The rainy season in Japan usually ends in early July; however, severe and abnormal weather plagued Japan during the entire month this year. First, a strong typhoon passing from south to north soaked the western island, Kyushu. The typhoon kicked off the seasonal rain front in the western half of Japan, which resulted in historical rainfall. Some areas received more than 1,000 millimeters of rain in less than four days—a record amount of rainfall for many towns. The downpours caused floods and landslides near riverbanks, destroyed bridges, and washed out roadways. More than 250 people were killed or remain missing, and 5,000 families lost their homes. Water and power supply, as well as railways, sustained critical damage and many remain in the dark without water. More than 5,000 people are relying on evacuation shelters.
Why did this year’s damage seem worse than past years? Days before, using the highest-class super computer, the Japanese Meteorological Agency did a great job forecasting the historically severe rainfall. The super computer expected more rainfall than previous records. They issued repeated warnings for those in direct danger but did not have the power to issue mandatory evacuations for these areas. All they could do was communicate the weather forecast. The responsibility to protect individuals in the line of fire falls on the shoulders of the police and fire departments, and ultimately the cabinet and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan.
A few years ago, there was a landslide after a severe rainfall in Hiroshima Prefecture, in which more than 70 people were killed. This disaster should have taught Japan to develop a preventable action plan and early warning system to avoid loss of human life. Current technology can capture this data; it’s time to develop a meaningful action plan using this data when there is clear, imminent danger.
Several cabinet members, including the prime minister, were attending a private party with congressmen from the ruling party while the Meteorological Agency released the warning of severe rainfall (sounds like someone was asleep at the wheel). We may need a barometer to measure the effectiveness of our politicians.
1. NEC (Major electronics company in Japan) 6/29
Developed a new compression-type cooling system for servers of data centers that will reduce power consumption by 20%.
2. Rengo (Major packaging material supplier in Japan) 7/2
Developed a cellulose nanofiber (CNF) as the frame material for automobiles that has higher mechanical strength with smaller weight, compared to steels.
3. Tokyo University (Japan) 7/3
Co-developed a new optical device that forms a spiral flower structure with silicon with Konica Minolta.
4. Showa Denko (Major chemical company in Japan) 7/3
Decided to expand the monthly manufacturing capacity of high-quality SiC wafer from 5,000 wafers to 9,000 wafers for power electronics demands.
5. Fujitsu (Major electronics company in Japan) 7/5
Agreed to sell a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Mie Prefecture with UMC, Taiwan, for 57.6 billion yen.
6. Shimadzu (Major scientific equipment manufacturer in Japan) 7/6
Developed a new laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for the chemical analysis of trace amounts of metallic elements in the waste water of semiconductor plants.
7. Seiko Epson (Major electronics company in Japan) 7/9
Built a new manufacturing factory of the ink jet printer heads at Hirooka Plant, Nagano. The manufacturing capacity will be three times larger.
8. NIMS (Major R&D organization in Japan) 7/10
Co-developed a new synthesized process of carbon nanosheets in an aqueous solution. The thickness of the sheet is less than 10 nanometers.
9. Kyushu University (Japan) 7/10
Developed a new type of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) device with higher conversion rates than 100% between singlet and triplet state.
10. Daicel (Major supplier of specialty chemicals in Japan) 7/10
Will build a new manufacturing facility of nano-silver ink for printable electronics. The new ink provides a higher conductivity by low-temperature baking.
11. Canon (Major electronics company in Japan) 7/10
Will release a new high-resolution complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensor, “120MXSM,” with 120 million pixels for process inspection of the next generation of display panels in July.
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