A privacy debate has erupted in Japan over a new service from a major rail operator that sells private e-ticket records as marketing data.
This week East Japan Railway (JR East), the country's largest rail company, has begun offering for sale the anonymized histories of millions of its passengers. The data is gleaned from its Suica train pass system, which is Japan's most popular with 43 million users, roughly equivalent to a third of the national population.
JR East and Hitachi, which will handle the technical aspects of the service, announced it last week via a terse news release that initially drew little attention. But this is the first time Suica information has been sold to third parties, and the news was soon highlighted by prominent bloggers, triggering a discussion that has now spread to Twitter and other online forums.
JR East's service provides details for passengers that use specific stations, such as their sex, the date and time they used the service, and the amount they spent. The company and Hitachi are adamant that no laws are being broken, and JR East says the Suica user contract gives it rights to the passenger data.
Japan on Tuesday started fully operating the world's first geostationary weather satellite capable of taking images in color, hoping to forecast typhoon movements and concentrated downpours more accurately. (Kyodo)
A total of 455 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people petitioned the Japan Federation of Bar Associations on Tuesday to urge the government and lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage. (Jiji Press)
Evacuees from a southwestern Japanese island hit by a volcanic eruption made a brief return to their homes on Tuesday ahead of an approaching typhoon. But their trip was cut short due to volcanic quakes. (NHK)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the arrest of the boss of an organized crime group for the alleged confinement and assault of a construction worker, reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 6). (Tokyo Reporter)
Meet Ladybaby, the Japanese musical group that will make you look twice. Featuring Ladybeard, the east's most hirsute crossdressing entertainer, this band's debut song blends infectious Japanese pop with bizarre, energetic heavy metal vocals. (forbes.com)
Police arrested a 40-year-old man Monday for allegedly setting fire to his own home in Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture, where four bodies, believed to be his children, were found amid the burned wreckage. (Japan Times)
A 26-year-old man was arrested Sunday for allegedly confining in his car an 11-year-old schoolgirl who went missing the day before in Nara Prefecture while shopping with her family, police said. (Kyodo)
A drug control division of the health ministry on Saturday announced the arrest of a former executive of public broadcaster NHK for the importation of so-called "dangerous drugs," reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 4). (Tokyo Reporter)