The Shohei Ohtani juggernaut continued this week with the Los Angeles Angels all-rounder hitting three home runs in consecutive days to take his tally for the season to 14. There were also reasons to celebrate for Getafe attacker Takefusa Kubo, celebrity couple Yui Aragaki and Gen Hoshino, as well as the city of Yokosuka. For the Japanese government, however, problems continue to mount. Here’s a look at the news stories that caught our attention in the past seven days.
“Insane” Ohtani Leads MLB in Home Runs
“I personally think he’s the most physically gifted baseball player we’ve ever seen,” said Boston Red Sox closer Matt Barnes of Shohei Ohtani. His comment came last Sunday after the two-way star hit a two-run homer against him to win the game 6-5 for the Angels. Ohtani smashed another home run on Monday and followed that up with his 14th of the season on Tuesday. That’s currently the most in the league. He also leads the way in slugging percentage. Factor in six stolen bases and a 2.37 ERA as a pitcher and it’s easy to see why he’s generating such a buzz. “It feels like a lot of people are talking about Shohei Ohtani but still nowhere near enough people are talking about Shohei Ohtani. “What he’s doing in baseball is insane,” tweeted NFL player J.J. Watt. “Ohtani is a mythical legend in human form,” added New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman.
Kubo’s Strike Secures Getafe’s Survival
Much was expected of Takefusa Kubo when he made the loan move to Villarreal at the start of the season. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone to plan for the 19-year-old. After being largely ignored by boss Unai Emery, he decided to make the switch to Getafe in January. In doing so, he essentially swapped one substitute’s bench for another. Last Sunday, he was once again left out of the starting 11 for the relegation-threatened side’s crucial game against Levante. With 15 minutes to go and the score at 1-1, coach Jose Bordalas decided to unleash his Japanese attacker. Keen to prove a point, he soon fired in a delightful strike from the edge of the box to make it 2-1. The goal was enough to secure Getafe’s position in Laliga for next season. From the wild celebrations, you could see how much it meant to Kubo and his teammates.
As she wasted away in a Japanese detention center, Wishma Rathnayake begged to be released to a hospital. Her jailers refused. Not long after, she was dead.
Critics blame a system with nearly unchecked power over foreigners caught inside it. https://t.co/jXR8FhfZ79
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) May 18, 2021
Wishma “Didn’t Die in vain,” Says Sister as Japan Shelve Controversial Asylum Bill
After a public backlash, the Japanese government decided to withdraw an amendment bill that would’ve made it easier to forcefully repatriate asylum seekers whose applications were under appeal. The decision to pull the proposed legislation came as authorities faced increasing pressure following the recent death of a Sri Lankan woman held in an immigration detention center. Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali died alone in her cell on March 6. She was 33. Hoping to teach English to kids, she entered Japan in the summer of 2017 on a student visa. Last August, Wishma went to the police to report domestic abuse, but was then detained for overstaying her visa. The Justice Ministry turned down a request to release video footage of Wishma as her condition deteriorated. “I’ve heard many people gathered to protest the bill after having learned about my sister,” said Wishma’s younger sibling Wayomi. “She didn’t die in vain.”
Supreme Court Rules Government Responsible for Asbestos Diseases
On Monday, the Japanese Supreme Court ruled in favor of around 500 plaintiffs in four suits against the state. Since 2008, several damage suits have been filed nationwide related to asbestos exposure at construction sites. According to the ruling, the government and construction material makers were both negligent in their duty to protect workers from contracting diseases linked to the natural mineral. The victims and bereaved family members will receive compensation ranging from 5.5 million yen to 13 million yen. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologized to the plaintiffs. “It’s impossible to imagine the extensive burden and the suffering of those who sustained damage to their health and those who lost their loved ones. I’m at a loss for words.” Haruko Osaka, whose husband and son died of mesothelioma, urged the government to set up a relief system for victims who did not join the legal action.
Anonymous Philanthropist Donates 60 Million Yen to Yokosuka City
Workers at Yokosuka city hall got a shock on Monday when an elderly man walked into the building to donate his life savings. The donor left a bag with 60 million yen and a letter inside. The letter read: “This is the money I’ve been saving since the first grade. Please make use of it. It’s a donation.” He declined to give his name as he wanted to remain anonymous. “I’m speechless and full of gratitude,” was the response from mayor Katsuaki Kamiji. A similar thing happened at Nara city hall in 2020 when a man handed over 30 million in cash. Placed in a bag, there was a note requesting that the money be used to help the poor and fund education. In October of last year, Kobe hospital received two envelopes labeled “hospital” and “childhood cancer.” Inside was three million and two million yen.
— Mothership.sg (@MothershipSG) May 19, 2021
Yui Aragaki and Gen Hoshino to Marry
In 2016, Yui Aragaki and Gen Hoshino tied the knot on screen in a TV comedy series. Five years on and they’re now planning to get hitched for real. “We hope we can support each other and spend a lot of prosperous time together,” the couple said in a joint statement released by their agencies following the announcement of their engagement. In the manga-based drama Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni tatsu (The Full-time Wife Escapist), Hoshino and Aragaki played a couple who married for their own convenience under a contract. They reunited for a sequel earlier this year and evidently hit it off. In sad entertainment news, it was this week announced that popular actor Masakazu Tamura passed away in April. He was most-well known for playing a comical police officer in Furuhata Ninzaburo which ran periodically from 1994 until 2006.