70% of Japanese Youths Use Public Toilets, But Have Negative Image of Them Depending on Location (2) [2021年07月28日（Wed）]
Do you feel that public toilets are a fitting expression of the omotenashi concept of Japanese hospitality?
The Nippon Foundation’s survey on public toilets clearly showed that although restrooms in Japanese parks and along footpaths are free and close at hand, the reality is not everyone feels able to use them with peace of mind.
Local governments are charged with cleaning and maintaining public bathrooms in parks and along footpaths in Shibuya and other municipalities and the poll found that about six in 10 young Japanese (57.9%) agree.
On the other hand, some young Japanese believe that these toilets should be cleaned and maintained by local volunteers (4.8%) or local residents (2.9%) on the ground that locals are the ones who use them most frequently.
Asked whether public toilets are a fitting expression of the Japanese concept of hospitality known as omotenashi, or selfless hospitality, Japanese young were divided with 31.9% answering yes, 27.1% no and 41% don’t know.
As reasons for answering yes, almost eight in 10 (79.0%) said many restrooms can be used for free by anyone, followed by those who said that they are kept clean (58.9%), they are always stocked with toilet paper (37.9%), and they are equipped with features such as wash function and noise reduction (36.7%). Reasons for answering no are that many restrooms are not kept clean (71.2%), exteriors are sometimes not inviting (36.9%) and the morals of users who do things like soiling the toilet or stealing toilet paper are questionable (30.3%).
The survey showed again how important it is to always keep public toilets, especially those in parks and along footpaths, clean and inviting for users.
Under THE TOKYO TOILET project, maintenance of the toilets is being carried out under a three-party agreement concluded by The Nippon Foundation, the Shibuya City government and the Shibuya City Tourism Association. I believe continuing careful and thorough maintenance efforts will encourage more people to use public toilets and foster a spirit of omotenashi for the next person.
The findings of the survey reinforced my hope and expectation of what the project can achieve.
For this survey, “public toilets” are defined as toilets in department stores, movie theaters, and other commercial facilities, those in train and subway stations, in parks and along footpaths, in convenience stores, in restaurants, in hospitals, and in roadside rest areas.
70% of Japanese Youths Use Public Toilets, But Have Negative Image of Them Depending on Location (1) [2021年07月27日（Tue）]
Internationally renowned architect Mr. Kengo Kuma in front of a new public toilet he designed and unveiled in Nabeshima Shoto Park in Shibuya Ward, central Tokyo, on June 24, 2021. This is the ninth of the 17 public restrooms designed by 16 Japanese architects under THE TOKYO TOILET project launched last year by The Nippon Foundation.
Japanese toilets are attracting global attention as a symbol of the spirit of omotenashi, or selfless hospitality, as exemplified by a seat and lid that open and close automatically, a seat that warms up to provide maximum comfort, a flushing sound to mask bodily noises, an electronic bidet known as “Washlet” （a registered trademark of the Japanese toilet company TOTO Ltd.）that makes wash and blow-dry functions possible, and automatic deodorization.
But unlike public bathrooms in department stores, other commercial facilities and airports, toilets in parks and along footpaths suffer from an image problem: they are seen as dark, dirty, smelly and scary, causing many people to avoid using them.
To phase out these images, The Nippon Foundation launched THE TOKYO TOILET project last year to renovate public toilets at 17 locations in Shibuya Ward, central Tokyo, for use by anyone safely and in comfort regardless of gender, age or disability. These toilets are designed by 16 internationally-renowned architects, including four laureates of the Pritzker Architect Prize−often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel”−such as Mr. Tadao Ando, Mr. Toyo Ito, Mr. Shigeru Ban and Mr. Fumihiko Maki.
Recently, the ninth toilet installed under the project, designed by architect Mr. Kengo Kuma, was unveiled on June 24 inside the lush green surroundings of Nabeshima Shoto Park. (Mr. Kuma designed the new National Stadium in Tokyo, the main venue for the Olympic Games that opened on July 23 following a one-year delay due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.)
Against this background, The Nippon Foundation conducted a nationwide online survey on the subject of “public toilets” from May 14 to 18, covering 1,000 Japanese youths aged between 17 and 19.
