“In acting internationally, there are certainly racial and language barriers, but they can be overcome. I myself had to overcome almost every kind of challenge.”
—Ken Watanabe, from an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun


  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has formed a committee to seek ways of promoting “diplomacy that conveys the charms of [Japanese] culture and arts.”
  • Officials with the ruling coalition are considering a new cigarette tax in fiscal 2017 to make up for a projected drop in government revenues.
  • Authorities at JAXA announced an initiative to “develop robot and other technologies that could help build and service manned bases on the moon and Mars.”
  • Shoppers looking to buy eco-friendly vehicles got some good news: the government will extend its subsidy program for hybrids and EV’s through fiscal 2016.


  • Engineers at Osaka University have developed a system that uses wireless technology “to help locate elderly individuals with dementia within their communities after they have wandered away from home.”
  • Japanese scientists are warning that a rise in sea temperatures due to global warming could lead to an increase in so-called super typhoons.
  • A government survey has found that about 1,000 police officers, firefighters, and SDF personnel were exposed to at least one millisievert of radiation in the immediate aftermath of the March 11 disaster. The figure represents the yearly exposure limit.
  • Members of a research team from Kyoto University have observed a female chimpanzee at a national park in Tanzania nursing and caring for an offspring suffering from a severe disability.


  • 48.7: Percent of female temp workers who say they’ve experienced “maternity harassment” from colleagues after getting pregnant or having children
  • 8: Wards in central Tokyo whose residents will be eligible for Amazon Japan’s new one-hour delivery service
  • ¥2,016: Cost of a single finger of KitKat’s new Sublime Gold edition, which will go on sale at “chocolate boutiques in eight swank department stores”


  • Officials in Tokyo and Maryland have signed an agreement to streamline the process for Japanese expats living in the state to obtain a driver’s license.
  • The agreement, which is the first of its kind, also covers Maryland residents living in Japan.
  • Prime Minister Abe became the first sitting Japanese leader to visit all five countries in Central Asia.
  • And he managed to conduct some serious business on his trip, cementing deals for infrastructure development in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.


  • Newly minted Nobel Prize laureate Takaaki Kajita has another trophy for his mantle: the Breakthrough Prize, which is awarded annually by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs for achievements in science.
  • Kajita and fellow researchers in Japan, China, and Canada shared the $3 million prize for their work in fundamental physics, specifically “experiments investigating neutrino oscillation.”
  • A Tokyo-based photographer is compiling an album that features portraits of all 1,122 residents of Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture—the smallest town in Japan.
  • Administrators at Rikkyo University refused to let scholars who are opposed to Japan’s newly enacted security legislation use a campus facility for an academic symposium.


  • Officials at the health ministry have confirmed Japan’s first cases of hepatitis E.
  • A photograph of the legendarily faithful dog Hachiko, lying on his stomach in front of Shibuya Station, has been discovered some 80 years after it was taken.
  • The picture was captured by a local bank employee who died in 1947; his family gave the photo to 92-year-old Takeshi Ando, the sculptor who made the statue that stands outside the station.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Mobile Crane Veers onto Sidewalk in Tokyo, Knocks over Police Station Sign” (via The Mainichi)

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