Entries in Tokyo (29)


Tennessee Teen Arrested for Murder of Irish Student in Tokyo

Kevin Horan/Stone(TOKYO) -- Japanese police have formally arrested a Memphis, Tenn., teenager in connection with the murder of an Irish exchange student in Tokyo last month.  Richard Hinds, 19, is suspected of killing Nicola Furlong, 21, in her hotel room in the Shinjuku area, on May 24.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department told ABC News Hinds has admitted to strangling Furlong, but told investigators he had no intention to kill.

Hinds and 23-year-old American James Blackston had already been in custody on suspicion of molesting Furlong’s female friend, also an Irish national, inside a taxi the night of the murder.

Police say they decided to additionally charge Hinds with the killing after reviewing Furlong’s autopsy and examining surveillance footage from inside the hotel, though investigators would not elaborate on details.

Furlong was found strangled to death at the Keio Plaza Hotel following a night out with friends, attending a concert for rapper Nicki Minaj.  Police say a hotel employee went to check on Furlong’s room after hearing a loud noise and found her lying on the floor, with Hinds standing nearby.

Furlong was studying in the city of Takasaki, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo.

Hinds is a well known Christian musician in the Memphis area, but had travelled abroad to work as a backup dancer to a Japanese R&B artist, according to ABC News affiliate WPTY-TV in Memphis.  He planned to return home on June 20, before he was arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Which City Is the World's Most Expensive?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- In what is perhaps a sign of the times, Tokyo has regained the crown as the world’s most expensive city to live in. The record high yen pushed costs up for foreign companies with staff in Japan, while Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and other European cities fell in the rankings – as a weaker euro slid costs.

Half the cities in the top 10 were in Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong.

The cheapest city was Karachi, Pakistan, where the cost of living was a third of that in Tokyo, followed by Islamabad.

In the United States, Winston-Salem, N.C., had the lowest cost of living of any major urban area in the U.S.; Chicago was ranked 110th overall and Washington, D.C., 107th.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Intensifies Search for Man Allegedly Involved in '95 Subway Attack

YOSHIKATSU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japanese police have launched a nationwide manhunt for the member of a doomsday cult that masterminded deadly attacks on Tokyo subways 17 years ago.

Police say Katsuya Takahashi drove a car for fellow cult members the day they released sarin gas on subway stations, killing 13 people. He hasn’t been spotted since 1996, but on Wednesday police released surveillance photos of him taken at a bank a few days ago.

The search for Takahashi intensified after another cult member was arrested over the weekend for her involvement in the subway attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Americans Arrested in Tokyo Death Investigation

(Facebook)(NEW YORK) -- Tokyo police investigating the death of an Irish exchange student have arrested two American men, the Japan Times reported.

Nicola Furlong, 21, was found unconscious in an upscale Tokyo hotel room early Thursday morning after attending a Nicki Minaj concert with a 21-year-old female friend. Furlong was later pronounced dead, and an autopsy indicated she may have been strangled, according to the Japan Times.

Police said the women were invited out for drinks and then back to the Keio Plaza Hotel by two American men, a 23-year-old dancer and a 19-year-old musician. The 19-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was in the room when hotel staff found Furlong unconscious on the floor beside the bed after responding to noise complaints around 3:20 a.m., Japan's Mainichi reported.

Neither man has been charged in Furlong's death. Rather, both were charged with indecent assault on Furlong's friend, whose name has not been released, during the taxi ride to the hotel. Police said the friend, also an Irish exchange student, was unable to resist their advances because "she was in a comatose state from a highly alcoholic beverage," the Irish Independent reported.

Furlong's friend was in a separate room with the 23-year-old man when Furlong was found unconscious.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State confirmed the arrests but said she could not provide further details, including the men's names, because of privacy considerations.

Furlong was studying at the Takasaki City University of Economics, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo, as part of a one-year exchange program through Dublin City University. She had intended to return home this summer, the Independent reported.

Furlong's family described her as a "warm, generous, stunning person who always had time for her family and other people."

"We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter [and] sister Nicola in such tragic circumstances," they said in a statement obtained by the Independent. "Nicola will always be at the center of our lives. She stood for everything that is good in life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News


Rogue Penguin Resurfaces in Tokyo Bay

File photo. (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)(TOKYO) -- A Humboldt penguin that made a daring escape from a Tokyo aquarium has resurfaced two months later.

The year-old feathered creature was spotted in a Japanese Coast Guard video, swimming in Tokyo Bay and looking healthy, even though it had been on its own for an extended period.

The bird, known only as Penguin Number 337, escaped Tokyo Sea Life Park in March by scaling a 13-foot rock wall and squeezing through a barbed wire fence. Keepers at Tokyo Sea Life Park launched a daily penguin-hunt, fearing the bird could get sick from the pollution in Tokyo Bay. They appealed to residents to look out for the rogue penguin. There were dozens of sightings reported, but none turned out to be true.

