Trust your distrust

Very quickly (despite that this is the very first posting since November 2016!!.)

So, what did the election 2017 results tell you about Britain? What they did seem to tell me was that fanaticism does not work in Britain. You don’t really like extremism and fanaticism imposed by people like Farage and Gove. Believe me, they aren’t really your kind of game. Your kind of game is “muddling through”. I’m serious, not joking or ridiculing at all. You have this instinctive dislike and distrust against dogmatism. Just trust your distrust. I’M SERIOUS! Please mind you, though, “muddling through” would make sense if (only IF) you are willing to share your destiny with other peoples. You can’t “muddle through” alone. OK?

I hope I’m making sense…

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Brexit does not mean Brexit (yet)

14980648_10154718614277417_2424991511600423422_nFollowing the 5 Nov posting, Simon Jenkins of Guardian says, “The judges’ ruling confirms it – Brexit must go ahead, no ifs or buts.” He also says, “Parliament, warts and all, is sovereign. It can deny withdrawal and face the consequences.” He sounds (to me) like intimidating MPs. Am I wrong to read his message as saying;

“You (MPs) can legally reject what the voters said on 23 June. Do that and the entire country will be upside down and it will be your responsibility. OK? Do you still want to do that!?”

17 million people voted for OUT and 16 million for IN. If this was an issue you can revisit in future I would have accepted it even if I don’t like the result. Think about a referendum, for example, on whether Britain’s railway system should be re-nationalised. Suppose that 17 million people voted for YES and 16 million for NO. Then you should do as the majority say. It’s a people’s will. Of course, people make mistakes. Even the 17 million people might prove to be wrong: train service might be even worse than before nationalisation, in which case you reprivatise it. No problem.

What about BREXIT? You go out of EU and there will be no way to come back in the foreseeable future. Do you have to go out only because 17 million say so? How do you know they are right and 16 million wrong? Nobody knows. That’s why you have MPs employed for more substantial discussions. Of course even MPs make mistakes. British MPs voted, after lengthy discussions, for Blair’s motion for bombing Iraq in 2003. Although there is nothing you could do about those killed in the war caused by the wrong decision you could still sack all the MPs who made the mistakes.

MPs are not “delegates” (ie: agents) of their constituencies. They are “representatives” whose job is to give careful and intelligent thoughts on issues on behalf of the people. That’s why they are paid salary.

I have no idea why Theresa May, an MP, had to say, “Brexit means Brexit” just because 17 million voted for it. If referendum result was anything absolutely final to which MPs have to stick, what do you have a parliament for?

Having said all that, might it be unfair to expect British MPs to be courageous enough to stand up against the editors who are quite willing to labelled them as “enemies of the people” for pleasing their readers and increasing the circulation figures? The figures look terrible to the tabloids. Daily Express who used to sell 4 million copies fifty years ago now seems to sell only 400,000…Even the Sun who sold 3.7 million in 1976 now sellls just 1.8 million.

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Would anybody please tell me whether I’m a narcissist?

Miyako, my wife, thinks I am a narcissist. Am I? I thought a narcissist is a guy who tends to believe he is the greatest person on the earth. So do I think of myself that way? Yes…sometimes…well…often…OK all the time…so what!? If I in fact was the greatest person there is nothing wrong about thinking of and calling myself that way. Is there? IS THERE!!??

Oxford dictionary of English language (online) defines the word as “Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself.” Mmmm…Do I have that sort of interest?

A Dutch journalist named Joris Luyendijk says in his piece for the Prospect magazine;

“psychotherapists employ the concept of narcissism to describe people with an unstable sense of identity. Feelings of vulnerability, dependency and helplessness can overwhelm them and for this reason narcissists cling to notions of grandiosity”.

He seems to believe that the BREXIT Britain is a narcissist nation. What is he talking about? Read the not-so long essay and you will know.

Without knowing whether the the British (or the English) in general have narcissism in their national character, the “psychotherapists’ concept of narcissism” does ring me bells. Michael Gove contributed to the Spectator magazine a statement to express his enthusiasm for BREXIT;

“We are the world’s fifth largest economy, with the best armed forces of any nation, more Nobel Prizes than any European country and more world-leading universities than any European country…”

“Are we really too small, too weak and too powerless to make a success of self-rule?”

Nobody claims that Britain (or England, if he likes) is a small, weak and powerless country, but I had the impression that Gove suspects people do and cannot stop yelling, “I am not stupid, you are stupid!!”

Another example of narcissism is;

“I cannot allow myself to die until my Japan, which has been made a fool of by China, and seduced as a mistress by the United States, is able to stand up again as a stronger, more beautiful nation.”

This is what Shintaro Ishihara, a former Tokyo governor, was quoted as saying in a NY Times article. He is a typical narcissist with an “unstable sense of identity.” He tends to think that other people make fun of him unless he shows his self-worthiness. He behaves as if he is absolutely confident of himself despite that he always fears that others think he is idiot (which, I think, is partly true).

