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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Smartphone app for testing HIV and Syphilis / Ex-adviser to Abe praises apartheid / South Africa slams column praising apartheid

HIV, Syphilis Tests? There's an App for That

by Jesse Emspak, Live Science Contributor  

There are gizmos that let your smartphone read credit cards, sync with your fitness wristband and even function as a TV remote control. Now you can add "run an HIV test" to the list.

A device invented by biomedical engineers at Columbia University turns a smartphone into a lab that can test human blood for the virus that causes AIDS or the bacteria that cause syphilis. The device is a dongle that attaches to the headphone jack, and requires no separate batteries. An app on the phone reads the results.
The dongle contains a lab on a chip. It consists of a one-time-use cassette — which has tiny channels as thin as a human hair — and a pump, which is operated by a mechanical button and draws blood from an inlet through the channels.




And to think that Tokyo won the bid for the 2020 Olympics is simply baffling.  

Ex-adviser to Abe praises apartheid as means of immigration control

By Elaine Lies and Takashi Umekawa - Japan Today

A former adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has praised apartheid as a model for how Japan could expand immigration, prompting the government’s top spokesman on Friday to emphasise that Japan’s immigration policy was based on equality.
Author Ayako Sono, considered part of Abe’s informal brain trust, set off a wave of online fury this week when she wrote in the conservative Sankei newspaper that South Africa’s former policies of racial separation had been good for whites, Asians and Africans.
Her comments could complicate Abe’s efforts to address a deepening labor shortage and his efforts to burnish the country’s image abroad, analysts say.
In a column entitled “Let Them In - But Keep a Distance”, Sono said Japan should open its doors to more foreign workers, especially to care for the growing numbers of elderly, but should make them live separately from Japanese.
“People can carry out business and research together, and socialise together, but they should live apart,” she wrote.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on Sono’s remarks at a regular news conference, but added, “Our immigration policy is predicated on equality, which is guaranteed in Japan.”

A labour shortage has pushed the government to take steps to boost the numbers of highly skilled foreigners and expand a “trainee” program for blue collar workers that has been widely criticized for human rights abuses, but authorities insist the steps are not part of an “immigration policy”.
Sono served on a government educational panel in 2013 and has long advised Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Political analysts said her comments could well damage Japan at a time when Tokyo is ramping up its efforts to burnish the country’s image overseas.
“There’s a trend for people close to Abe and his way of thinking to emphasize the concept of ‘Japaneseness’ too much, and this could well lead to wariness on the part of people overseas,” said well-known Japanese author Atsuo Ito, whose works include the “The Mathematics of Politics”.
“The atmosphere in which Ms Sono can make these remarks came about when Abe took power.”
Sono’s comments prompted widespread outrage on social media, with some saying they were especially offensive given that Tokyo is set to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Sono has landed in trouble for her remarks in the past, including a August 2013 magazine article - written during her tenure as an Abe adviser - criticizing women who went back to work after giving birth.


In a column entitled “Let Them In - But Keep a Distance”, Sono said Japan should open its doors to more foreign workers, especially to care for the growing numbers of elderly, but should make them live separately from Japanese.
With all respect, IMO, this opinion is not that far off the thinking of a significant number of older Japanese. I mean a foreigner still has difficulty trying to rent apartments without a Japanese sponsor, or in some cases cannot do so at all, because the residents don't want them in their building.
“There’s a trend for people close to Abe and his way of thinking to emphasize the concept of ‘Japaneseness’ too much,
No, you think?

"Let them in but keep a distance" is what Japanese do to foreigners now. A certain number of us are let in but always kept far outside no matter how hard we try for acceptance. Her policy would only make the distancing less subtle and less deniable.

In Kobe, Rokko Island was built to house the gaijin, and keep them off the mainland. The brochures in the past advertising the place said something like, "Come and see the gaijin live and work!!
One of the Tokyo metro officials recently proposed the same: an artificial island in the bay for foreign residents.
It harks back to Dejima, during the 1600 or 1700s. So this isn't a new idea.




South Africa slams newspaper column praising apartheid

Japan Today

South Africa has protested after a prominent columnist in leading right-wing newspaper in Japan praised racial segregation under apartheid as a model for Japanese immigration policy, the paper said Sunday.
Mohau N Pheko, South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, accused novelist Ayako Sono of glorifying the system of apartheid in the column published on Wednesday in the Sankei Shimbun.
Sono, who was previously an adviser to the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on education reform, wrote that Japan needs immigrant workers to help care for its rapidly aging population—but that those workers should “live apart”, as they did in South Africa under apartheid.
Pheko’s letter of protest, according to a story published in the Sankei on Sunday, branded apartheid “a crime against humanity” and said it “must not be justified in the 21st century”.
All countries, the Sankei quoted her as saying, must fight discrimination “against others based on skin color or other standards”.
The newspaper did not publish the full letter online, and there was no immediate comment from the South African embassy in Tokyo or from officials in Pretoria on Sunday.
Sono’s column had sparked a backlash on social media, with commentators on Twitter branding it “madness” while others said it was “shocking” that the Sankei had published it.
When asked about the column on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the government would “refrain from commenting on the personal views of a private individual”, adding that while Sono had been a member of a government panel she had left it two years previously.
“As for Japan’s immigration policy, equality for all under the law is guaranteed,” he said. “We will take appropriate steps under that policy.”
Sono defended herself in fresh comments published alongside excerpts from the ambassador’s letter in the Sankei on Sunday.
She said she was not proposing Japan implement apartheid policies, and that she “was only writing from my personal experience that it is difficult for people with different lifestyles to live together”.
The Sankei’s senior editor said that the newspaper does not tolerate discrimination, and the column reflects only the author’s opinion.
Japan’s rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce has prompted economists both in and outside the country to call for programs inviting young foreign workers to help support the world’s third largest economy.

However the country remains almost constitutionally allergic to immigration. Japan allows only a small number of unskilled workers in amid fears they would threaten the culture of consensus, and the government has said that less than two percent of the population is classed as “non-Japanese”.
The result for Japan, critics have told AFP previously, is ranks of poorly-protected employees brought in through the national back door, ripe for abuse and exploitation.
Abe has previously said he will expand an internship scheme implemented in the 1990s bringing tens of thousands of foreign workers into the country.
The prime minister has said foreign labor will increasingly be needed, particularly in the booming construction industry ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and in healthcare.
Around a quarter of Japan’s 127-million population is aged 65 or over, according to government figures. This proportion is expected to rise to 40 percent over the coming decades.
In South Africa, race remains a dividing factor despite two decades of reconciliation efforts following the dismantling of apartheid.

In 2005, as reported by the BBC, "An independent investigator for the UN says racism in Japan is deep and profound, and the government does not recognise the depth of the problem."
10 years on and we find that the Abe government now actually condones the problem with it's "no comment" reply to a very public expression of the "personal views of a private individual" who has received public funds for her involvement in the public affairs of the nation.

When asked about the column on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the government would “refrain from commenting on the personal views of a private individual”
The chief cabinet secretary's refusal to denounce Sono's endorsement of racial segregation conveys a lot about the policy of Japan's current government.
What if Suga had simply responded that the Japanese government is opposed to apartheid and supports racial equality (like leaders in virtually all other democracies most certainly would have done)? He would have risked fueling the ire of their staunch supporters from Japan's right wing — something the current ruling administration obviously avoids at all costs.

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