“I was an unreliable househusband who needed to rush to a funeral whenever there was one.”

—Takuya Ono, the chief priest at Toshoji temple in Yamagata, who has gained media attention for recommitting himself to raising his three young children

BE AFRAID: BE VERY AFRAID

  • Members of a government advisory panel have endorsed a plan to shift the focus of Japan’s space program from “social infrastructure” to “security.”
  • Lawyers for a 53-year-old graphic designer accused of producing illustrations depicting child pornography contend that “CG images are original creations and [thus] not illegal.”
  • Scientists at Kyoto University say they’ve found a Japanese macaque suffering from a disease called progeria, which causes premature aging. The monkey is the first non-human primate to have been identified with the illness.
  • A Tokyo-based travel company that also specializes in studio photography is urging senior citizens to “prepare portraits for their funerals while they are still full of energy.”

ONWARD & UPWARD

  • Researchers at the National Institute of Informatics have developed a robot whose score on a mock college entrance exam was good enough to earn it a spot at 70 percent of private universities in Japan.
  • The researchers say their goal is for the robot pass Tokyo University’s admission test.
  • Engineers at a science institute in Tsukuba have built a radio telescope that can, among other things, provide “accurate data on how exactly the Hawaiian islands are moving closer to Japan by six centimeters every year.”
  • More and more Japanese shoppers are avoiding the consumption tax with the help of so-called flea market smartphone apps, which allow them buy goods directly from private sellers.

54.5

  • Percent of Japanese husbands who say they do at least one hour of housework on their days off, according to a survey by watchmaker Citizen Holdings

$8.6 billion

  • Estimated amount Boeing will pay Tokyo-based Toray Industries to supply carbon fiber for its 777X and 787 Dreamliner passenger jets

68.4

  • Percent of Japanese college seniors who have secured employment offers—the fourth consecutive year the figure has risen—according to government reports

FINDINGS

  • An international study covering 12,000 subjects from ten countries has revealed that Japanese people “tend to exhibit such healthy characteristics as a high level of ‘good’ cholesterol.”
  • A welfare ministry survey has found that 73 percent of teachers around the country believe students should learn about gender identity disorder.
  • At the same time, just 14 percent of respondents said they had addressed LGBT issues in the classroom.
  • Researchers at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics say that, for the first time since they began keeping track of these things in 1953, the number of Japanese who believe people “are trying to help others” is greater than the number who feel “people care only about themselves.”

WAR STORIES

  • A screening of the rarely seen film Genbaku no Ko (“Children of the A-Bomb”) was held last month in Western Tokyo.
  • The movie, which won the best picture prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1955, depicts youngsters in Hiroshima peddling scraps as “A-bomb souvenirs.”
  • A perfectly restored Zero fighter—one of just five airworthy versions of the World War II plane in existence—was put on display late last month at Saitama Super Arena.
  • The London-based International Bar Association bestowed its Rule of Law Award on Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who has worked to help people afflicted with Hansen’s disease, aka leprosy.

AND FINALLY…

  • About 2,250 snow crabs caught in the Sea of Japan were sold last month in the season’s first auction at a port in Imizu, Toyama Prefecture.
  • Officials at the Board of Audit claim that workers at JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku failed to inspect a total of 12 sections of track last fiscal year.
  • Authorities at the education ministry say more than 1,000 public schools around the country have failed to establish anti-tsunami safety measures.
  • Celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami became the first Japanese writer to receive the Welt Award, which was established by German newspaper Die Welt in 1999.

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