TIME Food & Drink

You Can Now Get Tofu McNuggets at McDonald’s in Japan

Views Of FamilyMart Convenience Store And McDonald's Restaurant As Retailers Halt Chicken Sales From China Supplier
Yuriko Nakao / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Ingredients include "onions, soybeans, carrots and minced fish"

If the “chicken” in McDonald’s “chicken” nuggets freaks you out, head over to Japan to try the franchise’s newest snack: Tofu Shinjo Nuggets, which officially go on sale this Wednesday.

They don’t include any chicken — instead, they’re made from ingredients including onions, soybeans, carrots and minced fish, a McDonald’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal. They’ll also come with a ginger-flavored sauce.

“Because it isn’t meat, it tastes a bit different. It’s a bit softer,” the spokesperson said. “Calorie-wise, it is a bit lower than chicken as well.”

They basically look like little patties with some pale bits of vegetables mixed in. Check them out in this advertisement:

Apparently, McDonald’s had plans to begin selling this product well before the recent allegations that the chain had been using expired meat.

TIME Japan

Japanese Heat Wave Leaves 15 Dead, Thousands Hospitalized

Summer Heat Continues Across Japan
People walk under strong sunshine on July 25, 2014, in Osaka, Japan The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Even so, temperatures have not yet surpassed last summer, the hottest in the country's history

At least 15 people have died as a heat wave sweeps over Japan, bringing temperatures above 35°C (95°F) and sending an additional 8,000 people to the hospital with symptoms of heatstroke, Agence France-Presse reports.

By midafternoon on Tuesday, the mercury had climbed above 32°C (90°F) in Kumagaya, a famously hot city about 70 km (45 miles) northwest of Tokyo. In the capital, things were only marginally cooler.

This is not, however, anything especially new. Last summer marked Japan’s hottest on record, with temperatures reaching 41°C (106°F) in some parts of the archipelago.

[AFP]

TIME Crime

Japanese Schoolgirl Accused of Murdering, Dismembering Classmate

High school girl arrested for killing, dismembering friend
Japanese police officers enter an apartment building in Sasebo, in Nagasaki prefecture, Japan, on July 27, 2014, to investigate the site where Aiwa Matsuo, a 15-year-old high school girl, was murdered by her classmate Kyodo/AP

Victim's body was found in 16-year-old's apartment, where she lives alone

A 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl has been arrested in Nagasaki on charges of murdering and dismembering her classmate.

Police say the girl admitted to killing Aiwa Matsuo, 15, by bludgeoning her with a blunt object, then decapitating her and cutting off her left hand, according to CNN. The suspect was arrested on her 16th birthday.

“I did it all by myself,” she told police, according to the Japan Times. The victim’s body was found in the suspect’s apartment, where she lives alone without her parents. Her parents reported her missing after she failed to return home Saturday night.

People who know the suspect describe her as “very smart, with emotional ups and downs.”

TIME advertisements

This Toyota Ad Is Utterly Insane — and Wonderful

Jungle Wakudoki, a.k.a. the most delightful two minutes of your day

+ READ ARTICLE

Japanese ads are an art form in and of themselves. But this spot produced for Toyota by agency Dentsu Aegis is incredible nonetheless. The premise is dead simple: a group of businessmen are driving through the jungle in their Toyota truck. When they pull over to let one of them relieve themselves, things get … well crazy. The spot is part of a campaign dubbed “Do the Wakudoki,” which encourages consumers to submit clips of themselves dancing.

[AdWeek]

TIME Japan

These Are Japan’s Coolest New Trains

Japan has unveiled several new luxury trains, most recently East Japan Railway Company's Cruise Train, designed by Ferrari designer Ken Okuyama. Here's a look at the new opulent way to travel around Japan's most scenic routes

TIME Japan

Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant Boasts Fembot Battles and Ninja Stage Hands

The restaurant opened in the Kabukicho district at a reported cost of $10 million

What more could you ask for in a restaurant than large female robots, ninja costumes and gold urinals? You’ll find all of the above at Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant.

The neon-flashing, techno-blasting eatery opened two years in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district at a reported cost of about $10 million. And with a $35 entry fee as well as a dress code, admission can be selective.

But Japanese yuppies and college students find the cost worthwhile to watch bikini-clad women direct battles between large female robots while stage hands dressed as ninjas assist offstage. Everyone wins at the Robot Restaurant.

TIME

Police Arrest Japanese Artist Who Invited Fans to 3-D Print Her Genitalia

Emailed design files to supporters as a reward for those who crowd-funded her vagina kayak project

A Japanese artist who specializes in vaginally inspired art has been arrested in Tokyo on grounds of obscenity for allegedly emailing design files to her supporters so that they could print 3-D renderings of her genitalia. Or as The Guardian calls it, a “vagina selfie.”

Megumi Igarashi, who works under the name Rokudenashiko, had started a crowd-funding project to create a kayak designed after her vagina. The design files were supposed to be a reward for investors who backed the project.

