Japan charmed by Naomi Osaka after Grand Slam breakthrough

first_imgNaomi Osaka is hogging the headlines for all the right reasons in her native land after she became the first Japanese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final, with one major newspaper hailing her as “a new heroine Japan can be proud of”.The 20-year-old, who faces idol and 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final on Saturday, is also helping break new ground in Japan due to her multiracial identity: the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother.She’s one of several young mixed-race athletes who are challenging Japan’s traditional self-image as a racially homogenous country, including sprinter Asuka Cambridge and baseball player Yu Darvish.Osaka was born in Japan but left when she was three years old and raised in the United States. She holds both Japanese and American citizenship, and is far more adept in English than she is in her mother tongue.Serena Williams crushes Anastasija Sevastova to reach US Open finalYet many Japanese appear to have embraced the endearing Osaka, charmed by her off-court genuineness as much as her on-court ferocity.”Her Japanese isn’t that good, right? But the way she tries to speak in Japanese is so cute,” said Yukie Ohashi, a 41-year-old Tokyo resident. “My impression of her is that she sticks to her beliefs and is powerful.”The Asahi newspaper described how Osaka’s unpretentious, sometimes humorous responses in post-match interviews and news conferences have won over spectators and journalists alike.Sometimes critical of her own post-victory speeches, Osaka admitted to being teased on social media for crying after her quarter-final win, prompting her to keep a straight face after her semi-final triumph over home hope Madison Keys.advertisementOsaka also has a strong attachment to Japanese culture, describing her visits to the country as like a “super-awesome extended vacation that I don’t want to leave”, according to media reports.The dream run continues for @Naomi_Osaka_!She becomes the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era after defeating Keys 6-2, 6-4!#USOpen pic.twitter.com/7kKVkKZupeUS Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2018″The combination of her strength and childlike innocence is her charm,” said the conservative-leaning Yomiuri, another major daily.Tennis is not as big in Japan as baseball, soccer or sumo, but Osaka’s 6-2 6-4 semi-final win over Keys made the front pages of major local newspapers on Thursday — although it was dwarfed by news of the earthquake that struck the northern island of Hokkaido earlier that day.RACIAL DIVERSITYWhile Japan is becoming more ethnically diverse — one in 50 births is to interracial couples — there is still plenty of prejudice against “haafu”, or half-Japanese, including cases of bullying against mixed-race children.When Ariana Miyamoto, the daughter of an African-American man and Japanese woman, was selected to represent Japan in the 2015 Miss Universe contest, the move was widely criticised on social media, with some saying she did not look truly Japanese.Public attitudes are slowly changing as Japanese society becomes more integrated with the global economy, however, and the emergence of more ethnically mixed celebrities, especially in sports, is helping.At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mashu Baker won a gold medal in judo and sprinter Cambridge anchored the silver medal-winning 4×100 metres relay team.”For sure, we will have more athletes like her who are half-Japanese as athletes become more international,” said Hiroshi Nakamura, a 65-year-old fan of Osaka, who works at a real estate asset management firm and plays tennis regularly.Osaka is probably the most prominent mixed-race Japanese female athlete to enter the limelight and playing Williams, who is 16 years her senior, in the U.S. Open final was a dream come true, she said.The pair have met just once before, with Osaka stunning Williams 6-3 6-2 at the Miami Open in March.The final will be played at 5:00 a.m. Japan time on Sunday and even if she fails to pull off a stunning victory, the Asahi newspaper believes Osaka’s U.S. Open run could hail the beginning of a generational shift in women’s tennis.”She’s a new heroine that Japan can be proud of,” the Yomiuri said.last_img read more

Maersk Line Confirms Scrubber Investment

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: PxHere under CC0 Creative Commons license Danish liner giant Maersk Line has confirmed its investment in scrubbers in its latest announcement on fuel adjustment surcharge ahead of the 2020 sulphur cap.The report on the investment was published by Reuters last week, crushing the company’s previous statements that did not favor the technology.Namely, to become compliant with the 0.5 percent sulphur content rule as of January 2020, shipowners will have to invest in compliant fuels, LNG or scrubber technology.Maersk Line’s representatives said earlier that the company was not  “on the scrubber team” due to operational concerns, as the technology has not yet proven itself on large two-stroke diesel engines used across Maersk’s fleet.This in particular relates to open-loop scrubbers, which have been deemed by many industry players as a short-term solution due to the wash water-related issues and the looming ban on its release in certain geographical zones. Closed loop scrubbers, on the other hand, pose another type of challenge related to space constraints on board needed for the installation of the systems.It its latest announcement, Maersk said it will invest in “a limited number of scrubbers”, but information on the type of scrubber systems or ships to be fitted with the systems was rather sketchy.Scrubbers are gaining in popularity as numerous owners from various shipping sectors reveal investments in the technology, including most recently Hapag-Lloyd, DHT Holdings, Maran Tankers, Safe Bulkers, and Star Bulk.The cost of installing a scrubber system on a vessel currently stands at around USD 2 million, and many owners are looking to entice the charterers to pay for the installation costs. Ships eligible for installation are those larger in size, such as Capesizes, VLCCs or ULCVs, due space availability, economy and cost efficiency.When approached by World Maritime News for a comment, Maersk Line provided us with a statement from Niels Henrik Lindegaard, Head of Maersk Oil Trading, saying that scrubbers would be “a small part of – and just one of several elements in – our overall 2020 fuel sourcing strategy to ensure compliance in time.”As part of the plans, Maersk is also looking into LNG and compliant fuels, the latter being the more prominent option for the company’s fleet come January 2020.“As part of the preparations we have decided to invest in new scrubber technology on a limited number of vessels in our fleet of around 750 container vessels. While we will continue to explore how to best comply with the 2020 sulphur cap, we still believe the best solution remains with compliant fuels from refineries on land. It is important to underline that the vast majority of ships in the global fleet, as well as the Maersk Line fleet, will have to comply with the global sulphur cap through the use of compliant low-sulphur fuels in 2020 given the short time frame,” Lindergaard’s statement reads.The new compliant fuels are expected to push the container shipping industry’s fuel bill by USD 15 million, with Maersk Line alone having to pay USD 2 billion more for fuel on annual basis. Hence, diversification and pursuing of cost-efficient investments, including scrubbers, is a sound strategy given the fast-approaching deadline for the enforcement of the new rules.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more