The English language is often simplified or made “cute-sounding” when used in Japanese. A good example of this is the word “my,” found in words like マイペース “my pace” meaning someone who lives life by his own rules and at his own pace, or banks marketing loans for マイカー “my car” or マイホーム “my home” (personal automobile or home purchases). Now Japan us getting a new “my” word, called マイナンバー (“My Number”), which is a number that will be assigned to all Japanese citizens for tracking taxation and pension payments, like Social Security numbers in the U.S. While a new system like this naturally has some Japanese citizens nervous about privacy, there’s clearly a need for it: back in 2009, a scandal caused when millions learned they hadn’t been properly credited for pension payments made over their lifetimes helped bring down the Democratic Party of Japan and whisk Prime Minister Abe into power. Japan has two social security systems: Social Pension for employees of large companies, and Citizens’ Pension, a system for self-employed and anyone working at small (20 or fewer employees) companies. All citizens are “required” to enroll in either of the two systems, but in practice many who are part of the Citizens’ Pension system don’t sign up, since they believe the program won’t be there for them in the future, though of course this causes the system to rot from the inside even faster. Forcing everyone to make their required pension payments is one of the goals of the My Number system, though if I were Japanese, I’d be asking why the slow-to-change government is just getting around to modernizing the system now, when America has had Social Security numbers since 1936.
There are a few things that the Japanese really love. First, they love nature, which is slightly confusing since they also love concrete, and when driving in the mountains it’s not rare to see that an entire mountainside has been covered in concrete “just in case there’s ever a rock slide someday.” They love the four seasons, and often think Japan is the only country in the world with four distinct seasons because they visited California once. Japanese people love mayonnaise and eat it on french fries, just like they do in parts of Europe, and there’s even a slang word to describe people who love the stuff (“mayolers”). Finally, the Japanese truly love cats. There are “cat cafes” where you can spend some quality cat time when you’re feeling down in the dumps, and cats regularly become “idols” in Japan. One cat that became famous throughout the country was Tama the Stationmaster, a stray calico living near an unmanned station along the Kishigawa Line in rural Wakayama, near Osaka. When the cat was proclaimed honorary stationmaster, his popularity spread throughout the country thanks to the power of the Internet, and an estimated $9 million was brought into the local economy by people who traveled to see the cat. Sadly Tama died on June 22 at the old age of 16, and an incredible 3000 people attended the cat’s Shinto-style funeral yesterday.
We’re getting ready for a very exciting (and insane) two weeks of convention-ing, with Anime Expo and the San Diego Comic-Con coming back-to-back this year. Today we’re rolling out some fun new shirts for you, from our new Property of Senpai athletic shirt to a hilarious “Illegal Alien” kanji shirt and something that haters of School Days/Shiny Days main character Makoto will want to have in their shirt collections. J-List T-shirts are hand-printed by our hardworking staff in San Diego (not mass-produced in Asia), and all sizes are full U.S. sizes. Browse the new T-shirts now!