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Education in Japan
Despite spending less on education than many other developed countries, Japan has one of the best education systems in the world. To better understand how this is achieved, here are 10 facts about education in Japan.

10 Facts About Education in Japan

  1. High school dropout rate: Japan’s high school dropout rate is at a low 1.27%. In contrast, the average high school dropout rate in the U.S. is at 4.7%.
  2. Equality in education: Japan ranks highly in providing equal educational opportunities for students, regardless of socioeconomic status. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Japan ranks as one of the highest in education equity. In Japan, only nine percent of the variation in student performance results from students’ socioeconomic background. In comparison, the average variation in the OECD is 14%, while the average variation in the U.S. is 17%.
  3. Teacher mobility: Japan assigns teachers to schools in a different way than most education systems. Unlike most countries, individual schools do not have the power to hire teachers. Instead, prefectures assign teachers to the schools and students who need them most. At the beginning of teachers’ careers, they move schools every three years. This helps teachers work in various environments instead of staying in one socioeconomic group of schools. As teachers advance in their careers, they move around less.
  4. Frugal spending: Japan does not spend a lot of money on its education system, with the Japanese government investing 3.3% of its GDP on education. This is over one percentage point less than other developed countries and is a result of Japan’s frugal spending. For example, the Japanese government invests in simple school buildings, rather than decorative ones. The country also requires paperback textbooks and fewer on-campus administrators. Finally, students and faculty take care of cleaning the school, resulting in no need for janitors.
  5. Teaching entrance exams: The teaching entrance exam in Japan is extremely difficult. It is of similar difficulty to the U.S. bar exam. Passing the exam results in job security until the age of 60, a stable salary and a guaranteed pension.
  6. Personal energy: Japanese education requires that teachers put in a great amount of personal energy. More common than not, many teachers work 12 or 13 hours a day. Sometimes teachers even work until nine at night.
  7. Emphasis on problem-solving: Teachers focus on teaching students how to think. Unlike some other countries that lean towards teaching students exactly what will be on standardized tests, Japan focuses on teaching students how to problem-solve. By emphasizing critical thinking, Japanese students are better able to solve problems they have never seen before on tests.
  8. Teacher collaboration: Japanese education highlights pedagogy development. Teachers design new lessons, and then present those to fellow educators in order to receive feedback. Teachers also work to identify school-wide problems and band together to find solutions. The education system constantly encourages teachers to think of new ways to better education in Japan and engage students.
  9. Grade progression: Japanese students cannot be held back. Every student can progress to the next grade regardless of their attendance or grades. The only test scores that truly matter are the high school and university entrance exams. Despite this seemingly unregulated structure, Japan’s high school graduation rate is 96.7%, while the U.S. (where attendance and good grades are necessary to proceed to the next grade) has a graduation rate of 83%.
  10. Traditional teaching methods: Despite being one of the most progressive countries in science and technology, Japan does not use much technology in schools. Many schools prefer pen and paper. To save money, schools use electric fans instead of air conditioning and kerosene heaters instead of central heating. However, technology is now slowly being introduced into classrooms with more use of the internet and computers for assignments.

Through these methods, Japan has established that teaching and schooling are highly regarded aspects of society. By looking at what Japan has done, other countries might be able to learn and adapt to this minimalistic, equitable education model.

– Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Flickr

Wake Island

Wake Island is a small island located between Hawaii and Guam. Though people know the island as Wake Island, it is actually an atoll consisting of three smaller islands: Wake, Wilkes and Peale. Together, these islands create a 12-mile long coastline. The island is an “unincorporated territory of the United States” with restricted access. Here are 10 facts about living conditions on Wake Island.

