TOPICS March 2022

The Most On-Time Small Airport – Matsuyama Airport

Matsuyama Airport Terminal Building Co., Ltd. announced that they were named the most on-time small airport in the world in 2021 by CIRIUM, a British aviation data analysis company. This research has been carried out annually by CIRIUM since 2009. The 2021 survey was conducted for only 7 months, from June to December, due to the reduction of flights caused by the pandemic. “On-Time Performance” is defined as the flight which leaves no later than 15 minutes after its
scheduled departure time.

A total of 8,961 flights of the 7 routes from Matsuyama Airport were surveyed, and 96.05% were on-time. Of the 150 small airports surveyed, it was ranked No.1 in the world. It was 8th place in 2019, according to Matsuyama Airport.

Matsuyama Airport has flights to Haneda, Osaka, Chubu, Fukuoka, Okinawa etc. It is located near the center of the city, only 20 minutes away by car. According to the airport, the number of passengers in 2020 was 760,000, which was only one fourth that of 2019, 2,949,500. Before the pandemic, it was 3,012,800 in 2017, and 3,124,400 in 2018, reflecting the increase of foreign visitors.

(February 10, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)

The Number of Foreign Workers Decreased

The number of foreign workers in Ehime was 9,569 as of the end of October in 2021, which showed an 8.3% decrease in comparison with October 2020, according to the Ehime Labor Bureau. It recorded 10,430 in 2020, the most to date. The tightening of border security due to the pandemic resulted in the decrease.

There are 1,919 enterprises in Ehime employing foreign workers (+5.6% in comparison with 2020), the most to date, and many of them are suffering from labor shortages, according to the Labor Bureau. The industries where many foreign workers are engaged are wholesale, retail, and medical/welfare, and the numbers of enterprises and foreign workers in those industries have increased.

However, the number in the manufacturing industry where the largest number of foreign workers are working has significantly fallen to 5,576 a drop of 15.7%. This phenomenon is seen especially in the Imabari area where there are ship-building and towel manufacturing companies.

35.4% of the foreign workers are Vietnamese, 22.8% are Chinese, and 18.4% are Filipino. By status of residence, more than 60% of them, 5,912, are Technical Intern Trainees, followed by 352 Specified Skilled Workers, a status established in April 2019, 274.5% more than last year.

(February 9, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)

53 Years of Friends and English Memories

Recently a photo book and a collection of compositions was compiled to summarize the personal growth and friendships of the participants in the Nametoko English Camp at Nametoko Gorge in southwestern Ehime.

Starting in 1957, it lasted for 53 years. It was an advanced initiative for junior and senior high school students to learn English from native English speakers in a rich natural environment. Mitsuo Matsunaga (84) was involved in its management. He asked former participants to contribute episodes that left an impression on them.

The camp was started in Kihoku-cho by the late Rinji Miyoushi, who was a doctor, and Elena Warren, a missionary from the US. They wanted to give children living in the Shikoku mountains an experience of real English. Elena gathered about 10 native speakers from all around the country to volunteer to teach English through songs and stories. At its peak, about 100 people joined in each level: junior high school students, senior high school students, and the general public. However, as the English learning environment changed, the number of participants decreased and management by volunteers alone became difficult, and the camp was closed in 2009. The total number of participants had exceeded 9000.

Matsunaga said it started only a dozen years after the end of WWII when there were few opportunities to learn English. He thanked everyone for their volunteer spirit. He wanted to show that people developed not only ability in English, but also friendships. With donations from supporters, he made 35 copies of photo books and 25 of the collection of compositions and distributed them to former participants. They are not for sale, but copies can be seen at the library corner in the Matsuno Town Hall. Since 2019, a private tourist company has taken over the initiative as ‘English Camp in Nametoko’.

(February 6, Ehime Shimbun)

Seiyo Recertified as Geopark

The Japanese Geopark Committee held a meeting in Tokyo on January 28, where they newly certified or recertified 13 areas as Japanese geoparks, including Shikoku-Seiyo Geopark covering the entire Seiyo-city in southwestern Ehime.

The area was first certified in 2013. The committee surveys each area every 4 years, with respect to conservation, utilization of the geological heritage, and activities. The Shikoku-Seiyo Geopark was highly evaluated in terms of developing education programs for disaster prevention after the heavy rain of 2018 in West Japan to raise residents’ awareness of natural disasters. Another factor was the effort to provide more information through the Shikoku-Seiyo Geo Museum, which is due to open this April.

A member of the committee who was in charge of the field survey in Seiyo mentioned that this area has created textbooks that put together knowledge and experience so whoever takes charge can continue the project well, and the whole city supports the initiative.

Since the certification of 7 areas in 2008, 46 areas have been designated as Japanese geoparks.

(January 29,30 Ehime Shimbun)

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