5 years on from the tsunami
On March 11th 2016, it was exactly five years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northern coast. To mark this anniversary, this March at Inside Japan Tours is all about Tohoku: looking back on its troubles, celebrating its charms, and taking stock of how far the region has come in the past five years.
To read all about this beautiful region, including first-hand accounts of the disaster and recovery, visit our dedicated tsunami page:
The Japan Tsunami 5 Years On
Thursday, 28th July 2016
In General Japan News,
Mount Sakruajima erupts in impressive style
When Mount Sakruajima erupted this week, the scenes were incredible, with smoke billowing 5,000 metres into the air, lightning cracking the atmosphere and lava flowing down the volcano’s sides.
For the past three years, there has been little visible activity from the 1,117-metre mountain, which sits on the shores of a bay on the southern island of Kyushu.
This is despite the fact it is known to be one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and as such, has been closely monitored since the eighth century.
The eruption occurred at 12.02am local time on Tuesday (July 26th), when the volcano’s Showa crater sparked into life.
Although the scenes were dramatic, no casualties have been reported and the Japan Meteorological Agency has put a level three alert in place and advised people to stay away from the area.
A similar eruption at Mount Sakruajima occurred in 2013 when 5,000 metres of ash and debris was seen and damage was evident on properties, but nobody was hurt.
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Wednesday, 27th July 2016
In General Japan News, Business In Japan,
Japan set to raise minimum wage
Workers in Japan can expect to see their pay packets boosted after the government announced plans to raise the minimum wage.
Pay will go up by three per cent for the lowest paid members of staff in the country, as a bid to promote consumer spending is launched.
The plans will be implemented this fiscal year and are hoped to address criticism that many low-income earners have been left behind when it comes to Japan’s economic policy.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe is keen to reverse 15 years of deflation with his own brand of Abenomics and raising wages could really help with this.
Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, told a press conference: "It is extremely important to stimulate consumer spending by raising the minimum wage, which will help Japan escape deflation and contribute to a positive economic growth cycle."
Increasing the minimum wage is likely to encourage other wages to rise, which would be good news for the Bank of Japan (BOJ).
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Tuesday, 26th July 2016
In General Japan News, Business In Japan, General Japan News,
Japan casts spotlight on 8 national parks
It may be National Park Week in the UK, but the Environment Ministry in Japan is also keen to highlight the beauty of its own natural spaces.
A panel has been put together to select eight of the nation’s 32 national parks for a groundbreaking project aimed at enticing more foreign tourists to explore them.
Special tour guides will then be trained in natural attractions and traditional culture to show off the parks.
In addition to this, accommodation options, such as hotels, in the national parks will also be improved in order to make stays more comfortable.
One of the eight parks that has been chosen is the Ise-Shima National Park in Mie Prefecture, home to the Ise Grand Shrine.
It was also the venue for the Group of Seven summit in May, which saw many world leaders descend on Japan to discuss economic policies.
The Nikko National Park, which crosses the prefectural boundaries of Fukushima, Tochigi and Gunma is also featured.
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Monday, 25th July 2016
In General Japan News, Business In Japan, General Japan News, Japan Entertainment News,
Japan's tourism sites make provision for Pokemon Go
Popular tourism sites across Japan are putting measures in place to ensure that Pokemon Go players do not become a problem.
Some attractions are concerned about the potential for accidents with those playing the app-based game, while others worry that the sanctity of shrines could be compromised.
At the Tomioka Silk Mill in Gunma Prefecture, two warning signs have been put in place to ensure users of the app don’t wander into areas that are off-limits.
They also caution against colliding with other visitors, who are enjoying the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site without collecting pocket monsters.
It is thought that the Tomioka Silk Mill complex contains six Pokemon Go items, making it an alluring spot for devotees of the game.
An official told Kyodo News: “We haven’t so far seen any troubles but we hope people would not damage cultural properties by inadvertently bumping into them.”
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Uncertainty is surrounding Japan?s royal family, as Emperor Akihito is rumoured to be considering stepping down.