JIN-374 -- The Sandwich Man on the Platform

Commentary on the Week's Business, Technology and Cultural News
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Issue No. 374
Tuesday July 4, 2006 TOKYO

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CONTENTS

@@ VIEWPOINT: The Sandwich Man on the Platform

== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - July 11th - Speaker: Tim Romero ==

Presentation Title: "The Micro-Multinational Corporation - How outsourcing
and offshoring can be a viable strategy for small- and medium-sized
businesses." Tim will be discussing the alignment of interests,
communication, and quality control not only for software development, but
for task and process outsourcing in general. And perhaps, most important,
how to tell if outsourcing will actually save you money.
Date/Time: Tuesday, July 11th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room (Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com
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@@ VIEWPOINT: The Sandwich Man on the Platform

One Monday morning I dashed into the last car on the commuter train. I
sat down, congratulating myself on my good fortune to find a seat.
Thereupon a woman at the far end of the long benchlike seat signaled to me.
She turned her head to draw my eyes to the opposite side of the car. In the
window was pasted a seal: WOMEN-ONLY CAR. I turned red in the face
and hurried to the next car.

That evening, as I was walking along the platform beside the homeward-bound
train, a station employee handed me a packet of tissues. Written on it in
white letters against a pink background with floral pattern were the words,
"Car No. 8 is a women-only car." As I approached this female preserve, I
noticed a man in the sort of uniform worn by doormen outside ritzy high-rise
apartment buildings. He was holding aloft a signboard with a message identical
to that on packet of tissues. Women were streaming past the sign holder
and pouring into Car No. 8. The air was festive, as if the inauguration of a
distaff-exclusive carriage were a gala event.

The women-only car was established because men do not treat women
with dignity or consideration. But pocket tissues are normally distributed
free-of-charge as a means of advertising merchandise. And most signboards
are held or worn by grizzled men touting cabarets or pachinko parlors or
adult-toy shops in teeming station-centric white ways. Adopting such
advertising methods and sequestering women in exclusive spaces is hardly
conducive to engendering respect for them. Nor is the periodic announcement
explaining that Car No. 8 is also for invalids and grade-schoolers. Methods
employed to announce this innovation for the protection of the fair sex
suggested commodification, and I was reminded that once upon a time in Japan
women of pleasure sat on display in exclusive spaces visible from the street.

Squeezed into Car No. 7, these thoughts ran through my mind as I observed
women in relative comfort in Car No.8. I envied them their elbowroom.

-- Burritt Sabin

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