Official Arrested Amid Scandal: This Week in Osaka June 21st to 28th 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.

Top Law Official Faces Rape Charge

Kitagawa has yet to comment on the charges.

One of Osaka’s foremost legal minds faces criminal charges this week. Kentaro Kitagawa is the former Chief Prosecutor for The Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office. As the highest ranking official in the prosecutor’s office, Kitagawa oversaw the controversial investigation into former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his associates in the Moritomo Gakuen scandal.

However, Kitagawa’s alleged crimes are far more grievous than simple embezzlement or financial trickery. Kitagawa stands accused of sexual assault and suspected rape.

The incident allegedly occurred sometime from late 2018 to early 2019, during the official’s time as chief prosecutor. He allegedly forced himself on a woman who was “physically unable to resist”.

Official Sources Remain Secretive Around Details of Incident

Osaka High Court, where Kitagawa served as Chief Prosecutor.

Kitagawa’s arrest comes after an internal investigation by the prosecutor’s office that he, himself, used to lead. As such, very few specifics of the incident have been made public. Conducting an investigation in this was is not usual when it concerns a high ranking public official. However, prosecutors will face increased scrutiny and pressure from the public to allow greater transparency.

Japan continues to face challenges both in promoting women in the workplace and facing down engrained attitudes about sexual harassment, and other, more serious inappropriate conduct.

Kitagawa himself has not commented on the charges yet, nor indicated whether he will please innocent or guilty. An official close to the investigation said that, as is standard in such cases, protecting the identity and wellbeing of the alleged victim remains the highest priority.

Kitagawa retired from his role as Chief Prosecutor in 2020. The former official has since set up his own, private law firm in his native Kyoto.

Officials Pledge More Automated Currency Converters Amid Tourism Surge

Foreign currency ATMs continue to spring up all over Osaka, and beyond.

Official Sources in both Osaka and neighboring Nara Prefecture, confirmed this week plans to increase Currency ATM availability. Tourism numbers in the Kansai region continue to surge, as the post-pandemic bounce shows no signs of slowing down. However, one of the biggest hurdles facing visitors to Japan is the fact that, in many instances, Japan remains a cash-based society. Not all stores, hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. Even those that do often only accept cards issued by Japanese banks.

As such, gaining access to local currency is a top priority for many of Osaka’s millions of visitors each year. So, an official pledge to rapidly expand the growing number of currency dispensing ATMs in the area was welcomed this week by both tourists and local business groups.

The ATMS are manufactured by Tokyo-based ActPro Co. The company presently has 600 such machines installed across Japan. It hopes to double this number within the next 2 years or so.

The ATMs currently dispense yen in exchange for US Dollars, Chinese Yuan, Euros and 9 other commonly held currencies.

ActPro also hopes to offer more currencies as well as expanded credit card functionality in the future.

And Finally…

Unicron, primary villain of the Transformers franchise was inspired by the huge robots of Gundam.

In times of great need, we look to heroes to lead us. Osaka’s struggling 2025 Expo is no different in this regard. So, the official announcement this week that a huge Gundam Robot will make an appearance at the Expo was widely praised this week.

Bandai Namco, the owners of the Gundam license, confirmed that a 17 meter tall Gundam Robot statue will take center stage at next year’s event. Best of all, the display will involve a minimal financial outlay. Much of the materials used in its construction will be repurposed from another Gundam recently removed in Tokyo.

Gundam features large mech-style robots battling all manner of alien monsters across time and space. The series has undergone numerous different iterations across a variety of media since its initial debut in the 1970s. The Gundam designs also provided inspiration for future internationally renowned properties such as The Transformers and Power Rangers. Bandai Namco would not confirm how long the Gundam will remain in place at the Expo, but fans hope that a permanent home for the statue may be found somewhere in Osaka when the Expo closes in late 2025.

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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