False quake alarm gives Tokyoites a midnight scare

The Japan Times

Brace yourself, a strong quake is coming. This dramatic emergency message sent to smartphones and loudspeakers caused a brief panic after midnight Wednesday in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, with many taking to social media to express their confusion over whether or not to get ready for the worst. The Meteorological Agency warned of a strong quake off the east coast of Chiba Prefecture at 12:15, warning of possible severe jolts in the capital and Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tochigi prefectures. The agency warned that a 6.7 magnitude quake could reach lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale in Ibaraki, but even though a quake did occur, it was relatively weak and unnoticeable in some areas. "The advance warning system predicting quakes miscalculated the location of the epicenter and predicted a quake of a larger magnitude with more intense shaking," an official with the agency said in explaining the cause of the erroneous alert.


Missing Japanese cellphone found in Indonesia leads to unlikely friendship

The Japan Times

JAKARTA – Syahri Rochmat is a 24-year-old railway worker living in Depok, in the suburbs of Jakarta. Shota Noda is a 21-year-old student studying in Yokohama, Japan, about 5,800 km away. Rochmat and Noda did not know each other, but a missing cellphone led to a cross-cultural friendship between the two young men. The story began in December last year when Rochmat, who has been a maintenance worker at Indonesia's state-owned railway company for more than four years, was cleaning the interior of a used train car imported from Japan for use in the capital and its surrounding areas. The commuter train used to operate on East Japan Railway Co.'s Nambu Line connecting Tachikawa Station in Tokyo and Kawasaki Station in neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture.


Tour operator reveals bus driver photographed using smartphone while behind wheel Sunday

The Japan Times

A tour bus driver had been found using a smartphone while driving on a highway, a travel agency that arranged the tour revealed Wednesday after an image of the man appeared online. The incident came to light after a video of the driver in his 40s using a smartphone while driving a bus with 36 passengers was posted on the Internet. According to Tokyo-based Club Tourism International Inc., the driver who works for a bus company was on a one-day trip from Tokyo to Shizuoka Prefecture on Sunday. At around 9 a.m., he reportedly used a smartphone while driving on the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture, the firm said. According to the bus company that employs him, the driver said the bus was caught in a traffic jam at the time and he was driving at around 10 kph, often stopping.


'Love dance' featuring Santa-clad Ambassador Kennedy, embassy staff instant video hit

The Japan Times

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and other embassy staff across Japan made a splash on social media Tuesday by releasing a Christmassy, U.S. Embassy version of a "love dance" routine aired in a popular Japanese TV comedy series. The 90-second clip uploaded Tuesday evening on YouTube features Kennedy in a Santa Claus outfit and others donning reindeer caps dancing in sync with "Koi" ("Love"), a theme song of the TV drama "Nigeru wa Hajidaga Yaku ni Tatsu" (roughly translated as "Running Away is Shameful but Useful"). The video had been played nearly 400,000 times on the video-sharing site within 14 hours of its release. The video starts off with Kennedy in a Santa Claus outfit performing the neatly choreographed dance, followed by various other diplomats and staff from the embassy office in Tokyo as well as the consulate offices in Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka and Okinawa. The drama, which features actress Yui Aragaki and actor/singer Gen Hoshino, had its last episode aired on the TBS network Tuesday.


Two arrested for impersonating Google, selling fake virus protection

The Japan Times

Two men have been arrested for allegedly sending virus infection alerts purporting to be from Google Inc. and deceiving recipients into paying for antivirus software, police said Wednesday. Shin Sato, 35, and Naoki Yamamoto, 52, were arrested Monday on suspicion of sending the alerts via a mobile phone short message service to a man in his 40s in Iwate Prefecture, between last September and January, and swindling him out of around ¥30,000 ($268) for fake antivirus software, the police said. The two men allegedly sent over 300,000 short messages purporting to be from Google. At least 1,000 people are believed to have been collectively defrauded of ¥20 million or more since the spring of 2016. Sato, a corporate executive who lives in Tokyo, has refused to respond to questioning, while Yamamoto, a construction worker from Yokohama, has denied the allegations, investigators said.