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Barometer

Does an emperor’s illness really bring Japan to a halt?

Also in our Barometer column: the 2012 legacy; estimates of how much the British eat; and what counts as a heatwave

13 August 2016

9:00 AM

13 August 2016

9:00 AM

The end of an emperor

— 82-year-old Emperor Akihito of Japan has announced that he wants to abdicate, partly, he said, because he doesn’t want Japan to come to a standstill in the event of him falling ill, as with previous emperors.

— When Emperor Hirohito was diagnosed with duodenal cancer in 1987, the news was not reported; nor, it is said, was the emperor told. But within a year it became clear that he was seriously ill, because he had to cancel appearances. TV reporters camped outside the palace; weddings and autumn festivals were cancelled. When Hirohito died on 7 January 1989, aged 87, there were 48 days of mourning, though people seem to have grown weary by the funeral in February: only 200,000 turned up for the procession, when police expected 800,000.

Olympic hangover

An update on the 2012 Olympic legacy:

— Between 2012 and 2015, 95 school playing fields were sold.

— The number of Level One athletics coaches employed by schools fell 65%.


— The number of under-19 athletes appearing in county championships fell from 750 in 2011 to 662 in 2016, and eight counties no longer hold under-19 championships at all.

Hard to swallow

How much does an average person eat?

1,860 kCal a day, according to what we tell researchers compiling the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

2,190 kCal, going by the food we say we buy in the Living Costs and Food Survey.

2,446 kCal, according to how much we would need to eat to maintain our current weight doing minimal exercise.

2,880 kCal is our average daily energy expenditure, according to physiological tests conducted by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. We are gaining weight, so we must be eating more than this.

Source: Behavioural Insights Team

Feeling the heat

A heatwave has been forecast for next week. Is there an official definition? Countries have their own — in the Netherlands, for example, it takes two days over 30°C plus three over 25°C. In Sweden it takes just five days over 25°C. In Britain the Met Office uses the World Meteorological Organisation definition: ‘When the daily maximum temperature on more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5°C’. In London in August this requires five days topping 27°C. In Fair Isle , it would take five at 19°C.


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