B-52 Bombers Conduct ‘Training ‘Mission’ With Japan Over East China Sea  | Zero Hedge

East China Sea 

Two Boeing B-52 long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bombers recently conducted an “integration training” mission with the U.S. Navy and the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) over the East China Sea. 
statement issued by the U.S. Pacific Air Force (PACAF) last month indicated that two B-52s departed from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, linked up with McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles assigned to the Kadena Air Base in Japan. The mission was conducted on March 20. 
“Training missions and patrols of the contested waters are not unheard of, having become a regular exercise by American forces. The US’ use of bombers in the region has been going on for more than 10 years as part of its Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission Washington says is “in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In response to the U.S. led military exercise, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) conducted an exercise of their own, on March 30, with six Xian H-6 bombers, additional reconnaissance aircraft, and fighter jets, across the Miyako Strait, a waterway which lies between Miyako Island and Okinawa Island. 
The U.S. and Japan have routinely carried out air defense training missions in the East China Sea, home to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. 

An estimated $5 trillion worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea annually. Beijing has repeatedly stressed that it’s willing to escalate war drills in the region to defend its territory. The threat has mostly be ignored by American forces, who continue to conduct military exercises in some of the world’s most disputed waters. 
Washington and Beijing have frequently unleashed a war of words over the militarization of the South China Sea, where China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines all have competing economic claims.

B-52 Bombers Conduct ‘Training ‘Mission’ With Japan Over East China Sea  | Zero Hedge

Japan Grounds F-35 Fleet After Jet Disappears From Radar Over Pacific


It appears that its ‘s turn to bask in the aviation spotlight for a little while

Earlier today, a Japanese F-35 stealth fighter jet with one pilot on board unexpectedly disappeared from radar while on a training mission over the Pacific on Tuesday night, Kyodo reported citing the defense ministry. The fighter jet went missing at around 7:27 p.m. (1027 GMT) as it was flying 135 km (84 miles) east of Misawa in northeastern Japan, a ministry spokeswoman said.

It was not immediately clear if it had crashed, the spokesperson said, adding: “We are still trying to search for the aircraft.”

The fate of the pilot was also not immediately clear.

According to Japan’s NHK, the plane lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from Misawa Air Base, and added that the Self-Defence Forces and coastguard dispatched vessels to carry out rescue operations, NHK added.

What is embarrassing, is that according to the Defense Report, Japan’s first F-35A fighter squadron based at Misawa became operational on March 29.

As a result of the unexplained, and first ever, disappearance of the stealth fighter, Kyodo also reports that Japan will ground its entire fleet of F-35s until there is more clarity on what happened today.

via Japan Grounds F-35 Fleet After Jet Disappears From Radar Over Pacific | Zero Hedge

Sony shares surge after Reuters reports Third Point building stake again – Reuters


Sony Corp shares surged more than 7 percent on Tuesday after a Reuters report saying Third Point LLC was again raising its stake in the Japanese conglomerate stoked speculation that fund owner Daniel Loeb was preparing to agitate for more change.

Third Point, which has about $14.5 billion in assets under management, is raising a dedicated investment vehicle targeting $500 million to $1 billion in capital to buy Sony shares, people familiar with the matter said.

A Sony spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Sony shares rallied to a three-week high at the start of Tokyo trade, recovering from a slump last month triggered by concern that its turnaround of recent years had lost momentum.

The electronics and entertainment conglomerate had a market value of 6.1 trillion yen ($55 billion) at Tokyo’s Monday close.

The move would be Third Point’s second campaign for change at Sony in six years, coming as investors look for the company’s next profit pillar amid signs its gaming business is slowing and as its PlayStation 4 console nears the end of its lifecycle.

Third Point wants Sony to explore options for some of its business units, including its movie studio, which the fund believes has attracted takeover interest, the sources said.

Sony Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida sees movies, music and other intellectual property as central to stable revenue growth, having battled years of losses in consumer goods such as television sets that are more susceptible to price competition.

Photo by Jaroslav Nymburský on Pexels.com

“I don’t think a sale of the pictures business is an option for Sony now because entertainment content is becoming crucial for the company,” Ace Securities analyst Hideki Yasuda said, pointing out synergies seen in the success of action game Marvel’s Spider-Man and the related movie series.