Am I a narcissist? I still don’t know…Do you!? Let me put aside the issue of narcissism. Who cares whether or not Jiro, a 75 year-old Japanese, is a narcissist, anyway!?

I was personally against BREXIT. I did not believe the country should leave the EU for the sake of their future (and for the better world). I am however beginning to change my feeling after I saw a copy of the Daily Mail’s front page about the recent court ruling on the parliamentary discussion of the BREXIT isssue.

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I am beginning to feel that it might, after all, be better for Britain to leave EU: not for the sake of Britain but for the EU’s future. Do EU really need a country as their member where a rag like Daily Mail enjoys a huge popularity? Do EU need a country where an MP says in the twitter “Unelected judges calling the shots. This is precisely why we voted out. Power to the people!

Is it possible for only England to leave? No? Pity!! Then I fear that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales should first leave UK and join EU. The English, then, can sack those judges and go wherever they wish to…

 

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Self-interest or selfish interests

Britain’s EU referendum in three days. Here is what I would like to say to my British friends whether they will read it or not…

Just sit back and think! Why did you join the EEC in 1973? Why did you decide through the 1975 referendum to continue to be the member? Was that only because the institution would serve your “self-interests”? Now you want to get your country back just because you see that the institution does not serve your selfish interests (sorry, self-interests) any longer?

One more thing. You have no right to jeopardise an institution maintained by sincere efforts of the people of the continent by your own voting. Deciding IN or OUT by voting has nothing (NOTHING) to do with democracy. Call it an inhouse quarrel among the island people (at best). In reality it is nothing but a “Tory party in-house disagreement than on any pressing problems with the EU” (according to an American friend of mine).

I sincerely hope that the continent people’s determination and efforts to make a better world will not be shaken by the rock-paper-scissors game by the islanders. Some of them still seem to believe in the outdated theory: everybody should seek his/her self-interests so that he/she will help making the world better place. We need EU with or without Britain. Do we need Britain without EU?

Having said all that, I cannot stop feeling even more depressed about the current political situation here in Japan: here we have had narrow-minded political class for the past 4 – 5 years. They are the Japanese version of Brexits. Japexiters!? I should talk about them separately.

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Free yourself from “self-interest”

I recently have participated in an online discussion programme on the issue of BREXIT and posted a message to say approximately;

Watching from the Far East the arguments in the British media by the Remain and the Leave campaigners I cannot stop feeling rather disappointed about how nearsighted the British opinion formers are. They both seem to be obssesed with beating the other side by promoting loudly their views on the “immediate interests” of Britain and the British people. They do not seem to care about what impact the result of the referendum might give to Europe and the world as a whole in the long run. Unless you free yourself from the nearsightness of pursuing just “self-interest” you would not get anywhere. You will be shouting at each other forever…

There are some apparently British participants who posted critical views on the “naive views” from an ignorant foreigner with a strange name like “Harumi”. For example;

– This is a UK referendum. The British people are being asked to vote on this issue. They get to decide whether we stay or leave – that’s democracy!

– I make no apology for putting the interests of my own country before those of others, while agreeing that world peace, and stability is in all of our interests.

– if the UK leaves the EU may collapse. I think that would be good for Europe and good for the world.

Summing up, these people seem to believe that the referendum is purely about the British people’s deciding what is best to them: nothing to do with the world or even with other EU members. Or might the third opinion be in fact saying that Britain is doing favour to the world and Europe by leaving and getting EU collapsed?

There was another British gentleman who apparently tried to educate the ignorant foreigner by saying;

– In 40 years we have not shaped the EU. In this last parliament we tried to reform it. Cameron played our ace card and nothing happened. Someone once said “The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We gave it our best shot and got nowhere. In Nato we are a leading voice, not a nobody, not a lost…

Apparently this man is unhappy about Britain’s remaining in EU because his country is not regarded and treated as a “leading voice” over there. NATO is okay because the UK is respected there, so is the UN where Britain has the status as one of the five most powerful nations.

Taking economic issue, for example, the Brexits say that by leaving EU, UK companies would be freed from the burden of EU regulation (and therefore Leave is better for Britain to be prosperous). The Remain people insist on the other hand that Brexit would cause an economic shock and the growth would be slower (and therefore Remain will make Britain economically safer and stronger). The Leave and the Remain people are doing exhausting and not particularly productive shouting matches on what Britain might be like after her departure from the EU (which naturally nobody knows for sure).

The EU referendum is taking place in a week. If I had had a right to vote I would certainly not vote on the same side where people think it “democratic” to do things with no consideration on the people who might be affected by their votes. I believe it outdated to think that everybody’s pursuing his/her self-interests will be led by “invisible hand” to “happy ending” for the world as a whole.

I am also far from certain whether this is something to be decided by a “national” referendum. Referendum of the design on national flag would be OK (as in the case of New Zealand) because it would not affect anybody except themselves. Changing Japan’s pacifist constitution is also OK for Japanese people’s direct voting.

Do the British people have the right to decide for the EU to be maintained or collapsed? Of course not!!

