Small Print: December 17, 2014

Small Print: December 17, 2014

Chopstick etiquette, abusive teachers, invasive species and more...


Copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo

“Since washoku is attracting attention, people are becoming more conscious about the way they hold their chopsticks.”

—Kumiko Nanbu, who runs seminars for Japanese on the proper use of ohashi


  • Education authorities in Kobe suspended a junior high school teacher for punishing two students by forcing them to kneel on the floor and then posting their pictures on Facebook.
  • Officials at the education and finance ministries are having a spat over whether first-grade classes should have a maximum of 35 or 40 students.
  • Among the 1,800 guests to attend the autumn garden party at the imperial palace were actress Yukiyo Toake and Sochi Paralympic gold-medal skier Akira Kano.
  • As part of their “long-term population vision for 2060,” government officials want to boost the fertility rate from the current 1.43 to 1.8.


  • Cops in Tochigi say they suspect a professional dog breeder is responsible for dumping dozens of animal carcasses in rural areas.
  • Tokyo police detained seven boys aged 12-15 for damaging and stealing money from more than a dozen vending machines in Tokyo and Saitama.
  • Officials at the NPA say the amount of money stolen in fraudulent furikomi money-transfer schemes so far this year—¥29 million and counting—has already topped all previous annual totals.
  • Authorities at the environment ministry added 424 animals to their list of invasive foreign species, including the Asian predatory wasp, the Australian redback spider and the common ferret.


  • Number of children aged 0-2 who will be on waiting lists for nursery schools in fiscal 2017, according to government estimates

¥100 million

  • Price of a platinum 2015 calendar from jeweler Ginza Tanaka that features images from the hit Disney film Frozen

30.45 million

  • Number of people in Japan expected to take overnight trips during the New Year holidays—the second highest number on record, according to JTB


  • Japanese researchers took part in an international study that managed to photograph the aurora borealis as it “broke apart.” They say the photos could help scientists develop ways to avoid interference with manmade satellites.
  • Space-gazers at the National Astronomical Observatory have observed a massive group of sunspots that’s 66 times bigger than the Earth.
  • A flight from Cairns to Tokyo operated by budget Australian carrier Jetstar was forced to land in Guam after a cockpit gauge showed a problem with the plane’s oil levels.
  • Workers from the environment ministry have begun to dismantle and remove the 70-odd ships that were swept ashore by the March 2011 tsunami.


  • Nerima daikon, Yanaka ginger and Hajima leeks are among the varieties of so-called Edo-Tokyo vegetables that are “being reassessed as a new local brand.”
  • For the first time ever, JR East will use an open-bidding process to select a company to build its new railcars.
  • Headline of the Week: “Helping People Say Yes to Noh” (via The Japan News)
  • Researchers at the Institute of International Education say about 19,000 Japanese students were enrolled at universities in the U.S. last year. That’s way down from the peak of 47,000 in the late ’90s.


  • A wholesaler at Tsukiji market took delivery of a southern bluefin tuna that was an unusual color: White. The fish had normal-colored flesh, though, and sold for the bog-standard price of ¥1,500 per kilo.
  • Otsuka Pharmaceutical has agreed to buy U.S. drug company Avanir for a whopping $3.5 billion. The American firm specializes in drugs that treat neurological disorders.
  • Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. has slipped past Nippon Life Insurance Co. to become Japan’s largest company in the industry.
  • An advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman played a “decisive role” in Abe’s decision to postpone a planned rise in the consumption tax. 

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