John Stuart

Having originally set forth from Vancouver, Canada on what was supposed to a three-hour tour, John found himself washed up on the shores of these well-charted and populous isles some 25 years ago. Now working as a Tokyo-based freelance translator, he enjoys drinking in many of the city’s tachinomiya (standing-only bars) in his free time, but after short spans often finds himself in search of a chair.

All Stories by John Stuart Translations

Pump Springs Leak during Efforts to Correct Problem with Leaky Storage Tanks at Daiichi Nuclear Plant


Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced that while transferring contaminated water containing radioactive material from leaking underground storage tank No. 3 to tank No. 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on April 11 this year, water was discovered leaking from a joint connecting the piping being used for the transfer.

About 22 liters of water containing 6.4 billion becquerels of radioactive material leaked from the joint before the problem was chanced upon. TEPCO said the water leaked on top of the berm covering the storage tank and that there was no possibility of it seeping into the soil surrounding it.
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US Tops Japan Earthquake Donor List, Neighboring South Korea Fails to Crack Top 20


The Japanese Red Cross Society recently released a summary of countries and territories that sent donations (as of the end of 2012) to the organization following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Topping the list were the United States and Taiwan, number one and two respectively, with donations in excess of 2.9 billion yen (approx. US$29 million) each. A total of 22.7 billion yen was received from 179 countries and territories, including from among the world’s poorest nations. Drawing the attention of some Netizens was the fact that neighboring South Korea failed to make the top 20.
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No Improvement for Fukushima Decontamination Workers – Subcontractors Still Only Paying One-fifth Minimum Wage


A dinner of boiled vegetables and 3.3 square meters of floor space for sleeping, those are the harsh conditions awaiting laborers who undertake government-mandated decontamination work necessitated by the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture. In some cases workers are basically laboring for free when taxpayer-funded danger pay is excluded from their pay packets.
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Air Pollution Accounting for 15 Percent of Deaths in China


According to the April 2 edition of Chinese daily newspaper the 21st Century Business Herald, in the year 2010 an incredible 1.23 million people lost their lives across China due to air pollution-related illnesses. The number accounts for 15 percent of total deaths recorded in the country for 2010. The information was revealed by a study group at Tsinghua University on March 31.
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Local 87-year-old Fisherman and Stadium Stalwart to Provide Weather Forecast at Lotte Marines Baseball Games

Starting April 2, the Lotte Marines baseball club announced that local fisherman and stadium food vendor Taichi Sone, 87, would start providing wind and weather forecasts prior to night games.

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Under Its au Brand, Japanese Cellular Service Provider KDDI Unveils World’s Largest and Highest Resolution Smartphone

When he realized he’d primarily been using his smartphone in bed, Nemool Smith, an au product designer and chief hardware architect, wanted a more comfortable and rewarding user experience. Coming up blank in an online search for solutions, Nemool got an idea and decided to approach his bosses at KDDI and get their permission to design a radically new hardware platform he was sure would revolutionize the way people used their phones. The result has set the tech world abuzz, and has the potential to vault KDDI to the top of the global smartphone market.

Introducing the new au zzzPhoneBed by KDDI

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Starbucks Order Customization- Is There a Limit?

Starbucks prides itself on letting customers customize their drinks and offers a lot of choices: no foam, no whip/with whip, double blended, two pump vanilla, extra shot and extra hot to name but a few. Never one to shy from a challenge, we decided to test just how far Starbucks was willing go in ensuring that visitors to its coffeehouses get just what they want.

Our request? A no caramel, no whip, and–are you ready for it–no coffee Caramel Frappuccino.

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Sony Closes Plant in Gifu Prefecture, More than 1,000 Out of Work

GIFU PREFECTURE — With the shuttering of a factory belonging to a Sony subsidiary in Minokamo City at the end of this month, it became clear on the 27th that more than 1,000 people stood to be out of work on April 1 due to the closure.

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Perfect the Art of Laziness! Get Your Sloth On with New Eyewear from Sanco


Everyone’s had one of those days when they just don’t feel like getting out of bed. Well “rare things” online store Sanco is now offering a must-have item for just such occasions: GORODEY2 Eyewear, glasses that allow you to remain flat on your back and still be entertained.

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Chinese Media Reports Korean Kimchi Promotes Weight Loss

As has been previously reported here, kimchi, the super-spicy fermented cabbage dish from Korea, appears to be one of the world’s healthiest dishes. Now, media sources in China are reporting that this fiery condiment is also beneficial for those seeking to lose a few pounds.

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No Forklift Required! Taiwanese Truck Driver Shows His Stuff

It’s a question that’s plagued people for generations: How do I get a three-ton load of bamboo off the back of my truck with minimal effort? Well, the Taiwanese truck driver in the following video has developed a rather efficient method for dropping off his deliveries.
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LDP’s Education Revitalization Headquarters Compiles Draft Proposal

In an effort to develop individuals who will be active in global society, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education has compiled a draft proposal which includes making it a prerequisite to score above a certain number of points in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam before being allowed to enter university.

