Top Japanese comedian to retire in wake of ‘underground business’ scandal

A top Japanese comedian, suspended by his talent agency for conducting an “underground business” operation, has decided to retire from the entertainment industry, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. said it terminated its management contract with 49-year-old Hiroyuki Miyasako the same day after suspending him and 12 other comedians last month for attending a party hosted by a purported crime group in 2014 without consulting with the company. They received between ¥1 million and several tens of thousands of yen in remuneration, of which the largest sum was paid out to Miyasako.

The contract termination comes as an article published the same day in celebrity gossip magazine Friday showed a photograph of Miyasako at a restaurant together with individuals who were later charged with theft for stealing around ¥750 million worth of gold bullion in the city of Fukuoka in 2016.

The entertainment powerhouse suspended the 13 comedians in late June after Friday carried an article saying they performed without the agency’s consent at a party organized by a group involved in a large-scale scam in December 2014.

“I deeply regret accepting the money, even if it was indirectly,” Miyasako said in late June when the scandal came to light. He said he was not connected with the group.

He joined New Star Creation in 1988, a training school for comedians managed by Yoshimoto Kogyo, and formed the duo Ameagari Kesshitai with Toru Hotohara. Miyasako has appeared frequently on TV shows and was also active as an actor.

Click Here: kanken mini cheap

South Korean man dies in apparent self-immolation near Japanese Embassy in Seoul

SEOUL – A 78-year-old South Korean man died hours after setting himself ablaze near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Friday, police said, at a time of worsening tensions between Seoul and Tokyo.

The man, surnamed Kim, ignited a fire inside his car parked in front of the building where the embassy is located. The man died later Friday while being treated at a Seoul hospital, police said.

Police said Kim had phoned an acquaintance earlier to say he planned to self-immolate to express his antipathy toward Japan.

Kim’s family told investigators that his father-in-law had been conscripted as a forced laborer when the Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule from 1910-45, according to a police statement.

No suicide note was found. Police earlier said flammable materials were found in the car that Kim borrowed from an acquaintance Thursday.

Police said they’ll analyze possible evidence from Kim’s mobile phone and investigate people concerned to try to determine the exact motive for his action.

The man’s self-immolation comes with relations between Seoul and Tokyo at their worst in decades.

Japan recently tightened export controls for some high-tech materials.

If his self-immolation is found to be directly related to the Japanese curbs, it would the first such action in South Korea since anti-Japanese sentiments flared up over the trade restriction. Some activists and residents in South Korea are staging anti-Japan demonstrations and campaigns to boycott Japanese products, but those have been limited so far.

South Korea and Japan are both key U.S. allies. But they often have been embroiled in disputes stemming from historical disputes.

Click Here: fjallraven kanken backpack

South Korean officials say the Japanese trade controls are retaliation for local court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to former Korean forced laborers. Japan denies that, saying the controls are required for national security.

South Koreans have been staging largely peaceful anti-Japan rallies near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul for decades. Occasionally, they have turned violent, with demonstrators cutting their own fingers or scuffling with police officers.

Taro Kono rips Seoul for refusal of wartime labor panel under ’65 pact, calls ambassador ‘extremely rude’

Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned the top South Korean envoy in Tokyo on Friday to lodge a protest against Seoul’s rejection of a proposal to set up a joint arbitration panel to settle the issue of wartime labor, a simmering problem that is weighing heavily on bilateral ties.

In his meeting with Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo at the Foreign Ministry, Kono said Seoul’s failure to address the issue violates international law.

The formal protest is likely to escalate the diplomatic tensions between the two countries, whose relations were already strained over new export regulations introduced by Japan on key materials that are used in chip and smartphone production.

During the meeting, Kono became angry when the top South Korean envoy mentioned Seoul’s earlier proposal to settle the compensation issue by raising funds from both Japanese and South Korean firms.

Kono interrupted Nam, saying in a loud voice, “We have already explained (to South Korea) that we cannot accept it at all because it would not correct the violations of international law. It’s extremely rude for you to propose it again as if you knew nothing about it.”