10 Facts About Living Conditions on Wake Island

  1. Climate: Wake Island is a tropical area that receives fewer than 40 inches of rainfall annually. This contributes to why Wake Island has never had a population. Due to the lack of rainfall, “rainwater catchments and a distillation plant for seawater” provide the necessary water for the U.S. Army and military and contractors on the island. The island’s wet season runs from July to October with temperatures ranging from 74°F to 95°F.
  2. Population: In August 2006, a typhoon caused severe damage to structures on the land. The few inhabitants on the island had to evacuate to Hawaii. Wake Island has never been known to have a set population. It has been occupied by the military dating back to World War II. The island was previously used as a meeting ground between U.S. President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. After that, it served as a refugee camp for Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon.
  3. Economy: All food and manufactured goods are imported to Wake and all economic activity is highly restricted by the United States Army and military. Activity is limited to providing for military personnel and contractors located on the island.
  4. Healthcare System: Aside from the one doctor and nurse, there are no medical facilities available on the island. Inhabitants must travel to nearby hospitals located in Honolulu, almost 3,000 miles away.
  5. Vegetation: The three islands of the atoll are covered with smooth fragments of coral. The island has tropical trees and grasses scattered throughout that provide shelter for the island’s inhabitants. Though trees are found throughout, the island does not have any trees that provide food.
  6. Inhabitants: Besides the United States Army and military, Wake Island is not home to any other humans except for few contractors. The island’s largest inhabitants are rats and hermit crabs. At one point, rats counted for two million of the island’s population. Due to the overpopulation of rats, night rat hunting has become a popular sport on Wake. A project in 2012 was supposed to completely eradicate the rats, but it wasn’t entirely successful.
  7. Environment: The nearest disposal facility, located more than two-thousand miles across the ocean, makes ridding the island of solid waste difficult. Wake Island has accumulated large amounts of waste in open dumps. Since the island only stretches 12 miles across the coastline, waste takes up a majority of the island. This has been a contributing factor to the rat population. In 2014, the Department of Defense decided to calculate the amount of solid waste on Wake Island, and it determined that several thousand tons of waste are festering on the island, some of which dated back to WWII.
  8. Rehabilitation: Before environmental rehabilitation could begin, the AFCEC/611th Civil Engineer Squadron surveyed the waste first in bird nests because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. After surveying, they found that 80 percent of the waste was wrapped in vegetation. The squadron removed the affected trees and shrubbery and collected and cleaned the waste.
  9. Waste Disposal: After they inspected, cleaned and sorted the waste, they brought barges to the island to assist in removal. Every barge used and filled was sent out to Seattle for disposal and recycling. In total, it took three barge seasons to remove a total of more than 3,000 tons of waste from Wake Island.
  10. Wake Island Now: As of now, the entire atoll has been named a National Historic Landmark because of the WWII battle that took place on the island in 1941. In order to protect the landmark and any surrounding wildlife, the United States Air Force has taken on the responsibility of preservation under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

These 10 facts about living conditions on Wake Island provide a little more insight into day-to-day life on the islands. Although this tropical island may look like paradise, it is simply a small military-run operation. Its historical significance will help to preserve the island as a Historic Landmark.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Pros of Immigration

While many view immigration as a cultural crisis, the pros of immigration are significant. Immigration is a point of contention as immigrants change the face of a population and bring their own culture with them. Moreover, immigrants receive criticism if they do not fully integrate, by not speaking the country’s primary language. Some people simply feel there’s no room for immigrants. They fear their jobs will be taken or undercut by the low wages some immigrants are willing to work for.

In spite of these concerns, it is undeniable that immigrants infuse much needed vitality into the economy. They build businesses, create jobs and bring new perspectives. Most importantly, welcoming immigrants supports and promotes an international standard of human rights. Everyone should be able to settle somewhere safe, healthy and stable—especially if their native country is not so.

Below is an immigration case study of sorts, demonstrating the economic benefits of immigration in Japan, the U.S., and Western Europe.

Japan

Plagued by an aging population and declining birth rates, immigration provides Japan with a new source of young workers. The Japanese Health Ministry predicts that by 2060, the country’s population will fall to 86.74 million. This is a 40 million decrease since 2010. Currently, 20 percent of Japan’s population is over 65 years old. As a result, this burdens Japan’s shrinking workforce with the funds for their pensions and healthcare. But immigration into Japan ensures the nation’s economy can maintain itself as people retire.

