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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.

NTT to Buy NTT Docomo for 430 Billion Yen in Largest Take-over Bid in Japan’s History

Cell phone provider Docomo was bought out last week in Japan’s biggest TOB in history. Image sourced from https://www.industryleadersmagazine.com/.

This week, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, also known as NTT, announced that they would buy out NTT Docomo for 430 billion yen in the single biggest takeover bid in Japanese history. NTT will be taking Docomo private, allowing it to be free from shareholder pressure and possibly more flexible with its pricing. 

This move is suspected to be related to the recent price war between companies that have been incited by Prime Minister Suga, calling for a drop in phone costs. However, NTT chief executive Jun Sawada made a point of saying that talks with Docomo began last April, and the recent government pressure to lower prices has not been a factor.

That being said, competing company Rakuten recently unveiled a new 5G phone plan that is half the price of other rival companies. This Wednesday, Rakuten Inc. launched an unlimited 5G data plan for 2,980 ($28.25) yen a month. Other companies’ prices, including Docomo’s, range from between 7,500-8,500 yen. 

While the new phone plan is undeniably more affordable and attractive, there have been rumors of unstable connection. To utilize the plan, a 5G compatible cell phone is required, and the service area is said to be limited to certain areas like Tokyo.

Japan Plans to Get Rid of Hankos, Paperwork, and Fax Machines

Japan administration is hoping to eliminate the need for hanko in work situations to increase efficiency. Image sourced from https://www.nippon.com/.

Popular government official Taro Kono has taken up a new mission as the recently appointed administrative reform minister. Last Friday, the former defense minister announced that he would finally put an end to fax machines, excessive paperwork, and hankos in Japan.

During a media conference, Kono told the press he feels that many administrative procedures don’t really need to be printed out and faxed and that it is simply because a hanko seal is required that these processes continue. 

Last weekend, he announced to his over 2 million Twitter followers that he will be setting up a hotline to take complaints regarding red tape inefficiencies in the workplace. However, the hotline had to be temporarily shut down the next day due to the thousands of messages he received. 

Some people in Japan strongly oppose getting rid of hanko and see them as an important part of Japanese culture. Still, Kono has stated that he recognizes their cultural importance and only aims to take them out of official administrative procedures. 

Despite Minister Kono’s resolve, he could have a long road ahead. According to the Information Technology Cooperative, more than 95% of Japan’s businesses still use fax machines today.

Life-size Gundam in Yokohama will Come to Life from December 19th

Japan’s moving Gundam stands at an impressive 59 feet tall. Image sourced from https://www.arabnews.jp/.

Gundam fans will soon be seeing a dream come true. Last week footage leaked of the Gundam Factory Yokohama’s special project: an 18 meter tall moving Gundam robot. The video showed the giant robot moving about as it took a knee, walked forward, and pointed up towards the sky. 

The project has been underway for several years and was initially going to be opened this October, but due to Corona, it has now been revealed to open on December 19th. Gundam Lab Yokohama will feature not only the life-size Gundam behemoth but also a two-story Gundam Lab that will allow visitors to learn about the building of the giant robot and stock up on every kind of Gundam merchandise. There will also be unique merchandise only available at Gundam Factory Yokohama.

Furthermore, Softbank will feature a Gundam Pilot View 5G  experience, which will put people right in the virtual cockpit of the 18 meter tall moving Gundam.

This unique sight will only be available for a limited time. The Gundam is currently planned to stay in Yokohama until March 31st of 2022. After that time, it could be moved or even closed down.

Boy Successfully Infiltrates Elite High School for Months

The name plate to Kaisei Senior High, where one student faked an identity for months. Image sourced from https://mainichi.jp/.

Last week, a boy who had been successfully infiltrating an elite Tokyo high school for months was caught. The incident occurred at Kaisei Senior High School, an institution with the highest record of graduates entering the competitive University of Tokyo. The imposter has been banned from the school grounds, and the original student he was pretending to be has been expelled. 

The original student was confirmed to be present for both the high school entrance exams as well as the information sessions in February. However, from March, classes went online. When school re-opened on June 29th, a different boy showed up going by the student’s alias. Finals were held in July, and the school went on Summer break, all while failing to notice the imposter. 

However, the gig came to an end when Kaisei High failed to receive a cumulative guidance report from the student’s former middle school, typically sent out in April. When the middle school was contacted, it came to light that the report had been sent to a different high school, and once the staff confronted the fake student, his true identity was revealed. 

Office manager Yoshiyuki Washizaki gave no comment on the relationship of the two boys but did state that this situation was only possible due to the special circumstances surrounding Corona.