1. Japan’s immigration policy: Small rural towns in Japan, like Akitakata, are more affected by population decline, and hope to welcome more long-term staying foreigners

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to pass a law this week that would allow in more foreign blue-collar workers such as Ms Gayeta for limited periods.

But Akitakata’s mayor, Mr Kazuyoshi Hamada, says his shrinking community, like others in Japan, needs foreigners of all backgrounds to stay.

The rural city has more than 600 non-Japanese, roughly 2 per cent of its population, which has shrunk more than 10 per cent since its incorporation in 2004.

“Given the low birth rate and ageing population, when you consider who can support the elderly and the factories… we need foreigners,” said Mr Hamada, 74, who in March unveiled a plan that explicitly seeks them as long-term residents.

“I want them to expand the immigration law and create a system where anyone can come to the country.””

Read the full article on The Straits Times: As Japan considers allowing more foreigners, a tiny rural town wants to go further


  1. Luxembourg’s public transport: The first country to offer free public transport for its entire transport network

“Luxembourg’s transport system costs close to €1bn per year to operate. But partly as a result of the concessionary offers, fares amount to only €30m annually.

From summer 2019, tickets are set to be abolished. Part of the cost will be covered by removing a tax break for commuters.

The move will save on the collection and processing of fares. It may also encourage a shift away from private cars; traffic congestion, especially around Luxembourg City, is a serious problem.

Some city centres around the world offer free transport in a bid to reduce congestion, and in some US counties the bus system is free. But no other nation has eliminated fares from its entire transport network.

Not every commuter is convinced about the idea. Claude Moyen, a teacher who travels by train to his school in the town of Diekirch every day, said he feared the quality of journeys might suffer, and added: “I’m not sure if making public transport free here in Luxembourg will take more people out of their cars.””

Read the full article on Independent: Luxembourg set to make all public transport free


  1. Debatable use of technology by Taylor Swift: Facial recognition technology was used without concert-goers’ consent to prevent stalkers at her concert

“What they didn’t know was that a facial recognition camera inside the structure was taking their photographs and cross-referencing the images with a database held in Nashville of hundreds of Swift’s known stalkers, according to a Rolling Stone report.

Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, an advisory board for venues including Madison Square Garden and LA’s Forum, told Rolling Stone: “Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working.” Downing had been invited to witness a demonstration of the system as a guest of its manufacturers.

While some have raised privacy concerns over the ownership and storage of the images, concerts are technically private events, and Swift has no obligation to notify ticket holders that they may be surveilled.”

Read the full article on The Guardian: Taylor Swift used facial recognition software to detect stalkers at LA concert

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