Monday, November 28, 2016

"2 men arrested for extorting over Y3 mil from someone they saw taking upskirt video"

From Japan Today, 11/25/16.

According to Tokyo Metropolitan Police, on Nov 8, 22-year-old Masashi Nakamura and 20-year-old Ryoma Fujishima witnessed a white-collar worker in his 30s taking a secret video up the skirt of a high school student in Machida Station. So, like any upstanding citizens, they confronted the man.

However, like slightly-less-than-upstanding citizens they told him they knew what he was up to and requested he pay them off. Caught red-handed, the voyeur complied and handed over 41,000 yen to the two “Voyeur Hunters” as dubbed by the media.

Now with a small chunk of change obtained from the voyeur, they probably all could have gone their separate ways to reflect on their own various crimes. However, the pair of Voyeur Hunters made the classic mistake of getting greedy and said to the vile videographer, “We know the girl you taped and a few tens of thousands of yen isn’t going to make up for what you did.”

So they went to a money lender where the voyeur took out a three million yen loan, bringing the total extorted amount to 3.41 million yen. With such extensive damage to his finances, the voyeur felt he had no choice but to swallow his pride, go to the police, and report Nakamura and Fujishima, who could be easily identified by security camera footage.

Expecting the Voyeur Hunters to stalk the same grounds, police easily found them again prowling through Machida Station and made the arrest on 17 November. During interrogation Fujishima is reported to have confessed while the seemingly more legal-savvy Nakamura denies the charges saying he “did not intend to threaten the man.”

Police are assuming this is not the first time these Voyeur Hunters caught someone. According to their various social network accounts, they both had recently dropped out of their universities with Nakamura pursing a career as a DJ and uploading pictures of himself at a Macau casino. Meanwhile, Fujishima posted photos of himself staying in high-class hotels and attending fancy parties.

The number of reported hidden camera incidents in Japan was 3,265 in 2014 and has been steadily rising. In response there has also been a reported upward trend in Voyeur Hunters as well, some of whom are said to get more efficient results by working with women who will ride up and down escalators wearing short skirts to lure out potential pervs. An investigation is still ongoing to see whether this was the method of these men as well.

While this latest incident isn’t entirely unprecedented, many readers were still surprised by this novel industry.

“Japan is a country of opportunity, where you can make a business out of anything.”
“Someone should start a Voyeur Hunter Hunter business.”
“I’m already working on a Voyeur Hunter Hunter Hunter business.”


Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Lensless-camera technology for easily adjusting focus of video images after image capture"

Text and image from Japan Today, 11/26/16.

Hitachi Ltd has announced the development of a camera technology that can capture video images without using a lens and adjust focus after image capture by using a film imprinted with a concentric-circle pattern instead of a lens.

This camera technology makes it possible to make a camera lighter and thinner since a lens is unnecessary and allow the camera to be more freely mounted in devices such as mobile devices and robots at arbitrary positions without imposing design restraints.

Moreover, since it acquires depth information in addition to planar information, it is possible to reproduce an image at an arbitrary point of focus even after the image has been captured. Focus can be adjusted anytime to objects requiring attention.

Hitachi said it is aiming to utilize this technology in a broad range of applications such as work support, automated driving, and human-behavior analysis with mobile devices, vehicles and robots.

As for cameras mounted in mobile devices represented by smartphones and robots, which require designability, making them thinner and lighter while providing higher performance−without imposing restrictions on where they can be mounted−is being demanded. As a camera technology to meet that demand, there is an increasing anticipation of applying a technology called “computational photography” which is a scheme used in an optical system under the presupposition that image processing will be used after images are captured. As a camera utilizing this technology, a light-field camera, which records position and direction of light beams simultaneously and whose focus can be adjusted after images are captured, is well-known. However, a light-field camera is considerably thick since it needs a special lens. On the other hand, a lensless camera which is thin and light because it has no lens has been developed. Even so, processing of images captured by the camera incurs a heavy computational load.

Aiming to overcome the difficulties described above, Hitachi has developed a camera technology−based on the principle of Moiré fringes (that are generated from superposition of concentric circles) − that combines a function for adjusting focus after images are captured in the same manner as a light-field camera and features of thinness and lightness of a lensless camera which computational load incurred by image processing is reduced to 1/300.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

"‘Sailor Moon’ condoms combat syphilis but heroine’s fans flustered by age issue"

Text and image from The Japan Times, 11/25/16.

The superheroine from the popular manga and anime series “Sailor Moon” has emerged once again to fight another evil — syphilis.

As a part of its campaign to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, the health ministry will distribute 60,000 condoms wrapped in pink, heart-shaped packages adorned with the blond, doe-eyed character Usagi Tsukino.

The condoms, which call for STD testing on the wrappers, will be sent to 142 municipalities for distribution at events like World AIDS Day on Thursday and at Coming-of-Age-Day ceremonies in January, ministry officials said.

The ministry will also distribute 5,000 posters and 156,000 leaflets illustrated with the junior high school character and a slogan that says: “I will punish you if you don’t get tested!”

By turning to the popular character, the ministry aims to regain control over syphilis, which has made a rapid return among young people, said Kazunari Asanuma, head of the ministry’s Tuberculosis and Infectious Disease Control Division. He said the STD outbreak is especially serious among women in their 20s and men in their 20s to 40s.

