Saturday, January 21, 2006

jitsu wa

Kansai Time Out, a friendly and informative foreigner magazine, publishes a little column called “Jitsu wa” every month. Roughly translated it means “The truth is…” This column is a collection of interesting facts or quotes about Japan in 100 words or less. Here are some of the recent ones I have enjoyed:

*A Japanese government survey found that the average husband spends seven minutes of each day helping around the house, while his wife clocks in at four hours and 49 minutes. Mothers devote an additional hour and 48 minutes to childcare ??? a task for which men could only spare 13 minutes.

*East of a line that runs from the Itoi River in Niigata to the Fuji River in Shizuoka, the electrical frequency is 50Hz. West of this boundary, 60Hz is the standard. The disparity began in the Meiji Period, when a German electrical generator was imported to Kanto, and an American model was purchased for Kansai. Both a brief movement to unify the nation at 50Hz during WWII and a postwar push for 60Hz failed. Tokyo appliances such as vacuum cleaners and tape recorders often do not function as well in Osaka, and electric clocks are rendered useless.

*Though it is the second highest donor to the United Nations Commission for Refugees, formerly headed by Ogata Sadako, Japan admits fewer refugees than any other G8 nation. Of the 2,782 applications for asylum status filed between 1981, when the Refugee Convention was ratified, and 2002, only 305 were accepted.

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