Two and a half years ago, Ayako Oga, now 30, found herself helpless as an earthquake and the tsunami it triggered hit Japan and crippled four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. She and her husband were forced to abandon their village Ookuma Machi, barely five kilometres away.
Life for Yoshihiro Watanabe and his wife Mutsuko, mushroom and rice farmers from Fukushima, has changed drastically since the disastrous meltdowns in the Dai Ichi nuclear plant that was hit by a massive tsunami after a 9.0 strong earthquake struck on Mar. 11, 2011.
Efforts to protect the critically endangered Iriomote wildcat, a spotted, shy, feral creature native to the tiny Iriomote Island that forms part of the Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan, are becoming a highly respected model of conservation here, where the government’s uneven track record in protecting imperiled species has frustrated wildlife activists for decades.
Yukako Harada, an energetic 29-year-old, is part of a small but determined band of women farmers working hard to revitalise Japan’s moribund agricultural sector, which is feeling the crunch of an ageing population and a flood of cheap imports.
Acutely aware of China’s strong presence in resource-rich Africa, Japan, the world’s third largest economy, is beefing up its relations with the continent. Participants at a high-level donor conference hosted by Japan this week stressed the need for closer engagement, not through the traditional grants and assistance loans that have hitherto defined the relationship, but rather through trade and investment led by the Japanese private sector.
Last month, 18-year-old Shapla was just another one of thousands of garment workers employed in a factory in Savar, a suburb of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
As Japan slips from its former top spot as the world’s biggest donor, experts here are worried about long-term changes in the country’s development assistance programme, which has played a crucial role in global poverty reduction efforts.
The island of Okinawa has long been known as the base camp for a majority of the United States’ 50,000 troops in Japan. But now, against the backdrop of escalating nuclear threats from North Korea, local leaders are pushing hard to promote this island – the largest of 60 that comprise Japan’s southern prefecture – and its surrounding islets as a lucrative site for commercial enterprises.
Pushed and pulled in opposite directions, the future of Japan’s energy plans in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant two years ago is emerging as a fight between national economic advancement and what anti-nuke activists call “the lives of the people”.
Japan has promised to scrap the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors that faced the world’s worst nuclear accident. But Hiroyuki Watanabe, councillor in Iwaki City located 30 kilometres from the accident site, greets such intentions on the second anniversary of the disaster on Monday with misgiving.
Japan prepares to mark the second anniversary of the Mar. 11 triple disaster - an earthquake, tsunami and a critical nuclear reactor accident - with much soul searching across the country.
The return to power of Japan’s conservative and hard-line Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Sunday indicates that voters traded urgently needed social and environmental reforms for traditional male-led leadership, according to analysts here.
When Hiroko Taguchi retired this past April, at the age of 64, from her job as an insurance sales agent, she joined the rapidly growing ranks of Japan’s aging women who now outnumber their male counterparts.
Okinawa, the largest of a group of 60 sub-tropical islands forming Japan’s southernmost prefecture, has an equable climate and preferential treatment for United States servicemen under the Mutual Cooperation Security Treaty between the U.S. and Japan.
Developing countries – relegated to the sidelines of the West-led postwar expansion – have emerged as the saving grace of the global economy against a backdrop of calls for a new economic model that can ease the ravages of globalisation and address the lack of confidence in market-based systems.