Archive for February, 2008

PSP outsells DS in Japan

29 February, 2008

Sony’s PSP outsold the Nintendo DS last week, according to Media Create’s latest sales figures.

The Wii took top spot, with the PS3 trailing in fourth place. The Xbox 360 continues its dismal run of form with a mere 2,001 units sold.

Media Create Sales 18-24 Feb 2007:

    1. Wii: 63,504
    2. PSP: 53,373
    3. DS Lite: 50,151
    4. PS3: 14,060
    5. PS2: 9,634
    6. Xbox 360: 2,001

    For weekly sales reports, visit Media Create’s ranking page (Japanese only).


      China becomes Japan’s biggest trading partner

      29 February, 2008

      Smogging it up

      China now accounts for 17.7 per cent of Japan’s total trade, overtaking the United States to become its biggest trading partner.

      Exports to China rose to US$109.1 billion in 2007, boosted by strong demand for cars and electronics. Meanwhile, imports from China amounted to US$127.6 billion, leaving the overall trade deficit at US$18.6 billion – a reduction of 27.9 per cent on 2006’s trade deficit figures.

      Full story from the IHT: “China overtook US as Japan’s largest trading partner in 2007

      Nearly 100 suicides a day in Japan

      24 February, 2008

      Drunk salaryman

      The Guardian reports on Japan’s increasing suicide rate:

      Japan’s grim reputation as one of the world’s suicide nations has been confirmed by statistics that show more than 30,000 people a year have taken their own lives since figures first began to rise in 1998. In 2006, there were 32,115 suicides – 25 per 100,000 people; nearly 100 people a day; one every 15 minutes. The most common hour of death is 5am for men and noon for women, after their families have left for work or school.

      Read the full article: “One Japanese suicide every 15 minutes“.

      Japanese town goes Obama-crazy

      17 February, 2008

      A small Japanese town has suddenly found itself under the media spotlight in recently, thanks entirely to its name: Obama.

      With the Democratic race neck and neck, the 32,000 residents of Obama have gone all-out in backing the man himself:

      66 year-old Japanese man to participate in Olympics

      13 February, 2008

      A 66 year-old equestrian rider who participated in the 1967 Tokyo Olympics will once again compete for his country in the team dressage event.

      Hiroshi Hoketsu last competed in the Olympics 44 years ago, when he came 40th in showjumping. Here’s hoping he does somewhat better this time around:

      Whaling ain’t what it used to be

      13 February, 2008

      Bit ‘o humpback, sir?

      As mentioned in our previous report on Japanese whaling (“Why Japan hunts whales“), the market for whale meat in Japan is negligible. An article in today’s Daily Telegraph (Australia) provides further evidence for this today, claiming that Japanese whalers are going bankrupt thanks to a lack of demand for their “scientific” produce:

      JAPAN’s whale killers are going broke and have been forced to slash prices because no one wants to eat their growing mountain of whale meat.

      The farcical truth of Japan’s whaling industry was exposed yesterday by Japanese media reports that the Institute for Cetacean Research is struggling to repay $37 million in government subsidies.

      (Daily Telegraph Article: Japanese Whalers Going Broke)

      Japan’s “Chinese dumpling scandal” intensifies

      6 February, 2008

      Further to Saturday’s story, “Chinese dumplings off the menu in Japan. Again“, the Japan Times is today reporting that a second toxin has been found in Chinese-made gyoza:

      Another type of pesticide has been detected in “gyoza” dumplings made by Tianyang Food, the Chinese company under fire over its suspected link to recent food poisonings in Japan, a distributor of the dumplings said Tuesday.

      The Japanese Consumers’ Cooperative Union said the dumplings, which were produced June 3, contained an organophosphate pesticide called dichlorvos in concentrations so high — 110 parts per million in the dough and 0.42 ppm in the ingredients — that eating only two could affect a person’s health.

      Read the full story: “Second toxin found in Chinese ‘gyoza’

      Fabrica exhibition in Tokyo

      5 February, 2008


      Benetton’s advertising campaigns are always striking. It’s no surprise, then, to discover that the company’s founder, Luciano Benetton, founded an institution to nurture the creative talents of new and emerging artists: Fabrica.

      Fabrica’s Les Yeux Ouverts exhibition is currently at Shiodome Italia in Tokyo, featuring a selection of the most important works from the 14 years since its inception. One of the biggest displays features a project for “Colors” magazine (see photo, above).

      18 January – 2 March 2008

      Shiodomeitalia Tokyo Shiodome Shio-site n.5, 2-14-1 Higashi-shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0021.

      Adults: ¥700; Students: ¥500

      Interview with Fabrica’s General Manager, Alfio Pozzoni, at PingMag.

      Further information from Tokyo Art Beat.

      Tokyo hit by snow, for once

      4 February, 2008

      Snow in Tokyo

      East Asia is currently suffering a very harsh winter, with some parts of China seeing their heaviest snowfalls in 100 years. Even Tokyo is suffering, which is a rare event indeed.

      More than 200 people were injured and one man died after yesterday’s snowfall in the Kanto region. Road and rail services were affected, although most routes were back to normal by this afternoon.

      No further snow is forecast for Tokyo this week.

      (Further information from AFP: “One dead, more than 200 injured in Japan snow“)

      Chinese dumplings off the menu in Japan. Again

      2 February, 2008


      The biggest news story in Japan this week was – and still is – the gyoza (Chinese dumpling) food poisoning scandal:

      On Wednesday it was reported that at least 10 people suffered vomiting and diarrhoea after eating dumplings imported from China, which were alleged to have been contaminated with insecticide. By Friday afternoon the Yomiuri Shinbun was reporting that that 511 people nationwide claimed to have been affected.

      The manufacturer, Tianyang Food Processing, has been told by the Chinese government to halt production and exports, and recall all of its products. Meanwhile, four officials are to be dispatched to Japan to aid in investigating the matter.

      Needless to say, the media frenzy surrounding the incident has led to the general public steering clear of imported Chinese food. Scandals such as this tend to rear their head at least three times a year here; in July last year a vendor in Beijing was found to be selling dumplings stuffed with shredded cardboard (link). There was absolutely no link between this incident and food that had been exported to Japan, but still, it was enough.

      In other countries, a minor food-poisoning scare would seem an unlikely cause for a major diplomatic spat, but it appears that politicians are having a field day:

      Japanese Chief Cabinet Minister Nobutaka Machimura said on Friday he thought Beijing was taking the incident seriously.

      “China’s response has been very speedy. It’s stopped production and started inspections,” Machimura told a news conference.

      Experts are also calling for careful handling of the issue so as not to harm ties between the two countries.

      China Daily

      More from the China Daily: “Officials to visit Japan over food poisoning“.