Japan is historically unwelcoming to immigrants, believing peace and harmony to be rooted in homogeneity. As such, the nation’s immigration policy reflects this. Japan only allows a small number of highly skilled workers into the country. This policy has been in place since 1988 to combat labor shortages. However, this is no longer enough to combat Japan’s worsening economy. In 2018, labor shortages in the nation were the highest they had been in 40 years.

However, the pros of immigration in Japan are clear. Without it, Japan faces an incredibly insecure economic future. With no sign of population growth, the nation’s perpetually shrinking workforce will become unable to support its retired citizens. However, immigrants can round out the workforce in Japan. And they can neutralize any economic woes the nation might face in the future by preventing labor shortages.

USA

The cultural and economic contributions immigrants have made to America are vast, overwhelmingly advantageous and long-lasting.

A study done by economists at Harvard, Yale and the London School of Economics found US counties that accepted more immigrants between 1860 and 1920 are doing better today as a result. These counties have significantly higher incomes, higher educational achievement, less poverty and lower unemployment because immigrants provided the low-skilled labor needed to support rapid industrialization. Undeniably, immigrants have always and still continue to increase economic growth in America.

Similarly, immigrants in the U.S. have been integral to innovation and entrepreneurship. Half of all startups in America worth over a billion dollars have been founded by immigrants. Eleven of these startups employ more than 17,000 people in the U.S. Some of these companies, such as Uber and WeWork, have significantly changed American culture. They modify the way Americans live their daily lives. Therefore, the pros of immigration in the U.S. are grounded in the diversity of thought brought by immigrants, necessary to further American innovation and economic growth.

Western Europe

Like Japan, Western Europe is battling an aging population and declining birth rates. Fertility rates are expected to hit zero in the next decade. Consequently, this region may not be able to sustain its expansive social welfare programs as its workforce shrinks and retired populations grow. In Germany, the median age is 47.1 years, the oldest in Western Europe. This is only slightly younger than Japan’s 47.3 years. Besides convincing its native populations to have more children, immigration is their only alternative.

Immigration into Western Europe is an undeniable win for both the immigrants and the host countries. Many new immigrants in Western Europe have escaped unstable regimes, religious persecution, and economic downturn in North African and Middle Eastern countries. Thus, immigrants give the region a younger workforce that is able to sustain the region’s expensive social benefits. In return, Western Europe provides immigrants with jobs, stability, and a safe place to live.

While still a very divisive topic, the pros of immigration lie in its plethora of economic benefits. It is undeniable that immigration has always been the driver of economic growth, despite all of the criticism. Immigration provides immigrants with an alternative to oppressive regimes and other instability, of course. And the pros of immigration for nations absolutely outweigh the cons.

Jillian Baxter
Photo: Pixabay

female entrepreneursIn countries like the United States, female entrepreneurs account for 46.8 percent of the total businesses. The majority of these businesses are classified as small businesses, having fewer than 500 employees, but they generate almost $500 billion in payroll annually. This situation is worse in developing countries since women’s rights are not fully achieved and the opportunities for women to develop their own businesses are much more difficult to come by.

The reasons for Fewer Female Entrepreneurs

Why are there still fewer amounts of businesswomen than men not just in developing but in developed countries as well? Although developing countries may advocate more for women’s economic development, little is actually being done to provide more opportunities to change it. Since women’s failure rates are not that significantly different from those of men, researchers believe that gender bias is at fault and, thus, inhibiting the growth of women in the economy.

There is evidence that suggests that there are many reasons for the differences in the attitude about gender in business. One reason is that women and men often have different socioeconomic characteristics. If economists were to reform education, wealth, family and work status, those differences would disappear.

The Obstacles for Female Entrepreneurs

Africa remains one of the most successful leaders for efforts regarding female entrepreneurs. But, even the most successful countries still lack leadership, capital and professionalism, not to mention the inability to find affordable solutions in regard to childcare.

