Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2013

WHY THE LONG FACE?

  • The operators of an animal farm in Chiba unveiled a device that allows people to compare the dimensions of their faces to those of a horse.
  • Citing uncertainty about the future of the International Space Station, officials at JAXA announced that they would “freeze astronaut recruitment.” Which sounds a lot better than freezing the astronauts themselves.
  • Executives at Sagawa Express delivery company admitted to hundreds of incidents in which workers “put parcels in cool storage boxes without sufficient refrigerant.”
  • Well, that was quick—police in Tokyo say they’ve already uncovered a bunch of scams related to the 2020 Olympics, including bogus investment schemes and the selling of fake tickets.

ET TU, BRUTE?

  • About 35 percent of Japanese people say they avoid buying vegetables grown in regions that might be contaminated with radiation.
  • Health ministry officials announced that 55 blood donations made between January and September were tainted with HIV.
  • A test drive at a Mazda dealership in Saitama went horribly wrong when an SUV outfitted with an automatic braking system veered out of control and crashed into a barrier, injuring the vehicle’s two occupants.
  • Sentence of the Week: “A university student who allegedly volunteered to take in cats for which new homes were being sought online then fatally shot them with a crossbow has been reported to public prosecutors, Kochi Prefectural Police said.” (via Mainichi Japan)

WELL DONE

  • It took six and a half years, but a group of sword experts and metallurgists has completed restoring a 1,500-year-old sword that was discovered in a burial mound in Saitama.
  • A professor at the University of Tokyo has developed Japan’s first-ever device for measuring the internal radiation of infants.
  • In a study published in the journal Science, Japanese researchers found that the great destructive force of the March 11 tsunami was largely due to… slippery clay on the Pacific Ocean seabed.
  • Officials at the labor ministry have put in place a system that rewards companies for employing people with criminal records.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

  • Scientists at the Meteorological Research Institute traced a recent spike in air pollution in Tokyo to the eruption of Mt. Sakurajima in Kyushu.
  • A 42-year-old Gifu man became the 10 millionth visitor to Tokyo Skytree. The tower opened to the public last May.
  • It was reported that, just before the old South Korean embassy in Minato-ku was demolished in 2010, workers discovered documents detailing the conscription of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
  • At the request of the emperor, a shipment of rice from disaster-hit Fukushima was delivered to the Imperial Palace.

WELL, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

  • A former Nagano pension-fund official who fled to Thailand after embezzling ¥64 million reportedly spent the money on “expensive cars, clothes and women.”
  • Cops in Tokyo arrested eight women from Thailand who came to Japan on student visas but who wound up working at a massage parlor.
  • In response to a spate of similar incidents, the MPD has created a manga that’s meant to discourage foreign “students” from accepting illegal work.
  • Officials at the justice ministry say that, although prisons across the country are operating at around 82 percent capacity, the nine women-only prisons in Japan are 103 percent full.

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