Haiku reflections on Japan, International or other matters

Happy new year 2017

Less earthquakes, poor weather

more gems in cinema and

happy blog writing

 

Well, 2017 is fast approaching, just less than half a day left for me here but just a couple of hours away for Japan.   How amazing it would be to celebrate New Year’s in Tokyo.  I might try for next year.  Apparently, the countdown is going to be a second or more longer this year to ensure that world clocks match up with atomic clocks.  Sounds odd to me but I guess we have to make sure those atom seconds aren’t running ahead of us!  It will be odd for people who don’t know of this – they might be thinking ‘hey that was way too silent why isn’t everyone celebrating! Oh ok here we are!’

Speaking of silence, I’m re-reading the novel by Shusaku Endo and am finding it as brilliant as when I read it first.  The film Silence is coming out tomorrow in the UK and Ireland so I’ve got that in my diary to go and see.

Glad to see Shinzo Abe made his visit to Pearl Harbour.  That went as expected.   I saw an interesting documentary this week on a British television channel, known for good quality and credible documentaries, alleging that Pearl Harbour may just have happened with the prior knowledge, via newly discovered intelligence, of Churchill and Roosevelt, both hoping to bring the US into the war.  They apparently just let Japan get on with this attack much to the shock of certain senior navy staff who were unaware of this going on and genuinely were shocked when they found out (so Tora tora tora still is factual in depicting the shock of certain senior staff)

Meanwhile, Abe also has to keep on the good side of Russia who they are trying to negotiate with over the Kuril islands.   Putin is arrogant as ever in his negotiations.

While I don’t think it takes much to antagonise China, you can’t blame China and South Korea for wondering why Abe stays silent on apologies or at least expressions of ‘condolence and regret’ for Japan’s treatment of their two countries during and prior to World War II.  Maybe he thinks he does not need to given the fact that prior, less hawkish, Japanese prime ministers have done enough apologising which he maybe didn’t agree with at the time – ‘Right! That’s enough apologising to you two – we’re done!’   I know he needs the US on his side considering North Korea is threatening and China are always on the ready but I find his behaviour all so obsequious when it comes to the US, and now Russia.

I hope 2017 is a good year for people in Japan – less earthquakes, threatened or real, less freaky weather, less threats from their neighbour North Korea, more equality for women in the workplace and hopefully more good films come out of Japan (over anything else in my opinion as someone looking in).  I hope to make this a year I get to travel to Japan by which time I’ll have improved my Japanese a whole lot more.    Even if I haven’t, I’d survive no problem on what I have.

I hope 2017 is a good one for you all blog writers out there !!

 

 

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Haiku reflections on Japan

Silence

Silence from above,

struck dumb by mother nature

or awe-striking skill

 

Silence, the film based on the (very good) book by Shusaku Endo and which I’ve been waiting to see for a while and mentioned late last year , is finally coming out judging by the advertisements I’m seeing cropping up everywhere.  It stars Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield as the two Portuguese priests who go to Japan to look for their persecuted fellow priest played by Liam Neeson, and is directed by Martin Scorsese.   Ciaran Hinds, another Northern Irish actor, plays another big role. He’s a good choice I think.  I watched a trailer for it today.  I wonder how Scorsese settled on the first two actors here. Their Portuguese accents are actually ok from the trailer but will they hold up for a whole film?  I hope it doesn’t turn out like the actor who played Sam in Lord of the Rings who, I thought anyway, couldn’t stick to the one accent!! Or Hollywood attempts at Irish accents. Cringe.  If they chose actors with a natural non-native English accent, not necessarily Hispanic or Iberian, who also happened to have star appeal it might be better.  Or just not have accents at all.  Andrew Garfield actually looks good with a beard while Liam Neeson is looking super thin in his role (obviously given the conditions he ends up in he’s not going to be well fed but it’s so strange to see him so emaciated looking).   The role of the Daimyo (feudal lord) whom the two young priests and Neeson’s Fr. Ferreira encounter was supposed to be played by either Ken Watanabe or Koji Yakusho but I didn’t spot either of them in the trailer.  Maybe their schedules clashed but the man who seemed to be the Daimyo did look otherwise familiar as did another of the Japanese cast.   If it had been either, I think Yakusho would have been better. He has more of a presence I think.   Still, it’s good to see other actors getting to show their stuff.

In other good Japanese-related movie news, depending on how you see it, Toshiro Mifune has recently been given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.  I say depending on how you see it because if they can give one of these stars to a person like the US President Elect (which was actually vandalized during the elections), it makes it less meaningful to see it being given to a deserving film actor.   He’s not the first Japanese actor or actor of Japanese origin to get one. George Takei and the late Pat Morita (Mr Miyage!) have one well-earned star apiece as well.   George Takei has recently expressed a lot of concern about talk about camps for immigrants by the soon to be new White House resident, given that he himself had to enter one of the World War II American camps for Japanese immigrants as a boy.  He really is going after immigrants it seems.

Japan is somewhat worried at the moment, for one thing because of the earthquake and tsunami that struck yesterday in the Fukushima coastal region – luckily no one died this time but it’s naturally a cause of concern – and on a political level because the aforementioned white house creature has announced he wants to pull out of the proposed TTP agreement.    I don’t know the ins and outs of this agreement but it was something Barack Obama hoped to see ratified before he left office.   Another project of Obama’s that T has no time for it seems.

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International or other matters

イタリアでの地震

That long slender piece

of land called Italy has

been shaken again

The people of Japan and neighbouring regions, I’m thinking of China in particular, will understand how the people of Italy must be feeling and have been feeling for the last week or so, even months.  The central region of Italy has been hit by repeated aftershocks, – felt in Rome on one side of the country and towns on the Adriatic coast on the other side – of an earthquake in August.

So many old villages left in ruins and survivors left homeless.  It’s terrible.    I hope the survivors are keeping safe and I wish the disaster teams well in their work.

Though Italy has been hit in the past, they are saying that this is the worst succession of earthquakes/aftershocks in a long time – since 1980.   It’s hard to believe that there is a country in Europe so seismically active.

All the best to this country I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times – and will again – and which is the home of some lovely Italians I know or have met in the past.

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