Is the Japanese mafia exploiting workers at Fukushima? It's the six-month anniversary of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. There have been small remembrances. But, as with 9/11, the event hasn't stopped. Somewhere down in the Fukushima nuclear plant, molten fuel rods are lodged like pieces of the sun. About a week ago, a man in a hazmat suit stood in front of the plant's livecam, pointing. It was a scene out of a Japanese horror movie. Nobody knew who he was or why he was there. Now we know: he was a worker protesting conditions at the plant. And he's explained himself in a letter. His English is rudimentary, but one line stood out to me: he says that sub-contractors, sub-sub-contractors, and sub-sub-sub-contractors (ad infinitum) are coming from "outlaw territory" to work for TEPCO, the utility company. And they're exploiting workers at the nuclear plant with impunity. Complaints are muffled under the layers of sub-contractors, or ignored.
12 Sep Across from a noodle shop in a Yokohama suburb, Hisayoshi Teramura's inn looks much like any other small lodging that dots the port city. Occasionally, it's even mistaken for a love hotel by couples hankering for some time beneath the sheets. But Teramura's place is neither a love nest nor a pit stop for tired travelers. The white and grey tiled building is a corpse hotel, its 18 deceased guests tucked up in refrigerated coffins. "We tell them we only have cold rooms," Teramura quips when asked how his staff respond to unwary lovers looking for a room. The daily rate at Lastel, as it is known, is 12,000 yen ($157). For that fee, bereaved families can check in their dead while they wait their turn in the queue for one of the city's overworked crematoriums. (Reuters)
12 Sep Two Japanese teenagers, Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido, won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actor and actress at the 68th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday for their performance in the Japanese film "Himizu" directed by Sion Sono. Sometani, 19, and Nikaido, 16, became the first Japanese actor and actress to take home the prize, which was created in 1998. At press conference in Tokyo on Sunday, the actors expressed their joy at receiving the award. (Japan Times)
12 Sep Former Morning Musume member Ai Kago was found in her Tokyo apartment yesterday after an apparent suicide attempt, reports daily tabloid Sports Hochi (Sept. 12). Tokyo Metropolitan Police reported that medical personnel were alerted to Kago's apartment, located in the Roppongi area of Minato Ward, just before noon on Monday after members of the 23-year-old's management agency discovered her on the floor with her wrists cut. She was transferred to a local hospital, where she is now recovering. The one-time member of the popular idol group also seemed to be suffering from an overdose of tranquilizers, police said. (Tokyo Reporter)
12 Sep Even before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck knocking out the Fukushima nuclear plant, Aya's life was a struggle. She had divorced her abusive husband and was left on her own to care and provide for her two daughters. Now, six months after she fled her home just 9 km (6 miles) away from the radiation-spewing plant, the 26-year old single mother is barely surviving. She has no job, languishes in hiding from her violent ex-husband in temporary housing and will probably never see her home again. (Reuters)
12 Sep Former actress and stripper Minako Komukai will make her debut next month in the adult video business, reports Zakzak (Sept. 10). Minako KomukaiAV producer Alice Japan will release the "AV Actress Minako Komukai" DVD - described as containing "super hardcore" content - on October 14. Komukai will have two sex scenes in the 120-minute film (3,990 yen). Zakzak reports that Alice Japan already employs top talents like Minami Kojima and Aoi Tsukasa and likens the debut to that of former AKB48 member Rina Nakanishi (performing under the name Riko Yamaguchi), who entered the AV biz in August of last year. Mukai was arrested for the second time earlier this year for stimulant drug violations. (Tokyo Reporter)