Tomoko Otake




Tomoko Otake
Tomoko Otake is a senior writer with a strong interest in health, medical and social issues. A native of Nara Prefecture, she obtained an M.A. in journalism from The University of Montana.
For Tomoko Otake's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Takao Masuda, executive vice president of research management at Hokkaido University, speaks at a news conference in Sapporo on Wednesday.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Sep 21, 2023
Hokkaido University admits misconduct by chemistry research team
Unnatural gaps and signs of data manipulation were found in research related to artificial catalysts used to facilitate chemical reactions.
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccine targeting BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. Japan will roll out an updated version targeting the XBB variant on Wednesday.
JAPAN / Explainer
Sep 19, 2023
Japan to begin COVID vaccine drive targeting XBB subvariant
The free shots will be offered until March next year to prepare residents for an expected uptick in infections during the winter.
Plaintiffs and supporters opposed to the expansion of a coal-fired power plant in Kobe protest after the Kobe District Court dismissed their civil case in March.
Sep 17, 2023
Climate litigation remains a tough sell in Japan despite wins overseas
So far, Japan has seen just four climate lawsuits, all concerning the construction and operation of coal-fired power plants.
New health minister Keizo Takemi is the son of Taro Takemi, a prominent physician who was dubbed “Emperor Takemi” due to the enormous and often dictatorial power he wielded over health care policy as president of the Japan Medical Association.
JAPAN / Politics / FOCUS
Sep 15, 2023
Critics worry about new health minister's ties with lobby group
Keizo Takemi is the son of a former president of the Japan Medical Association, a political lobby mostly made up of doctors in private practice.
Tokyo's Ginza district. On Thursday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said one person tested positive for BA.2.86 on Aug. 24.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Sep 8, 2023
New COVID variant detected in Japan amid wave of infections
While there’s no evidence so far that it causes more severe illness, experts say it may be more capable of infecting people who have been infected before.
Tohoku University in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
JAPAN / Society
Sep 5, 2023
Why Tohoku University was picked as first beneficiary of new university fund
The fact it was picked as the sole recipient, and over two prestigious universities seen as front-runners, has shocked Japan's academic community.
Shinobu Yamanaka, a mom of three sons and director of a day care facility in Konan, Kochi Prefecture, serves up to eight "members" six days a week.
JAPAN / Science & Health / FOCUS
Aug 22, 2023
Kochi dementia care center aims to set new paradigm in Japan
A new generation of people with Alzheimer’s in Japan are trying to change not only dementia care but also social attitudes toward patients.
Packages of lecanemab, marketed as Leqembi, for the U.S. market
JAPAN / Science & Health
Aug 21, 2023
Japanese ministry panel gives OK to Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab
The panel’s endorsement will be followed by official approval by the health minister in coming days.
Tourists walk along the road that leads to Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto on Friday.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Aug 14, 2023
New coronavirus variant EG.5 gains momentum in Japan
The prevalence of EG.5, called Eris by health experts, nearly doubled in July to account for 22% of cases in Tokyo.
A popular dinosaur exhibit at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo
JAPAN / Science & Health
Aug 9, 2023
Crowdfunding success at Japan science museum sends mixed message
While such initiatives provide much-needed cash, they are also a sign of limited government funding for science.
A health ministry panel has approved the messenger RNA vaccine Daichirona.
JAPAN / Science & Health
Aug 1, 2023
Japan panel endorses first domestically developed COVID vaccine
The shot is based on the original strain of the coronavirus, making it unlikely that it will be used in Japan or elsewhere.
An apartment building construction site in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, on July 19. Officials at Daito Trust Construction, which oversees the building project, say heatstroke dangers are a top concern given their aging workforce.
ENVIRONMENT / Climate change
Jul 30, 2023
In Japan, extreme heat and an aging population are a deadly mix
Heat waves combined with high humidity are weighing particularly heavily on the nation’s 36 million people age 65 and over, who are at much greater risk of severe illness and death.
Mid-match water breaks have become common occurrences at J. League games as temperatures have risen in recent years.
SOCCER / Women's World cup
Jul 20, 2023
Soccer feeling the heat from Japan's scorching summer
Postponements of matches reflect the growing challenges facing amateur teams as they attempt to cope with Japan’s increasingly hostile summer months.
Japan Times
Jul 18, 2023
Rise in new COVID-19 cases in Japan shows little sign of abating
Experts predict the trend will continue amid high heat, declining population-level immunity and the start of the holiday season.
Japan Times
Jul 11, 2023
Japan tries to turn page on eugenics policies, but related ideas persist
A 1,400-page report by parliament on forced sterilizations of people with disabilities sets out Japan"s grim history with eugenics, but experts say the matter is far from closed.
Japan Times
Jul 9, 2023
G7 urban ministers meet in Kagawa, agree to tackle global challenges
Group of Seven Urban ministers meeting in Japan agreed to work together with municipal governments to address global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health / FOCUS
Jul 4, 2023
Expectations grow for Alzheimer's drug in Japan, but hurdles remain
Lecanemab could be approved in the country as early as fall, but more specialist doctors and a patient screening system would be needed for widespread use.
Japan Times
Jun 30, 2023
COVID-19 cases continue to rise, straining health care system in Okinawa
The number of new cases per hospital was 39.48 in Okinawa Prefecture, up from 28.74 a week before and marking an increase for six consecutive weeks.
Japan Times
Jun 26, 2023
Surge in children's summer colds in Japan prompts government warning
Officials say increased precautions due to COVID-19 kept cases of herpangina and RS virus low last year.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Science & Health
Jun 23, 2023
First fatal case of tick-borne Oz virus reported in Japan
A woman in her 70s who had suffered a tick bite died of myocarditis last year after being infected with the Oz virus, the health ministry said Friday.


Hideo Shimoju points to a possible site that his fellow neighbors may relocate to. Such relocations have happened before, but not preemptively.
In disaster-prone Japan, some communities consider major moves