In this week’s news roundup, we report on Japan’s controversial plan to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea, a decision that was given the green light by the IAEA on Tuesday. Other stories making headlines this week include the discovery of a headless body in Sapporo and the tragic deaths of two workers at a construction site in Shizuoka. There are also some controversial comments from China’s top diplomat and the completion of Japan’s tallest skyscraper. Plus, we have the latest sports news.  

Release of Treated Radioactive Water Given Green Light by UN Watchdog  

On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea. According to the report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the discharge is only expected to have “negligible radiological impact on people and the environment,” and is, therefore, consistent with global safety standards. No official announcement has been made as to when the process will begin. The water was initially due to be discharged in spring 2023.  

Around 1.3 million tons of water is currently being stored in about 1,000 tanks at the site. With space running out, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) believes it has no choice but to release it. However, local communities and fishing unions are concerned about contamination. Neighboring countries are also opposed to the plan, with China accusing Japan of treating the ocean as its “private sewer.” While most radioactive elements have been removed, tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is difficult to separate from water. 

Chinese Diplomat Urges Tokyo and Seoul to Work More Closely With Beijing 

“No matter how blonde you dye your hair. How sharp you shape your nose. You can never become a European or American. You can never become a Westerner. We must know where our roots lie.” These were the words of China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Monday as he urged Tokyo and Seoul to work more closely with Beijing to “prosper together, revitalize East Asia, revitalize Asia and benefit the world,” adding that most Europeans and Americans can’t tell China, Japan and South Korea apart. 

In what was a clear reference to the U.S., Wang said that “some major countries outside the region deliberately exaggerate ideological differences, weave various exclusive small circles, and try to replace cooperation with confrontation and unity with division.” Later in the week, during a meeting with former Japanese foreign minister Yohei Kono in Beijing, he once again called on Tokyo to cooperate more with Beijing to eliminate “external interference,” and see each other not as a threat, but as partners. He added that their relationship was at a “critical juncture.” 

Headless Body Discovered in Sapporo Love Hotel  

At approximately 3:15pm on Sunday, an employee at a love hotel in Sapporo’s entertainment district of Susukino discovered the headless body of a man, who the police later identified as Hitoshi Ura, 62. The cause of death was said to be hemorrhagic shock. According to investigative sources, he was captured by CCTV cameras entering the room at around 11pm on Saturday night. Alongside him was a person dressed as a woman, who left the room about three hours later while carrying a suitcase.  

The police, who mobilized more than 200 officers to search for the person, suspect Ura was killed in the bathroom where his naked body was found. They believe his head and clothes were taken to try and prevent them from identifying the body. Ura’s wasn’t the only decapitated body discovered in Japan this week. On Monday morning, a cat’s carcass was found in Fukusaki town, Hyogo Prefecture. It was the second incident involving a decapitated feline in the area in the past two weeks.  

Toranomon-Azabudai Project

© Mori Building Co.

Japan’s Tallest Skyscraper Completed in Tokyo  

The Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower, Japan’s tallest building, was completed on Monday, four years after construction began. With a height of approximately 330 meters, it is 30 meters taller than Abeno Harukas in Osaka, the previous record holder. It is also Tokyo’s first supertall building — defined as a skyscraper with a height of 300 to 599 meters. The impressive looking tower designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners has 64 floors above ground and five underground. It’s due to open this fall.  

Located in the Toranomon business district, it will house company offices, retail shops and restaurants, as well as educational facilities such as the British School in Tokyo and a medical institution operated by Keio University. From the 56th to the 65th floor, there will be luxurious residences provided by hotel operator Aman Resorts. It’s the main building of the Azabudai Hills complex, alongside two other skyscrapers. In 2027, the Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower will be surpassed by the Torch Tower (390 meters) as Japan’s tallest building.  

Two Workers Killed After Bridge Girder Falls  

Two workers died on Thursday morning after a bridge girder slipped off a raised platform at a construction site in Shizuoka Prefecture. Six people were also injured in the accident, four of whom were seriously hurt. The two people killed were confirmed as Hisao Murota, 53, and Kaname Maeda, 51. The girder, which has a 65-meter-long steel frame and weighs around 140 tons, slipped from a height of approximately 9 meters. The police are considering charging those found responsible with professional negligence resulting in death. 

Another major accident in Japan this week occurred in Tokyo’s Shimbashi district. Four people were injured following an explosion in a bar on the second floor of an eight-story building in the area. It led to a fire which was later extinguished. Fortunately, nobody died in the blast. Witnesses reported smelling gas prior to the incident. The bar manager said he was lighting a cigarette in the establishment’s smoking area when it suddenly went bang. Investigators are working to confirm further details.  

Yoshihito Nishioka

Japanese Players Crash Out at First Round Stage of Wimbledon  

It was a disappointing week for Japanese tennis players in the singles competitions at Wimbledon with all five exiting at the first-round stage. The only one not to go down in straight sets was Taro Daniel, who lost 3-2 to America’s Ben Shelton. The other four failed to really trouble their opponents, including 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka, who was struggling with a groin injury. Shintaro Mochizuki and Sho Shimabukuro were both making their Grand Slam debuts. In the women’s competition, Nao Hibino lost to France’s Alizé Cornet.   

In other sports news, Japan’s Miu Hirano defeated reigning world champion Sun Yingsha of China in the women’s singles final of the Contender Zagreb table tennis tournament in Croatia on Sunday. Jamie Joseph, coach of the Brave Blossoms’ rugby team, confirmed that he’ll be stepping down after this year’s World Cup. In basketball, Japanese forward Yuta Watanabe signed for The Phoenix Suns. Soccer star Andrés Iniesta played his final game for Vissel Kobe against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and Celtic strikers Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda both penned new four-year deals with the Hoops.