This Week In Japan #30 (October 30th, 2020)

Osaka City is on the verge of being abolished, the Demon Slayer movie shatters records and faces unique problems and more big news stories!

November 1, 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.

Osaka City Faces the Possibility of Being Abolished

On this Sunday, November 1st, a controversial election is scheduled to determine whether the title of Osaka-shi or Osaka city will remain. Currently, Osaka-fu, which refers to the Osaka area as a prefecture, and Osaka-shi, which refers to the city of Osaka itself, are both in place and have separate facilities. Some local politicians think having two of these titles is redundant and that Osaka-shi should be dropped. 

While the election is being referred to as the “Osaka Metropolitan Plan,” if it passes to abolish Osaka City, it will not adopt a metropolitan suffix like Tokyo, but instead only keep the remaining prefecture title. The area of Osaka City would be split into four special wards.

The city of Osaka is currently trying to convince voters of the many complications that could follow if the “Osaka Metropolitan Plan” were to be passed. However, some politicians that are against the Osaka Metropolitan plan, warn that tax revenue would drop drastically while costs would increase. Under the unique rules for special wards, it would receive only one-third of the tax revenue that Osaka city would receive. Furthermore, that revenue would have to be shared among the four wards.

However, the Governor of Osaka, Hirofumi Yoshimura, believes that this change could help better streamline the decision-making process in Osaka since decisions would no longer need to be passed through two different administrations. Osaka is currently divided up into 24 wards, however each ward does not have the authority to set budgets. Currently ward mayors cannot be elected, therefore making them unable to create their own policies. This means that everything falls onto the Osaka City Governor to run which can slow down the processing process.

The Demon Slayer Movie Shatters Records and Faces Unique Problems

Demon Slayer’s massive box office success manages to take the slot of Japan’s highest grossing film in 10 days.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train is shattering anime movie records and showing no sign of slowing down. The film has managed to take in over 10 billion yen ($95 million) in its first ten days, beating out Japan’s previous record that was held by Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away,” which took 25 days to reach the same milestone. The movie is also being eyed to overcome “Spirited Away” as the highest grossing animated movie in Japanese history.

However, the Demon Slayer movie’s popularity also brings with it unique problems in this Coronavirus era. Under guidelines for operating with the Corona virus threat, theatres are not allowed to sell popcorn in theatres with 100% capacity. This forces watchers to remove their mask to eat and becomes a distance liability in a packed theatre. Due to this rule, popcorn sellers are actually facing decreases in sales despite the massive success of the movie. Ironically, the more popular the movie is, the less likely popcorn companies are to have a chance to make sales.

Furthermore, the number of counterfeit goods for Demon Slayer is becoming uncontrollable. Mr. Miya Tomishige, an employer for Shueisha, the company which handles the Demon Slayer manga, has remarked on the unbelievably large amount of counterfeit goods being made. Pirated anime sets that are being recommended on Amazon, counterfeit figures and toys, and homemade posters are just some of the many ways that counterfeiters are profiting. According to Mr. Tomishige, on average around 20 cases of possible counterfeit goods are received from customs every year, but last month alone has seen over 100 related to Demon Slayer.

A New Model Bullet Train is Set to Reach Brand New Speeds

The ALFA-X is not only faster than its predecessors, but is also protects passengers better from earthquakes.

The next generation bullet train will greatly out speed its predecessors. The newest shinkansen being developed by JR East, dubbed the ALFA-X, is said to be able to reach speeds up to 400 km/hr. The model also boasts a lengthy 22 meter-long nose that will greatly reduce its air drag.

The ALFA-X performed a test run on the night of October 27th with select passengers and reporters onboard. During the voyage from Sendai Station to Morioka Station, the train was able to easily hit over 380 km/hr without any disturbance to the passengers. One passenger remarked that despite the high speed, his tea in front of him was barely moving. This speed alone is already 60 km/hr more than the current hayabusa model. 

The current model will continue to undergo testing for noise and durability. A Hokkaido Shinkansen line in Sapporo is planned to be completed by spring of 2031.

Idol Group Apologizes for Baseball Game Disturbance with Signed Autographs

The popular Idol Group Arashi included signed autographs in their apology. Image sourced from https://www.j-storm.co.jp/.

The most popular male idol group from the company Johnny & Associates, Arashi, issued an apology on October 25th for disturbing the professional baseball game at Jingu Stadium, next door to where they were performing.

The idol group was performing live for a virtual concert to be broadcast to their fans. Despite having no real audience, Arashi put on an extravagant show with multiple fireworks displays, smoke, and a large number of balloons, all of which disturbed the neighboring baseball game on multiple occasions. 

The following day after their concert, an apology was sent to both baseball teams. However, the strange items included in the group are gaining negative attention online. Included with the letter were a large number of western sweets as well as signed autographs of the members. Many online pointed out that the signed autographs were a strange and unnecessary addition to the apology. One comment said, “Isn’t a written apology alone more than enough?”

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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