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...

Friday, 24 February 2006

Blog wins Gold!

In an international Olympic first a skater representing the popular and well known Blog Arakawa Riverview has won a gold medal. See this BBC report for more details.

Go Arakawa Go!

Monday, 20 February 2006


So it was a happy weekend for Japan, this one just gone. First up a Chinese born woman with a Japanese husband stabs two 5 yr old girls to death – she was taking them to kindergarten with her own 5 year by car, a system introduced to protect kids from strangers and, it was hoped, danger. Then in the paper today there were the headlines ‘Woman stabs son, self in apparent suicide bid’, followed by ‘Man hangs self after strangling daughter’. Oh what a happy world we live in.

I don’t know, seems like there are more and more of these kinds of things going on, indeed I think I might have written about it only a few weeks or months ago, and here I am again. What I find stranger is that, well, I know suicide is quite a big thing in Japan, not frowned upon as the coward’s way out as it is in the West, but rather more a heroic thing to do (at least it was, I mean the old connotations of suicide are more glorified than in the west – death or glory, you’ll never take me alive, seppuku, that sort of thing), but now there seems to be a definite ‘not just me but I’ll take someone with me as well, as in the two headlines from the paper.

The first case, with the mother killing the two little kids, is truly shocking as there seems to be little, so far, in the way of motive, except that the woman seemed a little upset that she had to take part in the car-pooling for the kids and that she blamed the other kids (and, I guess, mothers) for her kid not being able to fit in and make friends (which, of course, the little kid will be very able to do from now on!). But of course this sort of thing is not without precedent. A few years ago, before this blog started perhaps (or maybe not, I forget), a mother in Tokyo murdered the friend of her daughter, again about 5 years old or so, as she was jealous of the girl getting into a prestigious kindergarten (no doubt paying a wad of ‘gift’ money into the bargain as well). That one shocked the nation: ‘how could she do it?’; ‘all because of a kindergarten?’ and ‘how could jealousy drive a mother to kill a little girl?’. But I reckon there were a few, in the long dark nights, given the extremely competitive nature of schooling in this country, and especially Tokyo, who could see what drove the mind of that particular woman and, whilst never sympathise with her, could find a tiny bit of empathy for her. Or I could be completely wrong, of course.

But no, the other two in the headlines strike a different kind of chord. OK, end of tether has been reached and you just can’t go on with your life. Suicide seems to be the only option open to you and a decision is made. But this is not a spontaneous decision as not only do you plan to do away with yourself, but you decide that someone else is going to come with you. And not only that but a member of your own family as well. Maybe I don’t remember reading about this stuff in the UK, or maybe t happens all the time now I don’t live there, I don’t know, but it seems to be happening more and more in this country and, I guess this is my point, no one really seems to be that bothered about it. I mean, I would expect politicians to be up in arms about this, or at least appear to be as family groups would be putting pressure on them to do something about it. But no, not a mention. Don’t get me wrong, politicians do get up in arms about the breakdown of moral fibre in this country, but that is invariably focused on kids and teenagers who are disrespectful to their elders (i.e. the politicians, to whom everyone should be disrespectful), who talk funny, are slovenly and who are, generally, teenagers. But parents killing their kids and then committing suicide, well, that seems to be acceptable, or, at least, not something anyone can do anything about, so best keep quiet about it.

Snow etc

But luckily for Japan we have the Winter Olympics in Turin to take our minds off all the nasty stuff going on. What with all the gold, silver and bronze medals the boys and girls have bee raking in the ski jumping, speed skating and...sorry...ah. As of this morning’s newspaper even Team GB had more medals than Japan, with its proud heritage and great expectations – OK, GB has only a lone silver in the skeleton, whatever that is, but it is better than nothing. And Japan may well overtake us seeing as they have the women’s figure skating to come and their women’s curling team beat GB putting us, it looks, out of contention for a medal. But it is interesting to watch the events, late in the evening before going to bed, and wonder if there are any sports going on which Team Japan are not involved in – there are, of course, like ice hockey and bobsledding, but as Japan aren’t in those, NHK doesn’t care and wont show them. But hey, we’ve been here before with the summer games in Greece in ’04 so we know all about the tv coverage.

On a lighter note

In the last week the young ‘un has made great strides, literally. On Valentine’s day last week he finally decided that ok, maybe he would give this crawling lark a try and set off around the living room but in the ‘commando’ style of pulling himself along with his arms. Then on maybe Friday he thought he’d try a new stage so started doing the crab style thing on hands and toes, not moving, just getting into the position (if you don’t know, this is a precursor to standing up). Then today he managed to pull himself into a standing position all by himself (well, with the help of the sofa, but all the upwardness of thrust came from his legs, not mum or dad). And finally, this evening, he actually crawled properly for the first time, i.e. moving arms and legs at the same time.

