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Best & Worst of Japanese decades (Recovering From the Hangover)

In Japan, the land which appears regard such a never-ending river and lubricates both awkward social interaction between men and women as well as cements business transactions among a collection of black-suited, It's easy to think of the past, present and future in terms of drinking. There is the sobering period of post-war infrastructure and economic re-called construction of Japan's longest day. Then came the exuberant 80s, which is the time dismissed Cristal pyramids and buying and selling treasures of the world Bolivian so much punch in the bathroom, known as the drunken Day. The current recession sobering 15 + years can be termed The Hangover. Clouded by our strong disease headaches and blurred vision, it is difficult to see what the future might hold without a bit of help, a time you want to refer to as?? (The hair of the Dog). As of January 1st, sure it is technically 2010, but it's the same Arthur C. 2010 Clarke foreshadowed in his science fiction classic 2010: Odyssey Two? Even close? Was not Japan be to save the world with a super robot by now? Are they freaks or suspense just waiting until we buy more Toyota? What's the deal? For those of you Nippon-o-philes that does not come to Japan, and have only heard of Moe but not yet experienced it in all its sticky glory Akihabara, let me guide you through the last drunk whirlwind decade of technological development, the current delirium Tremens shakedown economic, as well as future and what the sociological implications of living somewhere with high-functioning alcoholics in an archipelago of more than 2000 islands comprising both the first and third world would look for a population set to decrease by approximately 30,000,000 of the year 2050.

We all know Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru supreme reign in the automotive universe as Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Fujitsu, Sharp, Epson and Toshiba is developing some of the most advanced technology in electronics, optics, robotics, semiconductors and more, so what's next? Despite Japan's future 16 hours of Tomorrow (LA PST) as well as to technological Mecca of the world, what is the day after tomorrow will be a night of interactive 4D playing field across the international dateline.

What Japan is good;

  • Digital Cameras (Do they even make other types anymore?)
  • Mobile phone (How much does the iPhone in your country?)
  • Flat panel televisions
  • Video Games
  • Cars
  • Bullet Train
  • Robotics

What Japan was not beautiful;

  • Web Design / Use
  • Hands free connectivity
  • Debit cards
  • Wi-Fi
  • Recycling (More than 10 million pairs of chopsticks used required daily)

Apparently constant different societies put emphasis on different aspects of technology. In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, development of the Internet in about E-commerce is a top priority. Sa spite of its convenience, safety and relative lack of crowds buying online is not taken hold in Japan, where the face-to-face exchange shopping is still king, or perhaps better said, Emperor. This is mainly because Japan is still being a cash-based society, which has worked good at this point due to low levels of violent crime across the country. In fact, the post-WWII it was the infamous Japanese organized crime syndicate which first gathered food on the black market area. Although theoretically outsider, they called Yakuza ("vain" in Japanese), consider themselves to be an important and necessary component of society, and according to the number of part and full-time employee payroll Yamaguchi-gumi (over 80,000), the different government agencies does not seem to disagree. When the government finally got its act together after Douglas MacArthur supervised Occupation of Japan surrendered power in 1952 what Emperor Hirohito asked his people to re-build of shaking remnants of the past with a variety of world domination in mind for the future is to sacrifice, particularly to invest their hard-earned savings to the government itself, in stocks and bonds and do not ask for any dividend paid to improve the economy and guarantee the future of Japan's eminence in the global stage.

It seems to have worked, up until the 90s anyway, resulting in Japan Postal Service, which is also a bank, to become the largest repository of personal savings in the world: 224000000000000 yen (2.1 trillion U.S. dollars), despite extensive insurance holdings and government bonds on the books. The Postal Bank also became the largest foreign lender in the world, charging abysmally low rates to anyone willing to borrow to increase spending. What is not so much to encourage spending is debt default when the economy went bust after the biggest real estate bubble to burst history. So while on paper the Post Office are cash rich, in terms of liquidity, such as 45 of the 47 prefectures, they're bankrupt. Sound familiar? Luckily populous are accustomed to putting national before their own personal needs, and so while the rest of the western world are investing in different futures, such as Internet Service Providers, since the 80s and investor speculation in new markets provided enough capital to install the infrastructure for the popular use the internet (despite the dot-com collapse in late 90s), it was not until the early 2000s that the internet caught on in Japan, but more on that later.

In terms of personal saving, Japan is by far the world leader, and for credit card use is only now being widely spread (and only in large urban centers), the use of money is the only show in town. Stop the average person business the way and he can have a few thousand yen in his wallet, but his wife stop payday and you will probably find a few thousand dollars worth of bills, which he probably will not mind two times about carrying around. After all, a society which prefers non-confrontational methods of conflict resolution, who's going to his court? Despite relative safety of carrying large quantities of cash on your person, Japanese companies are just now developing a smart card you Pasmo and Suica that, although not connected to the banking system, usually used for ease of change to the massive public transportation grid, but is also used more and more to pay for goods in many grocery and electronics stores, convenience as well as vending machines.

