“I will tackle tasks that will be given me one by one with a lot of care.”
—Princess Kako, the granddaughter of the Emperor and Empress, on the occasion of her 20th birthday last month
- Among the “unwanted objects” customers at McDonald’s have found in their food in recent months: A piece of vinyl (Aomori), a piece of plastic (Fukushima) and a human tooth (Osaka).
- Merchants in Shinagawa have begun promoting their businesses with images of serpents in a nod to the district’s former name, Hebikubo, which translates as “snake hollow.”
- The Abe administration plans to combat the rise of so-called quasi-legal drugs by lumping the substances in the same category as “narcotics, firearms and explosives.”
- Popular manzai comedy duo Bakusho Mondai say the grinches at NHK warned them against making fun of politicians during their appearance in a New Year’s variety show.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
- The government has updated its nationwide earthquake prediction map for the first time since 2009.
- Unfortunately, the survey suggests Tokyo is at a “higher risk” for a powerful quake at some point during the next 30 years.
- Officials with the Immigration Bureau say they’ve deported 26 Sri Lankans and six Vietnamese for visa violations.
- The move prompted staff at a Tokyo-based advocacy group to complain that the expulsions were “problematic.”
ONE GOOD TURN
- Authorities with the TMG say they’re responding to a spike in the number of elderly people with dementia by making more housing units available to seniors.
- Prefectural assemblies in Osaka, Tottori and Saitama have adopted statements urging the central government to pass a law banning hate speech.
- For the first time ever, JAL and ANA sold more tickets to customers traveling to Japan from abroad during the year-end holidays, compared to the number of tickets sold to domestic passengers headed overseas.
- A farmer in Aomori says the effects of global warming have forced him to give up on growing apples. Instead, he’s begun cultivating peaches.
ALL IS LOST
- It was reported that the weakening of the yen has “dealt a huge blow” to Japanese people seeking organ transplants abroad.
- An investigative panel at the University of Tokyo has found that 33 papers published in prominent journals by former professor Shigeaki Kato contain intentionally doctored images.
- The panel also claims Kato waged a campaign of harassment against subordinates.
- Medical facilities around the country are on high alert after the number of flu patients surged to 720,000 in the week before the New Year holidays.
WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT
- A 32-year-old salaryman visiting the pub said the activity allows him to forget the “bad things that happened at work.”
- Paris residents will have the opportunity to check out some freakishly small trees when a Saitama-based bonsai dealer sets up shop in the city for nine days in March.
- Bottom Story of the Week: “Craftsmen to Head to Egypt on Wood Furniture Mission” (via The Japan News)
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo.