Ex-sumo champ Harumafuji to be referred to prosecutors this week

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Police plan to refer former sumo grand champion Harumafuji to prosecutors early next week on suspicion of assaulting a lower-ranked wrestler in western Japan in October, investigative sources say.

The police are now considering sending documents on the 33-year-old yokozuna to prosecutors as soon as Monday, the sources said. Police had initially planned to send the case to prosecutors last week.

Harumafuji, who retired from sumo following the scandal, allegedly beat fellow Mongolian wrestler Takanoiwa with his palm and a karaoke machine remote control during a drinking session at a bar in the western Japan city of Tottori on Oct 25 while they were on a regional tour.

Takanoiwa, 27, suffered wounds to the head and filed a police report on Oct 29.

When the police refer Harumafuji to prosecutors, they are expected to attach a recommendation to the papers calling for “harsh” punishment, indicating their hopes that prosecutors formally charge the yokozuna with a crime.

The sources said Harumafuji is believed to have been angered by Takanoiwa’s inattention while Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho was giving him advice.

According to a Japan Sumo Association investigation, the assault occurred after Hakuho told Takanoiwa not to forget the kindness he received during his high school days. Takanoiwa was looking at his smartphone at the time and replied, “It’s a mail from my girlfriend.”

The scandal sent shock waves across Japan, with the ancient sport already tainted by cases of match fixing, violence and bullying.

© KYODO

Source :  Japan Today

68-year-old woman arrested for pushing younger sister off train platform

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Police in Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, said Sunday they have arrested a 68-year-old woman on suspicion of attempted murder after she pushed her 65-year-old sister off a train platform, and jumped onto the tracks also.

According to police, the incident occurred at Hatsuishi Station on the Tobu Urban Park line at around 7 p.m. Friday, Fuji TV reported.

Witnesses said the suspect, Chieko Takeuchi, a resident of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, suddenly pushed her sister off the platform as a train was arriving, and then followed her onto the tracks. The driver of the train applied the emergency brake and the train stopped about two meters from where the women were. The younger sister suffered a broken wrist, but Takeuchi was uninjured.

Police said Takeuchi had a history mental illness and quoted her as saying she wanted to die with her younger sister.

© Japan Today

Source  :  Japan Today

It’s ‘Sho-time’ as Angels give Ohtani big welcome

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By GREG BEACHAM

ANAHEIM, Calif-General manager Billy Eppler rose from his seat in rapturous joy when he got the phone call telling him Shohei Ohtani wanted to join the Los Angeles Angels.

When Eppler attempted to sit back down, he missed his chair completely, sprawling onto the floor.

Ohtani has inspired strong reactions ever since the world became aware of the Japanese star’s formidable talent as both a pitcher and a hitter.

Now that the Angels have landed such a coveted prize, they can’t wait to see who else he can knock over.

The Angels formally introduced Ohtani on Saturday, one day after the franchise won the baseball-wide competition for his services.

A lively crowd gathered in front of Angel Stadium cheered when Ohtani donned a red No. 17 jersey and hat on stage with team owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and Eppler.

Ohtani doesn’t speak much English yet, but he stepped to the podium and addressed the fans confidently: “Hi. My name is Shohei Ohtani.”

Ohtani already knows how to work a crowd, too: He had the perfect answer when asked whether he was more excited to get his first pitching victory or his first homer in the big leagues.

“Hopefully, if I can pull it off, maybe both in one game,” he said through a translator.

Ohtani’s grand experiment with the Angels is off to an entertaining start. The league-wide courtship ended Friday with his decision to join Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in Orange County.

The 23-year-old former Japanese MVP is attempting to become the majors’ most significant two-way player in several decades, and he will have every opportunity to fill two prominent roles with the Angels.

Ohtani is expected to join the Angels’ starting rotation next season, and he will be their designated hitter on many days when he isn’t pitching, Scioscia said. Ohtani won’t play in the outfield “at the outset” of his career, which likely includes at least his first season in Anaheim, Eppler said.

Ohtani’s decision was the culmination of years of hard work for the scouts and personnel executives led by Eppler, who has been traveling to Japan since 2013 to see Ohtani.

“There was a wow factor to him,” Eppler said. “He was a little bit of a show-stopper. Big fastball. The ability to throw three off-speed pitches for strikes. And have the presence in the batter’s box that we gravitated to. He fits a lot of our offensive philosophy.”

Although Eppler felt Ohtani would be an ideal fit with the Angels, he had no idea whether Ohtani would agree. Moreno led the Angels’ presentation to Ohtani on Monday after he selected them as one of seven finalists, and they waited nervously for four days before getting the news.

Ohtani didn’t reveal all of his reasons for choosing the Angels over the Mariners, Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox and every other club.

“I just felt a strong connection with the Angels,” Ohtani said through a translator.

That’s enough for the Angels, who believe they can provide every opportunity for Ohtani to cultivate the two-way skills that have inspired comparisons to a young Babe Ruth. The Angels believe Ohtani has the intensity and focus to do something unprecedented in recent baseball history.

“This guy consumes all things baseball,” Eppler said. “There is not a lot else going on in his world but baseball (and) training. He does like to read a lot.”

Eppler also described Ohtani as “very humble,” and compared his mental makeup to that of Trout, whose video phone call to recruit Ohtani apparently went quite well. Trout, on the East Coast for his wedding this weekend, called Eppler late Monday night after the meeting to ask: “What’s he like? What’s he like?”

“He’s like you,” Eppler replied. “He’s simple, humble, and he wants to be great.”

Ohtani took a moment during his news conference to send good wishes to the two-time MVP for his wedding.

And when asked why he had chosen No. 17 after wearing No. 11 in Japan, Ohtani quipped: “I actually wanted No. 27, but somebody else (Trout) was wearing that number.”

About 200 media members were on hand for Ohtani’s arrival, including dozens from Japanese news outlets. Ohtani and the Angels realize his every move will be chronicled on a daily basis with likely the same fervor around Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui in their heyday, but judging by his confident performance in his first major appearance, it’s nothing Ohtani can’t handle.

Ohtani’s performance on the field is more important, and the Angels expect him to be an immediate hit there as well. Angel Stadium’s team shop already was doing a brisk business selling large piles of Ohtani jerseys and T-shirts on his first full day with the club.

“I think it’s going to be something very, very special for our fans,” Scioscia said. “Every player, to a man, is so excited about this acquisition. Our job is to see exactly how you get a multidimensional, two-way athlete like Shohei to bring his talent on the field often enough where he leads us to that championship.”

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Source  :  Japan Today

Prosecutors investigate Obayashi over maglev train project

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Prosecutors have raided major construction company Obayashi Corp’s headquarters and other locations to investigate possible fraud in bidding on contracts for a 9 trillion yen maglev train project, people close to the matter said Saturday.

The prosecutors searched the company’s head office in Tokyo and other sites from Friday to early Saturday and will question company executives on a voluntary basis, they said.

“We will fully cooperate” with investigators, an Obayashi spokesman said.

Obayashi, one of the four biggest Japanese construction companies, is among the contractors working to build an ultra high-speed train line between Tokyo and Osaka by 2045 to be run by Central Japan Railway Co. Obayashi has won four contracts for work with its joint venture partner from October 2015.

Services between Tokyo and Nagoya on a 286-kilometer stretch are slated to begin in 2027, connecting the two cities in only 40 minutes, less than half the 88 minutes it now takes on the quickest Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train operated by Central Japan Railway.

The railway company said it is not aware of any fraud in the bidding.

The next-generation high-speed line — the world’s first using superconducting magnetic levitation technology — will have a top speed of 500 kilometers per hour.

Obayashi, established in 1936, is expanding its business globally with about 8,500 employees. The company posted sales of 1.3 trillion yen in the past business year to March 31.

© KYODO

Source  :  Japan Today

Locals to deny forced labor by Koreans at coal mine now UNESCO site

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The government plans to make public testimony denying Koreans were forced to work under harsh conditions during World War II at what is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, government sources says.

That could draw rebukes from South Korea, which maintains that workers from Korea were forced to work in the Hashima Coal Mine off Nagasaki, or what is known as “Battleship Island” because of its shape. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.

When the island was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2015, Japan promised South Korea to exhibit the history of such workers. Japan may continue to collect more testimonies, potentially including acknowledgements of forced labor.

The move comes as the two Asian neighbors need to cooperate in addressing the North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and as Tokyo aims to host a trilateral summit also involving China in the near future.

The Japanese government plans to open in Tokyo by 2019 an information center for Japan’s World Cultural Heritage sites, where the testimonies will be exhibited, according to the sources.

The testimonies denying forced labor are part of 200 hours of recorded memories by around 60 former islanders, including Korean residents in Japan.

One says “I believe Korean people were not forced to do dangerous work,” while another says “Japanese and Koreans were treated the same way in the coal mine.”

All these witnesses live in Japan, but the government is considering compiling testimonies from former mine workers now living in South Korea, the sources said.

Tokyo has told the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that it would collect former islanders’ testimonies and other materials to exhibit, the sources said.

South Korea had initially opposed adding the island to the World Cultural Heritage list under “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution,” saying Koreans were forced to work at some sites. But it dropped its opposition on condition that Japan publicly acknowledge that Koreans were coerced to work at such sites.

However, Tokyo and Seoul have been at odds over the definition of forced labor.

© KYODO

Source  :  Japan Today

Police arrest 3 N Korean fishing boat crew for theft

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Police in Hokkaido said Saturday they had arrested three of the crew members of a North Korean fishing boat on suspicion of plundering a remote fishing hut.

On Friday at about 3:30 p.m., the crew cut ropes tethering their boat to a Japanese coast guard vessel near Hakodate port and tried to flee, but the vessel was recaptured after about an hour.

The boat with 10 crew members had been impounded on Nov 30, two days after being spotted washed ashore on an uninhabited island off the town of Matsumae. The Hokkaido police have been questioning the crew.

The three were arrested on suspicion of stealing a power generator, which was found on their boat, police sources said.

The Immigration Bureau has taken custody of six other members while one has been hospitalized after complaining of ill health. Doctors said he had a gastric ulcer.

The 10 North Koreans are believed to have destroyed a boiler at a refuge hut on the island and stolen electronic appliances and other items, the sources said.

They stripped the generator for its parts and removed a door knob from the hut where they took shelter due to bad weather.

Another generator at a different hut, used to supply water and electricity to the refuge hut, is missing, the sources said.

The items the North Koreans are suspected of stealing include a television, a motorcycle and a solar panel.

Total damage is estimated at 8 million yen, according to the fishery cooperative in Matsumae which owns the hut.

The fishermen have told Japan Coast Guard officials that they left the port of Chongjin in northeastern North Korea in September to go squid fishing in the Sea of Japan before their steering wheel failed about a month ago.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Saturday that the police, the Japan Coast Guard and the Self-Defense Forces will work together in dealing with the recently increasing number of North Korean boats arriving along the coast of Japan.

© KYODO

Police officer leaves gun in Gunma drugstore toilet

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A police officer left his gun in the toilet of a drugstore in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, it was revealed Friday.

According to Gunma prefectural police, the 31-year-old police officer went into the customers’ toilet at around 4 p.m. Thursday, Fuji TV reported. The gun was in his waist bag, which he took off. However, when he left the toilet, the officer forgot to take the waist bag with him.

Another customer found it about 30 minutes later and notified staff who contacted the police department.

A prefectural police spokesman apologised for the officer’s carelessness.

© Japan Today

Source  :  Japan Today