Hello again from your friends in Japan!
Japan is underground a crisis of trust right now, as news of the wrongdoings of Snow Brand, a major manufacturer of milk, dairy and meat products, continues to come out on a daily basis. Last year, one of their milk manufacturing plants caused a major outbreak of food poisoning because of poor standards of cleanliness, with 14,000 people getting sick. And now, it’s come out that they’ve regularly been changing the labels on processed meat products, so they could sell beef from prefectures inside Japan that have had cattle found with BSE (mad cow disease) as if they came from other parts of Japan. They also relabeled Australian beef as Japanese product, and tried to get recompensation from the government for the potently BSE-infected beef. The failure of the company is complete, and no one in Japan is willing to give them another chance this time. McDonald’s announced that they will be giving away shares of the company’s stock with all Happy Meals sold in Japan (just kidding about that last part).
The economic news in japan continues to be bad, and things may get worse this year. The long ongoing recession in Japan has brought an end to many established concepts, which were firmly in place when I came to Japan back in 1991. One is shuushin koyou, or lifetime employment, which used to be the norm for many Japanese. Now, few expect to work at the same company all their life. In the time that I’ve been living here, I’ve seen Japan go from a very closed country, where you couldn’t get Doritos without searching all over town, to a much more open one (we even have Corona and Zima at my in-laws’ rural liquor shop). Along with the openness, though, has come increased competition from producers outside Japan, and a slow, steady erosion of the manufacturing base, as goods are produced less and less in Japan and more in other Asian countries and China. It’s very similar to what the U.S. went through in the 80’s, when services assumed a larger role than manufacturing in our economy. We hope Japan can find something like the Internet to fall back on.
The recession has also changed Japanese society in another way. Previously, Japan had a very homogeneous society, with everyone feeling as if they were a part of the overall group. If you polled 1000 Japanese, about 800 of them would tell you they considered themselves middle-class, despite the fact that the average household has over US$100,000 in cash savings (and this in a country where banks pay 0.02% interest). Now, however, I feel that Japanese company builders have divided into two distinct groups, those who are succeeding and those who are not. On Japanese television, there’s quite a lot of analysis about the changes in the economy, and what companies are flourishing in the recession and why. In one case, a small furniture company in Osaka has found success by dressing its employees in muscle-man suits (suits that make the person look like he’s got bulging muscles), and having them stand out on the street, to encourage people to drive to his store and see their furniture. Companies that aren’t working hard to innovate in the current Japanese economic climate cannot hope to survive and flourish in the future.
Today is a holiday in Japan, Kenkoku Kinenbi, or National Foundation Day, which is supposedly the anniversary of the founding of Japan back in 660 BC by Emperor Jimmu. I had to find this information on the Internet, by the way, since no one I asked had any idea what National Foundation Day was about, whether it commemorated Japan’s first constitution in the late 1800’s, or Japan’s post-war constitution, or what. It’s just Yasu and me today, with everyone else off, but I’m going to leave poor Yasu alone and take the kids up to the mountains in our Mazda Bongo Friendee so they can see some snow before it all melts. Sorry, Yasu!
For today’s update, we’ve got some nice items. For our adult customers, look for new magazines (including the new Dela Beppin and more), the erotic “Ura Karami” featuring many nice shots of Japan’s top AV idols, fresh stock of the Brave Soul and Tokimeki Check in! art books, lots of new and back-in-stock hentai manga including yaoi manga, newly posted hentai doujinshi, fresh stock of some of our best-selling DVDs, and more!. For our non-adult customers we have many nice items, too, like a beautiful notebook that looks like it came out of the Edo Period, more delicious Hamutaro hamster-shaped gummi candy, fresh stock of the popular Darth Maul “super deformed” figure, and some really cool Ultraman and Alien Baltan figures.
We’ve recently posted compatibility information for Windows XP on our bishoujo CD-ROM games for fans of “hentai” games. Unfortunately, the currently on-sale Three Sisters’ Story (as well as Season of the Sakura and Runaway City) won’t work in Windows XP or 2000, even in Windows 95/98 compatibility mode. It is possible to play the games by making a DOS boot floppy that will allow the games to be played on an XP computer. For information on how to do it, see the JAST USA support page at http://www.jastusa.com/Merchant2/support.html. Incidentally, we’ve got very limited stock of Season of the Sakura on the site right now, as we found some hiding in our warehouse in San Diego. Get them before they’re gone…