With doubts running high about how long the Japanese government can survive, its decision last week to phase out nuclear power by the end of the 2030s looked half-baked. Sure enough on September 19th it dropped any pretence of a deadline, leaving open the possibility that at least two reactors under construction could operate until the 2050s.
The ambiguity has much to do with the general election which the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has promised to call soon. Polling indicates that since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 public opinion has turned firmly against nuclear energy. Yet big business argues that Japan's economy will suffer if the phase-out occurs too quickly. Local governors whose prefectures host nuclear power plants also complain about the strategy.
For the time being, the government's policy appears to be to pay lip service to a phase-out that it is too timid to implement, while also scrambling for alternative sources of energy. Even before the nuclear disaster, Japan was the world's biggest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and now consumes nearly a third of global output. But ensuring reliable supplies, as well as securing a good price, is becoming a foreign-policy headache.
America is awash with cheap shale gas but is divided over whether Japan should have access to it. Big Japanese trading firms have positioned themselves to turn American gas into LNG for export to Japan. But first they need approval from America's energy department, since, remarkably, Japan still has no free-trade agreement with its close ally. Mr Noda has pressed President Barack Obama for approval, but faces American opposition over the environmental risks and from those who say it will push up the domestic price of gas.
China's television regulator has ordered a crackdown on dramas about the country's battles with Japan during and before World War Two and demanded they be more serious, state media said on Friday, following viewer complaints about ludicrous storylines. (Reuters )
Shukan Post (May 24) conveys the difficulties experienced by other parts of the adult-entertainment biz in servicing customers from the communist nation.
A deri heru (“delivery health”) call-girl tells the tabloid that she is often requested to arrive at major hotels in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro entertainment areas of Tokyo by Chinese visitors. (Tokyo Reporter)