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Showing posts from April, 2009

Car Help Line Calls

Toyota doesn't have a "help line" for people who don't know how to drive, and neither does any other Japanese car makers, because people don't buy cars the way they buy computers - oh, but imagine if they did...

HELPLINE: "Toyota Helpline, how can I help you?"

CUSTOMER: "I got in my car and closed the door, and nothing happened!"

HELPLINE: "Did you put the key in the ignition and turn it?"

CUSTOMER: "What's an ignition?"

HELPLINE: "It's a starter motor that draws current from your battery and turns over the engine."

CUSTOMER: "Ignition? Motor? Battery? Engine? How come I have to know all of these technical terms just to use my car?"

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HELPLINE: "Honda Helpline, how can I help you?"

CUSTOMER: "My car ran fine for a week, and now it won't go anywhere!"

HELPLINE: "Is the gas tank empty?"

CUSTOMER: "Huh? How do I know?"

HELPLINE: "There's a little gauge…

Elusive Green Deal For Japan

Yesterday, Japan's Environment Minister announced a "green deal" for Japan as a way to both boost the economy and the environment. Officially, it is called something like “Innovation for Green Economy and Society,” at least until the proofreaders come up with something better.

The Ministry of Environment says that through these measures, Japan will create 1.4-million new jobs.

One of the main features of the new program is to help fund technologies or programmes that cut CO2 emissions. It will impose a compulsory emissions trading scheme for fossile fuels - introducing an environment tax for the first time in Japan.

Yomiuri has already talked about one feature of the more general stimulus package that I like:

Subsidies for consumers purchasing fuel-efficient automobiles and energy-saving home electric appliances are expected not only to serve the original goal of helping the global environment, but also help sales of these products recover. And to make sure increases in sal…

Reuters Gets It Wrong: Solar Power In Japan

When Reuters notes that solar subsidies are "failing" in Japan, you had better read between the lines. Big media may be in big trouble, but why do they always have to put a negative spin on everything?

Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association told Reuters that over 20,000 households have recently applied for a ¥70,000 ($700) subsidy per kW of solar panel equipment. "Failing"? I don't agree: things are looking more bright here than ever.

If you got $700 to install PV panels, would you complain?

What environmentalists here never fail to mention is how Japan's government suddenly pulled the plug on PV subsidies back in March, 2006. Big mistake. Consistent policies and continued support, even if they are kept at a low level, are crucial if you want lots of people to join. Now, Reuters notes that homeowners are concerned about making big investments, especially as solar power is expected to become cheaper and more efficient in coming years:

"People say they would …

Largest Earth Day Event In The World

This weekend you can celebrate Earth Day all over Japan. Here in Tokyo, the event is in Yoyogi, and regular readers of this humble blog know that I am a huge fan. According to The Japan Times, the Tokyo event has grown to become the world's largest:

Earth Day Tokyo 2009, a two-day festival aimed at raising environmental awareness, will kick off at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya Ward and other venues Saturday. The world's largest Earth Day festival is expected to attract 130,000 people to the park, where musicians will hold concerts, nonprofit organizations will exhibit their philanthropic activities and shops will have a range of organic foods on sale. Participants at the ninth annual festival will promote ecological lifestyles and the development of electricity generated by fuels with low carbon dioxide emissions.

Earth Day Tokyo '09 aims to spread green message

Click here for more Earth Day coverage on Kurashi News from Japan - since April, 2005!

"Nice-Looking Girls" Branding Strategy And Other Tales From Rural Japan

The Japan Times has found a new trend - young people are getting interested in farming and discovering novel ways to make ends meet:

Nahoko Takahashi, 27, who grows rice and vegetables in Yamagata
Prefecture has been training female university students for two years.
Giving them the opportunity to experience the pleasure of farming has reinforced
her belief that women can play a big role in changing the industry's image. This
spring, Takahashi will launch a "young women's only farm."

"Women are sensitive to the latest trends. I think we can breathe new
life into agriculture," said Takahashi, who will run the new farm with
"nice-looking girls" and take advantage of this branding strategy when selling
their products in Tokyo. To start with, she has secured a hectare of land to
grow sweet tomatoes in five different colors — orange, yellow, red, green and
black — and rice. She plans to use herbal medicines as fertilizer, the latest
thing in farming.
Sounds really …

Sustainability - Looking For Solutions

Stephen Hesse over at The Japan Times has asked Junko Edahiro at Japan for Sustainability what she thinks about Thomas Friedman and his recent ideas about the economy and ecology - and how we created a model for growth that depended on rich countries building more and more big stores to sell more and more stuff made in China, and how that was powered by burning more and more coal, and paid for by more and more U.S. Treasury Bonds...

"Thomas Friedman is quite right. In Japan, because of the prolonged recession followed by steep and painful cuts in sales, profits and jobs, I think many people are beginning to sense that we are now entering a new regime where economic stimulus measures and other 'conventional' measures don't help us, rather they hurt us in a long run," Edahiro said.

"Global warming is just a symptom of a more fundamental problem, and unless we tackle that we cannot create a sustainable society even with advanced technologies," she added. &qu…