Money Scam Leads to Arrests: This Week in Osaka May 17th to 24th 2024

Each week, here at, 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.

Money Laundering Investigation Snags 12 Suspects

The huge sums of money involved point towards the involvement of organized crime.

Osaka police announced a major breakthrough this week in a long-running money laundering investigation. A total of 12 people were arrested in a series of raids. The elaborate money laundering scheme may involve as many as 4,000 individual bank accounts.

The group behind the scam administered these accounts through a vast array of shell companies. Police estimate the total sum of money involved is over 60 billion yen. This works out at about $384 million US dollars.  Most of the money concerned was transferred overseas via 500 or so different shell companies. However, Osaka Prefectural Police believe most of the money eventually made its way back to the criminal group

Money Laundering Scheme Likely a Front for Organized Crime

Police continue to investigate the money laundering scheme, with more arrests possible.

Osaka police continue to work under the assumption that the entire scheme was a means to launder illegal funds for organized crime. So far, only one of the arrested suspects’ identities has been made public. 41 year old Ryohei Fujii faces charges of “concealing the proceeds of criminal acts” (essentially legal long-form for money laundering).

Police have, thus far, declined to specify which criminal groups they suspect to be the main beneficiaries of this elaborate scheme. Online speculation is rife about the perpetrators. However, given the huge sums of money involved in this particular scheme, the number of groups that could actually pull off such a caper successfully is somewhat limited.

Osaka Police continue to investigate in the meantime. Sources would not elaborate in detail on what is, after all, an ongoing investigation. However, police also declined to rule out further arrests in the coming days.

Vaccine Data Retention Proves Controversial

The Covid-19 vaccine saved millions of lives. However, not everyone is satisfied it is entirely safe.

It would be fair to say that the number of “vaccine skeptical” citizens in Osaka and other major Japanese cities is higher than many other countries. A government announcement this week regarding Covid-19 vaccine data retention has not helped matters.

In the cases of most publicly administered regular vaccines, municipal governments retain vaccine data for a period of 5 years. However, in light of the experimental nature of the Covid-19 vaccines, and a paucity of available research on their long-term health impacts, the government has instead decided to retain vaccine records beyond this 5 year spell. This breaks with legal principle established since 2007, when legislation covering medical data was set down in the statute book.

Experts advise that, in the case of Covid-19 vaccines, where possible, governments should retain data for the patient’s lifetime. However, this may prove difficult in practice.

Privacy concerns notwithstanding, Covid-19 was downgraded to the same threat level as influenza last year. Since this time, only over 65s or those with severe underlying medical issues are eligible for a government subsidized vaccine.

This means that since spring 2023, the majority of those in Osaka who received a vaccine will not have their data retained on record, since the vaccine was an optional extra that they paid for themselves.

Osaka’s municipal government has yet to confirm just how long they will keep vaccine records on file from here on out. So far municipalities in Tokyo and Chiba have committed to at least 30 years and 10 years respectively.

And Finally…

Ducks getting to work on a rice plantation.

Osaka’s rice farmers received some welcome support this week, from a somewhat unlikely source. A store in Matsubara, Osaka Prefecture, announced this week that they will soon begin shipping ducks for organic rice farming.

The process, known as duck rice farming, sees ducks feed on bugs and other pests that can harm rice plantations. For many farmers this is a healthier and more environmentally conscious means of pest control. In recent times, the demand for organically sourced farm produce has soared, on the back of a number of high-profile safety issues with industrial pesticides.

In turn, the ducks also produce their own natural fertilizer, in the form of feces that mix with the water. Farmers across Osaka continue to adopt this novel method as, not only is it good for the environment, but it also works out cheaper in the long run.

And if the adorable photos released this week are anything to go by, it seems the ducklings quite enjoy their work too.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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