No More Kotatsu

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2004

This month's consumer surveys.

KEEPING SMALL GOVERNMENTS SMALL. When local governments shed civil servants, do they not deserve praise? Nikkei Business noted that such workers were reduced from 3.27 million in 1997 to 3.14 million in 2002, an average decline of 3.8 percent over those five years. Topping those municipalities wielding the ax most effectively was Takahama City in Aichi, which reduced its staff by 25.8 percent over five years -- by outsourcing, of course. On the other end of the scale was Higashi Matsuyama City in Saitama, which over the same duration added six new municipal workers, boosting its staff by 7.6 percent.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN reported that Yoneatsu Ozaki, an assistant professor at Tottori University, estimated that Japan's teens smoke 4.622 billion cigarettes a year. In monetary terms that came to JPY57.8 billion, of which JPY35.4 billion went to taxes. The above numbers are based on average prices for smokes and would, of course, be considerably higher if the teens indulged in those JPY250-per-pack premium brands. But alas, the survey did not probe their brand preferences.

RETRO FURNITURE. A foot-warming device called a kotatsu used to be standard equipment in almost every Japanese home. But due to the on

going Westernization of home design, among other factors, this fine old custom has been on the decline for quite some time, and in its recent survey of 3,645 adults, the Asahi Shimbun's "Be Between" column noted that 61 percent of the householders said they had abandoned use of the kotatsu. The reason most frequently given: "Room is warm enough using the heater," with 603 replies.

PARKING LOTS ARE DANGEROUS! The Tokyo Metropolitan Police announced in February that one out of four violations of the criminal code occurring within their jurisdiction during 2003 took place in parking lots. Among the approximately 72,000 incidents were four murders and 24 rapes. A special group set up to deal with the problem is urging businesses and parking lot operators to improve lighting and install security cameras.

ACCORDING TO THE LATEST STATS published by the WHO, males in Iceland are tied with Japan in terms of average life expectancy, reaching 78.4 years. Sweden was third, with 78.0. Japanese women average 85.3 years, several months longer than those of three tiny European states: Monaco (84.5), San Marino (84.0) and Andorra (83.7).

WHAT MADE YOU ORDER THAT PRODUCT on TV? "The price was right," said 71.6 percent of respondents to an Internet survey by Macromill. Others: "it's convenient and versatile" (60.5 percent), "it cleans well" (58.7), "seems to be a tasty local food" (58.5 percent) and "it must be good for your health" (58.1 percent).      @

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