So, well done youngster, a very productive week.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Thank goodness

Was studying on Sunday, as I am wont to do and as mentioned in last week’s post. Also mentioned in the post last week was that I am getting a little worried as I couldn’t find the angle to hang the dissertation on. Well, that is now past tense as yesterday, luckily, finally, I got my epiphany, that moment of insight where suddenly you can see the form, see the structure, see what it is you are going to do and, more importantly, just how you are going to be able to do it. I’m just a tad relieved by this, as you may have guessed, as I was getting quite worried about the whole dissertation thing. I won’t bore you with the details as I am sure that you are not really that interested and am hoping that I might write something more interesting soon (not sure if I can help with that one this week, I’m afraid), but suffice it to say that, after having come through the other side, I can look back and think that it is so obvious that how on earth could I miss it? But I did, for quite a while, but no longer – now I can see where to go, what research needs to be done, who I need to research and what sort of thing to ask them. Phew!

Otherwise it was a quiet week. The boss was away on hols, which was good, but it meant that the MD came to me with questions, rather than the boss. This is not good as the MD is thick, doesn’t listen, speaks without thinking, says yes to the CE and no to everyone else and is generally crap and for whom nothing is ever her fault. And no, I don’t like her either. Luckily she only came to me with one question over the budget, for which I gave her the correct answer, which she didn’t like, then realised there was no way around what I told her so appropriated my answer as her own idea and told the CE. No response yet from the CE but if he doesn’t like what he hears you can be sure that the answer will be appropriated back to me with alacrity. But the boss is back now so the deflector shield is back in operation.

In the news it seems another of the royals is going to have a baby. This is interesting for me only the sense of the succession, which I may have mentioned over the recent weeks. As you know currently only men may become head of state of Japan i.e. Emperor (obviously as a woman cannot be Emperor only Empress, but currently that cannot happen was what I meant). This is an issue as there are no male children ready after the current crown prince accedes the throne – he only has a daughter, princess Akiko, and that one was hard enough to come by, if the tabloids are to be read. Anyway the Kool Kid has proposed changing the law to allow women the top job, for which the country has become divided – most people think it is a good idea, whilst a bunch of bigoted, misogynistic old farts who happen to be vocal and quite powerful (including members of the royal family) disagree. Anyway it was announced last week that another member of the royal family is now preggers, I think it is the wife of one of the crown prince’s brothers, perhaps. So now everyone, including the Kool Kid, has said ‘whoa there, maybe we have been a bit hasty in saying we’ll change the constitution as the couple might have a boy’. That the princess is only 6 weeks pregnant (i.e. in prime ‘problem’ territory) seems not to have occurred to anyone. Also, no one seems to have asked the crown prince his views on his daughter being bumped out of the way, or indeed if it is constitutionally possible, seeing as the unborn prince/princess-ling is not in direct, oldest male heir to the throne lineage thing. And of course it might be a girl anyway.

But hey, Japan was trying to take another step into the 20th century, so you have to give them credit for that.

Anyway, here are some photos of the youngster, who is in fine fettle indeed.


Standing #1
Standing #1

Who farted?
who farted?

Playing #1
Playing #1


Paparazzi shot
Paparazzi shot

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Get your Chuck Norris facts here. Cool.

Monday, 6 February 2006


All seems a bit quiet at the moment, and I’m not just talking about this house now that the young ‘un is in bed and snoozing away (though he did just wake up for his three hourly ‘where’s my food?’ grizzle, all quiet now).

No, Japan itself seems on the quiet side, perhaps it is the weather. The Livedoor thing that I wrote about last week is still rumbling on and Horie has decided to go with the cunning defence of ‘I’m not guilty of anything’, which seems to have temporarily stumped the inquisition and so who are getting their best man onto it (whoever he may be, though the Yomiuri did allude to the fact that the person investigating was a super top dog in the investigative dept, usually the sort of bloke who investigates war crimes and terrorist activities – obviously a dangerous man then, Horie...)

Also the construction scandal is ongoing – this was a little bit cooler today as they inspectors went to one of the suspect buildings that is located about 200metres from this very computer desk. The Guru saw it on telly was tempted, only for a second mind, to go down and wave at the camera. Anyway I may well walk past the block tomorrow on the way to work, just to be nosy of course, see if there is anything interesting going on – though I doubt it as that was probably today and, more importantly, it will likely be snowing tomorrow morning so I fear the inspectors with their hard hats will be holed up somewhere with a nice cup of tea.

