2016年11月 4日 (金)

Paris accord takes effect to combat global warming

November 4, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Paris accord takes effect to combat global warming

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Paris Agreement on fighting global warming entered into force Friday, creating a new international framework for involving every country in reining in greenhouse gas emissions.

The accord, adopted at the U.N. convention on climate change in December and ratified by many major emitters including China and the United States, aims to hold global average temperature rises to "well below" 2 C above preindustrial levels to avoid the serious consequences scientists say will be caused by climate change, such as more droughts, floods, melting glaciers and rising seas.

Japan, which has lagged behind other major emitters, is expected to ratify the landmark agreement later in the day. The Cabinet proposed ratification to the Diet after it became clear the accord would take effect.

Countries will set their own emissions reduction targets and provide progressively more ambitious targets every five years, but there are no penalties for missing these goals.

Clearing the condition of ratification by at least 55 nations accounting for 55 percent of global emissions in October, the accord took effect in less than a year after adoption, a rare speed for a multilateral accord.

The first gathering of the signatories to the new accord will take place Nov. 15, during the 22nd session of the Convention of Parties starting Nov. 7 in Morocco. Japan will not be able to attend the first session of signatories as a member.

Once Japan becomes a signatory, it will be required as a major emitter to strengthen its efforts to curb carbon emissions and provide funds and knowledge to developing countries to support their efforts.

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2016年9月23日 (金)

黒田日銀の転換 あの約束は何だったか

September 22, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: BOJ' new policy phase highlights failure of monetary easing experiment
黒田日銀の転換 あの約束は何だったか

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) comprehensively reviewed its large-scale monetary easing policy, which it carried out under the leadership of Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, and announced a new framework for its bond-buying program to keep the yield of the bellwether 10-year Japanese government debt at around zero percent.

Roughly 3 1/2 years have passed since the BOJ began quantitative and qualitative easing of its monetary grip as the "first arrow" of the Abenomics economic policy mix promoted by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, the fact that the BOJ has been forced to review the policy and change its framework clearly demonstrates that the policy has reached a deadlock.

At a news conference, the BOJ would not admit that its policy has failed. Gov. Kuroda categorically denied that the central bank had been forced to change the policy framework due to limits of its monetary policy.


The BOJ even praised the achievements it has made through its monetary easing policy saying, "Over that period (when the policy was implemented), the situation surrounding Japan's economy and consumer prices greatly improved, and Japan has overcome deflation in that consumer prices no longer keep declining."

The central bank claimed that Japan's failure to achieve its target of an annual inflation rate of 2 percent over the space of about two years is attributable to a sharp drop in crude oil prices, a consumption tax increase from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014, the slowdown of emerging countries' economies, and Japanese people's unique views on consumer prices. The BOJ thus denied that the failure was a result of problems involving the central bank's ultra-easy money policy.

When the BOJ announced at a news conference on April 4, 2013 that it would launch an ultra-easy money policy, Gov. Kuroda showed off panels bearing "2 percent," and "2 years," and appeared confident of the credit easing policy it had just approved.  時計の針を2013年4月4日に戻してみよう。

Kuroda emphasized that the central bank's new policy was different from its past policies on three points. Firstly, the BOJ stated a target year for achieving 2 percent inflation. Secondly, the central bank not only verbally promised to achieve the goal but also took unprecedented action to purchase a massive amount of government bonds in an attempt to convince the public that consumer prices would rise. Thirdly, the BOJ pledged to avoid implementing small-scale additional measures bit by bit.

The central bank governor declared at the time, "We've adopted all measures that are necessary now to achieve the goal of a 2 percent annual inflation within two years."

Deputy Gov. Kikuo Iwata, who joined the central bank simultaneously with Kuroda, even stated that he would step down if the central bank failed to achieve the inflation target within two years. He later retracted his statement saying, "I meant that I must place priority on fulfilling my accountability."

The BOJ had initially stated that the 2 percent target could be achieved if the central bank drastically increased the volume of money it supplied to the market. Yet the target has not been reached.

The BOJ postponed the target date for achieving an inflation rate of 2 percent whenever it announced its outlook for consumer prices in each quarter. In October 2014, the central bank drastically increased the amount of money it supplied, but remained far from being able to achieve the inflation target.

