If dogs could fly: ANA considering letting dogs on planes

August 24, 2016

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 together with 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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Exxon spending big on clean tech advertising at Olympics

August 20, 2016

In response to pressure over climate change, Exxon Mobil Corp has been keen to show off its efforts toward advancing more clean technology through TV advertising at the Rio Olympics, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, the four advertisements made by the oil and gas giant highlight the company’s efforts toward capturing carbon dioxide from power plants, making biofuel from algae and developing fuel-efficient cars. 

Exxon spokesperson Alan Jeffers explained that,”our main objective is to provide people with more information about the important role Exxon Mobil plays in safely and responsibly meeting the world’s growing energy demands.”

He added that, “we want to inform people about the technology and innovation that go into providing energy.”

According to iSpot.tv, Exxon has spent a total of $19.3 million to air 233 TV adverts in the US market between the 5th and 17th August this year.

The company has declined to release figures for advertising expenditure in previous years, however at the Rio Olympics, Exxon has been the eighth largest spender on TV advertising, Reuters reports. 

While there is nothing uncommon about an oil company advertising at the Olympics, this advertising package comes at a time when the company is facing mounting pressure regarding its contribution to climate change, not only from environmental groups, but also from shareholders and state attorney generals.

From shareholders, the pressure comes as governments around the world are cracking down on carbon emissions and seeking to be less dependent on fossil fuels.

This year in particular Exxon has been met by escalating pressure to act on climate change.

In what marks the first shareholder proposal to pass since 2006, in May the company’s shareholders approved a measure that may place an external climate expert on its board.

Then in March, the company came under fire when over a dozen state prosecutors announced that they would be investigating whether or not past and present Exxon executives had misled the public by contradicting research by company scientists regarding the threats posed by climate change.

In response to this criticism, Exxon representatives have claimed that the company has been unfairly targeted by environmentalist groups.

They assert that the company  has acknowledged the reality of climate change for over a decade, and supports a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

The company’s research into carbon capturing is said to have been ongoing over three decades, while it’s endeavours to make biofuel from algae date back to 2009.

 

Sources include: Reuters

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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

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Japanese sponsor contest to foster Palestinian entrepreneurialism

August 16, 2016

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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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

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EU judges to decide on pension rights of trans woman in the UK

August 11, 2016

Earlier this week, the UK Supreme Court referred the case of a trans woman who is fighting for her right to the female state pension to the European Union’s top court, BBC News reports.

Despite having voted to leave the EU on the 24th June of this year, the UK exit will take several years to negotiate. Consequently, for the time being decisions made by the EU’s highest courts still take precedence over those made by courts within the UK. 

In the UK, women are entitled to a state pension when they reach the age of 60. For men, the age is 65.

What complicates the case of ‘MB’ – as the plaintiff in this case is known – is that she married her wife before transitioning from male to female, at a time considerably before same-sex marriage was legal, and before trans people had the legal right to change their gender.

According to the BBC News article, the couple were married in 1974 and MB began living as a woman in 1991. She underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995.

Yet it only became possible for trans people to change their gender officially with the passing of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, when they were allowed to acquire a so-called “gender recognition certificate.” 

Even so – and this is the crucial point in MB’s case –  this law was passed ten years before same-sex marriage was legalised, and at the time it was not possible for people who were married to obtain a certificate if they did not have their marriage annulled as a result of their transition.

MB, who had two children with her spouse, wished to remain married “in the sight of God,” and did not apply for a gender recognition certificate, the BBC News article reports.

Consequently, when she turned 60 in May 2008, she is said to have applied for a state pension, but to have been refused by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)  on the grounds that legally she was still a man, and would therefore have to wait until she turned 65.

This DWP decision was upheld by judges at the Court of Appeal in 2014, although some sympathy was expressed for MB’s situation. Lord Justice Maurice Kay described her as the victim of “a real misfortune” and noted that legal developments had come “too late for her to benefit from them.”

MB has subsequently requested the Supreme Court Justice overturn the lower court’s decision. Her legal representative, Christopher Stothers from the law firm Arnold & Porter, has argued that by relying on domestic UK law, the DWP’s decision contravened EU laws.

According to an article by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), MB’s representatives argued that the decision by the DWP “breached an EU directive on the equal treatment of men and women in matters of social security.”

The Supreme Court then issued a ruling, in which it stated that, “”The Supreme Court is divided on the question, and in the absence of Court of Justice authority directly in point, considers that it cannot finally resolve the appeal without a reference to the Court of Justice.”

Meanwhile BBC News quotes Stothers as saying, “This issue is a matter of principle as well as having financial consequences for pensioners.”

“Where an individual is physically, socially and psychologically a woman, as recognised by the state in their passport and driving licence, and indeed surgically, why should they be required – before the state will recognise their gender for pension purposes – to get divorced or have their marriage annulled, particularly where they and their spouse do not wish to do so and indeed have religious objections to doing so?” 

Stothers added that, “although we are pleased with the result, the slowness in getting the issue resolved is highly frustrating for the pensioners involved.”

 

Sources include: BBC NewsThomson Reuters Foundation

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

August 10, 2016

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 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 volunteer places.

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

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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

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Kosovan judoka makes history at Olympics

August 8, 2016

By taking gold in the 52kg women’s judo on Sunday, Majlinda Kelmendi has made history by becoming the first athlete representing Kosovo to win an Olympic medal, in what is also the first time that this country has competed at the Olympics.