“The profit margin at Sony’s pictures business is thinner than rivals, but that’s a result of past management decisions, including the sale of rights to Spider-Man merchandise.”

The business is on track to recover from a series of short-term measures that cost the company long-term profit, Yasuda said.

Sony forecasts its pictures segment to report 50 billion yen ($450 million) in operating profit for the year ended March, less than a tenth of the estimated 870 billion yen profit for the entire company.

Sony has recently downsized or exited several television channels within the pictures segment to cut costs, while scoring blockbuster hits such as ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Venom’.

Third Point last exited a stake in Sony in 2014 with a roughly 20 percent gain on its investment after spending a year and a half pushing for Sony to spin off its entertainment division, a call rejected by Yoshida’s predecessor, Kazuo Hirai.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing

via Sony shares surge after Reuters reports Third Point building stake again – Reuters

Title Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

‘Steel Phallus’ festival: Japan celebrates legendary defeat of penis-biting demon


Shrines containing models of giant penises were carried through the street of Kawasaki, #Japan on Sunday as part of the annual Kanamara Festival, also known as the ‘#Festival of the #SteelPhallus.’ Attendees celebrated the legend of a demon that hid inside the vagina of a young woman whom the demon had fallen in love with, and bit off the penises of two young men on their wedding nights. The woman was then said to have gained help from a blacksmith, who created an iron penis to wreck the demon’s teeth.


Japan gets 10 days off for new emperor, some people really unhappy – INSIDER


At the end of April, Japan is giving everybody a ten-day vacation to celebrate the coronation of its new emperor — but a surprising number of people aren’t happy with the extra holiday.

The Japanese cabinet last November approved a bill to create national holidays on April 30, May 1, and May 2 to celebrate Crown Prince Naruhito’s ascension to emperor on May 1. Naruhito’s father, Emperor Akihito, is abdicating at the end of this month.

The country already has April 29, and May 3 to May 6 — known as “Golden Week” — off as regular national public holidays. Together, this makes for 10 consecutive days off.


While some citizens are celebrating the extra-long holiday by booking vacations overseas, many others are complaining about the lack of childcare services and having nothing to do.

Extra time to travel and date…

Travel agencies have noticed a dramatic increase in demand for their services, The Japan Times reported in January. The number of reservations for overseas trips have tripled in size, with much of the interest in luxury cruise ships.

Hideki Wakamatsu, a spokesman for Nippon Travel Agency, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that most of its Golden Week tours had sold out and many people are on its waiting list.

Young people often start konkatsu — “spouse-hunting” — activities when they go home during the Golden Week holidays, The Japan Times added — and the extra time off could give them extra time to find partners.


Zwei Co., a major matchmaking company in Japan, told the newspaper it is expecting more customers during this year’s Golden Week and considering discounting some of their services.

… or extra chores and less childcare?

But not everyone is happy about the extra time off. According to a survey by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, cited by AFP, 45% of respondents said they “felt unhappy” about the long vacation while only 35% said they “felt happy” about it.


Many women told an Expedia survey last October that they were dreading extra household chores because their husbands and children will be at home, rather than at work or school, The Japan Times reported.

Another parent tweeted, according to AFP: “For parents in the service sector, the 10 days of holiday is a headache. After-school care, nurseries — everything is closed.”

Workers who are paid by the day or hour will also see their income decrease, The Japan Times reported, citing labor union Haken-Union executive Shuichiro Sekine.

‘It’s horrifying that we can’t trade for six business days’

Investors also worry that a 10-day market shutdown could derail its currency and stock market. Major financial hubs rarely shut down for this long.

Japan’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, told all the country’s firms to warn customers about the possibility of global market turmoil, and make sure their systems can cope with increased activity before and after the holiday, Reuters reported in January.

Currency traders worry that their inability to go into the office to use in-house terminals could disrupt their work, and fund managers say they will probably make their positions market-neutral by late April to avoid vulnerability to market swings, Reuters said.

Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at financial services firm Libra Investments, told the news agency: “It’s horrifying that we can’t trade for six business days. We’ve got to adjust our positions before the week. Hard to say exactly what I will do then, but I’ll probably have to make my position neutral before the holidays.”

Japan’s workaholics may also struggle to cope


Japan is notorious for its non-stop work culture and rigid labor market, which has seen hundreds of people die from overwork every year over the past decade.

Workers have died of heart failure and suicide due to the toxic work culture. The country even cites the Japanese term for “death from overwork” — “karoshi” — as an official cause of death for many people.

Earlier this week the Japanese government put into effect new labor laws to set a legal cap on long work hours in an attempt to solve the problem.

Seishu Sato, a 31-year-old finance worker, told AFP: “To be honest, I don’t know how to spend the time when we are suddenly given 10 days of holidays.”


via Japan gets 10 days off for new emperor, some people really unhappy – INSIDER

AP News: Japan gov’t says era name translates as ‘beautiful harmony’

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s government said Tuesday that the official translation of the era name for the new emperor will be “Beautiful Harmony,” setting off confusion while offices rush to make changes before Crown Prince Naruhito takes the throne.

The era of “Reiwa” begins May 1, a day after 85-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicates and hands over the chrysanthemum throne to his elder son.

The cultural importance of the imperial family and the secretive naming process created a frenzy of attention for the announcement of the era name on Monday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the name, composed of two Chinese characters, was taken for the first time from an ancient Japanese book instead of from Chinese classics. He said it comes from a section about plum blossoms in Manyoshu, a poetry anthology from the 7th-8th centuries, and suggests that “culture is born and nurtured as the people’s hearts are beautifully drawn together.”

Abe did not say which of a range of meanings for each of the two Chinese characters applied to the era name.

Experts and media had a variety of interpretations of the meaning, and initial reports generally settled on “pursuing harmony.” The first character can also mean order, rule, good or auspicious. The second can mean peace, reconciliation or soft.

A Foreign Ministry official gave the official translation Tuesday.

“‘Reiwa’ is best interpreted as ‘beautiful harmony,'” said Masaru Sato, the deputy consul-general and director of the Japan Information Center in New York. “‘Reiwa’ refers to the beauty of plum blossoms after a tough winter, and is taken to mean the beauty of people when they bring their hearts together to cultivate a culture.”

However, some experts said the first Chinese character, “Rei,” today is most widely thought to mean “order,” ”command” and “dictate,” with an authoritarian tone.

Historians and experts on the monarchy noted that an 1864 era name proposal of “Reitoku” using the same first character was rejected by the Tokugawa Shogunate, which said it sounded like the emperor was commanding Tokugawa.

“The name sounds as if we are ordered to achieve peace, rather than doing so proactively,” Kazuto Hongo, a University of Tokyo historian, said on TV Asahi.

Yoshinori Kobayashi, a conservative cartoonist who has written books on Japanese emperors, said the character “Rei” portrays “the people kneeling down under the crown. It’s meaning, after all, is a command of a monarch or a ruler. … It is inevitable that ‘Reiwa’ gives a somewhat cold impression.”

As discussions of the era name dominated Japanese newspapers and television talk shows, stores began selling Reiwa goods.

A bakery in Tokyo sold cupcakes decorated with Reiwa toppings, and sweet bean cakes carrying Reiwa logos quickly sold out at a souvenir shop inside Japan’s parliament building. Some bookstores set up Manyoshu sections, and many editions of the anthology were out of stock on Amazon. Department stores were planning to sell gold coins emblazoned with Reiwa.

The announcement gives the government, businesses and people only a month to adjust to a change that affects many parts of Japanese society, though the emperor has no political power under Japan’s postwar constitution. Era names are still widely used in government and business documents and on calendars. Many people use them to identify generations and historical periods.

Discussing an era change in advance was not considered a taboo this time because Akihito is abdicating, a highly unusual step.


Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi


Japan reveals new era name “Reiwa” ahead of Emperor Akihito abdication Full English understanding coming later.

Japan on Monday announced its new imperial era, which will begin next month after Emperor Akihito abdicates, will be known as “Reiwa”, a word that includes the character for “harmony”.

