The Japan Times


High-speed 5G network seen as ready to give big boost to online gaming

The Japan Times

CHIBA – At this year's Tokyo Game Show, the big draw was next-generation 5G networking -- setting pulses racing with the prospect of a radically more immersive gaming experience. Offering data transmission speeds around 100 times faster than 4G, 5G is expected to enable more seamless imagery -- particularly lower latency, more vivid images -- and sharper motion. Industry experts say it will dramatically improve the quality of augmented and virtual reality games. "It was very smooth, responsive and consistent," said Omar Alshiji, a 23-year-old game designer from Bahrain, after trying out the fighting game Tekken at the NTT Docomo Inc. booth. The major mobile carrier installed 5G base stations at its booth this year, making the high-speed network available at the show.


High-speed 5G network seen as ready to give big boost to online gaming

The Japan Times

CHIBA – Next-generation 5G networking was the big draw at Tokyo Game Show 2019, setting pulses racing with the prospect of a radically more immersive gaming experience. Offering data transmission speeds around 100 times faster than 4G, 5G is expected to enable more seamless imagery with lower latency, more vivid images and sharper motion. Industry experts say it will dramatically improve the quality of augmented and virtual reality games. "It was very smooth, responsive and consistent," said Omar Alshiji, a 23-year-old game designer from Bahrain, after trying out the fighting game "Tekken" at the NTT Docomo Inc. booth at the four-day game show in Chiba. The major mobile carrier installed 5G base stations at its booth this year, making the high-speed network available at the show.


Aramco attacks show firm's entanglement in Saudi politics

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The weekend drone attack on one of the world's largest crude oil processing plants that dramatically cut into global oil supplies is the most visible sign yet of how Aramco's stability and security is directly linked to that of its owner -- the Saudi government and its ruling family. The strikes, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed on Iran despite staunch denials by Tehran, led to suspension of more than 5 percent of the world's daily crude oil production, bringing into focus just how vulnerable the company is to Saudi Arabia's conflicts outside the country's borders, particularly with regional rival Iran. That matters greatly because Aramco produces and exports Saudi Arabia's more than 9.5 million barrels of oil per day to consumers around the world, primarily in Asia. It also comes as the state-owned company heads toward a partial public sale. To prepare for an initial public offering, the company has recently taken steps to distance itself from the Saudi government, which is controlled by the Al Saud ruling family.


Attack on Saudi oil sites raises risks amid U.S.-Iran tensions; Mike Pompeo already blames Tehran

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom's oil production threatened Sunday to fuel a regional crisis, as Iran denied U.S. allegations it launched the assault and tensions remained high over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal. Iran called the U.S. claims "maximum lies," while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike U.S. military bases across the Mideast with their arsenal of ballistic missiles. A prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, on Saudi Arabia's largest oil processing facility. "Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg," warned Guard Brig. "When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding."


U.S. accuses Iran in drone attack on Saudi Aramco plants

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused Iran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants that cut the kingdom's output roughly in half, ruling out Yemeni involvement and denouncing Tehran for false diplomacy. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed credit for Saturday's attacks on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, including the world's biggest petroleum processing facility. Pompeo, however, said on Twitter that there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo said, referring to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif. "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," he added.


Drones strike major Saudi Aramco oil facilities; attacker unknown

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Drones attacked the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field operated by Saudi Aramco early Saturday, the kingdom's Interior Ministry said, sparking a huge fire at a processor crucial to global energy supplies. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Buqyaq and the Khurais oil field, though Yemen's Houthi rebels previously launched drone assaults deep inside of the kingdom. It wasn't clear if there were any injuries in the attacks, nor what effect it would have on oil production in the kingdom. The attack also likely will heighten tensions further across the wider Persian Gulf amid a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. Online videos apparently shot in Buqyaq included the sound of gunfire in the background.


Fukushima Prefecture sets sights on flying cars to boost recovery and local industry

The Japan Times

The Fukushima Prefectural Government is leading a collaborative effort involving companies from different industries and a robotics testing field to invent a flying car. In early August, the research center at the test field began accepting applications for four additional companies. The prefecture is focusing on efforts to attract companies to the site, which remains the only facility in the country where development and testing can all be done at the same site. The prefecture hopes to create synergies among various businesses and local parts suppliers and eventually build one of the country's largest industrial centers in Fukushima. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori introduced the concept in Tokyo during a conference on flying car development organized by the industry ministry on Aug. 2. The central government is in the process of putting together a plan to build a working flying car by 2023.


Russia scraps robot Fedor after unsuccessful space odyssey

The Japan Times

MOSCOW – It's mission over for a robot called Fedor that Russia blasted to the International Space Station, the developers said Wednesday, admitting he could not replace astronauts on spacewalks. "He won't fly there any more. There's nothing more for him to do there, he's completed his mission," Yevgeny Dudorov, executive director of robot developers Androidnaya Tekhnika, told RIA Novosti news agency. The silvery anthropomorphic robot cannot fulfill its assigned task to replace human astronauts on long and risky space walks, Dudorov said. Fedor -- short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research -- was built to assist space station astronauts.


Big Tech's 'nemesis' in EU gets new term -- and more power

The Japan Times

LONDON – The European Union's competition chief is getting a new term -- with expanded powers -- in a move that underlines how the bloc's battle to regulate big tech companies is only just beginning. Margrethe Vestager, who angered the Trump administration by imposing multibillion-dollar penalties on the likes of Google and Apple, was reappointed Tuesday for a second five-year term as the bloc's competition commissioner. The Danish politician's tasks will include strengthening competition enforcement in all sectors, stepping up efforts to detect cases of market abuse by big companies, speeding up investigations and helping strengthen cooperation with her global counterparts. Perhaps ominously for the big tech companies that she has cracked down on, Vestager is also getting extra clout. Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming president of the EU's powerful executive arm, promoted Vestager to a commission executive vice-president overseeing the EU's digital innovation and leadership efforts, including artificial intelligence.


Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria apparently kill 18; Hezbollah claims downing of Israeli drone

The Japan Times

BEIRUT – Unknown warplanes targeted overnight an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday. The strikes come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the airstrikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military "will act -- and currently are acting -- against them."