If dogs could fly: ANA considering letting dogs on planes

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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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,

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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.

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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,

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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.

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C’mon, be a sport: 80,000 volunteers sought for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The world may currently be caught up in the Rio Olympics, but with only 4 years until the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japan is preparing for its own turn as Olympic host. 

Among these preparations, the Tokyo Olympics Organising Committee has announced that an estimated 80,000 volunteers are required if this monumental international event is to go without a hitch.

In fact, just last month a draft of requirements was released for those hoping to become Olympic volunteers in 2020. According to the Japan Times, volunteers must be aged 18 or over by the 1st of April, 2020, and ought to be able to work 8-hour days for 10 days or more. 

Foreign language skills, knowledge of Olympic sports, and volunteering experience at sporting events were also identified as desirable attributes.

With the same objective in mind, next month, seven Japanese universities specialising in foreign languages will jointly hold a 4-day seminar in Chiba Prefecture. The programme, which was launched last year, is designed to help the expected 400 or so participants improve their translation skills, as well as gain greater knowledge of the Olympics, hospitality skills and foreign cultures.

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, and Kansai Gaidar University are among the seven universities taking part, the Japan Times reports.

Even so, while some see the Tokyo Olympics Organising Committee’s call for volunteers and volunteer interpreters as a rare opportunity for those who participate, other voices have been more critical.

The key point of contention is that these volunteers will not be paid for their time, and nor will they be compensated for any money they spend on travel or accommodation while volunteering. 

Language Policy Professor, Noriyuki Nishiyama, for example is critical of what he sees as an apparent under-appreciation of the interpreting profession.

“It takes years of effort to gain the mastery of a foreign language to work as an interpreter. It’s not something people can learn in a short period of time,” the Japan Times reports Nishiyama as saying. 

Japan has been pushing English education, saying gaining language proficiency provides huge economic benefits,” Nishiyama continues. “But it doesn’t make sense if such people with foreign language skills are not paid.”

Even so, Tokyo 2020 will not be the first to rely so heavily on a voluntary workforce. 

For Rio 2016, there was a call out for 70,000 volunteers of whom 8,000 linguistic specialists were needed to be the “voice of the Games.”

In fact an article published on the International Olympic Committee website states that, “volunteers have been integral to the success of the Olympic Games since they were first used during the 1948 Games in London.”

And regardless of ones view on whether the Olympic Games should depend so greatly on the unpaid labour of interpreters and others, going by previous years, the Tokyo Olympics Organising Committee’s goal of filling 70,000 volunteer placements may not be insurmountable.

 For London 2012, the IOC article informs us, there were 240,000 applications to fill the 70,000 volunteers places.

 

Sources include: Japan Timeswww.olympic.orgwww.rio2016.com,

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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.

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Theatre of post-war: new Butoh theatre opens in Kyoto

Butoh dancer, Ima Tenko who performs at the Kyoto Butoh-Kan (Photo: http://www.deepkyoto.com)

A new theatre, claiming to be the first in the world exclusively dedicated to Butoh, has opened in Kyoto, the Asahi Shimbun has reported.

The Kyoto Butoh-Kan,a building of 16 square metres housing just 8 seats, offers an intimate space for spectators to view this distinctive form of dance theatre. 

The theatre is located in Kyoto’s Sanjo-dori Muromachi-nishiiru district in Nakagyo Ward, where performances of 45 minutes are held twice on Thursdays: first at 6pm and then again at 8pm.  Adults and student tickets cost 3,000 yen and 2,500 yen respectively. 

For those less familiar with this art, Butoh is most easily characterised by its aesthetic qualities: semi-naked bodies covered in white paint, faces twisted into expressions of agony and terror, awkward, ugly shapes, and of course stillness, and slow trance-like movement. But what more is there to know about this relatively recent Japanese performance art?

Butoh emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s, in a post-war Japan caught between traditional values and US-imposed systems and values, with the added disarray associated with mass student unrest. 

Against this backdrop, choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata began to develop what he called “Ankoku Butoh”, or “Dance of Utter Darkness,” a subversive art form initially inspired by surrealism, dadaism, and the work of French experimental theatre director Antonin Artaud. Hijikata sought to expand the definition of dance

In the early 1960s, Hijikata began collaborating with avant-guard dancer Kazoo Ohno on this art form that would come to be known simply as Butoh.

By contrast, Ohno was said to be more inspired by German expressionism and Christianity. Yet despite their differences, both men rejected codified technique and instead put emphasis on organic movement, subversiveness and raw emotion. 

Over the years, the development of Butoh has seen numerous phases and variations since it’s underground beginnings, and since the 1970s it has also gained worldwide attention and appreciation, through international tours by such groups as Sankai Juku and Dairakudakan. 

It is now Japan’s best known contribution to the world of modern dance. 

Yet within its country of origin, Butoh’s reputation appears to lag somewhat when compared to it’s international standing. As Japan Today points out, there are few venues in Japan where one can see this form of dance-art. 

Initiated last year by Art Complex 1928 – another theatre in the Nakagyo ward – the Butoh-Kan Project aims to increase the availability and visibility of Butoh, whilst simultaneously making Kyoto ‘the place’ to see Butoh in Japan

Nevertheless Butoh is clearly still being marketed more to an international audience.

Keito Kohara, who manages Art Complex 1928 and helped open Kyoto’s new Butoh theatre, told the Asahi Shimbun, by “Targeting mainly people from overseas, we hope we can offer long-running hit performances.”

“I want to develop the Sanjo-dori into Japan’s Broadway,” he added.

