Saturday, 16 July 2005

Summer's here

I know this for two reasons - firstly because NHK have told me, well, they have told me that the rainy season (the bastard offspring "5th" season that no one talks about) has finished in Kyushu and Shikoku. Eagle-eyed action men amongst you will realise that this does not cover the kanto region, of which Kawaguchi is a part, but it probably will tomorrow and that is near enough for me. Indeed today was warm enough and humid enough to be considered summer in my book, though the actual sunny-ness of summer is still somewhat lacking.

The second, and far more important and trustworthy, reason I know it is summer is that I purchased the season's first bottle of gin and have, this evening, been quietly and pleasurably supping on a number of pleasant G&T's. Even better is that this year, after reading something in some newspaper that says a G&T must be made with 47.5% gin, I have decided to splash out a little and gone for Bombay Sapphire, rather than the usual Gordon's or cheapest other alternative. Well I say 'splash out', but for some reason gin, in Japan, is ridiculously cheap. A regular bottle of 40% Gordon's is less than a fiver (980 yen in the marvellous alocholic emporia that is MyMart) whilst aforesaid Bombay is eight quid, against a price in the UK of about sixteen (so thedrinkshop reliably inform me - and that's for the 40% stuff) and is, I can now confirm, very much worth the extra 600yen or so that I paid for it.

So, roll on the official summer proper. I will be off to Seijo Ishii international supermarket to get my bottle of Pimms No. 57 very soon as well.

And also...

Something that caught my eye in the paper today that I thought I ought to comment upon, incase you missed it, of course. Currently in Japan there is a concern about the the future, the ageing population, lazy youngsters and what to do about it all and luckily, in June, there was a symposium to sort it all out. The meeting singled out a recent SMAP song entitled "Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana" (One and only Flower in the World) as, essentially, being at the root of all Japan's social and economic woes. Apparently the group and song have the temerity to suggest that each and every person is special in their own way, as far as I read it, which is, according to Masaaki Taira, chairman of Japan Junior Chamber, Inc's Kanto District Council, nonsense.

Apparently (and I am not making any of this up) "SMAP's song includes a line that says, 'You don't have to be No. 1. You're always special and the only one.' But such a 'special and only one' doesn't exist. Education should aim to teach students how to prepare to fit in with life in the competitive society." [my italics]

He was referring specifically to Japan's problem with NEET's (those Not in Employment, Education or Training - aka people who don't want to get a job) and Freeters (not sure exactly what it stands for but refers to graduates who take part time jobs in, for example, convenience stores to ensure ample free time to enjoy oneself, but still have some cash available, thereby doing the minimum to get by). These types of young renegades are doing irrepairable damage to people like Taira's chances of getting a decent pension as they don't pay into the national systems like full time employed people, and he is not happy about it, obviously.

Naturally this is SMAP's fault, rather than Taira's or the government's, as SMAP are encouraging young people not to work. It is, of course, quite plausible that SMAP could provide education, jobs and/or training to the millions of people that this affects, or Taira and the govt could do something about it...

But luckily for both, I have the solution - something that is simple, won't cost the govt any money. If Taira and the govt are really worried about NEET's and Freeters not working and not contributing to society all they need to do is pass a law that says no one between the ages of, say, 25 and 55 (thereby allowing for that potentially tricky time between graduation and first 'real' job - and later looking after aged folks), is allowed to live with their parents but must go out and rent, and eventually buy if possible, a place of their own. Having to pay their own rent, rather than sponging absolutley everything off their parents and making no contribution to the household budget whatsoever, will ensure they get themselves motivated to work pretty damn toot sweet I reckon.

Becomming more conservative in my old age? Not me...

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