As a teacher living in Japan who has taught at universities in Osaka and Okinawa for many years, I see several violent typhoons hit Japan each year.
What I have noticed over this time, and in contrast to how things seem to happen in Taiwan, is that the locals and students here have never been dissatisfied and taken issue with the Japanese government’s decisions over typhoon holidays. There is a good reason for this. It is because Japan has good systems in place to respond to typhoons. Thanks to these systems, prefectural governors and city mayors do not need to agonize over whether they should declare a typhoon holiday, nor take responsibility for erroneously declaring a holiday.
What follows is a description of the systems generally employed by schools and colleges in Okinawa. Hopefully they can be used to resolve issues over typhoon holidays in Taiwan.
When a typhoon approaches, the Japan Meteorological Agency releases one of two types of warnings based on wind speed: “strong wind” or “gale-force wind.”
Schools call typhoon holidays based upon these warnings. Specifically, the criterion for a holiday is whether the agency has issued a gale-force warning. A holiday cannot be called for a strong wind warning.
When the agency issues a gale-force warning, every level of educational institutions — elementary, junior and senior-high schools — close for the day.
If on the day of a typhoon the agency removes the gale-force warning before 6am — or sometimes before 8am, depending on the circumstances — classes would go ahead as normal. However, if the warning has not been removed by that time, students are not expected to go to school.
If the agency removes the gale-force warning before 11am — sometimes before 12pm — the students are expected to attend classes in the afternoon. If the agency has not removed the warning before that time, classes are called off for the entire day.
In Japan, the authorities take regional variations into account when issuing a gale-force wind warning. For example, according to the Osaka Government Web site, the criterion for a gale-force warning in the city is land-based wind speeds of 20m per second or faster. In Naha city, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture, the criterion is different, and is set at 25m per second or higher.
The situation is a slight generalization that does not fully take into account regional differences. Nevertheless, the principle is more or less the same in each location. Local government agencies and businesses in each area more or less follow the same standards when it comes to deciding whether to announce a typhoon holiday.
Perhaps Japan’s system can be used as a reference to formulate a typhoon response system appropriate for the conditions in Taiwan.
Lin Wen-bin is a professor at Okinawa Polytechnic College.
Translated by Edward Jones
This is the Year of the Dragon. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese government announced that “dragon” is to be translated as long (龍), in a move meant to erase the supposed negative connotations of dragons. In many Western cultures, dragons are often seen as wicked or demonic. This is not just a mere linguistic adjustment. It is symbolic, representing a change in China’s current political culture. Under the overbearing leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Chinese government has been undergoing a cultural policy of “de-Westernization.” Although this change in semantics is just one of many
When I was in Ukraine filming for an upcoming documentary, I was surprised at how frequently my mind naturally tended to map Ukraine’s war experience onto Taiwan, where I have lived for the past 10 years. There are obvious parallels of an imperial nuclear superpower asserting itself over a smaller non-nuclear state, but there are also small mundane things that would impact everyday life. When I saw Ukrainian elderly people filling jugs of water at a church in sub-zero temperatures and hauling it back to their homes which might not have electricity, I imagined the difficulty of a Taiwanese senior
An online petition started by a doctor in Taichung called on lawmakers to halt an amendment that would shorten the time needed for Chinese spouses of Taiwanese to gain citizenship in Taiwan. The amendment could put a strain on Taiwan’s already burdened National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Cheng Ching Hospital thoracic surgery division doctor Tu Cheng-che (杜承哲) said. Doctors have seen many Chinese spouses bring their relatives to hospital emergency rooms, asking for full checkups, he added. “They [Chinese spouses] even tell their relatives that healthcare in Taiwan is free and is easily accessible, and that healthcare providers in Taiwan
On Feb. 15, the UK’s Economist Intelligence Unit released its latest report on the state of democracy around the world. Out of the 167 countries and territories covered by the report, titled Democracy Index 2023: Age of conflict, Taiwan is considered a full democracy, ranking first in Asia and 10th around the world. The index showed that global democracy regressed last year, yet Taiwan countered this trend, a fact that all Taiwanese should take pride in. The report sheds light on the rising tide of authoritarianism, with groups consolidating power within and forming alliances with authoritarian powers without. The international order