As he escorts yet more visitors through Shari, a town of fish and icebergs on the northern tip of Japan, tour guide Yoshiji Ishii stops and folds inward his outstretched arms. "When entering an abode of the gods, you have to pray like this," explains Ishii, one of Japan's indigenous Ainu people.
Surrounded by a crowd of admirers, 24-year-old Jack has no idea how close his home came to being shut down a decade ago as he dangles from a rope, scratching his shaggy red fur. The orangutan plays happily at a zoo in northern Japan that was saved from the brink of closure and redesigned as a playground for animals that is now the country's top wildlife attraction.
United States Federal Reserve chairperson Alan Greenspan said on Tuesday that the world would have to learn to live with high oil prices and their negative impact on economic growth ''for some time to come''. He said the recent shutdown of US oil production and refinery facilities battered by hurricanes was ''an accident waiting to happen''.
Japan's largest opposition party is looking both at veteran leaders and fresh young faces to help it recover after it lost to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a record drubbing. The Democratic Party of Japan is set to elect a new leader on Saturday after Katsuya Okada, a dour former civil servant, quit over the election rout in which the party lost one third of its seats.