Small Print: November 5, 2015

Small Print: November 5, 2015

Rogue racehorses, locomotive legends, drone disasters, and more ...


“What are these coordinated movements? Terrorist conspiracy, surely!” (Photo via 123RF)

“I hope this marriage will be an opportunity for mothers to contribute to the country by wanting to have more children”
—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, reacting to the nuptials of actor Masaharu Fukuyama and actress Kazue Fukiishi


  • Recently disclosed government documents reveal that, in 2009, officials at TEPCO rejected a request from nuclear regulators to “consider concrete steps against tsunami waves” that might strike the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
  • Authorities in Himeji who broke up an anti-government protest on the grounds that it was “too critical” offered an apology and admitted they had violated the demonstrators’ right to freedom of assembly.
  • The killjoys at JR East have quashed a rumor that a support pillar at Tokyo Station is made from a WWII-era submarine periscope. They say the story is just an urban legend.
  • The defense ministry has established a new agency to centralize operations related to acquiring and exporting military equipment.


  • In an appearance at the UN last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to make Japan “the most business-friendly nation in the world.”
  • Students in Shizuoka got a surprise holiday, thanks to a retired racehorse that escaped its owner and caused authorities to close schools as a precaution.
  • Officials in Russia say they uncovered a cell of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that had been operating near the Kremlin. They say members held three meetings and took part in such nefarious activities as “praying” and “yoga training.”
  • Headline of the Week: “Haniwa Statue With Unique Head on Display in Nara Pref” (via The Japan News)


  • A disaster-prevention manual released in September by the TMG is proving so popular that more than 8,000 people have contacted the city “praising the contents … or asking the government how to obtain it.”
  • Authorities at the welfare ministry say that, for the first time in five years, the waiting lists for spots in daycare centers is on the rise.
  • A drone commissioned by the organizers of a bicycle race in Maebashi crashed and burst into flames near the starting line.
  • Officials in Tokyo and Washington reached an agreement that will allow Japanese authorities to enter U.S. military bases to conduct environmental surveys whenever they please.


  • Players on Waseda University’s rugby team have agreed to help residents in six districts of Suginami-ku in the event of a natural disaster. Many people in the area are elderly and live alone.
  • Education specialists at Todai and the Nippon Foundation have teamed up on a program for children who are adept in fields like mathematics and music but who “experience problems attending school due to such reasons as poor social skills.”
  • Yoshiomi Tamai, who established a charitable fund for orphans after his mother died in a traffic accident in the 1960s, was honored an Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal at a ceremony in New York.
  • The award recognizes people who have made contributions to “education, human rights and other humanitarian concerns.”


  • A crowdfunding campaign to bring back into service a Seibu Railway train decorated with illustrations from the manga Galaxy Express 999 fell flat, raising just ¥5.6 million of its ¥30 million goal.
  • Officials in Japan and China said they want to restart regular meetings between executives of their countries’ ruling parties. The talks have been suspended since 2009 due to soured bilateral relations.
  • A researcher at the Mount Fuji Institute in Yamanashi believes that “normalcy bias”—the tendency of people to disregard inconvenient information in a crisis—may have contributed to the high death toll during last year’s eruption of Mount Ontake.
  • Physicians in Shizuoka carried out the world’s first successful surgery to treat a rare congenital condition known as Cantrell syndrome, which causes problems with multiple internal organs. The patient was a 14-year-old girl from Malaysia.


  • 95.1: Percent of all goods imported to Japan that will become tariff-free under the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal
  • 88: Percent of respondents to a survey who say they believe newspapers can still play a role in providing “information and knowledge.” The poll was conducted by a newspaper
  • 9: People injured late last month outside the Turkish Embassy, during what was believed to be a clash between Turks and ethnic Kurds

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