Japan Media – Q Ax http://q-ax.com/ Tue, 18 Jan 2022 02:48:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://q-ax.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/q-ax-icon-150x150.png Japan Media – Q Ax http://q-ax.com/ 32 32 Yao Ming Says He And Peng Shuai “Happily Chatted” At Event Last Month https://q-ax.com/yao-ming-says-he-and-peng-shuai-happily-chatted-at-event-last-month/ Tue, 18 Jan 2022 02:48:38 +0000 https://q-ax.com/yao-ming-says-he-and-peng-shuai-happily-chatted-at-event-last-month/

Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming said on Monday that tennis star Peng Shuai, who became a cause for concern after accusing a former senior politician of sexually assaulting her, was in good spirits when they were appeared at an event last month.

“She looked good. We chatted happily,” said Yao, when asked in Beijing on Monday about his impressions of Peng at a cross-country skiing event they both attended last month in Shanghai.

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended tournaments in China due to what it says are concerns over Peng’s safety, which it says have not been alleviated by his public appearances. The issue has cast a shadow over the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Yao said he and Peng have known each other for almost 20 years. However, he did not comment directly on the controversy that erupted last year after Peng, a former doubles world number 1, appeared to allege that a former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her. in the past.

After this post, she was absent from public view for nearly three weeks. At the December event which Yao also attended, Peng told a news outlet that she never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that her social media post was misunderstood. She has not spoken publicly since.

Zhang did not comment on the matter, and Beijing censored discussion of it on the Internet.

Speaking to the media less than three weeks before the opening of the Olympics, Yao said he expected China to win medals in speed skating and snowboarding, but asked Chinese fans to be patient as the country is relatively new to winter sports.

Yao, the most famous Chinese athlete in the world, was the face of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. He retired from basketball and now acts as an ambassador for ice and snow sports for China.

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]]> Shiba inu dog breed boom is coming to China https://q-ax.com/shiba-inu-dog-breed-boom-is-coming-to-china/ Sun, 16 Jan 2022 07:20:08 +0000 https://q-ax.com/shiba-inu-dog-breed-boom-is-coming-to-china/

The number of people in China who keep shiba inus dogs originating from Japan is on the increase.

The popularity of the dog continues to grow among young people who have been attracted to the charms of the breed through social networks.

A 78-year-old man who walked his shiba inu in a residential area of ​​Shanghai recently said he bought the dog when his grandson begged him, and the dog is now the apple of his eye.

A growing number of households keep shiba inus, and there are more than 10 such dogs in his housing complex, the man said.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a shiba inu cafe in Shanghai was bustling with about 20 customers. Among them, a company employee says he loves shiba inus and often visits the cafe, while a couple from Singapore came to the cafe for the first time after being hypnotized by the dogs on social media.

The cafe was opened about a year ago by 26-year-old Huang Richeng with financial support from his parents.

“Our main customers are young couples who play with the dogs for two to three hours on a day off,” Huang said, adding that the cafe is profitable.

Wei Haibo, a 68-year-old shiba inu breeder in Shanghai, said the dog is gaining popularity mainly in metropolitan areas, where residents are prohibited from keeping large dogs.

“People like them because they are clean, docile and very friendly,” Wei said.

Meanwhile, the dog’s popularity appears to be overheating, as a shiba inu recently fetched 160,000 yuan (2.9 million yen) at an online auction.

“I want to promote accurate knowledge of the shiba inu, including its pedigree and history,” at a time when the number of fraud cases involving unscrupulous companies is increasing, Wei said.

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]]> Sony Music takes initiative to support the mental wellbeing of artists https://q-ax.com/sony-music-takes-initiative-to-support-the-mental-wellbeing-of-artists/ Thu, 13 Jan 2022 01:00:19 +0000 https://q-ax.com/sony-music-takes-initiative-to-support-the-mental-wellbeing-of-artists/

In Japan, where mental illness is still widely considered a taboo subject, the music unit of Sony Group Corp. launched a pioneering project to provide its signed artists with mental and physical health care.

The company, which has stars such as LiSA and Akiko Yano on its books, acted in response to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the professional lives of performers.

Since artists’ work styles and contracts vary, taking care of their health falls primarily on the artists themselves or their talent managers, unlike corporate workers, whose employers submit reviews to them. regular health.

Under the new program that started in August 2021, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. is offering its artists and creators 24-hour free online medical counseling, face-to-face counselling, and mental and physical examinations regular.

Shinji Obana, SMEJ’s vice president of global business strategy, said the kind of support provided by the new initiative, dubbed “B-side,” is very hard to come by in Japan, unlike in Europe and the United States. United States, where music companies cooperate with non-profit organizations to support the mental well-being of their artists.

