Sunday, April 23, 2017

"SDF member arrested for forcing girlfriend to send nude selfies"

From Japan Today, 4/20/17.

A 26-year-old member of Japan’s Ground Self Defense Forces was arrested Thursday on charges of making threats and intimidation after he forced his girlfriend to take nude photos of herself and threatened that if she disobeyed him, he would circulate nude photos of her taken in the past on social media and send them to her parents.

According to police, Hiroaki Makino, a private first-class stationed at the Ground Self Defense Force’s Koga base in Ibaraki Prefecture, is accused of sending threatening messages to his 28-year-old girlfriend through the free messaging app LINE on April 14, demanding that she send him nude photos of herself. Fuji TV reported that when the woman expressed her unwillingness to respond to his requests, Makino threatened that he would show previously taken nude photos of her to her parents and post them online.

Police said Makino had frequently demanded his girlfriend send him "up-to-date" nude photos of herself and would act in a menacing manner toward her if she didn't comply.

The two have apparently been together for two years, but the nude photo requests began to escalate recently, police said.

Makino, who has admitted to the charge, was quoted by police as saying he likes women to be obedient to him.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Ken Domon and the artistry of real life"

Text and photo from The Japan Times, 4/16/17.

By 1957, photographer Ken Domon had reached the peak of his creative powers. A picture taken that year in Hiroshima, which he was visiting for the first time to chronicle the lingering effect of the bomb, shows him supremely confident: ram-rod straight on a stool, tripod in one hand, he casts a sideway glance at the viewer. His brow is lightly furrowed; his lips display a slight pout reminiscent of a kabuki actor adopting a mie pose. What we see is an intense, tenacious and uncompromising mind.

Two years later, Domon suffered the first of three brain hemorrhages that marked the beginning of a long, slow and painful decline. In an image from 1979, on a photo shoot near Nara, he is in a wheelchair, his shoulders slumped, his cheeks a bit hollow. We can still notice a glimmer of passion in his eyes, but his gaze is distant. Not long after that, he was back in the hospital, in the coma in which he remained until his death in 1990.

Domon was a prolific artist who produced almost 70,000 photographs over a career that spanned more than four decades. And yet, much like Japanese photography as a whole, he was until recently almost completely unknown outside his homeland. In fact, the first museum exhibition entirely dedicated to his work was organized only last year, in Rome, and the accompanying catalogue, which will be published in English by Skira in June, is the first full monograph on his life and work to appear in that language. Late in coming, this recognition is long overdue.

The son of a nurse and office worker, Domon was born in 1909, in the city of Sakata, on Japan’s snowy northeastern coast of Yamagata Prefecture, where the Ken Domon Museum of Photography is located today. He moved to Tokyo when he was 7 and while still in his teens, he developed a passion for painting — he exhibited his first canvas at 17 and promptly sold it for ¥30. However, he never succeeded in making a living out of painting, so in 1933 he followed his mother’s advice and joined a photography studio as an apprentice. This turned out to be a great move: two years later, he was working for Yonosuke Natori, the founder of Nippon Kobo, one of the most important publishing agencies of that era, and an influential force in the development of photojournalism in Japan. Domon had found his calling.

The period that followed the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, when Domon came of age, was a time of great social ferment, when Japan was undergoing rapid and, at times, chaotic change. Artists engaged in bold experiments and moved beyond the mere imitation of Western modes of expression that had previously been prevalent. Graphic magazines and photo supplements were established, and these helped disseminate a new aesthetics. By the early 1930s, photographers were also learning how to use their cameras to critically draw attention to the country’s social ills.

By the later years of that decade, however, the atmosphere had changed. With the Pacific War in full swing, censorship became stifling. Like many of his peers, Domon produced propaganda images for a while, but he became disillusioned, even critical of the government’s attitude toward art, and he struggled to find ways to do work that remained meaningful.

In 1939, he visited Nara’s Muroji Temple for the first time — he would return over and over again — and this became a turning point. In the words of Rossella Menegazzo, a professor at the University of Milan and the co-curator of the Rome exhibition as well as the co-editor of the catalogue, it marked the beginning of “the greatest effort of reportage of his life.” Domon then spent much of the following five years photographing Japan’s cultural and architectural heritage. His widely hailed series on bunraku (puppet theater), which by 1943 totaled 7,000 images, dates from that period.

The postwar years, particularly the 1950s, marked the climax of Domon’s influence as a photographer and public intellectual. He went freelance in 1945 and began collaborating with a broad range of publications. He also became a judge for amateur competitions, wrote essays and became one of the leading exponents of a social-realist approach to photography.

In an email interview, Menegazzo explained that what mattered most for Domon was “to show the pure reality” in front of his eyes.

“In a society profoundly scarred by war and defeat, Domon refused to make beautiful photos,” she added. “This is particularly evident in the Hiroshima series, which was shocking and therefore criticized by many, but it also significantly changed the consciousness of people in Japan after the war.”

