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Japan Focus / Society

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Mar 02 Over 30% of Tokyo homeless may be mentally disabled: study (AP)
 More than 30 percent of homeless people in Tokyo are suspected to be mentally disabled and may have difficulty in claiming social assistance by themselves, a study recently compiled by a group of psychologists and psychiatrists revealed. The group, led by Suimei Morikawa, 36, a doctor at the Kurihama Alcoholism Center in Kanagawa Prefecture, urges administrative bodies to give consideration to their situation in providing assistance.
Mar 01 Johnny Depp tops best actor poll for 7th year in Japan (Reuters)
 Moviegoers in Japan can't get enough of Johnny Depp: The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star has been named favourite actor for a record seventh straight year in a survey by Japanese film magazine Screen. That topped the previous record of six consecutive years for Audrey Hepburn in the early 1960s in Screen's annual "Golden Grand Prix" readers poll, which the magazine has been conducting since 1952.
Mar 01 A steaming hot Japanese food truck in a cold economy (asianewsnet.net)
 Without a great location or heavy financial funding, a Japanese food truck in the outskirt of Taipei is proving that the make-or-break factor of a small business is to have a distinctive concept. Ingrid Lee, the self-financed owner of Oden Studio and Oden Bar, has transformed oden - Japanese hot pot with assorted ingredients like radish, tofu or fish cake, also known as Guandongzhu in Taiwan - into a must-have dish filled with surprises.
Mar 01 Nakata boots raise $1.5 million for Haiti relief (Reuters)
 A pair soccer boots belonging to former Japan captain Hidetoshi Nakata have raised almost $1.5 million for Haiti's earthquake disaster relief. The boots Nakata wore against Croatia at the 2006 World Cup in Germany were auctioned off online to help relief efforts after the devastating January 12 quake that according to the local government may have claimed as many as 300,000 lives.
Mar 01 Tsunami reaches Japan's Pacific side, 520,000 people told to evacuate (AP)
 Japan observed tsunami waves as high as 1.45 meters Sunday afternoon in wide coastal areas of its Pacific side, after a massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile on Saturday. Authorities issued evacuation orders and advice to a total of about 520,000 people nationwide by Sunday evening, according to a Kyodo News estimate. The Japan Meteorological Agency said it observed a 1.2-meter-high tsunami at 3:49 p.m. at Kuji port in Iwate Prefecture, while the town office of Otsuchi, also in the prefecture, reported a tsunami of about 1.45 meters at the town's fishing port around 3:43 p.m.
Mar 01 Pearl Harbor figure Kermit A. Tyler, 96 (Washington Post)
 "Don't worry about it." Those words, which he uttered on a peaceful Sunday morning in 1941 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, would haunt Kermit A. Tyler for the rest of his life. Mr. Tyler was the Army Air Forces' first lieutenant on temporary duty at Fort Shafter's radar information center on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when a radar operator on the northern tip of the island reported that he and another private were seeing an unusually large "blip" on their radar screen, indicating a large number of aircraft about 132 miles away and fast approaching.
Mar 01 Popes, Bishops and War Criminals: reflections on Catholics and Yasukuni in post-war Japan (Japan Focus)
 In November 1945, General McArthur invited two Catholic priests to GHQ to sound them out on a proposal he was poised to implement, namely the razing of Yasukuni, the Tokyo shrine dedicated to the Japanese war dead. The priests were Bruno Bitter, SJ, head of Sophia University, and Patrick Byrne, Maryknoll. Both men quickly declared their opposition. It was, they insisted, the right and duty of citizens everywhere to honour their war dead; Yasukuni was, moreover, a national monument to the war dead, which honoured men and women of all faiths equally, and not merely a Shinto shrine.
Feb 28 JAL gals unloading uniforms as bankruptcy begins (Tokyo Reporter)
 As if the historic bankruptcy of Japan Airlines were not enough, smut peddler Shukan Asahi Geino (Mar. 4) firmly sticks tongue in cheek in deeming the increase in abundance of flight attendant uniforms hitting the market to be a further indignity. For fans fostering a uniform fetish, stewardess attire is hard to obtain, with JAL's being up near the top of the pecking order. Japan's flag carrier strictly regulates the distribution of each gal's gear, requiring return upon termination of employment, and affixes registration numbers inside. It's serious business: a special section within JAL monitors Internet auction sites for illicit sales and five years ago a contract worker was arrested for attempting to broker a sale for a uni sported by airline lounge employees.
Feb 28 Japan's workplace smokers, and their research foundation, lose puff (Sydney Morning Herald)
 A proposal to ban smoking in Japanese workplaces would herald a big political shift in the world's fourth-biggest cigarette market and accelerate the decline of its giant tobacco lobby, industry experts say. It would also bring Japan into line with much of the developed world, where prohibitions on smoking at work have been widespread for years. A health ministry panel is expected to finalise a report by April that will recommend smoking be banned in offices and factories or, as an alternative, confined to separate rooms, Japanese media has reported.
Feb 27 Bullet in bag gets Dominican pitcher arrested in Japan (Reuters)
 Dominican pitcher Maximo Nelson, once on the books of the New York Yankees, has been arrested by Japanese police after a live bullet was found in his bag at an airport in Okinawa. Nelson, who had been in the southern prefecture for spring training with the Chunichi Dragons, was taken into in custody on Friday on suspicion of breaching the Asian country's laws on gun and sword control, the Kyodo news agency reported.
