Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2014

NEWS AROUND TOWN

  • Officials at a neighborhood association in Chiyoda-ku were forced to close a local children’s park that had been open since 1949 because of a glut of “cigarette butts, food containers and illegally parked bicycles.”
  • The officials posted a sign on a fence that reads: “The poor manners of those eating, drinking and smoking were unacceptable.”
  • Crime technicians at the MPD have created a 1/28-scale replica of the house in Setagaya-ku where a family of four was stabbed to death on New Year’s Eve in 2000. The crime remains unsolved, but the cops are hoping the model will help young investigators “get a better grasp” of the case.
  • Headline of the Week: “New Tokyo-Ueno Rail Link May Confuse Passengers” (via The Japan News)

THE YEAR THAT WAS

  • The National Police Agency announced that 4,373 people around the country were killed in traffic accidents in 2013. That’s the 13th consecutive year that fatalities have declined.
  • Meanwhile, the justice ministry says the number of death row inmates is at its lowest level in five years.
  • Japanese customs officials seized 35.7kg of stimulants at Haneda Airport during the first ten months of 2013—a sharp increase from the 14.5kg confiscated in all of 2012 and the 12kg seized in 2011.
  • Authorities at the health ministry say the number of cases of elderly abuse has declined for two years in a row.

SIC TRANSIT

Christi Rochin

  • Officials at Kanda Fire Station are seeking the identities of two Good Samaritans who helped rescue a 20-year-old woman who had fallen onto the tracks at Iwamotocho station.
  • Meanwhile, authorities at JR East bestowed certificates of appreciation on seven grade-school girls who helped save a woman whose wheelchair had gotten stuck at a railway crossing on the Chuo line in Yamanashi.
  • The sports ministry says the Olympic cauldron used for the 1964 Tokyo Games will be relocated to the National Stadium that’s being built for the 2020 Olympics.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Astronaut Wakata Speaks With Talking Robot Aboard ISS” (via Mainichi Japan)

ON THE DEFENSIVE

  • A Kanagawa couple whose home is surrounded by US military facilities has sued the Japanese government for ¥115 million. The man and woman claim they’ve suffered “immeasurable mental anguish over the years.”
  • Sailors from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force joined their counterparts in the Indian Navy for the two countries’ first ever joint drill.
  • The government has announced a five-year plan to provide ¥10 billion in aid “to support ethnic minorities affected by internal conflicts in Myanmar.”
  • Officials at the environment ministry have designated Okinawa’s Kerama Islands as Japan’s 31st national park.

THIS JUST IN

  • Executives at IT firm Dwango sparked controversy with a plan to charge college students ¥2,525 to take the company’s examination for job seekers.
  • Authorities at the education ministry say 28.1 percent of schoolchildren suffering from food allergies are forced to pick through their cafeteria lunches and remove allergens by hand.
  • According to a survey by the OECD, the number of Japanese students who are “interested in the things they learn in math class” has risen 38 percent during the past five years.
  • The bad news? That’s still 15 percentage points lower than average for OECD students.

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