In reviewing its policy, the BOJ cited the effects of the consumption tax increase in 2014 and the slowdown of other countries' economies as the reasons why the target had not been achieved. But BOJ executives are experts in monetary policy. They cannot make excuses by saying these factors were beyond the scope of their assumptions.

True, crude oil prices plummeted more sharply than had been widely predicted. In reviewing its policy, the BOJ said that Japanese people's predictions of future consumer prices are largely affected by the actual fluctuation in consumer prices that is going on. The central bank pointed out that prolonged deflation as well as labor-management negotiations on pay raises during the so-called spring labor offensive, which are unique to Japan, have made the Japanese economy more susceptible to short-term consumer price declines. However, these are nothing but excuses and attempts to shift the blame.

The BOJ's new framework and its dumping of the two-year deadline for achieving its target represents a great transformation in its policies, from one placing emphasis on the amount of money supplied to the market to one that places more importance on interest rates.

The BOJ has also been forced to modify its negative interest policy, which it introduced in February this year, because critics have pointed out numerous problems, such as a decrease in financial institutions' profits, and difficulties that public pension funds and others face in investing money over the long term to gain stable yields.


Under the previous framework, market players expected the BOJ to further relax its monetary grip whenever it became certain the central bank would postpone the target year for achieving a 2 percent inflation rate. The central bank's monetary policy thus became a major matter of concern for market players. The framework change will likely rectify the situation.

Still, questions remain as to whether the BOJ can control not only short-term interest rates but also long-term interest rates governing yields on 10-year government bonds to attain levels which the central bank regards as desirable. Long-term interest rates should be determined by the market. The rates can sound an alarm over the government's irresponsible use of taxpayers' money. Monetary policy that restricts such a function of long-term interest rates deserves criticism as excessive market intervention by the central bank.

Needless to say, what now must be brought up is the question of responsibility for failure of the experiment, which the BOJ began on its promise to achieve a 2 percent inflation rate within about two years.

The BOJ has amassed over 450 trillion yen worth of assets. This includes government bonds whose prices could plummet in the future and investment trust funds. And the amount is expected to increase. It is a matter that could affect the credibility of the yen.

How to normalize the bond market, which has been distorted because it has relied on the BOJ's massive purchase of government bonds, will pose a serious challenge. If the annual inflation rate is stabilized at over 2 percent, the BOJ will need to decrease the amount of government bonds it buys on a step-by-step basis.

However, if the BOJ hints at its intention to withdraw from the bond market as a major buyer, it could cause market prices of government bonds to sharply decrease and long-term interest rates to spike.

To prevent such a situation, the central bank would have to keep buying government bonds, even though this could generate an economic bubble or cause the economy to overheat.

As such, the central bank will face difficulty in seeking a way out of the policy of buying a massive volume of government bonds.

The BOJ is not solely to blame for the ultra-easy money policy that has left serious problems for Japan's future.

The responsibility of the government, which relied on the "first arrow" of Abenomics, should also be called into question.

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2016年9月20日 (火)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡 「親のせい」で片付かない /東京

September 4, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The sins of the son are not the sins of the mom
香山リカのココロの万華鏡  「親のせい」で片付かない /東京

Recently, a 22-year-old actor was arrested on suspicion of rape. The victim was apparently badly injured in the assault. This incident is, in a word, unforgiveable.

This young actor has a famous actress for a mother, who appears frequently in drama series and on variety shows. The suspected rapist was often referred to as "that actress' son" in his professional life. In that way, you could say that he was not entirely separate from his mother, and so perhaps it's unavoidable that some people would wonder what she would do after her son's arrest for such a terrible crime.

What she did was hold a news conference, bow very, very low before the assembled reporters, and apologize.

Obviously shocked and despairing, she appeared thin and haggard as she faced the glare of the cameras. It was painful to watch. And then came the questions, quick and sharp as arrows, demanding to know about how she had raised her son.

"I intended to do the very best that I could in my own way, but I think now that the way I raised him didn't go well," she said. I suspect that a lot of people saw this and wondered how far a parent's responsibility extends when it comes to the problems of their children.

Parents naturally have an idea of what kind of people they want their children to be, and convey to them the ideas and rules of the household. However, no matter how much a parent thinks of their daughter or son as "my child," they are in fact separate human beings. It's impossible for any parent to completely control the thoughts and emotions of their child. It's also not something a parent should try to do. What's more, it's impossible for parents to police their kids' actions at every moment.

