Japan enacts law allowing private firms to operate water services

December 6, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese Diet on Thursday enacted a controversial law allowing private companies to run water supply services, with many public businesses falling into the red in the country, despite concerns about higher water bills and deterioration in quality.

The revised Water Supply Act is aimed at bolstering municipal water services as many local governments are struggling to update aging facilities and secure earnings amid a shrinking population.

But critics are worried that the law, which paves the way for local governments to sell the rights to manage water supply services for as long as 20 years, would effectively lead to privatization, which could prove unsuitable for making reliable responses in times of disaster.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one third of municipal governments managing water supply services were unable to cover running costs with water bills, and the situation is expected to worsen further due to the country’s declining population.

In the year through March 2017, 15 percent of the total water pipes in use had exceeded the maximum durable life of 40 years set by law. At the current pace of pipe replacement, it will take 130 years to complete renovation of all the water pipes.

The law will encourage cooperation among local governments and introduce the concession system — a private finance initiative in which facilities owned by public entities are run by the private sector.

Six local governments including Miyagi Prefecture and the city of Hamamatsu are already considering introducing the system.

In other countries, privatization of water supply businesses has often led to higher bills and poorer water quality. According to a survey by a private Dutch research group, at least 267 cities in 33 countries decided to resume public water services after making them private.

According to Yoshiki Seki, a professor of environment policy studies at Takushoku University, water bills tend to rise after privatization as distribution facilities are often monopolized by the supplier.

The city of Paris concluded a concession contract in 1984 with major French water suppliers Veolia and Suez but water bills saw a 3.5-fold increase over about 25 years, according to Seki.

Opposition parties criticized the welfare ministry for not studying the law’s potential impact well enough, arguing it has researched only three cases abroad of privatized water supply services that eventually returned to being public.

Mizuho Fukushima of the opposition Social Democratic Party also claimed the government is engaged in “unfair practices” as a female policy research member in the Cabinet Office’s unit dealing with the matter was seconded from the Japanese arm of Veolia.

The opposition camp argued the government “is trying to sell off (public) water businesses for the profit of a foreign company.”

A woman in her 70s who joined a citizens’ rally against the legislation said the de facto privatization of public facilities is “problematic as taxpayers’ money has been spent on them.”

“We should not seek efficiency in matters which are directly linked to our lives,” she said.

Prior to the enactment, the bill had cleared the House of Councillors on Wednesday and the ruling bloc railroaded it through a lower house panel later that day.

(Dead link – article pulled from archive)


Japan now has a line of eyeglasses and sunglasses specifically designed for plus-sized women

In recent years, there’s been an uptick in plus-sized fashion in Japan. The country now has a monthly magazine dedicated to apparel for larger women, called La Farfa, and we’ve even see lingerie makers seeking to satisfy the traditionally underserved demographic.

Jins has recently released a line of four eyeglass designs, which it collectively calls “Big Shape,” specifically created for plus-sized women.

While plus-sized clothing and accessory options have been increasing in Japan, the same couldn’t be said for glasses. Common complaints were that existing eyeglasses were either uncomfortably tight, pressing against the wearer’s cheeks, or, if simply purchased in larger sizes, too loose to stay in place. In response, the new line’s frame and nose pads are angled to keep the lenses where they should be without feeling tight or constricting

Immigration: Japanese government expands refugee acceptance

“Reading the original post in Japanese: they are not just planning to double the number of refugees they are taking in, starting next year (from 30 to 60), they are also planning on the long run to double that number every year (60->120->240 etc). They are considering double it twice a year, if possible too. Japan has been taking in refugees since 2010 and there are currently 174 (44 families) of refugees in Japan at the moment. Most, if not all of them are coming from Myanmar and are residing in special refugees facilities in the Tokyo area. It’s worth mentioning that most of them are muslims too. Plus, considering the aging population and low birth rate, Japan is also planning to open refugees facilities in the rural areas (where the number of young people is said to be the lowest).

Basically Japan is planning its own destruction, digging its own grave by taking in muslim refugees. RIP land of the rising sun. The article goes on to talk about benefits of cultural enrichment/exchange”