In this week’s news roundup, we report on the final chapter for floppy disks as Taro Kono seeks to modernize the government. In more serious news, the Supreme Court orders the state to pay damages for forced sterilizations under the now defunct Eugenics Protection Law. Japan launches a rocket and new banknotes. And Hu Youping, a Chinese woman who saved a Japanese mother and son during a knife attack in China, is honored with a “righteous and courageous role model” certificate. In sport, Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori crash out at Wimbledon and Daichi Kamada signs for Crystal Palace. 

Japanese Government Finally Stops Using Floppy Disks

Three years ago, Digital Minister Taro Kono “declared war” on floppy disks. Releasing a statement to Reuters on Wednesday, he announced that the government has finally won that war. Remarkably, up until the middle of last month, 1,034 regulations still required the use of the flexible removable magnetic disk to submit forms. Its usage was then scrapped for all of those regulations, except for one, involving vehicle recycling systems. That was completed on June 28, meaning the government was officially able to say goodbye to floppy disks. Next up for Kono is the fax machine. 

“There are still many things in society that need to be reviewed, including fax machines, so we would like to thoroughly review those as well,” he said at a press conference on June 14. The popular politician, who has 2.5 million followers on X, is determined to modernize the government and bring it into the digital age. Speaking to Time magazine in 2023, Kono said: “Japan was quite good with analogue technology. But when things moved to digital, we were too content with analogue things, so we didn’t invest enough.” The country’s digitalization effort continues to face many hurdles. 

Japan Releases New Banknotes

For the first time since 2004, Japan introduced new banknotes on Wednesday. However, currently, only 30% of the country’s vending machines can accept them. In what is a world first, the new designs feature three-dimensional holograms that make the portraits on the bills appear to rotate when tilted left or right. This is one of several measures to combat counterfeiting. Additionally, Japan’s new banknotes have tactile marks, making it easier for visually impaired people to identify the different denominations. There is also new imagery on both sides of the notes.   

The reverse side of the ¥1,000 bill shows Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” artwork. The ¥5,000 bill, meanwhile, features wisteria flowers and the ¥10,000 bill shows the Tokyo Station building. The faces on the front of the bills have also changed. Physician and bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato, credited as the codiscoverer of the infectious agent of the bubonic plague, replaces Hideyo Noguchi on the ¥1,000 note. Umeko Tsuda, a pioneer in the field of women’s education, takes over from Hideyo Noguchi on the ¥5,000 note and Eiichi Shibusawa, known as the father of Japanese capitalism, replaces Yukichi Fukuzawa on the ¥10,000 note. 

Supreme Court Rules Eugenics Protection Law Unconstitutional 

On Wednesday, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s now defunct Eugenics Protection Law, under which thousands of people were sterilized between 1948 and 1996, was unconstitutional. It allowed doctors to remove reproductive functions of people with disabilities to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants.” All 15 judges unanimously found that the law violated Article 13 of the constitution, which guarantees the freedom of people not to undergo physically invasive procedures against their will, and Article 14, which stipulates that all people are equal under the law. It’s the 13th time the Supreme Court has ruled a law unconstitutional.  
It’s estimated that some 25,000 people had to undergo sterilization surgeries. The government acknowledged that approximately 16,500 of those were performed without consent, including on two children as young as 9. Authorities claim the other 8,500 agreed to the operations. However, lawyers believe they were pressured into it. In 2019, more than two decades after the legislation was scrapped, the Diet passed a bill to compensate those who underwent sterilization, promising ¥3.2 million to surviving victims. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that amount insufficient and rejected the government’s claim that the 20-year statute of limitations should prevent it from paying restitution. 

Chinese Woman Posthumously Honored After Saving Japanese Family

Hu Youping, the Chinese woman who died attempting to shield a Japanese mother and son during a knife attack last week, has been posthumously honored with a “righteous and courageous role model” certificate by the city of Suzhou where she resided. A memorial ceremony took place on Tuesday, during which officials from the Jiangsu Province city commended Hu’s bravery. The city is also planning to establish a “Youping Righteousness Fund” to promote the spirit of righteousness. Hu’s family thanked the public for the kind messages that have poured in since her death, but have declined donation offers. 

Hu was working as a school bus attendant when the incident took place last Monday at around 4 p.m. According to a statement by the Suzhou police, she saw a man with a knife attacking a young boy and woman at a bus stop and “immediately rushed” to stop him. She was then stabbed several times. The perpetrator, a 52-year-old unemployed man whose family name is Zhou, was arrested at the scene. The Japanese mother and son were hurt, but their injuries were not life-threatening. Sadly, Hu succumbed to her injuries two days after the attack. 

jaxa h3 rocket launch

Image via

JAXA Launches H3 Rocket With Earth Observation Satellite

At just past noon on Monday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its third H3 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The new flagship H3 rocket, carrying a 3-ton Earth observation satellite, released its payload about 16 minutes after taking off. Developed by JAXA and Mitsubishi Electric, the Daichi-4 satellite, also known as the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-4 (ALOS-4), boasts a 200-kilometer observation range. It can detect ground deformation, landslides and the impacts of natural disasters. It’s also capable of monitoring military activity, such as missile launches. 

Officials at the launch control center in Tanegashima embraced following the launch, which had been scheduled for Sunday. Adverse weather meant it had to be put back a day. On its maiden flight, in March last year, the H3 rocket dropped into the Philippine Sea. It was forced to self-destruct just a few minutes after taking off because its second stage engine failed to ignite. In February of this year, the H3 rocket was launched for a second time, making its first successful flight. However, that one was carrying a dummy satellite. 

Japanese Players Bow Out Early at Wimbledon

It’s been a disappointing week for Japan’s biggest tennis stars at Wimbledon. Naomi Osaka was making her first appearance at the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships since 2019. She won her opening clash against France’s Diane Parry 6-1 1-6 6-4, but then crashed out in the second round, losing 4-6 1-6 to Emma Navarro from the United States. Kei Nishikori, meanwhile, was playing at SW19 for the first time in three years. He lost his first-round encounter to France’s Arthur Rinderknech 7-5 4-6 7-6 3-6 2-6. Rinderknech’s compatriot, Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, knocked out Yoshihito Nishioka in the second-round.  

In soccer news, English Premier League team Crystal Palace announced the signing of Japanese attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada on Monday. The move reunites the 27-year-old with Oliver Glasner, his former manager at Eintracht Frankfurt. Kamada joined Serie A side Lazio last summer. However, he failed to agree terms on a new contract with the Italian club. His international teammate, Kaishu Sano completed his transfer from Kashima Antlers to Mainz 05 o Wednesday. Other Japanese players who’ve already moved this summer include Hiroki Ito to Bayern Munich, Seiya Maikuma to AZ Alkmaar and Takumu Kawamura to Red Bull Salzburg. 

Related Posts