Japan has argued that an economic pact attached to the 1965 basic bilateral relationship treaty has already settled all the compensation issues and obligations over Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Invoking Article 3 of the pact, Japan had requested that South Korea jointly set up an arbitration panel with it within 30 days that would include a third country, a proposal that Seoul ignored. Thursday was the deadline to agree to the arbitration process.

Article 3 explicitly obliges the two governments to agree to form an arbitration panel if the other government makes such a request.

Meanwhile, Seoul criticized the new export rules, calling them “retaliation” by Japan over the wartime labor issue. During Friday’s meeting, Nam said the export regulations are a “unilateral action by Japan,” which “has placed people and firms in both countries in a difficult situation.”

In response, Kono reiterated the wartime labor issue “is not linked” with the new export rules. However, Japanese trade officials have previously cited Seoul’s inaction over the wartime labor issue as one of the key reasons Japan has lost “trust” in the South Korean government and thereby decided to introduce the export regulations.

Under the 1965 pact, Tokyo provided a lump-sum payment to Seoul, some of which was to be used to compensate South Korean individuals seeking compensation.

However, South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled last year that Japan’s colonial rule was illegal and the 1965 pact did not deny individuals the right to seek compensation. Based on the ruling, South Korean courts, beginning last year, ordered Japanese firms, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp., to pay damages to wartime laborers, which has led to the seizure of assets owned by the companies.

Citing the 1965 pact, Tokyo has demanded the South Korean government take measures to avoid damage being done to Japanese firms, but Seoul has not taken any action so far.

Japan is now considering bringing the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but without Seoul’s consent the ICJ would not be able to adjudicate the request. A senior Japanese official said that Tokyo is likely to keep monitoring the situation for a while before deciding whether to bring the case to the ICJ.

In the meantime, the South Korean trade ministry on Friday repeated its demand to hold a meeting by next Wednesday.

When trade officials from the two countries met in Tokyo last week, Seoul urged Tokyo to agree to another meeting, according to the South Korean side. Japan, however, said it was unwilling to acquiesce to the request but remained open to answering questions via alternative methods, including email.

Jun Iwamatsu, director of the trade control policy division at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, expressed displeasure Friday evening with South Korea’s argument and rejected the possibility of organizing such a meeting.

Employing a much stronger tone than in his previous news conference, Iwamatsu said South Korea unilaterally disclosed what was discussed at the July 12 meeting on export controls, which he said involved other highly sensitive issues, such as weapons of mass destruction.

“Unless the situation improves wherein (South Korea) discloses what was discussed between the two countries without prior consent from both countries, as demonstrated by today’s South Korean remarks to the press, we believe it is difficult to convene a place for policy dialogue based on trust,” Iwamatsu said.

Staff writer Satoshi Sugiyama contributed to this report.

Click Here: fjallraven kanken backpack

Kawasaki man served fresh warrant in murder of wife, whose legless body washed ashore last month

YOKOHAMA – A 26-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of abandoning a corpse after his wife’s legless body was found last month at a beach in Kanagawa Prefecture, was served with a fresh warrant Thursday for allegedly killing her, police said.

Seiya Taira is accused of strangling his wife Fubuki, 26, to death in their apartment in Kawasaki around June 25, the police said. He has admitted to the allegation.

According to the police, Taira had been paying back debts worth several million yen with his wife’s credit card and money saved for their honeymoon and wedding reception without her permission. Fubuki became aware of the payments in mid-June and their relationship worsened.

“She looked at me as if I were a total stranger and I couldn’t stand that,” the suspect was quoted by the police as saying.

He was initially arrested on June 28 after he turned himself in the previous night at a police station in Kawasaki. Taira told investigators at that time he “couldn’t bear the feeling of guilt,” according to the police.

The husband told the police he severed his wife’s body with a knife and saw at the apartment and put the body in a suitcase. He then took a taxi to the beach and swam out to sea before abandoning the body.

