May 27, 2012

When Will Feminism Disappear in Japan?

Recently I've been reading the books written by Sakae Osugi and Noe Ito. Sakae Osugi was an anarchist, born in 1885, and Noe Ito was a feminist, born in 1895. They were a couple with five children.

The Japanese government and army thought that they were dangerous. The police were always watching them and often arrested them for minor offenses. In the end a member of the military police, Masahiko Amakasu, killed them during the chaos following the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.

When I read Noe Ito's articles, I agree with them and it's very difficult for me to imagine that people thought of her as dangerous. She just insisted that female workers were exploited more than male workers and female workers should have fair treatment in order to become independent.

Now, there is gender segregation in our company. There are no female executives! Only a few women could get promoted to department manager positions. Most routine work are assigned to temporary staff, and most of them are female.

Noe Ito's assertion, which was insisted a hundred years ago, has yet to be realized. If gender segregation disappears, no one will need feminism. But in Japan there is clearly gender segregation, so we need feminism and Noe Ito.

When will feminism disappear in Japan?

May 25, 2012

A Rock Star Was Dead And A Geek Is Still Alive: Kurt Cobain and Ben Folds

Kurt Cobain, Ben Folds, and I belong to the same generation. Kurt Cobain and I were born in 1967, and Ben Folds in 1966.

When Kurt Cobain was 24 years old in 1991, he sung in the song "Smells Like Teen Sprit" he wrote the following lyrics..
With the lights out, it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid, and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us

I imagine from this phrase that a couple went out of left a rave party to go to a dark corner and make love.

Kurt shouted this song wildly just like a rock star.

I liked his music and had an admiration of him, but I had never experienced the situation, which he sang about in this song.

In the end he killed himself at the age of twenty-seven just like a rock star.

After Kurt's death, Ben Folds Five released the song "Underground" in 1995.
I'd like to quote the lyrics.
I was never cool in school
I'm sure you don't remember me
And now it's been 10 years
I'm still wondering who to be
But I'd love to mix in circles, cliques, and social coteries - that's me

Ben Folds didn't look like a rock star but a geek, and his song wasn't about a cool guy but a dull boy. I felt real close to this song and him, because I was one of those dull boys.

I think that Ben Folds is far more talented than Kurt Cobain, but he isn't wild.

In 2000 Ben Folds Five was broken up, and Ben Folds started his solo career. In 2001 he released "Rockin' the Suburbs".
Let me tell y'all what it's like
Being male, middle-class and white
It's a bitch, if you don't believe
Listen up to my new CD

I was grown up in an ordinary middle-class family in Tokyo, and nothing special happened in my life. But I just love rock music. I guess that Ben has been loving rock music, although he had never experienced the things like a rock star.

He himself isn't always cool, but his music is always quite cool. At the same time his “uncoolness” makes him quite cool. Do you understand what I want to mean?

Ben Folds Five reunited this year. I'm looking forward to their new CD, which will be released in this autumn.

A rock star was dead and a geek is still alive. I love both of them, but Ben Folds songs have been supporting my life.

May 21, 2012

Why does the Japanese government establish the curriculums of all schools in Japan

MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) establishes the curriculums of elementary schools and high schools. Even private schools obey these curriculums. MEXT approves all textbooks to be used in all elementary schools and high schools, too.

When some university in Japan wants to establish a new department, they need the approval of MEXT, even if it were a private university. MEXT checks in very close details.

Why does the Japanese government establish the curriculums of all schools in Japan? Japan is a totalitarian country, isn't it? What's different between Japan and North Korea?

MEXT decided that dance would be taught in gymnastic class in all junior high schools. Many gymnastic teachers are learning dance hastily, now.

I don't oppose teaching dance in junior high schools at all, but I can't understand why the Japanese government decides it and all junior high schools concurrently begin to teach dance.

Everyone has the right to receive education. I think that everyone has the right to receive education that they want to receive.

It's quite ineffective for all students to be taught in the same curriculum. Everyone should learn in their own way.

May 19, 2012

Gay Marriages and Cultures

I heard news about the President Obama supported gay marriage. I think that he is brave to do so, even if he is aware of the election.

