Category Archives: News

The Aomori Nebuta Festival kicks off this weekend

One of Japan’s biggest summer festivals has kicked off in the northeastern city of Aomori.

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is known for its spectacular floats that parade through the city.

The floats, called “Nebuta”, carry huge illuminated paper lanterns shaped like legendary heroes and ancient warriors.

The parade started on Saturday night with 15 floats, each about 5 meters high and 10 meters wide. They were accompanied by dancers known as “Haneto” wearing matching traditional summer kimonos.

Man Jumps from Plane at Narita Airport

A 33-year-old man was arrested after he opened the emergency door and jumped from a Philippine Airlines plane as it was approaching the terminal at Narita airport on Saturday.

According to police, the suspect, identified as Hirokatsu Tachihara, got out of his seat and opened the emergency exit door as Flight 434 was approaching the terminal at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Fuji TV reported.

Police said he jumped about 4 meters to the tarmac and ran for about 150 meters before he was apprehended by security guards.

Prince Katsura, cousin of Emperor Akihito, dead at 66

Prince Katsura, a cousin of Emperor Akihito, died of acute heart failure at a Tokyo hospital at 10:55 a.m. Sunday, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was 66.

The prince was taken to the University of Tokyo Hospital in a critical condition earlier in the day, the agency said.
He has been in and out of hospital in recent years due to illnesses such as blood poisoning and possible infectious diseases since suffering an acute subdural hematoma, a condition in which blood gathers around or inside the brain, in 1988.

Joban Line Train Operations Running in Fukushima Evacuation Area

Train operations on a Joban Line section that have been suspended due to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent nuclear accident were restarted on Sunday.    

East Japan Railway Co. <9020>, or JR East, the operator of the line, brought back online the 8.5-kilometer-long section between Hirono Station in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, eastern Japan, and Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha in the same prefecture.   

It is the first time that train operations have been resumed in an area where an evacuation advisory has been issued following the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 power plant.    
An evacuation advisory has been in place almost across Naraha, which is close to the damaged nuclear plant.   

Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto last month said that he aims to realize residents’ permanent return to their homes in the town in spring next year. Naraha residents in evacuation are now allowed to enter the town during the daytime.

Where’s Grandpa? – Japan’s Dementia Epidemic

Nearly 5 million people in Japan live with dementia and thousands are going missing from their homes and carers every month.

In Japan’s second biggest city, Osaka, Atsuko Hajihata is frantically looking for her missing grandfather Akinori Matsuyama.

For the last several months she has been handing out leaflets on street corners and train stations, asking people to contact her if they see her grandfather.

He walked out of the family home in January and has not been seen since. Ms Hajihata says she is nervous because she thinks he has dementia.

“I still have hope of finding him but I’ve heard that bodies of drowned people have been found,” she said.

“But maybe he’s being looked after by people.”

Some of the missing turn up in mental institutions or aged care homes.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s dementia epidemic prompts calls to improve missing persons network.

AKB48 team members assaulted with saw

Two members of all-girl pop group AKB48 and a male staff member were wounded Sunday afternoon when a man wielding a saw assaulted them at an event in Iwate Prefecture, police said, adding they had arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder.

The group members were identified by the police and a local fire department as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18. They sustained cuts on their heads and right hands, while the male staffer sustained cuts on his left hand, the police said.

The arrested man, Satoru Umeta, is unemployed and from Towada in the neighboring prefecture of Aomori, the police said. He allegedly assaulted the victims with a saw, prompting an emergency call to the police that a man with a blade had been acting violently in an event hall.

Umeta has admitted to the allegations and was quoted as telling investigators, “I did it.”The victims were later transported to hospital.

Shibuya Station to Get Makeover – Easier Transfers

Shibuya Station is used by more than 3 million people daily, but its labyrinthine layout and the distance between the lines passing through the station can make changing trains a test of endurance. A major renovation project that started this spring should make getting around the huge terminal station easier-although it will not be completed until fiscal 2027.

Since Shibuya Station opened in 1885, the addition of new lines has involved major expansion and remodeling work wherever space allowed. The end result is the station’s current maze-like structure and a patchwork of train facilities cobbled together in the heart of Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district. Because there was not enough land for the Saikyo Line platforms alongside existing platforms, they were constructed about 350 meters south. Transferring to other lines requires traversing a long connecting walkway.

This major overhaul of Shibuya Station could finally begin because the platforms of the Tokyu Toyoko Line were shifted underground when the line started direct connections with the Fukutoshin Line in March 2013, which created a vast open area. Preliminary construction work for the new platforms of the Saikyo Line in this space-350 meters from where they currently stand-started in April.

Japan travel agent forgets school trip booking, so forges student suicide note

A Japanese travel agent who forgot to book a fleet of buses for a school trip tried to cover his tracks by forging a student’s suicide note in a failed bid to get the excursion cancelled. Regulators from the Japan Tourism Agency raided the offices of JTB Corp, the country’s biggest travel agency, after a 30-year-old employee failed to order 11 buses for a high school in central Japan for its trip scheduled for April 25. The man noticed his mistake on the day before the students were due to depart, but instead of owning up to his error, he hatched a wild-eyed plan to get himself off the hook.

The man, who has not been identified, drafted a note in the style of a student threatening to commit suicide unless the trip was cancelled. He then handed the note to the school’s principal, saying he had found it nearby.

Read the rest of the story: Japan travel agent forgets booking, forges suicide note.

Japans Imperial Couple Say Goodbye to President Obama

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko said farewell to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday morning before his departure from Tokyo to South Korea, the second destination of his four-nation Asian tour.    

Around 9:30 a.m. 12:30 a.m. GMT, the Imperial couple visited a Tokyo hotel where Obama was staying. The Emperor and the Empress shook hands with him, and they had a 15-minute conversation in Obamas room at the hotel.   

When the couple were leaving the hotel, Obama said that he very much appreciates the great hospitality he received during his stay in the Japanese capital and that U.S. citizens feel deep affection for the Emperor and the Empress, as well as the people of Japan.   

During the talks in the hotel room, the Emperor told Obama, “I hope your stay in Japan was comfortable and fruitful,” according to Imperial Household Agency officials.   

Obama responded that he believes the two nations can pass the bonds of friendship from current to future generations by continuing personnel exchanges, the officials said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XJElIyCdLtM

Nippon Professional Baseball’s Ball Maker, Mizuno, Apologizes for Ball Defect

mizuno-ball-defect

Japan’s professional baseball league was facing another ball scandal Tuesday as sports equipment giant Mizuno apologized for a defect that turned the nation’s top sport into a slugfest.

The firm blamed a manufacturing defect, after league officials said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month.

“This happened because of Mizuno’s failure to control our operations,” company president Akito Mizuno told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Last year, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Ryozo Kato was forced to quit after it was discovered that the league and Mizuno conspired to tweak the balls to make the game more exciting.

After months of repeated denials and a huge surge in home runs, the league admitted that it had changed specifications of the balls to give them greater bounce off the bat.

The league also admitted that it had demanded its manufacturer keep quiet about the switch.