Japan to increase number of foreign and female construction workers

April 4, 2014

The Japanese government has decided to allow more foreign workers to work in the construction industry following the growing demand for manpower in Japan, reported Kyodo News Network.

The building of facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and planned reconstruction of areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, are drivers behind the ever increasing demand for workers in this sector, officials said.

The country has experienced a general labour shortage since spending on public projects was increased under President Shinzo Abe. 

Measures to create a new resident status, allowing apprentices from emerging economies working in the construction industry to remain in Japan longer than the current period of three years, will be introduced in April 2015. These measures will also permit previous trainees in Japan to return to the country.

The news comes at the same time as plans by The Japan Federation of Construction Contractors to double the number of skilled female construction workers in Japan to some 180,000 within the next five years to help ease the industry’s labor shortage.

“I hope more and more young people and women will enter the industry to help it remain attractive,” Mitsuyoshi Nakamura, chairman of the federation, said in February.

Sources include: Kyodo News Network; The Japan Times

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Japanese globetrotter pulls handcart 40,000 km thanks to special tires

August 14, 2013

Japanese adventurer Masahito Yoshida, who recently completed a solo around-the-world trek pulling a two-wheeled cart, did so with the aid of tires specially built for the 40,000-kilometer journey.

Yoshida, 32, from Tottori, set out from Shanghai on his world tour in January 2009. He returned there on June 9 this year after globetrotting across Eurasia, North America, Australia and Southeast Asia.

A year before the trip, Yoshida asked Inoue Rubber Co., a tire maker based in Nagoya, to develop a special tire for his adventure.

“I wanted to visit small villages I would have gone past on a bus or train and meet the people living there,” he said. “A cart was the most suitable means for carrying food, clothing and shelter.”

Yoshida traveled in some very inhospitable locations during his trek. In Australia, he walked 250 km in five days across a desert, relying on canned food and water. In Bulgaria, he was hospitalized after suffering frostbite in mountains where the temperature fell to 20 degrees below zero.

When he ran out of spare tires, Yoshida tried tires made in China and Thailand. Some went flat after traveling just 30 km. His cargo weighed roughly 100 kilograms, including food and water.

Yoshida said he was able to walk 5,000 to 6,000 km “without any problems” using the tires made by Inoue Rubber. The Japanese adventurer said a store clerk at a Canadian bicycle shop was stunned by the ruggedness of the tires.

Koji Yamada, who was involved in the development of the tires, said there is nothing surprising about their performance. “The tires withstood a 10,000-km endurance test,” Yamada said.

Inoue Rubber has manufactured bicycle tires for about 90 years and accounts for 20 percent of the domestic market. But it had never produced a tire specifically for carts, and officials hesitated when first approached by Yoshida.

Inoue Rubber eventually decided to take on the challenge, believing Yoshida’s around-the-world trip would be great publicity and advertising for the sturdily built tire.

Japanese door-to-door parcel delivery companies, such as Yamato Transport Co. and Sagawa Express Co., are turning more and more to carts pulled by workers or electric bicycles because they are environmentally friendly, can negotiate narrow or congested roads and require little parking space. Inoue Rubber hoped to cash in on that market.

Heavy-duty tires are also required for electric bicycles. A typical model weighs around 25 kg, which is about 40 percent heavier than an ordinary bike.

Inoue Rubber built the tires for Yoshida’s cart using a four-layer nylon cloth for their framework, compared with the double-layer structure used in standard tires.

They also incorporated materials used to make truck and bus tires in the new tire’s rubber to better withstand heavy loads.

In April 2010, Inoue Rubber released a new tire based on the prototype it developed for Yoshida’s cart under the Ashiraku Pro brand and has sold about 46,000 tires for electric bicycles.

The company says it expects the domestic electric bicycle market to expand from 400,000 units last year to 1 million units in five to six years.

Sources used: The Asahi Shimbun

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TJC-Global 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 180 languages.

Equipped with the broad range of skills which our network provides, TJC Global has been able to deliver a focused and dedicated service to our diverse range of clients for more than 20 years. This is why we have obtained the trust of our clientele and enjoy a reputation of being a global leader in our field.

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The language of Catalan independence

November 24, 2012

This weekend more than five million Spanish Catalans will be voting in parliamentary elections, and many are expected to favour pro-independence parties. The CDC party for example, wants Catalonia to determine its own future, away from Madrid, and with independent membership of the European Union. Where Catalan independence once seemed like a distant dream, it seems that it may now have become a serious possible reality. Supported by thousands of Catalans on the French side of the border, it is thought that the elections may see Catalonia return to a state of complete autonomy which it has not seen since 1714, when Spanish troops conquered its capital, Barcelona.

