Driveless taxi, soon in Japan

Japan’s cabinet office, Kanagawa prefecture and Robot Taxi Inc. on Thursday said they will start experimenting with unmanned taxi service beginning in 2016. The service will be offered for approximately 50 people in Kanagawa prefecture, just south of Tokyo, with the auto-driving car carrying them from their homes to local grocery stores.

According to the project organizers, the cabs will drive a distance of about three kilometers (two miles), and part of the course will be on major avenues in the city. Crew members will be aboard the car during the experiment in case there is a need to avoid accidents.

Source: RoboCab: Driverless Taxi Experiment to Start in Japan – Japan Real Time – WSJ

A week of Tokyo

Going out of Singapore again! And this time to Japan. This coming week I’ll be spending most of my time in Tokyo and probably doing some sightseeing. I haven’t got a concrete plan but I’m sure I’ll get by fine.

See you guys a week later.

Visiting Japan

I’m doing a bit of visiting at Tokyo, Japan next week: May 13 to May 18.

I don’t have my itinerary fixed yet, would love to see the startup and software development scene if it’s possible. I do user interfaces (UI) development in Singapore.

My first day would be spend going to Tsukiji. It should be fun. I’m already excited.

If you do know anyone there that I can meet up with, buzz me!

Does Japan really need more people?

Japan population is decreasing:

C’mon, Japan, Procreate!

Despite a slight uptick in the fertility rate in 2010, Japan’s population just keeps on falling. The country’s population decline last year was the worst since the government started keeping records in 1899.

The number of deaths minus births came to 125,700, surpassing the 100,000 threshold for the first time, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. There have been more deaths than births in Japan for four years in a row now, making the country a demographic time bomb and a laboratory for the rest of the world when it comes to aging.

The ministry said the nation’s birthrate stood at 1.39 in 2010, up 0.02 percentage point for fourth straight year of gains. But the birthrate has stayed well below the ratio of 4.54 and 2.16 compared with the baby booms in 1947 and 1971, respectively. None too encouraging. And consider this statistic: according to Kathy Matsui at Goldman Sachs, there are more pets in Tokyo than children under the age of 14. [Source: WSJ]

Is procreation the ultimate goal for a civilization?

Entire Japan coast shifted 2.4 metres

Often ignored facts:

Japan earthquake factbox: Entire Japan coast shifted 2.4 metres, earth axis moves ten inches

Also:

  • Tsunami waves that hit California earlier today washed three onlookers out to sea. Two have been recovered.
  • St Louis, Missouri media outlets report that city has moved an inch as a result of the quake.
  • Waves from the ensuing tsunami reached 32 feet high.

Read more: Vancouversun.com

In related news:

Fukushima nuclear reactor has exploded:

Fukushima, Japan – Nuclear Reactor Explosion – March 12, 2011

There is a possible meltdown. This is Japan’s first nuclear emergency. More at BBC.

Japan lost track of their old folks

Japan lost track of some 230,000 centenarians (over 100 years of age).

More than 230,000 Japanese centenarians ‘missing’

More than 230,000 elderly people in Japan who are listed as being aged 100 or over are unaccounted for, officials said following a nationwide inquiry.

Officials have found that hundreds of the missing would be at least 150 years old if still alive.

The inquiry followed the discovery of the mummified remains of Sogen Kato, who was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo.

However, when officials went to congratulate him on his 111th birthday, they found his 30-year-old remains, raising concerns that the welfare system is being exploited by dishonest relatives.

Reports said he had received about 9.5m yen ($109,000; £70,000) in pension payments since his wife’s death six years ago, and some of the money had been withdrawn. (Source: BBC)