Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take



Population in record decline

The population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly-aging country, the government said yesterday. Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. “Baby boomers” are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world, but have an extremely low birth rate. Japan logged 1.19 million deaths last year — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million. As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. Japanese aged 65 and older make up about a quarter of Japan’s current population. The government projects that by 2050, that figure will climb to 40 percent. Like in other advanced countries, young people are waiting to get married and choosing to have fewer children because of careers and lifestyle issues. The report showed that 706,000 marriages were registered last year — the fewest since 1954. In October, the total population stood at 125.77 million, according to the ministry.


Thousands snap up licences

For thousands of hopeful commuters in Beijing, the year started with a click, not a bang. Residents hoping to snap up Beijing car licence plate numbers under the debut of a quota system aimed at easing paralyzing traffic logged onto a Web site that launched in the first moments of the New Year. Within 10 minutes, 6,000 people had successfully claimed a new plate number, the Beijing Daily reported. The new system aims to reduce the number of cars in the notoriously gridlocked capital. The city will only allow 240,000 new car registrations this year — two-thirds less than last year — and is parceling them out via the monthly online lottery. Netizens have joked that the new system won’t bring much relief and have mocked the Web address,, which stands for Beijing huanjie yongdu, or “Beijing eases congestion.” Some say the same letters could also be short for Beijing haiyao yongdu, or “Beijing will still be gridlocked.”


Five pavilions to be kept

Authorities in Shanghai plan to keep five foreign pavilions from this year’s World Expo that were popular with visitors as public landmarks, local media reported on Friday. The pavilions of France, Italy, Russia, Spain and Saudi Arabia have been donated to the city and will soon reopen to the public, the Oriental Morning Post reported, citing Expo officials. They could remain in place for up to 50 years, the report said. Organizers have not yet decided how the buildings will be used, but one suggestion is that they be converted into art studios, the paper said, citing a Shanghai World Expo official.


Two killed as ship sinks

Two sailors were killed and 15 are missing after a North Korean-registered cargo ship sank in the Yellow Sea on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported late on Friday. The Kang Bong sank early on Friday morning after water entered the ship during strong gales, Xinhua said, citing China’s Rescue and Salvage Center. The ship, with 20 people onboard, was traveling 190km east of Lianyungang Port in Jiangsu Province. Three people were rescued by a ship and helicopters, which were still searching for those missing.

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