Haiku reflections on Japan, International or other matters

Poetry Day

Happy national

poetry day to all my

fellow haiku scribes!

 

Well, for the day that’s in it – National Poetry Day – I thought I should come back and write a post.  I haven’t been around in a while despite all that’s been going on over in Japan’s part of the world:

North Korea is

posing a bigger threat but

Aso still an ass.

 

Yes, North Korea is one thing but having a minister like Aso on your team who says things like ‘H~~~ had the right idea in the 1930s’ (won’t type out his name for obvious reasons) is no help to politics in Japan or Japan’s reputation abroad.  You’re on the brink of being wiped out by a bullying nutcase neighbour and you hero worship another genocidal nutcase from the past?   What an ass (to put it mildly).   Shinzo Abe with his raised right arm tendencies doesn’t help either!!    I’m glad he’s getting a scare from the current governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, who has formed a new party which is already threatening his poll ratings, already low.  She says she won’t run against him in the next elections to be PM because she wants to focus on Tokyo 2020.    She was his defence minister at one point and is a conservative populist (don’t like that word too much) but apparently she wants to challenge the political old guard. Becoming the first female governor of Tokyo has given her a good start there!   The Party of Hope is the name of her party. Let’s hope it lasts a while and doesn’t turn bad.  She certainly is scaring him in the polls.  We can’t let long-time leaders like right-arm raising Abe get too comfortable can we.     Things are certainly looking very dark over there right now, even with the Party of Hope hoping to bring some light in.  I’m almost glad I’m not in Japan these days.

Speaking of darkness of another kind, and onto one of my favourite topics of conversation, film, A third murder, Hirokazu Koreeda’s most recent film (for the first time in a while, or ever, not really about family issues which is his speciality), which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this year, explores the dark side of being a lawyer defending a client who admits to a crime even if the lawyer doubts his guilt.  Is he covering up for someone? Well, who cares!!  I’d like to see this at some point.

 

Kore-eda strikes

again to give us a slice

of life in Japan.

 

I have another film to see before that, which is also about a pretty dark area of society – American society.   It’s called Wind River, set on a reservation (the actual Wind River reservation where it was filmed) in Wyoming where an experienced park ranger helps an inexperienced FBI agent to investigate the death of a young Native American woman, found lying dead in the snow.   Missing or murdered Native American women (and First Nation women in Canada) is an ongoing problem, mostly neglected if not ignored by authorities (in Canada at least, I’m not as sure about the US) and reservations in America have other problems too.    Some very good actors in this and it’s directed by the man who screen-wrote Hell or High Water last year (also a very good film where Jeff Bridges, a very good actor most will agree, as the Texas Ranger chasing sibling bank robbers – robbing branches of the bank which has taken back their ill mother’s farm/house – has his scenes stolen (geddit?) by the actor playing his Native American (Comanche)-Mexican partner, who plays the grieving father of the murdered young woman in Wind River – a brilliant character actor).  I’ve read some very interesting books lately exploring the history of Native Americans and the American West.  I  admire to some extent the chiefs and rebels from various tribes who resisted and only gave in for the good, or so they were led to think, of their people.  They were robbed in every way and yes the murder of settlers by some Indians was definitely not right either but ‘there were good and bad Indians and good and bad whites but the whites only saw the bad in the Indian’, to paraphrase a quote from one leader.  Incidentally, one of the books covers the Texas Rangers who were originally created as a form of militia back in the 19th century in order to hunt down Indians.  There were some white figures in US history who come out looking relatively good but not enough of them. I’ve watched and am watching some dramas and documentaries on the subject as well (which also cover earlier periods, in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the early pilgrims arrived in the East of the States) but the books are brilliant.   I got both out of the library – and am waiting for another one, long live libraries – but am planning to buy one of them now so I can have it in my collection to refer to in the future.   Definitely not a book that will be left in 積読/tsundoku state (the Japanese term for books bought and then left piled up and unread) – not that many books I buy are.