In those days, there were few commercial galleries focusing on photography and so the main medium to spread knowledge of one’s work was through books. Some of Domon’s volumes sold as many as 100,000 copies.

The “devil of photo-reportage,” as he came to be known, had little interest for the world beyond Japan. Except for a brief sojourn in China during the war years, he never traveled overseas. This partly explains why international recognition was so long in coming. But another reason is the sheer diversity of his work. As Menegazzo puts it, “It is not simple to assess the legacy of an artist who produced so much and continuously changed the subject of his work.”

And so today, Domon is mostly remembered for his series, on Hiroshima, or on children, those of Koto Ward in Tokyo and of Chikuho in Kyushu, or for his portraits, smaller sub-sets of his oeuvre that are easier to digest.

Domon did not purposefully aim to create beautiful images, but through patient and painstaking efforts, he captured the beauty of everyday life and culture in Japan. This alone ensures he will retain his place as one of the most important Japanese photographers of the postwar era.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Japanese Photography" - Two Current Exhibitions in Tokyo -and- (Bonus!) Two Good Sources

Caption: 'Boy Wearing Armor' by Suzuki Shinichi (c. 1882-1897) | GOTO SHINPEI MEMORIAL HALL

Photo and text from The Japan Times, 3/28/17.

There are two photography exhibitions currently showing at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum that are thematically and chronologically unrelated, but together make a strong testimony of the extent to which Japan embraced photography from its earliest beginnings, and how the medium is a strong suit in Japan’s contribution to the contemporary art scene. One is a celebration of the extensive history of Japanese photography in the 19th century; the other a solo show featuring the extraordinary work of photographic artist Hiroshi Yamazaki.

“Dawn of Japanese Photography: The Anthology” is the latest volume in the museum’s long-term project to bring together images from archives around the country in an extensive display of samurai portraits, landscapes, carte de visite (the pictorial and more socially oriented version of the business card) and documentary photography of construction, war and natural disasters.

The majority of images were taken by Japanese photographers for Japanese viewers, but there are a significant number by foreign travelers, some whose visits were short, such as Commodore Perry’s daguerreotypist, Eliphalet Brown, and others who were resident in Japan for several years, most notably British subject Felice Beato and the Austrian Baron Raimund von Stillfried. There is also the rare sight of samurai in 19th-century France, which resulted from the renowned photographer Nadar taking the portraits of the Second Japanese Embassy to Europe, while they were in Paris in 1864.

Around the turn of the century, the foreign market for photography in Japan favored the alluring, exotic and fantastical. This was catered to by native and nonnative photographers alike, who helped cement the iconography of Japan as the land of cherry blossoms, Fujiyama, samurai and geisha. Photography for the domestic market was more austere, personal or practical, and the value of this exhibition is to focus on the wealth of material that has, for various reasons, been underrepresented in global histories of photography.

Expressing a quiet nobility, samurai portraits taken by Nagasaki-born photographer Hikoma Ueno, for example, have a very different feel to the hand-colored images known as “tourist photos” or Yokohama Shashin destined for export, which sometimes featured day laborers or studio assistants dressed up in samurai armor in a kind of early cosplay.

The print chosen as the main promotional image for the exhibition is one of the most well-known examples of early Japanese photography: the portrait of handsome reactionary Toshizo Hijikata (1835-69) by Tamoto Kenzo. The photograph has created a romantic legacy for the sub-commander of the rebel Shinsengumi, a group that supported the last shogun and opposed the restoration of the Emperor Meiji. Hijikata lives on as a popular manga and anime character in part due to this one photograph.

The choice of Tamato’s image is good marketing, and its connection between early photography to contemporary popular culture is entirely appropriate. With a few exceptions, the exhibits were originally never intended to be viewed as high art. The material qualities of the miniature silvery mirrors of daguerreotypes, framed in ornate gold frames or the handmade crimson lacquerware of a camera body (1863) are, nevertheless, a delight, and possibly a revelation for a generation used to digital photography viewed on screens.

The exhibition shows that in its nascent stages, photography was valued for its ability to approximate the view of the human eye and to preserve a sight over time. Spreading through Japan with the ideals of the enlightenment, photography was, as the Japanese word “shashin” (literally “truth copy”) suggests, the scientific method made visually manifest. By contrast, the concurrent exhibition “Yamazaki Hiroshi/Concepts and Incidents” shows what happens when photography is liberated from the task of being literal.

Hiroshi Yamazaki is best known for his 1970s work that used long exposures to show the path of the sun through the sky. Focusing on process, rather than subject matter, Yamazaki is expert at making the ordinary look strange, and continues to create work that is strikingly ingenious.

Early pieces show that Yamazaki could imbue even relatively straight photography with unusual intensity and a sense of the uncanny. A 1969 portrait of an unshaven, plaintive-looking Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of butoh, kneeling in a hallway by sets of shoes, hints both at the creative energy and abjection of the choreographer and performance artist, with a composition of lines that is dynamic but also isolates Tatsumi from his quotidian surroundings.

