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Letter To The Editor: March 1998

Author: Siegfried Hofmann, Issue: March 1998, Topic: Letters To Or From The Editor

I appreciate your contribution to the community of foreigners living in Tsukuba, and I can fully understand your initiative for having better destination signs on public buses. However, I have difficulties understanding the reason for your proposal for changing the Japanese system of addresses to the western style system with streets and numbers. After all, the Japanese system is not so bad, and I do not have any problem fining an address if the "chome" and the ward is on the city map on which I rely. The numbering of houses and individual accommodations is even more logical than in our western system (e.g. 402 meaning the 2nd individual housing on the 4th floor). I feel our western system is old fashioned and outdated. For every political change, we have to change names of streets, places and even cities (as in eastern Germany). Think of the problem of finding fancy names and getting an agreement. If we choose a numbering system as in some cities in the USA we are not much better off.

Instead of changing the Japanese address system, what I would propose is: 1) teach every foreigner how the system works and 2) give him one of the excellent bilingual maps already in existence. This is much cheaper than introducing a new system.

Besides, any address system is already becoming out of date. In future, everybody can give his address by two 6 digit numbers (with an accuracy of about 10 m) referring to the geographical latitude and meridian. This number, when encoded into a common satellite bases navigation system (already on the market for about \100,000 and getting cheaper), gives out the exact location on a map displayed together with your present position.

If it does anything, Tsukuba should opt for introducing such a system which would favorably match with its "science city" label.

Editor's note: Having the article intended for last month's A.T. might have prevented the misconception that we are seeking a total revamping of the address system. Nevertheless Mr. Hofmann's vision of the future, when it is finally realized, would make any address system obsolete. However, in the mean time....

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