Each week, here at Osaka.com, we will 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
Covid Restrictions Tightened
It is become clearer by the day that the State of Emergency which ran throughout April and May to combat the Covid-19 Outbreak in Japan did not go far enough.
With case numbers once spiking not just in Osaka and Tokyo but also all across the country, the Osaka Prefectural Government announced new measures this week to try and bring the virus under control.
On Tuesday, they announced that citizens will be asked to refrain from drinking in groups of 5 people or more. However, family gatherings, such as weddings, will be excluded from this ordinance.
As we explained back in April, Japanese law, at least in its present form, does not allow for the forced closure of businesses, or the imposition of a “lockdown” as has been seen in other parts of the world. So, any directives must be phrased as requests, rather than orders, as they cannot carry any legal penalties.
However, that doesn’t mean that those who flaunt such regulations are free from consequence. The “naming and shaming” of businesses and individuals who do not comply with measures aimed at containing the virus has become a prominent feature of local government action in recent months. In Osaka, a number of Pachinko parlors were identified in this way after refusing to close or implement social distancing measures at the height of the initial outbreak in April and May.
Osaka’s daily infection rate hit a record high of 155 new cases on Tuesday of this week, adding further fuel to calls nationwide for the national government to impose a new, and more far-reaching State of Emergency.
Unfortunately, this is a story that still seems to have quite a while left to run.
Road Rage Suspect to Stand Trial for Assault
A 44 year old man from Osaka faced the judge this week as his trial for a road rage induced assault began this week.
The Mito District Court in Ibaraki Prefecture will this week hear the case of Fumio Miyazaki, who is thought to have committed a number of traffic offences across multiple prefectures.
However, this trial centers around one incident which took place in August of last year.
It is alleged that on August 10th last year at around 6:15am, Miyazaki blocked another vehicle with his own on the Joban Expressway in Moriya, Ibaraki Prefecture.
He then proceeded to punch the victim, a 24 year old male, in the face several times whilst screaming a number of expletives and threats including “I’ll kill you!”
Fortunately for the victim, his car was equipped with a dashboard camera which recorded the incident in full and has been entered into the trial as evidence.
Miyazaki’s vehicle was also suspected of being involved in a number of road rage incidents in Shizuoka and Aichi Prefectures, leading to him being placed on a police wanted list, and his subsequent arrest.
Seeking to rationalize his actions, Miyazaki told the court that he had once had to content with a driver stopping his car suddenly and abruptly in front of him, so he wanted other drivers to know what this felt like.
The trial continues…
The government’s decision this week to press ahead with a widely derided face mask distribution scheme once again has Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feeling the heat.
So far, just over half of the intended recipients, including this writer, have received their allocating of two reusable cloth face masks, dubbed “Abenomasks” after the man himself.
However, the majority of citizens in Osaka have yet to receive their allocation.
A number of masks were recalled and destroyed in May, after thousands of recipients complained that the masks were defective. Chief among the complaints were that a number of the masks appeared dirty, and even those that were clean did not fit well, and seemed too small to provide the necessary protection.
Indeed, at around half the size of the more common, and far more comfortable, disposable masks, which are now freely available all over Japan, many had hoped that the government would see sense and cancel this expensive white elephant of a project, and instead refocus their aims on relief for small business and working parents. These two groups in particular appear to have been hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic, yet have still not been the beneficiaries of any specific economic stimulus measures.
The government has pledged to address these areas soon, and for the sake of those still struggling in this downward economic spiral, let’s hope there is coherent action taken soon.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!