2024年3月3日日曜日

MALAYSIAN SPORTS MINISTERS URGES NATIONAL DIVING TEAM, MALAYSIAN SWIMMING FEDERATION TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS ASPECTS

MALAYSIAN SPORTS MINISTERS URGES NATIONAL DIVING TEAM, MALAYSIAN SWIMMING FEDERATION TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS ASPECTS

@Jackie San


PETALING JAYA (February 17, 2024): Divers, coaches, and the Malaysian Swimming Federation (MAS) have been urged to improve communication aspects to avoid issues similar to those that occurred at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, from recurring.


Minister of Youth and Sports Hannah Yeoh, who also dismissed claims of the existence of entities affecting the performance of the national diving squad in Doha, said she was satisfied with the explanations given by national divers Datuk Pandelela Rinong and Nur Dhabitah Sabri in a meeting yesterday.


“After this, I will also meet with the association (MAS) and coaches to hear their answers and views on why all divers (at the World Aquatics Championships) did not qualify for Paris (2024 Olympic Games),” she told reporters after officiating the Leap To The Stars 2024 High Jump Challenge here today.


The failure of the national divers in Doha resulted in male diver Bertrand Rhodict Lises being the sole Malaysian representative who successfully booked a ticket to Paris through the 10-metre individual platform event at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, last year.


Meanwhile, Hannah said decisions regarding the positions of Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah in the Road To Gold (RTG) programme, which is a national project to chase the country’s first gold medal at the Olympic Games, need to be made collectively with the RTG committee, and are expected to be known this month.


She also admired the commitment of Pandelela and Nur Dhabitah, who remained determined to continue representing the country despite not having the opportunity to compete in Paris 2024.


In other developments, Hannah said her ministry allocated RM30,000 to the organisers of the Leap To The Stars 2024 High Jump Challenge, namely the Shah Alam Sports Club, to continue efforts to unearth new high jump talents in the country.


She also praised the efforts of the Shah Alam Sports Club, which collaborated with the 1 Utama shopping centre to organise the tournament at a popular venue, thereby attracting the interest of the younger generation to become high jump athletes in the future.

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@Jackie San

Things To Do At Fukuoka One Day City Tour Alone

  
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2024年3月2日土曜日

TRAVELLERS TO PAY MORE FOR FLIGHTS LEAVING SINGAPORE FROM YEAR 2026 TO SUPPORT USE OF GREENER JET FUEL

TRAVELLERS TO PAY MORE FOR FLIGHTS LEAVING SINGAPORE FROM YEAR 2026 TO SUPPORT USE OF GREENER JET FUEL  

@Jackie San


SINGAPORE – From 2026, travellers flying out of Singapore will pay higher air fares due to a levy that the Government will impose as part of a move to require flights departing from the city-state to use environmentally sustainable jet fuel.


The money collected from the passenger levy will go towards the bulk purchase of sustainable aviation fuel that airlines here will need to use, to kick-start adoption.


The eco-friendly fuel, which is mostly made from waste materials such as used cooking oil, is three to five times more expensive than conventional fuel. But it has been earmarked as a critical way for the aviation sector to decarbonise.


While the specific details are yet to be finalised, preliminary estimates from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) suggest that economy class passengers may incur an additional $3 levy for short-haul flights to Bangkok, $6 for medium-haul flights to Tokyo, and $16 for long-haul flights to London.


The estimates are based on a national target that Singapore has set for sustainable aviation fuel to constitute 1 per cent of all jet fuel used at Changi Airport and Seletar Airport in 2026. The eventual goal is to reach 3 per cent to 5 per cent sustainable fuel use by 2030.


The initiative is part of a sustainable air hub blueprint launched on Feb 19 by Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat at the second Changi Aviation Summit, which was held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.


The blueprint outlines 12 initiatives for Singapore to tackle aviation emissions, with the medium-term objective of reducing carbon emissions from airport operations to 326 kilotonnes per year in 2030 – 20 per cent lower than 2019 levels.


By 2050, Singapore aims to reach net-zero domestic emissions from its airports, and net-zero international emissions from its carriers. This goal excludes future developments in Changi East, including Terminal 5. Emissions targets for these projects will be determined separately.


According to CAAS, Singapore is the first country in the world to introduce a levy to meet its sustainable aviation fuel goals. Other nations have implemented sustainable aviation fuel requirements as well, but in the form of mandates that are based on fixed volumes.


France and Sweden already require a minimum of 1 per cent sustainable jet fuel use and the European Union has agreed to rules mandating 6 per cent in 2030, rising gradually to 70 per cent in 2050.


Japan is planning a 10 per cent sustainable fuel mandate by 2030, while India is considering 1 per cent by 2027 for international flights, rising to 5 per cent by 2030.


The downside to such mandates, however, is that the market for sustainable fuel is still nascent and supply is uncertain, CAAS said.


In 2024, sustainable aviation fuel production is expected to triple to 1.875 billion litres, but this will account for just 0.53 per cent of global aviation’s fuel needs.


Due to limited supply and high demand, the price of sustainable jet fuel is significantly higher and more volatile than conventional fuel, CAAS noted.


Some airlines have already begun to pass this added cost on to passengers. For example, Air France and KLM have an extra charge of between €1 and €24 (S$1.50 and S$35) on tickets to defray their green fuel cost.


CAAS said it decided to impose a levy instead of a mandate as this fixes the cost of using greener jet fuel here, giving certainty to travellers and airlines. CAAS will also manage costs by procuring sustainable fuel centrally on behalf of airlines, reaping economies of scale.


It said the sustainable fuel levy amount will be determined based on the prevailing national usage target and projected fuel price at the time. The levy will be subject to periodic review.


CAAS added the levy amount will not change if the actual price of sustainable jet fuel is different from what was projected. Instead, the volume of fuel purchased will be adjusted.


Mr Chee said: “Whether we are able to meet, or exceed, our SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) target will be based on how much SAF can be purchased with the SAF levy at the prevailing SAF price.”


He added: “If the supply increases and prices come down, which I hope so, we could go beyond our set target.


“Conversely, if sustainable aviation fuel prices shoot up and exceed projected levels, we would purchase less than our set target. But in both scenarios, the cost impact on travellers will be the same because the SAF levy remains unchanged.”


CAAS said passengers will pay varying amounts of levies based on factors such as flight distance and class of travel, with business class and first class passengers paying more.


It could not provide more specifics when asked how much passengers in premium classes can expect to pay or whether the levy will apply to transit passengers, citing the need for further industry consultation. More details will be announced in 2025, closer to the roll-out.


Mr Chee said the cost impact of Singapore’s 1 per cent sustainable aviation fuel target was assessed to be manageable, and sufficient lead time will be given to the industry and travellers before the levy takes effect in 2026.


At the same time, the 1 per cent target will provide an important demand signal to fuel producers and give them the incentive to invest in new production facilities, he added.


To ensure adequate supply of greener fuel, CAAS said the Government will also work with industry partners to boost sustainable aviation fuel production in Singapore and the region.


CAAS estimates that the use of sustainable jet fuel will reduce Singapore’s international aviation emissions by about 4 per cent from 2030 business-as-usual levels.


Other initiatives to reduce aviation emissions here include deploying more solar panels at Changi and Seletar airports, and improving air traffic management over the next five years to reduce fuel burn.


Additionally, a renewable diesel trial at Changi Airport is scheduled for 2024, focusing on heavy specialised airside vehicles without electric models.


Plans to grow the electric vehicle fleet at the airport and increase the number of charging stations from 100 to 300 are also under way.


The CAAS blueprint also identified key enablers such as workplace transformation and international collaboration. In line with this, the authority will set up an Asia-Pacific sustainable aviation centre to develop region-specific research capabilities.


The sustainable air hub blueprint, which builds on proposals mooted in 2022 by an international panel, was due to be published in 2023 but got pushed back.


This was so CAAS could consider developments from an International Civil Aviation Organisation conference in Dubai in November 2023, when the 193 member states agreed to reduce aviation emissions by 5 per cent by 2030 through the use of cleaner fuels.


On Feb 19, Mr Chee emphasised the need for a balanced approach to sustainability.


“It will hurt our air hub and our economy, and raise the cost of travel for passengers, if we are overly ambitious with our sustainability goals,” he said.


Mr Chee said Singapore will monitor global developments and the wider availability and adoption of sustainable jet fuel in the next few years, before deciding on its targets beyond 2026.


He added: “The future of aviation must continue to be a story of growth, balanced with sustainability. Good for people, good for businesses, good for the environment.”


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UJIKAJI MAKMAL BAHAN TERPAKAI MEMANG MANTAP

  
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2024年3月1日金曜日

GOVERNOR WANTS ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE; OSAKA UNIVERSITY GLOBALIZES WITH FALL START DATE

GOVERNOR WANTS ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE; OSAKA UNIVERSITY GLOBALIZES WITH FALL START DATE

@Jackie San


Odds are that you assume, and correctly so, that Japanese universities generally conduct their lessons and other school business in Japanese. You may or may not also know that the Japanese academic year begins in April and ends in March, but that’s also the norm.


However, at least one of those aspects is going to be changing at Osaka Metropolitan University, and possibly the other one too.


The public university, which was established two years ago through a merger of Osaka City University and Osaka Prefecture University, has announced that it will be restructuring its academic year to begin in the fall and run until the following summer. This would align Osaka Metropolitan University’s schedule with academic institutions in the U.S., UK, and Canada, as well as Vietnam and China, the two currently largest sources of working foreign residents in Japan. That alignment is no coincidence, as the expressly stated goal of shifting to a fall-to-summer academic year is to promote internationalization at Osaka Metropolitan University, allowing it to attract and coordinate with scholars from around the world in both domestic and overseas endeavors, particularly in making in easier for both OMU students to study overseas and for overseas students to study at OMU.


The shift will happen in stages, with the university’s undergraduate engineering department and certain graduate school programs making the transition in the fall of 2027. They’ll then be followed by other departments, with the plan being eventually for all students, regardless of whether or not they plan to participate in study abroad or other overseas educational activities, to begin their academic years in the fall.


Regarding the new policy, Hirofumi Yoshimura, the 48-year-old governor of Osaka Prefecture, said: “I think there are national-level public universities that are also considering this change, but restrictions at the national level make it difficult to enact. It is also difficult for private universities to fully commit to this idea, but because Osaka Metropolitan University is administered by Osaka Prefecture, I would like for it to be a center of knowledge for Osaka.


"Moving forward, Osaka must become more international, and in the broader picture, so must Japan as a whole, and if they do not, they will continue to decline. They are actually in decline right now, as the world is growing.”


Shifting the academic year isn’t the only change that Yoshimura wants to see happen either. “In the future, the official language of the university should be switched to English,” he asserted, though no formal decision or timetable to do so appears to have been made at this point.


A greater connection to the global community, especially as Japan’s population declines, is in many ways a wise course to be taking. However, integrating Osaka Metropolitan University’s schedule to that of overseas societies comes with the risk of decoupling it from the rhythms of life for most of the rest of Japan. With students graduating from Japanese high schools in March, those entering OMU under the new schedule would have roughly a half-year with their studies on pause.


Assuming that doesn’t cause a financial burden for their families, the students themselves might welcome a half-gap year, but there’s a potentially larger problem waiting for them when they graduate. In Japan, many workplaces, particularly larger and more prestigious companies and institutions, do a large portion of their hiring each year in a single batch, with new employees all starting at the same time in April, one month after graduation at universities, junior colleges, and trade schools.


If OMU students are starting their academic year in the fall, though, they’ll ostensibly be graduating after this hiring season is over. That would mean students wanting to work at such organizations (which are the most plentiful source of jobs in Japan) would have to either convince employers to make special exceptions for them to start later in the year than other new hires, perhaps even re-running training programs just for them, or wait until the next spring before they start working, further delaying the start of their entry into adult society and achieving financial self-reliance.


Even for students on the fall-start schedule who are willing to wait until the next year’s hiring batch, there’s a potential interviewing issue. Japanese university students commonly interview for post-graduation jobs during their third year, once again with many companies holding orientation and interview sessions in clusters. Students who started in the fall instead of the spring would either be half a year behind in their studies compared to the applicants they’re competing with, putting them at a disadvantage, or they’d be half a year ahead, a competitive advantage, but with the added risk of being closer to their graduation date and having less time to weigh their options and search for the job that’s the best fit for them.


Both Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture are planning to organize investigative boards to discuss these potential pitfalls, but as of yet have not made any concrete comments regarding how they plan to address them.

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WHY I LOVE JOGGING ?

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2024年2月29日木曜日

DIGITALIZATION DRVIE PROVING TOUGH FOR JAPANESE SCHOOL TEACHERS

DIGITALIZATION DRVIE PROVING TOUGH FOR JAPANESE SCHOOL TEACHERS

@Jackie San


 Japanese government scheme to drive digitalization in classrooms, accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, faces an uphill struggle, as an insufficient percentage of elementary and junior high school students are utilizing newly provided digital devices on a daily basis.


Teachers' lack of familiarity with the new technology, which has been supplied by the central government under the GIGA school program, is creating a challenging situation, with faculty not fully trained to put it to proper use. Only about 30 percent of all of the students use the devices daily, with wide variation among schools.


Progress has been mixed in municipalities across Japan concerning their training of teachers to achieve the objectives of GIGA, or Global and Innovation Gateway for All, an initiative aimed at providing "one device for each student with a high-speed network."


