This week’s news roundup is dominated by crime. At a Japanese military base in Gifu Prefecture, two soldiers are killed and another one injured after a GSDF recruit opens fire on his colleagues. There’s another watch store heist, this time in Kawasaki, with one of the men being appreciated. And in Tokyo, a Vietnamese student is arrested for cutting people’s hair without a license.
In non-crime-related news, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decides against a snap election before the end of the current Diet session. North Korea fires two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan as American, Japanese and South Korean national security advisors meet in Tokyo. And in sport, Shohei Ohtani moves to the top of the American League’s home run leaderboard.
Suspect in GSDF Shooting Targeted Instructor
Two Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) members, Yasuchika Kikumatsu, 52, and Kosuke Yashiro, 25, died on Wednesday after a recruit opened fire during a training drill at the organization’s Hino shooting range in Gifu Prefecture. Yusuke Hara, 25, was also wounded in the attack. According to NHK, the 18-year-old cadet targeted his instructor, but “didn’t intend” to kill another victim. He was sent to the prosecutors on Thursday on suspicion of murder.
Around 120 people took part in the training exercise. Participants reportedly wore helmets but no bullet-proof vests. The suspect allegedly opened fire as he waited for his turn in the drill. The last time a fatal shooting involving GSDF personnel occurred in Japan was in 1984. The assassin killed one person and seriously injured three others, but was considered mentally unfit to stand trial.
Luxury Watch Shop Robbed in Kawasaki
A 26-year-old man was arrested on Sunday following a robbery at a luxury watch shop in Kawasaki city. Takahiro Yagi, who resides in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, was restrained by the store’s manager and passersby. A second suspect, who fled the scene, and the getaway driver remained at large. Two masked men reportedly barged into the shop at around 1pm and started smashing display cases.
They are made off with just one Rolex watch. Luckily, no customers were harmed, though a 43-year-old male employee suffered injuries to his left wrist. Yagi reportedly told the police he applied for the yami baito (dark part-time job) on a social networking site. The incident in Kawasaki comes just over a month after the online heist of a Rolex specialty store in Ginza, Tokyo.
Vietnamese Student Arrested for Cutting Hair Without a License
Another arrest making headlines this week was for a more trivial crime. The police announced on Monday that Vietnamese vocational school student Nguyen Van Thang, 24, was detained last Tuesday for providing barber services without a license at his condominium in Tokyo. It’s believed he has served as many as 3,000 customers since April 2021, earning around ¥4.5 million. Van Thang denied the allegations.
He’s not the first Vietnamese hairdresser to get in trouble with the law here this year. In May, a 35-year-old Vietnamese woman was arrested for operating what the police did a as an “underground hair salon” in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture. A 29-year-old man, believed to have been her employee, was also taken into custody. Both were allegedly operating without a government-accredited license.
PM Decides Against Calling a Snap Election
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would not be dissolving the House of Representatives before the end of the current Diet session on June 21. Speculation about the possibility of him calling a snap election intensified this week as the opposition Constitutional Democratic The Party of Japan looked to submit a no-confidence motion against his Cabinet.
Many felt holding an early election would be beneficial for Kishida as his popularity grew in May following the G7 summit in Hiroshima. Opinion polls conducted by NHK last weekend, however, showed that his support rate fell to 43%, down three points from the previous month. This was attributed to his tardiness in dismissing his son and various troubles related to the My Number card system.
Pyongyang Launches Two Missiles into Japan’s EEZ
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday night, both of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The projectiles were fired at approximately 7:25pm and 7:37pm from the Sunan area of Pyongyang. Less than an hour earlier, North Korea warned of an “inevitable” response to the largest ever live-fire drills conducted by South Korea and the United States.
On Thursday, 2,500 troops from both countries took part in military exercises in Pocheon, around 25 kilometers south of the border that separates the two Koreas. In Tokyo, meanwhile, Jake Sullivan met with Takeo Akiba and Cho Tae-yong. The national security advisors of the US, Japan and South Korea vowed to work closely to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Ohtani Climbs to the Top of the AL Home Run Leaderboard
Shohei Ohtani smashed two home runs for the Los Angeles Angels in their 9-6 win over the Texas Rangers on Monday. They were his 19th and 20th homers of the season. That took him to the top of the leaderboard in the American League (AL) home run race. His 21st came in his side’s 6-3 loss to the same team on Wednesday.
In women’s soccer, Futoshi Ikeda named his squad for the 2023 FIFA World Cup. The most notable absentee was Arsenal attacker Mana Iwabuchi, who was hoping to feature in her fourth tournament. Japan will play all their group games in New Zealand against Zambia, Costa Rica and Spain. In the men’s game, the Samurai Blue defeated El Salvador 6-0 on Thursday.