“Honestly speaking, it’s rather annoying.”
—Haruki Murakami, on the annual guessing game about whether he’ll be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
- Officials at the education ministry announced plans to establish a center for promoting “active learning” in primary and secondary schools.
- A newspaper survey revealed that 38 out of 47 prefectures have, since the March 11 earthquake, added staff dedicated to disaster-prevention efforts.
- Meanwhile, the 1995 Hanshin quake is being credited with a rise in the number of local governments that have reached mutual assistance agreements in times of emergency.
- A 71-year-old liquor store owner in Tokyo found two bottles of whiskey that are believed to be from the original batch made by Nikka founder Masataka Taketsuru in the early 1940s.
- Authorities in western Japan are urging the central government to complete an extension of the Hokuriku shinkansen line in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
- The project was originally scheduled to be finished by 2025, but local officials say moving the date forward will encourage overseas visitors to travel to … Fukui.
- In light of Japan’s shrinking population, authorities at the education ministry have formulated guidelines for shutting down some primary and middle schools and consolidating the functions of others.
- Headline of the Week: “Are Women’s Makeup Trends a Clue to Economic Conditions?” (via Mainichi Japan)
- Chikao Otsuka, the celebrated voice actor known for dubbing the dialogue of stars such as Richard Widmark and Charles Bronson in Hollywood Westerns, died of heart failure in Tokyo. He was 85.
- Kazushi Kaneko, who led a prominent advocacy group for atom bomb survivors, died in Hiroshima at the age of 89.
- Archaeologists in Nara say they’ve uncovered remnants of the tomb of Emperor Jomei (629-641).
- A court in Nagoya denied—for the eighth time—a request for a retrial by 88-year-old death row inmate Masaru Okunishi, who was convicted of killing five people and sickening 12 others with poisoned wine in 1961.
- It was reported that government officials have designated 382 pieces of information as “classified” under the state secrets law that went into effect last month.
- The government says it will allocate funds to establish centers in London, LA and São Paulo, where visitors can “experience washoku, anime and other cultural attractions.”
- Students from a high school in Iwate visited northern California to thank people there for returning a training boat that was washed across the Pacific following the March 2011 disaster.
- Surging waves and high winds brought on by a winter storm system destroyed a 4.8-meter-tall lighthouse in Otaru, Hokkaido.
AND FINALLY …
- A veterinarian in Hokkaido has come up with a novel way of taking blood samples from bears: Distracting the animals with honey before inserting a syringe.
- Researchers at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported 2.06 million cases of influenza last month, which classifies as an “alert level” situation.
- Officials at the National Police Agency say they recorded 1,212,240 crimes committed around the country last year.
- That’s the third lowest number of crimes on record, trailing only 1973 and 1974.
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo