –
TOKYO— Education minister Nariaki Nakayama said Tuesday his remarks on Japanese history textbooks were based on his personal belief and that he should not have made such comments in public. “I should have refrained from speaking from my individual standpoint,” he said…
….[previously on the weekend he had said that the texbooks were] “extremely self-torturing and tantamount to saying that Japan did only bad things.” [and] “It is good that references to ‘comfort women’ and abduction from occupied territories are decreasing.”

Big Head People In Tokyo Stores

Boing Boing: Big head people in Tokyo stores
Giant headed people in Tokyo stores are a sign that Christmas is coming?????

Japanese crazy says he stabbed woman to go to jail

Japan Today – News – Tokyo man says he stabbed woman so he could go to prison – Japan’s Leading International News Network
A 45-year-old man being held in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old woman has told investigators he killed her because he wanted to be sent to prison, police said Monday. The suspect told police he selected the woman at random.