Sunday, 31 January 2010

Remember when Blair was popular and the monarchy wasn't?

Our Man just got through watching The Queen, and was surprised how good it was, being not much of a monarchist himself. A few bullets to fire off at you this Sunday:

1. It features Helen "Supernintendo Jane Tennison" Mirren, who does as good a turn as that bloke in drag in Naked Gun as Her Maj.
2. The bloke who plays Blair and the woman as Cherie were dead-ringers.
3. Made Our Man happy to have been on the other side of the world when the Princess Di love-in took over the UK. Imagine if people were that upset when people they actually know snuff it?
4. Our Man liked the spin doc Alistair Campbell chap. Shows that a little cynicism can take you a long way in politics.
5. Our Man actually came out of the theatre (OK, his six-mat living room) thinking the monarchy ain't such a bad institution. C'mon, would you rather President Gordon Brown were living it up at Balmoral shooting stags and shit?
6. But still, Orf with their heads, the lot of 'em.
7. And that includes you, Blair.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The weekish links

Hey folks, while Our Man has sod all to post, howsabout this NEW and IMPROVED feature - The Weekish Links - stuff Our Man may or may not have linked to this week or so that he reckons is pretty worthwhile reading:

and in case you missed it (how could you?)

Oh, OK and something that tickled Our Man:

Friday, 29 January 2010

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Why is Ozawa so...

Hot on the heels of Japan Probe 's James who had fun typing in "Why are Japanese so..." into Google and seeing what the predictive text came up with (It was over a week ago, luke warm on the heels of is the correct phrase - Ed.) Our Man was minding his own business when an agent provocateur told him to type "Ozawa" into So he did. And this is what he got:

The spin doctors have definitely turned the whorey old political don into something electable. So this is the meaning of Ozawa girls.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

If you are waiting for something profound from Our Man, better bring along a big book

Apologies for leaving that nasty picture of HRH Ozawa on the desktop all day, Our Man had meant it as a holding post while he thought of something more profound to say. (The wait continues - Ed).

Meanwhile, may he entertain you with his random thoughts, such as they were, given it was after midnight when he last used his brain and Our Man had hit the hot plums (that's a local alcoholic delicacy, not a euphemism).

1. It's hard to write a decent post unless you are angry.
4. Our Man is curiously at peace with the world.
32. Even though Kim Jong Il is getting ready to fire off another of his Ding Dongs.
4073.5. There's an awful lot of punditifying about how the people of Okinawa have risen up as one to defy the Yanks on moving the Marines in next door and Mr Hesitation Hatoyama's hands are tied yada yadda yaddda - but only 53% of local voters picked the pacifist mayor, and since when has anybody in Tokyo or anywhere else given a Ueno-zoo-escaped monkey's what the Okis think anyway?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ichiro Ozawa: The intergalactic truth

Intergalactic slavedriver Jabba the Hut.

HRH Lord Ichiro Ozawa.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Best post of the day

For anyone who has ever wondered about their place in life and the role of honour, trust and Japanese punctuality, this post is for you.

When old media meet new media meet old, er, whatever

Our Man choked on his Frosties again this morning. Right there in black and white, in the Japan Times splash no less, was inaugural Our Man in Abiko Blog of the Week winner, Master Tobias Harris giving his two yen's worth on the LDP and such.

So, Armchair Asia - get the crumbs out from between the cushions; The Penguin - iron your tux; Shisaku - dust off your thesaurus, 'cos it can only be a matter of time before some spotty JT cub reporter comes a-calling. Oh, and Smashed and Sinking, take a couple of aspirin.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

What a lot we got with the Japan Times (no, really)

Well, now, wasn't the Japan Times good today?

There was Secrets and lies, a great summary of the golden jubilee of US hegemony, er, alliance with Japan, and the best roundup of how Lord Ozawa, the power behind the Japanese ruling party, is such a turd by Our Man's favourite Japan Times columnist Philip Brasor. Also, we were treated to the wit and wisdom of Gen. Toshio Tamogami's world view.

And, best of all, DPJ politician Yuko Mori flashed some leg on Page 7. Sorry no link, hah.

Updated 20:23 for your viewing pleasure: Here's the link, and here's the pic:

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Useful Japanese expressions practice. Answer the questions

1. Which do you think is more useful to the human being, a dog or a cat?
2. Mr Mirai is on a business trip, do you think he has heard the news?
3. I think Mr Mirai is a highly efficient worker. Do you think so?
4. The study of economics is a most fascinating one, I think. Do you think so?