“The regular mental exams, which started as a trial in the spring (of 2021), have been very well received by the artists,” says Obana, adding that some said they appreciated the company’s effort as it there had been no such measures before.

Industry adviser Yuri Ishii says the assumption that artists are happy with working long hours and other hardships they face in pursuit of their music is detrimental to the mental well-being of performers . | KYODO

“The number of people receiving advice is still small and cannot be disclosed, but artists, creators and staff are gradually starting to use it,” he says. Currently, about 400 to 500 people can benefit from B-side’s services.

Obana says the coronavirus pandemic prompted SMEJ to act as the company’s talent management department “expressed the need to help their artists as an organization” due to the difficulties artists were facing to organize concerts and fulfill their role as performers in other ways.

The company also plans to hold internal workshops for all employees to raise awareness about mental health and create an environment where people can talk more openly about the subject within the company.

Advisers who have worked in the music industry hailed the B-side initiative as “groundbreaking” in a country where people are reluctant to talk about mental health issues.

But they say the measures are not enough to fundamentally improve the situation.

Yuri Ishii, an industry adviser who has worked at major record companies for more than 30 years, including as an executive, says people in high positions in the industry need to let go of certain assumptions, namely that artists are happy to work long hours because music is what they love. and that the struggles they face go hand in hand with the job.

She says many seniors in the industry still expect young artists to endure and overcome hardship to build careers, based on their own experiences of surviving long hours and harassment to succeed. .

“Such hard work has paid off in the past as results have followed following an economic boom, but for those under 40, it doesn’t necessarily work,” says Ishii.

Young artists now have a variety of career goals, from performing in major concert halls to showcasing their work online, but if their elders don’t understand these changing aspirations, it can lead to harassment, including imposing a style. unsustainable labor to emerging artists. interpreters, she said.

Artists are also likely to believe that anxiety or pain is a necessary source of creativity, a view often shared by fans and producers. On top of the pressure to create a new song today, the artist is expected to promote it on social media whether he likes it or not, experts say.

Masahiko Teshima, an artist-turned-industry adviser and teacher at the Muse Academy of Music in Tokyo, says the weight of such an expectation could prevent artists from getting the rest they need, even if they get tired. feel stressed.

Industry adviser Masahiko Teshima said many artists he knows see social media use as a heavy burden that leaves them vulnerable to online harassment.  |  KYODO
Industry adviser Masahiko Teshima said many artists he knows see social media use as a heavy burden that leaves them vulnerable to online harassment. | KYODO

Teshima says many artists he knows, including those who graduated from his school, find using social media services “a heavy burden,” in part because it makes them more vulnerable to online attacks. line.

While Sony Music’s initiative has been important, he says, it’s also a “transition period” for fans to educate themselves about mental health, as such knowledge “could act as a brake” and prevent someone to send abusive messages directly to an artist.

“If fans, artists and record labels can create a basis of respect for the health of artists, I think the situation will improve,” Teshima said.

Advisors in Japan say many of the underlying issues are common to other industries and that public awareness of mental health care can be boosted if more artists become able to speak out about its importance. They cited foreign examples, such as American singer Billie Eilish or South Korean boy band BTS, who spoke openly about the challenges they face.

Teshima says artists are often described as “a canary in a coal mine” because they tend to suffer before others in society in exchange for starting something new.

“Japanese society lacks knowledge about mental health but has prejudices against it,” says Teshima. “But hopefully the potential of music and the arts will provide a signal for big change.”

Sony Music’s Obana says the company is willing to share its experience and collaborate with other companies in the industry. It is also open to cooperating with health care organizations to support artists, as is already done in Europe and the United States.

“I think a lot of people have realized in the middle of the pandemic how much they are helped by entertainment,” says Obana. “We want to create a better environment in which the artists, who have encouraged us, can work while remaining healthy.”

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is urging residents and visitors to exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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]]> Nathan Chen’s performance will likely be a measure of US figure skating results at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games – OlympicTalk https://q-ax.com/nathan-chens-performance-will-likely-be-a-measure-of-us-figure-skating-results-at-the-2022-olympic-winter-games-olympictalk/ Tue, 11 Jan 2022 05:49:00 +0000 https://q-ax.com/nathan-chens-performance-will-likely-be-a-measure-of-us-figure-skating-results-at-the-2022-olympic-winter-games-olympictalk/

Four years ago, the US figure skating team had its worst results at the Olympic Winter Games.

The 2022 team named after the US Championships ended on Sunday could do better than 2018 – although that may not be a substantial improvement, and the assessment of that will depend largely part of Nathan Chenmen’s singles performance.

