TIME World War II

This Is How TIME Explained the Atomic Bomb in 1945

Graphic from TIME Aug. 20, 1945

Looking back at TIME's coverage of the atomic bombings

This week marks the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombings that ended World War II: the Aug. 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and the one of Nagasaki three days later. The two attacks may have claimed over 250,000 lives — around 100,000 victims were immediately incinerated, and many others died later from radiation poisoning and other injuries. Entire neighborhoods vanished into thin air.

World War II had already ended in Europe by August 1945, after Nazi Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 7. But the war unfolding in East Asia and the Pacific raged on. When Japan showed no signs of surrendering, U.S. President Harry Truman decided to drop the bomb—an act whose necessity and ethical ramifications are being debated to this day.

“I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb,” President Truman said in a radio address on Aug. 9 that year. “Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this nation, and to all peaceful nations, to all civilizations, if they had found it first.”

TIME covered the end of the war in Japan in its Aug.20, 1945 issue, five days after Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced the country’s surrender. Among the generally celebratory coverage of the end of WWII, the magazine’s editors published the infographic above breaking down the chain reaction behind an atomic bomb explosion.

TIME

Cristiano Ronaldo Stars in Truly Bizarre Japanese Commercial for a Facial Fitness Tool

Guaranteed to make your smile look just like his!

When Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t showing off his well-toned muscles after winning a soccer game, he’s showing off a gadget meant to help people boast his winning smile.

The Portuguese footballer recently appeared in a Japanese advertisement for an unusual little product called Pao Facial Fitness. It requires users to bite down on a winged contraption and then vigorously nod their heads in an attempt to build up cheek strength. Based on the commercial, it seems that users are also encouraged to dance around.

If you don’t want to buy one of these, don’t worry: just watching the video is likely to make you smile so hard that you’ll get a facial workout for free!

TIME Japan

Top Japanese Scientist Who Co-Authored Discredited Stem-Cell Study Commits Suicide

Yoshiki Sasai
Yoshiki Sasai, deputy chief of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on April 16, 2014. Police said Sasai, 52, was found dead on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. AP

Death is mourned as huge loss to scientific community

A top Japanese scientist who oversaw and co-authored a controversial stem-cell study has committed suicide by hanging, authorities said on Tuesday.

Yoshiki Sasai, 52, was found in a research institution next to his workplace by a security guard on Tuesday morning and was pronounced dead at a hospital two hours later.

Sasai was deputy director of the prestigious RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, and supervised a study by lead author Haruko Obokata that was published in the journal Nature earlier this year.

Obokata claimed to have found a highly innovative new method for creating stem cells, but when the method could not be replicated, a probe was launched and it was found that parts of the study had been plagiarized. The paper was withdrawn from Nature in July, following months of dispute about its veracity.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sasai maintained that he was brought into the project at a late stage. He consistently expressed remorse for not keeping a closer eye on the research, while continuing to argue that parts of the study held evidence of a genuine breakthrough.

Phil Campbell, editor in chief of Nature, issued a statement calling Sasai’s death a great loss to the scientific community. “Yoshiki Sasai was an exceptional scientist, and he has left an extraordinary legacy of pioneering work across many fields within stem cell and developmental biology,” Campbell said.

TIME Asia

Have You Ever Wondered Why East Asians Spontaneously Make V-Signs in Photos?

Studio shot of male hand showing peace sign
SuperStock/SuperStock RM/Getty Images

It's all to do with an American figure skater, sports manga and a commercial for Konica cameras

Spend a few minutes browsing social media, or watch groups of travelers posing in front of a popular tourist attraction, and you’re bound to come across it: attractive young Asians flashing smiles and making the V-for-Victory sign (or peace sign). The raised index and middle fingers, with palm facing outward, are as much a part of Asian portraiture as saying cheese is to English speakers. But why?

To non-Asians, the gesture seems so intrinsically woven into the popular culture of Beijing, Osaka or Taipei as to make it seem that it was forever thus — but, in fact, its earliest origins date back no further than the late 1960s, and the gesture didn’t really find widespread acceptance until the late 1980s.

Some say it began with Janet Lynn. The American figure skater was favored to take home gold in the 1972 Olympics in Japan. But the 18-year-old’s dream came crashing down when she fell during her performance. The gold medal was gone. She knew it, and Japan knew it.

But instead of grimacing, the shaggy-haired blonde simply smiled. Lynn’s behavior ran charmingly counter to the Japanese norm of saving face, and in doing so earned her legions of Japanese fans.

