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A Kyushu tale of two cities in one

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Nov 07Policemen mistook victim for attacker (Yomiuri)
The Akita lawyer killed in his own house Thursday was fatally stabbed after being overpowered by police officers who mistook him for the attacker, it has been learned. Two Akita prefectural police officers believed Hirotaka Tsuya, 55, was the assailant because he had taken an object that looked like a handgun from the actual attacker, Katsuo Sugawara, a 66-year-old unemployed man, and was holding it when the officers arrived.
Nov 07A Kyushu tale of two cities in one (Japan Times)
Fukuoka, the biggest city in Kyushu and a key gateway linking Japan to the rest of Asia, has the air of a modern metropolis. But the city is also rich in traditional culture and its residents' long-standing hospitality toward visitors is well known. To enjoy visiting Fukuoka's historical sites - while being given detailed explanations (in either English, Japanese or Korean) of what you are seeing - a good way is to take a walk around the city that's home to almost 1.5 million people with a member of a group named Fukuoka City Volunteer Sightseeing Guide (FCVSG).
Nov 06Rumor in Japan debunked: Killing me softly with sustained sex (Tokyo Reporter)
Rumor in some quarters has it that a couple bent on muri shinju (love suicide) can shuffle off this mortal coil by means of crazed, consensual coitus. In other words, literally f**king each other to death. A loving couple's motivation for such an act would be through the fervent desire "to be together alive, together while dying and together even after death." To get this right, the couple would presumably need to experience simultaneous - or as near as they can get to simultaneous - death throes. And as the ultimate achievement of passionate passing-on, it should happen with the genitals still in a position of penetration, with the two partners emulating an ailing internal combustion engine that seizes, freezes and breaks down, emanating its death rattle in the form of smoke fumes from the radiator.
Nov 06A haunting woman (Wall Street Journal)
I was recently interviewed by an American television reporter about a popular simulated-dating videogame in Japan called Love Plus +. The game offers players a selection of cute virtual girlfriends for dates and relationships. Once the player has chosen his partner, the game's software constantly challenges him to find ever more effective ways of romancing her and keeping her happy. At one point, the American reporter wondered why the virtual females in the game looked so young, docile and submissive. Was it OK in Japan, she asked me, a Japanese-American living in Tokyo, for men to pursue underage women?
Nov 05Japan: The land of the rising nationalism (independent.co.uk)
Most Tokyo districts will fortunately never experience Makoto Sakurai and his noisy flag-waving mob. But the city's normally quiet Moto-Azabu area is home to the Chinese embassy and there are few countries Sakurai hates more than China. His group's favourite insult - directed at the embassy via megaphone - is shina-jin roughly equivalent to "chink". "The Chinese are making fools of us," said Sakurai, a baby-faced 30-something and the unlikely ringleader of what one academic calls: "Japan's fiercest and most dangerous hate group today." Like many nationalists, he is infuriated by what he sees as Chinese expansionism. "If Japan had any guts, it would stand up to them," he said.
Nov 05Hello Kitty creator miffed (Straits Times)
The creator of Japan's cartoon icon of cuteness Hello Kitty on Thursday said it was unhappy with a Dutch ruling in a copyright case against its famous feline character's rabbit friend Cathy. An Amsterdam court this week ordered Sanrio Co to halt production and sales of Cathy merchandise in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg after finding the Japanese bunny too closely resembled the Dutch character Miffy. Miffy was created in 1955, while Cathy has been marketed since 1976 as one of the friends of Hello Kitty, a character that made its debut in in 1974.
Nov 05Prominent lawyer slain in Akita home (Japan Times)
A 55-year-old lawyer died early Thursday after being stabbed in his Akita home by a man whose wife he had represented in their divorce. The victim, Hirotaka Tsuya, was a member of the Akita Bar Association and head of a panel on consumer affairs at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. Police arrested Katsuo Sugawara, 66, a resident of Akita, at the scene. According to local lawyers, Tsuya represented Sugawara's ex-wife in their divorce, which was settled in 2004.
