“This is a very solid team”

—Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, on signing with Japan Series champion Softbank Hawks after spending eight years in the U.S. Major Leagues


  • Seigen Go, who was widely considered the best go player of the Showa era, died in Kanagawa at age 100.
  • Go was such a formidable opponent that tournament operators had to cancel some of their events because no other players were willing to face him.
  • Authorities in Indonesia have conducted an “intensive interrogation” with a 73-year-old Japanese man who was busted with 2kg of meth.
  • Construction-industry officials say the sturdy, snow-proof design of houses in Nagano is one of the reasons no fatalities occurred during last month’s big quake.


  • Toho announced it will release a new Godzilla movie in 2016, though the studio has yet to decide the “title, storyline, staff and cast.”
  • Public security authorities warn that the two religious groups which splintered off from the Aum Shinrikyo cult “are increasing their assets.”
  • A news organization survey has found that just 24 of 47 prefectures have set targets for promoting female workers in line with the Abe administration’s goal of increasing the number of women in leadership positions.
  • Officials at the meteorological agency are keeping a close eye on Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture after “small-scale eruptions” threw plumes of smoke 1,000 meters into the air.


  • Packages of pasta recalled by Nissin Frozen Foods because some of the products were found to “contain parts of insects believed to be cockroaches”


  • Percent of Japanese people who say they want smoking banned in all restaurants, according to a new survey by the health ministry


  • Percent of smokers who feel “no particular place should be off-limits” to them


  • Commanders at the SDF say a recent drop-off in new recruits has nothing to do with the Cabinet’s decision to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.
  • Instead, they say it’s “because economic recovery helped increase private-sector employment.”
  • The welfare ministry announced that a record number of people with disabilities are participating in the workforce.
  • But at the same time, more than 2,600 disabled people were the victims of abuse in fiscal 2013.


  • Officials at Buckingham Palace say Prince William will make his first visit to Japan in February. His wife, Catherine, won’t make the trip because she’s expecting the couple’s second child.
  • The operator of teen-girl mecca Shibuya 109 announced plans to open its first overseas store. The shop will debut in Hong Kong next fall.
  • Meanwhile, officials at Sanrio held a ceremony in China’s Zhejiang Province to celebrate the completion of the first outdoor Hello Kitty-themed park located outside Japan.
  • Among the gear carried into space last month by the Hayabusa-2 asteroid probe was a sample-collection device developed with the help of adult students enrolled in a remedial course at a high school in Osaka.


  • Experts on a health ministry study panel have found that electronic cigarettes contain 110 times the amount of formaldehyde—a carcinogen—as regular cigarettes.
  • Researchers at Kyoto University used iPS cells to repair a mutated gene that causes muscular dystrophy.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, schoolkids in Fukui came out on top in nationwide tests of physical strength and athletic ability.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Residents complain about smell of ginkgo nuts along roads” (via Mainichi Japan)

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