Occasionally, parents with children who have developed serious problems come to my practice for help. In cases where the child is still quite young, up to about junior high school age, I often counsel that aspects of children's behavior change depending on how parents deal with them, and help the parents with that. For parents of kids in high school or beyond, however, I tell them, "It's difficult to help unless your child comes here in person." Behind this insistence is my belief that once a child reaches the latter half of their teens, their individual character, ideas and opinions should be respected.

Of course, parents and children will always be family, so it's not out of the question for a mother to stand before the public and apologize for the alleged deeds of a son who is now detained and incapable of doing so himself. However, I think it is wrong to demand she admit responsibility, based in the way she raised and supervised her now adult child.

It's a beautiful thing to see parents and children pooling their efforts and helping each other out. However, for people to immediately point the finger at parents and say "It's their fault" as soon as someone causes a problem is good for no one, parent or child. In this recent case, too, I would like to see the man who committed the crime be judged and punished severely. And I'd like to see his mother continue her acting career in much the same way it was before all this happened.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)

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2016年8月29日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡「ほめ言葉」にも原則ある /東京

August 28, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Praise athletes for their sporting excellence, not looks
香山リカのココロの万華鏡「ほめ言葉」にも原則ある /東京

When referring to good looking men today, the Japanese word "ikemen" is often used. I heard a TV announcer during the Rio Olympics broadcast say, "He is popular as an ikemen runner," about an athlete participating in the Games. Women in sports, on the other hand, have been called "pretty athletes" or described as "too beautiful to be a swimmer" when people comment on their looks.

Whether it is "ikemen" or "pretty," those who say these words use them without hesitation since they are supposedly both compliments. But I wonder how people on the receiving end of these words feel.

I have a friend who is a physician. She is tall and has fine facial features and says she has been spotted by talent agencies many times. When she spoke at a local health conference, the moderator said at the end of the event, "While today's theme was the prevention of high blood pressure, my blood pressure has been skyrocketing because of your beauty, doctor."

Though the comment had the audience laughing, she said she was disappointed. "I did my best to speak about exercise and diet that are good for preventing high blood pressure, but it felt like I was told that all that didn't matter," she recalled.

What about Olympians? There must be some athletes who want the media to focus attention on their sport and outcomes of the events they are participating in rather than being in the spotlight for their looks. I occasionally see some interviewers asking athletes irrelevant questions such as, "How do you keep yourself beautiful?" but I assume there are some athletes who would feel disappointed to be asked such questions, especially right after their race was finished, or personal questions like, "Do you have a girlfriend?"

It is indeed very beautiful how athletes devote themselves to their sports. I have no intention of picking on those who use words like "ikemen" and "beautiful" to praise the athletes' efforts. At the same time, when someone repeats comments and questions toward a person about their looks that are irrelevant to what they have achieved, it can be regarded as sexual harassment.

It's OK to say, "the way he runs is beautiful," but not, "she is so pretty that she can be in show business" -- I imagine some people might think that's too much trouble, but if you just think a little, you would understand. We should not bring up topics about someone being a man or woman, or their looks, when they are putting their best into something regardless of such labels. Then we can simply applaud their sporting excellence.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)

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2016年8月19日 (金)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても

July 31, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Stand tall, women without children
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても

Japan's decreasing birthrate has reached grave levels. Meanwhile, mothers face a whole range of serious problems, from "maternity harassment" while they're pregnant to postpartum depression and the many stresses of raising children. There is no question that building a society where people can feel confident and at ease about having and bringing up kids is one of the most urgent tasks facing Japan today.

However, there are women in every era who don't have children. There are those who want to have kids but, for various reasons, can't. And then there are those who chose not to have children for reasons of their own. These women may not insist that they are having a tough time, but they do indeed have their own specific problems and worries. I have written a book called "Non-mama to iu ikikata" (A non-mother's way of life) aimed at these very people, based not just on my experiences as a practicing psychiatrist but also on my personal life as a woman without children.

Patients seeing me about their child-reading worries will often ask me, "Do you have children, doctor?" I answer honestly and directly, "No, I don't." On many occasions, the patient has replied, "Oh, well then you can't understand my problems." A senior doctor once told me, "Psychiatrists only truly come to understand people's feelings when they have kids of their own." In all honesty, it hurt to hear that, and it made me wonder if I was doomed to remain forever incomplete as a psychiatrist.

