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Monday, September 29, 2014

News in Japan ( ALTs to be placed in all primary schools ) / Japan's 100 Year Old and Older Hits Record High / The Most Crowded Train Lines in Japan

Good news from the Yomiuri newspaper

"The government has decided to increase the number of Assistant Language Teachers considerably over a five-year period, starting from the next school year, to strengthen English education at primary schools.
Aiming to create a system in which ALTs will be assigned to all public primary schools by the 2019 school year, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the Foreign Ministry plan to increase the number of ALTs by about 2,300 over five years as a national project. Combined with ALTs who are hired independently by municipalities, the ministries intend to expand the total number of ALTs to 20,000, or 1.5 times the current level, by the 2019 school year.
The education ministry has decided to lower the starting age for English education from the current fifth year of primary school to the third year by the 2020 school year, and make it an official subject from the fifth year.
Experts have said it is important to secure a sufficient number of native English speakers, and utilize them to enhance the learning environments for students.
About 800 ALTs first came to Japan in 1987 when the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program was launched as a state international exchange project. As of 2002, the number of ALTs had increased to about 5,600, but it began to decrease after that due to financial problems. The current number is about 4,100.

Besides ALTs on the JET Program, about 8,000 ALTs hired independently by municipalities and other organizations have been dispatched to local primary and middle schools across the nation. In some cases, an ALT teaches at several schools.
According to experts, considerable disparity exists among the nation's 21,000 public primary schools. While some schools have resident ALTs, some schools are visited by an ALT once about every six months.
The government therefore plans to increase the number of ALTs in the JET Program in stages. From the 2020 school year onward, English lessons will increase from the current once a week to three times a week for fifth-grade and sixth-grade students. Third-grade and fourth-grade students will have English lessons once or twice a week, and the education ministry plans to have ALTs frequently instruct students in English classes.
The budget for English education utilizing ALTs is expected to increase from about ¥30 billion this school year to about ¥50 billion a year eventually. The government also plans to launch a subsidy system for supporting municipalities that independently hire ALTs.

An ALT assists Japanese teachers in teaching foreign languages such as English at primary, middle and high schools. In addition to ALTs who come to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a state international exchange project, others are directly hired by municipalities or private organizations contracted to dispatch ALTs.
From the 2011 school year, foreign language studies became compulsory for fifth-grade and sixth-grade primary school students. The role of ALTs has expanded to include assisting with pronunciation and listening comprehension. "




Japan's centenarian population hits record high

From Japan Today

"The number of people aged 100 or older in rapidly graying Japan has hit a record high for the 44th straight year, the government said Friday.
The country’s centenarian population jumped by 4,423 from a year earlier to a record 58,820 as of Sept 1, the health ministry said, adding that 87.1% of them were women.
On average, there are 46.21 centenarians per 100,000 people.
The figures included the world’s oldest woman and her male counterpart, as recognized by Guinness World Records—Misao Okawa, a 116-year-old woman in Osaka, and Sakari Momoi, the oldest known man at 111.
The number of centenarians stood at just 153 when the ministry started the survey in 1963. It topped 10,000 in 1998 and has increased by 3,000-4,000 each year recently.
“Progress in medical technology and an improvement in the care-giving system may have contributed to the steady rise,” said ministry official Yuji Umemoto.
In 2013, life expectancy for women in Japan was 86.61, the longest in the world, while for men it was 80.21, the fourth longest, the ministry said earlier. "



Japanese male porn stars rarer than Bengal tigers, actor says

From Japan Today

"Japan’s vast pornography industry is desperately short of men, one actor claims, insisting even the endangered Bengal tiger is more numerous.
A veteran porn star known only as Shimiken says he is one of just 70 male actors, with just a handful of them doing all the heavy lifting.
“Everyday I meet the same people and see the same names on scripts,” he said on Twitter under his @shimiken username last month, adding the number was “lower than that of Bengal tigers”.
Quite why there aren’t enough willing participants is a mystery to Shimiken: “This job is like an Aladdin’s Cave, in many senses.”
“In contrast, the number of porn actresses is as high as 10,000, with 4,000 movies released every month,” Shimiken said. “We lack porn actors here.”

The number of tigers in the world has fallen drastically from around 100,000 in the early 20th century to about 4,000 today, according to the international conservation body, WWF.
Most Bengal tigers live in India, where a little over 1,700 are found, according to another conservation group, the IUCN Global Species Program."



The most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are ...

