The most attractive holiday destinations

When it comes to vacation destinations, everyone has his or her own preferences, of course. A helping hand can of course be useful, so has the World Economic Forum made a list of the most attractive holiday destinations in the world.

The researchers are looking at issues such as safety, nature, infrastructure, health and value. This has resulted in the following top ten:

1/ Spain
2/ France
3/ Germany
4/ Japan
5/ Great-Britain
6/ United States
7/ Australia
8/ Italy
9/ Canada
10/ Switzerland

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Japan’s popular owl cafes under scrutiny

Cat cafes, puppy cafes, and even rabbit cafes, have been popping up all over the world as the demand for animal cafes increases, particularly in Japan. But Owl Village, a Japanese owl cafe, leaves some animal rights activists concerned.  

Some say the brightly lit cafes and constant flow of people disrupt the owl’s natural nocturnal sleep cycles, and that tying their feet to perches to keep them from flying — as many cafes do — can potentially be counted as animal abuse.

“When they think of animal abuse, people think of kicking or hitting animals, but it isn’t limited to that,” Chihiro Okada from Tokyo’s Animal Rights Center told Reuters. “Confining an animal to a small space is certainly a form of abuse. Showing them off like products is also a stressful situation. They can’t move and drink freely.” 

“We were particularly shocked to learn that seven owls died in one year at an owl cafe,” Okada added.

Aya Matsuda, who manages the frequently fully booked Owl Village, said they try to keep the birds free of stress with frequent breaks and by ensuring that staff is there to help guide guest-owl interactions.

“In our cafe, staff are able to enter the owl room with customers and explain how to play with them, and when the owls look tired, they can rest,” she said.

But if the cafe remembers to put the birds first, there should be no problems, said veterinarian Nobumoto Izawa. “Most importantly, we need to make sure the birds are happy and not stressed.”

Source – TheJakartaPost

Exploring Japan’s rising dragon

Cool air greeted us as we were getting out of Chubu Centrair International Airport located south of Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, upon our arrival in central Japan. We, a group of Indonesian journalists and bloggers, were in Japan by invitation from Cathay Pacific and the Japan National Tourism Organization to explore several cities in the Shoryudo area.

The region is nicknamed the “rising dragon” based on the shape of the Chubu and Hokuriku regions at the heart of Japan, with the Noto Peninsula forming its head and Mie Prefecture its tail, and its rising body covering every part of its nine prefectures.

“Tomorrow, get ready to layer up because the place we’re going to is very cold,” warned our tour guide, Akiko “Ako” Konishi. “The weather forecast even said it will be snowing tomorrow.”

This was not my first trip to Japan but I believe there’s always something new waiting to be discovered and snow would certainly not stop me.

Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen is a perfect place to visit if you like to stroll around in a beautiful Japanese garden. Located on a hill in the central part of Kanazawa city, it is regarded as one of Japans three most beautiful gardens alongside Kairaku-en in Mito and Koraku-en in Okayama.

“Out of the three, my favorite garden is Kenrokuen, it’s beautiful at all seasons but the sight in winter is at its most extraordinary,” said Ako.

Originally the outer garden of the Kanazawa Castle, the 11.4-hectare Kenrokuen garden was opened to the public in 1874. It is home to about 160 plant species and 8,200 trees.

There are many beautiful spots inside the garden but it is renowned for its majestic Karasakinomatsu pine trees. In winter time, gardeners set up yukizuri snow support to prevent the pine trees’ branches from breaking under heavy snow, creating a surreal geometrical sight from a distance.

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Trump and Japan’s Abe share high-five on Florida golf course

President Donald Trump has long boasted about his prowess on the golf course. Now he’s putting his game to work.

The president spent a good part of his Saturday golfing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he hosts his first foreign leader at his winter estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

After a rocky diplomatic start that included contentious phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, the friendly weekend of meetings, dinners and golf suggests the new president is willing to invest time in developing close personal relationships with leaders he feels he can work with.

Trump and Abe, both frequent golfers, left Mar-a-Lago early Saturday morning and headed north to one of Trump’s golf courses in Jupiter, Florida. Reporters and photographers from both countries did not catch a glimpse of the pair as they played. But Trump later posted a photo of them giving each other a high-five on the golf course and tweeted, “Having a great time hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the United States!”

The Trump National Golf Club website, in typical Trumpian language, claims the course “features the finest revetted bunkers in the United States, incredible water hazards, including a magnificent island green, and one of the most picturesque landscapes, all of which make for a truly memorable round.”

The pair also paid a visit to another nearby Trump property: The Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

Abe had joked at a joint press conference at the White House on Friday that he was looking forward to playing golf with Trump, even though, he claimed, he’s not nearly as good on the links.

He said he planned to use the time to discuss the future of the world, the Pacific region and U.S.-Japanese relations.

