Vol. 4, No. 1 (January 11, 2008)
The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.


New Year's Message from Ambassador Kato:
Wishing for the Further Development of the Japan-U.S. Relationship



(Message from Mr. Ryozo Kato, Ambassador of Japan to the United States (January 1, 2008))



Prime Minister Fukuda Visits China in a Bid to Rebuild Bilateral Relations:
Gas Field Issue Remains a Crucial Test


-by Foreign Press Center Japan
(December 30, 2007)

Prime Minister Fukuda meeting with President Hu Jintao of China on December 28 (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Public Relations Office)


From December 27 to 30, Prime Minister Fukuda visited the People's Republic of China. The four-day visit included individual meetings with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and Mr. Wu Bangguo, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. Prime Minister Fukuda also delivered a speech at Peking University, addressing Japan-China relations, and made regional visits to Shandong Province, Tianjin City and Qufu City. The following is a Japan Brief article summarizing the Prime Minister's visit to China:


(Japan Brief Article by Foreign Press Center Japan (December 30, 2007))



Japan and Tanzania:
Partners Toward a Vibrant Africa


-Speech by Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
(January 4, 2008)

Minister Koumura making a courtesy call on President
Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania on January 6


Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura visited Tanzania from January 3 to 7, making a courtesy call on President Jakaya Kikwete on Jan. 6, and meeting with Foreign Minister Bernard Membe on Jan. 5. On January 4, Minister Koumura gave a speech in Dar es Salaam entitled "Japan and Tanzania: Partners towards a Vibrant Africa," addressing topics such as a new Africa-wide assistance package that Japan is planning to launch, the upcoming Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), Japan-Tanzania relations, and Japan's view on development assistance. The following is Minister Koumura's speech:


(Speech by Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura (January 4, 2008))



Japan Goes to the Moon:
The Science Behind the SELENE/Kaguya Mission


-by Professor Manabu Kato
Science Manager of the SELENE/Kaguya Project


An image of the earth, taken by Kaguya, with the moon in the forefront (Photo courtesy of JAXA/NHK)


On September 14 last year, Japan launched an unmanned lunar orbiter called "Kaguya" (named after a Japanese moon princess). Successfully entering orbit on October 4, Kaguya has since been sending high-definition images and footage from the moon back to Japan. This mission is scheduled to continue for one year.

To celebrate the success of Kaguya, on December 17, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in cooperation with the Japan Information & Culture Center, presented a lecture entitled "Japan Goes to the Moon - The Science Behind the SELENE/Kaguya Mission." The discussion featured two speakers: Professor Manabu Kato, the Science Manger of the SELENE /KAGUYA project, and Mr. Hideo Hara, deputy project manager of SELENE. The following is an article by Professor Kato explaining the science behind Kaguya's success:


The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya/SELENE was successfully launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC) on September 14, 2007 JST. The Kaguya mission started in FY 1999 as a joint mission of ISAS and NASDA, which had been merged into the space agency JAXA on October 1, 2003. The SELENE project is certainly identified as JAXA's science mission. On October 4 Kaguya was inserted into a large elliptical orbit circulating the Moon after passing the phasing orbit around the Earth. Kaguya has reached the nominal observation orbit with 100 km circular and polar on October 19. On the way two subsatellites Okina (Rstar) and Ouna (Vstar) have been released into the elliptical orbits of 100 x 2400 km and 100 x 800 km, respectively. After the checkout of bus system the extension of four sounder antennas with 15 m length and the 12 m mast for magnetometer, and deployment of plasma imager were successfully carried out. Each instrument has received performance tests in the checkout term of about 1.5 months, followed by a nominal observation term of ten months, which started on December 21, 2007.

14 science instruments including high definition TV (HDTV) camera are onboard the spacecrafts for science data collection and public outreach. Each instrument will give us data useful enough to advance global sciences dedicated to the distribution of elemental abundance, mineralogical composition, 3-dimensional topography down to a depth of 5 km, and electromagnetic and charged particle environment of the Moon. These scientific data will be integrated to draw new views of lunar sciences on lunar chemical constraint, lunar interior structure, dichotomy of nearside and farside, evolution in magma ocean, origin of lunar magnetic field, and tectonic evolution history as science themes to be resolved to reach understanding on the origin and evolution of the Moon.

Surface chemistry measured by X-rays and Gamma-rays leads to bulk chemical composition of the lunar surface. Rocks of outcrops in the central peak of lunar craters larger than ca. 20 km in diameter, and largest basin of South Pole Atkins have intruded from the lower crust and mantle of the Moon. Therefore, investigation of outcropped rocks makes it possible to estimate the chemistry of the lower crust and mantle. It also gives chemical constraint on the bulk chemistry of the whole Moon. It will be possible to support the giant impact hypothesis on the origin of the Moon, which suggests a composition that is quite different from the Earth. By integrating the data of surface chemistry and mineral composition by the VIS-NIR reflectance measurements we can retrieve information on rock types and their distribution, which show us the geological evolution of the lunar surface layer such as initial distribution and the solidification path of magma layer in the latest stage of lunar formation.

Sounding by radar, rock type determination, and gravity field measurement make it possible to determine the thickness of the magma layer, so that we know the scale of flood magma, and volcanic activities with the knowledge of the chemistry of magma, or basalt. The study possibly leads to the verification of the magma ocean hypothesis.

Gravity field measurement and rock type distribution in the lunar farside explain the occurrence of farside materials, so-called typical highland rocks. It would be possible to solve the problem of the lunar dichotomy and its origin.

Global measurements of the magnetic field down to a low intensity level less than 1 nT investigates the nature and origin of magnetic fields submitted by the magnetic analysis of Apollo rock samples. The observation of cosmic particles will give us the knowledge of particle distribution in solar-terrestrial space without any interference from the Earth.

HDTV movies of "Earthrise" including the horizon of the Moon, vivid lunar surface etc. have already been broadcast to the public. The figure accompanying this article is a still image of Earthrise captured from the movie.

Science data corrected by fourteen instruments will attain about 10 Terabytes for nominal observation of a year. JAXA has newly installed the SELENE operation and data analysis center (SOAC) in the JAXA Sagamihara campus. Scientific data from Kaguya will be online for a year after the termination of nominal observation, released from SOAC to the public and lunar scientists of the world.



New Year's Greeting on a Postcard

-by Shiori Okazaki
(Embassy of Japan)

"Nengajo" is one of many traditions for New Year's celebration in Japan. Others include special dishes called "osechi ryori," featured here in lacquered boxes.


While e-mail is becoming increasingly popular in both the U.S. and Japan, many still find greater joy in receiving cards and letters in their mailboxes than digital messages in their inbox. This is particularly true during the holiday season, and many Americans rush after Thanksgiving to write holiday cards to friends, family, and even acquaintances with whom they would not communicate otherwise.

Despite the recent popularity of Christmas in Japan, with decorated trees, holiday music, parties and presents, holiday cards have yet to be accepted in Japanese society. Cards can be found in stores that specialize in chic office supplies or goods imported from the U.S. and Europe, but most of the buyers are those who have previously lived abroad or have business or family ties overseas.

This is because Japan already has an established tradition of exchanging greetings through postal mail during the holiday season. The Japanese send postcards called nengajo to each other on New Year's Day, which is a custom that is also seen in China and Korea. While the Japanese all write "Happy New Year," the underlying message--as in holiday cards in the west--is that they would like to continue to be in touch with the recipient of the postcard in the coming year.

While there are a variety of nengajo that people can choose from, with different illustrations and messages, they are usually standardized by the post office. They are exactly the same size, and can be bought at a post office or a convenience store, where the postage fee is already included in the price of the postcard. Each of these official postcards comes with a lottery number, for prizes of free trips or free postage stamps.

Many prefer to buy blank nengajo in bulk and make their own designs, by writing a New Year's message in Japanese calligraphy, drawing the Japanese zodiac animal of the new year (a rat or a mouse in 2008), or using homemade stamps that are made by carving and painting raw potatoes. In recent years, many have preferred to print addresses and messages with their own home computers, prompting the sales of various software as well as nengajo made of inkjet paper.

Unlike Christmas cards, nengajo does not trickle in as the holiday season progresses; the post office keeps them so that they are delivered exactly on January 1st, regardless of when they were sent. On New Year's Day, a regular business executive may receive about 300 nengajo bound with a rubber band, many of them from coworkers, clients and business partners. This number may whittle down to about 50 on January 2, then 20 on January 3, decreasing day by day but continuing throughout the first week of January, including those that embarrassed nengajo recipients hastily wrote in reply on January 1st.

Because nengajo celebrates the season, it is customary to avoid sending it to homes whose family members passed away during the past year. For this reason, families in mourning send a black-bordered postcard ahead of time to their personal and business contacts, to avoid receiving such happy messages, and to explain why they will not be sending any nengajo themselves. There even is a system where mourning families can exchange purchased nengajo with postal stamps at the post office for free (nengajo that simply were not used that year, on the other hand, incur a fee).

While there are examples of New Year's messages exchanged in writing as far back as the 11th century in Japan, the custom of sending New Year's postcards during December for delivery on January 1st began in 1899. With the recent surge of emails, printed nengajo enjoys less popularity today, especially among young people, who instead use online versions of them. Still, the Japan Post, the recently privatized Japanese postal system, printed approximately 4 billion nengajo for 2008. If all of them are sent, the Japan Post claims that each person in Japan (including babies and the elderly) would have sent 30 nengajo. Such numbers are evidence that, while issues of a greener earth, the slow speed of postal mail, as well as cost may affect the use of printed nengajo in the coming decades, the exchange of New Year's greetings will most likely continue for another millennium, if not more.


The 2008 Group of 8 (G8) Summit, welcoming leaders from eight countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) as well as the President of the European Commission, will take place in Japan from July 7 to 9 this year, in Toyako, Hokkaido. On January 4th, Prime Minister Fukuda announced that the logo for the 2008 Summit was decided. The logo, which was chosen from more than 4,000 entries made last summer, symbolizes the coexistence of natural environment and mankind. For more information on the Summit, please see the official website:

(Official Website of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit)



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