Ginza Heist Highlights ‘Dark Part-Time Work” Trend

It was a robbery so brazen, some passersby thought it was a film shoot. On Monday, three masked assassins stole around 70 watches from a Rolex specialty store in Ginza as stunned onlookers filmed them on their phones. The suspects, all in their teens, told the police they didn’t know each other. It seems certain, therefore, that they were recruited for “yami baito,” which literally translated means “dark part-time work.” The phrase made headlines earlier this year due to the so-called “Luffy” robberies.

In other crime news, a 13-year-old boy was stabbed in front of his home in Tokyo, while in Osaka, a 22-year-old man was arrested following the death of his teenage girlfriend. Also this week, we report on the magnitude 5.2 earthquake that struck the greater Tokyo region, the downgrading of COVID-19 and calls for the amendment of Article 16 of the Status of Forces Agreement. In sport, the Urawa Reds lifted their third Asian Champions League title and the Abe Siblings both won gold at the Judo World Championships.

Four Teens Arrested After Robbery at Rolex Store

Four teenagers are being investigated after a Rolex specialty store was robbed in the upmarket shopping district of Ginza on Monday. At around 6:15pm, three masked assassins stormed Quark Ginza 888, threatening to kill the salesclerks with a knife. Using a crowdbar-like object, they then broke into a showcase to grab around 70 wristwatches worth ¥250 million. At the time, there were five sales clerks and no customers. Luckily, no one was hurt. The perpetrators fled in a rented van that appeared to have a replaced license plate.

Later that evening, four people aged between 16 and 19 were arrested for trespassing in an apartment building in Tokyo’s Minato ward near where the police found the minivan used for the robbery. Despite all being from Yokohama, they allegedly told officers they didn’t know each other. The Metropolitan Police Department confiscated two of their phones and is now analyzing whether they were recruited for “dark part-time work.” Another suspect may be at large as an eyewitness reportedly spotted five people fleeing from the scene of the crime.

A 13-year-old boy was stabbed outside his home in Tokyo | Image by Anna Petek

Teenager Stabbed Outside His Home in Tokyo

A man in his 60s was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of stabbing a 13-year-old boy, who can’t be named. The incident took place outside the teenager’s home in Kamata, Tokyo, at around 8:05am. It’s believed he was heading to school at the time. Yasunori Yamashita, 61, was spotted in blood-stained clothes near the scene around 10 minutes after an emergency call was made. He has reportedly admitted to the charges, though his motive has yet to be revealed. The boy’s injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

An unnamed female in her late teens in Izumisano city, Osaka Prefecture, wasn’t so lucky. At 6:45pm on Tuesday, her boyfriend, Motoko Yamanaka, called 119, claiming she wasn’t breathing and had become cold. She was declared dead at the scene by the paramedics. According to the police, she had a red, swollen face. Yamanaka admitted to punching her between 10 and 20 times during an argument on Monday. He then found her dead on the bed when he returned the following evening.

The public is being urged to stay alert for more seismic activity over the coming days

M5.2 Quake Strikes Near Tokyo

Residents in Tokyo and surrounding areas were woken by powerful shaking on Thursday morning. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 and a depth of around 40 kilometers struck the Kanto region at 4:16am. In Chiba Prefecture’s Kisarazu city, it is measured upper 5 on Japan’s seven-tier intensity scale, which is defined as a situation in which people find it difficult to walk. While a few citizens were injured in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, there were no reports of any casualties. No tsunami warning was issued.

At a hastily arranged press conference, Meteorological Agency official Noriko Kamaya urged people to stay alert for more seismic activity over the coming days. As well as warning about the potential for another powerful earthquake striking within the next week, she also emphasized the risk of falling rocks and landslides in regions hit by strong tremors. The central Japan area, henceforth, continues to be shaken by a series of aftershocks. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture last Friday.

A ninth COVID wave is expected soon

COVID-19 Downgraded to Same Level as Flu

On Monday, Japan officially downgraded COVID-19 to an infectious disease par with influenza. This means the government no longer has the legal basis to declare a state of emergency or order infected people to stay home. However, a self-isolation period of five days is still recommended. From now on, residents of Japan will be charged for coronavirus-related outpatient care and hospitalization. Parts of those fees, though, will be subsidized for the time being. COVID-19 vaccines, meanwhile, will still be offered free of charge until at least March 2024.

Japan’s downgrading of the severity of COVID-19 came just a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was not a public health emergency of international concern anymore. Yet, experts are warning the public to remain vigilantes as the ninth wave of infections is expected soon. “We need to prepare (for the next pandemic) even in ordinary times, based on a thorough review” of the country’s COVID-19 response, said the government’s top adviser, Shigeru Omi.

Mari Takagi and Catherine Jane Fisher

Rape Survivor Speaks at the National Diet of Japan

On Thursday, rape survivor and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Catherine Jane Fisher attended a House of Councilors meeting at the National Diet. She was there to put forward her views on Article 16 of the Status of Forces Agreement, which currently states that US military personnel should “respect” the laws of Japan, but don’t need to “obey” them. Fisher, who was drugged and brutally raped in a parking lot near the Yokosuka Naval Base two decades ago, feels that changing just one word could have a big impact.

“I believe such an amendment would eradicate some of the ongoing crimes, but it has not been implemented. … As the G7 Summit approaches, I urge the Japanese government to consider the gravity of this issue,” she told Tokyo Weekends. Fisher was supported in the Diet by Mari Takagi, a member of the House of Councilors of Japan. “The US is adamant about protecting its citizens, and similarly, the Japanese government should be equally determined to protect not only Japanese nationals but all people living in Japan from human rights abuses,” she said.

The Saitama-based club lifted their third ACL title | Image by Kohei Tomonaga

Urawa Crowned Asian Champions League Winners

The Urawa Reds are kings of Asia again following a hard-fought victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Saturday. Drawing 1-1 from the first leg in Riyadh, the J-League side won the second 1-0 thanks to an own goal by André Carrillo. It’s their third Asian Champions League triumph. in Europe, Kyogo Furuhashi grabbed his 50th goal for Celtic as the Hoops secured their 54th Scottish title. Ayase Ueda moved onto 20 goals for the campaign in Belgium with a brace of penalties in a 5-3 victory for Cercle Brugge over Westerlo.

In other sports news, Natsumi Tsunoda won Japan’s first gold medal at the World Judo Championships in Qatar on Sunday. Siblings Hifumi and Uta Abe then picked up the country’s second and third the following day. In Major League Baseball, Shohei Ohtani’s eighth homer of the season was in vain as the Los Angeles Angels lost 5-4 to the Houston Astros on Wednesday. His first mound loss of the campaign came a day earlier. In the NBA Conference semifinals, Rui Hachimura’s LA Lakers lead the Golden State Warriors 3-2.

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