Monday, January 29, 2007

A Swamp By Any Other Name

Inba Marsh (印旛沼) is a depressing, trash-choked elbow of abused water just to the west of the city of Narita. The local "wild bird forest" (野鳥の森)abuts a toxic waste disposal site.

It is also the best preserved wetlands south of the Tonegawa.

If Abe Shinzō were the least bit serious about his "a beautiful country" schtick, he would stop mucking about with the constitution and instead focus on making sure that the tax revenues so painfully extracted from the core cities were no longer wasted on unused roadways, tunnels, al... and instead were consecrated to getting the underemployed clients of LDP politicians in the countryside to reve up their construction equipment and trucks in order to drag up, haul out and properly dispose of the trash that besmirches nearly every square kilometer of this country.

Yes, I was ticked off by the visible evidence of moral rot in the body politic on Sunday...and my mood was not in the best of shape to start off with after reading the Tokyo Shimbun's account of a suspiciously reactionary set of results from a recent government-sponsored poll on possible changes to the Family Law.

According to the report, poll results released by the Cabinet Office (内閣府)on Saturday (Warning! Warning!) found support eroding for a change in the Family Law that would allow spouses to retain their own birth names after marriage.

(Actually, such a change would extend to the entire population an exception to the current law which already exists for mixed nationality couples --but pointing out that inconsistency will get you uninvited from some rather remarkably well-catered events)

The survey found support for a revision--which it curiously defines as "Whether the law is changed or not, I do not care"--falling from 42.1% in 2001 to only 36.6% in 2006. It finds that opposition to the change--which again it curiously frames as "It is unnecessary to change the current law" (Somehow I am thinking that the question, "Even if it is 'unnecessary' would it be still be a neat thing to do?" was not the follow-up) rising from 29.8% to 35.0%

OK, let us say I have reason to be skeptical of anything that might cast a sharp light on the iniquities and traditionalist hogwash that stain the Family Law.

But even those with a far less acidic view of both the government and its goals have got to feel queasy about the Cabinet Office's November-December 2006 survey.

First of all, the damn thing's unreadable- formatted with seemingly no other purpose but to obscure information. Who can make sense of this kind of stuff?

Second, the manner of collecting the survey's results--door-to-door interviews--invites manipulation. Depending on what time of day the survey takers rang the doorbell or knocked on the door, they would have recorded damnably different results. Indeed, of the "5000 persons surveyed" it turns out that 2,234 did not answer the questions, either because they were not at home, had moved, were too ill or did not want to respond (1,116 "refused to participate").

Third, the survey was not carried out by Hōmushō personnel but a private contractor. This alone gives me the willies. Do you think the contractor might have had a clue beforehand as to what kind of results an Abe Cabinet Hōmushō might be looking to receive?


The day at Inba Marsh was not a total waste. In the space of a few hours, I saw:

Corvus corone
Carrion Crow
Hypsepetes amaurotis
Brown-Eared Bulbul
Sturmus cinerea
Gray Starling
Motacilla alba
Pied Wagtail
Streptopilia orientalis
Eatern Turtle Dove
Tachybaptus rufficollis
Little Grebe
Ardea alba
Great Egret
Ardea cinerea
Grey Heron
Egretta garzetta
Little Egret
Anas crecca
Common Teal
Fulica atra
Common Coot
Phalocrocorax capillatus
Japanese Cormorant
Gallinula chloropus
Lanius bucephalus
Bull-Headed Shrike
Anas platyrhynchos
Larus ridibundus
Black-Headed Gull
Larus canus
Common Gull
Carduelis sinica
Oriental Greenfinch
Alcedo atthis
Common Kingfisher
Emberiza spodocephala
Black-Faced Bunting
Emberiza schoeniclus
Reed Bunting
Turdus naumanni
Dusky Thrush
Turdus palidus
Pale Thrush
Turdus chrysolaus
Red-Bellied Thrush
Parus major
Great Tit
Phoenicurus auroreus
Daurian Redstart

Seeing fewer species of birds and no trash would have made me a lot happier, though.

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