Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Not in the news this week

Well, not in the Japanese news anyway, which is odd. I was watching BBC world news this afternoon (having a relaxingly pleasant day not at work) and caught an odd story. It was a typical ‘dog bites man’ story in that it was about a dog that bit a man. What was odd about this was that firstly the dog was Romanian (not, in itself, odd, I grant you), whereas secondly, the man was Japanese. The third oddity in all of this was the fact that the man died of this bite to, if memory serves, his thigh. The fourth and oddest thing about all of this was that a Japanese man, a businessman as well, had died on a foreign shore and no one in Japan had reported it. To check that it was not just me that had missed it I checked with the Guru, who watches several TV news programmes a day and she had not heard of it either.

So, why the media conspiracy? What was the man doing? Why did the dog bite him? What are they trying to hide? And why are the authorities in Romania trying to silence the only witness to the whole affair – the dog? All very suspicious, if you ask me. Usually if something happens to a Japanese person in the big wide world it is a huge story here (and just to balanced about this, I think the news media every country takes a similar stance), but about this one there seems to be little. Although having said that there doesn’t seem to be much on the BBC news site now either, though there is a video news report about it that I am not going to watch, having seem it already. The Japanese media seem to be quite happy to show Japanese people getting in a muddle abroad – I seem to remember a report from a few years ago where a couple were in the middle east having a wander around and inadvertently found themselves in the middle of one of the Palestinian camps, Ramalla I think, just as the Israeli army sent in the troops to destroy the place. The Japanese couple looked extremely bewildered and not a little shocked – “we’ve been travelling for a while so were out of the loop” was their sheepish response.

Anyway back to this shaggy dog story. Apparently the carnivorous canine is now residing at the state’s pleasure and is scheduled to be put down, along with a large number of other dogs in Bucharest, as they seem to have something of a strays problem. One of the things I’m wondering about, though, is quite how a bite to the thigh can lead to death? I mean, if the dog was rabid or diseased you would think that it would have been put down immediately, but no, it is still around. Its plight is such that Brigitte Bardot is giving her two penny worth and trying to save aforesaid dog – and has been trying to save the stray population of Bucharest for a number of years. Interestingly the news report said that an agreement existed where, at the moment, only aggressive, dangerous or ill/diseased dogs would be put down – now I don’t know about you, but I think that a dog that attacks and kills a foreign businessman could quite possibly fall into all three categories and yet clemency has so far been the order of the day.

All very suspicious, if you ask me. Perhaps the dog is in the pay of the state, a hitdog, if you will. Perhaps the businessman wasn’t, actually, a businessman. Who knows...?

This doesn’t, of course, explain the lack of comment in the Japanese media. As I mentioned above, pretty much any country’s media, should one of their own fall on foreign soil, will be there in droves, talking to anyone they can get their hands on. Especially, in this country, the right wing, isolationist, be wary of foreigners section of the media who, one would have thought, would have pounced on this as yet more proof that it is a dangerous world out there so you are better off staying here. All, as I said, very odd

One thing that is odd but in a very different way is Taro Aso – current foreign minister and possible future PM. Poor old Taro, everything he says the media (them again) take out of context and twist his words. So, when the media report that he said the Chinese should ‘just get over’ the fact that the Kool Kid prays at Yasukuni shrine (praising, as we know, class A war criminals), what he really said was the Chinese and all those other moaning Asians should get over it (possibly). And he didn’t really say that the occupation and colonisation of Taiwan was good for them (the Taiwanese) as it raised education standards – he said that it raised education standards as well as everything else on that emperor-forsaken rock (allegedly). Anyway what is odd is that this chap, with his record of foot-in-mouth disease, is the man entrusted with talking to the Iranians about their current uranium enrichment plans. I mean, a slightly unbalanced, doctrinaire, twitchy Middle Eastern power with a lot of oil and a nuclear power station half built is moving slowly but surely along a path to nuclear weapon capability which the US and the west will not allow to come to pass and the guy who is charged with trying to talk them out of it is Taro? Uh oh...

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