“The outcome is regrettable, but I have to accept it sincerely”
—Tsukuba mayor Kenichi Ichihara, after voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan to build a ¥30.5-billion sports park in the city
BORED IN SPACE
- Officials at JAXA are asking members of the public to suggest a new name for the asteroid that the Hayabusa-2 space probe will rendezvous with in 2018. The current name is 1999 JU3, so yeah, they need some help.
- Astronaut Kimiya Yui tweeted a nighttime photo of Japan that he took from his perch on the International Space Station.
- Staff at the National Astronomical Observatory are helping to build the world’s largest telescope on a mountaintop in Hawaii, but local residents have blocked construction because they say the site is “a sacred place.”
- A group of young students in Koganei “raised a large cheer” last month when a leap second was added to the digital clock at a local science institute, causing it to read 8:59:60.
WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT
- The government has asked 220,000 civil servants to arrive at work early and leave before nightfall so they can “enjoy the evening hours to the fullest.”
- Another goal of the program is to get the workers to increase their personal consumption.
- A group of Tohoku-based agricultural cooperatives held a promotional event in Tokyo featuring vegetables encased in a block of ice. The organizers dubbed the campaign “Kyuri Biz”, a play on the name of the government’s Cool Biz energy-saving scheme.
- Fishermen in quake-hit Miyagi are trying to address a labor shortage by refurbishing vacant homes and offering them to potential crew members as shared accommodations.
- ¥5.8 million: Price paid at a Tokyo auction for “Aki no Kiyo-mizudera”, an oil painting by artist Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924).
- ¥18: Increase in the minimum wage recommended by a finance ministry panel. The wage currently stands at ¥780.
- 207.5 percent: Increase in profits reported by Sony Corp during the April-June quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.
THAT SINKING FEELING
- According to a census by the internal affairs ministry, Japan’s population stood at 126,163,576 as of January 1st.
- That’s a decline of about 271,000 from the beginning of 2014 and the steepest single-year drop since record-keeping began in 1968.
- Meanwhile, the number of babies born in Japan last year—1,003,554—was the fewest since 1979.
- And just six of 47 prefectures saw an increase in population, with Tokyo gaining the most residents (72,516) and Hokkaido suffering the worst outflow (32,323).
YOU DON’T SAY
- A newspaper investigation has found that “fresh breast milk” being marketed online to Japanese consumers is fake and dangerous to infants.
- The Saitama District Court ordered Google to remove search results pertaining to a man who was busted on child molestation charges three years ago.
- A lawyer for the plaintiff said the digital records prevent the man from “rehabilitating himself.”
- Bottom Story of the Week: “New Aquarium Opens in Tsunami-Ravaged Area in Sendai” (via Mainichi Japan)
- Doctors performed Japan’s first in vitro fertilization treatment using eggs provided by an anonymous donor. Previously, egg donations were limited to the sisters and close friends of the recipients.
- The number of people with tuberculosis has dropped below 20,000 for the first time since the health ministry began keeping track in 1955.
- Researchers have discovered that brown bears in Hokkaido get just 12 percent of their calories from animals and fish, down from 83 percent in the early 1900s.
- World-renowned economist Masahiko Aoki, who was born in Nagoya and taught for many years at Stanford University, died of a lung disorder in California. He was 77.
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo