Driving in Japan, the cell phone the Laws and my two cents worth!
Driving in Japan.
I rented a Car for two days in order to get to a couple of places that where rather remote mainly driving along the coast line of Japan. I am used to drive long distances and on the right side of the road. In Japan, how ever, like in some other countries one drives on the left side of the road, wish is actually not that bad at all, if one remembers that the driver should always be in the middle of the road, so to speak! In North America cars are equipped with standard Crouse control, allowing to set a speed and let go of the gas pedal, that is all good in Canada or the USA, even in Australia that works well with all the long large and strait roads there. Now in Japan there is no such a thing as cruse control and that would even be deadly, since they are way to many curves and hills here, a bit like the Alps in Europe at times! How ever all the Cars here or all most all are equipped with standard GPS mapping and a voice that tells you where to go. The thing also gives you radio as well as Television, CD and DVD player, now I could never understand how some one could watch TV wile Driving, especially in a country where the use of cell phones in the Car is forbidden. Never the less Japanese at least some seem to be able to do just that, wash TVwile driving! The GPS on the other hand is a rather useful tool, especially inTokyo, Chiba and all other large City’s where the labyrinth of roads is absolutely mind boggling. Now I am used to read Maps and road signs even those that may be confusing at times, yet I got really confused with the Kanji signs that are hard to decipher for some one not used to them. Even though my GPS Lady talks only Japanese to me, it was helpful and I managed to get where I wanted most of the time at least! Programming that GPS computer is another thing since each Kanji can have more than one meaning with out the Katakana and the Hiragana I would have been lost! There are bilingual GPS Equipped cars, those need to be ordered though and not to many of them are used by car rental companies. Now I like the Train much better, because not only it is more environmental friendly but also the trains here are absolutely excellent and now that I finally have figured out how to use those computers and understood the system, it is even faster than any car could ever be. On Japanese High Ways the Speed limit is 80 Km/H and trust me, you do not want go any faster anyhow!
Luckily, the vast Majority of Japanese uses the public transport system and the Bicycle or one could never get any where at all!
The Cell phone on the other hand is here as a pocket-knife would be in Europe. Every one has one. There are 90 Million Cell Phones registered in Japan wish has 125 million people, that means every child has one and so does every adult and those cell phone have now GPS, TV, MP3, e-mail, Text messaging, internet, MSN and another 10 or more functions that I can not even remember nor need to either! Now even umbrellas do become connected to the net and one can watsh videos or the weather for cast on the umbrella canopy wile walking. I do not think that this may be a good Idea though since it may cause a couple of accidents! Even though many people walk around playing with there cell phone here or washing TV on them. Japanese do not use them every where though, designated areas in trains and other public places are cell phone free and Japanese are rather quiet and cell phones are not noticeable other than that every one seem to carry one and text on in all the time. The cell Phone is very rarely actually used as a phone. I think I may have heard a cell phone ring once or twice since I am here.
The Japanese Society does have it’s dark sides as well as any other Society does, Youth suicide rates are alarmingly high and the increasing conflict between Traditional loyalty and the rude reality of the international market, down sizing and laying of left right and centre does conflict with the culturethat dictates loyalty and honour. To the point that one being laid of inflicts such shame that suicide is often considered the only alternative by way to many. The problem is such that even the Government has now taken position against this practice and ruled it not to be a solution or a honourable way to be practiced!
Japanese are also overwhelming when it comes to subjects such as death penalty. Japanese, According to Government numbers ¾ are in favouring the death penalty, regardless of judicial mistakes and wrong full convictions being a certain possibility. Especially with a Police force as forceful as it is here and recent cases of wrongful conviction being broth to become public news! Never the less Japan does hold on firmly to the death penalty and does practice it as well! Rehabilitation or even forgiveness do not seem to be an option in certain cases. Japanese anti terror laws are largely copied on the USA laws, fingerprinting and pictures now being the standard here at Air Ports and Docs. Ho ever this Law applies only to foreigners not Nationals making one fell as a criminal and wanting to avoid the country all together! As usual the terrorist will get in and do what they want if they want to regardless of more or less Policing. As in most cases the Criminals, at least the high end ones are always a step ahead of the Governments and wound care to much about finger printing nor pictures, nor will it stop them or even slow them down. Especially since more and more terrorist are National's anyhow and this can be said for most Industrialised Countries though!