As an example of how local governments are tackling the issue, the Kumamoto City Education Center held a session to provide digital training to teachers at Toyoda Elementary School in December.


During the session, Mihoko Arakawa, a 47-year-old supervisor from the education center, instructed more than a dozen teachers who were role-playing as students using tablets in a classroom.


She had the teachers create their own stories with animation effects. They made slides featuring handwritten drawings, which they downloaded onto their tablets and showed to each other. Some were puzzled over how their colleagues were able to create slides using the tablets or took an interest in others' work.


Noriyuki Matsuo, 54, who teaches science at the school, said he would use tablets in his class "as a new teaching tool," saying he expects that the devices will help children in their ability to express themselves more thoroughly.


Others such as Tomomi Shimokawa, 44, who has just resumed her job as a school teacher after years of child-rearing, said, "I sometimes get bewildered with digital reform and struggle to keep up," even though she is well aware of technology's importance.


Many teachers still prioritize the use of notebooks, pencils and other analog writing materials in their classes, arguing that tablets are "less likely to leave a lasting impression" on their students.


The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which promotes the GIGA school concept, is aiming to partially cover the costs for local governments to form and operate "GIGA School Operation Support Centers" in order to bolster the use of digital devices.


Through cutting-edge information and communication technology, the hope is teachers will also be able to firmly establish interactive lessons to accommodate a variety of students based on their educational needs and understanding.


According to the education ministry's survey, some 70 percent of public school teachers across Japan received digital training in fiscal 2022.


By prefecture, Wakayama logged the highest ratio of 95 percent, while there were prefectures with ratios of 50 to 60 percent. Since fiscal 2023, the Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education has made it mandatory that all teachers at prefectural junior and senior high schools and special-needs schools receive digital training.


Another education ministry survey conducted in fiscal 2023 found that only 28.4 percent of all sixth graders in Japan had used digital devices "almost every day" in classes during the first five years at elementary school. The finding shows that the disparity in familiarity with digital instruments is widening among teachers, said an official in charge at the Kyoto education board.


Kazunori Sato, an associate professor of educational technology at Shinshu University, said enabling teachers to continue using digital devices will "depend on whether they realize that they can make their work more efficient and improve their working conditions thanks to the use of the technology." He stressed that there is still a need for ongoing digital training among teachers.


He also noted that it would be good to have a "companion," such as a technology advisor at the school or municipal level who can think about how best to utilize the terminals in classrooms together with the teachers and their students.

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@Jackie San

JAPAN ' NAKED MEN' FESTIVAL SUCCUMBS TO AGING POPULATION

JAPAN 'NAKED MEN' FESTIVAL SUCCUMBS TO AGING POPULATION

@Jackie San


A steam of sweat rose as hundreds of naked men tussled over a bag of wooden talismans, performing a dramatic end to a thousand-year-old ritual in Japan that took place for the last time.


Their passionate chants of jasso, joyasa (meaning "evil, be gone") echoed through a cedar forest in Iwate Prefecture, where the secluded Kokuseki Temple has decided to end the popular annual rite.


Organizing the event, which draws hundreds of participants and thousands of tourists every year, has become a heavy burden for the aging local faithful, who find it hard to keep up with the rigors of the ritual.


The Sominsai festival, regarded as one of the strangest festivals in Japan, is the latest tradition impacted by the country's aging population crisis that has hit rural communities hard.


"It is very difficult to organize a festival of this scale," said Daigo Fujinami, a resident monk of the temple that opened in 729.


"You can see what happened today --so many people are here and it's all exciting. But behind the scenes, there are many rituals and so much work that have to be done," he said. "I cannot be blind to the difficult reality."


Japan's society has aged more rapidly than most other countries'. The trend has forced countless schools, shops and services to close, particularly in small or rural communities.


Kokuseki Temple's Sominsai festival used to take place from the seventh day of Lunar New Year through to the following morning.


But during the COVID pandemic, it was scaled down to prayer ceremonies and smaller rituals.


The final festival was a shortened version, ending around 11:00 pm, but it drew the biggest crowd in recent memory, local residents said.


As the sun set, men in white loincloths came to the mountainous temple, bathed in a creek and marched around temple's ground.


They clenched their fists against the chill of a winter breeze, all the while chanting jasso joyasa.


Some held small cameras to record their experience, while dozens of television crews followed the men through the temple's stone steps and dirt pathways.


As the festival reached its climax, hundreds of men packed inside the wooden temple shouting, chanting and aggressively jostling over a bag of talismans.


