Monthly Archives: December 2005

DPJ’s Hatoyama-owned Izakaya Closes: Business Suffered from Artificially Low Prices

Hatoyama
I have far too much class to make a crass comment about this story. No, I won’t be calling it “exemplary of the DPJ’s unrealistic approach to economic policymaking,” nor will I point out the dubious authenticity of Hatoyama’s claim that democracy is originally rooted in izakaya (though wouldn’t it be great if that were the case?). I will, however, mention that the establishment has “Hato-bo” (dove sticks, a play on Hatoyama’s name) on the menu. Guess what they are? Chicken meatballs on a stick! With a special sauce!

The izakaya (Japanese-style pub) “Tomoto” opened by (main opposition party) Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and a friend was set to be shut down on December 28.

With the motto “Democracy’s very basis is an izakaya where [politicians] can interact with the citizens knee-to-knee,” [tr: “knee-to-knee” refers to the Japanese practice of kneeling on the floor at Japanese-style restaurants, etc. The Western equivalent would be “face to face”] Hatoyama himself often showed up at the establishment, but business apparently suffered in part due to the fact that prices were kept low in order to allow customers to cheerfully relax.

Before the Democratic and Liberal parties merged [in 2003], Hatoyama would often invite Liberal Party members such as then-party president Ichiro Ozawa, turning the pub into a “political stage.”

Hatoyama was quoted as saying, “I was happy to have met various people and have them enjoy a point of contact between politicians and salarymen for 3 years. Now we are closing shop, but the memory of Tomoto remains, and I would like to reopen it given another chance.”

Translation of Goro Miyazaki’s blog 12-27-2005

Here is some more of Ged War Journal director Goro Miyazaki’s blog, in which he rather obtusely outlines the history of Studio Ghibli. As you can see from this and the last post, he’s still being vague about why his father didn’t want him to direct the film (my guess is because he’s not qualified?):

December 27 – My Father and Producer Suzuki are my Forerunners in [living] “lives that do”

The “life that does” is a life in which one has a goal and tries to achieve it.
The motivation for such a life varies from those who want fortune or fame to those who want to move people emotionally.

On the other hand, “the life that is” is a life that is not one lived having an ambition, be it for the sake of oneself or others, but a life lived satisfied with daily work.

Recently, I have gone and chosen to “do” the directing of “Ged War Journal,” but those who first come to mind as my forerunners in “lives that do” are my father, Hayao Miyazaki, and Producer (of Ged War Journal) Suzuki.

I doubt either man thought that their company would grow to encompass 170 employees when they started Ghibli Studios in 1985.
In any case, they most likely only thought “I want to make Castle in the Sky, Laputa!” (the film they were planning at the time).

However, once you makes a movie once, you are then tied by that movie’s results.

While making movies, [Ghibli] became involved with various people, the movies it made garnered social praise, and finally in April of this year the company became independent from Tokuma Shoten and the joint-stock company Studio Ghibli was born.

The president of that company did not necessarily wish for that. It came to be that Producer Suzuki was to assume that role [of president].

Translation of Goro Miyazaki’s Blog 12-26-2005

Following up on my previous effort, here is another entry in which the Ged War Journal (Gedo Senki in Japanese) director Goro Miyazaki (son of Hayao Miyazaki) talks about why he chose to go into animation:

12/26/2005 – I went and chose a “life that does”

I got some free time due to the long vacation, so I will write a little more on “lives that do and lives that are.”

Ged’s words, which explain the importance of “a life that is,” had an impact on me because I, just at that time, was trying to throw my hat into the world of animation that I had previously avoided.

What Ged was saying was not the importance of stopping where you are and thinking, but the more fundamental issue of what type of life one should choose.

Seen one way, “doing” can seem to be the verification that you are free.
However, isn’t that, in fact, making you unfree?
Ged poses that question.

Up to now I as well had thought “to do” something meant “to be free.”
However, to do something produces results and people are bound by those results.
Then, based on those results, people are to do something new.
No, they must do it.

When I considered going on to college when it came time for my high school graduation, while I had an interest in animation, I concluded that if I devoted myself to that world I could never in my life surpass my father.
So, I entered the agricultural department of Shinshu University in an attempt to enter a field as far from animation as I could.

