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
Record Broken in Osaka Marathon
Osaka has a new sporting hero this week. Women’s marathon runner Honami Maeda set a new Japanese national record at last weekend’s Osaka Marathon. Maeda completed the grueling course in 2 hours 18 minutes and 59 seconds. This knocked a whopping 13 seconds off the previous Japanese women’s marathon record.
The previous record time was set by Mizuki Noguchi in the Berlin Marathon way back in 2005. In the end, this wasn’t quite enough to win the race. Ethopian runner Workenesh Edesa still finished 8 seconds ahead of Maeda, who took second place overall.
Maeda now turns her attention towards the summer, and another Olympic adventure.
Record Holder Maeda Now Eyes Paris Olympics
Despite becoming the fastest woman in Japanese marathon history, Maeda still faces a nervous wait to see if she will make it to the Paris Olympics later this year. Her qualification rests on no one bettering her record time at the Nagoya Marathon on March 10th. Until then, Maeda is content to play the waiting game. Speaking to press this week, she said she still feels she can improve her time further.
Despite early promise, Maeda endured a tough time upon her Olympic debut in Tokyo two and half years ago. She finished in 33rd place, citing new, higher stacked running shoes as a factor in her performance. However, she added that in the last year or so she has finally got used to these new shoes. Now able to run without the worry of injury or imbalance, she believes they will help her improve further in the long run.
Hopes are high for the 27 year old, but we shall have to wait and see. She’ll need to massively improve on her current record if she’s to stand a realistic chance of Olympic glory.
Like a Broken Record, Organizers Reiterate Expo 2025 Commitments
The tragic consequences of the New Year’s Day Noto Earthquake continue to be felt across Japan. For organizers of Osaka’s Expo 2025, this brings yet another potential pitfall. The need to reroute construction efforts into both rebuilding and providing temporary housing in the areas affected by the quake raises a possibility of materials and labor shortages for Expo 2025 construction plans.
This prompted the central government’s economic security minister, Sanae Takaichi, to call on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to postpone the event. She wants the government to focus all its energy on disaster relief for the foreseeable future.
However, speaking to media this week, senior cabinet secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi swiftly shot down the request.
Hayashi said that there was no “conflict of opinion” within the cabinet, and that Takaichi was simply stating that disaster relief should always take top priority. He maintains that Expo 2025 can hit its construction targets without impeding relief efforts in Ishikawa.
However, even before the tragic events of January 1st, many experts went on record with their skepticism that the Expo would be ready on schedule.
All the while, the bill continues to grow, as too does public discontent at the seeming inability of the likes of Hayashi to “read the room”.
Osaka’s foreign population continues to grow steadily. Data released this week shows that Osaka is now home to the 3rd largest group of foreign residents, by prefecture in Japan. The same report also confirmed that Japan’s total foreign population has surpassed 2 million people for the first time in history.
Tokyo retains the number one spot, followed by Aichi Prefecture. However, Osaka now sits proudly in the top three. Recent adjustments to working visas, and improvements to the much-maligned foreign trainee program continue to drive expansion in foreign employment sectors.
Foreign residents cited Osaka has striking a delicate balance between being a vibrant and industrious city and still offering superior quality of life to Tokyo. Indeed apartments are, on average, bigger and cheaper in Osaka. Worker hours are also, on average, a little shorter too.
The news also shows further signs of the regions rejuvenation after a mix of redundancies and panic caused by the covid-19 pandemic led to many residents choosing to leave Japan and return to their countries of origin.
The message is clear, Osaka and indeed the rest of Japan is back and open for international business!
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!