- Starting April 10, visiting foreigners could buy five-day unlimited train passes for JR lines—including bullet trains—in western Japan. They’ll set a feller back around ¥22,000.
- Drug charges against former Indiana basketball player and BJ league MVP Lynn Washington were dropped by Osaka police after he spent 18 days in the pokey for allegedly trying to smuggle weed into Japan. His wife Dana remained jailed on similar charges.
- A dozen kids from tsunami-hit Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture were honored by UNESCO for starting the Fight Shimbun newspaper, with some even scoring an invite to the organization’s HQ in Paris.
- A 63-year-old publisher from Fukushima admitted to sending bags filled with radioactive dirt from his garden to the Environment Ministry and TEPCO headquarters.
- Four people, including two in their 80s, died and train service was disrupted when strong winds and rain ripped across Japan on April 3. Supposedly, it was being billed as the strongest storm to hit Tokyo since 1959.
- A giant 34.4-meter-high tsunami could hit Japan’s Pacific coast if an earthquake the size of last year’s killer quake struck along the Nankai Trough, according to revised estimates.
- It was officially ruled that a 58-year-old security guard at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs died from overwork, which resulted in a “ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm.”
- Japanese and US researchers found that radioactive cesium up to 100 times the level prior to March 11, 2011 was detected in sea plankton far from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
- In other cesium news, a health ministry survey found that food had radioactive levels exceeding a new limit in 421 cases in eight prefectures since January.
- The government is planning to decree a “no-man’s land” in the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear plant, which means that nobody can ever live there again… ever.
- Computer programming language Ruby, invented by software engineer Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1993, was approved by the International Organization for Standardization as a global standard.
- The government of Japan is considering “limiting the royal status of princesses to one generation if they are to be allowed to create their own Imperial Family branches after marriage to commoners.” It seems some are worried that—heaven forbid!—a female or a royal with a “common” dad might one day be crowned Emperor/Empress.
SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
- The skeleton of a 45-year-old man thought to have kicked the proverbial bucket more than two years ago was found in a Saitama apartment.
- In Tsukuba, an 87-year-old woman was found dead in her room at a nursing home a week after she passed away. Not the most attentive staff at that facility.
- A 97-year-old Japanese man was apparently arrested for trying to kill an 84-year-old woman with a sword. The ornery old fogey tried to make his getaway with a walking frame.
- Things got nasty in an izakaya in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward when two inebriated women went at each other. It ended when one of them bashed the other’s skull in with a beer mug, killing her.
- Tokyo chefs licensed to prepare poisonous blowfish sashimi are miffed at a new law coming into effect in October that will allow unlicensed chefs to slice and dice the deadly delicacy.
- Headline of the Week, courtesy of The Tokyo Reporter: “Panty-peeking parlors skirt adult-entertainment laws”
- 60 Percent of respondents to a Mainichi Shimbun poll opposed to raising the consumption tax
- 37 Percent in favor of the tax hike, which will rise to 10 percent by 2015
- 84 Percent of respondents to another Mainichi survey who do not feel the government’s nuclear safety tests are sufficient
- 100 The noise level, in decibels, at an elementary school next to Okinawa’s US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during the takeoff and landing of military aircraft
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
- A bout of cold weather resulted in cherry blossoms appearing five days later than usual in the Tokyo area and three days later than last year.
- The Asahi Shimbun admitted that it failed to declare some ¥250 million in income over a five-year period, resulting in tax authorities requesting ¥86 million in back taxes.
- A class-action lawsuit filed against TEPCO by 14 residents of Iitate, Fukushima, in Tokyo District Court asked for ¥265 million compensation for “mental suffering caused by radiation exposure fears and life in temporary housing.”
- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera will donate a new Moai statue—similar to the large stone faces found on Easter Island—to a school in Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture after theirs was damaged by the tsunami last year.
- A day after Japan’s first executions in 20 months, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “the number of heinous crimes has not decreased, so I find it difficult to abolish the death penalty immediately.”
- Noda also pointed out that 85.6 percent of people polled by the Cabinet Office in 2009 said the death penalty is unavoidable, “depending on circumstances.”
- It has been revealed that the Japanese PM’s office “was not linked to the government’s nuclear disaster teleconference system when the nuclear crisis in Fukushima broke out” last year.
THE OSAKA FILE
- An Osaka police inspector and his assistant were “suspected of forging an investigation document” in a 2010 traffic accident. Naughty!
- Also in Osaka, a police criminal investigator and assistant who lost key evidence in a robbery-rape case—a cigarette butt—and tried to cover up the gaffe, were reported to prosecutors. Said the 55-year-old inspector, “I considered which was more troublesome, reporting the loss or fabricating evidence, and chose to make up the evidence.”
- A 55-year-old municipal government employee in Osaka Prefecture was canned for accessing dating sites about 10,000 times from his office computer between October 2010 and June 2011.
Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, The Tokyo Reporter, The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Daily News, Daily Yomiuri, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo.