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
Osaka Braces for Aftershocks
As you will probably already be aware, a massive earthquake struck Japan’s western coast, around Ishikawa Prefecture on January 1st. Osaka was spared any significant damage. However, eyewitness accounts from across the city pointed to a strong tremor and a scary few minutes for Osaka residents.
Osaka’s disaster advisory committee asked residents to stay prepared this week. Seismologists predict that aftershocks of a magnitude as high as 7 are possible for the next 7 days or so. Meanwhile the city has also mobilized to help out relief efforts in any way they can.
Tragically, one of the first moves Osaka made was welcoming diverted flights from Haneda Airport in the wake of January 2nd’s fatal plane crash. 5 crew aboard a plane heading to the earthquake zone to provide relief were killed when a JAL flight from Hokkaido struck their plane as it came in to land. The smaller cargo plane was incinerated in a fireball. The pilot is alive but critically injured. No one aboard the JAL flight was seriously hurt. This is, in large part down to the incredible work of cabin crew. They evacuated all the passengers in less than 2 minutes.
Kansai International Airport received a number of flights after Haneda was rendered off limits for a time in the wake of the disaster.
In the meantime, Osaka based members of Japan’s Self Defense Force joined others from around the country to help those still trapped in rubble in Ishikawa and Niigata Prefectures. At time of writing, around 10,000 members of the SDF have mobilized to help relief efforts. This number is expected to expand further in the days and weeks ahead.
Osaka Ranks High but Japan Lags Behind in English
A survey published this week raised further concerns about English ability levels among residents of Osaka. The survey, conducted by the American language learning firm Duolingo, took in the views of 4,700 people across Japan. Osaka ranked higher than most of the country when it comes to confidence in speaking English. 15% of respondents from Osaka said they had confidence in their English ability. This was significantly higher than the national average of just 10%. Overall, Osaka placed 3rd in prefectural rankings, behind Tokyo (20%) and Kanagawa (19%).
The survey also highlighted language learners interest in languages besides English. 25% of those who said they are actively studying English also said they study Korean regularly. Additionally, 12% said they study Chinese. However, enthusiasm for foreign language learning across Japan as a whole remains somewhat tepid, to say the least.
Another recent survey asked students in Osaka why they didn’t study English more. More than half of respondents said “English is too difficult”. A further 20% said they failed to see the use for it, when they only use Japanese in their daily lives.
It seems that English learning in Osaka may have something of a PR problem.
Osaka Returns to Tennis, Prepares for Australian Open
Four time Grand Slam Champion Naomi Osaka made her long awaited return to the tennis court this week. The former world number one played her first competitive tennis match in 15 months this past week, in Brisbane, Australia.
Following a year-long break, during which she gave birth to her daughter Shai, Osaka made a triumphant return to the court, with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch.Although eliminated in the second round by fellow former world number 1 Karolina Pliskova, Osaka remained optimistic about the future.
After her first round match she said “Considering all that’s happened in the past year, just getting here at all feels like a personal win.”
In the wake of her loss to Pliskova, she added: “I know that if I keep practicing I’ll eventually get to where I want to be.”Next up for Osaka is the Australian Open, set to begin in Melbourne on January 14th. We will, of course, keep you updated on her progress.
After an injury plagued first half to the season, Osaka-born Celtic forward Daizen Maeda had his best week of the season so far. After helping his teammates to a decisive 2-1 victory over bitter rivals Rangers at Celtic Park on December 30th, Maeda found out that he, along with fellow Celtic star Reo Hatate had made the final squad for Japan’s Asian Cup campaign, set to kick off next week.
The speedy striker then capped off a great week by opening the scoring less than a minute into Celtic’s 3-0 win over St. Mirren on January 2nd. The win ensures that Maeda’s side go into Scotland’s winter break 8 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership. We’ll bring you more news of Japan’s Asian Cup journey in the weeks ahead.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!