Sunday, October 23, 2005

Newly Married

I haven't really done much in the way of contacting my friends and family after the big day (September 25th, 2005) in Pusan, South Korea. I'm just now coming out of my hibernation. I managed to get my blogs updated--well, at least a little bit. It's now time to start working on the thank-you notes... Cleaning our apartment would also be a good idea.

The ceremony went very well, and the meeting between my family and my wife's family was fantastic. My family has very fond memories of their time in Korea. They also followed my wife and I back to Tokyo for a week over here. For me, it was the fulfillment of something that I had sorely needed. For five years I had longed to show my family what my life looked like over here in Korea and Japan. They were finally able to make it over this year, and I was able to share this very important part of my life with them. My good friend Dan has now visited me in both Korea and Japan, so he has also been a big help. Hopefully more of the people I love will be able to make the same trip in the future.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Back-to-Back 9th Inning Wins!

The Swallows are playing the Yokohama Baystars this weekend. On Friday night we managed to win even though we were outhit 15 to 9--courtesy of five home runs. The last of which, hit by Aoki, cleared the left field fence in the bottom of the 9th.

Aoki is currently leading the league with a .351 batting average. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't think that he has a huge future in front of him. I like him because he plays the game intelligently, and is rather soft-spoken during interviews.

I was truly amazed that we were able to pull that win off on Friday. It truly seemed like our starting pitcher, Ishikawa, and our now-very-mortal reliever, Igarashi, were determined to keep Yokohama in the ballgame. Igarashi has a tendency to crack under pressure, and Wakamatsu (the manager of the Swallows) should have been absolutely tickled that the kid managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam (that he created all by himself) with no damage in the seventh. However, he put him back in, and left him in long enough to give up 4 hits and 3 runs. He lasted only one out in the 8th.

Igarashi was again warming up in the middle innings of the game last night, and I believe that this is a good thing. He should be getting right back on the horse, because he fell pretty hard a couple of nights ago. He needs some serious help in the 'I think I can' department. I also hope that he gets a good slider and a forkball for Christmas.

Final score for friday night's game, 8-7.

The game on Saturday started off pretty shaky, but our starting pitcher, Tateyama, retrenched after giving up a two-run blast in the first to Kinjoh. He managed to make it through the following six innings while only giving up one hit! We didn't have the long-ball working for us last night, but we did end up outhitting the Baystars 10-4. We added one run to our tally in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings for a come-from-behind win. Ishi ended up getting the win, and the go-ahead single was hit into the gap in center-left by Yuuichi. Shiroishi, our 2nd-baseman who is absolutely useless with a bat in his hands (but decent defensively), had two hits and scored the winning run.

Final score for Saturday night's game, 3-2.

I imagine that we're probably going to get clubbed tonight after pulling off two walk-off wins on Friday and Saturday night. This will be the last game that I get to go to until the beginning of October as I leave for South Korea tomorrow.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

More of the Same

This article is from the Japan Times (English Edition). I wonder if it was published in the Japanese edition as well...?

Alleged al-Qaeda link seeks vindication
Bangladeshi wants apology, claims he was falsely accused by police

A Bangladeshi businessman who was incorrectly alleged by police and the media last year as being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seeking vindication.
Islam Mohamed Himu, a Bangladeshi resident of Japan, details how his life changed after being arrested by police and alleged to have links to al-Qaeda.

Investigators held Islam Mohamed Himu for 43 days but ultimately found he had no links to al-Qaeda.

Himu said that even since being freed, he has struggled to get his life and business back on track. He has filed a complaint of human rights violations with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

"I want to ask senior officials of the government or police: what was my fault?" Himu said in an interview.

"The Japanese police and media have destroyed my life," said the 34-year-old, who runs a telecommunications company in Tokyo.

"I want them to apologize and restore my life," he said, urging the government to help him obtain visas to make business trips to several countries that have barred his entry following the allegations.

Himu came to Japan in 1995 with his Japanese wife, whom he had met in Canada. After establishing a firm in Tokyo that mainly sells prepaid international phone cards, he obtained permanent residency in 2000.

Police arrested him last May 26 and issued a fresh warrant June 16. They alleged he had falsified a corporate registration and illegally hired two employees, including his brother.

While in custody, investigators mostly asked if he had any links to al-Qaeda, noting that a Frenchman suspected of being in al-Qaeda bought prepaid phone cards from him several times, according to Himu.

He said he tried to prove he had no connection with terrorists, telling police the Frenchman was one of several hundred customers and he had no idea the man used an alias.

However, police dismissed his claim, he said, and leaked to major media organizations, including Kyodo, their suspicions that he was involved with al-Qaeda, and all of them reported the allegations.

Himu said he believes police arrested him as a scapegoat even though they knew he had no link with al-Qaeda.

He was nabbed shortly after the media reported that the Frenchman had stayed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.

Prosecutors did not indict him on the first charge, while a court fined him 300,000 yen on the second charge. He was released on July 7.

Himu said the prosecutors' failure to indict proves he was not an al-Qaeda member, but it did not necessarily constitute a public apology.

All his employees left following the release of the sketchy police information, and he now has 120 million yen in debts due to the disruption of his business, he claimed.
The Japan Times: April 2, 2005


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Dokdo or Takeshima Islands?

Yet another argument has slowed the pace of burgeoning business ties between the nations of South Korea and Japan. A set of rocky islands between the two countries (geographically closer to Korea) have been claimed by both countries.

Right now there's a lot of saber-rattling going on, and very little is being articulated about each side's historical stake in the matter. The situation as it sits now is that the islands are occupied and watched over by Korean citizens. Shimane prefecture has upped the ante by declaring a 'Takeshima Day' starting next year. Protests in Korea have been particularly emotional: several people have cut off fingers, and at least one person has lit himself on fire, in public condemnation of the acts taken up by the government in Japan. The Korean protesters liken 'Takeshima Day' to yet another invasion of their country. The citizens of Japan don't seem to be protesting very much, and the Japanese media seems a little less prone to publishing facts about their claim to the group of islands.

One important point is that the islands are surrounded by some rich fishing waters. Furthermore, the seabed beneath that area is said to be rich in natural gases. As you can see, these things usually come down to money.

At this point in the game, the South Korean government is holding a commanding lead. Aside from forcibly removing the armed guards from the islands, and sinking the patrol ships that circle the area 24 hours a day, there is little that Japan can do to gain control of the situation. As usual, we would all benefit from a whole lot more talking.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hay Fever

I'm a little bit under the weather right now myself, but I'm not suffering from what so many others have fallen prey to. Hay Fever is the big nasty around here. Pollen from Japanese Cedar tress ('sugi') bathe the Tokyo metropolitan area each spring. The result is about one in five people wearing a surgical mask every time they leave the house, and lots of puffy, watering, bloodshot eyes.

The government did a decent job of replacing all the trees that were felled in the name of industry. They found a tree that grows quite quickly, and is quite friendly to the construction sector. Unfortunately, that very same tree plunges the masses into fits of sneezing and whining. The government has now come up with a replacement for the Hay Fever tree from hell, but we won't be able to enjoy lower pollen-counts for a couple of decades.

Meanwhile, Matsumoto Kiyoshi (one of the larger drug store chains in the Kanto area) continues to chime in the new year with ominous sales on masks, medicine and goggles.

I have a cold, by the way, and my bottle of imitation NyQuil seems to be doing the trick.


Saturday, March 12, 2005


I just completed my second full year at Waseda University International. I plan to sign on for a third year in the near future. We had our end-of-the-academic-year party last night, and all of the full-time staff headed to Yokohama for some sightseeing and a nice, 11-course, Chinese, all-you-can-eat/drink bonanza in Chinatown.

The final stop on the tour was Landmark Tower in downtown Yokohama. We took the express elevators to the 69th floor (it's the tallest building in Japan), but the view was literally nonexistent. The fog and mist effectively erased the famous nighttime views! We all circled our way around to the bar, and had a beer on the management as a consolation prize.

Despite the rain and mud, it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun. I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have any photos to post, but I noticed a lot of smiles from the teachers who tend to keep to themselves. There were a lot of people there--close to 70 I believe. Another 40-some-odd instructors are signing on this April, so I'm sure that we're in for some madness this year!


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Babysitting 5

Ruka has been joining us quite regularly as of late. She usually shows up during the final 30 - 45 minutes of the lesson. Miyu likes having her around, but she acts like a typical older sibling most of the time. She doesn't like to share, and she loves to annoy Ruka at every chance she gets. I guess it's only natural. I'm sure that I was the same way (sorry, Scott and Kate!)

Miyu still doesn't see any need to use English when we're spending time together. She knows that I speak some Japanese. Her parents always speak to me in Japanese, so it rarely works when I pretend like I can't understand what she's saying. I wonder if it's ever going to get any better. Is she ever going to make an effort to produce some English? We need to create some kind of an environment where it's understood that it's an English-0nly area. I would love it if we could take a trip to America once a year. It seems like that would be a good opportunity to make her aware of how useful the language CAN be. It's definitely of little use at home. Having the lesson up here in our apartment would also be good.

I think that Yasu and Michiko (Ruka's parents) are smart to drop her off about halfway through the lesson. Two hours a day definitely didn't do much to get Miyu talking.