Countries like Japan have taken these shortcomings and transformed them into positive aspects of the economy. Womenomics is the idea that the advancement of women and economic development are necessarily linked. This philosophy is becoming widespread among developing nations. In Japan, these sorts of reformations can be credited to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since taking office, Abe has generated a larger female labor force rate than that of the United States.

Some other countries have also made several reformations propelling womenomics. Jordan has increased women’s enrollment in schools by 37 percent. Turning these rates into economic success, however, still remains a challenge. Many studies suggest that economic growth for women needs to be viewed as desirable and attainable for the majority of society.

Female entrepreneurs also struggle with the duality of a society that places more value on a familial lifestyle. For example, a woman may own a business, but her time at work is often limited by her duties at home. Data in developing countries assert that many women leave the business lifestyle to return to familial duties.

A study regarding the results of holding executive positions for women in Norway revealed that the majority of people believe there should be established quotas to include women in management in companies. The results of the pole were 74 percent in favor of those quotas. Later studies showed that as women in the workplace reach a certain age, the stigma associated with their work duties do too.

Curbing the Stigma

Shifting the thought process among thousands of different demographic structures isn’t easy, but it is clear that the majority of the world needs higher female entrepreneurial participation rates. Reforming education, wealth, family and work status are not projects that take only months to complete, rather they need a comprehensive and flexible government that is willing to take on the challenge for years to come.

There are several ways to start thinking about reforming the factors for female entrepreneurs. Creating workshops to propel female economic empowerment is a start. The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is doing just that. They are working to find projects for investment as well as provide training to work under the Women’s Economic Empowerment Index (WEEI).

By ending the stigma associated duties deemed appropriate for females, both developing and thriving countries can further increase the chances of positive economic outcomes. Education and awareness programs are important components to overcoming these gender-related stigmas.

Financial Inclusion

Governmental structure and large economic aid can advance female economic empowerment too. We’ve known for a long time that access to financial services can be a powerful driver to help people lift themselves out of poverty. With a concerted push from governments, the private sector, and multilateral institutions including the World Bank Group, we believe we can close this gap,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a meeting attempting to accelerate the growth of women’s empowerment.

The World Bank also states that simple financial education can greatly increase the chances of creating female entrepreneurs. There are so many aspects that can improve. For example, according to the World Bank, fewer than 10 percent of women in developing countries own a bank account. Access to financial institutions is an essential part of a successful business, which is why the organization started the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. This initiative will provide financing opportunities for women who own businesses in developing countries.

Donations from the World Bank Group, education and female empowerment workshops to end stigmas are some of the best ways in which the women can become involved and empowered in the workforce. It won’t happen quickly, but when it does, the economic benefits will surpass previous stigmas surrounding women in business.

– Logan Moore

Photo: Flickr

US Backs World Bank Capital Increase
The World Bank has secured a $13 billion paid-in capital increase by committing to reforms in its lending programs. The increase, opposed until recently by the Trump administration, will help the bank continue its mission of alleviating poverty and supporting international economic development.

The World Bank

The World Bank is a multilateral institution that supports developing countries through loans and grants for investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure and a variety of other initiatives that accelerate and sustain economic growth. Given its status as a nonprofit organization, the bank is willing to fund projects in poorer and riskier countries that privately funded and profit-focused organizations may not be willing to.

The World Bank must have a secure capital base in order to lend this money. This funding is supplied by its 189 member countries, with the United States (17.25 percent of total subscribed capital), Japan (7.42 percent), and China (4.78 percent) providing the most capital and thus being among its largest shareholders.

In 2015, The World Bank set a goal for a capital increase for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), two of its lending arms, by the end of 2017.

International Economic Development and the U.S.

Initially, this goal faced a major obstacle: the United States government. A contributor of approximately 16 percent of the bank’s capital, the United States is The World Bank’s largest shareholder and the only member to have veto power over changes in the bank’s structure, giving it the capability to block the increase.

In 2017, the Trump administration expressed skepticism over the capital increase, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing concerns that too much lending is being directed to upper middle-income countries that have plentiful sources of credit. Mnuchin contended that the bank should target lower income countries, supporting international economic development in locations more in need of a source of loans and grants.

