In this week’s news roundup we report on the latest Gender Gap Report as Japan slides further down the table. There are more problems with the government’s My Number card system. Five people are tragically killed in a traffic accident in Hokkaido. Carlos Ghosn sues his former employer for more than $1 billion. And there’s outrage as a report on Japan’s now defunct eugenics law reveals that children as young as 9 were sterilized.  

Japan Falls to 125th in the Gender Gap Report  

The World Economic Forum (WEF) released its Gender Gap Report 2023 on Wednesday with Japan again ranked near the bottom. It fell further down the table to 125th out of 146 countries, nine places lower than last year. That’s the nation’s worst position since the WEF started publishing the report in 2006. The index ranks countries according to four key areas: health, education, politics and economic participation.  

Japan placed particularly badly in the political sector. Its 138th position should come as no surprise, however, given the fact that women only account for 10% of Lower House lawmakers and 8.3% of Cabinet members. Iceland topped the overall ranking, ahead of Norway in second and Finland in third. The WEF estimates that women won’t attain parity with men for another 131 years.  

Taro Kono heads the new My Number Task Force | Image by Alexandros Michailidis via Shutterstock

Task Force Set Up To Deal With My Number ID Issues

The problems continue to mount for the Japanese government over its My Number card system. Despite being promoted as the country’s “highest ranking identification card,” there have been several instances of personal information leaks and registration errors in the past couple of months. The latest mix-up involved two cases in which the ID cards were mistakenly issued to people with the same names as the intended recipients.  

Attempting to address the mishaps, the government launched a task force on Wednesday headed by Digital Transformation Minister Taro Kono. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attended the first meeting. The recent drop in his Cabinet’s approval rating has been mainly attributed to public concern about My Number cards. They will replace health insurance cards in autumn 2024, though there’s no law in place requiring everyone to obtain one.  

Five Killed After Traffic Accident in Hokkaido  

Five people died on Sunday following a head-on collision between a bus and a 4-ton truck carrying a load of pigs in Southern Hokkaido. The crash, which occurred at approximately 11:55am on a slow curve on Route 5 in the town of Yakumo, killed the two drivers of the vehicles and three passengers on the bus. Twelve other passengers were taken to hospital.  

The truck is believed to have strayed into oncoming traffic. According to the police, there were no skid marks at the scene. This suggests that the truck driver may not have hit the brakes. Authorities are investigating Nippon Clean Farm Ltd., owner of the truck, on suspicion of negligence over the accident. Documents related to working conditions at the company were seized on Monday.  

Carlos Ghosn is suing his former employer for more than $1 billion | Image by Andrei Kholmov via Shutterstock

Carlos Ghosn Sues Nissan for More Than $1 Billion   

Lebanese officials announced on Tuesday that Carlos Ghosn has filed a lawsuit in excess of $1 billion against his former employer, Nissan. According to Reuters, he is seeking $588 million in lost remuneration and $500 million in moral damage. The lawsuit reportedly includes allegations of defamation, slander and libel as well as fabrication of material evidence by Nissan, two other firms and 12 individuals.  

“We have a long battle in front of us. We are going to fight it to the end,” Ghosn told Reuters in Beirut. The Lebanese, Brazilian and French businessman was first arrested at Haneda Airport (officially Tokyo International Airport) in 2018 on allegations of under-reporting his salary and gross misuse of company assets. At the end of the following year, Ghosn escaped from Japan, hidden inside a musical instrument box. 

Report Reveals Children Were Forcibly Sterilized Under Eugenics Law 

A 1,400-page report on the now defunct Eugenics Protection Law was submitted to the heads of the Upper and Lower houses on Monday. It revealed that 24,993 people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness and hereditary disorders were sterilized between 1948 and 1996. Around 16,500 of those were operated on without their consent. This included two children as young as 9 years old. Most of the victims were women.  

The law was introduced after World War II to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants … and to protect the life and health of the mother.” In 2019, more than two decades after the legislation was scrapped, the Diet passed a bill to compensate those who underwent forced sterilization due to the law, providing ¥3.2 million each in lump-sum payments. Victims, though, continue to sue the central government.  

Liam Williams in action for Wales | Image by Marco Iacobucci Epp via Shutterstock

Formidable Japan Sink Peru  

In men’s soccer, Japan produced an impressive display on Tuesday evening defeating Peru 4-1 at Osaka’s Panasonic Stadium Suita. Hiroki Ito, Kaoru Mitoma, Junya Ito and substitute Daizen Maeda were on target for the hosts. Christofer Gonzáles grabbed a consolation for the South American side. The gulf in class between the two teams was evident despite just one place separating them in the FIFA rankings. 

In other sports news, Japan Rugby League One champions, the Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay, announced the signing of fullback Liam Williams, 32, for next season. He’s been capped 84 times for Wales. In Major League Baseball, Masataka Yoshida smashed his eighth homer of the season to help the Boston Red Sox defeat the Minnesota Twins 10-4. Shohei Ohtani, meanwhile, struck out 12 in the Angels’ 2-0 loss to the Dodgers.