Falling population ‘national disaster’
One of Japan’s biggest headaches is a declining birth rate that has seen Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration introduce free pre-school education last week in a bid to trigger more activity between the sheets and in maternities.
There’s concern that Japan’s population will fall below 100 million in 2050, and authorities are already allowing an influx of immigrants to ease a growing labour crunch.
It’s common to see elderly locals – some aged over 80 years - cleaning the streets and performing other duties that could otherwise have been effected by younger citizens. Japan also has the world’s highest life expectancy, at about 87 years, and costs of care for the elderly and social security have increased.
Just one African writer at the relays
Over 200 journalists have been accredited to cover the fourth IAAF World Relays, with the bulk coming from host nation Japan and the others from Europe, Australia and USA.
There’s only one writer from Africa (yours truly) accredited and none from the South American continent, with one photographer from South Africa on the roster.
Besides covering these championships, the journalists have also been exposed to the latest track and field timing technology by timing giant Seiko who have been associated with the International Association of Athletics Federations for 34 years and, who renewed the partnership for a further 10 years last Friday.
You need parking to purchase a car here
Given the extremely scarce parking spaces in the concrete jungle that’s Tokyo, some car dealers require proof that a buyer has parking for his car before a sale is concluded. Failure to prove that one has parking for a new car could even lead to the dealer declining to sell the vehicle.
Tokyo is one of the world’s five most expensive cities to park, with those working in the Japanese capital making provision for parking in their budgets as much as they budget for house rent and other key domestic provisions.
Some areas charge as much as an equivalent of Sh1,000 an hour, with others setting you back Sh7,000 for overnight parking. People prefer public transport.
Parking slots hard to come by here
Japan is a minimalist society with no room for largesse, and so it’s hardly surprising that parking slots are hard to come by, especially in the major cities.
Subsequently, the Japanese have come up with parking towers which hold as many cars as possible, stacked one above the other, with electronic, elevator-like structures enabling the drivers park and retrieve their cars.
Parking fees mostly range from a Japanese Yen equivalent of Sh100 for 15 to 30 minutes with a 24-hour charge rising to approximately Sh1,000, but it’s a lot more expensive in Tokyo.
At self service car parks, after one parks his or her car, a bar rises out from beneath the car, making it impossible to drive away.