Small Print: January 16, 2015

Small Print: January 16, 2015

Bomb destroyers, tattoo revelations, space spies and more...


Satellite in orbit (Photo via 123RF)

“We can protect lives by keeping an eye on people from space”
—Yusuke Muraki of the Asian Development Bank, on efforts to help people in Bangladesh and Vietnam use satellite data for disaster preparedness


  • The editors of Fonte, a newspaper serving the hikikomori community, celebrated the publication of their 400th issue.
  • Officials at the defense ministry are getting ready to test Japan’s first domestically produced fighter jet.
  • Researchers at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases say a record 263 people are suffering from streptococcal toxic shock-like syndrome, often referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria.”
  • A Tokyo-based company called FOVE has developed a head-mounted display that allows the wearer to play a piano with eye movements.


  • Construction workers in Shizuoka uncovered the remains of an Imperial Japanese Navy laboratory dating to the closing days of World War II.
  • The lab had been set up to develop last-ditch defensive weapons, including a device that would use radio waves to shoot down bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes.
  • Meanwhile, a team of munitions experts traveled to Hubei Province in central China to dispose of 121 shells containing chemical agents left behind by the Japanese military in WWII.
  • Headline of the Week: “Chaos at Tokyo Station Forces JR East to Print More Centennial Suica Cards” (via The Japan News)


  • Number of rail passengers stranded for eight hours last month when a blizzard knocked out power on the Senzan line in Yamagata

¥4.51 million

  • Amount of the winning bid at the year’s first tuna auction at Tsukiji market


  • Amount of the winning bid in January 2013


  • Following its gains in last month’s Diet election, the Japanese Communist Party has become the country’s third largest opposition group.
  • Recently retired Shintaro Ishihara, the 82-year-old former mayor of Tokyo, says he wants to devote himself to “helping young artists in Japan and abroad.”
  • Staff at the Utsunomiya Museum of Art released a 15m-diameter helium balloon whose surface was painted with the likeness of a local ojisan.
  • The purpose of the stunt was to “bring artwork to the public outside museums.”


  • A court in Osaka ruled in favor of a 56-year-old bus driver who filed a discrimination lawsuit over a request that municipal employees reveal whether they have tattoos.
  • Meanwhile, a Nagoya man has filed a ¥1.43 million suit claiming that Aichi Prefectural Police secretly attached a GPS device to his car.
  • The British science journal Nature named stem cell pioneer Masayo Takahashi to its list of 10 people “behind the most noteworthy scientific achievements” in 2015.


  • Authorities at the Central Council for Education say they want to overhaul college entrance exams by deemphasizing “fragmentary knowledge” in favor of “the ability to think and make judgments.”
  • Two sailors died and three others went missing off the coast of Shimane after the 135-ton Genpuku Maru “tipped over while hauling in a fishing net containing too much fish.”
  • Managers at Uniqlo say sales skyrocketed by more than 10 percent last month compared to December 2013.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Photo From Next-Generation Satellite Shows Low Pressure System in Color” (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.