The proposal states, “The development of human resources is essential for achieving the Abe Cabinet’s most important issue, economic revitalization. Moving away from egalitarianism, strategic human resource development aimed at strengthening top achievers will be undertaken.”
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Too Scary? Opinions Split on Whether or Not to Remove Mannequins from Hiroshima Museum

On March 14, Hiroshima City announced tentative plans to remove molded plastic mannequins depicting the horrors of the atomic bombing from its Peace Memorial Museum by 2016. The proposed removal is in line with a review suggesting displays within the facility be switched to include more that depict actual articles belonging to the deceased and other real items from the period. Opinions from visitors to the museum are split on whether or not the mannequins should be removed.

The three mannequins in question are of an adult woman, a college-aged woman, and a small boy shown wondering through the blast aftermath in a severely burned state. Originally made from wax, the mannequins have been on display at the museum since 1973, and in their current form since 1991.
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Concern As Contractor Refuses To Provide School Lunches When Faced With Radiation Checks


As part of its ongoing efforts to bring peace of mind to city residents following the accident at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Tokyo’s Komae City will meticulously measure airborne radiation levels along all roadways within city limits and provide citizens with easy-to-understand information regarding the readings. Additionally, having only inspected radiation levels of school lunch ingredients once before, the city announced on Feb. 21 that it would reintroduce such checks on the foodstuffs comprising the noontime meals.

Suspiciously, less than a week after the announcement of the checks, Kenji Matsuyama, president of Mitaka Food Services Center, told the city his firm would not renew its contract to provide the city’s junior high schools with lunches.

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Rent Calculated According to Body Weight, Shared Accommodation Facility in Osaka Proves Popular

Quite common in Western countries, the concept of shared accommodation in Japan is still relatively new. However, according to Oak House, a guest house and apartment operator in Tokyo, such accommodation is gaining in popularity. Fifteen years ago, the company managed about 150 units; today that figure has risen to 2,300. Shunned by some as being inconvenient and a hassle, others are being drawn to added-value properties featuring amenities such as yoga studios and home theater facilities. Oak House said there is a waiting list of 100 people at its most popular location.

Shared accommodation also has the benefit of being cost effective as no key money (a mandatory, nonrefundable payment, typically equivalent to two months’ rent, given to the landlord for the privilege of being able to live in the unit) or security deposit (typically two months’ rent, and though technically refundable, is seldom returned in full as apartment cleaning fees and other expenses are deducted) are required. Additionally, furnishings are provided, something else that is not common in Japan, meaning initial outlays can be kept to a minimum.

With the popularity of this type of housing increasing, companies in Japan are concocting various inducements in an effort to draw in renters.

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Japanese Companies Expected to Still Be Around in 50 Years: No. 3 Japan Rail, No. 2 Honda, and No. 1…


Risk Monster, a credit management outsourcing service that calculates bankruptcy risk, recently announced the results of its first survey asking, “Which Japanese Companies Do You Expect to Still Exist in 50 Years.” The survey was conducted over the Internet on Feb. 25 and 26, and received 1,000 valid responses from influential individuals between the ages of 20 and 69.

Coming in third was Honda, second place went to the East Japan Railway Company, and grabbing the top spot was…
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A Lost Renoir? River in China Looks Like an Oil Painting

With its saturated colors, a picture of a lake in China’s Anhui Province looks like a painting that could have been done by the French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. No Photoshop trickery here though, the above image is an actual photograph of the lake. But how did it get this way?
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How Many Calories are Burned with the Click of a Mouse?

For those whose work has them chained to a desk, concerns about whether or not they are getting enough exercise often creep into their minds.

In Japan, it is estimated that an average adult male should burn about 2,000 calories a day while an adult female should use around 1,700 (numbers vary according to age and build). Even armed with that knowledge, many people still consume more calories than they burn by indulging in snacks between meals and eating excessively late into the night. A lot of desk jockeys are probably wondering what they should do to better their situation.

Well, there might be some good news. The number of calories burnt at the click of a mouse has recently been calculated.
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Nose for the Job? Shanghai Considering Introducing Public Restroom Odor Appraisers


So you think you have a refined sense of smell, do you? Well, forget that job as an aromachologist, ah, yes, the position actually does exist, there may soon be openings in Shanghai that will allow you to put your nose to work for the greater public good.
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Women in China Using New “Pregnancy Pads” to Score Seats on Trains


According to the February 27 edition of The Beijing News, “pregnancy pads” are a hot-seller among Chinese women wanting to get a seat on the crowded trains running through the nation’s capital. The bulky pad, which women strap over their stomachs to feign pregnancy, however, has also the cause of much trouble, however, as one woman complained to authorities after the item slipped off in public, making her a laughing stock.
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