Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2013

Photo by Jack Oughton; via Flickr Koukouvaya*



  • Officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority were forced to admit that every single one of their radiation-dispersion forecast maps is “riddled with errors.”
  • Police believe a weightlifting accident caused the death of a 23-year-old Chiba man who was found “with an 80-kilogram barbell on his neck inside a training room” at a local gym. Gee, ya think?
  • Local broadcasters say they received 236 phone calls complaining about poor reception last month following a 30-second test of TV signal transmissions from Tokyo Skytree.
  • A study conducted by the Saitama municipal government found that the lighting at one of the two home stadiums used by the Urawa Reds is too dark for J. League standards.


  • As part of its efforts to stimulate the economy, the BOJ will offer “foreign-currency loans to foreign companies.”
  • Among the tips offered in the NPA’s first-ever manual on interrogation are “calling suspects by name to help establish a comfortable atmosphere… and talking to suspects calmly and slowly.”
  • Authorities suspect that fishermen are responsible for polluting a 6km stretch of coastline in Chiba with… sardines. Catches of the fish have been extremely abundant this winter.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Are Lady Pros Important in the World of Go?” (via The Mainichi)


  • Researchers at Hitachi Zosen and Sumitomo Chemical have collaborated on a method of removing debris and salt from farmland ravaged by the March 11 tsunami.
  • Scientists at the University of Tokyo are using origami techniques to fold sheets of cells in an effort to “build blood vessels or even whole organs.”
  • It was reported that NHK is developing a broadcast format called Super Hi-Vision, which would boast a whopping 33 million pixels. That’s about 16 times more vivid than the existing HDTV standard.
  • The newly opened Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, whose exterior resembles “one-story bungalows stacked on top of each other,” was one of 1,008 works to receive the 2012 Good Design Award from a Japanese industry association.


  • Officials at the transport ministry are considering a plan to extend the 6am-11pm timeslot for takeoffs and landings at Narita Airport, but only for “relatively quiet aircraft.”
  • The head honchos at JAXA say they want to drastically cut costs on development of their next-generation rocket. Apparently, the ¥10 billion price tag of the previous model, the H-IIA, “[made] it hard for Japan to attract international satellite launch orders.”
  • One unforeseen aspect of Japan’s shift toward renewable energy: a lack of workers who are qualified to install solar panels.
  • The Kitakami mountain range in Iwate and the Sefuri range bordering Fukuoka and Saga are among the sites under consideration for a massive particle accelerator to be built by Japan, the US and Russia.


  • Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and three aides were injured in a one-car crash in Fuchu, western Tokyo.
  • Gas appliance manufacturer Paloma Corp and a repair company were ordered to pay ¥120 million to the family of an 18-year-old Tokyo college student who died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty water heater.
  • The education ministry says the number of public-school teachers working on a temporary or part-time basis has increased from 84,000 in 2005 to 113,000 this year.
  • A survey by the welfare ministry found that more than half of homeless people in Japan who are under the age of 35 had previously worked as “non-regular” employees.

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