“Worst Busters” Project To Reform The Worst Of Japan With Smartphone Apps

Omoshiro Houjin Kayac Inc. [J] has announced that they will begin Worst Busters, [J] a project that will, using an application, reform the worst areas in the 47 prefectures of Japan, by their collaboration with 1192 Inc. [J].

“Worst Busters” is a project to take on what 1992 has deemed the “worst” of society as a challenge of communication, and to tailor policies and ideas and offer suggestions for ways to solve the problems of society.  This time with the collaboration between 1992 and Kayac, they are directing their focus on the prefectures of Japan and will make suggestions of various policies and ideas using smartphones for resolution techniques.  Also, they are announcing one part of their ideas on their accompanying site to kick off the project.  The currently announced Worst Busters ideas are as follows.

・ Social buried treasure map

Osaka is the worst in terms of spending money! (source: household finances survey yearly report H15)  The expression means it would be good to search for buried treasure by yourself.

・Self-development promotion app

Ibaragi’s worst point is “Prefecture with no charm”!  (source: “region brand 2009” survey result)  This expression means that if you have self-confidence you will appear more charming to others.

・Photo posting app

Shimane’s worst is “I have no idea where I am!” (source: goo ranking).  The expression means let’s upload lots of pictures of good places in Shimane.

There are various worsts for other prefectures too, and Kayac and 1992 aim to reform the world with apps and continue putting out many more ideas from here on.  Furthermore they are recruiting individuals and corporations who sympathize with the ideas of this app and are helping to reform the world together.

Translation authorized by VSMedia.

As The First In Its Kind, Digital-Focused Event To Be Held This Weekend In Fukuoka

As the first in its kind (for me at least), there will be a big three-day event in Fukuoka this weekend, which is called Myojo Waraku or just “MJ” in short, where a bunch of celebrities, geeks and techpreneurs from music, online video filming and start-up communities in the city come together.

For those who don’t know much about the city, it’s located in the south-western island of Japan and much closer to Shanghai and Seoul than Tokyo or the country’s capital. That’s why it’s often considered as a gateway to Asian countries for Japanese, not only for its geographical reason, but also for a high reflection from Asian flavor in the city’s local foods.

The city is a little bit away from Tokyo, however, it has a good enough population of techpreneurs and engineers because not a few large IT businesses have set up their headquarters there. So is it for the volume of its local tech start-up community, too.

The event is highly inspired by SXSW (South-by-South-West), a one-week-long festival that happens in March every year in Austin, TX and focuses on making great exposure opportunities for filmmakers, music artists and web media creators. MJ is led by Masanori Hashimoto, the co-founder of Fukuoka-based tech company NuLab, also known as the developer of collaboration-based drawing tool Cacoo, and Taizo Son[J], a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and a younger brother of Softbank Mobile’s CEO, and aims at encouraging local start-ups to go more international and make their services spread out all across Asia.

Visit these webpages for a brief introduction about the event in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Also for more updates, visit the event’s main website at http://myojowaraku.net[J]. (sorry, the latter one is mainly written in Japanese).

Wiki Covering 11 Countries: Digital Media Across Asia

Here is some recommended reading, probably of value for just about everybody reading Asiajin: in 2007, Students at Singapore Management University have created a wiki called “Digital Media Across Asia”, which now covers a total of eleven countries (in English), namely:

On the site, the wiki is being called the “world’s most comprehensive wiki dedicated to digital media throughout Asia”, and I think this could well be true.

The wiki is updated 2-3 times per year (only the students themselves and faculty can edit it), and it’s a great resource for country-specific information on social networks, mobile, search engines, video sharing platforms, etc. etc.

Think You’ve Got What It Takes? iPhone App For Japanese Thugs’ Rite of Passage

photo by Macotakara [J]

Studio MorikenStudio Moriken [J] has released a free iPhone application called
Konjoyaki that lets users experience a piece of Japanese Yankee culture.

“Yankee” in Japan does not mean North American – it refers to “bad boys” or “thugs”.

The name of the app (‘Konjoyaki’ – literally “Burn, with guts”) comes from a popular form of initiation among yakuza-wannabe high school students. In this game, if you can call it that, you prove your courage by burning yourself and your mates with hot cigarette butts.

Studio Moriken’s app is Konjoyaki minus the heat. You hold your fingers on the screen as long as possible on the screen, and the longer you press, the darker the ‘burn’ marks become.

via MacOtakara [J]

(proofread by Adam Walls)

Japanese Government Allows ISPs to Target Ads by Browsing History

Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (総務省) working group recently published an opinion stating that certain network monitoring technologies (Deep Packet Inspection) can be used by Internet Service Providers to serve targeted advertising to users, but only after the user has been clearly notified of these practices. This news made the top page of Sunday’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

As all user communication with websites and other internet services travel through the user’s Internet Service Provider, these Providers theoretically can monitor or even modify these messages. ISP’s often do a simple version of this, looking only at the headers of packets (including the sender and the recipient of the information), in order to operate firewalls or to slow down certain types of traffic, such as file-sharing. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) is a variant of this method whereby the ISP inspects the actual messages being transmitted, including online purchases or search terms, rather than just the headers. Proponents argue that such technology can lead to better targeted and thus more effective advertising.

Naturally, such technology can also lead to privacy concerns. In the past, US Congressional concerns hampered the widespread use of similar DPI-based targeted ads by NebuAd. Such case law from the United States, as well as similar cases in Europe, were also reviewed in the Japanese Ministry report.

The report (PDF, summary PDF, both in Japanese) is the second recommendation from the Workshop on Various Issues Related to IT Services Considering the User’s Perspective (利用者視点を踏まえたICTサービスに係る諸問題に関する研究会), finalized after a public comment period. The report considers the implications of technology such as DPI-based ad targeting in light of Japanese case law on privacy and telecommunications issues (section II.6, pp. 54-59), and concludes that such technology cannot be used without constituting a breach of private communications if it does not first receive approval from the user (p. 58). However, elsewhere in the report it is stated that an opt-out mechanism must be in place (p. 59), suggesting that the system need not be opt-in.

It will be interesting to follow the public’s response to this opinion and to this type of advertising, if and when they are implemented by ISPs.