In this week’s news roundup, we report on the legal battle between fast fashion giants Uniqlo and Shein. Airplanes, meanwhile, continue to make headlines. On Tuesday, an ANA flight had to return to Haneda after a man bit a cabin attendant’s arm. Earlier in the day, two aircrafts collided in Hokkaido. There’s shocking news from Ehime as a yakuza member kills a 49-year-old man at a Starbucks. And China responds to Japan’s congratulatory message for Taiwan’s new president-elect Lai Ching-te. In sport, Naomi Osaka is knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open and the Samurai Blue win their opening game of the Asian Cup. 

Uniqlo Files Petition Against Shein and Two Subsidiaries

Uniqlo announced this week that it is suing fast fashion rival Shein for allegedly copying its popular “Mary Poppins” bag. The lawsuit filed by the apparel giant “demands the immediate cessation of sales of the imitation products, and compensation for damages incurred by the Company as a result of these sales.” According to the statement, released by Uniqlo’s owner, Fast Retailing, on Tuesday, a petition was filed against Shein and two subsidiaries — Roadget Business Pte. Ltd., Fashion Choice Pte. Ltd. — on December 28, 2023.  

The product in question is an inexpensive round mini shoulder bag. It went viral in 2022 due to the number of items it could hold despite being quite small. Likened to Mary Poppins’ magical carpet bag, from which Julie Andrews pulled out a hat stand and lampshade, it’s Uniqlo’s best-selling bag ever. However, the company claims Shein’s inferior product is negatively affecting sales. Shein responded by saying that it “respects the intellectual property rights of others and takes all claims of infringement seriously. We are currently investigating this matter.” 

U.S. Counselor Arrested for Biting ANA Cabin Attendant

An intoxicated passenger on board an All Nippon Airway (ANA) flight bound for Seattle from Tokyo was arrested on Tuesday night for allegedly biting the arm of a female cabin attendant who suffered minor injuries. The suspect has been identified as 55-year-old Michael Travis Halyard, an American professional clinical counselor. He reportedly told the police that he’d taken a sleeping pill and couldn’t remember what happened. ANA provided a statement which said that the man had been “acting in an unsafe manner to the flight crew and passengers.” 

The plane departed Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 9:47 p.m. local time. The pilot decided to return to Japan’s capital just over an hour later. It wasn’t the only ANA flight forced to return to its original destination this week. On Saturday, a crack was found in the cockpit window of one of its jets 40 minutes into a flight from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport to Toyama Kitokito Airport. The following day, an ANA airbus clipped a Delta plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. 

hokkaido plane collision

Chitose Airport, Sapporo Japan

Passenger Planes Collide at Airport in Hokkaido

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two passenger planes collided at New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. According to officials at the airport, while taxiing to a runway, a Korean Air jet clipped a parked Cathay Pacific aircraft. There were 289 passengers and crew on board the Seoul-bound Korean Air flight, but no injuries were reported. All the passengers who had traveled from Hong Kong on the Cathay Pacific plane had already disembarked. Airport firefighters were on standby, but there was no fire or fuel leak.  

The left wing of the Korean Air jet was broken, while the right tail of Cathay’s Boeing 777-300 was damaged. A Korean Air official said a vehicle towing the A330 airbus backwards skidded on the snowy tarmac, causing the planes to bump. A total of 46 flights were canceled on Tuesday due to heavy snow. The incident in Sapporo came just two weeks after a deadly collision at Haneda Airport. A Coast Guard aircraft collided with a JAL passenger jet, killing five people on board the smaller vessel. 

starbucks shooting in japan by Yakuza

Rare Shooting in Japan After Yakuza Opens Fire in Starbucks

Police are on the lookout for a 62-year-old member of a yakuza crime syndicate, who is on the wanted list for allegedly fatally shooting a man at a Starbucks outlet in Aeon Town Kawanoe in Shikokuchuo city, Ehime Prefecture on Sunday afternoon. The suspect, Yuichiro Maetani, is believed to be a senior member of the Ikeda-gumi syndicate, which is based in Okayama city. According to the police, he is around 163 centimeters tall and was wearing a red jacket and beige pants at the time of the shooting. 

The victim was identified as Yuichiro Ishikawa, 49. He was seated on the terrace before being shot in the chest three times. According to the autopsy, he bled to death. Police suspect that the two men knew each other and were involved in a spat. Though the incident occurred at around 4 p.m., when there were several other customers in the shop, no other injuries were reported. The assailant quickly fled from the scene. Gun violence is extremely rare in this country with annual death rates rarely reaching double figures.

Lai Ching-te

China Responds to Japan’s Comments on Taiwan’s New President

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa released a statement on Saturday congratulating Taiwan’s new president-elect Lai Ching-te (also known as William Lai), while also describing the self-ruled island as “an extremely crucial partner and an important friend.” Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go down very well with officials in China. The Chinese Embassy in Japan described Kamikawa’s comments as “a serious interference in China’s internal affairs.” Posting on its official WeChat account, it added, “We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this and have lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side.” 

Several other nations faced the wrath of China for commenting on Lai’s triumph. The U.S. State Department congratulated citizens from Taiwan “for once again demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system and electoral process.” China’s foreign ministry felt this statement “seriously violated U.S. promises that it would only maintain cultural, economic and other non-official ties with Taiwan.” The Chinese Embassy in the U.K. urged the British government to “stop any words or deeds that interfere in China’s internal affairs,” after foreign secretary David Cameron hailed Taiwan’s “vibrant democracy.”  


Japan Defeat Vietnam in First Asian Cup Game

Japan defeated Vietnam 4-2 in their opening game of the 2024 Asian Cup. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, as the 94th-ranked Golden Star Warriors took a shock 2-1 lead after 33 minutes. The pendulum then swung back in the Samurai Blue’s favor just before the break. After Takumi Minamino bagged his second of the game to make it 2-2, Keito Nakamura restored Japan’s lead with a stunning right-footed curler. Substitute Ayase Ueda added a fourth in the 85th minute. Next up for Japan is a tricky encounter against Iraq today.  

In other sports news, Naomi Osaka made her long anticipated Grand Slam return against 16th seed Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open on Monday, six months after giving birth to baby Shai. It ended in a disappointing 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat, though there were positives to take from the loss. She was naturally disappointed, but not too downbeat after the game. “I have to tell myself ‘hey, six months ago you were pregnant,'” she said. No Japanese player made it to the second round in either the male or female singles competitions.

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