I admit I have sometimes been a little envious when listening to an old school friend talk happily about their kids. However, as I've built up various kinds of experience, I have come to think that the fact I don't have children gives me the ability to consider people's feelings and the problems of child rearing from a perspective not available to parents. And I think that's a good thing about me.

Women without kids who come to my office often feel guilty somewhere in their hearts, and it saps their confidence. Some of them end up burning out from overwork after taking on the responsibilities of other women at their workplaces who have taken parental leave. To these tired women I always say, "You are always you, whether you have kids or not. Give what you can do your utmost effort, and don't be shy about refusing things you can't do."

Having kids and raising them to adulthood is a wonderful thing, but that does not mean that not having kids is somehow less wonderful.

Women who choose not to have children face various circumstances and many worries, but there are also things that only they can do and be proud of. I believe in my heart that everyone should be able to stand tall and say, "I am me."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)

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2016年8月17日 (水)

Olympics: Japan rebounds to take bronze in women's team table tennis

Olympics: Japan rebounds to take bronze in women's team table tennis

Japan's Ai Fukuhara, left, Kasumi Ishikawa, and Mima Ito wave after receiving the Bronze medal in women's team gold medal team table tennis at the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    RIO DE JANEIRO (Kyodo) -- Japan did not take its semifinal defeat to Germany very well. So the Japanese let it all out against Singapore on Tuesday, when they won 3-1 to finish Rio 2016 with a bronze medal in the women's team event.

        "I wanted to finish the competition with a smile on my face," said 15-year-old Mima Ito, who beat world No. 4 Feng Tianwei 3-0 in the decisive fourth match.

        "There was nothing we could do about the loss to Germany. Our only option was to let out all our frustrations in today's third-place match."

        "I've cried after winning in the past, but today was the first time I couldn't control myself," Ai Fukuhara said. "It's been the toughest four years I've had, and the toughest Olympics I've had."

        "As the oldest player and captain of the team, I couldn't allow myself to be rattled. I swore to myself that I wouldn't cry afterward, but I couldn't hold on."

    Mika Ito, right, , Kasumi Ishikawa, center, and Ai Fukuhara of Japan celebrate after their win against Singapore during their women's team table tennis bronze medal match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 16, 2016. Japan won Singapore 3-1.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

        Fukuhara dropped the first match 3-2, but Kasumi Ishikawa righted the ship for Japan with a 3-0 victory over Feng behind a come-from-behind 12-10 win in the first game.

        Fukuhara and Ito went on to beat Zhou Yihan and Yu Mengyu 3-1 in the doubles before Ito secured Japan's place on the podium with a cogent win against Feng, who could not capture a single game on the afternoon.

        Coach Yasukazu Murakami said trying to move on from Sunday's crippling 3-2 loss against Germany was not easy, a result that denied Japan a second successive trip to the Olympic final.

        Four of the five matches went to five games, including the first, which Ito lost despite being ahead 9-3 in the final game.

        "It was difficult getting ready for this match," Murakami said. "This team hasn't lost much and we lost a match that was there for the taking against Germany."

        "If we didn't have the one day in between, I don't think we would have been able to win today. We used yesterday to regroup mentally, and practiced a little."

        "Gold, silver would have been better but if we didn't win this bronze, it was going to haunt us for the next four years."

        Four-time Olympian Fukuhara was bawling after the match, saying she let down the team with her performance in the first match against Yu.

        The 27-year-old veteran also wanted to win a medal for Ito, a fellow prodigy who Fukuhara has taken under her wing and has been mentoring throughout the Games.

        "This is my third Olympics (team event), but I know all too well that there is a huge difference between going home with a medal and going home without one," Fukuhara said. "I'm relieved and gratified to have won this medal."

        "If we missed out on a medal, I know it would have eaten Mima up for the next four years, more than it would have me or Kasumi. So I was determined to win a medal today."

        Ito, however, might be maturing faster than Fukuhara thinks. Ito kept her composure in both matches and was never in danger of relinquishing control against Feng.

        "She continues to surprise me," Murakami said. "She wasn't even focused at the start. She only switched on from the second game. She's not your average player."