Recently shown ads in different trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area is evident the system recently coupled with Visa, a cute penguin anime uses her Suica card (Permanently attached to his flipper) to A) take the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to an airport where he (she?), B) buying a ticket the snowcapped mountains and then C) purchase of ski, a lift pass and goes skiing every day, before leaving the warm fireside of ski lodge (sometimes between where he gets a scarf ...). Suica clear that people want to give their customers the automated payment system has become so easy to use even a small flightless bird without (a lot) clothes or opposable thumbs can do it, so you have a decent chance. Speaking of little opposable, Japan's vending machine industry took a big hit on the runway of Taspo card, which, in a seemingly concerted effort to finally curb underage smoking, requires purchasers of vending machines tobaccos to sign up with Japan Tobacco and swipe their card to use the machine. 3 The world's largest tobacco company, a 50% stake claims on the Japanese Ministry of Finance, told the government makes money off of your cancer causing drug addiction, you want to take one more other smart card recognition effect. Although the beer vending machines are starting to card people. The Buddha said the world is a lonely place, but this is what love tell him?

Even better than carrying around a boring card is the option of connecting your Suica all-powerful mobile phone, The must-have for every citizen regardless of age. This is old news to say that even 40-50% of elementary school age children carry them around, but what is not well known is what, apart from calling people (but that does that anymore?), you can do with your mobile: get on the train, any train, by holding the smart card RFID sensor system electronic turnstile wicket, as well as buy almost any goods in any of these shops and stores. The mobile phones are so essential that many people forgo owning a home computer (cost and lack of room in the cramped apartment) and use their "portable" (Direct translation?) As their own means of connection to the internet, so the popularity of. mobi site over here (also why. jp site run upwards of $ 100 just to register a domain? Lower prices, increase consumption is not necessarily the economic mode availed in Japan).

Due to strict rules and code of public morals which has followed the letter of most citizens, mobile phone usage is frowned upon to train and in most public places, where the "system mode" is de rigueur. But beyond surfing, checking weather and train times, with texting, which is simple and quiet done everywhere, so much so people are now writing books on their mobiles, the first of which was published last year to the tune of 400,000 hardbound copies sold so far. What about TV, video and DVD capabilities visibly used during the nightly commute home businessmen and office ladies alike! Even with all of high-powered functions available, the SoftBank-sponsored iPhone continues to grab bigger share of the market, despite its price tag ¥ 80,000 (approximately $ 920). Expect more of it as portable touchable screen industry grows and people become aware that the common practice of storing their books from both passenger train covers paper is more exotic to a level that I did not care to explore, but also quite wreckless environment.

The problem All of this is that the Japanese people do not really trust the Internet, which translates to Japanese businesses also do not trust the Internet and therefore is not pushing industry development by their companies through multi-pronged assaults media. Despite a handful of forward looking individuals (Creative Commons Joichi it for one) Japan is still in Web 1.5 circa 1995. No friendship networking is the gold standard for the internet savvy, but mixi, Facebook the east, is a serious underused and underexploited avatar site where everyone has their dog, a pop or porn star of some kind, and definitely will be an overly Flash-y, slow-loading Craig's List. People are scared of putting their private information, even their faces out there, something I agree with, but It has begun stagnating Internet growth. As is the lack of accessibility, ask any laptop user in any of the ten major Japanese cities what bothers him the most and they are more likely to say, "No Wi-Fi! no place to plug in!" Wi-Fi access is dependent on government investment and a loosening of regulations regarding public access to the building of electricity, which is currently severely curtailed. To spur investment and encourage public spending I foresee a jerk of small branches of Internet startups buds popping up everywhere in the spring (in the new fiscal year in Japan) in 2010 as interactivity is growing.

As this happens we may see a bigger, wider embracing of hands-Free culture so popular in the west. It is already three years ago while driving talking on the mobile is outlawed, just the change it has spawned have now (if they do it all) people just stopped in the middle of the lane, blocking traffic Japan and the creation of risk-taking when a call. Car makers need to incorporate hands-Free function in the design of the vehicle to make Making a choice moot. As the industry grows by tele-conferencing (which has inadvertently exploded due to travel business at all points on hold, thanks to the economic hardships) we can see a new paradigm in working from home or cafe take hold over the centuries old tradition of 14-hour day at the office. Hallelujah.

It may also help a (finally) ill automotive industry. When workers stay home, car use was cut. By forcing car makers to rethink their way of staying relevant in the 21st century we are seeing greater strides in environmental-friendly technologies. That was earlier this year that Japan Post attempted to place an order with Mitsubishi to replace its current fleet of 21,000 vehicles to deliver mail Trucks, cars and scooters, with electric, not hybrid, technology of 2012. Mitsubishi said it would not have that many vehicles available. JP told them to get moving. They are also looking to sponsor a plan that provides free electricity outlets at the post office and convenience Stores in across the country, available for use by couriers as well as customers with electric conveyances, which may encourage the private sector to join the game still electric quickly. This is a good example of how the industry can push consumers to change, because while the Post Office was at one time ostensibly a part of government, JP is now a private corporation and the largest employer in the country.

The truth is we need to see beyond the stopper of hybrid technology to or all electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Such as electricity continues to grow as a viable solution to the gas guzzling, we need to make sure it is not coal producing electricity that we use to run everything. The grid on which we ourselves should work as well as operate renewably possible, something the new elected Yukio Hatoyama of Japan's Democratic Party administration, which is faster outshined the Obama administration in terms of use of "change" to serious problems faced by both governments, can make law by looking at the Feed-in Tarrifs, a useful regulation allowing "greener" energy sources equal opportunity access to the grid and a guaranteed price to sell their strength. The only way to reduce the use of coal to make it more expensive, or rather make producing, supplying and using more renewable energy sources useful to investors and buyers, which Japan has a lot of right now (but not in 20 years). As a side note, it would be useful if recently passed child safety measures is stronger enforced by authorities, as seen in infants in the lap of the mother and the doctor prescribing hearing not using a seatbelt for pregnant moms, are more the rule than the exception.

To continue along this vein, Japan be one of the countries at the forefront of the revolution of energy. Simply because they have no natural oil reserves, is completely dependent on imports and therefore should be initiated looking for a better way, such as Geothermal, Hydroelectricity, Tidal, Wave and Wind power, which could mean massive changes once the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen command replaces the outdated Kyoto Protocol (hah!). We need to see more pushing environmentally friendly economy from the new management Hatoyama. The truth is it is in the heart of the latest craze, Consumerist's society, reinforced by the store the first, ask questions later-American sentiment since WWII. People will follow what the market dictates, in droves.

Thanks for 50 + years of Liberal Democratic Party waning popularity and the law shall aptly summed up in five different prime ministers in five years, culminating in neutered and rogue-like Aso administration, we there are many rules for the DPJ's Hatoyama sa upturn. Speaking environment, the country that gave us the Kyoto Protocol is also the country with two types of waste (At least in Tokyo): burnable and nonburnable. Even if there is a recyclable icon in one of the many unnecessary piece of plastic wrapping crippled by supermarkets here (the onion and bananas need another package?), it is unlikely to succeed in your local trash collector was varied. It was burnt in one of numerous incinerators provide Tokyo's nickname, "The Big Smoke". Many so called "Shogyo Chiki" (business area), such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza and many more, offering no recycling whatsoever, despite the Mt. Mount Fuji sized cardboard and other trash heap they up throughout the week. And that's just the trash that ends up in-country. There are reports of ships that have left the port of Yokohama and to the sea for years, do not call in any harbor, because of their toxic pile releasing more and more carbon and methane in the atmosphere every day. It is also a documented fact that Japan sends a large percentage of its waste plants are funded through the program infrastructural development in Southeast Asia designed to take pressure off of domestic plants to process billions of pounds of waste steadily upward.

But this is Japan. If they do not mind-bogglingly drunk after too many end-of-the-year all-you-can-drink parties, the Japanese are economical and environmentally-minded, right? The inventors of sushi wabi and can not be told so, so, so ... American, can they? Yes they can and they will be better at it. Their better train is almost never too late to thousands of stations across the country connecting with what is a pretty smart public transportation grid, to more easily reap the earned ¥ en of potential buyers is both far and wide. There needs to become a sexy new technology being developed that will provide common use in some island countries a more universal point of view. I hope with the new Maglev JR's bullet train (Superconductive magnetically Levitated Train) due to be in full service by the mid-2020s, continued growth in mobile phones (and the culture that spawns from then) and PDAs, as well as advanced robotics behind Honda's Asimo (and the burgeoning robot sex (Fembots baby yeahhhh!) Industry) we see a leveling of the playing field, from the technologically high R & D labs to dream up these contraptions something everyday mama and papa-san be implementing their local coffee shop (a nice to look at, easy access to the homepage maybe?) to (less and less) vain attempt to compete with Starbuckification of the ever-shrinking, yet more and more pixellated and lonely, world.

As Michael Moore summed up his recent visit to Japan: "I stopped like us (Americans). Even in Japan created after 1945, a lovely afternoon education, a Japan that does not throw you out of work. A Japan that would never invade another country, and which does not support a country that would invade Country ... I'm so sorry to put it this way. Please do not take personal offense, but you asked me what I would tell the Japanese people, a society I think highly of, a society structured in peace and respect, and you started to go down the other road. And my plea Woe is down to the way your new prime minister and return the way you used to be. "

Long live the united support of the individual right! (I hope Apple gets on the development asap ...)

About the Author

Manny Santiago is a freelance Writer / Photographer based in Tokyo, Japan.

Check out his photos
and his writing

Toph - Breaking the Habit (Full)

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