This Week in Osaka: June 5th to June 12th 2020

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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

Osaka Unites to Say: Black Lives Matter!

Osaka proudly took its place among a host of cities worldwide this past weekend in joining the global movement for racial equality and societal change that is Black Lives Matter.

Around 2000 people joined the march from Osaka City Hall to Nishi Umeda Park, some two kilometers away.

Although the march was about highlighting the all too frequent brutality facing the black community in the US and worldwide, this was truly an event for everyone.

Alongside a strong turnout from Osaka’s foreigner community, a significant number of Japanese also participated.

Initially planned as a small event of around 200 people, the march quickly grew into a far more powerful statement. A mention from tennis star Naomi Osaka, an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter, ensured the event received not just local, but international coverage too.

Here’s what some attendees had to say about the march:

Cameron Banks, an artist and musician from Texas, currently based in Osaka spoke of the great feeling of solidarity that came with the event.

“The most positive aspect about this march was realizing that Black people are not alone in the quest for justice. All around the world, people are rising up to put an end to systemic racism”.

Another participant, Sam Marange, originally from Zimbabwe and raised in the UK, sees this march as very much the beginning, rather than the final outcome of BLM in Kansai.

He said: “It doesn’t stop here. We need more marches, particularly in areas known to be deprived of media.

“As a foreign English teacher, this is also a chance to share what’s going on in the wider world with our students.

“I’ve been reading a lot of news articles and it looks like this is starting to gain attention from the Japanese public.”

He also encouraged those who perhaps want to help, but don’t fully understand what BLM is about, to get involved. He continued: “Don’t be afraid of curiosity. Do what you can to learn about our world. Read, watch videos, listen to broadcasts, talk to family members and spread awareness.”

Another attendee, Alice Clarke, who lives in Osaka, spoke of her hopes that the march will raise awareness of racism not just in the US but in Japan too. She remarked: “Japan has many issues with racism and anti-blackness is one of them. I want to help raise awareness of this issue as well as show the protestors in the US that we stand with them.”

As for what happens next, every marcher I spoke to is united in the belief that this is only the beginning of what will hopefully be a long, thoughtful and far reaching discussion about finally confronting and eliminating systemic racism, not just in the US but globally.

Osaka.com would like to thank the many marchers who reached out to us with their comments and also express our gratitude to the Black Lives Matter Kansai group for their support in putting this story together. I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the BLM movement here in Japan to join the Black Lives Matter Kansai Facebook group.

Summer Heat Prompts Masks Rethink

With summer fast approaching, temperatures in Osaka surpassed 30 degrees Celsius for the first time in 2020 this week.

Despite the ongoing threat of Coronavirus (Osaka continues to record new cases every day since the end of the state of emergency), health professionals expressed concern this week at the dangers of heatstroke posed by wearing face masks outside in the summer heat.

Current government guidelines advise everyone to wear masks when outside their home. However, an NHK study published this week has raised concerns as to the safety of continuing to follow such advice.

The study showed that, according to thermal imaging, the normal temperature of the mouth is around 36 degrees. However, if you put on a mask this will very quickly rise to 40 degrees in less than a minute.

This is of particular concern to those who have to work in hot or poorly ventilated places for an extended period, such as gyms, schools and indeed any kind of outdoor work.

In response, health experts have recommended that the government update their advice, to emphasize that it is safe to take off your mask when you are outside, provided you maintain two meters of distance from others.

And Finally…

Anyone who has lived in Osaka for an extended period of time, particularly if you lived in Minato Ward as I used to, will be familiar with the gangs of youths on bikes, known colloquially as “Bozozoku”. These teenagers are relatively harmless, though the loud noise of their bikes as they speed along the roads of Osaka can be quite an irritation, especially late at night.

Well, two roommates in Nishinari Ward decided last month they’d had enough of having their sleep disrupted and took matters into their own hands.

The as yet unnamed suspects, who were arrested this week, admitted to “targeting motorcycles with loud exhausts” when they attacked one biker with a meter long wooden stick on May 20th.

They said they were “tired” and the bikes were “too noisy”.

Despite being hit on the head, the biker sustained only minor injuries.

The suspects are also being questioned in connection with a similar attack which took place in Osaka’s Nishinari Ward on May 2nd in which two bikers were similarly attacked.

Violence is never the answer, but then again neither is revving your engine constantly at 2am on a Sunday morning, when this reporter is trying to get to sleep!

That’s all for now, but be sure to join us again next week for another round of This Week in Osaka!

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