In April, following a World Bank agreement to commit to certain reforms, the United States pivoted from its previous objection and supported the increase, resulting in an injection of $13 billion of paid-in capital from the bank’s shareholders and channeling more resources to developing countries.

Global Financing

Lending is now expected to average around $100 billion annually until 2030, compared to $59 billion last year — a stark increase that will ensure funding for the bank’s ongoing initiatives. To cite a recent example of the bank’s capital being put to work, The World Bank approved an $180 million guarantee to Kenya in April to encourage private sector financing in the country’s largest electricity company and increase energy security.

The aforementioned reforms accompanying the capital increase will result in a greater share of initiatives directed to lower-income markets. Countries classified in the lower- to mid-range of the IBRD income classifications currently receive approximately 60 percent of IBRD commitments, and the reform package will seek to elevate that to 70 percent.

Hurdles and Hope

These reforms mean that the bank’s increased capital will be in service of supporting international economic development for countries on the lower end of the income spectrum.

The ultimate success of the capital injection and its associated reforms will be determined in the years to come, but by overcoming the Trump administration’s initial reservations and obtaining funding, the World Bank, backed by the U.S. and other shareholders, has secured its role as a leading institution for economic development for the foreseeable future.

– Mark Fitzpatrick
Photo: Google

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in JapanJapan is a sovereign island nation located on the eastern coast of Asia and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea. Its household income per capita in 2017 was $1.7 billion, and Japan ranks the top three world’s largest economy, only behind U.S. and China. In 2016, its GDP reached $4.94 trillion.

Japan has outstanding technology achievements, a comprehensive social system and a very advanced transportation system that included bullet trains 51 years ago. Even though the overall economic condition of Japan is very mature, there are severe poverty issues behind these numbers. Here are top 10 facts about poverty in Japan.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Japan

  1. The Japanese economy decreased sharply since 2012. While the world GDP grew from $74.89 trillion to $74.1 trillion from 2012 to 2014, Japanese GDP shrank from $6.203 trillion $4.85 trillion in 2015.
  2. Japan sets disposable income below $14,424 as the poverty level. In 2013, there was 12 percent of the national population under the poverty level.
  3. In 2010, there was 32 percent of females who are 23 to 64 years old in poverty, and the rate of males was 25 percent. Since the GDP growth was -0.115 percent in 2011 and later it has been recovering in a very slow path, the poverty condition is consistent.
  4. The average wages of Japan in 2016 was around $39,113. This number was far less than the average U.S. wage, which was about $60,154. More importantly, while constant prices increased 1.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, its average wage only increased 0.7 percent. The wage growth rate makes Japanese people barely able to pursue higher standards of life.
  5. At least one in every six children struggle with poverty problems, issues that often inhibit them from accessing higher levels of education. To solve this problem, Japan sets the compulsory education system until the age of 15. In 2013, the Japanese government passed the law to increase the number of social workers in school and increased free, after-school tutors.
  6. The aging population is one of the most severe issues in Japan. In 2016, the Japanese population was around 127 million; however, in the next five decades, the population is likely to shrink by about one-third, and the population of over-64-year-olds may increase from 25 to 38 percent. This dilemma largely decreases Japanese labor force.
  7. The Japanese government announced in 2009 that there were around 16,000 homeless people on the streets. Around 35 percent of this population was about 60 years old, but the number has been dropping since April 2012. For example, the number dropped around 12 percent from 2011 to 2012 due to the support of health and welfare ministry.
  8. The average house price in greater Tokyo increased more than 12 percent from 2014 to 2015; however, the price-to-income ratio in 2016 was 11 percent. This is the first time the ratio has exceeded 10 percent since the 1990 bubble economy. The higher house price puts more people in jeopardy and as a result, more people become homeless.
  9. There is a large income gap in Japan, especially under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. For example, people who live in Tokyo are gaining benefits an their average taxable income raised near 7 percent through fiscal 2016. However, the income of people who live in Kagawa dropped during the same period.
  10. In Japan, more than 99 percent of businesses are small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are influential supporters of the Japanese economy. Based on a report in the Economist Intelligence Unit, though, SMEs have been in decline since the 1990 bubble economy, and the decline continued through the 2008 economic crisis as many of them are reliant upon the domestic economy.

