“It knocked the stuffing out of the economy.”
—From a November 22 editorial in The Economist on the effect of the Abe administration’s consumption tax hike last April
CHILL OUT, DUDE
- Hiroka Horiuchi, a 24-year-old teacher from Chiba, took first prize at the national abacus championships. She had previously won the title in 2007.
- Horiuchi admitted that, during her seven-year victory drought, she “could not keep back [her] bitter tears, thinking, ‘I must win.’”
- About 97,000 passengers were delayed when some idiot climbed atop a bullet train in Yokohama and grabbed hold of a high-voltage power line.
- Headline of the Week: “Injured and Cranky Sea Lion Rescued on Chiba Pref. Beach” (via Mainichi Japan)
IT’S A MAN’S WORLD
- Renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono was one of 228 men—and, ahem, 12 women—to receive the Medal with Yellow Ribbon, which is awarded by the government “in recognition of dedication to one’s profession.”
- The Tokyo District Court ordered the operator of a steakhouse chain to pay nearly ¥60 million in damages to the family of an employee who killed himself after working an average 190 hours a month of overtime.
- Workers cleaning up the Fukushima Daiichi plant have a new worry: All the discarded hazmat suits that protect them from radiation have been piling up and emitting dangerous levels of … radiation.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
- It was reported that the tiny Kagoshima village of Isen (pop. 7,000) has the highest birthrate (2.81) in all of Japan.
- Officials at the justice ministry say 2013 was the first year since 1981 that the number of criminal cases dropped below 2 million.
- At the same time, though, they say the recidivism rate of Japanese criminals topped 46 percent—the worst figure since 1989.
- Researchers at the Fisheries Agency say catches of fugu (blowfish) dropped 30 percent from 2002 to 2013, and that the stocks are “in continual decline.”
- A research team led by a professor at the University of Tokyo has revealed the mechanism by which people develop diabetes from “overeating fatty food.”
- Officials at Guinness World Records have certified that the 4,395 people who took part in a line dance in Nagoya last month were the most ever to do so.
- Good news for train geeks: JR East will add a new building to its Railway Museum in Saitama. The annex will allow visitors to “experience railway jobs firsthand.”
- A 40-year-old Japanese man was shot to death at 4am outside a Yoshinoya beef-bowl restaurant in the LA suburb of Inglewood.
- A shrine in Nikko is selling paper airplanes on which newlyweds can write their wishes before launching them from a bridge overlooking a river.
- A newspaper survey has found that the city of Soka in southern Saitama is the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bicycle.
- Meanwhile, Taito-ku topped the list of wards in Tokyo that have the most casualties among cyclists.
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo