The mushroom, dissipated
Sakura, a distant memory
Houses reduced to timbers
Charred in immolation
Rubble upon the roads
Roads through the house plots.
Blocks away a market
Skeletal figures stagger
Beyond the ghastly shadows
Society’s ladies of virtue
Here is a reply to a comment on my myspace blog on this topic.
The question was about other nations and their laws on birth registration.
American law comes roughly from English Common Law (via a few high court changes etc...).
The pressumption is that the husband of the mother at the time of birth is the father of the baby.
In Japan it is assumed that if the baby is born within 300 days of a divorce the father is the previous husband (despite pregnancies being about 270-75 days).
However, in the UK and America the mother can register a different man as the father of the baby. The mother is the one trusted to name the father not the State.
The registration in Japan would be rejected if this were to occur.
In the UK and America there is a central register of births. In Japan the birth's are registered to the father's family; not the mother's.
Fathers in the UK and America can of course reject their parental status and non-named men can claim it as their own. In the end it goes down to DNA testing.
If the mother is not Japanese but the father is then the father must claim the baby as his own before birth or the baby will not be considered Japanese even if post-birth DNA tests prove the Japanese man to be the father - as seen in numerous court cases.
One thing i couldn't find in a brief research session was the period of time in British and American law between divorce and being allowed to remarry. In Japan a gap seems to not exist. I seem to remember Britain having a law of 1 year between divorce and being allowed to remarry. But that could be my bad memory.
This piece should be posted under the subheading of: Examples of J-logic.
Say you are Japanese. You and your husband are both Japanese.
You hate him. So, you break up and file for divorce.
you're increadibly gorgeous so its no problem to get a new guy. You fall in love and its just a case of waiting to get divorced before tying a new knot.
Congratulations you get divorced three months later. Its easy.
However, you forget to use condoms... or use Japanese ones (pretty much the same thing really - i guess i could do a piece on Japan's fertility plan using crap condoms).
You're pregnant. Congratulations.
299 days later you give birth to a healthy young boy. He has your new husband's eyes...
But guess who the legal father is?
Yep, your ex-husband who you haven't slept with for over a year.
The logic states that if a baby is born within 300 days of the granting of divorce and the now ex-wife giving birth then the father is automatically the previous husband.
DNA tests? forget that.
The fact that pregnancies take less than 300 days on average? That would be science...try another country.
Apparently, according to the Yomiuri shimbun, the Justice Minister is struggling for a way to help remarried women (what about unmarried ones who give birth?) register their children to the actual father.
How about common sense?
Under the present law the baby has to be registered in the father's family record. No such record seems to exist for women. Not very equal now. With the law stating that its the previous husband's baby means that the previous husband has to go to court to state that the baby is not his. Then it can be registered as the correct father's... complicated.
Considering 3,500 women a year go through this problem its woth changing.
Simple. The baby is registered in the mother's family record (if it doesnt exist make it exist) then she can state the father of the baby. If someone disagrees then it can be contested in court with DNA tests like most other countries.
Will the Japanese government make the simple changes. No chance... it won't even awknowledge that such simple changes are even possible.
"No, you dont have cancer. You are totally fine... but, do you mind if i talk to your relatives?"
Cogs start to turn... "Sure, i guess."
Patient steps out of room. Relatives step in.
The doctor shuts the door, "Your husband has cancer."
"How does he feel about that?"
"He doesnt know."
"I didnt want to worry him."
"Why did you tell me first then?"
"I respect your opinions more than the patient. Patients are stupid. 46% of hospitals agree with that."
"I think you should tell him."
"That is up to you as his relative. Only 65.9% of doctors tell their patients they have cancer. But you are lucky. Only 48% of doctors tell the relatives of a cancer patient that the patient has cancer. You could be completely in the dark. And besides 70% of doctors are worried that the relatives would complain if we listented exclusively to the wishes of the patient. We cant be selfish here now can we."
"I think you should tell him."
"Okay, could you step out for a moment and ask your husband to come back in."
