If dogs could fly: ANA considering letting dogs on planes

August 24, 2016

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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 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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NTT Introduces SIM Cards For Visitors To Japan

June 27, 2014

Good news for international travellers, no longer will you have to abandon your mobile phone when you enter Japan. Due to Japan having its own unique 3G mobile phone technology foreign visitors usually find their GSM phones are useless here and are faced with the option of going without mobile phone and internet access or the costly options of renting a phone for the duration of their trip or buying one outright.

However, NTT, Japan’s national telecom company, has announced an affordable solution. On June 25  NTT introduced a mobile phone SIM card for foreign visitors to Japan that will provide up to 100 megabytes of daily data traffic over a two-week period.

By inserting the card into their smartphones, users can gain access to the Internet through NTT Docomo Inc.’s mobile phone communication network, send up to 10,000 text messages and watch YouTube videos for about 45 minutes a day.

The card also enables access to public wireless networks provided by NTT group companies.

Japan Communications Inc. and So-net Corp. earlier developed and provided SIM cards for foreign visitors for the expected increase in tourists ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

NTT Communications said its SIM card sells for 3,500 yen ($34), tax excluded, offering a cheaper price than those of its predecessors.

Before departure from a foreign location, users may purchase their SIM card at http://www.prepaidsim.jp/item_detail. Upon arrival in Japan, the card may be picked up at one of several airport post offices (Narita, Haneda, Kansai, Chubu Centrair, New-Chitose, Fukuoka, Kagoshima or Naha) or certain hotels.

For those already in Japan, the prepaid SIM card may be purchased from a vending machine at Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu (http://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com/en/TE/TE_NARIT) or at a XCom Global, Inc. (http://www.globaldata.jp/) counter at Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Chubu Centrair airport.

Sales in Hong Kong and Taiwan are planned from this summer. Additional purchase points, including vending machines, travel agents and hotels, are expected to be added.

As a further convenience, including unrestricted data, travelers are encouraged to apply for the Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi service (http://www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html), which provides access to about 18,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots around Japan, including at major airports, stations and shops. Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi is provided by NTT-BP, an NTT Group company.

Telephone inquiries about the SIM card can be made in English, Chinese and Korean. Instructions that come with the card are written in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese and Thai.

Sources: The Asahi Newspaper, Yahoo.co.uk

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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19th century silk mill to join list of Japanese UNESCO World Heritage sites

May 7, 2014

The Tomioka Silk Mill is expected to join Hiraizumi, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Yakushima Island and other historic Japanese sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list, with a decision to be made imminently.

Located in Gunma Prefecture, the redbrick silk mill and its related facilities will become the newest member of Japan’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites, should the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) vote for it at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Qatar, this coming June.

Whilst Japan currently has seventeen properties on the World Heritage List – thirteen cultural, such as the Horyu-Ji Buddhist monuments, and four natural, including the Ogasawara Islands – the Tomioka Silk Mill’s addition will mark the first industry-related heritage site in the nation to be placed on the UNESCO list.

Built in 1872, the Tomioka Silk Mill is Japan’s oldest silk reeling factory. Along with its related structures (such as the mill, and the Takayama-sha Sericulture School, which was home to a silkworm repository) the silk mill played an important role in the radical modernisation of the Japanese silk industry, which took place towards the end of the 19th century. Demand for Japanese silk spinning soared soon after Japan dropped its isolationist policies in 1854, as disease ran amok across Europe, ruining its silkworm stocks.

At its peak, demand for the fabric was so high that by 1863, it accounted for over 80 per cent of Japan’s total exports. However, the number of silk mills in Japan were too few to keep up with the demand, and so Japan embarked upon a drive for modernisation, striving to increase supplies and regain its position as a contender with Western suppliers. With its state-of-the-art machinery and Japanese-Western blended aesthetics (the buildings were framed with wood, walled with red bricks and roofed with traditional Japanese tiles), the building of the Tomioka Silk Mill is the truest representation of Japan’s industrial revolution.

The Tomioka Mill is the only remaining silk factory of the Meiji era to remain preserved in its near-original state, inspiring the Tomioka Municipal government to recommend it to UNESCO in 2012.

