News stories copied with permission from Kyushu Headline News. Available daily at:

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* Heavy Rains Ravage Northern Kyushu
July 13th, 2001
With the monsoon front still lingering above Kyushu, heavy rains across northern Kyushu yesterday left 516 houses flooded and caused 44 landslides. Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture, also set a new record yesterday, with 271ml of rain recorded by 10pm. Officials declined to comment on the extent of economic damage.

* Foreign Plankton Plagues Bays
July 11th, 2001
Kitakyushu City's Aqua Research Center has revealed that one of the types of plankton that causes the infamous red tides in the area is not native to Japan. The Center strongly suspects that the plankton (Kerotonema Tropica) was brought into the area by water dumped from the ballast tanks of South East Asian cargo ships. A similar explanation is being postulated for outbreaks of red tide in Tokyo Bay back in 1993.

* Design Unveiled for Kyushu Shinkansen
July 10th, 2001
The design of the new Shinkansen that will connect Hakata with Kagoshima by 2004 was unveiled on Saturday. Manufacturing of five of the bullet trains, each with six cars, will begin this fall and will be completed by 2003. The design resembles that of the Hikari currently servicing the Tokaido line, but with a more duckbill-shaped engine head. The cost of one car is around 3 billion yen. Half-hourly services will depart from Hakata to Kagoshima, a trip that will take 1 hour and 4 minutes with the trains travelling between 260 km and 300 km per hour on average.

* Prefecture to Re-examine Discrimination Issues
July 10th, 2001
The Fukuoka Prefectural government will conduct a survey of 7,000 people this August to examine awareness of "dowa,"or discrimination issues relating to the "burakumin" class. The survey is the first in 12 years, and aims to clear up issues before new national laws come into effect next March. There are 4,600 recognized buraku areas in Japan, of which Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest number at 617. In the previous survey in 1989, 47.3% of respondents said that the issues had no relation to them, 42.2% said they were angered to hear of buraku discrimination, and fewer than one-third said they would not marry a burakumin.

* Water Purification Pumps to be Placed at Isahaya
July 2nd, 2001
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing agreed last Friday to place water purification pumps outside an adjustment area separating the Isahaya Bay land reclamation project from the Ariake Sea. Ten pumps will be fitted near the northern drainage gate, operating 24 hours and processing 100,000 tons of water daily. The move is in response to pressure from fishing cooperatives from Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Saga prefectures to clean up pollution leaking from the controversial reclamation project, said to be the cause of declining seaweed and shellfish in the area.

* Okinawa woman raped allegedly by U.S. military
June 29th, 2001
A woman in her 20s was raped in a parking lot in Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture, by several men believed to be U.S. military personnel, according to local police. The suspects are still at large and details of the attack remain sketchy.

Here we go again... -Ed.

* Taxi Rumours Abound
June 29th, 2001
The taxi industry in Fukuoka is worried of the public image of drivers its getting worse after rumours that the recent spate of taxi robberies were perpetrated by a taxi driver. Meanwhile police believe that the robber is from the Fukuoka city region having intimate knowledge of the geography of the area.

* Teacher Under Supervision
June 28th, 2001
A science teacher of junior high school in Yamato machi, Saga who was suspended for violence toward students was back in the class room this week albeit with a supervisor. The town recalled the teacher due to the fact that he was the only science teacher the school had and if his suspension continued the students would be without science classes. A fellow teacher must be in the class at all times to make sure violence is not repeated.