The name consists of two characters: “Rei”, which can have meanings related to “order” but also “auspicious” and “Wa”, usually translated as “peace” or “harmony”.

The government is expected to explain the official meaning as well as the English spelling for the name shortly.

Although the Gregorian calendar is widely used in Japan, the imperial calendar is also in common use and the new era announcement has been highly anticipated.


via Japan reveals new ‘era’ name ahead of Akihito’s abdication – World – The Jakarta Post

Taiwan urges Australia, US and Japan to unite to push back against China in the Pacific | ABC News AUS

Taiwan’s President has urged Australia, the United States and Japan to join with her country in a “values-based partnership” to push back against growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Key points:

  • Beijing regards Taiwan as a mutinous province and is intent on poaching its Pacific allies
  • President Tsai Ing-wen accused China of undermining “stability and good governance”
  • Pacific nations say great powers should stop using them as geopolitical “pawns”

Six of Taipei’s remaining allies lie in the Pacific, and Beijing has been intent on poaching them as it intensifies efforts to isolate Taiwan, which it sees as a mutinous province.

President Tsai Ing-wen issued her call on the last day of a Pacific trip designed to shore up its relations with three of those nations — Palau, Nauru and Marshall Islands.

China has been ramping up investment in its Pacific allies, but Ms Tsai accused Beijing of undermining “stability and good governance” in the region.

“This is why I think it’s essential for Taiwan and like-minded countries to work through and create a values-based partnership in the Pacific,” she said.

“I believe that when given a choice Pacific states would prefer assistance and investments come from countries which share their values and interests.”

Ms Tsai said nations like Australia, the United States and Japan could better coordinate their efforts on aid and infrastructure to ensure that they could maximise their influence.

All three countries share unease about China’s rise in the region and have promised to ramp up investment in infrastructure through the Pacific in response.

Ms Tsai said “like-minded countries” needed to “share the good narrative we’ve been building, not only with their governments but also everyday people”.

Controversially, she also called for them to intensify their criticism of Chinese lending and investment in the region.

“[We will] cooperate with partners to counter the Chinese narrative and share examples of areas where the Chinese have not lived up to their promises in the region,” she said.

“We believe our values underpin each and every one of our relations in the Pacific, and we want to work actively with like-minded partners to build a broad partnership to ensure these values are protected.”

The comments are likely to anger Beijing. Several Pacific island nations have also dismissed previous warnings from Australia and the US about Chinese investment in the Pacific, accusing Canberra and Washington of patronising behaviour.

Last year Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, said that great powers should stop using Pacific nations as “pawns” in a geopolitical struggle, and respect their right to self-determination.

The new US ambassador, Arthur Culvahouse, recently said Beijing engaged in “pay day loan diplomacy” in the Pacific, accusing it of loading small nations with unsustainable debts that it could use as leverage.

China has consistently rejected the assertion. Earlier this month China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said its Belt and Road initiative was “an economic pie that benefits the local population” and not a “geopolitical tool”.

via Taiwan urges Australia, US and Japan to unite to push back against China in the Pacific – China power – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Japan February jobless rate falls to 2.3 percent: government

Japan’s jobless rate fell in February while the availability of jobs held steady at a high level, government data showed on Friday, underscoring a tight labor market despite tepid wage gains and inflation.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.3 percent last month, against economists’ median forecast for 2.5 percent, figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio stood at 1.63, unchanged from January and matching economists’ median estimate in a Reuters poll.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Sumio Ito; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

BOJ debated feasibility of more easing at March meeting: summary

Bank of Japan policymakers debated the feasibility of ramping up monetary stimulus at their rate review this month as heightening overseas risks weighed on the country’s fragile economy, a summary of opinions of the meeting showed on Tuesday.
“In the current situation where downside risks are materializing, the BOJ should be prepared to make policy responses,” one of the central bank’s nine board members was quoted as saying.

“If there are concerns that the inflation momentum will be lost, the BOJ should ease policy decisively,” the member said.

At the March meeting, the BOJ kept monetary policy steady but downgraded its view on exports and output in a nod to the impact of slowing global growth.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

Chapter 484: Sapporo Pokémon Center (ポケモンセンターサッポロ)

Awesome Post.