The 1978 series “The Sun is Longing for the Sea” experiments with photographing the sun over time, resulting in images that feature a blazing white line reflected in blurred seascapes. Yamazaki called these experiments “optical incidents” — the action of working with photographic equipment and using their particular characteristics to go beyond human vision. More recent work looks at chromatic aberration — the optical defect that photographers generally try to avoid through buying expensive lenses, or using software correction — and photograms of hands creating ripples in water.

“Dawn of Japanese Photography: The Anthology” runs until May 7, ¥700; “Yamazaki Hiroshi/Concepts And Incidents” runs until May 10, ¥600, at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Thu. and Fri. until 8 p.m.). Closed Mon.

For more information:


We have been discussing "Japanese Photography" in class lately. These two sources have been helpful:

Photography and Japan by Karen M. Fraser (2011)

Blurb from The University of Chicago Press Books: In Photography and Japan, Karen Fraser argues that the diversity of styles, subjects, and functions of Japanese photography precludes easy categorization along nationalized lines. Instead, she shows that the development of photography within Japan is best understood by examining its close relationship with the country’s dramatic cultural, political, and social history.

“Uniqueness” in Japanese Art Photography: Toward Situating Images in Context by Pablo Figueroa (2015)

First paragraph from article available at Asia Pacific Perspectives: All nations assert cultural difference through contrast with other countries, and Japan is no exception. However, the country believes it is extraordinarily unique, and has built pervasive cultural myths that claim uniqueness to anything Japanese. Could “uniqueness” in Japanese art photography be one of those myths?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Writing with Light Photo Essays - A Collaboration between Cultural Anthropology and Visual Anthropology Review"

Today in my Documenting Japan class the students are starting their Two-Frame Photo Story Presentations. The assignment was inspired by my participation in a visual literacy workshop run by John Condon and Miguel Gandert at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication Workshop in 2009 and the film Life Through a Lens about photographer Annie Liebovitz. The experimentation of experience with photography combining image and text remains important and relevant. See announcement below:

Writing with Light is an initiative to bolster the place of the photo-essay—and, by extension, formal experimentation—within international anthropological scholarship. As a collaboration between two journals published by the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Cultural Anthropology and Visual Anthropology Review, Writing with Light is led by a curatorial collective that aims to address urgent and important concerns about the sustained prominence of multimodal scholarship. Anthropological projects based in video, installation, performance, etc. take as a given that multimodality changes what anthropologists can and should see as productive knowledge. Such projects compel anthropologists to begin rethinking our intellectual endeavors through an engagement with various media, addressing the particular affordances and insights that each new form of scholarship offers. How, for example, does photography produce different types of knowledge than text and/or film? What criteria might we need to interrogate and evaluate each of these forms of multimodal scholarship? As part of a broader set of questions about the relationship between forms of scholarly work and knowledge production, we explore the ongoing relevance of the photo-essay.

The Writing with Light collective focuses on the photo-essay in the belief that multimodal (or visual) forms are not a singular paradigm and that a consideration of a singular research form might help us to rethink a broader array of anthropological questions. How does the photo-essay configure our engagement through its unique form of mediation and composition? We believe that the photo-essay provides a critical opportunity for reevaluating the word–image relationship. Conventionally known for its narrative qualities, the photo-essay is especially useful in reconsidering the relationship between words and images in photographic storytelling, as well as efforts to generate innovative anthropological knowledge with the capacity to go beyond storytelling. For example, we are especially interested in the photo-essay’s potential to generate insights focused on issues of mediation and representation, as well as methodological questions with the potential to shift how anthropologists conceive of the discipline itself.

This initiative is unique in that it draws on Cultural Anthropology’s wider view of emerging trends in anthropology, while foregrounding the particular concerns of Visual Anthropology Review as far as theorizing and critiquing practice-based modes of ethnographic scholarship. By relaunching the existing Cultural Anthropology Photo Essays section as a collaboration with Visual Anthropology Review, the initiative aims to open new spaces for interaction between sections of the AAA and corners of the discipline. By merging the literary and epistemological critiques of an earlier generation with the formal and aesthetic critiques driving visual anthropology today, we draw on the etymology of the word photograph for inspiration: thus, writing with light.

For more information:

I am cheating on my own two-frame story today by borrowing two photos from Japan Today both published today to examine and ponder current housing conditions in Japan.



I am not suggesting that these housing types are representative of Japan by any means. But it is mighty sad and one wonders about the priorities of the Japanese government as it increases its military budget and pledges aid for developing countries (aid = business opportunities). What about the people in Japan that need assistance? These are urgent and important concerns that need exploring...

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.”


"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.


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:

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

SEE2THINK - thinking with pictures:

ethnographic vignettes:

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 or by phone on 03-3264-6011 (extensions 24, 10).


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.


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.


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.