October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

This week’s required reading


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2012


  • Police in Kawasaki arrested a 48-year-old man for discarding a small whiskey bottle next to an escalator handrail at a train station last December. A woman riding the escalator got her hand caught between the bottle and the handrail, resulting in serious injuries that included “a severed middle finger and a broken ring finger.”
  • Cops in Sagamihara busted two perverts, aged 36 and 43, who were filming a performance of high school cheerleaders. According to the authorities, the men “sat close to the stage and zoomed in on the dancers’ crotches.”
  • Police in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, arrested a drunk 49-year-old man for abducting a 16-year-old high school girl from the restaurant where she works and forcing her to “walk around the city with him for just over two hours.”
  • Traffic cops in in Miyagi were red-faced after realizing they had issued 42 tickets to truck drivers whose backseat passengers weren’t buckled up—despite the fact that the trucks involved are not subject to backseat seatbelt laws.


  • Japanese and Indian anime studios are collaborating on a remake of Kyojin no Hoshi (“Star of the Giants”), a popular baseball-themed manga and animated TV series from 1960s Japan. The action will transfer to a Mumbai slum and feature cricket.
  • Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki made a visit to Pyongyang with his entourage. While there, he met a representative of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and offered gifts to leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Officials in Yamanashi have announced a ban on filmmakers shooting suicide-themed scenes in Aokigahara forest, which is the country’s most notorious spot for people killing themselves.
  • It was reported that the leaders of Japan and Russia both hold black belts in judo.


  • Japan fell from ninth to tenth in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness rankings. Switzerland, Singapore and Finland topped the 144-nation list.
  • The WEF also noted that Japan ranks dead last in terms of its ratio of government debt to GDP.
  • Panasonic announced it has sold 4 million bread-baking machines since introducing the devices in 1987. Apparently, 22 percent of all households in Japan have one of the machines.
  • A welfare ministry survey found that 80.6 percent of single mothers in Japan hold down a job.


  • Researchers from the National Defense Medical College have developed nanoparticles with “platelet-activating substances” that can quickly stop bleeding in lab animals. It’s hoped the breakthrough will “be useful in helping people with serious traumatic bleeding in major disasters and other emergencies.”
  • JR East has developed a new version of its Series E7 shinkansen that’s specifically designed for traveling at high speeds on steep sections of track.
  • Police artists in Miyagi and Iwate have been busy producing sketches of the remains of unidentified people killed in the March 11 disaster. The drawings seek to depict the victims “as if they were alive,” and the efforts are paying off—officials have been able to identify the bodies of 15 victims.
  • A software development team at Future University Hakodate in Hokkaido is trying to create a computer program that can compose literary works that are “equal to or even better than those of late great short story writer Shinichi Hoshi (1926-1997).”


  • The justice ministry submitted a bill to Diet that would raise by five years the maximum prison terms for juvenile offenders. Young ’uns now face sentences as long as 20 years.
  • The NPA says it investigated 248 cases of child abuse during the first half of 2012. That’s 95 more cases than the same period last year, and the highest for a six-month stretch since records began in 2000.
  • The government has been forced to reconsider a plan to lower the drinking age to 18 after a public opinion poll found that 77 percent of people oppose the move.
  • A further 76 percent said they don’t want the smoking age lowered to 18, either.


  • Scientists are voicing concern that the March 11 earthquake caused the magma chamber under Mt Fuji to “come under huge pressure that could trigger a volcanic eruption.”
  • The land ministry says as many as 16 percent of riverbanks around the country “do not seem to be high or strong enough to withstand swollen rivers.”
  • Researchers at the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management say record rains on the Kii Peninsula last September caused “deep-seated” landslides that resulted in the loss of 80 million cubic meters of soil. That’s believed to be the largest loss of soil in Japan since the end of World War II.
  • Scientists from a research institute in Nara took 2,400-year-old soil from an archeological site and planted rice seeds in it to try and find out whether ancient rice fields were as fertile than those of today. They weren’t.


  • The education ministry is formulating new standards that will allow more children with disabilities to attend regular schools. Currently, only 20,000 out of the estimated 85,000 special-needs kids around the country take classes in standard schools.
  • Officials from the defense ministry say they will recruit 100 people from the three branches of the Self-Defense Forces to form an elite cyber-warfare squad.
  • Meanwhile, the National Police Agency will enlist about 100 officers from across the country to serve on its own cyber-protection team.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Russia Hands over Replica of Former Japanese Soldier’s Bank Book to Family” (via The Mainichi)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, Japan Probe, The Mainichi, Daily Yomiuri, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo