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New cultural export: TV variety shows

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Apr 10 Police lower accusations against rape suspect out of respect for victim's wishes (Mainichi)
 Police investigating the rape of a woman in her 20s sent the suspect to public prosecutors on suspicion of rape instead of the more serious accusation of rape resulting in injury to avoid a lay-judge trial, it has been learned. If police had accused the suspect of rape resulting in injury, the case would have been subject to a lay judge trial, but the victim was worried a lay judge trial would compromise her privacy.
Apr 10 If a sacred ginkgo tree falls in Japan... (winnipegfreepress.com)
 The mighty, shimmering ginkgo towered over the shrine steps and, as legend has it, had stood witness to history being made in Japan for over 800 years. When it thudded to the ground in March, it was as if the entire nation shook. Visitors flocked to the ancient capital of Kamakura to pay their respects and take photos. "Rest in peace, old one. Your tale is now done," sighed the writer of one blog, expressing especially tender poignancy. But this is Japan, whose age-old belief in nature is at least evenly matched by an unyielding faith in technology. Under orders from the prefectural government, scientists set about replanting the tree and cloning it.
Apr 10 New cultural export: TV variety shows (Asahi)
 The "Iron Chef" cooking-contest concept proved palatable in the West, while anime continues to flood markets overseas. But is the world ready for Japanese-style variety shows, which often draw howls of laughter from Japanese audiences while eliciting looks of bewilderment from non-Japanese viewers? Fuji Television Network Inc. thinks so. But it will seek outside help in producing shows suitable for sales overseas. Japanese broadcasting companies have long depended almost entirely on the domestic market. They may follow Fuji's example as the Japanese market shrinks.
Apr 10 TV Tokyo talent dispensing deri heru services in Shibuya? (Tokyo Reporter)
 The claims from a caller dialing Shukan Jitsuwa's tip desk were most tempting: "Right now I am in a love hotel for a deri heru service with a girl who resembles an idol I've seen on television." Being a magazine that frequently covers the activities of call girls such an offer for the tabloid proved too irresistible to ignore and for an article appearing in its Apr. 22 issue a reporter was dispatched to the scene within one hour.
Apr 10 Asashoryu faces lawsuit for not showing up at pachinko events (AP)
 Retired sumo grand champion Asashoryu is facing a lawsuit from a Tokyo event promoter seeking damages from the Mongolian and another company for breach of contract over his alleged failure to show up at pachinko parlor events, people familiar with the suit said Friday. The Tokyo-based promotion company argues in the suit filed with the Tokyo District Court that Asashoryu did not appear at customer attraction events planned at two pachinko parlors in Saitama Prefecture in a tie-up with the other company, based in Sapporo.
Apr 10 Hawkers reveal strain of murder hunt in documentary (AP)
 The parents of slain British woman Lindsay Hawker have revealed the strain and frustration they endured during the two-and-a- half-year investigation into their daughter's death. The family revealed during a recent TV documentary how they had to "beg" the police to go round to the suspect's apartment in the first few hours following Lindsay's disappearance. Channel 4's "Lost Abroad: The Parents' Story," aired April 1, showed how the family felt the investigation was at times "pathetic" and their frustrations with the British Embassy, which constantly advised them to take a diplomatic line despite a lack of police progress.
Apr 09 Kyoto man arrested over woman's 7 million yen bill for host club visit (Mainichi)
 A Kyoto man who tried to make a woman pay nearly 7 million yen for a single visit to a host club has been arrested on suspicion of attempted extortion, police said. Arrested was Naoya Kominato, 22, of Kyoto's Kamigyo Ward. Police accuse Kominato of trying to extort money from a 21-year-old woman from Yamatotakada, Nara Prefecture, by billing her 6,999,300 yen for a visit between Nov. 11 and 12 last year to a host club where he worked, and making her fill in documents promising to pay the amount.
Apr 09 Japan police to target sexual molesters on subways (inquirer.net)
 Japanese police will next week launch a crackdown against sexual molesters on Tokyo's rush-hour trains, officials and news reports said Thursday. Some 120 officers will board train carriages to catch men who fondle women or try to sneak revealing photographs of them, while campaign posters will be put up at subway stations, a police spokesman and Jiji Press said. Police will also set up information booths at train stations to advise and counsel female commuters in the week-long campaign, which starts April 15 and is timed to coincide with the start of the school and business year.
