As U.S. companies rush to imitate Japanese just-in-time (JIT) inventory management, it seems the Japanese themselves are having second thoughts about the system. For one thing, labor shortages have made it increasingly difficult for components suppliers to meet the JIT delivery schedules of large manufacturers. Meanwhile, Japan's cities have become gridlocked with delivery trucks for retailers that have jumped onto the JIT bandwagon. According to Automotive News, much of the problem has to do with 7-Eleven shops and other convenience stores taking delivery of seaweed-wrapped rice balls every two hours, in order to satisfy customers who insist on having fresh seaweed. The government is searching for solutions to the problem, but here's one we bet no one has considered: let 'em eat Twinkies. With a shelf life of 15 years, a Twinkie tastes pretty much the same at 10 a.m. as it does at noon, even to the sensitive Japanese palate.

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