The Fundamental Things Apply as Time Goes by

Tuesday, September 20 2011 @ 03:23 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

This broad named Fumiko
Hayashi recently succeeded
an equally crooked guy named
Hiroshi Nakada as Yokohama

The camera-shy double-chinned
zombie at the tax collection
department wouldn't listen to my
tuition-free lecture on the
Recently I often indulge in retrospection as anyone of my age does, particularly in the light of my typology for pathological liars. When looking back on thousands of people I've become associated with throughout my adulthood, I always feel contented that I have encountered not a few adorable people who have made my life worth living, or at least more tolerable than it would have been without them.

They were mostly women. This is no accident because it's a universal truth that the oppressed always outshine the oppressors. Although it can never be the other way around anywhere else in the world, this is especially true with this male-dominated country where young women often remain unassimilated.

On the other hand, my contempt toward male liars stems from education I received at home and in schools during my formative years.

As I have already told my audience, my father's way of educating me was abnormally Spartan. In later years I termed it a double-edged sword. The reason he had an obsessive idea that his dim-witted son had to grow at any cost into a topnotch scientist like himself was because he thought that was the only way to avoid offering his offspring to Emperor Hirohito as one of those millions of sacrifices. I think he was right; if the war had lasted five more years and I had failed to meet his expectation, I would most probably have been loaded into a small plane together with gallons of gasoline and dived into a U.S. warship for the absurd cause of defending Hirohito against his enemy. Things did not unfold that way, but just the same, I fell apart years after the war defeat.

In the meantime, I attended a private grade school and high schools because I failed to enter a privileged public school which my father thought was the first step toward the fast track to the exempt status from the suicide mission. The name of the schools was Seijo Gakuen. The institution had been founded by a progressive educator named Masataro Sawayanagi amid the social milieu widely known as Taisho Demokurashii, or Taisho democracy. Dishonest historians in Japan all characterize the Taisho Era (1912-26) as the days when something similar to Western democracy was briefly flourishing.

It's an illusion, however. They cannot but call it that because there is a tacit agreement which strictly prohibits them from mentioning the fact that Emperor Yoshihito was even more insane than his son Hirohito as a result of incestuous marriages practiced for centuries within the imperial family. The incapacitated demigod wasn't even able to prepare his subjects for the inevitable war against the West, let alone prevent the rise of the most belligerent elements within the Imperial Army toward the 1930s. The fact remains that the accidental resemblance of the era to democracy was nothing but a fallout from the 15-year hiatus in the imperial reign resulting from the severe mental illness suffered by Yoshihito. In fact, it didn't even bear the faintest similarity to the Weimar Republic because the lunatic on the throne had nothing in common with Paul von Hindenburg.

When founding Seijo Gakuen against this backdrop, Sawayanagi imported a progressive education method advocated by Helen Parkhurst based on her belief in trinity of truth, virtue and beauty. It was called the Dalton Plan because the Dalton School in Massachusetts first implemented the method in 1919. Even today, Japanese schools all aim at nurturing conformists, but the principle being practices in Seijo Gakuen was to train its students to be different from each other. Spending my formative years in this institution, I developed my hatred toward conformism.

In short, I was torn between two radically different education methods for almost twelve years. The principles were not only irreconcilable with each other, but also totally incongruous with the norms of the society.

Due to this educational background of mine, I experienced great difficulty throughout my early adulthood dealing with my workplace colleagues and bosses, including expats from Switzerland and some other European countries. My employers were all suffering from complete lack of spontaneity and innovativeness on the part of their employees. All they could do was to comply with commands given from above. Early on, therefore, the typical alumnus of Seijo Gakuen couldn't get along very well with these self-deceptive people. Although I could develop, over time, the art of lying which they called "interpersonal skills" as I grew into a mature corporate manager, I couldn't cultivate lasting relationships with them. Moreover, my attempts to revolutionize the ways of doing business eventually cost me the big promotion to top executive positions.

