Japan Seeks Dominance In Global Renewable Energy Race

Jul 6, 2019 | BIZ, GOV, Japan, NEWS, TECH

by Arvin Donguines

Okinawa, Japan – Tim Franklin Photography

by Arvin Donguines

Blessed with a variety of renewable resources like wind, solar, and marine, Japan is now looking to dominate the global renewable energy race. And it starts with an Olympic event.

Natural Endowment

Japan, the island country nestled off the eastern coast of the main Asian continent, isn’t exactly known for its natural resources. Despite sitting along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire, the Land of the Rising Sun could hardly supply its own need of raw materials like gold, copper and iron, from which they have to import from other countries.

Moreover, Japan produces negligible amount of energy like natural gas, oil, and coal. To keep its industries running and homes warm (so to speak), the country also has to import them. And the need is apparently that huge such that Japan is considered to be the sole largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal in the world. It is, meanwhile, the second-largest buyer of oil.

Japan did try to compensate for what it lacks with nuclear energy but harnessing such power has proven to be too dangerous that the government has to order the shutdown of its reactors in 2011. This situation further pushed Japan to rely more on fossil fuel.

But things are about to change as the country has finally recognized some of its untapped potentials to become a global leader in the use of renewable energy.

Carving A New Niche

Japan’s bold initiative for environmental protection has recently been making waves in the news. It has something to do with its plan to host the first Olympic Games that will be powered by renewable resources only.

In preparation for this global sporting event which will take place next year, Japan’s Olympic organizing committee laid out its strict sustainability code. This set of guidelines basically ensures that all products and services delivered during the Tokyo 2020 Games must come from recycled or reused materials.

For instance, the uniforms to be worn by athletes must be sourced from recycled fabric, an article said.

The place which will house the participants, the Olympic Village, is designed to be built with sustainability in mind. Each room will be powered with biogas and seawater heat pumps. The structure itself will be built using nationally-sourced timber.

These are just but some of the many sustainable plans Japan is hoping to accomplish in 2020 Olympics.

On the industrial side, Japan’s domestic industries are also answering to the country’s call for renewability. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, for example, is now developing systems like the hydrogen liquefier which the company plans to put into market by 2020, a report said. 

This system utilizes an equipment that is capable of liquefying hydrogen, which it does so my cooling the gas to minus 235 degrees Celsius. Some of its immediate application would be in powering up plants and charging fuel cells.

Hydrogen can be easily sourced as it is a common byproduct of certain chemical process abroad.

Japan, through Toyota Motor, meanwhile, has been working closely with Royal Dutch Shell, in carrying out the goals of the Hydrogen Council – a global initiative that seeks to adopt hydrogen energy.

Although the present technology plus the steep cost to carry out the plans are still hampering its development, both governing bodies believe that the first “hydrogen society” could be established as early as 2030.

A Perceived Opportunity

What was once an industrial, cultural, and economic center in Asia, Japan has found itself gradually slipping into the sidelines of the international geopolitical arena.

China, for example, is now going toe-to-toe against the US in terms of trade and commerce. South Korea, meanwhile, dominates the cultural sphere with its K-Pop and K-Dramas. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is even making huge impact in the geopolitical situation, not only in Asia but throughout the world.

Japan’s renewed fervour in implementing initiatives for the use of renewable and sustainable energy is perhaps the country’s way of taking a stab on the opportunity to forge a new geological path.

BTS Walks Louis Vuitton FW21 Show in Korea

It seems BTS did not only take k-pop by storm but also fashion. The K-pop group walked Louis Vuitton’s FW21 runway as their global ambassadors. The pop icons graced the show in a fashion film directed by Jeon Go-woon.

China Launched ‘Virus Passports’ to Kickstart International Travel

China has launched a system of “virus passports” to kickstart international travel, as Russia sealed its first deal on Tuesday to manufacture the Sputnik V jab in the European Union.

Singapore’s ‘Fake News’ Law Takes Effect as Critics Sound Alarm

Singapore’s new law to combat “fake news” came into effect Wednesday despite criticism from tech giants and activists, who labelled the tough rules a “chilling” attempt to stifle dissent.

Pakistan Founder Launched Female-Only Platform to Tackle Traditional Taboos

“Women in Pakistan are really, really strong. We have a voice. We just don’t have enough spaces to use that voice,” says Kanwal Ahmed, an agony aunt to some 260,000, determined to change the situation.

Buckle Up: Gamescom Comes to Singapore in 2020

Gamescom is one of the world’s largest gaming event is going to Debut their Asia launch in Singapore

Three Women Crushed to Death in Sri Lanka Stampede for $8 Handout

Three women were trampled to death during a stampede for an $8 cash handout in Colombo Thursday, amid growing desperation among Sri Lankans struggling to make ends meet during a coronavirus lockdown that has smashed the economy.

Filmmaker Roya Sadat: Voice of the Afghan Women

For a generation, Roya Sadat has been a voice for Afghan women in one of the world’s worst places to be one.

BTS Hit ‘Dynamite’ Worth $1.4 Billion to South Korea

K-pop sensation BTS’s US-chart-topping single “Dynamite” could generate more than $1.4 billion for the South Korean economy and thousands of new jobs in the country, a government study claimed Monday.

First Asian Sailor to Participate Vendée Globe: Shiraishi Eyes for 2020 Victory

As far as Kojiro Shiraishi is concerned, a Japanese sailing the gruelling Vendee Globe round-the-world race is akin to a Frenchman taking up sumo wrestling.

Hong Kongers Get Creative as Authorities Ban Tiananmen Vigil

Hong Kongers are seeking innovative ways to commemorate the victims of China’s deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown after authorities banned an annual vigil and vowed to stamp out any protests come Friday’s anniversary.

Embattled Philippine Journalist Wins UN Press Prize

The UN’s cultural agency on Tuesday awarded its annual press freedom prize to Philippine journalist Maria Ressa whose reporting has made her a target of her country’s judiciary and online hate campaigns.

Rare Chinese Ad Featuring Gay Couple Goes Viral

An advertisement appearing to feature a same-sex couple in China has been praised by the LGBTQ community for its rare portrayal of gay relationships in the tightly-censored country.

Classic BlackBerry Mobile Phone Keyboard to Live On

The BlackBerry keyboard dethroned by touchscreens will live on in a new 5G smartphone planned for release next year, according to a deal announced on Tuesday.

China Dog Meat Festival Goes Ahead but Virus Takes a Toll

Volunteers at a Beijing dog shelter hand out treats to dozens of rescued animals which had been bound for a controversial dog meat festival under way this week in southern China.

Indian Capital Opens First ‘Smog Tower’

India’s capital New Delhi opened its first “smog tower” on Monday aimed at reducing the air pollution blamed for thousands of premature deaths every year, but experts were sceptical.

Cartier’s Valentine Ad Campaign Sparks Debate on Censorship

French luxury brand Cartier is facing online mockery in China over a Valentine-themed advert which appears to show a gay couple who are described in a caption as depicting “father-son” love.

Moderna Says Tainted Covid Vaccines Sent to Japan Contained Steel

Moderna said Wednesday that tainted batches of its Covid-19 vaccine sent to Japan were contaminated with stainless steel particles, but the company did not expect it posed “an undue risk to patient safety.”

Philippines’ Duterte Says Will Run for Vice President in 2022

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared he will run for vice president next year to continue his “crusade” against drugs and insurgents — a move critics said was a “smokescreen” and driven by fear of criminal charges.

Google Threatens to Block Australians over Media Law

Google threatened Friday to block Australians from using its search service unless the government changed landmark legislation to make the internet giant pay news outlets for their content.

Riding on K-Pop Hype: BTS Dolls Boost Revenue Worldwide for Mattel

When you think of Barbie, the first image that pops into your head may be Western-looking dolls. Looks like Mattel recently got a makeover as it released dolls of K-pop stars which increased their sales worldwide.

Court Rules Ban on Married Gay Couples in Public Housing is Unlawful

Hong Kong’s high court ruled Wednesday that married same-sex couples should be allowed to apply for public housing, overturning a government ban it said was unconstitutional.

10 Cool Back to School Must-Haves from BoxLunch

School is starting once more. If you’re an anime fan looking for essential stuff to make the academic year more fun, here are the things you will need.

Australian Media Protests Against Government with Redacted Front Pages

Newspapers across Australia ran heavily redacted front pages on Monday in protest against government secrecy and a crackdown on press freedom, a rare show of unity in a fractious media landscape.

Under Pressure: Grindr to Sell for $608 Million by Chinese Tech Firm

One of China’s biggest mobile gaming companies is selling popular gay dating app Grindr for $608 million after pressure from US authorities concerned over the potential misuse of user data.

Hong Kong Domestic Worker Fired after Cancer Diagnosis Dies

A Filipina who was sacked as a domestic worker in Hong Kong after being diagnosed with cancer — a case that exposed the vulnerability of low-paid foreign workers — has passed away, a friend confirmed Wednesday.

Kaavan the Elephant Makes a New Friend after Eight Years

It was his first contact with another elephant in eight years.

Meet China’s Elderly Influencers Cashing In on the Internet

Exquisitely garbed in a traditional cheongsam dress, 76-year-old Sang Xiuzhu is one of an unlikely vanguard of elderly influencers storming Chinese social media with videos of glamor in the golden years.

Afghan Women Call for Respect in Rare Protest

Defiant Afghan women held a rare protest Thursday saying they were willing to accept the burqa if their daughters could still go to school under Taliban rule.

Briton Broke Singapore COVID Rules with Hotel Tryst

A British man pleaded guilty Monday to violating Singapore’s strict coronavirus rules by having a tryst with his fiancee at a luxury hotel while under quarantine.

