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Japanese news can be cute

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From time to time there are some stories that make the national news here in Japan that mystify me.

Sometimes the stories are sad, sometimes they are strange, and other times they are down right creepy.  But from time to time a story comes along that can’t be described by any word other than “cute”.

Case in point is a recent article in the Yomiuri Online about a metal light pole falling down and hitting a little girl, slightly injuring her.   The little was not doing anything wrong, she just  happened to be near it when it fell over.

An investigation by the city determined that the reason the pole fell over was because it had been corroded over the years by countless cats and dogs urinating on it’s base, eventually leading to structural failure.  As a result, the city paid the parents of the girl a grand sum of 26, 050 yen, which is just shy of $300 at todays exchange rate, and enough to cover the hospital bill.

After the event, the city immediately inspected all 1,700 of these poles, repainting  600 of them, and replacing 18.  And that was the end of it.

If this same thing happened in America, I can just imagine how it could would have turned out:

1. The parents would have sued the city for $300,349,251.97 , which breaks down as follows:

  • $15,000 for the ambulance ride to the hospital.
  • $27,237 for the actual medical care.
  • The remaining  $300,307,014.97 for “Pain and Suffering” and emotional trauma, because of the fact that the girl (and her entire extended family, including in-laws) would have to start taking a cocktail of anti-anxiety medication for the rest of their lives, the contents of which include, but are not limited to: Ativan, BuSpar, Celexa, Cymbalta, Dalmane, Desyrel,  Effexor, Elavil, Klonopin, Lexapro, Librium, Norpramin, Pamelor, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Serax, Tofranil, Tranxene, Valium, Vistaril, Xanax, and Zoloft. (I know most of it read like Klingon, but those are all true drug trade names, honest!)

2. People in all other cities in America would start a class action suite against the cities they live in because this very same type of thing could happen to them.

3. Congress would immediately vote an extra BAJILLION dollars into the Stimulus Package (I can never say that with a straight face) and 90% of that money would of course be directly funneled into bonuses to bankers.

4. The remaining money from the StimulousPackage would be used to fit automated tazers to all light poles that would fire at any offending pet (or person) that decided to take a leak anywhere within a 15 foot radius of the pole.  This of course would lead to more lawsuits, and so on and so forth…

I am very glad to be living here in Japan.  Where the news makes no sense, but that’s OK, because neither do I.

Categories: funny
  1. David
    February 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    You are entirely correct. Japanese take responsibility for their mistakes. Most Americans look for someone else to blame.

  2. February 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    nice one Jeff. I join your club of “people-that-don’t-make-sense” ^_^

    Oh, as a side note, it looks like my trip to Japan may be postponed for about half a year or so (but will be more likely in the future), because there is a very good chance I will be going to Shanghai for work soon!
    I know, it’s not Japan, but at least it gets me lose enough to consider multiple trips there, hehe…

  3. February 10, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I echo David’s sentiments. In America it is “Never entirely” my fault mentality. Most Americans never accept the fact that they may be at fault and find a cause of “why I am so stupid!” I would like to see a justice system like the British. Loser pays ALL court costs including the other party’s fees and judgement. That might reduce the amount of ridiculous litigations.

  4. February 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Geat post Jeff!

    I really enjoy these kind of stories and comparisons. Living abroad and looking at one’s own country from a distance enables us to make observations like this. The cost comparison for the ambulance ride and medical cost for “putting a cooling pad on a bruise” (USD 300 still sounds like the doctor can pay half of his boat payment for the month with it) is hilarious. Sad thing is, although you exaggerated a bit (at least about the “pain and suffering” part. USD 100.000.000 is probably perceived as reasonable for a light pole incident. And another USD 150.000.000 will be claimed from all cat and dog owners in that county) the comparison about the medical and ambulance cost sounds like it could be real. That is scary and maybe the whole health and pharmacy industry in the US should really be overhauled. The life expectancy between the US (78.2) and i.e. Germany (79.4) is roughly the same while per capita health care spending is about 60% higher in the US. And amid the light pole situation in Japan the life expectancy is 82.6! 😉

  5. February 10, 2010 at 2:08 pm


    Will you be able to live in the US again ;~)

    In the American version of the pole incident you forgot to say that the lawyers will take 50% of the $300,349,251.97. And this explains everything. Why $15,000 for the ambulance ride. Well, because the driver could be sued and therefore he has to pay $1,000,000 of insurance per year. $27,237 for medical care! Well you have to understand that the Doctor’s insurance is 2,000,000 per year.

    The law system is crazy in the US IMHO. And the lawyers are like the traders for banks. Just imagine a world where lawyers (and traders) would make $100 per hour. The US medical care for this pole incident would be $300, just like in Japan.

    The thing is, the US president (and his wife) is a lawyer… My president is also a lawyer.



  6. February 11, 2010 at 1:38 am

    You make a lot of sense.

  7. J.
    February 11, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Hi Jeff,

    as this article shows once more, it does make sense to live in Japan. But there are occasions….

  8. BGW
    February 12, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Makes sense to me. But I’m a Canadian. In Canada we’d end up somewhere in the middle of the American and Japanese extremes. Which, for the most part, is good.

  9. February 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Very good comment and link Jeff and so true about not only Japanese culture but also about American culture. Thanks for sharing

  10. mike
    February 12, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    In response to Warren A’s comment, the Japanese mastered the “Never Entirely” my fault mentality. Get into an auto accident in Japan and just try to avoid both sides being forced into “Partial Responsibility”, even if one person is clearly to blame. Especially if said accident involves a taxi cab.

  11. February 14, 2010 at 8:49 am

    i agree entirely to BGW though it depends on what city you live in. victoria for example if it happens in the rich part of town the citys likely to be taken to court then again if it even floats. but ya i do like the mind set of either partial responsibility and the whole idea of forgive and forget (in a sense).

  12. February 20, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Very colorful image ! Nice shot !

  13. March 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    coo blog

  14. April 25, 2010 at 4:30 am

    You’re so right – its pleasing that there are countries left in the world that have a sensible attitude to these things. We have a situation here in Australia where councils are cutting down all the trees on the side of the roads ‘just in case a branch falls and hurts someone’ – true story. Big gum trees being hacked down in their hundreds, despite not a single one actually falling on someone ever.

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