Very Safety


Today’s title comes from a common error caused by a difference in adjective usage between English and Japanese. People often say, “Japan is very safety!” However, the truth that I am usually wise enough not to share with the average Japanese person is: Japan is very danger!

We are told over and over that “safety is number one” and there are numerous rules regarding safety; however, abundant sources of danger can be found daily. Very dangerous mindsets also prevail.

Purchasing a new or used car and getting it registered, requires having mandatory insurance; which is one reason you have to wait a week to receive a car. So, it seems like a good rule for safety is included in the system. Most people in Japan are very nervous about safety issues and rules. If you are driving a car with only the mandatory insurance, most acquaintances will refer to you as being ‘uninsured’, because the basic insurance policy covers injuries and property damage, but will not cover the responsible party’s car. This way of thinking also seems very safety concious; however, the underlying mindset is a little different.

A few people, upon finding out that I only have the basic insurance (although I may get more after researching), have told me, “In that case, it is not OK to have an accident.” Further discussion makes it clear that my idea, that it is never OK, seems rather foreign. Simply, most Japanese people are concerned about financial loss, which is very different from safety. However, for me to spend much money insuring a car worth less than $1000, would certainly result in a financial loss.

Four times I have been in a car that was struck by another vehicle. I can assure you that the sensation of impact, the odious noise of metal scraping metal, and the physiological effects of shock are not something to experience regardless of one’s level of insurance.


2 Responses to “Very Safety”

  1. Keven Says:

    So how are you liking your car? I’m assuming it is running acceptably given that you have not complained about it? 🙂

  2. びっくり Says:

    Oh, you wanted complaints? The engine starts a little hard when it is very cold. The steering wheel is not straight; a clear sign of an alignment problem (the car, indeed, pulls a little to the left.) The only key I received with the car had two cracks almost to the center and two running half the length, which was nearly disastrous in the hands of a service station attendant. The radio can pick up one AM and two FM stations, and the tape deck may be out of commission. There you go.

    I just got a new key today. I had it ordered yesterday and it came fast. So, that problem is solved. I don’t care so much about the radio, since it is getting three more stations than my radio at home. From now on, there shouldn’t be many cold mornings; quite the opposite. I will have to figure out what to do about the alignment.

    In just one week, the car has allowed me to do all sorts of things I previously wouldn’t have been able to squeeze in on bike, on foot, or by train. Not the least of which is being able to get a ski bag and new pants for the Hokkaido trip early tomorrow morning. I’m pretty happy to have a set of wheels.

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