        With Ishikawa -- the bedrock of the women's team who on this day underlined her quality in beating Feng -- and Ito, Japan appears to be in good hands at home for 2020.

        "Laugh or cry, this was it so I gave it everything I had," Ito said. "We wanted to win a silver here at the least, but were reminded just how difficult it is to win an Olympic medal. You never know what can happen. But we won a medal of some kind so I'm happy."

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    2016年8月15日 (月)

    Olympics: Nishikori beats Nadal for Japan's 1st tennis medal in 96 yrs

    Olympics: Nishikori beats Nadal for Japan's 1st tennis medal in 96 yrs

    Kei Nishikori, of Japan, smiles as he holds up his bronze medal in men's singles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

        RIO DE JANEIRO (Kyodo) -- Kei Nishikori defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-7(1), 6-3 to win bronze at the Rio Olympics on Sunday for Japan's first tennis medal in almost a century.

          World No. 7 Nishikori, as he's been known to do, did it the hard way in becoming the first Japanese tennis medalist since Ichiya Kumagai (silver) at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. The victory was only Nishikori's second against Beijing 2008 champion Nadal in 11 career meetings.

          Nishikori cruised through the first set and was well on his way to making quick work of Nadal. But from 5-2 down, Nadal showed the heart of a champion, winning five of the next six games to trigger a third set.

          Yet Nishikori, who lost in the quarterfinals four years ago in London, did well to regroup from the forgettable second set to win an exhausting 2 hour, 49 minute affair.

          "I'm exhausted but I pushed myself today," Nishikori said. "I lost the second set in a bad way, but I managed to come back in the final set. Rafa had beaten me a couple of times this season and I managed to shake that off."

      Japan's Kei Nishikori returns to Spain's Rafael Nadal during the bronze medal match of the men's tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

          "I'm very happy to get a medal today. Even though it's third place, it means a lot to me to beat Rafa. I knew if I played good, solid tennis I had a chance to get a medal."

          "I was playing for my country and this is something different from the tour. For sure, this experience will help with my confidence and future."

          Nadal tipped his hat to Nishikori.

          "He played great during the whole match. During the whole match I was a little bit too tired," the Spaniard said. "If you don't play 100 percent tennis against a player like Kei, it's almost impossible. I want to congratulate Kei. I tried my best, I fought to the end."

          A day after being taken to school by Briton Andy Murray, Nishikori was far more competitive against a tired Nadal, who, counting the men's doubles he won with Marc Lopez, was playing in his 11th match at Rio.

          Fifth-ranked Nadal lost to Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in a three-set semifinal on Saturday.

          Nishikori pounced on the second break-point opportunity he saw of the match to go up 3-2 in the first set. In Nadal's next service game, he shot himself in the foot with a double fault that set up another break point, which Nishikori promptly capitalized on.

          Nishikori aced his first set point to win 6-2.

          The resilient legs Nadal has used to build a distinguished career were nowhere to be found early in the second set, Nishikori winning his third break point in the third game.

          At 4-2 with Nadal serving, Nishikori converted a fourth break point to win the game. In the following game, Nadal finally broke his opponent on the fourth chance and converted another to even the score 5-5, thanks to a Nishikori double fault.

          With Nadal appearing to have found his second wind, the 14-time Grand Slam champion held serve after deuce to move in front. Nishikori won the next game, but the Japanese continued to self-destruct, managing just one point in the tiebreak as Nadal captured the set.

          Nishikori admitted he felt pressed being on the brink of winning the match.

          "I was uptight. He was starting to play better and that was half the reason. But I started to think about the medal, and was rushing my serves and shots," he said.

          Nadal got the crowd behind him with the comeback, and Nishikori drew the jeers after a lengthy bathroom break that seemed to irritate Nadal ahead of the final set.

          Nishikori won his fifth break point to lead 3-1, a critical game that Nadal could not find a way back from. Nishikori, determined not to suffer another meltdown, held on for Japan's 15th bronze medal of these Games.

          "I'm just glad I won today," he said. "I broke him first (in the last set) and that gave me a bit of breathing room. I went back to playing the aggressive tennis I played in the first set."

          "He was coming at me from the very first game. I had to work hard to keep my serve and I couldn't let him keep doing what he was doing. He made a few mistakes, I defended well and managed to break him. Remembering what he did to me in the previous set from 5-2, I tried to stay as focused as possible."