Nov 05Newborn left at lanes lands woman in jail (Japan Times)
A 31-year-old woman who allegedly abandoned a newborn girl in the restroom of a Kobe bowling alley on Christmas Eve 2005 was arrested Thursday for negligence, police said. According to the police, a fingerprint on a letter sent three weeks after the abandonment matched that of the woman, who police began questioning in late October for alleged shoplifting at a convenience store in Hyogo Ward.
Nov 05Two films explore childbirth in Japan (Japan Times)
The pain of childbirth, Genesis says, is God's punishment for the original sin of womankind - if only Eve hadn't given Adam that apple! But in Japan, traditionalists contend, it's to be embraced, not lamented, since the deeper the agony, the deeper the motherly love. So hold the epidurals, please, we're Japanese. Expectant mothers in Japan, where the infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world, seemingly have little to fear. But as two new documentaries show, anxieties can still be overwhelming, choices difficult and outcomes hard to cope with - or accept.
Nov 04Police to regularly interview with released sex offenders (AP)
The National Police Agency is considering introducing a system to allow police officers to regularly meet with those who were convicted over sexual offenses against children aged 12 or younger after their release from prison in a bid to prevent subsequent offenses, NPA officials said Thursday. The policy is based on research by the agency's National Research Institute of Police Science, which indicated those who were freed from prison after serving out their terms for sex crimes show high recidivism rates.
Nov 04Women in late 30s giving birth more than those in late 20s in Tokyo (AP)
Women around forty are increasingly becoming mothers in Tokyo, where the number of babies born to women in their late 30s exceeded those born to women in their late 20s for the first time in 2009 and women in their 40s gave birth at much higher rates than the nationwide average, statistics showed Thursday. According to the data, a total of 106,613 babies were born in the Japanese capital in 2009, up 0.6 percent from the previous year for the fourth consecutive yearly rise. According to separate demographics data compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, women in their late 30s gave birth to 209,706 babies nationwide in 2009, more than double the 100,053 babies born in the same age group in 1995.
Nov 04Actress Nao Matsushita, pop group Arashi to host NHK's end of year music festival (Mainichi)
Actress Nao Matsushita and pop group Arashi have been named the hosts of this year's NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen music festival. It is the first time for both Matsushita, 25, and the five-member male group to host NHK's annual New Year's Eve music extravaganza, which is celebrating its 61st year. The show divides the nation's popular singers into two competing groups of males and females. Arashi will host the men's team and Matsushita will lead the females.
Nov 04Vienna Philharmonic member dies on Mt. Fuji (AP)
A contrabass player for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra died Wednesday in a fall on Mt. Fuji, police said. The musician was identified as 41-year-old Georg Straka from Austria, who was heading to the top of the mountain with another Austrian, according to the police. Straka was visiting Japan for the orchestra's concerts from Nov. 1 to 10, but there was no performance scheduled for Wednesday.
Nov 04Convenience store manager stabbed to death (Mainichi)
A convenience store manager here has died after he was found lying in his store with a stab wound on Nov. 3, police said. At around 3 a.m., prefectural police received emergency calls from multiple people reporting that someone had collapsed in the Lawson Kaga-Kuwabaramachi outlet in Kaga with a stab wound. Police officers found Tomoji Yamazaki, 68, the store manager, lying on the floor with a stab wound to the left side of his chest.
Nov 041.5 bil. yen inheritance uncovered(Yomiuri)
The relatives of Shoichi Okinaga, the late chancellor of Teikyo University, failed to declare about 1.5 billion yen, held in Liechtenstein, that they inherited on his death, according to sources. The German authorities informed the National Tax Agency about the Liechtenstein account and the local tax authorities ordered the bereaved family to pay 400 million yen in back taxes. According to the sources, Okinaga opened an account in the Liechtenstein bank and had stocks and other financial assets there worth about 1.5 billion yen.
Nov 04Cornish estate steps in to save monk's camellia(Japan Times)
An ailing Buddhist monk from Kyoto, who was concerned his rare collection of camellias could be threatened in Japan, is "thrilled" after they found a new home at a British country estate. The 85-year-old, in ill health with dementia, feared that once he passes away his house and beloved garden could be demolished by developers. He contacted his British friend and artist Rebecca Salter to try and find a suitable location in England for his shrubs, which have come from cuttings he has taken all across Kyoto.
Nov 04Gang boss sentenced to life in prison for mistaken identity murder (Mainichi)
A gang boss has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a lay judge trial for the murder of a South Korean student here after mistaking the victim for a rival yakuza. The Chiba District Court convicted Masayuki Hirata, 58, former leader of a gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate, of murder. Prosecutors had demanded that he spend the rest of his life behind bars. During hearings, Hirata pleaded not guilty to the charges, denying that he had ordered the underlings to kill the rival gangster.
Nov 04Police officer-turned-journalist Akio Kuroki found dead in apparent suicide(Mainichi)
Police officer-turned-journalist Akio Kuroki, who was found dead in his car here, apparently gassed himself by burning coal briquettes in the vehicle, investigators have said. Shortly after 11 a.m. on Nov. 2, Kuroki, 52, was found by his son collapsed in his car parked near a temple in Ichihara. Paramedics pronounced Kuroki dead at the scene. Local police discovered burned briquettes in his car, leading them to suspect he gassed himself, and launched an investigation into his motives.
Nov 03Canadian arrested for marijuana possession appeared in NHK drama (AP)
A Canadian actor who appeared in an episode aired last Sunday of Japanese public broadcaster NHK's popular period drama "Ryomaden" was arrested in September for allegedly possessing marijuana at his apartment in Japan, NHK and other sources said Wednesday. The 37-year-old actor, identified by Japanese police as Caspi Troy Alexander, appeared as a supporting cast member by playing a British sailor killed by a samurai warrior with a sword strike in Nagasaki, according to NHK, officially known as Japan Broadcasting Corp. The broadcaster will delete his name from the closing credits of the drama when it reruns the episode on Saturday.
Nov 03Actor-author wins prize, will not take \20 million award (Japan Times)
Actor Hiro Mizushima has won an award for fiction for his debut novel but says he will not accept the \20 million in prize money. "I feel quite honored, as my precious first novel has been granted such a major prize," Mizushima, 26, said at a news conference after receiving the Poplar Publishing Co. prize Monday at the publisher's head office in Tokyo for his novel titled "KAGEROU," which has yet to be released. Mizushima reportedly said he wants the prize money to go toward helping other aspiring novelists.
Nov 03Probe opened as box cutter blades found on plane from Japan (AFP)
US authorities launched an investigation Tuesday after box cutter blades were found on board a flight from Japan, sparking an alert with security agents meeting the plane on arrival in the US. Delta Airline said its crew contacted authorities on the ground "out of an abundance of caution" after the blades were found on the aircraft carrying 155 passengers from Tokyo to Portland, Oregon. The incident comes amid heightened security in the United States and elsewhere after the discovery of explosive devices on planes in Britain and Dubai originating from Yemen.
Nov 03NHK to slap 3-month work ban on reporter for info leak to sumo master (AP)
Public broadcaster NHK said Tuesday it will suspend one of its reporters from work for three months starting Nov. 9 as he told a sumo stablemaster about an upcoming police raid. According to an announcement by NHK last month, the reporter in his 30s sent a mobile phone text message around midnight July 6 to a Japan Sumo Association official, telling him beforehand that the Metropolitan Police Department would likely search sumo stables for evidence of illegal gambling on professional baseball games.
Nov 03Debate over dolphin hunt a sham: 'The Cove' star(Reuters)
One of the stars of "The Cove," the controversial Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt, on Tuesday boycotted a debate set up by the town made famous in the film, calling it "a sham." Taiji, a town in western Japan, remains a center of controversy in the wake of the film. Several NGOs camped out around Taiji say at least two dolphin hunts have taken place since the hunting season began in September. Media had been told in advance of the debate, the first of its kind in the town, that they would be able to film only part of the event. Reuters TV was able to film the whole event.