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Human suffering or inhuman suffering?

Give me some examples of “human suffering”. They would include things like poverty, disability, illness, hunger. Countless, aren’t they? They are the hardships you suffer as human beings (rather than dogs and cats).

What about “inhuman suffering”? An English language dictionary describes “inhuman” as “extremely cruel” or “not human in an unusual frightening way”, and gives a sample sentence of “Prisoners of war were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment”. In this case, though, it is the treatment (not suffering) that is inhuman. Yes? So, the term of “inhuman suffering” does not seem to make sense to me.

There was recently (in case you don’t know) a thing called G7 Meeting of Foreign Ministers in the city of Hiroshima to discuss the issue of nuclear disarmament. The meeting produced the Hiroshima Declaration. Click here to read (if you want to) the statement and you will find in the introductory lines the following sentence.

  • “The immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings and have rebuilt their cities so impressively.”

I would naturally take this part as saying that Hiroshima and Nagasaki people had to live through all kinds of hardships you would suffer if you are a human (rather than animal). I am sure my interpretation is correct. Not very difficult sentences anyway!

However Japanese foreign ministry apparently did not take it in the way I did. Their official Japanese language text of the declaration translated the term “human suffering” into “inhuman suffering“: “hi-ningenteki-na-kunan: 非人間的な苦難”.

A Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, has quoted a Foreign Ministry’s senior official as saying, “the term ‘inhuman suffering’ was used in order to publicise more widely and effectively the cruelty of nuclear weapons.” Does this make sense to you? Not really to me. It would have made sense if the text had said that the act of dropping atomic bombs was inhuman. Can “suffering” (not the act of giving suffering) be “inhuman”?

I suspect that the Foreign Ministry meant by the strange Japanese language expression of “inhuman suffering” to convey the message that people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to suffer from a great deal of human agony caused by such inhuman acts of dropping atomic bombs. If that was the case, why did they not say so straightforward? Because if they had done so, it would have upset the Americans who did the inhuman acts but now are kind enough to give Japan their nuclear umbrella against China and North Korea. They would claim that it would certainly have upset the current stability in North-east Asia ensured by the US Japan alliance system, and call it among themselves a “clever diplomacy” while I would call it just a word game by the eggheads. Dropping deadly bombs on big towns where hundres of thousands of people live their lives is certainly inhuman. So was attacking with no warning a harbour town in Hawaii where many people lived. Same about all kinds of “human suffering” caused by Japanese regime in the Asian continent during WW2.

ps: After I posted the above I heard a TV news programme report about the big earthquake in Kumamoto, a prefecture in the south. Some people apparently were killed: another tragedy caused by natural disaster. Would you call it a “inhuman tragedy”?

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Tsunami and autism: five years on…

It was in March 2011 when the north eastern part of Japan was hit by the deadly earthquake and tsunami. Almost 20,000 people were killed more than 2,500 people are still missing today. And of course the Fukushima nuclear power plant was melt down. People abroad may remember the incident for the Fukushima nuclear disaster whereas the Japanese people will remember “3.11” in 2011 as the date of complete submission to the power of nature.

Newspapers, radio and TV news programmes were full of tragic reports all the time. People througout the country had the feeling of powlessness and hopelessness. What can you do?

One of the tragic reports was about the fate of a young woman worker at Minami-sanriku Town Office. The 25-year old Miki Endo was with the section of emergency and her job was to urge the town people through wireless radio system to leave their residence for higher places to avoid being hit by the big wave. People heard many times her shout to the microphone “Go quickly NOW!!” and some of them did but some didn’t and lost their lives in the big wave. Miki Endo herself was one of those not able to escape in time. She died. Click here and you will know more details (and in better English).

I am not writing this to tell you about Miki Endo’s tragedy but just wanted to tell you about a piece of article I read today (4 April 2016) in the Kahoku Shimpo, one of the major regional newspapers in the north-east.

The article is about the current life of a 44-year old woman named Junko Saito. She is from the town of Minami-sanriku. That day (11 March 2011) she was at her house when the tsunami hit the town. She was hearing her own wireless radio repeating the “Go now! Tsunami is coming!!” message from the town office. She knew she needed to go but could not do so as quickly and confidently as the voice from the town office urged her to. She was suffering from autism. For almost twenty years she had shut herself in her house from the outside world. She never went out.

The 25-year old town official, Miki Endo, was shouting “GO!” and the 39 year old woman of autism was stuck in the house without knowing what to do. What she did know at first hand was she would be doing something stupid in the outside world and being laughed at by people. Radio shouted again “Go!” and then Junko Saito did go out of her house for the first time in 20 years!

Junko now lives in the city of Sendai. Still not completely free from autism but much better than before. She now knows that without Miki’s push she would have been stuck in the house and drown in the big wave. Tsunami killed Miki and saved Junko from her 20-year old autism. You will hear the voice of Miki here. If you can read Japanese you might like to click here to read the Kahoku Shimpo’s article.

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