Locals hope that its addition to the list of historic sites will lead to a boost in tourism in Gunma Prefecture. Whilst the area surrounding the mill has many hot springs, it has reportedly been losing popularity as a tourist destination in recent years. Since the announcement of the possible UNESCO listing, however, tourism levels have already begun to rise. On Saturday in the midst of the annual Golden Week holiday period, a record 6,456 people visited the silk mill in the city of Tomioka, with customers filling the nearby souvenir shops and restaurants, and local silk-farmers cheering the possible boost to their trade.

However, there are still obstacles that will need to be addressed should the site receive UNESCO’s vote. The mill’s facilities are in a precarious state, and will need to be strengthened further in order to meet earthquake resistance standards if it is to be opened to the public.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is due to make their decision at a meeting in the Qatari capital of Daha, between June 15th and 25th.

Sources include: The Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News), UNESCO.org

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Filipino becomes third certified language in San Francisco

April 4, 2014

Language barriers can be more than just frustrating. In fact, they can bring about a harmful disconnect between a community and its access to basic services

Until now, more than 10,000 Filipino residents of San Francisco had to put up with this problem – suffering delays in hospital treatment or forced to find their own interpreters and translators when trying to assert their rights as workers, due to their limited English proficiency. Many also felt excluded from the civic life in a vibrant city like San Francisco because of language capacity.

On 2nd April however, Filipino community members and advocates celebrated San Francisco’s certification of Filipino as the third language required for city communications, after months of urging officials to make the change.

In 2009, the city of San Francisco passed a new Language Access Ordinance (LAO), which requires improved language access for city residents, with certain requirements for populations which exceed a threshold of 10,000 limited English proficient or “LEP” community members. Using the latest Federal American Community Survey data for the years 2009-2013, the city’s planning department was able to verify that Tagalog speakers with limited English proficiency surpassed this threshold.

Filipino is the 1st language to be certified after the 2009 passage of the LAO, and will meet the same requirements as Spanish and Chinese, which were certified in 2000, before the LAO existed.

Rachel Ebora, a Filipino immigrant, native Tagalog speaker, and executive director of Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center said of the certification:

“We are delighted at the certification of Pilipino as the third language that the City of San Francisco is required to translate for its communications. To the over 10,000 Filipinos who speak this national language, our hope is that this certification will provide additional access to services and other resources to live in San Francisco.”

The LAO ordinance is an important San Francisco policy that requires the city’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs to identify “emerging” language populations and to ensure that residents are able to access translation services when needed in a timely manner. This will alleviate pressure on Filipinos who are staff at nonprofits, government employees, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and family members, including school-age children, all who speak some of the different Philippine languages, who have been translating for thousands of LEP Filipino residents without recognition of this additional service they are providing.

Without this new status, a type of language-based discrimination would continue to exist in the city.

Filipino’s have been present in San Francisco for nearly a century from the days of the Filipino farmworkers at the International Hotel until today. This is a long-overdue recognition of the continuing contributions of Filipinos in San Francisco,

Terrence Valen, FCC’s organizational director and president of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, said:

“For our Filipino community members and their families, the whole world opens up to them when they are able to communicate in their mother language. To keep San Francisco a welcoming city for immigrants, officially removing this language barrier is definitely is an important step in the right direction.”

Sources include: The FilAm SF; GMA News Online

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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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Japan’s foreign tourism statistics released

November 1, 2013

Last year, the number of tourists worldwide reached an astonishing 1.035 billion arrivals, according to an annual survey by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Despite worldwide economic uncertainty, more people than ever before traveled to other countries.

The survey found that tourism around the world increased by 4 percent overall from 2011 to 2012. Europe is still the most visited area, with 535 million visitors, but visitor arrivals continued to increase in every region of the world except the Middle East.

The last 6 months has seen a month on month rise in the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.  In September the number of visitors surged 31.7 percent over the previous year to 867,000, breaking the record for the month, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Reasons for the increase can be ascribed to the cheaper yen exchange rate and Japan’s higher profile with the announcement of Tokyo winning the 2020 Olympic bid.

Part of that upsurge reflects a recovery from the rapid and massive drop in tourism following the earthquake, tsunami and radiation fears in 2011, but it also supports the understanding that Japan is still an untapped tourist destination. Developing a larger tourist market can contribute to a healthy, diversified economy and serve as one source of economic vitality.

