Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the train home, I was feeling somewhat relieved after nearly 3 weeks of doing generally repulsive work in order to earn enough cash to delay starvation when the recession really hits Tokyo. Finally, I could see light at the end of the tunnel, even though I fear that the light may be a blazing inferno.

That pleasant feeling didn't last long, for at Roppongi station a crowd got on forcing me into a close enough to lip-lock position with a guy who was having what appeared to be severe neck spasms. His pumpkin was jerking unpredictably from one side to the next to such an extent that I was flinching for fear of a concussion.

To make the ride more pleasant, another fellow was snuggling up against me on the left and enjoying a big wad of gum. I admit a certain lack of tolerance for gum chewing etiquette in Japan, because when I was about 5 my parents, grandparents, teachers and about every other person over 6 would tell me not to chew with my mouth open and not to snap and pop gum in other people's ears. So naturally, I was not especially happy that a fifty-odd year old adult male was doing it when we were enjoying such an intimate moment.

Since I didn't know how to handle this situation the Japanese way (when I ask my Japanese friends about these sorts of things they just laugh and are not helpful at all) I had to escape somehow. I tried to recall the pretty freckle-faced lady with whom I had shared a moment of prolonged eye contact with days earlier. No luck. All I could see was the image of Shintaro "Blinky" Ishihara chewing gum and having similar neck spasms, so in desperation, I tried another line of thought before Ol' Barcode-head Fujiwara intruded too.

I started out thinking about how lucky we are to be living in a land where the government can be trusted to do what is right for the country. How nice it is to see someone take action to resolve the economic disaster that Japan is facing. After all, this time it appears that it will be much worse than the 1989-2005 Japan recession. (Yea, I mean 2005.)

I felt a bit confused though, as I don't believe that I have met a single human being, Japanese, American, Australian, New Zealander, British, or whatever (if I may refer to non-Japanese as fully human) who believes a damned word that MangaMan Aho and his merry band of old geezer retrodreamers say. Does MangaMan even believe himself?

How strange it had felt to see how folks from outside the US were so interested in President Obama's inauguration. After all, many of those folks were in Japan for the long-term and in theory the actions of the Japanese government would have a much bigger impact on their future. Even some of the most extreme idiots and liars who write editorials and columns for certain Japanese newspapers "admire" Obama. Just a day or so earlier my acquaintance in the Japanese bureaucracy had told me about an editorial* he had read that gave Obama a lot of credit for the ability to raise money as Obama had charged people $200-$2000 each to attend his inaugural speech.***

Then I tried to think a little more seriously. That was difficult after weeks of doing a job which requires a 2nd grade education and discourages---even punishes---thought, but I dimwittedly came up with something that everyone else already knew. The politicians who run this country are not going to be able to do anything to pull Japan out of its mess. The country decided decades ago to sell its soul** for access to the US market and to allow the US to provide it with a military. Nobody forced it, it was a conscious, calculated decision, and there has been no alternative seriously considered since. Despite how much the gummers who want to return to grandpa's days complain, they cannot do without foreign money or the US. And they know it.

I then realized why people are looking to a foreign country for inspiration, for there is truly no hope for the bunch running this country.

On the bright side, at least my close train buddies didn't have colds.

*He could not recall where he read it, but he thought it might have been Yomiuri.

**( 2 Feb 2009) It can be argued, as R. Taggart Murphy does (and others have) that Japan took this course because it was its best option for recovering from the devastation of WW2. That, however, does not explain or excuse continuing along the same path for 60 years.

***(5 Feb 2009)Yes, some private parties and events for VIPs are said to have cost to $2000 or more, but the speech was a public event. I specifically asked him and was told that according the article, the supposed fees were to attend the inaugural speech.

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