Each week, here at Osaka.com, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.
Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.
Table of Contents
Arson Attack Fatalities Now at 25
Tragedy of the most brutal kind hit Osaka City last Friday. An arson attack on a mental health clinic brought chaos to the city. At the time of writing 25 people have been confirmed dea. However, only 21 of the 25 bodies recovered from the scene have been identified. Among the dead is the clinic’s director, staff members and patients.
The arson suspect was apprehended at the scene. He remains in hospital in a critical condition due to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Another victim of the arson attack remains in hospital in a serious condition.
As well as the perpetrator of the arson attack, questions also arose this week around the fire safety of the cramped office block housing the clinic.
The fire started when the attacker threw gasoline around the entrance to the clinic and set it alight. In the end, most of the victims died not from burns, but from carbon monoxide poisoning, as the clinic filled with toxic fumes.
Arson May Be a “Copycat” Crime
Evidence recovered from the residence of the perpetrator of this act of arson, suggests he got the idea from a similar, previous arson attack.
In 2019, 36 people died when a similar fire engulfed an animation studio in Kyoto. The killer in the Kyoto case used conventional gasoline to start the fire, just as was the case this time around.
Police found newspaper clippings in the arson suspect’s apartment, referring to the 2019 Kyoto incident. They believe he may have sought inspiration for his malicious actions from this.
However, the suspect had a dark history long before last week. He previously served 4 years in prison after attempting to murder his son back in 2011. At the time, the Osaka District Court rejected claims by the defendant’s lawyers that he was mentally ill. Despite this, police now believe the suspect was also a patient at the mental health clinic where he carried out the arson attack.
Editorial Note on the Osaka Arson Case
With crimes this vile in nature, it is often the case that the perpetrator commits such despicable acts to attain some kind of notoriety or fame. We at Osaka.com do not believe in giving such monsters any kind of validation. This is why we opted to not name the suspect in our coverage of this story.
Osaka Medical Firm Makes Omicron Breakthrough
The emergence in recent weeks of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 Coronavirus brought a new wave of fear and restrictions to Japan and indeed around the world.
This new, more virulent strain of Covid-19 seems able to evade, at least partially, current vaccines.
While booster vaccinations got underway in Japan 3 weeks ago, concerns remain that the roll-out may not come fast enough.
However, one medical firm in Osaka offered fresh hope this week.
Shionogi and Company, a Pharmaceutical firm based in Osaka, confirmed this week that their new Covid-19 pill has a high level of efficacy against the new Omicron strain.
The pill should ideally be administered within 5 days of initial infection. Trials already showed it was highly effective at neutralizing the Alpha and Delta variants of Covid-19. New data released this week confirms a similarly high level of efficacy in regards to Omicron.
Shionogi hopes to produce at least 1 million courses of the drug over the next few months.
Thus far, there have been no reported transmissions of the Omicron variant within Japan.
However, despite tight border controls, experts believe it is only a matter of time until cases start to increase. The scientific consensus remains inconclusive with regards to earlier speculation that Omicron, though more infectious, could be a milder form of the disease. Research continues.
One of Kansai’s own homegrown soccer stars made big news this week, with a heroic cup final performance.
With his team trailing 1-0 in the Scottish League Cup final last Sunday, Nara-born striker Kyogo Furuhashi stepped up to fire his team to glory. Two quick-fire second half goals from the diminutive striker, including a stunning lob over the goalkeeper for his second, propelled Celtic to a 2-1 victory over Hibernian.
The result gives Celtic the bragging rights of winning the first major trophy of the season in Scotland. Furuhashi’s performance also further enhanced fan enthusiasm for Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou to go back to the J-League for more new signings in January.
Celtic have recently been linked with a slew of Japanese players, including Osaka-born Daizen Maeda and Current Gamba Osaka midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi.
With the transfer window reopening in 10 days time, it will soon become clear if any more of Kansai’s finest will be heading to Glasgow.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!