          "I feel like I've improved (from 2012), not only the result, but the performance, too. I'm playing with a lot more confidence compared to four years ago, when I was pretty happy just to have reached the quarterfinals. I don't know where I'll be in four years, but I hope to be better and stronger."

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      2016年8月14日 (日)

      タイ新憲法 軍主導では安定しない


      タイ新憲法 軍主導では安定しない
      The army-led new constitution in Thailand, unstable under military control
      New constitution draft has been approved in the referendum of Thailand. It is said to be a new constitution for the restoration of democracy from a military regime that came to power in a 2014 coup d'etat , but it's far from the content to be democratic.

      In the New constitution, the military has left a large room to be involved in politics.

      Senate (250 seats), the army is to appoint the lawmakers. General election of the House of Representatives (500 seats) is also performed in the second half of next year, but has been with the system to favor small and medium-sized party. It is aiming to prevent the emergence of a large political party that can be a military counterweight.

      By additional terms that have been approved in conjunction with the new constitution draft, also change election method of the prime minister. Conventionally, was a vote of only congressman, five (5) years from the enforcement new constitution senator also vote. Military, but that hold one-third of the vote.

      The focus of the new Constitution aims at containing Thaksin faction who is strong to the election.






      However, in the first place, it can not be said that the referendum this time is fair, leaving a great anxiety in the future.

      In the referendum, campaign other than government agencies call the favor is forbidden, television station supporting Thaksinwas ordered to stop broadcasting. Such incidents are observed that students and politicians who were handing out pamphlets to criticize the new constitution draft is seized.

      It is a mistake to containing the Thaksin faction in the new constitution. It is wrong to control the movement to seek democracy by force. It is not possible to solve the conflict in a military-led "restoration of democracy".

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      2016年8月12日 (金)

      Swimmer Kaneto overcame many setbacks to win Olympic gold

      Swimmer Kaneto overcame many setbacks to win Olympic gold

      Rie Kaneto smiles as she shows off her gold medal after winning the women's 200-meter breaststroke at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 11, 2016. (Mainichi Photo/Daisuke Wada)

          RIO DE JANEIRO -- Rie Kaneto won the gold medal in the women's 200-meter breaststroke at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 11 with a time of 2:20.30.

            "I've been able to continue to aim for the top because my fellow swimmers who underwent training with me and my family fully supported me," Kaneto, 27, said after the competition.

            A native of Hiroshima Prefecture, Kaneto started swimming when she was a third grader in elementary school.

            She performed reasonably well in the 2008 Beijing Games -- the first Olympics she participated in -- coming in seventh in the women's 200-meter breaststroke. However, she failed to win a berth at the 2012 London Olympics. She was unable to leave the swimming pool for a while after failing to advance in a qualifying trial for the London Games and cried.

            Kaneto participated in the FINA World Aquatics Championships in August 2013, vowing to regain her competitiveness as an athlete, but failed to win a medal, finishing fourth.

            The swimmer then decided to retire after telling herself, "You've done enough."

            At a wedding reception for her sister, Yuki, now 31, three months after the championships, a video of Kaneto swimming at the FINA World Aquatics Championships, followed by a message by her coach Tsuyoshi Kato, 50, were shown.

        Rie Kaneto raises her fist after winning the women's 200-meter breaststroke at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 11, 2016. (Mainichi Photo/Naotsune Umemura)

            "It's a difficult challenge so it's worth trying. I believe I can work with Rie," he said.

            Dressed in a red kimono, Kaneto was in tears after the five-minute video message.

            Her father, 61-year-old Hiroaki, who was opposed to her retirement, hung a gold medal on her. On the opposite side of the medal was her 58-year-old mother Fujiko's message saying, "Even when you rise up high, there are yet even higher places. Nevertheless, you should look up like a sunflower. I'm always watching over you."

            Yuki prepared the video because she "wanted to tell her sister that there're people who are encouraged by Rie's swimming."

            Kaneto made up her mind to continue swimming, but was unable to produce good results, partly due to the rise of younger swimmers.

            Whenever she mentioned the possibility of retiring, coach Kato tried to encourage her to continue swimming saying, "How can you retire when there are so many people supporting you? People around you are thinking about you. Don't be a person who only thinks about themself."

