Reading Passage One
Questions 1-10 are based on Reading Passage One.
A Dying Breed
Karoshi -- death by overwork, is a major problem faced by Japanese employers and employees alike. By some reckonings, up to 10,000 Japanese die from it annually - grim testimony to the fierce dedication among workers which has helped propel Japan to a position of supremacy in key global industries.
Japan has, in fact, been reducing average working hours for some time. The number fell marginally to 2,052 hours in 1990 from 2,111 in 1987. The latest figures, however, are still 100--200 hours a year more than those worked in the West. More importantly, these official tallies exclude unrecorded overtime, work taken home, and commitments such as entertaining clients on golf courses at weekends.
More to the point, will Japanese workers take their extra time off? Most employees currently use only seven to nine days out of annual leave allocations of two to four weeks. Their actual leave is therefore roughly half that taken by US workers and about a third of that taken by the Germans and the French. (Japan also has 13 annual pubic holidays, and some companies do offer extra days off.)
In a recent survey conducted by a Tokyo-based think-tank, 40% of those interviewed said they were “uncomfortable with taking paid holidays”, while another 41% said they would be “at a loss if given vacations lasting a month.” One common explanation for these sorts of results is that Japanese love to work. “We were taught as a child that diligence is the finest virtue,” says a 38-year-old journalist.
This traditional attitude is strongest among the post-World War II generation which single-mindedly pursued economic development. Many of the people now at the top of Japan’s big corporations, as well as in senior positions in government, are from this generation. And if these senior executives do not take holidays, few junior staff dare to do so in a society which values group action. As a result, millions of Japanese annually compete for leisure facilities during the national Golden Week and New Year breaks, when everyone stops work at the same time. “We feel secure when everybody is doing the same thing,” says the journalist.
Japan also needs to change retirement rules that virtually force employees to remain at work until their 60th birthdays if they are to qualify for the lump-sum payments--typically ￥20-30 million--that supplement pensions. One advocate of such a move is Hitotsubashi University professor Iwao Nakatani. He acknowledges, though, that this might require major changes in Japan’s state pension and social security systems to compensate for reducing company provisions.
Moreover, a key caveat in the push towards more-relaxed work routines -- as with other, broader, issues in the workload debate -- is that changes agreed to by big companies may prove beyond the reach of small and medium-sized firms. By international standards, these smaller enterprises comprise an unusually large share of Japan’s economy and represent a considerable obstacle to change.
Currently, they are grappling with a chronic labour shortage at a time when the costs of labour-saving capital investment are rising. And times will get tougher as the economy slows and big companies squeeze their suppliers harder. “We are not talking about working less, but about how to maintain the same volume of work as last year,” says a spokesman for an Osaka-based small-business association.
Nonetheless, the new economic pressures now being felt by Japan are likely to produce changes whatever the outcome of the workload debate.
The collapse of the Tokyo stock-market and with it the era of warrant and convertible-bond issues has raised the cost of this once-popular form of financing from around 1% to nearer 5-6%. Debt-servicing costs have also risen with higher interest rates. Companies have been cut off from cheap credit and manufacturing investment has slumped. The result is likely to slow down productivity gains.
Profits have meanwhile declined sharply on the back of reduced domestic and overseas demand, and of higher depreciation costs associated with earlier capital investment. The corporate sector is under pressure, too, from institutional investors and the Ministry of Finance to increase dividend pay-out ratios. (684 word)
Questions 1 – 5: Answer the following questions with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 1 - 5 on your answer sheet.
1. To most employees in Japan, how many weeks of work leave are they allowed each year?
2. What do people value in terms of work in Japanese society?
3. According to certain scholars, what must be made up for if Japan were to change its state pension and social security systems?
4. Now what are small Japanese enterprises suffering from while the costs of labor-saving capital investment are escalating?
5. What issue is under debate while the new economic pressures are now being felt by Japan?
Questions 6 – 10: Complete the gaps in the following summary by using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS taken from the passage. Write your answers in boxes 26 - 30 on your answer sheet.
The hard-working employees in Japanese enterprises have helped (6) __________ Japan's economy. It is believed that there are cultural, historical and economic reasons behind the tradition. For example, the (7) __________ payments for employees who retire at the age of 60 is a comfortable addition to the state pensions.
Recently, there has been pressure--both from domestic and overseas--for that tradition to change. As a result, (8) __________ are reducing the number of working hours. A lot of small and medium sized companies, however, may not afford to do so, as they are finding it difficult to (9) __________ their business. What has happened to Japanese economy recently, for example, the collapse of (10) _________, the shrinking of domestic and overseas demand, are likely to influence the change in employees' working hours. It will be interesting to see how things develop.
Reading Passage Two
Questions 11 – 22 are based on the following Reading Passage Two.
