Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on August 2010

The sensitive types

  • It was reported that a foreign English teacher at a high school in Chiba continued to chastise students who gave incorrect answers by drawing pictures of a person being hanged, even after a youth at the school hanged himself.
  • Prime Minister Naoto Kan tried to convince a visiting FIFA delegation of Japan’s worthiness to host the 2022 World Cup by telling them, “Many Japanese people watched the recent World Cup in South Africa even though it was late at night.”
  • The LDP and DPJ are haggling over whether to send Maritime SDF ships to support anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
  • The number of foreigners visiting Japan in the first half of 2010 topped 4.20 million. That’s a 35.8 percent increase from 2009 and the second- highest total on record.

Green scene

  • Panasonic has hooked up with something called BirdLife Asia “to develop a way to gauge a company’s wildlife awareness.
  • Officials in Kawasaki said that they were planning to create a 4-hectare “barbecue zone” for picnickers along the Tama River.
  • In an effort to promote energy conservation among its employees, retailing conglomerate Seven & i Holdings said it would award ¥10,000 worth of electronic money “for outstanding reductions of electricity consumption at home.”
  • Some 50,000 passengers were delayed when two maintenance vehicles—one to pour concrete, the other to grind rails—collided on the Sanyo shinkansen line tracks in Osaka.

Here comes trouble

  • A report by the National Police Agency warned that foreign crime syndicates are gaining a foothold in Japan, and that their actions “could very well cause a tectonic shift in the public order of our nation.”
  • The report also found that instead of petty crimes, foreigners are more likely to be involved in “drug dealing, smuggling counterfeit goods, internet-based computer hacking and money laundering.”
  • A 62-year-old science professor at Shinshu University in Nagano was fired for a pattern of “power harassment” that involved psychological and sexual abuse of faculty members on ten occasions between 2003 and 2009.
  • So much for pacifism: the Japanese government is expected to approve the export of a ship-based missile interceptor called the Standard Missile-3 Block 2A.


  • The head of an NPO that seeks to protect Asian black bears said that the number of recent attacks by the animals on humans is “unprecedented.” In May alone, the bears killed one person and injured 17 more.
  • A trainer at a zoo in Miyazaki had a couple of ribs broken when an Asian elephant knocked him over with its trunk and stepped on him.
  • Authorities in Ishaya, Nagasaki warned residents to steer clear of a local reservoir after three 1m-long alligators were spotted swimming in the waters. The creatures are “believed to be either abandoned or escaped pets.”
  • Cops were able to arrest a 35-year-old municipal worker in Osaka for molesting a woman because he left behind his jacket and ID card at the scene.
  • An unemployed 42-year-old Osaka man was busted for an incident in May in which he poured oil on his 14-year-old son’s back and set it alight. The boy survived but suffered severe burns.
  • Stay with us on this one: the 21-year-old son of a noted Hollywood-based Japanese film producer was stabbed to death by his ex-girlfriend’s new lover outside his home in Beverly Hills.

Well, that explains it

Eparama Tuibenau

  • A 39-year-old teacher at an elementary school in Kushiro, Hokkaido told police he molested an 8-year-old student because “[s]he’s cute. I couldn’t suppress my emotions.”
  • It was reported that officials at the Tokyo Stock Exchange are considering a plan to ditch the traditional 90-minute lunch break because “more investors want to trade throughout the day without interruption.”
  • Headline of the Week: “Food Expert Holds Doctorate in Noodle Love” (via The Daily Yomiuri)
  • Runner-up, also via the Yomiuri: “Fire-Hose Bridges Offer Hope for Orangutans”

By the numbers

  • It was reported that China is poised to overtake Japan as the world’s number two country in terms of annual patent applications, trailing only the US.
  • In 2005, Japanese patent applications numbered 427,000 to China’s 173,000; last year the figure was 349,000 and 315,000, respectively.
  • A whopping 1.28 billion shares of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. were traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on July 22, besting the previous record of 1.04 billion shares of Japan Airlines traded on January 14.
  • One happy result of the recent sumo scandals is that an unprecedented seven wrestlers made the jump to the second-highest juryo division.

Upward and onward

  • An experimental Japanese spacecraft named Ikaros successfully reoriented itself after catching sunlight in its 14m2 solar panel. JAXA hailed this as “a great leap forward toward making the spaceship technology applicable to exploration into the distant universe.”
  • A “weather-related company” in Chiyoda-ku has developed a gauge that can accurately measure rainfall on Mt. Fuji. Such readings have always been difficult because high winds “can whip the rain in sideways—or even blow it up toward the peak.”
  • It was reported that the average summer bonus in Japan rose .55 percent, to ¥757,638.
  • In an attempt to sidestep import costs at its store in Tianjin, Isetan is considering a plan to grow fruits and vegetables in the northeastern Chinese city.

Easy come, easy go

  • Assistant US Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said that the revolving-door nature of Japanese politics is preventing the two countries from maintaining their traditionally strong relationship.
  • It was reported that nearly two-thirds of universities around the country are offering remedial classes for students whose abilities are only at a high school level.
  • Government auditors found that Japan’s opera federation bilked the Agency for Cultural Affairs out of ¥62.73 million by padding its expenses.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Princess Aiko Walks home from School Alone” (via The Mainichi Daily News)

Compiled from reports by Bloomberg, BBC, Japan Today, The Japan Times, International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Daily News, The Tokyo Reporter, The Daily Yomiuri, AP and Kyodo