About Globalization

I read an article "America's Middle Class Is Unlucky" in The Atlantic website.

I was surprised that it said :

'Chronically, the bash brothers of globalization and technology have bashed away at middle-class jobs, hacking away at manufacturing employment and hollowing out routine-based work that paid okay wages.'

Globalization and technology have deprived middle-class people of their jobs. Is it common recognition among American people? Or Does this writer represent minority ?

In recent Japan , if you say 'Globalization is stealing middle-class jobs now' , economic experts(professional , amateur or self-appointed) argue against your opinion , I imagine.

In Japan , earning middle-class income have become harder in a decade like the US.
Manufacturing Giants have shifted their production abroad.
Some companies began to ask their works  to foreign companies.
Technology enabled foreign workers to compete with us. More than that , they have advantage of low cost.

However , our leaders and economic experts(very questionable people) repeated ,
"Globalization gives us big opportunities.
Globalization is destiny.
Globalization is sweet, sweet dream.
Globalization never hurt you. Never.
Globalization never hurt you. Never."

This can be subjective view of mine , but I assure that 'globalization' usually have positive nuance here (said by sometimes questionable people).

At least , if not positive , globalization is our unavoidable destiny. We had not no choice but to accept it. Even in this case , it may not be allowed that you ascribe middle-class plights to globalization.

If there are people thinking that globalization does not make us happy , our leaders will teach this infidels any number of times: "Globalization never hurt you. Never." 


About the Dengue Vaccine

I read a NEJM article that says Sanofi Pasteur finished the phase 3 trial of their dengue vaccine.

Last year , in Tokyo , a dengue fever outbreak occurred and Yoyogi park was cordoned off for the operation that extinguish suspected vector mosquitoes . I saw  news footage in which men in coats and masks were splaying insecticide into the bushes in Yoyogi  park on TV.

According to medical websites(CDC and WHO) or textbooks ,most of the Dengue fever patients have good medical course. In general , a majority of dengue fever patients recover without sequelae.

Rare patients develop into lethal condition(severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever) , but as long as appropriate treatment is conducted , they seldom die. The fatality rate is below 1 percent.

'We don't have to fear dengue fever so much ' , I thought, but situations are different  in developing countries or from the viewpoint of global health issue. World Health Organization reported that 500.000 patients develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (severe condition in dengue fever)and  22.000 patients die per a year in the world.

I read
'Efficacy of Tetravalent Dengue Vaccine in Children in Latin America.' (NEJM 8th January 2015).

The gist is ...

They enrolled children who were between 9 and 16 years old in Colombia , Brazil , Mexico , Puerto Rico and Honduras.
They administered their dengue vaccines to 13920 children(at 0,6,12 months).
They administered placebos to 6949 children.

[The result]
The number of developing dengue fever:
Vaccine group is 277(after 1st injection) or 176(after 3rd injection).  
Placebo group is 385(after 1st injection) or 221(after 3rd injection).
The vaccine efficacy after 1st injection is 64.7% (95% CI , 58.7 to 69.8)

The number of developing severe dengue:
Vaccine group is 1.
Placebo group is 11.
The vaccine efficacy after 1st injection is 91.7%(95% , 31.4 to 99.8).

The number of developing dengue hemorrahagic fever:
Vaccine group is 1.
Placebo group is 10.
The vaccine efficacy after 1st injection is 91.7%(90.0% , 10.7 to 99.8).

From this result , I think this vaccine is very promising.
The vaccine efficacy of severe dengue and dengue hemmorrhagic fever is outstanding.

After this vaccine is approved and incorporated into the vaccination policy of dozens of countries , great number of children will be able to avoid their death.  

Many mosquitoes will be able to avoid their death , too.  
According to CDC and WHO web pages , the only way to prevent dengue fever now is 'vector control':killing mosquitoes.



Yorozu no Humi Hougu.(The hundreds and thousands of discarded letters.) by Ihara Saikaku

‘If there are many papers which you don’t feel unpleasant to see , they are  books on the shelves.’  said Yoshida Kaneyoshi (a wise writer of ancient times).
Among books , there are classics written by various wise authors. They are all beneficial for everyone.

On the other hand , papers that you feel unpleasant to see are letters written by people of recent date. These letters should be discarded to pieces , I think. Because senders can expose their own shame to not only receivers but also other persons as long as their letters exist .

Last year , one man gathered papers with his bamboo brooms for preparation  for the upcoming new year. Mice had scattered these papers on the ground.
The other man  ask him to sell these papers. He is a paper doll maker who lived in a small house near Kouzu village.  He enjoyed an easygoing life and let things take their course.

When he was making a girl doll in fashion next to a pile of papers , he found that they were letters. They involved letters written by women and Kabuki actors. They said a funny rumor , a sorrowful affair , a happy event and an end of a luxurious life. The doll maker kept on reading for hours and saw the hearts whose people had written them. The ancient poet Minamotono Toshiyori said that he saw the hearts of people having constructed a bridge over a great river in his poem. Like that , he saw their hearts.

A beg for ten momme for a brother 160 ri away.
 *momme: the unit of money in Edo era.
 *ri:one ri is equal to arond 2.45 mile.

 This man named Kamakuraya Seizaemon  is a furniture craftsman. He lives in the apartment  where  I live now and is my close friend.

It has been 17 years since his father died and he wished to have a memorial service for his father. He decided to do it at Kouya temple .
On the way , he had a plan to go Sakai city and Osaka city. So , I asked him to send this letter to you(in Osaka City), brother.

Do you and your family members are happy? I miss you all .
I had been hapless for years and could not send letters to you . Please forgive me , brother.
I wish your wife Oyoshi , your son Kichitarou and Kojirou are in good health. I  am sure Kichitarou help you with your work and make your heart lighter.
I heard you sold your house because of the recent recession , moved to the apartment in the Nagamachi  street 5 and opened a shop selling paper fans  for playing  illustration quizzes.
I think your life are not so comfort  in the apartment.

Now , I often remember your advices in the past.
I feel pain as if salt is spread onto my wound.
If I had kept a fishmonger in my home city , I  would not have been in distress in order to earn livelihood now.

But , I was young before. I believed that I was able to earn much money easily in Edo city and came down here. I have regretted it very much.

First , I began to retail papers for clothes on a small sum of money but I could not keep my business when spring came.
Then , I decided to sell tobaccos on credit . After six month , I had not been able to gain money for credit , so I don’t have any choices but giving up this business.
I could not do hard physical labor like carrying a heavy burden on my shoulder.
I started a business selling seal ink derived from charcoal , but I failed it .

At last , recently , I live from hand to mouth.
Morning , I sell flowers for household Buddhist altar.
Daytime , I sell cold water.
Evening , I sell sawdust.
Night , After returning to home , I make paper bags for tea.  They pay 8 mon for 100 paper bags.
* mon: unit of money

 I keep on working , working and working. In spite of this work , I can not get enough money. There are many clever people in this city . They disturb my making money.

Last winter , my son was born. I must support my family of three. It’s impossible to get enough money to do it.

My wish is getting back to my home city. I want to live as a day laborer. I hear housing industry have been booming there.

A long time ago. I have gotten rid of my bad habit in old days.
I have longed for my home city desperately.
I want to live near your family and help you when disasters like typhoons  and fires occur.

Please forgive me the things in former times.
All my failures attributed to alcohol .
I squandered our fortunes and brought about many troubles on many persons before.
Now , I do not take liquor even during the five seasons festivals. You can confirm it if you ask this, my friend Seizaemon. Because he lives next-door to my apartment.

I had have a wife here, but this was not result of frivolousness.
She served in a samurai officer's mansion as a sewer. She is a good sewer and able to get money after the marriage.
My wife had been thrifty and saved money for several years by working as sewer. She had 800 momme as her dowry , so I married her.
My wife have worked hardly , we can not gain enough money through working.
Our livihood has been completely collapsed  and we can not find any solutions for it.

I wish to go back to home city , but I do not have money for it.
Please send money with your reply letter, for mercy's sake , brother. 12 momme is enough. I can go back to Osaka city with it after I put my affairs straight.

I will divorce from my wife. She will leave with our son.
No Problems. She have a elder sister who owns the shop selling ropes and carpets at Kanasugi. My wife and son will be able to live with her elder sister.

I can not make a living any longer here.
I will go back to home city by any means. If I descend to being a beggar pilgrim , I want to back home town. I want to die in Osaka city.

Please , please give me 12 momme or 1 kan. You can entrust this Seizaemon with your money. I have starved day by day.

*kan: unit of money

In addition , my wife is 12 or 13 older than me. This is another proof that I married not because of frivolousness.

Seizaemon knows evrything about me.
You can hear of me from him.

From Edo Shirogane town.
To Osaka Nagamachi Street 5
Uchihaya Gengozaemon

28th May

The doll maker thought:
Considering about the text of this letter, perhaps this man went to Edo city  without consulting with his btother because of misdeed in his home town.

Recently , making money requires having money. Anywhere in this country.
We must do our job hardly keeping it in mind.

Characteristic of money is avoiding places in which the money does not exist. From the all regions Edo city have attracted wealth , which have accumulated thickly like roofing tiles.
Nontheless , this man ask his brother for only 10 momme by his lengthy letter from Edo city .
This is because begging money for unrelated persons is not allowed generally , but if for brother , it can be allowed.
We must live our lives wisely in this society.

My opinion:
This is the story of desperate working-poor man about 350 years ago , but we can hear stories  resembled to this nowadays.

Edo city is later Tokyo. Every year young people come Tokyo hoping for getting some money.
Then poverty and joblessness destroy their livelihood. Their last wish are getting back to their home towns.
The doll maker is right. Making money requires having money. That empty-handed young persons become rich sounds like a fairy story even today.

The feature of Ihara Saikaku's works is realism.

About Edo era and Ihara Saikaku , a economic novelist in this period.

The one of the most apocalyptic event in Japanese history is the Onin War.  It broke out at 1467.A.D.  Before the Onin War , the trinity of aristocrats , samurai lords and priests had governed Japan. All of them came from noble lineages.

Because of this war , the noble lineages almost expired and the aristocratic hierarchy system crashed.

After that , long-lasting anarchy split Japan to many independent regions ruled by various samurai lords. Sometimes , these samurai lords got power by their strength , not nobility. Some of these samurai lords came from the lower class.It is not surprising that the ancestor of Tokugawa family that became the rulers of Japan was a depraved pilgrim!     

These samurai lords began to compete for supremacy each other.They tried to expand their territories and gain economic advantage.Later , their goal became the samurai lord throne, that is , the ruler of Japan.

This was the reason that the game of  the the samurai lord throne (or the ruler of Japan) started . During this age , many samurai heroes emerged and left many super-cool episodes. Most of them were relevant to warfare. Incessant wars and military conflicts repeated for 100 years in all parts of Japan.
The emperors had authority , but it had been hundreds years since samurai lords had gotten political powers (aristocrats and priests supported , or sometimes turned against samurai lords until the Onin War. After the war , both of them left from the political stage in Japan.) 

Finally , Tokugawa Ieyasu , who was a rural samurai lord(and also a descendant of a depraved pilgrim) won this game at 1603 A.D.  He ascended  the ruler of Japan from the lord of the small land.
Having gotten the samurai lord throne , he employed all available means to prevent warfare.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was famous for prudence and guile. His clever tactics extinguished roots of  warfare and conflicts. Then , the miraculous peacetime era came. It lasted for 300 years.

One of his tactics is depriving regional samurai lords of funds. Ieyasu ordered the regional samurai lords to engage in land development. They had to spend a large amount of money and run out of funds for waging war.  In some cases , this policy precipitate some samurai lords into heavy debt.

In Edo era, Japanese economic had developed greatly owing to both long-lasting peace and regional samurai lords spending forced by their rulers(Tokugawa dynasty).
Agricultural output continued to expand by land development through the era.
Product distribution system continued to grow, too. It covered and connected all regions of Japan .
Culture industry also grew and supplied people of various entertainment.
Educational system was developed in order to meet the demand for economic activities.
Many regional samurai lords struggled to make money for forced spending , so they tried various types of economic policy. All over the country , regional economy had been strengthened. 
In truth , at the end of Tokugawa dynasty ,  only issue for modernization was introduction of science and technology.

Some historians had seen Edo era as stagnant period , but actually , political , economic and social foundation for modernization was constructed in Edo era.

Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693) is a novelist in Edo era. He depicted merchants and workers in his novels in this economic growing age. 

About Japanese language reinvention.

Before modernization, Japanese language our ancestors used is different from  ours.So , it is difficult for us  to  read books written before 130 years.

