Sunday, 13 July 2003

Various things on a Sunday

It seem that over the last couple of posts I have been criticising Japan and the things that go on here. This week is different. This week I am going to criticise Japanese politicians and the really idiotic things that they say. George Bush and Tony Blair with their "Iraq has lots of really nasty weapons of mass destruction, honest, no really" don't even come close to the sort of comment that Japanese politicans come out with. Consider the evidence:

Case #1: A group of guys from a Tokyo University set up a company that organises and runs parties for university students in the Tokyo area. These parties are big, really cool and everyone has to be there. Then 5 of these guys invite some poor unsuspecting and very drunk girl to a 'behind the scenes' area of one party and gang rape her. This gets into the papers and soon more girls come forward and say it has happened to them. Seiichi Ota, of the Liberal Democratic party and member of Parliament then comments to the press that gang rape is essentially a good thing as these chaps have more 'vigour' and therefore are more likely to halt the declining birth rate in Japan.

Case #2: Again in relation to the problem of declining birth rate, a problem facing most of the western world as well as Japan. This case involves Yoshio Mori. In case you don't know, Mori was actually elected Prime Minister and served without distinction for a year or two, before going the way of most PMs in Japan. Anyway, his startling answer to the problem is to deny any kind of pension payments to Japanese women who failed to have children. That'll teach them. Doesn't matter that they may have paid all their national insurance all their working lives. They shouldn't have been at work, they should have been at home either pregnant or trying to be. Again this comment was given to the national press, without one assumes, engaging the brain before opening the mouth.

Case #3: This is my favourite. you may remember the last post in which I mentioned a 12 year old boy who allegedly murdered a 4 yr old by throwing him off the 7th floor of a car park. This happened in Nagasaki and one of the government ministers who hails from that area, Yoshitada Konoike, came out with this gem. To quote "If we can't charge the boy with the crime, then we should drag his parents around the town and then decapitate them. This will show parents the necessity of raising morally upright children". That's right folks, parade them through town and then publically behead them. Again that'll teach them. Are these people living in the dark ages? And just in case you might have thought that Mr Konoike doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to children, he is the chairman of a government panel concerned with juvenile development and child-rearing. Oh, and don't forget, this child hasn't actually been accused of anything yet, or had a trial, or even benn arrested, he's just being questioned right now. God help the children of Japan.

Other than that, Japan is a great country and at least the trains run on where have I heard that before?


Not good news here either, I'm afraid. All the old coriander has gone the way of parents with deliquent kids (in the new Japan). Well, not all of it as the percy thrower coriander is still alive, although seem to be going the same way. The seedlings get to be about 2 inches high, then just start to flop and go pale and then slowly die. I've tried a little sun, lots of sun, a little water, lots of water, combinations of those, food, talking to them, everything, and still nothing. But, the basil is going great guns and it looks like it is going to stay. The rosemary and lavender are not doing too badly. Indeed the lavender, after a slow start, seems to have decided that it quite likes this whole growing lark and is getting into it in a big way. No flowers yet, but I reckon they are on their way. Lastly the olive tree and the coffee tree. The olive tree is still trying to do its upward thing rather than the outward thing that I would prefer. I tried the pinch out the new growth strategy, and this worked for a short while until it decided it prefered the upward thing and started again. But I have clipped it again in a vain attempt to get 'spread' - it is a battle of wills. Unlike the coffee tree, which is still making its own cobwebs and not growing. Don't know what to do about that one, but it doesn't seem to be dying, so I think I'll just leave it for the time being.


Last thing today is about Kabuki. For those not in the know, Kabuki is traditional Japanese theatre and has a reputation of being really, really dull. Well, I went to a kind of 'introduction to Kabuki' today, and so, speaking with some authority, can say that Kabuki is only quite dull. The again, I only had to endure about 90 minutes of very abridged wailing - I'm not not sure I could sit through a 'proper' 6 hour production.

It is awfully stylised stuff, with men playing women's roles and fight scenes where no-one actually touches each other. But it was bright and colourful and quite reasonably paced, so much so that it was quite like english theatre, especially as we were given a small headset that had a friendly voice telling you what was going on in English. But the most important scene (where the wife dies as she is in fact the earthly embodiment of the spirit of a willow tree that is being cut down) was so long and had so much unecessary wailing that it did give a good flavour of what a full on production would be like - really, really dull.

But hell, today I've done a bit of 'culture' - a word that would be useful for the politicians of this country to learn.

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