Candies Fans bid farewell to Tanaka

Fans and past fellow performers in the pop star trio Candies were among more than 1,000 attendees who bade a tearful farewell to actress and singer Yoshiko Tanaka during her funeral in Tokyo on Monday.Miki Fujimura, a former member of the trio who graced TV shows and events in the 1970s, said in her memorial address, "I wanted to take many pictures until we became grandmas."Looking up at a photograph of Tanaka, bordered by pink and white flowers, Fujimura, also 55, said, "Our bond as the Candies is eternal. Thank you." Tanaka, whose real name is Yoshiko Odate, died Thursday of breast cancer at the age of 55.

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Japan files protest over Snow White cartoon about nuke emergency

Japans Consulate General in New York lodged a protest with New York Times Co. on Thursday for publishing a cartoon in which Snow White, carrying a newspaper with the headline "Japan nuclear radiation," asks an old woman offering an apple if she comes from Japan.The consulate said that since the cartoon refers to a story in Grimms Fairy Tales in which Snow White falls into a stupor after biting a poisoned apple, it may stir up what the consulate called unfounded anxieties over the safety of foods from Japan.The cartoon was carried on the editorial page of the International Herald Tribune, which is owned by the New York Times, in its Thursday edition.

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Latest Earthquake Victim is Satsuki, Ueno Zoo’s Star Hippo

Japan’s monster earthquake has claimed its latest victim, a popular hippo named Satsuki at the Tokyo zoo.

The 39-year-old animal, who became a popular attraction after appearing in a tooth brushing event, has been hobbled with injuries since the magnitude 9 quake struck last month, zoo officials said. She died last Saturday.

Keepers at the Ueno Zoo said Satsuki was in a pool when the tremblor hit on March 11 and did not suffer any injuries. However, the hippo lost her balance and twisted her left front leg as she walked back to her cage an hour after the shaking stopped. Officials believe the shock and stress from the record setting jolt may rattled and disoriented the animal.

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World’s newest oldest man turns 114 in Japan – Jirouemon Kimura

The world’s oldest man said on his 114th birthday Tuesday that his longevity was a mystery even to himself, but noted that his motto was not to worry and always be thankful.

Jirouemon Kimura celebrated at home with a breakfast of grilled fish with steamed rice and red beans, a traditional meal on special occasions in Japan.

Kimura become the world’s oldest man earlier this month when the previous title holder Walter Breuning of the U.S. state of Montana died, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group.

"It is indescribable. I am really honored," Kimura said in a birthday interview with officials in Kyoto, western Japan.

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Guinness World Record set for “Tetsuko no Heya”

The weekday afternoon talk show “Tetsuko no Heya” now holds an official Guinness World Record. The show, which has been on the air for more than 35 years, has just been certified as having the “most number of broadcasts for a show with the same host.”

Hosted by Kuroyanagi Tetsuko (77), “Tetsuko no Heya” was the first Japanese talk show when it launched in February 1976. On April 27, the show will reach its 8,961st broadcast with a 2-hour nighttime special. During the recording for that episode, a Guinness representative from England made a surprise appearance to personally present Kuroyanagi with the certification.

Kuroyanagi commented that she hopes to keep the show going until its 50th anniversary. She is already close to achieving another record for the longest-running talk show with the same host, which is currently set at 37 years (1962-1999) by presenter Gay Byrne on “The Late Late Show” in Ireland.


X Japan World Tour – London, Paris, then Berlin

X Japan leader Yoshiki has partially announced the schedule for the band’s upcoming world tour. So far, three concerts in Europe have been revealed, plus two dates in Japan as part of this year’s Summer Sonic music festival.

This will be X Japan’s first time touring in Europe. They will start with the O2 Academy Islington in London on June 28, then Zenith de Paris on July 1, then Huxleys Neue Welt in Berlin on July 4.

X Japan will return to Japan for Summer Sonic on August 13 (Osaka) and August 14 (Chiba).

Yoshiki mentioned on his Twitter account that there are other tour dates to be announced, but his management asked him not to announce any more for now.