According to the ministry, syphilis cases hit 2,697 in 2015, which is more than four times the 2010 level and the highest since the survey began in 1999. As of Nov. 6, cases were at 3,779 and climbing.

Patients infected with STDs like syphilis and AIDS usually don’t notice the symptoms for weeks or even years. The ministry believes early testing and appropriate use of condoms are effective means of prevention.

Although Asanuma says that “Sailor Moon” is popular with people of all sexual orientations and may prove useful in bringing up STDs among those too shy to discuss them, some Usagi Tsukino fans are upset the junior high school student is being used as the “campaign girl” to broach the topic.

“I don’t like it a bit. ‘Sailor Moon’ was a childhood heroine and a sacred figure for me. I still want her to be distant from this issue,” Twitter user @akaimihajiketa wrote Monday. “But I want the leaflet … I am still looking for words to explain my mixed feelings.”

“Sailor Moon,” created by Naoko Takeuchi, made its TV debut in 1992. The tale of magical schoolgirls has been aired in more than 50 countries and attracted millions of fans from around the world.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Sailor Moon fights against spread of STIs on behalf of Japan’s health ministry"

Image and text from Japan Today, 11/24/16.

As the main star of an anime about magical high school girls fighting to protect the universe from forces of evil, this new collaboration between Sailor Moon and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to fight the spread of STIs in the community actually makes a whole lot of sense.

According to the official press release distributed by the ministry, the Pretty Guardian will now be appearing on 156,000 A4-sized leaflets and 5,000 A2-sized posters, with part of the star’s catchphrase, “In the name of the moon, I will punish you!!” reworked to read “If you don’t get tested, I will punish you!!” in the poster’s tagline.

The posters and leaflets will be distributed at coming-of-age ceremonies for the nation’s 20 year-olds around the country in January, along with a total of 142 local governments and groups such as the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention, the Japan Medical Association, the Japanese Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and the Japanese Foundation for Sexual Health Medicine set to receive the specially marked campaign materials for distribution.

In addition to the posters, the campaign materials will also include heart-shaped packages featuring an image of the sailor-suit wearing star of the anime series, with a free condom tucked away inside. The ministry will be distributing 60,000 of these specially marked packs.

Despite the cute appearance of the campaign, preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections is an issue that the government is taking very seriously. Cases of syphilis infections are reportedly on the rise in Japan, with records showing 2,697 people were infected with the disease in 2015, which is 4.3 times more than five years earlier, when 621 cases were reported in 2010. Furthermore, from the beginning of 2016 to mid-October, over 3,000 people contracted syphilis in Japan.

With a large number of females being infected with STIs like syphilis, the ministry wanted to find a way to connect with young women, ranging in age from teens to 30s, which resulted in them seeking out the cooperation of Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi for the new campaign. While it might seem like an unlikely collaboration, using the familiar face of the Pretty Guardian, who speaks to a wide generation of women across the country, might actually be the perfect way to help protect the population after all.

Source, image: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Press Release


At least the government is finally doing something. But is cute manga/anime the cure for everything? Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Supreme Court upholds Osaka city’s tattoo check on workers as legal"

An unfortunate update; from The Japan Times, 11/14/16.

The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that said the Osaka city office’s 2012 probe into whether its workers had tattoos was legal, court officials said last week.

In a decision dated Wednesday, the court’s five-member Second Petty Bench rejected an appeal from the plaintiffs after the Osaka High Court last year overturned district court decisions in favor of the two employees. The workers had refused to comply with the city’s investigation.

At issue was the city’s move in May 2012, under the leadership of then-Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, to inquire if 33,000 employees had tattoos. The city required them to reply in writing whether they had any tattoos on visible parts of the body, including the hands and neck. They were also asked to answer on a voluntary basis whether they had tattoos elsewhere.

The move came after an incident in which a city worker showed a tattoo to children at a welfare facility.

The two employees who had refused to comply with the probe had no tattoos but refused to submit the required documents, arguing that the investigation was an infringement on their right to privacy. The two were reprimanded in August that year and later brought their cases to court, seeking to have the reprimands invalidated.

In December 2014, the Osaka District Court ruled that the city’s investigation was illegal on anti-discrimination and privacy grounds and ordered that the disciplinary measure against city worker Tadasu Yasuda be invalidated.

Yasuda, a bus driver, had sued the city office after being reprimanded. He was subsequently urged by his boss to drop the suit, and was transferred to a desk job when he refused.

“Whether people have a tattoo or not falls into the category of information carrying a risk of causing discrimination, the collection of which is prohibited under a city ordinance for the protection of personal information,” the district court said in its ruling.

Yasuda filed a separate lawsuit seeking to invalidate his transfer of assignment. He won the case at two lower courts, and the city is now appealing.

In February 2015, the same district court issued a similar ruling on a lawsuit filed by Atsuko Mori, a nurse at a city-run hospital.

But later that year, the Osaka High Court reversed the earlier lower court decisions, saying the city’s check does not “cause discrimination unlike in cases in which one’s criminal record or race (is revealed).”

The city government has, since fiscal 2013, been checking for the presence of visible tattoos on potential new recruits. In the 2012 investigation, 114 workers reported they had tattoos.


Click here for previous VAOJ coverage.

Friday, November 4, 2016