December 26, 2012

December 26, 2012

This week’s required reading


Originally published on on December 2012


  • The only airworthy World War II “Zero” fighter plane left in the world was put on display at the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama. It’s on loan from a museum in California.
  • The president of a facility for the mentally disabled in Chiba was arrested for beating a former patient who worked for her as a chauffeur.
  • In what’s being described as a “precious find,” researchers in Kyoto have unearthed 9th-century piece of pottery inscribed with some of the earliest examples of hiragana script.
  • OK, see if you can stay with us on this one: a temp worker at a subsidiary of Kansai Electric Power in Aichi was arrested for leaking private information about the utility’s customers to a private detective she had hired to spy on her husband.
  • For the first time ever, the Consumer Affairs Agency has punished a company that sells products on a TV shopping channel. The case involves a “diet tea” firm that refused to offer refunds to customers despite a money-back guarantee.


  • Officials with the Meteorological Agency say this past autumn was the warmest ever in northern Japan.
  • The Wild Bird Society of Japan says the decline of the wild swallow population is likely due to “attacks by crows and removal of nests by humans.”
  • Police in Saitama are searching for a masked assailant who netted ¥12 million in a brazen armored car robbery outside a local supermarket.
  • Officials from the labor and education ministries say 63.1 percent of college seniors have received job offers ahead of graduation this year. That’s the second year in a row the figure has risen.
  • Scientists at the University of Tokyo and private companies have developed a “humanoid conversation robot” to accompany Japanese astronauts on long-term voyages.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “SDF members to Teach Car Repair in E. Timor” (via The Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • The health ministry will add 760 quasi-legal drugs that have effects similar to narcotics to its list of regulated substances.


  • Guinness World Records has certified that Japan’s Ikaros is the “first space yacht to succeed in using photon propulsion to sail.”
  • The National Police Agency says that suicides in Japan dropped by a whopping 9.8 percent during the past year. Experts believe the total number will fall below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.
  • A survey by the Development Bank of Japan found that travelers in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand say Japan is their ideal vacation destination.
  • Headline of the Week: “JAXA to Develop Firefighter Clothing from Space Underwear” (via Jiji)
  • An education ministry survey found that 6.5 percent of Japanese schoolkids have “difficulties reading and writing as well as staying calm.”
  • Japanese researchers studying an enzyme called glucokinase say they have “shed light on a bodily mechanism that causes obesity.”


  • Among the hit Japanese “products” of 2012 identified by Dentsu Marketing Insight are “robot cleaners,” “salted rice malt” and “Tokyo station.”
  • Sentence of the Week: “Consuming large quantities of a key ingredient in beer can protect against winter sniffles and even some serious illnesses in small children, a Japanese brewery said citing a scientific study.” (via AFP)