NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan March 2023


Police urge cyclists to wear helmets ahead of mandate on April 1Nationwide

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has begun urging cyclists to wear helmets before a helmet-wearing mandate goes into effect nationwide on April 1. Officers at Tsukishima Police Station in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward were seen wearing bicycle helmets.

According to police, there were over 13,000 accidents involving cyclists in Tokyo last year, making up about 46% of traffic accidents in the metropolis, Kyodo News reported. This was an increase of over 1,000 cases from 2021. Moreover, 30 cyclists were killed. None of them were wearing a helmet, police said. Additionally, 70% of fatal bicycle accidents over the last five years were caused by traumatic head injuries.

The helmet-wearing regulation, part of the Road Traffic Act, is an effort to raise awareness that the fatality rate is 2.3 times higher when protective headgear is not worn. However, there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet.

Tokyo cherry blossoms in full bloom, matching 2nd earliest recordTokyo Prefecture

Cherry blossoms were in full bloom on March 22nd  in central Tokyo, matching 2013, 2020 and 2021 to become the second-earliest day in the year for the seasonal phenomena to occur since records began, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. More than 80 percent of the flowers on a Somei Yoshino tree at Yasukuni Shrine, used by the agency as a yardstick to measure the annual event, were in bloom, fulfilling the full-bloom criteria nine days earlier than average and five days earlier than in 2022.

The agency believes the trees’ flowering in the capital was accelerated by temperatures having risen to around 20 degrees on several occasions since they began blooming last week. The trees in Tokyo were flowering at the earliest time since observations began in 1953, matching records seen in 2020 and 2021. Cherry trees across Japan are blooming earlier than usual this year, the agency said, with similar scenes in cities such as Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya.

For the first time in three years, parks administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government, such as Ueno Park, have allowed people to gather for parties involving food and drinks during the cherry blossom season. The Tokyo government had advised people to refrain from holding cherry blossom-viewing parties at parks and public spaces in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Masks stay on in Japan as 3-year request to wear them endsNationwide

Japan on Monday dropped its request for people to wear masks after three years, but hardly anything changed in the country that has had an extremely high regard for their effectiveness at anti-virus protection. Most commuters exiting Tokyo’s main train station in the morning were wearing masks as they headed to work. So were people on the streets. During a televised budget committee meeting at parliament, some lawmakers still wore masks, though Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wasn’t wearing one when he arrived at his office. Baseball fans who gathered outside of the Tokyo Dome hours before Monday’s games Australia-Czech Republic and China-South Korea also had on masks. They’ll also be able to cheer without their masks as that ban was lifted, too.

Dropping the mask-wearing request is one of the last steps Japan’s government is taking in easing COVID-19 rules in public places as it tries to expand business and other activity. “From today, mask wearing is left up to individual judgement. We are not forcing anyone to wear it or take it off,” Kishida told reporters as he arrived at his office. “I think there will be more occasions when I will take my mask off.” Kishida, however, asked people to use masks around vulnerable people to protect them from risks of infection.

In a country where the pressure for conformity is extremely strong, many people were expected to keep wearing them for now. The mask request was dropped for outdoors last summer, yet many have kept wearing them.


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