Mutant Butterflies Found Near Fukushima
( TIME )

No matter how you cut it, finding mutant butterflies is hard to spin
as a positive result. But the knowledge gained from the pale grass
blue butterfly, a.k.a. Zizeeria maha, could potentially help down the
road as the country recovers from one of the world’s worst nuclear
power disasters.

According to a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers
started looking at butterflies near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant two months after the March 2011 tsunami damaged the reactors,
causing a potential radiation leak. Of the initial 100 butterflies
studied, 12% had mutations. But as the butterflies mated, the rate of
mutation in successive generations increased to 34%, showing that the
mutating genes were easily passed along to offspring.

The problems were widespread, with abnormalities found including
broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, problems with legs,
antennae, abdomen and eyes and even shifts in color pattern.
Intrigued by the initial findings, researchers took a look at 200
butterflies in September and found that the mutation rate was
increasing in the latest generation of butterflies -- the ones that
were likely larvae around the time of the disaster -- with more than
half of new butterflies showing some kind of mutation.

But butterflies can be particularly susceptible to radiation; not all
animals will suffer a similar fate, which is exactly why researchers
want more tests done on different species. “Sensitivity [to
irradiation] varies between species, so research should be conducted
on other animals,” Joji Otaki, an associate professor at the
University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, told the Japan Times.

Fortunately for humans, they generally fare better than butterflies
when it comes to handling radiation. Hopefully much better.


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War’s Legacy Plagues Japan and Its Neighbors
( TIME )

It’s been an eventful week in Japan, what with South Korea’s
President insulting the emperor, Cabinet members paying homage to war
criminals, Chinese protesters landing on a disputed island and local
citizens demanding an apology and compensation for a land battle on
Okinawa 67 years ago.

It’s just more evidence that the legacy of World War II is alive and
not well in Asia. While resumption of open hostilities seems
unlikely, the odds are getting better all the time.

“For China and Korea, the war is still unfinished business,” says
Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS in
Honolulu. “What we’re seeing played out now is the politics of
resentment and grievance. It’s emotionally satisfying, but in the
absence of genuine leadership, the situation is only going to get
worse. So when there’s another incident that sparks a confrontation,
does that become a sobering moment, or kindling for the fire?”

“From our point of view, this was the most offensive position [Lee]
could have taken,” says Kazuhiko Togo, director of the Institute for
World Affairs at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan. “We went through
a very difficult period of soul-searching after the war from which
emerged a general understanding among the majority of Japanese that
much was wrong with our colonization of Korea. And in totality, in my
view, the Japanese side has expressed a proper and sincere apology.”

M.G. Sheftall, a military historian and associate professor of
culture and communication at Shizuoka University, says Japan is
viewed with some suspicion in the region in part because it retained
many of the trappings of its wartime identity and has avoided a wide
discussion of the role of the imperial family during the war.

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まさかの競技者たち 五輪での韓国の強さを説明すると

Unlikely Contenders: What Explains the Koreas’ Olympic Strength?
( TIME )

In the end, the Turk didn’t have a fighting chance. On Aug. 10, in a
sport native to her homeland, South Korea’s defending Olympic
champion Hwang Kyung Seon kicked her way to a 12-5 victory in
the-67 kg women’s taekwondo final over Turkey’s Nur Tatar. The
contest began in an exhilarating fashion after the pair traded
vicious head kicks within milliseconds. But by the end of the second
round, the 26-year-old Korean welterweight began to dominate, evading
her opponent’s attacks as she unleashed a relentless flurry of
kicks. The South Korean entered the history books as the first
taekwondo fighter to medal in three Olympics, having won a bronze in
Athens and the pair of golds in Beijing and London. “It feels like
flying,” Hwang said. “I’ve done something special for the country
and it makes me very proud.”

Taekwondo isn’t the only sport in which the Koreas -- both North and
South -- have been flying. So far in the Games, South Korea has
racked up 13 gold medals, seven silvers and seven bronzes. By
gold-medal tallies, South Korea is now fifth in the rankings, after
the U.S., China, Great Britain and Russia. The Asian nation struck
gold in everything from fencing and archery to shooting and
gymnastics. Traditionally, many of South Korea’s medals have come
from archery. In women’s team archery, for instance, the South
Koreans have won every title in the event’s 24-year history. “We
expect a record total of gold medals this year,” said Lee Kee Heung,
the head of the South Korean Olympic delegation, on Friday. “It’s
all thanks to the combination of people’s support, the government’s
assistance and hard work put in by athletes and their coaches.”

What explains the success of Korean athletes during the Games? Let’s
focus here on the South Koreans, not the North Koreans, who are
compelled by the totalitarian regime to produce medals or else. One
explanation credits a psychology borne of geography -- a position
sandwiched between China and Japan (the latter of which occupied the
Koreas for part of the 20th century) has bred a people with a keen
sense of self-preservation. A strong competitive spirit naturally

Then there’s official encouragement. The South Korean government has
built lavish training centers for national sports teams and gives
athletes financial rewards for medaling in the Olympics. Korean
conglomerates also sponsor entire sports teams, such as Hyundai Motor
Group’s 27-year, $26.5 million association with the winning archery
squad or SK Telecom’s financial gifts to the Korean fencing team.

