Behold The FoetusGull

August 31st, 2005 | researchmaterial

A sculpture made with the pickled head of a dead fetus attached to a seagull’s body has fueled a furor in Switzerland about the boundaries of art.

Berne’s Museum of Fine Arts removed the piece from a Chinese art exhibition earlier this month after a complaint that it was disrespectful to the dead, and following concerns its grisly appearance might traumatize visiting schoolchildren.

The piece, named “Ruan,” stole headlines in Swiss newspapers when artist Xiao Yu confirmed that the fetus head was real…

Japanese Crime Boss Retires, Yakuza Cry Like Little Girls

August 31st, 2005 | researchmaterial

Yoshinori Watanabe shocked Japan’s underworld late July with the announcement that he was standing down as the kumicho, or chairman, of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s biggest yakuza syndicate.

Hundreds of yakuza gang bosses from across Japan went to the Yamaguchi-gumi’s Kobe headquarters for the July 29 meeting as they were watched by scores of police and media representatives.

Watanabe, 64, announced his retirement in a statement read out by Saizo Kishimoto, general manager of the syndicate’s headquarters.

Apparently, the huge meeting room where the gang bosses sat in silence while the announcement was made, with the hush broken only when some broke down in tears.

Watanabe then stood up and addressed his In November last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Watanabe, as head of the syndicate, could be held liable in civil cases brought about because of crimes committed by members of the Yamaguchi-gumi. The ruling meant that anybody who sued the yakuza gang could also name Watanabe as a defendant and be entitled to claim compensation from him individually.

Watanabe responded to the ruling by announcing the following day that he was taking a sabbatical. Ever since then, the Yamaguchi-gumi had effectively been run by a council of its top leaders.

Watanabe was the first ever leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi to be alive when his successor assumed office…

Cardboard Robot Wrestling

August 31st, 2005 | researchmaterial

Cardboard Robot Wrestling is slowly gathering a following in Japan, with about 200 cramming in to watch a recent set of bouts.

Cardboard Robots, or kamirobo as they are referred to in Japanese, are the creation, Shukan Taishu claims, of artist Tomohiro Yasui, who maneuvers the grapplers with his own hands in the bouts telecast on a huge screen so everybody in the audience can see what’s happening.

Yasui has even managed to convince powerful toymakers like Bandai and Avex to market his cardboard ring warriors.

“I’ve been making the robots since my elementary school days and now I’ve got about 200 different robots,” Yasui tells Shukan Taishu.

Yasui’s first kamirobo were fairly simple, moving only their shoulders and elbows. Now, however, the cardboard wrestlers he makes move at all major limbs, giving them greater flexibility and a more realistic look when they are actually pitted in the ring.

“You can make them using cardboard from cake boxes or the packaging you get in business shirts, then color them in using markers, so they’re really cheap,” Yasui tells Shukan Taishu. “Because they’re made of cardboard, they can get pretty beat up after a fight. But I’m pretty good when it comes to fixing them up again and I do it a lot.”


Japan Plans Missions To ISS

August 31st, 2005 | researchmaterial

Japan is planning to develop a new rocket that will carry nearly double the payload of its troubled H-2A booster and carry cargo to the International Space Station.

The new rocket, to be called the H-2B, will be launched in 2008 and carry a payload of up to 8 tons, compared with the payload of 4 to 6 tons for the H-2A, Kyodo News Agency said, citing unidentified officials at Japan’s science and technology ministry.

The main mission will be to carry the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, to the International Space Station without relying on the U.S. space shuttle, the report said. The HTV will carry food, clothes and scientific equipment to the ISS.

The H-2B will have two engines, instead of the H-2A’s one, and four booster rockets.

The government’s Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. have been developing the new launch vehicle since 2004 on a budget of around 20 billion yen, Kyodo said…