Japan v The New York Times
The New Times claims Tokyo is the 'world's most expensive city'
- this is plainly wrong and yet another example of fiction and
'bad journalism' from this New York paper.
New York Times ran an article last month (June 17) claiming that Tokyo
remains the most expensive city in the world. Really?? Despite the name
of his employer, reporter James Brooke apparently has never heard of
New York City. Or Moscow, or London or Riyadh or any other city that
actually IS expensive. Either that, or he didnt want to let facts
get the way of a good story. Specifically, he states early on in his
piece that in Tokyo "$10,000-a-month apartment rents (are) not
uncommon". Thats plain WRONG. "$10,000-a-month rents
are VERY uncommon. Such a rent is so uncommon that I, myself, have never
known anyone who has paid even remotely that much in my now almost 16
years here. Were strictly talking about a few corporate elite
or the rich and famous. On average, square footage here is certainly
less than that of western apartments. But whether in suburban Tokyo
or even close to the center of the metropolis, a family of four pays
somewhere in between 100,000 and 200,000 yen($840-$1680) per month,
be it for rent, or for mortgage.
In that very same sentence, Brooke also blithely throws in a remark
about "expensive city rail travel". It is true that trains
here are not exactly cheap. My wife has a 75 minute train ride (including
a transfer) to work each day morning. Her monthly train pass costs $149.
But for comparisons sake, BART in the San Francisco Bay Area costs
about the same for as lengthy a ride. And the Metro Transit Authority
serving metropolitan New York costs even more. Just for an example,
a commute from Bay Shore out on Long Island into Penn Station, also
about a 70 minute ride, cost $252 per month. (Commute from Woking to
London in the UK, a mere 26 miles is $325 per month).
The source Brooke cited for the actual ranking was conducted by a firm
called Mercer Human Resources Consulting of Geneva (no cheap burg itself).
I wonder if the esteemed people at Mercer took into account things such
as: that the national health care is comprehensive in Japan, including
dental. Or that college tuition comes in at less than one half of what
it takes in supposedly inexpensive America. One year at a private university
in Japan is about one million yen ($8400). At a public institution,
about one half of that or a little more than $4000. According US News
and World Reports college guide for 2003, the average US state
run school charges $9000, and for private schools its $23, 578.
Speaking of schools, unlike in virtually every North American city(
and probably most everywhere else on this globe) in Japan you dont
have to pay a premium to engage in what is known as white flight
in the US, ie. paying more to avoid crime ridden neighborhoods and schools.
Stateside at least, if you have a family, if you have children whose
education you are concerned about it, you pick where you live carefully.
And for that, you must PAY. In Japan, there are no hellholes to avoid,
no crime ridden slums where children have to dodge bullets and drug
pushers on their way to school. There are just respectable neighborhoods,
and very respectable ones.
I could go on, but may I just refer you back to my article on deflation
in Japan from February of this year (http://www.hackwriters.com/Japanbargains.htm).
If anything, things have edged downward in price yet more since then
as deflation in Japan continues unabated. Also, see Sam Norths
most recent editorial on England (http://www.hackwriters.com/July03Ed.htm).
Its a first hand account on how expensive things are over thatta
Ah, James Brooke and the New York Times. Youd have thought they
had seen enough shoddy journalism at that paper this year.
Its been quite cool in Tokyo, so far this summer. Usually
by July, the temperature is hitting 32, 33 degrees celsius(90-92F)
everyday, with even hotter stretches testing us from time to time.
Just the summer before last, the thermometer was reading 36 degrees(97F)
by 9 am for most of July. August, of course, is just as hot, and
in both months, along with September, humidity is bad too.
But this year has been a relief up till now (late July). The special
weather has unfortunately been brought to us by almost daily rains(
or drizzles) which ordinarily can get to be a bit dreary. But Ill
take it. No sweating around the temples and neck just from sitting
and watching television, no braving the nuclear blast of heat when
you first return to your parked car, and the cool nights have made
sleeping downright pleasant. Mosquitos have been reluctant to come
out and harrass us as well. The weather may not make for nice "Wish
you were here!" postcards, but nobody who is here is complaining.
J.T. Brown July 23rd 2003
Judo Masters in Tokyo
J T Brown is on the mat
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