Nov 03Japan conductor Ozawa honoured by Vienna Philharmonic (Sydney Morning Herald)
Conductor Seiji Ozawa, recovering from cancer, on Tuesday became the first Japanese to be made an honorary member of the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. As the orchestra toured Japan, its chairman Clemens Hellsberg handed the 75-year-old maestro a certificate of honorary membership in a ceremony at Tokyo's Suntory Hall. "As a token of our love for Mr. Ozawa, we present you with this honour," Hellsberg said. "We wish that this honour will help you, the maestro, get better as much as possible." Advertisement: Story continues below Ozawa -- who was musical director of parent organisation the Vienna State Opera for eight years until last June -- appeared on the verge of tears onstage and said he had learned much from the orchestra.
Nov 02U.K. paper picks Tokyo as favorite overseas city (AP)
Readers of British newspaper The Guardian have selected Tokyo as their favorite overseas city for 2010, picking the metropolis as a top destination for the first time, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Tuesday. Japan also placed second only to the Maldives, a Pacific island nation often described as the Garden of Eden, in the favorite long-haul country category of the annual Guardian Travel Awards. Tokyo last year did not rate a mention in the first category, while Japan ranked fifth in the latter.
Nov 021st talks between whaling town, environmentalists end with no accord (AP)
The first-ever dialogue between local leaders in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, and foreign activists campaigning against dolphin hunting there ended Tuesday with no signs of compromise from either side, as widely expected. The activists from three groups, including the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said that although they understand the practice is longstanding in the town and part of its culture, dolphin hunting is inhumane and cannot be justified by tradition. The town's representatives, including Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, argued that whaling and dolphin hunting provide a livelihood for people and that it is important to have a spirit of respect for different cultures.
Nov 02Kyabajo-looking dentist helps to pare the pain (Tokyo Reporter)
From town council members to fishing experts to political supporters, news reports have celebrated the rise of overwhelmingly attractive females, but weekly tabloid Friday (Nov. 5) has found a dentist in Niigata who meets that criteria, notably because her appearance is that of a club hostess. Miwako Kimura, 29, has received a lot of attention via social-networking site Twitter, such as being the target of such comments as, "Isn't she really a hostess?" and "Nicely done with that spiraling hair." In fact, she is an assistant director of the Kimura Dental Clinic in Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture. Her profile pic on the clinic's webiste shows her with layered hair and more emphasis than usual on the mascara around her eyes, a typical feature of a kyabajo, or bar hostess.
Nov 02Elderly woman arrested for smuggling stimulants in suitcase received from Nigerian friend (Mainichi)
An elderly woman was arrested last month for allegedly smuggling nearly four kilograms of stimulants through Kansai International Airport after being given a suitcase containing the drugs by a Nigerian friend, it's been learned. According to Osaka Customs' Kansai Airport branch and Osaka Prefectural Police's Kansai Airport Police Station, Teiko Koiwa, an unemployed resident of Osaka's Yodogawa Ward, was arrested on suspicion of violating the Stimulants Control Law. The 71-year-old has reportedly denied the allegations.
Nov 02In Japan, the Girls rule, big time (JoongAng Ilbo)
With multicolored hair and immaculate makeup, eight members of Girls' Generation were showered with camera flashes on Monday. Reporters were eager to hear from the girls who are now rocking the Japanese archipelago. In the time since they debuted in Japan, the group's popularity has risen - along with their chart rankings in the country. "Gee," the group's second single, shot to No. 1 on Japan's highly-trusted Oricon daily singles chart. The group also made history for landing in the weekly "top 3 ranking" on the famous Japanese chart, something that hasn't been done by a foreign female artist since 1980.
Nov 02Gang uses adoption to get passports, loans (Yomiuri)
Members of a crime organization are suspected of running an "adoption business" to help foreigners get Japanese passports and heavy debtors to illicitly obtain new loans, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. According to the Kanagawa prefectural police, 197 adoptions involving 60 men and women--in their 30s to 60s--were performed in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture between February 2001 and August 2007. One person was found to have been involved in 11 adoptions. According to police sources, a 39-year-old South Korean woman was arrested in July last year on suspicion of possessing a passport under the name of a 34-year-old Japanese woman, a violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law.
