(English) New Underground Bike Parking Lot Opens

(English) Fukuoka City opened a new underground parking lot for bicycles and motorbikes on June 17 under Meiji Park (3-chome, Hakataekimae, Hakata-ku) near JR Hakata Sta. It aims to tackle the problem of bicycles parked carelessly on sidewalks around the area. The new parking space is capable of accommodating 611 bicycles and 100 motorbikes (125cc or under). It opens from 06:00 ~ 24:30. Parking is free for the first three hours; and ¥100 for bikes, ¥150 for motorcycles within 24 hours. Although the number of illegally parked bicycles around Hakata Sta. drastically decreased from 1,473 in Oct. 2006 to 270 in Oct. 2013, the area is still ranked as the fourth worst among the city’s 84 designated areas in terms of the number of illegally parked bicycles and motorbikes. Thanks to the new underground bike parking lot, the area’s parking capacity increases to 2,800 bicycles, and 350 (small) motorbikes. Cyclists are recommended to park their bikes in the underground parking lot. In the meantime, paid parking spaces temporarily installed on the surrounding sidewalks will be removed in the near future. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/14.

Read More 6月. 18, 2014, 16:49

(English) Fukuoka City to Launch Startup Cafe

(English) Fukuoka City, which was recently designated a National Strategic Zone for Job Creation, announced plans to open a Startup Café as a one-stop shop for startup consultations and support. The Café, which is slated to open this fall, would also house a national government Labor Consultation Center to help prevent labor disputes. The Labor Consultation Centers are a new project being rolled out as part of the national government’s Strategic Zone initiative. The centers, whose staff will include lawyers and certified social insurance labor consultants, are expected to provide advice to both employers and employees. The City has budgeted ¥51 million this fiscal year for the establishment of the Startup Café. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/14

Read More 6月. 17, 2014, 11:24

(English) Kyuden Plants Aging, Tension Rises Ahead of Peak Season

(English) Kyushu Electric Power Company’s fossil fuel-fired power plants are aging. Of Kyuden’s 27 plants, 9 have been in operation for more than 30 years, and two are more than 40 years old, the age at which plants are officially considered “old”. However, since none of Kyuden’s nuclear reactors are running, it plans to run all of its other power plants full tilt to keep up with demand this summer. In operation for 42 years, Kyuden’s oldest plant is the Kanda-Shin No. 2 unit in Kanda Town, Fukuoka Pref. followed by the Aiura No. 1 Unit in Sasebo, Nagasaki Pref. at 41 years. Meanwhile, Kyuden has taken efforts to improve plant inspections. In 2013, there were only four plant stoppages compared to 28 in 2011. That being said, the company admits that it is “difficult to reduce malfunctions to zero”. Plant malfunctions during the peak summer season could cause shortages, so the situation on the ground remains tense. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/14

Read More 11:23

(English) Fukuoka Gets First Flyboard

(English) Fukuoka now has Flyboard, a marine sport that uses water jetpack to propel riders into the air. Fukuoka native Yusuke Shogamoto was working as a marine sports instructor in Okinawa when he first saw a Flyboard. “I knew this would catch on, so I decided to make another go of it back in Fukuoka,” said Shogamoto, a former carpenter whose first business venture here fell through. The Flyboard, which was invented in France in 2011, is essentially a water jetpack that attaches to a jet ski’s water outtake valve to propel its rider up to 5m into the air. Shogamoto’s shop, Aqua Tail, opened in Nokonoshima this April. A beginner’s course costs ¥6,000 and requires a reservation. Tel: 080-8579-1250. Hours: 9:00~16:30. Closed: Irregularly. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/16, Official FB: https://www.facebook.com/aquatail

Read More 11:13

(English) Birth Rates Up, But Population Down in Kyushu Region

(English) Despite having some of the highest birth rates in the nation, the nine prefectures of the Kyushu-Okinawa-Yamaguchi region are losing population as young people move away according to reports issued by the Governor’s Association of the Kyushu Region and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The national average birth rate for 2013 was 1.43, and six of the nine regional prefectures exceeded this figure. (Okinawa took the top spot with a rate of 1.94.) Meanwhile, Fukuoka was the only prefecture to record more 15~19-years olds moving in than moving away. Although the prefecture tends to serve as a regional hub for high school students, young people aged 20~24 are moving away at rates higher than the national average.The same is true for the other eight prefectures, and creating jobs in the region remains a major issue. “Ideally, young people who come to Fukuoka from around Kyushu to study will return home to work or get married, but many things, such as healthcare and childrearing support, need to be considered,” said Kazuyoshi Nonaka, a Kyushu University professor of regional welfare. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/1