Igarashi wrote on her campaign’s page that she seeks funding to make her art anatomically precise. “It is extremely difficult to make precise mold. Even when successful, silicone mold will gradually deteriorate, which makes mass production difficult.”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested the 42-year-old artist for breaking obscenity laws Wired notes hark back to 1907 that prohibit the display of genitalia. But the artist argues that the data itself isn’t adult material. “I cannot understand why the police recognize the 3D data as obscene material,” she said, according to TechCrunch.

Other projects Igarishi has made designed on her vagina include a comic-book, a remote controlled car, and a lampshade.

A Change.org petition has been launched to protest Igarashi’s arrest.

[The Guardian]

TIME China

Many Asian Nations Believe That a War With China Is Looming

Abner Afuang, a retired policeman, sets fire to an inverted Chinese national flag in a protest action in Manila,
Abner Afuang, a retired policeman, sets fire to an inverted Chinese national flag during a protest in Manila on June 9, 2014. Romeo Ranoco—Reuters

A majority in the Asian countries polled in a new Pew study say they fear a looming military conflict with China

China’s neighbors fear the worst is yet to come.

Strong-arm tactics and tough talk coming from Beijing in the past year have succeeded in convincing neighboring countries that war may just be around the corner, according to a new poll released by the Pew Research Center.

“In all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors will lead to a military conflict,” read the report published by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank on Monday.

In Vietnam, where relations with Beijing have been exceptionally tense since a state-owned Chinese drilling platform moved into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands in early May, 84% of participants said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that territorial disputes could lead to war.

In Japan, which is embroiled with Beijing in disputes over vacant outcroppings in the East China Sea, 85% concurred.

Farther south in the Philippines, 93% of those polled feared the possibility of conflict with China. The archipelago nation has a number of ongoing disputes with China in the South China Sea and, much to Beijing’s chagrin, is pursuing international arbitration in a bid to settle those claims.

While many of the territorial disagreements with China have been ongoing for years, a number of incidents initiated by Beijing in the past nine months have led to increasingly strained ties across the region.

The perennially taut relationship between Tokyo and Beijing reached a flash point late last year when China unilaterally declared the establishment of an air-defense zone that covered the skies over disputed isles in the East China Sea.

Both Manila and Hanoi have meanwhile accused China of maintaining a large presence of paramilitary vessels, coast-guard ships and fishing boats in disputed maritime areas in a bid to edge rival nations out of contested waters. Experts following the region say the tactic must have had clearance from the upper echelons of power in Beijing.

“Xi Jinping and the central military commission as well as key figures in Zhongnanhai — they took a calculated risk,” Alexander Neill, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Asia office, tells TIME. “China is testing the tensile strength of the sort of hub-and-spokes alliance system in the region.”

A majority of the Filipinos, Japanese, Vietnamese and South Koreans surveyed considered China as their nation’s top threat and the U.S. as their nation’s most important ally, according to Pew.

Only Pakistani and Malaysian respondents named the U.S. as their top foe and saw China as their biggest ally. (Indonesia was the lone country where respondents named the U.S. as both their biggest threat and No. 1 partner.)

The publication of the Pew poll comes after Washington has upped both economic and military cooperation with its Asian allies and fostered relations with former foe Vietnam to counter China’s increasingly brazen moves in the Asia-Pacific. Beijing has not responded kindly.

“What we seem to be seeing is increasing polarization in Washington and in Beijing,” says Neill. “The Sino-U.S. relationship is going through a rocky period.”

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution calling on China to avoid engaging in behavior that would “destabilize the Asia-Pacific region” and to refrain from enforcing its air-defense zone.

But Beijing does not appear to be interested in backing down. An editorial published in the state-linked Global Times on Monday fired back at Washington.

“[China] has the right to safeguard its sovereignty and it has no intention to go to war,” read the editorial. “China will not make trouble, but equally is unafraid of any trouble.”

TIME Japan

Is Shinzo Abe’s Notion of ‘Womenomics’ Just a Pipe Dream in Sexist Japan?

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo on June 24, 2014. Abe has unveiled a package of measures aimed to boost Japan's long-term economic growth, from phased-in corporate tax cuts to a bigger role for women and foreign workers Yuya Shino—Reuters

As the Japanese Prime Minister's government pushes economic reform, it faces a major challenge: uprooting a male-centric business culture

On a recent state visit to Australia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of his plans to lift Japan from its economic doldrums and of the role women will play in that rejuvenation.

“Women have the greatest potential,” he told the business publication Nikkei, “and allowing them to demonstrate their full abilities is the core of our growth strategy.”

It wasn’t the first time Abe invoked gender equality in his developmental rhetoric. In September last year, he wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, in which he extolled the virtues of “womenomics”: “A country that hires and promotes more women grows economically.” Soon after the piece ran, Abe declared to the U.N. General Assembly his intention to “create a society in which women shine.”

