The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, February 15, 2016, Page Page 2, Image 2

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February 15, 2016
Sakurajima volcano erupts spectacularly in Japan
TOKYO (AP) — A well-known volcano erupted in southern Japan with a fiery
blast that sent lava rolling down its slope. Japan’s Meteorological Agency said
Sakurajima on the island of Kyushu erupted at around 7:00pm on February 5.
Japanese television showed an orange burst out of the side of the volcano, near
the summit, accompanied by lightning-like flashes. Dark gray smoke billowed
into the sky. The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an
existing no-go zone around the crater to a 1.2-mile radius, according to public
broadcaster NHK. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The eruption,
while dramatic, was average compared to Sakurajima’s past eruptions, Kyoto
University volcanologist Kazuhiro Ishihara told NHK. The mountain’s last
major eruption was in September. The Japanese archipelago sits atop the
Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has more than 100 volcanoes. The 2014 eruption of
Mount Ontake in central Japan killed 57 people.
Tamil leaders call for U.N. help on 4,000 missing civilians
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil leaders have asked the
top U.N. human-rights official to help determine the fate of more than 4,000
civilians reported missing in the country’s long civil war amid the new
government’s assertion that most of them are probably dead. The U.N. official,
Zeid Raad al-Hussein, met with the chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern
Province, the center of the civil war, which ended in 2009. Zeid said he discussed
several issues with chief minister C.V. Wigneswaran, including the missing
people, detentions without trial, and military-occupied private land. He said he
would take the issues up with the central government. Sri Lankan Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said most of those reported missing are
probably dead.
China reports first case of imported Zika virus
BEIJING (AP) — China has reported its first case of the Zika virus in a man
who recently travelled to Venezuela. The National Health and Family Planning
Commission said the 34-year-old man from the southern city of Ganzhou was
treated in Venezuela on January 28 before returning home on February 5 via
Hong Kong and the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The commission said the
man was confirmed as having the Zika virus, but his temperature had returned
to normal and a skin rash was receding. It said the virus is highly unlikely to
spread in China due to low winter temperatures and a lack of mosquito activity,
the primary avenue by which Zika spreads. Zika infections in pregnant women
are suspected of causing a rare birth defect.
Leopard wanders into south Indian school, injures three
BANGALORE, India (AP) — Earlier this month, a leopard wandered into a
school in southern India and injured three people as it tried to escape, officials
said. Onlookers including TV news crews watched the chase, which lasted
several hours until forest workers shot the big cat with a tranquilizer dart,
according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The agency quoted school
officials as saying the leopard was first seen on closed-circuit television before
dawn inside the private Vibgyor School in Bangalore, and then disappeared into
some surrounding bushes. The big cat later scaled a wall to re-enter the school
grounds. It attacked and injured three people, including a veterinarian and a
man who was trying to climb over a gate to get away, the agency reported. Police
said the three were treated at a hospital.
Japan announces new sanctions on North Korea
TOKYO (AP) — Japan has announced it will impose new sanctions on North
Korea to protest a rocket launch seen as a test of missile technology. The
sanctions include expanded restrictions on travel between the two countries and
a complete ban on visits by North Korean ships to Japanese ports, chief cabinet
secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference. He said the sanctions would
be approved by the cabinet later and would also require legislative changes in
parliament. North Korea launched a long-range rocket carrying what it said was
an earth observation satellite into space. The launch, which came about a month
after the country’s fourth nuclear test, was quickly condemned by world leaders
as a potential threat to regional and global security. The U.S. Congress is also
considering imposing more stringent sanctions on North Korea.
N. Korea orders military takeover of inter-Korean factories
PAJU, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has ordered a military takeover of a
factory park that had been the last major symbol of cooperation with South
Korea, saying Seoul’s earlier suspension of operations at the jointly run facility
as punishment for the North’s recent rocket launch was a “dangerous
declaration of war.” North Korea said it was responding to Seoul’s shutdown
order by immediately deporting the hundreds of South Koreans who work at the
complex just across the world’s most heavily armed border in the city of
Kaesong, pulling out the tens of thousands of North Korean employees and
freezing all South Korean assets. The North also said it was shutting down two
crucial cross-border communication hotlines. An immediate worry in Seoul was
whether all South Korean workers would be allowed to leave. Some analysts
speculated that the North would hold onto some to get all the wages owed North
Korean workers. The North’s moves significantly raised the stakes in a standoff
that began with North Korea’s nuclear test in January, followed by a long-range
rocket launch that outsiders see as a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
South Korea responded by beginning work to suspend operations at the factory
park, one of its harshest possible punishment options.
MR. MONK DELIVERY. Buddhist monk Kaichi Watanabe performs rituals for the Uematsu family, who lost a family
member, during a memorial ceremony at a funeral hall in Yachiyo, east of Tokyo. In Japan, where communal ties to local
Buddhist temples are fading, families have in recent years been able to go online to find a Buddhist monk to perform funer-
als and other rituals. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Monks delivered via Amazon as
role of Japanese temples fade
By Mari Yamaguchi
The Associated Press
ACHIYO, Japan — In Japan, where
communal ties to local Buddhist
temples are fading, families have in
recent years been able to go online to find a
Buddhist monk to perform funerals and other
But when Amazon Japan allowed a provider
to offer Obo-san bin, or “Mr. Monk Delivery,”
on its website, it shone a spotlight on the
emerging trend and prompted a major
Buddhist organization to criticize the internet
marketer of commercializing religion.
A basic plan for a monk, transportation, and
a donation offered by the Tokyo-based pro-
vider, Minrevi Co., one of dozens of emerging
budget companies, costs 35,000 yen ($300).
Three other options are available for more
money. The monks would typically go to a
home, funeral hall, or a grave to perform the
requested ceremony.
“Such a thing is allowed in no other country
in the world. In this regard, we must say we
are disappointed by an attitude toward
religion by Amazon,” Akisato Saito, director of
the Japan Buddhist Association, said in a
Many Japanese, however, welcome the ser-
vice as a consumer-friendly approach to Bud-
dhist rituals, whose cost is often perceived as
murky and overpriced. Buddhist-style memo-
rial services offered by temples comparable to
the “monk delivery” could cost 100,000 yen
($830). Funerals are even more expensive and
can cost well over 1 million yen ($8,500).
Monk delivery services have emerged as
many of Japan’s 75,000 temples are losing
offerings and business with hereditary
members in their communities which
traditionally have been the main source of
financial support. That is threatening the
survival of many temples in rural areas. In
fact, some experts predict the majority of
Japanese temples without income from
tourism and other businesses are expected to
close over the next several decades.
Minrevi spokesman Jumpei Masano says
the service seems to attract those who want to
have Buddhist funerals but are uneasy about
the pricing system, and want to keep their
distance from temples.
“Many people don’t have ties with temples
and they have no idea where and how to
arrange Buddhist rituals, while monks are
increasingly concerned about their declining
temple membership,” Masano said. “We can
cater to the needs on both sides and hopefully
we can bring them together.”
Some monks acknowledge that the growing
business highlights the complacency of the
Buddhist temples and their failure to reach
out and adapt to the people’s needs.
“We do understand there are criticisms of us
as well and we take them seriously. And we
must ask ourselves if and how we can change,”
said Hanyu Kakubo, public relations secretary
for the Japan Buddhist Association.
When Yutaka Uematsu’s 17-year-old son
Kakeru died more than a month ago after
battling cancer, he searched the internet for a
funeral service provider.
Uematsu didn’t consider asking his father’s
family temple as he had heard the prices
charged for a family member’s funeral were
So he and his wife went to the Minrevi
website and picked for their son a package at a
Continued on page 7
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