OUEST-FRANCE

In Skinny Japan, New Company Offers Plus-Sized People 'For Rent'

In Skinny Japan, New Company Offers Plus-Sized People 'For Rent'
Clémence Guimier

It's an economic dictum that virtually anything that is rare is bound to create a valuable market: diamonds, limited edition clothing and, in Japan, obese people.

In a country where the obesity rate is among the world's lowest — only 3.6% of the population is fat, compared to 27% in Australia — a Japanese company now offers the opportunity to rent one of these scarce specimens.

In need of plus-sized people for an advertisement, an overweight model for the promotion of a diet or —according to the company's own words — of someone chubbier than you to make you feel better? If you live in Tokyo, Osaka or Aichi, this is now possible: For 2,000 yen ($18), the Debucari company lets you rent a person certified to weigh over 100 kilograms, as reported by Ouest France.

Behind the new one-of-a-kind service, Mr Bliss, an entrepreneur who came up with the idea after struggling himself to find plus-size models for his own fashion brand, Qzilla. And as specified on its website, Debucari's offer is all about "body positivity".

Unlike other countries who see obesity as a result of bad eating habits, Japan links plus-size people to the sacred discipline of 相撲 "Sumō," the famous centuries-old wrestling sport. Sumos wrestlers, who weigh as much as 150 kilograms, are revered by the Japanese public, almost to the point of being considered half-gods.

However odd — or even offensive — it might sound to "rent" any kind of person, this type of service is rather common in Japan, with many companies already offering a wide range of offers. From hiring a friend, a girlfriend or even a middle-aged man to keep you company for a day, there are plenty of people to choose from ... in all shapes and sizes.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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