Archives for Japan



FREAK-est Links

This week, Smith College Logic professors prank the whole campus; how much of the world’s energy use goes to the Internet? Maps showing the geographic prices of weed, and unbanked America; out of 7 billion, which number human are you? And, why are Japanese women paying to have their teeth messed up? Read More »



Why Adult Adoption is Key to the Success of Japanese Family Firms

What happens when the heir to a family business isn’t up to the job? Not great things, apparently. But the Japanese have a solution: adult adoption. Rather than hand the firm to a less-than-worthy blood heir, Japanese families often adopt an adult to take over. This tradition is the subject of Vikas Mehrotra‘s paper “Adoptive Expectations: Rising Sons in Japanese Family Firms,” which is featured in our latest podcast and hour-long Freakonomics Radio special “The Church of Scionology.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player, or read the transcript here.)

America and Japan have the highest rates of adoption in the world – with one big difference. While the vast majority of adoptees in the U.S. are children, they account for just 2% of adoptions in Japan. The other 98% are males around 25 to 30. Mehrotra believes this is the key to one of Japan’s unique differences. Across the developed world, family firms under-perform professionally-run businesses. But in Japan, it’s the opposite. Japan’s strongest companies are led by scions, many of them adopted. Read More »



What Happens Next as the World Turns Away From Nuclear Power? A Freakonomics Quorum

A few years ago, we wrote a column (related material here) about the unintended consequences of Jane Fonda — that is, how anti-nuclear-power activism as epitomized by Fonda’s character in the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome helped halt the growth of nuclear power in the U.S. The timing of the film couldn’t have been better: 12 days after its release, an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania spooked the nation into Fonda’s arms — even though, in retrospect, that accident was far less serious than initially thought.

Many other countries, in the meantime, embraced nuclear power. But if you thought the China Syndrome/Three Mile Island combo was devastating to a nuclear future, consider the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. On May 11, Japan announced that it was shelving plans to scale up its nuclear energy capacity. Two weeks later, Germany announced plans to end all nuclear power generation by 2022. The Swiss have vowed to end nuclear power by 2034; and the Italians voted down plans to restart the country’s nuclear power program. Read More »



What Are the Economic Consequences of the Japanese Disaster? A Guest Post by Anil Kashyap and Takeo Hoshi

From a loss-of-life standpoint, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami may well be at least five times more severe than 9/11. While natural disasters in the past have claimed more lives, it’s extremely rare for a developed country to suffer this kind of catastrophe. While the economic losses no doubt take a distant back seat to the human suffering, nonetheless there are many important economic questions to be answered. I can’t think of a better pair of people to do so than Anil Kashyap and Takeo Hoshi. Read More »



Japan’s Nuclear Worry Produces, Among Other Reactions, a Salt-Buying Panic in China

The Three Mile Island nuclear-power accident in 1979 coincided almost perfectly with the release of The China Syndrome, a Hollywood film about a nuclear meltdown. As we once wrote, this pairing helped gel American sentiment against nuclear power. Several other nations, meanwhile, kept on building nuclear-power plants, Japan among the leaders. Now, how will the […] Read More »



Would a New Class of Nuclear Reactors Have Withstood the Tsunami?

As dangerous levels of radiation thwart emergency work at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Japanese military fire trucks have reportedly resorted to spraying spent fuel rods with water in an effort to cool them. Read More »



Do Japanese ATMs Price Discriminate?

Do ATMs in Japan price discriminate on evenings and weekends? Or are you paying extra to ensure that there’s cash in the machine? Read More »