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One noodle at a time in Tokyo

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Jan 31 One noodle at a time in Tokyo (New York Times)
 Not far from Waseda University in Tokyo, around the corner from a 7-Eleven, down a tidy alley, lies a ramen shop that doesn't look like a ramen shop. In fact, Ganko, as it's called, doesn't look like anything at all. There's no sign, no windows, only a raggedy black tarp set like a tent against a tiled wall, with a white animal bone dangling from a chain to signal (somehow) what lies within. Past the tarp and through a sliding glass door is Ganko proper. Five stools are lined up along a faux-wood counter, and above it a thin space opens like a proscenium onto a small kitchen, crusted black with age and smoke but hardly dirty.
Jan 30 What made murders hit postwar low in '09? (Yomiuri)
 Even though there were numerous high-profile murder cases in 2009, including the death of a 19-year-old university student from Shimane Prefecture, the number of murders and attempted murders reported by police hit a postwar low of 1,097. The figure is 200 cases fewer than in 2008, and about only one-third of the record high set in 1954. Why? Statistics on the relationship between perpetrators and victims gives a hint as to why this has occurred. When comparing 2009 data to data from 1985, the first year such statistics were kept, "work acquaintances" decreased to 61 from 104, and "friends and other acquaintances" was down to 254 from 317.
Jan 30 Ex-hostess got drugs prior to alleged killing (Yomiuri)
 A former bar hostess under arrest on suspicion of dosing a man with sleeping drugs and drowning him obtained sleep inducers and tranquilizers about two weeks before his death, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. According to sources close the the investigation, an acquaintance of Miyuki Ueta, 36, of Tottori gave her the drugs when she asked for them in late September. Components of the drugs matched those found in the body of the victim, Hideki Maruyama, 57, an electrician who had been trying to collect an outstanding bill from Ueta for home electrical appliances around the same time.
Jan 30 Foreigners win ¥17 million for trainee abuses (Japan Times)
 The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture. The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.
Jan 29 Train collides with dump truck in Hokkaido, 41 taken to hospitals (AP)
 Forty-one people sustained slight injuries after a five-car limited express train collided with a dump truck stranded at a crossing in Fukagawa, Hokkaido, on Friday, local fire department officials said. The accident involving the Super Kamui train with 102 people aboard occurred on the JR Hakodate Line shortly after noon. The driver of the truck was quoted as telling local police, "I didn't see the crossing bar due to the snowstorm."
Jan 29 4-year-old Tokyo girl survives 21-meter fall from balcony (AP)
 A 4-year-old girl survived a 21-meter fall from an eighth floor balcony in Tokyo's Kokubunji city on Thursday night, suffering only a slight injury when her jaw scraped a tree branch, the police said Friday. Her 30-year-old mother had scolded the child and put her out on the balcony of their condo, but then noticed that her daughter was missing at around 7:20 p.m. Thursday. The mother then spotted her daughter crying and walking below, and quickly called the police, police officials said.
Jan 29 Train collides with dump truck in Hokkaido, injuring 24 (AP)
 Twenty-four people were taken to hospitals after a limited express train collided with a dump truck at a crossing in Hokkaido on Friday, local fire department officials said. The accident occurred on the Hakodate Line in the city of Fukagawa shortly past noon. No life-threatening injuries have been reported for the people who received treatment, including the truck driver and passengers of the Super Kamui train.
Jan 29 Japanese reporter cleared of espionage charges (hani.co.kr)
 A Japanese reporter who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of giving money to activist students to conduct espionage activities for North Korea in 1974 was acquitted in a retrial Wednesday. The troubles of Tachikawa Masaki, the 65-year-old former reporter for the Japanese newspaper Nikkan Gendai, began when he gave 7,500 Won to a university student being sought by the police. Masaki came to South Korea to cover the student protest against the Yusin Constitution, and interviewed Seoul National University student Yu In-tae, who would later be sentenced to death in the Mincheong Hangnyeon Incident, in his motel room in April of 1974.
Jan 29 Pet shop manager arrested for stealing penguin from zoo (Mainichi)
 A pet shop manager was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing a penguin from a zoo here, police said. Akira Honda, 24, is accused of stealing a Humboldt penguin -- worth about 400,000 yen -- from the Nagasaki Bio Park in Saikai at around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. According to police, an officer patrolling around the zoo questioned Honda, who was acting suspiciously, and found the penguin in his bag.
Jan 29 Asashoryu's drunken attack on acquaintance left him with broken nose (Mainichi)
 A person who was hit by Yokozuna Asashoryu earlier this month was initially reported to be his personal manager, but the victim was actually another male acquaintance who sustained a broken nose in the incident, it's been learned. At around 4 a.m. on Jan. 16, Asashoryu, who was drunk at the time, got into an argument with the man on a street in the Nishiazabu district of Tokyo's Minato Ward, according to investigative sources. The two later went for a drive, but the man reportedly asked a police officer from Azabu Police Station -- who was dealing with the aftermath of a traffic accident -- for help after being punched in the face by Asashoryu.
Jan 29 Former hostess arrested over drowning man in river (Yomiuri)
 Police arrested a 36-year-old former hostess Thursday on suspicion of robbing and murdering an electrician by giving him a sleeping drug and drowning him in a river. Along with the arrest of Miyuki Ueta, Tottori prefectural police will also investigate the involvement of her live-in boyfriend, a 46-year-old former employee of an auto sales company. Both are already being held on other charges. Hideki Maruyama, 57, of Tottori, was found dead in the Manigawa river in the city on Oct. 7. He is one of three men found dead under suspicious circumstances in Tottori Prefecture last year who were acquainted with Ueta.
Jan 28 Man tried for Akihabara stabbing spree pleads guilty, apologies (AP)
 The man charged with the June 2008 fatal stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district that killed seven and wounded 10 pleaded guilty Thursday and apologized to the victims of the crime. Tomohiro Kato, 27, said in the first hearing of the case at the Tokyo District Court that he is "certainly the one who committed the crime" although he cannot remember some parts of what happened on the day of the Sunday afternoon attack.
By J.S. on Feb 2, 2010



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