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Japan’s #smartphone #zombies wreak havoc on the streets


smartphone zombies #1A pedestrian using her smartphone on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

AFP.

When the lights change at the Shibuya crossing in Japan’s capital, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfares, hundreds of people with their eyes glued to smartphones pick their way over the road.

Despite being engrossed in the latest instalment of Candy Crush or busy chatting with their friends on messaging app Line, most manage to weave around cyclists, skateboarders and fellow Tokyoites.

But the growing ranks of these cellphone addicts are turning cities like Tokyo, London, New York and Hong Kong into increasingly hazardous hotspots, where zombified shoppers appear to be part of vast games of human pinball.

“Hey, watch it!” barks a middle-aged salaryman as a hipster typing on his smartphone slams into him during one recent Friday evening crush hour.

“Incidents involving people walking or on bicycles account for 41 percent of phone-related accidents,” Tetsuya Yamamoto, a senior official at Tokyo Fire Department’s disaster prevention and safety section, told AFP.

smartphone zombies #2A pedestrian using his smartphone on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

“If people continue walking around looking at their phones, I think we could see more accidents happening.”
It goes beyond being an innocuous inconvenience where both people apologise before continuing on their merry way.

Tokyo Fire Department, which runs the ambulance service in the megalopolis, says that in the four years to 2013, 122 people had to be rushed to hospital after accidents caused by pedestrians using cellphones.

As well as the vaguely comedic incidents of businessmen smacking into lamp-posts or tripping over dogs, this total also included a middle-aged man who died after straying onto a railway crossing while looking at his phone.

Tunnel vision

More than half of Japanese now own a smartphone and the proportion is rising fast, including children who customarily walk to and from school.

smartphone zombies #3Pedestrians use their smartphones on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Research by Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo estimates a pedestrian’s average field of vision while staring down at a smartphone is just five percent of what our eyes take in normally.

“Children wouldn’t be safe in that situation,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, manager of corporate social responsibility at the company. “It’s dangerous and it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t actually happen.”

The company ran a computer simulation of what could occur in Shibuya if everyone crossing the intersection was looking at their smartphones.

The results, based on a fairly average 1,500 people swarming over the road at any one time, were alarming: 446 collisions, 103 knockdowns and 21 dropped phones. Only around a third get to the other side without incident.

That 82 of the 103 who fell to the ground managed to cling onto their precious phones tells its own story.

Japanese media reported that around half of the 56 bodies recovered from the peak of a volcano after a recent eruption were found clutching mobile phones with photos of the deadly lava and ash on them.

smartphone zombies #4Pedestrians use their smartphones on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Apparently, they had thought it important to be able to show their social media friends what was happening than to try to save themselves.

Suzuki travels to schools across Japan teaching children how to be responsible with smartphones through the use of cartoons.

“We use the story of the tortoise and the hare,” he said. “The hare shoots off tapping away on his smartphone, and then falls down a hole. We want the children to know they could be the hare.”

Social harmony

Phone fidgeters dawdling along at snail’s pace, forcing cyclists and pram-pushing mums to swerve out of the way have become such an irritant in Tokyo that public notices have started to appear warning offenders to expect “icy stares”, appealing to the Japanese sense of social harmony — assuming people look up from their phones in the first place.

Smartphone apps activated by sensors that flash warning signs or display the pavement on the screen have also been developed in response to the problem.

Tokyo is just one of the places struggling to cope with this very 21st Century menace.

In China, an amusement park in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing has divided a pavement within its grounds into two lanes — one signposted “No mobile phones” and the other “Mobile phone use permitted but all consequences are your responsibility.”

Recorded announcements on Hong Kong’s subway network warn passengers in Cantonese, Mandarin and English that they are about to step onto an escalator.

While in one city in New York state, there was even a bid to legislate against the use of electronic devices while crossing the road.

NTT Docomo’s Suzuki in Tokyo says despite the city’s high density and huge population — 35 million in the greater urban area — there’s no need yet for people to wear crash helmets when they pop to the shops.

