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Japan Update Readers Send Holiday Message Through Poll

By: Julio Barthson

Date Posted: 1999-12-17

Our office was literally swarmed with several faxes, and printed sheets containing feedback emailed to us from our Internet feedback device and numerous readers. We decided to take all the time we needed to make sure that all the counting, classification and categorization of the results would be accompanied by sound, professional presentation. We also intended to make our readers get the best reading of the results through analytical pointers and attempts at interpreting the most obvious indicators.

What we present here is not an opinion poll of all Okinawan residents, be they American, Japanese, or nationals of other countries. This is primarily a poll of Japan Update Readers and other people interested in the poll for what it represents. Nobody was forced, by any means, to participate in the poll. All who did take their time to answer our questions did so gracefully, graciously, gratuitously. None of the persons polled was paid, or promised any rewards - in cash or in kind - to make their opinion known. We are very thankful for that. And we hope that more readers and friends will continue to participate in our future polls.

As the results indicate, most of the respondents made their voices heard through the poll sheets that we sent out randomly to certain churches, some shopping centers on and off base, and on Torii Station at the end of the famous Navy-Army Football encounter. But, most interesting of all, we had a significant proportion of participation coming from the Internet. Many of our readers went online (http://www.japanupdate.com), clicked on the link to our poll page, and participated directly. A few chose to type out their responses and e-mail to us. We received about 30% of responses by electronic technology, which means that more and more people are using the Internet for different sorts of intellectual or leisure activities; and, of course, for economic and financial transactions. We are very thankful to all those who visit our web site regularly, for every click of theirs brings more clicks and more attention to that domain.

As for the results themselves, we noted the fact that more than half of our readers shop online. This is definitely due to the fact that most of our readers are American - active duty servicemen or their families and friends here or back in the States. Americans, more than any other people in the world, presently feel much more at ease sending their credit card information over the Internet to purchase items of their choice. latest figures released in the United States noted that revenue through e-commerce had grown this holiday season by more than 60% as compared to the same period last year. That is one reason why Japan Update will soon be joining in the revolution by offering the first Okinawa Originals Internet mall through its web site www.japanupdate.com.

Another interesting revelation, a clear majority of our readers have a negative opinion of the Pokemon phenomenon. Not only do 27% say it is a totally crazy phenomenon, but up to 26% say that it has elements of a spiritual attack. This number lends some credibility to a contribution sent in last week by Pastor Sue Kennedy of the kadena Community Church International (See edition of 9-25 Dec., page 3), in which she offered a biblical understanding of the phenomenon. Definitely, many people, especially in some Christian circles, are now questioning the spirit of Pokemon games, which they liken to Dungeons and Dragons and other occult influenced games. On the Internet, we can find several articles based on research, that reveal the alleged influences of philosophies from Buddhist Mysticism, Hinduism, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Book of Tao, the Analects of Confucius, the Gita, the I Ching and the Tibetan Book of the Dead on Pokemon. Of course, if these revelations are true, then certain Christian parents may have to think more than twice about the strength of their own faith before allowing themselves or their children dive into the Pokemon hysteria.

Even secular writers like David Plotz, Slate’s Washington bureau chief, reports that “Pokemon has been banned in countless schools because kids won’t stop trading cards.” It is up to each individual to find out why the Game has so much power on kids in the US and in the rest of the world; even more than it did here in Japan. However, in searching for the truth, none is allowed to make the mistake of condemning Pokemon just because it represents an “un-American” cultural icon. It would be wrong to play cultural gatekeepers and start shooting at Pokemon for the simple reason that it comes from the East. If Pokemon scares anyone just because “it is too popular to be natural and innocent” and because some people are afraid the cartoon and its game may corrupt the “fine old Christian ways of America”, then we are in dangerous terrain. Then the limits of religious and cultural tolerance have been infringed. Then someone is saying that every successful thing in America that originates somewhere else must be treated with suspicion. Pokemon may therefore be the invasion of America by the devil... The Beatles, at the peak of their success, were accused by certain “religious leaders” of being messengers of the devil.

In any case, it is up to every parent to decide how best to go about the Pokemon craze.

There is at least one other kind of craze - a real, everlasting Phenomenon - on which most of our readers, American, Japanese and other nationalities alike, agree to a great extent: the importance of Christmas. 82% of the people polled say that Christmas is an important holiday feast for them, with 60% stressing that it is by far more important than the New Year celebration. As such, we pledge here at Japan Update, to give all due respect to the Son of Man who is at the origin of our favorite feast. His name is Jesus Christ.

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