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.
Assault Victim Death Sparks Murder Inquiry
The specter of violent crime rarely casts its dark shadow over Osaka. Unfortunately, the death of a man in one of the city’s busiest areas, this week, sent shockwaves around the city. Dotombori, a canal that separates the Namba and Shinsaibashi nightlife areas, was the scene for this horrific crime on the evening of August 2nd. To make matters worse, it seems that about a dozen or so witnesses chose to film the unfolding violence instead of intervening.
Footage appeared online shortly after the attack showing its vicious and cowardly nature.
The victim, a Vietnamese national, was beaten to the ground, then kicked in the head several times. Finally his attacker pushed him over the barriers and into the canal below. A passer-by called the emergency services. Unfortunately, it seems the victim didn’t last long in the notoriously polluted Dotombori waters. After rescuers recovered him from the water, they took the victim to hospital. However, he was unresponsive and pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Death Suspect Sought by Police
The victim’s assailant fled the scene before police arrived. However footage continues to circulate online of the attack, and the large number of eyewitnesses saw the man’s death. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until the killer is apprehended. However, this needless death, raises a number of questions. Firstly, both the victim and his attacker appeared to have been drinking heavily before the attack. Under current emergency protocols, bars in the area are meant to close earlier than usual. Did this early closure prompt binge drinking, leading to the subsequent violence?
In recent times, extreme Japanese nationalist groups have, on occasion been known to engage in threats and violence against other Asian ethnic groups. Was there a racial motive to this attack?
Was it simply a case of an angry drunk young man looking for someone to beat up?
These are the questions police will seek to answer as the investigation continues.
Death Surge Prompts Vaccine Rethink
It is now beyond doubt that Japan has entered the 5th wave of Covid-19 infections. Tokyo and Osaka remain the epicenters of these outbreaks. Both hospitalization and death rates continue to spike. All the while, vaccine supplies continue to dwindle. Prime Minister Suga, however, reiterated his intention that all adults in Japan who want a vaccine will receive it by November at the latest. Two competing strategies emerged this week, as to how best to move forward.
One idea put forward by the government’s pandemic task force this week, was to adopt the UK’s vaccination model.
As things currently stand in Japan, recipients of a Pfizer vaccine receive their second dose 21 days later. In the case of the Moderna vaccine, the window between vaccines is 28 days. However, the UK adopted the strategy that prioritized giving as many people one vaccine dose as possible. This meant a gap of up to 12 weeks between shots.
However, this seems like a non-starter for Japan, given the progress of the pandemic since the UK dropped this strategy earlier this summer.
Delta Variant Hobbles Plans
The emergence of the Delta variant means that getting double vaccinated takes on a new importance.
One shot of either Pfizer or Moderna provided 65%-85% immunity against Covid-19 infection, based on various studies of the common variants. This then moves up to 95% when the recipient achieves full immunity, around 10 days after the second shot.
However, with the new Delta variant, the efficacy of a single shot of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine plummets to around 33%. However, the vaccines still seem to be around 85-90% effective against the Delta variant once you receive both shots.
An alternative strategy, of admitting only seriously ill patients to hospital, was also discussed this week. However, such a move is likely to prove unpopular both with the public and medical experts. There have been a number of reported covid death cases this year, where patients died at home after being told to recover at home. Unfortunately the nature of this virus is that fatal complications can come on quickly and unexpectedly, leading to yet more preventable death.
We end today with some good news. As of August 3rd, almost 80% of elderly residents in Osaka are now fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. This is slightly higher than the nationwide average, which presently sits at 75%. There were fears that vaccine hesitancy amongst older generations might fuel reluctance to get the vaccine. However, it seems that, for Osaka’s senior citizens at least, this hasn’t been the case.
Nevertheless, local government sources vowed to press on. They continue to encourage the 20% of hold-outs to get their vaccine as soon as possible. Attention now turns towards younger age groups, where countering the erroneous perception that Covid “only affects old people” remains a challenge.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!