This Week in Japan #32 (November 13th)

This week in Japan, the Crown Prince is officially named as the successor to the throne, SEGA looks to sell a majority of its company, a mayor with the name Biden is soaking up the limelight, and more big news stories!

November 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.

Crown Prince Akishino Becomes the Official Successor to the Throne

Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, dressed in traditional attire. Image sourced from KYODO.

On Sunday November 9th, Crown Prince Akishino, brother to Emperor Naruhito, was officially declared as the next in line to the throne. The ceremony was referred to as the Rikkoshi no Rei and was the final ritual required to be formally announced as the Crown Prince. 

The original Rikkoshi no Rei was set to take place 7 months ago, but had to be postponed due to the Corona Virus. Even after waiting, there were still changes in place due to the virus such as social distancing, the requirement of masks for all guests, and only  46 guests being allowed to attend. Originally, around 350 guests were expected to attend the ceremony. 

The 54-year-old Crown Prince Akishino together with his wife, the newly crowned Princess Kiko, stood before Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako and made vows to uphold his duty, saying “I will discharge my duties solemnly bearing in mind my responsibilities as crown prince.”

During the ritual, Prince Akishino also inherited an imperial sword that has been passed down from previous crown princes. 

The reason for the Emperor’s brother to take the title of crown prince comes from a lack of viable successors. According to the 1947 Imperial House Law, only males in the family tree can be considered heirs to the throne. This law leaves only Akishino, his 14-year-old son Prince Hisahito, and the emperor’s 84-year-old uncle Prince Hitachi as possible heirs. Prime Minister Suga has commented on the possibility of problems with succession in the future, and has said that the government is currently looking into securing means for future heirs. 

Nintendo Sales Boom while Sega Falls on Hard Times

Sega executives have cited the Corona pandemic as one major reason for the loss of profit. Image sourced from https://japandeluxetours.com/.

Sega Sammy Holdings, formed by a merger of Sega and Sammy back in 2004, seems to be struggling in the world of Covid after having recently announced that they will be selling off most of their stock for Sega Entertainment. This unfortunately includes almost all of Sega’s Japanese arcade businesses. Sega has said their reasoning for the sale came from a massive drop in earnings due to the Corona Virus. Over 85% has been bought by the company Genda. 

To make matters worse, the company is now calling for a forced retirement for over 650 of their employees by February 28th, 2021. The top executives of the company will also be seeing salary cuts. Sega Sammy’s Representative Director’s monthly salary will be cut by 30%, and the Senior Executive Vice President and Senior Vice President will both receive a 20% and 10% cut to their salary respectively. 

While trying to handle the effects of Corona, the company has stated that, “we have established a Structural Reform Committee to reform our organization structure to adapt to the external environment…” The company is projecting approximately 10 billion Yen in total losses come March of 2021.

On the other hand, competitor Nintendo is seeing a record year for overall sales and profit. According to Nintendo’s quarterly financial statement that was released back in August, net sales increased by 108.1% with a total of 358.1 billion yen. Nintendo’s operating income was reported at 150.3 billion yen, a whopping 576.2% increase. Nintendo actually owes much of its recent sales to the Corona pandemic. Time spent indoors has risen significantly and led to increased sales of the Nintendo Switch.

Is There a Biden Station that Exists in Japan? 

With Biden elected as the next president, train stations that could be pronounced as “Biden,” like Umeda Station (pictured above) are becoming more talked about in Japan. Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Following the recent election results for the United States presidency, Japan has been focusing on the newly elected 46th president, Joe Biden. Out of the many questions and interests that people in Japan have concerning Joe Biden, one question circulating among them is: is there a Biden Station? 

Back when Joe Biden was vice president to Barack Obama, a similar event occurred, and a certain Obama City that was located in Fukui Prefecture and Obama Town in Nagasaki became a hot topic for a brief time. It even sparked a support group for Obama. 

With Biden’s projected victory, people are discussing locations across Japan that could be read as “Biden.” One potential is a station in Osaka that reads 梅田駅(Umeda-eki) but can also be read as “bai-den.” However, it is simply different readings of the kanji used, and it does not go by this name. 

Even more viral than the station though, is Mayor of Yamato-cho in Kumamoto Prefecture Yutaka Umeda. Since the election he has become quite the celebrity online and even cosplayed as the real Joe Biden for a rather humorous photo shoot. The replica Biden seems to be rather pleased with all of the attention he’s been getting and was quoted as saying, “It’s a great honour, I feel as if I have won the election”.

World’s Oldest Person to Participate in Torch Relay Event for Olympics

By the time her next chance comes around next year, Kane Tanaka will be 118 years of age. Image sourced from @CGTNOfficial via Twitter

Kane Tanaka holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest living person at age 117. Not only has this woman from Fukuoka City lived an incredibly long life, but she is also staying active. Kane has been asked to participate in the torch relay event for the Olympics that is currently scheduled for May 11, 2021.

She was originally going to participate in the 2020 Olympics, but due to the postponement of the games, she lost the opportunity. However, she has agreed to do it once again in May of next year, which will put her at 118 years of age. The current plan is to have Kane carry the torch for 200 meters while being pushed in a wheelchair by a caretaker. 

Her 61-year-old grandson, Eiji, hopes that seeing her carrying the torch will inspire others to continue living. Kane was the seventh out of nine siblings, and was born on January 2, 1903, only seven years after the start of the modern-day Olympics in Athens.

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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