Fukuoka Pref to aid gangsters seeking to leave crime syndicates – Fukuoka
The Fukuoka prefectural government will pay transportation and accommodation fees for gangsters seeking to leave organized crime groups from April, a rare initiative aimed at promoting their return to society and weakening syndicates.
Yakuza members wishing to cut ties with underworld groups but who are afraid of revenge and cannot rely on families or friends for refuge will be entitled to the aid, according to the prefectural police, which is administering the new policy. The southwestern Japan prefectural government earmarked 4.2 million yen for the expenses in the draft budget for fiscal 2018 starting April, including funds for lodging and travel for job interviews at companies outside Fukuoka.
Kitakyushu, the second-largest city in Fukuoka Prefecture, is home to major Japanese crime syndicate Kudo-kai. Local police have been making efforts to facilitate gangsters’ departure from organized groups and to promote their employment, in coordination with police nationwide. Measures to protect witnesses in criminal trials involving Kudo-kai will also be strengthened, such as by setting up more security cameras at witnesses’ homes and assessing whether the syndicate is preparing to launch an attack on a witness.
No. of foreign visitors hits record for Jan, but growth rate slows – Nationwide
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in January rose 9.0 percent from a year earlier to 2,501,500, a record for the month, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday. But the growth rate was the slowest since last March partly because the Lunar New Year, a major holiday season celebrated in China and elsewhere, began later than last year. The holidays started in late January last year. “We had expected the possibility of a drop in the number but it turned out solid. It is a good start” to the year, Akihiko Tamura, commissioner of the agency, told a press conference.
Over the Lunar New Year holidays in February, Tamura said many travelers from China chose to visit snowy areas in particular such as Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan and Niigata Prefecture facing the Sea of Japan. By country and region, visitors from South Korea ranked top at 803,800, up 28.5 from a year earlier, amid an increased number of low-cost carrier flights.
Visitors from China came second at 632,300, up 0.3 percent, followed by those from Taiwan at 350,500, down 0.1 percent, and Hong Kong at 160,500, a drop of 13.5 percent. The number of visitors from the latter two regions fell also due in part to the schedule of the Lunar New Year.
Meanwhile, visitors from Indonesia and Russia posted strong growth, at 32.7 percent and 31.9 percent, respectively, according to the data. An increase in the number of flights from Indonesia pushed up the number of visitors, while easing of visa restrictions also helped boost the number of Russian travelers to Japan.
Osaka whale fossil believed to be 1st of its kind – Osaka
A whale skull discovered just over 50 years ago in Osaka City is now thought to be the world’s first known trace of an Eden’s whale, dating from between 4,000 and 8,800 years ago. The fossilized remains were reclassified in a study published recently in a paleontology journal by co-authors Yoshihiro Tanaka, curator of the Osaka Museum of Natural History, and Hiroyuki Taruno, a former curator of the same institution. The skull was originally thought to be of a Minke whale. “The specimen adds a chronologically and geographically new record to the not well-known species” and suggests its modern distribution was established millennia ago, the study says.
During the time frame in which the whale is thought to have lived, much of the location of modern-day Osaka City was underwater due to the higher levels of Osaka Bay and, to its east, a historical feature known as Kawachi Bay. The fossil of the Eden’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found at a depth of roughly 14 meters during underground construction in the eastern part of the city in 1966. Researchers had concluded in 1976 that it came from an ancient Minke whale.
Minke and Eden’s whales are two types of baleen whale still existing around the world today, though the latter are less common. Japan has only in 12 previous instances been able to confirm a specimen as an Eden’s whale through DNA and other testing, and only half of these cases include bone samples stored by one of the country’s research institutions.
Tanaka and Taruno made the reassessment by analyzing the morphology of the skull, in particular the broad rostrum and the shape of rear cranial bones, and comparing their observations with the results of recent studies on baleen whale taxonomy.