Population decline continues

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be hot and humid all week with 33C being the COOLEST day this week. I guess I won't be going on any long runs this week...ha ha! Take care out there.

Japan's population, excluding resident foreigners, declined as of Jan. 1 in 2018 from the year before at the fastest pace since the current survey started in 1968, with fewer than 1 million births for the second straight year, government data showed Wednesday.

There were 125,209,603 Japanese in the country, a record drop of 374,055 from a year earlier and the ninth straight year of decline, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said, even as the government takes measures aimed at dealing with a rapidly graying society.

Data showed that the number of births in 2017 fell to a record-low 948,396 and deaths totaled a record-high 1,340,774, with deaths outnumbering births for the 11th consecutive year. Japanese society is also aging rapidly, with people aged over 65 accounting for 27.66 percent, up 0.49 point from a year earlier, of the entire population. The ratio of people aged 14 or younger stood at 12.57 percent.

The population dropped in 41 of Japan's 47 prefectures amid a continued influx into the capital and its vicinity, with Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, recording the biggest decline of 34,805. Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw the largest rate of decrease at 1.39 percent.

Among the six which showed population growth, births outnumbered deaths only in Okinawa, while the rest -- Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, and Aichi -- saw more people moving in than moving out. Population concentration in the country's three largest metropolitan areas also continued, as 64,534,346 people resided in the greater Tokyo area, Aichi Prefecture's Nagoya area in central Japan, and the Kansai area including Osaka in western Japan. Among the major metro areas, however, only Tokyo, the capital, and its vicinity gained population, as it was home to 35,443,084 people, or 28.31 percent of the national total.

At the same time, the number of registered foreign residents in the country increased to 2,497,656, up 174,228 from a year earlier. The number is expected to rise further in view of a policy approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government last month to welcome more foreign workers to address labor shortages amid the shrinking population.

The overall population in the country including resident foreigners fell to 127,707,259, declining 199,827 from a year earlier.

I wonder how many people is the ideal population for Japan? I heard somewhere that 100 million is the perfect number for Canada, and we're at around 35 million, so we've got a ways to go yet...what do you think is the ideal population for Japan?

Have a great day!

I'm going to close my school and become a grape farmer! Ha ha!

Good morning everyone,

Well, it looks like it's going to be hot...like dangerously hot...all week. Make sure you keep hydrated all through the week and, well, the next two months or so...

A bunch of premium table grapes fetched 1.1 million yen Tuesday in the year's first auction at a Kanazawa wholesale market, slightly lower than the record 1.11 million yen registered last year.

In Japan, it is customary for bidders to auction off the first crop of certain food products at a higher than market price. The products are then used for display, sold later at normal cost or served free to people.

Supermarket chain operator Yamanari Shoji Co in the central Japan prefecture of Ishikawa purchased the latest Ruby Roman grapes after a wholesaler made a successful bid for the bunch, which was among the batch of 36 auctioned off at the market.

The latest bid marks the fourth straight year the price has surpassed the 1 million mark.

Ruby Roman, developed by the Ishikawa prefectural government over a period of 14 years, is known for its high sugar content and some of the grapes reach the size of golf balls, according to a local agricultural cooperative.

The cooperative expects 26,000 bunches to be shipped this year. Let's see...26,000 times Y1.1 million is...oh, I have no idea. I know that isn't what grapes are actually being sold for. But even when grapes are sold at regular prices here in Japan, they are so expensive...hmmm...I wonder if we can grow grapes in Canada.

Have a great day!

Want to steal things from the hotel? Do's and don't's

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be sunny and hot this week, so be careful out there.

Speaking of being careful, as the days have passed after the heavy rain we had Friday and Saturday, it has become more and more obvious how serious that was. Living and working in the downtown area meant that I had no idea how serious the damage was. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the torrential rains of last weekend.

Ever wonder what you can and can't 'take' with you from flights, hotels and cruises? I never do. I'm not that interested in taking stuff from my holiday. I'd rather leave it behind and have the memory.

But if you do wonder...

Do we really believe the economists anymore?

Good morning everyone,

The rain last week feels like a distant memory. It's just hot and humid again...

Japan's household spending dropped nearly four percent in May from a year earlier, government data showed Friday, underlining an ongoing lack of appetite for consumption in the world's third-largest economy.

The country's household spending fell 3.9 percent in May, far worse than market expectations of a 1.5 percent decline, the internal affairs ministry said. The drop marked the fourth consecutive monthly decline, and suggests hopes for a rise in consumption are unlikely to be met anytime soon.

The government and central bank have said repeatedly that export-led economic growth in the country's corporate sector would eventually spread to domestic consumption. But a recovery in spending has been slow, with economists saying salaries are not rising fast enough to drive an appetite for buying. Consumers were particularly reluctant to spend on eating out, recreation and cultural activities, and clothing and footwear, according to the ministry data.

"It is our consensus that spending is gradually expanding but the upward curve is near flat," Taro Saito, senior economist at NLI Research Institute, told AFP, pointing out that the spending data is notoriously volatile.

The latest data comes a few days after the Bank of Japan's closely watched quarterly business confidence survey showed declines for the second straight quarter.

Japan's economy slid into negative territory for the first time in two years at the beginning of the year, technically ending its longest period of expansion since the "bubble" days of the 1980s. But the contraction by 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period does not suggest a recession, economists say. Well, they can hope, right?

Given the choice between trusting economists who try to paint a rosy picture and regular people who are actually looking at their bank accounts and making wise decisions, I'll go with the regular people every time.

Have a great day!

I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to ramen flavours, but...

Good morning everyone,

Well, the sun should show up today. Let's be sure to enjoy it. But, be careful out there. It's going to be a lot hotter than it has been for the past few days. The good news (for us in Chugoku) is that it looks like Typhoon 8 will head straight and not turn right into Japan like they usually do.

In the world of instant noodles, Nissin’s Cup Ramen brand often takes centre stage in Japan, pushing aside its competitors with irresistible flavours like pizza and Chicken Nugget French Fries, but there’s another brand that’s been stepping out from Cup Ramen’s shadow in recent years, with a tub of noodles that’s 1.5 times the size of others.

Called Super Cup 1.5 Bai (which translates to Super Cup 1.5 times), this brand of noodles comes from Japan’s instant noodle specialists at Acecook. And while they’ve dabbled in unusual flavours before, they’re looking to steal the limelight this summer with a brand new taste sensation that’s got everyone talking: vanilla-flavoured creamy seafood ramen.

Looking at the product itself, it’d be easy to mistake this for a tub of ramen-flavoured ice cream, but the image of the soft-serve on the packaging comes with a disclaimer next to it, which reads: “Does not contain vanilla ice cream“.

That’s not to say they’re not trying go evoke the sense of eating an ice cream with their product though, as that’s exactly the appeal of these new noodles, which are said to be a perfect balance between the rich, creamy prawn-and-scallop seafood broth and the sweet scent and flavour of vanilla.

Though the noodles need to be prepared the usual way, with the addition of boiling water, the inclusion of vanilla in its own separate powder packet allows the consumers to control the amount and timing for blending the flavour into their noodles. Adding it towards the end, after the noodles have cooled, will bring out the flavour of a creamy seafood ice cream.

According to the company, the new ramen was created to help celebrate a landmark anniversary for their Super Cup 1.5 Bai, which has been satisfying the appetites of Japanese noodle lovers for 30 years.

On sale from 30 July at stores around the country, the new vanilla flavoured creamy seafood ramen is set to retail for 210 yen plus tax. What do you think? Tempted? I think I'll pass...I'll stick to miso ramen...ha ha!

Have a great day!