Oct 1, 2009

Oct 1, 2009

This Week's Required Reading


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2009

  • A traveling exhibition of cartoons from Japan depicting “the horrors of war” made a stop at the Nanking Massacre Memorial Hall in China.
  • It was a hard day’s night for some Tokyo record store workers: to accommodate brisk sales of all 14 digitally remastered Beatles albums, some shops opened at midnight.
  • Two doctors in Nara, including one who had previously been arrested for defrauding the national health insurance system, performed unnecessary surgery on a patient’s liver, resulting in the man’s death.
  • Lee Myung Bak, the president of South Korea, said he hoped Emperor Akihito would visit his country next year to mark the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula.
  • It was reported that then-US President Gerald Ford was pondering a trip to Hiroshima in 1974, but the plans were scrapped for fear of ruffling feathers in Japan. No sitting American president has ever visited either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
  • Suntory has teamed up with two partners to produce the first chrysanthemum in the world with blue petals. The company also claims to have produced the first blue rose back in 2004.
  • Daikin Industries is trumpeting a new air purifier that it claims can kill the H1N1 swine flu virus.
  • The National Police Agency reported 160 cases in which people aged 65 or older were arrested for murder or attempted murder in 2008, many involving relatives caring for older family members.
  • In the appropriately named town of Wako in Saitama Prefecture, a man and his wife were arrested after storming into their daughter’s junior high school with a baseball bat and threatening to stab the school’s guidance counselor. The daughter had been reprimanded for not wearing her uniform to school and for her unconventional hairdo.
  • In Fukuoka, a yakuza boss was arrested for trespassing after ignoring signs banning tattoos at a public bath and going for a soak. “I wanted to take a bath to relieve my fatigue,” 54-year-old gangster Yoshiyuki Fujiura told police.
  • Determined to stop a group of car thieves, a 29-year-old man in Osaka suffered serious injuries to his head and limbs when he grabbed the windshield wipers and hood of their getaway car and was dragged about 130 meters.
  • A government research team in Tsukuba has developed a small robot named Taizo that can show elderly folks how to exercise properly.
  • Both American Airlines and Delta are jockeying to get in bed with financially troubled JAL, which recently posted a $1 billion loss. Delta has apparently offered $300 million for a stake in the Japanese carrier.
  • Kichitaro Negishi was named best director at the Montreal World Film Festival for his work on Viyon no Tsuma (“Villon’s Wife”).
Hot stuff
  • In a sign of the times, a pachinko parlor in Osaka held a drill to combat Molotov-cocktail hurling bad guys. A nearby parlor was torched in just such a manner in July.
  • Lt. Norishige Kanai, an MSDF doctor, is being trained as an astronaut by JAXA with the goal of sending him to the International Space Station.
  • Speaking of doctors, two people got sick in Saitama with the E. coli bacteria after eating tainted meat at two Steak Don restaurants.
  • Meanwhile, the Pepper Lunch steakhouse chain severed ties with a meat processor in Gifu when dozens of customers developed food poisoning after dining at the popular chain.
  • The 62-year-old founder of the Kanshinji religious corporation in Ishikawa Prefecture hid ¥1 billion in taxable income from the sale of glass “objects of worship.” The 30cm artifacts are said to include “an electronic chip… containing (the founder’s) DNA,” and they sell for ¥1 million each.
  • To mark the eighth anniversary of the Sep 11 terrorist attacks, a Japanese gospel choir based in New York put on a concert honoring the victims.
  • Keigo Moriyama

    Keigo Moriyama

    A Yamanote line train was painted chocolate brown in honor of the 100th anniversary of the naming of the circuitous loop. The original trains were brown.
  • Meanwhile, it was announced that the Narita Express is adding nifty new high-tech features like onboard internet access and “an active vibration control system.”
  • Tokyo police went undercover for Groping Prevention Week, a stepped-up attempt to nab gropers on local train lines with high incidences of illicit touchy-feely contact. Apparently, various websites have sprung up “designed specifically for gropers to link up with accomplices.”
  • Japanese stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka was awarded the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, along with Cambridge University professor John Gurdon, for his work in “nuclear reprogramming.”
  • After Nippon Rent-A-Car started offering electric vehicles for hire in Yokohama, Mazda Car Rental soon followed suit.
  • Sony has begun to show off its new 3D LCD TVs, which are to be released worldwide next year.
  • In Kagoshima, JAXA launched a rocket carrying Japan’s first unmanned space transportation vehicle.
  • A 42-year-old gangster was arrested in Wakayama for stealing a giant Peko-chan doll from a Fujiya confectionery store. The dolls reportedly sell for up to ¥200,000 online.
  • Despite orders from the education ministry not to, the Tottori school board released the results of scholastic achievement tests for individual public schools.
  • A 16-year-old high school student died after jumping from a 10-meter high bridge into a canal in Ota-ku with a bunch of friends.
  • A 36-year-old baseball fan who fell out of the stands at Yokohama Stadium and landed on the warning track in right field during a BayStars-Hanshin Tigers game died from his injuries a few days later. The man was drunk when he took the plunge.
  • In Nagoya, a 22-year-old man stabbed his younger sister to death “because her room was too noisy.”
  • A 28-year-old Fukushima Medical University grad student was busted for drug use by cops in Shibuya during a visit to a medical exhibition in Chiba.

Compiled from reports by Japan Today, The International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun, The Daily Yomiuri, The Japan Times, The Mainichi Daily News, The Associated Press, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo.