Sep 18, 2009

Sep 18, 2009

This Week's Required Reading


Originally published on on September 2009

  • It was reported that of the four cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympics, Tokyo had the lowest public support, at 72 percent. Ninety-three percent of Spaniards back Madrid’s bid and Chicago enjoys 92 percent support from US residents.
  • The head of the Japan Football Association slammed Urawa Reds manager Volker Finke after the coach publicly criticized one of his players for not taking a dive in the penalty area.
  • As part of their efforts to be known as the sanma capital of Japan, officials from Ofunato in Tohoku plan to hand out 3,333 dishes of the grilled fish at Tokyo Tower on September 27.
  • A politician in Kyushu helped a yakuza gang purchase and erect a 3m-tall stone monument in honor of their comrades who were killed in a fight with a rival gang.
  • After being chosen from nearly 550 hopefuls, Yasuo Kai and his bride Emi celebrated their wedding in front of the 18m-tall Gundam statue in Odaiba.
  • It was reported that the National Police Agency is mulling whether to install security cameras on trains in the hopes of catching gropers in the act.
  • Kaoru Hasuike, a Japanese abductee who spent over 20 years in North Korea, won an award for a book he wrote about a visit he made to South Korea.
  • The Japan Transport Safety Board determined that human error was to blame for a China Airlines jet exploding on the tarmac at Okinawa’s Naha Airport in 2007. Passengers and crew escaped with minutes to spare.
  • When residents of an Osaka Prefecture apartment complex discovered an outbreak of European snails on their property, they did the logical thing—cooked ’em up with a little butter and parsley. However, the reviews were not good: the escargot smelled bad, tasted worse.
  • We’ve heard of choking the chicken and spanking the monkey, but three pro wrestlers from the Dragon Gate group in Kobe have taken animal abuse to a new level, torturing a 10-year-old macaque monkey at their gym. Among the violence apparently heaped on the poor beast was burning it with a lighter, spraying it with deodorant and, yes, choking the monkey.
  • Eparama Tuibenau

    Eparama Tuibenau

    Cops in Osaka busted a serial thief whom they suspect of carrying out 137 robberies since 2001. The man was arrested because police were able to match his DNA to residue found on beer cans left at six of the crime scenes.

  • In a move that came as no surprise to anyone, the Sun Music Production company and Victor Entertainment canned actress/singer Noriko Sakai after she was indicted for drug possession, claiming, “Such an antisocial act is not tolerable.”
  • Hanshin Tigers slugger Craig Brazell recently had a game—make that an inning—that he won’t soon forget. Leading off the fifth against the BayStars at Yokohama Stadium on August 27, Brazell cranked a solo home run. Upon returning to the dugout, he was informed that his wife had just given birth to the couple’s first son, Trot, back in the US. Brazell then went out and celebrated the good news later in the same inning by clubbing another homer, this one a three-run shot. For those keeping score at home, that’s 2 HRs, 4 RBIs and 1 kid in 1 inning.
  • Nine-year-old professional guitarist Yuto Miyazawa put on a Jimi Hendrix-like performance prior to a New York Mets game at Citi Field, cranking out a rocking version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
  • The USS Missouri, the American World War II battleship that was the site of Japan’s official surrender in 1945, is leaving Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor in October for a few repairs.
  • A Maritime Self Defense Force instructor was charged over the death of an officer who was forced to fight 15 opponents in hand-to-hand combat during a training exercise.
  • The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry shut down two Osaka-based companies that sold “good luck” bracelets for up to ¥48,000 apiece.
  • A 14-year-old boy who saved up his otoshidama (you know, all that cash kids collect from grandma and grandpa at New Year’s) met a girl on a dating website and paid her ¥60,000 to have sex in a Kanagawa toilet stall.
  • In a match made in marketing heaven, discount clothing chain Uniqlo and the Walt Disney Company will join forces and put out T-shirts and other items adorned with Mickey Mouse and his buddies.
  • A record 54 women won seats in the Diet chamber in the latest election, 11 more than in the last Lower House election in 2005.
  • A 63-year-old former corporate executive, Fumiko Hayashi, was elected Yokohama’s first-ever female mayor.
  • An 11-year-old Osaka elementary school girl was able to vote in the House of Representatives election after she was given a ballot sheet by mistake. The kid not only voted for a Diet candidate but also cast a ballot in favor of a review of the Supreme Court justices.
  • Sales of rice and shochu have been up in Ugo, Akita Prefecture, due to pictures of cute girls adorning the packaging by illustrator Aoi Nishimata.
  • It was announced that actress Norika Fujiwara, still a hottie at 38, will play a Kit Kat Club showgirl in the stage musical Cabaret.
  • Toyota has come up with a “breath-alcohol ignition-interlock system” to cut down on drunk driving. The device will either issue a verbal warning or lock the vehicle’s ignition, depending on how much you’ve had to drink. (See Autofile)
  • The Tokyo Science Museum held a “Bi wo kagaku suru: Bi-Make” (Science of Beauty) exhibition aimed at moms and daughters.
  • The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology has launched a ¥3 billion project to develop three undersea robots that will search for rare metals like zinc, germanium, manganese, cobalt and nickel beneath the ocean floor.
  • Big Deal Headline of the Week: “Nine Customers Stuck in Tokyu Department Store Elevator for 30 minutes” (via The Mainichi Daily News).
  • The Japan PEN Club filed an objection in a New York court to a class-action settlement between Google and US writers over the internet search engine’s book digitization project.
  • Health officials are warning that up to 60 million people could be infected with the potentially fatal H1N1 flu strain.
  • A 31-year-old mom was arrested in Akita after her 11-month-old son died of dehydration when she left him in the car and went to play pachinko for three hours.
  • Police in Aichi say that a bunch of websites claiming to offer assistance to troubled youths are actually “disguised matchmaking services set up to facilitate child prostitution.”
  • A 70-year-old Chiba man stabbed his 64-year-old neighbor to death because she had warned him about feeding stray cats in the ’hood.
  • In Shizuoka, two 13-year-old girls leaped to their deaths from the sixth story of a building. They were apparently the victims of bullying at school.
  • Paul Shimmin, a 36-year-old Brit living in Yokohama, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for strangling to death his live-in girlfriend Shoko Kawanobe. Shimmin’s lawyers said Kawanobe “accidentally suffocated with her face buried in her pillow while asleep,” but the judge wasn’t buying it.

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