Posted by ampontan on Thursday, December 1, 2011
TANAKA Satoshi, the head of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, went out drinking with some members of the media on Monday night, and it cost him his job.
While they were in the process of getting lubricated, one of the media lads present asked Mr. Tanaka why the government has so far not set a schedule for submitting to Okinawa Prefecture an environmental assessment report on the relocation of the US Marine air base at Futenma. This report would expedite the implementation of the plan.
Here’s how Kyodo translated his reply:
Do you declare that you are going to commit an act before you do so?
The media members present said he used the word okasu for “commit an act”. Since spreading gossip is their primary job, they promptly got to work and blabbed about it as soon as they got next to a computer. Kyodo’s amusing explanation was that this word is “often interpreted as implying an act of sexual violence against women”. Japanese dictionaries don’t present that word as an implication, however — they list “rape” as one of the definitions. It’s primarily used to mean “to violate, to contravene the law, or to commit an improper act”, so it’s easy to see how the meaning expanded. I found that out first hand years ago early in my life in Japan when I stumbled over the word myself. I said okasu instead of okosu when I was talking about waking someone up, and I had to revisit the dictionary later after everyone in the room gave me a funny look.
Defense Minister Ichikawa Yasuo summoned Mr. Tanaka to Tokyo to explain himself. He said he doesn’t remember saying it, but Mr. Ichikawa fired him anyway. Kyodo explained:
Ichikawa said it would be difficult for Tanaka to continue in the post while the ministry is in a crucial stage regarding various issues involving Okinawa.
We don’t need Kyodo or a dictionary to interpret that. It means that government officials aren’t allowed to tell the truth about policies detested by the people who will be the most affected.
Most amusing of all is the media-driven teapot tempest. Kyodo’s dizziness in their effort to avoid the word “rape” resembles the 19th century women of the Victorian age who chose to substitute “limb” for the vulgar “leg”, and covered up the limbs of large tables so as to prevent impressionable eyes from gazing on that curvaceous naked wood.
The comment was held to offend Okinawans, and some Okinawans did their Pavlovian postmodern duty and became offended. You’d think they’d be glad someone in the government finally told the truth. It seems they’d much rather pretend the DPJ government intends to do something it is incapable of doing — getting the base moved.
The comment was also held to offend women, presumably the feeble-minded among them overcome by the vapors at the combination of a figure of speech, the facts of life, and common sense. Japan awaits the social epidemiologist who can identify the local strain of the political correctness virus that has infected so many Western lackwits handicapped by a congenitally weak intellectual immune system.
Left unsaid by the media was the most salient fact, perhaps because it was so obvious: the government’s prediliction for rape won’t come as news to the rest of us.