Feb 27 Town upset over 'The Cove' / Oscar-nominated documentary inaccurate, say local fishermen (Yomiuri)
 Fishermen in Taijicho, Wakayama Prefecture, are concerned about an Academy Award-nominated documentary about traditional dolphin hunting, which they claim is inaccurate. The U.S. film, "The Cove," was produced by an environmental preservation organization set up in 2005 by Louie Psihoyos, the film's director. It was shot from October 2005 to September 2008. The film features scenes shot secretly, owing to the town government's opposition. In one scene, the sea turns red with blood as fishermen harpoon dolphins. Viewers of the film have severely criticized the hunting since the film was released in other countries last year.
Feb 27 M6.9 quake jolts Okinawa Prefecture (AP)
 An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 jolted Okinawa Prefecture early Saturday morning, causing tidal waves of up to 10 centimeters, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Two people sustained minor injuries while ruptured water pipes were reported in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, and elsewhere, local authorities said. The quake logged lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in the city of Itoman on the southern tip of Okinawa's main island.
Feb 26 Bad luck goes down the toilet at Japan temple rite (Reuters)
 Tired of an unsatisfying relationship, the sluggish economy or just your own bad habits? Now you really can flush it all down the toilet. The Mantokuji temple in Japan's central Gumma prefecture was once an asylum for women who wanted to cut marital ties with their husbands, a function now made obsolete by modern divorce laws and family courts. Now, the temple is a museum chronicling the history of divorce as well as a place to help people get rid of any bad karma, via a piece of paper they drop into latrines.
Feb 26 Tokyo jewelry heist suspects linked to 4 other thefts in Japan (AP)
 Five people allegedly involved in a multimillion-dollar jewelry store heist in Tokyo's upscale Ginza shopping district are also suspected of involvement in four other thefts in Japan since prosecutors told a Hong Kong court Friday. The five suspects, three men and two women aged between 36 and 53 who appeared in the Kwun Tong Magistrates' Courts, have yet to file their pleas against the charges of "conspiracy to handle stolen goods" as the case was adjourned to next month to grant police time to seek legal advice.
Feb 26 Junior high students rescue two small children, elderly woman from house fire (Mainichi)
 Four junior high school students saved two small children and an elderly woman from a house fire here on Thursday afternoon. The four students were passing by the wooden house of 72-year-old Susumu Sugiyama when they saw black smoke coming from a second story window. Two of the students -- Kentaro Mori, 14, and Kosuke Yamamoto, 15 -- dashed into the burning building and rescued Sugiyama's two granddaughters, aged 5 and 8.
Feb 26 Japanese 1-year-old boy dies on flight to Hawaii (AP)
 An autopsy has been performed on a 1-year-old Japanese boy who went into cardiac arrest aboard a flight about an hour before it landed at Honolulu International Airport. The city medical examiner's office says there was no preliminary cause of death determined for Hyeondo Seo of Tokyo. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tammy Mori says the child was traveling with his parents aboard China Airlines Flight 18 from Narita International Airport when he went into cardiac arrest Tuesday morning.
Feb 26 Man held after stabbing 3 relatives, 1 fatally in Okayama (AP)
 A 43-year-old man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stabbing three relatives, one fatally, and setting fire to their home in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, police said. Shinichi Osaki is suspected of killing his sister-in-law Mineko Osaki, 38, injuring her two sons and setting fire to their home before fleeing by car, according to the Okayama prefectural police. The woman was pronounced dead at a hospital while the condition of the sons, 14 and 7, was not life-threatening. The fire was put out shortly after it was reported at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Feb 26 Marijuana offenses reach all-time high in 2009 (Mainichi)
 The number of offenses involving cannabis hit an all-time high of 3,903 cases in 2009, up 1.9 percent from the year earlier, the National Police Agency (NPA) has revealed. The number of people who were either arrested or reported to prosecutors for cannabis-related offenses also reached a record 2,931, up 6.3 percent from the previous year, according to the agency. Among all cases, cannabis cultivation increased by 13.9 percent from 2008 to 312, the largest ever number.
Feb 26 Court tells Narita Airport activists to remove building (Yomiuri)
 The Chiba District Court ordered activists Thursday to vacate plots of land they occupy in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, and remove a structure they built there to protest the construction of Narita Airport. Presiding Judge Takando Nakatogawa, however, did not recognize the rights of Narita International Airport Corp., as it demanded, to remove the three-story steel-frame building, which has forced a taxiway on the west side of the airport's 2,500-meter-long Runway B to detour around the structure.
Feb 26 S. Korean drama to run in prime time (Yomiuri)
 A South Korean drama series will be run for the first time in prime time on commercial broadcast TV in Japan in April. Though the Korean boom in Japan sparked by the Korean TV drama "Winter Sonata" seems to have cooled, Korean dramas appear to have taken firm root in Japan. "IRIS," a spy drama featuring hunky actor Lee Byung Hun that pulled average ratings of about 30 percent when it aired in South Korea, is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on TBS for about six months.

By T.S. on Mar 2, 2010



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