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.
Song Survey Upsets Teachers
National anthems are a contentious issue in many countries. Unfortunately, Japan is no different. Osaka became a focal point for the latest row around the song “Kimigayo” this week.
Suita City Board of Education, in response to a query from a member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly, conducted a school survey around the song. It asked how many students in each class had memorized Kimigayo’s lyrics. The survey also asked schools to provide photographic evidence that the national flag and school flag were properly erected during school events.
The Board of Education did not provide a rationale for the song survey. They also gave no formal guidance as to how schools should investigate the matter. Some schools asked students to respond with a simple show of hands, others asked music teachers to provide rough estimates.
The song is seen by some as a patriotic hymn and others as a dirge that glorifies war. In any case, there are a significant number of people in Japan who are not comfortable singing this particular song.
Song Ordinance “Raises Constitutional Questions”
Osaka Prefecture has something of a history when it comes to “anthem enforcement”.
Kimigayo was formally adopted as Japan’s national anthem in 1999. However, the government at the time went to great lengths to emphasize that no one would be forced to sing the song.
Despite this, Education Boards in Osaka and elsewhere have issued guidance that the song should be sung at school ceremonies, and taught to all students.
Osaka Prefecture went further than this. In 2011, the Prefectural Assembly adopted an ordinance instructing all schools to play the song at ceremonies and for teachers to stand when it plays.
One teacher received disciplinary action for refusing to do so. Similar cases across Japan in the years since have sparked numerous court battles.
The Suita Education Board said they are comfortable the survey was reasonable. However, they pledged to meet with teacher union leaders in the next few days to address any underlying concerns.
The constitutionality of “anthem enforcement” remains a legal issue at national level, with a number of cases still ongoing.
Expo Ticket Costs Provoke Anger
If there is one observation many of us can take from the global cost of living crisis, it is that politicians the world over have an, at times, astonishing inability to “read the room.”
The organizers of Osaka’s 2025 World Expo similarly put their proverbial foot in it, this week.
Despite calls from a number of concerned parties to keep the event affordable for local residents, organizers announced adult ticket prices will be 7,500 yen per person. This is significantly higher than the initial suggestion of 6,000 yen per person. Even that figure was deemed too high by many at the time, and that was before the pandemic hit.
From a monstrous, nightmare-inducing mascot, to a spiraling budget and precious little tangible benefits for the local community, Expo 2025 grows increasingly unpopular with the Osaka public.
One citizen said this week “It’s bad enough that the mascot character looks like a cross between a coronavirus and a Kaiju. But these prices just add further insult.
He continued: “The whole thing is a waste of time and money. Between this, and the ongoing casino project, I really wonder if any of the people in charge actually care at all about the impact all this has on locals.”
Another resident, while concerned, struck a more conciliatory tone.
She said: “Is it expensive? Yes. Undoubtedly there will be many families who just can’t afford it.
“However, an international event like this is good for our city’s profile. It will, hopefully, show visitors that Osaka is a place they can do business, build a home and enjoy some of the latest technological advances.”
Her optimism is admirable, however, it seems the general public in Osaka remain unconvinced with just 2 years until the event kicks off.
The ability to regrow lost teeth is something of a “holy grail” in the world of dentistry. Now, one Osaka oral surgeon and his team believe this dream will soon become reality. Speaking from his clinic at Osaka’s Kitano Hospital Medical Institute of Research, head of dentistry Katsu Takahashi announced a new breakthrough. Genetic treatments, based around treating andontia (where people don’t grow a full set of teeth) and hyperdontia (where people grow too many teeth), will enter human trials in 2024.
The initial focus will be children aged 6 and below suffering from andontia. However, if the treatments prove successful, Dr Takahashi believes they could revolutionize the entire dental industry.
However, the treatment likely won’t enter general use until 2030 at the earliest. So, don’t throw away your toothbrushes just yet!
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!