Dec 3, 2009

Dec 3, 2009

Originally published on on December 2009 Sic Transit In what is being hailed as the first journey of its kind, a pair of Brits rowed 7,000 miles from Chiba to San Francisco in a 26-foot-long boat. The journey took six months. Though the men wanted to accomplish the feat unassisted, they ran out of […]


Originally published on on December 2009

Sic Transit
  • In what is being hailed as the first journey of its kind, a pair of Brits rowed 7,000 miles from Chiba to San Francisco in a 26-foot-long boat. The journey took six months. Though the men wanted to accomplish the feat unassisted, they ran out of food 100 miles from their destination and had to accept provisions dropped from a helicopter. Pussies.
  • LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki suffered minor injuries when he slammed into a fellow cyclist while out biking along the Tama River in the Tokyo suburb of Akishima.
  • The Miyazaki Prefectural Government inked an agreement with Nissan to create a network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
  • It was reported that the Tokyo Metro is exploring a merger with Toei subway.
  • A United Airlines jet flying from Beijing to Chicago was forced to make an emergency landing at Narita Airport after developing engine trouble two-and-a-half hours into its route.
  • Two Japanese submarines scuttled by the US Navy shortly after the end of World War II were found resting 3,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific south of Pearl Harbor.
Sore losers
  • LDP bigwig and former PM Yoshiro Mori said that the DPJ’s triumph in the August 30 national elections came about because “the media led the public to believe in the need for a regime change.”
  • It was reported that after Japanese cellphone giant Softbank acquired a 40 percent interest in social networking site—aka “the Chinese Facebook”—many users closed their accounts in protest.
  • A former negotiator involved in the return of Okinawa to Japan in the early ’70s said that the US inflated the cost of removing nuclear weapons from the island in order to “trick the public into believing it was a major undertaking.” The Japanese government was hit with a $70 million bill for the project.
  • Approximately 200 protestors marched in Tokyo in response to the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the enthronement of Emperor Akihito.
By the numbers
  • US officials heaped praise on Japan after Prime Minister Hatoyama announced his government would give ¥5 billion in aid to Afghanistan and ¥1 billion to Pakistan.
  • The education ministry announced that the number of public and private libraries around the country—3,165—is the highest it’s ever been.
  • The US and Japan announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.
  • It was reported that a Chinese activist who entered Japan in April has been barred from reentering China eight times, so he’s been living at Narita Airport since early last month.
  • A survey by internet research company Macromill found that 61 percent of Japanese wives have checked the call and email histories of their husbands’ cellphones to see if their spouses have something to hide.
  • Electronics retail giant Laox announced plans to open 110 stores in China starting next year.
Crime files
  • The justice ministry announced that the number of crimes committed by foreigners decreased by 5.7 percent in 2008. Overall, gaijin “accounted for 3.7 percent of nontraffic law violators.”
  • The ministry also said that the number of murders in Japan increased by 8.2 percent, to 1,297.
  • However, there was a decrease in offenses in all other categories of penal code violations.
  • Forty-one percent of crimes in 2008 were committed by repeat offenders—the highest recidivism rate ever.
  • The number of people busted for thefts stood at 174,738, while 11,231 were arrested for drugs.
Likely stories
  • The Japan Ophthalmologists Association estimated the “cost to society” of eye diseases at ¥8.7 trillion. Which sounds exactly like something an ophthalmological association would say.
  • Among the projects axed by the DPJ’s zealous new budget oversight committee is a project to “create the world’s best supercomputer.” Members of the Government Revitalization Unit said “it’s hard to understand how [the supercomputer] will contribute to the daily lives of people.”
  • A book published by a Portuguese priest in Japan in 1603 was discovered in a library in Beijing.
  • In what is being described as “the first extradition from China to Japan through diplomatic channels,” a 34-year-old Japanese man who fled to China after a 1999 robbery in Yokohama was handed over to Kanagawa police.
  • Cops in Ibaraki demanded the death penalty for a 26-year-old man who killed two people and injured seven others in a knife rampage in Tsuchiura last March.
You gotta be shi**ing me
  • The government has finally decided to get rid of billions of gasoline rationing coupons that it printed in response to the oil crises of the ’70s. The coupons are stored in 51,000 cardboard boxes at warehouses in Tokyo and Kanagawa at a cost of—get this—¥70-¥80 million a year.
  • 819-SPIt was reported that an increasing number of Japanese farmers are using tiny animals, like mites and shield bugs, to help eradicate pesticide-resistant insects.
  • Headline of the Week: Unclaimed African Pygmy Hedgehog Wins Friends at Local Police Station (via The Mainichi Daily News).
  • A new magazine that’s set to debut in April, called My Face, targets people “suffering from accidental or congenital facial injuries or other deformities.”
  • After “transverse waves and falling cargo” caused a passenger ferry to run aground off Mie Prefecture, the Coast Guard plucked all 28 people aboard to safety.
Win some, lose some
  • A month after the developer of the Winny file-sharing program was found not liable for copyright violations committed by people using his software, the owners of a video-sharing website called TV Break were ordered to halt their services because of copyright infringement.
  • The Japanese Consulate General in New York honored Yankees’ World Series hero Hideki Matsui for his efforts in “promoting Japan-US friendship.” “[Y]ou gave Japanese across the United States a chance to live their dreams,” said Consul-General Shinichi Nishimiya.
  • A cultural exchange hub in Singapore called the Japan Creative Center is being hailed as the first of its kind outside of this country.
  • Four Japanese nationals were busted for trying to smuggle 6kg of meth into New Zealand. The drugs had a street value of $4.4 million.

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