Podcast Episode 31

This Week In Japan #31 (November 6th, 2020)

This week in Japan, Osaka`s election results interrupt a popular anime broadcast, sales of ramen noodle packs continue to increase, a champion boxer catches Corona, and more big news stories!

November 7, 2020

Listen to Our This Week In Japan Podcast here

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.

Important News from Osaka Interrupts Anime Broadcast, Outraging Fans

Following up on our story from last week, the vote to turn Osaka into a metropolitan area did not pass. In a very close election, 50.63% of voters chose to keep Osaka a city. Unable to see his plan completed, Osaka’s mayor Ichiro Matsui announced that he will be leaving the world of politics when his term finishes in 2023. If passed, the vote would have split up Osaka into 4 special wards with their own governments, similar to Tokyo’s 23 wards. Some voters cited the high costs of creating such a government as reasons for their decision. Others simply couldn’t bear to see their city vanish. In the words of Isako Hirai, a 76-year-old voter from the Joto Ward, “I could not accept the fact that Osaka City would cease to exist.”

Future Boy Conan originally aired on April 4, 1978. It was created and directed by acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

Following the decision, it was announced as breaking news on Japanese television. The Osaka Metropolis Plan referendum program ran long and interrupted the anime Shorai Shonen Conan, or Future Boy Conan. It was the last episode of the digitally remastered broadcast of the popular 70s anime classic about a boy who fights for the survival of mankind on a devastated Earth. Afterwards, many concerned citizens took to Twitter to express their disturbance not over the Osaka voting results, but the fact that they missed Conan. Demands for a rebroadcast are already being requested. One Tweet read, “I never dreamed that the Osaka Metropolis Plan would affect this.”

For those inconvenienced viewers, there may be hope yet. NHK will be replaying the episode on November 9th on their NHK Plus channel.

Ramen Noodle Pack Sales are Exploding

While colder weather usually means a time to eat ramen and nabe for many people in Japan, ramen shops are continuing to close down due to influence from Corona. Despite this, ramen noodle packs sales are seeing a rise recently. 

Several brands of popular instant ramen packs in Japan. They can come in a variety of styles and flavors. Image sourced from 東洋経済オンライン編集部

4 major companies that sell noodle packs and cup noodles saw an overall increase of sales by 8.8% during April to June. The total profit between the companies was 94.8 billion yen. The numbers are even higher if we only look at noodle packs.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, households of 1 to 2 people saw a 25.4% increase in the number of noodle packs eaten. The data shows that noodle packs are undeniably on the rise in popularity in Japan. The emphasis on staying home during the pandemic is thought to be one indicator of the rise in consumption. According to the Japan Instant Food Industry Association, over 1.7 billion meals of noodle packs are being consumed every year.

Several factors could be contributing to the growth of ramen noodle packs. The start of the fall season marks a period where supermarkets often put them on sale, leading to an increase in consumption. Compared against cup noodles, the adaptability to add different ingredients to the noodle packs seems to also be a factor. 

According to one consumer, when asked about why she eats noodle packs, she responded, “I buy noodle packs such as Sapporo on the days when they are on sale at the supermarket. When cooking them, I start with adding shrimp and mushrooms. When the water starts to boil, I put the noodles in and add a Thai soup paste as well. After I put the noodles into a bowl and add in the stir fry ingredients, I add some coriander to complete my Thai soup ramen. Before eating. It’s even more delicious if you squeeze a lime over it. ”

Boxing World Championship Match is Canceled Due to Corona Outbreak of the Champion

On November the 13th, the Japan Boxing Commission, or JBC, announced that the bantamweight championship match at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo between champion Haruki Ishikawa and challenger Kai China will be put to a stop due to the champion testing positive for Corona Virus. The PCR test of both Haruki Ishikawa and his coach came back positive on the evening of November 12th. 

Champion Ishikawa takes a swing. He was announced to be an asymptomatic patient of Corona virus on November 12th. Photo sourced from https://twitter.com/boxingharuki.

The five other scheduled matches for the evening quickly had the players tested after the news of an outbreak spread, but all other players’ results fortunately came back negative. Executive Director of the JBC Tsuyoshi Yasukouchi gave a statement, saying that, “We will do our best to discuss and practice whether we can maintain our activities by strengthening the prevention of further infections in the future.”

Both infected are asymptomatic. There is currently no official announcement of the next event.

Women’s Tights Company Comes Under Fire for Sexualized Ads

The long-established tights maker Atsugi is under fire recently for some of their promotional ads on Twitter. It began with the company participating in a special collaboration event with over 25 artists and illustrators to promote their “tights day” special on November 2nd. The company began sending out many Tweets with the hashtag “love tights” and an accompanying illustration.

One of the Twitter PR image for Atsugi`s “tights day” campaign. Image sourced from https://twitter.com/y_o_m_y_o_m.

During this campaign, some of the images were labeled as “sexual” by several viewers. In particular, two images by one artist, a high school student and a maid who are both embarrassed to lift up their skirts, were pointed out. Atsugi’s official Twitter account Tweeted the images with statements like, “isn’t it ridiculously cute?” and “so many wonderful illustrations, we can’t stop palpitating.”

This is not the first time that Atsugi’s Official Twitter account has been criticized. In the past, people noticed an abundance of retweets with girls in M-shaped poses to show off their tights and even panties. 

Many on Twitter were critical of the company, with some pointing out that Atsugi is advertising to an audience of male viewers instead of their actual customer base. Atsugi’s Twitter staff is known to be female and several of the commissioned artists were also female. Since the online uproar, there has been no official word from Atsugi’s Twitter account.

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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