The Oma nuclear power plant, foreground, under construction in Oma, Aomori Prefecture, in May. Hakodate, in Hokkaido, is seen in the background over the Tsugaru Strait. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Utilities running a shell game in relying on nuclear power over renewable energy
When regional utilities calculated how much electricity generated with renewable energy sources they can purchase from businesses and individuals, they resorted to gimmicks to continue to place an unrealistic reliance on nuclear power.
Diana Sierra, third from left, and Heather Swell, center, with other fellows at Halcyon House in Washington, D.C. (Provided by Halcyon Incubator)
Halcyon Incubator offers opportunity to innovators with a vision
When you think of venture firms in America, Silicon Valley is likely to come to mind, but there are also a growing number of firms in Washington, D.C. Some even call Washington, D.C., “the Silicon Valley of the east.”
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko acknowledge well-wishers from the Imperial Palace veranda on Jan. 2. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Poems by empress show how she takes world’s problems for her own
A senior colleague of mine from the days when I was writing for the Shukan Asahi weekly magazine recently sent me a book, which shows a cherry tree covered in blossoms that are almost falling off the cover.
From left, "Champ," Chaturon Chaisang and Pavin Chachavalpongpun (All photos by Naoji Shibata)
COMMENTARY: Thailand is touchstone for Abe’s ‘universal values’
BANGKOK--A Thai graduate student in his early 30s, who goes by the nickname Champ, remains defiant against the military government, which detained him twice after the coup last year.
Ko Wen-je, a doctor who ran as an independent in the Taipei mayoral poll with support from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, is surrounded by supporters in Taipei on Nov. 27. Ko won the election two days later. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Taiwan poll points to fledgling democracy, triggers Chinese 'charm offensive'
Taiwan’s unified local elections in November ended in a crushing defeat for the ruling Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), giving the opposition Democratic Progressive Party a chance to regain power when the next presidential election is held in early 2016.
Tokai Mayor Tatsuya Murakami speaks at an inaugural news conference of a council of anti-nuclear local government leaders in 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
POINT OF VIEW/ Eiji Oguma: Planned protective measures show real cost of nuclear power
The industry ministry is discussing a new protective measure for nuclear power plants: the contract for difference (CfD) system.
Ken Takakura in 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Late actor Ken Takakura helped bridge China, Japan
BEIJING--It was the winter of 1978, and an auditorium in a small town in China's Sichuan province was teeming with excitement. More than 1,000 spectators had come to see a Japanese film featuring Ken Takakura (1931-2014).
Thomas Piketty in Paris (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: In China, 'rock star' economist addresses 'democracy in the economy'
BEIJING--Last autumn, a French economist arrived in Shanghai to a "rock star" reception.
Genichiro Takahashi (Photo by Motooki Hayasaka)
POINT OF VIEW/ Genichiro Takahashi: Democracy, the ultimate ‘candidate’ to vote for
A few days before the Dec. 14 Lower House election, I was wrapping up my lecture at the university where I teach, when a student from a different class walked in and asked for some time to make an appeal to my students.
Genichiro Takahashi (Photo by Shigetaka Kodama)
POINT OF VIEW/ Genichiro Takahashi: ‘Comfort women’ denied ownership of their memories
Park Yu-ha, a professor at Seoul’s Sejong University, was sued for “defaming” former comfort women when her book, “Comfort women of the empire,” was published in South Korea last year. A Japanese translation was finally released in November.
Aizu Denryoku's Oguni solar power plant in Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 29 (Toshihide Ueda)
COMMENTARY: Fukushima battling utilities' 'no more green energy' decision
FUKUSHIMA--Officials and entrepreneurs in Fukushima Prefecture remain undaunted by the decision of regional power utilities to suspend purchases of electricity generated with renewable energy sources.
Joudi Youssef (Photo by Naoji Shibata)
COMMENTARY: Syrian refugees face closed door in Japan
As his eyes reddened, a Syrian expatriate living in Saitama, north of Tokyo, spoke emotionally about his dearest desire.
A megasolar power plant in Osaka (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Diverse data needed to discuss actual cost of renewable energy
We seem to have been scared into believing that a further increase in the use of renewable energy would cost us dearly.
Genichiro Takahashi (Photo by Shigetaka Kodama)
POINT OF VIEW/ Genichiro Takahashi: Japan, a country that allows modern-day slavery
More than 20 years ago, I used to frequent fashion shows. Creations by Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto were all refreshingly original and beautiful to look at.
Tourists crowd the River Kwai Bridge in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. (Ryosuke Ono)
COMMENTARY: Asians revisit 'forgotten history' of Japanese-built Death Railway
KUALA LUMPUR--Beneath the rows and rows of tombstones, regularly spaced on the green lawn of the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in western Thailand near the border with Myanmar, sleep some 7,000 soldiers from Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and other Allied nations.
A DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile is transported in Beijing in 2009 during a military parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of China. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: China should reduce its nuclear arsenal
The nuclear security situation in Northeast Asia has been continuously deteriorating over the last several decades. Of course, the biggest nuclear threat for the regional states, including Japan, comes from North Korea. But China also poses a grave concern.
Hiroyuki Miura stands in front of his photos of people in areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in Gifu in January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Family members scarred by suicides help disaster-hit communities
KAMAISHI, Iwate Prefecture--I accompanied freelance photographer Hiroyuki Miura this summer on his tour to assist communities that were hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011, including a stop in this northeastern city.
Light-emitting diodes glow during an event to pray for recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, in 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: In age of LEDs, utilities thinking in incandescent-bulb mode
MIYAKO, Iwate Prefecture--One recent weekend took me to this northeastern city on the Sanriku coast.
Protesters to the planned Kaminoseki nuclear power plant hold up banners in front of the venue of Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s shareholders meeting in Hiroshima in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Kaminoseki nuke plant plan should be scrapped to end community division
KAMINOSEKI, Yamaguchi Prefecture--I realized the need for the earliest possible settlement after I covered a 32-year-old protest movement on Iwaishima island here opposing Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s plan to build the Kaminoseki nuclear power plant on the other side of a strait.
Citizens hold umbrellas, a symbol of Hong Kong's Occupy protest movement, in the Admiralty district on Oct. 28 to mark one month since the start of pro-democracy demonstrations. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
COMMENTARY: Class conflict underlies Hong Kong’s Occupy movement
The monthlong “Occupy Central” movement by students and other citizens in Hong Kong represents a clash of value systems, according to one interesting theory.

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