The Abe government’s intent to rectify Japan’s gender imbalance is a key component in what has been dubbed Abenomics, a series of initiatives to prop up growth in the country. The first two “arrows” of the program have garnered praise among market watchers, who attribute low unemployment levels and a favorable exchange rate to aggressive fiscal stimulus and monetary easing. The third arrow, however, which aims at structural reforms to bolster Japan’s competitiveness, centers on the much more difficult task of overhauling a largely male-centric business culture.

“I used to be one of those people who would roll their eye at cries of sexism, and feminists terrified me,” says Mona Nomura, a Japanese woman raised in the U.S. “But moving to Japan has changed all of that.” Nomura, who works for an e-commerce company, says she has had an executive walk out of a meeting with her at the office, unhappy with her questions. She’s also been told to “go back to the U.S.,” where independent women are more welcome, by Japanese male acquaintances.

The numbers certainly paint a picture of a system less than inviting to women. On average, female workers earn 30.2% less than their male counterparts, and, according to 2012 data from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, women only occupied 11% of managerial positions in the private sector.

It’s a similar scenario of inequality in politics. Government estimates in 2011 noted that women took up just 0.8% of town and village mayorships throughout the country. Female legislators only made up 8% of Japan’s lower house of parliament and 16% of the upper house.

A public outburst at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June showcased just that sort of male-dominated brand of politics. Akihiro Suzuki, an assemblyman who has since resigned from Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party but not his post, shouted at female lawmaker Ayaka Shiomura to “get married as soon as possible.” Another colleague heckled, “Can’t you even bear a child?” as Shiomura delivered a speech advocating more government support for pregnant women and young mothers.

Oyaji cannot be changed,” says Kotoyo Obikawa, an office worker in Tokyo, using the Japanese word for middle-aged man. “Teach gender equality to schoolkids.” She says sexism at her place of work remains rife — she has been asked as a project manager to do secretarial work and is obliged to pour drinks for men at parties. “Sexism is deeply rooted in Japanese culture,” she adds. “A lot of people unconsciously discriminate against women.”

But if the principles of womenomics are anything to go by, Japan’s future largely depends on its ability to uproot that status quo. Kathy Matsui, co-head of Asia investment Research at Goldman Sachs and longtime champion of womenomics, wrote last year that Japan could raise its GDP by as much as 14% if female participation in the workforce expanded to 80%. In an earlier report, Matsui and her colleagues noted an added benefit to bridging the gender gap: “Contrary to popular opinion, higher female employment could actually help raise, not lower, fertility rates.” That would help insulate Japan from the impending economic challenges posed by its aging population.

With that in mind, Abe has set targets, albeit some optimistic ones in the eyes of critics. He declared the goal of boosting female workforce participation from 68% to 73% by 2020 and challenged Japanese corporations to have women in 30% of top managerial positions, also by the end of the decade. As if to lead by example, Abe set the same 30% target for supervisory roles in the civil service, but his government has thus far only achieved a 3% rate. It remains to be seen how exactly his government plans to meet its lofty ideals.

Michael Woodford, the former CEO of Japanese optics company Olympus, says the recognition of the need for reform is “a positive sign of meaningful change in Japan.” He adds, however, that “it’s going to be a long and arduous journey to alter the entrenched behaviors of what I found to be an incredibly chauvinistic corporate world.”

Japan’s Minister of State for Gender Equality, Masako Mori, cited myriad challenges that need to be taken on in the reform process, among them better child-care support and more opportunities for female advancement in the workplace. “I’ve cursed the world around me as I’ve worked,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s just so hard for women to work in this country.”

For the likes of Nomura, who are deep in the as yet inadequate bureaucracy, the hope lies in the waiting. “As everything else in Japan goes,” she says, “it will take a very, very, very long time.”

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the first name of Japan’s Minister of State for Gender Equality, Masako Mori.

TIME Japan

Japanese PM Abe’s Security-Policy Shift Blamed for Local Poll Loss

Japan's PM Abe delivers an address to both houses of parliament in Australia's House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers an address to both houses of parliament in Australia's House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House in Canberra July 8, 2014. Lukas Coch—Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces backlash just weeks after reversing Japan’s security policy

The first signs of a backlash against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have appeared since he dramatically changed the country’s defense policy earlier this month.

Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats, lost a gubernatorial election in Shiga prefecture in what is perceived as a protest vote against the July 1 ending of the country’s ban on “collective self-defense,” reports Reuters.

The pacifist policy has defined postwar Japan, but Abe argued that the nation needs a new security policy in the current political climate, hinting at territorial disputes with China. In response, however, voter support for the 59-year-old Premier has already dropped below 50%, according to a recent public-opinion survey.

Abe is not up for re-election until 2016, but three other prefectures will elect governors later this year. Japan will also have several more polls next April.

The ballot also revealed divisions within the Japanese electorate regarding the East Asian nation’s nuclear policy following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

Many voters in Shiga prefecture are wary of the Prime Minister’s plans to restart nuclear reactors in neighboring Fukui prefecture. By contrast, Shiga’s new governor, Democratic Party member Taizo Mikazuki, called for Japan to reduce its reliance on nuclear power.

[Reuters]

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