Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2008

Japanese and Chinese people to candidly discuss disputed matters….  Musings hachiyorenge

Fujio Akatsuka, the late cartoonist, observed the end of war on Aug. 15, 1945, in northeastern China, then Manchuria, when he was 9 years old. That evening, he saw the red sky become almost completely covered by a huge, ominous flock of crows. That scene of contrasting black and red was the most impressive of his childhood and he remembered it throughout his life.

“Watashi no Hachigatsu Jugonichi” (My August 15), a collection of pictures by about 100 cartoonists about their experiences on that day was published in Japan in 2004. A Chinese version will soon be published by People’s Daily Publishing House, which was approached by the Japanese people involved.

The collection includes works of many cartoonists who were in Manchuria when the war ended, including Akatsuka and Tetsuya Chiba.

Some of the works depict family members in a rural town who talk about their readiness to commit suicide after hearing Emperor Showa’s statement broadcast on radio that Japan had surrendered or that people were fleeing the advancing Soviet troops.

In China, many young people are fans of Japanese comic books. But the same young people harbor anti-Japanese feelings over historical issues, according to “Chugoku Doman Shinjinrui” (A New Breed of Chinese Who Love Anime, Manga Comics) written by Homare Endo, a professor emeritus at Tsukuba University, and published by Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. Endo has conducted a survey on the sentiments of Chinese students.

How will the collection of pictures depicting Japanese feelings about the war be received by Chinese people? The answer has yet to be known, but there is one thing for sure: New buds are sprouting, allowing Japanese and Chinese people to candidly discuss disputed matters.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

日中の間で本音の議論をする芽が生まれつつある・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
亡くなった漫画家の赤塚不二夫さんは、9歳の時に中国東北部(旧満州)で終戦の日を迎えた。夕刻、カラスの大群が真っ赤な夕空を不気味に埋め尽くしていた。その赤と黒の光景が、生涯の原風景となったという◆約100人の漫画家が、みずからの終戦体験を描いた画集「私の八月十五日」(2004年刊)の中国語版が、日本側の働きかけにより人民日報出版社から近く刊行される◆赤塚さん、ちばてつやさんをはじめ、旧満州で終戦を迎えた多くの漫画家の作品も掲載されている。田舎町で玉音放送を聞いて自決の覚悟を語る家族、ソ連軍に追われての逃避行を続ける人々なども描かれている◆中国では多くの若者が日本の漫画を愛読している。その同じ若者が歴史問題では反日感情を抱いている現実もある。中国人学生の意識調査を行った筑波大学名誉教授の遠藤誉(ほまれ)さんは、「中国動漫新人類」(日経BP社)の中で指摘している◆日本人の戦争への思いを描いたこの画集は、どのように受け止められるだろうか。結果は分からないが、日中の間で本音の議論をする芽が生まれつつあることは間違いない。

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Nov. 22 marks the day of the happily married couple….  Musings hachiyorenge

Tenshin Okakura (1863-1913), an art curator, married while he was still at university. His wife seems to have been an impetuous woman. During a marital tiff, she tore to shreds his graduation thesis on the theory of the state, a work he had labored over.

To meet his deadline with only two weeks remaining, Tenshin was left with no alternative but to knock out a new graduation thesis on an art-related theme.

“Tenshin’s course in life may well have been decided at that point,” his grandson Koshiro Okakura writes in a Bunshun Bunko series pocketbook titled “Miscellaneous Stories of History” of Bungeishunju Ltd.

Tenshin later founded the Japan Art Institute. If that marital row indeed resulted in him moving into the field of art, its significance cannot be merely cast to one side.

Nov. 22 marks the day of the happily married couple. The day has been so designated because Nov. 22 or 11/22 can be read as “ii fufu,” meaning a good husband and wife in a play on words.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. conducted a questionnaire survey of about 1,200 married people, asking them to describe their marital relationship with one kanji character. The survey showed that a majority of those married up to 15 years used kanji meaning “happiness” or “love,” while those beyond that threshold chose kanji meaning “endurance.”