Our Man thinks he could do with a stiff drink and so could Mr Mirai by the sounds of it.

A Day in the Life of Our Man

I read the news today, oh boy.
My twitter feed said newspapers had just lost the war.
And though the news was rather sad.
I had to laugh.
Having read the Kindle.

Woke up. Got out of bed. Dragged an iPhone across my head. And getting up, I noticed I didn't know the rest of the words to the song. Something about a smoke and I went into a dream.

I'd love to turn you off.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The New Japanese politics: It's all frightfully British, wot?

There's one good thing about the arrival of two-party politics in Japan. Forget wa (harmony) that's soooooo 2009.

The Japanese have gone all British.

What? Yapping about how cultured they are compared to the Yanks (but listening to shit music?) Nahhhh (well, a bit). Actually, the lawmakers (heretofore "tossers") have started heckling each other like naughty Eton schoolboys straight out of Latin class or something. In fact, they were getting themselves so worked up that the good citizens of Japan were somewhat miffed that they couldn't hear what was being said in the Japanese Diet for all the braying. Cripes!

The tossers are behaving like there is a difference between them! Brings a tear to the eye. Reminds one of the mother (of parliaments).

Pic lifted from here.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ichiro Ozawa: The question everyone is asking

You still here?

JAL and stuff

So JAL is bankrupt. A late business, bereft of life, it is an ex-airline. Our Man has been hitting the duty free, so allow him to bullet point the rest of this post, so as not to scare the horses.

1. It's pretty bad news for the good folk of Abiko, being as they are halfway between Narita Airport and Tokyo (a pig and a poke?) So, there're quite a few folk worried about their jobs right now.
2. But JAL had it coming for years. Our Man actually knows a JAL stewardess. Yes, she is good looking, knows how to smile and has a perfectly symmetrical face (these are the prerequisites before they let you ask "chicken or beef?" - honestly, it was on the test). When she got her first paycheck 15-odd years ago she thought they had put one zero too many on. Yep. $5,000 for a month of fluffing pillows and winking at first class passengers. And that was 15 (fifteen) years ago.
3. Then she got pregnant, so got a three-year maternity leave - on full pay.
4. Then she had a second child - another two years on full pay.
5. They say the more third world the country, the more beautiful the stewardesses.
6. The Netherlands (KLM) must be the most firstest world country EVER.
7. Our Man once drank far too much in London and took a train back to Chester but fell asleep and ended up spending the night on the uncompromising seats of Manchester Airport. They had armrests, which are great when you want to sit up and behave important, but really suck when you wanna sleep.
8. God I'm bored. Do I have to get to 10?
9. Is Go still an airline in Britain?
10. Remember TWA? They sucked too.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

For all the Democrats out there

Lifted from the Rev. Paperboy who is drowning his sorrows. Which reminds Our Man. He needs some rocket fuel to get him through the JAL post that's taxiing its way along the backstreets of Abiko Internaltional.

Dokdo is Our Man's blog of the week

Is it blog of the week time again? Yes! No! Yes! No! OK, fight you for it...

It is!

Join Our Man! The Greater Abiko Co-Prosperity Sphere Blogs of the Week cannot be contained within the confines of this nondescript suburban sprawl (er, that's no way to refer to Japan - Ed.).

It's time to look to Our Man's brothers and sisters across the Japan Sea, of course. Yes, we're talking South Korea, and where better to learn about this land that loves all things Japanese (er, are you sure you haven't been reading one too many editorials in the Gomiuri? - Ed.) than with this blog - Dokdo is Ours! Enjoy!

Just don't mention the war or, er, voting rights, comfort women, that Dokdo isn't Ours, er that is to say Theirs, it's Ours dammit, history text books, annexation, the World Cup, and a partridge in a pear tree. But they do like yen from Japanese tourists. And a good old-fashioned parliamentary scrum.

Pic lifted from here.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

When journos get it wrong

Guess it was another of those pesky communication breakdowns, but seems the Chinese are not about to help transport body bags out of Afghanistan after all. Our Man's frazzled spider senses should have tingled more when he read the story came from the Gomiuri.

Ho hum. Anything interesting happening in Korea?

Monday, 18 January 2010

China pulls a fast one on mission to embarrass Japan

Can this be true? That the Chinese are offering to take over the refuelling mission to battle the terrorists (ie supplying diesel to the Pakistan Navy) that the DPJ (and all sensible folk) deemed a waste of time? Well, it's in the Economist so it must be true.

OK, Our Man will leave the thinking on this thorny diplomatic matter to smarter folk than himself, but, tee hee, isn't it reminiscent of when the Soviet Union tried to apply for Marshall Plan cash back in '47 or so, not knowing that the diplomatic promises of the Red White and Blue don't always come out like it says on the tin. (Hmmm. Or something like that - Ed.)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

You think you've got it tough

Almost lost the will to live as Our Man got stuck at a shopping mall for the best part of today, but managed to sneak in yestrerday's Japan Times in his jacket lining and read a great story of a Japanese-American survivor of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, internment camps in the US and the abandonment of his father. Henry Mittwer is still with us, and, at 91, going strong.

When quotes of the day actually are apt for Japanese politics

Maybe Our Man's has been hitting the falling-down-water too long, but it strikes him that the QUOTES OF THE DAY feed at the bottom right there were rather apt for describing Ozawa's woes:

Quotes of the Day for January 16, 2010
I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there.
Herb Caen

Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse.
Thomas Szasz

You don't get anything clean without getting something else dirty.
Cecil Baxter

Character is what you have left when you've lost everything you can lose.
Evan Esar

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Ichiwhatsit Ozawa: Dead man talking

So Ichiwhatsit Ozawa (the odious toad who apparently runs Hatoyama if you believe the Gomiuri) is in the doghouse because his secretary has been busted for taking bribes. Our Man had refrained from commenting on it before not because he had nothing sensible to say about it (if those were the rules, Our Man wouldn't have posted anything since, er, well... ever) but because his secretary was nothing to set the pulse racing.

Come on, we're not talking The Profumo Affair here, or Cecil Parkinson and Sarah whatsherface (or even John Major and Edwina Thingy). His secretary's a balding middle-aged bureaucrat. Our Man knows. He caught a glimpse of him in the back of a car on the TV lunchtime news as Our Man tucked into a mutton keema curry at his local Nepalese. We're talking "one" on a one-to-five spiciness rating.

For a sober analysis check this post out by Our Man in Osaka. Continue reading for Our Man's verdict on Ozawa:

Guilty m'lud. Send him down.

Can Hatoyama's government live without him? Well, can't live with him, can't live without him, but might be fun trying.

Breaking through the cover life

That pesky cover life keeps interfering with Our Man's main mission. In the meantime, check out this excellent blog recommended by an agent provocateur who also suffers from sleep deprivation, no doubt:

Our Man's favourite:

"Shhhhhhhhh. shhhhhhhhh. I'm telling you: your voice, my ears. A bad combination."

Friday, 15 January 2010

What Our Man thinks

Yeah, yeah Our Man's been ignoring the "inform" part of his public broadcasting duty to entertain and inform you fine freeloaders clicking here instead of doing some work or helping some Haitians. Well, here it is a Blog of the Week that surely every right-thinking Japano-expert already knows, but for you newbies out there, have at it - the What Japan Thinks blog. Our Man had been reticent to link to it also because:

a) he doesn't believe in polls
b) he doesn't get the long explanation of numbers and such at the beginning of each post
c) everybody with a blog about Japan has already linked to it
d) he couldn't give a toss about Japanese ball point pen usage.
e) he forgot about making it a blog of the week which he meant to do ages ago.

And then this great post appeared and he could fight the urge no more. Arise Sir Ken Y-N, good Blogger of the Week.

Oh hey, howja like the funky new logo?


Thursday, 14 January 2010

The wait is nearly over

It takes a while, but you will not be disappointed.

(Oh, you will be. Kept interfering with DK's viewing pleasure, so had to send it to Valhalla. Check out the link below and imagine Our Man's mug instead of the Foreign Salaryman's).

Secret handshake to Foreign Salaryman. Suppose Our Man should do something vaguely Japan-related now, huh?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


But the newspaper boss was right about Walt Disney.

Lifted from here.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Never knew the chap, but our paths might easily have crossed.

Muzzle Murdoch! (No, not sure what that means either)

Anything happening in Japan? Dunno, don't ask Our Man. He daren't search for anything on Google in case they try to flog him something and some spook in Langley, Va., is taking notes. He did notice on his trusty Twitter feed though that Murdoch has banned an internet news search engine thing from searching News International sites. Hmmm. He may be making a grave mistake. Let's hope so, and let's hurry him along by joining Our Man's Boycott Murdoch Movement. (Er, that is, if a couple of posts on Our Man in Abiko counts as a movement).

He wants to make money off the news? Fine. He doesn't want anyone reading his stuff for free. Fine. Then we, as Joe Q. Blogger, shouldn't link to him or any of his sites for free either. So there. Quid pro quo.

Er, anything interesting happening outside your window?

Monday, 11 January 2010

Google toilet humour

Hey, it's free. What's the worst that could happen?

Secret handshake to rscollay.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Wouldn't want to say a bad word on a Sunday and all

Apologies for preaching to the choir here, but Our Man is in the middle of a good book (Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer) about nutty Mormons and he just wanted to do his bit for the cause of truth, justice and the rational.

It's almost like religion makes no sense, eh readers?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Female dynamic agitation, North Korean style

Well, there seems to be some disputing the veracity of the Dear Leader's Twitter feed of the last post (ie someone's having a laugh). Our Man is not convinced, but the English does seem suspiciously good for the Norks. However, check this out for the bone fide humourless Word from Our Dear Leader. If you are too scared to click on the link, allow Our Man to paste what you are missing (secret handshake to Mr Salaryman):

First Friday Labor of Year Done

Pyongyang, January 8 (KCNA) -- Government employees of ministries and national institutions did the first Friday labor of the year at the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in Samsok District, Pyongyang.
After collecting at least 1,800 tons of compost they were busy carrying it and digging holes in the same spirit as displayed to register successes from the very start of their new year campaign.

They successfully carried out their daily assignments, foreseeing a bumper harvest on the farm, while the female brass band of the Ministry of People's Security conducted dynamic agitation, making the spirit of bringing about miracles and innovations run high on the fields of the farm.

Screw Hatoyama's Twitter feed, Kim Jong Il's is waaay funnier

Our Man is not sure if this is a piss-take, but either way this "official" North Korea, sorry, DPRK Twitter feed is comedy gold, and worth every virtual free penny for the subscription. Not on Twitter yet? Get on it, drop in it and join Our Man as we follow the Dear Leader. Here are just a few samples of the great posts you can be privvy to (and all this from just one day - July 22nd - time seems to have stopped on July 23rd):

US plagued by doubt as to whether so-called president Obama was born an Indonesian slave.

US Secretary of State Clinton assailed for bullying and mean-spirited ways.

Japanese political dwarfs rebuked and berated for bellicose rhetoric against DPRK.

and Our Man's personal favourite:

Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il tours Pyongyang Zoo, saves lives of children attacked by escaped bear.

Ya couldn't make it up, could ya?

Friday, 8 January 2010

Well, they are both staring into the abyss

Gee, maybe you ought to think about paying for decent sub-editing, huh, Globe and Mail?:

Er, that's not the internationally renowned conductor diagnosed with cancer. That's Naoto Kan, the new Finance Supremo in Japan. But they are both in the news (one is a famous chap facing the abyss at the end of his career, and the other is, er...)

Secret handshake to Durf. Think of him as the always-online-internet guy.

Yes I Kan, Yes I Kan, Yes I Kan

Dammit. Our Man wanted to be the first to sing "Anything Fuji can do, Naoto Kan do better", but sadly Japan Without the Sugar beat him to the punch ("No you Kan't!" etc etc). But, Our Man would just like to add, what a screwed up country we live in when a 63-year-old is chided for being too young to take on the role of Japan finance yes-man. Or could it just be the BBC regurgitating the LDP's shitstirring?

Who ya been listening to, Roland?

It's Za San Wot Won Za War!

Gotcha! It's Za San wot won it!

Admirably skewed view of the Battle of the Whalers and Whiners as seen by the Japanese press (with Brit interpretation) lifted from here.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Now that's what you call spin

Talk about a nest of vipers, how about this - the snakes actually look like they're spinning:

Lifted from here. Secret handshake to Our Woman in Blighty.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Is this what they mean by soft power?

If Our Man has just seen this, it's probably old hat by now, but still it's amusing, though must admit it's hard to know who Our Man should root for.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

100 days to change your bank account, er, world

Oh. It's Tuesday, folks. That can mean only one thing. Tuesday Book Talk of course. Er, only as usual, Our Man hasn't read any books, interesting or otherwise this week, though he has got on his shelf two good kiss 'n' tells - one about the nutty Mormons and another about the nutty Space Shuttle astronauts. Will report back with juicy details sometime in the nearish future.

