Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2013

HOLY CRAP

Christi Rochin

  • Officials at the welfare ministry say 60.4 percent of Japanese households experienced “financial hardship” in 2012.
  • The labor ministry revealed that just 1.89 percent of Japanese fathers took paternity leave in fiscal 2012.
  • Officials at JAXA unveiled a 34cm-tall robot that they claim is the first of its kind to be able “to converse with people.”
  • Headline of the Week: “Remains of Dog Given to Relatives After House Fire Turn Out to be Human” (via Mainichi Japan)

LANGUAGE LESSONS

  • Citing an inability to communicate with members of the international community, a government panel recommended that Japanese officials “use more English.”
  • Authorities at the education ministry are set to introduce a program “in which non-native Japanese speaking students can learn the Japanese language during regular class hours.”
  • Speaking at a symposium in San Diego, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that “the Fukushima disaster changed [my] view of nuclear power.”
  • After receiving complaints from the public, officials at the environment ministry withdrew their recommendation that female office workers use “antiperspirants, scented laundry softeners, cold sprays and wet tissues” to keep cool during summer.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

  • Law enforcement officials say a man who committed 158 burglaries in the Kanto area carried a pet leash with him so that if anyone grew suspicious, he could say he was looking for his lost dog.
  • Police say two men stole more than 150 member IDs from Kinokuniya’s online store and used them to download “36,000 e-books worth about ¥21.7 million.”
  • Officials at four all-girl high schools in Yokohama have petitioned JR East to introduce women-only cars on local trains out of concerns that students are being harassed by gropers.
  • A Japanese man who lost his son in the 9/11 attacks hosted an exhibit of Ground Zero photographs at a gallery in Inagi, western Tokyo.

DRIVE TIME

  • According to a Tokyo government survey, the number of illegally parked bicycles and motorcycles at train stations has dropped for nine consecutive years.
  • The TMG found a total of 7,611 such violations in 2012. That’s a drastic decrease from 1990, when the number was around 243,000.
  • The stations with the most number of illegally parked bikes and motorcycles were Akabane, Azabu-Juban, Tokyo, Shinjuku and Akihabara.
  • According to the National Police Agency, the number of traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2013 marked a year-on-year rise for the first time since 2000.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

  • Officials at the Meteorological Agency say western Japan received record-low levels of rainfall and record-high amounts of sunshine this spring.
  • A 70-year-old Yamagata man was killed when the hot air balloon in which he was riding crashed into a lake on the border of Gunma, Tochigi and Saitama prefectures.
  • Among the members of a health ministry panel tasked with finding “foods that promote longevity” are a division manager of the Lawson conbini chain and a dietician from household scale-maker Tanita Corp.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Ogasawara Bush Warblers Evolved Into 2 Distinct Types” (via The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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