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Going solo: ‘Ohitorisama’ or the Japanese art of doing it alone

TOKYO: Every so often, 33-year-old Masaki Kitakoga slips into a tiny booth with a desk and a chair and belts out karaoke tunes for 90 minutes -- completely on his own. Kitakoga is part of a growing trend in Japan favouring solo activities that is now so widespread it has its own name: "ohitorisama" or "on your own." Analysts say that Japan's demographic make-up -- more than one third of households contain just one person -- makes it perfect for the solo market, with many also craving "me time" in a fast-paced,…

One of our islands is missing: Japan ‘loses’ a bit of land

Missing: A tiny island in northern Japan. Or so authorities fear, prompting plans for a survey to determine if the outcrop has been washed away, ever-so-slightly shrinking the country's territorial waters. The island, known as Esambe Hanakita Kojima was only officially surveyed and registered by Japan's coastguard in 1987, who couldn't even say exactly how big it was. Until recently, it rose 1.4-metre (four-and-a-half feet) above sea level, and was visible from the very northern tip of Japan's northern Hokkaido island.…

Japan launches environment monitoring satellite

TOKYO: Japan’s space agency on Monday launched a rocket carrying a satellite that will monitor greenhouse gases, as well as the first satellite built entirely in the United Arab Emirates. The nation’s H-IIA rocket lifted off Monday afternoon at 1:08 pm (0308 GMT) from the Tanegashima Space Centre, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). About 16 minutes later, it sent a Japanese satellite nicknamed Ibuki-2 into orbit. The satellite is officially named GOSAT-2, short for “greenhouse gases…

Japan, China strike deals during Abe visit as ties improve

Japan and China signed $2.6 billion in business deals and touted their warmer ties on Friday during a rare visit to Beijing by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as both face trade challenges from US President Donald Trump. Abe met Chinese President Xi Jinping after a full day of activities that included talks with Premier Li Keqiang and an honour guard with Japan's flag raised outside the Great Hall of the People across from Tiananmen Square. Relations between Asia's two biggest economies have improved in recent years…

Japan asks Facebook to improve data protection

TOKYO: Japan’s government on Monday told United States (US) technology firm Facebook to better protect its users’ personal data following lapses this year affecting tens of millions of people globally. The government asked the world’s largest social media network to fully communicate security issues to users, increase surveillance of providers of applications on its platform, and inform regulators of any change in security measures. The request comes after Facebook this month said attackers stole data from 29 million…

Japan unveils plan to attract more foreign workers

Japan on Friday unveiled a plan to attract more foreign blue-collar workers, as the world´s number-three economy battles a crippling labour shortage caused by an ageing and shrinking population. The plan reportedly aims to fill gaping shortages in sectors such as agriculture, nursing, construction, hotels and shipbuilding. Under the draft legislation, foreign nationals with skills in fields identified as facing shortages would be awarded a visa allowing them to work for up to five years. Foreign workers in those…

North Korea joins South Korean protest over Japan’s ‘Rising Sun’ flag

SEOUL: Japan should refrain from flying the “Rising Sun” flag on a warship in a fleet review planned in South Korea next week, a North Korean propaganda website said on Friday, joining South Koreans in the latest spat over the countries’ colonial history. Relations between the neighbors and Japan have long been strained by lingering resentment over Japanese colonization, territorial disputes and the issue of girls and women forced to work in Japan’s wartime brothels. Many people in both Koreas see the red-and-white…