Japan has not yet developed its tourist market fully, but given the ongoing economic depression, it should be considered more seriously as an important industry. Though some Japanese are fearful of the result of a huge influx of tourists here after witnessing the impact of international tourism in some South Asian countries.

However, a more developed tourist industry would leave Japanese culture intact and unharmed since the Japanese economy is not as vulnerable to fluctuations as developing economies might be. It is unlikely that huge numbers of tourists will have negative effects on the already mature and established culture, or produce a tourism-addicted economy, in the way it might have once done in more fragile cultures and developing economies.

In the reporting month, the highest number of tourists came from Taiwan at 206,800, an all-time high for the month, leaving South Korean visitors second overall. China came in third with 156,300 visitors, up 28.5 percent for another all-time high for the month. Visitors from the UK showed a year on year increase of 20% with 17,800 visitors in July alone.

The Chinese number marked the first rebound in a year since last October, when year-on-year numbers fell because of the bilateral clash over the Japanese government’s effective nationalization in September 2012 of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the isles.

Visitors from Hong Kong and Thailand came to 55,400 and 29,300, respectively, also setting all-time highs for the reporting month.

But the number of South Korean visitors fell below 200,000 for the first time this year, apparently due to concern over the reported leaks of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, JNTO officials said Wednesday.

While the September total for South Korean visitors came to 164,500, up 12.9 percent, the growth marks a slowdown from the year-on-year growth rates in the period from January to July, which ranged between 28.6 and 45.5 percent.

In the previous month, South Korean visitors grew 6.9 percent — the slowest rate of the year.

The Japanese government is worried that radiation concerns harbored by the South Koreans may hamper efforts to achieve its goal of 10 million foreign visitors a year.

The tally for the first nine months was 7,731,000, with South Koreans accounting for 25 percent. Since no sharp recovery is expected in South Korean visitors, the organization plans to encourage people in Southeast Asia to visit Japan for the Christmas holidays.

Meanwhile the estimated number of Japanese overseas travelers in August 2013 was 1,842,000, a 6.2% decrease over August 2012. The outbound figure decreased over the same month of the previous year as it has for seven straight months.

The number of travelers to East Asian destinations such as Korea (-22.0%) is still decreasing but the ratio of decrease shrank in  comparison with the recent four months. On the other hand, number of travelers to Vietnam, Thailand and Hawaii all showed small increases.

Sources:  Japan Tourism Marketing Co, The Japan Times

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Ecky thump! Yorkshire named among top three regions in the world

October 31, 2013

Yorkshire has been placed among the top three regions in the world to visit, by popular travel guide Lonely Planet. The historic county of Northern England won out against other world-famous regions such as Zimbabwe and Zambia’s Victoria Falls and Texas, in the US, to claim third place in the Lonely Planet’s top ten world regions, behind Sikkim, in India, and The Kimberley in Australia.

Yorkshire is one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations. Despite this, publishers at the Lonely Planet are concerned that the region is still underrated, and hope that the award will help to boost the county’s ratings, saying: “It’s only a matter of time before this rough-around-the-edges gentleman of the north gets the traveller attention it deserves.”

The travel guide made reference to Yorkshire’s “rugged moorlands, heritage homes and cosy pubs” in its explanation for awarding the county the bronze position. Other reasons for the region’s placing in the top three regions include the incredible contribution of Yorkshire athletes at last year’s London Olympic Games. Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, triathletes Alastair and Jonathan Brownlee, cyclist Ed Clancy and boxer Nicola Adams were among the large number of Yorkshire athletes who won seven of Great Britain’s 29 total gold medals. Indeed, Olympic athletes from Yorkshire bagged more medals than entire countries such as South Africa and Spain.

Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Endorsements rarely come much better than this from a guide that has a worldwide reputation.This is massive for Yorkshire and our thousands of amazing tourism businesses, destinations and events.”

The accolade comes as less than surprising for citizens of the region: the town of Harrogate, near Leeds, was deemed Britain’s ‘happiest place’ by a poll in 2012. And next year, the prestigious Tour de France will make its grand départ from Leeds.

Other Lonely Planet top tens included Best Country (topped by 2016 Olympic host Brazil and swiftly followed by Antarctica), and Best Value Destinations, in which the Greek islands won out over Italy’s heel. Meanwhile, Denmark, Thailand and Belize were named the top three Family Destinations.

Sources include BBC News, The Guardian

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