Softbank’s Son offers robots built for human joy

Japan’s richest man Masayoshi Son loves buying robots. In the past few weeks, he’s invested in a company called I-Robot which makes a vacuum-cleaner which can crawl under the sofa and in Boston Dynamics, which makes a remarkable robot, can perform athletics and run playfully through the snow. Mr Son said this week that: “People who deride robots […]

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Japan’s centurion on how to live a good, long life

One of the world’s longest-serving doctors has died at the age of 105. Shigeaki Hinohara helped revolutionise medicine in Japan and continued to treat patients almost up until his death. His obituaries, including this excellent piece on the BBC, tell the story of his remarkable life. When he was 95 years old, I met Dr […]

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Does Japan’s EU deal mean “Sayonara, UK?”

Will a free trade deal between Japan and the EU prompt Japanese companies to leave Great Britain? That was the question raised in the British media, following the Japan-EU agreement, which was announced in Brussels by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Financial Times said Mr Abe hailed the deal as “the birth of […]

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Fujitsu’s future: Magic cars and whales in the forest

A Japanese technology expert has shared his vision of the future with me. He claims that magic is on the way. Yoshikuni Takashige of Fujitsu told me that “significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He then went on to reveal three ideas which the company is developing which resemble magic and which are likely […]

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Japan’s cheese tax melts before EU deal

Until recently, cheese was a rare treat in Japan. There are not very many cows in the country, so any type of dairy product, including cheese, feels rather foreign. However, since World War Two, Japanese people have been developing a taste for American food, so they have started to eat cheese on the top of […]

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AIIB offers “open invitation” to Japan

The head of strategy at the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) hopes America and Japan will join China in supporting its projects throughout Asia. Dr Joachim von Amsberg, who is the AIIB’s Vice President, as well as its head of Policy and Strategy, claimed that the backing of the US and Japan would “strengthen the institution.” […]

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Hokusai prompts great wave of admiration

The admiration in the West for the classic works of Japanese art shows strongly in the critics’ response to a new exhibition at the British Museum by Katushika Hokusai. Nearly all the newspapers have published enthusiastic reviews. Many writers have noted the way Hokusai’s work influenced European painters, especially the French Impressionists, and they hold […]

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China and Japan’s crucial role in Africa

The government of Japan strongly encourages trade with Africa. However, the World Bank warns that a slowdown in parts of the region could hamper investor confidence. Furthermore, with China firmly entrenched in many African countries, Japan faces stiff competition. From Nairobi, Kenya, Duncan Bartlett reports. Many busses which carry passengers around Nairobi resemble four-wheeled nightclubs. Lights flash, […]

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The Olympic magic of Japan’s “Oriental Witches”

The largest ever TV audience in Japan was for the Witches of the Orient (東洋の魔女  toyo no majo), a female volleyball team which bewitched the country in 1964. That was the year that Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games – an important milestone on Japan’s journey from defeat to its post-War economic boom. The Witches’ story was […]

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Will an Improbable deal prove a winner for Japan?

Why has the Japanese company Softbank invested a big sum of money in a British company which has not yet made a profit? That’s the question raised by Softbank’s deal with a young tech firm which creates virtual worlds on computers. It is called Improbable and rather improbably for a firm with no disclosed income, […]

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