TIME India

India Will Become the World’s Most Populous Country by 2022, the U.N. Says

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That's much earlier than previously thought

India is on track to become the world’s most populous nation in less than a decade — or six years earlier than previously thought, according to the U.N.

With 1.38 billion people compared with India’s 1.31 billion, China is currently the world’s most populous country. Figures for both countries are expected to swell to around 1.4 billion by 2022, at which point India’s population is likely to expand beyond China’s.

At the end of the next decade, in 2030, India is projected to have 1.5 billion people, a figure that’s forecast to balloon to 1.7 billion by 2050. China’s population, on the other hand, is forecast to remain relatively stable until the 2030s, at which point the U.N. says it is likely to “slightly decrease.” In a forecast published two years ago, India had been expected to overtake China around the year 2028.

The projections from the population division of the U.N.’s economic and social affairs unit were published in a new report that also forecast an expansion in the world’s overall population to 8.5 billion by 2030. By the middle of the century, there are likely to be as many as 9.7 billion people worldwide, with six of the 10 largest countries — India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the U.S. — expected to have populations exceeding 300 million people.

“While the global projections should not be cause for alarm, we must recognize that the concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents a distinct set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrollment and health systems,” John Wilmoth, who heads the U.N. division that produced the report, told the Associated Press.

India’s population is not growing the fastest, however, with Nigeria growing at such a rapid pace that it is expected to have more people than the U.S. by 2050, at which point it is likely to become the third most populous country in the world.

TIME animals

This Japanese Zoo Is Trying the Impossible: Persuading People to Like Cockroaches

Red Cockroach
Norrabhudit—iStockphoto/Getty Images

The world’s most hated insect is getting a makeover

They’re extremely fast, famed (and reviled) for their ability to survive a nuclear holocaust and have been around since the dinosaurs. There’s also something about them that makes most people on the planet squirm with disgust.

But cockroaches, one Japanese zoo believes, have been given lot of unjustified bad press. And so staff at Shunanshi Tokuyama Zoo in western Japan have launched an exhibition to try to persuade people that cockroaches really aren’t all that bad.

“They have such a negative image,” a spokeswoman for the zoo told AFP. “But they’re actually playing an important role in the food chain.”

Visitors to the exhibition can come face to face with the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach — that can grow up to a whopping 7 c.m. long — and even watch five-way roach races.

The zoo also has about 200 individual cockroaches from 15 different species on display, and staff say the exhibition is already a hit with the public.

[AFP]

TIME Companies

Toshiba Bosses Accused of Padding Profits by $1.2 Billion

Pedestrians walk past a logo of Toshiba Corp outside an electronics retailer in Tokyo
Yuya Shino—Reuters Pedestrians walk past a logo of Toshiba Corp outside an electronics retailer in Tokyo, Japan, June 25, 2015

Hisao Tanaka, company president and chief executive, resigned on Wednesday

In one of the Japan’s largest ever accounting scandals, investigators found that bosses at tech giant Toshiba had systematically betrayed the trust of the stakeholders by fudging the firm’s accounting for more than seven years, embellishing earnings by $1.2 billion.

The underpinnings of corporate corruption at Toshiba were exposed after an investigation by a former Tokyo prosecutor on Monday, finding top executives wrapped up in a culture of deceit. Toshiba President Hisao Tanaka quit Wednesday over the affair, while his predecessor, Norio Sasaki, is also expected to step down from his current role as vice chairman, reports AFP.

“Toshiba had a corporate culture in which management decisions could not be challenged,” said a summary of the investigator’s report. “Employees were pressured into inappropriate accounting by postponing loss reports or moving certain costs into later years.”

Securities regulators first discovered irregularities on the company’s balance sheet earlier this year, causing Toshiba shares to drop more than 20% since May.

In light of the scandal, the company will have to restate its earnings by 151.8 billion yen ($1.2 billion) for the period between April 2008 and March 2014.

The affair comes only two years after a handful of Olympus executives were accused of orchestrating a $1.7 billion accounting fraud scheme, which left the company to pay a fine of 700 million yen ($5.6 million).

[AFP]

TIME Veterans

Mitsubishi Apologizes for Using U.S. Prisoners as Slaves During World War II

It is the first private Japanese firm to make amends for wartime abuses

Executives of the Japanese firm Mitsubishi Materials issued a formal apology on Sunday to the American soldiers who were forced to work in the company’s mines while prisoners during World War II.

“Working conditions were extremely harsh and the POWs were subjected to severe hardship,” senior executive Hikaru Kimura said, speaking at a ceremony at Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance. “As the company that succeeded Mitsubishi Mining, we cannot help feeling a deep sense of ethical responsibility for this past tragedy.”

James Murphy, a 94-year-old veteran who stands among the few prisoners of war still living, openly expressed his appreciation after meeting with company representatives.

“For 70 years since the war ended, the prisoners of war who worked for these Japanese companies have asked for something very simple, they asked for an apology,” he said.

Murphy was one of the nearly 900 American soldiers imprisoned during the war at camps linked to Mitsubishi’s copper mines. The conditions, he told the Associated Press, were “slavery in every way.”

Mitsubishi’s apology comes three and a half weeks shy of the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender, which confirmed the Allies’ victory in the war. In the years since, the Japanese government has mostly been diligent about making amends for its actions during and prior to the conflict, though this is the first time a private firm involved in the war effort has made a public apology. Nevertheless, residual tensions continue to sometimes strain Japan’s contemporary diplomatic efforts. A recent editorial by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a state-controlled press operation, looked to the iciness of Sino-Japanese relations and opined that “tensions can only be diffused when Japan, with honesty and sincerity, recognizes its ignominious past and, together with its Asian neighbors, promotes regional peace and development.”

TIME Japan

Japan Cancels Plan to Build Costly ‘Bike Helmet’ Stadium for Olympics

Country will seek a more affordable design for new facility

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has canceled plans to build a large new stadium shaped like a bike helmet for the 2020 Olympics. The new Tokyo stadium, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, had been criticized for its high construction cost and a design that some said clashed with traditional Japanese aesthetics.

“I have made a decision to take the plan back to square one and reconsider,” Abe told reporters Friday. He said he would seek out a new design with a lower construction cost. The bike helmet stadium had been projected to cost more than $2 billion.

The new stadium was supposed to be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as well as the 2020 Olympics. The project now won’t be ready for the rugby event, but Abe said he was sure the facility would be completed in time for the Olympics.

[CNN]

TIME Japan

Two Dead, 350,000 Urged to Flee Their Homes as Typhoon Nangka Arrives in Japan

At least 31 people have been injured

Torrential rain and powerful winds of up to 185 km/h (115 m.p.h.) prompted authorities in southern Japan’s island of Shikoku to order a mass evacuation as Typhoon Nangka made landfall late Thursday.

The typhoon’s approach in the Pacific led Japanese authorities to warn at least 350,000 people to leave their homes. At least two people have died, according to the BBC, citing Kyodo news agency. Broadcaster NHK reported at least 31 have been injured.

While Nangka has since been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves north, officials worry strong winds and rain could still pose a danger.

On Friday morning, parts of the main island of Honshu were lashed by high waves, gales and thunderstorms, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency

Though the storm was clocked at just 15km/h, the agency reported a maximum sustained wind speed of 90km/h.

TIME Japan

Japan’s Elderly Now Commit More Crime Than Its Teenagers

Over 23,000 seniors have been caught breaking the law this year

For the first time ever, Japan’s senior citizens are responsible for more crime than its teenagers.

More than 23,000 people over the age of 65 faced police action for unlawful activities during the first half of 2015, the BBC reported, citing Japan’s Kyodo news agency. In comparison, the number of criminals aged 14-19 was just under 20,000, a reversal of every year since the East Asian nation began releasing age-related crime data in 1989.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is now of retirement age, and crime rates among the elderly have reportedly risen by over 10% from last year’s figures despite a reduction in the country’s overall crime rate.

Japan isn’t the only East Asian nation grappling with the sudden rise of geriatric lawbreakers, however, with neighbor South Korea — also home to swelling ranks of senior citizens — seeing a spike of nearly 40% between 2011 and 2013.

[BBC]

TIME Sports

Masanori Murakami: Baseball’s Forgotten Pioneer

Masanori Murakami
AP Masanori Murakami in 1964

He changed the relationship between Japan and Major League Baseball. Then what happened?

In baseball, not all pioneers are created equal. Some, like Jackie Robinson, are recognized immediately as formative figures whose impact reverberates forever, in the game and throughout society. Others, though, need some time — and distance — for their contributions to resonate.

Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese person to play in Major League Baseball, is decidedly in the latter category.

“For a long time, he was kind of a footnote in history. He was a trivia-question answer,” says author Robert K. Fitts, whose biography Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer was released in April. “But he was a true hero.”

This week, Fitts and Murakami will be in Cincinnati for Murakami to take part in celebrating the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. But on July 2, they had a special stop on their itinerary: Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets. Murakami threw out the ceremonial first pitch from nearly the same spot that he changed baseball 51 years ago.

In 1964, Murakami, a 20-year-old pitcher for the Nankai Hawks, was in America on a kind of cultural exchange program with the San Francisco Giants. He was called up from the Giants’ single-A team in Fresno on Aug. 30, joined the team in New York, and on Sept. 1 came in as a late-inning reliever for against the Mets at Shea Stadium. History was made.

