Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2014


MATTERS OF STATE

  • A 45-year-old temp worker from Shizuoka was arrested for throwing a shoe during a session of the upper house of Diet to protest the recently enacted state secrecy law.
  • Officials in South Korea released a promotional video touting their claims of sovereignty over the disputed Takeshima islets—two months after a previous video was criticized for using “unauthorized clips from a Japanese television drama.”
  • The Osaka High Court became the first such judicial body in Japan to hold the government accountable for failing to protect workers from asbestos poisoning.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that his career goal is to “revise the Constitution.”

SHOW US THE MONEY

  • As part of its efforts to attract more highly skilled foreign workers to Japan, the justice ministry has enacted a points system for visas that takes into account an applicant’s “educational background, professional experience and annual income.”
  • A survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and Saitama University has found that 82 percent of Japanese are worried about the country’s “possible financial collapse.”
  • Just days after the Japanese government provided ammunition to South Korean troops working as UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, officials in Seoul criticized the move as politically motivated.
  • According to a UN survey, Japan ranks 6th out of 31 industrialized countries in terms of “children’s well-being.”

THE WORLD OF SCIENCE

  • Researchers at Tokyo University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science Technology and have come up with a way to detect tidal waves “by observing magnetic fields generated by tsunami-induced movements of seawater.”
  • Scientists at Hokkaido University have developed the world’s first imaging method for recording the inner structures of live cells.
  • Officials from the communications and education ministries are hoping to unveil a computing system for primary, middle school and high school students by early next year.
  • Staff at Tama Zoo have agreed to accept deer meat from the town of Hamanaka, Hokkaido, to feed their lions.

THAT SHRINKING FEELING

  • Officials at the health ministry estimate that 1,031,000 children were born in Japan last year. That’s a decline of 6,000 from 2012.
  • Meanwhile, the number of deaths nationwide is believed to have hit 1,275,000, a rise of 19,000 compared to a year earlier.
  • The net population loss of 244,000 would be the steepest ever.

AND FINALLY…

  • The Imperial Household Agency released five traditional waka poems written by Emperor Akihito in 2013, including one that reads: Year after year/The climate of Tokyo/Is getting warmer/Red maple leaves are still left/At the end of the year.
  • It was reported that NHK’s year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen song contest earned a 44.2 audience rating, making it the most-watched TV broadcast of 2013.
  • Officials at the Central Disaster Management Council say that a major earthquake with a focus directly under Tokyo would set 2,000 buildings afire and cause 430,000 structures to burn down.
  • Authorities at the health ministry say a 51-year-old female tourist from Germany might have contracted dengue fever during a recent trip to Japan.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Sacred Plum Trees to Pep Up Fukushima High School” (via Jiji)

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