May 30, 2012
This week’s required reading
By: Reg Dunlap | May 30, 2012 | Issue: 949 | No Comments | 1,791 views

Masaoka Shiki, (1867-1902). Source 国立国会図書館

What a long, strange trip it’s been

  • Cops in Osaka arrested the driver of a rental car that was involved in six separate hit-and-run accidents in a single day last month. The 22-year-old suspect claimed he was “high on a legal herb” at the time.
  • The latest castaway from the March 11 disaster to wash ashore far from home is a 5m-long fishing boat that floated more that 1,600km to Kagoshima after being unmoored from its berth in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture.
  • Government-appointed researchers hunting through the US National Archives in Washington, DC found a detailed map of bunkers dug by the Japanese Imperial Army on Iwoto Island (aka Iwo Jima) during World War II.
  • Headline of the Week: “More Japanese Seeking Ova in Thailand” (via The Daily Yomiuri)

Where have all the children gone?

  • The internal affairs ministry says the number of children in Japan under the age of 15 dropped by 120,000 during the past fiscal year. That’s the 31st consecutive year the number has declined.
  • The ministry reported that there are now just 16.65 million young ’uns in Japan—a record low.
  • Tokyo and Fukuoka were the only prefectures to record an increase in their population of children. Unsurprisingly, quake-hit Fukushima saw the steepest decline.
  • Japan also ranked last among populous nations in terms of its ratio of children to adults, at 13 percent. Pakistan has the highest proportion of under-15’s, with 41.6 percent.

Where the heart is

  • The March 11 disaster is being credited with a 15 percent rise in the number of people who say they “eat dinner with their families almost every day.”
  • Officials in Brussels installed a mailbox specifically for passersby to post haiku poems. The poems will be sent to Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture, the hometown of haiku legend Masaoka Shiki.
  • The National Police Agency says the number of road fatalities during this year’s Golden Week holidays—86—was the lowest since 1970.
  • Talk about “going deep”—nine students from the Otaru University of Commerce in Hokkaido were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after attending a party organized by the school’s football club.
  • >200 Number of fans of the pop group Exile who were denied admission to a concert at Seibu Dome last month after it was discovered their tickets were counterfeit
  • 61 Percent of governors around Japan who say they are in favor of Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s plan to buy part of the disputed Senkaku Islands, according to a newspaper survey
  • 12.3 Percent of the debris from the March 11 disaster that had been cleared as of May 7, according to the environment ministry
—Yasuhiko Kawamura, a volunteer who keeps watch over the Aokigahara Jukai forest in Yamanashi, a notorious suicide spot

This just in

  • It was reported that the number of mobile-phone users defaulting on their monthly payments has shot up six-fold during the past year and a half. Costly smartphone plans are thought to be the cause.
  • Railway officials believe a mischievous crow caused an hour-long power outage that delayed about 4,000 shinkansen passengers in Miyagi last month.
  • Thanks but no thanks: the health ministry reported that at least two of the 35 Indonesian caregivers who recently passed a Japanese-language nursing exam have already left the country.
  • The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology has confirmed that “extremely slow” earthquakes struck an undersea trench south of Japan in 2009. The quakes lasted as long as long as a minute and a half, compared to the usual 1-2 seconds.

By the numbers

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced that it confiscated 740,000 illegally parked or abandoned bicycles last year. More than 300,000 of the bikes were discarded, at a cost of ¥13.5 billion.
  • The National Police Agency said it responded to a record number of domestic-violence and child-abuse complaints in 2011.
  • On the plus side, the number of reported stalking cases declined.
  • Officials in Chiba mistakenly sent out more than 7,000 acceptance notices to hopefuls who had applied to run in the inaugural Chiba Aqualine Marathon, scheduled for October.

Foreign intrigue

  • A Japanese astronomer working on an international telescope project in northern Chile was found collapsed near his apartment in Santiago. He died soon after, and police suspect foul play.
  • A vice counsel at the Japanese Consulate-General in San Francisco was arrested for multiple incidents of domestic violence, including “stomping on [his wife]… and throwing her out of a car.”
  • The Japanese government announced it will loan a whopping ¥10.79 billion to Morocco for… the construction of a new sewage plant. Officials say they hope the payout will help grease the wheels for a future “bilateral investment treaty.”
  • Police in Yokohama arrested a 35-year-old Peruvian man for stabbing to death his 18-year-old Russian girlfriend in Naka Ward.

Moving on

  • Emperor Akihito’s 43-year-old daughter, Sayako Kuroda, assumed the role of “special sacred priestess” at Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture.
  • Meanwhile, the Imperial Household Agency says it will allow the Emperor and his wife to be buried “in separate mounds on the same premises.” Empress Michiko recently expressed reservations about being interred directly next to her husband, owing to her birth as a commoner.
  • Japanese researchers have developed a method of stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in mice. It’s hoped the breakthrough will someday help patients avoid lower-limb amputation due to cell death.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Hiroshima Declares Bid to Host 2015 NPT Review Conference” (via Kyodo)

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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