In this week’s news roundup, we report on the violent rampage that took place in Japan’s central Nagano region yesterday. Four people died in the attack, including two female civilians and two police officers. The suspect, who used a knife and a hunting rifle, has been identified as Masanori Aoki, 31, the eldest son of Masamichi Aoki, an assembly speaker in Nakano city, where the incident occurred. After an hour-long standoff, he eventually surrendered in the early hours of Friday morning.
Also this week, we look back at the G7 summit in Hiroshima where Volodymyr Zelenskyy stole the show. A frog was discovered in a man’s takeaway salad udon cup in Nagasaki. And Tina Turner, the “Queen of rock ‘n’ roll,” passed away aged 83. One of the world’s most popular entertainers, one thing many people didn’t know about her was the fact that she was an adherent of Soka Gakkai, Japan’s largest and most influential new religious organization that is based on the teachings of the 13th-century Buddhist priest, Nichiren.
Two Civilians and Two Police Officers Die in Nagano Rampage
At around 4pm on Thursday, an eye witness working in a field in the sleepy town of Nakano, Nagano Prefecture, spotted a man wearing camouflage clothing, a hat, sunglasses and a mask chasing after a woman who was shouting for help. The man then stabbed the victim in the back and chest. Identified as Yukie Murakami, 66, she was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The eye witness rushed to his home and called the police. When officers arrived at the scene, the suspect opened fire with a hunting rifle.
Yoshiki Tamai, a 46-year-old inspector, and Takuo Ikeuchi, a 61-year-old sergeant, both succumbed to their injuries. After the shootings, the suspect barricaded himself in his parents’ house. Two women, including the assassin’s mother, escaped from the residence. Shots were heard later in the evening as a long standoff ensued. The suspect emerged from the house at around 4:30am on Friday. An elderly, as of yet unidentified woman was also found unconscious outside the building. She’s since been pronounced dead. At the time of writing, the motive for the rampage is unknown.
Zelenskyy Steals the Show at G7 Summit
Volodymyr Zelenskyy stole the show at last weekend’s G7 summit in Hiroshima. News of the Ukrainian president possibly appearing in person at the event broke last Friday. Nothing was confirmed, though, until he landed at Hiroshima Airport the following day on a plane loaned to him by French President Emmanuel Macron. “Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today,” tweeted the television comic-turned wartime leader upon arrival.
On the same day that he flew to Japan, Russia claimed it had completely captured the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Zelenskyy denied this on Sunday, however, stating that his forces were still advancing around the edges of the city. “Frankly, the pictures of Hiroshima in ruins really remind me of Bakhmut and all small (Ukrainian) cities like it,” said Zelenskyy. Describing Hiroshima as “a modern city that looks alive,” he added that “in Ukraine’s Bakhmut, there will be reconstruction in the future, too.”
Anti-G7 Demonstrators Scuffle with Police
Not everyone was pleased to see the G7 leaders arrive in Hiroshima. Demonstrators against the summit took to the streets on Saturday to chant anti-war slogans. The protests were reportedly organized by the “Revolutionary Communist League National Committee,” a far-left extremist group that viewed the three-day event as a conference of “imperialism for nuclear war.” BBC footage on Saturday showed riot police clashing with protestors. In the one-minute clip, several officers can be seen jostling with two activists before pinning them down.
Unsurprisingly, China was also unhappy with the summit. As well as the war in Ukraine, the other major topic of discussion in Hiroshima was the rising military and security threat from the world’s most popular nation. Global Times, a state-backed Chinese mouthpiece, described the conference as an “anti-China workshop.” Beijing lodged a strong protest against the G7 communique with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoning the Japanese ambassador. According to Weidong, Japan collaborated with other G7 nations to “smear and attack China, grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Legendary Soka Gakkai Practitioner Tina Turner Dies, Aged 83
Tributes came pouring in for Tina Turner this week after the legendary singer, known for monster hits such as “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” “The Best” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” passed away on Wednesday. “She was powerful. She was unstoppable. And she was unapologetically herself,” tweeted former American President Barack Obama. Current President Joe Biden a her as “a once-in-a-generation talent that changed American music forever.” Calling her “my beloved queen,” Beyoncé wrote on her website that she was “the epitome of power and passion.”
For years, Turner was domestically abused by her former husband and music partner, Ike Turner. Going through some very dark and troubling times, she credited her practice of Nichiren Buddhism as a source of hope in her life. “In the Soka Gakkai tradition of Nichiren Buddhism, we chant with our eyes open and in vigorous rhythmic repetition, which I’ve always loved. Little by little, it brought out my courage to break away and live an independent life on my own,” she told Tricycle in 2020. Other famous Soka Gakkai practitioners include Orlando Bloom and Roberto Baggio.
Fast-Food Chain Apologizes After Frog is Found in Its Udon Salad
A customer at the popular food udon chain store Marugame Seimen got a surprise on Sunday when he discovered a live frog inside his takeaway “spicy dandan salad udon” cup. The man, who was on a business trip in Isahaya city, Nagasaki, uploaded a clip of the bright green amphibians swimming around in the broth. The restaurant chain, which has over 1,000 outlets in and out of Japan, apologized via its website on Tuesday. It added that all menu items with raw vegetables were suspended until Thursday.
The spicy dandan salad udon is part of the company’s new “Marugame Shake Udon” line. These takeout only offerings, which became available nationwide on May 16, proved an immediate hit, selling around 210,000 servings in the first three days. Whether they’ll be so popular after this incident remains to be seen. It’s not the first food-related incident in Japan involving a frog this month. On May 11, a tailless amphibian was found in a salad bought at a supermarket in Ueda city, Nagano Prefecture.
WBC Winner Referred to Prosecutors for Alleged Rape
Hotaka Yamakawa, a member of Japan’s triumphant World Baseball Classic-winning side, was referred to prosecutors on Tuesday for allegedly raping a female acquaintance in her 20s at a Tokyo hotel last November. The 31-year-old power-hitting infielder from Seibu Lions, a three-time Pacific League home run leader, is believed to have been admitted to going to the hotel with the woman, but said the acts were consensual. In more positive baseball news, Shohei Ohtani hit his 12th homer of the season in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
In men’s soccer, Japan lost 2-1 to Colombia in their second game of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. They defeated Senegal 1-0 in their opening encounter. A draw against Israel on Saturday is likely to be enough to see them through to the knockout stages. In Europe, there were plenty of Japanese players on target this week. Takefusa Kubo, Wataru Endo. Daichi Kamada, Junya Ito, Chef Saito, Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate all netted. in the J-LeagueSpanish legend Andrés Iniesta announced his departure from Vissel Kobe.