Read More 6月. 13, 2014, 17:40

(English) Ezra Vogel Wins Fukuoka Grand Prize

(English) Winners of the 2014 Fukuoka Prize were announced on 6/11, and Dr. Ezra Vogel, a sociologist, author and Harvard professor, was awarded the Grand Prize. Vogel, 83, is the author of Japan as Number One, the former director of the Harvard University Center for East Asian Research (later renamed the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research), and a leading scholar of socio-economic political changes in post-war Asia. History professor Azyumardi Azra (Indonesia) took home the Academic Prize, and cultural worker Danny Yung (Hong Kong) was awarded the Arts and Culture Prize. The Fukuoka Prize, originally the Fukuoka Asian Prize, was established in 1989 to coincide with the Asian-Pacific Exposition. This year marks the 25th year for the prize, and 99 people have been recognized for their Asia-related achievements to date. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/12

Read More 11:25

(English) Kyuden Girds for Competition in Retail Power Sales

(English) In response to the government’s decision to fully liberalize the retail electricity market in FY2016, Kyushu Electric Power Co.has begun discussing the possibility of turning some of its subsidiaries into new power retailers (often called “power producers and suppliers”, or PPS, in Japan). The move is expected to enable more flexible rate-setting, which will be necessary to deal with new competitors foraying into Kyushu. Other possibilities include tying up with other energy companies and offering discounts on electricity bills bundled with telecom services. PPS candidates include Fukuoka-based Nishinippon Kankyo Energy, and the articles of incorporation could be revised as early as sometime later this year. In May, Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced it will begin selling power nationwide this October. The Upper House passed the revised Electricity Enterprises Act on 6/11. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/12

Read More 11:23

(English) Kitakyushu, Prefecture to Help China Tackle PM2.5

(English) The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has compiled the details of a China-Japan urban cooperation project to tackle PM 2.5 air pollution in China. Nine Japanese municipalities, including Fukuoka Prefecture and Kitakyushu City, will support 10 municipalities in China to measure and analyze air pollutants and provide technical guidance on reducing emissions from factories and vehicles. Kitakyushu City is the only participant that will work with multiple Chinese cities. Kitakyushu City will establish an industry-university-government promotion committee in July, and members will visit China to conduct preliminary surveys. The project also includes a budget to invite Chinese public servants and researchers to Japan for training. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/11

Read More 10:08

(English) Gender Section to be Removed from Some City Certificates

(English) Fukuoka City has decided to remove the gender section from name stamp certificates. Name stamp certificates are required to purchase real estate and automobiles, but people with gender dysphoria have protested the inclusion of gender on official certificates. The Ward Administration Section decided that gender was no longer necessary on name stamp certificates “from the standpoint of respect for human rights”. After receiving complaints from transgender persons, the various sections of City Hall and the Ward Offices have been examining application forms to decide where gender check boxes could be eliminated since last October. Source: Nishinippon Shimbun 6/11

Read More 6月. 12, 2014, 18:48

(English) Fukuoka Global Venture Awards Calls for Entries

(English) The “Fukuoka Global Venture Awards” will take place for the first time this year, in Fukuoka City. The event is an English business plan contest for Japanese companies expanding internationally and foreign venture firms aiming to establish a presence in Japan. Through the competition, Fukuoka City hopes to provide an opportunity for domestic and foreign companies to interact with each other, and to discover and support numerous venture firms that will likely achieve global success. Mentoring, including suggestions on global expansion and feedback on submitted business plans, will be provided before the final screening for the purpose of supporting the globalization efforts of domestic venture companies. The awards ceremony will take place on October 18, 2014 at ACROS Fukuoka, where prizes of ¥500,000 (Top Award) and ¥200,000 (Award for Excellence) along with several sponsor prizes will be awarded. Applications are now open; Applicants in Japan must register before Thursday, July 31, 2014 (for non-Japanese applicants), and overseas applicants must register before Thursday, July 31, 2014 (for non-Japanese applicants). For detailed application information in English, please check: http://www.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/keizai/r-support/business/fgva2014_E.html. Official HP: http://fukuoka-global.ventures

Read More 6月. 9, 2014, 10:30
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