Residents on Edge of Evacuation Zone Return Home
In Japan, some residents of one city in the Fukushima evacuation zone are being allowed to return home.  More than 300 people from one district in the northeastern city of Tamura were forced to evacuate following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that destroyed a nuclear reactor. Tamura is about 12 miles from the plant, right on the edge of the radioactive zone. With more on their homecoming, here’s Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
People in the neighborhood had to leave their homes right after the accident three years ago. But government officials found that radiation levels were relatively low. So workers could contaminate the area before other parts of the evacuation zone around the plant. But most evacuees from the area say they don’t plan to return home in the near future. Some of them are worried there may still be pockets of high radiation. Hideyuki Tsuboi says his parents will return home. Tsuboi, his wife, and their three young daughters will stay in temporary housing in another part of Tamura.

Hideyuki Tsuboi:
It’s our responsibility as parents to ensure a safe life for children. That’s the main reason we decided not to go back.

Government officials plan to give dosimeters to people moving back to the neighborhood.  More than 80,000 people from the evacuation zone still can’t return home.

The government is in charge of removing radioactive substances from the evacuation zone around the nuclear plant. The area includes  all or parts of 11 cities, towns and villages. But the cleanup effort doesn’t include a zone with high radiation.  As we mentioned earlier, officials on Tuesday lifted the evacuation order for the city of Tamura. Environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara says the government also  finished clean up work in two other towns and a village on schedule.

Nobuteru Ishihara:
We will continue monitoring radiation levels to  confirm that the effect of the decontamination work lasts. We will do our best to rebuild those areas We will also do all we can to speed up decontamination of other areas to complete the work on time.

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Pakistan May Negotiate a Ceasefire with the Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban wants to extend a ceasefire with the government. The ceasefire was declared to allow negotiators to try to find an end to seven years of horrific violence. Here’s Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with negotiators for the Pakistani Taliban earlier this month in the capital, Islamabad. The government has been in talks with the largest insurgent group since February. One March 1st, the Pakistani Taliban unilaterally announced a month-long ceasefire. Youssef Shah, a negotiator for the Taliban told AFP on Tuesday that the top priority for the next phase of talks is to extend the ceasefire. It’s due to run out next week. Experts remain divided over the real motivation for the Taliban sudden announcement. Just beforehand, the Pakistani military launched massive air strikes against the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Some analysts say the Taliban opted for a ceasefire as a ploy to buy time to prepare counter attacks. Pakistan has long been a terrorist hotbed, but with multi-national combat troops due to withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan by the year’s end, experts say stability in Pakistan is extremely important for the whole region.

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China's Fishermen Set down Their Nets and Pick up Arms
The long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea is about to get hotter. China is giving some of its fishermen military training so they can help defend China's claims to three quarters of the sea. Here’s  Japan’s NHK.
This is Tanmen, a fishing village on Hainan Island in southern China. Local government officials are spending almost 17-million dollars to improve infrastructure They are making this village a base for China's maritime activities.

Here fishermen who build boats are eligible for local subsidies.
If certain requirements are met, they must fish for at least three months in waters in the South China Sea, south of this line.To encourage them to do that, the government also pays a fuel subsidy.
Fisherman Chen Zebo receives this payment and another financial incentive.

Chen Zebo:
I receive the special daily allowance for fishing in the South China Sea. I receive about 300 dollars a day for my boat.

Some fishermen like Chen also serve in the militia, performing maritime assignment for the local government. They receive military training including how to fire weapons. The maritime militia is set up on certain parts of southern and eastern China’s shores. It's estimated that several million Chinese serve in both the sea and land militias.

Members of the militia from Tanmen served in the war against Vietnam and other conflicts. They carried weapons and gave other non-combat support for the regular army.
Now, just over two hundred belong to the militia in Tanmen. They aren't usually armed, but they are required to radio the Chinese authorities as soon as they sight foreign ships or fishing boats.
President Xi Jinping visited Tamnen last year. He ordered the militia to gather information from the open sea and help with construction on remote islands in the South China Sea.
Chen once fished in the region where China and the Philippines are embroiled in territorial disputes. Philippine authorities detained him for short time. But he still believes it’s his duty to protect this area of the sea.

Chen Zebo:
If anything happens in the sea, I'll notify the Chinese authorities right away. If it weren’t for the fisherman of my village, the South China sea would've been occupied by some other countries."
A government run Chinese institution, that researches the South China Sea says, this militia activities play a important role in upholding China’s sovereignty.

Wu Shicun:
This undertakings are ways to protect China's maritime interests. Fishing and economic activities in the South China Sea are an important means of demonstrating China's presence.

In return for generous government incentives, these fishermen sail to the South China Sea to cast their nets. And while there, their unofficial duty is lookouts for their government. These activities send a clear signal that China is determined to assert itself in the area.

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Want to Join the KCETLink Team? Become a KCETLink Ambassador!

 2014 KCETLink Ambassador Program
June 9 - August 15, 2014

Thanks to a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, the KCETLink Ambassador (formerly LinkAsia Ambassadors)  program will enter its second year in Summer 2014.  This is a year-long fellowship program, with an intensive 10 week internship period,  that provides undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in asian studies  the opportunity to apply their academic learning in a professional journalistic setting. The program provides year-long mentorship, leadership development, journalism training, and hands-on experience creating a dynamic weekly television series. Offered to 4 college students each year, the program includes a two-day intensive workshop in San Francisco, followed by a ten-week paid summer internship at KCETLink’s San Francisco or Los Angeles offices. During this summer experience, fellows will develop an action plan for engaging their communities around Asia through the relevant KCETLink content like LinkAsia, SoCal Connected, and Artbound when they return to their individual campuses.

Please feel free to circulate this posting through your networks. EXTENDED SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Monday, April 14, 2014.

How to Apply

  • Submit your resume and cover letter explaining why you want to be a Student Ambassador to Indicate in your letter which KCETLink office in which you would like to work.   
  • Include a self-made video explaining in both English and your primary Asian language (if applicable) the reasons for your interest in this internship. Please post to YouTube or other video hosting site and provide a link in your cover letter. 
  • Submission deadline (updated): Monday, April 14, 2014.

- Bilingual strongly preferred (English and an Asian language)
- Must be able to travel to San Francisco, CA or Burbank, CA  and arrange housing independently.
- Must be able to make a 10-week commitment ( June 9th-August 15th, 2014)
- Freeman Scholars highly encouraged to apply, Non-Freeman Scholars and bilingual Asian language speakers are also welcome.


Job Descriptions
KCETLink is looking for qualified students to become Student Ambassadors in Summer 2014 in both our San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. Students will be expected to work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks, and will be paid $10.74/hour.

All ambassadors will attend  a 2-day workshop in San Francisco  that will include orientation, grassroots leadership training, shadowing staff, guest speakers and technical instruction. They will receive the unique opportunity to work in editorial selection, translation, production, script writing, and creating blogs and pieces for broadcast during their 10-week tenure at KCETLink’s offices. After the 10 week internship, ambassadors are asked to volunteer their time towards engagement activities on their campuses working to create awareness of KCETLink’s programming. During their tenure, ambassadors will be provided with mentorship from a KCETLink staff member, who will serve as a resource throughout the year, helping to craft individualized action plans to raise awareness about KCETLink on their campus. Examples include: organizing a guest speaker to visit their campus, hosting a screening, or reposting LinkAsia materials on social media.

Arts and Culture Ambassador - Burbank, CA
Ambassadors working out of KCETLink’s Los Angeles office will have the opportunity to work alongside experienced staff at all levels of production on award winning programs such as Artbound, Departures, CityWalk, as well as projects in development such as Dive into Ukiyo-e. Ambassadors will get editorial experience with opportunities to contribute to program blogs and social media,  as well as field and studio production experience. Candidates should have strong writing skills and be interested in Asian and Asian-American arts and culture.

