Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on November 2013

Christi Rochin

YEAH, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

  • Six housewives around the country were arrested for posting obscene videos of themselves on a pay-per-view website. One of the gals said she did it to make money “to help cover the costs of living and raising kids.”
  • The education ministry has asked elementary schools to start offering English lessons in the third grade—two years earlier than usual—so that “students [can] enjoy communicating in the language.”
  • A research team led by a professor at the National Institute of Informatics is trying to develop a robot that can pass the entrance exam at Tokyo University.
  • The TMG’s goal of “bringing delicious, mineral water-style water to every household”—their words, not ours—came closer to reality with the opening of a purification plant in Misato, Saitama.

LOSERS

  • Officials at upscale department store chain Takashimaya admitted that they sold food made from ingredients other than those listed on the menu, including “steak” that was, in fact, processed meat injected with fat.
  • Researchers at the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 105th out of 136 countries in terms of gender equality. That’s the worst result among industrialized nations.
  • According to a newspaper survey, 65 percent of Japanese people “have not used a library at all in the past year.”
  • Headline of the Week: “Guppies, Tilapias Cause Headache in Hokkaido” (via The Japan News)

MOVING ON

  • Japan Coast Guard personnel in Mie replaced the incandescent bulbs in the country’s oldest lighthouse with LEDs and reflectors.
  • Former baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro, who is credited with taking steps to minimize the influence of yakuza groups in the game, died in Tokyo at age 81.
  • A sports-promotion NGO led by pro-wrestler-turned-politician Antonio Inoki will open an office in Pyongyang to help develop athletic ties between Japan and North Korea.
  • According to the labor ministry, the number of tofu makers in Japan has dropped from 14,016 in 2003 to just 9,059 today.

WALK ON THE MILD SIDE

  • Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata said he was “very glad” that ISS crewmembers took a spacewalk with the Olympic torch ahead of this winter’s Sochi Olympics.
  • Archaeologists in Gunma studying the bones of a man from the Kofun period (ca 3rd-7th century AD) discovered what may be the oldest helmet ever used in Japan.
  • Officials at the justice ministry are mulling a plan to ease the visa rules for foreigners who want “to train at restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine.”
  • More than 20,000 technology enthusiasts crowded Tokyo Big Sight to get a glimpse self-driving cars and other neat stuff at the 2013 ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) World Congress.

AND FINALLY…

  • The Tokyo High Court ruled against a group of ten Koreans who had asked that the names of their deceased relatives be removed from the list of people enshrined at Yasukuni Jinja.
  • Meanwhile, the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of three South Koreans who were seeking compensation for medical expenses related to the Hiroshima atomic bombing—the first time ever that people living outside of Japan have been offered such redress.
  • Noted actor Ken Takakura (The Yellow Handkerchief, Poppoya) was one of five recipients of this year’s Order of Culture award, presented by the Emperor himself.
  • Court officials in Tokyo said they’ll screen 400 potential lay judges for the January trial of a former high-ranking member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult. For normal trials, only about 60 potential jurors are screened.