April 8, 2010
By: Reg Dunlap | Apr 8, 2010 | Issue: 837 | No Comments | 1,959 views
  • 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
—Financial Services Minister Shizuka Kamei

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…

Damn foreigners

  • 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

    Illustration by Phil Couzens

  • 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.



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