Topic: New mayor seeks 100-yen tax on visitors to Miyajima island
Taro Matsumoto campaigned in the mayoral race in Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on a pledge to institute an entrance tax for visitors to Miyajima island, home to Itsukushimajinja shrine, a World Heritage site.
Matsumoto, who took office on Nov. 3, 2019, is determined to fulfill his campaign promise.
Matsumoto told reporters a day after the election that he aims to introduce the tax in 2021 to fund infrastructure improvements to the increasingly popular tourist attraction.
"The island needs maintenance and repair work, including placing power lines underground and repairing roads," he said. "I’m focused on introducing the tax as a stable source of income."
Topic: Apology does little to quell fury over Mori’s sexist remarks 道歉難以平息森喜朗的性別歧視發言所引發的怒火
Criticism over the sexist remarks uttered by Tokyo Olympic organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori spread in the Cabinet and overseas after his apology fell flat and he rejected calls to resign.
Cabinet ministers were in unison on Feb. 5 in blasting Mori’s contention that having a large number of women on sports associations’ committees would lead to prolonged meetings because they tend to talk too much.
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, one of two women in Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet, expressed concern that Mori’s remarks would set back the government’s plans to have women take up 30 percent of leadership positions in Japan.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1431209 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1431912
Topic: In Japan, the Elderly Often Live, and Die, Alone
Cicadas, every Japanese schoolchild knows, lie underground for years before rising to the earth’s surface in summer. They climb up the nearest tree, where they cast off their shells and start their short second lives. During their few days among us, they mate, fly and cry. They cry until their bodies are found on the ground, twitching in their last moments, or on their backs with their legs pointing upward.
Chieko Ito hated the din they made. They had just started shrieking, as they always did in early summer, and the noise would keep getting louder in the weeks to come, invading her third-floor apartment, making any kind of silence impossible. As one species of cicadas quieted down, another’s distinct cry would take over. Then, as the insects peaked in numbers, showers of dead and dying cicadas would rain down on her enormous housing complex, stopping only with the end of summer itself.
“You hear them from morning to evening,” she sighed.
It was the afternoon of her 91st birthday, and unusually hot, part of a heat wave that had community leaders worried. Elderly volunteers had been winding through the labyrinth of footpaths, distributing leaflets on the dangers of heatstroke to the many hundreds of residents like Ito who lived alone in 171 nearly identical white buildings. With no families or visitors to speak of, many older tenants spent weeks or months cocooned in their small apartments, offering little hint of their existence to the world outside their doors. And each year, some of them died without anyone knowing, only to be discovered after their neighbors caught the smell.
The first time it happened, or at least the first time it drew national attention, the corpse of a 69-year-old man living near Ito had been lying on the floor for three years, without anyone noticing his absence. His monthly rent and utilities had been withdrawn automatically from his bank account. Finally, after his savings were depleted in 2000, the authorities came to the apartment and found his skeleton near the kitchen, its flesh picked clean by maggots and beetles, just a few feet from his next-door neighbors.
The huge government apartment complex where Ito has lived for nearly 60 years — one of the biggest in Japan, a monument to the nation’s postwar baby boom and aspirations for a modern, U.S. way of life — suddenly became known for something else entirely: the “lonely deaths” of the world’s most rapidly aging society.
“4,000 lonely deaths a week,” estimated the cover of a popular weekly magazine this summer, capturing the national alarm.
今年夏天，某暢銷周刊在封面標題上估計「每周有4000人孤獨死」，令舉國為之一驚。Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/321753/web/
Topic: Japan to fund AI matchmaking to boost birth rate
Japan plans to boost its tumbling birth rate by funding artificial intelligence matchmaking schemes to help residents find love.
From next year it will subsidize local governments already running or starting projects that use AI to pair people up.
Last year the number of babies born in Japan fell below 865,000 - a record low.
The fast-greying nation has long been searching for ways to reverse one of the world’s lowest fertility rates.
Boosting the use of AI tech is one of its latest efforts.
Next year the government plans to allocate local authorities 2bn yen to boost the birth rate, reported AFP news agency.
Many already offer human-run matchmaking services and some have introduced AI systems in the hope they will perform a more sophisticated analysis of the standardised forms where people submit their details.
Japan set to target zero emissions by 2050 in policy shift 日本政策轉變準備2050年達到零碳排
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to bind Japan to a target for carbon neutrality by 2050, a shift in stance that will bring the country in line with the European Union and more than 60 other nations in efforts to combat climate change.
Japan previously said it would aim to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and achieve net-zero emissions sometime in the latter half of the century.
Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. Under pressure from many business sectors, moves are also afoot to increase the use of renewable energy as the government starts forcing the shutdown of older, dirtier coal plants.
日本目前是全球第五大二氧化碳排放國。在許多產業界的壓力下，政府著手強制老舊火力發電廠關閉的同時，也正增加採用可再生能源等措施。Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1416436 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1421876