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Japanese casual wear chain Uniqlo opens its first store in Germany on Friday, as it accelerates expansion in Europe in a bid by its parent company Fast Retailing Co Ltd (9983.T) to become the world's top fashion retailer by 2020. Fast Retailing wants to open more stores abroad as it sees turnover growth slow in its home market, where the population is ageing and declining and where it lowered forecasts for Uniqlo's sales on Thursday.


 
 
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ANA, One of the major Japanese airlines, has announced that they are finally going to start offering in-flight Wi-Fi access, provided by OnAir of Switzerland, on March 1. First, they will introduce the service for a few of their Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which usually fly to Europe, the U.S. and some Asian counties. 


 
 
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The number of people you’ll see in Japan wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Sure, Japan is a hard working society, and the spread of productivity-sapping sickness is always a concern at schools and workplaces, but that doesn’t seem like reason enough for the proliferation of facial coverings that sometimes has Tokyo offices looking more like an operating room.


 
 
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The rate of smartphone users among students owning mobile phones at elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan stood at 56.8 pct in late 2013, up 20.8 percentage points from a year earlier, a Cabinet Office survey showed Wednesday.  The rate stood at 82.8 pct for high school students, up 26.9 points, 47.4 pct for junior high students, up 22.1 pct, and 13.6 pct for elementary school children, up 6.0 points.


 
 
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DOMINO’S Pizza Enterprises has reaffirmed its full-year guidance for Australia and Europe and lifted its guidance for Japan after increasing profit following its acquisition of Domino’s Pizza Japan. Net profit rose by 28.2 per cent to $18.6 million in the six months to December 2013. Revenue soared 89.49 per cent to $265.4 million in the first half. Domino’s will pay an interim dividend of 17.7c, fully franked, on March 11 to shareholders on the record on February 24.


 
 
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Long under siege from Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, the semi-social Line, and confronted by a shift toward more open and international social networking preferences, Japan’s native mixi has signaled what looks a lot like retreat: it’s been announced that they will effectively merge with istyle, an online marketing company best known for its cosmetics sales site, @cosme.


 
 
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This is an interactive optic fiber cloth. It is made of side-emitting diffusive optic fibers so computer controlled light patterns can be displayed on it, and by attaching light receivers as well as light emitters, optical signals can be input using infrared light.


 
 
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The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) released in June 2013 its newly developed "KoeTra," a free application for smart phones and tablet terminals (now available for iOS), which supports better communication between the hearing-impaired and the non-hearing-impaired. Using speech recognition and synthesis technologies, KoeTra converts text into speech, and speech into Japanese text.


 
 
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After decades drowning in deflation, Japan’s property market is re-emerging, with average prices for new condos in Tokyo hitting levels not seen since 1992, the Real Estate Economic Institute said this week. If the trend continues and broadens, it could mark a turnaround in the long-dormant financial fortunes of the world's third-largest economy. Such a turnaround is long overdue: Japan’s real estate prices have been falling for nearly 25 years. From 1990 to 2002, falling real estate prices swallowed an estimated $9.3 trillion of the nation’s wealth, according to the Nomura Research Institute.


 
 
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Suntory Holdings Ltd on Monday said it would buy U.S. spirits company Beam Inc for $13.6 billion cash in a deal that would make the Japanese company the world's third-largest spirits maker. Including the assumption of Beam's net debt, the deal is valued at $16 billion. It brings together Beam's Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila with Suntory's Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Kakubin Japanese whiskies, Bowmore Scotch whisky and Midori liqueur.