HEADLINES OF THE YEAR
1. Paranoid Hospitals Turning away Those with Fever, or with a Foreign Friend
2. Escargot Invades Osaka High-rise
3. Cop Rapped for Letting off Aliens
4. Photograph of Crab Eggs Ends 60-year Dispute
5. New Photo Book Opens Door on the Beauty and Style of the Homeless
6. Cops Collar Giant Salamander Spotted on Kyoto Stroll
7. Self-styled God of Ancient Japan Collared for Extorting Owner of Squat
8. More People Irked by Sound of Kids at Play
9. “Homeless” Poet Chooses Asahi over Noodles
10. Injured Sea Turtle to Get Prosthetic Flippers
Percent of Japanese people who use the internet
Amount spent on adult films each year in Japan
Percent of municipalities that will see a decline of children under 15 by the year 2035
Number of deaths caused by road accidents during the first six months of 2009-the lowest number ever recorded
Middle-rank managers at Toyota who agreed to buy cars from their employer in an effort to boost flagging sales
Estimated cost of cleaning up soil contaminants at the site where the Tsukiji fish market is to be relocated in 2012
Amount that a real estate company in Tokyo sued the Iraqi government for 12 years’ worth of unpaid rent on its embassy building
Characters that have appeared in the TV show Anpanman since its premiere in 1988, a record for an anime series
Number of living speakers of the Ainu language
Percentage of 18-year-olds who entered four-year universities this spring-the first time that the figure has topped 50 percent
IT WAS A BAD YEAR FOR…
Japanese men, whose life expectancy (79.29 years) slipped to fourth place, behind Iceland, Hong Kong and Switzerland
Owners of cigarette vending machines, who saw sales plummet following the introduction of the Taspo age-verification card
Tech-savvy Japanese politicians, who were banned from using Twitter during the summer election season because the micro-blogging service falls afoul of Japan’s stringent campaign communication rules
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose bid to secure the 2016 Olympics was a spectacular failure
Government officials in Nagano, who were forced to reopen their search for municipal workers after half the candidates in the spring hiring season declined their job offers
Nippon Sport Science University, which was stripped of its seed in the 2010 Hakone Ekiden because one of its students was busted for pot
Citibank Japan, whose retail operations were suspended for 30 days after it failed to enact proper anti-money laundering procedures
Bonito fishermen, who suffered through the worst haul in 20 years due to changes in water temperature
The nation’s last remaining D51 steam locomotive, whose engine melted down after JR East employees failed to ensure it had enough water
Not On My Pizza
Spray The Manager
New book suggests ulterior motive to timing of 1949 executions
Just after midnight on Dec 23, 1949-60 years ago this week-former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six other wartime leaders and military commanders convicted of Class A war crimes by the Tokyo Tribunal were executed by hanging in Tokyo’s Sugamo Prison.
Writing in the year’s final issue of Shukan Gendai (Dec 26-Jan 2), award-winning author and Tokyo vice governor Naoki Inose states his conviction that the timing of the executions was not coincidental.
Dec 23, 1949 also happened to be the 15nth birthday of Crown Prince Akihito. A formal ceremony to observe the event was to be held at the palace. But so shaken was Emperor Hirohito upon being informed of the executions, he reportedly spent the rest of the day in seclusion.
Takeshima reference dropped in senior high school manual
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
References to the disputed Takeshima islets have been excluded from a new manual for senior high school curriculum guidelines in an apparent attempt by the government to avoid aggravating South Korea.
But the move is unlikely to appease Seoul, which has already expressed its displeasure at the inclusion of an indirect reference to the islets, known as Tokto in South Korea.
The manual, which will be used from fiscal 2013, urges teachers to “deepen the understanding (of students) about territorial issues.” It says this should be “based on what they studied in junior high school.”
In a statement released Friday, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry expressed regret about the latter phrase. It is likely to be viewed as an allusion to a controversial new manual for junior high school teachers, released last year, that directly discusses the rocky outcrops off Shimane Prefecture.