Tuesday, 1 February 2005

And the baby is a...

...well, it is, according to the doctor at his most gnostic, a boy...or possibly a girl, definitely one or the other.

Well thank you for that, I must admit you had me worried there, but now my mind is well and truly put at ease. Dimwit. The guru had another check-up today, hence the delay in writing, as I foolishly thought there might be some news on that score, but no, just the usuals. The usuals this time around were: the baby is ok; it is now over 1000grams; whilst the baby has been putting on weight the guru actually managed to lose some by keeping a careful eye on the calories she eats (her husband, whilst she has been doing this, has been telling her to eat more, I might add, but to no avail). Basically all still going well with the pregnancy thing, mother and child are doing fine whilst father is still trying to catch up. So that leaves us with...

Japan as a world player

Poor old Japan, it really doesn't get it at all. There has been much rumbling in the press recently as Japan has been making it every-so-often bid to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The main reason, it seems, that Japan reckons it is owed a permanent seat is that Japan is the second biggest contributor to the UN funds, with only the Principality of Liechenstein giving more (possibly). Cash, it seems, equals power, and in most cases this is an absolute truth. But not for the UNSC, mainly because the more Japan clamours for a seat, the more it does really dumb things that makes everyone roll their eyes and smile into the handkerchiefs. Consider the recent couple of examples:

Refugees - I can't remember the exact details but is was something like this. A group of people pitched up in Japan, quite possibly Kurds from the middle east, and asked to be allowed to stay as they were refugees and if they were deported they would face the usual nastiness on their return 'home'. The UN got involved somehow, perhaps the group phoned the UN and asked if they could be designated as refugees "pretty please", to which the UN, always a sucker for this sort of thing, said 'oh all right then' and declared them thus. But the Japanese Immigration Bureau, to whom we dedicated unnumbered words a week or two ago, did not agree one bit with the UN and sent the group packing with a clip round the ear. So let's get this straight, you're really into getting a seat on arguably the most powerful UN body and in order to ingratiate yourself with the voting committee you pronounce the judgements of an almost equal body to be invalid and do exactly the opposite of what they recommend. Hmm, I wonder what the UN head of Refugees had to say to the head of the UNSC about Japan candidateship...?

Foreigners - They just keep turning up and gettng in the way, if only they would stay out of Japanese affairs the place would be a much better place. Excellent ruling from the Japanese high court this week on a case that has been rumbling on for a good few years. A woman by the name of Chong Hyang Gyun was refused permission to sit an exam that, if she passed would put her in charge of other healthcare workers for the Tokyo Metropolitan govt. Her name doesn't sound Japanese, this is because she is officially Korean. As has been pointed out on these pages before, a large number of Koreans were forcibly repatriated to Japan in WWII to work as slave labour in factories and, at war's end, stayed in Japan for whatever reason. These people, and their children, grand children and great grand etc have been denied Japanese nationality even though they may have only the most tenuous links with the Korean peninsula. Chong Hyang Gyun was one of these, a second generation Korean who is, to all intents and purposes, Japanese. She was also very good at her job and so, on the encouragement of colleagues applied to take an exam to gain promotion. She was denied this by the Tokyo Metropolitan govt on the grounds that foreigners could not be put in positions where they would have to give orders to Japanese public/government workers - who knows what havoc they could wreak? So she sued, stating that even if she couldn't take the position, she should be allowed to at least sit the exam [her logic]. After battles through the various levels of courts the Supreme jobbie had the final say this week and said, as if it was any surprise, that the govt had not acted in an unconstitutional manner and that foreigners are indeed dangerous and Japanese are unique. Now the point to make here is not so much the ruling itself, as I would be surprised if there are many countries that would too many decision making repsonsibilites to non-nationals in the public services. No, the point, I think, is that an awful lot of Japanese seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to maintain the fiction of a sub-class of residents who are Japanese in every way except that the govt has decided that they officially are not. As long as rights are denied to these "citizens" then Japan should have no chance whatsoever of gaining more influence or power in the UN.

More Pesky Foreigners - Otaru, Hokkaido has a problem. Stinky Russians keep coming over and using their onsen baths. But, damn them to hell, they don't know how to use them properly. OK, we have two options here. We could try welcoming them and then educating them on Japanese bath etiquette so they fit right in. Hmm, you mentioned another option...? Yes, we could just ban all foreigners from using baths in our town. This kind of intrigued a chap by the name of David Aldwinckle who decided to test it out. He gained Japanese citizenship (I doubt expressly to test the situation, but you never know) and tried to visit the 'ringleader' onsen with some chums, a mixture of Japanese and foreign. He, not surprisngly, was refused entry, even though he is officially Japanese, along with the other foreigners, whilst the Japanese were let in. Why? He looked foreign therefore he wasn't allowed in. His two daughters? The foreign looking one no, but the Japanese looking one ok! Naturally he took the onsen to court over racial discrimination but, and this is where the eye rolling starts, the court found in favour of the onsen, saying something like 'theye is no actual legal definition of racial discrimination in the UN charter [to which Japan is a signatory] so the onsen is free to decide what it wants to do' or something like that. Anyway you can read all about this chap and his one man crusade against discrimination here, and I would urge you to do so as it is fascinating stuff. So, this UN thing on discrimination, more like a guideline, right? Anyway about that seat...

But these are just three examples of the Japanese tendency to shoot themselves in the feet. I mean, for the court to decide that the UN Refugee agency doesn't know what it is talking about, or to decide that the UN doesn't really understand its own mandate on rascism, well, they're not exactly making any friends in the UN, now are they...

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