The poll found that seven in 10 respondents (70.5%) use public toilets when they go out. But the frequency of use differs remarkably depending on where the toilets are located. More than half of respondents (57.1%) said they use toilets in department stores, movie theaters and other commercial facilities; on the other hand, only 13.5% said they regularly use bathrooms in parks and along footpaths.
Compared with other locations, young Japanese had a particularly negative image of toilets in parks and along footpaths with two in three respondents describing them as “dirty” (67.6%), followed by “smelly” (28.6%), “dark” (23.4%) and “dangerous” (22.8%). Positive impressions of their being “clean” and “safe” were cited by only 3.1% of respondents in each case.
Two in five Japanese youths (40.6%) said they hardly use bathrooms in parks and along footpaths, while almost a half (45.9%) said they do not use them at all. Female respondents in particular noted the need for more safety and security measures at such public toilets with 27.2% describing them as dangerous (compared with 18.4% for males).
Do you use public toilets when you go out?
(To be continued)
Japan Launches Public Phone Relay Service for People with Hearing or Speech Disabilities (2) [2021年07月21日（Wed）]
Under the Act on Facilitating the Use of Telephones by the Hearing Impaired, etc., the relay service is financed by grants contributed by all the country’s telecommunication providers, which collect a “telephone relay service fee” from telephone users. The fee for fiscal 2021, which started in April, is 7 yen (about 6.4 cents) per phone number per year, which is added to the phone bill.
Relay service users with hearing and/or speech disabilities will be charged a monthly fee of 178.2 yen (about $1.62), including tax, plus 5.5 yen (about 5 cents) per minute for a fixed phone and 33 yen (about 30 cents) for a mobile phone. For those who choose not to pay a monthly fee, the telephone charge is 16.5 yen (about 15 cents) per minute for a fixed phone and 44 yen (about 40 cents) for a mobile phone. Emergency calls are free anytime.
The new undertaking, however, is not without problems as we experienced in the course of the foundation’s trial service from 2013. One of the biggest hurdles is that the hearing public is generally unaware of the existence of the relay service. It is still common for a hearing person to hang up on a deaf relay user after hearing only a few words because they think the caller is trying to sell something or making a scam call.
To overcome this obstacle, The Nippon Foundation Telecommunication Relay Service is working together with the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the telecommunications industry, consumer organizations and other stakeholders via an advertising campaign for television, newspapers and the Internet introducing the general public to the new relay service and how it works. It is also important to listen to the opinions of users in our quest to make any necessary improvements. Training enough quality sign language interpreters is one of the challenges the service faces.
The relay service provider started accepting applications for the new service on June 1. The number of registered users with hearing or speech disabilities now stands at about 3,000 and the provider aims to increase this to 14,000 by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2022.
I sincerely hope that as many hearing people as possible come to understand how the new service works so that those with a hearing or speech impairment can place telephone calls just like anybody else in a more inclusive society.
Japan Launches Public Phone Relay Service for People with Hearing or Speech Disabilities (1) [2021年07月20日（Tue）]
Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Ryota Takeda (center below) makes a demonstration call to Ms. Ikumi Kawamata, a staff member with The Nippon Foundation who is deaf (above), during a ceremony to launch Japan's public phone relay service on July 1, 2021.
Japan has launched a public telephone relay service that enables people who are deaf or have a hearing and/or speech impairment to place phone calls via online assistants 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It thus became the last of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies to create a public system offering barrier-free access to phone services. In the United States, for example, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandated the establishment of the nationwide telecommunications relay service for people with hearing or speech disabilities.
For the new service, which I believe is imperative for the country’s infrastructure, the Japanese Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) designated earlier this year The Nippon Foundation Telecommunication Relay Service, a new partner organization of The Nippon Foundation, as a telephone relay service provider as called for under the 2020 Act on Facilitating the Use of Telephones by the Hearing Impaired, etc.
In a video message for the launch ceremony on July 1, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said: “The new service will allow anybody, regardless of disabilities, to easily make phone calls. I hope The Nippon Foundation Telecommunication Relay Service will play a due role in providing this important service.”
At the event, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Ryota Takeda made a demonstration call to Ms. Ikumi Kawamata, a staff member with The Nippon Foundation who is deaf, encouraging people to make full use of the relay service and expand the scope of their activities.
