Country Review: Japan

BY LIBING ZHANG

Your corrrespondent inadvertently almost became the next Rosa Parks in the struggle against discrimination in the Tokyo public transit system.
Whale meat tastes like fishy pork. It’s better than crocodile but worse than regular pork. Your correspondent expected scientific research to be more delicious.

Your international correspondent has finally returned from the Tokyo bureau, after a 15-minute flight delay was magnified by Continental Airlines into multiple missed connections, two taxicab rides across New York City, an overnight hotel stay, a harrowing race to board at 6:28 the next morning a plane that departed at 6:30 AM, and the discovery of previously unknown ways of waiting in line and blaming problems on the computer. Because of time constraints due to sleep and filing a complaint with the FAA, this article will document the trip through photographs.

One important issue that must be addressed is the gross gender inequality in Japan. Every morning, Japanese men receive an allowance from their wives of around 1000 yen ($10), which they use during the course of a 14-hour workday on rice balls and Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. The men are stingy on food to save enough money so that they can go out drinking with their buddies during the weekend. While the men are working, the wives go out and purchase items at Tokyo’s various famously expensive shopping districts. The men are so cowed that they would rather take out short-term personal loans than ask their wives for an advance on their allowance, rendering consumer credit a booming industry in Japan. One magazine that profiled some young up-and-coming male entrepreneurs had, as one of its interview questions, the allowance received by each of its profilees. While men have made great strides in the Japanese workplace, such as maintaining a numerical dominance of 85% in the legal profession, it may be decades before substantial gains are made toward gender equality.

Overall, Tokyo is a very enjoyable city and highly recommended to anyone who can score free meals from prospective employers. Beware, though, that some employers might expect participation in karaoke entertainment.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week’s article comparing the various novel functions on Japanese toilets.

Libin Zhang is still very disappointed with the taste of whale.

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