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  • Tokyo Olympics: the catalyst to change in Japan?

    Header image courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson/Wikimedia Commons.

    Japan (MNN) — The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are officially underway following today’s Opening Ceremony. Delayed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Games will run through August 8th. See a full schedule here. The Tokyo Paralympics begin August 24th.

  • Japan lifts state of emergency, debates Olympics attendance

    header image is a stock photo courtesy of Alex Smith/Unsplash.

    Japan (MNN) — Will there be any fans in the stands at next month’s Tokyo Olympics? Event organizers could announce their decision as early as today.

  • COVID-19 overwhelms hospitals throughout Asia

    Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of S&B Vonlanthen/Unsplash.

    Asia (MNN) — An “explosion” of COVID-19 cases is pushing hospitals across Asia to the edge of collapse, the International Federation of the Red Cross warns. Asian nations reported over 5.9 million new infections in the past two weeks – more than the combined totals of all other regions.

  • Playbooks outline new restrictions, requirements for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

    Header image is a graphic obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

    Japan (MNN) — Playbooks released yesterday introduce new COVID-19 restrictions and requirements ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The guidelines limit participants’ movement and require more testing.

  • Japan prohibits international spectators for Olympics

    The header photo shows cherry blossoms in Japan. (Photo courtesy of Kanenori on Pixabay)

    Japan (MNN) — As cherry blossoms bloom across Japan, the country has barred international spectators from the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympics due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. 600,000 people bought tickets to watch the games in-person.

  • Today marks 10 years since 3.11 Triple Disaster in Japan

    small town in Japan abandoned after the triple disaster. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

    Japan (MNN) — On this day 10 years ago, a triple disaster rocked Japan. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake sent a tsunami hurtling into the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Three reactors melted down, spewing radioactive material into the air. Read a complete timeline of the disaster here.

  • 10 years after Fukushima disaster, 7.1 earthquake rocks Japan

    The header photo shows a radiation hotspot near Fukushima in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

    Japan (MNN) — Nearly ten years ago, a powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake unleashed a massive tsunami near Fukushima, Japan. 20,000 people died and over 100,000 evacuated after three nuclear reactors suffered damage and melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the environment. Read more about the ongoing effects of the catastrophe here.

  • Survey says: no Tokyo Olympics in Summer 2021

    courtesy of Tokyo Organizing Committee

    Japan (MNN) — Support for the Tokyo Olympics just hit a new low in Japan. The latest spike in Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections has 80-percent of Japanese residents saying the Summer Games should be rescheduled again, or canceled altogether.

    “People have different feelings. Some [are] saying, ‘it’s impossible so let’s give up’; [the] government hasn’t,” Takeshi Takazawa explains. Takazawa is Vice President for Missional Engagement and is the former National Director for Asian Access in Japan.

  • COVID-19 surge puts Tokyo under state of emergency

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    Japan (MNN) — The world’s most populous city is now under a state of emergency thanks to soaring COVID-19 infections. Japan reported 6,100 new cases on Thursday, with roughly half coming from Tokyo. The emergency declaration began Friday and will end on February 7.“

    Over the Christmas into New Year’s holidays, we couldn’t change the trend of steep [infection] increases, especially in the bigger cities. Hokkaido and Osaka requested ‘state of emergency’-type restrictions; however, Tokyo never went into that stage,” Takeshi Takazawa explains.

  • Suicide killing more people in Japan than COVID-19

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    Pandemic challenges Japan’s group-oriented culture

    Japan (MNN) — While other countries battle rising COVID-19 cases, Japan is seeing a different kind of spike – suicides.

    More people in Japan have died by suicide in 2020 than from COVID-19. In fact, their suicide numbers in October alone outnumbered the nation’s total COVID-19 deaths in the first 11 months of the year.

  • US and other countries begin COVID-19 vaccine rollout

    Header image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay.

    Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective at preventing someone from catching COVID-19.

    Japan (MNN) — This week, the company Pfizer will deliver an estimated 2.9 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to locations around the US. The UK has already begun using the vaccine, which was developed by the German company BioNTech.

    The vaccine was developed in under a year and uses new technology to vaccinate people against viruses. It needs to be kept at very cold temperatures, at least 70 degrees below zero Celsius.

  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.Japan (MNN) — Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned, citing chronic health concerns. Last year, he became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, serving his current period in office since 2012. This isn’t the first time Mr. Abe has resigned as Japan’s prime minister for health reasons. He left a previous term in 2007 for similar chronic health reasons. Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access says:

  • Asian Access overcomes pandemic restrictions, launches new programs

    South Asia (MNN) — So far, 2020 has been a memorable year for all the wrong reasons. Global events like the COVID-19 pandemic create an unpredictable atmosphere for ministry. But Joe Handley of Asian Access says there’s a bright spot amidst the chaos. Asian Access equips national church leaders to multiply churches and make disciples. “We had been planning for several years to do a digital media initiative to equip younger generations, as well as where the persecuted Church lies” in South Asia, Handley explains...

  • Japan finally social distancing after April COVID-19 wave

    Novel Coronavirus Expert meeting in Japan. This was the first meeting on February 16. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)Japan (MNN) — Japan faces a new wave of confirmed coronavirus cases as the government starts testing more people. Many have referred to the April uptick as a second wave, the first happening in March, but Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access views it as a delayed wave. Up until the beginning of April, Japan had not seen many cases, even though the virus first arrived in January. Read our full COVID-19 coverage here. Takazawa says of active cases, “I think the number has been... 

  • Asian Access adapts as Olympics officials reschedule

    Tokyo 2020 OlympicsJapan (MNN) — The coronavirus dealt another discouraging blow this week. Officials are postponing the Summer Olympic Games to 2021. More details here. The Olympics have been cancelled three times but never postponed. “Japan as a society is disappointed that we’re having to delay. Likewise, all of us that are doing ministry related to the Olympics have a sense of disappointment. However, we also want the world to be safe,” Joe Handley of Asian Access tells MNN. “We realize what’s at stake so we’re trying to reach out in a different way...

  • Coronavirus sweeps across China

    China (MNN) — A coronavirus continues to spread through China and to other countries, presenting new challenges for Asian Access. The coronavirus first appeared in the city of Wuhan in China. Like the SARS coronavirus in 2003, this currently unnamed virus has mutated to be able to infect not just animals, but humans as well. Precisely how it made the jump from animals to humans is unknown. China has quarantined more than... {addthis off}

  • New Year, new optimism for Japan.

    Japan 2020Japan (MNN) – In his New Year address, Japan’s emperor Naruhito greeted his subjects, wished them well, hoped for a disaster-free year, and tried to set a tone of optimism. It was a message that resonated with people now struggling on multiple fronts. Joe Handley, president of Asian Access, said there are various layers on the social issues. “The people are not happy,...{addthis off}

  • Japan in recovery from two typhoons in two weeks

    Japan (MNN) — Just weeks after the super Typhoon Hagibis,another storm raced in over the weekend: Typhoon Bualoi. Robert Adair of Asian Access says the area is still in recovery mode. For those who experienced the triple disaster in 2011, the typhoons have dredged up familiar fears. Adair says that visually, the aftermath looks the same. The remnants of the storms show the water’s pathways, and people’s belongings are scattered in the open...{addthis off}

  • Japan: Typhoon Hagibis aftermath

    Japan (MNN) – Super Typhoon Hagibis—Tagalog for ‘speedy’—left a large and muddy footprint over Japan. Today, thousands of military personnel and first responders remain in search and rescue mode in the wake of torrential rains that caused 20 rivers to burst their banks. Even as the casualty rate climbs, Asian Access’ Robert Adair says the scope of long-term damage means this is just the beginning. “The storm came in just south of Tokyo, kind of in Chiba and that region, and then came across Japan up through Tohoku, which is the area that was hit by the disaster back in March of 2011.“ {addthis off} 

  • Emperor to step down as Japan approaches Reiwa era

    by Bagus Pangestu from PexelsJapan (MNN) — There’s a new day dawning in the land of the rising sun. Japan’s current emperor – Akihito – is stepping down at the end of April. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will take over this largely-symbolic yet culturally-vital role on May 1. The move basically amounts to resignation, which doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance. Yet, as Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access explains, “This is the first time a current emperor has decided and requested… that he would resign [and for the] Crown Prince to assume the emperor’s position. “This is a brand new thing in our history.” {addthis off}

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