According to Koshiro, his grandmother would limit Tenshin in his later years to one small bottle of sake (equivalent to 0.18 liter) with dinner. Tenshin often recounted Conan Doyle whodunits in front of his family over dinner, but just as he reached the climax of each story, the wily Tenshin would fall silent for a moment and say, “Another bottle…”

“Endurance” also requires strategies.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

11月22日は語呂合わせで「いい夫婦の日」・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
岡倉天心は大学で学びつつ妻帯したが、夫人はなかなか気性の激しい人であったらしい。夫が苦心して書き上げた卒業論文「国家論」を夫婦げんかでビリビリに裂いて捨ててしまった◆夫は仕方なく2週間のやっつけ仕事で「美術論」をまとめ、提出期限に間に合わせた。「天心の人生コースはここで決まったのかも知れない」と、孫の岡倉古志郎(こしろう)さんが「歴史よもやま話」(文春文庫)で語っている◆のちに日本美術院を創設する偉才を美術の道に導いたとすれば、夫婦げんかもそう捨てたものではない。きょう11月22日は語呂合わせで「いい夫婦の日」という◆明治安田生命保険が約1200人の既婚男女に夫婦関係を漢字で表現してもらったアンケート結果をみると、結婚15年目までの人は「幸」あるいは「愛」という回答が多く、そこを過ぎると「忍」の一字に入れ替わる◆古志郎さんによれば祖父は晩年、祖母から晩酌はお銚子(ちょうし)1本と決められていた。天心は家族の前でコナン・ドイルの推理小説を語り聞かせ、佳境に入ったところで沈黙して「もう1本…」と催促したという。“忍”にも戦術がある。

Read Full Post »

I looked shabby as I walked by…  Musings hachiyorenge

There are many poems by Takuboku Ishikawa (1886-1912) that will make readers sink deep into thought and reflect upon themselves.

The following piece is probably one of these poems.

 

Coming in front of a mirror shop

It took me by surprise

I looked shabby as I walked by.

 

I am sometimes startled by how bad my physiognomy is when I find my face reflected on a window of the day’s last train or a mirror on an elevator wall. Even so, deep inside of me, I usually find fault in other people’s physiognomy.

Making sure no mirrors are around you may be a prerequisite for allowing you to live in a happy-go-lucky manner.

“There are many doctors who lack a proper degree of common sense,” Prime Minister Taro Aso said Wednesday at an official function.

There must be some people who misheard the statement as one directed at politicians, as many Cabinet members have been replaced one after another over dubious money deals or gaffes that raised serious questions about their judgment as politicians.

Mirrors should be installed at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the face of protests from the Japan Medical Association, Aso apologized for the “inappropriate use of language.” Singling out a certain group of professionals for insult could lead to discrimination. His gaffe left a bad aftertaste.

Aso himself will eventually be reflected in the “mirror” of voters in the form of a general election. He has mispronounced kanji characters and used improper language, and I understand the job of the prime minister is as difficult as primary school studies.

However, I am concerned–although it is not really my business–that Aso will end up experiencing similar emotions as Ishikawa if he repeatedly makes ridiculous slips of the tongue.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

鏡屋の前に来て ふと驚きぬ 見すぼらしげに歩むものかも・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
石川啄木には「そういえば自分も…」と読む人を物思いに誘う歌が多い。この一首もそうだろう。〈鏡屋の前に来て/ふと驚きぬ/見すぼらしげに歩むものかも〉◆終電の車窓やエレベーター奥の鏡に自分を見つけ、人相の悪さにドキリとすることがある。それでいて普段は、ひとの人相に内心あれこれ文句をつけている。身近に鏡がないことは、能天気に暮らす条件かも知れない◆「医師には社会的常識がかなり欠落している人が多い」。麻生首相が公式の場でそう述べた。不明朗なカネや見識を疑う放言で閣僚が性懲りもなく入れ替わる昨今、「政治家には…」と聞き違えた人もいたはずである。官邸には鏡を置くべきだろう◆日本医師会の抗議を受けて「不適切な言葉遣い」を謝罪したが、特定の職業集団をあげつらっての侮辱は差別にもつながるもので、後味の悪い失言である◆いずれは総選挙という有権者の「鏡」に身を映す。漢字の読み方に言葉遣いと、首相の仕事が小学生の勉強並みに大変なことは分かるが、つまらない失言をしていて啄木と同じ感慨に浸りはしないか。ひとごとながら気にかかる。

Read Full Post »

“Is this a dream?” an old man asks himself quizzically. “Even if it is a dream, I’m delighted just to have this reunion.”

This passage is from “Tokusa” (Scouring Rushes), a noh play about an old man who is reunited by chance with his grown son who has been missing since he was kidnapped as a child.

The joyous moment of such a reunion never came to Tomi Ichikawa. She was the mother of Shuichi Ichikawa, who was abducted by North Korean agents at age 23 from a campsite in Fukiagehama beach, Hioki, Kagoshima Prefecture, in August 1978. She died Saturday at the age of 91 before realizing her dream of being reunited with her son.

Speaking at a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said, “I deeply regret [our failure to return Ichikawa while his mother was alive].”

True, North Korea takes advantage of the weakness of the government of Prime Minister Taro Aso and looks down on the administration that would not seek a public mandate by calling an election and which caused a commotion due to its inability to put forth a consistent policy on the provision of fixed-amount benefits to the people.

The bereaved families of abducted Japanese wait impatiently for the moment when they can embrace their sons or daughters while shedding tears of exultation after they return from North Korea. Such family members are growing older.

“Deep regret” does not make any sense if it is not accompanied by action–whether it be pressure or dialogue backed by pressure.

A person who died at the age of 91 would be generally regarded as one who lived a long life. To the news of her death, I have no words to utter except “Alas.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

夢にても逢ふこそ嬉しけれ・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
〈こは夢か…〉と老人は疑う。これは夢なのか、〈夢にても逢(あ)ふこそ嬉(うれ)しけれ〉と。幼いころ、人さらいに連れ去られ、行方知れずになった息子と年老いてめぐり会う物語、能の「木賊(とくさ)」である◆市川トミさんに、その時は訪れなかった。1978年(昭和53年)8月、鹿児島県・吹上浜のキャンプ場から北朝鮮の工作員に拉致された市川修一さん(当時23歳)の母である。再会を夢に見つつ、91歳で亡くなった◆河村官房長官は記者会見で「慚愧(ざんき)の念に堪えない」と述べている。国民に信を問うこともできず、内政で打ち出す政策ひとつにドタバタを演じる麻生政権が北朝鮮に足元を見透かされ、なめられているのは確かだろう◆〈こは夢か〉と狂喜の涙に濡(ぬ)れながら、帰還したわが子を胸に抱きしめる瞬間を、被害者の家族は一日千秋の思いで待っている。その人たちも老いていく。圧力であれ、圧力を背景にした対話であれ、行動の伴わない「慚愧の念」ならば意味がない◆91歳といえば普通は、長寿に恵まれての大往生と評される年齢だろう。その訃報(ふほう)には、ただ「嗚呼(ああ)」の一語をおいて語る言葉を知らない。

Read Full Post »

The pain of a devastating earthquake 13 years ago…  Musings hachiyorenge

During the Korean War, the Japanese economy was boosted by what was called special procurement demand generated for Japanese goods. This was when the word, “gachaman,” was coined.

The word means every time a factory machine operated with the sound of “gacha,” there would be a profit of ichi-man yen, or 10,000 yen.

As this example shows, it is true there are callous practices similar to theft committed in the confusion of a fire, or actions to turn others’ misfortune into one’s fortune.

Even so, there is no fool who licks his or her lips even before a fire breaks out as if waiting for the neighbor’s house to be burned down. Or so I thought. I have been proved wrong, as such a person does exist in this big world.

