This week’s news roundup is dominated by sports-related scandals. Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter and friend Ippei Mizuhara was accused of committing a “massive theft” against the baseball superstar by his lawyers and as a result the Dodgers fired him. World Cup-winning soccer sensation, Andrés Iniesta, meanwhile, was cited as one of three players who allegedly failed to file tax returns properly while playing in the J-League. Also this week, the Bank of Japan raised interest rates for the first time in 17 years. A woman from the Philippines admitted to killing her sister and Japanese niece. Finally, the latest survey by the Japan Family Planning Association showed that almost half of marriages in this country are sexless. 

Ippei Mizuhara shohei ohtani scam

Shohei Ohtani’s Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara Fired After ‘Massive Theft’ Claim

Regularly standing alongside Shohei Ohtani for interviews, Ippei Mizuhara is one of the world’s most famous interpreters.  This week, though, it was Mizuhara himself making headlines when he was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after Ohtani’s lawyers accused him of committing a “massive theft” against the two-way superstar in connection to an illegal bookmaking operation run by Mathew Bowyer that is under federal investigation, multiple sources told ESPN. He reportedly ran up debts with the Californian bookmaker believed to be at least $4.5 million. 

Speaking to the American cable sports channel on Tuesday, Mizuhara said he asked Ohtani to help him pay off those debts. The following day, however, he said that Ohtani didn’t know about his gambling debts and that he hadn’t transferred money to the bookmaker’s associate. “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities,” read a statement from law firm Berk Brettler LLP.

Ohtani Impresses on Debut, Yamamoto Struggles

Before being fired by the Dodgers, Mizuhara interpreted for Ohtani following his long-awaited debut for the Los Angeles side on Wednesday evening at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea. The Japanese man recorded his first hit, stolen base and RBI of the season as the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 5-2. The Padres hit back the following night, though, winning a slugfest 15-11. Yoshinobu Yamamoto endured a nightmare debut, allowing four hits, walking one, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch.  He lasted just one inning.  

In other sports news, the 17th ranked Sumo of the maegashira division, Takerufuji, won his first 11 bouts at Osaka’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, tying the record for a top-flight debutant set by legendary yokozuna-ranked Taiho in 1960. He lost his 12th encounter to the ozeki ranked-Hoshoryu on Thursday. At the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Rikako Ikee qualified for her first individual event at the Olympics since her leukemia diagnosis in 2019. In men’s soccer, Ao Tanaka scored the only goal as Japan beat North Korea 1-0 in their opening World Cup qualifying game at Tokyo’s National Stadium. 

Andrés Iniesta Allegedly Failed to File Tax Returns for ¥860 Million

Legendary Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta, who played in Japan for Vissel Kobe for five years, has been cited by the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau for allegedly failing to declare approximately ¥860 million. According to sources, in 2018, he was subject to additional taxes of around ¥580 million. While his contract was less than a year at the time, he was living with his family, so was considered a “resident,” and, therefore, was required to file a final income tax return (maximum tax rate of 45%), which he did between 2019 and 2023.

Two other players — Cerezo Osaka’s South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon (between 2017 and 2021) and Nagoya Grampus’ Brazilian striker Patric (between 2016 and 2020) — were also cited by the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau for failing to file their tax returns properly. Of the three, Iniesta is by far the most high-profile. The former Barcelona midfield maestro famously scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands. An integral member of two Barcelona treble-winning sides, he now plays in the UAE Pro League for Emirates.  

Bank of Japan Raises Interest Rates for the First Time in 17 Years

For the first time since 2007, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) raised interest rates on Tuesday, lifting its short-term policy rate from -0.1% to between zero and 0.1%. In doing so, it became the last central bank to exit negative rates. “Unprecedented monetary easing is now over,” said BOJ chief Kazuo Ueda following a monetary policy meeting that lasted two days. “We made the decision because we foresaw stable and continuous 2% inflation,” he added 

It’s a major shift in direction aimed at reversing the country’s so-called “lost decades” of stagnation and deflation. Negative interest rates were introduced by the BOJ in February 2016 in an attempt to encourage banks to lend. Later that year, policymakers also introduced a yield curve control (YCC) policy, which was designed to keep long-term interest rates low by buying government bonds. That was also scrapped on Tuesday. The yen, meanwhile, fell to as low as 150.50 against the US currency. 

Filipino Woman Confesses to Killing Sister and Japanese Niece

Filipino woman Ligaya Pajulas confessed to the murder of her sister and Japanese niece, Philippine authorities said on Sunday. Kyodo News was told by a police official privy to the case that they have a video of her admitting to the double homicide. After learning their bodies were discovered, she reportedly attempted to take her own life. The victims, Lorry Litada, 54, and her daughter Mai Motegi, 26, arrived in the Philippines last month. They stayed at Pajulas’ residence in Quezon.  

A nephew of the sisters allegedly told the police that the two victims intended to make transactions regarding property during their trip. He said they were carrying 5 million pesos (¥13.5 million) in cash. In the video Pajulas purportedly said they had been arguing over money and the crime was planned in December. Litada and Motegi were reported missing on March 9. Their remains were discovered in a shallow grave near Pajulas’s house five days later. Litada had a puncture wound on the chest. Motegi had a broken jaw.  

sexless marriage japan

Record Number of Japanese Couples in Sexless Marriages

Almost half of marriages in Japan are sexless. That’s according to the latest survey by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA), with 48.3% of those who responded stating that they have sex zero times per month — which is the association’s definition of a sexless marriage.  The most common reason given by women for the lack of intercourse was that it’s simply “just too much hassle” (22.6%), followed by “tired from work” (20.8%) and “because of pregnancy or soon after giving birth” (13.2%).  

For 24.0% of the men who responded, the effort was there, but there was “a lack of a response from their partners.” The second-biggest reason was related to “childbirth” (14.7%), ahead of sex “not being worth the hassle” (12.0%). A total of 3,000 men and women aged between 16 and 49 were randomly selected, with 793 of those providing valid responses. Since the questionnaire was first taken in the early 2000s, the number of respondents saying they were in a sexless marriage has continued to rise.   

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