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Submission + - Illegal Downloading Now a Crime in Japan with Increased Penalties (

eldavojohn writes: Although downloading songs without paying for them in Japan used to be a civil offense starting in 2010, it is now a crime with new penalties of up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen ($25,700). The lobbying group behind this push for more extreme penalties is none other than the RIAJ (the Japanese RIAA). The BBC notes this applies to both music and video downloads which may put anime studios in a particularly uncomfortable position.

Submission + - China Begins Stockpiling Rare Earths, Draws WTO Attention (

eldavojohn writes: A report by China Securities Journal claims that that China is now stockpiling rare earths although it has not indicated when this stockpiling started. Many WTO members have complained about China's tightening restrictions on exports of rare earths while China maintains that such restrictions are an attempt to clean up its environmental problems. A WTO special conference scheduled for July 10th will hopefully decide if China's restrictions are unfair trade practices or if the US, the EU and Japan are merely upset that they can't export their pollution and receive rare earths at low prices. Last year, China granted its mining companies the right to export 30,200 tonnes but in actuality only 18,600 tonnes were shipped out of country.

Submission + - Atmosphere Heated Rapidly Before Japan Quake (

eldavojohn writes: A new paper presented at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland shows the rapid heating of the atmosphere directly above the fault days before the devastating earthquake hit. This is theorized to be the Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling mechanism that occurs when large amounts of radon are released due to massive stress in the fault right before the quake. This can be detected with satellites analyzing infrared waves, 'The radioactivity from this gas ionises the air on a large scale and this has a number of knock on effects. Since water molecules are attracted to ions in the air, ionisation triggers the large scale condensation of water. But the process of condensation also releases heat and it is this that causes infrared emissions.' This is a shift from the Haiti earthquake where DEMETER was used to monitor ultra low frequencies. The presence of radon could also possibly explain erratic wildlife behavior prior to an earthquake.

Submission + - Square Enix to Report $148 Million Loss for FY2010 (

eldavojohn writes: It's no secret that Final Fantasy XIV took a lot of heat early on which required extensive damage control. And the Japanese tsunami (which appears to have added $7.5 million to their losses) certainly didn't help but if what early investor reports are saying is true then Square Enix is expected to report $148 million in losses for the closing fiscal year. Expect title cancellations (which might add to the hurt) and a very painful realization for the owner of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior (PDF warning). Perhaps a move to rereleasing classics will prove more fruitful than high development cost MMORPGs?

Submission + - Japanese Supreme Court Rules TV Forwarding Illegal (

eldavojohn writes: If you use anything like a Slingbox in Japan, you may be dismayed to find out that a Japanese maker of a similar service has been successfully sued by Japan Broadcasting Corp. and five Tokyo-based local TV broadcasting firms under copyright violations for empowering users to do similar things. TV forwarding or place shifting is recording and/or moving your normal TV signal from its intended living room box to your home computer or anywhere on the internet. Turns out that Japan's Supreme Court overruled lower court decisions confirming fears that to even facilitate this functionality is a copyright infringement on the work that is being transferred.

Submission + - Sahara Solar to Power Half the World by 2050 (

eldavojohn writes: A Japanese/Algerian effort called The Sahara Solar Breeder Project employs a simple concept revolving around the pure silica in the sand of the Sahara Desert. The silica can be used to build vast solar arrays which will then provide the power and means to build more solar arrays in a classic breeder model. They would then use DC powerlines utilizing high temperature superconductors. The lead of the project points out that silica is the second most abundant resource in the Earth's crust. The project has lofty goals to harness the Sahara's energy has a few requirements — including 100 million yen annually — but also the worldwide cooperation of many nations and the training of the scientists and engineers to create and man these desert plants. The once deadly wasteland of the Sahara now looks like a land rich in an important resource: sunlight.

Submission + - China Slowly Resumes Shipping Rare Earths to Japan (

eldavojohn writes: Following a very brief hiatus on some hard to find minerals and metals, Beijing has announced trading can resume to Japan. One Japanese trader claims that this has more to do with enabling a 'harassing behavior' toward Japan when the two countries find themselves in a territorial dispute. While moving the minerals is now more difficult and new export licenses are on hold, it seems to still be possible. The West may want to take note of Japan's treatment.

Submission + - Keiji Inafune Mulls Japan's Waning Video Games (

eldavojohn writes: As the creator of Megaman, Keiji Inafune reminisces of the days when Japan redefined video games. He believes those days are long gone as he reveals much in his criticisms of Japan's ailing game economy. Inafune says Japan is five years behind — still making games for older consoles with "no diversity, no originality." When queried why he responds, 'A lot of designers, if they find a genre that works for them, they stick with it. A lot of designers just stick to a set formula. That doesn't work any more. You can't just tweak the graphics, work just on image quality. You can't compete on that. The business side is not keeping up with investment. You need to be prepared to invest 4 billion yen or more on a game, and then spend 2 billion yen more to promote it. But Japanese companies can't do that. So we're losing out to the West in terms of investment in games. It's a vicious cycle, a deflationary spiral. Because you don't invest, you can't sell games, and because you don't sell games, you can't invest.' Inafune goes on to talk about Capcom's problems and Shadow of Rome's failed westernization. He says Level 5 is set to overstep Capcom because they're more forward-looking. He compares making games for Japan and the US to Sushi and basketball — two popular things but each done in distinctly different ways by the two nations. He calls Japanese gaming dead but begs for it to be saved by a rebirth of originality. Inafune travels around the world looking for global ideas to embed in games — not ideas that are solely East or West. He closes by comparing himself to Ryoma Sakamoto, a 19th-century samurai who tried to overthrow Japan's feudal government and open the country up to the West. Inafune reflects on the local popularity of his cautionary words, 'If I lived in medieval Japan, I'd probably be killed too.'

Submission + - Studio Ghibli Announce RPG for PS3, DS ( 1

eldavojohn writes: The first footage is out of a pairing of Studio Ghibli and Take-5 Games. The footage shows comparisons with animation and gameplay that make it highly desired as well as a little bit of the combat system. The bad news is that this lush graphic game is so far only slated for release in Japan. Hopefully the wondeful anime studio can again mercifully provide for American audiences. Whether you like or dislike their movies, you must admit they bring a refreshing unique flavor to the tired movie industry but can they do the same for games?

Submission + - Google's Missteps in Japan Leave it Behind Yahoo (

eldavojohn writes: Google's the leading search giant in the US but in Japan, it's a different story. One survey puts Yahoo! at 56.5 percent of all queries in Japan with Google at 33.7 percent. There aren't a lot of big tech countries where Google trails Yahoo! and the New York Times brings an insightful view of Google's missteps in courting Japan (Slashdot may remember fears of discrimination via Google Earth). It might not seem like a problematic situation for Google — after all they trail Baidu in China — but the painful fact is that Japan has the second largest advertising market in the world (a hefty $77 billion). And Google's ad revenue is an obvious cash cow that is probably sorely desired in Japan.

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