Lasrick sends this quote from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Most people would agree that keeping track of dangerous material is generally a good idea. So it may come as a surprise to some that the arrangements that are supposed to account for weapon-grade fissile materials—plutonium and highly enriched uranium—are sketchy at best. The most recent example involves several hundreds kilograms of plutonium that appear to have fallen through the cracks in various reporting arrangements. ... [A Japanese researcher discovered] that the public record of Japan’s plutonium holdings failed to account for about 640 kilograms of the material. The error made its way to the annual plutonium management report that Japan voluntarily submits to the International Atomic Energy Agency ... This episode may have been a simple clerical error, but it was yet another reminder of the troubling fact that we know very little about the amounts of fissile material that are circulating around the globe. The only reason the discrepancy was discovered in this case was the fact that Japan has been unusually transparent about its plutonium stocks. ... No other country does this.
An anonymous reader writes A grandmother agreed to purchase an old building in Chiba, which is just outside of Tokyo. When her family arrived to check out the contents of the building it was discovered that the first two floors used to be a game center in the 1980s. Whoever ran it left all the cabinets behind when it closed, and it is full of classic and now highly desirable games. In total there are 55 arcade cabinets, most of which are the upright Aero Cities cabinets, but it's the game boards that they contain that's the most exciting discovery. Boards include Donkey Kong, Street Fighter Alpha 2 (working despite the CPS2 lockout chip's tendency to kill old boards), and Metal Slug X.
puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer. With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.
Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes Shutting down the research center at the heart of an unfolding scientific scandal may be necessary to prevent a recurrence of research misconduct, according to a report released at a press conference in Tokyo today. A committee reviewing conduct at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, found lax oversight and a failure on the part of senior authors of two papers in Nature outlining a surprisingly simple way of reprogramming mature cells into stem cells. The committee surmised that a drive to produce groundbreaking results led to publishing results prematurely. "It seems that RIKEN CDB had a strong desire to produce major breakthrough results that would surpass iPS cell research," the report concludes, referring to another type of pluripotent stem cell. "One of our conclusions is that the CDB organization is part of the problem," said committee chair Teruo Kishi Kishi. He recommends a complete overhaul of CDB, including perhaps restructuring it into a new institute. "This has to be more than just changing the nameplate."
An anonymous reader writes "The foreign minister of the Marshall Islands says that, 'even the dead are affected' by climate change. From the article: 'Speaking at UN climate talks in Bonn, the Island's foreign minister said that high tides had exposed one grave with 26 dead. The minister said the bones were most likely those of Japanese troops. Driven by global warming, waters in this part of the Pacific have risen faster than the global average. With a high point just two metres above the waters, the Marshall Islands are one of the most vulnerable locations to changes in sea level.'"
Linnen writes "Sony has started the process of phasing out its PSP handheld console. From The Guardian: 'Shipments to the U.S. ended this year, and they are closing in Japan soon. European stores will see their last arrivals toward Christmas. Launched in Japan in December 2004, it is almost 10 years old – not a bad achievement for a handheld that was almost written off early in its lifespan. ... The console struggled with high piracy levels of its titles, which meant the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft were reticent about committing to major development projects. However, the ease with which hackers were able to break the device's security system also meant that it became a favorite with the homebrew development scene, and amateur coders are still producing games and demos for the platform. Some look back on the machine as a failure beside the all-conquering Nintendo DS, but this is unfair. The console sold 80m units, a figure boosted by a series of excellent hardware and featureset updates, including the slimmer PSP-2000 and PSP-3000 models. '"
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After several months of fiercely defending her discovery of a new, simple way to create pluripotent stem cells, Haruko Obokata of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, has agreed to retract the two Nature papers that reported her work. Satoru Kagaya, head of public relations for RIKEN, headquartered in Wako near Tokyo, confirmed press reports today that Obokata had finally agreed to retract both papers. He said the institute would be notifying Nature and that the decision to formally retract the papers would be up to the journal."
This analysis of trading logs from the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange analyzes a subset of the transactions that took place there prior to the exchange's collapse, and makes the case that two bots (the writer calls them "Willy," and "Markus") were making suspicious transactions which may have been used to intentionally manipulate the trading price, and which can explain the loss of Bitcoin inventory on which the exchange's failure was blamed. The author of the analysis says "[T]here is more than plenty of evidence to suspect that what happened at Mt. Gox may have been an inside job. What I hope to achieve by releasing this analysis into the wild is for the public to learn the truth behind what happened at Mt. Gox, how it affected the Bitcoin price, and hopefully for the individuals responsible for the massive fraud that occurred at Mt. Gox to be put to justice. Although the evidence shown in this report is far from conclusive, it can hopefully spur a more rigorous investigation into Mt. Gox’s accounting data, both by the public (using the leaked data) and the authorities (forensic investigation on the actual data)."