Japan also seems quiet in comparison to the rest of the world, especially in connection with the whole Danish cartoon imbroglio. I don’t know if there is a large Moslem community in Japan, I figure there must be as there seem to be a community pretty much everywhere you go, but I have yet to see of any demonstrations outside the Danish embassy here (just noticed that word capitalises the major religions of the world – never knew that). Perhaps if there is a Moslem community here they have been influenced by the Japanese laissez-faire attitude to religion and so just go with it, I don’t know, but seems a little odd to me. Not that I am complaining, of course, as has been said before there is enough hate in the world already without people adding to it, but I feel it is being taken a little bit too far when some radical cleric starts on about trying and executing the cartoonists for blasphemy, especially in a secular European country – no sense of humour, obviously. Then again the western world realises (or at least should) that doing something like drawing cartoons of Mohammed is going to provoke a pretty serious, negative reaction. But of course that shouldn’t mean they don’t do it, if that were the case then freedom of speech would go out of the window (where if may be going anyway). Anyhoo not much of a reaction that I have seen on these shores.

So, what with all this deafening non-committance going on I thought ‘well, if George W can have a state of the union speech about what’s going in his life, I shall do the same’.


The young ‘un is coming along a treat, right now. He is slowly but surely becoming more mobile, when we were back in Blighty for Christmas it looked as if he was making very rapid progress towards crawling, but since we came back he sort of gave up the ghost. Until this last week gone by, really, when I think he decided enough was enough and he’d better get moving. So he started scooting about on his arse, pushing himself backwards and moving happily from sprawling to sitting and back again, but always in a rearwards direction. This weekend he started lifting his tummy off the floor in a kind of press-up (or push-up, for our US audience) pose – not crawling, that, but only a small leap, as it were, from there to standing on his own. He hasn’t managed that leap, yet, but with a help he is standing quite happily, supporting himself (though holding on to who or whatever is closest) and smiling mightily at the enjoyment of it. Indeed he is a most smiley baby and seems to be enjoying himself almost all the time – some kids sound like they are ultra hard work but Marcus just looks like he’s having a ball. His motor skills are also coming on a treat, picking stuff up, throwing stuff at mum and dad, exploring what he can do and getting into activities like ‘open the cupboard door’ and ‘what happens if I pull this cord really hard?’ – and no, it doesn’t matter how much you think you have baby-proofed your house, they’ll always find something else to pull/push/shake/etc. He’s also very much enjoying his food, onto three square meals a day now, which means that the poor Guru is either cooking, or thinking of things to cook, pretty much all day.

Talking of the Guru she is doing very well except for the fact she is tired and shagged out by the end of each day. This would be easier to cope with if the little ‘un was able to sleep through the night, but this has so far eluded him and he still awakens around midnight and 3 am, looking for a tasty morsel to get his chops around, something which due to biology I cannot help with, if you get my drift. Thus the Guru’s days, and nights, seem to be spent dealing with food for him in some respect. And thinking of things to feed him isn’t easy as for about 10 days he had diarrhoea, which might have been to do with what he was eating, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest and then the doc said it was because of a cold (er, so let’s get this straight, it’s a cold that involves no snot, no fever, no cough, just lots of watery shit? Right...). Anyway that meant he missed his polio shot at the beginning of Feb as it would have gone straight through him, apparently, and will miss the next available one in May as he will be having another shot, MMR perhaps, so will have to wait until September as for some reason you can’t just pitch up and get a polio shot in Japan, they are only given at specific times by specific doctors. No idea why it is (dis)organised like that, but it means that our trip to west Africa has had to be postponed.

As for yours truly, my dissertation is uppermost in my mind at the moment (well, uppermost in what’s left of my mind that isn’t think ‘I don’t want to be here, I want to be at home with Marcus’, which isn’t a lot). The studying is going at the moment, but I’m not sure if it going ‘well’ or not. I know what the theme of the dissertation is, that’ll be teacher recruitment, selection and induction, but what I don’t have is a conceptual framework to hang it all on at the moment (that’ll be nonsense jargon for not knowing how to structure my research, what exactly to research or how to go about it). Still, at least I know what I want to look at, which is a start, but I need to get a bit more focused as the research methods module I’m doing has to be submitted in May and is essentially two sections of the dissertation itself (how the research will be done and the literature review), so better get some ideas soon or could be a little stuck in a couple of months – I think having 6 months off, a month back on then a three weekend holiday to the UK has meant I am out of practice and the stop-start return hasn’t helped. But mustn’t whinge as it won’t help and, looking on the bright side, it will all be over by December.

Right, that’s enough for now, off to bed for me.

Oh, and well done England for stuffing the Welsh on Saturday evening! A fine performance all round (and well done to Scotland as well, what a result), shame JSkySports has got such piss poor coverage of the rest of the 6 nations.