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.
Japan's foreign minister announced a $7 billion initiative Monday to promote development in Southeast Asia's Mekong region, which encompasses parts of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand through which the river flows. (Japan Today)
Japan on Monday began its annual "Cool Biz" campaign, which encourages workers to dress more casually to help reduce energy use, with government offices allowing polo shirts, Hawaiian-style aloha shirts and similar attire. (Japan Times)
The search on the ground for the last missing person in the series of powerful earthquakes that hit Kumamoto Prefecture recently was terminated on Sunday due to persistent fears of secondary disasters. (Jiji Press)
The Osaka District Public Prosecutor's Office has filed charges of drug trafficking against a 40-year-old woman who left a large quantity of illegal drugs inside a fast-food outlet, reports the Asahi Shimbun (April 30). (Tokyo Reporter)
An increasing number of people are using the "furusato nozei" hometown donation program to support Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, which has been hit hard by a recent series of strong earthquakes. (Jiji Press)