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New law bans flying drones while drunk in Japan

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

JAPAN – Flying a drone while drunk could lead to a year in prison following the passage of a new law.

The law aims to control the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Japan.

Aside from imprisonment, those found to be intoxicated while flying a drone could also face a fine of up to 300,000 yen or about P140,000.

The law puts limits on certain areas where drones can be flown and it also covers drones weighing more than 200 grams.

The new law also levies fines on pilots who perform dangerous stunts with their drone such as quickly plunging the device towards crowds which would incur fines of up to 500,000 yen or P230,000.

Restrictions on where operators can fly their device also applies under the new legislation.

Specifically, drones are not allowed within 300 meters over Japan’s Armed Forces and other “defence-related facilities” without prior permission.

There is no license required to fly a drone in Japan. However, operators must abide by a series of regulations which included staying below 150 meters; avoiding airports and crowded areas; flying only during daylight and keeping the drone in sight at all times.

The fine for violating the above regulations is up to 500,000 yen or P230,000.

The new regulation follows an earlier ban on drone approaching nuclear power plants, parliament buildings and the prime minister’s office.

Venues of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and stadiums are also off-limits to drone pilots.

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Boycott of Japanese products in South Korea gains momentum amid diplomatic row

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

Japanese products missing from shelves of South Korean supermarket | Courtesy: Reuters

Calls in South Korea for a boycott of Japanese goods have been growing in response to Tokyo’s curbs on the export of high-tech material to Seoul, as a dispute over compensation for forced wartime labour roiled ties between the countries.

Some South Korean supermarkets on Thursday (July 11) removed Japanese products from shelves as more social media users posted “Boycott Japan” messages and shared a link to a list of Japanese brands, including Toyota Motor and Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo.

“I used to buy Pokari Sweat and Sapporo beer, but they’re not here anymore. But you know what? I can live with that. I can use Korean products instead,” said 58-year-old Lee Choon-Duk as she browsed the shelves of a local Korean mart.

South Korea imported $54.6 billion worth of goods from Japan in 2018, and paid for $11.5 billion worth of its services.

Last week, Japan tightened curbs on exports of materials crucial for smartphone displays and chips, as Tokyo said trust with South Korea had been broken in a dispute over South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two. (REUTERS)

(Production: Daewoung Kim, Hyunyoung Yi)

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DOTr expects to install new MRT-3 rails starting November

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Courtesy: DOTr MRT-3 Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – More than 4,000 pieces of brand new rails for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) have been delivered to the Philippines, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Wednesday.

In a Facebook post, the DOTr said the rails, each measuring 18 meters long, have arrived on Tuesday at the Port of Manila from Japan. The delivery was made months ahead of the expected delivery date, the agency added.

TALAGANG GOOD ANG MORNING!DUMATING NA sa Pilipinas ang buong shipment ng mga BAGONG RILES para sa MRT-3! Dumaong ang…

Posted by Department of Transportation – Philippines on Tuesday, 9 July 2019

From the Port of Manila, the Japan-made rails were transported to the Tracks Laydown Yard near the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).

The DOTr said its installation onto the MRT-3 mainline is scheduled to begin in November if the rest of tracks are delivered in October as expected.

To avoid disruption in the line’s daily train service, the agency said, rail replacement works will only take place during non-operating hours.

The DOTr expects the new rails to reduce excess vibration of trains which cause damage to its electrical and mechanical component, and later leads to glitches or train breakdown.

The procurement of new rails is part of the ongoing comprehensive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 to bring back the railway’s high-grade design condition, according to the DOTr.

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Japan whale watching boom calls future of commercial whaling into question

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Tourists on boat looking for whales | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

Off the coast of Japan’s Hokkaido island, a whalewatching boat ploughs through choppy waters, chasing a pod of orcas leaping and rolling through the waves in front of a deck filled with tourists squealing with joy.

The small town of Rausu, on the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, is a popular whale-watching destination attracting increasing numbers of tourists from Japan and overseas each year.

The whalewatching business is growing in Japan, with the number of whalewatchers having more than doubled between 1998 and 2015, the latest year with available national data.

“Every year, the number surpasses the previous year. Today four whalewatching boats are operating and all of them should have more tourists than last year,” said one of the boat’s captain, Masato Hasegawa.

In Rausu, almost 33,500 people packed tour boats like these in 2018 for both whale and bird watching, up 2,000 from the previous year and 9,000 from the year before that.

But whales in Japan are not just a tourism resource.

On July 1, the same day Reuters joined tourists for a whalewatching experience, boats set off on Japan’s first commercial whaling hunt in 31 years just 160 kilometres south of Rausu, in Kushiro.

They returned in the late afternoon with the carcasses of two minke whales, a species often seen by whalewatchers off the coast of Rausu.

“I don’t think my customers will ever see that,” Hasegawa said, referring to whales being hunted. “However, I am little worried about the impact it will have on minke whales in a few years time… we will need to look ahead.”

Japan in December announced it would leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling on July 1, aroused global condemnation and fears for the fate of whales.

“I really hope Japan will reconsider,” said Japanese tourist Kiyoko Omi. “Here (Rausu) is the only place we can see whales get together that close.”

Demand for whale has been stagnant for more than a decade and nobody in the industry expects demand or profits to grow rapidly.

Hasegawa also doubts the demand for whale meat will ever pick up – and in Rausu, restaurants and hotels purposely avoid putting it on the menu for fear it will turn tourists, particularly foreigners, away.

“We don’t have any motivation to eat whale meat,” he said. “We get a lot of kids coming here for their summer holidays. If you tell them on the boat that ‘this is the whale we ate last night’, they’d cry.” (REUTERS)

(Production: Kwiyeon Ha, Akiko Okamoto, Natasha Howitt)

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