Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2013

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE

Tara Nangia

  • In response to a query from a DPJ lawmaker, the government issued a statement saying it is “unaware of rumored sightings of ghosts at the prime minister’s official residence in central Tokyo.”
  • A Lower House LDP member is in hot water for submitting more than ¥800,000 in bogus personnel expenses, including for an “employee” whose address was given as Tokyo Skytree.
  • It was reported that Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose, who took office in December, has assets of ¥88.55 million, including two houses and a cool ¥9.99 million in savings.
  • Staff at the improbably named All Japan Obachan Party criticized a government plan to produce and distribute a handbook on pregnancy and childbirth for teenage girls.

FIGHTING WORDS

  • The governors of Ishikawa, Toyama and Nagano prefectures are having a spat about whether to call a new bullet-train line the “Hokuriku Shinkansen” or the “Hokuriku Nagano Shinkansen.”
  • Officials in Shizuoka say they’d like to ban climbing on Mt Fuji in winter, but their counterparts in Yamanashi want to allow the activity to continue.
  • A hospital worker in Gunma was arrested for beating a psychiatric patient into a coma. The assailant said to the charges, saying, “I got upset because the patient ran wild when I was changing his diaper.”
  • A medical industry association says that many people receiving welfare don’t take part in “ceremonial functions or local activities” because they either lack the funds or are ashamed at being on the dole.

MILESTONES

  • A company in Yamagata has become the first in the world to “successfully mass-produce artificial spider silk.”
  • Doctors at a hospital in Kitakyushu say they’ve been able to help 80 couples have children by extracting immature sperm cells from men who can’t produce, ahem, mature sperm.
  • A cancer hospital in Chiba has developed an app for tablet computers that can help elderly patients conduct self-diagnoses at home.
  • Among the items that workers at the environment ministry are permitted to wear as part of the government’s Super Cool Biz campaign are “polo shirts, aloha shirts and sneakers.”

STRANGE DAYS

  • The town of Obihiro in southern Hokkaido experienced snowfall in May for the first time in eight years.
  • Judges on the Osaka District Court ruled that a local man can claim a tax deduction on money he lost betting on horse races.
  • Doctors at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases say 5,442 cases of rubella were reported in the first four months of 2013—compared to 2,392 cases all of last year.
  • Ophthalmologists around the country have noticed a surge in eye ailments caused by cut-rate colored contact lenses.

AND FINALLY…

  • Three Japanese-American women were honored as “Champions of Change” by the administration of US President Barack Obama.
  • The MPD says 334 motorists in Tokyo have been ticketed since 2007 for failing to obey traffic signs that were, in fact, installed without official approval. The drivers have had their violations overturned.
  • Noted alpinist Chizuko Kono was presumed dead after an avalanche on the 8,167m Mt Dhaulagiri in the Himalayas. The 66-year-old mountaineer made her name for summiting the highest peaks on all seven continents.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan will open an embassy in South Sudan as early as next month. Previously, the embassy in Sudan handled diplomatic affairs for both countries.

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