For long-term comparison purposes, the team event is not a factor. It has only been on the Olympic program for the last two Winter Games, and no more than three of the 10 qualifying nations have been (and will be) strong medal contenders, with the United States among them.

Here are the figures for the four traditional disciplines in 2018:

* One medal, one bronze in ice dance. In the 12 Winter Games that began when ice dancing became a medal event in 1976 (and not counting the team event), the United States had never won as little as a single bronze and had only won a single medal twice (1994, women’s silver; 2014, ice dance gold).

* In women’s singles, the best place (ninth) and overall (9-10-11) of 2018 were the worst of the 17 Olympics where the United States has finished three times. The United States has now played three Olympics without a women’s medal, its longest drought ever.

* In men’s singles, the US failed to win a medal for the second time in a row. It wasn’t since before World War II that American men showed up empty-handed at three back-to-back Winter Games.

* In pairs, where the US qualified only one entry, their ranking (15th) was the lowest best pair in US history – by five spots.

Part of the decline in US results is due to Russia’s recent overwhelming dominance in female singles. Some in Japan are to become a constant power in female and male singles over the past 12 years. General interest in sport in these two countries has increased proportionately while declining in the United States.

And the hopes for 2022? Realistically, a medal in men’s and team singles and a chance to win one in ice dance.

Warning: the Covid pandemic, especially the Omicron variant, makes predictions more difficult than they always are for organized sport on a slippery surface.

A lot can happen before the skating begins in 23 days. Some athletes could miss the Games entirely due to a positive Covid test. Some might be forced out with a positive test in the middle of their two-phase event. Both situations occurred at the United States Championships.

And some athletes may travel to Beijing with reduced physical condition if either having tested positive with asymptomatic Covid or having to deal with symptoms causes them to miss training time.

With all of that in mind, here’s a look at America’s outlook for Beijing in the five events:

Men

Most expect it to be a battle between Chen and the dreaded Japanese Yuzuru Hanyu, one of the few world superstars in the history of figure skating, along with Hanyu’s compatriots, Shoma uno and Yuma Kagiyama, in contention for bronze.

Chen’s flop in the short program at the 2018 Olympics saw Hanyu become the first repeat men’s champion since 1952. But Chen, fifth overall, easily won the free skate four years ago, and he beat Hanyu by 22 points or more in their only three meetings in individual events since – the 2019 and 2021 World Championships and the 2019 Grand Prix final.

Hanyu has missed much of this season with injuries, just as he did before the 2018 Olympics. In his first 2021-22 competition, the Japan Championships in December, he did a short program. brilliant and a strong, if less conspicuous, free skate started with a failed attempt to become the first to land a quadruple axel jump in competition.

Chen won three consecutive world titles and was undefeated for three seasons before placing third behind his compatriot Vincent zhou and Uno at Skate America in October. Chen also had an outstanding national championship short program with a less convincing freestyle.

Chen included two falls, one on a quad and another on footwork, and his lowest free skating component scores since his first of his six straight US titles in 2017. They would have been the lowest if two of the nine judges had not been forgotten (or ignored). International Skating Union guidelines for scoring PCS when two falls are involved.

Part of Chen’s possible strategy against Hanyu came to light during the national championships.

Chen increased the value of his jumping elements so that he could have an advantage in the maximum base value for both programs over Hanyu in his national competition. In the short program, Chen’s baseline was 49.87 versus Hanyu’s 45.80; in the free it was 101.24 to 92.90 (assuming a fully rotated quadruple axis for Hanyu).

The difference can quickly evaporate if Hanyu’s execution scores and component scores are significantly higher – or if mistakes cause Chen’s base value to drop.

“As the competition progresses, we are always trying to surpass ourselves,” Chen said on Sunday. “It’s kind of where I think.

“Clearly today the schedule wasn’t perfect so risk reward there’s still that game. As we get closer to the rest of the season decisions will be made. “

Women

A simple numerical comparison reveals why American women would need one of the top three Russians to implode (and non-Russian mistakes) to get closer to the medals.

In international competition, the three Russians likely to go to Beijing (and sweep the podium) have the best scores of the season of 272.71, 236.78 and 232.37. The best American score, recently named 2022 Olympian Alysa liu, is 219.24.

This happened during Liu’s first major competition of the season. Her scores have fallen in three internationals since, and she had to withdraw from the nationals before the free skate after testing positive for Covid. She will have to demonstrate her physical form before going to Beijing.

Karen chen, who joins Liu and new national champion Mariah bell in the Olympic team, was fourth behind three Russians at the 2021 Worlds. But she finished more than 8 points from third, even though bronze medalist Aleksandra trusova was 10 points behind Chen after the short program.