Relative steps out. Patient steps back in.
"I am sorry. I talked with your wife. You do have cancer."
"Oh, that's bad. hmm..how bad is it? Do i have long to live?"
"Of course. It is very easily treatable and you'll be fine."
"Thank you doctor. Would you like to talk to my wife again?"
"No, not this time."
The patient bows and leaves the examination room. The doctor sighs to himself, "I am one of over 50% of doctors who refuse to tell a patient that its terminal."
All statistics are from a recent survey of Japanese hospitals as published in the Yomiuri Shimbun on March 3rd, 2007.
For a brief while back in January the dwindling housewifes of Japan went crazy. There is a thing, some call it food, which many foreigners know is NG (Not Good!). However Kansai Tele proclaimed on its Encyclopedia of Life programme that it was the great dieting phenomenom to save Japanese waistlines (which are almost at the size of the average 1950s American). The very next day the supermarkets had sold out of Natto... that horrible sticky clump of fermented soy beans...
There was national panic... we need more Natto!!! (To which most foreigners n some japanese shouted back "You can keep it!")
Well except one thing. Natto does not make you thin. Just eating it does absolutely nothing to help you. And Kan-tele knew it... or at least the producers of the programme did. Naughty boys. Japan was outraged! The president, Soichiro Chigusa, decided not to resign. Honour? whats that? Maybe something you use these days to kill other people.
But, it turns out that this is not the first thing they've faked. The programme, running since 1996, had faked three more in 2005. Just 3? Well we better believe the internal investigation run by Chigusa. Other ones include one about blood glucose levels which used faked data.
Whats the best way to fake evidence? Use a foreign "expert"... Even better misrepresent them. Are they going to Watch Japanese TV? Understand it? Nope, no and no. So for example one programme said that 3 minutes of aerobic exercise will raise your metabolic rate. They talked to an American scientist who disagreed with the idea. So, they dubbed him with a Japanese voice agreeing with the hypothosis.
They then did this with again with a programme about how Miso soup can help you loose weight. It seems that a myth of the unique healthiness of Japanese food is being propegated with lies... but for once the people of Japan have risen up to complain. The government can be corrupt, nationalistic and useless but dont lie about dieting, food and money. Viva la revolution...at Kan-tele.
Japanese TV is always an enduring mystery. Full of semi-celebrities, shouting, crying and long monoglues... it defies the realities of life. Its also very parochial but also fun.
Ive been sitting watching a slice of TV just now where two shows face off with their best stories of the year to see which is best. Both shows do a similar thing. They send out their reporters (semi-celebs like singers, comedians n loudmouths) to parts of Japan or to a Japanese national abroad to look at their story.
Ones in the past have included a woman who really wanted to french kiss a fish (an ugly version of a sea bass). Another with a man who believed in the healing powers of hugs. He held up a board in English and Japanese asking for people to hug him. Another had a man who made giant statues of Kappa (a green folktale creative with water held in a depression in its head). Needless to say the woman got her kiss and the man got many hugs (this is where the crying came in).
Today, they showed their best highlights. None of the stories mentioned above made it in to the end of season finale.
Offerings today included a woman who went to Australia to visit a Japanese woman who makes art with the aboriginies (spelling?). She pulled lizards out of the ground, cooked kangaroo tail and ate general creepy crawly bush tucker. She also held hands a lot with an old aboriginie lady...
Next up was an old man who fishes in the river... seems normal enough except that once caught he eats the fish whole...alive..still wriggling in his mouth... He proceeded to demonstrate then the 4 semi-celebs had to follow suit...lovely.
Then we had Jamaican dancing (basically Pole dancing with a Jamaican flag attached to their attire). Just for fun one of the ladies who had to learn it was old and the other over weight...both kinda did it though the latter lady hurt her head a lot.
