Tuesday, May 25, 2010

News Blast

Photo courtesy of Kyodo News PR Wire
Hatoyama Cabinet to continue 'cool biz' campaign this summer

The government on Tuesday confirmed plans to continue this summer the "cool biz" light clothing campaign initiated in 2005 to help reduce air conditioning by setting office temperatures several degrees higher than usual. At a meeting of Cabinet members, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano instructed ministers to don traditional Okinawan "kariyushi" open-neck shirts at a Cabinet meeting June 1 to mark the start of the seasonal drive, during which men are encouraged not to wear ties or jackets.

Salmon takes over as top table treat in Japan

Salmon has overtaken horse mackerel as the most popular fish for Japanese people to eat, due largely to improvements in freezing technology that have raised the quality of imports as well as housewives' preference for a fish that is easy to prepare. The government released a study on fish consumption on May 21 in which salmon emerged as the most popular to eat at home, followed by squid and tuna, all of which are straightforward to turn into a meal. In 1965, salmon was not in the top five as it was much harder to find good quality fish because it deteriorated in quality as it was being shipped to Japan.

Cheap rent-a-car services revving up in Japan

Cheap rent-a-car services are starting to gain a foothold in Japan, with some outlets providing vehicles for about half the price charged by major car rental companies. Niconico Rentacar, one of Japan's biggest cheap rent-a-car businesses, operates a membership system with no initial fee or annual charges. Customers can rent a compact car for 12 hours for 2,525 yen or a regular sedan for 4,725 yen -- roughly half the price charged by other major companies. In the two years since its founding in 2008, the business has accelerated rapidly, and now operates 300 outlets.

Osaka seeks special business zone

Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto called on the central government Sunday to designate his prefecture as a special business zone that would serve as an entry point for businesses across Asia. The government has been considering legislating a system for special business zones, and during a meeting Sunday with Hashimoto, Senior Vice Cabinet Office Minister Motohisa Furukawa unveiled the administration's intention to submit the bill to the Diet early next year.

Is Japan becoming more insular?

With so much talk of globalization, it might seem counterintuitive to suggest that Japan is turning inward, but that's what some have concluded. The Washington Post recently focused on one example: the dwindling number of Japanese students studying abroad. Roughly 80,000 Japanese students now study outside the country, far fewer than, say, South Korea with less than half Japan's population. The fall has been particularly sharp in the United States, where Japanese undergraduate enrollment in universities is down by over a half since 2000.

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