- 4,649,600 Cars, trucks and buses sold in Japan during fiscal 2009, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association
- 33 Years since sales were that low
- 95.3 Percent increase in complaints about “illegal or harmful content” received by the National Police Agency’s Internet Hotline Center in 2009, compared to 2008
- 93,000 Number of crows captured and killed in Tokyo from 2001-2008 by luring them with meat, then sticking them in trash bags filled with poison gas, according to The New York Times
Your tax dollars at work
- It was noted that after six months in office, Justice Minister Keiko Chiba has failed to authorize a single execution of a death-row prisoner.
- The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is organizing an 8,000km boat cruise for relatives of servicemen who were killed at sea during World War II.
- A 40-year-old Russian sailor was awarded ¥500,000 by a court in Hokkaido for emotional distress resulting from a 1997 sting operation in which he was busted for trading a gun for a used car.
- It was revealed that the Tokyo Medical Examiner’s Office “mixed up the bodies of two elderly men and conducted an autopsy on a man who didn’t need one.”
- The Japan Mint is selling newly pressed ¥1,000 coins featuring the likeness of 19th-century samurai Ryoma Sakamoto for ¥6,000 apiece. Hey, hang on a minute…
- South Korea is pestering Japan to help locate the remains of Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the first Japanese governor general of Korea in 1909. Officials in Seoul say they’ll oppose a visit by Japan’s emperor unless they get help finding the corpse.
- For the first time since Okinawa reverted to Japan in 1972, the US military will give up control over the airspace over the main island.
- The health ministry said it would transfer the service records of all Japanese military personnel who died in World War II to the National Archives by 2015.
- Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Japan will join the international treaty on child custody, known as the Hague Convention, “as soon as possible.”
- It was reported that the government is mulling whether to allow foreign MDs to practice medicine here without a proper Japanese license.
- A 40-year-old Kyoto woman has been entrusted with restoring a mural at the world-famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Up in smoke
- Just a month or so after banning smoking in bars and restaurants, Kanagawa Prefecture also put the kibosh on lighting up on public beaches.
- Meanwhile, the government says it will raise taxes on tobacco by ¥3.5 per cigarette in October. It will be the first such increase in four years.
- Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Japan Tobacco announced plans to boost its presence in India.
- JT also said it will introduce a smokeless cigarette called the Zero Style Mint, which it hopes will “attract smokers who have felt reluctant about lighting up in public places.”
- A JT manufacturing plant in Iwate Prefecture closed its doors after being in continuous operation since 1905.
The world of sport
- For the first time in Japanese baseball history, video replay was used to help make a ruling on the field.
- The All Japan Judo Federation said it would say sayonara to its homegrown “Kodokan” rules and instead adopt the standards of the International Judo Federation.
- Paralympic gold medal skier Yoshihiro Nitta decried the lack of funding Japan provides for his squad, saying, “Athletes overseas receive high remuneration and give everything they have to [the Games]… They have a different look in their eyes.”
- It took 82 moves for 34-year-old Toshiaki Kubo to beat defending champion Yoshiharu Habu and capture the prestigious Osho title at a shogi championship in Kanagawa.
- A research team at Hiroshima University has figured out a way to fight gum disease by “using a type of stem cell drawn from patients’ own bone marrow.”
- It was reported that researchers at Tohoku University have developed a “rubbery” metal alloy that “can be stretched 10-13 percent from its original size and [then] return to its original shape.”
- A survey conducted by Japanese officials in Taiwan revealed that 52 percent of Taiwanese say Japan is their favorite foreign country, while just 5 percent say the same of China.
- Business is booming at a Nagoya company that produces artificial breasts for cancer victims. The firm says it plans to boob, er, boost production to 10,000 units a year by 2014, up from the current 400-500.
Here & There
- An employee at a company that conducts aerial photographic surveys in Fukushima Prefecture lost a hard disk containing the personal information of about 200,000 local residents.
- A 24-year-old nurse in Kyoto was arrested for attempting to kill a 94-year-old patient with an overdose of insulin.
- Bill Gates is said to be interested in investing “billions of dollars” in a tie-up with Toshiba Corp. to develop next-generation nuclear reactors.
- It was reported that sales of wristwatches have been rising among job-seekers who want to show prospective employers that they are “well-organized.” For the past decade, watch sales had plummeted thanks to the rise of cellphones.
- A Lufthansa flight from Munich to Narita was delayed when 23 members of a Japanese tour group fell ill with “stomachache, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms.”
- For the second time in 16 months, officials at Sapporo Maruyama Zoo have misidentified the gender of animals in their care. The current incident involved a (female) lion and a (male) Yezo deer.
- Bottom story of the week: “Princess Aiko Appears Relaxed After Lunch with Imperial Couple at Palace” (via The Mainichi Daily News)
Compiled from reports by Japan Today, International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, The Daily Yomiuri, The Japan Times, The Mainichi Daily News, The Associated Press, AFP, CNN, Reuters and Kyodo.