law

Government begins study into tattoo bans in public baths

On 23 June the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) announced that it would be conducting a first-of-its-kind study into public bathing facilities such as onsen (hot springs) and sento (bath houses), and their rules regarding tattoos.

Visitors to Japan are often warned that if they want to visit one of Japan’s hundreds of natural springs or meticulously designed baths they can’t be inked up. But how widespread is this rule in Japan really, and is it doing more harm than good in this day and age? These are the things the JTA hopes to learn more about in the weeks to come.

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Pissed-off company president sues building owner for pee splash-back from urinals

Earlier this week, what is being hailed as Japan’s “trial of the century” by many (in our office) has come to an abrupt end. The Osaka District Court handed down some rough justice in the case of a company president who sued the building he was renting office space from to the tune of 840,000 yen (US$6,800).

The president’s claim that the building’s urinals had caused excessive splash-back of pee were dismissed due to several reasons including the president’s own “pee experiments” being deemed inadmissible by the courts.

Was the president a quack who didn’t know how to urinate correctly? Or was he a victim of greedy cost cutting landlords and toilet moguls? This is their story based on court documents.

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Japan’s tax agency considers protected designation for Japanese sake

Okay, Rocketeers, time for a pop quiz: what is Japanese sake? Turns out the question is actually a little more complicated than it looks on the surface.

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New Japanese biking laws say no more earphones in ears…but what about other orifices?

A few days ago, we brought you a list of 14 things never to do on a bicycle in Japan in light of new cycling traffic laws that went into effect on June 1. Of course, the new, stricter laws are intended to promote bicycle safety and reduce accidents, but they mean a lot of cyclists in Japan are going to have to give up on some of their old bad habits, like riding while listening to music.

There’s a little speculation that riding with headphones in but no music on, and riding with just one earpiece in (although that sounds to us like a recipe for disaster when the other dangling earbud inevitably gets caught in your spokes) are probably not going to get you jail time or anything, but we like to play it safe here at RocketNews24, at least until happy hour rolls around.

So, when one of our Japanese writers – a noted music lover – was pondering other ways to get his music fix while commuting by bike, he stumbled on what seemed like an easy solution: If the law says you can’t ride with earbuds in your ears, well, just shove those suckers right up your schnoz. It’s so simple it just has to work!

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No more earphones while cycling in Japan? Well, how about nipplephones?

As you probably know, bicycles are an incredibly common method of transportation in Japan. They’ve also been a source of many accidents in the country, and police have taken an increasingly strict approach to dealing with law-breaking cyclists. New rules have recently been implemented to keep the country’s streets from turning into a crazy, Mad Max-esque bicycle dystopia, and one that’s really got people’s attention is a prohibition on earphones/headphones while cycling.

The exact rule and punishment seems to vary from location to location, but wearing earphones in both ears is sure to get you at least a warning, and in some places, Tokyo included, even just one ear is now against the law. But, one of our intrepid RocketNews24 Japan writers thought, what about earphones on your nipples?

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Beijing enacts sweeping non-smoking law

You have to hand it to one-party systems. Despite their many flaws, one positive point is that they can get things done quickly. Over the past decade or so, Japan has been gradually reducing the number of public places where smoking is permitted, and raising the price of tobacco in baby steps in an effort to curb the once rampant smoking culture in the country.

In Beijing, meanwhile, from 1 June the entire city has been put on lockdown for smokers. From now on, anyone caught smoking inside any enclosed place of business will be fined. Just like that.

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Driver who killed cyclist in crosswalk accident found not guilty, causes controversy in Japan

Pedestrian crosswalk laws are all over the place no matter where you go. What’s considered jaywalking varies by country, and in the U.S. each state has its own laws for exactly how far the pedestrian needs to have crossed on the crosswalk before you have to stop.

In Japan, typically vehicles are expected to yield to anyone in a crosswalk at all times. That’s why the judge’s decision in a recent landmark case is taking the country by storm right now: a cyclist was killed by a car in a crosswalk, and the motorist was found to be in no way at fault.

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Guangzhou City to allow co-workers and neighbors to give consent for other people’s organ donations

On 3 April Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province, China, announced some changes to their organ donation laws. These changes will allow people beyond the immediate family to give permission to harvest a deceased person’s organs.

This is expected to be bad news for Guangzhou’s paranoid population, who must now expand their sphere of people likely to murder them in their sleep well beyond their wife and kids to include co-workers and other members of their community.

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Parents of schoolboy ordered to pay 15 million yen after wayward soccer ball leads to man’s death

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Japan set a ruling date of 9 April in the long-running case of a soccer mishap which resulted in a man’s death. The incident occurred when the deceased was riding a motor bike and fell trying to avoid a soccer ball that rolled out from a school yard.

In the decade since the incident occurred, the family of the man has been trying to hold the parents of the boy who kicked the ball financially responsible and so far has succeeded in two previous rulings. If the Supreme Court agrees with the previous two decisions then the boys’ mother and father will possibly have to pay 15 million yen (US$125,000) to the family.

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Toyama man awarded US$160,000 after being imprisoned for three years on false rape charges

Imagine you’re relaxing at home one day when there’s a sudden knock at the door. Before you know it you’re sitting in a police interrogation room with people trying to get a confession out of you for a crime you know nothing about. Soon after, you are sentenced to prison for three years for a crime you never committed, only to be released and regarded by society as a convicted sex offender for the rest of your days.

