Today in the Japanese news…
Keio University was forced to call off almost all of its classes on Saturday, making it the latest university to take action over the measles epidemic that is believed to have sickened hundreds of Japanese university students so far. Read more.
Yellow sand was observed in wide areas across Japan Saturday morning, with visibility falling to around 5 km in the Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu regions. This phenomenon occurs every spring, as wind blows sand from deserts in China and Mongolia. Many consider it an annoyance that adds to respiratory problems, but in 2005, a joint Japan-China research team claimed that these fine particles of sand might actually help cool the atmosphere by reflecting sunlight. In December 2006, Japan pledged tol give China about $6.82 million to set up a system to monitor acid rain and yellow sand. Read more.
A government panel on education is trying to abolish the five-day school week by letting public elementary, junior and seniorhigh schools offer classes on Saturdays. The five-day school week system was introduced in phases from September 1992, and was fully implemented in April 2002. The panel also plans to propose using both government-censored textbooks and supplementary material to provide moral education in schools. Since its establishment, the panel has often been the target of criticism for its conservative bent. In early May, it was forced to withdraw a proposal that would call on parents to breast-feed and sing lullabies after concerns grew over possible intrusion into the sphere of private life. Read more.
Dieticians have found a new use for cell phones: Japanese people can now photograph their meals with their keitai and send the images to an expert for analysis and recommendations. Nutritionists can work with photos from one day's meals to several weeks' worth, with results coming back in three days. Read more.