Back to Japan, well I don’t think there is that much else happening there at the moment (though on the positive side, in terms of film, it’s nice to see good films continuously coming out, especially by Hirokazu Kore-eda).  They have their hands full I imagine with North Korea, and certain idiotic politicians.

So that’s it for today.  I hope no-one minded me going off-track there to talk about a non-Japanese issue.   Actually, apart from the fact the film mentioned is a worthy one (and starting a film blog is something I’m not ready to do yet), there are some parallels in the story of native Americans with Japanese history, as back in the 19th century if not earlier, the Japanese government also mistreated and wiped out most of the Ainu, the aboriginals of Japan.  They also humiliated other Japanese who weren’t seen as equal to them.   They could do what they wanted and got away with it.

 

The world is small with

governments showing

evil in common

 

More in another while.

 

 

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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

Happy ending (?) in Hokkaido

Happy ending in

Hokkaido for lucky child

sparks needed debate

 

Good to know that the 7 year old boy abandoned by his parents as punishment in the Hokkaido woods has been found safe and well.    How he survived on only water while staying in that hut was amazing.   Kids are tough but it’s amazing to find he survived without eating, with only water to drink, and no wonder his first words,after confirming who he was, were ‘I’m hungry’.    Sounds like any child to me : ) Who knows why he went so far. The innocent curiosity of a child who underestimated the wilds of Hokkaido,  not taking his parents seriously (if you throw stones at moving cars and people then you can’t be that worried about what your parents will say), or something deeper.

You don’t have to be a parent to comment on this.  We were all kids once right?  The parents went way too far.   A few minutes alone is a long time in the mind of a child.  The 5 km he walked until he found the hut is a lot for a child too.  According to a website I found measuring walking distances, 5 km would take a healthy fit adult walking at a leisurely pace an average of 60 minutes (about 45 minutes if they were more purposeful) so it probably took him, with his little legs, much longer (leisurely or purposeful = not taking the mick here but being scared of animals or other things and looking for somewhere to sleep before nightfall would fall in to the purposeful category I would imagine).   The people from the local village looking for him obviously did not reckon on him going so far.

As a person without kids, I hesitate to suggest what I would have done but I will as I’ve looked after enough of them (thus acting as guardian for however long or short a time). They could have spoken with him about why he felt the need to throw stones at cars and people.   Or maybe bribed him with something until they got home and then given him a good talking to.    This will no doubt reflect badly on them but I’m not saying they were to blame for such disconcerting behaviour.  He could have picked up this behaviour from kids at school or seen it on tv.  It will still reflect badly on them.  They were lucky he wasn’t killed by a bear or attacked by something else or someone else in those 7 days.

Who knows how awful the kid feels.  He is said to have accepted his father’s apology with a ‘nod’ and an ‘ok’.   That doesn’t mean much as he was maybe too ashamed to make a fuss in front of people as he probably knew of all the effort put in to looking for him. He might not have known what to say otherwise as maybe he’s not used to an apology from his parents.  Either way, when you’re that age,  your parents are supposed to be the sensible ones and the parents will come out looking the worst in this.

This has opened up a debate on treatment of children in Japan.  Spoilt or not (and they’re not all spoilt by any means, Japan has neglected kids like any country and even spoiling kids rotten to make up for absence is a sort of neglect), this would be terrifying for any child, even if they initially saw it as an adventure, and it will leave a mark on him though I have to say he still eventually needs to learn not to throw stones at cars or people or other living creatures ( just ward it off with a stick if possible).     A lesser punishment would obviously have been enough to teach him this.  Not leaving him at the side of the road for god knows who or what to find him.

Anyway I guess they feel bad enough as it is and are extremely ashamed.  The shame of making international headlines won’t help.   I hope the family sort this out between themselves and get to continue their lives in peace.

 

 

 

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