At a meeting of governors from the Kinki region on Tuesday, Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido commented that “if a Great Kanto Earthquake occurred, it would provide an opportunity [to boost the economy of the Kansai region].”

It is not my style to criticize a person because of something he or she said, but I think those were words that should never have been uttered, especially by the governor of a prefecture that experienced the pain of a devastating earthquake 13 years ago.

The episode makes me wonder–albeit unnecessarily–whether Ido was waiting to take seize the opportunity if one of his colleagues collapsed due to an illness or accident when he was a bureaucrat at the former Home Affairs Ministry.

Ido appears to be an honest person who does not want to hide his aspirations. He is not the kind of person with whom people do not want to be friends.

I am writing this column in Tokyo. If a major earthquake strikes with a focus located beneath the metropolitan area, 440,000 buildings will be destroyed and about 4,700 people will be killed, according to one estimate.

Unfortunately, if that hypothesis becomes a reality, people in the disaster-hit area will receive a congratulatory telegram together with relief goods from the Hyogo governor.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

13年前の痛みを知る県の知事が使う言葉ではない・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
朝鮮戦争で日本は特需に沸き、「ガチャ万」という言葉が生まれた。工場の機械をガチャと動かせば1万円が儲(もう)かると。ことほどさように、ひとの不幸を身の幸運とする「火事場泥棒」めいた非情な仕組みが世の中にあるのは事実である◆とはいえ、隣家の丸焼けが待ち遠しいとばかりに、火事の起きる前から舌なめずりをする“おばかさん”はいない。そう思いきや、世間は広いものである◆兵庫県の井戸敏三知事が近畿ブロック知事会議で「関東大震災は(関西経済の)チャンスだ」と述べた。一語をとらえての批判は趣味に合わないが、13年前の痛みを知る県の知事が使う言葉ではない◆旧自治省の役人時代には、同僚が病気や事故で倒れる日をチャンスとして待ち望んでいたのかしら…と、要らぬ想像をしてみる。思惑を腹に隠しておけない正直な人らしいが、友人にはあまり持ちたくないお方である◆東京でこれを書いている。直下型の大地震で都内の44万棟が全壊し、約4700人が死亡する、との被害想定がある。不幸にして現実になれば、兵庫の知事さんからは救援物資と一緒に祝電が届くだろう。

Read Full Post »

“The main stage of life lies in the future.” …  Musings hachiyorenge

When Yukika Soma was a primary school pupil, a teacher told her class: “Cherry trees symbolize the soul of the Japanese people. A traitor sold our soul.” The “traitor” was Yukio Ozaki, the girl’s father and then mayor of Tokyo, who presented 3,000 cherry tree saplings to the United States.

Cold eyes were cast on the daughter of the politician who hewed to an antiestablishment stance all his life. During the immediate postwar period, when Japan was suffering from an acute food shortage, Soma, the mother of four infants who complained of hunger, did the rounds of farmers to ask for food, but ended up being told repeatedly and invariably that “there’s nothing for the daughter of a traitor.”

The passion and antiestablishment spirit she inherited from her father may have helped transform adverse circumstances into food for her soul. Soma, who devoted herself to the reconstruction of war-ravaged areas through relief activities for refugees, died Saturday at the age of 96.

Ozaki, often referred to as “the father of constitutional government,” went on record as saying that “the main stage of life lies in the future.” He meant that one must strive to pursue one’s lifework until the moment of death so accumulated wisdom and experience can be used for the benefit of society.

Soma worked as president of the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan, throughout her life. Her father must have welcomed her into heaven with a warm smile.

Soma was born in 1912, the year Ozaki presented the cherry tree saplings to the United States.

