Japan Introduces “Toilet Paper” for Smartphones

March 13, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. observance / əbˈzɜr vəns / (n.) – the act of following a certain habit
Example: The school encourages the observance of good grooming for all students and teachers.

2. sanitation / ˌsæn ɪˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – the practice of maintaining cleanliness
Example: Proper sanitation is the first step to good health.

3. convenient / kənˈvin yənt / (adj.) – providing comfort
Example: Using a smartphone is more convenient compared to a telephone.

4. clever / ˈklɛv ər / (adj.) – describing something inventive
Example: The smartphone quickly became popular due to its clever design and high-tech features.

5. regard / rɪˈgɑrd / (n.) – attention or concern
Example The student’s high regard for achievement reflects on her good grades.


Read the text below.
Japan is promoting observance of sanitation practices by installing smartphone wipe dispensers in airport restrooms.

The initiative is a response to a study, which reveals that smartphones contain around 5 times more bacteria than toilets. Japanese mobile phone company NTT Docomo, Inc. sponsored the installation of rolls of smartphone wipes in the Narita International Airport. The initiative started in December and will run until March 17 this year. 

The new smartphone wipes resemble regular toilet paper, but are smaller. They are placed right next to the toilet paper dispensers in bathroom stalls and contain details about NTT’s public Wi-Fi networks and smartphone travel guide app. Aside from sanitation, these wipes hope to address concerns such as the difficulty of foreigners in connecting to Japan’s public Wi-Fi.

The initiative became a prominent topic on social media. One user mentioned the possibility of accidentally mixing up the smartphone toilet paper with the regular roll while using the facility. However, one supporter said that using these wipes is more convenient than cleaning a smartphone with tissue paper and alcohol. Another supporter commended the Japanese for the clever idea.

The invention of these wipes is a testament to the country’s regard for cleanliness. It is the latest addition to the wide range of toilet features already available in Japan. Some examples include built-in toilet heaters, streams of warm water and air, and odor-eliminating function.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from airports, in what other places can smartphone wipes be installed? Discuss.
·         Do you think that the installation of smartphone wipes can encourage observance of sanitation practices? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What sanitation practices do you observe? Explain.
·         Why is the observance of sanitation practices important? 

March 13, 2017