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Parents spend big bucks getting ready for school

Date Posted: 2005-02-25

Parents are scrambling to get the best bargains at area department stores as they prepare their six-year-old children for elementary school.

It isn’t a cheap process, with requirements for first grade supplies, bags, clothes, lamps, etc.
School bags are at the top of the expense list. The “Randcell” bags are similar to knapsacks, worn on the back. A bag runs ¥30,000~100,000 ($290~970). Clothes, shoes, desk fees, registration fees and school supplies push the total investment to between ¥100,000~200,000 per first year student.

Officials defend the high cost for schoolbags, noting that the increases in kidnapping, rape and other crimes against children made it necessary to build crime prevention techniques into the bags. Noisemakers are a part of the child alert system.

Randcell manufacturers say only 20% of their products had anti-crime systems even several years ago, but that now, 50% have them.

Secom, Japan’s largest security company, have joined forces to create high tech systems including satellite GPS systems that use special tracking terminals. The bags, made from durable horse leather, also have reflective materials, lights and actual color reflectors. They’ve also made the bags lighter.

The bags were large, bulky and heavy before, making it difficult for the young children to shoulder. The bags are used throughout elementary school though, so the investment is a solid one.

The tradition for schoolbags began in 1887, when the design was implemented to keep childrens’ hands free.

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