Japan

'Time-saving' toilet finder app for Japanese workers

According to telecom operator KDDI, Japanese employees spend far too much time waiting for a lavatory to become available, so it has developed an app which shows the nearest vacant loo, the Japan Times reports.

Can this radio detect your mood and play songs to match?

Many roboticists and computer engineers seem to think so, because they're always trying to make their creations more human.

Take Solo, the "emotional radio", for example. A wall-mounted device that resembles a large clock, it features a liquid crystal display at its centre. When you approach it, the pictogram face shows a neutral expression.

But it then takes a photo of your face, a rod or antenna on the side cranks into life, and the LCD display indicates that it's thinking.

Nabana No Sato: Japan's most extravagant light display

Every winter, towns and cities across the country glow with impressive festivals featuring millions of colorful bulbs.

Best of all, these festivals keep going long after holiday cheer has passed, some carrying on well into spring.

Among the biggest and most impressive of them all is Nabana No Sato.

KitKat sushi: Has Japan gone too far?

The bars come in three flavors, which fortunately don't taste anything like the varieties of sushi they're modeled to look like -- unless you count the seaweed.

There's tuna sushi, which actually tastes like raspberry. The seaweed wrapped sushi omelet is really a pumpkin pudding KitKat.

Lastly, the sea urchin sushi is a Hokkaido melon with mascarpone cheese KitKat.

All three have a base made of puffed rice with white chocolate and a hint of wasabi.

Inspired by an April Fool's Day joke

Japan's hi-tech toilets to get standardised symbols

Japan's hi-tech toilets famously include features such as lid and seat controls, flush strength, front and back bidets, and air drying,

Different manufacturers all use their own pictograms for each function.

But the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association says this confuses foreign tourists.

The organisation said (in Japanese) that it hoped its eight new pictograms would make things easier for non-Japanese speakers and create "a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind".

Pacific countries in Japan to discuss development and climate change

The meeting is one of several precursors to Japan's eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting or PALM to be held in 2018.

Japan has been holding the summit every three years since 1997.

16 countries are expected to attend the meeting which will review progress since the last summit and prepare for the next one.

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum chair the Federated States of Micronesia's foreign secretary, Lorin Robert, said he was looking forward to discussing the Pacific's relations with Japan in the areas of climate change and ocean management.

Japan recalls diplomats from South Korea over statue

Tokyo will also halt talks with South Korea on a planned currency swap and delay high-level economic dialogue as part of its "initial" response to the statue, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing Friday.

The statue was erected by a civil group in December and represents "comfort women," women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

"The fact that the girls' statue was set up has an unfavorable influence on relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and it is extremely regrettable," Suga said.

Japan-New Caledonia flight disrupted

Aircalin said the 179 passengers have been put up in hotels while efforts are underway to find alternatives for them to reach Noumea.

The airline's schedule is expected to have disruptions over the next two days.

Last year, Aircalin had repeated technical problems with its Airbus A330s.

It ordered two new such wide-body planes which will be delivered for 2019.

US returns land it's controlled since WWII to Japan amid local anger

But there's a catch.

As part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the two countries, the United States is granted the right to certain defense facilities. In exchange for the land, the Japanese government built several new helipads for the US military to use on its southernmost island of Okinawa.

Yet the handover has done little to assuage the ire of activists, who've campaigned for decades, to remove US bases altogether from Okinawa.

PNG can expand Japanese tourism: PM

The Prime Minister made the statement while extending his best wishes and thanks to the outgoing Ambassador of Japan to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Morio Matsumoto.

“There is a lot of interest from Japanese tourists to come to Papua New Guinea.

“This is for cultural visits, and importantly, visits to memorials and resting places for Japanese military personnel who died in World War II.”

The PM says PNG will always extend its highest respect for Japan’s war dead and the monuments that have been erected to honour their memory.