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2022 Rewind: 10 stories from Japan worth reading again

From news that stunned the world to scientific discoveries and issues ingrained in Japanese society, Japan had a plentiful supply of captivating stories in 2022. As the end of the year approaches, the editorial team has searched the archives, checked the stats and picked 10 stories we thought were worth reading again.

    For eight mornings in a row starting today, we will rewind and upload pieces on different themes. We hope you enjoy them.

    * * *

    In July, the world was shocked by the assassination of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This concentrated attention on issues related to the religious group formerly known as the Unification Church.

    Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

    <<Ex-PM Abe dies after being shot during speech in west Japan>>

    Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot by a man during a stump speech in the city of Nara on July 8. He was 67. Full story.

    Hiroshi Watanabe, a representative of the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, holds a "holy book" of the predecessor of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification during a press conference in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 12, 2022. (Mainichi/Shota Harumashi)

    <<Unification Church ex-member in Japan opens up about dark past after mom became follower>>

    TOKYO -- A woman in her 40s whose mother was a follower of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, commonly known as the Unification Church, and was driven to become a follower herself opened up about her experiences, saying that she was forced to lead an unfair life. Full story.

    The coronavirus pandemic went on, but in October, at last the Japanese government lifted its strict border controls to welcome tourists from abroad once more.

    Leo Okuda Tomiselli is seen programming while receiving advice from GIB Japan President Keiichiro Miyamoto, right, in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on Dec. 6, 2021. The company has a relaxed atmosphere. (Mainichi/Kazuko Hamada)

    <<The story of a young Italian man stranded in Japan for nearly 2 years>>

    TOKYO -- An Italian man who visited Japan, the birthplace of anime, in February 2020 as a high school graduation gift lost his flight home in April that year due to the coronavirus pandemic. With only his travel gear and no money in his pocket, he was unable to return home. One year and nine months later, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter traced the steps of the 21-year-old struggling in an unfamiliar land. Full story.

    Foreign tourists and other people are seen walking around the Ebisu Bridge area in Osaka's Chuo Ward on Oct. 11, 2022, the day coronavirus border restrictions were eased in Japan. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

    <<In Photos: Japan welcomes foreign tourists after COVID restrictions eased>>

    Click here for the full photo series.

    This interview was one the most heavily read stories on The Mainichi site in 2022. The story stands as a call for a society free of sexual violence.

    A teenager who suffered second rape after being sexually assaulted by her "father" is seen in Osaka. (Mainichi/Yumi Shibamura)

    <<19-year-old Japanese sex crime victim shares the reality of 'second rape'>>

    OSAKA -- A high school student, who was sexually abused by her "father," told the Mainichi Shimbun about the reality of rape victims' secondary victimization, known commonly in Japan as "second rape," or victims being hurt further by the words of those around them. Full story.

    This was the most popular -- ahem, figure -- on our site.

    Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu enters an ice rink for his first public practice since turning pro, in Sendai on Aug. 10, 2022. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)

    <<Star figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu practices in public for 1st time since turning pro>>

    SENDAI -- Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu practiced in public on Aug. 10 for the first time since turning pro, taking to the ice at a rink in his home city of Sendai. Full story and photo special.

    The rest, hopefully, will remind you of the joy of reading the news.

    This photo provided by Toshitaka Suzuki, an assistant professor at Kyoto University's Hakubi Center, shows a Japanese tit.

    <<Japanese bird researcher 1st in the world to prove animals use words, grammar>>

    OSAKA -- A Japanese researcher studying a bird common to the country's forests and urban parks has proven for the first time that animals communicate using words and grammar. Full story.

    A giant squid is seen stranded on Ugu beach in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, on April 20, 2022. (Mainichi/Ryusuke Takahashi)

    <<3-meter-long giant squid found stranded on Sea of Japan beach>>

    OBAMA, Fukui -- An about 3-meter-long giant squid was found stranded on a beach here on April 20, in what local authorities said was a rare occurrence. Full story.

    Akihiko Kondo, who lives with the character Hatsune Miku, poses with a life-size model of her in Tokyo on Dec. 13, 2021. He says his world has expanded following the ceremony he held to mark his "marriage" to the character. He has no regrets and spends each day peacefully, he says. (Mainichi/Yuka Obuno)

    <<What happened to the Japanese man who 'married' virtual character Hatsune Miku?>>

    TOKYO -- In 2018, Akihiko Kondo, a local government employee living in suburban Tokyo, made headlines when he "married" the popular virtual character Hatsune Miku. At the time, the very fact that there were people seeking marriage with artificial intelligences and robots sparked controversy. The Mainichi Shimbun recently visited Kondo, 38, to trace his path as he marks his fourth year of marriage to the character. Full story.

    A 30-year-old company employee who lives in a tiny apartment, shown here in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on May 16, 2022, says it's close to his workplace, and he does not mind the small space at all. (Mainichi/Akira Iida)

    <<Why are young people attracted to tiny 9-square-meter apartments in central Tokyo?>>

    TOKYO -- "Tiny apartments" in central Tokyo less than half the size of a typical 20-square-meter studio apartment are booming among young people in Japan. What is the secret behind their popularity? Full story.

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