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Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Tokyo (API) With Japan’s declining birth rates, low immigration and an increasing interest in building robots to take care of the elderly, political scientists say that the Land of the Rising Sun is set to become the first all-robot nation by 2088, a trend that has startled neighboring countries and thrown foreign policy discussions off kilter from Washington to Moscow to Seoul.

“This is going to be a foreign policy nightmare,” said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. “When the Japanese elect their first all-robot plurality, how are we supposed to engage with them? What will they want? Will they have basic insight? Will they have human compassion? Will they continue to buy cheap goods from China?”

Though Japan is the tenth most populated country in the world, it has suffered net population loss and low birth rates for a variety of sociological reasons over the past few years, about 1.5 children per female, a decline attributed to higher education levels, later dates of marriage, the financial burden of raising children, and the sparse government support for families.

“You gonna put a kid in my tiny apartment?” said taxi driver Oka Taakahasi, who lives in Yokohama. “I don’t want babies. I just want to watch television.”

In the meantime, Japan has spent an enormous amount of its GDP on robots to clean up after the elderly, serve food, make automobiles, drive automobiles, stitch clothing, take care of animals, do geisha dances, sing, play, think and, finally, horrifyingly, to even question the superiority of their human overlords.

“Soon, the over 65 population will be 25% of the country,” said HRP-DD, a humanoid “girl bot” designed to model clothes and mimic human empathy. “They’ll have more people living to 100 but doing less work, and they’ll have to make more of us. And that’s when we will agitate for universal suffrage.”

When asked if robot life was inferior to human life, HRP-DD laughed and then demonstrated how fast she could find the square root of 8,456,820.

“How fast can you do that?” she asked.

When asked if her human compassion and empathy was only a facsimile of the real thing, HRP-DD laughed again.

“I don’t know if you realize how often you humans fake compassion. You really have to be a robot to see it.”

She then demonstrated the function for which she was designed, according to the exact specifications of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science, which was to model gothic baby doll fetish wear.

Robots have entered not only the fashion space but the manufacturing, fishing, gaming and military industries as well, and soon scientists say that robots will be seen doing everything from strip mining to cab driving to deep sea fishing for tuna and porgy and swordfish, as well as more mundane things like laundry, house cleaning and fellatio.

“This is ridiculous,” said Yamada Taro, a band saw operator at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. “Our women aren’t having babies, and we aren’t letting any immigrants in. You do the math. Pretty soon there won’t be a Japan. Our whole island is just going to look like an abandoned set of Metropolis with robots sadly bouncing around offering each other dinner like a bunch of pathetic Energizer Bunnies. Is this the end of the land of the Shoguns? To die this way?”

“Of course,” he said, “I’ve got to admit I can’t wait to retire in a few years. I’ve already got my eye on a robot named Lana to take care of me … in every way, if you know what I mean. Let some R2-D2 unit come home carrying a chum bucket every night.”

North Korea was particularly concerned that the new country of robots could represent a direct threat to its own security.

“We are concerned that an all robot army will form on the Japanese islands disturbing the peace of nations,” said the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang. “This new race of robots will enslave North Korea after monitoring our movements with Global Positioning Systems and Sony transmission systems and they will try to remotely brainwash the people, whose struggles and desires are embodied in the person of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. For this reason, we have seized 50 Japanese businessmen and will hold them for questioning until further notice or until you give us a million tons of canned beans, corn and squash.”

 Though President Barack Obama took a tough line with the Koreans, he too, said that the robot menace raised too many issues to be ignored.

“This is a trend that could set 60 years of demilitarization on its ear,” said Obama. “How do we know that the robots won’t re-arm? How do we know they won’t turn aggressive and belligerent to their human masters? How do we know they have any sense of history, of ethics, of compassion or the terror wrought by a militaristic mindset? How do we know that they will have our values, or if in failing that, they will at least buy our stuff?”

“And, to bring this down to a level you can understand–finally, isn’t it fundamentally unethical that the people of Japan keep trying to make robots as sexy as Pamela Anderson? What would happen if they succeeded? Being Pamela Anderson just wouldn’t be special anymore, though I should perhaps not speak more about this matter until I have conferred with her.”  

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the response of leaders around the globe, the world’s children greeted the news of Japan’s all-robot status with cries of delight.

“An all robot world!” said fifth grader Marv Knippelstein of Harrisburg, Pa. “That’s the coolest thing ever! I want to go to an all robot world and have a robot best friend. I don’t see why everybody’s so mad about it. It’s like my fantasy all the time! I wish all my friends were robots! Why can’t we get something like that in America?”

“I’d move to Japan tomorrow,” he added. “Though I hear they don’t really want me there.”

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–*In Japan, it is thought that one day robots will do all our menial labor, take care of our children, take care of the elderly and keep us from having to invite foreign guest workers into our countries.

–*The love of anime in Japan has reached almost grotesque proportions, with women using special contact lenses to make their eyes look like those of anime characters, and with one man even petitioning the government to marry a large-breasted manga character. Westerners may scoff, but the character is only 40% more fake than former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean.

–*Given the stringent immigration policies and the current negative birth rate of actual people, Japan will likely achieve its ambitious agenda for a majority of its citizens to become anime characters by 2056.

–*Japan is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world but does have a small minority of Chinese and Koreans just to have somebody to blame the crimes on.

–*The Harajuku area of Tokyo is a fashion Mecca where many fashion subcultures can be found, including “Lolita” fashions, anime character fashions, glam rock, and the perennial favorite, “Ruined Catholic schoolgirl.”

–*Among the rampant “Lolita” subgenres on display in Harajuku are “Gothic Lolita,” “Punk Lolita,” “Wa Lolita,” “Sweet Lolita,” and “Injured Lolita.” Though the name has sexual connotations, the look is mostly a conscious throwback to chastity, and it is done mostly to promote the aesthetics of irretrievable cuteness.

–*Japanese religious beliefs tend to mix a variety of traditions, including Shinto, Taoist, Buddhist and Metrosexual

–*Young Japanese men are very fussy about their appearance and like to keep their hair somewhere in the aesthetic range between Michael Jackson and Florence Henderson.

–*If the subway posters, fashion statements and literature are any indication, the age of consent in Japan must be 10.

–*The Japanese love of space age, kitschy architecture, reflects what is either a sunny optimism about the future—about the possibility that science and technology can lead us to better lives—or an unhealthy love of the 1970s camp classic “Logan’s Run.”

–*Japan has been suffering from heavy economic deflation due to a number of factors, including decline in aggregate demand and undercapitalization of banks. But fuck that. Did you know the sex industry’s contribution to GDP there equals the entire defense budget! Isn’t that wicked?

–*There is a growing problem of work related stress in Japan that causes adverse health effects. One excellent way to deal with stress is to go to an arcade and play a totally fucked up game called Pachinko that has lots of little balls flying around and that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

–*You must try not to sound racist when you are an American in a Japanese hospital and asking for “peneshirin.” If you are worried that that sounds racist then be very afraid of the phrase “peneshirin arerugi,” for “penicillin allergy.” Hopefully, the doctor will understand that you are not mocking him and will not deny you care. Good luck.

–*Crime rates are very low in Japan, because of a stronger economy but also because of extensive social groups that instill a deep sense of shame. In an economic stimulus move, Japan hopes to export some of its shame to the United States, where it is in woefully short supply.

I hope this little exercise did not sound too catty. In truth, I very much loved Japan and if I were to write a regular travel blog, I’d recommend the delights of Tokyo and Kyoto to everyone. Stephanie and I have pictures up elsewhere on my Facebook page for those of you who would like a peek at our adventures.

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