Cabinet makes ‘Nobel’ vow
Ministers are pooling together money to help purchase a washing machine for Shinya Yamanaka, who was recently awarded the US$1.2 million Nobel prize along with a British researcher. Yamanaka joked that he was fixing a rumbling washing machine when he received a call from Oslo saying that he and Britain’s John Gurdon were jointly honored with the prize for their discovery in stem cell research. On Friday, 16 ministers from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet promised to chip in ￥10,000 (US$126) each to help the 50-year-old physician buy a new washing machine, reports said. The move is being seen by some media as a publicity stunt to impress voters as unpopular Noda is seen likely to call a snap general election in the coming months in response to growing demands from opposition parties.
Dud bomb defused
An unexploded 220kg World War II incendiary bomb was defused and removed from Tokyo’s business district yesterday after a delicate hour-long operation, officials said. About 200 residents evacuated their homes within a 100m radius of the bomb, which was found last month at a construction site in Motoakasaka area of Minato ward, as soldiers worked on removing the device. Self Defense Force members started to defuse the rusty ordnance, which was discovered 4.5m underground, at 9:13am and had safely removed it from the area by 10:18am, local officials said. The area was declared safe shortly afterward, they added. Tokyo was a target of intense US air raids near the end of the World War II and about 70 unexploded bombs are found in the capital every year, according to the local administrative office.
Man killed by cleaner truck
An elderly man in Tokyo was killed when a street cleaning truck hit him and swept his body to a public landfill site where it was found among trash, media reports have said. The body of what police believe was a 69-year-old male was discovered by a worker at the landfill site off Tokyo Bay in a pile of garbage brought in by a road sweeping vehicle, the Yomiuri Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun reported. It is thought the victim was lying down in the street in the early hours of Tuesday morning when he was hit, the Fuji News Network said, adding that his shoes had been found by the road and that his body was full of fractured bones. The driver of the truck has told police that he did not notice anything unusual while operating the machine, other reports said.
Millions in ivory seized
Authorities seized HK$26.7 million (US$3.5 million) of ivory tusks and ornaments smuggled from Africa, authorities said, the territory’s largest-ever seizure of illicit ivory that is still widely sought despite an international ban. Customs officers in Hong Kong and neighboring Guangdong confiscated the ivory, weighing a total of 3.8 tonnes, in raids at a container port last week, the government said. Customs officers found 972 tusks and the ornaments in bags of plastic scraps inside a container that arrived from Tanzania on Tuesday. Another 237 tusks were found the next day in a container carrying beans from Kenya. “We believe a small portion would have gone to the mainland and the rest elsewhere in the region, such as Japan and Taiwan,” the South China Morning Post quoted senior customs official Lam Tak-fai as saying.