Apr 08 Headless body found in suitcase on mountain identified as South Korean woman (Mainichi)
 A headless body found in a suitcase dumped on a mountain has been identified as that of a South Korean woman, police said Thursday. Ishikawa Prefectural Police have confirmed that the body is that of Kang Son-pok, 32, from Cheju after investigators found her foreign resident's registration card near where her body was found. Seiichi Iinuma, 60, a resident of Kanazawa who is under arrest for dumping the body of the woman, has also told investigators that he strangled Kang in early October last year after getting into an argument over money.
Apr 08 Police eye more requirements for drunken drivers to get new license (AP)
 The National Police Agency is considering requiring people whose drivers' licenses were revoked for drunken driving to go through additional programs designed to fight addiction before getting a new license, agency officials said Thursday. A model half-year project to require that they receive counseling, join a group discussion and record their drinking amount and situations for four weeks, as advised by addiction experts, in addition to the conventional curriculum will start in September in four prefectures to be decided on, the officials said.
Apr 08 'It's a return!' - Nikkatsu resurrects 'roman porno' (Tokyo Reporter)
 The promotional flyer says it all: "This is not a remake - it's a return!" Four decades ago, struggling studio Nikkatsu shifted its focus from action and gangster films to a form of soft pornography termed "roman porno" (an amalgamation of romance and pornography), a breakthrough genre for a major studio that was characterized by relatively substantial storylines blended with copious nude scenes. "Danchizuma: Hirusagari no Joji" (Apartment Wife: Afternoon Affair), released in 1971, detailed the erotic extramarital activities of a married woman residing in one of Japan's infamously bland suburban block-housing units.
Apr 08 Funeral operator held over dumping pets (Yomiuri)
 A pet funeral business operator was arrested Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the dumping of the carcasses of 100 pets on a mountain in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, the first such operator in the nation to be arrested over the improper disposal of such animals. Arrested was Shinobu Abe, 71, of Miyoshimachi, in the prefecture, a former member of the Miyoshimachi town assembly. He served three four-year terms after being elected for the first time in 1983, but was defeated in the 2003 and 2007 elections. According to investigative sources, Abe is suspected of throwing a dog carcass in a garbage bag over a cliff along a road through the Shomaru Pass in Hanno.
Apr 07 Hyogo cops catch daffy dowager on suspicion of stalking (Tokyo Reporter)
 One never knows who will fall into the long arm of the law. But the Hyogo police themselves may have been a bit surprised when they snapped the cuffs on a glitzy 63-year old gal on charges of stalking a man 23 years her junior. Nikkan Gendai (April 8) reports that Noriko Ochi was arrested for violating the anti-stalking law. "She'd been married previously, but about 20 years ago she had an affair with a man she met through a telephone club," a police source tells the tabloid.
Apr 07 Japan's first female astronaut changes gender roles (BBC)
 A new record in gender equality is being set in space - for the first time four women are orbiting the earth on the International Space Station. One of them is a Japanese astronaut, and her space flight is making people back home question the traditional roles of men and women. In Japan she is being called the Mum Astronaut. Naoko Yamazaki is the second Japanese woman in space but it's her family life that is getting attention back home.
Apr 07 Officers nab coin thief after hiding in closet for 6 days (AP)
 Two police officers arrested a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday for allegedly stealing 862 yen in coins at a home in Wakayama Prefecture after they hid in a closet there every evening for six days, police said. The officers lay in wait for the thief after the 83-year-old resident of the home in Kinokawa told the police that his wallet had been stolen from his home twice in March, and caught the boy red-handed. They had been hiding in the closet of the man's bedroom from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. since last Thursday in accordance with the estimated time of the previous thefts.
Apr 07 Japan celebrates cocks, not bunnies (blackbookmag.com)
 While those in the West were celebrating the end of Passover and/or the resurrection of big J and/or cute bunnies over the weekend, the Japanese were honoring a giant phallus. This being Japan, it was pink. Sunday was the Kanamara Festival, an annual Japanese fertility fest. The festival has been held since the 1600s to encourage fertility, "bring harmony to married couples," and remind the world that Japan is cool. In recent years, it's also been used as a platform AIDS awareness.
Apr 07 Retrial eyed for man on death row since 1972 (Japan Times)
 The Supreme Court has revived the possibility of a retrial for an 84-year-old man on death row convicted of killing five women and injuring 12 others with poisoned wine in Mie Prefecture in 1961, court officials said Tuesday. The top court's Third Petty Bench on Monday ordered the Nagoya High Court to review its decision in 2006 not to reopen the trial of Masaru Okunishi, who has been on death row since 1972.
Apr 07 Ginza gives way to carnations (Japan Times)
 About 5,000 domestically grown carnations were put on display Tuesday in a bustling intersection in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district to promote flower sales in the runup to May 9 - Mother's Day. The Japan Flower Growers Association organized the event, which runs through Sunday and features 90 different carnation varieties, to showcase the homegrown fare.
Apr 07 Ancient blossoming tree draws Japanese in their thousands (The Australian)
 THEY come in their thousands at this time to Jissou-ji temple in the lee of the Japanese alps just to admire the gnarled glory of the Yamataka Jindai-zakura bursting into bloom as it has every spring for maybe 20 centuries. "I've never actually counted them but at mankai (full bloom, lasting about a week) I think up to 10,000 people a day," Jissou-ji head priest Jikiju Matsunaga said as he edged through the throng on Saturday. Its massively knobbled trunk, hollowed since a lighting strike blasted away the crown 50 years ago, ancient limbs supported by a stone arch and tall props, the Jindai-zakura is the oldest of Japan's treasured great cherry trees.
Apr 06 China executes Japanese drug smuggler (AFP)
 China executed a convicted Japanese drug smuggler on Tuesday, making him the first Japanese citizen to be put to death in the country since diplomatic ties were re-established in 1972. Mitsunobu Akano, 65, was executed in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xinhua news agency reported, quoting an announcement from China's top court, the Supreme People's Court. Tokyo confirmed that Chinese officials had informed Japanese diplomats of the execution shortly after it took place. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama again said the case was "regrettable".
Apr 06 Japan gets new TV drama based around Twitter (inquisitr.com)
 If it had to happen, it would have to be Japan: Japanese viewers are about to get a TV drama based around Twitter. Sunao ni Narenakute: Hard to say I love you is a TV drama centered on five young people meeting and starting relationships on Twitter. The characters include Nakaji (Eita,) a photographer and Haru (Juri Ueno,) a temporary teacher at a private high school who is insecure because of her temporary status.
Apr 06 Rah rah! Cheerleaders pep up dour Japan (Reuters)
 Japan may have little to celebrate with its economic recovery still fragile, so some cheerleaders are hitting the streets and stages to pep up the mood -- including one pom-pom squad whose average age is 66. On a recent Saturday, some 20 members of elderly cheerleading club Japan Pom Pom performed at a competition near Tokyo, waving gold pom-poms and dancing to the rhythm in shiny red costumes adored with sequins and wearing bobbed silver wigs.
Apr 06 Tsukiji traders struggle for survival (Asahi)
  The arcane rituals of the early morning bidding at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market have become a popular tourist attraction, but the hollering auctioneers and hand- waving traders who provide all the excitement are losing ground in Japan's modern fish market.
Apr 06 Yakushima keeps expat busy as a bee (Japan Times)
  Long-term residents of Japan might remember the name Rainer Kaminski. In 1985 he made headlines as the first Westerner to become a taxi driver in Tokyo. What happened to him after that? Well, after six months as a cabby based in Setagaya Ward, Kaminski decided he had had a large enough dose of city-living to last him till the grave. He quit in 1986 to move to Yakushima, the island off the southern coast of Kagoshima Prefecture that in 1993 was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its ancient cedar forests.
Apr 06 Provincial job-seekers find cheap lodgings at Net cafes (Yomiuri)
 An increasing number of university students from outside the metropolitan area are lodging at Internet cafes to cut expenses as they search for work in Tokyo. Behind this trend lies a lack of job opportunities outside the capital due to the recession, which also has caused fewer Tokyo-based companies to cover travel costs for preliminary job screenings.
Apr 06 Japanese men embrace their feminine side (abc.net.au)
 They're known in Japan as "grasseaters" and as the name suggests, this emerging generation of young men are shunning traditional notions of masculinity in favour of more gentle pursuits such as shopping, eating sweets and personal grooming. Many grasseaters say they're simply trying to avoid the life of salaried drudgery endured by their fathers and grandfathers, but some fear the feminisation of young men is sapping Japanese society of its vitality and energy and many young women, desperate to find a mate, say unless these men toughen up, Japan's marriage and birth rates will continue to plummet.
Apr 06 Japanese journalist found in Afghan jail (UPI)
 A missing Japanese journalist has turned up in an Afghan jail, another reporter says. An unidentified local Afghan reporter said Sunday residents of Baghlan province provided information that Kosuke Tsuneoka, 40, was jailed in the province. Tsuneoka, 40, was headed to Kunduz in northern Afghanistan where there is a strong Taliban presence and hadn't been heard from since Thursday. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zamary Bashry said authorities didn't know Tsuneoka was in Afghanistan until told of his disappearance, indicating he didn't have a journalist visa.
By J.S. on Apr 15, 2010

tag : Japanese Society



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