Back to Contents of Issue: November 2001

Moving to digital. A recent survey conducted via the Internet of 1,389 Nikkei Business readers found that 57.2 percent owned a digital camera. And roughly one out of every 10 digital owners said they had two or more. The criteria for purchase, in descending order, were "price," "maximum number of pixels," and "ease of use." Of people who owned both digital and film types, 32.7 percent said they have now nearly ceased using their film cameras, while 35.7 said they use their digital units more than the film model. Only 5.5 percent still overwhelmingly favored film. The most common uses for digi-cams, by the way, are to make electronic photo albums in their PCs, to produce New Year's greeting cards from the prints, and to attach pictures to email and send them to friends.

Innermost secrets. The Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living polled 200 OLs (female office workers) in Tokyo who had joined their companies between 1987 and 1997, which would put the oldest several years past 30. Here's what it found: 41.5 percent own stationery items bearing cute character figures; 41.5 percent festoon their desks at work with decorative objects or photographs; 23.5 percent apply makeup three or more times a day while at the workplace; 43.0 percent acknowledged that female staff tended to gravitate to separate cliques in the office; 61.6 percent said they send and receive personal emails while on the job; and 52.0 percent said they keep their personal cellphones turned on while at work. Lastly, 32.7 percent said they were not averse to imbibing alcohol either en route to or when returning from a business trip.

Gainers and losers. The latest data from the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts, and Telecommunications notes that, during 2000, the greatest population growth continued to be in Japan's urban areas. The top gainer was Tokyo, whose residents increased by about 56,000 over the previous year, a rise of 0.64 percent. This was attributed mainly to people returning to the city thanks to lower land prices. Other major gainers included Kanagawa, Saitama, and Aichi prefectures. Of Japan's 47 prefectures, 26 saw their populations decline. Hokkaido was the biggest loser, with 7,518. Overall, the nation's population grew by only 213,500 people -- barely enough to fill Shinjuku station during the morning rush hour.

Take me out to the ball game. In Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s latest annual poll regarding what kids say they want to do when they grow up, the top five mentioned by boys (with percentage of responses in parentheses) were pro baseball player (15.5); pro soccer player (8.2); scholar or PhD (6.1); carpenter (5.2); restaurant operator (4.0); and fireman or member of a rescue brigade (4.0). Among girls, the leader was restaurant operator (16.4), followed by nurse (8.2); florist (8.0); nursery school teacher (7.9); and singer or stage performer (5.5). None of the surveys taken by the company annually since 1989 have ever seen "Prime Minister" or "politician" enter the top 10. Why is it we're not surprised ...

Trashed again. During 2000, 84.2 percent of steel cans and 80.6 percent of aluminum cans used by Japanese consumers were recycled, representing increases of 1.3 and 2.1 percent respectively over the previous year. Hey, don't knock it: That accounts for 210,000 tons of aluminum and 1.21 million tons of steel put back into circulation. Now here's the bad news. The Ministry of the Environment said that Tokyo continues to export its refuse to outlying prefectures, to the tune of 1.56 million tons in 1998 alone. Household waste accounted for roughly 12 percent of this total.

Take your pick. When dentifrice manufacturer Lion asked 460 adults if they were in the habit of using a toothpick in public places, 63.4 percent of males and 43.5 percent of females replied in the positive. The same survey determined that while 33.3 percent of inhabitants of Tokyo's working-class shitamachi districts said they would have no compunctions about walking out of a restaurant with a toothpick dangling from their mouth, this figure falls to 12.2 percent of those who dine at Narita airport. Does this mean air travelers put on airs?

Say cheese. Film maker Konica surveyed 3,000 people in their twenties and thirties to determine what words they said to tease smiles from their subjects before snapping a photo. First was "Hai, chiizu," with 28.6 percent. In descending order, with translations and percentages in parentheses, we hear "Ichi tasu ichi wa?" (How much is one plus one? "Ni,"14.6); "Iku yooo" (Here we go, 9.8); "Hai, toru yooo" (Okay, I'm shooting, 9.0); "Hai, pouzu" (Okay, hold it, 6.9); "Seh, no" (Ready, set, 4.1); "Waratte" (Smile, 2.1); "Hai, kimchi" (Korean pickles, 1.7); "Hai!" (no translation needed, 1.5); and "San, ni, ichi" (Three, two, one, 1.3).

It's a man's world. Monthly mag The 21 found Japan to be the lowest of all major industrialized economies in percentage of female employees in supervisory positions in the national bureaucracy. In Germany, 42 percent of the federal pencil pushers were female, and 10 percent served in supervisory positions (which are defined as the rank of section head or higher); in France, the percentages were 34 and 19; in the UK, 58 and 17; and in the US, 47 and 23. By contrast, in Japan, only 1 percent of supervisors are female, despite the fact that women account for 32 percent of all federal workers. It's not that much better in the private sector, where the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare noted that during 2000, women accounted for 1.6 percent of all bucho (division managers), 2.6 percent of kacho (section managers), and 7.7 percent of kakaricho (assistant managers). @

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.