'Captain Ozawa' kicks off campaign
Japan's "shadow shogun" is trying to reinvent himself once again, this time as the people's last line of defense against Abenomics.

In a political advert for the upper house election later this month, the latest incarnation of Ichiro Ozawa dons a goalkeeper's shirt and gloves as he literally kicks off his campaign with fire in his eyes and a laser-intense look of resolve.

The eye-catching TV ad, titled "Fiery Saves by 'Captain Ichiro Ozawa,'" shows the 71-year-old saving the nation from employment uncertainty, a trans-Pacific trade deal and an increase in the sales tax.

Shooting at him from the prime position of the penalty spot is a dark-uniformed striker wearing a No. 96 shirt-a likely reference to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's desire to revise Article 96 of Japan's pacifist constitution. Mr. Abe is aiming to lower the parliamentary majority needed for revising the basic law, another objective opposed by Mr. Ozawa.

Indeed, viewers could be forgiven for thinking the policy agenda of the People's Life Party is largely negative in formation, since "Captain Ozawa" is essentially appealing to the public that he will just block the policy goals of the current administration.

Still, Mr. Ozawa's campaign ad is certainly a lot more fun than a much more conservative offering by Mr. Abe, in which he can be seen from behind confidently marching onward and upward as he seeks to reestablish Japan.

Dec 22
Supermarkets in Japan have been rationing butter since spring because of a shortfall in raw milk production. Now, there's concern there won't be enough for the crucial holiday baking season. (usatoday.com)
Dec 22
Japan supports a U.S. move to identify North Korea as the culprit behind the recent hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the top government spokesman said Monday, criticizing the attack as a grave national security issue. (Kyodo)
Dec 22
The Japan Coast Guard says a Chinese captain has been arrested on suspicion of coral poaching in Japan's territorial waters. (NHK)
Dec 21
Tokyo Electric Power Co. finished on Saturday removing all nuclear fuel assemblies from the cooling pool at the No. 4 reactor building at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. (Jiji Press)
Dec 20
The Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Friday that an influenza epidemic is spreading across Japan. (Japan Today)
Dec 22
Christmas Eve surpasses Valentine's Day as the romantic dinner event for Japanese couples, but viewed as a socioeconomic read on Japan, the celebration highlights two major problems the country faces: low wages and low birth rates. (cnbc.com)
Dec 22
Two Japanese actresses will tie the knot next year in the conservative country's first celebrity gay wedding. (gaystarnews.com)
Dec 22
A man found a body Sunday evening in the Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, apartment of his younger, 58-year-old brother after the landlord alerted him that his sibling had failed to pay the rent. (Japan Times)
Dec 22
Fifty-four workers suffered food poisoning at a Nippon Ham meat-processing plant in Kawatana, Nagasaki Prefecture, company officials said Sunday. (Japan Today)
Dec 21
Sales of special Suica cards to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tokyo Station were canceled soon after they began Saturday, as a large crowd of people flooded the area. (The Japan News)
Dec 21
Buddhist monks and believers have come together in an annual year-end event to clean up two major temples in Kyoto. (NHK)
Dec 20
The Niigata prefectural government started clearing a section of National Highway Route 405 in Tsunan in the prefecture on Friday, after a landslide mixed with snow blocked off about 50 meters of the road the night before. (The Japan News)
Dec 19
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police plan to limit pedestrian access to Shibuya's famous scramble crossing to avoid trouble from rowdy revelers on New Year's Eve. (Japan Today)
Dec 18
The Osaka District Court has ruled that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's order to check whether municipal office workers had tattoos was illegal and constituted an invasion of privacy. (Japan Today)
Dec 18
The Chiba Public Safety Commission has banned a 29-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, from riding a bicycle for 90 days, after he was found guilty of cycling under the influence of "kiken" quasi-legal drugs. (Japan Times)