Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on August 2013

Anne-Marie Pappas


  • A Cabinet Office survey has revealed that 71 percent of Japanese people are “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their lives—the first time since 1995 that the figure has topped 70 percent.
  • Toshie Tanaka, 47, became Japan’s first female prefectural police chief when she assumed the top cop job in Iwate.
  • A high school baseball player in Aomori taking part in the Koshien summer tournament “tackled and overpowered” a knife-wielding man who was attacking a woman in the stadium parking lot.
  • Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan sued current PM Shinzo Abe for defamation over a claim made by Abe that Kan lied about making “the courageous decision to pump seawater” into a nuclear reactor during the crisis at Fukushima in 2011.


  • After slipping to second place behind Hong Kong in 2011, Japanese women have returned to the top of global longevity rankings.
  • Life expectancy for women born in Japan is now 86.41 years. That’s a rise of half a year from 2011, and a about a month longer than women born in Hong Kong.
  • Japanese men, meanwhile, are now expected to live longer than they ever have—79.94 years. That places them fifth in the world, behind dudes in Iceland, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Israel.
  • Officials at the health ministry say life expectancy for both men and women had dropped in 2011 because of the toll of the March 11 disaster.


  • Cops in Tokyo are investigating a 74-year-old Hachioji man for “administering a home-brewed cancer medication” to several people—including one man who died.
  • Officials at the agriculture ministry say 2012 was the third year in a row that Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate stood at a measly 39 percent
  • Investigators at the University of Tokyo have recommended that 43 papers published by a biology institute at the school be retracted due to “false data and other irregularities.”
  • Meanwhile, Todai researchers have developed the world’s thinnest electronic circuit. It measures just 2 microns wide—one-fifth the thickness of plastic wrap.


  • Officials in Fukushima claim that 68 percent of companies involved in decontamination work at the Daiichi nuclear plant have violated labor laws.
  • Authorities at the welfare ministry say that, for the first time since record keeping began in 1990, the number of cases of child abuse topped 60,000 in fiscal 2012.
  • Animal lovers, rejoice: Researchers in Ibaraki have developed “artificial corneal tissue that could be used in toxicity tests for cosmetics.” The tests are currently carried out on the eyes of live rabbits.
  • On the other hand, officials at the environment ministry have come up with a new plan to reduce the number of orphaned pets: They’re allowing local governments “to refuse to take in [animals] abandoned by their owners.”


  • A 100-meter-tall geyser of water shot into the air when Maritime SDF personnel detonated a US mine dating from World War II off the coast of northeastern Japan.
  • Three Japanese companies have teamed up to create something called a “disaster information delivery digital signage vending machine,” which is intended to… well, the name pretty much explains itself.
  • Japan’s big four breweries say shipments of beer surged 3.3 percent in July compared to last year thanks to the sizzling heat of early summer.
  • Bottom story of the week: “Document Containing Sakamoto Ryoma’s Seal of Blood Found in Kochi” (via Mainichi Japan)

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