Move Over, Mussolini!

Back to Contents of Issue: July 2004

This month's consumer surveys.

A BANNER YEAR for rice crooks. During 2003, says the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, cases involving theft of fruit, agricultural produce and sea products reached approximately 1,000--a 1.8-fold increase over the year before. The largest number of cases--332--occurred in Kyushu, followed by 223 in Chubu (the area centered on Nagoya) and 182 in Kanto (greater Tokyo). Considering the cops' dismal arrest record (only 54 were prosecuted), it looks like the numbers are likely to increase nationwide.

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. When Internet survey firm iBridge asked company employees in their 20s what a job transfer entails, the reply by 29.3 percent was "demotion," followed in descending order (with percentages in parentheses), by success (13.0), a chance to turn over a new leaf (12.3), opportunity (7.0), stress (6.3), anxiety (5.3), having to change one's abode (4.3), being set up for layoff (4.0), madogiwa ("being seated by the window," meaning to be shunted off to an irrelevant, do-nothing position) and promotion to a higher post (3.0).

THE TOKYO METROPOLITAN Police Department is staffed by 42,101 officers, 2,861 civilians and 33 trained dogs. Their transportation is provided by 1,103 patrol cars, 951 motorcycles, 26 boats, 14 helicopters and 16 horses. The 101 police stations in the metropolis are far outnumbered by substations, better known as koban, of which there are 943 of the regular variety and 251 of the residential type. The foreign country that has supplied the most athletes to professional sumo is Mongolia, with 37 stalwarts.

EVEN MUSSOLINI COULDN'T have done better. Data supplied from JR Tokai noted that last year its shinkansen trains were punctual to within an average of one-tenth (0.1) of a second. Service has improved since the Japan National Railways was privatized in 1987, but 2003 stands out as an exceptional year for the shinkansen, with virtually no serious accidents or delays caused by blizzards, typhoons or human error. Compare that figure with the shinkansen's worst year on record, 1976, when the trains were delayed an average of 7.1 minutes.

SEOUL MATES: When the top hits of 2004 are tallied, the weepy South Korean TV melodrama "Winter Sonata," starring toothy heartthrob Bae Yongjun, is likely to head the list. In all, spin-offs from this popular drama, which was, ironically, broadcast via non-commercial NHK, have reached an estimated JPY11 billion. The fanzine Korean Drama Now, put on the market from April, sold over 170,000 copies, and a two-volume book with the full story has sold 920,000 copies, bringing its publisher, ES Books, a staggering JPY1.38 billion in revenues. @

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