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.
Vaccine Site Expands to All Over-18s
Last week, Japan surpassed the government’s long stated target of delivering 1 million vaccination shots in a single day. However, the government now aims to go further still. Inoculation of the over 65s is expected to be largely completed nationwide by the end of this month.
With this in mind, the government has expanded the pool of eligible candidates for the mass vaccine site in Osaka and Tokyo.
From this week, vaccinations are open to any resident aged over 18 across the country. The only catch is they need to travel to the designated vaccine sites in Osaka or Tokyo.
However, in order to be eligible, residents will still need to obtain a vaccination voucher from their local municipality. The delivery of these vouchers is inconsistent across the country. Some areas started sending these vouchers to under 65s a number of weeks ago. Others have yet to begin doing so.
Vaccine Site Slots Expected to Fill Quickly
As of the time of writing, slots at both the Tokyo and Osaka centers remain full through until July 4th. However, a limited number of slots are still available for later in the month. Upon initial expansion of the program on June 28th, the vacant slots filled up within 9 minutes of going live.
As more people receive their shots, authorities expect a drop in the numbers trying to book slots each week. However, the best option for most remains getting vaccinated in your local area, where possible.
Authorities also re-emphasized the point that, despite some previous exceptions, those who do not have a prior reservation and a valid vaccination voucher from their local municipality will be turned away. This comes in response to complaints from residents in the area around the mass vaccination sites. Locals were unhappy at the crowds gathering each day. They came in hope of receiving a vaccine in the event of a last-minute cancellation.
Statue Row Set for Court Hearing
The organizers of an exhibition, planned for this summer in Osaka, face an uphill battle to stage it. In response to complaints from certain sections of the Osaka populous, the show’s intended venue withdrew support last week. The controversy centers around a statue depicting “comfort women”. This is a term used to describe women primarily from Korea and China who were brought into Japan during World War II. They were then forced to act as sexual slaves for the men of the Japanese military at the time.
Whilst Japan addressed these acts and indeed issued formal apologies down the years, many amongst Japan’s ruling classes remain unrepentant for these war crimes. Others among the Japanese far-right, deny that the women were coerced at all. Korea also remains dissatisfied with the Japanese response. They continue to demand financial compensation for the families of these women as well as “greater sincerity” from Japan in its apologies.
For their part, the Japanese prefectural government defended the venue’s decision to cancel the exhibition. In doing so, they cited public safety concerns. The “comfort women” issue remains highly inflammatory in Japan, and past protests have, at times, turned violent.
The event organizers however see the cancellation of the event as capitulation to extremism and to those who would seek to silence free speech. The organizers will file papers with the Osaka district court this week. However, with the exhibition due to start in mid-July, even if they are successful, they face a race against time to get the necessary approval in time.
If you’re one of the millions around the world with a passion for Japanese anime, then you’ve probably heard of “Demon Slayer”. The box office mega-hit of last year broke records both at home and abroad for a Japanese animation.
Now, fans in Osaka will soon have the chance to experience the world of Demon Slayer for themselves. A new attraction themed after the hit movie is coming to Universal Studios Japan this September. The exact details of the temporary attraction will be revealed closer to its opening. It will remain part of USJ’s regular line-up until February 2022.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!