On a media teleconference ahead of the national championships, Chen candidly admitted that women’s skating feels like a two-tier competition, with the Russian quad team at one tier and everyone trying to be the best in the game. rest.

“I’m going to be honest: yes, I had these thoughts,” she said. “I think any athlete in a similar position would have similar thoughts.

“I talk a lot about focusing on myself and doing everything to the best of my ability because it helps me stay motivated and avoid all the distractions. Maybe my best obviously doesn’t compare to the Russians, but I can only expect the best from myself. This is what I chose to think about.

Pairs

A top-eight ranking for either entry in the United States would be a solid achievement in a discipline where the last American medal was a bronze in 1988. Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc and or Alexa knierim/Brandon frazier skating flawlessly, that could be the top six.

Ice dance

An event in which the United States had won only one bronze medal (1976) before 2006 became the flag bearer, with three different teams winning medals in four consecutive Winter Games: silver in 2006 and 2010, gold in 2014, bronze in 2018.

Because dance has no elements of jumping or throwing, when costly mistakes are most likely to occur, its results are most predictable based on past performance.

For 2022, that means French couple Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron and the Russians Viktoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov are likely to get gold and silver (the French are favored), with three couples vying for bronze: Madison hold/Evan bates and Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue from the United States and Piper gilles/Paul Poirier of Canada, with Canadians now apparently the best bet.

Hubbell, whose team has won medals at the last three world championships, insists the dice are not yet cast.

“Although from the outside it may look like there are two teams that finished on the podium, they still have to come out and do their best,” said Hubbell after his team finished second behind Chock and Bates Saturday at the national championships. “We look forward to the opportunity to continue the (American) legacy.”

Team

Russia is expected to be a shattering winner, with the United States second and Japan likely to secure their first Olympic team skating medal.

Philip Hersh, who covered figure skating at the last 11 Olympic Winter Games, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

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Kim Jong Un’s birthday goes by without media reports https://q-ax.com/kim-jong-uns-birthday-goes-by-without-media-reports/ Sat, 08 Jan 2022 20:13:14 +0000 https://q-ax.com/kim-jong-uns-birthday-goes-by-without-media-reports/

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is celebrating his birthday on Saturday, although the occasion was not reported by the media.

Kim’s actual age has never been determined, but South Korea’s Unification Ministry says he was born in 1984, which would make him 38.

His birthday was not designated as a national holiday on the country’s calendar, unlike the birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who is considered the founder of the country, and the birthday of his father. , Kim Jong Il. Massive celebrations are always organized to mark their two birthdays.

The ruling Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Shinmun made no mention of Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

December 30 marked the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s accession to the rank of Supreme Commander of the North Korean military. He seems to have consolidated his grip on power over the past decade.

But there does not appear to have been any noticeable improvement in the lives of the North Korean people as the country’s economy remains weighed down by UN sanctions as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the North to close its borders. .

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Kim Jong Il’s birthday was declared a national holiday when he turned 40.

Experts say North Korean officials are now carefully considering when to make Kim Jong Un’s birthday a national holiday in order to iconize their leader and strengthen his power base.

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FDA shortens interval for Moderna’s Covid-19 booster dose to 5 months https://q-ax.com/fda-shortens-interval-for-modernas-covid-19-booster-dose-to-5-months/ Fri, 07 Jan 2022 18:42:00 +0000 https://q-ax.com/fda-shortens-interval-for-modernas-covid-19-booster-dose-to-5-months/
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks with CBS Mornings on Friday, January 7, 2022 (CBS)

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CBS Mornings on Friday that the CDC had not focused its recommendations around isolating Covid-19, but instead provided guidance to those who chose to have an antigen test.

“I remind you that isolation is for people who have tested positive,” she said, when asked about changes to isolation guidelines. “We now have dozens of articles that are now on our CDC website that we have reviewed to update these guidelines in the context of the science and epidemiology of our time.”

She said it is known that for one to two days before infection and two to three days after symptoms, this is the time when a person is most infectious. By the fifth day, after the symptoms, “most of that contagiousness, that contagiousness is really behind you,” she said.

“This is really where they say: do you have symptoms? If your symptoms improve, it’s safe to go out as long as you wear a mask all the time, ”she said. “What we heard over the past week is that a lot of people were interested in using an antigen test, they had access to the antigen test.”

“So we didn’t pivot our recommendations, what we did was provide advice on how you would use and interpret this antigen test, if you so chose to take a measurement. extra to get one, ”she said. “And that is, if it’s positive, stay home. And if it is negative, please continue to wear your mask, because that does not mean that you are no longer contagious. ”

When asked if testing would be required before leaving isolation if testing was widely available and access was not an issue, Walensky said “we need testing to leave quarantine – quarantine being that period of time after being exposed. What I’m saying is that we need to provide guidance that is, you know, science-based, grounded in the epidemiology of our present time, and applicable at the state and local jurisdiction level. ”

“If they can’t get a test, they should wear a mask,” Walensky said, when asked what people who haven’t been able to take a test should do after the five days of isolation. . “And that’s actually really what our tips say, isolate for those first five days, after those first five days, make sure you feel better, if you feel better then you can really go out, but you have to. go out and you have to wear your mask all the time.

Walensky also responded to criticism of the release of the guidelines, saying that “we are working 24/7, 12,000 people to keep America safe, to update our guidelines in the context of a very rapidly evolving science and a very rapidly evolving epidemiology. We have room, we can improve our communications on how we deliver this science to the American people. We will continue to do so. We have received some criticism, but we have also received a number of approvals of these new directions. ”

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Ballistic missile test in North Korea https://q-ax.com/ballistic-missile-test-in-north-korea/ Wed, 05 Jan 2022 13:22:42 +0000 https://q-ax.com/ballistic-missile-test-in-north-korea/

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile at sea on Wednesday, the US military said, its first weapons launch in about two months and a signal that it is not interested in joining the denuclearization talks anytime soon and would prefer to focus on strengthening its arsenal of weapons.

The launch came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to further strengthen his military capabilities – without disclosing any new policies towards the United States or South Korea – at a high-profile ruling party conference last week.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the ballistic missile launch “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program” but does not pose an immediate threat to US territory. or its allies. He said in a statement that the US commitment to the defense of its allies, South Korea and Japan, remains “foolproof.”

The South Korean military said a suspected ballistic missile fired from North Korea’s mountainous northern province of Jagang headed for its eastern waters. Defense Minister Suh Wook said the launch was seen as part of North Korea’s military build-up, but South Korea was in the process of analyzing whether it had political intent.

During an emergency videoconference, members of South Korea’s presidential national security team expressed concerns about the launch and said resuming talks with North Korea was important in resolving tensions , according to the Presidential Blue House.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also detected the North Korean launch. “We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles since last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

China, North Korea’s most important ally, maintained an impartial response to the launch, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin calling for dialogue and saying “all parties concerned should beware of the mind the bigger picture (and) be careful with their words and actions. . “

Last fall, North Korea carried out a series of weapons tests in what experts called an attempt to put more pressure on rivals to accept it as a nuclear power in the hope to obtain relief from economic sanctions. The tests included a ballistic missile launched by a submarine and a hypersonic development missile. Since the artillery fire exercises in early November, North Korea had halted testing activities until the launch on Wednesday.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it is open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and anytime” without preconditions. North Korea has so far rejected such overtures, saying hostility from the United States remains unchanged.

Outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in his New Year’s address on Tuesday that he will continue to seek ways to restore ties with North Korea and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula until the end. of his only five-year term in May. He recently pushed for a symbolic declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War in order to reduce animosity.

U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program collapsed in 2019 amid differences over sanctions relief to be given to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization measures limited. Kim has since threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal, although his country’s economy has suffered major setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, persistent US-led sanctions and mismanagement of his government.

“Rather than expressing willingness for denuclearization talks or interest in a declaration of end of war, North Korea is signaling that neither the omicron variant nor national food shortages will stop its aggressive missile development,” he said. said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha. Seoul University.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Seoul University of North Korean Studies, said North Korea could have tested a hypersonic missile or a nuclear-capable KN-23 missile with very maneuverable, lower trajectory flight. . He said North Korea would likely move forward with its military build-up.

Japanese media quoted Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi as saying the missile landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. UN Security Council resolutions ban all ballistic activity by North Korea, but the council generally does not impose new sanctions for short-range missile launches.

At last week’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, Kim reiterated his wish to strengthen his country’s military capacity and ordered the production of more powerful and sophisticated weapon systems. State media reports on the meeting said North Korea had set “tactical directions” for foreign relations, including with South Korea, but did not give details. The reports made no mention of the United States.

Kim celebrated 10 years in office last month. Since taking control after the death of his father and longtime ruler Kim Jong Il in December 2011, Kim Jong Un has established absolute power in his country and has staged an unusually high number of weapons trials. as part of efforts to build nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the United States. continent.

During Kim’s reign, North Korea conducted 62 rounds of ballistic missile tests, compared to nine rounds during the 46-year reign of its grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, and 22 rounds during the Kim Jong Il’s 17-year reign, according to South Korea and US figures. Four of North Korea’s six nuclear tests and its three intercontinental ballistic missile launches all took place during the reign of Kim Jong Un.


Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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Hong Kong media crackdown portends tough 2022 for free press https://q-ax.com/hong-kong-media-crackdown-portends-tough-2022-for-free-press/ Fri, 31 Dec 2021 02:28:39 +0000 https://q-ax.com/hong-kong-media-crackdown-portends-tough-2022-for-free-press/

The collapse of Hong Kong’s last major pro-democracy news outlet, Stand News, is crowning one of the world’s most dramatic press freedom cuts this year.

From the shutdown of Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper in July to the raid, arrests and asset seizures that precipitated the shutdown of Stand News on Wednesday, the global financial hub has grown from one of the freest media markets in the world. Asia to one of the most regulated. In addition to employing a national security law that provides for sentences of up to life in prison, authorities in Hong Kong have started indicting journalists and internet users under a government sedition law. colonial era that can imprison a writer for up to two years.

While the Hong Kong crackdown is unique to events in the former British colony, where Beijing is eager to prevent the return of the mass democracy protests of two years ago, similar changes have been seen across the world in 2021. Upheaval and emboldened by former US President Donald Trump’s campaign against “fake news” – appear poised to take further steps to silence critical coverage in the year to come.

In China, journalist Zhang Zhan is said to be close to death amid a hunger strike to protest her four-year prison term for covering COVID-19. Twitter Inc. employees who failed to remove accounts criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government have faced legal action in India, the world’s largest democracy. In Russia, authorities this month targeted two human rights groups to shut down, including one that tracks political prisoners. Iran, Egypt and Zimbabwe have all acted to weaken journalists’ ability to report on the reality of the pandemic.

Journalism has been totally or partially blocked in nearly three-quarters of the 180 countries listed in the latest survey by the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders. The group found that 488 journalists were in prison, a record since they began compiling figures in 1995.

“Press freedom is on the decline,” said Keith Richburg, director of the Center for Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Hong Kong and chairman of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club. “Trump has helped create fake news echo chambers, where anything that criticizes you is bogus.”

“What is happening in Hong Kong is part of a fallback pattern,” he added. “The number of countries where the press is truly free is getting smaller and smaller. Countries are lip service to the idea of ​​press freedom without actually putting it into practice. “

The past year has brought efforts to stop the trend. US President Joe Biden tried to dispel doubts raised by his predecessor with a world summit on democracy, and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Filipino and Russian journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov. Still, the outlook for 2022 remains bleak.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov in Oslo on December 10 | AFP-JIJI

The withdrawal of Stand News was more than a blow to local opposition. It marked the erasure of an influential organ of civic debate. The online platform founded in 2014 had investigated poor working conditions and city officials receiving gift baskets from embattled real estate developer China Evergrande Group in recent months.

The shutdown was the latest of several shocks since China imposed the National Security Law in June 2020 and began cracking down on civilian institutions in Hong Kong where Communist Party critics once thrived. Over the past 12 months, some of the city’s largest unions have been dissolved, international non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International have left the city, and a new legislature has been elected under a system that has vetted candidates for their election. loyalty to the ruling party. More than 160 people have now been arrested by the local national security department.

Chinese officials have dismissed criticism from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and others, denying that the arrests of journalists erode press freedom. “Some outside forces have repeatedly attacked press freedom in Hong Kong to create what is called the chilling effect,” the Hong Kong branch of China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “Supporting press freedom is only their excuse, and their real aim is to disrupt the stability and good governance of Hong Kong. “

As the city nears 25 years of Chinese rule – half of Beijing’s promise to leave the city’s basic policies “unchanged for 50 years” – its system increasingly resembles that on the other side of China. the border. China jailed at least 127 journalists in 2021, more than any other country in the world. Bloomberg News member Haze Fan, who was taken from her apartment in Beijing in December 2020 by national security agents, remains in detention.

“China seeks to promote the idea that human rights, including freedom of the press and the right to information, are not universal, that each country could make its own definition,” said Cedric Alviani, director of the East Asia office of Reporters Without Borders. “This idea totally contradicts the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and poses a threat to democracy around the world.

In Russia, where 58 journalists have been killed over the past 29 years, the government also ended the year by cutting off civil society.

