NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan October 2022


Japan lifts remaining COVID nonessential travel warnings – Nationwide

The Japanese government lifted its last remaining warnings against nonessential trips abroad over COVID-19 after downgrading its travel advisories for 76 countries and areas, including Australia and Taiwan. The Foreign Ministry said it lowered the travel advisory for those destinations, also including New Zealand, Mexico and Turkey, from the second-lowest Level 2 on its four-point scale to Level 1, which advises Japanese nationals travelling to those regions to “stay fully alert.” The ministry said the decision came “as the infection situation globally has generally been improving” and that other Group of Seven industrialised nations have already scrapped their coronavirus travel advisories by country and area.

Those who plan to travel overseas are still encouraged to get fully vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 infection, the ministry added. Wednesday’s measure came after the government scrapped last week its 50,000-person cap on daily arrivals, as the nation aims to revive its struggling inbound tourism sector by relaxing border controls that had been criticised as too strict.

Japan has also ended the requirement that tourists travel on package tours, and that visitors obtain a visa if they are citizens of one of 68 countries and regions with which Japan had a waiver agreement before the pandemic. Japan has scrapped as well its classification of countries and regions by COVID risk. It now allows people to skip virus testing and isolation upon entry as long as they provide proof of either having undergone three vaccinations or returning a negative test result within 72 hours of departure.

Someone crashes car into Japan’s oldest toiletKyoto Prefecture

Having been the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, there’s nowhere in the country with a denser concentration of historically significant buildings, gardens, and artifacts, so if you happen to slam your car into something, it was probably something important.

Case in point: a 30-year-old driver crashed into a building that’s registered as Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. What makes the structure special? It’s the oldest toilet in Japan.

Sure, the toilets in question may not have the fancy heated seats and pulsating jets of butt-cleansing water that modern Japanese toilets have, and are basically just circular holes cut into blocks of stone. That’s understandable, though, because this restroom was constructed in the early 15th century as part of Tofukuji Temple, in what’s now the Honmachi neighbourhood of Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward. See, while an ascetic lifestyle has long been part of being a monk in Japan, even the most stoic of practitioners needs a place to poop, so the temple constructed a restroom, called a tosu, next to its meditation hall,

Unfortunately, at around 9:30 a.m., a 30-year-old man who was turning his car around in the temple’s parking area forgot he was still in reverse when he pressed down on the accelerator. Instead of pulling forward, the car zoomed backwards into the tosu, smashing the wooden door to the building and damaging the interior support pillars. There’s a short flight of steps that leads down from the parking area into the entrance to the tosu, which probably added to the car’s speed before it crashed.

Worker compensation cases due to mental stress up 60% in Japan in 10 years – Nationwide

The number of people subject to compensation for mental illness caused by stress at work increased more than 60 percent in Japan over the decade through fiscal 2019, a white paper on death and suicide from overwork said. Such cases involving women rose nearly 80 percent during the same period, with the annual report pointing out that many were caused by sexual harassment. In fiscal 2010, which ended in March 2011, there were 308 cases of work-related illness due to depression and other mental disorders. The number rose to 509 in fiscal 2019, according to the paper, approved by the Cabinet the same day.

A health ministry official said the rise of recognized cases resulted from an increased public awareness about labour issues following workstyle reforms. By industry, the highest number of cases was reported among manufacturers, followed by wholesale and retail businesses, and the medical and welfare sector. Cases involving women increased to 179 from 104 over the decade. Sexual harassment was cited in 20 percent of the cases since fiscal 2012, when standards for certificating such compensation cases were revised. In the cases involving men, the most common reason was “constantly working long hours.”

The white paper also looked into teleworking as a new work habit amid the coronavirus pandemic. It found that 66 percent of people who work away from the office every day sleep more than six hours on average, and those that telework are more likely to feel happier in their daily lives than those who do not.


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