Social Media Scams Take Their Toll: This Week in Osaka February 23rd to March 1st 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.

Social Media Scams Hit Record High

Social media is everywhere. However, not everyone in Osaka finds what they hope to online.

Osaka police published disturbing figures this week regarding scams perpetrated via social media. In a first for Osaka Prefecture, police released data this week combining numbers for both romance and investment-based scams. It showed that, just in 2023 alone, Osaka residents lost a total in excess of 4.9 billion yen to social media scammers. This averages out to around 10 million yen per victim.

Of course, in these financially austere and, for many people, lonely times, social media scams offering either love or financial benefit take center stage. Typically, scammers will impersonate someone offering investment opportunities or feigning romantic interest, to convince their “mark” to part with their savings. In the vast majority of these cases, the scammer will pose as a foreigner, looking for a partner, either romantically or in a business sense.

Social Media Scams Surpass Telephone Fraud

Phone scams remain a big problem, despite the rise of social media.

For the first time, these social media scams have surpassed the official numbers for telephone based fraud. The amount of money lost in Osaka to telephone schemes, totally 3.6 billion yen in 2023. In the cases of both social media scams and telephone fraud, the true extent of the fraud may, in reality, be several magnitudes higher.

Given the extremely embarrassing nature in which many of these people fall prey to these scams, many victims are reluctant to come forward. In many cases, admitting you were scammed is just as painful as actually being scammed in the first place. Police sources urged the public to be extremely cautious when forming relationships online.

The fundamental point is, if something seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Company Chair to Step Down After Actress’ Death

A recent performance by the Takarazuka Troupe.

Previously, we reported on the legal action taken by the family of a deceased actress who worked for the Takarazuka Theater Troupe. The 25 year old actress, who has not been publicly named, died in September. Her family alleges she took her own life after rampant bullying and harassment from her fellow actors and management.

At the time, Takarazuka conducted its own internal investigation and concluded the allegations were unfounded. However, the family did not accept this. The family’s legal representatives alleged a whitewash of the issue and escalated their case. Their efforts have paid off as Takarazuka’s management finally faced consequences this week. After months of pressure, Hankyu Hanshin, Takarazuka’s parent company finally admitted this week that the late actress had, indeed, faced harassment and bullying.

In a further development, Hankyu Hanshin announced on Tuesday, the resignation of their chairman and acting director of the Takarazuka Group Kazuo Sumi. Analysts see this move as the company accepting a sense of social responsibility for its poor handling of the whole situation. For his part, Sumi himself pledged to apologize to the family for what happened.

It remains to be seen, however, what, if indeed any, structural changes Takarazuka will make to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy. Additionally, none of the alleged bullies or harassers have, at the time of writing, faced any sanctions thus far.

And Finally….

Terunofuji with one of his 9 titles.

Sumo Grand Champiion Terunofuji aims to give it his all at next month’s Osaka Grand Sumo Tournament. The Yokozuna spoke enthusiastically with local media this week, ahead of the tournament which kicks off on March 10th.

Historically, the benchmark for truly great Yokozuna champions is to win 10 Emperor’s Cups. Terunofuji notched his ninth title in January. Since ascending to Sumo’s highest rank, the Mongolia-born powerhouse has maintained that his personal goal is to claim at least 10 career titles.

This week, he pledged to “fight with all my might” at the Osaka tournament. Terunofuji sits atop the rankings heading into the Osaka Grand Tournament. Most pundits have him down as the clear favorite to win the championship. However, sumo can be a fickle and at times highly unpredictable business.

Cliché though it may sound, this truly is a sport where anything can happen. Another name to watch out for at this year’s tournament is the newly promoted Ozeki Kotonowaka. After losing a championship playoff to Terunofuji at the last big tournament in January, he will be out for revenge. More importantly, Kotonowaka will also look to prove that his surpringly run of 13 wins and just 2 losses last time out was no fluke.

Whoever comes out on top when the tournament concludes on March 24th, it promises to be a highly entertaining spectacle.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.