Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Christmas Story about a Letter from Canada

A Christmas Story about a Letter from Canada

It is a letter to editorial this morning on the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper that I think to be very appropriate for this season.

A Japanese female college student learning in Canada wrote a letter to her friend in Japan. But, before sticking a stamp on it, she lost the letter somewhere, probably, in a campus.

She said, perhaps by international phone, to the friend that the letter should be most likely lying under a bench or somewhere with dust on. But she also added, maybe without or with expectation, that somebody might pick it up, stick a stamp on it, and drop it into a mailbox.

It actually so happened. The letter was marvelously picked up, carefully checked about its destination address, stuck an appropriate stamp on, dropped timely into a mailbox nearby or distant, and swiftly delivered to her friend in Japan.

And, most importantly, her friend who received the letter which had once been lost but discovered and dropped into a mailbox by an unknown person ventured to write a letter to editorial of the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper in Japan with spirit of thankfulness.

Of course, every reader knows that the very kind, unknown person in Canada should have little chance to read the words of gratitude on this Japanese newspaper.

This sort of kindness seems to be nowadays getting hard to find in urban areas in Japan. In the U.S., people might still be haunted by the anthrax incident.

Nonetheless, this story is very appropriate for the Christmas season. Something that was once lost has been found, making people very remote happier and thankful.


Monday, December 19, 2005

At Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo after the 9/11 Hectic Election

At Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo after the 9/11 Hectic Election

The most important incident this year in Japan was the September 11 election, maybe as with the election this month in Iraq for Iraqis.

In October, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan invited three ladies who were all newly elected for Japanese parliament called Diet. Each of them spoke English in the press conference as was highly expected.

Even criminals and terrorists speak English in England and America, but even the wisest doesn’t speak English in Japan. This has been truth in Japan, a country located far from Europe, America, and their colonies.

But, nowadays and especially in the trend of overwhelming internationalization as well as for security reasons after September 11 terror, Japanese like to and are virtually forced to speak English as much as possible if appropriate to deal with the world and the U.S.

The three new Diet members spoke English fairly well: one of them with her academic and diplomatic background, other based on her strong career in a key ministry of the Japanese Government, and the rest supported by her higher education in America.

Japanese media was also fascinatingly listening to them. According to a media report, Ms. Inoguchi spoke well as an aggressive professor but contents were a kind of fantasy and mere idealism, Ms. Katayama spoke well as a seasoned bureaucrat and contents were very substantial, and Ms. Sato was remarkably fluent with colloquial speech but contents were not impressive.

Yes, Kuniko was an ambitious international-relations professor with a flavor of high society, Satsuki was a well educated and trained bureaucrat, and Yukari was a highly ambitious career woman in the private sector, each with rich international experiences no ordinary Japanese voters might enjoy.

However, apparently, they are Japanese, born, raised, fostered, and given personal foundation in the Japanese society.

Successful Asians or Asians going to be wealthy speak English more fluently than Japanese. But, in most cases, those successful Asians are born rich in a former colony, which allows them to learn in environment where English is norm and standard.

With population of 120 million people most of whom had few occasions to speak with Europeans or Americans in their lifetime, it was a luxury for Japanese people to speak English well while all necessary Western documents were translated and available in Japan during its modernization and procedures to become the World’s most successful country as a racially homogeneous nation with its own independent language.

So, those three Japanese female Diet members spoke English reflecting this context, though nowadays many young Japanese are traveling to the world more casually speaking English. However, it seems still rare for Japanese to have a strong presence globally by manipulating substantial English.

Many Japanese ladies are today working all over the world. But if those working outside Japan are superior to those working in Japan, the fate of Japan might be dim. (Tragedies of Africa and South Asia might be desparately rooted in this context.)

But, Japan seems to be still able to keep its most valuable girls within its territory like America does, no matter what English they speak in Tokyo or New York.

(In addition, one female Diet member now serving as Minister of Environment can speak Arabic. Through 9/11 election, she have really had go on to political stardom; but it is another story.)