An important part of the Spanish rule of Catalonia over the last two hundred years has been its attempt at linguistic domination. In 1714, this took the form of attempting to introduce Spanish to Catalan society. The subtlety of this linguistic invasion is sinister; Philip V of Spain gave instructions that “the mayor must take the utmost care in introducing the Spanish language, using the most discreet and temperate measures, so that only the effects are felt, and not the measures.” Much later, after the Spanish civil war of 1939, Franco took a much more open approach whereby he banned the speaking of Catalan, and imposed harsh penalties for any breaches of this rule.

The language of Catalan, and the speaking of it, therefore became an act of resistance in itself. Catalan literature, dating as far back as Medieval times with the works of Joanot Martorell and Ramón Llull has become increasingly significant in the struggle for an independent Catalonia with its own unique identity. The language of Catalan, as used by contemporary authors such as Jaume Fuster and Maria Mercè Roca, is important in shaping a cultural identity whose difference is asserted by the very tongue in which that assertion is made. Since the days of the fascist regime, Catalan has been re-introduced as the only vehicular language used in state schools and is spoken by 9 million people (not only in Catalonia but in Valencia, the Balearic Isles, Andorra and the town of Alghero in Sardinia as well). Although Castilian Spanish still has a prominent place in Catalan society – due to large-scale immigration from Latin America as well as the use of the language in the media – there are still some Catalans who do not speak Castilian Spanish fluently, either because of a conscious rejection of the language (8% do not want to have any official status Catalonia) or because they simply have not had sufficient exposure to it to know it well.

Whether Catalans will vote for political independence may depend on their views of the financial implications of such a move (Francesc de Carreras has argued that the economics of an independent Catalonia “don’t add up”) and the results will be seen in the days to come. But, whatever happens, the Catalan language, history and culture will always retain their unique independent identities.

Sources include: La Vanguardia, The Guardian, BBC News

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TJC can provide professional translation and interpretation services and has specialists working in a range of fields in over 180 languages and dialects. At TJC, our Catalan translators and interpreters are experts in Catalan culture and history as much as the Catalan language; to find out how our services can assist you, please visit our website or contact us. You can also visit our sister site for professional Japanese translation and interpretation services.


Afghan interpreter wins right to stay in UK

October 28, 2012

An Afghan interpreter who worked with British armed forces has won his struggle to remain in the UK. Mohammad Rafi Hottak, who suffered shrapnel wounds all over his body in an explosion while working with a British unit in Afghanistan five years ago, was refused asylum earlier this month by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).  It is thought they had doubted that Mr. Hottak’s life would be at risk if he returned to Afghanistan. However, after much publicity and press coverage in which 26-year-old Mr. Hottak was said to have been “betrayed”, UKBA reversed their decision admitting that improvements needed to be made to the application process. They announced that they were now “working with the Ministry of Defence to improve the process for obtaining information about individuals who have worked with the armed forces to ensure this does not happen again.”

Mr. Hottak, who has received death threats from the Taliban for his perceived collaboration with British forces in his work as an interpreter, told The Times that he was “very happy” with the change of decision. He added, “They have put me through a lot of miserable times. However, finally they have reached the right decision.”

This news comes as New Zealand’s Defence Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman, confirmed that the government had offered refuge to 23 interpreters currently working in Afghanistan. “The interpreters are playing a critical role in the operation of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan enabling the PRT to interact effectively with the local population,” Dr Coleman said. “Offering assistance to current interpreters employed by the government reflects the view that New Zealand should demonstrate a duty of care to this group who have served New Zealand with the work of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.”

Sources include: AFP, BBC News, The New Zealand Herald, The Times

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If you need worldwide translation or interpreting services, TJC offers a wide range of services in Persian, Pashto and more than 100 other languages and dialects. For more information, visit our websites at TJC Oxford or TJC Global or contact us directly by email. Alternatively, visit our sister site for professional Japanese translation and interpretation services.


Romania: How Many Official State Languages Should There be?

April 24, 2012

The issue of language took centre stage in Romanian politics last week as the opposition leader of the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) declared that the only language of the state is Romanian. In his statement, Crin Antonescu said that although he supported the use of native languages of minority ethnic groups and encouraged preserving their cultural identity, the Romanian language is the only State language.

Speaking at the end of a meeting of the PNL Central Political Bureau, Antonescu remarked, ‘We have said we agree with the native language to be used and with all the means by which the minorities’ cultural and linguistic identity should be preserved, but we have always said the only language of the Romanian State was and remains Romanian.’

These comments came in response to remarks made by Kovacs Peter, the Secretary General of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR, a junior ruling coalition partner) who has claimed that Hungarian should become an official language in those regions of Romania where Hungarians (or Magyars) form the majority of the population.  These regions include Bihor, Satu Mare and the Salaj Counties (West). Peter stated that he counted on the support of Romanian politicians in attaining this objective, but that he did not expect it to be attained very soon; ‘since we have reached 64 language rights from null in twenty-two years, then in the next twenty years we’ll reach a situation in which Hungarian will be an official language on a regional level’.

The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights states that ‘every linguistic community has the right for its language to be used as an official language in its territory’. In Finland for example, the State has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, alongside four other official minority languages: Sami, Romani, Finnish Sign Language and Karelian.

Hungarians in Romania are the largest ethnic community, representing 6.5 percent of the population, according to the latest census conducted in 2011. The great majority of Magyars live in the West of Romania and many are seeking autonomy for two counties, Harghita and Covasna there. Whilst UDMR asks for cultural autonomy other smaller Hungarian parties outside Parliament are seeking full autonomy from Romania.


Net Migration to the UK Reaches Record High

November 25, 2011

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) yesterday reveal that 2010 was the highest year on record for net migration to the UK. Net migration was 252,000 for 2010. This number is arrived at by taking the difference between immigration at 591,000 and emigration at 339,000. The main reason behind the increase in net migration was a fall in emigration from the UK, whilst the level of immigration has remained fairly constant.

But what do these numbers mean? To many people they appear pretty meaningless. Their experiences of the effects of migration to and from the UK are primarily based on how it impacts their local area. Many people appreciate the diversity and cosmopolitan character that flows of migration have brought to different towns and cities in the UK. TJC Global, based in the heart of Oxford, enjoys the benefits of the rich talent pool of foreign students, many of whom seek employment in the UK after they graduate. It makes Oxford a great place to locally source highly qualified and experienced translators and interpreters from all over the world.

However, many people in the UK have a less positive perception of migration. A recent e-petition organized by Migration Watch UK, calling on the government ‘to take all necessary steps to get immigration down to a level that will stabilise our population as close to the present level as possible’ gained over 100,000 signatures in less than week. Opponents of immigration often argue that immigrants are a drain on public services and that they take jobs away from native workers. This sentiment can be especially strong in times of government cuts and rising unemployment.

But immigrants are often merely scapegoats for deeper economic and societal problems. The National Health Service could not function without its large pool of immigrant labour. A higher percentage of immigrants tend to be of working age, relative to the native UK population as a whole. They are therefore economically productive, paying taxes, increasing aggregate demand and ultimately creating jobs in the UK economy. Many sectors of the British economy are highly dependent on immigrant labour.

Nonetheless, the widespread perception that immigration is ‘out of control’ means that the numbers game is a big deal of the Government. The Conservative Party made a pre-election pledge to reduce net migration from the hundreds-of-thousands to the tens-of-thousands. This has been repeated in recent months by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. Put more clearly this amounts to a commitment to reduce net migration to below 100,000 by 2015. However, given the current net level of 252,000, estimated by the ONS to stay roughly the same in 2011, this target will be very difficult to achieve, regardless of whether it is a good or sensible objective to have.

Migration is not homogenous mass in the manner it is often crudely portrayed in the British media. It can be broken down into categories such as: economic, family, student and refugee. Of course these types often overlap and are by no means discreet. Even as rough categories, they need to be utilized to understand how the government intends to meet its target.

For a start, some forms of migration cannot be controlled by the Government. European Union nationals from all but two of the 27 EU member states are legally entitled to live and work in the UK. Other types can only be restricted to a certain extent. The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates that Government proposals designed to reduce family migration (migrants joining family members who are legally resident in the UK), will only reduce this type of migration by 8,000 per year. That would make little dent in the reduction of 150,000 required for the Government to meet its target. Likewise further restrictions on work based migration are only likely to reduce this type of legal immigration by 11,000 although it will have an impact on takeaways and sheep sheering!

Student migration is the main area where the government can have an impact on reducing net migration. Tougher restrictions are likely to reduce this flow by over 50,000 annually according to the study at Oxford University. However, non-EU foreign students are charged higher fees than their British counterparts and are vital to funding British Universities. During a time of major cuts to higher education, this somewhat begs the question of why this target is a good idea in the first place. Even with this reduction, with the side effect of harming one of the UKs most successful economic sectors, the target of reducing net migration to under 100,000 by 2015 is likely to be missed by at least 65,000, if not more.

At TJC Global we are never inhibited by restrictions on migration as we can source translators and interpreters from all over the world. Being based in the heart of Oxford gives us the advantage of having a large local talent pool of translators and interpreters. Modern technology enables us to simultaneously carry out multiple translation projects with translators and proof-readers based throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. For more information, and for a free quote for either translation or interpreting, please visit our website at www.tjc-oxford.com.


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