Having beat Argentina 58-41 on Saturday, Canada will continue to the final game of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada will play Japan for the last berth for Women’s Basketball at the London Olympic Games. Canadian head coach Allison McNeil says her team has spent the last few years working hard, and she is sure they will be ready for this last chance game.
Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda met with BMW Group Chairman Norbert Reithofer in Munich Friday to publicize plans of expanding the cooperative relationship they started last December. The two automakers said they signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the aim of forging a strategic collaboration for the long-term in four key areas: fuel cell system development, development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle, power train electrification, and research and development of lightweight technologies. They did not reveal any details of their plans to work together on the “future sports vehicle,” but it will be interesting to see what comes of the partnership.
For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court of Japan has ruled in favor of a whistleblower. The defendant was Olympus Corp, but the person bringing the case was not former CEO Michael Woodford, but 51-year-old Masaharu Hamada. Hamada says he was almost driven to breakdown during a five-year battle in which he claims he was demoted, systematically ignored by colleagues, and required to take embarrassingly rudimentary tests as a sort of punishment for bringing to light complaints from suppliers.
Wouldn’t we all like to relax, read a newspaper, and drink a cup of coffee from the comfort of our own passenger compartment on our commute to work? Well, we could, and leave crowded trains and stressful rush-hour driving behind us, if we had self-driving cars. The Japanese government is moving to make this a reality by the early 2020s. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism wants Japan to pioneer self-driving cars for the public. Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda and Fuji Heavy Industries are all on board, for the ministries planned bimonthly discussions aimed at making this dream a reality.
Japan’s Finance Ministry is making plans to levy a consumption tax on goods sold online—e-books, music, and other products—from Internet vendors outside of Japan. This comes after last Tuesday’s Diet vote on an increase of the current five-percent consumption tax to ten percent by October 2015. As Japanese Internet companies are subject to the consumption tax, which has now been doubled, and foreign firms are not, the new tax on foreign Internet companies selling goods in Japan is apparently an attempt to ensure that domestic companies are not playing at a disadvantage on their home turf. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi commented that fairness must be achieved when it comes to online content sales and taxation, otherwise domestic industries will look to move overseas. He also said that a panel would be set up to look into the matter.
In a compromise, the United States and Japan agreed that MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport planes would be deployed in Japan, but would not be flown until ongoing reports into two recent accidents could confirm their safety. Worries about the safety of the plane—stemming from an accident in Morocco last April that killed two marines and another just two weeks ago in Florida—caused Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Yamaguchi Governor Sekinari Nii, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, and Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba to ask the US Military to call off deployment of the aircraft. This compromise comes after a meeting last week in which senior US Defense Department officials met with representatives from the Japanese government at the Pentagon to address those safety concerns.
The Japanese government has entered into an agreement with the United States Defense Department to purchase its first four F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp., with some additional peripheral equipment, for 60 billion yen ($756.53 million) according to a Lockheed Martin spokesperson. Japan has signed and sent its letter of offer and acceptance, which stipulated four conventional takeoff, multirole, fifth-generation fighter jets at a cost of 10.2 billion yen ($128.61 million) a piece, which was slightly higher than the 9.9 billion yen ($124.83 million) that Japan had originally budgeted for. The price of the two training simulators, extra engines, and other related equipment had gone down from the expected 20.5 billion yen ($258.48 million) so the overall cost of the package was still only 60 billion yen.
Japanese eighteen-year-old, Naoichiro William Anzai, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for stabbing seventeen-year-old American, Eddie Allshouse, to death with a replica sword last November at an apartment in Yomitan, Okinawa. Anzai was tried as an adult and convicted of murder by a local district court, though those under the age of twenty are generally considered minors under Japanese law. Ed Allshouse, a U.S. civilian contractor and the father of the victim, said that the family was not satisfied with the length of the sentence handed down by the Naha District Court.
The world’s electronics and automobile producers have been chafing under China’s trade restrictions on its virtual monopoly on the global supply of rare earth minerals, and Japan and Vietnam are moving to fight back. China currently controls about 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, which are minerals vital to the manufacture of modern electronics and automotive parts, and Japan currently imports 60 percent of what China produces, which means Japan has felt the pinch of China’s tightening trade restrictions more than any other country.
The Inamori Foundation announced the names of those who would be honored with this years annual Kyoto Prizes—Japan’s highest private award for global achievement. Among the winners were an American, who is widely thought of as the father of computer graphics, and Indian literary critic, and a molecular cell biologist from Japan. At a ceremony in Kyoto this November each of those honored will receive a diploma, a gold Kyoto Prize medal, and a 50 million yen cash prize ($630,000).