Japan Times



News roundup for June 19 to June 25

Compiled by Cai Evans

Japan News

CURRYING FAVOR? Masumi Hayashi broke her silence of more than five years June 18 during her appeals trial in the Osaka High Court to deny that she had been left alone with the arsenic-laced curry that killed four people at a 1998 community festival in Wakayama. The 42-year-old former insurance saleswoman was sentenced to death in 2002.     (Related stories)

KILLER GETS LIFE: The Tokyo District Court on June 18 sentenced a rightwing extremist to life in prison for stabbing to death a House of Representatives member in 2002, calling the act a threat to democracy. Hakusui Ito, 50, was convicted of stabbing Koki Ishii, 61, a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker, to death on Oct. 25, 2002.     (Related stories)

DATA THEFT: Up to 1.4 million call logs of Softbank Corp. group's BB Phone Internet protocol telephone service might have been stolen in January by a group of extortionists, police sources said June 18.     (Related stories)

JENKINS: The United States has no intention of giving special treatment to U.S. Army deserter Charles Robert Jenkins if he leaves North Korea to be reunited with Hitomi Soga, his Japanese wife, a U.S. official indicated June 19. "If Jenkins comes to a place where we can legally take him into custody, we will," the official said.     (Related stories)

MMC SNUB: Forty-two of the 47 prefectural governments have dropped Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. from their new vehicle procurement lists following a series of vehicle defect coverups, it was reported June 19.     (Related stories)

BLOOD BATH: The body of a 21-year-old woman was found in the bathtub of a Yokohama apartment she shared with her boyfriend, who is missing, officials said June 20. The woman, identified as Yoshiko Hagiwara, appeared to have been dead several days when police investigators found her body.     (Related stories)

ALCOHOL STRIFE: An estimated 820,000 people in Japan are addicted to alcohol and about 30.4 million people have suffered from incidents related to alcohol abuse, according to a health ministry survey reported June 20.     (Related stories)

NO SWEAT OR TEARS? A Japanese teenager was forced by his teacher to write an apology in blood after dozing in the classroom, the school's principal said on June 21. The 40-year-old male teacher handed the boy a box-cutter and paper and told him to write an apology in blood.     (Related stories)

TYPHOON: A powerful typhoon crossed western Honshu and headed into the Sea of Japan on June 21, disrupting air, land and sea travel there as well as in Kyushu and Shikoku. Three people died and three were missing as a result of the season's sixth typhoon, while more than 100 people suffered injuries nationwide.     (Related stories)

FERTILITY SCAM: Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials said June 22 they had estimated a record-low fertility rate in 2003 of 1.29 almost two weeks before the contentious pension reform bills were pushed through the Diet on June 5, based on a rosier figure.     (Related stories)

BAD GIRL: Police took a 13-year-old girl into custody June 23 on suspicion of pushing a 5-year-old boy from the fourth floor of an apartment building in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward the previous day. The girl reportedly feared that the boy would tell her mother that she frequented a local game arcade.     (Related stories)

SUBWAY SHOOTING: A subway station employee was shot and seriously wounded by a man at Shibuya Station in central Tokyo during rush hour June 23. The assailant fled after shooting Shigeo Nishioka, 32, of Konosu, Saitama Prefecture.     (Related stories)

Mugging -- At least two people were slightly injured June 24 when they tried to stop a gang that robbed an elderly woman on the platform of Denenchofu Station in Tokyo's Ota Ward, and police later shot a man in connection with the incident.     (Related stories)

Sports News

GOLF: South Africa's Retief Goosen won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. on June 20, beating off the challenge of American Phil Mickelson.     (Related stories)

World News

AL-QAEDA: Pakistan said June 18 it had killed rebel tribal leader and former Taliban commander Nek Mohammad in a targeted strike near the Afghan border. It hailed the attack as "a major success" in its offensive against al-Qaeda.

* Saudi carnage -- An al-Qaeda cell declaring "the infidel got his fair treatment" beheaded an American engineer and posted the evidence on the Internet, it was reported June 19. Soon after, Saudi officials said they had killed Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, the mastermind of Paul M. Johnson Jr.'s kidnapping and killing.

MEXICO: Jorge Hank Rhon, an eccentric multimillionaire and a candidate vying for the mayorship of Tijuana, has apologized publicly for saying his favorite animal is "woman," it was reported June 18. Hank Rhon has a private zoo with more than 20,000 animals.

EU LANDMARK: EU leaders adopted a historic first constitution for a united Europe on June 18, ending months of tortuous negotiation over power sharing in a bloc that now spans the former Iron Curtain. Yet the risk of rejection by any one of several member states due to hold referendums, especially Britain, could still sink the charter.

IRAQ: A U.S. military plane fired missiles June 19 into a residential neighborhood in Fallujah, killing at least 20 and leveling houses in the Sunni Muslim city, police and residents said. The U.S. military declined comment.

* Seoul outrage -- Muslim militants in Iraq threatened to behead a South Korean hostage by June 21 unless his country scrapped plans to send 3,000 more troops -- a demand Seoul rejected. A videotape aired on Arabic Al-Jazeera television showed 33-year-old Korean businessman Kim Sun Il pleading for his life.

* Carnage -- U.S. forces launched an airstrike June 23 targeting militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his group beheaded Kim, sparking disgust and fury in South Korea.

* Attacks -- Insurgents launched simultaneous attacks in four military cities across Iraq on June 24, killing dozens of people in a bid to cause chaos before the transfer of sovereignty in less than a week, a senior U.S.-led coalition military official said.

VERY HOT LINE: India and Pakistan announced June 20 they will establish a new hotline between their foreign secretaries to alert each other of potential nuclear accidents or threats, a major step forward in efforts to normalize ties between the South Asian rivals.

PHILIPPINES: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won another term in office, according to a congressional committee that finished the contentious vote count June 20, six weeks after the election.

IRAN: Iran impounded three British military vessels June 21 and arrested eight armed crew members, state-run television reported.

* Set free -- The eight British servicemen were freed June 24 after three nights in the hands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, ending a diplomatic wrangle that had threatened to inflame tensions over Britain's presence in Iraq.

STAR MAN: Flying a foam composite rocket ship powered by laughing gas and burning rubber, Mike Melvill took off faster than a bullet over a ramshackle airport in the desert June 21 and overcame serious malfunctions to become the first astronaut to reach space in a mission entirely funded by private entrepreneurs.

RUSSIA: Heavily armed militants attacked police headquarters, border guards' checkpoints and other government offices in Ingushetia, a Russian region bordering warring Chechnya, on June 22. It was reported that more than 90 people, including 28 civilians, were killed.