LinkAsia Ambassador - San Francisco, CA
Ambassadors working out of KCETLink’s San Francisco office will be focused on the program LinkAsia. They will have the opportunity to monitor to write and shoot their own contributor pieces covering top stories in Asia, translate social media from China and Japan, and  blog about issues that matter to them. LinkAsia Ambassadors will work intensely on building their journalism skills.




About LinkAsia: From Beijing to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi and beyond, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia -- from Asia -- offering unfiltered insights into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe. Each week, LinkAsia brings you a unique half-hour program that combines everything from the official state news from Asia's top television networks to the trends and conversations rising through Asia's blogs and social media. Viewers can access LinkAsia on LinkTV (DIRECT ch 375/DISH ch 9410), on KCET, on public television’s WORLD Channel, and online at

About KCETLink
In December 2012, KCET—the nation’s largest independent public television station—and Link TV—the first independent, national television network dedicated to providing Americans with global perspectives on news, events and culture—merged to form KCETLink.  Our new organization took shape in 2013, and is dedicated to serving the audiences of our two main brands:
KCET:  On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern California.  Founded in 1964, KCET is the nation’s largest independent public television station, serving greater Los Angeles and an 11-county region of Southern California with the highest-quality public media.  KCET reaches one of the largest geographic areas and one of the most diverse populations of any public television station in the country.
For over two decades, KCET has been a leader in regional news production, previously with our nightly public affairs series, Life & Times (which ran for 16 seasons), and our statewide co-production, California Connected (which ran for five seasons), and now with our Peabody, duPont-Columbia and Emmy Award-winning weekly news magazine, SoCal Connected.  KCET is also committed to broadcasting news and information from around the globe, and has served since 2008 as the national distributor of BBC World News to public television stations around the country.
Additionally, KCET has become the primary producer of award-winning arts and culture programming for Southern and Central California.  KCET’s arts series include Artbound, which explores the intersection of arts, culture and community; Live @ the Ford, a showcase for multicultural dance and music performances; Open Call, a classical, contemporary and jazz music concert program; and Fine Cut, a broadcast screening series of student films.  Since 2006, KCET has also produced the award-winning online documentary series about Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods, Departures.
Link TV:  Founded in 1999, Link TV is the first nationwide television network dedicated to providing Americans with global perspectives on news, events and culture.  Our mission is to engage, inform and inspire viewers its audiences to participate in transformational, sustainable change on issues of global importance.  Link TV is available as a basic service on DIRECTV (channel 375) and DISH Network (channel 9410), reaching more than 34 million US households.  Link TV productions include the current affairs series, LinkAsia, which presents nuanced perspectives on under-represented issues in Asia, from Asian media sources; and the global environmental news magazine, Earth Focus.  In addition to original programming, Link TV broadcasts hundreds of documentaries from around the world; news reports from Deutsche Welle, France 24, NHK World and Democracy Now!; and the wildly popular Danish political drama, Borgen, and the Israeli TV sitcom, Arab Labor.

For information about KCETLink productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules, and community events, please visit or


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Chinese Women Swoon Over Their Love from the Star

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Japan's Stem Cell Discovery Under Scrutiny
Earlier this year scientists in Japan published groundbreaking stem cell
research. Their findings were viewed as a game changer- simplifying the
process of regenerating cells, and significantly reducing the time it takes to
do so. Needless to say this offered hope to quickly replace damaged cells or
grow new organs for sick and injured people. But their published findings hit
a snag "there have been reports that other scientists have been unable to
replicate the Japanese team's results" leading to speculation that the
research was flawed. Here's NHK with more.
NHK Stem Cells--
Rioji Noyori:
I would like to first and foremost express my deep regrets that articles published in ‘Nature’ by our scientists are bring into question the credibility of the scientific community.

