July 4, 2012
This week’s required reading
By: Reg Dunlap | Jul 4, 2012 | Issue: 954 | No Comments | 1,365 views

Miwa Kaneoya

YEAH, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

  • Officials in the depopulated town of Takatori in Nara are trying to boost tourism by offering visitors the chance to see “hina dolls in machiya traditional wooden houses.”
  • Meanwhile, a village in the Oki Islands is offering couples ¥250,000 for the privilege of hosting their wedding ceremony. The town will kick in an extra ¥50,000 if the newlyweds also hold a magodaki (“holding a grandchild”) ceremony.
  • The Pakistani government says that if an expedition from the Fukushima chapter of the Japanese Alpine Club succeeds in climbing four unscaled peaks in the Karakorum range, it will give the club naming rights to the mountains.
  • The Metropolitan Police Department has vowed to combat a type of video-game piracy that uses emulator servers to mimic official gaming websites.

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

  • Japan’s ambassador to China slammed Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s proposal to purchase the disputed Senkaku islands, saying it could result in “an extremely grave crisis.”
  • Ishihara shot back: “He’s not a person who deserves to reside in Beijing representing Japan.”
  • The mayor of Osaka said that a man who murdered two random passersby in a knife attack last month “should have killed himself” first.
  • Among the demands of striking workers at a Canon factory in Hanoi are “allowances for perfect attendance and better factory meals.”

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

  • Scientists at the government-sponsored Meteorological Research Institute say they’ve observed the formation of thunderclouds by tracking windborne insects and spiders. They must have some damn good eyes, because the bugs were “mostly 1mm across.”
  • Officials from the Japan Meteorological Agency say the tornado that struck Ibaraki on May 6 was the most powerful ever recorded in Japan. It registered either F3 or F4 on the six-level international scale.
  • Tokyo-based Toppan Printing Co. has developed a type of paper that blocks radiation. The sheets are made from 80 percent tungsten and can be used during radiological exams and in workplaces where radiation is a concern.
  • The TMG says if Tokyo wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics, the city would reap an economic benefit of a whopping ¥3 trillion. Last month, the IOC named Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as final candidates to host the Games.

FATAL FIGURES

  • The Cabinet Office’s annual report on suicide rates revealed a spike in people killing themselves following the March 11 disaster. Suicides in May 2011, for example, surged 21 percent compared to the same period the year before.
  • However, the total number of suicides in 2011 dropped by about 1,000, to 30,651. It was the 14th consecutive year that the figure topped 30,000, but the first time since 1998 that it fell below 31,000.
  • The report said the number of people under age 30 committing suicide has risen sharply since 2009, likely because of the prolonged economic slump.
  • Sadly, 1,029 students killed themselves in 2011. That’s the first time since recordkeeping began in 1978 that the number topped 1,000.

DRAWING A CROWD

  • A New York-based Japanese artist chose a four-year-old boy as the final subject in his series of 1,000 portraits of evacuees of the March 11 disaster. “I’m happy to see my portrait looks like me,” gushed the preschooler.
  • The Cultural Affairs Agency said it’s compiling a comprehensive database of 300,000 manga and anime titles that the public will be able to access in 12014.
  • The operators of a crisis hotline established to help people cope with problems following the March 11 disaster are complaining that they’re “overwhelmed.” The hotline receives 20,000 calls a day—far greater than the 1,200 calls its counselors can handle.
  • Legal experts say one result of the arrest last month of Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Naoko Kikuchi might be a delay in the execution of the cult’s founder, Shoko Asahara.
stats
  • 67.9 Percent of female victims of sex crimes in Japan who never report the attack or speak about it with anyone, according to a government report
  • 483 Construction workers who have been injured or killed on post-quake rebuilding jobs in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures
  • ¥1,010,480,000 Donations to the TMG from private citizens for use in purchasing the disputed Senkaku Islands
  • ¥189 million Estimated cost of the funeral ceremony and tomb for Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, who died last month at the age of 66
I’LL CONTINUE TO CLIMB AS LONG AS MY BODY ALLOWS ME”
—Hirotaka Takeuchi, who became the first Japanese person to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains after conquering the 8,167-meter (26,795-foot) Mount Dhaulagiri on May 26
&nsbp;

IT’S TOUGH ALL OVER

  • A member of a yakuza syndicate was busted in Tokyo for scalping a ¥3,000 ticket to an AKB48 show for ¥10,000.
  • A team of Japanese and European scientists were forced to retract their claim that they had observed neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light. The controversial report rocked the physics world when it first appeared last September.
  • After authorizing the release of 40,000 tons of rice to “address high-flying prices stemming from radioactive contamination,” the government saw its stockpile of the grain shrink to 870,000 tons.
  • The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is investigating an American brokerage for illegally shorting TEPCO stocks ahead of the utility’s public share issue in 2010.

WILD THINGS

  • A drastic decrease in membership in hunting associations has caused officials in prefectures in the Japanese Alps to consider alternative methods of culling deer.
  • One group jumping into the breach is the Japan Wolf Association, which has offered to introduce “foreign wolves” into the mountains.
  • An 18-year-old Okinawa man was busted for posting a bomb threat against Yahoo Japan on a 2channel bulletin board.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Runaway Penguin Returns to Public View” (via The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, The Asahi Shimbun, The Tokyo Reporter, Japan Probe, The Mainichi Daily News, Daily Yomiuri, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo

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