"Obama says gay marriage stance ‘the right thing to do,’ courts women, gay, young voters in NYC" Washington Post By Associated Press, Published: May 15

I have written previously about the gay society in Japan.

"Everyday Life in Shinjuku 2-chome: Gay People Aren't Special at All"

Of course there is discrimination against gay people and some people hate them, but generally speaking Japanese society is relatively tolerant of gay people, because our religion has never prohibited homosexuality and Japan have a long tradition of homosexuality, which is called "衆道 shudo".

In the U.S., the problem with gay marriage is deeply related to Christianity and it's always quite dangerous to state about the problems of religion, because some people are intolerant.

I think that the system of PACS in French is quite a wise solution to this problem.

"Civil solidarity pact" Wikipedia

PACS has secularized marriage. A gay couple can have almost the same rights as a married heterosexual couple without coming into conflict with the religious principles of Christianity.

I don't know why, but in Japan most people and politicians have no interest in the issue of gay marriage. As I wrote, Japan has had the long tradition of homosexuality, but it has been completely outside of marriage. They couldn't even imagine a marriage between same sex partners.

I heard that some gay couple in Japan became a father and a son in law because they wanted to ensure the succession of property to each other. If they lived in French, they must use PACS.

But even PACS doesn't allow any consanguineous marriage, bigamous marriage and plural marriage. If they are consensual, I can't understand what is the problem is.

I support gay marriage, consanguineous marriage, bigamous marriage and plural marriage!

May 12, 2012

Playing with "Cool Biz"

Last year I wrote an entry about "Cool Biz".

I'd like to quote this entry to explain what "Cool Biz" is.

It's quite hot in the summer season of Tokyo, but, as I wrote in the previous journal, a typical "salaryman" always wears a dark business suit and tie, no matter how hot it is.

The ministry of Environment started a campaign called "Cool Biz". They insisted that salarymen should take off their jackets and ties in order to save the environment. Do you understand the relationship between salarymen's suits and the environment? They said that companies should raise the temperature in their offices to save electricity and salaryman should take off their jackets and ties to be able to stand high temperatures. Poor "Salarymen"!

Anyway "Cool Biz" has spread over salarymen and they have taken off their jackets and ties in the summer season. And of course it has been hotter in their office.

"Cool Biz" started in the beginning of May. Now I don't have to wear my jacket and tie while working in my office.

As I wrote in the previous entry about "Cool Biz", my company's dress code is so ridiculous that I'm trying to resist it.

A few years ago, Kazuhiro Kokubo, who was a member of Japan's snowboarding team for the Vancouver Olympics, was criticized for wearing the Japanese team's uniform of Japan's team in a quite rough way.

How do you think of his sense of fashion?

It's cool, isn't it? I think that he is a professional snowboard player and his fashion as a snowboarder is a part of his profession. If he wore a uniform in the proper way, he wouldn't look like a snowboarder and his fans would feel disappointed.

I read a newspaper article about Zuckerberg's hoodie. He wore his trademark hoodie at the meeting with Wall Street bankers, and someone blamed him about his fashion.

What's the matter? Should Zuckerberg wear a well-tailored suit? Kokubo is Kokubo, and Zuck is Zuck.

Japanese high school girls are trying to wear their uniforms in a "kawaii " (cute) way. A game is more interesting, because it has rules. They enjoy their fashion under the rules of uniform.

Now I'm trying to enjoy fashion within the rule of "Cool Biz".

One day, I wore a jacket and a tie just for form, but the jacket made of linen was casual, and I undid the top button of my shirt and loosened a knit tie.

Another day, I didn't ware a jacket and a tie, but I wore a blue striped shirt and a dark grey pleated pants looking like a "salary man".

I'm playing with "Cool Biz".

May 5, 2012

Religions in the Modern Society

As a typical Japanese, I don't believe in any religions. I don't know what agnostic exactly means, but I guess that I might not be an agnostic. I just don't believe in any religion but at the same time I don't deny any of the religions.

I feel close to the philosophy of Buddhism, but I think that Buddha just was a human being and I don't accept the idea that he was sacred.

