Japanese business confidence improves A key central bank survey offered a cautiously optimistic assessment of corporate Japan, where business confidence is improving even as the global economy's prospects darken. In the Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey of business sentiment released Monday, the main index for big manufacturers climbed back into positive territory as a recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami took hold. The latest reading stood at 2, up from minus 9 three months ago. The figure represents the percentage of companies saying business conditions are good minus those saying conditions are unfavorable, with 100 representing the best mood and minus 100 the worst.
4 Oct It's a familiar nighttime routine: You are out in Shimbashi, drunk, and the last train has passed. What to do? While pondering the predicament a young Chinese gal materializes on a nearby corner. "Excuse me, sir?" Thus begins a survey of quickie sex services from weekly tabloid Shukan Asahi Geino (Sept. 15), which finds that prices are plummeting in the current deflationary environment. "We can get you a room for 5,000 yen," she continues. "Ah, but I've only got 3,000 yen," the crafty writer counters. In Tokyo's entertainment areas, below-the-belt services for 5,000 yen are in abundance, but many lucky lads are getting away with much less. (Tokyo Reporter)
4 Oct The Asahi beer is ice-cold. Naoki Doi takes sips from it between bites of curry. The bespectacled tour guide has asked me and my family to eat fast: he's taking us around some of Kyoto's outstanding shrines and temples, and there's a lot of them to see. He is, he says, relieved to have some business again. In March this year, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of East Japan, sending a devastating tsunami towards the shore. The tsunami wiped out entire towns across the country's Pacific coast, and caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant. But while Japan has rebuilt large parts of the damaged areas, tourism in the country took a huge hit. Kyoto may be 500 miles south of Fukushima Prefecture, but it still felt the impact. (guardian.co.uk)
4 Oct More and more riders of fixed-gear bikes--racing bicycles without brakes--are being ticketed by police for riding on public roads. Riding a bicycle without brakes on a public road is a violation of the Road Traffic Law. The number of cases in which police have taken action against such bicycles--known as "fixies" in the West and "piste bikes" in Japan--has also increased. "Piste" is a French word meaning race track. Piste bikes have fixed gears directly linking the rotation of pedals to the rear wheel and are primarily used for track racing. (Yomiuri)
3 Oct Increasing numbers of Japanese are falling victim to scams in Shanghai, being lured into paying exorbitant charges for minimal services, according to Japanese consular officials. This year alone there have been 70 Japanese who have fallen to Shanghai scams, costing them close on 10 million yen (around $130,000). Most of the victims have been men, but some women have also fallen into the trap. Japanese consulate officials said the majority of scams are being pulled off in restaurants, clubs and bars in popular tourist areas along the Bund. (majirox news)
3 Oct The town of Futaba is either a place without people or a group of people without a place. Japan's nuclear disaster contaminated the town's 20 square miles, leaving the land uninhabitable, perhaps for decades. The disaster also forced the evacuation of 7,000 people from the town, with many of them still living at an abandoned high school more than 100 miles from home. For months, those people waited to hear about their chances of returning home. But now that a return to Futaba - on the doorstep of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant - seems almost inconceivable, town officials have recently composed a new plan: They'd like to rebuild Futaba somewhere else. "What we are trying to do is unprecedented," said Oosumi Muneshige, a chief assistant to the mayor. "We're looking for a place where everybody can live together, basically a reconstruction of what we had before." (Seattle Times)