Right now, the main topic being discussed around the globe is Donald Trump’s arrest and the impact that it will have on the U.S. presidential election. In our news roundup, though, we’re focusing on a different election: the Tokyo gubernatorial one. Renho has thrown her hat in the ring and is expected to be the biggest challenger to Yuriko Koike. While the incumbent governor of Tokyo hasn’t announced her candidacy yet, she has reportedly confided to her inner circle that she plans to run for a third term.  

Also this week, North Korea fires 10 missiles toward the Sea of Japan. The mayor of Fujiwakaguchiko announces that the black sheet in his town will be replaced. And in Tokyo, diners at Ramen Jiro continue eating even as a fire breaks out. In sport, Onosato wins his first Emperor’s Cup. Naomi Osaka loses out to world number one Iga Świątek at the French Open. And Toshiba Brave Lupus defeat Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japan Rugby League One final.

Renho Saito to Challenge Incumbent Yuriko Koike for Tokyo Governor Post  

Renho Saito, commonly known by her given name, Renho, announced on Monday that she will be running for the post of Tokyo governor in this summer’s gubernatorial election. With Yuriko Koike likely to run for a third term, it means that two of Japan’s leading female politicians will be facing off against each other. The opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party are slated to support Renho. Koike, meanwhile, is expected to be backed by the ruling LDP. Her team, however, is concerned about accepting support from the scandal-ridden party. 

“I want the Koike administration, which has helped prolong the life of the Liberal Democratic Party, to be reset. It is my mission to lead it,” said Renho at Monday’s press conference. “I want to make a break with the old politics and create a metropolitan government that allocates the budget to policies that are truly necessary,” she added. The former newscaster believes Koike’s administration has wasted money on unnecessary initiatives like projection mapping rather than using funds for important issues such as homelessness. More than 20 candidates have indicated their intention to run in the election, which is scheduled for July 7.  


North Korea Fires 10 Ballistic Missiles Toward the Sea of Japan

North Korea fired more than 10 short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on Thursday. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the projectiles were fired by Pyongyang at around 6:13 a.m. At least one of the missiles flew a distance of more than 350 kilometers. All of them dropped into the sea before reaching Japan’s exclusive economic zone. There were no reports of any damage to ships or aircraft. “North Korea’s launching of ballistic missiles violates UN Security Council resolutions. Japan strongly condemns its actions. We have already lodged a protest,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. 

Pyongyang’s missile launch came three days after a North Korean rocket, carrying a spy satellite, exploded mid-flight. According to the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, the self-destruct system was activated due to an abnormality in the first-stage engine. North Korea successfully put a military spy satellite into orbit last November after two failed attempts the same year. At the end of 2023, Kim announced that Pyongyang would launch three more in 2024. Speaking on Tuesday, he said, “It’s through failure that we learn more and develop further,” adding that his country will “strive to achieve greater results.” 

‘Mount Fuji Lawson’ Barrier to Be Replaced

Fujikawaguchiko’s black sheet continues to make headlines. It was put up last Tuesday to block the famous “Mount Fuji Lawson” photo spot and prevent hordes of disrespectful tourists causing unrest in the area. While the number of visitors to the region has since decreased, the sheet hasn’t completely stopped people from trying to take pictures there. Some were seen pressing their cameras against the barrier to see if it was transparent enough for a decent shot. Others attempted to take snaps from above by going on someone’s back. There were then those who took more extreme measures.  

By Tuesday morning, officials had discovered at least 10 holes in the net. All were at eye-level and reportedly just the right size for a camera lens. As a result of the vandalism, Fujikawaguchiko Mayor Hideyuki Watanabe decided to act. On Thursday, he announced that the town will erect a new screen made of stronger material. The color of the sheet is likely to be changed to green or blue as “black has a negative image,” said Watanabe. The town is also considering placing QR codes on the barrier to introduce other tourist attractions in the area. 

Customers Continue Eating as Fire Breaks out at Ramen Jiro

Founded by Takumi Yamada in Tokyo’s Meguro district in 1968, Ramen Jiro is known for its considerable portions featuring lots of vegetables and garlic, heavy servings of oily soup and ridiculously thick noodles. Boasting around 40 locations throughout Japan, the chain store has garnered somewhat of a cult-like following down the years. In fact, it’s so popular, customers are best advised to line up before the shop opens to avoid a long wait to get in. For fans of Jiro, called “Jirorians,” nothing’s going to stop them from enjoying their favorite noodle dish. Not even a fire. 

On Tuesday, a fire broke out at the Shinjuku Kabukicho branch. Yet this didn’t seem to faze customers, who continued slurping their noodles. Staff also carried on with what they were doing until the flames became too big. “They kept operating as usual despite the fire and smoke,” said one customer, who added that there were about 15 people there, all of whom were seated. Everyone was eventually evacuated, and fortunately no injuries were reported. Remarkably, even as the flames were being extinguished, loyal Jirorians continued to line up outside the shop. It shows how dedicated they are. 

Onosato Makes History With Emperor’s Cup Triumph 

Onosato made history on Sunday, becoming the fastest ever first-time winner of a top-division title in sumo since the championship system was established in 1909. He achieved the feat in only his seventh professional tournament. The 23-year-old komusubi went into the final day with a record of 11-3, one win ahead of a group of four wrestlers. Kotozakura and Daieisho both improved to 11-4, meaning that a victory for Abi against the leader in the final encounter would have led to a four-way play-off. Onosato, though, proved too strong, pushing his opponent out of the dohyo in seconds. 

“I came close but couldn’t win in January and March, and managing to take my chance like this makes me happy,” said Onosato, who debuted in May 2023. “I’m really happy that I could deliver a championship for the people of Ishikawa to see.” His victory will no doubt have lifted the spirits of the prefecture’s residents who experienced the devastating earthquake on January 1. “He’s the pride of Ishikawa,” said Raiya Yasui, the vice-captain of the Tsubata Minami Junior High School’s sumo team. “He has always been an inspiration to me. His sumo today was aggressive and impressive.” 

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka Knocked out of the French Open

At the French Open, Naomi Osaka lost a thrilling second-round match 6-7 6-1 5-7 against defending champion Iga Świątek. The former world number one, who returned to tennis four months ago after giving birth, led 5-2 in the final set and even served for the match. The pressure seemed to get to Osaka towards the end, though, as Świątek came back strongly. The current world number one is aiming to win her fourth French Open in five years. Moyuka Uchijima, Japan’s other female representative to reach the second round, lost 2-6 2-6 to two-time Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.   

In other sports news, Toshiba Brave Lupus defeated Panasonic Wild Knights 24-20 in a pulsating and controversial Japan Rugby League One final. Tomoki Osada thought he’d snatched victory for the Wild Knights in the last minute. The referee disallowed it, though, because of a forward pass by Shota Horie in the buildup. It was Horie’s last game in professional rugby. In men’s soccer, Yokohama F. Marinos lost 6-3 on aggregate to Al Ain in the Asian Champions League final. Shohei Ohtani, meanwhile, struck his 14th homer of the season as the Dodgers beat the Mets 10-3. 

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