Then there was a 64 year old man from Yamaguchi prefecture who lives in a homemade treehouse.. its a speawling epic with martial arts training complexes. Where he does pull-ups, balance bar walking and so on. Which the rather camp and loud semi-celebs had to do also...and fail at. The bare chested Mr.Miyagi on terbo embarressed them totally.
Last up was a middle-aged woman who wants her husband to give her a judo throw to prove how strong he is... it ended up with her throwing her husband instead.
And we wont mention the old man who tried to wear a bra as a thong...
In the end one team won it but i couldnt understand the japanese well enough to know whom...but, just seeing pictures is enough sometimes to have a laugh...
March of the Penguins
And the feet go shuffling on. The first inclination towards movement comes from way ahead near the bend. Thousands of people stand wedged between the two rows of shops looking towards their salvation; fresh air and starless skies. My eyes, perched up higher than most around me, catches a glimpse of wobbling heads. They move from side to side like upended grandfather clocks. I turn to my shorter (no insult but a physical reality) wife and smile, "Its time."
More heads begin to lean from side to side and bob up and down. From the front more and more rows of people begin their wobbles. The number of leaning people grew and grew until they were upon us. They were like a seething mass of Russian dolls or bathtub toys. No candle makers I suppose but I'd wager on a salaryman or two.
They are the penguin horde or Japan waddling their way towards the fairy lights where ghosts of Kobe's past linger. At any moment as the penguins march I half expect the mischievous RAF to fly one over us all and knock them all down like dominoes on ice. I check the shadows and slim alleys for Royal Marine troops ready to pick the penguins back up again with a quietly quaffed, "excuse me."
Salvation for the sardine-penguin hybrids proved a false dawn. As we waddled our last into the more spacious pedestrianised roads we saw long zigzagging lines and streets. The journey was only half over. The penguins quickly broke rank and sped up a bit. Before setting off on part 2 we took one look back, with pity, at the Kings and Emperors behind us who waited behind the unbulging Police line. As we steered around the first zig and into the longer zag we came across our first ice berg in the plentiful seas. Dictator penguins (a lesser known breed) sat atop the bergs with glutinous frowns as they bellowed such commands as "Don't run towards the lights."
Land of Dragonflies? Land of moths. The penguins had been waddling in increasing numbers to the Illuminaria ever since the Great Hanshin Earthquake. For most it is the chance to see the illuminations with friends or loved ones then eat some of the usual festival snacks (all Japanese festivals have the exact same delicacies on offer). They all waddle along the lines, following one another and listening to the dictums of the dictator penguins with their loud speakers. All the while they are oblivious to the non-penguins beyond the white railings who go shopping and enjoy the local restaurants.
Trees bedecked in whitish lights herald the last turn. Soon we will be upon them after nearly two hours of queuing. There we see it. The monument to the fallen. Nature tamed us so we built a giant light bulb ornaments. Though this description does them no justice. They stride above the simple road like Torii gates made of light. The reflect upon awe struck faces and upon the shiny walls of neighbouring buildings. To look down the street is to see the corridor to heaven where successive gates blend together to show the sheer force of perspective. We walk. We take photos; lots of photos to showcase the beauty of man stuck within our concrete walls.
Then I am humbled. Though few others notice. A man kneels to take a photo. Before him a solemn lady. She holds in her hand a wooden photo frame. It is an old photo of a child; a boy. The meaning lost in the splendour of the lights returns with this image. Then as I ponder I spot the light of one gate captured alone upon a small piece of wall. The gate seems caught within the wall like the ghost of the present reflecting the past. It seems so still and fragile. The giant illuminations to follow pale into my mind at this site.
Faces held in awe
By the memorial lights
Mine by past's ghost.
In winter's cold snap
A gate's light forever caught.
The ghosts remember.
Another day goes past and its getting late again.
Have to say its good to work though.
Spent the day creating maps, work sheets and teaching 6 classes.
Even though its nearly christmas my students are studying hard for entrance exams that will take place in March.
Its all so crazy but they are trying so hard.
Am looking forward to another essay competition soon and organising my haiku collection.
When there's the time...