In our latest news round-up we report on Hikaru Utada who this week came out as non-binary during a live Instagram stream. There’s sad news from Chiba as two children were killed after being hit by a truck. The driver was in excess of the legal alcohol limit. In Fukuoka, the corpses of an elderly couple were found in a refrigerator at their home. The police would like to speak to their son; however, his whereabouts is currently unknown.

In sports news, sprinter Ryota Yamagata is expected to be named as captain for the Japan team at Tokyo 2020 while Shohei Ohtani continues to belt them out of the stadium in America. On Thursday it was announced that he would be starting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game as a designated hitter. There were disappointing defeats for boxer Masayoshi Nakatani and the Japanese rugby team, who were playing their first game since the 2019 World Cup. We also have entertainment news as the final episode of Dragon Zakura 2 becomes the highest rated TV drama of the year so far.

Hikaru Utada Applauded After Coming Out as Non-Binary

Hikaru Utada was praised by fans after coming out as non-binary during an Instagram livestream last Saturday. “It’s the month of June and I’m non-binary. So, Happy Pride Month,” said the Japanese-American singer-songwriter. The announcement came two weeks after Utada wrote on their Instagram page about feeling uncomfortable using traditional gender markers. “I’m sick of being asked if I’m ‘Miss or Missus’ or choosing between ‘Miss/Mrs/Ms’ for everyday things. It makes me uncomfortable to be identified so markedly by my marital status or sex. I don’t relate to any of those prefixes. Every time, I feel like I’m forced to misrepresent myself. I long for an alternative option, one that anybody of any gender or social standing could use,” wrote the performer whose LP First Love remains the best-selling Japanese album of all time.

Drunk Driver Plows into Group of Children, Killing Two

Two elementary school children died on Monday and another three were injured after a truck crashed into them on a street in Chiba. The police arrested the driver Hiroshi Umezawa, 60, on the spot. He admitted to consuming alcohol before the accident. “I am just terribly sorry. I’ve hardly ever seen him drink,” his mother was quoted as saying. Umezawa told the police he swerved to the left and hit a utility pole before crashing into the children. As he had private license plates, not company one’s, his employer wasn’t legally required to take alcohol tests. Those tests are required for drivers with green plates (authorized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) before they set off for work and after they finish. The victims were students of Choyo Elementary School in Yachimata, Chiba, which was closed on Tuesday following the accident.

Corpses of an Elderly Couple Found in Refrigerator

The police are looking for a man in his 50s after the dead bodies of his mother and father were found inside a refrigerator at their home in Fukuoka. According to the Sankei Shimbun, Hirokazu and Makie Matsumoto were found inside a large commercial fridge that had been unplugged. They were discovered after a relative called the police to say they hadn’t had any contact with the family for a long time. Earlier this year, Yumi Yoshino, 48, was arrested for hiding her mother’s corpse in a freezer. The daughter kept the body there for 10 years as she feared eviction if it was found. Also this week, Yoshiyuki Shinya was arrested for abandoning his wife. Visiting Iwaki-Higashi Police Station on Saturday, he revealed that she had passed away in April 2019.

Yamagata Expected to be Named Japan Captain

According to sources close to the matter, sprinter Ryota Yamagata will be Japan’s captain at the Tokyo Olympics. The news comes less than a month after the 29-year-old broke the national record in the 100 meters. Table tennis player Kasumi Ishikawa is expected to be named vice-captain while basketball player Rui Hachimura and wrestler Yui Susaki are rumored to be the flag bearers for the opening ceremony. It looks like Jill Biden could be in the stands watching them. According to reports this week, Japan and the United States are making arrangements for the First Lady’s visit, though she’s unlikely to be joined by her husband. The JOC, meanwhile, has set up a special team that will patrol social media accounts of Olympic and Paralympic athletes to try to protect them from hateful comments during the Games.

Lions Prove Too Strong for Blossoms

Japan met the British and Irish Lions for the first time in their history on Saturday. It was also their first game since the 2019 World Cup. Despite the 28-10 defeat, Brave Blossoms forward Kazuki Himeno enjoyed the game. “Being able to play against the Lions today will be a treasured moment in my rugby career,” he said. In boxing, former three-weight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko stopped Japanese veteran Masayoshi Nakatani in the ninth round. In baseball, the Shohei Ohtani express train rolls on. The two-way star once again captured the lead in MLB’s home run chase. He hit his 27th and 28th homers of the season as the Los Angeles Angels lost 11-5 to the New York Yankees. On Thursday it was announced that he would become the fourth Japanese batter to start MLB’s All-Star Game after Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome.

Dragon Zakura 2 Goes Out in a Blaze of Glory

The final episode of Dragon Zakura 2 aired on Sunday, earning a rating of 20.4 percent, making it the highest rated episode of any drama this year. 2021’s previous best was Tengoku to Jigoku: Psychona Futari (Heaven and Hell: Soul Exchange) with 20.1 percent. The TBS show was the long-awaited sequel to Dragon Zakura which proved popular back in 2005. In the original, lawyer Kenji Sakuragi (Hiroshi Abe) attempted to help students from a struggling high school get into Tokyo University. In the second series, he returns to the school after it starts to lose its way again. Both seasons were based on Norifusa Mita’s manga. In other manga-related news, Demon Slayer has been making headlines again. This time it concerns a new attraction at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Set to run from this September to next February, it will feature fierce battles in front of guests.

*Feature image by Rose Vittayaset