Displaying items by tag: Japan
A month before the Olympics opening ceremony, many Japanese people remain resolutely opposed to the Games, amid fears that the influx of athletes, sport officials and journalists could worsen the continuing Covid outbreak in Tokyo and across the country. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organisers are steadfast in their resolve to continue with the Games as anti-virus measures remain in place; they promise stringent protocols will prevent 93,000 visitors from worsening Japan’s outbreak. But questions still outnumber answers. Doctors and healthcare workers have the strongest opposition voices – an infection surge could overwhelm healthcare systems. ‘Front-line medical workers are being treated as disposable,’ said a 27-year-old nurse in Tokyo.Another factor fuelling public opposition is the sluggish pace of Japan’s vaccine rollout. A former Olympic athlete said the safety of people is not considered the priority. Instead, the IOC’s own interests are being considered the priority.
Japan’s government declared a third state of emergency due to rising Covid infections just three months before hosting the 32nd Olympic Games. Documents released on 28 April introduce new Covid restrictions and requirements ahead of the Olympics, with guidelines that limit participants’ movement and require more testing. Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access said, ‘The government wants to quickly eliminate the rapid increase of new cases with new strands of viruses. We are quite behind with vaccinating the people. We didn’t come up with vaccines of our own, so we depend on US production. Different simulations have been done, and we probably will not be able to finish vaccinating people over 65 before the Olympics are supposed to start.’ One third of Japanese people want to postpone the Olympics for another year; another one third want to cancel it, and the rest want to go ahead after already postponing for a year.
Christians in Japan belong to a minority religion. Less than 1% of the population claim Christian affiliation, although 50 -70% are married in Christian ceremonies. 253,000 Japanese are deaf and although there is a Japanese sign language in Buddhism, it has been difficult for Christian outreach to this minority group without a Bible for them. Since the 1990s Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working to bring the Bible to Japanese deaf people. They have finished Daniel, and are now working on Ezra. Once translations are complete, videos will be recorded for the deaf community. A Wycliffe missionary said, ‘We really want to see God’s Word made available to each heart language, so that there is no language barrier between individuals anywhere in the world and the revelation that God has given us through His Word.’
The Golden Week will fall between 2 and 6 May. Families usually take advantage of this holiday period to go on long trips. Despite early signs that the number of new coronavirus cases may be slowing, the government has warned that everyone must continue to stay home and avoid non-essential travel, even during the Golden Week holidays. The economic minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who spearheads the government’s coronavirus measures, said, ‘I am alarmed that efforts to decrease the number of new patients have been insufficient’. Recently doctors warned that the medical system could collapse. Emergency rooms cannot treat seriously ill patients due to extra virus cases. One ambulance carrying a coronavirus patient was turned away by eighty hospitals before he could be seen. Japan now has tens of thousands of confirmed cases: it did not prepare well for coronavirus, despite being the second country outside China to record infection. See
South Korea’s national intelligence service told a closed-door parliamentary audit session that it expected working-level denuclearisation talks between Kim and Trump to resume by early December. As recently as 31 October Kim test-fired two short-range missiles that traveled 350 to 400 kilometres. The tests were believed to be the nuclear-armed country’s 19th and 20th launches since May. Japan’s prime minister condemned the launches as an act threatening the peace and safety of his country as North Korea was refining weapons capable of reaching it. Meanwhile, Iran announced launching a new batch of advanced centrifuges to accelerate uranium enrichment on the 40th anniversary of the start of its Islamic Revolution. However, Tehran has left room for diplomacy by saying that talks are possible if Washington lifts all the sanctions and returns to the nuclear deal. See
South Korean F-15 fighter jets, sent to intercept a Russian surveillance plane, fired 360 machine-gun rounds to prevent it from entering the airspace over the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands, occupied by South Korea but claimed by Japan. Russia denied violating the airspace, saying two of its bombers carried out a planned drill with China over ‘neutral waters’, and denied any warning shots were fired by South Korean jets. Russian and Chinese bombers and reconnaissance planes have occasionally entered the zone in recent years, but now Japan has confirmed that its military has also deployed fighter jets in response to the Russian incursion. Because it claims sovereignty over the islands, Japan's government said that Russia had violated its airspace. It also said that South Korea's response was extremely regrettable.
As host of the G20 leaders’ summit, Japan has drafted a weak statement on climate action, in a bid to keep the US onside. This follows a G20 executive decision last week in which all countries but the US reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris agreement. Japan is trying to build consensus with the USA, as they are negotiating a trade deal. But other G20 members, including the EU, are expected to push for more ambitious language at the expense of US endorsement. Japanese campaigners are organising protests to coincide with the G20's opening on 28 June. One of them accused President Shinzo Abe of being ‘full of hot air’ when it comes to his pledges on climate action. Also, on 26 June 12,000 people gathered in London to pressurise politicians to tackle global climate change more urgently. See
220 younger leaders from China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong gathered from 25-28 March in South Korea, for the first-ever Lausanne East Asia Younger Leaders Gathering. Young leaders from every region of East Asia found friendship across and within dividing lines and rediscovered the power of faithful communal witness, focusing on ‘The Essence of the Gospel - Unity in Diversity’. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population live in East Asia, with its full spectrum of political, cultural, geographical, and religious diversity. Their history is fraught with longstanding animosity between nations; but Christianity in the region is full of cross-pollinating friendships. The Korean translation of the Bible was born in China and one of the first leaders of the Korean church was discipled by a Japanese Christian. Today the East Asian Church is utilising the hands and feet, ears, brain, mouth and heart, to bring the gospel to East Asia and beyond - no matter the cost.
During Donald Trump’s state visit to Japan he told Emperor Naruhito that he would support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to act as a mediator between the US and Iran. Abe will visit Tehran next month for talks with the President, Hassan Rouhani. Trump also gave his backing to Abe’s attempts to set up a first summit, without preconditions, with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, hours after the regime described his national security adviser, John Bolton, as a ‘warmonger’. Currently Tehran has no interest in talking to the US administration and last week sent 1,500 troops to the region. Trump wants Iran to have no nuclear weapons. Trump’s conciliatory tone extended to North Korea, despite deadlocked denuclearisation talks and Pyongyang’s recent testing of short-range missiles. He said his relationship with Kim was one of ‘great respect’, and talked up the prospects for progress on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
A man screaming ‘I will kill you’ and carrying a knife in each hand attacked Catholic schoolgirls waiting at a bus stop in Kawasaki, slaughtering two and wounding 16 others. He then stabbed himself in the throat and died. Most of the victims attended a private school founded by Soeurs de la Charité de Québec, an organisation of Catholic nuns in Quebec City in Canada. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, ‘It was an extremely harrowing incident in which many small children were victimised, and I feel strong resentment. I will take all possible measures to protect the safety of children.’ Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.