Thursday, March 29, 2007


What lies east

Police in Japan have launched a manhunt after the body of a missing British woman was found buried in a bathtub filled with sand on an apartment balcony near Tokyo.
The woman, whose body was discovered late on Monday, was today identified as Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, from northern England.

Police in the UK are liaising with Ms Hawker's family, a British embassy official said, declining further comment.

Ms Hawker reportedly arrived in Japan three months ago and worked at a branch of the Nova English conversation school on the eastern edge of Tokyo.

Japanese police find missing British woman's body
The Guardian, March 27


A powerful earthquake measuring a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter scale hit the Hokuriku region at 9:42 a.m. Sunday, killing one woman, injuring 190 people and setting off small tsunami.

The earthquake caused tremors that registered an upper 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 on Ishikawa Prefecture's Noto Peninsula--the first time an intensity of 6 or higher had been recorded in the prefecture, the Meteorological Agency said. Tremors of an intensity of more than 3 were recorded in wide areas of the Hokuriku, Tokai and Kinki regions.

M-6.9 quake jolts Hokuriku
The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26


The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry issued an emergency instruction Tuesday to suspend the use of the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu in treating people aged between 10 and 19.

The decision was made after two new cases were found in which primary school students behaved abnormally after taking the drug.

Although the ministry had insisted there was no safety problem related to Tamiflu, it decided to take the measure after receiving new reports of abnormal behavior. The ministry instructed Tamiflu's import-distributor, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., to add a warning in the drug's instructions that it should not, in principle, be administered to patients aged between 10 and 19. The ministry also instructed the firm to provide information about Tamiflu to medical institutions.

The ministry has not suspended the use of Tamiflu to treat children under 10, but continues to call for parents to pay close attention to children who take the medication.

According to the ministry, a boy aged 12 who took Tamiflu in the afternoon and evening of Feb. 7 ran outside barefoot at about 2 a.m. the next morning and jumped from the second floor of his house, fracturing his right leg.

On Monday, another boy aged 12 who took Tamiflu in the afternoon and night jumped from a second-floor balcony of his house late at night, fracturing his right ankle, according to the ministry.

In February, two middle school students fell to their deaths from condominium buildings after taking the drug.

In response to a series of accidents, the ministry decided to issue a warning on the use of Tamiflu, though it maintained there was no causal link between Tamiflu and abnormal behavior.

The ministry requested that people between 10 and 19 refrain from using Tamiflu in principle, because it is difficult for parents to stop them when they show abnormal behavior.

As for those aged 9 or younger, it is comparatively more frequent for influenza to be fatal in this age group than in others. Therefore, the ministry has not sought to suspend the use of Tamiflu for treating young children but is asking parents to keep a close eye on children for two days after they have been diagnosed with the flu.

As of Oct. 31, 16 fatalities had been reported in Japan in which children aged under 16 died after taking Tamiflu, according to the ministry.

Five cases have been confirmed in which children died from such causes as falling from buildings after showing abnormal behavior, including a case of a 17-year-old.

The ministry has maintained that there are no serious safety concerns regarding Tamiflu at present, as medical experts who examined the cases denied the drug had caused the abnormal behavior.

Tamiflu use to be halted for youths aged 10-19
The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 22


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