With regard to this particular story, the ALT community in Saga happened to have an insider. Jenn Miller, a canadian ALT in Yamato, gave further information on the event:
"The science teacher involved works at Matsuume Junior Highschool, in Yamato.[...] The Matsuume community is incredibly close and supportive of the school, and they are outraged by the return of the teacher to their children's classrooms. As I understand it, the community, and the principal made it very clear to the Yamato BOE and the kencho, that they did not want this man back in the school. In the end, the principal was threatened to be fired, if he did not allow the teacher to return. I questioned my JTE about this, and she said that it had something to do with the rights of the abusive teacher, and that in the eyes of the Japanese legal and education system, these rights were being violated.[...] And so, the students, and community of Matsuume are left with the question, what about the students rights?
The teacher has returned, and, granted, he is not allowed to be alone with the students at any time. This only means that the other teachers have to go and sit in his classroom with him, adding more to their work load. The teacher is no longer involved in club activities, and when he is not in class, he sits in the men's tatami room. I believe that his desk has been moved there. The students who were hit, have to deal with this man on a daily basis, and have a constant reminder of what must have been a horrible experience for them...."
Jenn followed this up with a visit to her town office: "I went into my yakuba on Friday, and asked my supervisor what was up with this situation, and why wan't the guy fired. He told me that it was not illegal for a teacher to hit a student. he also told me that the tv and newspapers had been all over the school and the yakuba reporting the situation. Apparently, not only had the teacher hit the students, but he had done so with a closed fist, and in the face, ie he punched the kids. Very sad, but true. The only thing that is going to happen, is that this guy will leave Matsuume next April, to go on to another school...."
Like Jenn, I'm a little disturbed by this one - especially since theoretically the law does in fact state that hitting students is illegal, or so Kencho told us last year. -Ed.

* Saga City to Prevent Price-Fixing
June 22, 2001
Saga City announced yesterday that it will begin conducting lottery-type general bidding for public works projects in an attempt to stamp out price fixing that has scandalized other prefectures. In this new process, the scale and type of a project will be publicly announced together, while companies will be divided according to lottery on the bidding day and then given the chance to bid against each other. This style of bidding, which was pioneered by Kitano Town in Fukuoka Prefecture, is not popular elsewhere in Japan.

* Bombing Anniversary
June 20, 2001
Yesterday marked the 55th anniversary of the bombing of Fukuoka by over 200 B29 bombers, which caused the death of approximately 2,000 people. Commemorative ceremonies were held throughout the city and schools in Fukuoka were given lessons on the bombing.

* 4 Years Too Lenient
May 31, 2001
A 26 year old man had his sentence increased from four years to six years in an appeal in an abduction case. The man abducted a woman, bound her and sexually assaulted her for 4 hours before she escaped by jumping out a window. While escaping she injured her hip and was permanently injured. According to the Judge, the original sentence of four years was too light.

* All Sea Gaia Employees to be Sacked
May 16, 2001
Ripplewood Holdings, the American company set to take over the failed Miyazaki resort Sea Gaia has announced that it will be sacking all 1,400 employees in July this year. The company will then proceed to reemploy a number of staff but there is no guarantee that all employees will get their jobs back.

* Teenagers from Fukuoka Die in Tokyo
May 16, 2001
Two high school girls from Kasuya, Fukuoka committed suicide yesterday when they jumped from the top of a multi-storey building in Tokyo. The girls left a message " We have no special reason to die, but then again we have no reason to live either".

* Nori in the Post
MAy 1, 2001
Customs officers suspect that the low production of nori seaweed in the Ariake sea has led to a rise in the illegal importation of nori through international mail from Korea. Cheap nori from Korea has been posted to fictitious addresses in Japan, and the quantity in many cases was well over the personal import quantity of 1,000 pieces per family per month.

* Aged Man Mauled to Death by Dogs
April 26, 2001
An 89 year old man was mauled to death by wild dogs in Kanoya, Kagoshima yesterday. The man who was on his motorized wheelchair was found surrounded by several bloodhound type dogs with multiple bite injuries. Police are searching for the canines.

