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The Japanese government will promote the use of robots to start a new industrial revolution and double the size of the robotics market in the manufacturing sector by 2020. It plans to include measures to promote the robotics industry in its draft of its new growth strategy. The government says robotics technology will be used to improve the productivity and profitability of Japanese businesses.


 
 
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America may have put the first man on the moon, but Japan is going to be the first to send up the first advertising billboard — in the shape of a can. Japanese drink-maker Otsuka is going to send a titanium can that weighs about 2.2 pounds and that can serve as a mini-sized billboard for the company. It’ll be packed with Pocari Sweat powder, which forms into a non-carbonated, citrus-flavored drink when liquid is added, United Press International reported.


 
 
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The world’s first living donor lung transplant using part of a donor’s right lung to replace a recipient’s left lung was successfully completed at Kyoto University Hospital, the hospital said Wednesday. The entire left lung of a female patient who developed an intractable lung disease was removed, and replaced by the lower lobe of her husband’s right lung. 


 
 
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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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Junichiro Asami gave up a stable job to join a group of Japanese entrepreneurs building businesses based on 3D printing, showing the sort of pioneering spirit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes can revitalize a calcified economy. Whether these entrepreneurs can lay the foundations for a new era in Japanese products though may depend on whether Abe can tear down barriers in a wider business culture that shuns risk and supports the status quo.


 
 
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A Japanese research team has become the first in the world to develop a functional liver from human induced pluripotent stem cells, according to an article the researchers published in the online version of British journal Nature.  The team created liver buds and transplanted these into mice suffering from liver failure. 


 
 
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Japan’s public television broadcaster, NHK, is working on technology that will allow people to watch TV with their fingers. NHK is developing a system that maps objects shown on the TV screen in 3D space. “Viewers” place their index finger in a device connected to several actuators that provide haptic feedback, allowing surfaces, bumps and corners to be explored through touch. The broadcaster demonstrated the technology as part of an open house at its research lab in Tokyo.


 
 
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A Japanese entrepreneur’s answer to Google Glass, but with a Japanese manga-style twist. Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi wants people to see the world through other people’s eyes. But as a less ambitious jumping off point, he’ll kick it off with a world that looks like a Japanese manga cartoon. His device, called the Telepathy One, is the closest thing I’ve seen under development yet to Google’s Glass gadget.  


 
 
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TWO years have passed since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the huge Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), on the Japanese north-east coast—and precipitated a phased shutdown of the country’s 54 nuclear plants for stress testing, maintenance and further seismic analysis. 

With the last reactor turned off in May 2012, the past summer was when Japan started to live without nuclear power for the first time since 1970. Before the disaster struck, nuclear power accounted for 29% of the country’s electricity supply, with plans for boosting it to 50% by 2030. Such intentions are now out of the question. To compensate for the loss of such a large chunk of electrical capacity, households and businesses across Japan were threatened with black-outs and to make reductions of up to 15% in consumption or face stiff penalties. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the electricity was switched off in some parts of the country for up to four hours a day.



 
 
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Remember Minami, the lifelike robot we introduced earlier? She was just the beginning! Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory was founded to encourage and promote studies based on original and unique ideas from Hiroshi Ishiguro, ATR Fellow, who has remarkable achievements on robotics. The scientists have explored new information media based on humanlike robots that harmonize humans with information-environment beyond existing personal computers, while inquiring "what is the essence of human beings?"