What I recall of her life is that it bloomed after braving the elements, just like the cherry trees of the same age that paint the bank of Potomac River every spring.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

死ぬ瞬間まで活動の本舞台を未来に求め続けよ・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
相馬雪香(そうまゆきか)さんが小学生のとき、授業で教師が述べた。「桜は日本人の魂である。魂を売った国賊がいる」。米国に3000本の桜を贈ったのは相馬さんの父、東京市長の尾崎行雄である◆体制批判を貫いた政治家の娘に世間の目は冷たい。食糧難の終戦直後、ひもじがる4人の幼子を抱え、頭を下げて農家を歩いた。「国賊の娘に食わす物はない」。返ってくるのは判で押したような言葉であったという◆父親譲りの熱い血と反骨精神が逆境を糧に変えたのだろう。難民の救援活動などを通して紛争地域の戦禍克服に身を尽くし、相馬さんが96歳で亡くなった◆“憲政の神様”は〈人生の本舞台は未来にあり〉という言葉を残している。蓄えた知識と経験を世に捧(ささ)げるべく、死ぬ瞬間まで活動の本舞台を未来に求め続けよ、と。「難民を助ける会」の現職会長として生涯を現役で通した娘を、天上の父はねぎらいの微笑で迎えたことだろう◆相馬さんが生まれた1912年(明治45年)は尾崎が米国に桜を贈った年である。ポトマック河畔の春をいまも彩る同い年の木々に似て、風雪に耐えて咲いた花の生涯をしのぶ。

Read Full Post »

Yoshitaka Takahashi (1913-1995), an expert in German literature, once gave a freshly brewed isshobin (1.8-liter) bottle of renowned sake as a gift to his close friend, author Hyakken Uchida (1889-1971).

Uchida, however, scolded Takahashi when they met later.

Uchida had a hard time drinking his usual sake after having been treated to such tasty sake. “I’m annoyed,” Uchida was quoted as complaining to Takahashi in the latter’s essay, “Jissetsu Hyakken-ki” (True stories about Hyakken).

It is a likely episode concerning Uchida, who was known as eccentric.

On reflection, however, I think success that illuminates one’s life is similar to tasteful sake given as a gift.

Music producer Tetsuya Komuro, who took Japan by storm with a series of megahits in the 1990s, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of defrauding a company president out of 500 million yen. At one point in his life, Komuro earned more than 3 billion yen a year, according to one estimate.

Komuro has not been able to produce hit songs in the past several years, and is riddled with massive debts, mostly from failed business undertakings abroad.

Even so, his lavish lifestyle did not change, according to media reports. For example, his credit card bills totaled several tens of millions of yen apiece, and his monthly rent was 2.8 million yen.

It is not easy for someone who has acquired a taste for high-end sake to become used to one befitting his or her true financial standing after all the good sake has been consumed. Such a fancy for expensive goods undoubtedly widened the wounds that led to Komuro’s fall.

No sake is more difficult for anyone to be intoxicated with in a good way than a delicious sake called success.

The Yomiuri Shimbun. Musings. The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

「おいしいお酒」を頂戴したあとでは・・・ 編集手帳 八葉蓮華
ドイツ文学者の高橋義孝さんは、親しく接した作家の内田百ケンに蔵出しの名酒を一升贈ったことがある。のちに百ケンに会ったとき、ひどく怒られたという◆ふだん飲んでいるお酒が、ああいうおいしいお酒を頂戴(ちょうだい)したあとでは飲めなくなる。「迷惑します」。苦情を言われたと、随筆「実説 百ケン記」に書いている。偏屈で知られた作家らしい挿話だが、顧みれば人生を彩る成功も、到来物の「おいしいお酒」に似ているかも知れない◆1990年代に超売れっ子の音楽プロデューサーとして一世を風靡(ふうび)した小室哲哉容疑者(49)が、5億円を詐取した疑いで逮捕された。かつては年収が推定で30億円を超えていた人である◆数年前からヒット曲に恵まれず、海外事業も失敗し、多額の借金を背負った。そののちも「クレジットカードの支払い数千万円」「マンション家賃280万円」といった派手な暮らしぶりは変わらなかったといわれる◆おいしいお酒が切れたあと、いちど肥えた舌が身の丈に合う元の酒に戻るのは容易でない。転落の傷口を広げただろう。「成功」という美酒ほど、酔い方のむずかしい酒はない。

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »