Monday, 15 November 2004


am desperately trying to think of something to write this evening, but the brain seems to have gone to bed. The guru is still pregnant, which is good news. Nothing really to add on that score - as I said in a comment the other day, last week she went to the hosp where they took another armful of blood, this time to do some checks to ascertain the likelihood of there being genetic problems with the baby. If the guru has a higher than average chance, which is likely as she is a little older than normal for a first kid, then they will do more tests, almost certainly an aminocentesis, which is particularly nasty and about 3% or something of which end in premature birth or miscarriage. Don't want to do this unless we really have to. Plus, as with eveything here, it costs a shit load more cash. Anyway the results of the initial blood test will be ready next week, so I'll keep everyone posted.

And of course we've been thinkning about names. Big P was wondering about this as well, and he has a vested interest as he will be a grandfather all over again. The common practice of mixed parents here seems to be to give any offspring a western first name and a Japanese middle name. This is all well and good but may well get tricky later as Japanese aren't allowed to have middle names, the system can't cope with it. I wrote before about how to choose names in Japanese, but hadn't really considered this important point. It was bought home to me by a colleague talking about a western friend of hers who had a daughter with a Japanese chap and went to japanese then english names (they had also decided to form a double barrelled surname), until they came to register the kid and found that they were fine with the first name being something like 'Noriko' but the rest of the name had to squashed into one box, as it were, and ended up being Janeyamaguchirobertson - not a good way to go through life, I suspect.

This becomes important when kids get to 22. Japanese are unique, you see, so if you have a Japanese passport you can't have one from another country as well. You're Japanese or you are not, nothing in between. So kids with mixed parents have to choose, when they get to 22, what they want to be. If our kids chose to be British they would have to apply for a visa to stay in Japan just like every other foreigner - though admittedly they would have an easier time of it and there are special visas that people in this situation can obtain. Anyway, seems a bit rum to me and I can't think of too many other countries that put those sorts of limits onto its citizens - mainly as I haven't thought about it really, I guess Krazy Kim wouldn't be too happy if his North Korean charges could get hold of valid second passports, or the Chinese for that matter. Ah, must be dictatorships then...

On that score Krazy Kim has been very quiet recently. The jug eared deserter that is Mr Jenkins has finally been dishonourably discharged from the US army, forty years after going awol, in a move that didn't really surprise anyone at all. I mean, were the American authorities really going to charge a 70 old bloke with a dicky-ticker? I think not. I think Kim has been keeping schtum to see how the US election went. Over here it has all been a bit low key. Koizumi said he was happy, everyone else seemed to think he's mad, which is perhaps why he and bush get on so well.

What the papers don't say

One interesting thing that I saw was this. As you can see from ther link there was a hoohah in the British press about a manga artisit who tried to draw realistic depictions of the rape of Nanking in the weekly comic Young Jump. However when he did this, using original photographs, he was hounded into changing his artwork by members of the far right who denounced his work and did the usual right wing type things of denying the atrocity ever happened, that it is exaggerated, that it wasn't them and that they were forced to do it (all usually in the same sentence). Now, I might have been overly lax in my scanning of the papers over the last week or two, but I can remember no mention of this anywhere. The guru, whom I asked about this after discussing it with the aforementioned big p, knew nothing of it either. So how is it that this story was reported in the British press but not here in Japan? Because the press is a bit crap, that's why. They have been getting better recently, as has been noted in these very pages, somewhere, but this just seems a bit shite to me - unless of course the right wing nutters hounding this artist chap are also the people who own the newspapers, not unlikely considering some of the editorials I read in the Yomiuri of a morning. (In the interests of blogger impartiality I just Googled Hiroshi Motomiya, the author of the comic, and found the Telegraph article link as above, but none on the first few pages to a Japanese newspaper, weird that).

Anyway, the right wing chaps are always at this sort of thing. I did read the other day that some were arrested on a Tokyo (I think) street for selling hinomaru flags (that'll be the flag of Japan to those not in the know). They were forcing passers-by to buy these flags for up to 60,000 yen, that's 300quid, and loudly denoucing people for being unpatriotic if they didn't. This is one of the things that led the Emperor, no less, so murmur the other day that he thought it was wrong to force school teachers and other public servants to stand to attention and face the flag when the national anthem is played (something like 200 hundred teachers were reprimanded for not doing this earlier in the year in Tokyo). Now you would think that the Emperor saying this would mean that people in Japan would listen and respect his words. But of couse the Imperial Household Agency, which as far as I can tell is the worst kind of 'power behind the thrown' type set up, immediately issued a press release that said basiclly yes, the Emperor did say that, but what he meant by it was actually quite different in that people who don't stand to attention during the national anthem should be flogged and/or be forced to watch the Sound of Music 18 times in a row.

Caused a bit of a furore that as the Geneva convention has very strict limits on the number of times a person can be forced to watch the sound of music - amnesty international is monitoring the situation as I type...


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