            This past February, Kaneto set a Japanese record in the women's 200-meter breaststroke. In the Japan Swimming Championships in April, she set a world record, becoming the first female swimmer to swim the 200-meter breaststroke in less than 2 minutes and 20 seconds, securing a berth at the Rio Olympics.

            "I set a record in front of many people who supported me," Kaneto tearfully said after winning a ticket to Rio.

            As the first female captain of a Japanese Olympic swimming team, Kaneto led the team saying, "I want to lead in a way that all members can smile." (By Kosuke Yamamoto, Tadashi Murakami and Sachi Fukushima, Mainichi Shimbun)

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        2016年8月 4日 (木)

        You're in! Baseball/softball, 4 other sports make Tokyo cut

        August 4, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
        You're in! Baseball/softball, 4 other sports make Tokyo cut

        RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Olympic leaders approved the addition of five sports to the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, including the return of baseball-softball and the introduction of youth-oriented events such as skateboarding and surfing.

        International Olympic Committee members voted unanimously to accept the five-sport package, which also includes karate and sport climbing.

        The five were put forward for inclusion last year by Tokyo organizers, taking advantage of new IOC rules that allow host cities to propose the inclusion of additional sports for their own games. Wednesday's approval was for the Tokyo Games only.

        The new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes to the program. The Tokyo Games will now feature 33 sports and about 11,000 athletes, compared to the usual number of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes.

        While baseball and softball -- both highly popular in Japan -- will be returning after a 12-year absence, the other sports will be making their Olympic debuts.

        The IOC called it "the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history."

        "Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

        Baseball and softball have been off the Olympic program since the 2008 Beijing Games. The two were rejected in separate bids to return for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, so they combined forces to put forward a single bid for inclusion in Tokyo.

        Baseball was a full part of the Olympic program from 1992 to 2008, with softball joining in 1996. The IOC voted them both out in 2005.

        Baseball will have a six-team tournament, short of the eight-team format sought by officials from the sport's international federation. Women's softball will also have six teams. The games will be played at a shared venue In Yokohama.

        "Today's historic decision by the IOC is a 'home run' for the Olympics, our sport and the Tokyo 2020 Games," said Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. "It will be the most covered and most exciting international baseball/softball tournaments in history, which will help build our case to be featured in future Olympic Games, as well."

        Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred also welcomed the IOC vote.

        "Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics," he said, adding that their approval "will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage."

        Before the vote, several IOC members questioned whether baseball would have the world's top players at the games. While pro leagues in Japan and some other countries have agreed to shut down their seasons to send their players to the Olympics, MLB has declined to do so.

        Franco Carraro, who chairs the IOC's program commission, said he hopes the international federation can still reach an agreement with MLB, in line with the deals with the NBA and NHL that brought pro basketball and ice hockey players into the Olympics.

        If not, Carraro said, said it will be "difficult for baseball to be included in the future" beyond the Tokyo Games.

        Skateboarding will have street and park events, and feature 80 athletes -- 40 men and 40 women. In climbing, 40 competitors will take part in the disciplines of speed, bouldering and lead (also known as sport). Karate will have 80 athletes competing in men's and women's Kumite and Kata events, while surfing will have two shortboard events for 40 competitors.

        The surfing competition will be held on natural waves at a beach location in Chiba prefecture.

        "Our Olympic dream has now become a reality," International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said. "This is a game-changing moment for surfing. With its unique and modern blend of sport performance, style and youth culture, surfing will help deliver something special to the games."

        Skateboarding and sports climbing events will be held in temporary venues in urban settings in Tokyo, while karate will be contested at the Nippon Budokan in the capital.

        Organizers hope skateboarding will catch on with worldwide viewers as halfpipe in snowboarding did in the Winter Olympics.

        "I've always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world," International Skateboarding Federation president Gary Ream said.

        Skateboarding's approval came despite tensions between rival federations.

        For the Olympics, a special "Tokyo 2020 skateboarding commission" was formed to run the sport. It is a collaboration between the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) and the ISF.

        A lawsuit was filed last week in California by the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF). It alleged the ISF abruptly canceled scheduled drug testing at an event last year because of fears that several riders would test positive.

        The lawsuit also alleged that Ream struck up a friendly relationship with Christophe Dubi, the IOC Olympic Games executive director, and provided Dubi's son with free training at a skateboarding camp he owned.

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