Speaking at the ceremony, I welcomed the launch of the service, which came eight years after The Nippon Foundation started providing a free-of-charge telephone relay service on a trial basis in 2013 with a view to prompting the government to take the initiative in this critically important undertaking.
The system enables people with hearing and/or speech disabilities to send messages in sign language or text using computers or smartphones, which will then be interpreted by communications assistants in real time so those on the other end of the call can understand them. Unlike our trial service, it is accessible 24/7 and can always handle emergency calls to police, fire stations, coast guard and hospitals.
To use the service, people with hearing or speech disabilities need to apply by a special app or email to be assigned a telephone number starting 050. This will also enable hearing people to call those who are hard-of-hearing or have speech difficulties directly
(To be continued)
Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in Turmoil (2)
―The Nippon Foundation Doing Its Part to Help Fight Pandemic [2021年07月15日（Thu）]
As part of our campaign to help the nation combat the pandemic, The Nippon Foundation since late February has been conducting free and regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the novel coronavirus for caregivers and other essential workers at up to about 10,000 nursing homes in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures.
But despite our efforts to encourage staff to be tested regularly with a view to containing infection clusters at these facilities, far fewer workers than we expected have undergone the tests. This is probably because the Japan Medical Association, a powerful lobby of medical doctors, has been promoting expensive PCR tests covered by state subsidies conducted by its member clinics and hospitals.
I do not understand why local authorities announce only the number of new COVID-19 cases, but not the number of tests administered. To overcome the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to promote both the vaccination rollout and PCR testing. I would like to invite experts’ comments on this point.
As of July 2, the foundation has conducted 519,923 PCR tests of which 91 came back positive.
All in all, The Nippon Foundation has been undertaking five major projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with total assistance to date coming to 9.08 billion yen (about $82.5 million) so far.
The five initiatives are as follows:
1. Building a makeshift facility with 140 private rooms in Odaiba on Tokyo Bay for novel coronavirus patients with mild or no symptoms at a total cost of 1.88 billion yen (about $17.1 million). As of July 2, 3,439 patients, many with pets, had stayed there.
2. Transporting to and from hospitals COVID-19 patients with slight symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19. We leased vehicles specially designed to prevent airborne droplets from the patient reaching the driver to carry 3,544 patients at a cost of 114 million yen (about $1.04 million) as of May 30. We also distributed more than 16.6 million yen (about $150,000) worth of taxi vouchers (as of June 15) to doctors and nurses going to and from hospitals.
3. Providing 127 emergency medical service hospitals in 36 prefectures across the nation that take care of severely ill and high-risk patients with a total of 4.94 billion yen (about $44.9 million) in grants to help them beef up facilities and equipment.
4. Free and regular COVID-19 PCR tests for caregivers and other essential workers at nursing homes in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures. As of July 2, a total of 519,923 tests had been conducted at a cost of 986 million yen (about $9 million).
5. Helping 236 hospitals across the country taking care of coronavirus patients purchase medical and other equipment with the total sum given at 1.14 billion yen (about $10.3 million).
Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in Turmoil (1) [2021年07月14日（Wed）]
With the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, Japan’s novel coronavirus vaccination program is in turmoil.
In response to a resurgence in novel coronavirus infections in Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a state of emergency in the capital, effective from July 12 to August 22, prompting the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, which run from July 23 through August 8, to hold the event without spectators in the metropolitan area.
Japan's inoculation campaign using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines got off to a slow start in mid-February when it prioritized front-line medical personnel and then saw the pace pick up somewhat in recent weeks as shots began being given to people aged 65 or older.
Then, on June 8, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) started accepting applications from companies, organizations and universities for administering COVID vaccinations at workplaces to people 18 and older, many including families, using the Moderna vaccine as part of the government’s drive to increase the speed of the vaccine rollout.
To seize the opportunity, The Nippon Foundation filed an application with the MHLW on June 14 for giving shots to its employees and those of its partner organizations, including those in motorboat racing, in Tokyo, followed by a similar request on June 17 to do the same in Osaka and Fukuoka, both western Japan. (The foundation’s primary funding source is a part of the proceeds from Japanese motorboat racing.)
However, on June 23, Mr. Taro Kono, Cabinet minister in charge of the vaccination rollout, told a press conference that starting on June 25, the MHLW would “suspend accepting new applications for inoculation, given that we are already reaching the maximum capacity to distribute the vaccines."