Questions 11 – 17: Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs A-G from the list of headings below. Write your answers in Boxes 11 – 17 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
I. a museum of natural species
II. needed museum storylines
III. online museums rather than concrete ones
IV. reasons of no environment museum
V. lack of environment museum
VI. the opening of a new museum sector
VII. the need of an environment museum
VIII. weakness of a bricks-and-mortar museum
IX. museums in London
X. being responsive
11. Paragraph A __________
12. Paragraph B __________
13. Paragraph C __________
14. Paragraph D __________
15. Paragraph E __________
16. Paragraph F __________
17. Paragraph G __________
We need a monument to Earth
A. On Tuesday the new Darwin Centre opens at the Natural History Museum in London. About 3,000 visitors a day will be able to take a tour of the £78m, eight-storey building and inspect the 17m insects and 3m plant specimens on show. The most exciting prospect, though, is that 200 working scientists will be "on display" too. The Darwin Centre is an inspired and much needed attempt to bring the public closer to science and, in particular, to those who explore the boundaries of our scientific knowledge. I hope to be among those queuing for an early ticket.
B. But while I applaud the museum's efforts to raise awareness of the work of scientists, particularly those studying the ever rising number of endangered insects, the opening of the centre also serves as a reminder that nowhere on the planet can you yet queue up to enter a major institutional museum solely dedicated to the environment. Considering that our understanding of the biosphere and, crucially, our increasingly troubled existence within it is now regularly billed as humanity's most pressing concern, it seems somewhat perverse that the foundation stone for a museum of the environment, for want of a better name, hasn’t yet to be laid in any of the world's great cities.
C. London, for example, is among the most visited cities in the world, and boasts some of the greatest museums of all – Tate Modern, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and the V&A, to name a few. But if you want to stretch your understanding of our own species' problematic relationship with the natural environment, you currently cannot do so under one roof. Instead, you need to perform a somewhat disjointed and inconvenient dance across London. You could start at the Natural History Museum and marvel at how the natural world has evolved over the millennia before you cross over to the Science Museum next door to take a tour of its "Fuelling the Future" gallery. You might then head to the Museum of London for some timely reminders that there were times in the not too distant past when the capital's environment was in a truly shocking state. London did, until recently, also host a Museum of Mankind in Piccadilly, which offered all manner of anthropological insights, but this collection has now been subsumed back into the British Museum.
D. But surely there is now a compelling and pressing need to bring all these important strands together – in addition to many others, such as, say, the history of environmentalism, and the rise (and fall?) of the western lifestyle – and offer them at a single-site educational visitor attraction. There is ample room in our cultural landscape for such an institution. In fact, there's a strong argument to say we urgently need just such a focal point to remind us of the task ahead.
E. Many institutions around the world are documenting certain storylines – a year-long exhibition entitled Climate Change: The Threat to Life and a New Energy Future has just come to an end at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, for example – but not one has this important task as its mission statement. We need somewhere that documents the impact that industrial-scale food production is having on the environment; we need somewhere that records the implications of an exponentially rising global population; we need somewhere that records the lives and achievements of the great environmental visionaries, campaigners and pioneers, ranging from John Muir and Henry Thoreau right up to Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai; we need somewhere that charts our slow awakening to the implications of climate change; and we need somewhere that never lets us forget some of the world's worst environmental disasters and follies, such as Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, and the ongoing destruction of our rainforests.
F. Perhaps a bricks-and-mortar museum is not the required route. Maybe we need an extensive online museum dedicated to this subject, built and maintained by a coalition of institutions and benefactors across the world, so that people, wherever they are located, can benefit from its resources and scholarship. After all, encouraging people to fly to, say, London, New York or Tokyo to visit such a museum wouldn't exactly chime with its core message. Or maybe a global franchise should be launched, so that like-minded institutions are constructed across the world in the way that we now have an international network of Guggenheims.
G. We live in an age where our interaction with the world around us is both fraught and volatile. We need all the tools we can muster to teach and inspire us. As Charles Darwin himself once said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." [817 words]
Questions 18 – 21: Decide if the following statements agree with the information presented in Reading Passage 2. In box 18 – 21 on your answer sheet write
Y (YES) if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
N (NO) if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NG (NOT GIVEN) if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
18. 200 scientists were involved in the building of the new Darwin Centre.
19. It is unreasonable that there is no museum of the environment in great cities.
20. London used to have a museum where people could have all kinds of anthropological insights.
21. We must keep bricks-and-mortar environment museums although people have to fly to different cities to visit them and that will go against these museums’ core message.
Choose the appropriate letter A – D to answer the follow question.
Write your answer in Box 22 on your answer sheet.
22. What does the “important task” in paragraph E refer to?
A. environmental protection
B. environment museum construction
C. humanity’s awakening
D. single-site educational visitor attraction
1. 2 to 4 / 2-4 / two to four
2. group action
3. (reducing) company provision
4. chronic labour shortage
10. Tokyo stock-market