New health minister eyes big jump in cigarette tax Health minister Yoko Komiyama will seek increases in cigarette taxes that could almost double the current price of a pack--but she says the measure is not aimed at bolstering government coffers. It's simply because she cares about the health of smokers. In an interview with media organizations on Sept. 5, Komiyama said she would push for the increase as part of overall reform of the taxation system to be implemented in fiscal 2012. She said she would continue to seek further increases in the cigarette tax.
7 Sep With television entertainer Shinsuke Shimada revealing last month that he had ties to organized crime, Zakzak (Sep. 6) speculates that gravure idols (pin-up models often appearing in magazines and on variety shows) will soon find difficulties as police work to eradicate the underworld from the entertainment industry. Starting in October, new anti-gang legislation will prohibit ordinary citizens from doing business transactions with gangsters. Years ago, it was not unusual for organized crime groups, or boryokudan, to associate in public with enka and kabuki performers, but today that is no longer allowable. Nowadays the relations exist through offices that employ models. (Tokyo Reporter)
7 Sep An 81-year-old man who sexually abused two pre-teen girls visiting his home to take part in an English conversation group was sentenced on Sept.6 by the Tokyo District Court to 18 years imprisonment, a year longer than prosecutors had sought. Yasutomo Obana was found guilty of a number of charges, including rape resulting in injury. "You used your position to take advantage of the lack of sexual awareness and immature judgment ability on the part of the girls to carry out what was a foul crime," Presiding Judge Ikuo Toishi told Obana. Toishi praised the girls for their testimony in court and slammed Obana for his behavior. (majirox news)
7 Sep Kyoko Ogawa wore the brave face the world associated with Japan's tsunami survivors. The March 11 catastrophe washed away all her earthly possessions. She watched as her hotel burned to the ground in a gas explosion triggered by the tsunami; a hotel that had been in her family for generations. She was determined not to let the disaster break her. But after the elation of finding her son alive, the reality of losing her livelihood started to erode the calm facade. She was in turmoil. She was afraid to talk to other people about it because she knew everyone was suffering as much as her, if not more. (CNN)
6 Sep In mid-August, Tsuneko Iwakura was finally moved into temporary housing, after five moves in as many months since evacuating her home near a damaged nuclear plant. 'We hear we can stay here for at least two years, so we are now relieved,' said Iwakura, 78. She and her husband left their home in north-eastern Japan when the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station started leaking radioactive material, only 5 kilometres away. When the magnitude-9 earthquake struck the area on March 11, Iwakura watched as the walls of her house cracked and tiles fell from the roof. (monstersandcritics.com)
6 Sep More than 30,000 fashionistas flocked to Japan's largest fashion event, the Tokyo Girl's Collection -- or TGC this weekend -- a bi-annual show that combines the country's top fashion brands with popular music acts. Now in its sixth year, the six hour show has established itself as the epicenter of Japan's "kawaii," or cute culture, a culture that has gained a global following in recent years. On Saturday, the Saitama Super Arena, just outside of Tokyo, looked more like a cross between a concert and circus than a fashion show. Popular models strutted their looks down the runway, as adoring fans screamed their names, while other show-goers crowded booths featuring everything from makeup to a foot massage. In between, the TGC stage featured a mini ballet performance, and an appearance by Cirque de Soleil. (ABC News)