The Japanese may be making inroads into our life by way of their industry, but we seem to be making inroads into theirs by way of popular culture. Variety reports that of the 20 current top-selling LP records in Japan, 13 have English titles. The twist is that they are recorded by Japanese artists . . . Among the popular titles: "Solid State Survivor" and "Do It Bang Bang" . . .

* He Should Have Known They Wouldn't Like It Note: The Veteran's Administration decided they wanted a sculpture for a new hospital the administration is opening in Bay Pines, Fla., and were willing to pay an artist $50,000 to do one. A search committee asked Sol Lewitt if he would be interested in the commission. Lewitt wasn't, but Robert Morris said he was and everything was fine until the VA saw Morris' plans for the piece . . . He intended to take duplicates of the metal casings of the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in 1945, mount them on outdoor pedestals, paint them beige, and label them with the dates they were dropped and their original nicknames: "Little Boy" and "Fat Man." . . . The VA considered the idea inappropriate and told him to stop all work. Now Morris is suing the VA for his $50,000 fee . . .

* Casting Note: Derek Jacobi earned critical raves during the run of "I, Claudius" on PBS a few seasons back. He was even given the ultimate PBS accolade, being trotted out as a fund-raiser during pledge week. Currently, Jacobi is garnering raves as Prospero in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "The Tempest" at Stratford-upon-Avon . . .