Many companies and organizations, which had started applying or preparing to apply to the MHLW, were astonished and bewildered by the suspension and forced to cancel inoculation appointments with their employees and families.
The foundation lodged its applications before the announcement was made. We were told that although the MHLW would send vaccine doses for our employees and those of partner organizations in Tokyo, the deliveries of those for our colleagues in Osaka and Fukuoka would be delayed considerably with no indication of when workplace vaccinations could resume.
As of July 10, about 37.2 million people or 29.3% of Japan’s population of 125 million had received at least one dose, according to the Prime Minister’s Office and the MHLW. Those who were fully vaccinated following their second dose stood at 22.2 million or 17.5% of the total. The figures are the lowest among major economies.
(To be continued)
“Ocean Newsletter“ Hits Milestone With 500th Issue [2021年07月09日（Fri）]
The 500th issue of “Ocean Newsletter” published by the Ocean Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation on June 5, almost 21 years after its debut.
At a time when ocean issues are drawing global attention, the Ocean Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation reached a milestone on June 5 when it published the 500th issue of its “Ocean Newsletter.”
It has been almost 21 years now since the institute, then called the Japan Foundation for Shipbuilding Advancement, started putting out the bimonthly publication from August 2000 in line with my idea to facilitate a wide range of discussion and exchange on oceanic topics, in order to raise awareness of the importance of the world's oceans and their resources. The publication, which accompanied the formation of an Ocean Policy Think Tank (now known as the Ocean Research Institute), is produced under the patronage of The Nippon Foundation from the proceeds of motorboat racing.
Its current chief editors are Dr. Kaoru Kubokawa, visiting professor of the Strategic Innovation Research Center at Teikyo University, and Dr. Shigeki Sakamoto, president of the Japan Society of Ocean Policy. Thanks to the current and past members of the editorial committee, the newsletter is now widely read by people interested in ocean and marine issues.
In the beginning, we didn’t know who to send the newsletter to, not knowing where people interested in ocean issues were to be found. But gradually it became a popular publication following the enactment of the 2007 Basic Act on Ocean Policy and the establishment of the Japan Society of Ocean Policy in 2008 as well as the growing awareness worldwide of the importance of ocean issues. Every issue includes three timely and inspiring articles and a postscript from the editors. I make it a rule to start by reading the postscript, which I always find particularly interesting.
I would like to congratulate the editors and contributors on reaching the 500th issue, hoping they will keep publishing the newsletter and improving its contents even further.
The Ocean Policy Research Institute has also been putting out a White Paper on the Oceans and Ocean Policy every year since 2004. Filled with photographs and chronological tables, they contain much of interest to those concerned with ocean affairs.
Dr. Hide Sakaguchi became president of the Ocean Policy Research Institute in April 2021. Joining hands with President Atsushi Sunami of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a partner organization of The Nippon Foundation, the institute aims to become the world’s No. 1 think tank on ocean policy. I sincerely hope they will deliver on this pledge.
Presently, the “Ocean Newsletter” “is published only in Japanese, but selected papers from the newsletter are available in English as is a table of contents in English for all issues published to date. My article from the preview edition, in which I explained why an ocean policy think tank was necessary, and the purpose of the newsletter, can be seen here. The English version of the White Paper on the Oceans and Ocean Policy in Japan 2020 is available here.
The annual White Paper on the Oceans and Ocean Policy also issued by the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
at 10:48 | OCEAN
20.6% of World’s Ocean Floor Now Mapped in Seabed 2030 Project [2021年07月06日（Tue）]
The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project, which aims to complete the mapping of the world’s ocean floor by 2030, has released the latest GEBCO Grid figure, showing 20.6% of the world’s entire seabed has now been mapped.
The figure, released on World Hydrography Day on June 21, represented an increase in the area covered of 1.6% from last year’ total of 19%. It may look like a small increase, but it equates to around half the size of the United States and represents commendable progress in light of the limitations the novel coronavirus pandemic imposed on research cruises during the past 12 months.
We remain humbly aware, of course, that the latest achievement leaves almost 80% of the world’s seabed still to be mapped.
Speaking to BBC News, Mr. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Seabed 2030 Project Director, said: "It doesn't matter whether you operate a high-tech fleet of ships or you're just a simple boat-owner−every piece of data matters in this giant jigsaw we're making," calling on everybody to get involved and contribute to the project.
