In this week’s news roundup, we report on the 42.3% stock acquisition of Studio Ghibli by Nippon TV and have the latest on the Toshiba takeover, with the conglomerate set to end its 74-year history as a listed firm. There’s a tragedy near Tokyo Station as two workers are killed after an accident at a construction site. Governor Denny Tamaki looks for global support in Okinawa’s long-running battle to stop the relocation of a U.S. military base. In sport, Japan lose to England at the Rugby World Cup and Shohei Ohtani undergoes elbow surgery.
Nippon TV to become Leading Shareholder at Studio Ghibli
At a joint press conference in Tokyo on Thursday, it was announced that Nippon TV (NTV) is to take a controlling stake in Studio Ghibli. The Japanese broadcaster is set to acquire 42.3% of the iconic animation house, making it the majority shareholder. The studio will be headed by Hiroyuki Fukuda, the senior operating officer and board director at NTV. He’ll take over from Studio Ghibli’s co-founder Toshio Suzuki, 75, as president. Suzuki will become the chair of the board. Fellow co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki, 82, will be an honorary chairperson.
The legendary director’s son, Goro Miyazaki, 56, an anime producer himself, was often touted as a potential candidate to run the company. He wasn’t interested, though. “It is too much to shoulder by myself. It’s better to leave it to somebody else,” he was quoted as saying. Ghibli instead turned to NTV, the channel that first aired Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind in 1985. The broadcaster also invested in various Ghibli productions, beginning with Kiki’s Delivery Service in 1989, and helped to establish the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo in 2001.
Toshiba Set to End 74-Year History as Listed Firm
Toshiba announced on Thursday that a consortium led by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), a private equity firm that specializes in investing in turnaround, buyouts and carve-out investments, had gained 78.65% of its shares through a tender offer. Ownership of more than a two-thirds majority is enough for the group to complete a ¥2 trillion deal to take the company private. The rest of the stocks are expected to be purchased at an ad hoc shareholders’ meeting in November. Toshiba could then delist from the Tokyo Stock Exchange by the end of this year.
That will end the conglomerate’s 74-year history as a listed firm. It also puts the electronics-to-power-stations maker back in domestic hands. “We’re deeply grateful to many of our shareholders for being understanding of the company’s position in this matter,” said President Taro Shimada. “Toshiba Group will now take a major step toward a new future with a new shareholder.” A fresh start is certainly what’s needed. Toshiba’s been plagued by various scandals in recent years, beginning in 2015 when it was revealed that the industrial giant had overstated its operating profits by more than ¥151.8 billion over a seven-year period.
Two Workers Die at Construction Site in Tokyo
Two workers died and three were injured on Tuesday after a steel beam that was being lifted by a crane collapsed at a construction site in central Tokyo. The employees, who reportedly all wore safety belts that were attached to the beam, fell around 20 meters from the structure’s seventh floor to the third when it came loose. According to investigators looking into the accident, they may have detached the beam from the crane wire before it was secured properly. The other four beams on the seventh floor were also said to have collapsed.
Police revealed that the two men who passed away were aged 33 and 43. One of the three injured was believed to be in serious condition, though he did regain consciousness. The other two men were taken to a hospital, but their conditions were not life-threatening. The construction site is around 350 meters southeast of JR Tokyo Station. A 51-story high-rise is being built there by Obayashi and Taisei corporations. Scheduled to be completed in 2025, it will house offices, shops, restaurants, medical facilities and a theater for performing arts and music concerts.
U.S. Military Bases Threaten Peace Says Okinawa Governor
The concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa “threatens peace and prevents equal participation in decision-making.” That’s the view of the prefecture’s Governor Denny Tamaki. He aired his concerns at a United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday. “The Japanese government is imposing the construction of a new American base in Okinawa by carrying out land reclamation work on our precious sea areas,” he said. “We’re afraid that the buildup of military capabilities will increase tensions in the areas around Japan. We Okinawans call for stronger diplomatic efforts by the government concerned.”
Tamaki referenced the democratic referendum that took place in Okinawa in 2019. More than 70% of voters opposed the plan to relocate the U.S Marine Corps’ Futenma air base from the densely populated region of Ginowan to the coastal area of Henoko in Nago city. He also pointed to the fact that Okinawa hosts 70.3% of all American military bases despite accounting for 0.6% of Japan’s national land area. A Japanese government representative at the session responded to Tamaki by stating, “The presence of U.S. forces in Okinawa is based on geopolitical reasons and Japan’s security needs.”
England Overcome Japan at Rugby World Cup
For around 55 minutes in Nice, Japan’s second game of the Rugby World Cup against England was a tight affair, with just one point in it. Then came Joe Marler’s comical headed assist. As Courtney Lawes went over, Japanese players stood waiting for the whistle. They expected the try to be ruled out for a knock on. Had it come off Marler’s hand or arm, it would have been. However, any other part of the body — including the face — is legal. Try given. George Ford added an easy conversion to stretch England’s lead to eight points.
It was the decisive moment in what had, up to then, been a largely unforgettable match. England, who’d been booed for kicking away several attacking opportunities a few minutes earlier, were now on the ascendancy. With the Brave Blossoms tiring, Steve Borthwick’s men scored two more tries, to earn a 34-12 bonus-point victory. Next up for the Blossoms is Samoa on September 29, followed by Argentina on October 8. “This is a tournament, and you need three wins to get a fifth game, so nothing has changed for us,” said Japan defense coach John Mitchell.
Ohtani Won’t Pitch Again Until 2025
Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani will only be able to perform as a one-way star next season. The 29-year-old Iwate Prefecture-native underwent elbow surgery on Tuesday morning. He’ll miss the rest of the current campaign, though he is forecast to return as a batter next year. “I expect full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (Hit & Pitch) come 2025,” said Doctor Neal ElAttrache via a statement by Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo. Both men declined to say whether the surgery was a Tommy John procedure.
Ohtani, who’s still the red-hot favorite to be named the American League’s MVP, confirmed the news on his Instagram. “I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went well,” he wrote. “Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers and kind words.” In other baseball news, the Orix Buffaloes became the first Pacific League team in 29 years to win three consecutive championships. They clinched the title with a 6-2 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Wednesday. Last week, the Hanshin Tigers secured their first Central League pennant since 2005.