The Japan Times


U.S. Space Force logo draws comparisons to 'Star Trek'

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump unveiled the logo for the U.S. Space Force on Friday, attracting critics who said America's newest military branch had boldly gone where "Star Trek" went before. With a central symbol resembling an arrowhead, ringed by an orbiting object and set to a starry backdrop, many people argued the design was pilfered from the famous science fiction franchise. But a spokesman for the branch hit back, arguing that the "Delta" emblem had been used by U.S. Air Force space organizations as early as 1961, before the first Star Trek show aired. The emblem also closely resembles the "widget" logo adopted by Delta Air Lines in 1959. "After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers, and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!" wrote Trump of the branch he championed and which came into being in December 2019.


Pentagon says 34 troops suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iran strike

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon disclosed on Friday that 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injury in Iran's missile strike this month on an Iraqi air base, and although half have returned to work, the casualty total belies President Donald Trump's initial claim that no Americans were harmed. He later characterized the injuries as "not very serious." Eight of the injured arrived in the United States on Friday from Germany, where they and nine others had been flown days after the Jan. 8 missile strike on Iraq's Ain al-Asad air base. The nine still in Germany are receiving treatment and evaluation at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest U.S. military hospital outside the continental United States. Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said the eight in the U.S. will be treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, or at their home bases.


China a '21st century surveillance state,' U.S. defense chief says

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that China's Communist Party had created a surveillance state that uses artificial intelligence to repress Muslim minorities and pro-democracy demonstrators. China has faced an outcry from activists, scholars, foreign governments and U.N. rights experts over what they call mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home. "As we speak, the Communist Party of China is using artificial intelligence to repress Muslin minority communities and pro-democracy demonstrators," Esper said during a speech in Washington. "In fact, the party has constructed a 21st century surveillance state with unprecedented abilities to censor speech and infringe upon basic human rights," Esper added. "George Orwell would be proud."


ANA starts testing autonomous bus operation at Haneda Airport

The Japan Times

ANA Holdings Inc., the operator of All Nippon Airways Co., said Wednesday it has started testing a semi-autonomous bus that will transport passengers and staff working at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The company will conduct the test with the electric bus capable of carrying 57 passengers on a 1.9-kilometer route through the end of this month, aiming to start trial operation later in the year. The vehicle, with level-3 automation, allows drivers to turn their attention away from driving and engage in different tasks. "As the Tokyo Olympics are approaching, we hope more passengers from around the world will see our latest technology," ANA Senior Executive Vice President Shinzo Shimizu said in a ceremony at the airport. In 2018, the number of passengers who arrived at and departed from the airport increased 2.1 percent to 85 million, according to Japan Airport Terminal Co. which manages the Haneda Airport facilities.


Iran MP offers $3 million 'to anyone who kills Trump': report

The Japan Times

TEHRAN – An Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday offered a $3 million reward to "anyone who kills" U.S. President Donald Trump to avenge the assassination of a top general, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. Ahmad Hamzeh, a little-known member of the Majlis, made the offer on behalf of the people of Kerman, the hometown and final resting place of storied commander, Qassem Soleimani. "We will give $3 million to anyone who kills Trump," Hamzeh, who represents Kahnouj county near the southeastern city of Kerman, was quoted as saying by ISNA. He did not say who would pay the bounty offer, which comes a month ahead of a parliamentary election. Soleimani, one of the most popular public figures in Iran, was killed on Jan. 3 in a U.S. drone strike outside Baghdad airport.


Japan's new visa system on track to fall far short of target

The Japan Times

The government is likely to fall far short of its target of issuing work permits under a new visa system to 340,000 non-Japanese over the next five years to alleviate acute labor shortages in 14 sectors. As of the end of September, only 219 foreign residents had obtained the "specified skills" visa introduced last April, according to the Immigration Services Agency. The number of people holding the status abroad stood at 1,024 as of Nov. 15. Non-Japanese wishing to obtain the specified skills visa are required to pass a test on the skills needed in their desired work sector as well as a Japanese-language proficiency examination. People who have completed the government's three-year technical intern training program are exempt from taking the test and are allowed to change their visa status to the new one.


Alphabet CEO backs temporary ban on facial-recognition but Microsoft boss disagrees

The Japan Times

BRUSSELS – The EU's proposal for a temporary ban on facial-recognition technology won backing from Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai on Monday but got a cool response from Microsoft President Brad Smith. While Pichai cited the possibility that the technology could be used for nefarious purposes as a reason for a moratorium, Smith said a ban was akin to using a meat cleaver instead of a scalpel to solve potential problems. "I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it," Pichai told a conference in Brussels organized by think-tank Bruegel. "It can be immediate but maybe there's a waiting period before we really think about how it's being used," he said. "It's up to governments to chart the course" for the use of such technology.


From anime to reality: Mobile 25-ton Gundam robot to be built in Yokohama

The Japan Times

What was once thought limited to the realm of animation is set to become reality in Yokohama this fall when an 18-meter mobile Gundam robot steps into action. Fans of the iconic anime series will be able to get an up-close look at the 25-ton machine at Gundam Factory Yokohama, a 9,000 sq.-meter facility set to open at Yamashita Pier on Oct. 1 for a year. Tickets for the facility will go on sale in July, though the price has not been disclosed. Other details remain a mystery, such as the exact movements the robot will be able to perform using its 24 fully functional joints. Gundam Factory Yokohama will consist of two areas: a 25-meter-tall Gundam-Dock that will serve as its maintenance site, and a two-story building with shops and event space.


Japanese matchmaking firms get high-tech lift from gadgets and AI

The Japan Times

Artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies are starting to play a role in matchmaking as they increasingly wind their way deeper into people's lives. Today's high-tech gadgets are now being used to give people greater knowledge of potential mates, details from hobbies and smoking preferences to whether they have walked down the aisle before. At a konkatsu (marriage introduction) party held by matchmaking agency Zwei in June, participants wore wristbands. When they shook hands, their profiles would show up on a tablet computer, facilitating conversation. "Oh, I see you're a movie lover!" said one attendee, taking cues from the tablet computer.


World 'will not rest' until questions are answered on Iran jetliner's downing: Canada

The Japan Times

LONDON – Canada's foreign minister on Thursday vowed to push Iran for answers about the mistaken downing of a passenger plane after the U.S. killed one of Tehran's top commanders. Iran had just hours earlier fired strikes against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for a drone attack that killed its most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani. "Families want answers, the international community wants answers, the world is waiting for answers and we will not rest until we get them," Francois-Philippe Champagne said at a meeting in London. Champagne was speaking after talks with counterparts from countries whose nationals were among the 176 people killed when the plane was hit after taking off from Tehran last week. Fifty-seven of the victims on board the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines flight were Canadian.