The Flying Tofu

Gotta Catch em’ All! And I gotta visit every Pokemon Centre in Japan. This is the Sapporo Branch located on the 8th Floor of Daimaru. The shop has plenty of temping merchandise, long shelves of plushies and even a game corner! This branch in particular I found is less crowded, or maybe it’s because I visited during a good time in the evening. They were featuring all the popular mascots, a lot from the Alolan region.Childhood dreams!!! I wish I can live in the Pokémon world!


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The Truth About Wasabi

Have you ever eaten wasabi? If you answered “yes” to that question, you are likely mistaken. Most sushi eaters—even in Japan—are actually being served a mixture of ground horseradish and green food coloring splashed with a hint of Chinese mustard. Worldwide, experts believe that this imposter combination masquerades as wasabi about 99% of the time. The reason boils down to supply and demand. Authentic wasabi, known as Wasabia japonica, is the most expensive crop to grow in the world. The temperamental semiaquatic herb, native to the mountain streams of central Japan, is notoriously difficult to cultivate. Once planted, it takes several years to harvest; even then, it doesn’t germinate unless conditions are perfect. Grated wasabi root loses its flavor within 15 minutes. The Japanese have grown wasabi for more than four centuries. 75-year old Shigeo Iida, the eighth-generation owner of his family’s wasabi farm in Japan, takes pride in his tradition, which is profiled in Edwin Lee’s short documentary “Wasabia Japonica,” co-produced by Japan Curator. “Real wasabi, like the ones we grow, has a unique, fragrant taste that first hits the nose,” Iida says in the film. “The sweetness comes next, followed finally by spiciness.” Read more:

Singtel signs deal to expand mobile wallet alliance to Japan, Singapore News – AsiaOne

SINGAPORE – Singapore Telecommunications Ltd said on Monday it has signed a partnership to enable the use of its cross-border mobile wallet platform in Japan, as the telecom operator moves ahead with its digital payments expansion.

The partnership with NETSTARS, a Tokyo-based mobile payment technology company, will allow travellers to use their home mobile wallets on Singtel’s VIA network to pay digitally at stores in Japan – a popular destination for Southeast Asians.

Singtel’s Thai associate Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) is part of VIA network; and it recently signed an agreement with the digital services arm of Malaysia’s Axiata Group Berhad.

Including its regional associates, the telecom operator has a mobile customer base of over 675 million.

via Singtel signs deal to expand mobile wallet alliance to Japan, Singapore News – AsiaOne

Tokyo 2020 Games: Japan Olympics chief Tsunekazu Takeda quits – BBC Sport

Tsunekazu Takeda is being investigated by French prosecutors who are looking into claims a 2m Euro (£1.7m) bribe was paid to secure Tokyo’s winning bid.

Tokyo was awarded the Games in 2013, beating Madrid and Istanbul.

“I don’t believe I’ve done anything illegal,” Takeda said as he announced he would not seek re-election.

“It pains me to have created such a fuss, but I believe it is my responsibility to serve out the rest of my term,” he added.

Takeda’s tenure ends in June.

Japan Olympics chief ‘investigated in French corruption probe’
The Japanese government has always insisted its Tokyo bid is clean.

The company to which the payment was made is linked to the son of former world athletics chief Lamine Diack, who was a member of the International Olympic Committee when it awarded the Games to Tokyo and is the subject of corruption allegations being looked at by French investigators.

The son, Papa Massata Diack, also faces corruption allegations – which he denies.

A JOC panel has already cleared Japanese bidding officials of any illegal activity in the case, their 2016 report said the payment was a legitimate one for consulting services.

Mr Takeda is a veteran Olympics official who competed as a show jumper in 1972 and 1976.

He has been JOC president since 2001.

The IOC said: “We take note with the greatest respect of the decision taken by Mr Takeda to resign as an IOC member.

“Our respect of this decision is even greater because he took this step to protect the Olympic movement while the presumption of innocence, on which the IOC insists, continues to prevail.”

via Tokyo 2020 Games: Japan Olympics chief Tsunekazu Takeda quits – BBC Sport