Now I classify them into Type 1 liars. Since they were too uneducated and/or retarded to deliberately deceive others, they settled for deceiving themselves. People say ignorant liars are relatively harmless, but my way of thinking is that on the contrary they are sometimes more harmful than deliberate liars who I classify as Type 2, because they don't know they are lying.

In my second career spent at the Japanese subsidiary of a German software company, and the subsequent post-retirement years, I started mixing with a different type of people with different educational and occupational backgrounds, including prominent "experts" in politics in Northeast Asia and a small-time literary agent who would later turn down my manuscript on the pretext of minor grammatical inaccuracies and "run-on" sentences involved in it. Most of them were Americans.

In 2004, I decided to devote the rest of my life to writing, including blogging. I already knew that I had dared to play the unrewarding role of the Cretan who insisted all Cretans were liars. But I hadn't known yet that these highly-educated and well-informed people were essentially no different from Type 1 liars who had tormented me throughout my 46-year career. That is why I thought my target audience would have to be Westerners, especially Americans.

On both sides of us, expectations were quite high. As you can see somewhere on this website, an American writer wrote: "Strong, incisive and definitely opinionated, Yuichi Yamamoto is where I go to get perspectives on Japan." But the ensuing exchange of views between us has revealed that he was lying. Actually he just expected me to say what he and his fellow countrymen wanted to hear.

In the last seven years, Type 2 mythomaniacs in the U.S. untiringly flooded me with these questions:

■ How to cope with the problem with Japan's shrinking and aging population,
■ How to handle the abduction issue with North Korea,
■ How to counter China's provocation in the disputed waters in the East China Sea,
■ How to realign U.S. military forces in Japan,
■ How to decelerate the whirling of the revolving door of the Prime Minister's office,
■ Whether or not the Japanese Prime Minister should visit Yasukuni Shrine,
■ Whether or not Japan should be given a permanent seat on the UNSC,
■ Whether or not the Little Boy and the Fat Man can be justified,
■ How soon Japan should phase out its dependence on nuclear power generation,
■ What to make of the ongoing "Arab Spring."

The list of silly questions goes on and on.

As I have repeatedly argued, practically none of these "issues" are real. If there are some exceptions, these are someone else's headaches or heartaches, certainly not mine. I was taken aback to know that in America today, even professional analysts have no ability to analyze things to identify real issues. To borrow Peter F. Drucker's way of saying it, these guys should know that giving a wrong answer to the right question is much better than giving the correct answer to a wrong question,

I might as well have established a set of FAQs in which every answer would go like this: "Who knows? And who cares? All these questions you repeatedly raise are red herrings invented by the Japanese media and amplified by Japan 'experts' in the U.S. who are virtually on the payroll of the mainstream media."

These days political analysts in the U.S. often talk about macro/micro economy as if to make up for their inability to analyze politics. But of course, the makeshift financial analysts cannot analyze economy any better than politics. Even worse, since they have no firsthand experience and knowledge in any other business than their own monkey business, these self-styled economists don't have the foggiest idea of what man's economic activities are all about. By contrast, Japanese businessmen do have some foggy ideas about that. They are equally ignorant, but not that arrogant.

In total disappointment, we have become increasingly alienated from each other in recent years. That left me with an even smaller number of people who still remained responsive to this blog. For a while, I thought they were my last bastion, so to speak. Unfortunately, though, I soon learned that most of them are yet another type of dishonest people.

When I mentioned, for the first time, the constitutional, but extralegal battle I'd launched in April against the municipality of Yokohama over my refusal to pay income-unrelated residential taxes, they made an aboutface on me presumably because they thought any person who dares to put into action what he says is the right thing to do is a psychopath. The acid test revealed that those who I am inclined to classify as Type 3 are no different from the Japanese whose Honne is always miles apart from their Tatemae.

The Japanese have been known for their trait for
総論賛成・各論反対 (So-Ron Sansei, Kaku-ron Hantai) which literally means agreement in principle and opposition in specifics. While in business, especially in the bubble and post-bubble years, I tried hard to convince my subordinates, peers and bosses that our organization was badly in need of reengineering and downsizing. No one raised an objection. But when I was handing a pink slip to any one of them, he never failed to violently resist.

On the contrary, employees of government agencies at all levels have never faced this dilemma. That makes it all the more difficult for me to convince these ignorant and arrogant tax collectors. Actually I am on the brink of surrender with more than 30% of my pension annuity being robbed starting October.

Initially, I based my protest primarily on the Constitution, particularly its Articles 14 (equality under law,) 25 (right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living) and 29 (inviolable property right.) But it was as though I was talking to a brick wall.

Japan's Constitution, which was virtually promulgated by Gen. Douglas MacArthur 67 years ago, upholds three principles in it: pacifism, egalitarianism and reciprocity. The first two were superfluous because the Japanese have long been extremely blood-phobic people who have never risked their lives to defend their innate right and dignity against anyone at home or from abroad, and its rulers could perpetuate an oppressive, but classless society since the early-8th century with their ingenious art of lying. On the contrary, the reciprocity principle has never taken root in this land.

When it comes to subordinate laws, Japanese lawmakers have all been stupid enough to model them after the so-called Anglo-American legal system which tends to leave a lot of leeway for the discretion of people practicing law because of its "enumeration method." On the other hand, the Japanese at large never understand that people define the law, not the other way around. As a result, the reciprocity principle supposedly governing relationships between taxpayers and the state has always remained a Tatemae. Under the circumstances, I don't think I have to tell you how the tax collectors have actually exercised their discretionary power which is way too much for these immature guys.

If I were Fumiko Hayashi who recently succeeded the equally crooked Hiroshi Nakada as Yokohama Mayor, I would certainly replace the crowd of highly-paid zombies with a much smaller number of robots whose brains are stuffed with the articles of local tax law, related ordinances and precedents.

Now that they have finally started to forcibly exercise the order of attachment, I decided to drop my plan to file a civil lawsuit. Instead, I now think about filing criminal charges against them, invoking Article 193 of the Penal Code which goes like this:

When a public officer abuses his or her authority and causes another to perform an act which the person has no obligation to perform, or hinders another from exercising such person's right, imprisonment with or without work for not more than 2 years shall be imposed.

I know I have little chance to win the case because the independence of the three branches of the government is one of those nominal things pervasive in this Tatemae society. Especially the cozy relations between the judicial and administrative branches of the government here makes it quite unlikely that I can put them behind bars. Yet, I can't but go on "until I have my sword broken and arrows exhausted." The crisis I'm going through right now is something that literary poses an existential threat.

Two weeks ago, someone unexpectedly extended me a helping hand. Ironically enough, though, it's a he, and he is a Japanese. Here I call him "DK." DK said: "I will make up for the shortfall you are going to suffer because of the robbers in the city hall for the simple reason that I have always empathized with your way of thinking and living. You should not repay it because it's a grant aid."

DK is a youngish IT engineer and a father of a 5-year-old kid. He and his wife have not really been responsive to my web essays, either online or offline. But every time we have a talk over a small lunch or a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks, I can see our wavelengths are very close. Since the time I first told them I had launched an all-out war against Yokohama city, they have been rooting for me without reservation.

Believe it or not, I was looking for a tovarishch, or two, not a potential benefactor. So I must have declined his generous offer outright if he had said he was doing it out of sympathy. But this is not to say I have no problem accepting the kind offer he made out of empathy. I am fully aware that DK is not that wealthy. He has to support not only his immediate family, but some aged in-laws. Also, he can't save too much money for rainy days so as not to repeat my mistake.

I'm still wavering. But whether or not I eventually accept it, I have already started feeling as though I am reaping a late harvest from old acquaintances amid the final showdown with unscrupulous liars. After all, the fundamental things apply as time goes by. To me, the things essential to life are honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, self-reliant mindset, and mutual respect among people who are gifted with these virtues.

POSTSCRIPT: I don't think I am a liar, at least not a habitual one. Neither do I think tax collectors at the city hall and judges at the district court have a brain to understand an English essay like this one. But just in case, I had to modify or hold back certain aspects of DK's profile.

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