Japan Top 10 Stories From 2016

Now that 2016 has come to a close, it's time to look back at what happened in Japan this year.

1. The Kumamoto Earthquake - A series of powerful earthquakes hit Kumamoto Prefecture in April. About 40,000 buildings were damaged or completely destroyed, killing 110 people. Kumamoto Castle, a special historic site, suffered serious damage.

2. Yuriko Koike was elected as the first female governor of Tokyo on July 31. She received 2.9 million votes in the election as an independent candidate, beating her opponents by a wide margin. Her policy priorities include increased accountability for the Olympic overspending and ensuring that the relocation of Tsukiji Fish Market to Toyosu goes smoothly.

3. 2016 Rio Olympic Medal Counts – Japan won a total of 41 medals, 12 Gold, 8 Silver and 21 Bronze

4. Emperor Akihito told the Japanese people that he is having difficulty carrying out his official duties, because of health issues and his age.

5. U.S. President, Barack Obama, visited the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing on May 27 to call for world without nuclear weapons.

6. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Japanese scientist, Yoshinori Osumi, "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy".

7. The Hokkaido Shinkansen started operation in spring, connecting northern Honshu city of Aomori with Hakodate on the southern tip of Hokkaido in 4 hours 2 minutes. Further extension of the line to Sapporo is under construction.

8. 19 disabled people were killed by former worker at the facility wielding a knife at a care facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture on July 26. This was the worst mass killing in Japan in decades.

9. Japan’s minimum voting age for elections was lowered from 20 to 18 to encourage political participation by more youths. This was the first change in the voting age in 70 years since it was lowered from 25 to 20 in 1945.

10. The wildly popular "enhanced reality" game for smart phones, Pokemon Go was released in Japan, following US and Europe.

Other major news include the G7 Ise-Shima Summit on May 26-27. Putin visited Japan to discuss the territorial dispute and economic cooperation in December, Prime Minister Abe visited Pearl Harbor to speak with President Obama at the ceremony commemorating the Japanese attack in 1941.

Among other notable things, “Your Name”, a body-swapping romance became a smash hit, dominating the box office for months. The animation is beautiful and the story is fanciful and imaginative, by contrasting male and female, town and country, past and present. Makoto Shinkai, the film director, has paved the way for new style of anime.