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Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002


Clearing the air, resurrecting cash and finding a pet

Clearing the air

With summer winding down, and in readiness for new seasonal beginnings, time to clean the slate.

Reader Diane is wondering why I left the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese off the list of support group to foreign families the week before last.

She writes: "AFWJ was founded in 1969 and has over 600 members throughout Japan. The groups mentioned are good, but AFWJ is the one that is 'flesh and blood.' I'm sure our president would be happy to give you an interview."

Meg in Chiba thinks the information given on the support group Married in Japan a little misleading. It does not organize so many events, she says. "It's a good active list, but basically that's it: a chat list."

She accepts that AFWJ charges, but thinks the 10,000 yen membership spread out over a year "not so much." She would like to gift a membership to the financially-strapped reader who made the initial inquiry, though personally I'm not sure that's the point. Still it's a kind thought, and I'm happy to pass the message on.

The reasons I did not list CWAJ are because it does charge and, also, it gets a lot of coverage in the press and indeed is regularly listed under JOIN THE CLUB, on this page. Also there was a long interview (conducted personally) with the president of CWAJ in this paper earlier this year (PEOPLE, April 13).

OK, I hope this clears this matter up, and thanks for the letters. Queries, clarification and even complaints are always welcome. While not wanting to turn the column into a shouting match, it is a forum, and your input -- as long as couched in reasonably cool and measured terms -- is both useful and valid.

We have also received correspondence regarding the information given for buying a computer earlier in the summer, specifically the unique service offered by Caliburn, which promotes Apple in Japan: converting machines for English usage for a small charge. Otherwise, the company says, prices are no different to those given on www.apple.com

Reader Sword (a striking nom de plume if ever there was one) points out that you can't just buy a new computer and completely scrap all the information and records accumulated over many years. "Changing to a new system takes time." (Sorry, did we imply otherwise?)

The problem, he claims, "lies in the fact that software for the OSX system is still limited and most people use the older classic environment within this system." If you buy a new Mac this "classic system" is not made available in English. There is a multilingual OSX install CD and a classic install CD in Japanese only.

He understands that Macintosh has gone all out to protect its computers and CDs with the best intentions -- to prevent pirating. "But now you cannot even install the old system separately from another CD and update it."

Over to Caliburn for an official statement, I think. And then may the matter RIP.

Adopt a pet

To move on to new inquiries, Henry Giesen wants to add a dog to his family unit, but is against pet shops and their "puppy dog practices," also the "obscene" prices they charge. (Hear, hear. . .). He has looked on Web sites but has been unable to find any animal rescue shelters in Tokyo and Kanagawa.

If readers know of any can they contact us? In the meantime, I would suggest supermarkets. Not, for buying a dog off the shelf, but checking out community noticeboards. The local "supa" here in Hayama (Kanagawa-ken) often have ads for new litters of puppies (and kittens), often for free -- especially if nonpedigree!

They also give numbers for community groups that pick up stray dogs (and cats) and then after neutering them and also picking up the tab for all the regular injections, try to find them responsible caring homes. Your local city office will know of such organizations in your locale. Take a Japanese friend along to bail you out of any language difficulties.

Fresh bills

Anne in Shinjuku writes: "I just found a 10,000 yen note, shrunken and in tatters. I forgot to go through my pockets before putting my jeans in the washing machine. Can I get it replaced?"

Easy peasy. Just take it to your bank, where you have an account and are known, and wave it at the cashier. You will be asked to fill in a form, and if all goes well (it has to be sent to the central bank to be checked out as authentic), the amount will be deposited in your account within a couple of weeks. Let me know if you have any trouble.


Finally, a Japanese reader in Kawasaki has some advice for Joseph in Tokyo (Ken's column last week) regarding the nutritional supplement Ensure. Since time seems to be of the essence, let's get it in quick.

Dr Kauhiro Kawamata MD writes: "There is a product called 'Ensure Liquid,' which is available in Japan."

Japanese Ensure is also used to treat patients in poor nutritional condition and who can't eat ordinary foods by mouth.

"If the person referred to in the column has a Japanese Health Insurance Card, then the fee for the drink can be covered by insurance, since it can be prescribed by doctors."

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