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Saturday, June 6, 2009
Japan's own Onion
By AMY CHAVEZ
"America's finest news source" is the slogan of The Onion, a satirical newspaper in the U.S that pokes fun at current events. I think a newspaper like this would go over well in Japan too. Here are some top stories I could imagine:
Japan now requires passports for birds
In an attempt to track foreign crime as well as new viruses, Japan's Immigration Bureau now requires passports for all bird migrating through Japan.
In response to bird calls of discrimination, the bureau denies it is targeting birds specifically. "We're considering tracking all animals entering this country, not just birds."
With the recent outbreak of swine flu, the bureau is now considering hoof-printing pigs, with a possibility of issuing IC-chip cards.
"Birds, who tend to travel in flocks, are especially conducive to passing on viruses, according to the Japan's Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare.
The government is encouraging all indigenous birds to remain in Japan this winter and to refrain from flying further south than the Okinawan border. If they must fly outside of Japan, they should wear masks.
"We realize that average songbirds don't spread avian flu. This is just a precautionary measure," said a ministry official who asked to remain anonymous.
Rainy season pushes to qualify as Japan's fifth season, demands apology
A seasonal rain front swept through Okinawa in late May, marking the beginning of Japan's rainy season. The seasonal rain front, however, took time to make an official visit to the weather station on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa on behalf of the rainy season to demand status as Japan's fifth season.
Japan has long refused to recognize the rainy season as an official season, although it arrives in Japan every year anytime from late May and stays until late July. Japan owns up to only four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
The seasonal rain front has accused Japan of discrimination, pointing out that the rainy season has long been observed as a real season in South-East Asian countries (although it is commonly called the "wet season"). The rainy season is calling for an apology from the Japan Meteorological Agency as well as swift action on a change of status.
Soil latest victim on endangered list
Soil is the latest to be added to Japan's red list of endangered species. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport denies it is at fault for continuing to pave over large swaths of soil throughout rural Japan.
While it is a known fact that paving over soil increases air temperatures, the ministry says it still feels it is doing the right thing.
"We realize there is no need for more pavement in Japan, but we should be applauded for giving people jobs. Soil alone will not pay people's bills."
The ministry advised people concerned about the disappearing green spaces and grassy patches to appreciate Japan's paved areas more fully by utilizing them creatively. For example, frugal housewives can save on their propane gas bills by frying eggs on the pavement outside their homes.
Not all citizens feel the pavement is that bad, however. One housewife in Chiba says "I like the paved parks in my neighborhood because they are easier to maintain. No grass needs to be cut and no fallen leaves need to be gathered. I just make sure my children wear two layers of clothing when playing in concrete parks."
Hello Kitty forced to retire at 34
Hello Kitty, the iconic cat known to her fans as Kitty-chan, has been forced to retire by her parent company. The parent company said they feared Hello Kitty no longer fit the image they hoped to project, but were careful to avoid terms such as "Christmas cake" and "over the hill."
Kitty-chan's agent said she was working on a lawsuit that includes charges of breach of contract, age discrimination and sexual harassment. Kitty-chan was not available by telephone and the extended family refused all phone calls.
Kitty-chan is rumored to have given birth to her 10th litter last month. The father of the litter has yet to come forward.
Her former boyfriend, heart-throb Dear Daniel, could not be reached for comment. Upon news of her forced retirement, some Kitty-chan fans canceled their orders of Hello Kitty cars, cellular phones and head stones.