Back to Contents of Issue: August 2002

Who can you trust? The Life Design Institute asked 598 Japanese people between the ages of 20 and 69 which type of foreign workers they would feel uncomfortable dealing with. The highest percentage was housekeeper, named by 29.8 percent. Next came home-nursing providers (27.5%), followed by housemaid (26.1). In descending order (or conversely, ascending levels of trust), the top 10 was rounded out by bill collector for public utilities (23.0), parcel delivery agent (18.1), household mover (17.4), babysitter (17.0), helper at an assisted-living facility (13.8), care provider at hospital (13.5) and store clerk (6.0).

Payment on demand. According to industry sources, at the end of March 2002, roughly 10,000 convenience stores in Japan were equipped with ATMs. That figure represented a fourfold increase from one year before. The number of transactions per machine was rather low -- averaging between 30 and 40 per day.

Strap hanging. Commuting time for workers in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area has declined by precisely 42 seconds over the past five years. Now it takes workers an average of 68 minutes and 12 seconds to make it to the office from home. So says the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Somewhat surprisingly, average commuting times in the greater Nagoya and Osaka areas were only marginally shorter, at 64 minutes 18 seconds and 64 minutes, 54 seconds, respectively.

Higher (priced) education. According to the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, the price of sending Taro to college just went up again. During fiscal 2000, the average cost of sending a student to school -- including tuition, meals, insurance and leisure activities -- came to JPY1,709,000 for students who lived with their families. The cost of living in dormitories or boarding houses added roughly JPY621,000 to the bill, with higher outlays for food as well, raising the average overall price to JPY2,460,000 per year. No wonder some Japanese cynically refer to a university diploma as uketori ("receipt").

Paying Dad back. Japanese universities spawn not only graduates, but corporations. These have been coming into existence at the rate of about 65 a year. According to a survey by Tsukuba University, 25 venture companies came into existence from Keio University. Other universities producing venture companies include: Kumagaya University (20), Waseda (14), Osaka U. (11), Kochi U. (8), Hokkaido U. (8) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (7). The number of such firms is still fairly small relative to the 1,000 venture businesses born in Japan annually.

Potpourri. The most economical full-sized car in Japan was Honda's Insight, a hybrid two-seater that testers at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport rated at an incredibly stingy 35 kilometers per liter of fuel. It was followed by the Honda Civic Hybrid (29.5 km/l), Toyota Prius (29), Toyota Vitz (24) and Honda Fit (23). ¥ When Toyo University recently surveyed 520 freshmen about the contents of their briefcases and knapsacks, cellphones outranked textbooks by 98 percent to 64 percent. The school's administrators were at least relieved to see that paperback books outnumbered comic books by 30 percent to 9 percent. ¥ A survey by the Life Design Institute found that 84.6 percent of Japanese aged 40 to 69 said they'd prefer not to die at home. Their reason? "Too troublesome for family members." Another 1.7 percent said it would also be troublesome for the neighbors.

Wedding bells. When is a single gal most likely to think of marriage? "When a friend gets married." So said 21.3 percent in response to a survey of unhitched gals in their 20s and 30s by Zwei magazine. The other responses, in descending order, were "When looking at another happy couple," (20.4%), "When feeling that I've got something going in a relationship with a guy," (20), "When feeling lonely," (13.2) and "When things are rough at work," (11.5). In contrast, factors likely to cause them to delay marriage included having a good job and independent lifestyle (25), thinking about bearing children (11.5), not yet turning 30 (9.4) and still having things they want to do (8.2).

Hello Kiddies. The latest population census noted that as of New Year's day 2002, there were 1,237,800 people in Tokyo age 14 and under. This represents the first rise in Tokyo's juvenile population in 26 years. The rise is attributed to decreasing land prices, which has enabled more young households to find affordable housing in nearby suburbs. The population of the metropolis, by the way, has reached its all-time peak at 11,910,000.

Keep 'em smiling. When Diamond, a weekly business magazine, polled 3,000 adult female consumers regarding which business gave them the highest sense of satisfaction, Tokyo Disney Resort topped the list with a score of 69.3 points out of a possible 100. Diamond's system awards 2 points for "extremely satisfied," 1 point for "satisfied," no points for "adequate," and deducts one point for "dissatisfied." In all, six out of the 10 top-rated businesses had American roots. In descending order, they were: Daiso JPY100 shops (65.6 points), Universal Studios Japan (32.6), Seven-Eleven (48.5), Tokyu Hands (46.8), Uniqlo (45.0), Gap (43.3), Starbucks (43.2), MOS Burger (41.6) and Toys "R" Us (41.4). @

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