Toshiaki Kikuchi, a local resident who claimed the talismans and who helped organize the festival for years, said he hoped the ritual will return in the future.


"Even under a different format, I hope to maintain this tradition," he said after the festival. "There are many things that you can appreciate only if you take part."


Many participants and visitors voiced both sadness and understanding about the festival's ending.


"This is the last of this great festival that has lasted 1,000 years. I really wanted to participate in this festival," Yasuo Nishimura, 49, a caregiver from Osaka, told AFP.


Other temples across Japan continue to host similar festivals where men wear loincloths and bathe in freezing water or fight over talismans.


Some festivals are adjusting their rules in line with changing demographics and social norms so that they can continue to exist -- such as letting women take part in previously male-only ceremonies.


From next year, Kokuseki Temple will replace the festival with prayer ceremonies and other ways to continue its spiritual practices.


"Japan is facing a falling birthrate, aging population, and lack of young people to continue various things," Nishimura said. "Perhaps it is difficult to continue the same way as in the past."

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Yufuin Onsen And Things To Do When Alone

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2024年2月28日水曜日

2024年2月27日火曜日

LAUNCHES MEDICAL COVERAGE SCHEME FOR TOURISTS UNDER NEW CAMPAIGN - THAILAND

LAUNCHES MEDICAL COVERAGE SCHEME FOR TOURISTS UNDER NEW CAMPAIGN - THAILAND

@Jackie San

BANGKOK – Foreign tourists
will receive medical coverage of up to 500,000 baht (S$18,600) in case of accidents in Thailand, and compensation of up to 1 million baht in the event of death under the government’s new campaign to assure tourists of their safety when travelling in Thailand.


The campaign aims to assure foreign tourists that they will be properly taken care of while they are in the kingdom, Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said at the launch of the campaign on Feb 14. It’s a collaboration between Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry, and Public Health Ministry. 


Explaining that the campaign’s goal is to strengthen the positive image of Thailand as a global vacation destination, she said the ministry had set aside 50 million baht to fund the scheme. The money will come from the ministry’s budget for emergency expenses and will be used to compensate foreign tourists on a case-by-case basis during their travel in Thailand between Jan 1 and Aug 31 in 2024, she said.


The maximum coverage is 1 million baht per person in case of death and 300,000 baht per person for permanent organ loss, loss of sight or permanent disability. Medical expenses will be covered according to the amount actually paid, but not exceeding 500,000 baht.


Tourists will not be eligible for the coverage if the incidents stem from their carelessness, intention to take part in any illegal activity, or risky behaviour.


To apply for the coverage, foreigners holding a tourist visa can submit documents at the provincial tourism and sports offices, or at tourist assistance centres located in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports. Applications can also be submitted via post and e-mail.


Ms Sudawan said the ministry believed that the campaign would help boost revenue from tourism. She added that foreign arrivals as of Feb 11 totalled 4.3 million, putting the country on track to achieve its target of 35 million foreign tourists in 2024.


The ministry has set a revenue target of 2024 at 3.5 trillion baht from these 35 million foreign tourists and some 205 million trips made by Thai tourists.


The insurance programme would cover a gap period as the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund was dissolved two years ago, and a new tourism fee had earlier been expected to be collected for tourism insurance and to develop attractions. Under the other scheme, foreign arrivals by air were meant to be charged 300 baht while those coming by sea and land would be charged 150 baht. The scheme, however, was postponed indefinitely.


Ms Sudawan insisted that the ministry did not plan to cancel the 300-baht landing fee, although it would not be implemented in the immediate future, as the tourism market had only just recovered from the impact of Covid-19. The ministry wanted to focus on increasing arrival numbers and tourism spending first.


The ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Mongkon Wimonrat added that the ministry will use its Thailand Traveller Safety (TTS) platform to facilitate the disbursement of insurance coverage to foreign tourists. The platform offers online registration for non-Thai residents with tourist visas.


Mr Mongkon said the TTS database, which collects data with the consent of providers, can be accessed by Thailand’s Tourist Police Bureau and National Institute for Emergency Medicine, which will help speed up the disbursement process.


Tourists can claim medical expenses within 15 days of the incident and compensation is expected to be paid 15 days after that, he said. 


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MALAYSIAN SPORTS MINISTERS URGES NATIONAL DIVING TEAM, MALAYSIAN SWIMMING FEDERATION TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS ASPECTS

MALAYSIAN SPORTS MINISTERS URGES NATIONAL DIVING TEAM, MALAYSIAN SWIMMING FEDERATION TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS ASPECTS @Jackie San PETALING ...