After graduation I was employed full time at an architectural firm. After working there for almost 8 years, I suddenly got an invitation from Producer Suzuki: “Won’t you be involved in the opening of the Ghibli Museum?”
It is here that I made a big decision “to do,” but at that time I felt that a museum and animation were separate things and this would not mean that I am entering the world of animation.
However, the result of that is as you can see.

So, the lines that I quoted from Ged in my previous post, far from skipping them, I felt them as if they had happened to me. Ironically, I chose a “life that does” after being enchanted by the charms of Ged War Journal, which preaches the importance of “a life that is.”

Dynamite-wielding Man Tells Hospital “Give me a Shot or I’ll Blow You Up”

Source: Random pic off Google Images
ZAK to the ZAK:

An unemployed 70-year-old man, accused of attempted extortion and violating the Explosives Control Law for taking dynamite to a hospital this July and demanding “Give me my desired injection or else I’ll blow up the hospital!” was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months imprisonment suspended for 4 years by the Wakayama Regional Court today.

Judge Shin’ichi Tanaka scolded the man, explaining, “You inflicted fear and anxiety on the staff of a hospital that cares for more than 300 people.”

According to the judgment, the defendant requested that the doctor give him a shot for stomach pain at a hospital in Gobo City but angered when the doctor refused. The man immediately went home, retrieved the dynamite, and returned to the hospital, demanding the injection from doctors near the entrance. Also, the man was in illegal possession of 150 sticks of dynamite in his home.

The defendant was arrested for a red-handed violation of the Explosives Control Law when he was arguing at the entrance. He reportedly admitted how he got the dynamite, saying, “I was storing the leftovers from my public works job.”

Questions (My Japanese legal experts please feel free to weigh in!):

  • Umm, nobody noticed 150 sticks of dynamite missing?! Maybe regulations covering explosives need to be enforced before they catch someone threatening to blow up a hospital with dynamite stolen from a construction site. This guy’s neighbors should be pissed off right now over how inefficient Japan’s legal system makes suing the government over such gross negligience.
  • It’s not out of the ordinary for a 70-year-old man to be “unemployed” is it? For crying out loud, the retirement age in Japan is 60!
  • What are the chances that this man is senile (or worse) and needs serious treatment? Probably pretty good. I mean, maybe the judge took that into consideration when he gave him a suspended sentence, but that just means this guy’s back on the street, possibly all alone (and who knows, maybe they let him keep the dynamite!)
  • Did he ever get his freakin shot?
  • (Click below for Japanese story)
    Continue reading

    New Reason to Privatize Japan Post

    This guy is so wrong.
    So it can be punished by the market for dumb ideas like this. I present a case of Strong Bad’s imagination coming to life:

    Japan Post to Deliver New Year’s Postcards to Every House in Area of Choice
    [Soon addressing your cards ]”To all those living in X-town” Will Be OK

    Japan Post announced on Dec. 22 that it will start a service that will deliver New Year’s postcards (nengajo) with the addressee left off to specific areas. The cards will arrive on the first of next year, and the program will be experimentally implemented in Tokyo and the 14 major cities in Japan. By placing “to all of those living in X-Town” on the cards, they will be delivered to all houses in the specified area. (Jiji Press)

    Asahi Sunday Edition Begrudgingly Admits Blood Type Personality Assessment is Bunk

    In the Asahi Shimbun in September there was a story as part of the series “[Answers to Questions that you] Can’t Ask Anymore” which offers explanations of complicated things that most people assume everybody understands, such as coral reefs.

    On blood types:

    “There is a strong tendency in Japan to associate personality traits and ABO blood types, but what are blood types?”

    [Explanation of how blood types work omitted. Check Wikipedia if you must know.]

    “So, back to [blood types’] relation to people’s personalities: ‘There is no research reported that would form the scientific basis for that,’ [explains the Tokyo University Legal Medicine Asst. Professor quoted for the article]. This is also the general opinion of the scientific community.”

    GOTCHA!

    A first step in deconstructing the myth and setting Japanese people on the path to rational thinking? Not bloody likely. Still, it’s good to see some public admission that it’s bunch of rubbish, even if it’s only buried at the end of a Sunday magazine article.

    Alternative Memorial for War Dead Left Out of 2006 Budget

    The “Group to Consider a National [War] Memorial” is a rare ruling-opposition (LDP, Komeito, and DPJ) caucus of lawmakers that is campaigning for the Japanese government to establish an alternative to Yasukuni shrine. The idea, proposed by a 2002 advisory panel and supported by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, is popular among those in the Japan Policy Community (including influential types in Washington) who would prefer to see a speedy, concrete solution to the Yasukuni issue rather than all of Koizumi’s useless (and possibly dangerous) saber-rattling.

    Well, don’t count on it this year, based on this year’s budget requests. This was covered in slightly less detail in the Japan Times, but you can enjoy my abstract of the Yomiuri:

    Memorial Facility Survey Funds Left Out, PM Firms Stance: “Public opinion not ripe”

    PM Koizumi has firmed his stance not to include funds to survey the possibility of a national war memorial in the national budget draft, a move seen to be caused by a lack of public interest.

    Government sources explained that the “environment has not been prepared to include survey funds in next year’s budget,” which will be formally decided on Dec. 22. The funds were not included in the MOF’s budget recommendations, released the same day.

    Another part of the decision, say government officials, was that including the funds would not likely have contributed to repairing relations with China and South Korea.

    The govt plans to continue deliberating on the merits of including the funds while “carefully watching public opinion.” There is momentum within the “Group to Consider a National [War] Memorial,” which crosses party lines to include members from the ruling LDP and New Komeito as well as the main opposition DPJ, to demand the inclusion of such funding in next fiscal year’s revised budget or reserve funds. However, it is unlikely to be included in a budget during Koizumi’s tenure.

    When SK President Roh Moo-hyun asked that Koizumi consider the establishment of a national war memorial during the Korea-Japan summit on June 20, the Japanese leader accepted, saying he would “consider it taking into consideration circumstances including public opinion.” However, the PM’s October 17 visit to Yasukuni Shrine is quickly becoming a diplomatic problem due to China and SK’s strong protests. It seems as if the PM thought that it would look like he would be giving in to their pressure if he included such funds in this year’s budget.

    According to a November poll conducted by Nikkei, 49% of Japanese people would approve, while 31% would disapprove of a national war memorial. I guess in the Land of Consensus even clear numbers in favor of such a memorial smack of “divided public opinion.” Of course, Koizumi didn’t let a little thing like internal division stop him from pushing through postal privatization, did he?
    Continue reading

    Super-annoying Cartoon ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Apparently Waning in Popularity

    Woo hoo!

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Poor Sales of Yu-Gi-Oh! Hit Asatsu-DK’s FY05 Profit

    TOKYO (Nikkei)—Advertising agency Asatsu-DK Inc. is likely to post a group operating profit of about 7.7 billion yen for the fiscal year through Dec. 31, down 7%, hurt by the floundering profitability of its content business that sells the Yu-Gi-Oh! cartoon. This would mark the first fall in profit in three years.

    The company originally forecast operating profit to rise 7% to 8.8 billion yen.
    dumb
    After profits at the content business were pushed up by the huge popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters in the U.S. and Europe in fiscal 2004, they fell this year. Although other cartoon characters and products compensated for the decline in sales, they were unable to offset the tumble in the highly profitable Yu-Gi-Oh!

    When I worked at an elementary school last year, the dorky kids couldn’t shut up about this and Pokemon. I guess this is their generation’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but whatever it still sucks.

    Man Goes to Police with Found Wallet, is arrested for Carrying Kitchen Knife, Confesses to Burning Own Apartment Building Down

    ZAKZAK!:

    Osaka Prefectural Police, South Precinct rearrested a male (22) describing himself as a part-time administrative worker of Chuo District, Osaka City, on suspicion of arson on December 20.

    According to the police investigation, the man allegedly set fire to the toilet paper in his apartment’s bathroom at approximately 3:00 AM on December 19, almost completely burning down the 2-story, 320m2 wooden building. A man (46) sustained a light injury to his hand.

    Less than an hour after the arson, the suspect visited the South Precinct, telling police, “I found a wallet [on the street],” but was then arrested red-handed for violating the Gun and Blade Law for carrying a kitchen knife on his person. In response to questioning, the man reportedly said, “I started to hate the world and thought I wanted to die.”