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TOKYO, August 18, 2018 (MENA) - Japan has been facing growing calls internally for overhauling its policy toward North Korea, by allowing talks on possible economic aid to precede the delayed effort to resolve the issue of past abductions of Japanese by Pyongyang, government sources said on Saturday.

While North Korea has shown no signs of backing down from claiming that the issue of abductions in the 1970s and 1980s has been settled, Japan has maintained it will not normalize diplomatic relations with the North and extend economic assistance unless the issue is resolved, Japanese Kyodo News Agency reported on Saturday.

The proposed policy, which still faces strong opposition in the government, would focus on building mutual trust before paving the way for the resolution of the abduction issue, the sources said.

Since returning to power in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has placed priority on resolving the issue, and recently expressed his desire to engage in direct talks with North Korea.

The government is expected to decide how to approach North Korea, depending on progress in the ongoing talks between the United States and North Korea on denuclearization of the North, the sources said.

A series of meetings have been held at the prime minister's office since April to discuss Tokyo's strategy to get Pyongyang to the negotiating table. But no decision has been made so far.

The Japanese government officially lists 17 people as having been abducted by the North. Five of them returned in 2002, but Pyongyang maintains eight have died and four others never entered the country.

CAIRO, August 10, 2018 (MENA) - The Children Civilisation and Creativity Centre (the Child Museum) will host on Sunday a workshop on Origami (the Japanese art of paper folding).

The Heliopolis Association, under Dr. Farouk El-Gohary, in cooperation with the Japan Foundation in Cairo will organise the two-day workshop.

In statements on Friday, the association's secretary, Nabil Helmi, expressed his association's keenness on organising such activities that help promote cultural exchange among all nations.

In modern usage, the word "origami" is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin.

The goal is to transform a flat square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques.

Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.

Origami folders often use the Japanese word "kirigami" to refer to designs which use cuts.

The small number of basic origami folds can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. The best-known origami model is the Japanese paper crane.

In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be of different colors, prints, or patterns.

Traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the Edo period (1603– 1867), has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper or using non-square shapes to start with. The principles of origami are also used in stents, packaging and other engineering applications.

TOKYO, August 10, 2018 (MENA) - A prefectural government rescue helicopter with nine people aboard crashed on an eastern Japan mountain on Friday, killing two of the passengers, the transport ministry and local government said.

The identities of the two were not immediately known, Japanese news agency Kyodo News Agency reported.

The chopper belonging to Gunma Prefecture lost contact with traffic control earlier in the day and debris was found in the afternoon on a mountain forest in Gunma.

The helicopter was on a flight to assess a trail route on the borders of Gunma, Nagano and Niigata prefectures, according to the prefectural government. The route was scheduled to open on Saturday

 

 

Tokyo, August 6, 2018 (News Wires) - A bell tolled on Monday in Hiroshima as Japan marked 73 years since the world's first atomic bombing, with the city's mayor warning that rising nationalism worldwide threatened peace.

The skies over Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park were clear, just as they were on August 6, 1945, when an American B-29 bomber dropped its deadly payload on the port city dotted with military installations, ultimately killing 140,000 people.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, standing at the park near ground zero for the annual ceremony, appealed for a world without nuclear weapons and sounded the alarm over increasing nationalism.

Without naming specific nations, he warned that "certain countries are explicitly expressing self-centred nationalism and modernising their nuclear arsenals."

They were "rekindling tensions that had eased with the end of the Cold War", he added.

He urged the abolition of nuclear weapons, in a year when President Donald Trump pledged to increase the US nuclear arsenal.

"If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error. That is precisely why we must continue talking about Hiroshima," Matsui said.

"Efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons must continue."

His call however highlighted Japan's contradictory relationship with nuclear weapons.

Japanese officials routinely argue that they oppose atomic weapons but the nation's defence is dependent on the US nuclear umbrella.

This year's ceremony comes amid a diplomatic push for the denuclearisation of North Korea that saw Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un hold unprecedented talks.

Japan has largely maintained a hard line on Pyongyang, in particular pushing for movement on citizens abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.

But reports suggest Tokyo is considering a summit soon between Kim and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with local media floating a possible meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Russia's Vladivostok next month.

"Ultimately, I myself will have to directly face chairman Kim Jong Un and engage in dialogue and resolve the nuclear, missile and, above all, the all-important abduction issue, and then build new Japan-North Korea relations," Abe said in Hiroshima on Monday.

Abe, whose government has chosen not to participate in the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said Japan had a responsibility to bridge the gap between nuclear and non-nuclear nations.

"In recent years, it has become evident that gaps exist among countries about ways to proceed with nuclear arms reduction," Abe told the ceremony, without directly referring to the treaty.

"Our nation, while maintaining our (non-nuclear weapons) principles, will patiently work to serve as a bridge between the two sides and lead efforts by the international community" to reduce nuclear weapons, Abe said.

Japan suffered two nuclear attacks by the United States at the end of World War II -- first in Hiroshima and then in Nagasaki three days later.

The bombings claimed the lives of 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 people in Nagasaki.

Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima in May 2016.

LOS ANGELES, July 31, 2018 (News Wires) - Alphabet Inc’s YouTube is creating scripted series and other original programming for international markets including France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and India to try to draw new customers to its paid subscription service, a senior executive said recently.

The programming will come in the form of multiple genres such as music documentaries, reality series, talk shows and scripted series, Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original programming, said in an interview. It will be produced in local languages and subtitled or dubbed for other markets.

Some of the programming will appear on YouTube Premium, the monthly subscription service formerly called YouTube Red. Other content will be available on YouTube’s free service with advertising.

“We are targeting markets where we believe we have a tremendous upside in potential subscribers,” Daniels said.

YouTube already has released a handful of original shows in South Korea and one in India, a talk show in Hindi about cricket. Called UnCricket, the show has performed “beyond expectations,” Daniels said.

Daniels also said a reality show starring South Korean pop band Big Bang had boosted subscriptions, and that 50 per cent of the new customers came from outside of Korea.

More details about the new international slate will be released in the coming weeks, she said.

YouTube will be competing with companies including Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc that are investing in local language programming for online audiences around the world.

The first original shows from YouTube debuted on its premium service in 2016, starting with series from some of the platform’s most popular video creators. It added programming from Hollywood stars and also released a batch of children’s shows including Emmy-winning Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force.

TOKYO, July 31, 2018 (News Wires) - The opening and closing ceremonies at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics Games will showcase Japan’s ancient and modern sides, the traditional theatre actor newly appointed to direct the events said on Tuesday.

The appointment of Mansai Nomura, who performs in Japan’s centuries-old classical theatre and is well known domestically, may suggest the importance that the country’s traditional arts will play in the ceremonies. But Nomura gave little away.

“I will do my utmost to produce Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies that are simple but rich in Japanese spirit,” Nomura told reporters Tuesday.

“I want to show our palette holds paints of many colours,” he said, pledging to “cover the entire range, from high art to entertainment.”

The overarching concept of the ceremonies will be announced later this year, but Nomura said there would be drama. “Quiet at times, elevated at times... I want to show big swings,” he said.

While Nomura is famed for his performances in Japan’s traditional comedy theatre, and is likely to draw on his knowledge of the country’s rich artistic heritage, he said he was also a fan of modern entertainment.

And he said he saw no barriers to combining modern and traditional art.

A fan of Michael Jackson, he compared the pop star’s famed moonwalk to “suriashi”, a technique of classical Japanese performance in which actors wearing traditional socks slide on wooden floors.

“Put the soles of your feet (on the floor) and go forward, it’s suriashi. Going backward, it’s moonwalking. What appears to be two extremes can be like two sides of a coin,” he said.

Asked whether he’d be performing himself, he quipped: “I’d moonwalk as much as people want if it pleases them. The budget for that would be zero.”

Nomura will direct the ceremonies with a team including Hiroshi Sasaki, a leading advert director who was Japan’s pointman for the handover ceremony at the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

 

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