In this week’s news roundup we report on the controversial Mrs. Green Apple video that was removed from YouTube after only a few hours. There’s the latest on the Tokyo gubernatorial election as Yuriko Koike officially throws her hat in the ring. A newly built 10-story condominium in the capital is set to be demolished as it blocks views of Mount Fuji. Japan climbs to 118th in the latest Global Gender Gap Report. And the legendary “Doctor Yellow” Shinkansen is to be retired in 2027. In sport, there are home runs for Rintaro Sasaki and Shohei Ohtani and wheelchair tennis sensation Tokito Oda wins the French Open.

Mrs. Green Apple Apologize for Discriminatory Video

Popular group Mrs. Green Apple released the video for their new song “Columbus” on YouTube at midnight on Wednesday. It stayed online for less than half a day. On Thursday, Universal Music LLC announced that the band had decided to remove the video as it “contains expressions that lack an understanding of history and cultural context.” In it, the three members of the group — Motoki Ohmori, Hiloto Wakai and Ryoka Fujisawa — are dressed up as historical figures, including the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Arriving on an island in the 15th century, they meet foreigners who are portrayed as apes.  


These anthropoids are depicted as primitive and servile, carting the band members around on rickshaws. They also salute the trio and are taught how to play musical instruments and ride a horse. Vocalist Ohmori apologized, stating that the intention was to portray a fictitious world in which beings from different eras could enjoy a party together. Coca-Cola Japan suspended all advertisements featuring the song. Mrs. Green Apple are one of Japan’s most popular rock bands. According to their official website, the band’s songs have been played more than 7.3 billion times on music streaming service websites. 

Yuriko Koike Set for Showdown with Renho  

On Wednesday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike declared her intention to run for a third term in next month’s gubernatorial election. Her announcement sets the stage for a showdown with Renho Saito, pitting two of Japan’s leading female politicians against each other. With the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, set to support Koike, and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party of Japan all behind Renho, the election is set to become a political battle between the ruling and opposition parties.

“For the people of Tokyo, I want to make Tokyo better — taking in support from others who share these same feelings, I’m determined to carry out an upgraded, Tokyo reform 3.0,” said Koike. Renho announced her candidacy last month, stating that she wants to “make a break with the old politics and create a metropolitan government that allocates the budget to policies that are truly necessary.” According to an NHK survey, more than 40 people have expressed their intention to run in the election. Official campaigning begins on June 20. Voting takes place on July 7. 

Developer To Demolish Condo Blocking Views of Mount Fuji

A 10-story condominium building in Kunitachi, western Tokyo is set to be torn down due to complaints from locals about it blocking views of Mount Fuji. Residents were due to start moving in next month. However, on Wednesday, the developer, Sekusui House, informed the Kunitachi municipal government of its intention to demolish the place. An official statement said the company “did not adequately consider the impact of the project on the surrounding area, and the landscape.” A spokesperson for the developer told Bloomberg that apartment buyers would be compensated and assisted in finding somewhere new, if required.

The building, called Grand Maison Kunitachi Fujimi Dori, was set to contain 18 apartments, all priced over ¥70 million. From the outset, locals weren’t pleased with the prospect of the high-rise building obstructing their majestic view. After meeting with them, Sekusui House agreed to scale things down from 11 floors to 10. That wasn’t enough for residents, though, who requested the condominium be reduced to four stories. The developer, however, felt this would have made the project uneconomical. Discussions were terminated after two meetings. In the end, it was the Kunitachi locals who got their way. 

Japan Climbs to 118th in Global Gender Gap Report

In a slight improvement on last year’s 125th place finish, Japan ranked 118th out of 146 countries in this year’s Global Gender Gap Report. It finished with a score of 0.663 against 0.647 in 2023. The scores range between 0 and 1, with 1 being full parity between men and women. “Although there has been an improvement in both the score and ranking compared with last year, it shows that our country’s efforts are still lagging behind other countries. We must humbly accept this reality,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi. 

Japan rose from 138th to 113th in the political empowerment index but dropped from 47th to 72nd in educational attainment. It improved from 123rd to 120th in economic participation and opportunity and moved up one place, from 59th to 58th in the health and survival section. Iceland topped the overall ranking this year, ahead of Finland and Norway. New Zealand and Sweden also finished in the top five. According to the 2024 report, “At the current rate of progress, it will take 134 years to reach full parity in 2158 — which is roughly five generations from now.” 

doctor yellow shinkansen

Japan’s Legendary ‘Doctor Yellow’ Shinkansen To Be Retired in 2027

The popular Shinkansen affectionately known as “Doctor Yellow” will be retired in the coming years. According to NHK, the inspection vehicle will cease operations in 2027 due to aging and other factors. It seems that there will be no official successor. After Doctor Yellow is retired, track inspections and other checks are likely to be carried out by the N700S — the bullet train that was introduced on July 1, 2020 — which will be installed with special equipment. An official announcement is expected soon. 

The first yellow T1 test trains were introduced in January 1965, four months after the launch of the Shinkansen. The sleek models today must travel at the same speed as other bullet trains, though they are slightly shorter, with only seven cars. Sightings are rare as the schedule is not disclosed. Catching a glimpse of Doctor Yellow is said to bring good luck. Many people have gone their whole lives without seeing it. And with the majestic train set to be retired in a few years, it’s becoming increasingly likely that they never will. 

Rintaro sasaki

Image ©Sankei

Teen Star Rintaro Sasaki Smashes His First Home Run in the U.S.

Japan’s teenage prodigy Rintaro Sasaki played his first game on U.S. soil on Tuesday. Appearing in the MLB Draft League, his first hit in the country was a two-run homer to right field. It was quite a way for the Japanese teenager to introduce himself to audiences in the States. He moved there two months ago to enroll at Stanford University after graduating from Iwate Prefecture’s Hanamaki Higashi High School in March. The youngster hit 140 home runs (including in practice games) for Hanamaki Higashi, which is believed to be an all-time high school record in Japan.   

Shohei Ohtani, who went to the same school and was coached by Sasaki’s father, smashed his 16th homer of the season in the Dodgers 15-2 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. He followed that up with his 17th the following day in his side’s 3-2 defeat by the same opponents. In other sports news, Japanese wheelchair tennis star Tokito Oda won his second consecutive French Open. Japan beat Syria 5-0 to complete the Asian second round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers with six straight wins. Defender Hiroki Ito, meanwhile, has made a surprise move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.  

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