Oct 22, 2009

Oct 22, 2009

This Week's Required Reading


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2009

  • The Japanese Supreme Court dealt a blow to illegitimate children when it ruled that kids born out of wedlock are entitled to only half of the inheritance from their parents’ estate.
  • A UNICEF report on child abuse and exploitation bemoaned the fact that “Japan and Russia are the only two G8 countries that do not ban civil possession of child pornography.”
  • Talk about low standards: among the 13 Japanese “cultural traditions” that UNESCO added to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was a Kyoto float ceremony and a bunraku puppet theater.
  • One Japanese tradition that failed to make the cut was “the process of repairing wood carvings.” Better luck next time, fellas.
  • It was reported that Sato, Suzuki and Takahashi are the three most common Japanese family names.
  • In Okinawa, however, the three most common are Higa, Kinjo and Oshiro.
  • A conman has convinced the owners of at least ten Tokyo-area restaurants to buy Yomiuri Giants tickets at inflated prices in return for arranging large parties at their eateries. Needless to say, the parties never happened.
  • The Ministry of Defense revealed that 67 percent of personnel transported by Air Self-Defense Forces planes in Iraq were US servicemen, contradicting an LDP claim that the missions were “aimed at extending humanitarian support.”
  • Two men in Osaka whose “umbrellas brushed against each other” during the morning commute got into an altercation, and one of them was stabbed.
  • A study by a cancer center in Nagoya found that postmenopausal women who drink more than 1.26 liters of sake per week are nearly twice as likely to develop breast cancer as their teetotaling counterparts.
  • The Tokyo District Court ordered a condominium developer to pay a 48-year-old Kanagawa woman ¥36.6 million in compensation after she developed sick building syndrome while living in one of its units.

At home and abroad

  • The incoming DPJ administration said that the Japan Tourism Agency’s goal of luring 20 million foreign travelers here by 2020 is “too modest.”
  • Seeking to make a “new contribution to the international community,” the government announced plans to provide job training to former Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
  • It was reported that Japan’s “first-ever graduate school to be co-founded by national and private universities” will open next spring.
  • For some reason, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appeared at a charity fashion show in Yoyogi “wearing a wine red jacket over a white dress shirt and black pants.”
  • Newly appointed US ambassador John Roos visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and dedicated a wreath from his family at the Memorial Cenotaph.
  • JR Tokai said it would operate one of its Series N700 shinkansen at 330km/h on a passenger run next month. The previous speed record was 325km/h.

Nice finds

  • Japanese researchers announced that fossils unearthed in Ishikawa Prefecture belong to an entirely new species of dinosaur. The 1.3m-long herbivorous creature is the fourth dinosaur species to be discovered in Japan, leading scientists to proclaim the find “very important in understanding the evolution process” of the prehistoric creatures.
  • The Board of Audit of Japan discovered ¥35 billion in unused public funds that had been earmarked for agricultural projects which were already “completed or… deemed too large to undertake.” The board said that the find amounted to “buried treasure.”
  • After considering the merits of systems used in Europe and China, Venezuela chose to adopt Japan’s ISDB digital television standard for its switch from analog TV.
  • With the blessings of the Japan Book Publishers Association and the Japan Writers’ Association, the National Diet Library has begun work on a plan to digitize its holdings and distribute them free over the internet.

Work hard, play hard

  • In order to “address a shortage of accommodation for Democratic Party of Japan members,” the government announced plans to reopen a dormitory for Diet members in Roppongi.
  • Illustration by Phil Couzens

    Illustration by Phil Couzens

    A survey by a company called Macromill revealed that 61 percent of high school girls use their cellphones while bathing.
  • The Toyota Prius became the first hybrid car to be the top-selling vehicle in Japan for six months in a row.
  • Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a “security scanner that can detect plastic explosives and hazardous liquids.” Officials at Narita plan to install the device for testing posthaste.

Strange deaths

  • Two 74-year-old cabbies from Tokyo died after falling off a cliff in Shizuoka during an excursion for taxi drivers.
  • Cops in Kyoto suspect that a 30-year-old man found dead in a public rest room killed himself with potassium cyanide.
  • The 68-year-old grand master of ceremonies at the Imperial Household died in a mountain climbing accident in Niigata.
  • After the body of a 26-year-old Utsunomiya woman was discovered lying in a field with a wound on the back of her head, cops said they were “investigating the possibility of foul play.”
  • A 28-year-old Chinese woman working as a trainee in a Hokkaido fish-processing company was found strangled to death. Her boyfriend is the main suspect.

Compiled from reports by the BBC, Japan Today, The Japan Times, International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Daily News, Tokyo Reporter, The Daily Yomiuri, AP and Kyodo