16. tammikuuta 1998

The Japanese ABCs

A is for Automatic toilets, push a button and they wash and dry; B is for Bureaucracy, workers present their ideas to their boss, who tells his boss, who tells his boss…; C is for Chika, the business man jacking off on the crowded mass transit; D is for Democracy, it is now fashion to switch political parties and found new ones; E is for Eroticism where FOR ABNORMAL PEOPLE is advertising and not a warning; F is for Furin, Japanese adultery, just too easy to resist; G is for Gaijin the foreigner, 1,200 of which were turned away from the country this year; H is for Hashis, what we know as chopsticks
     I is for Idols, like Shanza the tone-deaf, transvestite pop star; J is for Japlish, what English words become when Japanese people speak ( i.e. raburetaa = love letter, teeburu = table); K is for Kogjaru, the teen-age girls with designer clothes, hair dyed brown and rich, older boyfriends; L is for Legal system: a boy is killed in a car collision and the court rules that the accident was the boy’s fault and so the driver of the car only needs to pay half of the near 80 million yen (1.7 million FIM) damages asked for by the parents.
     M is for the Media, where nothing is sacred: see footage of today’s executions!; N is for Nagano, the site of the next Winter Olympics and all the hype that goes with it; O is for Overtime, Japanese businessmen see their children on Sundays only, after their round of golf with the boss;
     P is for Pokemon, pocket monster animation that has caused illness in over 700 children to date; R is for Religion, founding a religion in Japan is a lucrative business venture; Q is for present Quota, people in Japan feel a duty to give presents to their friends and work colleagues all year long,
     S is for Sake, the Japanese rice wine that goes straight to their heads; T is for the Truth, where yes is yes but maybe is defintely no; U is for UFOs which almost all Japanese believe in; W is for We: the individual is weak but the community is strong; X is for X-Japan, the country’s favorite heavy-metal band: ”For psychedelic violence crime of visual shock” is their slogan; Y is for Yakuza, the Chinese mafia with its fingers in everything – even sumo wrestling; Z is for Zen, where enlightenment comes from sitting still.

A Four Year Vacation

”In Japan, if you want to make a decent living, you have to go to the University. Graduates are sure to find work.” Shinsuke Ikeda is a 22 year old student of economics in the Kyoto Industrial University. Although university education in Japan has been rumoured to be difficult, Shinsuke’s experience has proven different. For him, finding things to do is the greatest challenge. ”Some people really come here to study, but they are the clear minority. Most of us come here to have fun. We have too much time on our hands. We go out to eat, play pool and go to nightclubs.”
     Although his parents pay his annual 36,000 FIM tuition fees, Ikeda has to work at the Panasonic factory in order to earn some spending money. ”We get grades and credits just for showing up, few teachers have tests. Many subjects are more difficult in high school.” Only 20% of applicants are accepted to the Kyoto Industrial University.
     Japan is a man’s world when it comes to business, they are far from gender equality. Ikeda comments, ”Men are better qualified. Women don’t even have to do anything because the men provide for them. Women have got it easy in this country.”

Scandinavian Bar Hostess in Japan

22 year old Stiina was in Japan and needed money. She was looking for work on the International Center bulletin board when an Italian woman approached her and offered her a job as a hostess in her bar named Ragazza. Her job was to talk with lonely Japanese executives and make sure they kept buying more drinks.
     Her tools were a lighter, a miniskirt, and a napkin to wipe the glass each time her drunken exec took a drink. The men talked on and on about their marital problems and sex, most of them living in arranged marriages, as was the custom in Japan until recent times.
     ”Being from Scandanavia was exotic and so I was popular, but many of the men were frightened of a woman taller than them,” says Stiina. ”All you had to do was pour the drinks, dress well, but revealingly, and smile. You didn’t even need to be pretty. If someone asked for me at the door, I got a bonus. Same if I brought a man with me to work, part of our work was to go out to dinner with them occassionally.” Ragazza’s services did not include sex, however, and hostesses made that choice at their own risk.

Subtracting From Mathematics

A new finance distribution model has taken effect at the University of Helsinki since the beginning of the new year. In the past, there was no systematic means for dividing up University funding. The new model calls for distribution of money according to faculty graduation and research rates. The better the results, the more money next year.
     The students and staff of the Faculty of Natural Sciences did their best to stop acceptance of the new model. Their faculty had the most to lose, with a forecasted cut of ten percent compared to last year. They took over the University Main Building in October on the day the model was to be officially decided upon, but arrived too late.
     In December, students were outraged to learn that their representative was not elected to the committee appointed to monitor the effects of the distribution model in practice. Antti Lauri, chairperson of the faculty’s student group MATLU at the time, wrote a note which suspected the university of intentionally leaving the natural science students out. Internal distribution of the faculty’s money hasn’t been decided upon yet but mathematics, physics and chemistry stand the most to lose.

Economic Growth Brings No New Jobs For Educated

The recent economic upswing in Finland has increased employment among citizens with a basic or vocational education, but there has been neglible improvement among university degree holders. No reason for panic, however, as unemployment percentages among university graduates are two to three times smaller than those with a lower education level.
    According to the Statistics Center, unemployment among university graduates in Finland has risen slightly from 11 to 11.3% since 1996. There are clear differences between occupations: while every fourth architect is without work, only 3.7% of teachers draw unemployment compensation.
    The 1996 statistics are as follows: teachers 3.7, doctors 4.9, lawyers 9.4, social scientists 9.7, foresters and agricultural scientists 10.0, theologians 10.8, natural scientists 10.9 and graduates of the humanities topping out at 15.4. The only field with virtually no unemployment is, surprise, surprise, data processing engineers.

Open University On the Net

For between 300 and 600 FIM, you could be earning credits through the Helsinki University Open University on the internet. This spring, courses about chemistry, philosophy, computer science and communications are featured. Introduction to Logic, taught electronically by Ilpo Halonen, offers on-liners study material with no need to attend lectures. The five credit Introduction to Communications course includes eight internet pages, a list of additional reading to do from assigned books (old-fashioned ink and paper variety), and practice questions to answer and send back.
     Does this mean that students without internet access will fall behind? Project Manager Seija Malmi explains, ”We don’t offer any courses on the internet that aren’t found through traditional instruction. For those that have a difficult time attending university lectures, like disabled people, the net courses are a great way to get credits.”
     Most courses still require students to attend final exams, computers have a long way to go before they will be able to catch people cheating. As of January 21, information about Open University courses, schedules, prices and test results can be found at the net address http://avoin.helsinki.fi.

Pamela Kaskinen