Local authorities and private firms urged to assist foreigners learn Japanese

The Japanese finance ministry has advised the education ministry to increase cooperation with local governments to provide Japanese language education to foreigners in order to ease the burden on the state, Kyodo News service reported.

The proposal was made on Friday (04.11.16) by a finance ministry advisory panel in response to growing numbers of people from different linguistic backgrounds, including Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese, in the country.

The panel also urged private companies to play a part in the initiatives as many foreign children live in regions with large corporate presences. Examples include Aichi, Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures.

The panel warned that teacher numbers in primary and junior high schools may fall by around 7 per cent in the next 10 years in line with the falling population rate.

“Rather than training teachers to speak particular languages, it would be more efficient to fully utilize outside resources with special skills,” a ministry official was quoted by Mainichi as saying.

Source: Mainichi

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Toyota invests in US car-sharing company

Leading Japanese car-maker Toyota Motor Corp has invested a reported USD 10 million in the U.S. car-sharing company Getaround, Reuters said on Friday.

A popular carsharing service in Germany

A popular carsharing service in Germany

The deal was done through the company’s investment fund, Mirai Creation Investment Limited Partnership set up in 2015 to invest in startups working on Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and hydrogen power.

The car sharing service, founded in San Francisco, US, was launched to the public in 2011 and has been available in San Francisco, Chicago and other US cities since 2013. It offers drivers the opportunity to rent cars from private owners in return for payment.  Owners earn 60 per cent commission on the rental prices they set. The company says it now has around 200,000 members.

According to Reuters, Toyota’s investment comes as automakers “seek to shore up their presence in new technology sectors amid growing competition from transport start-ups”.

Automakers have been scrambling to partner with tech firms to head off competition from self-driving cars and car sharing services that threaten to eventually trim demand for car ownership,” the report said.

Other companies in the automotive sector have shown interest in similar services in recent years.  General Motors Co set up its own car-sharing service, Maven, in January this year. Around the same time, Volkswagen transferred its own service called Quicar, set up in 2011, to Dutch project Greenwheels in which it has a 60 per cent share.  Audi has recently also announced plans to launch a similar service in 2017.

Source: Reuters

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Japanese flying cars set to take off for the Tokyo Olympics

spec_imgWith the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the not-too-distant future, one team of Japanese engineers has begun work on making one of science fictions most persistent cliches a reality. Cartivator, a group of volunteers from the automotive industry, has begun creating what they call the “world’s smallest flying car”, with the intention of debuting the vehicle by using it to light the Olympic torch in just over 3 years time at the opening ceremony in Tokyo.

Skydive, as the project is named, has 3 wheels and is fitted with four rotors, allowing it to take off vertically. According the the design team the vehicle will be able to fly 10 metres off the ground and reach speeds of 100km/h in the air and 150km/h on the ground.

The team behind the project envisage their creation ushering in a new age of personal transportation: “It can fly anywhere and anytime,” says project leader Tsubasa Nakamura, “it enables us to go places where we cannot go now… by releasing [us from] transportation on roads.”

Aside from alleviating traffic jams and congestion, the car would also reduce the need for the construction of maintenance of roads and bridges, even helping avoid disruption in the case of earthquakes or floods.

Although, as is always the case with the automotive industry, there is already strong competition in the flying car market, with German company Lilium Aviation also hoping to launch their own ‘personal aircraft’ in the coming years.

Whatever the future of personal transportation, the Tokyo Olympics is already promising an innovative spectacle.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gender-swapping anime film tops Japanese box office

Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” or “Kimi no Na wa”, is the only Japanese animated film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki to generate more than 10 billion yen (GBP 77 million) in revenues, according to Kyodo news service.

Your Name centres on the body-swapping antics of two Japanese teenagers growing up in very different environments

It is no surprise then that Shinkai, the film‘s author and director, is now being touted as Miyazaki’s successor.

According to reports, the film has been lauded for its body-swapping storyline, inspired by Torikaebaya Monogatari – a 12th-century tale of a brother and sister whose characteristics are those of the opposite sex, as well as its beautiful cinematography which focuses on its use of light. It features many real-life locations such as Shinkai’s hometown in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan, neighbouring Gifu Prefecture, and Tokyo, Kyodo said. This has led hordes of fans to descend on these locations in the months since the film’s release in August 2016.

The story, based on a novel by Shinkai that has sold more than 1 million copies, centres on two teenagers, high-school girl Mitsuha Miyamizu who lives in picturesque but dull rural Japan, and Tokyo schoolboy Taki Tachibana. The two have never met but their lives become intertwined in as they are transported into each other’s bodies in dreams.

The film is set for release in more than 80 other countries in the coming months – a level of exposure previously only enjoyed by Miyazaki films – with the UK release scheduled for November.

