Japan

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal will change tariffs on agricultural exports, but for Midwest farmers and ranchers, the devil is in the details.

The TPP agreement could cut tariffs levied by many countries on U.S. exports like pork and rice, making it easier to get some products into markets in Asia.

President Obama kicked off the first leg of his tour of Asia on Wednesday with some sushi diplomacy.

He dined with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a revered and tiny temple of sushi in Tokyo called Sukiyabashi Jiro. The subterranean restaurant, with just 10 seats at the counter, was made famous by the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Eight hundred years ago, tea was rare in Japan. It arrived from China in simple, ceramic storage jars. Chinese ceramists churned these jars out with little care or attention; they stuffed tea leaves into them and shipped them off.

The jars were "the Chinese version of Tupperware," says Andrew Watsky, a professor of Japanese art history at Princeton.

Colorado Farmers Told To Sit Tight For Final Trade Deal

Mar 6, 2014
Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is telling farmers to be patient while his office hammers out a major trade deal with a group of Asian countries, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

Earlier in December, the normally sedate Japanese Parliament disintegrated into chaos. Opposition party members screamed, pounded the speaker's desk and flapped papers in his face — but all in vain.

In a shocking display of brute force, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, railroaded into law a sweeping, vague and hastily drafted secrets protection bill.

China has been building up its military strength for some time now, and pushing ever farther from its coastline and into international waters. The real concern now is for miscalculation — particularly with Japan — that ends up in gunfire.

Just six months ago, the Pentagon released its annual report on China's military. Its defense budget was growing. The country was building more stealthy aircraft and submarines. It even bought an aircraft carrier from the Ukraine.

Pentagon official David Helvey highlighted particular areas of concern.

Nine Japan-based firms and two of its executives have agreed to plead guilty to fixing the prices of 30 products sold to U.S. car manufacturers, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

The companies and executives have also agreed to pay more than $740 million in criminal fines for their role in the scheme.

For those of us of a certain age, Hiroshi Yamauchi brings fond memories of childhood triumph. His name was always in the end credits of Nintendo games during the company's heyday in the '80s and '90s.

Yamauchi, who was president of Nintendo from 1949 to 2002, re-imagined the Kyoto-based firm from a playing-card company to a pioneer in the video game industry. Yamauchi died Thursday at age 85.

David Sheff, author of Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World, says Yamauchi was a ruthless business man who, nonetheless, had a knack for picking talent.

The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.

Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.

Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.

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