On the other hand, I also feel animistic feelings and visit shrines, but my viewpoint is primarily that of modern science..

I wonder how Christians can believe in Christianity in this modern society. Modern science denies the theological assumptions of Christianity, and how do they harmonize modern science with Christianity.

For a "Pagan", it's really difficult to understand the principles of Christianity, because they seem to be quite contradictory. The most mysterious principle in Christianity is the Holy Trinity.

Who is Jesus? What is the existence of the son of the Almighty God? Did Jesus, himself, know that he was the son of God? When he was crucified, did he know that God would help him? If he knew it, the crucifixion wasn't a challenge, but if he didn't know it, I doubt his divinity. And then where had he gone after his resurrection?

I found that Linus asked Lucy some simple questions about Jesus in the comic "Peanuts". I'm not only one who is wondering about Christianity.

Islam is more rational than Christianity. They deny the concept of the son of God and the Holy Trinity, because God is one, not three.

I don't agree with the theory of the anti-evolutionism, but I can understand why they, who believe in Christianity, believe in the evolutionism. It's logical. For a barbaric animist, I don't understand that how they can accept Christianity and evolutionism at the same time, because they are contradicted each other.

But the principles of every religion must have contradiction. If there is a religion without any contradictions, people can understand them and don't have to believe in them. For me Buddhism isn't a religion in this sense.

On the contrary, Christianity contains contradiction, so Christians have to believe in it, but they can't understand it. In this sense, Christianity is more religious than Islam.

A religion is a religion.

May 3, 2012

The Best of Espionage Novels

Spoiler warning: Plot and ending of John le Carré’s "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and Graham Greene’s "The Human Factor" follow.

The film "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is playing in Tokyo, now.

I used to read many espionage novels, including John le Carré’s works, so I’ll watch this film.
In the 1960’s it was revealed that Kim Philby, who had been a high officer of MI6, was a double agent, and he defected from U.K. to the Soviet Union. And then several espionage novels, inspired by the Kim Philby case, were written in the 1970’s.

The best works of them are John le Carré’s "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and Graham Greene’s "The Human Factor". Both of them are serious and heavy, but their plots are different from each other.

In "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" Smiley, the main character, played the role as a detective, and he sought who was the double agent. John le Carré used the format of the mystery novel, and the mystery about who is the double agent is driving the story.

On the other hand, in "The Human Factor" Castle, the main character, himself, was the double agent. Graham Greene used the format of the suspense novel, and the thrill about when he will be exposed as the double agent is driving the story.

The preferences are difference according to the person, but I think that it’s clear which is superior as an espionage novel about a double agent.

The most interesting thing in the story about a double agent is their mind and motivation to be a double agent. The format of mystery novels, which John le Carré used in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", made it difficult to describe their mind and motivation, because the author should hide who was the double agent.

On the contrary, Graham Greene wrote "The Human Factor" from the standpoint of the double agent, Castle, so he could describe the mind and motivation of him deeply. As he is put into more critical situation, we can understand about his nature more.

At the end of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", we can find out who the double agent is and it gives us catharsis. But at the end of "The Human Factor", the contradiction of a double agent isn’t solved, and we can’t get catharsis. And more we would be impressed about the dark world of a double agent.

In "The Human Factor", I like the scene where Castle is looking for Boris’ hiding place at great risk best.

The leak of information from the section, which Castle belongs to, was discovered, and his colleague was murdered by poisoning, because he was suspected to be a double agent. If Castle leaks more information, this time, he will be suspected to be a double agent. So he reported to Boris, serving as a liaison to the Soviet Union, that he couldn’t send more information.

Castle hasn’t come out even to his family that he was a double agent, so only Boris knows that he is a double agent. But if Castle stops leaking information, Boris will go back to the Soviet Union and Castle has to keep his secret by himself.

Castle took a great risk to look for Boris, just because he wanted to talk with him, who was the only person sharing his secret. Finally he couldn’t find out him and he got into a Catholic church to confess that he was a double agent.

I, myself, often do thing without any meanings impulsively, too. I wonder why I want to do these things more, when they are more meaningless and forbidden. My own mind is the most mysterious thing in this world.