“They could not understand how I could smile knowing that I could not win anything,” said Lynn, who eventually went home with a bronze, in a telephone interview. “I couldn’t go anywhere the next day without mobs of people. It was like I was a rock star, people giving me things, trying to shake my hands.”

Lynn became a media sensation in Japan and the recipient of thousands of fan letters. During media tours around Japan in the years following the Olympics, she habitually flashed the V-sign. A cultural phenomenon was born.

Or rather, it was consolidated — because the V-sign was already entering mainstream consciousness through manga. In the 1968 baseball comic Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants), a protagonist struggling with father issues, and the pressure of competition, gets his dad’s tacit approval when the elder throws him a “V” before a big game. The volleyball manga Sain wa V! (V Is the Sign) was created shortly after and was adapted into a television series with an infectious earworm of a theme that features the chant “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!”

It was probably advertising that gave the gesture its biggest boost, however. Though Lynn had some influence on the widespread use of the V-sign in photos, Japanese media attribute the biggest role to Jun Inoue, singer with the popular band the Spiders. Inoue happened to be a celebrity spokesperson for Konica cameras, and supposedly flashed a spontaneous V-sign during the filming of a Konica commercial.

“In Japan, I have seen the Inoue Jun theory advanced most often as an explanation for the origin of this practice,” Jason Karlin, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo and an expert on Japanese media culture, tells TIME. “I think the practice is a testament to the power of the media, especially television, in postwar Japan for propagating new tastes and practices.”

With the mass production of cameras, and a sudden surge in women’s and girls’ magazines in the 1980s, the aesthetics of kawaii — a visual culture superficially based on cuteness — took off. Suddenly, more women were posing for more shots, and more shots of women were being shared. V-signs proliferated much like today’s “duck face” pouts on Instagram and Facebook.

“The V-sign was (and still is) often recommended as a technique to make girls’ faces appear smaller and cuter,” says Karlin.

Laura Miller, a professor of Japanese studies and anthropology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, stresses the role played by women in popularizing the gesture in photos. She recalls hearing girls say piisu, or peace, while making the sign in the early 1970s. “Like so much else in Japanese culture, the creative agents in Japan are often young women, but they are rarely recognized for their cultural innovations,” she wrote in an email to TIME.

When Japanese pop culture began to spread around East Asia in the 1980s (prior to the emergence of K-pop in this century), the fashionable V-sign found itself exported to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea (where it already enjoyed some recognition because of the decades-long presence of the U.S. military).

These days, the habit is everywhere that Asians are. However, most young Asians who make the gesture in photos do so without thinking and are baffled when asked why they do it. Some say they’re aping celebrities, while others say it’s a mannerism that alleviates awkwardness when posing. “I need something to do with my hands,” says Suhiyuh Seo, a young student from Busan, South Korea. Little children do it without even being taught.

“I don’t know why,” says 4-year-old Imma Liu of Hong Kong — but she says she feels “happy” when she does it. Perhaps that’s all that matters.

TIME Japan

China and Japan to Arrange Summit Meeting During APEC Forum

Chinese Business Leaders Led By China Investment Corporation President Gao Xiqing Visits Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
A staff member of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry arranges Chinese and Japanese flags before a meeting with a group of Chinese business leaders in Tokyo on Sept. 26, 2013 Bloomberg/Getty Images

Relations between the two Asian powers are in bad need of mending, following territorial and other disputes

Japan and China will arrange a summit to ameliorate relations during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, forum in Beijing in November, the Nikkei Business Daily reports. The announcement on Monday is reportedly the result of a visit to Beijing on July 27 by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, aimed at initiating peace talks between the two Asian powers.

Territorial disputes; a 2013 visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Tokyo’s contentious Yasukuni Shrine, which in part honors war criminals; and the establishment by China of an air-defense zone in the East China Sea have all contributed to worsening relations between Beijing and Tokyo in recent years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping previously refused to have a summit until Abe relinquished control over the disputed Diaoyu islands (called Senkaku in Japan) and apologized for his visit to Yasukuni, Reuters reports. Abe has not met with Chinese leaders since he took office in 2012.

News of the proposed summit comes a day after China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, lambasted Tokyo for naming 158 islets in the East China Sea, five of which were disputed.

“Japan’s unilateral measure is illegal and invalid and cannot change the fact that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are part of China’s territory,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, according to Xinhua.

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

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

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