The release of the latest grid figure coincided with the announcement that the Seabed 2030 project has entered a technical cooperation agreement with the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), a world-leading center for hydrography specializing in marine geospatial data, and Teledyne CARIS, the leading developer of marine mapping software.UKHO specializes in marine geospatial data, from seabed to surface, to help others make the best use of the marine environment. This includes partnerships with governments and researchers to support the sustainable growth of the Blue Economy and the protection of our oceans. UKHO also makes this data available through their portfolio of ADMIRALTY Maritime Data Solutions, which includes a world-leading range of navigational products that can be found on over 90% of ships trading internationally.Teledyne CARIS, headquartered in Fredericton, Canada, has been the leader for over 40 years in the development of hydrographic and marine geospatial software, including its flagship Hydrographic Production Database (HPD) which is used extensively by the UKHO to produce its charts. One of Teledyne CARIS’ newest products–-CARIS Onboard360–is a near real-time and autonomous data acquisition and processing package.I am greatly encouraged by the new tie-up as it opens the way for a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool to be used by Seabed 2030 to clean bathymetric data of "noise,” making it easier to pull out reliable depth soundings.
Mr. Peter Sparkes, Chief Executive of UKHO said: “Through use of this new capability, we hope to significantly reduce the time it takes to process this foundational data from days to hours–-allowing us to build our understanding of the world’s oceans at a greater pace.”
A complete map of the world’s ocean floor is imperative to facilitate a heightened understanding of fundamental processes including ocean circulation, weather systems, sea-level rise, tsunami wave propagation, tides, sediment transport, benthic habitat distributions and climate change.
UKHO and Teledyne CARIS will join more than 130 official partners, contributors and supporters from industry, governments, philanthropy and academia around the world now having officially signed on to Seabed 2030.
When The Nippon Foundation launched Seabed 2030 with GEBCO at the United Nations Ocean Conference in 2017, only 6% of the world’s seabed had been mapped to modern standards.
Seabed 2030 will continue to seek out new partnerships and technological advancements. The more organizations and individuals that get involved in the project, the more confident I will be of achieving our ambitious goal of mapping the world’s entire seabed by the end of this decade.
at 10:58 | OCEAN
The Nippon Foundation Stepping Up Partnership with United Nations in Nurturing Professionals to Tackle Ocean Issues (2) [2021年07月01日（Thu）]
(B) The United Nations-Nippon Foundation Thematic
This fellowship aims at increasing capacity at the national level through funding of advanced training and research in specific thematic areas of ocean affairs and the law of the sea and related disciplines, so as to provide the necessary knowledge to assist countries in formulating relevant policies in conformity with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This newly established program lasts four months and is structured as follows:
1. Three months of training on ocean affairs and the law of the sea at the U.N. Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) in New York, which serves as the secretariat for UNCLOS.
2. A one-month placement with relevant U.N. organizations, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London and the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) in New York, or a New-York based program of briefing and activities.
(C) The United Nations-Nippon Foundation Critical
This fellowship aims to deliver critical capacity assistance in the implementation of UNCLOS and related instruments, as well as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which calls for member nations to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” as well as other related SDGs. Customized capacity assistance is provided to government officials from developing states and least developed countries, who are filling key positions but have limited experience in ocean affairs and the law of the sea. The program is aimed at addressing critical needs identified by the participants and their governments.
(D) Capacity-building for Biological Diversity of Areas
Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
This program establishes new short courses, held twice annually at U.N. headquarters, to improve government-to-government negotiating skills and gain legal, policymaking, and scientific knowledge and technologies related to BBNJ, for the conclusion of BBNJ treaties.
The programs are tailored to the needs and requests of participating countries so as to enable them to better address strategically important and time-sensitive issues related to the law of the sea and ocean governance.
Upon completion of these four programs, the fellows are expected to have an advanced awareness and understanding of key issues and best international practices in ocean affairs and to return to their home countries to contribute their experience to assist with the effective implementation of UNCLOS and related instruments and programs.
The world’s oceans are in a critical state. Humanity cannot exist without healthy oceans. I sincerely hope the fellows will take the lead in pioneering innovative collaborations and frameworks to address ocean challenges on a global scale. The Nippon Foundation is there to support them.