In a sign of unity, neither Japanese nor White House officials volunteered the pair’s final score.

The White House issued a statement after the pair returned saying the day was “both relaxing and productive. They had great conversations on a wide range of subjects, and the President looks forward to further discussions with the Prime Minister at dinner this evening.”

As their husbands golfed, Melania Trump and Akie Abe toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in nearby Delray Beach. It was Mrs. Trump’s first solo event as First Lady. The women were also expected to have lunch together at Mar-a-Lago.

First lady Melania Trump, left, and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, tour Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens with park administrator Bonnie White Lemay in Delray Beach, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. (Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post via AP) (AP/Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post)

The two couples touched down in Florida on Friday afternoon and headed straight to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, where they enjoyed a late dinner at its crowded patio restaurant. They were joined by Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and several interpreters. Paying members and club guests took in the scene and mingled with Trump and Abe into the night.

The president and Mrs. Trump planned to host a more formal delegation dinner with the Abes on Saturday night.

Trump also was expected to tend to other business in Florida: calling Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as he continues conversations with foreign leaders.

Trump and Abe appear to have hit it off early, despite Trump’s sometimes hostile rhetoric toward Japan on the campaign trail. Abe was the only world leader to meet with Trump before his inauguration, and Trump welcomed Abe to the White House with a hug.

As a candidate, Trump often railed against former President Barack Obama for his frequent golfing, claiming Obama played more often than players on the PGA Tour.

He said if he won he’d likely be too busy to golf and would only play with people with whom he was looking to make deals.

Trump and Abe have plenty to discuss, including the defense treaty between the nations and their trade relations. One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Abe has said that Japan may be open to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., but reaching such a deal could be political difficult. Japan logged the second largest trade surplus with the U.S. last year.

The visit comes as the White House continues to weigh its options after a stinging legal defeat. On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a restraining order on Trump’s executive order suspending the nation’s refugee program and barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

While the administration maintains that all options are on the table — Including a Supreme Court appeal — Trump said Friday he was considering signing a “brand new order” as early as Monday, which could address some of the legal issues the court has identified. (dan)

Source: TheJakartaPost

Cambodia charges three in Japanese sex slavery probe

Kim Leakhena, 28, who was implicated in a sex trafficking ring, is carried out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after she fainted during a hearing.

A Japanese restaurant owner accused of overseeing a smuggling ring that forced women into sex work in Japan was charged with trafficking in Cambodia on Tuesday, along with his wife and an employee.

The charges follow the dramatic rescue of seven Cambodian women from a restaurant in Gunma, northwest of Tokyo, in December after one of them made a desperate plea for help on Facebook.

Japan has long been a destination for Southeast Asian women who travel seeking higher wages but often find themselves forced into sex work or indentured labour.

Three suspects arrested on Saturday for trafficking women into sex slavery in Japan were all charged yesterday for their alleged involvement in the scheme, which one victim yesterday said had left her “deeply emotionally harmed”.

Ly Sophana, spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that Fukui Susumu, 52; his Cambodian wife, Kim Leakhena, 28; and Cambodian national Seng Chandy, 34, were all charged under Article 12 of the Anti-Trafficking Law, which states that human trafficking committed by an organised group carries a prison sentence of 15 to 20 years.

“Judge Leang Samnat has decided to put them in pre-trial detention,” said Sophana, who was unable to say when the trial would begin.

General Pol Pithey, director of the capital’s anti-human trafficking police, said yesterday that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the survivors a claim one victim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied yesterday.

“The NGO just verbally claimed to help but we haven’t seen any help yet,” the woman said.

IOM could not be reached yesterday.

The victim also described her ordeal in Japan an experience she said she would never share with her family.

“I am deeply emotionally harmed,” she said.

Japan ‘sex traffickers’ charged

“Nobody in my family knows what happened, I will keep it until I die,” she said, claiming she would rather have committed suicide in Japan. “My family did not support me going to Japan, but I insisted because we are in debt,” said the woman, who was approached by Susumu and his associates.

“They said the salary was $3,000 a month, $5,000 if I do good work. Who would not want that?”

But, instead of the cushy job at a nail salon that she was promised, she was locked in a house with no internet connection and forced to sleep with restaurant customers.

She said she tried to resist in whatever way she could.

“Even if I didn’t bathe or brush my teeth, or if I purposefully made my hair messy, they would still make me work and serve,” she said.

The woman said she and her companions never received a salary, only meagre tips that they scrounged together to buy groceries as a group.

Eventually, one of the women managed to contact the Cambodian Embassy in Japan, prompting an investigation that freed the victims and led to two arrests in Japan, along with the three in Cambodia.

While she was happy that the perpetrators were caught, the woman yesterday said she wanted compensation for her experience.

“I worked there for three months so I should get $9,000,” she said, referring to her promised salary.

Source: ThePhnomPenhPost