The fact that the government recognizes child poverty as a national issue is a big step”
—Aya Abe, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, on a newly-launched fund to help improve the lives of poor children


  • Investigators with Chubu Electric Power Co. are at a loss to explain what caused a blackout that left nearly half of all households in Nagano Prefecture without electricity last month.
  • Government officials say a Japanese tour company’s decision to take a group of sightseers on an excursion to northern Niger is “incomprehensible.”
  • The foreign ministry had cautioned citizens to avoid the area because of activities by Islamist militants.


  • A court in Fukuoka awarded ¥200 million to a man who was paralyzed when he fell from the shoulders of high school classmates during a sports-day activity in 2003.
  • The man, now 29, was injured while taking part in a game called kibasen, in which teams of students stage “mock cavalry battles.”
  • Authorities at the health ministry have added 196 diseases—including muscular dystrophy and a bone affliction called dysplasia—to their list of illnesses for which sufferers can receive financial assistance.
  • The payments now cover a total of 306 diseases that affect 1.2 million people.


5.3 million

  • Units of Toyota’s iconic Crown luxury sedan that have been sold since the model’s introduction 60 years ago


  • Visitors to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea in 2014—a record


  • Percentage of government subsidies allocated for March 11 disaster reconstruction that have been used as planned


  • Officials at the justice ministry say that, for the first time in more than two decades, the number of foreign residents who overstay their visas is rising.
  • The officials say about 41,000 foreigners are currently violating their visa status, which is still way down from the peak of 299,000 in 1993.
  • A tourism promotion group in Asakusa held a drill designed to help visitors from abroad deal with being “far from home during a disaster.” About 700 people took part.
  • Authorities at the environment ministry have banned exports of Asian brown pond turtles. They say the critters from Okinawa are being threatened by overhunting.


  • Authorities at the National Police Agency announced that they had investigated a record 59,072 cases of domestic violence last year.
  • They say the number was so high because they’ve expanded the scope of investigations to include unmarried partners who live together.
  • The number of stalking cases reported last year—22,823—was also a record.
  • Headline of the Week: “Facial Recognition System Sends Warning E-mails to Families of Pachinko Addicts” (via Japan Today)


  • As part of a ¥3 billion fundraising effort, administrators at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto—designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site—have leased part of the grounds to property developers, who are planning to build condos.
  • Two Japanese scientists were among the six winners of the 2015 Canada Gairdner International Awards, which recognize achievements in medicine and which come with a prize of $10,000 (Canadian).
  • According to the agriculture ministry, the amount of land devoted to community farms has increased 40 percent over the past decade.
  • The three prefectures with the most such farms are Kanagawa (589), Tokyo (475) and Aichi (343).