Masatoshi Takeichi is the director of the RIKEN Center for   Developmental Biology. He oversaw the work of the research team. He too apologized. Takeichi  said he advised the authors to quickly withdraw the papers and  conduct the experiment again.The researchers led by Haruko Obokata claimed to find a way to create a phenomenon called STAP, Stimulus Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency. They said their approach made cells flexible enough to  develop into any type of tissue. But scientists elsewhere questioned the findings. Investigators from RIKEN are examining 6 aspects of the papers. The look that photos that are appeared to have been tempered with, to show STAP cell's growing. And they looked at photos of placenta that appeared to come from different tests.

The investigators concluded the ways the researcher dealt with data in  these cases was not appropriate. But they said that this did not amount to wrongdoing. The investigators  said they need to look further into  four other aspects. One of the key aspects is photos of tissues allegedly created from STAP cells that determine that the photos came from Obokata’s doctoral thesis. The images showed tissues produced with cells from a different source.

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Japan Marks the 3 Year Anniversary of 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami

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Fukushima's Displaced: Life After 3/11

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami flooded the Fukushima Daiichi power facility, and caused a nuclear meltdown at three of its reactors. Since then workers have been scrambling to store the massive amounts of radioactive water, well over 90 million gallons, and keep it from leaking into the ocean.

At least 18,000 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami. And more than 270,000 people were displaced by the disaster. Efforts to rebuild homes will take years. That situation is especially complicated in Fukushima, where people have been dealing with damage from the tsunami as well as the effects of the nuclear crisis. And three years later, people in the region are still waiting to learn when and if they'll ever be able to return home to restart their lives. In the meantime, they're stuck in temporary housing. With more on how they're getting by, here's Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.



One of the few pleasures Soiichi Saitou enjoys these days is spending time with his dog.

Souichi Saitou:

I walk my dog every morning and evening. That helps me more than anything. I don't have to think about anything when I'm with you right?


Saito tries not to dwell much on how life used to be in his hometown Futaba. His family farmed there for more than 500 years. They were particularly proud of their spinach. It won prizes for its high quality. Saito did worry about one thing, his house and field were about three kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi. He was concerned that an accident could occur at the plant, particularly that it could be hit by a tsunami. His worst fears came true. He remembers the repeated discussions he had with staff from the nuclear plant.

Souichi Saitou:

I had asked the plant's operator over the decades to protect the plant against tsunamis. They just laughed and said that kind of accident would never happen.


The nuclear accident forced Saitou and other residents to flee. He now lives in another city about 40 kilometers away.

These temporary houses were built as a quick fix solution, but about three years later, they still serve as the main residence of evacuees. Saitou shares a small unit with his wife and his mother. They say the idleness of living in temporary housing has weakened them physically and mentally. They miss the days when they worked hour after hour in the fields. But their hometown is still off limits because of high radiation. Residents need special permission to go back. This footage was taken when Saitou visited his house about a year after the disaster. He was able to stay for only a few hours. He was devastated by what he saw. His spinach greenhouses were overgrown with weeds. And rats had invaded his home. Still, Saitou did not give up hope that someday he would return. But last year he received another shock. The government announced a plan to build a storage facility for nuclear waste in Saitou's home town. His property is on the proposed site. The facility would hold radioactive soil collected from areas across northeastern Japan for 30 years. Saitou knows if that plan goes through, he'll never return to Futaba.

Souichi Saitou:

I remember my hometown and I wonder why were we forced to leave? Why do we have to be here? I want the government to decontaminate our land and save our community no matter how long it takes.


Many evacuees are still living in limbo three years after the disaster. Saitou is still hanging on to the hope that he'll be able to return to his house and farm, a hope that he knows is growing more distant by the day.     


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Onomichi Denim Project Looks to Sell 'Worn-in' Jeans

Onomichi Denim Project


NHK WORLD English- Designing Denim

How much would you pay for a pair of jeans that someone's worn for a year to give them that broken in look, unique to the way that individual wears them? One Japanese company is heading a campaign to do just that. And they're hoping it will revive its local economy.






This temple in Onomichi City in Hiroshima prefecture was built more than 600 years ago. Its chief priest is wearing not traditional robes, but denims. And the chef at this sushi restaurant famous for using locally caught fresh fish is also wearing jeans. The priest and the chef are part of the Onomichi Denim Project now underway in this western city. The organizers are asking people of all ages and from all walks of life to wear their denims for a year. Participants include carpenters, doctors and ship builders. The goal of the project is to make bonafide used denims.

Its leader is Yukinobu Danjo. His family runs a generations old sewing business in Onomichi. They once owned several plants, but cheap imports have forced them to scale down their operations over the past decade. 

Yukinobu Danjo:

I grew up here and I'm a part of Japan's manufacturing industry. I don't want to abandon it.


Danjo wanted to create special denim clothes that would help revitalize the local textile sector. This thought prompted him to get creative with people in and around Onomichi. He asked for help from a renowned local denim designer. They decided to create a special kind of vintage denim through techniques used up to the 1960s. The thread was died at this 120 year old firm. Only the outer part of the thread was dyed. So the core remained white. The technique creates beautiful shades of color and patterns when the fabric is rubbed.

Yukinobu Danjo:

The different movements each person makes while wearing the jeans create unique patterns. After being worn many times, the denims don't just become old or used. They become like vintage jeans.


The Onomichi Denim Project aims to tell each person's story through denim. The denim takes on something akin to a real feeling. Danjo visits a participant at a fishery cooperative in the city.


It looks like the knees are faded well, maybe too much. But isn't it better for pants to be faded more evenly?

Yukinobu Danjo:

No no, your way is best.


Fisherman Nobuchika Tagashira participated in the project. He has worn the jeans almost every day for the past year. They have faded greatly and turned yellow due to exposure to seawater and the wind.

Nobuchika Tagashira:

I grew to like the jeans after wearing them for the first six months. Then I was eager to see what they would be like after the full year.

Yukinobu Danjo:

If all the workers in Onomichi wear jeans as their work pants we can build a new denim town. I'll be overjoyed if that helps revive Onomichi in a way we haven't seen in a long time.


The people of Onomichi have collaborated to create a new style of denim, and the jeans will go on sale next month. But that isn't the end of the story. A second denim project is under consideration, and could lead to another round of unique creativity for this celebrated textile heartland.


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Nuclear Comeback in Energy Policy

TEPCOIn Japan, government officials are moving ahead with plans to revive nuclear power. Prior to the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi meltdown, 30% of the country's electricity was generated by more than 50 commercial reactors. Previous leaders had vowed to phase nuclear out, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a new policy redefining it as an important energy source. Here's NHK with more.


Toshimitsu Motehi, Japanese Industry Minister:

We will figure out how much nuclear power we need and we will secure that amount.


The draft document adopted by a group of cabinet ministers endorses a major change in Japan’s energy policy. The nuclear accident in Fukushima 3 years ago triggered a nationwide debate over nuclear power. The ruling party at that time promises to phase-out nuclear energy within 30 years. Shinzo Abe’s return to power in the December 2012 election changed the situation. The Prime Minister called elimination of nuclear power irresponsible.

The draft energy policy adopted on Tuesday says the government will re-start the reactors once they clear the latest safety regulations.

The document also underlines the need to learn from the nuclear accident and the importance of safety. But some people question whether it is really safe to resumes operations at nuclear power plants.

Among them, the governor of Niigata. His prefecture hosts the world largest nuclear plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Hirohiko Izumida, Niigata Governor:

TEPCO hasn't learned from the Fukushima accident. It's not qualified to operate nuclear plants.


Paul Scalise is an expert on Japan’s energy policy. He explains the rationale behind the government renewed  emphasis on nuclear power.

Paul Scalise/ Research Fellow, Temple University:

You have Japan's very precarious lack of natural resources and the hope that by moving away from fossil fuels like imported gas, oil, and coal, you can avoid very disrupted shocks to both electricity prices as well as gas prices that took place in the 1970s.


Scalise said the energy policy will be welcomed by the business community. But he adds the utilities and the government needs to display more transparency in order to convince the general public. 


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