Nov 02'Homogeneous,' 'unique' myths stunt discourse (Japan Times)
Last month I attended an international lecture by one of Japanology's senior scholars. I'll call him Dr. Frink. Decorated by the Japanese government for his contributions to the field, he talked about Japan as a "unique" state that never really changes, even as it slips to third place behind China's economy. One reason he gave for this was that "Japan is still the most homogeneous society in the world." He defined homogeneity by citing Japan's tiny percentage of resident foreigners. That was easily disputed after a quick Google search (the lecture hall had Internet; welcome to the 21st century). I raised my hand afterwards and pointed out that some 60 countries were technically "more homogeneous" than Japan, as they have smaller percentages of foreigners, foreign-born residents and immigrants.
Nov 02Lay judges let killer of two avoid gallows (Japan Times)
A 42-year-old man was sentenced to life Monday for murdering two women in Tokyo last year, avoiding what could have been the first death penalty handed down under the lay judge system that went into effect last year. Prosecutors had sought capital punishment for Koji Hayashi at the Tokyo District Court. Hayashi had admitted killing Miho Ejiri, 21, who worked at an ear-cleaning shop he frequented as a customer, and her grandmother, Yoshie Suzuki, 78, in August last year. The trial was the first to test the panel of lay and professional judges with a demand for the death penalty.
Nov 02Recipe found for cross-cultural love (Japan Times)
Cristiano Pozzi, 37, born and raised in the Lake Como area in northern Italy, and Akiko Kobayashi, 36, from Tokyo, first met in 2003. Cristiano, a chef at an Italian restaurant, and Akiko, owner of a nail salon in Akasaka, were introduced to each other in Tokyo by a mutual Italian friend. They dated for a year, but Cristiano went back to Italy after his contract with the restaurant expired. His promise that he would soon return to Tokyo did not materialize and Akiko thought that their relationship had ended. But two years later, Cristiano finally came back to Tokyo and found a job at another Italian restaurant.
Nov 02Suspect in Wakaoji kidnapping arrested in Philippines (AP)
A 41-year-old suspect in the kidnapping of a Japanese trading-company executive in the Philippines in 1986 was arrested Monday on his return to the country, police said. Rolando Fajardo was arrested on arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on a flight from Singapore. Fajardo had been living in Italy. His younger brother, Harold, 34, a co-accused in the kidnapping, is still at large. The government has offered a reward of 1 million pesos (about $23,200) each for their arrest, making them among the most wanted kidnap suspects in the country.
Nov 01Duo arrested over Osaka body dumping case were in dispute over payment(Mainichi)
Two suspects arrested over the dumping of a woman's body along the Yodogawa River here were in a dispute surrounding payment for the job, it has been learned from investigators. Hitomi Uno, 36, the adoptive mother of Tsuyuko Uno, whose body was dumped by the river, and 37-year-old Makoto Irie were arrested last month. Police say that Irie has admitted to dumping the body, and testified that the adoptive father asked him to do it with a promise of 500,000 yen as payment.
Nov 01Explosion in front of gang office leaves Kobe residents terrified(Mainichi)
An explosion occurred in front of a gang office here early on Nov. 1, terrorizing local residents and sparking a police investigation. Police rushed to the office of the Yamaken-gumi gang, which is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi criminal syndicate, in Kobe's Chuo Ward after a resident nearby reported the sound of a blast and that their house windows had been shattered at around 2:40 a.m. on Nov. 1. Officers from Ikuta Police Station found several dents on a stainless-steel column near the office's front door and a gunpowder-like smell wafting in the area.
Nov 01Tokyo International Film Fest wraps, 'Intimate Grammar' takes top prize(Tokyo Reporter)
The 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival concluded on Sunday with its top prize being awarded to "Intimate Grammar," Israeli helmer Nir Bergman's second film, set in Israel in the 1960s. The nine-day festival awarded the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix and $50,000 to Bergman for the drama, based on the 1991 novel "The Book of Intimate Grammar" by David Grossman, from a field of 15 films. Bergman's debut "Broken Wings" also won the Grand Prix at TIFF in 2002. Bergman said that he has now re-evaluated his strict emphasis on the filmmaking process over potential prizes. "With my second feature film, suddenly the prizes become so important in knowing that people love your film," he said. "I still think the process is very important but the prizes are important too."
