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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‘There’s no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!’

October 4, 2012

‘There’s no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place.’ This is the motto of the team of designers and builders involved in the construction of the first building in the UK to be made entirely out of waste and organic materials.

Duncan Baker-Brown, an architect based in the UK’s seaside city of Brighton hopes the house, known as ‘The House that Kevin Built’ after the prototype built in 2008, will act as motivation for increased sustainable construction across the UK.

Disturbed by the startling amount of construction waste he found after building projects had been completed, Baker-Brown, who is working on the building in conjunction with Brighton’s arts faculty, hopes the project will encourage people to have a greater awareness of the importance of living sustainably and reducing our carbon footprint. “There is a huge pile of construction waste that’s building up in this country and to ignore is quite frankly sinful,” says Baker-Brown. “Through this project we are going to show that there is no such thing as waste.”

So, what exactly will Kevin build his house from? The walls will be constructed from waste timber, with plywood panels, also made from waste material, inserted in the gaps in the timber structure. The house will be fully fitted with solar panels and a heat recovery system. And whilst it will take more than a few strong men to put the building together, Baker-Brown also plans to set up a community production line on the site itself so that members of the public  – students, apprentices and even school children – can muck in and help out with the construction.

The ecological building will, upon completion, be used as a space for local community groups to display expositions and hold workshops. Upstairs, the Brighton arts’ faculty will install their headquarters for sustainable design.

Baker-Brown’s building was motivated by his perceived need to find new ways to build and live sustainably. And this need is indeed great. In the UK, 45 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions come from architectural structures, and it is hoped that the House That Kevin Built will act as the starting point in a mission to reduce CO2 emissions in Brighton by over 30 per cent, exceeding EU targets.

The building, which is set to be completed in May 2013, is hoped to act as central hub for all those who share concerns about sustainable, carbon-neutral living, and, hopefully, it will inspire more people to reduce the size of their own carbon footprint.

Sources include: The Guardian, Brighton Arts Faculty,

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If you need translation or interpreting services in and around Oxford and worldwide, TJC offers a wide range of services in more than 100 languages and dialects, covering a variety of areas regarding  environment  and engineering. For more information, visit our website or contact us directly by email. TJC also has a network of translators and interpreters specialising in industry- related work. Alternatively, visit our sister site www.japanco.net for professional Japanese translation and interpretation services.


Three Gorges dam: the costs of a green energy giant

August 2, 2012

At the beginning of July,  after nearly twenty years of development and 9 years of partial operation, China witnessed the colossal Three Gorges Dam, on the Yangtze River, working at full capacity for the first time. As the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, producing more than 22.5 million kilowatts of energy, the Three Gorges dam promises to be one of the most imposing symbols of renewable energy for our generation. Yet, while it helps to care for the environment in one way, critics have also jumped on more localised environmental impacts that could have disastrous consequences for towns, villages and agricultural land that flank the world’s third longest river.

The main environmental concern for the Three Gorges Dam is the polluted water that the structure holds back then releases through the electricity- generating turbines.  The pollution levels of this water was remarked upon by the China Digital Times, which, when referring to an article concerning the water quality of nearby lakes, pointed out that Yangtze waters in some regions was classed as unfit for human consumption.  The water therefore poses a risk as a major carrier of many water-borne diseases, as waters are allowed to accumulate in the dam and the bacteria are able to multiply further.

Additionally, concerns over flooding, the destruction of agricultural areas, towns and villages on the river banks, including the city of Shanghai, have also been raised. According to The Guardian, 1.3 million people have already had to move as a result of the dam’s construction.  Being situated in a seismic zone also means that the dam is at risk of exacerbating the effects of natural disasters such as landslides and earthquakes.

The controversy surrounding the dam’s construction does not appear to have an easy solution. On one hand, the dam shows China’s committal to producing renewable energy on a large scale, which in the light of environmental impacts of global fossil fuel consumption, can only be encouraged. However, at the same time the project has had severe social and environmental consequences, with the threat of more catastrophic impacts lurking in the background. As always, the cost that such a project may have on the quality of human and animal life is crucial to assess, yet in the case of renewable energy, which works towards a cleaner and more environmentally- friendly means of generating power, the criteria that this assessment is based on becomes cloudy. It is a true that a big change is needed in order to revolutionise our energy networks, yet at the same time a project aimed at improving the quality of human life on this planet in the future, cannot ignore the damaging environmental impacts it may have today.

 

News sources: The New Scientist, China Digital Times, The Guardian Online, BBC news website, Wikipedia.

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If you need worldwide translation or interpreting services, TJC offers a wide range of services in more than 100 languages and dialects, covering a variety of areas and relating to renewable energy environment , agriculture, and construction.  If you would like to find out more about China, take a look at our country profile page. For more information, visit our websites at TJC Oxford , TJC Global or Asian Languages Global or contact us directly by email.


Tokyo Skytree: The Opening of the Tallest Free-Standing Tower in the World

June 15, 2012

Thousands of visitors flocked to the opening of Tokyo’s new landmark on Tuesday 22nd May, as the world’s tallest tower, the Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー Tōkyō Sukaitsurī), was opened to the general public for the first time.

Although Dubai’s 829m (2720 ft) Burj Khalifa remains the tallest building in the world, the Skytree is still able to lay its claims to being the tallest tower on the planet, thanks to a recognised distinction between a building and a tower.

After four years in construction (including special measures to ensure earthquake-resistance) and at a cost of 65 billion yen (£517m) Skytree now stands as the tallest tower on the planer, at a height of 634m (2080 ft), nearly twice that of the Eiffel Tower. Skytree will function as a broadcasting tower, with its unprecedented height allowing for the clear transmission of television and radio signals. The broadcasting of such signals had, until now, been becoming increasingly difficult, with the rise of multi-storey buildings in Tokyo. Skytree will now be used by six different television stations in Japan for transmission.

Of 200,000 visitors to the Skytree on opening day, around 8000 had reserved first-day admissions passes, with some reportedly having waited in line for more than a week to secure the coveted tickets. Unfortunately,  the panoramic view was limited somewhat by cloudy weather, but this did not stop visitors climbing to the tower’s two observation decks, at 350 m (1150 ft) and 450 m (1480 ft). A vertigo-inducing glass floor on the first observation deck allows visitors to look straight down to the earth, 350m below. This floor also features the ‘Sky restaurant’.

The Skytree is expected to boost tourism in surrounding areas, particularly the nearby city Nikko, in the Tochigi prefecture, which has seen a sharp decline in both foreign and domestic tourists since the 2011 earthquake. The city suffered considerable damage from the earthquake, its epicentre being located around 250km away and shocks were reportedly felt for two solid minutes. It is hoped that the Skytree, which can be reached in less than two hours by express train from Nikko, will revive the city’s tourist industry, with around 2.5 million visitors to the Tochigi Prefecture now expected each year.

Over 32 million people are expected to visit the Skytree in its first year. Foreign visitors who do not speak any Japanese can download a free app to help them navigate the surrounding area. The app, Shitamachi Sora Sampo (“downtown sky stroll”), has been developed for smartphones running iOS or Android systems and details, in English, over 20 sightseeing routes around the towering landmark. Tickets for the Skytree itself will need to be booked well in advance, as access to the tower’s observation decks is already sold-out until mid-July. Interested tourists can purchase Skytree tickets via http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en – although they will require a credit card registered in Japan to do so.

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