Earlier this month, Penguin 337 appeared near Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge. The clip by the Coast Guard shows the bird happily splashing around in the waters, showing no signs of weakness. Directors at the Tokyo Sea Life Park confirmed it was theirs after they saw its facial patterns and a unique ring around its flipper.

The young creature remains in Tokyo Bay waters for now, but there are concerns about its long-term safety.  People are worried about radiation levels in the bay, a year after the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fake Rhino On the Attack at Tokyo Zoo

plusphoto/a.collectionRF (TOKYO) -- If a rhino ever escapes its enclosure at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, staffers will be ready.

Such was the purpose of an emergency drill Wednesday in which two employees dressed up in a rhino prop and pretended to run rampant through the facility. As visitors watched -- and BBC cameras rolled -- the life-sized faux rhino was eventually overtaken by nets and fake tranquilizer darts.

Zoo officials say after the earthquake that rocked Fukishima, they weren't taking any chances with animals getting loose in the chaos of a natural disaster.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bluefin Tuna Sells for Record $736K at Toyko Fish Market

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- If the price of premium tuna is any indication of the country’s economic state, then Japan’s finances are in good order for 2012.

At Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market a bluefin tuna caught off the northern coast of Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or $736,000, at the first auction of the year.  Divided up, the nearly 600 pound tuna costs $1,238 per pound.

The winning bid went to Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates a popular sushi restaurant chain. He beat out rival Hong Kong restaurateur Ricky Cheng, who had the winning bid the previous two years.

Cheng broke a 10-year record last year, when he shelled out $369,000 for a giant fish, caught off the coast of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido.

“Instead of taking the fish overseas, I wanted the Japanese to eat quality tuna,” Kimura said. “The March 11 disasters and economic downturn [have hurt this country] but I wanted to lift spirits, and encourage others to help boost Japan’s economy, together.”

The tuna was caught off of Oma, in Aomori Prefecture, just north of the region devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

The record-breaking price comes as Japanese wholesalers face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid a rapid decline in global bluefin tuna stock. The Japanese consume 80 percent of the world’s Pacific and Atlantic bluefin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japanese Fugitive Turned Away by Police

This undated file picture shows a former member of Japan's Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult Makoto Hirata, 46, who was arrested in Tokyo on Jan. 1, 2012 after almost 17 years on the run. JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Until New Year’s Eve, Makoto Hirata was one of Japan’s most wanted fugitives.

His face plastered across every police station, Hirata had been on the run for nearly 17 years -- wanted for allegedly kidnapping and killing the brother of a member of the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult, the group behind the 1995 sarin gas attack, Japan’s largest domestic terror case. He was also considered a key accomplice to former cult leader Shoko Asahara, who masterminded the attack on Tokyo’s subway system, which killed a dozen people.

Yet, when the 46-year-old finally decided to surrender Saturday, he had to nearly beg police to arrest him. Japanese media report the fugitive tried, unsuccessfully, for three hours to convince authorities he was the man in the wanted poster.

According to his lawyer Taro Takimoto, Hirata first went to a Tokyo-area police station around 9 p.m. -- specifically because he knew the investigative unit for the cult was based there. When he couldn’t find the entrance, which was upstairs, he called a police hotline set up for tips on Hirata and two other missing cult members. He called 10 times, but got a busy signal.

Hirata then called the emergency number, asking which police unit was in charge of his case, though he didn’t identify himself. The fugitive took the train to the Tokyo police headquarters near the central government district, but was turned away by the officer on guard, who thought Hirata was pulling a prank.

The officer, weary of Hirata, pointed him towards another nearby police station without checking his ID. Hirata’s quest to surrender finally came to an end just before the new year, at 11:50 p.m., when he was taken into custody.

Takimoto said Hirata felt compelled to turn himself in after witnessing the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“The senseless scenes from Tohoku after the earthquake made me question my own situation,” Hirata said, in a statement read by Takimoto. “I wanted to turn myself in by the end of the year.”

Former leader Asahara and 12 other senior cult members have been sentenced to death for their roles in the sarin gas attack, but two others wanted in connection with the crimes remain at large.

Takimoto said Hirata remained in Japan during his years on the run. He reportedly had no contact with the other Aum fugitives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Powerful Earthquake Rocks Tokyo on New Year's Day

NASA via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A powerful earthquake rocked Japan's rattled nerves on New Year's Day.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck around 2:30 p.m. local time. It was centered southwest of Tokyo, but jolted much of the capital city.

Officials did not issue a tsunami warning, and there were no immediate reports of significant damage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan’s Crippled Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Cold Shutdown

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan’s prime minister announced Friday that cold shutdown has been achieved at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the reactors “have reached a state of cold shutdown to the point where the accident is now under control.”  Cold shutdown means the reactors have stayed at temperatures below the boiling point for some time.  Experts say significant work still needs to be done and the process will take years.

The reactors’ cooling systems failed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan this past March.  A series of explosions rocked the plant and a resulting plume of radioactive particles displaced some 80,000 people who lived within a 12-and-a-half-mile radius of the plant.

The government has still not decided when evacuated residents of the area can return to their homes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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