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Representatives of a bus company, passengers, relatives and friends of victims of a fatal bus crash on Monday marked the second anniversary of the accident that claimed the lives of 13 passengers and two drivers in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, on Jan 15, 2016.
All passengers killed were university students; 26 others were injured. The group which gathered Monday included students who survived the crash and the bus company president, as well as the mayor of Karuizawa and other officials. They placed flowers at the site of the accident and prayed for the deceased, Fuji TV reported.
The charter bus from Tokyo careened off a road while traveling downhill in Karuizawa, killing 13 students, the 65-year-old driver and a relief driver.
A transport ministry commission that investigated the accident pinned the blame squarely on the driver, saying he lost control of the bus after allowing it to gain speed by driving downhill with hardly any application of the brakes, Kyodo News reported.
Based on its findings from a simulated crash and roadside camera footage, the commission concluded that the bus was traveling downhill for about one kilometer with hardly any engine or foot braking. The bus eventually went off the road after failing to negotiate a left curve at a speed of 95 km per hour, far above the speed limit in the area.
The commission said in a report that the Tokyo-based bus operator increased the risk of accidents involving its drivers by not ordering them to take regular health checks or conducting roll calls before they set off.
While the commission called for the transport ministry to increase its checks on bus operators, the ministry has already toughened its supervision of charter bus operators, now requiring them to renew their business permits every five years.
© Japan Today/Kyodo
Twenty-two foreign trainees died in work-related incidents in the three years from fiscal 2014, government data showed Sunday, indicating people brought to Japan to work may face dangerous or exploitative conditions.
While most of the 22 deaths are believed to be accidents, one resulted from overwork, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare data showed. The figures are the first government statistics released on work-related deaths among foreign trainees.
Over the three years, there were on average 475 cases of work-related accidents involving foreign trainees that were subject to compensation from industrial accident insurance and required four or more days of leave, the data showed.
Japan introduced the training program for foreign workers in 1993 with the apparent aim of transferring skills to developing countries. But the scheme, applicable to agriculture and manufacturing among other sectors, has drawn criticism at home and abroad for giving Japanese companies cover to import cheap labor.
Cases of illegally long working hours, unpaid wages, violence and other harsh conditions have also been reported.
According to the Justice Ministry, the number of foreign trainees is on the rise, with 167,641 registered in 2014, 192,655 in 2015 and 228,589 in 2016. With 22 deaths over the three year period, the ratio of work-related deaths is roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 trainees.
As a nation as a whole, meanwhile, labor ministry data shows that work-related deaths in all industries totaled 2,957, or 1.7 per 100,000 workers.
Akira Hatate, director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union, who is an expert on the trainee system, points out that there could actually be more cases of workplace accidents among foreign trainees due to lax reporting standards.
He said work-related accidents are more frequent among foreign trainees because they are “unfamiliar with Japanese workplaces (and) as they are usually working for small and medium-sized companies who give little consideration to safety and health in the workplace. Trainees (also) cannot communicate fluently in Japanese.”
“There are also cases where trainees, who cannot work due to an injury, are forced to return home. Concealment of work-related accidents is rampant,” Hatate said.
The latest data showing the difficult and potentially dangerous conditions faced by foreign trainees in Japan comes to light as the government is expanding the scope of the system.
Under a new law that came into effect last November, nursing care has been added to the list of fields in which foreign trainees can work.
The change was implemented as Japan looks to overcome an acute shortage of care workers in an industry that is becoming all the more important due to Japan’s rapidly aging population.
Police in Hiroshima have arrested an unemployed 33-year-old man on suspicion of murder and attempted murder after he stabbed to death a 75-year-old man and seriously wounded a 20 year-old man on a street on Sunday night.
According to police, the stabbings took place at a bus stop in Asakita Ward at around 10:15 p.m. Fuji TV reported that police received a call from a pedestrian, saying that two men had been attacked by a man with a knife.
Police rushed to the scene and found Norio Zayama, 75, bleeding from a stab wound to his stomach. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Nearby was a 20-year-old university student who had been stabbed in the back. Police said he was taken to hospital but his wound is not life-threatening.
The student, who was stabbed first, said he did not know the man who attacked him.
About 90 minutes later, near the south exit of JR Hiroshima Station, which is 14 kilometers from the crime scene, police found the suspect, Go Takahashi. Police said Takahashi had called a friend and said he had stabbed two men and that he was at Hiroshima Station. The friend called 110.
Police said Takahashi has admitted to the charges and quoted him as saying he also wanted to kill himself. The knife was left at the scene.
© Japan Today
Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — More than 9,000 women attended two Saudi soccer league matches last week after they were allowed to enter stadiums for the first time in the history of the Kingdom.
As many as 4,411 women attended the match in Jeddah between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin at Al-Jawhara Stadium on Friday while 5,000 attended the match between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.
The women increased the number of spectators at Al-Jawhara Stadium to more than 24,000 which was four times the number of spectators from the last match held at this stadium while those who attended the match in Riyadh were 26,602.
The attendance of women at the soccer matches also raised the performance of players on the field.
“The women’s attendance has tremendously raised the performance of players,” said Al-Ahli Serbian coach.
Many goals were scored during the match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin while the Riyadh match was described to be the toughest so far played in the Saudi league which entered its 17th week.
The attendance of women also created some jobs for women as 254 of them were employed at Al-Jawhara Stadium to supervise the entry and seating of women spectators.
They received the women at the entrance, sold them tickets and seated them on the 14,000 seats designated for families.
There were 150 women organizers at the Riyadh venue under the supervision of Princess Reema Bint Bandar, undersecretary of the General Authority of Sports for development and planning.
As many as 7,500 seats were reserved for families at King Fahd Stadium.
Some 80 female medical doctors, paramedics and nurses were present to extend any required medical help to families.
A number of women security guards were also present during the two matches to ensure the safety of families.
Source : Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia began screening feature-length animated children’s films this weekend in a makeshift theater, after a 35-year-old ban on cinemas was lifted.
The first permanent theaters could open as early as March, part of a liberalizing reform drive that has already opened the door to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers over the past year.
For now, the authorities are sponsoring temporary settings, like the state-run cultural hall in Jeddah equipped with a projector, a red carpet and a popcorn machine.
“Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theaters, so we are trying to take advantage of (alternative) venues to approximate the cinematic form,” said Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand organized the week-long screenings.
“We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on Dec. 11 to permit movie theaters.”
Films will be censored to make sure they remain in line with the Kingdom’s moral values.
After watching The Emoji Movie with his wife and daughter on Sunday evening, 28-year-old Sultan Al-Otaibi said Saudis are happy to see movies in the theater instead of staying at home.
“It’s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity on the weekend. It is a step that was very late in coming but thank God it’s happening now.”
Thousands of Saudis currently travel to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other countries for entertainment. The government wants to retain the money spent on those trips.
The authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry it hopes will contribute more then SR90 billion to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.
Regional and international cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market, keen to tap the spending power of the young people who make up roughly 70% of the population.
“I want to see everything because it is something new for Saudi,” said 30-year-old movie-goer Ibtisam Abu Talib.
“I hope everything is available — action, romance, children’s films, comedy. Everything, God willing.” — Reuters