Nov 01Leaked police data may include bank info at embassies: sources (AP)
Documents possibly produced by Tokyo police that have been leaked on the Internet include a number of highly confidential items of information such as reports of their probe into bank accounts held by embassies in Tokyo and security measures taken at the 2008 Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, investigative sources said Sunday. The Metropolitan Police Department is trying to confirm whether the documents are its own, but the sources said they are highly likely those compiled by the Third Foreign Affairs Division, which was launched in the department's Public Security Bureau in October 2002 to enhance measures against international terrorism.
Nov 01Shoplifters getting older (Japan Times)
A sad trend is emerging with the all too common crime of shoplifting. Although the total number of crimes recognized by authorities declined to 1.7 million in 2009 from a peak of 2.85 million in 2002 - with shoplifting leveling off at 140,000 to 150,000 cases yearly - more and more elderly people are reported to be shoplifting. In 2009, 27,000 people aged 65 or older committed the crime - some 7.5 times more than 20 years before. It appears that loneliness of elderly people is behind the gradual increase in the number of shoplifters.
Nov 01Hairdressers recruited to tackle Japan's soaring suicide rates (telegraph.co.uk)
Officials in Toyama, a city 186 miles northwest of Tokyo, have launched the nation's first scheme in which hairdressers are used as mediators between suicidal customers and professional counsellors. The move taps into the renowned universal skill of hairdressers to lend a sympathetic ear to customers who often feel comfortable confiding in them about their problems. More than 650 hairdressers in the city are involved in the new project, which involves taking part in training lectures with clinical psychologists to help them identify those in need of specialist help.
Nov 01Kansai resident believes the medium is the massage (Yomiuri)
A good massage is usually a conversation stopper, but not if Kunihito Furuichi has his way. The Kansai resident is encouraging people in the area's streets and shopping arcades to pummel each others' shoulders--not only to relieve stiffness, but also to prompt communication. Furuichi, 24, has named Oct. 10 "Ton-ton no Hi" (ton-ton day). An onomatopoeiac phrase,"ton-ton" is based on the sound of shoulders being patted. After pummeling one happy customer, he gave the person a coupon that read: "Now, give a massage to someone you care about and talk with that person."
Nov 01Takeshi Shudo: Pokemon and Minky Momo creator dies at 61 (tellycafe.com)
Takeshi Shudo, the 61 year old writer of the most watched animated show, Pokemon collapsed in the smoking area of the Nara railway station in Nara city, Japan after suffering from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was immediately admitted to the Nara hospital, where he did manage to get first hand treatment, but eventually collapsed and died. The 61 year old was very popular due to his contribution in the making of the first three features on the anime Pokemon series, and his contribution in the making of the Minky Momo series, and its other extremely popular spin offs too were a rage with people of all ages.
Oct 31Japan's hard-charging salarymen spawn generation of gentle and cautious sons (Seattle Times)
Something is happening to Japan's young men. Compared with the generation that came before, they are less optimistic, less ambitious and less willing to take risks. They are less likely to own a car, want a car or drive fast if they get a car. They are less likely to pursue sex on the first date � or the third. They are, in general, less likely to spend money. They are more likely to spend money on cosmetics. Japan's young men mystify their girlfriends and their bosses. They confound the advertisers who aim products at them. They've been scrutinized and categorized by social commentators, marketing consultants and the government.
Oct 31Hooked on Japan's unique mobile phone straps (Mainichi)
I am standing in a fashionable store on a fashionable street surrounded by fashionable shoppers in central Tokyo -- and I have not moved for 10 minutes. All around me, cash-rich and time -- poor shoppers run around in circles in a high-speed blur, as often happens in one of the world's fastest cities. But for me, time stands still. Why? Because I am trying to decide whether or not to buy my first ever "keitai" (mobile phone) strap.

By JS on Nov 11, 2010

tag : The land of the rising nationalism



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