Rainy season ends in Japan's Kanto-Koshin region, giving way to intense heat

The Japan Times

The rainy season has ended in Tokyo and other areas in the Kanto-Koshin region of eastern and central Japan 30 days later than last year, the Meteorological Agency said Monday, giving way to intense heat. Rainfall between June 7 and July 28 hit 526 milimeters in Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, 480.5 mm in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, 459 mm in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, and 446 mm in Yokohama. Now that the rainy season has passed, temperatures of over 31 degrees are forecast through this weekend across the nation. In the cities of Osaka and Fukuoka, temperatures are expected to exceed 35 degrees. On Monday the weather agency urged precautions against heatstroke, advising that people stay hydrated and find places to cool off.


False quake alarm gives Tokyoites a midnight scare

The Japan Times

Brace yourself, a strong quake is coming. This dramatic emergency message sent to smartphones and loudspeakers caused a brief panic after midnight Wednesday in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, with many taking to social media to express their confusion over whether or not to get ready for the worst. The Meteorological Agency warned of a strong quake off the east coast of Chiba Prefecture at 12:15, warning of possible severe jolts in the capital and Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tochigi prefectures. The agency warned that a 6.7 magnitude quake could reach lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale in Ibaraki, but even though a quake did occur, it was relatively weak and unnoticeable in some areas. "The advance warning system predicting quakes miscalculated the location of the epicenter and predicted a quake of a larger magnitude with more intense shaking," an official with the agency said in explaining the cause of the erroneous alert.


Karaoke firms think inside the box with new-release films, language classes

The Japan Times

Karaoke establishments around the country today are not just places for singing in a group -- they are increasingly for watching films, holding children's parties or for solo-crooning sessions. Karaoke operators are offering a slew of new services that leverage their private rooms and attract new customers as the industry is expected to shrink in the face of the nation's aging population. Valic Co., which operates 175 Cote D'azur-branded karaoke houses nationwide, started an experimental service at some locations last September dubbed Cinekara, making available recently released films for their customers to watch. The Yokohama-based company expanded the service to 27 establishments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Shizuoka prefectures in late January and even aims to increase the number to over 150 in three years. "We are seeking to offer our customers new types of leisure activities by integrating cinema into karaoke," Valic President Yusuke Nakabayashi said.


Local governments in Japan expanding scope of disabled applicants eligible for public-sector job exams

The Japan Times

An increasing number of prefectural governments and ordinance-designated major cities are expanding the scope of disabled people eligible to take exams for regular jobs at public-sector offices to include those with mental or intellectual disabilities. Previously, the job exams had been available to people with physical disabilities. Local governments are moving to open their employment exams to more people with disabilities, following the revelation last year that central government agencies had padded their numbers of disabled workers. Prefectures including Iwate, Tokushima, Saga and Kumamoto, and such cities as Chiba, Niigata and Hiroshima, will allow people with mental or intellectual disabilities to take their exams from the current fiscal year, which started April 1. The prefectures of Kanagawa and Shimane began to do this in fiscal 2018, while Tokyo and Tottori Prefecture made the same move earlier.


Japan insurers reassessing quake risks by region

The Japan Times

Major Japanese nonlife insurers have started reviewing their earthquake insurance premiums by reassessing damage risks region by region. In January next year, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. will raise premiums for areas including the Shikoku region that could suffer damage from an expected powerful earthquake occurring along the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast of central Japan, and from subsequent tsunami. The unit of Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. is also reviewing risks associated with a possible major earthquake that could happen in the Sagami Trough, which lies in the Pacific Ocean off Kanagawa Prefecture. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire will lift premiums for Tokushima, Kochi, Ehime, Wakayama and Ibaraki prefectures by up to about 50 percent, depending on building structure. Premiums will also be raised for Shizuoka and Kagawa prefectures but will be lowered for many places in the Tohoku, Hokuriku, Chugoku and Kyushu regions.