News in Brief

by Custom Media

Britons Help Preserve Japan’s Threatened Plant Species

The UK is home to many Japanese species that are under threat in their native land, the BBC website reported on 24 September.

According to a Botanic Gardens Conservation International report, there are more than 350 such species in UK gardens and collections, as well as 106 vascular plant species in UK collections that are not present in Japanese collections. The report identifies 50 Japanese gardens in the UK—including botanic gardens, arboreta and collections of Japanese plants—that together have 356 of the species featured on the Red List of Japanese vascular plants.

OECD: Education Boosts Careers

In a 2009 survey, the UK came 14th and Japan 31st out of 36 developed countries that were surveyed regarding the percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds employed and ranked by level of education attained, according to an OECD report dated 26 August.

The earning benefits of having a degree in the UK were exceeded only by the benefits of having a degree in the US. UK students paid higher university fees than any other students, except those in the US and South Korea.

The OECD report says the more educated workforces of Japan and the US, that together account for nearly half of all tertiary-educated adults in the OECD area, have given them a head-start in many high-skill areas.

Tokyo “Open” to Eurofighter

Japan is open to choosing a European aircraft as its long-awaited new air defence fighter, despite decades of reliance on the US for imports of sophisticated weapons systems, Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa told the Financial Times on 22 September.

A pioneering sale to Tokyo would be a major boost for Eurofighter and the UK’s BAE Systems, the consortium’s lead firm for the Japan market.

And the Wall Street Journal said on 27 September that the government had received bids from Eurofighter GmbH, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Tokyo will decide in December on the purchase of about 42 fighters, estimated to be worth more than $6bn.

Top Envoys Pledge to Improve Ties

New Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba spoke by phone with Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to a 9 September report in the Mainichi Shimbun. They agreed to strengthen bilateral ties.

London Opera Beamed to Tokyo

To mark its 25th anniversary, The Phantom of the Opera would be broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall to cinemas in Japan, the US, Europe and Australia, the Mainichi Shimbun reported on 19 September. A live performance on 2 October was planned followed by re-broadcasts on 5, 6 and 11 October.

Fujitsu Workers Strike in North Strike in North

Nearly 400 workers at IT services and products provider Fujitsu in Crewe and Manchester went on strike over a series of long-running disputes relating to pay and alleged victimisation of a Unite union official, the computing. co.uk website reported on 19 September.

Badminton Star Dies at 62

Hiroe Niinuma, four-time winner of the women’s singles title at the All England Open Badminton Championships, died of cancer at age 62, the Sankei Sports Shimbun reported on 8 September.

Born in Okayama Prefecture, Niinuma won the titles in 1969, 1974–75 and 1977, making her the best woman player in those two decades.

In 2002, she became the first Japanese athlete elected to the Badminton World Federation’s Hall of Fame.

Lost PoW Sketches Found

Astonishing drawings of British soldiers in Japanese prisoner of war (PoW) camps have turned up on the Antiques Roadshow, 66 years after the end of WW II, the Daily Mail reported on 17 September. The lost sketches, showing the appalling conditions the men endured, were drawn by soldier John Mennie who gave them to fellow PoW Eric Jennings. After finding them in a shoebox, Jennings’ family took them to the BBC.

Hackers Target Rakugo Star

Osaka-based British rakugo performer Diane Kichijitsu has had her email account hacked and about 1,000 acquaintances have received fake emails asking for money, reported the Yomiuri Shimbun on 17 August.

The hacker has changed the account password, making it impossible for her to log in and the fake emails have continued to be sent to her friends and others. The star, whose real name Diane Orrett, came to Japan in 1990 and performs rakugo in English and Japanese. She said friends had received an email from her that said Orrett had been robbed in Spain and had no money and were asked to send her cash.

Slimy Stowaway Threatens World Cup Dream

A snail travelling from the Lake District to Nagasaki has caused critical elements of a shipment for the Gardening World Cup to be sent home by customs at a cost to the sender of almost £16,000, reported the North West Evening Mail on 2 October.

The snail was in a container of Cumbrian slate and limestone set to appear in the show, but authorities would not let the shipment into Japan after finding the snail.

Grange-based hotelier and show garden designer Jonathan Denby tried to fight quarantine regulations to allow him to take the stone, plus some specially selected artefacts, to the show to install in his Peter Rabbit-inspired garden.

Denby said: “This has been a pretty awful day. The Japanese adore the Lake District and I wanted to show the visitors to the Gardening World Cup what a real Lake District cottage garden would look like. I’m bitterly disappointed that this wretched snail has taken away a lot of the true authenticity of my garden”.

Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki will host the first Gardening World Cup from 9-31 October.

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