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Machinehead Does Japan


machinehead

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I meant to add that Americans and Canadians are in no position to say "there but for the grace of God go I." Japan, with its higher debt ratio and faster-aging population, may proceed us into debt default or debt hyperinflation (take your pick). But there are definitely lessons there for North America and Europe.

Tanks. I look forward to future discussions about hyperinflation. I believe that deflation prone Japan could suddenly find itself facing unwanted inflation instead.

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Great read and insight MH. I have a relative recently stationed there, but have yet to get a chance to talk to him much and may not until his tour is up. The costs of moving about are somewhat surprising. It would seem to preclude the average Joe from driving to work from any distance. I wonder if all these fees and tolls are used to subsidize public transport.

 

"It's kind of cool having a twenty-something kimono-clad cutie kneeling on the tatami next to you -- her face a foot away from yours -- refilling your beer glass or sake cup with faithful dedication. If only real life were like this ..."

 

Planning on sending the wife for a little training? Or just importing a little helper for her?:lol:

 

The Japanese don't have the same environmental restrictions on "projects" that we are forced to deal with. Can you imagine someone building an airport on an island plopped down in front of San Diego. Yeah, when pigs fly. Mind you I don't neccessarily view our environmental laws as a bad thing for the most part, but we do get carried away at times.

 

Japan is pretty closely tied to the financial fortunes of the US in many ways, and ours to theirs. Should we fail to recover I suspect there is more misery ahead for the Japanese.

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I watched a TV program recently about Hikikimoto (sp?) which appears to be a uniquely Japanese problem. Apparently a large number of young, usually male, Japanese become recluses, usually in their bedrooms although one did set up in the family kitchen and they had to construct another. The families tolerate this condition, leaving food outside the doors of the afflicted, as it is a source of shame and heaven forbid that the neighbours should suspect something amiss. The figure bandied about on the program was 25% of young Japanese experience the syndrome, either long or short term, although that does seem to be a tad extreme. The source of the problem seems to be stress of one form or another; pressure to perform at school or work or even bullying at school in one case so the individual simply withdraws from society and its demands.

 

The program touched on some of the pressures in the Japanese culture and your excellent summary, Machinehead, is in accord with the program's observations.

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Japan depends on the US to support where it is headed...When the US starts heading where it is going there will be no support...The world is a vast debt inflated pyramid scheme with the US on the top when it goes it is over...The current symbiotic relationship between Japan and the US will crumble rapidly out of control 43% of world Gross "Debt" Product is represented by Japan and the US the next countries Germany is 7.6%, France 5.3%, Italy 4.5%, UK 4% It starts dropping into next to nothing quick after that...The rest of the world is being looted to support things as they are now...When the US falls that means the pyramid scheme is over...who will support it then?

 

Answer: no one...jigs up.

 

Printing press? dream on...

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I watched a TV program recently about Hikikimoto (sp?)

Saw that same program, from the BBC. Fascinating stuff. Indeed young women can be affected also, though the rate is much lower than for young men.

 

 

If children refuse to attend school, social workers or the courts rarely get involved.

 

Most consider hikikomori a problem within the family, rather than a psychological illness.

 

Japan: The Missing Million

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Saw that same program, from the BBC. Fascinating stuff. Indeed young women can be affected also, though the rate is much lower than for young men.

 

 

If children refuse to attend school, social workers or the courts rarely get involved.

 

Most consider hikikomori a problem within the family, rather than a psychological illness.

 

Japan: The Missing Million

To connect a couple dots...........that is exactly the phenom that Sornette predicts! That as society gets more hi-tech and generally complicated, there will be more and more dropping out. There is simply too little reward in the system for the sacrifice and effort.

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The costs of moving about are somewhat surprising.  It would seem to preclude the average Joe from driving to work from any distance.  I wonder if all these fees and tolls are used to subsidize public transport. 

Absolutely. Few people drive to work in Japan, except in rural areas. There would be no place to park when they got there, either.

 

I used to commute from Osaka to Kobe during previous stays in Japan. I had a choice of Japan Railways or two private commuter railways, Hankyu and Hanshin. The stations and routes were only a few blocks apart, so I tried all three of them, finally settling on Hankyu which had slightly slower fares than JR, and cleaner cars with more comfortable seats. Crowding is the biggest issue on the subways at rush hours.

 

There are large bicycle parking areas outside the train stations. Commuters ride their bike to the station if it's too far to walk, then make their connections by commuter train and subway. Buses aren't that popular, except for going to the airport.

 

As you can realize from the high freeway tolls, it's essentially national policy to force commuters onto mass transit, mainly rail. Local streets are narrow and congested, with swarms of traffic lights. Most employers do not provide employee parking.

 

It's kind of cool having a twenty-something kimono-clad cutie kneeling on the tatami next to you -- her face a foot away from yours -- refilling your beer glass or sake cup with faithful dedication. If only real life were like this ..."

 

Planning on sending the wife for a little training?  Or just importing a little helper for her?

 

There's a long tradition in Asia for men -- when they attain middle age and some measure of material success -- to acquire a "junior wife."

 

Until the Naz sinks below 1000 and the CRB hits 500, I am in no position to indulge in such beguiling fantasies. Nor do I care to risk the integrity of my scrotum to the tender mercies of the "senior wife's" sharp kitchen knife. :lol:

 

The Japanese don't have the same environmental restrictions on "projects" that we are forced to deal with.

 

Alex Kerr claims in his book Dogs and Demons that the pork-barreling "construction state" totally trumps environmental concerns. He describes the wanton destruction of Isahaya Bay near Nagasaki -- Japan's last major tidal wetland. It was full of crabs and clams. They dammed it in 1997, killing all the saltwater sea life, in order to fill it in and make "reclaimed land" which local farmers had no use for.

 

In response to local criticism the minister of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries, Mr. Takao Fujinami, said "The current ecosystem may disappear, but nature will create a new one."

 

In all the cities or small villages that I've ever visited in Japan, every river, creek and stream has been "channelized" -- Corps of Engineers style -- with sloping concrete embankments on the sides and a flat concrete bottom. Usually roads and houses are built right up to the top edges of the channel on both sides. I have never seen a free-flowing river or stream in Japan, in its natural channel with natural banks.

 

As a result, the countryside is ugly, biodiversity in rivers is destroyed, and recreational uses such as fishing, boating and hiking are nearly nonexistent.

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Add my kudos to the rest, mh. 

 

What do they think of Kill Bill vol. 1 over there?

I didn't hear comments on that particular film. But you raise an important point. Japanese cinema is dying.

 

Alex Kerr provides the statistics: in 1960, there were 545 domestic films, 7,457 theaters, and 1 billion admissions. In 1996, there were 238 domestic films, 1,828 theaters, and 120 million admissions. In other words, half the films, a quarter of the theaters, and one-eighth the customers.

 

Kerr says this happened because zoning rules discouraged the building of new theaters in suburban towns. You really don't see many of them. Now some American-style multiplexes are starting to appear. But there were several "lost decades" when central city theaters were losing their audiences, but no new theaters were built in outlying suburbs where people live and spend their leisure time.

 

Alex Kerr cynically adds that "Cinemas did not benefit any branch of officialdom -- so they haven't been built. In contrast, pachinko is a huge source of income for the police, whose retired officers run pachinko associations. Therefore every tiny village and hamlet must have a pachinko parlor."

 

Japanese will tell you that pachinko parlors are often run by the Korean mafia. (I'm speaking of second, third and fourth-generation ethnic Korean permanent residents, who are still regarded as foreigners and officially discriminated against.) A lot of pachinko players are speed freaks, so that's the place where meth and amphetamine deals go down ... obviously with police sponsorship.

 

Systemic corruption in Japan weakens the country, just as the Federal Reserve's massive counterfeiting operation weakens America. Both countries eventually may be brought down by officials who work exclusively for special interests, while selling their people's future down the river.