Sources include: Asahi Shimbun, Japan Today

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Sri Lankan to challenge Japan’s asylum system

In what is said to be the first such case of it’s kind, a Sri Lankan man is claiming that by immediately deporting him after his asylum claim was refused, the Japanese government violated his right to a trial, NHK reported last week.

The man bringing the case is a Sri Lankan man in his 30s who had been living in Mie Prefecture since 2005. 6 years ago, he was ordered to leave Japan after the Immigration Bureau found he had outstayed his residence visa. 

NHK reported that it was at this point that he applied for refugee status, contending that if he returned to his country he would be politically persecuted and his life would be in danger.

According to Asahi Shimbun, the man had received threats from people associated with the ruling party for being a supporter of an opposition party and felt his life was threatened, especially after an acquaintance of his was shot dead.

A decision on his case was finally reached in December 2014. His application was rejected on grounds that there was no proof of his political allegiance, and he was deported the following day.

In a telephone interview with NHK, the man said, “although I was told that I would need to appeal the decision within 6 months, after that I was told to get ready because we are about to go to the airport. I wanted to go to court. It should be my right to go to court, but the Immigration Bureau deported me against my will.”

This month he will be seeking damages from the Japanese government of more than 3 million yen (approximately $29,330 or €26,240) at Nagoya District Court.

Yukie Osa, Professor of Political Science at Rikkyo University and President of the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan pointed out that, “the majority of refugees escape without possessing any kind of proof of their respective circumstances. Although it’s true that there are many people who misuse the system, the right to trial is extremely important for asylum seekers.”

“It’s possible that this current trial will have a major impact on Japan’s refugee policy in future,” she added. 

The number of people seeking asylum in Japan has been increasing in recent years, with the majority come from South East Asia and South Asia.

While modest in comparison to other parts of the world, last year there were a record 7586 asylum applications to Japan, which is twice as many as there had been in 2014, Justice Ministry data reveals.

In 2015, Nepalis made up the largest group of applicants to Japan, accounting for 1,768 of the total. Applications from Indonesian and Turkey were also high, reaching 969 and 926 respectively.

There were 469 applications from Sri Lanka, meanwhile, which is 2.7 times as many as there had been from this country in the previous year. 

Since 2010, asylum applicants have been entitled to work while their claims are being processed, if a decision has still not been reached after 6 months. Yet the Immigration Bureau is apparently seeking to strengthen the asylum system, by introducing pre-screening measures to exclude “ineligible” economic migrants from entering and abusing the system.

The chances of being granted asylum in Japan are, nevertheless, notoriously slim. 

Of the 7,586 asylum applicants in 2015, only 27, or 0.4%, were successful; among them six were from Afghanistan, and three each from Syria, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia. This is more than double the 11 people granted asylum in Japan in 2014.

According to Al-Jazeera, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was asked at last September’s UN General Assembly whether Japan would join other countries in accepting Syrian refugees, he made clear his priorities. 

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise [the] birthrate”, he said.

“There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.” 

Sources include: Al-Jazeera, Asahi ShimbunNHK, The Japan Times

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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.

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The big smoke: Fewer Japanese lighting up, but smoker numbers still high

A small piece of good news this week as the percentage of Japanese men who smoke fell below 30% for the first time, according to a survey by Japan Tobacco Inc.

In May of this year, 32,000 adults across the country were apparently surveyed by the company –  although the data did not include those in areas that had been severely affected by the earthquakes in Kumamoto prefecture in April.

As various Japanese media outlets have reported, the data for this year indicates that the number of male smokers in the country currently stands at 29.7%, which is 1.3% down on last year’s figure. 

By contrast, the number of female smokers in Japan, which at 9.7% is around a third that of their male counterparts, saw a 0.1% increase on the previous year. 

Despite this, overall the data reveals that the proportion of smokers in the Japanese adult population has declined to a record low of 19.3%.

To put the data in another way, there are estimated to be 20.27 million smokers among the Japanese adult population, which is 570,000 down on the previous year.

Incidentally, the Japan Times reports that when the survey was first conducted in 1960, incredibly, smokers were found to account for over 80% of the adult male population. 

smoking

(Photo: Vera Kratochvil)

In order to put the Japan Tobacco Inc survey findings in a more global context, we can turn to data published in The Journal of the American Medical Journal (JAMA).

In 2014, JAMA published research findings by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on cigarette consumption in 187 countries between 1980 and 2012.

For men (aged 15 and over), the IHME data indicated a global decrease in daily tobacco consumption from 41.2% in 1980 down to 31.1% in 2012. Meanwhile for women, the report’s authors found that globally, the prevalence of daily tobacco smoking among women fell from an average of 10.6% in 1980 to 6.2% in 2012.

Yet given the growing population of the planet, the total number of smokers around the world has actually increased over this period from 721 million to 967 million.

In terms of total cigarettes smoked too, there was an increase in the global total from an estimated 4.96 trillion during the year 1980 to 6.25 trillion in 2012, a 2014 BBC News article reported.

And of course there are countries where smoking rates are on the increase, including large countries like China, Bangladesh and Russia.

In the IHME report, Japan is listed alongside China, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, South Korea, the Philippines, Uruguay, Switzerland, and several countries in Eastern Europe as countries where health risks are highest for both men and women because of the combination of pervasiveness of smoking and high consumption rates.

Referring to the global situation, Director of the IHME, Dr Christopher Murray told BBC News that, “Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done.”

Similarly, the World Health Organisation insists that millions more lives could be saved through the implementation of higher tax rates on cigarettes and more smoke-free air laws.

Sources include: BBC News, JAMA, The Japan News, The Japan Times

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