Party Tragedy Leads to Payout: This Week in Osaka January 13th to 19th 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.

Family of Student who Died at Drinking Party Compensated

Kindai University’s main campus.

The family of a young student who lost his life after a drinking party at university finally received some degree of closure this week.

Hayato Tomori died one day after the party held by Kindai University tennis club in 2017. At the party, he consumed large quantities of vodka and other alcoholic substances. All the while his fellow students hassled him to drink even more.

Tomori eventually passed out at the party. He was taken back to his residence to sleep it off. However, the following morning, after going to hospital, he died. He was 20 years old at the time of his death. The high court in Osaka awarded Tomori’s parents 50.9 million yen in compensation. The settlement is to be split between 16 former Kindai students. 10 of them attended the party and encouraged the excessive drinking that led to Tomori’s death. A further 6 were deemed liable for failing in their duty of care after promising to “take care of him”.

The settlement is also conditional on all 16 of the members of the group publicly apologizing for their part in the events leading to the tragedy.

Party Death Caused by “Alcohol Harassment”

Drinking Parties or “Nomikai” as they are called in Japanese play an important role in both business and social etiquette. However, many feel pressured to attend and drink to excess.

The high court concluded that the nature of the students’ behavior at the party, encouraging excessive and reckless drinking, directly contributed to Tomori’s death. The family’s lawyer termed the behavior “alcohol harassment”. In short, the family maintains that Tomori was coerced by a combination of peer pressure and goading from fellow students to drink far beyond a safe limit.

The latest settlement follows on from an initial ruling in March of last year when the high court ordered the 16 students to pay a total of 42 million yen.

After the final settlement was announced, Tomori’s parents released a short statement through their legal counsel. They said: “The pain and regret of losing our Hayato will never go away. We hope that those who were involved thoroughly recognize the weight of human life in continuing with their lives.”

The conduct of university sports clubs is under increased scrutiny in Japan recently. Just last month, Nihon University permanently disbanded its American football team amid an alleged culture of cannabis abuse. Last year, Keio University’s American football team also faced a temporary suspension. In their case, the issue at hand was underage drinking.

Garcia Spoils Osaka’s Return Party

Despite a spirited fight, there was to be no comeback party for Naomi Osaka this week.

Naomi Osaka’s first match at a major tennis tournament since 2022 ended in defeat this week. The two time champion lost in the first round of this year’s Australian Open to France’s Caroline Garcia. Despite the loss, Osaka will clearly draw great encouragement from the tremendous reception she received from fans. The crowd continued to cheer her on throughout the game. Although the match ended in a 6-4, 7-6 loss, there were flashes of the Naomi Osaka of old.

Garcia was also full of praise for her opponent. She said: “I have a lot of respect for Naomi Osaka as a person and as a player. We all know she’s had an amazing career.

“She’s been away for 15 months and been through a lot. I’m just very glad to see her back.”

Osaka has yet to confirm when her next tournament appearance will be.

And Finally…

It is a testament to the people of Kobe that in less than 3 decades, the ruins of the earthquake have given way to a tremendous, vibrant and modern city.

There was some time for somber reflection in Kansai this week. This month marks 29 years since the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Kobe bore the brunt of the impact that day, however a great many people in Osaka also lost friends and family in the disaster. The city of Kobe held a memorial lantern ceremony this past week. Organizers also expressed messages of sympathy and solidarity with those displaced by the Noto Peninsula quake on January 1st. Relief efforts continue, as do fundraisers to support those in affected areas. In the meantime, Osaka remembers those lost, not just in Kobe and Ishikawa, but to all such natural disasters. One attendee at the memorial said this week: “We remember those who were taken from us. But we also vow to continue to fight for those of us still here, and still struggling.”

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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