Our Way of Living and Dying

Friday, July 17 2009 @ 06:49 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto



Only dead fish go with the flow. (Sarah Palin, July 4)

Earlier this week the latest figures of average life expectancy were released. The statistics showed that Japanese women are enjoying the world's longest life span of 86.05 years while Japanese men ranked No. 4 only next to their counterparts in Iceland, Switzerland and Hong Kong. This leaves you wondering what the heck we cling to our empty life that long for.

Here's another citation from The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.. Actually it's a requotation because author Ruth Benedict was just quoting a wartime broadcast which was all too familiar to the Japanese people of my age or older.

After the air battles were over, the Japanese planes returned to their base in small formations of three or four. A Captain was in one of the first planes to return. After alighting from his plane, he stood on the ground and gazed into the sky through binoculars. As his men returned, he counted. He looked rather pale, but he was quite steady. After the last plane returned he made out a report and proceeded to Headquarters. At Headquarters he made his report to the Commanding Officer. As soon as he had finished his report, however, he suddenly dropped to the ground. The officer on the spot rushed to give assistance but alas! he was dead. On examining his body it was found that it was already cold, and he had a bullet wound in his chest, which had proved fatal. It is impossible for the body of a newly-dead person to be cold. Nevertheless the body of the dead captain was as cold as ice. The Captain must have been dead long before, and it was his spirit that made the report. Such a miraculous fact must have been achieved by the strict sense of responsibility that the dead Captain possessed.

Constantly misguided by the dictionary that wrongly defines 民主主義 (minshu-shugi) as democracy, 天皇 (tenno) under the postwar Constitution as a useless but harmless figurehead, and 変革 (henkaku) as change, those arrogant, intellectually lazy, surface-scratching, cherry-picking Japan experts in the U.S. tend to underestimate our supernatural power to flexibly cross the boundary back and forth between life and death, or our propensity to roam around the border so aimlessly and interminably. Benedict and her fellow countrymen have always said that:
■ wartime Japanese were so superstitious as to believe in the absurd propaganda such as this one,
■ but after the war defeat they came out much smarter.

Both notions are simply wrong although it's next to impossible for shallow-minded Westerners to understand we have unparalleled skills to look alive when we are actually dead or look dead when we are actually alive.

Even when we were on a suicide binge amid the unwinnable war, we were not that stupid. Just compare us to today's Americans who are fascinated by all these jokes about a world free of the nuke, poverty, hunger and greenhouse gasses. The only thing the American people will still be missing when Obama is re-elected in 2012 is that Diprivan-addicted pedophile. It's obvious which people are more woodenheaded.

Benedict observes in her book that "to Americans, of course, this is an outrageous yarn but educated Japanese did not laugh at this broadcast." True, we didn't laugh but that does not mean we believed in the "tall tale." Instead we all cried over our cursed destiny that we had to go with the wrong flow as if we were dead fish.

Equally important to note, we have remained unchanged throughout all these stormy years of warfare and false prosperity under the pacifist Constitution. How could we have changed when the media and the imperial institution are still there? These obscurantists in NHK, the Japan's only public broadcaster and exactly the same names of news organizations (Yomiuri, Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei,) who disseminated all these fallacies on behalf of the emperor and the imperial army, still adhere to their traditional mandate of educating people on how to live and die in the face of never-ending hardships.

If you want an organism to change, you have to first kill it because otherwise it won't be reborn. Change always comes in a disruptive way. You will understand this only when you bother to come over here to witness first-hand, if on the TV screen, what is going on in Japan on the eve of the Lower House election scheduled for August.

To this date the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party headed by the grandson of Shigeru Yoshida, Douglas MacArthur's puppet, and the Komeito backed by legitimized cult Soka-Gakkai, has literally fallen apart. The mainstream media have now started subtly siding with the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan headed by Yukio Hatoyama, the oldest grandson of Ichiro Hatoyama who served as the first prime minister of the now defunct 1955 System, as if the DPJ weren't a spinoff of the most scandal-ridden intraparty faction of the LDP. To that end, NHK and the Big 4 are exerting every effort to prevent the innumerable cases of corruption from surfacing on the part of Hatoyama as well.

Now we are seeing deja vu of "seikai sai-hensei," or sweeping realignment we experienced 16 years ago. Many key members of the ruling LDP, including Kunio Hatoyama, Yukio Hatoyama's younger brother, are poised to desert the sinking ship to form new party(-ies.). They say they are going to reform the unreformable nation.

Once again, we are failing to accept the bitter truth that we are all poltergeists and our death is long overdue now.

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