astroengine (1577233) writes "The asteroid that hit Earth last year and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, had a prior crash record. Fragments of the asteroid recovered after the powerful Feb. 15, 2013, airburst show it contained an unusual form of the mineral jadeite embedded in glassy structures known as shock veins. Shock veins typically form when the parent body of a meteor or asteroid collides with a larger object in space. Heat and pressure from the impact cause rock to melt. It later reforms bearing vein-shaped patterns. 'Impact-induced jadeite has been found from other shocked meteorites. However, a unique point of the Chelyabinsk jadeite is that it seems to have crystallized from melt. To my knowledge, previously reported jadeite in other meteorites is considered to have formed (by solid-state reaction) without melting,' graduate student Shin Ozawa, with Japan's Tohoku University, wrote in an email to Discovery News."
AmiMoJo writes: "A Japanese court has ordered the operator of the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, not to restart two of its reactors, citing inadequate safety measures. The plant's No. 3 and 4 reactors were halted for regular inspections last September. Local residents filed a lawsuit asking that the reactors be kept offline. They said an estimate of possible tremors is too small, and that the reactors lack backup cooling systems. The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, has insisted that no safety problems exist."
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes "Kawasaki disease is a mysterious condition that results in alarming rashes, inflammation and sometimes early death. It sickens 12,000 children a year in Japan and is suspected to arrive there and elsewhere by the wind. Now, researchers have narrowed the source to croplands in northern China and offered some possible explanations as to its cause."
Taffykay (2047384) writes "Tech giant Fujitsu has opened an organic lettuce farm in Japan's Fukushima prefecture. Blending agriculture, technology, and medicine in a former microchip factory, the company has developed a new variety of organic lettuce that is not only lower in potassium and nitrates than standard varieties, but is also radiation-free."
joe5 writes "Many experts suggest that battery technology is really the key to the future of transportation. Its certainly the key to unlocking Tesla for even further growth. Today, a Japanese startup called Power Japan Plus unveiled a new battery chemistry that could significantly improve transportation batteries. In testing, the recycle-able cell has completed more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles with virtually no performance degradation, meaning that it could conceivably last the lifetime of a car. They company won't yet provide too many details due to pending patents, and won't even say who its first customer is — but the chemistry requires 'specific and proprietary changes to the nanostructure of the carbon crystals.'"
Mark.JUK (1222360) writes "Japanese mobile operator NTT DOCOMO has announced that they'll make use of Ericsson's advanced antenna technologies and radio base stations in order to conduct one of the world's first trials of a possible 5G based Mobile Broadband technology in Yokosuka (Japan), which aims to deliver downstream speeds of more than 10 Gigabits per second using the 15GHz radio spectrum frequency. But this is just one possible candidate for 5G connectivity and many organizations are still working to try and define an official standard, while most countries don't expect the first services to be deployed until around the year 2020."
First time accepted submitter Cornelie Roe (3627609) writes in with some bad news about the population of Japan. "The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, while the amount of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population ages and shrinks, the government said. There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of 1 April, down 160,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs and communications ministry said on Sunday. It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950. Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China. Last month, the government said the number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by 0.17% to 127,298,000 as of 1 October 2013. This includes long-staying foreigners. The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned."
An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo has been taking heat recently for their decision not to allow same sex relationships in Tomodachi Life, an upcoming life simulation game for the 3DS. An advocacy group for LGBT issues said, 'In purposefully limiting players' relationship options, Nintendo is not only sending a hurtful message to many of its fans and consumers by excluding them, but also setting itself way behind the times.' The group also pointed out that The Sims allowed such choices over a decade ago. Nintendo originally replied that the game was not intended to be social commentary, and pointed out that the U.S. release of Tomodachi Life is just a localization of the Japanese version (gay marriage is not legal in Japan). Now Nintendo has officially apologized for 'failing to include same-sex relationships' in the game, and they promised to build a more inclusive experience if they make a sequel."
PuceBaboon (469044) writes "Earlier today (Thursday), police in Kawasaki, Japan, arrested a man for violation of the firearms control law. He was apparently in possession of five, 3D-printed handguns, two of which were reportedly capable of firing normal rounds (although no actual bullets were found). The suspect was arrested after releasing video of the guns online. Japan has very strict gun control laws and, whether or not the suspect actually appeared in the alleged video, he may just have signed himself up for some serious porridge."
jfruh (300774) writes "With rumors swirling about Apple entering the wearable space with an iWatch, you'd think that the Japanese and Swiss companies that have dominated high-end watchmaking for more than a century would be scrambling to catch up. But there were virtually no smartwatches on display at the Baselworld trade fair, and the watchmaking giants had no plans to produce any. Company representatives seemed sure that people in practice would be uninterested in constantly recharging their watches and downloading software updates just to tell time."