Russian leader Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday from the north, east and south. Dozens have already been killed as huge numbers attempt to flee their homes. World leaders have strongly condemned the attack, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida 

“The Russian attack shakes the foundation of international order that never tolerates unilateral change to the status quo by force. We strongly condemn Russia,” he told reporters. Earlier in the week, Japan imposed sanctions on Russia. The PM vowed to take further action if the situation worsens.  

Also this week, we report on the fight foreigners with visas for Japan still face to enter the country. While border restrictions have been eased, concerns remain that there could still be a long wait. And for many students that could mean missing the start of their semester.  

In Osaka, the high court ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who sued the government due to forced sterilizations. A woman in Yokohama was arrested on suspicion of killing her son, the fourth of her children to die. And in Hokkaido, a man was found naked in a laundromat in the middle of the night. As for sport, the Beijing Winter Olympics ended while the new J-League season began. 

Japan Imposes Sanctions on Russia 

Following Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy troops in two rebel-held regions of eastern Ukraine, several countries moved swiftly to impose sanctions on Russia. Japan was one of them. Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kishida announced that the issuance of Russian bonds here will now be prohibited. The assets of some Russian individuals will be frozen and travel from Russia to Japan will be restricted.  

“Russia’s actions very clearly damage Ukraine’s sovereignty and go against international law. We once again criticize these moves and strongly urge Russia to return to diplomatic discussions. The situation remains quite tense and we will continue to monitor it closely,” said the Japanese PM. He added that Japan has sufficient reserves of oil and liquefied natural gas, so the situation should not significantly impact energy supplies in the short term.  

From March Japan will increase the daily cap of arrivals from 3,500 to 5,000

Concerns Remain Despite Easing of Entry Restrictions  

When the PM announced the easing of entry restrictions into Japan last Thursday, many waiting to get in felt it was too early to celebrate. After-all, 5,000 entrants a day is a small number. Those hoping for some clarity this week have been left disappointed. There’s still lots of uncertainty and students aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to start their semester in April.  

“Japan definitely needs to quickly establish a concrete plan when it comes to new entries,” said Brazilian student Carol Delfino at a press conference arranged by Go! Go! Nihon yesterday. Waiting to enter Japan since April, she’s one of around 400,000 visa-holders who remain in limbo. The uncertainty has also proved tough on many companies. Several business leaders, including Keidanren chairman Masakazu Tokura, feel the 5,000 cap is far too low. 

Government Ordered to Pay Damages for Sterilizations  

On Tuesday, the Osaka High Court ordered the state to pay a total of ¥27.5 million in damages to three people with disabilities for forcing them to be sterilized in the 1960s and 1970s under the now defunct eugenics protection law. The plaintiffs included a couple with hearing impairments and a woman who was left with intellectual disabilities after an illness. In November 2020, the Osaka District Court ruled that the law violated the Constitution. 

This ruling was then dismissed as the 20-year statute of limitation had passed. Presiding Judge Teruyoshi Ota, though, nullified that decision as it would have been extremely difficult for the plaintiffs to have recognized the law’s illegality and sue the government at the time. The eugenics law authorized the sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities, mental disabilities or hereditary disorders between 1948 and 1996 to prevent the birth of inferior offspring.

Mother Suspected of Killing Son, the Fourth Child to Die in Her Care  

A woman was arrested in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture on Sunday, accused of murdering her seven-year-old son. Ayano Ueda, 42, is suspected of suffocating her child Yudai by blocking his nose and mouth in August 2019. The self-described nursing assistant denied the charge, reportedly telling the police Yudai had chronic asthma. However, there were inconsistencies between her explanation and the condition of the young boy’s body.  

The police are now looking into the deaths of Ueda’s three other children. Her son and daughter died in 2002 and 2003 before they were six months old. Another son passed away in 2017, aged a year and five months. Local authorities believe Ueda may have factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA), a mental illness in which a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child. 

A Naked Surprise at a Laundromat  

Just before midnight on Tuesday, a man went into a laundromat in Sapporo City to do his laundry. Inside, though, he found more than just washing machines. A 21-year-old male was in the room stark naked. His clothes were in one of the machines, but it wasn’t turned on. The police were called and the man was taken into custody. Unsurprisingly, they reported that he was intoxicated at the time of arrest. 

In Iwate Prefecture, a sergeant was arrested this week for an alleged indecent act on a woman in her 20s. The incident reportedly took place in a cell at Oshu Police Station in December 2021. Musashi Abe, 35, who was working as a detention officer, denies the allegation. “The act significantly damaged local trust and we apologize sincerely to the victim and all prefectural residents,” said Nobuyoshi Hasegawa, director of police administration at the prefectural police.  

Silver for Japanese Women’s Curling Team  

Japan finished the Beijing Games with a record 18 medals, five more than the country’s previous best in PyeongChang. The last came in women’s curling with the Hokkaido natives causing an upset against Switzerland in the semi-finals. The final, though, proved a bridge too far as the British ladies secured gold with a comprehensive 10-3 victory. The next Winter Olympics will take place in Milan and Cortina D’Ampezzo in 2026. 

In other sporting news, the J-League kicked off last Friday. Champions Kawasaki Frontale defeated FC Tokyo 1-0 in the opening game, but lost their second 4-2 to Yokohama F. Marinos. In Europe, Masaya Okugawa scored his eighth of the season for Arminia Bielefeld in their 1-0 win over Union Berlin. In Belgium, Taichi Hara and Daichi Hayashi were both on the scoresheet for Sint-Truiden who beat Leuven 2-0.

Feature image by Anna Petek