Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down

Japanese good quality. No doubt the quality of products that Japan exports to the US, Europe, and other major markets is very high. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said about its domestic products or services, a prime example being housing.

In our apartment, which rents for very high rate---even for Tokyo---there is little insulation. Water pipes are bare, as is common in Japan. (Even in Toyama where there is actually a winter with occasional temps below freezing, insulation was lacking.) We know that many of the building standards and codes in Japan are routinely ignored in order to save a few yen. As the scandal last year showed, this includes earthquake standards.

Heating systems? AHAHA. A joke. Space heaters are still common. One of the most common means of heating and cooling in apartments is a combination A/C and heater. This thing is located just below the ceiling so that much of the heat is wasted above one's head.

Last year, some of the manufacturers of siding an insulation were found to have been faking fire-resistance data. Much of this material had been used in schools. Now we find that:

A total of 529 houses in five western prefectures built by First Juken Co. of Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, were found to have defects such as walls lacking the strength to withstand earthquakes or wind... Read more from the Japan Times here.

And one can bet that this is barely the tip of the iceberg, just like the number of buildings built in Tokyo which do not adhere to earthquake standards.

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