You should check out japan-guide. Their forum has a classified ads section where you can find people who are looking for penpals/friends. There's a lot of japanese people who posts their ads there. Of course you can post your own ad and see if you get any bites.
Such a terrible thing to happen. Thoughts and prayers to those affected. Feels extra weird for me since Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur is the flight route I very often take when I'm visiting my family in Indonesia. And to think that my sister and her family took a similar flight (albeit with different airline but very similar route) just a few days ago.
The MMO-like structure is actually one of the main thing that made me like 12. It gave enough sense of exploration and achivement without having to spend days to get somewhere and dealing with raid groups and whatnot. That being said, I never got around to beating Yiazmat because I just didn't feel like spending hours on one boss. I heard it takes less time in IZJS because of the break damage limit. I kinda hope they'll bring that version to the west because it sounds fun.