Mashi (as his teammates called him) was only on the mound for one inning in the Giants’ 4-1 loss, but he so impressed the team with his control and efficiency that he remained on the roster for the rest of the season. He was also an immediate fan favorite, with Mashi Mania spreading across the Bay Area.

“When I was here in ‘64, I felt like baseball was a little lighter, much more fun,” the now-71-year-old Murakami remembers. “In Japan, there’s all this calculation and control and I felt like it was maybe a little bit dark. So here, I had more freedom to play baseball and enjoy it the way that I loved.”

He pitched out of the bullpen eight more times in 1964, and saw action in 45 games the next season. With each throw, Mashi further legitimized Japanese baseball in the eyes of Americans.

“Until he appeared at the major league level, the general supposition among fans and baseball professionals was that the Japanese professional league was the equivalent of double-A at best,” John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, says. “After Murakami, that was impossible.”

But, just as quickly as his American career began, it came to a halt. A nasty contract battle between the Giants and Hawks resulted in Murakami’s return to Japan and a fundamental reevaluation of Japan’s relationship with Major League Baseball. If Japanese players could compete with Americans, the thinking went in Japan, then they ought to stay at home and build the reputation of their own game. “I think the Japanese professional baseball leagues did not want to become just a source of raw materials,” Thorn says. “They protected their best players with much more vigor afterwards.”

The door Mashi so improbably opened slammed shut for other Japanese players — and it stayed sealed for 30 years. The name Masanori Murakami was forgotten; a trailblazer was reduced to trivia.

In 1995, things began to change.

Hideo Nomo, at 26 one of Japan’s best pitchers, exploited a contractual loophole that freed him to play in America by retiring in Japan. He promptly ended his Japanese career, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and became an immediate sensation.

“I was very happy to see another Japanese player finally make it to the major leagues after all of these years,” Murakami told a Japanese reporter after Nomo’s debut on May 2, 1995. “Nomo’s performance today brought back a lot of fond memories for me. My heart was pumping for him.”

Nomo won National League Rookie of the Year in 1995, threw the first of two career no-hitters in 1996, and ultimately played in America for 13 years. His success cracked the wall separating Japanese players from the U.S., and it drew American attention to Murakami for the first time in decades. In Mashi, fans discovered the pitcher who made Major League Baseball take Japanese pros seriously, who made Nomo’s jump to America possible, who inspired a generation of Japanese Americans unaccustomed to seeing themselves represented in a predominantly white culture.

“I was born and raised in San Francisco and was only 8 years old when he played here,” Facebook user Wayne Yoshitomi said in a post on the Mashi fan page. “I didn’t realize until later in life how important it was to have someone that looked like you playing in a professional sport.”

Today, Japanese representation in Major League Baseball has become something we expect. More than 40 players have followed Nomo from Japan since 1995, including bona fide superstars like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Yu Darvish. In turn, Murakami’s standing grows, albeit slowly. But his place in baseball history is secure — even if it took decades for the force of his accomplishments to finally be felt.

“We were comparing him to an Asian Jackie Robinson in the majors,” says 17-year-old Philip Choi, who was in the stands for Mashi’s Citi Field pitch. “Because he’s the first, he still has a lot of impact. First everything is good—and the first Japanese player, especially with all the Japanese players in the league now, is huge.”

Dante A. Ciampaglia is a writer and editor living in New York

TIME Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan’s Tallest Mountain, Will Soon Have Wi-Fi

Mount Fuji Climbing Season Begins
Chris McGrath—Getty Images Climbers stop to take photographs along a trail to the summit of Mt Fuji on July 2, 2015 in Fujiyoshida, Japan

The move is both to spur tourism and enhance safety

It’ll soon be much easier to share your selfie on Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak. Officials in the local prefectures are installing free wi-fi for all hikers, an initiative designed to spur tourism on the iconic mountain.

The program is specifically aimed to encourage hikers from Europe and the U.S. to share experiences on the 3,776-m volcano through email and social media. There will be eight wi-fi hot spots in the vicinity, reports local daily Asahi Shimbun.

Overseas visitors have been increasing on the mountain in the past year, with between 40,000 and 50,000 tourists hiking along its trails.

According to Asahi Shimbun, the prefectures of Yamanashi and Shizuoka will work with Japanese telecom giant NTT Telecom Inc. to install the service. They then plan to hand out around 70,000 brochures to hikers with login instructions.

An official at the prefecture’s tourism division told the newspaper that the wi-fi wouldn’t just be there for promotional purposes — it will also allow hikers “to obtain weather and other information to ensure their safety.”

But slow hikers best beware — the service will only be available for 72 hours at a time.

[Asahi Shimbun]

TIME Soccer

See the Best Moments From U.S. Soccer’s Victory in the World Cup Final

Team U.S.A. trounced Japan 5-2 on Sunday, achieving their third world championship and the first since 1999.

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