Recently, many members have PM'd me asking about Japanese technology, language, culture, and the country itself. So I thought it might be nice to create a little space here for those interested in 21st century state-of-the-art Nippon-made achievements.
We all know that China is the up and coming (super) power in Asia, as is India in Asia Minor, still the merits of Japan should not be overlooked. Some interesting facts about the country I live and work in:
*Disclaimer, Japan is by no means a utopic society. I could easily make a list just as long detailing its major failures or demerits, especially those in the 20th century.
1. Since 1988, Japan has been and (not counting the EU as one entity) in the forseeable future will most likely continue to be the world's second largest economy in terms of total GDP (not PPPGDP), maintaining a per capita income just below that of Switzerland. Interestingly, the wealth seems to be somewhat
evenly distributed because most of the population (~80%) is "middle class." (Though that percentile is gradually shrinking...)
2. JR railways currently operates the world's fastest magnetic levitatation linear motor car (JR-Maglev, MLX01). This train "floats" smoothly at 581 kp/h, about 35% faster than the Shanghai-Pudong Maglev, which whisks passengers along at 431 kp/h. Both are exhilerating
rides, to say the least (I can attest from personal experience).
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 6387878713
Incidentally, the current Yamanashi Maglev project is now under final review for expansion to link Osaka and Tokyo in under an hour by 2017. The same trip currently takes 2.5 hours by the Nozomi Super Express Bullet Train. The Shanghai Maglev will also be extended to link Hanzou and Pudong for the Shanghai Expo 2010 in December 2009.
3. Until the Burj Dubai and NY Freedom Tower are completed in 2008 and 2010, respectively, the world's second tallest skyscraper, the Shanghai World Financial Plaza (~492m) is under consruction by a prominent Japanese firm (Mori Building Corporation) and will be open for business in 2008. I can already see Pelihu and Laxie consulting from their own exclusive penthouse offices at the SWF in '10 or '11.
At present, Japan has a skyscraper limit of just under 400m due to the frequency of earthquakes caused by shifts in the Pacific Rim plate just off our eastern waters.
4. Metropolitan Tokyo and Osaka, and soon to be followed by Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka, have become virtually cashless societies. I can now use my biometrically incripted mobile phone-wallet (keitai saifu) to buy anything from convenience store goods to train tickets or even haircuts. It's called the Felica system and has rapidly spread to include over 40 million users throughout 250,000 stores/shops nationwide since its inception last year. No more "slow" transaction times, receiving the wrong change, or wasting paper on receipts.
5. Speaking of cell phones, Docomo and AU have recently released a generation 4 mobile handset that blends an MP3-player, multilingual electronic dictionary, digital video camera, and all the conventional features of a generation 3 cell phone into one device, approximately the same size and weight of existing models. No offense Apple/Motorola, but we beat you to the punch.
More to come later~
... Back to studying...