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潔い敗者 日本女子サッカーが米国との再戦での銀メダルを喜ぶ

Gracious Losers: Japan’s Women Celebrate Silver in a Soccer Rematch
with the U.S.
( TIME )

When in doubt, bow. On Aug. 9, the Japanese women’s squad succumbed
to the Americans in the Olympic soccer finals 2-1. But on the victory
podium, as they collected their silver medals, the Japanese grinned,
waved and bobbed their heads respectfully to the near-capacity crowd
assembled at London’s hallowed Wembley Stadium. Then they raised
their arms in unison and danced an impromptu jig. What else was there
to do? Another bow, of course.

Both Japan and the U.S. enjoyed raucous support from the crowd, stars
and stripes sharing space with the rising sun, as 80,203 football
fans electrified the Wembley stands. It was the largest crowd to ever
gather for an Olympic women’s soccer match. There was little of the
kind of acrimony that had marred the U.S.-Canada semifinal. After the
match, I went to talk to Japanese fans, expecting to hear expressions
of disappointment or even frustration over a seeming hand ball by
Tobin Heath that was not called. But I couldn’t find anyone who
professed regret at the outcome. “It’s so nice to be here,” said
Mirai Kudo, a Japanese fan from Aomori prefecture, who had a rising
sun painted on each cheek. “There are so many Japanese here
cheering, and I am really enjoying the team spirit.” The loudspeaker
burst out with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and Kudo
bounced right along.

Of those five gold medals, four have been courtesy of women. Earlier
in the day that the Japanese female footballers won silver, Japan
claimed its third women’s wrestling gold of the Olympics, when Saori
Yoshida captured the 55-kg title. It was the nine-time world
champion’s third-straight Olympic gold, a hat trick also
accomplished a day earlier by fellow Japanese Kaori Icho in the 63-kg
weight category. Given that Olympic women’s wrestling only debuted
in 2004, the Japanese pair has been utterly dominant.

For a nation that perennially undervalues women in the workplace,
it’s worth noting how essential Japan’s women have been in bringing
gold medals home. The country has lost two decades to economic
stagnation and political atrophy. Imagine if women were more involved
in shaping the country’s future.

For Norio Sasaki, who has helmed the women’s team for four years,
his squad’s strength is a given. Japan’s female footballers are
known as the Nadeshiko, after a frilly but hardy alpine flower. What
was the legacy of his team, the coach was asked after its silver-
medal performance? “It’s teamwork,” he replied. “We have played
with a bright and open attitude, with justice, with a sense of fair
play, with a respect for our opponents. Even though it’s a team of
small girls, they are very strong. That shows the beauty of Japanese

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Team China Dominates in Men’s Gymnastics as Japan Takes Silver
( TIME )

Their reign isn’t over yet. As the Chinese went into the men’s team
gymnastics final having placed an astonishingly poor sixth in the
qualifications, naysayers began to whisper: did a squad that was the
reigning Olympic champion and world-title holder for five consecutive
years finally lose its luster?

The Chinese squad has profited from a system that culls pliable tots
from kindergartens nationwide and deposits them in state-run sports
schools where they live and breathe gymnastics year-round. But the
gymnastics assembly line has slowed in recent years. After the
retirement of Yang Wei, the all-around veteran with the lopsided
smile, no one on the Chinese team has been quite able to replicate
his range.

A change to the Olympic rules also had the potential to undercut the
Chinese. Previously, each team could field six athletes, meaning that
squads could cultivate specialists in individual apparatuses (the
pommel horse, the rings, the vault, the parallel bars, the horizontal
bar and the floor), as well as fielding one or two all-around
athletes. But in London, teams were limited to five competitors,
meaning that athletes who can perform well in more than one event are

But none of that mattered on Monday. Clutch performances on the vault
by Zou Kai, Feng Zhe and Zhang Chenglong sent the Chinese from sixth
to first place after the second rotation. They never relinquished the
lead after that. There were no major mistakes by any of the Chinese,
just a consistent racking up of points. Even substitute Guo Weiyang
resisted further embarrassment, turning out respectable performances
on the pommel horse, rings and parallel bars.

The Japanese squad was anchored by Kohei Uchimura, the only male
gymnast in history to have won three all-around championships. But
the 23-year-old, with his rock-star looks and technically jam-packed
routines, has looked distracted in London. In the qualification round
on Saturday, the reigning all-around champ spun off not one but two
apparatuses. During the final, however, he competed in all six
apparatuses and churned out solid results -- until he got to the
pommel horse, the Japanese squad’s weakest event. Uchimura botched
his dismount and was left shaking his head and wincing.

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