Small Print: April 30, 2015

Small Print: April 30, 2015

Mercury voyages, weed woes, killer karaoke, and more ...


Comic by Rodger Sonomura

Nothing is more fun than my profession”
—Seiichi Koshimizu, a master whisky blender at Suntory, on becoming the first Japanese person inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame.


  • Researchers at the Japan Policy Council warn that 896 municipalities around Japan are at risk of “disappearing” due to dwindling populations.
  • A survey by the education ministry suggests that 87 percent of high school juniors are struggling with below-average English speaking and writing skills.
  • Actress-turned-politician Junko Mihara caught flak for saying Japan should pursue a foreign policy based on hakko ichiu (often translated as “one world, one roof”), a phrase used by leaders to justify colonial aggression during WWII.
  • Officials in Micronesia demand the Japanese government to address the threat of oil pollution posed by sunken WWII warships whose hulls are corroding.


  • It was revealed that the storied Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Aoyama will be turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Olympics.
  • Meanwhile, a group of 30 lawmakers from the main ruling and opposition parties are pooling their efforts to end discrimination against sexual minorities by the start of the Games.
  • Police in Nerima-ku busted a local man for cultivating marijuana after his downstairs neighbor complained of a water leak, which turned out to be from the growing operation.
  • Cops in Osaka arrested a 73-year-old woman for inviting elderly men to karaoke and then drugging them and stealing their money.


  • 70: Percent chance that a magnitude-6 earthquake will hit the Kanto area over the next 30 years.
  • ¥300,000: Winning bid for a pair of mangos at the first fruit auction of the season in Miyazaki.
  • 88: Percentage of Japanese job seekers who say they would be willing to accept an overseas employment offer.


  • Engineers at JAXA showed off a new interplanetary spacecraft called the Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter.
  • The unmanned vehicle is part of a joint project with the European Space Agency to travel to Mercury by 2024.
  • During a visit to Tokyo, a Chinese tourism official admitted that travelers from the mainland need to “behave better” when visiting Japan and other overseas destinations.
  • Authorities at the Disaster Management Agency say they’re keen to develop robots that can fight “large-scale fires at petrochemical complexes and chemical plants.”


  • The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has received “several” phone calls from someone threatening to kill Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.
  • Officials at the National Police Agency say they were inundated with more than 100 queries shortly after enacting an ordinance against revenge porn late last year.
  • An 80-year-old Osaka woman who killed her mentally disabled son said she committed the crime because she was “tired” of taking care of him. The victim, 51, needed help eating and going to the bathroom.
  • Headline of the Week: “Teen Influenced by Islamic State Arrested for Trespassing to ‘Practice’ Killing with Goat” (via Mainichi Japan).


  • Officials at the environment ministry say 75 percent of the plastic waste that washes ashore each year along the Sea of Japan coast comes from China and South Korea.
  • Watch out, Krispy Kreme. Lawson and 7-Eleven, which recently began selling their own donuts, are reporting brisk sales; Family Mart is getting in on the game as well.
  • Toyota is considering building a factory in Tianjin, China, to produce eco-friendly vehicles. Annual output capacity would be “at least” 100,000.
  • It was reported that the number of Japanese tourists visiting Cuba has surged by 14 percent this year following the U.S.’s decision to reestablish diplomatic ties.

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo.