The population of the world reached 7 billion on Oct. 31. That figure is a testament to humanity's triumph over famine and disease, but, impressive as it is in itself, I can also imagine our planet groaning under the strain.
The following assortment of remarks caught my attention during October. They left me thinking about my hometown and life when I get old.
"Namie Yakisoba" is the brand name of new line of instant fried noodles from Nissin Food Products Co. The extra-thick noodles are a specialty of the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie, which had its entire population evacuated after the March nuclear disaster. Koji Harada, 35, who leads the town's campaign to promote the brand, observed: "We can't be entirely happy with the circumstances that have made our noodles famous. This campaign is meant to promote our town, but we don't even have a town now."
Himeka Matayoshi, a 17-year-old high school student and one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit about noise from the U.S. Air Force's Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, told the court: "I long for a quiet life in which one can hear the chirping of bugs." On the Futenma relocation issue, former Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine noted: "Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's remarks have made the people of Okinawa realize that they no longer need to agonize over a painful decision."
In concluding a roundtable discussion on senile dementia, Hiroshi Nonaka, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, observed: "The people who have this condition now are the ones who built the foundations of Japan's present prosperity. How should we thank them? This is what we have to think about and convey to the next generation."
Some seniors are still going strong. Johnny H. Kitagawa, 80, who was recognized by Guinness World Records for his success as a music producer, said: "There wasn't a kid I picked for my Johnny's teen idol groups because of his good looks. Each kid looked so cool because what he did was cool."
On her 77th birthday, Empress Michiko issued the following written message: "Both His Majesty and I have to deal with our respective health problems from time to time. I feel we have reached ages that we find a bit challenging, in that I realize we need to push ourselves physically in order to prevent any rapid decline in our strength."
Old age comes to us all, but the face of old age differs from person to person. The question is how to live with it as an individual and as a country.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 31
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »