Thursday, March 16, 2017

"Gov't seeks installation of visible fire alarms for hearing impaired"

From Japan Today, 3/16/17.

The Japanese government has called on municipalities across the country to install visibly recognizable flashing fire alarms for deaf or hard-of-hearing people.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has asked local authorities to install more flashing fire alarms in public spaces such as stations, airports and welfare facilities. The introduction of such devices is still limited in Japan.

Installation of fire detection devices including emergency bells is mandatory at such places as stations, airports, nursery homes for the elderly and care facilities for the disabled above a certain size.

But meeting the needs of those who cannot hear fire alarms has been a challenge, with visible fire alarms only introduced at a limited number of places including the international terminal of Tokyo’s Haneda airport and some welfare facilities.

The flashing alarms, fitted on walls or ceilings, show blinking signs when they detect outbreaks of fire.

In its first guideline compiled last autumn, the agency also called for introduction of the devices at commercial facilities visited by many people with hearing impairments.

It also recommends setting flashing alarms less than 10 meters above floor level and using white light so that those with color perception deficiencies can easily recognize alarm signs.

Chieko Yamashita, 69-year-old chair of an association of the deaf in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, expressed hope for further introduction of the devices.

Yamashita, who has participated in an emergency drill with a flashing alarm, said, “With strong flashing light, I immediately noticed that I needed to evacuate even though I was looking down.”


Source: https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-seeks-installation-of-visible-fire-alarms-for-hearing-impaired

"Surveillance cameras to be installed in every subway car in Tokyo"

From Japan Today, 3/15/17.

Surveillance cameras will be installed in each of the roughly 3,800 subway cars in Tokyo, their operators said Tuesday, part of an effort to improve public safety ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Starting in 2018 or 2019, Tokyo Metro Co will begin installing a camera above every door of each subway car, while Toei Subway will install several cameras on the ceiling of every car over the period of just under 10 years from next August.

All video footage will be saved to hard disk drives and kept for around one week, and only a limited number of employees will have access to it, according to Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway, which is managed by the Tokyo metropolitan government’s Bureau of Transportation.

Tokyo Metro will start fitting cars on the Marunouchi and Hibiya lines with security cameras first.

Cars on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Hokuriku shinkansen bullet train lines have already been fitted with security cameras. Tokyu Corp, which operates railways in the Tokyo area, plans to follow suit by 2020.


Source: https://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/surveillance-cameras-to-be-installed-in-every-subway-car-in-tokyo

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Ethnography and Street Photography" (New article at Anthropology News) plus some bonuses...

Really interesting article incorporating text and photos by Brent Luvaas recently posted at Anthropology News. Short excerpt:

Street photography, notes Magnum photographer Alex Webb, is a practice of harnessing serendipity. Photographers never know what they are going to find when they go out on the streets. They have to stay open to what comes their way and be ready for it when it does. They have to let go of expectations, plan to have no plan. They are, writes Webb, “at the mercy of the world and the world only gives them so much” (Webb and Webb 2014, 56).

Ethnography is like that too. Anthropologists, once out in the field, have to let go of our pre-conceived notions of what our projects will look like or how they will unfold. We have to adapt to the circumstances as they present themselves, go with the flow. Sometimes, we have to disregard our research plans entirely. Designed in front of a computer with the input of advisors and colleagues, the best laid ethnographic plans often fail to conform to the realities of ethnographic research.


Check out the entire article and photos: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2017/03/10/ethnography-and-street-photography-two-arts-of-serendipity/

BONUS! Sources regarding experimentation of visual + text by G P Witteveen:

SEE2THINK - thinking with pictures: https://see2think.wordpress.com/

ethnographic vignettes: https://anthroviews.blogspot.jp/

Lots of good visual anthropology to explore...

Monday, March 13, 2017

"Seeing Ainu as they want to be seen - Portrait project is the result of months spent living as part of village community"


Image (by Laura Liverani) and text (by Shannon Schubert) from The Japan Times, 3/12/17.

