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Lithium-Ion Battery Developer Yoshino Wins Japan Prize (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 30 (Jiji Press)—The Japan Prize Foundation said Tuesday it will award the 2018 Japan Prize to Yoshino Akira, 70, honorary fellow of Asahi Kasei Corp., who developed lithium-ion batteries, and two other scholars. "Many people are still engaged in research and development of lithium-ion batteries for further technological innovation. Winning the prize will greatly encourage them," Yos…

Rakuten Announces Plan to Become Japan’s Fourth Mobile Carrier (News)

Tokyo, Dec. 14 (Jiji Press)—Rakuten Inc. said Thursday that it aims to become Japan's fourth mobile carrier with its own communications infrastructure, hoping to launch services in 2019. The major cybermall operator will apply for frequency band allocation for the fourth-generation mobile communications service with the communications ministry as early as next month. The existing three carri…

Aeon Bank Launches Service Using Fingerprint Info (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 27 (Jiji Press)—Aeon Bank said Monday it has launched a service that allows customers to make some transactions without cash cards or identification numbers, by verifying ID through both fingerprint and vein information. The lender, affiliated with retail giant Aeon Co., is the first bank in Japan that has offered a service requiring only biometric authentication. The bank carrie…

Sony to Revive Aibo Robot Dog after 12-Year Hiatus (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 1 (Jiji Press)—Sony said Wednesday that it will launch the fully remodeled Aibo canine robot on January 11 next year, marking the return of the robot pet after a hiatus of 12 years. Equipped with artificial intelligence and communications function, the new Aibo is much smarter than its predecessors. The new Aibo robot on display at Sony headquarters in Tokyo on November 1, 2017.…

Japan Developing Snow Removal Vehicles Using Self-Driving Techs (News)

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japan's transport ministry will speed up work to develop snow removal vehicles using self-driving technologies for trials on expressways starting this winter, officials have said. The ministry plans to test the vehicles on other public roads from fiscal 2018, utilizing data from the Michibiki quasi-zenith satellite network for the Japanese version of the Global Positioning Sy…

The Crisis Facing Japanese Scientific ResearchNakano Tōru

In March this year, an editorial in the British journal Nature showed that the pace of scientific research in Japan has slowed considerably over the past decade. Nakano Tōru, a leading stem cell researcher, discusses the challenges facing researchers in Japan and some of the structural weaknesses holding science back.

A Robotic Arm with a Sense of Touch

A research group at Keiō University has developed a soft robotic arm that can adjust the strength of its grip according to what it grasps. Its movements are delicate enough to pick up a potato chip.

Remembering AIBO

A Buddhist memorial service was held in July 2016 for AIBO robots developed by Sony, attesting to the depth of affection that the robotic pets have inspired among their owners. For them, these robots were clearly much more than mechanical devices; they were partners in life and deserving of a ceremony for their remembrance and the repose of their “souls.”

Spotify Aims to Revitalize Japan’s CD-Dominated Music MarketYamaguchi Norikazu

Music-streaming giant Spotify has launched its Japanese service. What impact is it likely to have on the distinctive local market, where CDs remain popular and can be rented from stores?

The Promise of Cellulose Nanofibers

Cellulose, the main ingredient of plant fibers, is drawing attention as a promising new material that is light, strong, and eco-friendly when processed into celluose nanofibers. CNFs have many potential applications, such as in adult diapers, electronic displays, automobiles, and airplanes. With forests covering about 70% of its territory, Japan is a world leader in CNF-related research and develo…

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