Japan

jmawork / Flickr Creative Commons

The administration wants  to “pivot east” - to move away from Europe and the Middle East and more towards Japan, South Korea, and especially China - given its economic and military power.

GUESTS:

  • Kathleen Molony – director and executive committee member of the Fellows Program at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She was formerly the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade.

Radioactive Man

Apr 2, 2013
Ivan Kovac and Jeffrey Jousan via vice.com

Two weeks ago marked the second anniversary of the nuclear disaster and subsequent evacuation of Fukushima, Japan defying the government-mandated evacuation orders and living by himself inside “The Zone” is 53 year-old Naoto Matsumara, a fifth generation rice farmer who returned to Fukushima not long after the disaster first unfolded. Vice Japan’s Ivan Kovac is director and editor of “Alone in the Zone”, a documentary that follows Naoto on his mission to care for the pets and livestock abandoned after the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown.

Joshua Weinstein via POV Docs

The dream of “being discovered” is on parade at a casting call in Novosibirsk, one of several Siberian cities that supply the pre-adolescent, doe-eyed, “Russian look” models most desired by the Japanese fashion market. Ashley Arbaugh scours rural beauty pageants for girls, typically poor, mostly looking for a way out, and sends them off to Tokyo. That journey, marked by deceit and exploitation, is the subject of “Girl Model”, a documentary feature by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. Together, David and Ashley have produced, directed and edited seven documentary feature films. Their latest, “Girl Model,” makes its broadcast premiere on PBS’s acclaimed POV series on Sunday.

Paul Schubert and his wife decided to buy a new car last summer — a really fuel-efficient one. After a lot of research, they settled on a Toyota Prius. But there was a problem: They couldn't find one.

The tsunami that devastated Japan in March had dried up supplies of the Prius, which is made in Japan, and a dealer told them they would have to wait — "about four months," Schubert says. "And we thought, well, it'd be, probably, end of November, early December before we were going to have a car."

The Schuberts still had a working car.

For Japanese Linguist, A Long And Lonely Schlep

Apr 16, 2012

A smattering of Yiddish words has crept into the American vernacular: Non-Jews go for a nosh or schmooze over cocktails. Yet the language itself, once spoken by millions of Jews, is now in retreat.

But you don't have to be Jewish to love Yiddish. In Japan, a linguist has toiled quietly for decades to compile the world's first Yiddish-Japanese dictionary — the first time the Jewish language has been translated into a non-European language other than Hebrew.

In Japan, 'Sliced-Up Actors' Are A Dying Breed

Mar 28, 2012

Japan is home to Asia's oldest and largest motion-picture industry, with its own unique genres and traditions. While every film industry has stuntmen, only Japan has a class of actors whose main job is to be sliced and diced by samurai sword-wielding protagonists. But the decline of period dramas means that this class of actors is literally a dying breed.

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, lasted for many terrifying minutes. But the multiple nuclear meltdowns that followed created an emergency that lasted for weeks and a legacy that will last for decades.

Here's how the event unfolded. The tsunami knocked out power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. As a result, the cooling systems failed and three reactors melted down. Steam laced with radioactive material poured into the air. Water contaminated with radiation also flowed into the sea.

Teacher Dave Rowlands is talking to his students in a kindergarten class at Imagine Japan, an English-language school in the Miyagi Prefecture of Sendai City. The school is just a short walk from pre-fabricated homes built for families who lost more than just property in the earthquake and tsunami last year.

"What came after the earthquake, was what?" Rowlands asks. "A tidal wave. In Japanese, what do we say? Or in English, actually, tsunami is now used around the world in many languages. Tsunami. We kind of leave the 't' off of there."

One year ago this Sunday, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami that killed 20,000 people. It also triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

But health effects from radiation turn out to be minor compared with the other issues the people of Fukushima prefecture now face.

A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.

Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.

The mountain village of Kawauchi lies partly inside the area deemed unsafe because of high levels of radiation in Japan's Fukushima prefecture. Chiharu Kubota uses a high-pressure water gun to hose down buildings there.

Radiation is still leaking from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns immediately after last year's earthquake and tsunami.

'Nothing Is Better'

Treasure Hunting for a Wild Japanese Delicacy

Oct 13, 2011
Elaine Grant / NHPR

Because of a faraway tragedy, and a fluke of nature, the two men are learning a thing or two about the global economy – and about the fine line between passion and obsession.

If there were such a thing as a professional mushroom forager in New Hampshire, Keith Garrett would be it. So would Eric Milligan.

The two men have been hunting mushrooms in the Lakes Region for the last six years. More than 5,000 species of mushrooms have been identified in this region alone, but Milligan and Garrett are walking encyclopedias.