* And the Protests Continue
March 30, 2001
Yesterday, seaweed farmers from Fukuoka, Saga and Kumamoto staged yet another sit in around the site of the Isahaya Bay Land Reclamation Project in Nagasaki Prefecture, which they believe is the cause of this year's record low harvest. Their protest, however, comes on the heels of a demonstration of support for the project the previous day by Isahaya residents who want the highly unpopular and expensive public works project to continue after the government halted construction to supposedly run tests.

Kyushu and Okinawa

* Isahaya Bay Study - Findings Revealed
Figures revealed on the 26th show that tidal flows in the Ariake Sea, Isahaya Bay region have been greatly affected since the closing of the bay due to the land reclamation project. Figures based on a 1998 survey show that in some areas tidal flow speeds have been altered by up to 44%, contradicting prior claims by the Ministry of Farms and Fisheries that no change had occurred. A ministry spokesman claimed a "difference in looking at the data" was to blame.

A "difference in looking at the data" - like sane versus completely nuts, maybe... -Ed.

* Doctor Arrested for Sex With Minors
A Saitama based medical doctor was given a 3 year suspended sentence by the Saga District court after being found guilty of carnal knowledge. The doctor travelled throughout Japan having sex with minors between the age of 14 and 17, who he had contacted through telephone dating service. He was arrested in Saga last year after being caught having sex with a underaged girl.

* Demand Uncertain for New Kitakyushu Airport
February 20, 2001
Government officials and executives representing major businesses in the area met at a symposium to discuss hopes for the New Kitakyushu Airport, to open in autumn 2005. Kitakyushu City Mayor Koichi Sueyoshi stated that the airport should support the city 24 hours a day, while other delegates stated hopes that the new airport would not be "another Saga Airport". Since opening last July, the Saga Airport has operated at barely 60% capacity.

This story is common knowledge, not from Fukuoka Now
US Submarine hits Ehime School Boat
Feb 10, 2001
A US submarine piloted in part by civilians hit an Ehime Prefecture Fisheries Training Vessel, the Ehime Maru. 9 people are missing and presumed dead. Japan has demanded a full investigation, and Prime Minister Mori has come under serious fire for his behavior as the event was developing.

* Research Center to Examine Ariake Sea Problems
February 5, 2001
Kumamoto University will open a coastal environment research center in April this year to examine causes of this year's sudden drop in the nori seaweed harvest. Physics and engineering experts will study tidal patterns, changes in temperature, marine life, and causes of pollution. A professor who has conducted studies into the Ariake Sea at Kumamoto University for two years stated, "The reasons behind the Ariake Sea's ills are complicated and cannot be narrowed to one cause. However, now is the time to look into those causes and try and revive the area's ecology."

The Guardian also ran an article about Japan's troubled Nori industry as one of its lead stories.

* Seaweed Conference Held
January 19, 2001
Yesterday, officials from Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto Prefectures, as well as from the Aqua-farming Ministry held a meeting to discuss this past year's record low for seaweed production in the Ariake Sea. Famous across Japan and an important industry in the region, the seaweed only yielded 64% of the amount harvested the previous year, marking the continuation of a dramatic decline over the years. While scientists attribute the decline to increased plankton and certain species of fish, as well as changes in tide and water quality, regional officials announced that they will conduct further extensive research on the problem.

* Another Breach by a U.S. Marine in Okinawa
January 16, 2001
Two U.S. marines have been held on suspicion of wounding a bar owner and inflicting damage to a bar in Kunigusuku, Okinawa, during the early hours of January 14. Trouble broke out when the 59-year-old female bar owner tried to intervene in a fight between two marines, prompting one to punch her and another to break a table and damage other property in the bar. In an unrelated incident, a marine was arrested for indecently assaulting a female high school student in Okinawa on January 9.

* Best Denki to Sell Used Goods
January 13, 2001
Yesterday, the Fukuoka City based electronic superstore Best Denki, with hundreds of branches nationwide, announced they will begin purchasing and reselling certain used electronic products this February. Based on Electronic Recycling Laws, these products will include refrigerators, air-conditioners, TVs, and washing machines. The Best Denki in Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture will be the first to launch the new service. Aapproximately two branches per month will add the service until February 2002. Best Denki hopes to rack up upwards of 10 billion yen in sales through the service.

