Visitors to the ocean this summer should think twice before handling the colorful and cuddly octopuses they come across or find on the end of their fishing lines.
Highly toxic blue-ringed octopuses that can kill a human with a single bite have been spotted recently in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, even though the small creatures normally inhabit waters near Kyushu and farther south.
Researchers believe that increases in ocean temperatures have led to a spread of the octopuses farther north than their usual habitat.
According to officials of the Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, the blue-ringed octopuses grow to about 15 centimeters long. While the animals are normally brownish in color and docile, they turn a brilliant yellow when attacked, and their bodies become covered with fluorescent blue spots. The octopus produces venom containing tetrodotoxin, the same toxin found in deadly fugu or blowfish. One or two milligrams of the venom can kill a human.
The octopuses normally inhabit reefs in subtropical regions stretching from Japan to Australia. However, the animals have been increasingly spotted in the Kanto region in recent years.
A heavy storm is forecast for the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido through Friday, due to an extratropical cyclone that transformed from a strong typhoon in the Pacific off Hokkaido around noon on Thursday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. (Jiji Press)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reshuffled Cabinet was launched Wednesday, with key ministers including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso as well as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga retaining their posts. (The Japan News)
Nagano Prefectural Police announced on Wednesday that a member of a newly formed organized crime group who had been shot at a hot springs resort in Iida City has died, reports TV Asahi (Oct. 7). (Tokyo Reporter)
Child welfare authorities dealt with nearly 90,000 child abuse cases in the fiscal year ending March, a government survey showed Thursday, with experts blaming the record-high figure on increased poverty and the isolation of some families. (Japan Times)
Niigata Prefectural Police on Tuesday raided headquarters of the troubled Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group as a part of an investigation into a baseball gambling case, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 6). (Tokyo Reporter)
Police arrested a former maintenance worker for Schindler Elevator KK on Saturday on suspicion of deliberately stopping one of the company's elevators near Tokyo and obstructing the company's business. (Japan Today)
A strong low-pressure storm with heavy winds and rains hit Japan from Thursday night to Friday, causing injuries, transportation disruptions, evacuations, blackouts and school closures mainly in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. (Japan Today)