X Japan was scheduled to release their U.S. single “JADE” on March 15, but the Tohoku earthquake in Japan on March 11 led them to postpone the single. They plan to announce a new release date soon. It is also being reported that the song will be the opening track on the band’s new album that is expected to be released later this year.


Lady Gaga, AKB48 to Play MTV Japan Aid Show

Lady Gaga may be a controversial character for some, but she has won a lot of friends in Japan following the March 11 disaster.The performer contributed a song to the “Songs for Japan” charity album and contributed $1.5 million to relief funds from the sales of a wristband on her website.Now she’s set to perform live at a June 25 MTV Japan benefit show for the Japanese Red Cross at the massive Makuhari Messe exhibition center in Chiba, just outside Tokyo. The show, dubbed MTV Video Music Aid Japan, also doubles up as MTV Japan’s  10th annual video music awards event, and as such will feature a slew of big names in Japanese and Asian music.

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Japan’s yakuza head released

The head of Japan’s largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi- gumi, was released from a Tokyo prison Saturday after doing time since December 2005. The release of Kenichi Shinoda, 69, who also passes as Shinobu Tsukasa, is prompting police to brace for aggressive activities by the syndicate, which they say has 34,900 members nationwide or 44 percent of the entire "yakuza" gang members.

Shinoda was arrested in 1997 on suspicion of being involved in the possession of a gun by a member of a gang under his control, and was promoted to the sixth boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi in August 2005 while he was on bail.

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AKB48 YJ7 vs YM7: Jimbocho x Gokokuji Taisen

Weekly Young Jump (Shueisha) and Weekly Shonen Magazine (Kodansha) have each recruited a team of AKB48 members for a competitive project called “AKB48 YJ7 vs YM7: Jimbocho x Gokokuji Taisen.” As the name suggests, each of the magazines has assembled a group of 7 idols from AKB48 to compete in a series of contests.

The project takes its name from the office locations of the two magazines, Jimbocho (Shueisha) and Gokokuji (Kodansha). The YJ7 team consists of Minegishi Minami, Kitahara Rie, Sato Amina, Ohta Aika, Yokoyama Yui, Yamauchi Suzuran, and Ichikawa Miori. Opposite them on the YM7 team are Kasai Tomomi, Takajo Aki, Sashihara Rino, Miyazaki Miho, Komori Mika, Sato Sumire, and Takeuchi Miyu.

The project already started with a “First Impression Showdown” in the most recent issues of both magazines, which featured photos of the members on the cover and inside, encouraging readers to vote on the project website for the member they found the cutest.

The teams will compete not only in print, but also on television, radio, and the Internet. The prize for the overall winners has not yet been determined.

In 2009 and 2010, Shueisha sponsored a similar project called “AKB48 Team PB vs. Team YJ” for its magazines Weekly Playboy and Weekly Young Jump. However, this time is a collaboration between two rival magazines from different publishers.


Kudo Kankuro wins 29th Mukoda Kuniko Prize for “Unubore Deka”

Writer and actor Kudo Kankuro (40) has been chosen as the recipient of the 29th Mukoda Kuniko Prize, an annual award for screenwriters. He earned the award with his screenplay for the TBS drama series “Unubore Deka” that aired last summer, starring TOKIO’s Nagase Tomoya (32).

During the press conference for the award held on Tuesday, Kudo talked about his experience with the Tohoku earthquake, since he is originally from the Miyagi prefecture. He revealed that he was unable to contact his family back home for about a week after the earthquake, but he finally was able to contact his mother and learned with relief that everyone was safe.

Kudo said that he hopes to contribute to the recovery of the affected areas somehow, particularly through his works as a creator. He also indicated that he plans to return to his hometown in Miyagi, as well as visit other areas like Minami Sanriku to see the situation firsthand.

The Mukoda Kuniko Prize was first awarded in 1982 and is named after screenwriter Mukoda Kuniko, who passed away in 1981 in the Far Eastern Air Transport Flight 103 accident.