Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
For the national holiday, Sports Day, I had a fitting assignment – a women’s bodybuilding competition in Tokyo.
It was my first time to cover bodybuilding, and as soon as I entered the venue I heard cheers from the 1,500 spectators eyeing 68 athletes from across Japan.
I hurried backstage to catch the competitors’ last preparations before the judging, and followed a trail of plastic, blanketing the floor, walls and furniture to protect the surroundings from the oil and skin toner creams covering the contestants.
Opening a door with a plastic-covered knob, I found the waiting room with over 30 bronzed and muscular women in bathing suits, aged from 27 to 56 and preparing for the stage.
It wasn’t just the arrest of a high-ranking bureaucrat suspected of falsifying paperwork in a multi-billion yen fraud that astounded the Japanese media this week. It was the fact that she was a woman.
Atsuko Muraki, a senior official at the Health and Welfare Ministry, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of issuing a fake certificate to allow a group involved in direct mail marketing to claim a disability discount on postal costs. “Female ace arrested,” ran the headline in the Sankei newspaper, next to a picture of the long-haired Muraki, and other media offered a similar angle.