January 2017

JAL's spending tactics raising eyebrows

Updated : 24.01.2017 / Category Capsule

After having pulled free of its bankruptcy crisis, Japan Airlines (JAL) continues to pursue its "athlete-chasing" program, among other eyebrow-raising spending.

In November 2015, the company entered into an agreement with professional tennis player Kei Nishikori—who had been contracted with Delta Airlines—in a five-year deal reportedly worth ¥1.5 billion, attracting intense public attention. Then, in November 2016, the firm agreed to sponsor figure skater Marin Honda, after the skater had initially approached rival firm All Nippon Airways (ANA) to ask for support, only to be turned down due to concerns over her potential and the cost-effectiveness of inking such a deal.

Haruki Murakami's other contribution to the literary world: translation

Updated : 18.01.2017 / Category Society and Culture

Haruki Murakami is one of the world's most celebrated writers, but he wears another hat, too, which has allowed him to greatly contribute to Japan's literary sphere: He is a superb translator of literary works into Japanese.

"As a translator and a novelist, I've striven earnestly, to the best of my ability, to find a way to translate that which constitutes the most important elements of 'The Great Gatsby—its very essence, if you will—more effectively and more accurately," Murakami writes in the postscript of his Japanese-language translation of the book.

For Murakami, literary translation is not a mere hobby. Rather, it is part of his life, on a par with his novel writing. His literary translation and novel writing play off each other to create him.

Shochiku planning kabuki theater following passing of 'casino bill'

Updated : 12.01.2017 / Category Capsule

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Shochiku, a major Japanese film and theater company, is welcoming the December 15 enactment of the integrated resort (IR) promotion bill, which was passed just in time for the end of an extraordinary Diet session, despite strong opposition.

Indeed, the firm has long hoped for the establishment of the so-called "casino law," which will legalize casino gambling in Japan.

The insatiable ambition of SoftBank's CEO

Updated : 10.01.2017 / Category Economy

SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son stunned both the Japanese and U.S. political and business circles when he met with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York on December 6 (local time).

During the 45-minute-long talks at Trump Tower, Son—known for his shrewd ability to win over influential individuals to further his own goals—promised to invest a total of $50 billion (about ¥5.7 trillion) in U.S. startups, helping create about 50,000 jobs. For his part, Trump described Son (warmly referring to him as "Masa") as "one of the great men of industry." It was the first meeting between the two men.

Japanese Defense Ministry silent over atrocity near South Sudan encampment

Updated : 04.01.2017 / Category Capsule

Japan's Defense Ministry did not publicly reveal a report on an atrocity that took place near an encampment of a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) unit dispatched last year to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, just as the government was debating whether to give the GSDF fresh roles in line with controversial security laws, it was learned recently.

The event was reportedly witnessed by members of the 10th unit during their operational duties as part of a U.N. mission called UNMISS, following their dispatch to South Sudan in June last year. "A terrible atrocity was carried out against citizens on the outskirts of the capital city of Juba, close to the SDF encampment" a Defense Ministry source said.

Doubts swirl around Toyota Prius after fatal accident in Japan

Updated : 02.01.2017 / Category Capsule

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Last month, a Toyota Motor Corp. Prius model taxi cab crashed into a hospital in Fukuoka City, southern Japan, killing three people and injuring several others. The police investigation concluded the taxi driver had mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, based on an analysis of the information contained in the vehicle's event data recorder (EDR).

"There are continual rumors about Prius cars going out of control at convenience store parking lots and other facilities," said an automobile journalist who covers users' car-related comments. "In most cases, police have pointed to driver carelessness as the cause of such accidents."