According to the Guardian, there are some elements of the film which will be lost in translation when the film goes abroad, such as Taki’s use of the Japanese feminine word for “I” when talking to male classmates.

Your Name, which has been seen by over 8 million people, is currently outdoing Studio Ghibli‘s most recent film, The Red Turtle.

Sources: The Guardian, The Japan Times, Kotaku, Kyodo News Service

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

If dogs could fly: ANA considering letting dogs on planes

boeing-777-876098_1280

Dogs may soon be allowed to accompany their owners on flights with Japan‘s All-Nippon Airways, according to an article in the Japan Times.

This announcement follows a successful trial package tour conducted by ANA in late May of this year.

On that occasion, 87 passengers with between them 44 dogs were flown from Narita Airport to Kushiro in Hokkaido for a two-night stay.

According to the Japan Times, the basic package for two adults and one dog cost around ¥220,000 ($2,195 or €1,940).

What ANA’s trial flight demonstrated is that there is ample demand for services like this. Within just two days of going on sale, the tickets had already sold out.

Airlines usually require pets to travel in the cargo hold for domestic flights. For many pet owners this is a cause for serious concern, as they worry about the temperatures in the cargo hold.

This issue has also been acknowledged by some airlines.

The Japan Times article notes that ANA, for example, will not allow short-nosed dogs like bulldogs and chins to travel in the cargo area during the hot summer months, as these dogs are particularly prone to heat stroke and respiratory issues. 

On the ANA trial flight, however, dogs travelled in the cabin alongside human passengers, albeit in cages strapped to the window seats.

There was also a veterinarian on hand in case any issues arose.

This is not the first time ANA has allowed animals to travel alongside human passengers. Prior to 2005, pets were allowed in the cabin on the airline’s international flights.

The service was discontinued, however, following complaints from passengers who suffered from allergies, or who generally felt uneasy in this environment.

The airline discovered an additional issue after the May trial. Specifically, that some passengers were reluctant to ride in an aircraft that had previously accommodated animals.

In response to this, ANA officials made clear that if the company does launch regular pet flights, it will do much more to inform customers about the way the cabin is cleaned after each flight. 

Despite this concerns, there are those in the tourism industry who expect great success if tours with pets do take off.

Professor of international tourism at Toyo University, Katsuhiko Shoji, who also happens to head a nationwide association promoting tours with pets, goes so far as to say that, “If long-distance travel becomes easier for them, Japan’s tourism industry will be revitalised.”

At the same time, Prof Shoji highlighted the need for cooperation from other actors in the leisure industry, such as hotels.

“Enabling pets to board the airplane is not the end goal. The cooperation of entities at the destination is also necessary,” he said.

 

Sources include: Japan Times

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under air transportation, animals, Business, entrepreneurialism, Japan, Japanese company, pets, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized

Just the ticket: Shinkansen stations to become more tourist friendly ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Japan’s transport ministry has announced plans to make the country more accessible and attractive to overseas visitors; specifically, by making tourist information centres in Shinkansen stations better able to deal with them, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported recently. 

With the aim of boosting tourist numbers, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry – as it is officially known – apparently hopes to achieve this goal before 2019.

Toward this end, the ministry has announced that it will provide subsidies to local governments and other organisations that are involved in running these centres, provided that they meet certain criteria, such as always having staff on hand who are able to communicate in English.

In order to meet its targets, the ministry is requesting funds from the government budget to open or upgrade tourist information centres in over 100 Shinkansen stations by the fiscal year 2019, the  Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

According to the transport ministry, there are currently 13 Shinkansen stations with no tourist information centre of any kind. These include Gifu-Hashima Station in Gifu Prefecture, and Saitama Prefecture’s Honjo-Waseda Station.

Moreover, there are two further shortcomings of tourist information centres in Japan, which the transport ministry has in its sights.

Firstly, it is often the case that no member of staff is able to communicate in English (let alone any other language besides Japanese). To improve this situation, the ministry plans to provide language training for people working in tourist information centres.

The second issue is the limited provision or total lack of wireless LAN. For this, the transport ministry plans to partially subsidise the installation of wi-fi that can be used at no cost to the user, as a means of encouraging local governments and related bodies to 

As part of a wider strategy to promote tourism that was compiled in March of this year, the Japanese government announced its goal of doubling the annual number of overseas visitors to 40 million in 2020, the year that Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

In 2015, the total foreign visitor number was around 20 million.

The aim is not just to increase the annual number of tourists from overseas, however. The Japanese government also wants to encourage these visitors to explore destinations beyond the country’s urban centres. 

The Kanto, Chubu and Kinki regions – all of which are located in central Japan on the main island of Honshu – are currently also where most foreign tourists spend their time.

Sources include: Yomiuri Shimbun

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Education, Finance, Geography, Government, Japan, Japanese culture, Japanese Interpreting, Japanese Translation, Policy, Politics, Technology, Tourism

Foreign fans of Doraemon flock to museum ahead of 5th anniversary

DoraemonThis year marks the fifth anniversary of a museum dedicated to the works of Doraemon creator Fujiko F. Fujio, a recent article in the Asahi Shimbun reports.

In contrast to the museum’s first year, people from overseas now apparently make up a significant proportion of total visitor numbers. 

For those unfamiliar with Doraemon, this iconic and hugely successful Japanese manga and anime character is a blue robot cat with a kangaroo-style pocket containing an infinite array of quirky “gadget.” He has been sent from the future to help a boy called Nobita Nobi. 

Over the years, the character, who first appeared in manga magazines for children in 1969, has gained fans throughout the world, mostly through foreign language editions of the anime series. 

Meanwhile the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum in Kawasaki Prefecture’s Tama Ward has seen a year on year increase in the percentage of visitors from overseas since it first opened its doors in September 2011.

The Asahi Shimbun article reports that there have been more and more visitors coming from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

In terms of visitor numbers, there have been around 106,000 people visiting the museum annually, while the total visitor number since the museum opened is expected to reach 2.5 million this autumn.

Meanwhile, the ratio of visitors from overseas has increased from 4.3 percent in 2012, to 24.3 percent in the fiscal year 2016.

Ahead of it’s fifth anniversary, the museum has responded to this growth in non-Japanese visitors through the addition of multi-language audio guides, adding the options of English, Chinese and Korean to the Japanese.

Apparently there is an especially high demand for the Chinese audio guide. 

Moreover, nostalgia for childhood clearly plays a part in bringing in visitors, as the museum is said to attract a predominantly adult, and especially female, crowd. Adults apparently make up 70 percent of all visitors

Meanwhile, while Doraemon may be the main draw, the museum’s organisers also want to showcase the manuscripts and drawings of Fujiko F. Fujio and other manga masters for their other works.

The director of the museum Yoshiaki Ito said, “The original works themselves are marvellous.” 

Ito also made clear that he is thinking about the legacy of this artwork. Calling Doraemon and Nobita “eternal heroes for children,” he said he wants to “present a variety of creative exhibition projects for this long-lasting museum for 10 or 20 years or more.”

With the same goal in mind, he added that he plans to donate manga to schools because there are now fewer opportunities for children to read these comics.

Sources include: Asahi Shimbun,

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under anime, Culture, Japan, Japanese culture, manga, Tourism, Uncategorized

Japanese sponsor contest to foster Palestinian entrepreneurialism

A small group of Japanese people have sponsored a competition in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, that hopes to encourage economic independence among Palestinians, the Yomiuri Shimbun‘s English-language publication the Japan News reported recently.

The competition, which targeted people from their teenage years up to their 30s, took place last week on the 10th and 11th of August, after an initial screening of applications was whittled down to ten teams. 

First prize was eventually awarded to the team behind a concrete block made from residual ash from wood and other materials burnt in electricity generation, which according to the Japan News was “light-weight” and “low-cost.”

Organising the event were a team of around ten Japanese people – among them a university professor, a student and an entrepreneur – who all visited Khan Yunis in order to bring the business contest about. 

Also sponsoring the competition was the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

One of the judges in the contest, Seiichiro Yonekura, who is a professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, urged contest participants not to lose hope for the situation in Gaza.

Sources include: Japan News

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Economics, entrepreneurialism, Japan, Uncategorized

Kumamoto quake update: 1,800 still living in evacuation centres

In Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture, there are still 1,800 people living out of evacuation centres four months after the destructive earthquake and aftershocks that struck the island of Kyushu in April of this year.

According to a recent Asahi Shimbun article, after the first earthquake of the 14th April – which the Japanese Meteorological Agency measured at magnitude 6.5 –  the number of people in evacuation centres exceeded 180,000.

In other words, the current figure represents a fall to around 1 percent of the number at it’s peak.

The Kumamoto prefectural government, which released this data on the 13th August, also reported that the number of evacuation centres is expected to fall from a high of 855 to just 14 by the end of the month.

Yet while the vast majority of evacuees are no longer in evacuation centres, many continue to be housed in temporary accommodation. 

Meanwhile, in another article from earlier this week, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the body had been identified of the last missing person from this natural disaster.

On the 14th August, the Kumamoto prefectural government announced that the body of Hikaru Yamato, a Kumamoto Gakuen University senior, aged 22, had been recovered on the 11th August from a car that had been buried under rocks and sands.