“I don’t think we will see the need for that in the near future,” he said. “But our message is that it could happen. We’re all potential victims.”


AFP.com.

#Japan: Search at Mount Ontake called off due to storm #MountOntake


Mount Ontake in central Japan

NHK

An approaching storm has forced rescue workers to call off their search for missing climbers on Mount Ontake in central Japan.

Authorities in Nagano suspended search operations for Monday and Tuesday as the storm makes its way toward the main island of Honshu.

On Sunday, more than 1,100 rescue workers searched for 7 people still believed missing after the volcano erupted on September 27th. They found clothing and what appeared to be a body part near the summit.

Police are trying to identify suspected remains through DNA tests.

56 people have been confirmed dead, making the eruption the worst volcanic disaster in postwar Japan.


NewsOnJapan.com.

#ISIS: #Tokyo Bookstore Ad ‘Recruited Would-be Jihadi Japanese Student’


A police officer stands guard at a train station in Tokyo.A police officer stands guard at a train station in Tokyo. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Umberto Bacchi reporting,

Tokyo police have raided a bookstore they say was used to recruit would-be jihadists in Japan and questioned a university student who allegedly planned to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State group.

The 26-year-old, who was on leave from Hokkaido University, admitted he was in the last stages of preparations for his journey to the war-torn country, sources at the metropolitan police department’s public security bureau said.

The man told detectives he wanted to enlist with the extremist group accused of atrocities, including the recent beheadings of two US journalists and two British aid workers in Syria and Iraq, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

Police said the suspect had responded to a poster ad displayed at a used-book store in central Tokyo, offering paid work in Syria.

The “help wanted” ad reportedly encouraged people “not afraid of violence” and interested in work experience in the Middle Eastern country to ask a store worker for more details.

Police searched the store and questioned a man in his thirties allegedly connected to the ad.

Several other premises were also raided as part of the operation, as authorities probe whether behind the poster was a network of people helping Japanese nationals enter into contact with the group previously known as Isis.

The student might face charges over preparing or plotting to wage war privately against a foreign nation, which carry prison terms ranging from three months to five years.

The investigation was the first into possible support for the Islamist group in Japan.

In September, an Israeli official claimed that nine Japanese nationals have joined the ranks of the Islamic State.


International Business Times.

More bodies found on Japanese volcano; toll now 47 | #Japan #Volcano #MountOntake


Rescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday's surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITRescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday’s surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

Emily Wang and Mari Yamaguchi reporting,

OTAKI, Japan (AP) — One body recovered near the volcano’s peak was in a squatting position and had to be dug out of a thick layer of ash. Another was caught between boulders bigger than large refrigerators. Police who recovered the bodies Wednesday portrayed a painful scene of death around the summit where hikers enjoying an autumn weekend hike were caught by the mountain’s surprise eruption.

Rescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday's surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITRescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday’s surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

The death toll from Saturday’s eruption on Mount Ontake in central Japan rose to 47, Nagano police said in a statement. While ash and gases were spewing from the crater, searchers wearing surgical masks and helmets carried devices to measure the toxicity of the gases to make sure it was safe to be on the slopes filled with volcanic debris.

Rescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday's surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITRescuers conduct a search operation near the peak of Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday’s surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

It was the worst fatal eruption in postwar history, exceeding the 43 killed in the 1991 eruption of Mount Unzen in southern Japan.

Ground Self-Defense Forces mobilized CH-47 helicopters to bring the last bodies to the foot of Ontake, known as one of Japan’s 100 best mountains and topped by a shrine that attracts visitors. Prefectural and police officials said most bodies were found around the summit, where many climbers were resting or having lunch at the time of the eruption. Other victims were found at a slightly lower elevation that reportedly had little place to hide.

Nagano police riot unit leader Mamoru Yamazaki described the rescue scene as “severe.”

