Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2014

Illustration by Anne-Marie Pappas

POLITICAL ANIMALS

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Kim Jong Un and Miley Cyrus on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people.
  • Yoichi Masuzoe became the first governor of Tokyo to make an official visit to Beijing since 2008.
  • Meanwhile, the mayor of Nago in Okinawa flew to the U.S. to tell anyone who would listen that his constituents are opposed to the relocation of an American military base to his city.
  • Sentence of the Week: “A women’s group has started a campaign vowing to swear off sex with any man who is pro-war to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to reinterpret the pacifist Constitution.” (via The Japan Times)

DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING

  • The U.S. Navy revealed that three of its P-3 Orion surveillance planes were demolished when heavy snow collapsed a hangar at Atsugi air base in February.
  • A 51-year-old police inspector in Fukushima and his 52-year-old boss both killed themselves in separate incidents late last month.
  • Another cop in Osaka committed suicide after being questioned about tampering with evidence in an unsolved robbery case.
  • A survey has found that Japan ranks 39th out of 40 countries in terms of per capita fruit consumption. Italy, Australia and Israel took the top spots.

JUST PEACHY

  • Safety officials believe the Argentine pilot of a Peach Aviation jet that made a “dangerous descent” near Naha airport last month mistook an air traffic controller’s instruction to “Maintain” for “Maintain descending.”
  • Authorities say the pilot later told a flight attendant to blame the incident on bad weather.
  • Here we go again: Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the leaders of Japan and Germany have vowed “to enhance dialogue for global security.”
  • A team of Japanese and Russian scientists has found that at least four huge tsunamis have hit the northern Sea of Japan coast during the past 2,000 years.

INTO THIN AIR

  • Investigators in Japan and the U.S. say workers at a Las Vegas-based asset management company used a Ponzi scheme to scam “thousands of wealthy Japanese investors with bank accounts in Hawaii.”
  • Officials at Resona Bank say a male employee in his 20s who worked at the bank’s Ikebukuro branch collected more than ¥155 million from clients and then lost most of the money in foreign currency trades. The man killed himself after the fraud was discovered.
  • It was reported that Japan’s most rapidly aging village is Nanmoku in Gunma, where 57.2 percent of the 2,277 residents are 65 or older.
  • The government estimates the village will have just 702 residents by the year 2040.

RIDING THE RAILS

  • JR Hokkaido unveiled the design of its next-generation shinkansen, which will be able to zip passengers from Tokyo to Hakodate in just over 4 hours. The train will debut in 2016.
  • Railway enthusiasts in Taiwan are giddy about the restoration of a Japanese-made Class C57 steam locomotive that had been out of commission since 1979.
  • Researchers in Tokushima say tidal forces in the Naruto Strait are so powerful that they generate as much energy as four nuclear reactors.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Lawyer Aims to Make Constitution ‘Hip’ Through Small Study Sessions” (via Mainichi Japan)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan TodayThe Japan TimesJijiThe Tokyo ReporterThe MainichiThe Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo