Why are there men with red sticks everywhere in Japan?

A man indicating to me that I shouldn’t jump over a fence into a deep hole in the pavement never fails to irritate me, and I know I’m not alone in that reaction. According to the BBC radio programme From Our Own Correspondent, there is an actual regulation that imposes a certain number of such people on every construction project, presumably just to keep unemployment down – and I always try to remind myself of that to keep the annoyance down…

 

Why don’t more Japanese write wills?

“In Japan… individuals don’t write wills; they express their wishes in vague and polite terms, but nothing is written down. The property laws specify how the estate should be divided among the family, strictly proportioned according to their relationship to the deceased- fifty percent for the spouse, ten percent for each child, and so forth. The law is used only when families have disputes. Otherwise, all the property goes to one person chosen by family consensus- everyone else signs forms to give up his or her legal claims, as I did. Inheritance is another example of how things are done in Japan: the public law is clear and mathematical; in private practice, families reach consensus without any open discussion”

Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori page 53

Why are boxy little cars only popular in Japan? Second Attempt

The Japanese tax code classifies cars by length and width (as well as the engine size and power that are more common elsewhere). For details of an interesting example, see this Sunday’s article on keijidosha (軽自動車-lit. light motor vehicles, usually translated as “subcompact cars”) in the Japan Times here.

Why are there so few lawyers in Japan?

Firstly, the famously difficult exam that you have to take to become a barrister in Japan is set by the Bar Association, ie practicising lawyers, who obviously have good financial and status reasons for keeping the number of lawyers as low as possible. Another factor is that many of the top law graduates in Japan have no intention of becoming barristers because getting a job as a public servant or in a large company is more common and traditionally at least as high status. The third factor is that many of the things done by trained lawyers in the US etc are done in Japan by the aforementioned people in government and business, as well as by scriveners, notaries, patent clerks etc. The well known cultural difference theory that Japanese don’t like sueing each other is probably the least important element.

And to illustrate how few there are, a little bit of Japan by Numbers: Read the rest of this entry »

Why does my gym have no smoking signs in the poolside showers?

I really do mean in the showers, not just in the shower room! It’s under a hotel, so the only thing I can imagine is that once in the halcyon smoking days of the 80s hotel guests would sit around the pool on loungers (even though it is indoor, but I saw someone doing that in the Iidabashi Konami Sports today) having a puff. That is strictly my imagination, though. Any better theories?

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