* Kabegawa Dam Protests Continue
December 4, 2000
Over 700 local residents, fishermen and environmentalists took part in a rally yesterday to protest the Ministry of Construction's controversial plans to build a dam in the Kabegawa area, Kumamoto Prefecture. The rally was attended by Chief Secretary Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party, who pledged the party would do all they could to stop the project. "This project appears to benefit the party more than the people," said Kan, who also stated the need to prevent the project being both environmentally destructive and a waste of money.

* Seaweed Production Down in Ariake Sea
December 4, 2000
According to the Kyushu Agricultural Agency, income from cultivation of 'nori' (laver seaweed) in the Ariake Sea dropped 3.7% in 1999, or an average 5,720,000 yen per producer. Harvests of nori dropped 10% over the same period. Along with a recent increase in income tax, the dependence rate of fisheries in the area has dropped an estimated 5.7%. The figures are seen to relate to falling wages at fisheries, and there having been fewer working days in 1999 than the previous year. The Ariake Sea has one of Japan's largest annual nori harvests.

* Fast Food Chains Adopt Food Recycling Measures
December 4, 2000
Fast food chains in Kyushu are honing their organic waste disposal methods to prepare for a new law next April, which will require waste from food processing and catering businesses to be recycled as fertilizer. Currently, organic waste is incinerated or buried. About 16 million tons of such waste is generated annually, of which the catering industry accounts for 6 million tons. Only 0.3% is reused. Chain noodle restaurant Ringer Hut and family restaurant Joyfull (based in Nagasaki and Oita respectively) are leading the initiatives along with national chain Royal in experimenting with methods of turning organic waste into garden compost.

* The Naked Truth
November 30, 2000
It has come to light that the Principal of Tamana Primary School ignored pleas from 3rd grade girls when they reported that their male teacher punished them by making them strip naked in class. When filing his report, the principal took no notice of the students, only the teacher who lied, claiming he was not in the classroom at the time.

* Cathedral Statue Unearthed
September 22, 2000
The long-missing head of a stone statue belonging to Urakami Cathedral, Nagasaki, was discovered yesterday under the floorboards of a private home, more than 55 years after an atomic bomb dropped on the city evidently sent it flying there. The statue was discovered by workers restoring the home, which came under the city's administration in July after its 85-year-old owner passed away. The building was being restored as an example of a WWII-era home, and is located 600 m from the bomb's epicenter and about 100m from Urakami Cathedral. According to relatives of the deceased owner, none of the family were aware of the statue's presence.

.* Saga Gets Large Multi-facility Shopping Complex
Roads in Saga Prefecture were congested for more than 6 kilometers on Saturday with the opening of Aeon Shopping Town Yamato, a multi-facility shopping complex that is one of the largest of its kind in Kyushu. Located in the town of Yamato-machi in Saga Prefecture, the complex has supermarket retailer Kyushu Jusco as its main tenant and covers an area of some 40,300 square meters. Some 60,000 people, nearly 3 times the population of Yamato-machi visited the complex on its first day of business. As well as a large supermarket, tenants include some 100 specialty stores and electrical appliance retailer Best Denki. A multi-screen cinema is also due to be opened by August of next year.

* Large Typhoon Brushes Close to Kyushu
13 September 2000
Yesterday, typhoon #14 grazed past Kyushu proper, but pounded the Okinawan islands. Parts of Kyushu, however, did receive torrential rains, including Kagoshima, which recorded over 250 ml. Weather forecasters had expected the typhoon to tack north toward Kyushu, but last night it spared the southern island and headed northwest toward Korea before curving back toward Honshu.

News from before can be found here

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News stories copied with permission from Kyushu Headline News. Available daily at: