Readers' letters: bursting bubbles on gaijin life and the Hague child-abduction treaty

The last word on bursting bubbles

Hopefully Debito Arudou’s essay “Time to burst your bubble and face reality” (Just Be Cause, Dec. 3, 2014) will prove to be a long-overdue wake up call to a great many gaijin [foreigners] like myself who should have realized years ago that all “good” things must finally come to an end.

Back in 1984 my rather shy students would ask me, “Why did you come to Japan?” Now they would probably ask me in not so shy a manner, “Why are you still here?” My response would be “Why not?” or even “It’s none of your goddamn business.”

There’s no fool like an old fool, is there? For many aging gaijin it’s very true what the 1930s American writer Thomas Wolfe suggested in his novel “You Can’t Go Home Again”: You really can’t. For so many of us, Japan is home.

I loved what Pierre Bourdieu wrote about his “illusio” concept: “the belief that the great ‘lifetime’ game we all agree to play is worth playing, and the fiction we collectively choose to follow is reality.” I wonder if either Bourdieu or Arudou have any appreciation for the teachings of Buddha? On life and death, this Buddhist wisdom gives me some consolation: “This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking for the movements of a dance. A lifetime is a flash of lightning in the sky. Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.”

I still feel that my life has been immeasurably enriched by my travels and explorations in Japan. There are worlds of beauty and delight in Japan that I could never see anywhere else on this planet of ours. And I’ve met some of the most extraordinary people. Much like Frank Sinatra, I did it my way. Regrets, I have a few, but none is worth mentioning. Didn’t T.S. Eliot compare 20th-century life in the West to a “wasteland”? There’s a little bit of Lafcadio Hearn in all of us aging gaijin.

I just hope that The Japan Times continues to publish my letters from time to time so that I don’t become an “anonymous dead gaijin” one day. I wonder at times how many of my old gaijin colleagues are still teaching English in Tokyo. I suspect most of them pulled up their tent stakes years ago and skipped the light fantastic out of town. Can’t say I blame them. After all, who wants to grow old in a country where half of the population will be over 50 years of age in the very near future?

Reality sucks. Japan will become one big geriatric ward. What does Arudou plan to do in his sunset years? Sounds like his bubble is about to burst as well. I wonder if C.W. Nicol will be moving back to British Columbia?

Otaru, Hokkaido

Hague is a two-way street

Re: “Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014” by Debito Arudou (Just Be Cause, Jan. 1): One of the biggest issues of the year was Japan signing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Whereas this was a very positive step when Russia signed it, this has not been the case for the last G-8 nation to join.

When Japan signed on April 1, it was inaccurately believed that Japan would abide by the spirit and intent of the terms of the Hague when addressing the issue of international parental abductions. Unfortunately, as many of us already knew, Japan has no intention of abiding by the treaty when it comes to the return of children kidnapped to Japan, while it has used the treaty to have at least three children who had been kidnapped from Japan successfully returned.

The fraud and conspiracy of the Japanese central authorities, family court and government are appalling on this issue. The fact is, Japan has no intention of abiding by the treaty. Japan has no legal mechanism in place to force the abducting parent to answer any court summons or to appear at any hearing. Even if the kidnapping parent does show up in court, it is a fact that Japan still has absolutely no legal mechanism in place to enforce a verdict in favor of a left-behind parent.

Japan’s signing of the Hague was nothing more than a propaganda stunt to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Rest assured, I for one will be doing all that is within my power to have the sanctions in our country’s new law H.R. 3212 — the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act — enforced to the utmost. The only way to resolve these illegal child abduction cases perpetrated by these abusive abductors is sanctions. There are far more than enough illegally kidnapped American children being held captive in Japan to meet the requirements listed in the new law.

Santa Ana, California

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