False quake alarm gives Tokyoites a midnight scare

The Japan Times

Brace yourself, a strong quake is coming. This dramatic emergency message sent to smartphones and loudspeakers caused a brief panic after midnight Wednesday in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, with many taking to social media to express their confusion over whether or not to get ready for the worst. The Meteorological Agency warned of a strong quake off the east coast of Chiba Prefecture at 12:15, warning of possible severe jolts in the capital and Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tochigi prefectures. The agency warned that a 6.7 magnitude quake could reach lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale in Ibaraki, but even though a quake did occur, it was relatively weak and unnoticeable in some areas. "The advance warning system predicting quakes miscalculated the location of the epicenter and predicted a quake of a larger magnitude with more intense shaking," an official with the agency said in explaining the cause of the erroneous alert.


Rainy season ends in Japan's Kanto-Koshin region, giving way to intense heat

The Japan Times

The rainy season has ended in Tokyo and other areas in the Kanto-Koshin region of eastern and central Japan 30 days later than last year, the Meteorological Agency said Monday, giving way to intense heat. Rainfall between June 7 and July 28 hit 526 milimeters in Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, 480.5 mm in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, 459 mm in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, and 446 mm in Yokohama. Now that the rainy season has passed, temperatures of over 31 degrees are forecast through this weekend across the nation. In the cities of Osaka and Fukuoka, temperatures are expected to exceed 35 degrees. On Monday the weather agency urged precautions against heatstroke, advising that people stay hydrated and find places to cool off.


Controlling Deliberation with the Success Probability in a Dynamic Environment

AAAI Conferences

Seiji Yamada Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering Tokyo Institute of Technology 4259 Nagatsuda, Midori-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 226, JAPAN Email: yamada ai.sanken.osaka-u.ac.j p Abstract This paper describes a novel method to interleave planning with execution in a dynamic environment. Though, in such planning, it is very important to control deliberation: to determine the timing for interleaving them, few research has been done. To cope with this problem, we propose a method to determine the interleave timing with the success probability, SP, that a plan will be successfully executed in an environment. We also developed a method to compute it efficiently with Bayesian networks and implemented SZ system. The system stops planning when the locally optimal plan's SP falls below an execution threshold, and executes the plan. Since SP depends on dynamics of an environment, a system does reactive behavior in a very dynamic environment, and becomes deliberative in a static one. We made experiments in Tileworld by changing dynamics and observation costs. As a result, we found the optimal threshold between reactivity and deliberation in some problem classes. Furthermore we found out the optimal threshold is robust against the change of dynamics and observation cost, and one of the classes in which S2"P works well is that the dynamics itself changes.


Karaoke firms think inside the box with new-release films, language classes

The Japan Times

Karaoke establishments around the country today are not just places for singing in a group -- they are increasingly for watching films, holding children's parties or for solo-crooning sessions. Karaoke operators are offering a slew of new services that leverage their private rooms and attract new customers as the industry is expected to shrink in the face of the nation's aging population. Valic Co., which operates 175 Cote D'azur-branded karaoke houses nationwide, started an experimental service at some locations last September dubbed Cinekara, making available recently released films for their customers to watch. The Yokohama-based company expanded the service to 27 establishments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Shizuoka prefectures in late January and even aims to increase the number to over 150 in three years. "We are seeking to offer our customers new types of leisure activities by integrating cinema into karaoke," Valic President Yusuke Nakabayashi said.


Local governments in Japan expanding scope of disabled applicants eligible for public-sector job exams

The Japan Times

An increasing number of prefectural governments and ordinance-designated major cities are expanding the scope of disabled people eligible to take exams for regular jobs at public-sector offices to include those with mental or intellectual disabilities. Previously, the job exams had been available to people with physical disabilities. Local governments are moving to open their employment exams to more people with disabilities, following the revelation last year that central government agencies had padded their numbers of disabled workers. Prefectures including Iwate, Tokushima, Saga and Kumamoto, and such cities as Chiba, Niigata and Hiroshima, will allow people with mental or intellectual disabilities to take their exams from the current fiscal year, which started April 1. The prefectures of Kanagawa and Shimane began to do this in fiscal 2018, while Tokyo and Tottori Prefecture made the same move earlier.