Small Print: December 10, 2015

Small Print: December 10, 2015

Rampaging raccoons, transit troubles, dashi dances, and more ...


(Comic by Rodger Sonomura)

“I’m eager to see her before my health worsens further”
—Sakie Yokota, 79, whose daughter, Megumi, was abducted by North Korean agents in 1977 at the age of 13


  • A nutritional technology firm in Kyoto claims that its “banana-based food material” may be effective in preventing the flu.
  • Authorities at the foreign affairs ministry announced that Japan will no longer respond to whaling-related lawsuits filed with the International Court of Justice.
  • A survey on the reading habits of schoolkids has found that children who enjoy manga are also more likely to read traditional books. That goes against the long-held view that comics turn youngsters away from other forms of literature.
  • Shusse Daimyo Ieyasu-kun, the “mascot character” for the city of Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, won the 2015 Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix.


  • A volunteer firefighter in Nagano suffered a fractured skull after being thrown from a fire truck responding to a call.
  • Meanwhile, a visually impaired man in Ibaraki broke his arm after his cane got stuck in the doors of a train and he was dragged along the platform.
  • JR East launched a promotion urging passengers to abstain from checking their mobile phones while walking through train stations.
  • A group of 50 bicyclists from Japan and South Korea completed a three-week goodwill ride that took them from Seoul to Tokyo.


  • 500: GSDF troops to be deployed on Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island to “strengthen the defense” of remote areas in southwestern Japan
  • 20 million: Number of signatures citizens groups are hoping to collect as a show of protest against recently-enacted security legislation
  • ¥81,000: Cost of a pair of men’s trousers at Takashimaya in Shinjuku made from the hides of Yezo deer culled in Hokkaido


  • The president of Nippon Life Insurance says his company will allow policyholders to list same-sex partners as beneficiaries.
  • For its 57th Antarctic research expedition, Japanese icebreaker Shirase will, for the first time, include female crewmembers. The 10 women on the trip are all SDF officers.
  • Authorities at the Meteorological Agency say they’ll expand their e-mail disaster notifications to include not only tsunami and earthquakes, but also volcanic eruptions and heavy rainfall.
  • Officials at the health ministry announced a plan to create 10 research centers around the country for developing robots that can help elderly people lead more independent lives.


  • An annual report by the World Economic Forum placed Japan 101st out of 145 countries in terms of “global gender equality.”
  • That sounds bad—but Japan placed 104th last year.
  • Researchers at Kirin say foreign beers account for just one percent of the total market in Japan. But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
  • A TMG study has found that about 30 percent of daycare centers in the city are too small to have their own playgrounds.


  • JR West is getting ready to open a 30,000-square-meter railway museum in Kyoto. Among the attractions will be 53 train cars and a functioning turntable for steam locomotives.
  • Authorities in Kyushu are blaming a rash of “home invasions and crop damage” on North American raccoons, whose numbers in the region have been surging.
  • Officials at the land ministry say 60 percent of abandoned houses in Japan suffer from “decay and other significant damage.”
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Aomori Pref. Uses Theme Song, Dance to Promote Life-Extending Dashi Diet” (via The Japan News)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters, and Kyodo