Yamato’s family were said to have found a part of his car 400 metres from where searchers would subsequently find the remains of the vehicle containing his body.

The article reports that police needed to conduct DNA tests to identify Yamato, because the condition of the corpse meant he could no longer be identified by autopsy.

Sources include: Asahi Shimbun,

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SMAP out of it: Johnny’s group to disband at end of the year

After over a quarter of a century together, it was announced on Sunday that SMAP –  one of the most successful and long-running pop groups in Japan – will disband on the 31st December of this year. Many fans are in shock, especially after rumours of a split were quashed in January.

Earlier this month, SMAP’s agency Johnny & Associates apparently proposed that the group’s activities be temporarily suspended, however it wasn’t until this week that the news of their split was officially announced. 

This said that, “some members have expressed their wish to disband, rather than to suspend” the group’s activities, the Japan Times reported. 

“It was a very difficult decision, but we have judged it will be difficult to continue its activities as a group, although it was not a unanimous choice by the members,” the statement continues.

Although no one is named, the lack of unanimity in reaching this decision is also indicated by the individual statements that were issued by all members of the group.

‘Kimutaku’ – the nickname by which SMAP ‘heartthrob’ Kimura Takura is affectionately known – was clearly emotional about the split. 

“Honestly speaking, the (plan to) dissolve the group couldn’t be more regrettable,” the Japan Times quotes him as saying.

“But under the current situation, we have no choice but to swallow (such a bitter pill) because we couldn’t do anything, either a 25th anniversary concert or other activities, unless all five of us got together.”

Kimura added that the decision had left him “at a loss for words.”

The group’s eldest member and leader, Masahiro Sakai, also apologised to fans in his statement, saying, “We have caused you troubles, worried you, and we owe you much. We are really sorry for creating this situation. We apologise.”

A look at Twitter shows that many fans have been shocked by the news, with many speculating about the real cause of the split. Some come out and blame Johnny and Associates, while other jump to the defence of individual SMAP members, telling the media not to blame the group. 

There have also been expressions of gratitude, with such tweets as, “Love you for ever… “, and “Thank you for everything SMAP <3”

Even those who are not necessarily so keen on the group have felt the need to tweet the news.  “Not a fan but I’m still shock,” writes one. “hearing that SMAP’s disbanding is like finding out your grandparents are getting divorced” expresses another.

Nevertheless, despite the break up of the group, it is very unlikely that SMAP members will fall out of the spotlight, given that individually all have also established strong, distinctive careers for themselves as actors and TV personalities. 

According to the Asahi Shimbun, for the time being, all members will remain with Johnny and Associates and continue to work on their individual projects. 

Who are SMAP?

SMAP, an acronym for “Sports Music Assemble People,” was first brought together in 1988 as a group of backing dancers for Hikaru Genji, another popular idol group at the time. 

Although the line-up changed a few times before their official debut in 1991, since then, of the six original members Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori have remained in the band until now. Katsuyuki Mori is the only one to have left the group when he decided to pursue a career in motor racing in 1996. 

Although SMAP and it’s members have been a ubiquitous part of Japanese pop culture for over two decades, the group had less than an auspicious start. 

“SMAP’s debut song didn’t even make it to the top 10,” entertainment analyst and associate professor at Edogawa University, Noboru Saijo, told BBC News.

According to Prof Saijo, “previous groups were seen as Prince Charming types and became popular instantly but by the 1990s, music programmes were in decline and fans wanted more than just good-looking boys who could sing and dance.”

In fact what put the band on the road to superstardom was not a hit song, but rather an inspired idea that would come to shape the Japanese entertainment industry as we know it today. 

“Johnny went to local TV stations and asked them to use SMAP on their variety or comedy shows,” Prof Saijo informs us.

The group’s first show, ‘I Love SMAP’ gradually gained them fans. And at the same time as their musical career took off, Kimutaku and then the other SMAP members began to establish themselves as regulars in TV and film through successful acting and commercial work, as well as frequent appearances on variety show.

In fact, SMAP’s fanbase extends beyond Japan to other parts of Asia, such as South Korea and China.

Their hit songs include, “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana,” “Ganbarimasho” (Let’s hang in), “Yozora no Muko” (Beyond the night sky) and “Lion Heart.”

Sources include: Asahi Shimbun, BBC NewsJapan Times,

—————————————————————————-

The Japanese Connection offers a wide range of professional Japanese translation or interpreting services worldwide, with specialists in many areas including lawbusiness and engineering.  Indeed, our level of specialism coupled with excellent customer service accounts for our ever-expanding list of clients from around the world. To find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly by email. You can also visit our blog guide to doing business in Japan.

Member of: ATCITIProz

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Japan, Japanese culture, Music, Uncategorized