At least two victims are dead, including an 11-year-old girl, and about 17 others were injured in a mass stabbing attack near Tokyo, Tuesday morning. Japanese broadcaster NHK quoted officials who said a knife-wielding man attacked a group of elementary school children as they were boarding a school bus at about 7:45 a.m. local time in the city of Kawasaki. The suspect reportedly stabbed himself in the neck before he was detained. He has since died from his injuries, according to the broadcaster. The motive for the attack is unknown.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally took up his post on Wednesday a day after the abdication of his father, saying he felt a “sense of solemnity” but pledging to work as a symbol of the nation and the unity of its people. Naruhito, the first emperor born after World War Two and the first to be raised solely by his parents, expressed gratitude for their work and said he felt solemn at the thought of the burden he is taking on.
Japanese Emperor Akihito, in his final remarks as his three-decade reign drew to a close on Tuesday, thanked the people for their support and expressed hope for a peaceful future. Akihito, 85, the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries, had sought to ease the painful memories of World War Two and bring the monarchy closer to the people, including those marginalized in society. The popular Akihito was the first monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne under a post-war constitution that defines the emperor as a symbol of the people without political power.
Japan has apologized to tens of thousands of victims of the country’s forced sterilization legislation. An estimated 25,000 people were sterilized without their consent under the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law, which was in place until 1996. It allowed doctors to sterilize those with disabilities and was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants”. Japan’s government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time. But it is now promising one-off compensation worth 3.2m yen for each victim.
A Japanese military fighter jet that disappeared during a flight exercise has crashed and the pilot remains missing, the nation’s Defence Minister has confirmed. Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the cause of the plane’s disappearance was not immediately known, and 12 other F-35s at the Misawa base would be grounded. The crash is only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying almost two decades ago. Japan has just started deploying the expensive US-made F-35s since last year as part of its plan to counter potential threats from North Korea and China.
The reign of Japan’s next emperor will be known as the Reiwa era, after the new imperial name was unveiled before an expectant nation on Monday morning. The new era will begin on 1 May, a day after the emperor, Akihito – whose era is known as Heisei (achieving peace) – makes way for his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, in Japan’s first imperial abdication for more than 200 years. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the term “symbolises our nation’s profound public culture and long tradition”.
Japan has announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next year and will resume commercial hunting in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone from July. It will also cease whaling activities in the Antarctic Ocean, according to an official statement released Wednesday, and hunt species with so-called “healthy” population numbers. The move to resume commercial whaling drew criticism from conservation groups and governments.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito spent his last birthday before his abdication pushing for the proper education of younger generations about the trials of war. Emperor Akihito’s son Crown Prince Naruhito will take the Chrysanthemum throne on May 1, 2019. Akihito will become the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in 200 years since Emperor Kōkaku in 1817.
More than 40 people were injured in an explosion and fire at a restaurant in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. While some reports suggest a gas blast the cause of the explosion has not been officially determined. The explosion and fire affected both dining and residential establishments. Emergency services continue to investigate the cause.
Japan’s education ministry reported that child suicides are at their highest point in over 30 years. Children reported concerns including worries about the future, bullying, and family problems. The latest survey showed that 250 children and teenagers took their lives between 2016 and 2017. Most suicides were committed by high school students.