Rescuers carry a person found on Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday's surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITRescuers carry a person found on Mount Ontake in central Japan Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Search efforts for people missing since Saturday’s surprise eruption resumed Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

His team, part of hundreds of rescuers dispatched Wednesday, found some of the bodies outside of a lodge just below the mountaintop shrine and on a hiking trail leading to the area, Yamazaki said.

Rescuers used a special cutting machine to retrieve the body stuck between the two huge rocks, he said. They recovered four other bodies from slits between rocks.

In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, firefighters carry an injured by Saturday's initial eruption from the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department)In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, firefighters carry an injured by Saturday’s initial eruption from the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Many victims were half-buried in the ash, others even deeper, he told reporters. One was found curled up in a ducking position toward the crater as if to protect the back of the head from flying rocks and to avoid ash and fumes getting in the face. “My impression is that the person had tried to cover the head, bent over into a ball and then was buried by debris and ash while in that position,” Yamazaki said, trying to emulate the posture.

In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, Tokyo Fire Department firefighters carry an injured by Saturday's initial eruption from the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department)In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, Tokyo Fire Department firefighters carry an injured by Saturday’s initial eruption from the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Authorities say all of the known victims have been recovered, but the decision on whether to end the search was still being evaluated. In their statement giving the death toll, Nagano police also apologized for an earlier miscount of 48 dead.

In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, firefighters carry a hiker trapped in the summit area of Mount Ontake during Saturday's initial eruption during rescue operations in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department)In this Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 photo released by Tokyo Fire Department, firefighters carry a hiker trapped in the summit area of Mount Ontake during Saturday’s initial eruption during rescue operations in central Japan. A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday, Oct. 1 near the ash-covered summit of the Japanese volcano as searches resumed amid concern of toxic gasses and another eruption. (AP Photo/Tokyo Fire Department) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The nearly 70 people who were injured in the eruption had bruises, cuts and broken bones indicating flying rocks hit them as they fled down the slope. Survivors described hiding in rock crevasses or inside mountain lodges while smoke blackened the sky and ash covered the ground.

Yaeko Arai, left, 85, delivers a box of surgical masks to her neighbor Emiko Miura, 53, as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Arai spent the afternoon handing a box of masks to each household as the village distributed more than 400 boxes of masks to 9 districts as a precaution for ash that may fall if eruptions worsen. The Japan Meteorological Agency said levels of toxic gases were too low to cause health problems in distant towns, but cautioned residents that ash could cause eye irritation, particularly among contact lens users, or trigger asthmatic symptoms. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)Yaeko Arai, left, 85, delivers a box of surgical masks to her neighbor Emiko Miura, 53, as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Arai spent the afternoon handing a box of masks to each household as the village distributed more than 400 boxes of masks to 9 districts as a precaution for ash that may fall if eruptions worsen. The Japan Meteorological Agency said levels of toxic gases were too low to cause health problems in distant towns, but cautioned residents that ash could cause eye irritation, particularly among contact lens users, or trigger asthmatic symptoms. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the levels of toxic gases were too low to cause health problems in distant towns, but it cautioned that ash could cause eye irritation, particularly among contact lens users, or trigger asthmatic symptoms. Surgical masks were distributed in one district of Otaki on Wednesday.

Yaeko Arai, 85, carries boxes of Surgical masks on her trolley as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Arai spent the afternoon handing a box of masks to each household as the village distributed more than 400 boxes of masks to 9 districts as a precaution for ash that may fall if eruptions worsen. The Japan Meteorological Agency said levels of toxic gases were too low to cause health problems in distant towns, but cautioned residents that ash could cause eye irritation, particularly among contact lens users, or trigger asthmatic symptoms. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda) (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)Yaeko Arai, 85, carries boxes of Surgical masks on her trolley as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Arai spent the afternoon handing a box of masks to each household as the village distributed more than 400 boxes of masks to 9 districts as a precaution for ash that may fall if eruptions worsen. The Japan Meteorological Agency said levels of toxic gases were too low to cause health problems in distant towns, but cautioned residents that ash could cause eye irritation, particularly among contact lens users, or trigger asthmatic symptoms. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

Before Saturday, seismologists had detected signs of increased seismic activity at Mount Ontake, one of Japan’s 110 active volcanos, but nothing signaled a fatal eruption.

