A Peek Into Japanese Inefficiency

Last year, I was asked to take a national exam in Japan as a favor to one of my friends even though it’s not related to my job. It may sound very odd but the reason is not crucial here, so I shall skip it.

Each year, fewer than 20 people take the test and there are two portions to the test, the written exam and the practical exam. I passed the written exam but didn’t pass the practical one so this year, that same friend requested me to take it again. Since I’ve already passed the written exam, I’d just have to take the practical this time. In the application form, I checked the box that says I passed the written test already and mailed out the application.

A few days later, I received a phone call from the organization overseeing the test to tell me I have to fax over a copy of proof that I passed the written test (yes, fax is still very much alive in Japan). I told them I couldn’t find it and asked if they could reissue it, and the lady over the phone promptly replied, “Yes, I’ll mail it to you.”

If you have the data already, why do you impose an unnecessary step to waste time and paper?


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