Rents go down, grocery bills shrink, companies lay off workers and people move away to live in the countryside - and yet somehow Tokyo continues to be the world's most expensive city for expatriates to live in.
Most of the blame can be placed firmly on the relentless strength of Japanese currency against the U.S. dollar, according to the annual cost of living survey by international human resources consulting firm, Mercer.
The capital shot back to top of the chart, swapping runner-up position with the Angolan capital of Luanda, which came first last year. Other Japanese cities - Osaka and Nagoya - also placed in the top 10. The results show that, all in all, Japan is one of the most expensive countries on earth for expats.
It's no wonder. Mercer's findings are based on "the relative strength of the relevant currency" against the U.S. dollar in the 12 months between rankings, as well as price fluctuations over the same period, using New York as a benchmark. The survey covers 214 cities across five continents. According to data from the Bank of Japan, the average dollar rate for the survey's most recent period through February 2012 was ¥78.9, an 8.6% decline from the previous year.
Japan's farm ministry said Thursday that the highly pathogenic avian influenza found at a poultry farm in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto has been confirmed to be the H5N8 subtype, the same virus strain as the bird flu found in South Korea. (Jiji Press )
Train operators in Tokyo and surrounding areas will be shutting down coin-operated luggage lockers at main stations before and during US President Barack Obama's visit next week, as a security measure. (NHK )
Just over one ton of water contaminated with radioactive particulates leaked from one of the containment vessels at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said. (Japan Today )
Japan is expected to secure the minimum required power supply capacity when electricity demand peaks in August, even if all the country's nuclear reactors remain offline, estimates by major regional utilities showed Thursday. (Kyodo )
Tochigi prefectural police said Thursday that they are questioning a man in his 30s over the murder of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005. Japanese media quoted police as saying that the man, who was arrested for dealing in fake brand-name goods, has hinted at his involvement in the murder. (Japan Today )
People enjoy viewing the 15-meter snow walls of the Yuki no Otani (Great Snow Valley), along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route that passes through the Northern Japan Alps to link Toyama and Nagano prefectures. (The Japan News )
Tokyo prosecutors plan to look into whether a man, who has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing copies of Anne Frank's diary, is mentally competent to be held criminally responsible for his actions, informed sources said Wednesday. (Jiji Press )