Back to Contents of Issue: February 2003

What the right-wingers are singing, talking on your keitai, and the cost of picking up garbage.

Rubbish ain't free no more. Want to get rid of unwanted items? You can expect to pay 800 yen for a single bed and 1,400 yen for a double. Some other hauling charges: large chests, 1,400 yen, small chests, 500 yen; large sofas, 1,400 yen, small ones, 500 yen; small shelves, 200 yen; vanity table, 800 yen; carpet, 500 yen; clothes dryer, 800 yen; stereo equipment, 500 yen or 1,400 yen; electric fan, 200 yen; vacuum cleaner, 200 yen; VCR, 200 yen; sewing machine, 500 yen or 1,400 yen; personal computer, 800 yen; word processor, 500 yen; organ, 1,400 yen; and golf set, 200 yen.

Sonic booms. Ever wonder about the names of the tunes that emanate from loudspeakers on the gaisensha, right-wing trucks that cruise the streets of Tokyo and other major cities in Japan? Wonder no more. DaCapo magazine did a cover story on Japan's neo-nationalist organizations and provided the following list. Military songs: Aaa, Shimpu Tokubetsu Kogekitai ("Oh, the Kamikaze Corps"); Showa Ishin no Uta ("Song of the Showa Restoration"); Kato Hayabusa Sentotai ("Kato's Peregrine Falcon Squadron"); Doki no Sakura ("Fellow War Comrades"). Children's songs: Kojo no Tsuki; Soshunfu Furusato; Yuyake, Koyake. Popular songs: Ringo no Uta; Aoi Sanmyaku. Others: Darth Vader's theme; Tenchosetsu; Dvorak's New World; the Hanya Shingyo ("Wisdom and Heart Sutra") and of course, Kimigayo (the national anthem).

The Joneses? Never heard of them. According to the Police White Paper of 2002, of the criminals apprehended and sent up on charges during 2000, only 5,729 cases were processed through police canvassing of witnesses in the vicinity of the crime. The figure, never that high to begin with, has declined by more than half over the past decade. When asked why such a situation has occurred, 63 percent of the cops questioned replied that "even if we go around asking, people tend not to notice anything about their own neighbors anymore."

East vs. West. A recent poll of 440 salarymen in Tokyo and Osaka found that Tokyoites talk into their keitai for an average of four minutes a day while at work, while Osakans talk for 14.2 minutes. During their private time, usage increases, but Osakans still blab more than their Tokyo cousins, by 15.3 minutes to 11.5 minutes. The denizens of Kansai also beat out Tokyo in the number of keitai emails sent and received each day, both at work (3.5 received, 3.0 sent) and off the job (5.0 received, 4.7 sent). For Tokyo, the respective figures were 1.4 and 0.9 at work and 2.6/2.5 off the job. Interestingly, however, keitai owners in Tokyo had an average of 91.4 numbers stored in their units, as opposed to 75.7 for people in Osaka. When it's all said and done, there was hardly any difference in average monthly user charges. Tokyoites said they paid 6,380 yen; for Osakans, the monthly bill came to 6,330 yen.

Japan as (cough! hack!) No. 1. The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper noted that according to the World Health Organization, Japan ranks as the largest single importer of cigarettes, bringing in some 83.5 billion a year.

Look out, Iceland. According to The Global Competitiveness Report 2002-2003, released by the World Economic Forum, Japan rose from 21st place last year to 13th, behind Iceland. It was the first time Japan's position had changed for the better in four years. Overall, the US overtook Finland to be ranked as top dog. Here are the current top 10 global competitors, with last year's position shown in brackets. 1. US (2); 2. Finland (1); 3. Taiwan (7); 4. Singapore (4); 5. Sweden (9); 6. Switzerland (15); 7. Australia (5); 8. Canada (3); 9. Norway (6); 10. Denmark (14).

Stocking stuffers. When it comes to year-end gifts, what items are most desired? A survey of Japanese housewives by Ajinomoto General Foods came up with the following responses (percentages in parentheses): gift vouchers redeemable for anything (66.3%); beer (34.2); laundry detergent (32.7); coffee (31.3); fresh food items from local sources (21.3); seasonings (20.3); ham/sausage (18.7); 100 percent fruit juice (17.7); seaweed (15.0); and Western-style confections (13.3).

Talk isn't cheap. The UC credit card company polled 500 single company employees between the ages of 20 and 29 about the means they most frequently use to make contact with their friends when outside of the workplace. For the age segments of 20-to-22, 23-to-25 and 26-to-29, email sent via keitai accounted for 66.7 percent, 57.0 percent and 37.4 percent, respectively. For ordinary telephone calls, the respective figures were 22.7 percent, 29.1 and 41.5. Conclusion: Kids prefer email to speech.

Water please. Web research firm Macromill asked 500 consumers what main factors influenced their purchases of bottled water. First, stated by 59 percent, was price. 49.5 percent said taste, followed by "good quality" (33.2%); name of bottler (26.7); brand name (26.4); composition of the water (23.5); originating in Japan (13.0); area where the water is collected (12.4); design of the container (12.4) and degree of softness (10.4).

Out of work. According to the Ministry of Education, the number of high school students with jobs awaiting them after graduation in March 2003 fell 3.6 points to an average of 33.4 percent. For the women, the figure was an especially low 30.1 percent. For university graduates, the figure was 67.0 percent for males (down 0.6%) and 60.1 percent for females (down 0.5). The only figure to show an increase was that of male students at occupational training schools. A full 93.9 percent said they had a job lined up, which was a 1.8 percent rise from last year. @

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