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Alchemista - Katz Ueno

Friday, March 20, 2009

US Embassy Japan warned Roppongi partying

On March 17th, 2009, US Embassy warned the US citizens who hang out clubs and bars in Roppongi for the drink-spiking incidents.

Warden Message – Roppongi Security Notice

I've been witnessing in the last 10 years that Japanese students in LA were intoxicated and deported. And an American friend had cardiac arrest and passed away in Roppongi.

Self-controlling could be one of the big issue for the people who lives in a foreign country, especially the city where there are a lot of fun stuff to do.

Now, some bad-mind people had spotted these people and US Embassy noticed the potential danger.

Although Tokyo is cool place, and Roppongi is the cool place.... just be careful.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Japan Highway Holiday Discount Partially Delays

Today (March 11, 2009), NEXCO (Nippon Expressway Company Limited) Group announced that they will not be able to complete the system upgrade fully.

Therefore, they will start discount on March 28th. This delay mainly affect the driver who will go through Tokyo, Osaka area, Honshu-Shikoku Bridges and/or Tokyo Aqua Line.

Overview of Japanese Highway Holiday Discount Program

As the part of Japanese government economic stimulus program, they passed the law to approve the budget in order to execute the discount of Japanese regional expressway.

The weekends and holiday discount includes
  • 1,000 yen all-you-can-drive in regional area (Partially starting on Mar 28)
  • 1,000 yen discount rate of Shikoku-Honshu Toll Bridges and Tokyo Aqua Line Tunnel (starting on Mar 20)
  • 20-30% discount for Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan highways
*If you drive short distance, and the the price will be less than 1,000 yen.

This discount program is only effective if you:
  • Drive regular passenger cars, or motorcycle
  • Install Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) device in your car or motorcycle
  • You must make at least two payments a year

Very Complicated Charging System

I got confused at the beginning about this pricing system.

So let me explain to you.

If you drive from Aomori to Kagoshima and avoid Tokyo area, you will have to pass Osaka metropolitan area where they only have 20-30% discount.

So the pricing will be....
  • Regional Area [Aomori- Subarban Osaka + Subarban Osaka-Kagoshima] = 1,000 yen
  • Metropolitan Osaka Area = 1,500 yen
  • The Total 2,500 yen
So as long as you don't exit the highway, the charge of regional area will be fixed to 1,000 yen. And if you drive through Tokyo, Osaka, Bridges and Tokyo Aqua Line Tunnels, you will be charged additional discounted rate.

What's Late

However, due to the delay of the system upgrade...... the temporary pricing will be like this
  • Regional Area [Aomori-Suburban Osaka] = 1,000 yen
  • Metropolitan Osaka Area = 1,500 yen
  • Regional Area [Suburban Osaka-Kagoshima]= 1,000 yen
  • The Total 3,500 yen
So currently, whenever you passed Tokyo, Osaka, Bridges or Tokyo Aqua Line, the charge will be reset to zero. And it will start calculating again.

They said they will try to finish upgrading the system by Golden Week season in May.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Claim your 12,000 yen and Highway Holiday Discount

Yesterday, the controversial budget finally finally passed the Japanese Parliament yesterday. The major bills were controversial Teigaku-kyufukin (定額給付金), and holiday discount of highway.

12,000 yen Teigaku-Kyufukin

So it is now official that the everybody who legally resided in Japan on Feb 1, 2009 are eligible for 12,000 yen (the 18 and younger, and the 65 and older will receive 20,000 yen).

To check your eligibility, look at my older post.

The majority of Japanese people are already tired of this topic.

It's been over half year since the government started talking about it.

The Japanese people are sick and tired of these already non-sense-and-super-late policy after seeing Taiwan and China executed the similar plans within a month.

Anyhow, the bill has passed.

So it's now final that ALL people who lived in Japan on Feb 1, 2009 including the registered foreigners, are now eligible to receive the 12,000 yen.


The Japanese government passed this task to the local government to give out the money.

The problem is... now it's Tax season.

Most of the city official are overwhelmed with tax stuff. So it may be some delay.

Only about 5 towns and villages which don't have much population, are giving out the money this week.

However the most of the local agencies just don't have enough man power to execute the distribution quickly enough.

According to the survey of TV-Tokyo "World Business Satelite" on March 4, the majority of cities and towns are planning to distribute the money in April.

Here is the article from Mainichi Shimbun

One of the worst cities is Nagoya.

Nagoya doesn't have time until June~!

So I'm sorry to the people who live in Nagoya.

But the city officials are overwhelmed already. It's just too many people lived in Nagoya. And the city officials are already busy with tax, and bad economy.

And if you are planning to move out from Nagoya.... The letter will be sent to the address you lived on Feb 1, 2009..... The city never mentioned how to take care of movers.... If you are lucky to have a roommate or family, and then it may be ok. But if you don't..... you may have to give up 12,000 yen.

How to Claim Your 12,000 Yen

Anyway, here is how you can claim the money.

The small towns may give out the money at the local city hall with valid ID.

But if you live in a large city, the process may be like this.

* They will usually distribute the money per household basis.

1. You will receive the letter from the local government
2. You will confirm how many people are in your household, and accept or refuse this Teigaku-Kyufukin
3. You reply the mail to the local government with the bank account info
4. You will receive the confirmation mail to notify when the money being deposited to your bank account
5. And you finally receive money.

[CAUTION!!!!] BUUUUT, the Japanese government completely let the local government to decide how to distribute the money, so you will have to consult with the local city hall to confirm....

Ahh.. it's pain in an a**.

Toll-way Holiday Discount is Coming

So another bill that passed yesterday was weekend and holiday discount for toll-ways. They are planning to start this discount program on March 28th for two years.

(March 11, 2009) They announced that their pricing system will not be able to finish updating fully. Therefore, they will start partial discount on March 28, and plan to engage full discount at the end of April.

If you drive more than 100km on the Japanese highway on a weekend... the fee will be only 1,000 yen~!

Well, this is not that easy. Here are the catch.

1. Your car must have ETC device (electronic toll collection (system))
2. If you passed any metropolitan area and toll gate, the charge will be reset.

So you cannot go from Hokkaido to Kyushu with 1,000 yen.

For example, according to Mainichi Shimbun's article

From Aomori to Kagoshima, you need to avoid Tokyo area, and since you may have to go through Osaka metropolitan area.

1000 yen (Aomori to Kagoshima except Osaka area) + 1500 yen (Osaka Metropolitan Tollway) = the total 2,500 yen.

With the regular pricing, it will cost 39,250 yen. So it's still a huge discount (and then, of course, you need to pay your gas)

They will have the online fee calculator soon on their web site... but they are only Japanese.

Nexco East
Nexco Central
Nexco West

So unless you are an ALT who have the contract not to drive in Japan, it may be a good time to travel around Japan on the weekend with your friend... But I still recommend to get JR rail pass though.

Since I know that there are soo many foreigners living in Japan who do not know about this... I will release this blog post to anyone under Creative Commons License.

If you can add the hyperlink and credit to my blog, that would be great... but not required... I just want to help as many people as possible for this.

Creative Commons License
How to Claim your 12,000 yen and Highway Holiday Discount by Katz Ueno