Monday, 20 June 2005

So a few things to mention this week...

...obviously the first being my total inability to 'mini-post' on this blog through the week so here I find myself again, tapping away at the keyboard on slightly humid but breezy Monday evening.

As mentioned in the last text post (hope you liked the photo's last week), the Friday before last was 'baby head wetting' evening, finally, about six seeks after the youngster was born, but better late than never. As I had announced this over the ether waves, it rapidly became an international affair with various family members, father parental and old drinking cronies deciding that things being as they are, they had better all join me and various august personages in Japan for the head wetting. Except that they were not to do anything as silly as actually come to Japan, oh no, they would raise glasses in whichever part of the UK they found themselves in. Nice work, except for the simple yet complex factor of international time zones. So whilst yours truly was sipping the first of not a few Yebisu beers in downtown Tokyo at 7pm local time, various persons were a loin girding in Blighty so at the appointed hour of midday UK/8pm Japan, we could all raise together.

But this wasn’t wholly acceptable to some who, unfortunately having to work, were not able to fully participate. However best foots were put forward and at least some were able to give it a crack and even, in a couple of cases, contact me via the magic of international subscriber trunk dialling to mobiles, or something, and so whilst I was not too pissed, I was able to talk nonsense to like minded individuals. And then do it all again at 3am Japan time which had been designated official UK toasting time as it conveniently fell at 7pm in the UK, or a nice time to get to the pub. Luckily I was still compos mentis at this time as was able to have quite probably the same conversations I had had not 8 hours before. At least I assume I did, buggered if I can remember.

Also mentioned in the last post was (at the time) forthcoming trip to watch rugby, this year Japan vs. Ireland Except For Their Good Players, who were on a two game tour of Japan as seems to be the want of European teams at this time of year – last year Steve and I got to watch Japan vs. Italy. Anyway Japan got stuffed 12-44 in the first game in Osaka and so all were hoping for a much-improved performance in the second game. And, whilst Japan were stuffed again, they did actually improve and at least take the fight to the Irish, scoring two tries (to seven), something they signally failed to do in Osaka. For Ireland David Humphries overtook Ronan O’Gara as the leading points scorer and, on his two performances, can think himself unlucky that it is O’Gara in New Zealand right now and not him. Japan tried their hardest, but their lot was summed up by this: Ireland kicked downfield from a ruck, the ball didn’t find touch, the Japan back three run it back and as the fullback takes the tackle the chasing Ireland line meets him at the Japan 10m line ahead of the still retreating Japan pack, turnover, two passes, stroll to the corner. Afterwards we carried on the general theme of rugby = drinking by wandering over to Shibuya and visiting this bar, which proved most convivial indeed.

What else? Now I know I seem to mention this an awful lot, but the whole Yasukuni/PM visit thing just won’t go away. The Yomiuri ran a series of articles a week or two ago trying to outline the causes of the issue and something came up that gave me pause. Seems that Yasukuni has only been a bone of contention since about the 1960s. After the war the souls of untold Japanese war dead were enshrined there but at the time the war criminal, as designated by the Tokyo war crimes trials, were not. In the sixties, then, a group representing the bereaved families of crims got together and began to lobby the govt for their ancestors to get some kind of recognition, although as the govt of the day pointed out, this decision was actually to be taken by Yasukuni shrine itself, or rather the priests thereof. So in, in think 1969, they decided to do so. At this stage the paper is unclear if there was much of an outcry, I suspect there probably was, but nothing like today it seems. Also I can’t remember if the article said that PM’s were visiting before the crims were enshrined, but they certainly are now.

Anyway, the interesting point I found out was this. One suggestion been mooted is to dis-enshrine the war crims, making the shrine a sort of tomb of the unknown soldier, but the main opposition to this comes from the group of bereaved families. Their argument, which worryingly appears to accepted at all levels, is that if the souls of their forebears were dis-enshrined, this would be tantamount to accepting the verdicts of the Tokyo war crimes trial. I don’t know about you, but I find it astounding that the country as a whole refuses to accept that they had any responsibility for the war and that the trials, and their outcomes, were not justified. I am sure their were issues with the trials, but to reject any notion of culpability means that these days, I fear, internationally they get what they deserve.

And on that happy note, I shall leave you.

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