(Foto: Jack GUEZ / AFP).

(Photo: AFP)

The second-seeded Kelmendi took the title by beating Italy’s Odette Giuffrida 1-0,  the Washington Post reported. Bronze was shared by Misato Nakamura of Japan and Russia’s Natalia Kuziutina.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and although recognised by major European Union countries and the United States, Serbia, and also Russia, continue to deny the autonomy of this region. 

According to the Washington Post, the National Olympic Committee of Kosovo was established in 1992, long before the territory declared independence. 

Nevertheless it would be a number of years before international recognition of Kosovo in the sporting world would follow. 

In 2013, one year after the International Judo Federation granted full recognition to Kosovo, Kelmendi won her first world title under the Kosovan flag in Rio de Janeiro.

In fact, this is not the first time that Kelmendi has competed at the Olympics. At the London Olympics in 2012, although she won no medals, perhaps an equally important difference for Kelmendi was that in Rio 2016 she has fought with the letters “KOS” on her back; in London 2012, her judogi read “ALB” for Albania

Nor was this the only time Kelmendi was forced to fight under flag other than Kosovo’s. When she successfully defended her title at the 2014 world championships, once again, she was not allowed to represent Kosovo, despite having done so the previous year. 

This time,because host nation Russia refused to recognise her homeland, her outfit bore the acronym “IJF” for “International Judo Federation.” 

Yet in December of that year, the International Olympic Committee finally granted Kosovo official recognition.

“When we got recognized by IOC, it was the best thing that happened to Kosovo,” Kelmendi told CNN last year.

“Not just for sport but as a country, because now athletes and young kids can dream to be in the Olympics and represent Kosovo.”

Meanwhile talking about her achievement in Rio, Kelmendi is quoted on IOC website as saying, “People, especially kids, in Kosovo look to me as a hero. I just proved to them that even after the war, even after we survived a war, if they want something, they can have it. If they want to be Olympic champions, they can be. Even if we come from a small country, poor country.”

Sources include: CNN, Washington Post, Reuters, IOC

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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

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South Korea accuses North of hacking official emails

August 3, 2016
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(Photo: Shutterstock)

According to prosecutors in Seoul, a significant number of South Korean government officials had their email accounts hacked by North Korea last year.

An article in Asahi Shimbun reports that investigations into the cyber-attack found that between January and June 2015, a “North Korean operated group” stole the email passwords of 56 people. This included officials in South Korea’s Defence, Foreign and Unification ministries. 

The story was first reported by Yonhap news agency.

In order to obtain email passwords, Yonhap informs us that in January North Korean hackers used a free web-hosting server to create 27 phishing sites, which pretended to be portal sites run by the South Korean Foreign Ministry, universities or companies related to defence, for example.

As yet it is unknown whether any confidential information was leaked, but an investigation is underway.

This is by no means the first time that Pyongyang has been accused of involvement in cyber-attacks. 

Just a few days previously South Korean police accused the regime of stealing personal data of over 10 million customers of South Korea’s online shopping mall Interpark, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Interpark only became aware that their customer data bank had been hacked on the 11th July, when the company was blackmailed to the sum of 3 billion won ($2.6 million or €2.3 million) in return for not publicising this private information. 

The National Police Agency of South Korea asserts that North Korea’s main spy agency, The Reconnaissance General Bureau, is behind the latest attack. They said that the same codes and internet protocol addresses had previously been used in cyber-attacks carried out by Pyongyang.

According to the Japan Times, Seoul believes that military institutions, banks, various state agencies, TV broadcasters, media websites and a nuclear power plant have also been targeted by North Korean hackers in recent years. 

The South Korean Police Agency believes that the North Korean regime is seeking means of obtaining foreign currency. 

According to the South’s spy agency, Pyongyang has an army of over 1,000 hackers intent on targeting Seoul’s top institutions and officials.

Meanwhile accusations of North Korean involvement in cyber-attacks have also come from beyond the Korean Peninsula

Last year, for example, Pyongyang was accused by the FBI of being behind a major cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. This attack happened to occur as the company was preparing to release The Interview, a comedy film featuring a plot to kill the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

In November of last year, the Sony system was hacked and embarrassing emails and personal information subsequently published. Later, a group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” threatened cinemas showing the film with attacks in the vein of 9/11. 

According to BBC News, while the North Korean leadership praised the cyber-attack calling it a “righteous deed,” they also called claims of their involvement absurd and denied any responsibility.

Even before this incident, the US government had sanctions in place over North Korea’s nuclear programme. BBC News reported that in response to the attack on Sony, Washington added further sanctions.

This is thought to be the first time the US has punished another country for a cyber-attack on a US company. 

This year, meanwhile, there has been increased tension in the region following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test carried out in January and the series of ballistic missile tests which followed. 

These events provoked an escalation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations, as well as individually by countries including the United States, South Korea and Japan

Sources include: Asahi ShimbunBBC News and Japan Times

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TJC offers an extensive global network of professional & experienced multilingual translators, proof-readers and interpreters. We also have academic researchers, specialists and speakers, who are all native speakers of over 100 languages. Our expert translators and interpreters are based all over the globe and can assist you with projects of all kinds.

For translation and interpreting services in Japanese, please visit our sister site, The Japanese Connection.

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