Fubuki’s body was found on the morning of June 27 face down on the beach about 1.5 kilometers south of JR Hiratsuka Station. One of the legs was found a day later in the sea nearby.

Click Here: fjallraven kanken backpack

Prem side emerge as rivals to Arsenal for Everton – report

Everton are reportedly planning a move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

The Ivory Coast star is wanted by Arsenal but Unai Emery is shopping in the transfer window with a severely restricted budget.

The Gunners are said to have made an offer for Zaha worth significantly less than Palace’s valuation. The Eagles are understood to be looking for a fee in the region of £80million for the 26-year-old academy graduate.

According to the Daily Mail, Everton have been alerted by Arsenal’s hesitation and the Toffees are preparing a bid for Zaha.

The Toffees, bankrolled by owner Farhad Moshiri, are keen to make a statement signing this summer a year after they paid £40million for Richarlison.

Zaha is said to be keen to leave his boyhood club this summer, with a Champions League club his ideal destination. But only Arsenal and Everton have registered a serious interest.

Click Here: Cheap kid backpacks

Everton have so far only spent money on Andre Gomes following the former Barcelona midfielder’s loan spell at Goodison Park last term. Jonas Lossl also arrived on a free following the expiry of the goalkeeper’s contract at Huddersfield.

Bruce snubbed Shearer’s advice to reject Newcastle job offer

Steve Bruce has confirmed even good friend Alan Shearer could not persuade him not to take the head coach’s job at Newcastle.

The Magpies record goalscorer revealed in a newspaper column this week that he had advised the 58-year-old over dinner earlier this summer not to accept Mike Ashley’s offer of employment if it came his way in the wake of Rafael Benitez’s departure as manager.

However, speaking at a press conference in Shanghai on Thursday, Bruce insisted he simply could not take Shearer’s advice.

He said: “Well, make no mistake, Alan is a big, big friend of mine and he’s welcome to his opinions, but I would like to think I am my own man.

“As I’ve said many times, I understand the challenge that lies ahead. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, I am not Rafa Benitez, so whoever was going to sit in this seat was going to find it difficult.

“However, I’m confident enough that with my experience and the people I have brought with me, that we’ll continue to take the club forward, and that’s why I’m sitting in the position I’m in right now.”

Bruce is well aware that his appointment has not gone down well with a section of the Toon Army despite heading off for China as his arrival was announced, but he is pleased for a chance to prove himself.

He said: “I don’t read it because if you want to take it personally and read and scrutinise everything that’s thrown your way, then you would end up in a mad house.

“Just judge me over the period of time, and I’m quietly confident after maybe 400 games in the Premier League that I’ll do okay.”

Bruce accepted his dream job after resigning from his post at Sheffield Wednesday, sparking a wrangle over compensation which remains unresolved with the Owls taking legal advice.

He said: “I’d like to put it out there that a manager’s contract is a manager’s contract. When it’s terminated, compensation should be due, and that applies to when a manager wants to leave or hands in his resignation.

“I am disappointed about that because I thought that was in hand. However, it’s football and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

“As I’ve said many, many times, it was the challenge and the chance to go and manage Newcastle United, the great club that it is, that was the overriding factor for me to be as selfish as I was.”

Newcastle face West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday, but behind the scenes, work is ongoing to rebuild the squad with strikers the main priority.

Bruce’s job title of head coach suggested he may not have the influence Benitez wanted over signings, but the former Manchester United defender has insisted that is not the case.

He said: “The big one, of course, is what you’re insinuating there, am I in charge of transfers or am I just going to sit there and be a puppet? That won’t happen.”

Ex-recruitment guru chief reveals transfer changes at Arsenal

Sven Mislintat has suggested how Arsenal’s approach to transfers has changed since his departure earlier this year.

The German spent 14 months as the Gunners’ head of recruitment before leaving the club in February.

Former Borussia Dortmund chief Mislintat claims he was offered the technical director’s role at the Emirates before a changes within the hierarchy saw Arsenal go down a different route.

