Unemployment: Different in Japan

Regarding "Bankruptcies Jolt Japan Toward Freer Markets" (Nov. 26): It will be a happy day when the American news media stop comparing Japanese figures on unemployment with American figures. Ever since Peter Drucker wrote on this topic nearly a decade ago, there has been no question that the two governments do not refer to the same thing when they speak of unemployment.

In a recent study in the Japan Echo, Japanese researchers, using the same statistical methods as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, came up with levels of unemployment in Japan of around 8 percent, not 3.5 percent as your article says.

These figures must be even higher today. It would not be at all fantastic to predict levels of 15 percent to 20 percent in the very near future. Unemployment in Japan is not going to be higher than it is in the US, as your article states. It already is higher.

D.M. Stroud

Sedona, Ariz.


Saru Press International

Commitment to efficient rail travel

The editorial "Amtrack: Two Scenarios" (Nov. 25) was interesting but failed to present the benefits of rail transportation. It is the cheapest, most environmentally friendly means of moving goods and people on land.

Your editorial says, "Influential legislators, like Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee chairman John McCain (R) of Arizona, have made it clear this is the last Amtrak subsidy they'll tolerate." Senator McCain and those of like mind might do well to think 20 or 30 years down the line (no pun intended). Americans subsidize other forms of transportation to the tune of many billions of dollars per year, have cheap gasoline, and are increasingly buying larger, more polluting vehicles - but the mention of an additional 10-cent tax on gasoline to finance an efficient rail system causes outrage.

Frederick W. Campbell

St. Albans, Vt.

Women in technology set an example

It was a pleasure to see "In a Cyber Community, Children and Seniors Learn From Each Other" (Nov. 25). However, I want to point out a couple of errors.

The article says, "Another mentor is Hobbs, an engineer. He answers a lot of the kids' technology questions."

But this would be me, Hobbes (spelled like the philosopher and the cartoon tiger). It's important for young girls to know that I am a she. What we model for girls in our community is very important, especially since our "virtual world" is such a technical medium. The article goes on to say, "Mr. Walters and Mr. Hughes created Pueblo, a virtual world where students could communicate with adults and other kids ."

Billie Hughes is also a woman - easy to get wrong. Again, she's been a big part of our community, and women are the role models for our little girls.

Kimberly Bobrow

El Sobrante, Calif.

aka Hobbes

Corporate and nonprofit ethics

The discussion of corporate ethics on the opinion page, "It May Be Legal, but Is It Ethical?" (Dec. 8), properly addresses the need for external and internal ethical behavior in organizations where customers and employees are the key constituencies.

But in the world of foundations and not-for-profits - especially those in areas of high public interest, such as education and child development - there are few paying customers, slim market accountability, and, I am learning, frequently compromised ethical regimes.

I invite as many who read this to insist on vigorous scrutiny of foundation ethics. I am not talking about financial probity - the IRS can cover this handsomely. And, as your cartoon suggests, let's leave out the lawyers: They comprise, after all, the only profession paid to correct its own mistakes, as I learned over 25 years in the banking business.

David Taylor

Salt Lake City

Director, ArtWorks for Kids

Your letters are welcome. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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