Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2014

Photo: Andrew K. Smith

FINALLY!

  • Officials at the communications ministry have introduced a plan that would make it easier for mobile phone subscribers to switch carriers without changing their handsets.
  • Clinicians at Keio University have developed a new treatment method that they say may improve the condition of about 80 percent of people with spinal cord injuries.
  • It was reported that farmers in Aichi have, through a process of repeated hybridization, managed to create a green-colored rose.
  • In what’s being described as a “drastic” reform, the education ministry will issue dual licensing credentials for qualified instructors who want to teach in both elementary and middle schools.

GETTING LOOPY

  • Officials at JR East unveiled the design of their spiffy new Yamanote line carriages, which will go into operation next fall.
  • The new train—dubbed E235 Kei—will retain the lime green color scheme that we’ve all come to know and love.
  • One change will be to increase the number of courtesy-seating areas per 11-car train, from the current 20 to 29.
  • The redesign also includes wider doors to accommodate passengers with baby strollers or large pieces of luggage.

BAD LIEUTENANTS

  • Police in Aomori arrested 9 of the 20 members of the municipal assembly in Hirakawa city for corruption related to a mayoral election in January.
  • An academic who specializes in Aomori politics ascribes the affair to “the mentality of the people in the Tsugaru region, who enjoy conflict, winning and losing.”
  • Psychologists are fretting about the increasing number of universities that set up bocchi seki in their cafeterias—seats for solitary students who “don’t want to share tables with other people and feel self-conscious about others’ gaze when they eat.”
  • Sentence of the Week: “A man was arrested on suspicion of molesting a teen on a train in Saitama Prefecture after a police officer on board noticed something was amiss and asked the girl if she was being molested using a text message on his smartphone.” (via Mainichi Japan)

MISSING THE POINT

  • Education officials in Fukuoka were forced to apologize after students at a local elementary school sent “prejudice-filled letters” to patients at a facility for Hansen’s disease, aka leprosy.
  • What’s more, the students had just completed a course on discrimination against people with the disease.
  • One of the letters contained this line: “Leprosy is a disease that melts the bones and body, so if one of my friends got it, I would stay away from them.”

UPWARD & ONWARD

  • The Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation released a list of the 100 products and technologies that helped contribute to the country’s economic rise in the postwar era.
  • Topping the list were shinkansen bullet trains, instant ramen and the Sony Walkman.
  • A news-service poll found that 60 percent of retail businesses have seen a decline in sales following the rise in the consumption tax in April.

However, more than 40 percent of the firms expect things to pick back up starting this month.

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