Police officers in front of a building housing the offices of online media Stand News during a raid in Hong Kong on Wednesday.  |  BLOOMBERG
Police officers in front of a building housing the offices of online media Stand News during a raid in Hong Kong on Wednesday. | BLOOMBERG

On December 29, a Moscow court ordered the closure of the Memorial Human Rights Center, which tracks political prisoners. The day before, Russian officials had demanded the closure of the human rights organization Memorial International on the grounds that the group had not qualified the documents as works of “foreign agents”. The secretary general of the International Federation of Journalists, Anthony Bellanger, said in a statement that the decision “sets a dangerous precedent in an increasingly repressive environment”.

On December 27, a Russian journalist who had criticized Putin and suggested the country was heading towards civil war was found dead on the streets after falling from his apartment window.

In Turkey, concerns about press freedom range from jailed journalists to the government’s tightening grip on social media to muzzling critics. Dozens of people have faced criminal charges for commenting on everything from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health to the wildfires that hit the country last summer as well as the government’s handling of the pandemic and most recently the state of the weakening economy.

At least 24 journalists were killed as a direct result of their work in 2021, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least nine journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, including two who were attacked in their homes on November 1. CPJ said three of the deaths in Mexico were linked to the work of journalists. In Myanmar, where more than 80 journalists were arrested for documenting protests against the February military coup, a freelance photojournalist died in military custody this month after being arrested for doing his job.

“Overall the climate has deteriorated and this matches the general decline of liberal democracy,” said Gypsy Guillen Kaiser, director of advocacy and communications at the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Legislation that suppresses access to information, as well as general public mistrust and animosity, are among the main obstacles affecting the ability of journalists to do their jobs. “

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Rise in Japanese IPOs Indicates Lack of Venture Capital Culture https://q-ax.com/rise-in-japanese-ipos-indicates-lack-of-venture-capital-culture/ Wed, 29 Dec 2021 14:11:07 +0000 https://q-ax.com/rise-in-japanese-ipos-indicates-lack-of-venture-capital-culture/

The small but ambitious Institution for a Global Society Corporation debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s start-up market on Wednesday. In the first 15 minutes of trading, its shares had climbed 26% above the issue price; after 30 minutes, most of these gains had evaporated; after an hour, it had increased another 13 percent.

Beyond its sickening beginnings, the Tokyo-based company, which sells human resource assessment software to schools and businesses, could have a long and bright public listed future. But so far, IGS’s main claim to fame is that this was the last initial public offering of the busiest month in Japan for new listings. Some 32 companies have entered the Tokyo market since early December; seven of them on Christmas Eve only; 25 in the Mothers market.

This flurry keeps the Tokyo equity scene alive (albeit only from the small cap side). It makes the job profitable for IPO bankers. But it can also be a sign of something fundamentally flawed in Japan’s relationship with risk and the deployment of capital. There are gems in there, but a lot of these companies, investors say, unfortunately don’t seem ready to be listed.

At first glance, this extraordinary concentration of IPOs suggests an energetic capitalism at work. It also attests, to an optimistic glance, the dynamism of Japanese entrepreneurship despite its tarnished image.

The range of IPOs over the past four weeks has offered a wide choice of industries to bet on. Along with fintech offerings and several claiming transformational ‘artificial intelligence solutions’, companies include a social media account manager, a company that collects medical data, a producer of ready-made tea drinks and a start-up that manages beauty salon reservations.

And for Japanese retail investors who focus most of their attention on Mothers stocks, December’s IPO glut has generated exactly the kind of churn and marketability they expect.

Best IPO performance of the month (a provider of digital marketing solutions) is up nearly 250%; the worst (a cloud architecture provider for brokerage apps) fell 35% below the issue price in its early days – the worst day one dip for an IPO of this size in two decades.

But there is a much more pessimistic view of it all. The December IPO boom, bankers involved in several of the new stock issues admitted, seemed rushed. Almost panicked. Many companies, one broker noted, are far too immature to list. The mothers market – theoretically the most exciting end of the Japanese listed spectrum – has fallen nearly 17% since the start of 2021, far underperforming the broad Topix index of stocks in the first section of the TSE, which increased by more than 11%.

The fear, of which the year-end IPO rush is a symptom and Mothers’ underperformance a leading indicator, is that Japanese stocks will fare badly in 2022.

Mizuho Securities analysts suggest several sources of this concern, but one of them is MSCI’s November decision to reduce its weighting of Japan in its global index from 6.9% to 5.7%. More and more US funds decide that Japanese stocks are not worth studying. In the same week in December that 23 new stocks hit the market, foreigners extended their sales to a sixth week with a net dumping of $ 4 billion of shares in cash.

Coupled with the fact that the Bank of Japan is no longer buying exchange-traded funds at a rapid pace, this means that Japanese retail investors were the largest net buyers of shares in 2021 for the first time in a decade. Market veterans – and bankers advising companies on their IPOs – know this is not a segment with a risk appetite that can be counted on even in the medium term.