The Japanese government currently works to set new policies to promote economic development, and strives to effectively solve issues such as the ones in the top 10 facts about poverty in Japan. 

 – Judy Lu
Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in JapanKnown as the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Japan is group of islands off the eastern coast of Asia. In addition to being one of the most educated countries in the world, this nation functions as one of the world’s largest and most successful economies. It is also a hub for pop culture.

Japan boasts the third highest life expectancy in the world and a universal healthcare system. The healthcare system also ranks as one of the world’s most efficient. However, like many other developed countries, its citizens primarily suffer from unbalanced nutrition and noncommunicable diseases. Additionally, high levels of smoking coupled with a rapidly aging population contribute to many of Japan’s health concerns. Here are some common diseases in Japan:

Cancer
Although cancer remains an increasingly prevalent health concern around the world, Japanese citizens in particular, suffer heavily from the various forms of this disease. In 2010, over 353,000 people died of cancer in Japan: an incredible one-third of all deaths in the nation. In fact, heart disease led to half as many deaths as cancer did, even though it is the second most prolific killer in Japan today.

More problematic, cancer appears to be striking with most frequency at the prime of life for the Japanese. Cancer is responsible for 30 percent of all deaths for men in their early fifties. This number increases to 45 percent for men in their late sixties. Additionally, cancer also causes an astounding 40 percent of all deaths in Japanese women in their late thirties. Moreover, this percent jumps to 50 percent for women in their late forties. While there will always be concerns of the frequency of cancer in an aging society like Japan, these statistics depict a nation struggling to battle an often lethal illness. This is one of the common diseases in Japan that a specific cause for is difficult to find.

Mental Health Issues
The stigma against mental health has prevented Japanese citizens from receiving quality care. Family members and employers alike see the need for therapy or treatment as a character flaw. Individuals with depression worry about losing their jobs if others find out that they are seeing a psychiatrist.

In Japan, suicide as a result of depression has become a serious issue. In fact, the nation now leads the industrialized world with the most suicides at a rate of 12.8 females and 35.6 males per 100,000. This translates to the suicide of over 30,000 Japanese citizens in the past few years. This may also be influenced by Japanese insurance companies’ surprising willingness to pay out for suicides, as it provides a potential source of money for the families of those who suffer from debilitating depression.

Although people have become more aware of depression, drug treatment remains the most commonly utilized therapy. However, medication doesn’t usually treat the underlying problem and instead focuses on repressing the symptoms. In many cases, patients are simply “kept sedated with large amounts of psychiatric drugs to pacify them,” so there needs to be a change in both the healthcare system and the Japanese perception of mental illness.

The current Japanese health care system rewards high-prescribing doctors and generally discourages physicians from spending too much time with patients. This type of behavior is not an ideal environment for properly addressing mental health. Of the common diseases in Japan, mental health issues receive the worst treatment.

There needs to be a stronger focus on removing the stigma on mental health as well as a push to reform the incentives in the healthcare system. These actions are necessary if Japan wishes to deal with increasing suicide rates and numbers of untreated mentally ill.

Akhil Reddy

Photo: Flickr

Living Cost in Japan
Located off the eastern coast of Asia, Japan is an island that lies in the Pacific Ocean. The natives of Japan pride themselves on their homogeneity that they have developed through centuries of tradition. Unorthodox to Western culture, Japan has thrived for a long time by hosting tea ceremonies, Buddhist- and Shinto-inspired gardens and the practice of calligraphy.

Japan is also known for its serene beauty, housing 60 active volcanoes, including Japan’s highest mountain top, Mount Fuji, which peaks at 12,388 feet in elevation. As it stands, Japan has proven to be quite successful as a country, boasting favorable statistics such as a 100% literacy rate for both men and women, a life expectancy rate of 86.6 years for women, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world at 2.8%.