A Nagano Prefectural police officer covered by volcanic ash talks to the media after coming back from his mission to recover bodies still near the summit as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Police who recovered a dozen bodies on Wednesday portrayed a painful scene of death around the summit where hikers enjoying a weekend autumn hike were caught by the mountain's surprise eruption.A Nagano Prefectural police officer covered by volcanic ash talks to the media after coming back from his mission to recover bodies still near the summit as Mount Ontake continues to erupt in Otaki in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Police who recovered a dozen bodies on Wednesday portrayed a painful scene of death around the summit where hikers enjoying a weekend autumn hike were caught by the mountain’s surprise eruption. AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.


The Associated Press.

#Japan should make strategic efforts to become permanent #UNSC member


The Japan Times logo

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Reforming the U.N. Security Council is a daunting task due to the tangled web of vested interests among the countries concerned. Japan, which holds the United Nations in high esteem, must take the lead in revamping the Security Council.

In a speech delivered at the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “It is my wish, with the 70th anniversary of the U.N.’s inception next year as a turning point, countries sharing the same aims all work together to finally resolve a long-standing issue to reform the U.N. in a way that reflects the realities of the 21st century. In that context, Japan seeks to become a permanent member of the Security Council.”

The U.N. Security Council often renders itself dysfunctional as a result of the conflict among permanent members with veto power — the United States, Britain, France on one side, and Russia and China on the other — thus failing to deal effectively with international disputes.

Matters related to Ukraine, including Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, are a case in point. The United States organized a coalition of “willing countries” to launch air strikes on the Islamic State, as there is a limit to what the Security Council can do.

Only one permanent seat on the Security Council has been held by an Asian country, and only a few slots for non-permanent membership on the council are allocated to Asia and Africa despite the fact that the regions have numerous U.N. members and large populations. Restoring the functionality of the Security Council by rectifying the regional disparity has been a key challenge for many years.

The Group of Four (G-4) nations vying to become permanent members — Japan, Germany, India and Brazil — held foreign ministerial talks recently in New York, issuing a joint communique seeking support of all U.N. members for realizing Security Council reform next year.

In 2005, the G-4 submitted a resolution seeking to increase the number of permanent and nonpermanent members, but it was rejected in the face of opposition from China and the United States. It is essential for the G-4 to learn from this experience and strategically forge cooperation with Africa, which holds a large number of votes, while trying to win a certain level of acceptance for its plan from the United States and China.

Increasing global influence

As a nation aiming for permanent membership, Japan must make further efforts to contribute to the world.

“In the future, we intend to cultivate still further our human resources in terms of both quan-tity and quality, to contribute to the area of peace-building,” Abe said in his speech. In line with this, Japan must focus its contributions on the areas of conflict prevention and reconstruction efforts across the world.

The prime minister also indicated that Japan would emphasize the empowerment of women in providing foreign aid.

“The 20th century had a history of profound harm to women’s honor and dignity when conflicts broke out,” Abe said. “Japan will stand at the fore and lead the international community in eliminating sexual violence during conflicts.”

In making these remarks, Abe apparently had in mind the smearing of Japan’s reputation by China and South Korea over the issue of so-called military comfort women. It is critical for Japan to use its knowledge in the education, health and medical fields to support the self-reliance of women around the world. In cooperation with the United Nations, Japan should make continued efforts in this regard.

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Abe firmly said, “Our pledge never to wage war is something that will be handed down and fostered by the Japanese people for generation upon generation to come.”

It is important for this country to inform the world about its history as a pacifist nation and deepen the understanding of Japan in the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2014)


The Japan News.

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