Musings in the Month of May

I was born on a fresh day in the month of May. On May 3 to be exact, but my birth was not registered until May 13, so my official birthday is May 13. I was born in 1944, in the midst of war, and at that time almost all children had their official birthdays about 10 days after their actual birth.

Maybe it is because I was born in May, but I really do love this time of year. When this season comes around, I get a call from a friend in my rural hometown telling me about the trees and flowers in the local gorge. The rock azaleas have begun to blossom. The mountain cherry blossoms are really beautiful. The mountain wisteria flowers are more spectacular than ever. And so on. I hear about flowers that somehow grow from the rock face and flowers that blossom in the contrast among the budding deciduous trees, evergreen broad-leaved trees, and coniferous trees. Perhaps it is because I like talking about this subject too, but my friend and I are on the same wavelength, and our conversation often turns to the changing seasons in my hometown.

When spring arrives in my hometown, there is something I always wonder about?namely, the mountain wisteria flowers, which often are to be seen growing in places where they did not grow in the previous year.

Rural hills
What are you doing here?
Wisteria flowers

My verse was very amateurish, but my friend exclaimed, “Yes, yes, you' re quite right!” And then my friend added in a faltering voice, “I feel so sorry for those people in Fukushima who were driven from their hometowns.” What a kind and thoughtful person my friend is!

Although it is usually fine weather in May, recently the skies have been gloomy, occupied by low air pressure. Clearly these are abnormal weather conditions. The fresh greenery and flowers of the rural hills and natural environment go much better with skies that are so blue it is as if you can see right through them to the universe. The superlative breeze at this time of year revives our spirits. I think the low air pressure raging around the world recently must be an expression of heaven's displeasure at various things.

To change the subject, these days I cannot stop thinking about the expression tannin goto. Looking this phrase up in a dictionary, I see that it is defined as “something that is no concern to you; something that concerns other people; something that is none of your business.” The tannin goto on my mind refers to a situation in which, although something is closely related to you, you behave as if it has nothing to do with you. In other words, it means “irresponsible.”

The other day the draft of the government's 2012 White Paper on Children and Young People was announced. In a survey on what kind of future young people are hoping for, the report reveals their concerns about whether they will be able to obtain sufficient income from work and whether they will be able to receive a pension in old age.

The total ratio of young people anxious about work (“very anxious” + “if anything, anxious”) is 82.9%. Among other replies, 81.5% said they were worried about what would happen to their pension in old age, 80.7% said they were concerned about whether they would be able to work properly, and 79.6% expressed concern about finding a job in the first place and continuing work. Completely without dreams, these replies reflect the harsh reality of the economic and employment situation. The unemployment rate among young people is 9.6% for those aged 15?19 years, 7.9% for those aged 20?24 years, and 6.3% for those aged 25?29 years.

The government plans to approve this white paper at a cabinet meeting in early June, but this is just what I mean by tannin goto. Politicians do not seem to have much realization that it is they themselves who have created this situation. Even after such white papers get cabinet approval, specific measures to deal effectively with the situation are always ambiguous and neglected. It really is irresponsible. And the lack of concern can be said to be reaching as far as the harsh reality in our industry as well. The anger of May . . .