By Krista Rogers

"Even though I could praise Japan’s efficient public transportation system for hours on end, there’s one major drawback about it that has left me traumatized on several occasions and never fails to induce terrifying flashbacks whenever I’m surrounded by too many people. You can probably guess what I’m talking about, right? Yup, it’s about how unbelievably crowded the country’s trains and subways can get during rush hour.
Anyone traveling in the Greater Tokyo Area or other metropolitan centers of Japan should be forewarned that the experience is not for the faint of heart – nor for the claustrophobic. I mean, you know it’s a bad sign when there are actually station staff on hand during peak rush hours to squeeze as many passengers as possible into each car. That said, if you’ve traveled or happen to live in Japan’s capital, you can undoubtedly sympathize with the following ranking of the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo at rush hour. And just so you don’t think Tokyo gets all the love, we’ve also thrown in the lists for Osaka and Nagoya, too.
About the only negative memory I can recall from my study abroad days in Tokyo was navigating the Chuo Line every morning and evening on my daily commute to and from school. On rare days, I could just manage to do some homework reading while standing up; on even rarer days, finding an empty seat felt like winning the lottery. On the worst occasions, I would be shoved up against a total stranger with my arms stuck out at odd angles, all while trying to politely ignore one another’s existence. After moving to the rural countryside and emptier trains of northern Japan, I actually experienced culture shock whenever I visited Tokyo and rode on public transportation there again.
The website for Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recently released 2013 data about the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, three of Japan’s most populous cities. Each ranking comes with a percentage value which indicates the degree of crowdedness inside the train. The graphic illustrates the different percentages.

For your reference:
At 100%, you have no problem finding your own personal space near the door and stretching out.
At 150%, you can still easily spread open a newspaper and read it.
At 180%, you can read a folded newspaper with some difficulty.
At 200%, you’re feeling a bit cozy, but you can still manage to read small books or periodicals.
At 250%, it’s just like what the picture shows–you’re squeezed in like a can of sardines. Things may get a little awkward…
Now, let’s finally move onto the actual ranking. Here are the top ten most crowded train and subway lines during rush hour in Tokyo (the specific stretches of track between two stations are listed in parentheses):
1) Keihin Tohoku Line (from Ueno to Okachimachi), JR East: 200%
2) Tozai Line (from Kiba to Monzen-Nakacho), Tokyo Metro: 199%
3) Chuo-Sobu Line [Local] (from Kinshicho to Ryogoku), JR East: 199%
4) Chuo Line [Rapid] (from Nakano to Shinjuku), JR East: 194%
5) Yokosuka Line (from Musashi-Kosugi to Nishi-Oi), JR East: 193%
6) Odawara Line (from Setagaya-Daita to Shimokitazawa), Odakyu: 188%
7) Den-en-toshi Line (from Ikejiri-Ohashi to Shibuya), Tokyu Group: 183%
8) Tokaido Line (from Kawasaki to Shinagawa), JR East: 183%
9) Sobu Line [Rapid] (from Shin-Koiwa to Kinshicho), JR East: 178%
10) Chiyoda Line (from Machiya to Nishi-Nippori), Tokyo Metro: 177%
Yikes! Eight out of the ten most crowded lines are above that 180% mark. Now let’s see how those numbers stack up to Osaka’s top ten most crowded lines:
1) Kobe Main Line (from Kanzakigawa to Juso), Hankyu: 142%
2) Takarazuka Main Line (from Mikuni to Juso), Hankyu: 139%
3) Nara Line (from Kawachi-Eiwa to Fuse), Kintetsu: 135%
4) Midosuji Line (from Umeda to Yodoyabashi), Osaka Municipal Subway: 135%
5) Osaka Line (from Shuntokumichi to Fuse), Kintetsu: 133%
6) Katamachi (from Shigino to Kyobashi), JR West: 131%
7) Kyoto Main Line (from Kami-Shinjo to Awaji), Hankyu: 129%
8) Koya Line (from Mozuhachiman to Mikunigaoka), Nankai: 125%
9) Hanwa Line [Rapid] (from Sakaishi to Tennoji), JR West: 124%
10) Minami-Osaka Line (from Kita-Tanabe to Koboreguchi), Kintetsu: 123%
In other words, Osaka’s most crowded line at 142% is equivalent to the 26th most crowded line in Tokyo (which happens to be Keio’s Inokashira Line).
Similarly, let’s take a look at the ranking for Nagoya (note–the list only goes up to eighth place):
1) Higashiyama Line (from Nagoya to Fushimi), Nagoya Municipal Subway: 139%
2) Nagoya Main Line [East] (from Jingu-mae to Kanayama), Meitetsu: 138%
3) Nagoya Main Line [West] (from Sako to Meitetsu-Nagoya), Meitetsu: 138%
4) Nagoya Line (from Komeno to Kintetsu-Nagoya), Kintetsu: 133%
5) Chuo Line (from Shin-Moriyama to Ozone), JR Central: 129%
6) Meijo Line/Meiko Line (from Kanayama to Higashi-Betsuin), Nagoya Municipal Subway: 127%
7) Tokaido Line (from Biwajima to Nagoya), JR Central: 121%
8) Tsurumai Line (from Shiogama-guchi to Yagoto), Nagoya Municipal Subway: 113%
This time, the worst offender in the Nagoya area is equivalent to Tokyo’s 27th (the Keikyu Main Line)."

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