This being said, Japan has also proven to be one of the most expensive countries to live in, ranked 17th in the world according to the Independent.

Here are 5 facts on the cost of living in Japan:

  1. Renting a one-person apartment in the center of Japan cities is estimated at 81,890 yen per month. The price of rent increases to 90,594 yen per month for a three-bedroom apartment. On top of the already high rent, the cost of living in Japan is further increased by 20,120 yen for basic utilities in a 915-square-foot apartment, such as electricity, water, heating and garbage.
  2. The cost of living in Japan varies in price compared to the United States. For example, consumer prices are 14.36% higher in Japan compared to the United States, and the prices of groceries in Japan are 17.77% higher than the price of groceries in the United States. However, the United States has a staggering 50.64% higher rent than Japan does, and restaurant prices in the United States are 44.77% higher than in Japan. According to the Independent, the United States slightly edges out Japan in terms of living expenses. The cost of living in Japan is ranked 17th in the world, while the United States is ranked 15th.
  3. Insurance prices in Japan total to roughly 422,604 yen yearly. Health insurance totals out to about 155,532 yen yearly, while pension insurance adds another $267,072 yen in yearly insurance costs. Insurance prices are considerably affordable considering the yearly base salary of Japan is three million yen, but with a yearly income tax of 63,240 yen, the average net salary for people in Japan comes out to 2,514,156 yen.
  4. Rent in Tokyo is noticeably more expensive than the average cost of living in Japan. Tokyo contains a population of 13.491 million people, roughly 11 percent of Japan’s total population. Monthly rent for housing in more expensive areas of Tokyo costs about 256,432 yen, and utilities for one month costs about 17,835 yen. Other luxuries to decorate one’s housing in Tokyo are also expensive, including 78,987 yen for a 40-inch flat screen television, 24,654 yen for an 800-watt microwave and 906 yen for laundry detergent.
  5. Due to the high cost of living in Japan, Japan maintains one of the highest suicide rates in the world at 41.7 per 100,000 people amongst men. The main reasons for the high suicide rate in Japan are attributed to adverse economic conditions and unemployment rates.

Overall, the cost of living in Japan is high, yet it is not inconceivable to imagine settling down in one of the many cities in Japan. Japan offers a chance at success with its high success rates in education and a strong labor force, thereby offering a steady income to afford the cost of living in Japan.

Patrick Greeley

Photo: Pixabay


Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, said Japan must improve its own living standards before concerning itself with Syrian refugees. Human rights groups and advocacy groups are highly critical of Japan’s refugee policies. Here are 10 facts about Japan refugees.

10 Facts About Japan Refugees

  1. The number of foreign people applying for refugee status in 2016 was up 44 percent, at an all-time high of just fewer than 11,000.
  2. Japan only accepted 28 refugees in 2016, an increase of one from 2015. Most of those applications came from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Bangladesh.
  3. In 2016, 97 people were allowed to remain in Japan for humanitarian reasons. They were not granted refugee status, however. According to Brian Barbour of the Japan Association for Refugees, 99 percent of asylum applications are denied.
  4. People applying for refugee status in 2016 included: 1,829 Indonesians, 1,451 Nepalese, 1,412 Filipinos, 1,143 Turks, 1,072 Vietnamese, 938 Sri Lankans, 650, Myanmarese, 470 Indians, 318 Cambodians and 289 Pakistanis.
  5. Japan’s population is shrinking and along with it, Japan’s labor force. Still, Japan does not accept unskilled workers, and there are no plans to increase the number of applicants granted refugee status. Japan has introduced a category that will allow for a large number of unskilled workers as trainees. Also, people with a student visa are allowed to work up to 28 hours per week.
  6. Only 69 Syrians applied for refugee status between 2011 and 2016 in Japan. In order to apply, applicants must go to Japan.
  7. Japan only accepts refugees who are being persecuted for political reasons; they do not accept economic refugees. Japan is closed to thousands of people seeking asylum including Syrians. Those who make it to Japan rarely have their refugee status recognized.
  8. Japan attempts to compensate for its decision not to take refugees by donating money to the UNHCR. In 2016, Japan was the fourth-largest donor, giving more than $164 million. In September 2016 Japan said it would provide $1.6 billion in assistance for Syrians and Iraqis engulfed in conflict.
  9. Japan plans to grant refugee status to 300 Syrians over the next five years. This number includes study abroad students and their families. Between 2017 and 2021, Japan plans to work with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to accept 20 Syrian students and their spouses and children each year if taking refuge in Lebanon and Jordan.
  10. In a move designed to show that Japan is willing to help with the Syrian refugee crisis, the government announced plans to accept 150 Syrian refugees over a period of five years as a part of the JICA program and the Japanese Government Scholarship program.