Around 130 years ago, in Meiji era , the new government which toppled down feudal Tokugawa dynasty(Until then , Samurai tycoon of Tokugawa family governed Japan through feudal systems for 300 years) reinvented Japanese language so as to integrate many semi-independent regions into one state through language standardization. Until the end of Tokugawa dynasty , Japanese language was tremendously complicated. The Meiji government simplified it.

 For instance ,  hira-gana corresponding to alphabet in western language had a hundred kinds of letter for only one sound. Now , we use one hira-gana letter for one sound , but our ancestors used a hundred of letters for one sound in the past.
Today, these hundreds of letters are called 'hentai-gana'( The meaning of hentai is not a pervert).
Adding to this problem , old Japanese language had different grammar and words usage.
And without knowledge of thousands of ancient Japanese poems  (waka) , we can not understand what authors said correctly. Many of old Japanese literature  were written for persons who had read volumes of ancient poem anthologies.

Recently , I began to study French and  search for intriguing writings . Finally I found 'La Belle et la Bete ' and was astonished.
Oh , this novel is written in French I have learned. Incredible! This novel was written 250 years ago !
I envy French people. They can read their ancestors writings. They can understand their ancestors words . We (Japanese people) can not do it easily.

In truth , numerous parts of old Japanese cultures , spirits  and tradition were discarded after Japanese modernization. We are isolated from ancestors' world which had accumulated cultural treasures collected over 1000 years(The oldest Japanese anthology of poems 'Manyou-shu' was edited in 7 or 8 century A.D.).

By the way...
I dislike recent self-appointed traditionalists or alleged right-wing people in Japan.
They emphasize 'Japanese tradition'  , but what does this mean?
Their assertions:
(1)The poor commoners should keep on working , working and working for low wages. Do not complain!
(2)Any barriers preventing rich people from be more richer should be removed off .Rich people should pay less taxes. The all laws protecting small business and workers should be abandoned. Equality is not Japanese tradition. 
(3)Politicians should limited for persons of political lineage.(If your father is not a senator , you should not be elected for a senator.)
(4)China is our enemy.
(5)Calling immigrants into Japan and make them work for low wages.

Is this really Japanese tradition?

Surely , in Japanese history , there was great gap between the rich and the poor before the modernization in particular , but  is it tradition? I can not imagine there is a country regarding economical gap as traditional values proudly on earth, but it exists! Japan! (If self-appointed traditionalists were right , though.)

Even in the age of feudalism or old class systems, the political leaders were selected among competent persons in Japan. They are often from the lower class or sometimes obliged to be frugal. Lineage was less important , but competence was more important than anything.
Many past rulers managed to establish political succession system by lineage , but most of them ended up in miserable failure. There were some exceptions , but rare.
Generally , rulers and lords had given away actual political power to competent vassals from generation to generation. These vassals in charge of actual politics had came and left the political stage according to competence from generation to generation. Same families could not get hold of their powers because of their defeat in competition.
This is the real Japanese political tradition because this principle is applicable to any periods in Japanese history.It is not our tradition that particular families continued to get hold of actual political powers through generation(senator grandfather , senator son , senator grandson:It's not our tradition).

Our ancestors had had great respect for China over several hundreds years , but recent traditionalists in Japan have disdainful behaviours for China. On the other hand , right-winged people insist on the values derived from Chinese Confucianism.
There were scholars of Confucianism historically , but sometimes they were hated.Their assertions were ctitisized because  they cringed to rulers and upper class people , also were egoistical. Today's traditionalists acclaim the too-cringed-to-rulers theories based on Confucianism and say  'China is our enemy'.
I can not come up with absurd things more than that. 

And immigrants ? Is immigrant policy our tradition? Probably , they mistake Japan for the United States. I can not imagine this mistake really occur.

Adding to these points , traditionally , those in power in Japan had been excellent  poets. For example , Takeda Shingen ,the great Samurai , or feudal lord (He was revered in Yamanashi prefecture even today. He lived 400 years ago.) composed poems. Tokugawa Ieyasu ,  the Samurai tycoon  who established Tokugawa dynasty also composed  poems , too. I don't know  any today's politicians(involving alleged traditionalists) who can compose traditional poems.

Well , What makes these hapless right-winged self-appointed traditionalists have such crazy credos? What have brought about such kind of tragedy(or comedy)?

I think it can attribute to Japanese language reinvention. We can not read wise ancestors' writing without arduous effort.

We do not have enough knowledge about lost cultural treasures. We have lost the key enable us to access these treasures:old Japanese language.