This Week In Japan #19 (August 14th, 2020)

Abe Shinzo has his summer plans interrupted, and other big news stories.

August 15, 2020

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Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Abe’s Vacant Summer Vacation

Prime Minister Shinzo has his plans interrupted by Governor Koike. Image sourced from Nikkei.com.

This week, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who was originally planning to return to his home prefecture of Yamaguchi for a brief summer reprieve, has been put in a difficult situation due to the latest warnings by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

With Corona virus cases once again on the rise, Governor Koike has called for people to exercise self-control and not to go home or travel during the summer Obon holidays. With the government doing it’s best to limit the spread of Corona cases, Prime Minister Abe could face criticism if he were to travel all the way back home in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The minister was scheduled to attend a customary fireworks display & grave-visiting on the 13th and he had the event written in his schedule as usual. However, with Governor Koike’s warning in place, it would place Abe in direct opposition to her. Therefore, he has since canceled his appearance following her announcement. 

This marks the second time that the prime minister has had to cancel his summer plans. Back on July 4th, during a four day holiday, he had planned to stay at a villa in Yamanashi Prefecture. However, he had no choice but to cancel his plans then as well due to the request from Governor Koike to restrain from leaving Tokyo. 

It seems that the prime minister is doing what he can to limit his criticisms. He has been under the scrutiny of many for several incidents this year and has stated that he “is tired of the barrage of criticism.”

Author of the Shonen Jump Series Act-age Arrested for Child Molestation

Shonen Jump Manga Series Act-age was Cancelled After the Arrest of The Author

On the Saturday of August the 8th, the author of the ongoing Shonen Jump Manga Series Act-age, Matsuki Tatsuya, was arrested for suspicion of child molestation. The 29-year-old Matsuki reportedly was performing obscene acts in front of a middle school girl on the road.

 According to police, on the 18th of June around 6 pm he approached the middle school student from behind on his bicycle, and then proceeded to touch her body while asking her obscene questions. He fled the scene on his bike but was later identified by a nearby security camera. Police have stated that it is “almost without a doubt” Matsuki Tatsuya on camera. 

Around just a week later, a different girl had a similar experience close by. Upon reviewing cameras, there is high suspicion that it was again Matsuki. However, the investigation is still ongoing. Since his arrest, Shonen Jump has issued a statement apologizing to all those involved in the incident. Matsuki Tatsuya’s series, Act-age, will also be canceled. Act-age was first published in the eighth 2018 issue of Shonen Jump in January of 2018. The series was actually illustrated by Shiro Usazaki while Matsuki wrote the story. As of June 1st, Act-age has over 3 million copies in circulation.

Too Much Food in Japanese Ryokans?

Ryokan food servings can be overwhelming at times.

Japanese Ryokans are traditional hotels where guests can often enjoy tatami mats in their rooms, beautiful views of nature, and endless courses of food?

One Twitter user has pointed out one potential flaw of ryokans after a recent stay. The user kyorikane described his issues as follows:

“There was a huge failure after I stayed at a sort of fancy hotel during the Go To campaign. The food that came out is too much and it’s impossible to eat it all. Because seniors are their main target, it is basically a waste of food. The taste wasn’t bad, but as an experience [it left more to be desired]…” 

This user received some criticism for his choice of words. One twitter user was a fellow ryokan owner who explained his anger towards the lack of understanding by stating, “Due to the Go To campaign, the entering of customers has been chaotic. Even though it’s not much, we put those amounts out to make guests feel welcome…” 

While his wording left some upset, user kyorikane was not alone in his opinion. Ryokans often serve sometimes seemingly endless amounts of courses in one sitting. Few people can say they have left every plate clean. Many replies to his original post shared similar experiences of large amounts of food that surely go to waste afterwards.

Why Plastic Bags Are No Longer Free In Japan

Plastic bags now cost a small fee across all of Japan. Sourced from mainichi.jp.

It has been just over a month now since plastic bags across Japan have stopped being free. Places that once freely handed out plastic bags with every purchase, no matter how small, such as convenient stores and supermarkets now charge a small fee of 3 to 5 yen per bag. But will reducing the amount of plastic bags and emphasizing the use of eco-friendly bags really make a difference? This is one question that Taiko Sugimura, a former member of the House of Representatives, brought to the Ministry of Environment. 

Minister of Environment Shinjiro Koizumi explained the need for a plastic bag charge. According to him, while the plastic bag charge is indeed important, it’s goal is not to reduce the amount of plastic used. Plastic bags only make up about 2 to 3% of all plastic waste in Japan. Minister Koizumi states that the real intention of this new charge is to get people to gain an understanding of the worldwide plastic waste problem. Getting citizens conscious of plastic waste will make them aware of how they handle throwing other plastic away in their day-to-day lives.

He also goes on to admit that aiming to completely cut out plastic would be something that is simply not possible due to the many uses that we depend on plastic for, and that the reality is we are simply not yet in an age to completely replace plastic.

Saizeriya Creates A New Mask to Wear While Eating

The Saizeriya napkin is combined with a regular mask to cover your mouth. Sourced from mainichi.jp

The popular Italian restaurant chain Saizeriya is coming up with new ways to safely enjoy your meal. Last Saturday the president of Saizeriya, Issei Horino, revealed a specialized paper napkin that allows you to eat and drink while still covering your face.

 In a demonstrative YouTube video, president Horino showed how to properly use the sheet. First, a regular mask is placed in the middle of the unfolded napkin. Then, the napkin is folded over the top half of the mask and the mask is also folded in. Eventually, you are left with a mask that covers the top part of your face while the paper sheet hangs over, covering your mouth. 

After the origami-like process is complete, you can freely enjoy eating and drinking Saizeriya’s dishes with relative ease. Although, the president does point out that it may be necessary to hold the mask up when taking a bite or bring your drink up from below when taking a sip. In the case of taking a bite of pizza, holding the mask up before biting seems like the only option. 

While seemingly a bit fragile looking, the president of Saizeriya assures people that the paper cover can help to stop droplets and is beneficial for allowing customers to once again enjoy dining out during the current pandemic.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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