”Imagine this place,” says Italian photographer Laura Liverani, as she tries to conjure up a picture of Nibutani, the village where she spent two months living with and photographing the indigenous people of Hokkaido. “There’s about 400 people that live there, it’s not very well connected to other areas so it’s very rural. There’s a strong presence of the Ainu, not only because 70 percent is of Ainu descent, but because it is culturally very active.

“I would call Nibutani, if not second home, a very familiar place.” One, she says, that will stay with her “forever.”

The first fruit of Liverani’s time in Hokkaido is “Ainu Nenoan Ainu” (“Human-like Human” in the Ainu language), a photographic portraiture series now being exhibited at the Italian Cultural Institute in Tokyo.

Still in production is a documentary on the Ainu, a joint effort with collaborators Neo Sora and Valy Thorsteindottir, who also stayed in Nibutani. The trio call themselves Lunch Bee House, after an Ainu restaurant in the village. Liverani is tight-lipped about the content of the documentary, except to say that it focuses on two Ainu families, or “clans,” from Nibutani.

“The actual project started in 2012,” Liverani explains. “I was taking photos and talking to people informally and becoming engaged with the Ainu community. Then I thought I need a little bit more depth into the project, so I had the idea of making a documentary, but I had no experience in filmmaking.

“I’d like to call ourselves a punk band of filmmaking,” she says of Lunch Bee House, “because none of us have a clear position in filmmaking — we just wanted to get on stage and play.”

The rural remoteness of Nibutani first came as a shock. “There are no shops, no places to hang out, just one drive-in restaurant and that’s about it,” Liverani says. What it does have in abundance, however, is culture.

“There are Ainu museums and Ainu activists, and everyone is so engaged in promoting and reinventing and preserving Ainu culture and language,” she explains. “It was very passionate.”

Such efforts are important considering the community’s history. The Ainu are one of Japan’s most marginalized groups. They were only officially recognized as the indigenous people of northern Japan in 2008, following the passage of the Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous People at the United Nations. Oppression and discrimination have contributed to the erosion of the culture over the centuries of colonization leading up to Hokkaido’s full incorporation into the Meiji Japanese state in the 19th century.

The official figure for the number of Ainu in Japan now stands at 25,000, but unofficial estimates put it closer to 200,000, considering that the policy of forced assimilation into Japanese society means many people of Ainu descent may not even be aware of their heritage.

“The main theme in my series of photographs is actually the theme of identity, so how people represent themselves as Ainu,” says Liverani. “The theme of adoption through Ainu culture is very strong, a very strong point in my work.”

Collaboration was key to this project for Liverani, who insisted on including the subject of the photo in the decision-making process of orchestrating the portrait.

“My idea was to subvert the language of the anthropological portrait by engaging the people in the portrait,” she says. “So I would ask people how they would want to be photographed … so it wouldn’t be only my own projection onto the person, but it would be more a collaboration and the person photographed would have a say in how they would want to be represented. So the portrait became the only possible mode.”

But the project grew to encompass more of what constitutes Ainu culture.

“I started with portraits but obviously a portrait is just partial,” she says. “It became natural to expand the narrative with other photographs, but the portraits are still the core of the project.”

However, Lunch Bee House’s time in Nibutani wasn’t just about the film or Liverani’s photography. She says the three visitors made real, meaningful connections with the people and the community.

“We were sort of adopted by families,” Liverani says. “Of course, we were working on the documentary and on the photo series, so our position was clear, but at the same time we became friends. It was hanging out and also working — it was all entangled together. It was quite an intense and interesting experience.”

Laura Liverani’s documentary photography project “Ainu Nenoan Ainu” is showing at the Italian Cultural Institute in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, until Saturday, March 18. The artist will be at the exhibition on Thursday, March 16, 4-6 p.m. For information, please contact the Istituto Italiano di Cultura via eventi.iictokyo@esteri.it or by phone on 03-3264-6011 (extensions 24, 10).


Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/03/12/issues/seeing-ainu-want-seen/

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/