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...

As a result, the countryside is ugly, biodiversity in rivers is destroyed, and recreational uses such as fishing, boating and hiking are nearly nonexistent.

Any estimates as to how long this planet is going to last (i.e., remain inhabitable)?

(Of course, it depends on the definition of 'inhabitable'.)

Yes, we have all these wonderful 'technological capabilities'.

However, what are we doing with them (maybe not intentionally, but as a side-effect)?

Slowly, but surely destroying the planet?

It looks like the Japanese may be a few years ahead of us in terms of 'environmental destruction'. A high population density on their relatively small islands probably makes it 'easier' to destroy the environment. Still, it is a problem that affects the whole planet.

Not a very nice outlook for future generations.

 

OldMan

(glad to live now - not interested in 'time-traveling' 100 or 200 years into the future)

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Yobob may be interested in some car-related observations. MS was driving a Nissan Cima with a 4.5 liter V8. That's a larger engine than I'm used to seeing in Japan.

 

There's a whole class of 1.0 liter-and-under minicars, identified by special yellow license plates, which get lower licensing fees. You see some of these little 9-foot long cars parked in 10-foot spaces, such as the front porch of a house. You can't buy a car in Japan without proving that you have a parking space for it.

 

Regular gasoline was selling for 92 yen per liter -- about $3.25 a gallon -- a bit lower than I expected. The strong yen helps.

 

MS's Nissan was equipped with a GPS navigation screen. These are very popular in Japan, because the maze of local roads often have no names. Freeways are well-signed, but even natives can quickly get lost trying to drive unfamiliar local streets.

 

MS, who lacks a strong sense of direction, had become TOTALLY dependent on the nav system. He even used it to reach fairly prominent destinations in Osaka, a city he's lived in or near for decades. A canned female voice says (in Japanese) "Stay in the right-hand lane. Right turn approaching in 100 yards," while the map on the screen shows the route with pink arrows. Certain corporate advertisers such as Esso and McDonald's have paid to be included on the map, as landmarks.

 

A menu in the nav system allows you to choose almost any conceivable destination. There are too many choices. Selecting "restaurants" in Kyoto brought up a list of dozens within 500 meters of us. MS threw up his hands in frustration.

 

The same screen also serves to tune radio and TV channels. The TV video works only when the car isn't moving, though you can hear the audio anytime. MS said mechanics, for an under-the-table fee, would remove the interlock so you could watch TV while driving. (!)

 

Also integrated into the screen when you engage reverse gear is a camera under the rear bumper. It gives you a rear view, complete with hash marks as seen in space mission photos, so that you can back up to within an inch of a wall or another car. This is important in Japan, where your parking space may be only inches longer than your car.

 

Finally, unlike U.S. passive RF tag systems where you adhere a little plastic box near the upper edge of the windshield, the Japanese ETC electronic toll collection system is also integrated into the screen, which dings and says "thank you very much" each time you trip a toll. (I don't know where the RF sensor was located, but it wasn't on the windshield.) Moreover, the system includes a slot where you plug in your credit or debit card. It actually bills your card in real time each time you drive through a toll!

 

This might be a Japanese attempt to get around the patents on passive RF tags, which are an American invention. It appears from its function to be a two-way wireless radio communication, rather than a passive RF tag. It seems like a clumsy and costly workaround, though. Billing the card in real time is absurd and unnecessary. But hey -- it's just consumers who lose. No tickie, no shittie, as they say. You can still pay cash.

 

There's a Harley-Davidson dealer in Osaka, and you do see a few of them cruising around, with their distinctive V-twin thumpa-thumpa exhaust note. Vintage cars are rare in Japan because of severe vehicle inspection requirements, which basically force everyone to buy a new car every four years. (Obviously a massive sop to the auto manufacturer's lobby.) The used cars get exported to Russia and the middle east. I did see a few vintage motorcycles though, so maybe the rules are less tough on them.

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