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Isle of Man schoolgirl becomes an anime star in Japan

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Feb 07 Isle of Man schoolgirl becomes an anime star in Japan (guardian.co.uk)
 Like most 14-year-old girls, Rebecca Flint likes to dress up and dance. But unlike most girls, she records and posts her performances on YouTube. The results have made her an internet phenomenon in Japan, home of the anime cartoon characters she imitates. More than eight million people have watched Rebecca performing as Beckii Cruel, dancing to bouncy J-pop (Japanese pop music) and anime theme songs in the attic of her home on the Isle of Man. Her success has led publishing giant Tokuma Japan to sign up Beckii, teaming her with 18-year-old French college student "Sara Cruel", from Lyon, and a 16-year-old student from Portsmouth known as "Gemma Cruel". The trio -- Beckii Cruel and the Cruel Angels -- release their debut album in Japan on Wednesday, when it is expected to reach the top of the charts.
Feb 07 Heavy snowfall, strong winds hit parts of northern to central Japan (AP)
 Heavy snowfall and strong winds hit parts of northern to central Japan on Saturday, with the Japan Meteorological Agency warning of continued snow and winds as well as high waves on Sunday. Heavy snow was seen in regions facing the Sea of Japan, including areas in Niigata, Aomori and Yamagata prefectures where close to 300 centimeters of snow had accumulated by Saturday evening, the agency said. Winds of more than 100 kilometers per hour blew through parts of Niigata and Akita prefectures on Saturday morning.
Feb 07 Are people getting away with murder? (Yomiuri)
 Could the nation's autopsy system be so wanting that people are getting away with murder? In 2009, about 160,000 people in Japan died suspicious, unnatural deaths. But autopsies were performed in only about 10 percent of these cases, according to the National Police Agency. With police having started probes into several mysterious deaths that took place in Tottori and Saitama prefectures, there have been growing calls to make drastic changes to the nation's autopsy system.
Feb 07 Doctors arrested over patient's '06 death (Japan Times)
 Police arrested two doctors at a hospital in Nara Prefecture on Saturday on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death in connection with an operation on a liver cancer patient in 2006. Fumio Yamamoto, 52, former director of Yamamoto Hospital in Yamatokoriyama, and Yasuhiko Tsukamoto, 54, a doctor who was working for the hospital at the time, allegedly performed the operation despite the fact that they were not specialists in liver cancer.
Feb 07 Perils of hand-pulled bags (Japan Times)
 A recent report by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan concluded what many commuters already know: Hand-pulled bags on casters are dangerous. Anyone taking the train or walking through a crowded place in a large city in Japan has surely stumbled over these menaces. The bags turn into hazardous, under-foot hurdles and one more headache most pedestrians can do without. Not only do pull bags cause people to stumble and fall; but the casters roll over people's feet, overloaded bags turn over and bag-pullers can sprain their own wrist. In several cases, heavy bags tumbled downstairs, hitting people below.
Feb 07 Film series reveals more than just foreign take on Japan (Japan Times)
 Many people still think Japan is inscrutable. It's a cliche reinforced on the Japanese side by another cliche that says Japan is "unique," and which is further reinforced by the tendency to explain cultural aspects as if they were museum exhibits. Much of NHK's English language content falls into this realm. Another common method of explication is using contrast. On the local NHK series "Japan Cool," young people from various countries talk about specific aspects of Japan by comparing them to things in their own cultures, and since most people nowadays are brought up to respect "differences" they take things as they are rather than impose their values on them.
Feb 06 3rd Brazilian arrested over fatal hit-and-run in Nagoya (AP)
 A third Brazilian suspect was arrested Friday over a hit- and-run in Nagoya earlier in the week in which three pedestrians were killed, police said. Fabricio Rocha, 26, was wanted on suspicion of dangerous driving resulting in death and committing a traffic law violation as the driver of the car, which was allegedly carrying four Brazilians and failed to stop after hitting the three victims past midnight Monday.
Feb 06 Have 'udon' bowl - will travel (Japan Times)
 A journey to 33 restaurants in Osaka and three nearby prefectures to enjoy thick "sanuki udon" is under way to give momentum to a boom in the pastalike noodles that originated in Japan. Organizers call the journey "Kansai sanuki udon pilgrimage rally." It involves participants slurping up noodles at one restaurant after another until they complete visits to all 33 eateries on the itinerary in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Nara prefectures. They will collect a stamp at each stop.
Feb 05 Princess Masako greatly improved, needs more time for full recovery: doctors (AP)
 A group of doctors overseeing the health of Crown Princess Masako, who is suffering from a stress-induced illness, said Friday her condition has vastly improved but she needs more time to reach a level that will allow her to expand the scope of her official duties. Princess Masako "has gotten better and is now in a state incomparable to" five and a half years ago when she started to receive treatment, the doctors said in a statement issued through the Imperial Household Agency.
Feb 05 Losers hit jackpot in comedy stakes (Japan Times)
 The odds of two brilliant Japanese comedies opening the same day are high but not impossible, somewhat like the odds of the same director (James Cameron) making two all-time worldwide box-office hits ("Titanic" and that other film about blue aliens). Both "Kazura" and "Boys on the Run" open Saturday and both are good, if in quite different ways. If you're a balding, lonely, middle-aged male, "Kazura" is more likely to hit home; if you're nerdy, clueless and dateless, it should be "Boys on the Run." If you're all of the above, get a life, brother, not a movie ticket.
Feb 05 Shrine offers up rare porridge (Japan Times)
 If you are in the Kyoto or Kansai area and missed the chance to have nanakusagayu (seven-herb porridge) on the seventh day of the new year, Jonangu Shrine should be your main destination on Japan's National Foundation holiday. Traditionally, Japanese people eat the rice porridge with seven specific spring herbs on Jan. 7 in order to live healthy throughout the new year.
Feb 05 Tyres burst as Air NZ flight aborts take-off (TVNZ)
 Air New Zealand is investigating what went wrong with one of its Boeing-777s after 12 tyres burst after a packed flight at Japan's busy Narita airport on Sunday night was forced to abort, sparking a full-scale emergency response. Flight NZ90 was forced to urgently abort its take-off when the pilots discovered a potential problem with the auto thrust control. Twelve tyres on the aircraft burst and fire appliances were needed to cool its braking system, resulting in the runway being shut down for 30 minutes.
Feb 05 Kijima lived in lap of luxury / Murder suspect obsessed with indulging own expensive tastes (Yomiuri)
 Kanae Kijima, arrested on suspicion of murdering a male company employee she had been dating, lived in the lap of luxury, attending expensive cooking classes and visiting beauty salons frequently while shifting from one rented Tokyo condominium to another. Kijima, 35, who has also been indicted on fraud and related charges, did not have a regular job and reportedly received more than 100 million yen from several men she was acquainted with, some of them through Internet matchmaking sites. Saitama prefectural police investigators say the string of incidents involving her was a result of her penchant for high living in costly Tokyo.
Feb 05 Tokyo's John Lennon Museum to close (AFP)
 The world's only authorised John Lennon Museum, on the outskirts of Tokyo, will close its doors in September when a deal with his widow Yoko Ono ends, the operator said Thursday. The museum dedicated to the former Beatle opened in Saitama north of Tokyo in 2000 on the 60th anniversary of Lennon's birth and displays about 130 items, including guitars, stage costumes and hand-written lyrics. The number of visitors had declined to about 30,000 a year compared to 124,000 in the first year.
Feb 04 Babies bawl it out in 'crying sumo' battle (Mainichi)
 A traditional "crying sumo" tournament in which babies face off against each other in a bawling battle was staged at a temple here Wednesday, with 242 infants taking part. In the event, held at Saikyoji Temple in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture, babies garbed in ceremonial sumo outfits were brought together in a ring, with the one to burst into tears first being declared the winner by a referee.
Feb 04 'Sakura police' on pervert patrol in Tokyo (Tokyo Reporter)
 Recent news articles detailing the arrest of two men, aged 30 and 52, for displaying their private parts to middle and high school girls, have indicated the important role the "sakura police" played in nabbing the perps. To satisfy curiosities, evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 30) takes a peek inside this special division, tasked with tackling obscene crimes associated with sexual behavior. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police tells the paper that the sakura police was established within the general affairs division presiding over public safety in April of last year. It is dedicated to acting quickly to the excessive solicitation of women and children and any subsequent forced interactions.
Feb 04 Court rules de facto acquittal for 5 in wartime suppression case (AP)
 The Yokohama District Court ordered the state Thursday to pay compensation to the relatives of five now-deceased men for falsely imprisoning them in the "Yokohama Incident," often described as Japan's worst case of repression of free speech during World War II. Thursday's decision is deemed as a de facto acquittal because when the court dismissed the retrial case of one of the five in March last year without judging him guilty or not guilty, it said his dignity would be restored if the state compensates him for false imprisonment.
By J.S. on Feb 9, 2010



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