“Last summer there were leadership changes at Arsenal,” Mislintat told 11Freunde via Arseblog.

“It had actually been agreed that I would become technical director, so then I would be around the team on a daily basis.

“But the new leadership had their own agenda and other candidates. On top of that, we had different approaches.

“Previously we had a strong systematic approach to transfers, a mixture of watching things live as well as quality data and video analysis. Arsenal actually owns their own data company.

“That meant that we acted independently, we knew about all markets and players in all positions that came into question.

“However, the new leadership work more strongly with what they are offered from clubs or agents through their own networks.”

Click Here: Sports Water Bottles

Ole ready to leave tour to meet Man Utd’s ‘one or two’ targets

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United are still working on “one or two” signings before the start of the season.

The Red Devils are in the midst of a pivotal summer during which Solskjaer promised to be ruthless in reshaping his squad.

So far only two players have been signed while the only exits have been Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia who both came to the end of the contracts.

But Solskjaer insists United still have a couple of irons in the fire – he wants Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Sean Longstaff – and he will break away from the club’s pre-season tour to facilitate any transfer deals.

“As I’ve said and answered a few times, we’re working on one or two cases,” Solskjaer said in reply to a question over United’s recruitment plans. “But obviously my objective now when I’m here is we’ve got to get ready for the games and training sessions.

“And if I’ve got to travel somewhere I will. And you won’t be able to ask me.

“We’re working on putting a squad together that can compete, of course we have some youngsters but we have loads of players that can play and loads of ways we can play, if there is a slight change of system is possible.”

Click Here: Sports Water Bottles

Princess Mako attends anniversary ceremony in Bolivia

SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA – Princess Mako on Wednesday attended a commemoration in Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia, to mark the 120th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants to the South American country.

“I express my sincere respect for Japanese immigrants and their descendants who have won trust in Bolivian society and become a bridge between the two countries,” said Princess Mako.

Click Here: fjallraven kanken backpack

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, who attended the event, said Japanese immigrants contributed to his country’s development with their diligence and effort, mainly in the agricultural sector.

Later, Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, visited a child care facility whose operation is commissioned to a Japanese Catholic organization and interacted with children.

When the princess was about to leave, two children standing in line to see her off unexpectedly rushed to her. She hugged a boy, smiling at him.

With pacifist Constitution at stake, apathy reigns in Japan ahead of Upper House election

Politically speaking, the upcoming Upper House election is a huge deal for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. After all, it’s a vote that could determine the fate of his long-held ambition to amend the postwar pacifist Constitution.

But voters, it seems, see Sunday’s poll as anything but crucial.

Surveys have pointed to lukewarm public interest in the race, prompting some political observers to predict Abe will survive the July 21 election relatively unscathed, benefiting yet again from his familiar recipe for victory: low voter turnout.

Although Sunday’s election could virtually ensure or doom Abe’s longtime drive to revise Article 9 of the Constitution, polls suggest the political significance of the election simply hasn’t sunk in with voters.

“Over the years, the Abe administration has accumulated experience winning national elections marked by low turnout,” said Ryosuke Nishida, an associate professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology who specializes in politics and the media. Sunday’s election, he added, is likely to follow the same pattern.

Nishida may be right.

An opinion poll released Monday by the influential Nikkei business daily shows 57 percent of voters will “definitely go” to the polls Sunday, down from 67 percent in its 2016 election survey and from 65 percent in the 2013 survey.

Click Here: Cheap kid backpacks

Since official turnout was a tepid 54.70 percent in 2016 and 52.61 percent in 2013, according to internal affairs ministry statistics, the turnout for this year’s Upper House election could be dismal.

Low turnout in Japan signals a lack of interest among swing voters and tends to benefit parties with a massive organizational voting apparatus in place, such as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Buddhist-backed Komeito.

According to an NHK survey earlier this month, constitutional revision is the fifth most important topic in the election at 8 percent, trailing such issues as social security (29 percent), and the economy (21 percent).

Hiroshi Miura, who runs Tokyo-based election consultancy Ask Co., agrees that constitutional revision is unlikely to send voters scrambling to cast ballots on Sunday.

Even issues that look damaging to Abe, including the controversy over the government’s alarming report on the national pension system, are unlikely to spur turnout because swing voters know the opposition doesn’t have any viable counterproposals to offer, Miura said.

This Diet saw the pension system re-enter the national spotlight after a Financial Services Agency panel released a report estimating elderly couples might need ¥20 million in savings for retirement.

Charging the report “misled” the public by painting a much grimmer picture of the pension system’s health than the government cares to admit, Finance Minister Taro Aso point-blank refused to even receive the FSA’s report, drawing the public’s ire.

The pension saga has “caused some voters to turn away from the LDP,” Miura acknowledged.

“This means they have become swing voters, but the likelihood is low that they will throw their support behind the opposition parties,” in light of the lack of counterproposals, he said.

It is possible these voters will simply refrain from voting altogether, Miura said. In fact, such detachment has fueled the Abe administration’s winning streak in national elections because their anti-LDP sentiment fails to translate into support for the opposition, he said.

Even if they do vote, the odds are higher that their resignation could even result in more ballots for the LDP, he said.

Fragmented and at times in disarray, the opposition is widely unpopular, with the latest NHK survey showing dismal support ratings for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (6.0 percent), the Democratic Party for the People (1.6 percent) and the Japanese Communist Party (2.9 percent), versus 33.4 percent for the LDP.

Even the second stage of the consumption tax hike planned for October — which Abe is pursuing despite pushback from the opposition — hasn’t done much to provoke rebellion against the LDP, Miura said, adding the backlash would likely be stronger if Abe delayed it a third time.

“All in all, this is an election with few issues that could prove a headache for Abe,” he said, estimating the ruling bloc will be able to bag as many as 75 of the 124 seats up for grabs, far higher than Abe’s self-declared goal of 53.

Cynicism is particularly strong among young voters.

A nationwide internet survey from May 31 to June 5 by the Nippon Foundation of 1,000 people in their late teens found 50.3 percent either “haven’t decided yet” or “have no intention” of voting Sunday, compared with 49.7 percent who said they “intend to go.” Among the reasons cited were poor knowledge of politics, a lack of appealing politicians and paperwork difficulties, the survey showed.

Experts say there is a mixed sense of complacency and resignation at play with young voters.

Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Nishida pointed out that today’s youth are politically inactive partly because they’re not seeking change in the first place and remain largely content with the state of politics under the Abe administration, which they credit with improving employment.

“So their mindset is, ‘Why bother to change our lives as they are now?’” he said.

In the meantime, Daigo Sato, head of the nonprofit youth empowerment group Dot-jp, said the predictable nature of the race “makes the young underestimate the value of their votes, leading them to believe that going to vote won’t make much difference anyway.”

Although the 2016 Upper House election — the first national poll since the voting age was lowered to 18 from 20 — saw a relatively high teen turnout rate of 46.78 percent, teen turnout for the 2017 Lower House election sank to 40.49 percent, according to the internal affairs ministry. Sato predicts it will dip even further this time around.

The widespread apathy is not a sentiment peculiar to teens, but one that has spread more broadly among youth in general to the point that a generational gap appears to exist in the minds of the swing voters, said Hiroshi Hirano, a professor of political science at Gakushuin University who has researched voter psychology.

“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, swing voters as we know them didn’t have any particular party to support, but at least they had a basic enough understanding of how Japanese politics work and were able to exercise their own critical thinking and decide what party they wanted to vote for. It’s not like they were in denial of politics per se,” Hirano said.

But today, with the LDP all but invincible and the opposition fragmented, “many younger generation swing voters don’t even seem to know what parties exist — aside from the LDP,” he said. “So they are not only uncommitted to any specific party, but are downright apathetic toward politics itself and hard-pressed to derive any meaning out of it.”