In the meantime, why not write that novel that's been sitting at the back of the virtual sock drawer you call your head. Need some help? Try here - the write your own novel in 100 days or less Peace Corps Writers website. Go on, chances are you can finish writing one before Our Man finishes reading one.

Futenma solution: Uncle Sam, call their bluff

Our Man has been looking at some SERIOUS stuff regarding the Futenma Flap (basically the Okinawans don't want the US Marines on their turf - or so Our Man thought) when it dawned on him that the whole problem is just that with all the different options of where to put the Marines(keep em in the city centre near all the go-go bars, floating them around half at sea, or dangled from two elephants balancing on a giant turtle - Our Man's preferred option) the local pork-lovin' pols don't know which option will bleed Uncle Sam dry the fastest, so are playing hard ball hoping for a bigger payoff.

Well, if Our Man gave a shit (which he doesn't) he'd advise the US to call Okinawa's bluff.

You don't want us here? OK, we'll take our multi-gazillion-buck business elsewhere.

Then see how fast they'd come crawling back. Or not. But, like Our Man says, he doesn't really care. And let's face it, neither does anyone else, really.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Up the junta and hurrah for journalistic integrity

Oh. Monday. Back to work.

Suppose Our Man ought to post something for you good folk tuning in from work. Well, got nothing to offer right now other than more Japan Times observations. If you are sick of them, stop reading now.

Er, well if you don't subscribe to the paper you might have missed the Myanmar Independence celebration which the JT saw fit to promote with a full page (presumably paid for) article by the Myanmaresian Ambassador to Japan praising the place. Myanmar, you'll remember, is what the evil British colonialists used to call Burma, before it was freed to be the tinpot dictatorship it is now.

You wanna celebrate its independence by praising the dictators? Whose side are you on, Japan Times?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Jake Whatshisname's at it again!

Yeah, him. Jake thingy. Former OMIA blog of the week winner's in the Japan Times flogging his book. Again. But he does have interesting stuff to say about the Japanese media and how the foreign media could save a few bob with some quick and cheap local hires. Our Woman could show him a quick and cheap method for repairing broken paper screens too. There's some free Tokyo (ad) Vice. Geddddit?????

Avatar - the three-word Our Man review

Dances with Aliens.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Time off for good behaviour

If, like Our Man, you find yourself with time on your hands, no paper because it's a newspaper holiday in Japan, and no iPhone, you may have to read that "New Year's Special" the Japan Times put out yesterday filled with earnest 2,000 word articles about "challenges" facing the DPJ, and a bunch of drunken columnists investing meaning in the last 10 years. Or, you could just look out the train window - something Our Man will be doing a lot of as he is weekending in Kamakura, home of the big Buddha (and an awful lot of single foreign men). Hey, Our Man's not saying anything, OK?

If you do have access to the intertwaterweb, you could read this instead about meaty stuff to do with the Japan-US alliance.

Oh by the way, did you know Hatoyama is on Twitter now? Check out the Our Man Twitter feed if you want to send him your best regards.

Friday, 1 January 2010

So long double ohs, and thanks for all the dried squid

Ten years ago at this very moment Our Man was staring at a computer screen following the breaking news story of the day - Yeltsin was stepping down for an unknown successor. Yep, change was in the air. Well, Our Man was hoping little else would change as he had just got the last of the world pages at the Daily Yomiuri ready to put to bed and Y2K had already drifted off in value from front page news to a brief on page 12. Behind bucho's conference table the little fridge (under the pile of dried squid and rice crackers) stuffed with Kirin lager was calling out invitingly.

Ten years. One death in the family. Two births. Three new jobs. Seven years in UK local papers and three years off the radar in commuterville, Japan. Has the world changed much in the meantime? Sure, the terrorists don't speak with Irish accents now, America's found a whole new third-world quagmire to get stuck into and if it ain't rogue nukes that will get us this decade, it's global warming and the oil crisis. Twitter? Whatever.

Ho hum.

Does the editor still have that fridge? Our Man could do with a dried squid and a Kirin right about now.

Oh, dated bad fairground art of a naked woman and a mutilated tiger (you know, the year of the...?) lifted from, er, the Bad Fairground Art blog of course.