Looking Back on Yet Another Annus Horribilis

Friday, December 26 2008 @ 09:17 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Shiite tribal leaders and government
officials attend Christmas Day mass
at a Baghdad church

At dusk in this port city of Yokohama, day laborers from the harbor, whitecollar workers of neighborhood shipping companies and many other classes of employees and employers pour into the streets to have their traditional bonenkai (forget-the-year parties.) Some of these sararimen (salarymen) wear red-and-white hats as if to cover their empty-headedness and some others who are less intoxicated wear inane, weird smiles all the time. The worst part of this yearend festivity is that unless you are very careful, you sometimes step in a puddle of their vomit or urine, which I narrowly avoided a few days ago.

They are no different from what they were before this stormy climate set in here. Unlike Iraqi Christians (photo above) who seem to know what values they are living for, these folks brought up in a religious salad since their childhood remain caught up in the endless chain of the means, have no idea about what end to pursue and know nothing to do but to drown themselves in cheap booze. Now that a smaller number of employers are willing to sponsor these after-work activities, most parties end up in an unrestrained drinking binge or deafening as well as sickening karaoke frenzy.

However, Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose 3-month-young cabinet is already crumbling, still sounds upbeat about the purposefulness of their lives. He keeps saying like a broken record that the Japanese should pursue keiki kaifuku, or economic recovery, at any cost, with his senseless 23 trillion yen ($255 billion) stimulus package, and that his people should no longer be concerned too much about the traditional pork-barreling that has already built innumerable "bridges to nowhere" all over the nation. His delusion goes as far as to say that this nation will be the first among industrialized countries to find way out of the ongoing crisis because that's what he believes his people can do with the help of the same performance-enhancing agent they used in their postwar drive toward an economic powerhouse.

It is true that as the manga-loving Stanford-dropout, whose IQ is said to be 80, keeps on saying, the Japanese are now swimming in a bloodbath. The sense of urgency has started being felt even among my kin and close friends. An anticipated 85 thousand loss of jobs among 2.3 million nonregular workforce is just the tip of the iceberg as compared to the enormity of the nation-wide suffering.

But so what? The party has long been over since the burst of the first bubble. It would take a person whose IQ is at least 100 to figure out that any conventional stimulus measure will not be workable anymore in solving the chronic problem facing this country because the disease is now in its terminal stage. The last thing a sane person would think about is starting yet another party.

In short, if Japan still wants to be a viable nation, it should downsize itself by half, or even by two thirds, in terms of economic output as well as input. I don't know if this nation could survive the laparotomy. But that is the only way to break out of the vicious circle. To that end it's far from enough just to shelve for a while all the myth about the population pinch. The demographic red herring should be shattered, totally, right away and for good. Put it more bluntly, mercilessly letting worthless people, i.e. those who live their lives just for the sake of life, die out as quickly as possible is the only way to prevent the overall quality of life from further deteriorating.

Only then, could I avoid a near-brawl situation such as the one I had last night at a nearby eatery when three Bank of Yokohama managers in their 50s tried to pick a fight with this old web-journalist by calling me jijii (dotard) out of the blue. Maybe the winos from the supposedly respectable local bank didn't like the way I leered at them. Fortunately for the bankers, I am not a karate master and I had left my digital camera, the only weapon in my possession, at home.

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