Ultra-Modern Singapore’s Dark Secret: Female Genital Mutilation

Saza Faradilla was 22 when she discovered her genitals had been cut when she was a baby, part of a quietly persistent traditional practice among Singapore’s minority Muslim community.

Japan Mailman Hoarded 24,000 Undelivered mail: ‘Too Much Bother’

A former Japanese postman faces possible charges after police discovered he stockpiled a mountain of mail at his home, reportedly saying it was “too much bother” to deliver the items.

Four Chinese Military ‘Hackers’ Indicted for Equifax Breach

The US Justice Department on Monday announced indictments of four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for alleged involvement in the massive 2017 hack of the database of giant US credit rating agency Equifax.

China Expels US Journalists in Biggest Crackdown in Years

China on Wednesday expelled American journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in the Communist government’s most severe move against foreign media in recent memory.

China Could Win the Trade War Against the US with these Minerals

Rare earth elements are needed to produce a lot of consumer products, from iPhones to missiles. China happens to dominate 80% of the market.

Hundreds of Animals Died at Pakistan Pet Markets due to Lockdown

Abandoned when Pakistan’s largest cities went into lockdown, hundreds of caged cats, dogs and rabbits have been found dead inside pet markets hurriedly shuttered as the coronavirus spread.

‘The Cave’ Rescue Movie Promises to Wow Audience at the Busan Premiere

From flooded passages lit by headlamps to urgent voices echoing off cramped walls, the director of “The Cave” — the first big-screen retelling of Thai rescue operation promises to capture the peril of the mission when it premieres at Busan International Film Festival.

Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Vigil Organizer Defies Police Probe

The pro-democracy group behind Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square vigils set up a showdown with authorities on Tuesday as they defied a police deadline to cooperate with a “national security” investigation into their activities.

Crash Landing on You: K-Drama Hit Smashes TV Ratings

South Korea’s biggest current television hit is a surreal tale of a billionaire heiress who accidentally paraglides into the North and falls in love with a chivalrous army officer serving Kim Jong Un.

K-Pop Star Apologizes for Hugging a Nazi-era Mannequin

The managers of K-pop girl band GFriend issued an apology after leader Sowon was pictured hugging a mannequin dressed in a Nazi-era German army uniform.

Prison Pen Pals: Hong Kongers Keep in Touch With Jailed Protesters

When Hong Kong protester Hei saw fellow activists put behind bars for taking part in last year’s democracy protests, she was determined to keep the flame burning by writing them letters.

World’s Second-Largest Hydropower Dam Goes Online in China

China began operating the world’s second-largest hydropower station on Monday in what officials hailed as a milestone towards Beijing’s carbon neutrality goals, despite warnings of environmental damage.

Google Moves away From Diet of ‘Cookies’ to Track Users

Google is weaning itself off user-tracking “cookies” which allow the web giant to deliver personalized ads but which also have raised the hackles of privacy defenders.

The Golden Triangle: Asia’s Busy and Deadly Drug Route

Smack-dab in the middle of danger, what exactly goes on in this drug track?

The 1995 McDonald’s Burger that Never Decomposed Going Viral Once Again

A McDonald’s burger allegedly bought in 1995 and kept in an Australian shed for years has never decomposed, according to two men who now refer to the quarter-century Quarter Pounder as their “mate”.

Young, Beautiful and Trying to Make It in Bollywood

It took a minute for Malhaar Rathod, then an aspiring teenage actress, to realize what the 65-year-old Indian film producer was asking her to do — and to make the decision to walk away.

Poachers’ Paradise: Gulf Hunts Fuel Pakistan Falcon Trafficking

Since learning to capture birds as a teen, Muhammad Rafiq has amassed a small fortune in Pakistan trapping and trafficking falcons — including some endangered species — for wealthy Gulf Arabs.

A Solo Backpacker’s Bangkok Guide

Traveling to Bangkok alone can be challenging, here’s how-to guide to make it easy

Men Who Used Monkeys to Steal Cash Arrested in India

Two men who roamed the Indian capital using monkeys to rob unsuspecting victims have been arrested, New Delhi police said Saturday.

China Accuses US of ‘Paranoid Delusion’ over Huge Innovation Bill

Beijing on Wednesday accused Washington of “paranoid delusion” after the US Senate passed a sweeping industrial policy bill aimed at countering the surging economic threat from China.

Japanese Billionaire Seeks Girlfriend for Moon Voyage on SpaceX

A Japanese billionaire has launched an online wanted ad for a girlfriend who will fly around the Moon with him on a SpaceX rocket.

Leaked Private Info of Protestors Linked to China and Russia

Using Russia-based servers and promoted by powerful groups linked to China’s ruling Communist Party, a sophisticated anonymous website is targeting Hong Kong pro-democracy figures — and there is almost no way to stop it.