TOPTokyo LifeNews & OpinionTokyo Named World’s Best Big City

Tokyo Named World’s Best Big City

Japan's capital was chosen ahead of Osaka and Kyoto by readers of Condé Nast Traveler

By Matthew Hernon

Tokyo is the best big city in the world. That is the view of readers of Condé Nast Traveler, a multiple award-winning luxury and lifestyle magazine that has both American and UK editions. It’s the fifth time in six years that Japan’s capital has finished number one in the former edition and the first time it has topped the list in the British version.

Also this week, we look at Gen Suzuki’s fight to legally change his gender without having to undergo surgery. There’s news on Prime Minister Kishida’s new cabinet, the Pandora Papers and Syukuro Manabe’s Nobel Prize in physics. And then there’s some sport with Shohei Ohtani hitting his 46th and final homerun of the season.

Tokyo Tops Condé Nast Traveler Survey

Every year hundreds of thousands of readers of both the US and UK editions of Condé Nast Traveler magazine select what they consider to be the world’s best cities outside their own country. This year Tokyo topped the list in both editions. In a clean sweep for Japan, Osaka and Kyoto made up the top three. In the small cities section, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende was named number one, edging out Spain’s San Sebastian.

“Even amidst the travel restrictions in place due to the effects of Covid-19, receiving such recognition has once again served as a reminder to myself and all of our residents of the attractiveness of Tokyo as a travel destination,” said Governor Yuriko Koike. In the poll for best countries, Japan ranked number three behind Portugal and New Zealand, moving up one place from last year. Morocco and Sri Lanka made up the top five.

Transgender Man Shines Light on Japan’s Outdated Gender Law

For someone to legally change genders in Japan, they must first show proof that they have undergone sex reassignment surgery. It’s a procedure that’s costly and potentially dangerous. Like many transgender people, Gen Suzuki doesn’t want to go through it. That’s why he, this week, filed a request with the Hamamatsu Branch of the Shizuoka Family Court, insisting his own gender identity should be respected without the need for surgery.

Suzuki wants to wed his female partner but cannot do so legally without switching his gender on the family register. And he can’t do that without getting sterilized. “I find it nonsensical that transgender people cannot enjoy marriage equality in Japan,” he said at a press conference on Monday. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that Act III, which stipulates the need for sex reassignment surgery for gender to be changed on legal documents, was constitutional. At the same time, however, it was also stated that this should be reviewed as social mores change.

A Relatively Low Approval Rating for Kishida’s New Cabinet

Fumio Kishida was sworn in as Japan’s 100th prime minister in an extraordinary parliamentary session on Monday. The first order of business was to choose a new Cabinet. Hoping to inject some fresh impetus into the party, he chose 13 people taking on ministerial posts for the first time. However, several posts were given to members who have close ties with Shinzo Abe. That includes the former prime minister’s brother Nobuo Kishi as minister of defense and Toshimitsu Motegi as foreign minister.

Judging by early opinion polls, the public doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about the new Cabinet. The approval rating stands at 55.7 percent according to a Kyodo News survey taken on Tuesday. That’s well short of the 66.4 percent for Yoshihide Suga’s first Cabinet last September. The disapproval rating for Kishida’s Cabinet is 23.7 percent, 7.5 percent higher than Suga’s when he started. Its approval rating in the Asahi Shimbun survey was even lower at 45 percent.

More than 1,000 Japanese Companies and Individuals Names in Pandora Papers

Last Sunday the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists (ICIJ) published Pandora Papers exposing world leaders and business executives for hiding $11.3 trillion in more than 29,000 offshore companies in locations with favorable taxation. That’s more than twice the number that was exposed by the ICIJ’s Panama Papers five years ago. Over 1,000 Japanese firms and individuals were listed in the leaked documents, including high-profile figures such as Masayoshi Son.

According to the explosive papers, the Softbank founder purchased a business jet in 2014 through SAM Cayman Inc., a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. It was then leased to an American company which was made owner trustee. Son’s representatives said this did not constitute tax avoidance as the income is included in that of the Japan-based parent company. Other names on the list include former Olympic official Takeo Hirata and technology venture capitalist George Hara.

Japan-born American Wins Nobel Prize

Ehime Prefecture-native Syukuro Manabe was one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics. A senior meteorologist at Princeton University, the 90-year-old shared half the prize with German oceanographer Klaus Hasselmann for modeling the earth’s climate and reliably predicting global warming. It’s the first time the Nobel in physics has recognized work in this field. The other half of the accolade went to Italy’s Giorgio Parisi for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems.

Hailing from a family of physicians, Manabe was expected to follow in his grandfather and father’s footsteps, but said he wasn’t good in emergency situations. Instead, he chose to study geophysics. After receiving a doctorate from the University of Tokyo, Manabe moved to the US in 1958, working at the weather bureau. Following a brief spell back in Japan in the late 1990s, he took up a post at Princeton University. His colleague Tom Delworth describes him as “the Michael Jordan of climate.”

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1445046117700444178

Ohtani Ends Historic Season in Style

“How beautiful was that?” was Los Angeles Lakers manager Joe Maddon’s response following Shohei Ohtani’s final game of the season. The two-way star finished his history-making campaign with a 46th home run. He also reached 100 RBIs for the first time. Sensational statistics and that’s before you even get started on his performances on the mound. “It was fabulous, just fabulous,” added Maddon. “There’s just one person who could replicate it in the future, and it’s him.”

In football news, Japan lost 1-0 to Saudi Arabia in their latest World Cup qualifier. It’s been a shocking start to the campaign for the Samurai Blue with two defeats in three games. Nadeshiko Japan, meanwhile, have a new coach with youth wizard Futoshi Ikeda taking over from Asako Takakura. Kyogo Furuhashi made his Scottish League return after missing three weeks with a knee injury. He quickly showed Celtic fans what they’d been missing with a smartly taken goal on 11 minutes in the Hoops 2-1 victory over Aberdeen.