These 10 facts about Japan refugees make it clear that instead of accommodating refugees, Japan prefers to place a financial band-aid on the refugee crisis.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr


The World Health Organization (WHO) Centre for Health Development, also known as WHO Kobe Centre (WKC), invited Japan-based research institutes to submit proposals designed to strengthen universal health coverage for aging populations and address the top diseases in Japan.

The proposals are expected to address one or a combination of issues, including the integration of community-based care systems, technological innovations, the need for human resources, and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NCDs are long-term diseases that are not caused by infectious agents and progress slowly, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Japan’s Top Non-Communicable Diseases

In 2015, the population of Japan reached 128.3 million and the nation had a death rate of 1,100 for every 100,000 people. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHEM), from 2005 to 2015, the top diseases in Japan were cerebrovascular disease, Ischemic heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cerebrovascular disease is a generic term for a variety of health conditions, all of which directly limit or cease blood flow to the brain. From 2005 to 2015, fatal cases increased by 15.4 percent in Japan. Atherosclerosis is the most common form of cerebrovascular disease, developing from high cholesterol levels and inflammation in the carotid arteries. Cholesterol collects along the artery walls, forming a barrier of plaque and restricting blood flow. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Ischemic heart disease is caused by the reduction of blood supply to the heart. Between 2005 and 2015, deaths caused by Ischemic heart disease increased by 24.4 percent. Plaque accumulates inside the coronary arteries, slowly decreasing blood flow. Blood flow restriction and plaque ruptures often lead to a heart attack. Risk factors for ischemic heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and progresses through the brain slowly, eventually destroying the ability to complete the simplest tasks. From 2005 to 2015, Alzheimer’s had the largest increase in fatal cases at 56.2 percent. The cause of this diseases is not fully understood, however, there are common factors. Alzheimer’s disease typically affects elderly men and women, people with the ApoE-e4 gene, and in some cases, individuals with vascular conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

How Diet Affects These Diseases

Cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases are the top NDCs caused by dietary risks. A diet rich in antioxidants and grains is necessary to prevent these and other health-related diseases. Traditionally, Japanese food is relatively low in fat, but high in sodium. High levels of sodium directly affect the cardiovascular system, potentially leading to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure. The nutritional value of a Japanese diet — primarily based on wheat, rice, fish, and soy — lacks vital nutrients found in nuts and whole grains.

High blood pressure contributes to many of the top diseases in Japan. Exercising daily and eating a healthy diet are vital to reducing high blood pressure. A variety of multigrain and whole-grain products, such as oats and bran, can help lower blood pressure. A diet plan known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), is based on the National Institute of Health (NIH) research to lower blood pressure without the use of medication. The DASH diet primarily focuses on eliminating sodium and dairy and increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains.

Advanced health and social services for aging populations are critical components to sustaining universal health coverage. The Japan Times reports that elderly people aged 65 or older make up 26.7 percent of the total population. This percentage is predicted to rise, altering the demographic structure of Japan and the need for medical care. The WKC’s primary objective is to create, “more sustainable and inclusive policies and programs for aging populations”, which is vital to achieving a complete understanding and potential cure for the top diseases in Japan.

Madison O’Connell

Photo: Flickr