NILS Fukuoka Times

Today's Phrase

What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan December 2022


Character meaning war (戦) picked as kanji of 2022 – Nationwide

The kanji for sen (戦), meaning war or battle, was picked as the single most representative Chinese character corresponding to the social mood in Japan this year, a Kyoto-based organisation said. The selection for the 28th annual poll run by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, based on votes cast by the general public, came as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other international conflicts dominate headlines.

The foundation received 223,700 answers. Sen had the highest number with 10,804. Second was yasu (安), meaning weak, in reference to the weak yen, which garnered 10,616 votes. Sen also illustrated the public’s excitement about the heated battles the Japanese national soccer team fought at the World Cup held in Qatar in late November. The Samurai Blue exited in the round of 16.

In Kyoto, chief Buddhist priest Seihan Mori of Kiyomizu temple made the announcement by writing the character with a giant calligraphy brush on washi, or Japanese paper, 1.5 metres high and 1.3 metres wide, at the renowned location. Last year, the kanji for kin, meaning gold or money, was picked after Japan had its best-ever haul of 27 gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer. This is the second time sen has been chosen. It was also picked in December 2001, when terrorist attacks in the United States and domestic job cuts were among the reasons cited.

International cruise ship operations resume in Japan after almost 3 years – Kanagawa Prefecture

International cruise ship operations resumed in Japan after an almost three-year suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a ship operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Lines Ltd setting sail for the Indian Ocean from Yokohama. The tourism ministry said the Nippon Maru has become the first cruise ship to leave a Japanese port since making an announcement in November allowing international cruise ships to resume operations and dock on its shores.

The suspension was imposed after mass infections on the Diamond Princess cruise ship caused thousands to be quarantined in Yokohama in February 2020, leaving 13 of the over 700 infected crew and passengers dead. The Nippon Maru operator says it has implemented a slew of anti-coronavirus measures, including requiring passengers to take a PCR test prior to boarding, having their temperatures checked daily, and keeping tabs on close contacts among them. The ship, whose voyage includes stops at Mauritius and Madagascar, will return to Yokohama on Jan 31.

Japan aims to alleviate overpopulation in Tokyo area by FY2027 – Tokyo Prefecture

Japan aims to alleviate overcrowding in Tokyo by arresting population flight to the metropolitan area by the end of fiscal 2027, a new five-year regional revitalization plan released by the government showed. The draft strategy, which will be finalised at a cabinet meeting next Friday, specifies measures and numerical targets to be implemented from fiscal 2023 to eliminate net population inflow into Tokyo and the neighbouring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. In fiscal 2021, which ran from April last year until March, the number of people moving into the four prefectures exceeded those moving out by around 84,000.

The five-year plan includes using tax incentives to encourage companies to relocate to regional areas, establishing satellite offices, and increasing opportunities for the urban population to contribute to local communities as part of measures to increase population outflow. Many of these measures already exist and will likely need to be bolstered over the next five years if the government is to achieve its goal.

A revitalization strategy set by the administration of the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2014 aimed to eliminate the net population inflow into Tokyo by the end of 2020. But difficulties in realising this goal resulted in the target date being pushed back to fiscal 2024, meaning the new target of fiscal 2027 is effectively a second postponement.

The draft strategy by the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida outlines measures and goals by sector, including ways to attract younger generations by improving the environment for marriage and childbirth in regional areas. To create more job opportunities outside urban areas, the government will also work to revitalise the tourism, farming and fisheries industries, as well as support entrepreneurship.


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