But the biggest problem, as the glut of IPOs illustrates, is that Japanese startups have very little choice but to register. Their decision to do so is made in the pernicious and long-term absence of a deep-rooted venture capital culture in Japan outside of big business.

Rather, the rounds of funding that in Silicon Valley and elsewhere would be satisfied by VCs must be satisfied in Japan with the expectation that stock market investors will be better distributors of capital early in a company’s life than founders. experienced start-ups. Add to that a whirlwind of well-equipped bankers promising quick wealth to founders and reminding them that listed status makes it easier to recruit talent and the stage is set. For both investors and newly created stocks, the December IPO party could quickly lead to a nagging January hangover.

leo.lewis@ft.com

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2,700 Toyotas used as Olympic vehicles create shopping spree https://q-ax.com/2700-toyotas-used-as-olympic-vehicles-create-shopping-spree/ Sat, 25 Dec 2021 23:00:00 +0000 https://q-ax.com/2700-toyotas-used-as-olympic-vehicles-create-shopping-spree/

Even after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics ended, Olympic fever continued among consumers keen to drive one of the stylish symbols of competitions.

Approximately 2,700 vehicles supplied by Toyota Motor Corp. to support the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics sparked a buying frenzy among car buyers.

Showcasing the Games’ iconic red and blue “ichimatsu” check patterns on a white background, the official vehicles were used to transport officials to match venues and as lead cars for marathons and other competitions.

Used car customers and dealers alike have been rushing to get their hands on reasonably priced green vehicles.

Two of these cars were found at the end of October at Koriyama Jidosha Gakko, a driving school in Koriyama, in Fukushima prefecture.

Both Mirai fuel cell vehicles had the school’s name painted above the “Tokyo 2020” logo on the body.

“We also expect them to raise our profile as they attract attention,” said a school official. “With an increasing number of young people giving up cars, we want them to know that there are many varieties of cars, including green cars. “

Used cars have around 100 kilometers on the clock.

The new ones are said to cost over 7 million yen ($ 61,600), but the school was approached by a car dealership it has long done business with and bought them at a reasonable price, the official said.

Because they are a bit too big to be used for driving lessons, the school uses the cars to transport around 60 students to and from the school.

The official vehicles went on sale in the used car market in mid-September after the Tokyo Games closed.

They have become a hot topic on social media. One user said, “The price can be reasonable,” while another asked, “Who wants to buy them? “

Originally, Toyota, one of the main sponsors of the Summer Games, supplied around 3,350 vehicles, including electric cars and automated buses.

The automaker has decided to sell around 2,700 passenger vehicles, including Prius, Corolla and Mirai models, in the used car market, hoping they will be put to good use after the Games, a publicist said. .

Netz Toyota Koriyama, a Toyota dealership in Koriyama, had an inventory of 54 Mirai vehicles and 21 other automobiles, including Prius cars, associated with the Olympics and Paralympics.

All 21 cars were sold to private customers in mid-November, while all Mirai vehicles are also expected to be sold.

“They were well received by customers who remember the Tokyo Olympics in 1964,” said Yuzo Kato, general manager of the sales division. “With softball and baseball competitions also being held in Fukushima Prefecture, customers may have been encouraged by the idea that their communities were also a part of the Games.”

An employee of an Ishikawa Prefecture car dealership also said that the official vehicles are in high demand for their reasonable prices and especially because they are equipped with a car navigation system customized for these cars.

The Prius PHV A model also sold well as it cost around 800,000 yen cheaper than the new ones, which are priced around 3.8 million yen, the employee added.

Olympic vehicles appear to be popular due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, in addition to reduced production of new cars resulting from the global semiconductor shortage.

There have been numerous delays in deliveries of new cars, which has resulted in an increase in the demand for used cars.

“Car dealers were rushing for (Olympic vehicles). They have low mileage and are like new. They were sold by the time they went on sale,” recalled a source close to a dealership in the is from Japan.

After the Olympics and Paralympics ended, vehicles supplied by Toyota were lined up at the former Tsukiji Fish Market site in Tokyo’s Chuo district, which served as a parking lot for official vehicles and shuttles brought in from all over the world. countries during the Games. .

The cars were taken to car dealerships at the end of October.

The public was divided over the government’s decision to proceed with hosting the Games amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Some social media users have said they would be reluctant to buy the vehicles for their flashy decorations, but car dealerships say they can remove the decals.

“Besides the interest in the Olympics and Paralympics, there are a lot of people who really want to buy cars right away,” said another insider in western Japan. “At least 80% of our customers have removed the ornaments before driving the cars.”

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