News & Current Affairs

September 12, 2008

Japan’s economy sees a sharp fall

Japan’s economy sees a sharp fall

Japanese shoppers

Japan now seems at real risk of recession

Japan’s economic output has recorded its sharpest quarterly fall in almost seven years as the country appears to be falling into recession.

The world’s second largest economy contracted at an annualized rate of 3% in the April to June quarter, as both domestic demand and exports weakened.

It was the first decline in more than a year, and the biggest since the third quarter of 2001.

The government has called on firms to raises wages to help boost spending.

The Japanese economy, like most around the world, has also been affected by higher energy and food prices.

“It is desirable that income for employed people increases,” said Economy and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano.

“We want company managers to recognize that pay rises would compensate for price rises.”

Last month the Japanese government announced an economic stimulus package worth 11.7 trillion yen ($107bn; £61bn).

A country is generally considered to be in recession when it sees two consecutive quarters of declining economic output.

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August 30, 2008

Website maps surnames worldwide

Website maps surnames worldwide

David Beckham

There are more Beckhams in the United States than Britain

A website which maps global surnames has been launched to help people find the origins of their name and how far it may have spread.

The Public Profiler site plots eight million last names using data from electoral rolls and phone directories.

The site covers 300 million people in 26 countries, showing the origins of names and where families have moved to.

David Beckham, for example, has an English name, but there are more Beckhams in the US than Britain.

But the region of the world with the highest concentration of people called Beckham was even further from the footballer’s east London origins – in the New Zealand province of Northland.

The site – http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames – also reveals which of the five million forenames are most closely associated with different surnames and lists the top regions and cities for each surname.

A name is now not just a statement of who you are but where you are
Professor Paul Longley

It was developed by a team of geographers from University College London.

Professor Paul Longley, one of the researchers, said: “The information is not just historical but geographical.

“We can link names to places – a name is now not just a statement of who you are but where you are.”

Most surnames originated in specific places in the world and remain most frequent in those areas, but have often spread to other countries because of migration, the research showed.

Searches for Britain’s three multi-gold medallists at the recent Olympics and the leaders of the three main political parties revealed some mixed results.

• Swimmer Rebecca Adlington’s surname is most prevalent in New Zealand

• Cyclist Chris Hoy’s surname is Irish but more common in Denmark

• Cyclist Bradley Wiggins’s surname is most popular in the US

• Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s surname tops the list in Australia

• Conservative leader David Cameron’s surname is most prevalent in New Zealand

• Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s surname is still most common in Britain

Prof Longley said that the site was currently struggling to cope with demand.

“We are being deluged with requests and we ask people to be patient. There is obviously a lot of interest in family names and family history globally,” he said.

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