In this week’s news roundup, we report on the issue of overtourism in Japan. Police in Oita find what they believe to be human bones at a Nippon Steel factory just a few hours after an employee there was reported missing. In Osaka, a woman is arrested for fatally stabbing her husband after he asked, “Isn’t dinner ready yet?” A teenager is accused of using his smart glasses to cheat on university entrance exams. And a snake disrupts services on the Yamanote Line. In sport, there’s a 12th home run for Shohei Ohtani and Yokohama F. Marinos win the first leg of the Asian Champions League final. 

mt fuji lawson japan overtourism

Japan Battles With Overtourism as Number of Monthly Foreign Visitors Tops 3 Million Again 

On Wednesday, the National Tourism Organization here revealed that Japan welcomed 3.04 million visitors from overseas last month. Though slightly down from March’s record total of 3.08 million, it’s the second consecutive month the figure has exceeded 3 million. It’s also a 56% increase from the same month last year. While this is all great news for the Japanese economy, not everyone is happy with the situation. Overtourism has the potential to overwhelm locals. It can also lead to environmental degradation, crowded public transportation systems, long lines at restaurants and strained community relations.  

Because of the unruly behavior of tourists — including illegal parking and littering — the town of Fujikawaguchiko is currently erecting a large black screen to block out a famous view of Mount Fuji. It’s expected to be completed on May 21. As for the mountain itself, there’s now a reservation system for those who want to make the ascent via the popular Yoshida trail. Climbers will also have to pay ¥2,000. With the influx of tourists, some companies are increasing prices. Tamatebako, a restaurant that opened in Shibuya in April, recently made headlines for charging foreign tourists more.  

nippon steel bones found

Bones Found at Nippon Steel Factory Likely Belong to Missing Employee 

At around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, someone from the security center of the Nippon Steel Kyushu Works in Nishinosu, Oita city, called the police to report a missing employee. Officers subsequently searched the factory. A few hours later, bones that appeared to be human were discovered in a molten steel pot. According to the Oita police, it’s highly likely that the bones belong to the missing 30-year-old worker, who started his shift at 7 p.m. on Monday and was in charge of the steelmaking process, which uses a converter to remove impurities from iron made in blast furnaces. 

The pot that the bones were found in measures about 5 meters in diameter with a depth of about 4 meters. It operates at a temperature of over 1,000 degrees Celsius and was reportedly located 5 meters below where the man had been working. Police believe he may have fallen. They are investigating his whereabouts and conducting DNA tests to identify the remains. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities in their investigation,” read a statement by Nippon Steel Kyushu Works. The steelmaking process at the factory has temporarily been suspended.

Tokyo couple slaying

Husband Killed by Wife After Asking, ‘Isn’t Dinner Ready Yet?’  

On Tuesday night, a woman in Osaka was arrested for allegedly stabbing her husband to death. The incident occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. after the man asked his wife, “Isn’t dinner ready yet?” The suspect, identified as Pamela Okada, 64, from the Philippines, admitted to the allegations when quizzed by the police. “I got angry when he asked me if dinner was ready, so I told him to ‘die’ and stabbed him,” she said. Her husband, Masaru, 76, was found unconscious on the third floor of their home. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.  

Okada was allegedly cooking on the second floor when her husband called out, asking if the food was ready. At the time, he was lying on the bed upstairs. She then went up and stabbed him with a 20-centimeter knife. At around 10:20 p.m., she called the emergency services. “I stabbed my husband with a kitchen knife,” she was recorded as saying. According to Okada, the pair had been quarreling for several days and the stress had taken its toll on her. As well as asking about dinner, he’d also reportedly been complaining about his work.

Teen Referred to Prosecutors for Using Smart Glasses to Cheat on Entrance Exam 

On Thursday, a teenager who allegedly cheated on a university entrance exam was referred to prosecutors. The 18-year-old Tokyo resident is accused of using his electronic smart glasses, that are equipped with camera and communication functions, to take pictures of various tests, including a chemistry one, for Waseda University’s School of Creative Science and Engineering which he sat in February. After taking pictures of the questions, he then sent them to “online tutors” on the social media site X. Using his smartphone that he kept hidden in his pants, he asked the tutors to send him the answers.  

A week before he started taking the tests, the teen searched on X for people who could solve difficult questions. He paid these online tutors several thousand yen but didn’t tell them the questions were from an entrance exam. Police believe the people he contacted were not aware that he was cheating. However, one of them became suspicious and contacted the university. When the student showed up for a test on February 21, an official noticed a small camera in the frame of his glasses and subsequently contacted the police. He has reportedly admitted to the allegations.  

snake on a train japan

Another Snake on a Train Discovered Despite Official ‘Ban’ by JR Train Line 

Another month, another train disrupted because of a snake. In April, a Shinkansen service bound for Osaka was delayed by 17 minutes after a passenger discovered one loitering in a carriage. On Sunday, it was the JR Yamanote Line that was affected. The snake was spotted in the eighth car of the 11-car train, leading to the evacuation of all passengers at Komagome Station, so staff could look for the stowaway serpent. After 15 minutes of searching, they found nothing, so the service resumed. Passengers, though, were kept out of the car where the sighting was reported.   

After making its final stop at Osaki Station, the train was taken for maintenance to its depot in Shinagawa. Following a thorough search, a 20-centimeter-long snake was discovered under a seat. It was then handed over to the police. The serpent was identified as a young, non-venomous Japanese rat snake (scientific name Elaphe climacophora). With no inquiries from the public about a missing snake, the police decided to release it into the wild. According to JR officials, approximately 2,700 passengers were affected by the incident. There were no reports of any injuries.


Ippei Mizuhara shohei ohtani scam

Ohtani Opens up About Sleeping Issues Following Ex-Interpreter’s Revelations 

Shohei Ohtani enjoyed a three-hit night on Tuesday as the Dodgers defeated the Giants 10-2. It included a 446-foot homer and an RBI double. He’s now showing Dodgers fans what all the fuss was about after a relatively slow start. The gambling scandal involving his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara clearly affected him early on. “Initially, I didn’t have much sleep obviously, with the things that were happening,” Ohtani told reporters. “But now I’ve been able to really have a pretty consistent routine, been able to sleep well, so I think those are leading to good results.” 

In soccer news, Yokohama F. Marinos defeated Al Ain 2-1 in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final. The second leg will take place in the United Arab Emirates on May 25. In Europe, Yuito Suzuki hit his seventh goal in nine games as Brøndby beat Nordsjaelland 1-0. Daizen Maeda scored for Celtic, who secured their third successive Scottish Premiership title with a 5-0 win over Kilmarnock. Ayase Ueda struck the winner for Feyenoord in their 3-2 victory over NEC Nijmegen. Kodai Sano netted for the opposition. Ritsu Doan also scored in Freiburg’s 1-1 draw with Heidenheim. 

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