Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"NHK violated Obokata’s rights: broadcasting ethics panel"

From The Japan Times, 2/11/17.

An independent committee said Friday that an NHK TV program committed a human rights violation against disgraced biologist Haruko Obokata, who claimed to have discovered a faster way to generate iPS cells that can grow into any tissue in the human body.

The human rights committee of the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization judged that the program defamed her and decided to issue an advisory urging NHK to prevent similar incidents.

It was the first time that the ethics group has recognized a human rights violation in a program produced by the public broadcaster.

“We see here a human rights violation of defamation,” its report said.

The program, broadcast in July 2014, investigated alleged fraud in Obokata’s research on so-called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) published in the scientific journal Nature.

Obokata, a former researcher at Riken, a top state-backed research institute, submitted a complaint to the ethics group claiming that the program was produced to show that she had stolen embryonic stem cells to conduct her STAP experiments.

NHK rejected her claim, saying it produced the program using objective facts and used care in the expressions it used.

The program investigated allegedly fraudulent acts related to embryonic stem cells found at Obokata’s laboratory office.

The ethics committee concluded that the evidence presented by NHK was insufficient to support the claim that Obokata stole embryonic stem cells.

Furthermore, the committee said NHK’s news-gathering activities, which saw TV crews hounding Obokata, were problematic in terms of broadcasting ethics.

Saying NHK may have intended not only to seek the scientific truth, but also to make Obokata look like a fraud, the ethics committee urged it to reconsider its news-gathering and broadcasting techniques when media coverage is excessive.

“I appreciate the fair conclusion,” Obokata said through her agent in response to the panel’s findings. The NHK program’s “impact on my life will never disappear,” she said.

Obokata does not intend to file a lawsuit at the moment, lawyer Hideo Miki said.


Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/11/national/nhk-violated-obokatas-rights-broadcasting-ethics-panel/

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Security researcher cautions against striking Japan’s favorite picture pose"


Text from Japan Today, 1/12/17.

Japan has always loved photography, even back when taking a picture meant fiddling with switches and dials. That sentiment has only intensified now that just about everyone over the age of 15 is walking around with a smartphone that can be used to swiftly snap a pic and share it with friends online.

As such, no gathering of classmates or coworkers is complete without a commemorative photo. Even solo achievements, like finding a really tasty crepe or getting a stylish new haircut, often call for a celebratory selfie, usually while smiling for the camera and holding up two fingers to make a peace sign.

Isao Echizen, a professor at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, has no problem with the selfie phenomenon. However, if you’re using one hand to take the picture, he says it’s wise to keep the fingertips of the other out of frame. That’s because consumer camera technology and image quality has now progressed to the level, Echizen says, where your fingerprint data can be derived from a photo of your fingertips.

In an experiment, Echizen was able to obtain fingerprint data from photos taken as much as three meters away from the subject’s exposed fingertips. That’s a distance far greater than even the tallest person’s arm, and so the results suggest that if you’re taking a selfie while giving a peace sign with your off-hand, you’re putting your fingerprint data at risk.

Echizen goes on to say that celebrities, because of the large stockpile of photos of them in festive situations, are at the greatest risk, but even many non-famous people use their fingerprint to lock their smartphones or for security measures in the office. And as Echizen points out, once your data has been compromised, there’s not much you can do about it. If someone hacks your password, you can change it, but you’re pretty much stuck with the fingerprints you were born with.


Source: https://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/security-researcher-cautions-against-striking-japans-favorite-picture-pose

Friday, January 20, 2017

"Security camera footage helps spot suspects in over 10,000 crimes"

From Japan Today, 1/20/17:

Japanese police used footage from surveillance or dashboard cameras to identify suspects in more than 10,000 criminal cases last year, provisional police data showed Thursday.

The number of suspected violations of the Penal Code that came to police attention in 2016 fell below 1 million for the first time in postwar Japan, the National Police Agency also said, partially crediting security cameras with the decrease.

But there are persistent public concerns about overreliance on such cameras, as there have been cases in which innocent people were wrongly accused because police neglected other investigative work.

There are also fears about invasion of privacy. With more surveillance cameras expected to be installed in the coming years, privacy advocates are calling for judicious use of the devices.

According to the agency, the number of criminal cases built by the police last year totaled 22,318. Of those, 5.9%, or 12,994, involved footage from security or dashboard cameras in positively identifying suspects.

Such footage has now become “indispensable in investigations,” a senior agency official said, with data showing footage from such cameras has proven effective, mainly in uncovering street crimes.

By crime category, snatch-and-run offenses accounted for the most, 20.4% of the criminal cases in which security or dashboard camera footage proved decisive in identifying suspects, followed by pick pocketing at 12.3%, burglary at 10.8%, and indecent assaults at 10.3%.

As of last March, 1,530 security cameras had been installed by police across the country. Numerous security cameras have also been installed by private firms and individuals.

The data also showed that the number of suspected criminal cases that came to police attention in 2016 was 996,204, down 9.4% from a year earlier, and slipping below 1 million for the first time in postwar history. The number of such cases per 1,000 people fell to 7.8, a fresh postwar low.

Among the crimes, the number of attempted murder and murder cases totaled 896, down by 37 from the previous year and the lowest since the end of World War II.


Source: https://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/security-camera-footage-helps-spot-suspects-in-over-10000-crimes

Monday, December 26, 2016

David Bowie Exhibition in Tokyo


Image and text from David Bowie is webpage.

DAVID BOWIE is, is the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie ‒ one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times. Over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the very first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowieʼ s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider move ments in art, design, theatre and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre and film. Seen by 1.5 million people worldwide at sell-out shows in London, Chicago, Sao Paolo, Paris, Berlin, Melbourne, Groningen and Bologna, DAVID BOWIE is comes exclusively to Tokyo, its only Asian venue.



More information: http://davidbowieis.jp/en/

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from VAOJ!

Santa Claus as displayed at a local convenience store in Osaka.

Santa Claus as displayed at Tenbun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Wine Project

What happens after a busy and stressful day at work after drinking one, two and three glasses of wine? Here's a sampling from the Wine Project by Marcos Alberti.


I am not necessarily advocating the method used in this venture, but with my own work photographing people as they drink at the tachinomiya as well as occasionally needing some stress relief after quitting time myself, I can certainly appreciate this project. And I love the facial expressions.

Project description from the photographer's web site:

Brazilian photographer creates a unique experience among friends. Marcos Alberti decided to put together some of his passions in this project, friends, photography, wine and also a good old talk. There is a saying about wine that I really like and it's something like this “The first glass of wine is all about the food, the second glass is about love and the third glass is about mayhem” I really wanted to see it for myself if that affirmation was in fact true says Marcos about his latest project.

3 Glasses after started as a joke like a game after hours but a serious work with a good humorous vibe ,the first picture was taken right away when our guests have just arrived at the studio in order to capture the stress and the fatigue after a full day after working all day long and from also facing rush hour traffic to get here. Only then fun time and my project could begin. At the end of every glass of wine a snapshot, nothing fancy, a face and a wall, 3 times. People from all walks of life, music, art, fashion, dance, architecture, advertising got together for a couple of nights and by the end of the third glass several smiles emerged and many stories were told.


See more at Alberti's web site: http://www.masmorrastudio.com/wine-project

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.”


Source: https://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/2-men-arrested-for-extorting-over-y3-mil-from-someone-they-saw-taking-upskirt-video