In this week’s news roundup we hear from popular Korean performer DJ Soda, who said she felt “embarrassed and humiliated” after being molested at the Osaka Music Circus Festival. We also report on Typhoon Lan, the National Memorial Service for War Dead at the Nippon Budokan and Taro Kono’s decision to return part of his salary due to My Number errors. In men’s soccer, Wataru Endo looks set to complete his surprise move to Liverpool. Plus, there are plenty of goals for Japanese players in Europe and the women’s team return home from New Zealand. 

DJ Soda ‘Shocked and Scared’ After Being Groped in Osaka  

South Korean performer Hwang So-hee, better known by her stage name DJ Soda, said she was “shocked and scared” after being groped at a festival in Osaka on Sunday. The popular DJ and model took to Instagram to tell her 5 million followers about the ordeal. After getting closer to fans at the end of the gig, she said that “not one, but several people,” touched her chest and that she was “helplessly sexually harassed by them.” She also hit back at those who criticized her for wearing a revealing outfit. 

“No matter what clothes I wear, sexual harassment and assault cannot be justified,” she wrote. “I have the freedom to wear what I want to wear and no one can judge people by how they dress. My body is mine, not someone else’s. I like to wear revealing clothes and I will continue to wear them.” Japanese singer Gackt also hit out at those who condemned DJ Soda’s clothing. “Do you want a country where people can’t dress the way they want?” he wrote on social media platform X 

Typhoon Lan prompted evacuation warnings for thousands in western Japan

Typhoon Lan Leaves Trail of Destruction in West Japan 

More than 60 people were injured as Typhoon Lan made its way to western Japan earlier this week. Most of the injuries occurred in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures. It’s the first typhoon to cross the Japanese coast this year, having made landfall near Cape Shionomisaki in Wakayama Prefecture early on Tuesday morning. The storm left a trail of destruction in its wake, including a road that was washed away in Tottori city. According to NHK, more than 1,800 people in 844 households there were left stranded as a result of the downpours.  

Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) canceled over 560 flights between them, affecting around 50,000 passengers. With road and rail access cut off, hundreds of people were forced to stay overnight at Kansai Airport. Services on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Nagoya and Shin-Osaka were stopped. As were bullet train services between Shin-Osaka and Okayama stations. Early on Wednesday, the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line halted operations between Tokyo and Hakata because of heavy rain in Shizuoka Prefecture. Though operations resumed later in the day, disruptions continued into Thursday.  

PM Warns Against Repeating Mistakes of the Past at War Memorial Service 

Japan commemorated the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II with a ceremony at the Nippon Budokan on Tuesday. Around 2,700 people were initially expected to attend, but due to Typhoon Lan, bereaved family members from 10 prefectures were unable to make it. Consequently, the final figure was below 2,000. During his speech, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the importance of learning from past mistakes. “More than 3 million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war. We must never again repeat the devastation of war,” he said 

The PM added, “Taking the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, we have made all possible efforts for world peace and prosperity.” There was, however, no mention of Japan’s wartime aggression. The last Japanese prime minister to do so was Yoshihiko Noda in 2012. Emperor Naruhito also spoke at the event. “Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never again be repeated,” he said. At noon, a moment of silence was observed for those killed during the conflict.  

Taro Kono announced he would be voluntarily returning three months of his salary | Image by Alexandros Michailidis via Shutterstock

Digital Minister to Return Three Months of His Salary

Japanese Digital Minister Taro Kono announced on Tuesday that he would be voluntarily returning three months of his salary as a Cabinet member in response to a series of errors — the government has confirmed at least 940 cases of bank account mix-ups — related to Japan’s “My Number” national identification system. “I should take responsibility as minister in charge for the slow initial response,” said Kono during an online press conference. Despite the problems, he revealed he’s not planning to resign, stating, “I will continue to devote myself to my duties.” 

The 12-digit My Number ID card system was launched in 2016. It was supposed to increase convenience by enabling various procedures to be completed electronically. Personal information leaks and registration errors, however, have led to a loss of confidence in the program. In June of this year, the Japanese government passed a law to expand the scope of the system. As a result, health insurance cards will be scrapped and incorporated with My Number cards by next fall. Many people here — 57% according to a poll by The Mainichi — are opposed to this move.  

Wataru Endo Set to Complete Liverpool Transfer  

Japanese defensive midfielder Wataru Endo looks set to complete a shock move from VfB Stuttgart to Merseyside giants Liverpool. Transfer news specialist Fabrizio Romano broke the story on Wednesday. According to the Italian journalist, Endo finished his medical yesterday and is now set to sign the contract. Former Swindon Town and Middlesbrough striker Jan Åge Fjørtoft described it as a “smart move by Liverpool.” The 30-year-old, who captained Japan at the 2022 World Cup, is nicknamed ‘Legendo’ by Stuttgart fans. His 92nd-minute winner against Cologne in 2022 kept the team in the top-flight.  

According to Sky Sports, he won 227 duels last season, the sixth best in the Bundesliga. More than just a destroyer, though, he also ranked fourth in goals scored from outside the box and fifth in chances created from open play. Speaking to Tokyo Weekender about his importance to the Japan side prior to the World Cup, soccer journalist Sean Carroll said, “If Endo doesn’t play, the team lacks that balance as he holds everything together.” British-Japanese television personality Harry Sugiyama added, “he’s so important, especially when it comes to what Japanese call kiki kanri (sniffing out danger).”

Takefusa Kubo scored after just five minutes for Real Sociedad | Image by Saolab Press via Shutterstock

Goals Galore from Japanese Players in Europe 

Endo scored what was likely his final goal for Stuttgart in the German Cup last Saturday. There were also goals in the competition for Takuma Asano (VfL Bochum) and Daichi Hayashi (FC Nürnberg). Many other Japanese players across Europe found the net on the weekend, including Takefusa Kubo, who scored after just five minutes for Real Sociedad. Junya Ito struck for Reims, as did Kyogo Furuhashi for Celtic, Tsuyoshi Watanabe for Gent and Koki Ogawa on his debut for NEC Nijmegen. Going one better, Gil Vicente’s Kanya Fujimoto and Stal Mielec’s Koki Hinokio both bagged braces.  

Nadeshiko Japan, meanwhile, returned home on Saturday after being knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the quarterfinal stage by Sweden. The team impressed in the early rounds of the competition, but were outfought by the Swedes, going down 2-1. They fought back strongly in the last 20 minutes, but ultimately it was too little, too late. Sweden then lost 2-1 in the semifinal to Spain, who were defeated 4-0 by Japan in the group stages. La Roja now face England in the final on Sunday.