In this week’s news roundup, we report on the high-profile child custody dispute between former table tennis players Ai Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-chieh. The latter has accused his ex-wife of abducting their son. Fukuhara’s lawyers have urged Chiang not to reveal details of their disputes with their case in Taiwan still pending. Our other main story reads like a preview of a new horror film. On Tuesday, a decapitated head, missing since the beginning of the month, was discovered at a family home in Hokkaido. 

Also this week, we take a closer look at the Bigmotor repair fraud scandal as the company president resigns. Shinjiro Atae from J-Pop group AAA reveals to his fans that he is gay. And in sport, boxing sensation Naoya Inoue produces a stunning performance at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena to claim the WBC and WBO super-bantamweight titles. There are also two swimming medals for Japan at the World Aquatics Championships and Nadeshiko Japan reach the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  

Two-Time Olympic Medalist Accused of Child Abduction  

Ai Fukuhara, arguably Japan’s most famous ever table tennis player, has been accused by her ex-husband of abducting their son. Chiang Hung-chieh, a former player himself who represented Taiwan at the 2016 Rio Olympics, spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on Thursday. He claimed Fukuhara took the child to Japan last year and has since refused to let him return to Taiwan. This, his lawyer says, is in breach of a family court ruling.   

The pair, who have a daughter and son together, divorced in 2021 after five years of marriage. The two children had been with Chiang until last summer, when Fukuhara returned to Japan with the younger child. According to Chiang’s lawyer, Aiko Ohbuchi, the two-time Olympic medalist has since cut off contact with her ex-husband. Ohbuchi added that a court decision on July 20 ordered Fukuhara to return the child to him in Taiwan immediately. Unlike many countries, Japan doesn’t recognize dual custody.  

Susukino in Sapporo

Family Members Arrested as Decapitated Head Found in Hokkaido Home  

The decapitated head of Hitoshi Ura, 62, was discovered on Monday during a search of the property of psychiatrist Osamu Tamura, 59, and his daughter Runa, 29, in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The pair were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to behead the victim. Tamura’s wife, Hiroko, 60, was also taken in for questioning on a charge of collusion. Ura was discovered naked and headless in a room at a love hotel in Susukino, Sapporo on July 2. 

According to forensics, he died of hemorrhagic shock caused by blood loss. CCTV footage showed him entering the room with an individual believed to be Runa. Her father reportedly dropped her off and then picked her up. Prior to the crime, they allegedly bought a saw together. Runa’s mother, Hiroko, told a relative that her daughter was previously involved in a violent incident with the murdered man and had been victimized by him.  

J-Pop Idol Comes out as Gay  

In a dark auditorium in central Tokyo on Wednesday night, J-Pop idol Shinjiro Atae stood in front of a crowd of 2,000 with a letter in his hand. “I respect you and believe you deserve to hear this directly from me,” he said. “For years, I struggled to accept a part of myself. But now, after all I have been through, I finally have the courage to open up to you about something. I am a gay man.” 

Atae, who performed with the group AAA for 20 years, then took to Instagram to reveal the news to the rest of his fans. “I’ve come to realize it is better, both for me, and for the people I care about, including my fans, to live life authentically than to live a life never accepting who I truly am,” he wrote. “I hope people who are struggling with the same feeling will find courage and know they are not alone.” 

Image by yu_photo | Shutterstock

Bigmotor President Resigns  

Hiroyuki Kaneshige, the president of Bigmotor Co. announced his resignation on Tuesday following the used car dealer’s scandal regarding fraudulent insurance applications. “I deeply apologize for causing great trouble and concern to our customers, nonlife insurance companies and other parties concerned,” he said at a press conference in Tokyo. “I decided that the shortest route to restoring trust in the company was to totally revamp the corporate culture and have all employees move forward together under a new president.”  

Earlier this month, Bigmotor, one of Japan’s largest used car dealers, was accused of systematically damaging vehicles and unnecessarily replacing parts to pass the inflated costs to insurance companies. Around 30% of the 382 employees surveyed admitted to taking on underhand repair work. A third-party committee revealed that workers hit cars with golf balls and scratched them with screwdrivers. At the press conference, Kaneshige claimed he was unaware this had been happening until he saw the report.  

Inoue Shows He’s the Pound-for-Pound King 

“Naoya Inoue is a once in a multi-generational talent. The best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.” This was what Bob Arum, widely regarded as boxing’s greatest ever promoter, tweeted after Inoue’s technical knockout win over Stephen Fulton. It was hard to disagree. Stepping up to super-bantamweight, the man known as the Monster was up against the WBO and WBC title holder, who was undefeated in 21 contests. In his 22nd, though, he was simply outclassed. 

The eighth-round victory meant that Inoue became the second Japanese boxer after Kazuto Ioka to win world titles in four weight divisions. Already a superstar in his native homeland, you wonder how high his ceiling could be. After just one fight, it’s already been suggested he’s too good for the super-bantamweight division and should move up to featherweight. His next challenge, though, is expected to be a super-bantamweight unification match against IBF and WBA titleholder Marlon Tapales. 

Image by Anna Petek

Japan Through to Knockout Stages of the World Cup 

Nadeshiko Japan booked their place in the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup with two straightforward wins over Zambia and Costa Rica. Futoshi Ikeda’s side defeated the Copper Queens 5-0 on Saturday and then Las Ticas 2-0 four days later. Behind Spain on goal difference, they now need to beat La Roja next Monday to top the group. An opponent from Pool A, involving Switzerland, New Zealand, the Philippines and Norway awaits in the next round.   

At the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan has thus far won just two bronze medals in swimming. The first came from Daiya Seto in the men’s 400-meter individual medley in a race that saw French sensation Léon Marchand break the world record. The second came from Tomoru Honda in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, which was also won by Marchand. Last week, Japan won four golds in artistic swimming, including two from Yukiko Inui.