Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2013

Daniel Inouye. Photo: Wikicommons.


  • Authorities at the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced that, starting next spring, they’ll offer domain names ending with “.tokyo,” “.nagoya” and “.moe.”
  • Officials at a zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, have built an enclosure that offers visitors the “rare opportunity to look up at a swimming hippo from below.”
  • Workers at Senso-ji temple replaced the giant lantern that hangs from Kaminarimon gate. The new one is 3.9 meters tall, 3.3 meters in diameter and weighs a whopping 700 kilos.
  • Environmentalists gathered in Tokyo for the Marine Litter Summit, which was dedicated to tackling the problem of ocean-borne debris spawned by the March 11 disaster.


  • About 33,000 commuters were delayed when a World War II-era bomb was found in a riverbed about a half a mile from JR Akabane station.
  • A student at the University of Tokyo broke into the school’s computer system to “sneak a look” at the grades of 59 classmates.
  • Officials at the health ministry have revised the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act to include 890 drugs that are made with substances containing “slight molecular variations” of existing drugs.
  • Two companies affiliated with the MUFJ financial group have admitted that they loaned money to mobsters and “other antisocial forces.”


  • A government survey has found that if a 7.3 magnitude quake were to strike Tokyo, 11,000 people would die, 850,000 buildings would be destroyed, and financial losses would top ¥110 trillion.
  • Japanese officials are mulling a plan to “jointly develop and produce weapons with other nations”—a move that would overturn a precedent that’s been in place since 1970.
  • Railways enthusiasts are concerned that, by 2015, only two sleeper trains will be left in operation in Japan.
  • Authorities in the town of Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, held a ceremony to commemorate the 458 workers who died in an explosion at a local coal mine—the worst mine accident in the postwar era.


  • Food researchers have learned that Japanese people tend to prefer different varieties of Worcestershire sauce based on where they live.
  • Geneticists at the National Research Institute of Brewing say it’s likely that the popular Koshu wine grape arrived in Japan “via the Silk Road.”
  • A nationwide survey by the Japan Video Software Association has found that the number of video rental shops around the country dropped from a peak of 13,529 in 1990 to just 3,648 in 2012.
  • What’s more, 70 percent of the remaining shops are operated by mega corps Tsutaya and Geo.


  • Officials at the labor ministry will revise the Equal Employment Opportunity Law to include “sexual harassment between members of the same gender.”
  • The ministry also released a report saying that Japanese workers took just 47.1 percent of the vacation time that they had coming to them in 2012.
  • Meanwhile, the government has set a goal of raising the rate to 70 percent by 2020 in a bid to “to promote a better work-life balance.”
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Colorful Ashtrays Hoped to Improve Smoking Manners” (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