That nightmare scenario played out for Hiroshi Yanagihara, a man who, well after serving his full prison sentence, was found innocent of all charges. Following that, an understandably upset Yanagihara went after the people who initially arrested and convicted him, demanding compensation and criminal charges.

As a result, on 9 March Toyama District Court awarded Hiroshi Yanagihara 19.7 million yen (US$161,000) – apparently the value of five years of his life.

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If Japan joins the TPP, would it be the end of parody and self-published works?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has proven a source of extreme contention on both sides of the ocean. For example, the EFF has been openly critical of the potential agreement, describing it on their website as “a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” Japanese farmers don’t seem to fond of it either, though for entirely different reasons.

And now the TPP is drawing the ire of (with a few smatterings of approval from) Japan’s manga and anime fans. Some are even saying the agreement has the potential to utterly destroy otaku culture. Is this hyperbole or is the sky really falling?

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Confused Japanese consumers want an answer: Where is “P.R.C.”?

In today’s globalized economy, it’s perfectly normal to be wearing shoes made in Malaysia, listening to an American pop star on a Korean smartphone while driving a German car fitted with Japanese tires. But how many times have you taken a good look to find out where those new jeans or those headphones you got for Christmas were really made?

Recently Japanese consumers have been discovering that some of their products are from “P.R.C.,” a country they had never heard of, and would like some answers on what appears to be a legal gray zone in product labeling regulations.

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Train station in Japan devises an adorable new way to prevent roadside bicycle parking

Illegally parking bicycles is a persistent problem in Japan, and one creative train station has come up with a new strategy to stop people from leaving bikes where they shouldn’t – by putting cute illustrations done by children on the ground!

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High-level yakuza member arrested for possession of 17kg of salt

On 1 December Yokohama customs and police departments announced the arrest of an allegedly high ranking 49-year-old member of the Sumiyoshikai yakuza group along with six other men in a case of smuggling. They found in his possession 17kg of rock salt, which was actually planted on him by Yokohama customs agents prior to his arrest. All involved are considering it a flawless example of proper law-enforcement.

If you’re confused by this then you might not be familiar with the police tactic known as “oyogasesosa” (swim investigation) or “controlled delivery” as it’s called in English speaking countries.

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In Hokkaido there’s weed, weed everywhere, but not a drop to smoke

Japan tends to be a very drug-shy country. Most people you talk to will say that they’ve never gone anywhere near substances like marijuana, and according to a Public Library of Science survey, 98 times out of 100 they’re telling you the truth.

And yet you might be surprised to hear that there is an abundance of cannabis growing wild all over the northern island of Hokkaido. But before you go booking a ticket, you may want to learn why.

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Absurd anti-prostitution proposal in Russia gets Japanese commenters’ tongues wagging

Prostitution is often called the oldest job in history. While that seems like a less-than-realistic claim, it doesn’t change the fact that the sale and purchase of sex has been around for millennia and will likely continue despite the various efforts to ban it. However, that hasn’t stopped some from trying. Take, for example, a Russian politician who recently suggested that people caught with prostitutes ought to face a fine and prison term–unless they agree to marry the sex worker!

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Japan government to allow dancing past midnight by candlelight, joins the 19th century

Last Friday, on the recommendation of a special committee the Abe cabinet agreed to suggested changes to the Fueiho laws which place severe and unclear regulations on dancing in Japan.

As we reported last week, under Fueiho (Act on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business), businesses such as nightclubs are required to operate under a loosely defined set of parameters. However, most didn’t. This led to a string of raids and closures which crippled the night club scene in much of Japan.

After these new changes pass through the Diet, clubs will be allowed to host dancing after midnight – provided the lighting is bright enough.

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Is it safe to dance yet? Uncertainty continues to reign supreme in Japan’s club scene

On 15 October it was reported that Masatoshi Kanemitsu would have to go back to court after being acquitted by the Osaka District Court. His alleged crime: allowing his customers to dance in the Umeda area club he owned called Noon.

This kind of law prohibiting dancing might sound straight out of some fundamentalist theocracy, but it’s alive and well in Japan. Actually, it’s far worse than a draconian “no dancing whatsoever” law that you know where things stand; nightclubs in Japan seem to allow dancing until someone in authority decides otherwise. There’s no way to know until officers start bursting through your doors.

This sword dangling over the heads of the remaining clubs is called the Act on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business or Fueiho for short. So let’s take a quick look at why this law is crushing dancing in Japan, and I’ll do my best to avoid any Footloose references.

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Osaka man wipes away millions in owed taxes by deducting losing horse race tickets

It’s often said that nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes, but for one Osaka resident, that maxim was little more than an old wives’ tale.

One day, the taxman came calling to the tune of 816 million yen (US$7.7M) over years of unreported winning horse race bets. However, in a game where the house always wins, this guy managed to flip the script and knock down the money owed to a relatively modest 67 million yen ($635,000).

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Don’t point that camera at me! Man arrested for taking “normal” picture on train

Japanese people love to take pictures. Whenever you see them on vacation, no matter if it’s their first time or their thousandth time, they are always taking them. In fact, Japan was one of the first countries to sell mobile phones equipped with a camera back in 2000. Having a camera on you at all times sure does come in handy, as you’ll always be able to capture that special moment wherever you are.

Unfortunately, sometimes that special moment is a peep-shot or a scandalous photo which is certainly a violation of privacy. Japan has taken a very no-nonsense approach to help stop these highly inappropriate photos, and it comes in the form of the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance. So powerful is this law that the latest person to be arrested has caused a bit of commotion. His crime? Taking a picture of a fully-clothed woman sitting beside him on the train.

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