- Officials at the foreign ministry say that, as of October 2013, a record 1.25 million Japanese citizens were living abroad.
- A city councilor in Sapporo was forced to resign after tweeting that “Ainu people don’t exist.” He said he quit in order to reclaim his freedom of speech.
- Authorities at the National Police Agency say 3,281 men reported being abused last year by their wives or girlfriends. In 2001, the number was 55.
- Police in Ota-ku suspect a serial poisoner is behind the mysterious deaths of 29 cats over the past five months.
UPWARD & ONWARD
- The government has decided to ease restrictions on the use of cell phones in hospitals.
- Public and private sector researchers are teaming up on a five-year, ¥8 billion effort to develop a blood test that can detect cancer in its early stages.
- In a finding that could challenge long-standing scientific theories, Japanese astronomers have determined that the universe’s first stars were “more than 100 times heavier than the sun.”
- Three Japanese university teams will compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense as a way of developing machines that can help humans respond to disasters.
WORTH THE WEIGHT
- After a 24-year effort, officials at the Imperial Household Agency have finished compiling the annals of the Emperor Showa (1901-1989).
- The annals span 62 volumes and take up 12,137 pages of printed text.
- A total of 112 full- and part-time employees worked on the project. They spent ¥232 million and gathered material in all 47 prefectures, plus the U.S. and U.K.
- In March, a private publisher will release the first two volumes, which cover the emperor’s life until age 19.
THE KID IS ALRIGHT
- Kota Morinishi, a 25-year-old grad student at the University of Tokyo, became the first Japanese person to win the annual World Sudoku Championship.
- Players from Japan also won the team portion of the event, which was held last month in the U.K. and featured 200 competitors from 34 countries.
- Authorities at the foreign ministry have requested an additional ¥50 billion in their fiscal 2015 budget to help “convey Japanese policies to the rest of the world.”
- They also want to catch up with China, France and the U.S., each of which oversees approximately 250 embassies and consulates around the world. Japan operates fewer than 200 such offices.
- Authorities at the justice ministry say police and probation officers prevented more than 50 stalking incidents from developing into “serious crimes” during fiscal 2013.
- Officials at the National Police Agency say minors have accounted for more than 20 percent of suspects arrested for bank-remittance frauds this year.
- Bottom Story of the Week: “Six Japanese Scientists Considered for Nobel Prize Over Half a Century Ago” (via The Asahi Shimbun)
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo