They're all over Japan; glowing beacons of light that dot the crowded streets of Tokyo and even the vast expanses of countryside. There are even some on top of Mount Fuji to greet weary hikers after their long climb. The vending machine has become an integral part of Japan's convenience culture. According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturer's Association, there were about 3,648,600 vending machines across the country at the end of 2016, or one vending machine for every 35 Japanese residents. Including money changers, coin lockers and other rental machines, the number becomes one machine for every 25.7 residents. That is the highest rate of vending machines per capita in the world. Vending machines in Japan are used for more than just dispensing snacks and beverages. There are thousands of vending machines that provide tickets to local attractions. Small restaurants sometimes have vending machines that allow customers to … [Read more...] about Japan’s love affair with vending machines
Last week, China and Cambodia signed 19 agreements during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's meeting in Phnom Penh with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that will heavily increase Chinese investment in Cambodia. Read more: 'New Silk Road' and China's hegemonic ambitions The deals included the construction of a highway linking Phnom Penh with the port city Sihanoukville and an expansion of the capital's international airport. Deals were also signed to build Cambodia's first communication satellite and for "rice trade," the Phnom Penh Post reported. Over the past few years, China's influence in the Mekong region has increased significantly. Beijing is the largest foreign investor in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and has strengthened its presence in Thailand. In exchange for aid and investments, China gets access to natural resources such as oil, gas and timber, and can garner support for building dams along the Mekong River. Cambodia also supports China in its ongoing … [Read more...] about Is Chinese investment taking over the Mekong?
The order came from the top: President Xi Jinping reiterated his view that China needed a "toilet revolution." He said that both urban centers and rural areas, especially those which were touristy, needed clean toilets, not the "holes in the ground" that are so off-putting to visitors. He even suggested that there should be warm water, perfumed facilities and wifi access. Xi Jinping was once again trying to boost an initiative that was launched in 2004, since when some 68,000 improved toilets have been installed. The state-run People's Daily estimates that some 64,000 will follow by 2020. China received its most important facelift in recent history for the 2008 Olympics, when a national education program for "good behavior" was also launched. Taxi drivers, police officers, hairdressers and neighborhood committees were encouraged to brush up on their English to improve the stays of foreign visitors. The idea was for Beijing to come across as a world-class city. Visa regulations a … [Read more...] about Sieren’s China: Boosting tourism with better toilets
Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi was receiving medical treatment for a reported brain tumor at a private hospital in the northern German city of Hanover, when several cases were lodged against him stating that the top Iranian cleric was guilty of murder and crimes against humanity. Shahroudi served as head of Iran's justice ministry from 1999 to 2009. During this period, an estimated 2,000 Iranian prisoners, including many minors, were executed. German politician Volker Beck, who filed one of the complaints, told DW that "Germany should not be a haven for criminals." "I also wonder how a man like Shahroudi could even get a German visa," he added. The filing of the cases prompted the Iranian cleric to abruptly end his stay in Germany and fly back to Iran on Thursday, January 11. The incident drew sharp reactions from Iranian social media users across the world, with some lambasting the German government for allowing the ayatollah to go scot-free. Expressing … [Read more...] about Iranian cleric’s Germany stay triggers heated social media debate
Reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will snub an invitation to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in February due to the long-running spat over the issue of "comfort women" has been met with applause in conservative circles at home and understanding by non-partisan political analysts. Quoting multiple government sources, Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported this week that Abe will not attend the festivities in Pyeonchang on February 9 to demonstrate his dissatisfaction with the decision by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to not recognize a bilateral deal signed by the two governments in December 2015 that drew a categorical final line under an issue that has dogged relations between Seoul and Tokyo since the end of World War II. Under the agreement, signed by Abe and former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Japan apologized to women who were forced to work in frontline brothels for the Japanese military from the start of the … [Read more...] about ‘Comfort women’ dispute: Japan’s Abe to snub South Korea’s Olympics invite?
Four senior judges of India's Supreme Court have complained publicly about the way the court is being run and cases are assigned. They accused Chief Justice Dipak Misra of ignoring their suggestions to take remedial measures. In a press conference on Friday, the first of its kind to be held by sitting Supreme Court judges, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph alleged selective assignment of important cases to benches by Chief Justice Misra. The judges' move highlights the widening rift in the upper echelons of the country's judiciary. The press conference was held at the house of Justice Chelameswar, who is lower in seniority only to the chief justice of India. "This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation, and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary," Justice Chelameswar told reporters. "It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference. But sometimes administration … [Read more...] about India’s Supreme Court judges warn democracy is in danger
In the eastern city of Kasur, people are protesting lack of progress in finding those responsible for the kidnapping, rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari. At least two people have died during violent clashes between police and protesters. The country is in a state of shock, with social media flooded with messages of solidarity with Zainab's family and anger at the provincial government of Punjab. Vigils and demonstrations are being held in all major Pakistani cities. Zainab disappeared last week while returning from a Quranic studies class to her aunt's house; her body was found in a pile of garbage on Tuesday near her home in Kasur in Pakistan's Punjab province. She was the eighth child to have been found raped and murdered in Kasur over the past year, according to a police official anonymously quoted by AFP news agency. "I have no information about any arrest in my daughter's murder case," Zainab's father Amin Ansari told Tanvir Shahzad, DW's correspondent in … [Read more...] about Pakistan child rape and murder case ‘just tip of iceberg’
Police in the northern German city of Hanover told the newspaper Neue Presse that Iranian Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi has left the city. The Iranian cleric was receiving medical treatment for a reported brain tumor at a private hospital in the city. The office of Germany's federal prosecutor says it is continuing to investigate whether to bring charges against Shahroudi. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said authorities "will continue to examine on a legal basis whether [Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi] Shahroudi was guilty of crimes against humanity" during his decade overseeing an estimated 2,000 executions as the head of Iran's justice ministry, regardless of whether he leaves or stays in the country. According to the Iranian opposition movement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Shahroudi, together with his six-member entourage, wanted to fly back to Tehran on Thursday. In a DW interview, German politician … [Read more...] about Iranian ayatollah Shahroudi in Hanover – ‘Germany should not be a haven for criminals’
Police in the western German city of Hanover told the newspaper "Neue Presse"that Iranian Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi had left the city. The Iranian cleric was receiving medical treatment for a reported brain tumor at a private hospital in the city. The office of Germany's federal prosecutor says it is continuing to investigate whether to bring charges against Shahrudi. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said authorities "will continue to examine on a legal basis whether [Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi] Shahrudi was guilty of crimes against humanity" during his decade overseeing an estimated 2,000 executions as the head of Iran's justice ministry, regardless of whether he leaves or stays in the country. According to the Iranian opposition movement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Shahrudi, together with his six-member entourgage, wanted to fly back to Tehran on Thursday. In a DW interview, German politician Volker Beck talks about the … [Read more...] about Iranian ayatollah in Hanover – ‘Germany should not be a haven for criminals’
The Chinese government says it is willing to bring Afghanistan into its nearly 60-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. "China and Pakistan are willing to discuss with Afghanistan, under the principle of mutual benefits, the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan," China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters last month after holding talks with his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in Beijing. Kabul's potential inclusion in the project could prove to be beneficial for the war-torn country, whose government aims to boost regional trade and connectivity. The CPEC could help Afghanistan reduce its dependence on foreign aid as well as provide both Kabul and Islamabad with an opportunity to improve ties. Beijing, a close Islamabad ally, has urged Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve relations, which have deteriorated in the past few years over the issue of Islamist militancy and terrorist "safe havens" inside Pakistan. … [Read more...] about Can Afghanistan join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?