Why do Japanese farmers have so much electoral power?

Believe it or not, it’s the Americans’ fault again:

“disparities in Japan’s election system have long favored conservative rural districts over urban ones by giving them a disproportinately large number of representatives in the Diet, Japan’s Parliament. Those inequalities… date from U.S. occupation policies after World War II aimed at turning farmers into a powerful anti-Communist voting bloc”

From this weekend’s International Herald Tribune


Why are wa, e and o spelt ha, he and wo in Japanese?

They used to be pronounced that way, but over the years the pronunciation of Japanese changed while the conventional spellings did not (as in most languages, e.g. English after the Great Vowel Shift). In 1946 the policy on Modern Kana Usage aligned kana spelling and modern pronunciation. As would probably happen with words like “are” and “was” if English spelling was ever rationalised in a similar way , these very common grammatical words were the only ones left unchanged.

Why is daylight saving time so unpopular in Japan?

“To understand why it was so unpopular, one must go back to the time it was introduced. it was still shortly after World War II, Japan had not made an economic recovery, and there was a constant food shortage. With samaataimu, evenings were so long that people became hungry again before going to bed and longed even more intensely for non-existing food. Furthermore, the Japanese at that time could not afford various forms of leisure-time activities such as golf and pleasure driving. Instead of using the saved daylight time for recreation, therefore, they just ended up working longer, getting less sleep at night and waking up more fatigued than ever. In other words, daylight-saving time is basically for the haves, and the Japanese, who were have-nots at the time, were not ready for it. Since it proved to be such a traumatic experience, even now, with a much higher standard of living, the Japanese are not likely to reintroduce samaataimu”

Akira Miura, English in Japanese pg 142

Why is the biggest drug in Japan amphetamines?

In WWII it was produced for soldiers, then went underground in 1945 with a supply of drugsand addicts nicely ensured. I also thought it might have something to do with being able to be made out of chemicals domestically without needing to smuggle opium etc into the country, but apparently most amphetamines are imported from the Phillipines and Korea.