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.
Local Hero Naomi Osaka Does it Again
Osaka-born tennis star Naomi Osaka claimed her third Grand Slam tennis singles title on Sunday. This is a new record for players from Asia. The 22-year-old, originally from Chuo Ward in Osaka, battled hard for the U.S. Open title this time around.
Osaka lost the first set 6-1 to a determined Victoria Azarenka. However she fired back, taking the next two sets 6-3, 6-3 to claim victory by 2 sets to 1.
The victory drew praise from a number of prominent figures across Japanese public life.
Fellow tennis star Kei Nishikori, making a return to the sport this week after overcoming Covid-19, tweeted congratulations. Outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also tweeted his praise. He hopes Osaka will “continue to play outstandingly”.
Recent contenders to replace Abe as PM, Fumio Kushida’s praise went beyond Osaka’s play. He said he was “greatly encouraged” by her activism in “bringing up the importance of diversity”.
Osaka wore the names of victims of racial violence in the US on facemasks throughout the tournament.
She remains an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM rose to prominence recently after a series of racially-motivated murders committed by American police.
BLM Kansai’s first march, which we covered earlier this year, exceeded expectations after Osaka tweeted her support.
However, Japan’s corporate sector continues to struggle to grasp 21st century societal issues. Some of Osaka’s sponsors have expressed concern that her activism could have a negative impact.
One unnamed sponsor said this week: “If possible, we’d like her to attract more attention with her tennis skills.”.
Such comments seem unlikely to deter Osaka however, who shows no signs of slowing down, both on the court and off it.
Census Shifts Online
Preparations began this week across Osaka and the rest of Japan for this year’s population census. In Japan, this survey of both citizens and foreign residents takes place every 5 years.
However, holding the census in the wake of an ongoing pandemic presents a number of new challenges. Concerns continue to mount from both census distributors and those taking the census themselves.
Organizers in Osaka hope that the number of people who complete the survey online this year will top 50%. The current record for online participation, set in 2015, stands at 36%.
Traditionally, government appointed “census takers” deliver the documents. However, this year, for the first time, census papers will be posted through letter boxes rather than delivered by hand. Organizers hope to limit person to person contact and reduce covid-19 transmission risks.
This is of specific concern to organizers in Osaka, where infection rates remain higher than the naitonal average.
Participation in the census is mandatory, however there are no stated penalties for non-compliance.
The census is 16 basic questions covering issues like employment, age, nationality and so on.
Census papers will be distributed from now until October 7th. The deadline for responding is October 20th. This is an extension of the previously advertised deadline of October 7th.
If you thought it was safe to go back outside, think again. The Japan Meteorological Agency announced this week the beginning of the typhoon season.
Typically Okinawa and Japan’s southern region of Kyushu bear the brunt of these tropical storms. However, Osaka’s coastal positioning and ordinarily higher temperatures make it especially vulnerable too.
The JMA predicts that this year’s typhoons could cause even more havoc than last year’s Typhoon Hagibis.
Hagibis killed 90 people last October and led to the cancellation of several 2019 Rugby World Cup fixtures.
Recent storms tend to move more slowly and with greater strength. Experts site climate change bringing higher temperatures to the Pacific Ocean.
In Osaka, the local government responded to the announcement with its own advisory.
The Osaka government recommends that residents prepare an evacuation route well ahead of time. They also advise citizens to learn the location of their nearest shelter. Typically, this is a local public school building or a community center.
The government is also reminding citizens to include hand sanitizer and face masks in their emergency kit.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!