In this week’s news roundup, we report on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s controversial comments on same-sex marriage. We have the latest on the bid-rigging investigation related to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A teenager is arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after entering a junior high school and stabbing a teacher. Osaka High Court upholds a decision to grant a posthumous retrial of Hiromu Sakahara. A luxurious ryokan in Fukuoka apologizes for not regularly changing its hot-spring bathwater. And in soccer, Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi is the hero again as Celtic retain the Scottish League Cup.

PM Criticized for Comments on Same-Sex Marriage

At a parliamentary budget committee on Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was asked by an opposition lawmaker if he thought the country’s ban on same-sex marriage was discriminatory. His response has been criticized by many, particularly LGBTQ activists. “I don’t think disallowing same-sex couples to marry is unjust discrimination by the state,” he said. The following day, he repeated his stance on the issue, stating that the same-sex marriage ban was “not unconstitutional,” adding he did “not have a sense of discrimination (on the issue),” and that he never said he was “against it.”

Kishida’s comments on same-sex marriage come just two weeks after he met with representatives of LGBTQ groups. During the meeting he apologized for the discriminatory remarks made about sexual minorities by his close aide Masayoshi Arai. “We have to strive to create a society in which diversity is respected, and all members of the public honor [each other’s] human rights and dignity,” said the PM. LGBTQ activists believe his recent words contradict this statement. There’s also a feeling he’s being influenced by ultra-conservatives in his party. Japan is the only G7 nation not to allow same-sex marriage or legally recognize same-sex unions in any form.

The Tokyo Olympic Bribery Scandal Continues

Tokyo 2020 Corruption Scandal Widens as Six Companies are Indicted

Six companies, including advertising giants Dentsu and Hakuhodo were indicted on Tuesday for allegedly violating the anti-monopoly law. The four others were Tokyu Agency, Fuji Creative Corporation, Cerespo and Same Two. They’re suspected of rigging bids for contracts to plan and run test events and competitions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Seven company executives and officials were also named in the indictment; however, it wasn’t specified who worked for which firm. It’s the latest scandal in a widening investigation that’s casting a dark shadow over Sapporo’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games.

Last month, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested four men in connection to allegations of bid rigging. That included Yasuo Mori, a former deputy director of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s operations bureau. The other three worked for Dentsu, Cerespo and Fuji Creative Corporation. In 2022, Haruyuki Takahashi, an ex-member of the Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee and a former executive at Dentsu, was arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes from suit retailer Aoki, media company Kadokawa and stuffed toymaker Sun Arrow, as well as ad agencies Daiko Advertising and ADK Marketing Solutions.

Osaka High Court Upholds Posthumous Retrial Order for Man Convicted of 1984 Murder

For the first time in postwar Japan, a high court is set to allow a posthumous retrial for a dead convict whose life or death sentence had been finalized. Hiromu Sakahara was arrested in 1984 on suspicion of killing liquor shop owner Hatsu Ikemoto, 69, and stealing a cash box in Hino, Shiga Prefecture. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Sakahara pleaded for a retrial, claiming he confessed to the crime under duress. That was dismissed by the Otsu District Court in 2006. He died in prison five years later.

Sakahara’s family filed a second petition in 2012. The district court then ordered a retrial in 2018, noting the arbitrariness of the defendant’s confession. On Monday, the Osaka High Court upheld that decision. “There’s room for doubt as to whether (the investigation) was conducted voluntarily. This includes the possibility that (Sakahara) may have been led by the investigators,” the court said. One police officer allegedly threatened harm to the family his daughter married into. The defense team also argued it was impossible to murder the woman in the way Sakahara described. Prosecutors have five days to file an appeal.

A 17-year-old boy entered Misasa Junior High School with a knife

Teenager Stabs Teacher, Admits to Killing Cats

A knife-wielding 17-year-old boy was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of attempted murder after he trespassed into Misasa Junior High School in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture and stabbed a 60-year-old teacher several times in the arms and stomach. The victim, whose injuries are not life-threatening, attempted to seize the teenager’s weapon and stop him from entering a classroom. “I just wanted to kill someone,” the perpetrator was quoted as saying. He also admitted to mutilating cats. Their body parts were left in parks and elementary school playgrounds in Saitama City in February.

In other crime news, Koki Tanaka, a former member of the Johnny and Associates boy band KAT-TUN, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for possession of stimulants. The 37-year-old was arrested on June 30 last year after acting in a “suspicious manner” outside Kashiwa Station. Nine days earlier, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for three years, for possession of 0.164 grams of methamphetamine. The drugs were found at the hotel where he was staying in Nagoya. The pop idol was also arrested in 2017 for possession of marijuana but wasn’t indicted.

Ryokan Apologizes for Not Changing Hot-Spring Bathwater Regularly

The operator of a century-old ryokan was forced to apologize on Tuesday after admitting it failed to regularly change the facility’s hot-spring bathwater. Daimaru Besso, a luxurious inn founded in 1865 in Chikushino City, Fukuoka Prefecture, reportedly only replaced the water twice a year. A prefectural ordinance requires it to be changed at least once a week. The ordinance also calls for the residual chlorine concentration of hot water to be 0.4 milligrams or more per liter of hot water. The hotel failed to maintain the levels required as chlorine wasn’t routinely added.

The bath’s levels of legionella bacteria were allegedly as much as 3,700 over the acceptable limit. “I wasn’t serious enough about observing the law,” said Makoto Yamada, president of Daimaru Besso’s management company. “I took (the issue of changing the hot water) lightly as I thought it was good enough because some hot water (in the large bath) changed with the ‘gensen kakenagashi’ method.” Gensen Kakenagashi refers to natural hot spring water from the original source continuously overflowing. It’s a huge embarrassment for a highly reputed inn that’s been patronized by many famous guests, including Emperor Hirohito.

Kyogo Furuhashi scored twice in the Scottish League Cup final for the second consecutive season

Kyogo’s Brace Earns League Cup Win for Celtic

It was a case of déjà vu at Hampden Park in Scotland on Sunday as Celtic lifted the League Cup again thanks to a brace of goals by Japanese forward Kyogo Furuhashi. As with last season’s final, it finished 2-1, but this time around it was even sweeter for the Hoops as it came against Glasgow rivals Rangers. Furuhashi’s fellow countrymen Daizen Maeda (he claims to have touched it) and Reo Hatate assisted both of his goals. In France, Junya Ito continued to impress for Reims. He scored one and made two more as they beat Toulouse 3-0.

In other sporting news, Ayumu Hirano won the men’s snowboarding half-pipe event at the Dew Tour on Sunday. His brother Kaishu is currently competing at the World Championships in Georgia. He made today’s men’s snowboard halfpipe final along with Ruka Hirano (no relation), Yuto Totsuka and Shuichiro Shigeno. In the men’s snowboard slopestyle final, Ryoma Kimata finished second, while Miyabi Onitsuka placed third in the women’s competition. Last week, Tsubaki Miki triumphed in the women’s parallel giant slalom. In baseball, Japan suffered a blow as Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki pulled out of the World Baseball Classic.