Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!

JTFF - Japanese Technology from the Future Friday! - AkihabaraNews.com

This week it’s the (what was thought to have been) pioneering stem cell research of RIKEN’s Dr. Haruko Obokata & friends coming under serious scrutiny that could lead to disavowal, and a recounting of the much more enjoyable tale of how SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son got Steve Jobs to give him iPhone exclusivity in Japan.

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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.

:: JTFF – March 14, 2014 ::

• RIKEN’s Breakthrough Stem Cell Paper Might be Discarded
What was thought to be revolutionary research into rapidly and easily creating stem cells of widely variable malleability has come under serious scrutiny by both the international scientific community and RIKEN, the Japanese government-funded research institute where the work was based. Dr. Haruko Obokata, lead researcher among a team of 14 scientists, is bearing the brunt of the attacks, and has herself indicated that the findings should be withdrawn. Well, if she screwed up, she’s gotta pay, but not on her own. Think about it: doesn’t it seem a bit of a stretch that a 30 year-old female researcher from Japan, while not a stranger to controversy (her previous work was criticized for different reasons), could have bulldozed her 13 colleagues into silence and acquiescence? Seems a bit like she’s being tossed under the bus. Even if the publisher, highly regarded British journal Nature, decides to disavow and disallow the paper - or whatever they do when some science they publish turns out to be bunky - and even if it is primarily Dr. Obokata’s blunder, don’t those other people bear some responsibility as well? If Dr. Obokata is a hack, then what does that say of the research’s 13 other signatories who whistled her tune? Also, the head of RIKEN is an old Japanese man, and Obokata’s a young Japanese woman, and the scientific community over here ain’t exactly a gender equality utopia… so like, yeah. Okay, okay, it’s irresponsible for the JTFF to imply a that there could be a sprinkling of sexism at work here, so we we'll redact that sentence when we're called for testimony. Oh, and if her work proves valid, even if she fudged some of her research images, can we still get our new body parts and stuff? Seriously, these progressively rotting, bony meatsacks we’re all piloting around get old fast.

• When Masayoshi Met Steve: the Story of SoftBank Getting the iPhone
Switching gears now to less stuffy matters (sure, we love what the scientific community produces, but they can be so… joyless!), here’s a report on how SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son convinced Steve Jobs to give him dibs on iPhone sales & distribution in the Japanese market. Surprisingly, Son was early, early on in his efforts to get at the iPhone - two years before its release, in fact. It really adds to the legend of Son’s tenacity and unswerving efforts toward building the world’s largest mobile internet company. Which we talked about when we went all SoftBank Hungry for T-Mobile, World Conquest.

That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.

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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.