“The launch schedule has been changed to take place during the summer holidays, so I want to send kids information that will interest them.”
—Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, who, later this July, will begin a five-month mission on the International Space Station


  • Archaeologists in Fukuoka unearthed the oldest bronze casting mold ever found in Japan.
  • The LDP’s Treasury and Finance Division has decreed that only nihonshu made in Japan using domestically grown rice can be marketed as “Japanese sake.”
  • Staff at the agriculture ministry say between 2,000 and 3,000 women take up farming every year, despite not having any background in agriculture.
  • A newly-opened café in Shibuya caters specifically to “female college students majoring in science.”


  • A survey by the internal affairs ministry has found that 13.6 percent of all homes in Japan—about 8.2 million—are abandoned.
  • Authorities at the health ministry announced that the annual cost of caring for dementia patients has reached ¥14.5 trillion. That’s three percent of GDP, folks.
  • The leaders of Japan and Malaysia began negotiations on “the transfer of defense equipment and technology.” It’s the first time Japan has entered into such talks with an ASEAN member.
  • Filmmaker/comedian Takeshi Kitano became the first person outside of Europe to be honored by the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, a Reims-based industry association, for his “extensive knowledge of champagne and French culture.”


  • ¥34.63 million: Average assets held by the 475 members of the lower house of the Diet
  • 26: Number of lawmakers with assets over ¥100 million
  • 34: Number who claim they hold “no assets”


  • The government asked municipal officials in 129 cities located near volcanoes to draw up evacuation plans in the event of an eruption.
  • A team of sociolinguistics at a university in Aomori are developing a collection of simple Japanese words that local governments can use to “guide foreign residents in times of disaster.”
  • The central government announced it will lift its evacuation order for most towns and cities near the Fukushima nuclear plant by March 2017.
  • One of the “mental reconstruction” projects that officials are promoting for people displaced by the March 11 disaster involves college students living in the same temporary housing complexes as evacuees.


  • It was reported that operators of some Japanese wedding halls have begun preparing staff on how to conduct ceremonies for LGBT couples.
  • According to a survey by the National Cancer Center, 53 percent of Tokyoites support restrictions on smoking and penalties for anyone who disobeys them.
  • Officials with the education ministry are blaming smartphones and TVs for a drastic increase in the number of kids with vision problems.
  • Sentence of the Week: “Children are losing the opportunity to develop their sense of rotation as moving playground equipment is phasing out while municipal governments are wary of the risk of injury and the costs of maintenance.” (via The Mainichi)


  • A 29-year-old former konbini worker in Taito-ku was arrested on suspicion of using his smartphone’s camera to record customers’ credit card numbers.
  • A quick-thinking passerby helped police in Osaka nab a suspected purse snatcher by snapping a pic of the license plate on the perp’s motorbike.
  • After arresting a 47-year-old construction worker for stealing women’s underwear from a coin laundry, police in Chiba found an additional 43 pairs of stockings in his apartment.