Monday, October 08, 2018

Many Things...

I haven’t posted any for more than a month.

My monthly trip to Johor still continues. Last month, I stayed at JB for 10 nights (17-26) and will be back there next week for a 3-night stay.

I took the 13:55 SQ 622 to go to Osaka on 29th mainly for paying into my pension scheme. I had sent a message to the company e-mail address of an old friend of mine not expecting a reply from him because I thought he had moved to another company. Surprisingly, he was staying with his old company and replied. But then, Typhoon No. 21 hit Osaka and I postponed my trip after the 10-night trip to Johor. When I finally booked the flight on 29th, it was No. 24’s turn. I stayed at a hotel in southern Osaka, rather near the airport for the first night. I checked out of the hotel to catch a JR train to reach Osaka before it would stop its operations at noon.

I kept in touch with the old friend on WhatsApp.

The flight to Osaka went smoothly without much turbulence. But I learned that the airport would be closed at 11:00 am next day anticipating the same kind of havoc that the No. 21 inflicted in the region.

I found most shops in Osaka closed because of the coming typhoon. We decided not to meet on 30th (Sunday). On Monday, I met him and another long-lost friend probably after 18 years!! We managed to have only a few hours together, but it was certainly something for me, and I hope it was so for them too.

Surely, we had a great reunion as if the past 18 years had been nothing. I also learned that four people I’d worked with or met are now dead, with the whereabouts of some others unknown. And four volumes of “あぶさん (12-15), which I searched for desperately when I moved to this current place, were returned!! It was YOU who had kept them for 18 years!! I left Osaka on the 23:25 SQ623 with no hiccup. Even the retort-pouch foods (liquid) I had bought in the city were passed with no question asked.

Last week, I had absolutely no job to do and spent reading more books about Vietnam (“The Girl in the Picture” by Denise Chong (again), “The General Retires and Other Stories” by Nguyen Huy Thiep and now reading “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (again).” Three more books on the country should be on the way and I’m also waiting for the VDV version of “Heaven and Earth” directed by Oliver Stone to arrive.

Today, I started a week-long interpretation work for perhaps the oldest client of mine. Tough. Tomorrow, about keratoplasty. Hmmm.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Back from Johor again, Incredibly Inhumane Japanese Company and Books

Back from Johor again. Surprisingly, my business trip to Senai has been going on for a year and half. Now, what is obvious to me is that I’m more than a mere interpreter for this job. Partly because some key persons have left the company for various reasons since I got involved in this project last February, there’re some, especially new, people who appear to believe I’m an engineer… This work will continue probably until March next year.


Finished Books: “Shadows and Wind (Robert Templer)/re-read,” “Vietnam: A New History (Christopher Goscha),” and “Saigon Kids (Les Arbuckle)”

Ongoing Books: “Vietnam: Rising Dragon (Bill Hayton)” and “悲劇のインドシナ:戦火と混迷の日々(近藤紘一)”

Miss Criminal does not seem to have any remorse. What a lady… I wish you a hellish future. I even have a photocopy of your passport (under your real name).

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Books, Neil Davis, Reunion and SingPost Stupidity

After “The Ugly American,” I returned to Andrew X. Pham, two books he authored and one he translated. Then, I finished (once again!!) “サイゴンから来た妻と娘,” “バンコクの妻と娘” and “パリへ行った妻と娘” by Kondo Koichi. Another book, “One Crowded Hour” by Tim Bowden arrived yesterday. This book is about an Australian war cameraman, Neil Davis. Kondo mentions him first as “Howard,” who was interested in his adopted daughter, and after he learned about his death in Thailand, Kondo discloses that “Howard” is really Neil Davis. Now, I’ve read only a few pages of the book, but looking at the index at the end of it, there is no “Kondo, Koichi.”

7月5日、EricFon Chengと再会した。「TATSUMI」以来のことで、固く握手できてうれしかった。自分について、Do you remember him?との質問には、“Of course”という応えだった。「斎藤工」という俳優さんとEricとの対談の撮影だった。

さて、 何度も考えてきたことだが、なぜずっと一人でいるのか?理由はいくつかあるように思われる。









Somehow, “One Crowded Hour” of Neil Davis does not mention Kondo Koichi though he makes important appearances in two of Kondo’s books. After this book, I re-re-re-re-read サイゴンのいちばん長い日,” 妻と娘の国に行った特派員” and したたかな敗者たち.” Tonight, I ordered “戦火と混迷の日々,” which probably completes the works by Kondo.

Yesterday at around 6:00 pm, I came back “home” after a 9-day business trip to Senai (Yishun on Friday. It took us (my client and me) 4.5 hours from JB to Yishun because of a crowd at Woodlands checkpoint. Very tiring) and found in my letter box an invoice I’d sent to Japan before the trip. I brought it to the nearest SingPost branch and asked why it had been returned to me. Apparently and unbelievably stupidly, a SingPost man mistook the recipient as the sender. Also at the branch, I got “Frontline: An Eyewitness Account of the Vietnam War,” a DVD about Davis’s experience about Indochina. And I found “One Crowded Hour” depends on the film extensively.Yesterday at around 6:00 pm, I came back “home” after a 9-day business trip to Senai (Yishun on Friday. It took us (my client and me) 4.5 hours from JB to Yishun because of a crowd at Woodlands checkpoint. Very tiring) and found in my letter box an invoice I’d sent to Japan before the trip. I brought it to the nearest SingPost branch and asked why it had been returned to me. Apparently and unbelievably stupidly, a SingPost man mistook the recipient as the sender. Also at the branch, I got “Frontline: An Eyewitness Account of the Vietnam War,” a DVD about Davis’s experience about Indochina. And I found “One Crowded Hour” depends on the film extensively.

Miss Criminal seems to be working in the UAE under a false name. Perdition is waiting for you. Until it catches up with you, enjoy your life in the UAE or Hong Kong, where her mother lives.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

More Books on Vietnam and Miss Criminal

In the meantime, I’ve read “Good Morning Hanoi (Iain Finlay and Trish Clark)” (again) and “Catfish and Mandala (Andrew X. Pham)” (again). Yesterday, another book, “The Ugly American” authored by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, arrived, which of course reminds all of us of Greene’s “The Quiet American.” And today (Friday) I read two thirds of the book.

“Good Morning Hanoi” definitely makes me feel like visiting “Binh Soup Shop” on Ly Chinh Thang while I think Andrew X. Pham would allow me to see Ly Thai To Street where he grew up.

Miss Criminal seems to be working in the UAE under a false name. Perdition is waiting for you. Until it catches up with you, enjoy your life in the UAE.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hong Kong or UAE, You Are Being Warched

In Hong Kong or the UAE, remember you are being watched. You have to pay sooner or later. I’ll never forgive you and your family for what you’ve done to me. Serious crime that the law-enforcement system of your stupid/corrupt country, called the Philippines, has no will to resolve.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Additional Documents Submitted for EP Renewal

Late afternoon today, I uploaded requested documents supporting my EP renewal. Until now, my renewal application has never been rejected when MOM requested additional information. I’m less pessimistic now.

Are You in the UAE?

Ahhh, you’re now in the UAE? If so, let me commend you on your having managed to leave your country despite the ban issued by the court, probably under a different name. If I’m right about this, your country’s law enforcement is truly shit. I wish you hell.

A Terrible System Called "Technical Trainees" in Japan


I’ve read more books about the Vietnam War: “The Road Not Taken, (Max Boot)”  “Vietnam: A History (Stanley Karnow)” and “A Bright Shining Lie (Neil Sheehan)” and videos such as “Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War” and “Vietnam: A Television History.” None of them mentions any Japanese journalist, politician or diplomat. “A Bright Shining Lie” mentions “Akitane Kiuchi” and “Minoru Omori” only as interviewees, but they do not appear at all in the story. I remember little about the war but I know there was active movements against the war in Japan too. It seems they didn’t occupy any part of the worldwide anti-war movement and they meant nothing. I have to wonder then what impact, if at all, people like Kondo Koichi (近藤紘一) and Kaiko Takeshi (開高健) had on the trend of the war. Probably, nothing.


Friday, May 25, 2018

EP Renewal Application and 4-day Interpretation

On Tuesday, I submitted yet another application for my visa renewal. Of course, I’m not optimistic after what I had to go through last year.

Yesterday, I finished a 4-day interpretation job. The environment was not ideal as there were participants from other countries too. This kind of environment is always tough for me as someone starts saying something while I’m still speaking (interpreting). Surely, interpretation cannot be perfect. But I always struggle to deal with this situation. So much easier if all the participants are from Japan. I hope I’ve done an okay job.

Hello to my fugitive. Shame on you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Harry and Tony

Work in Yishun today. Haven’t been there for some months. This work went well as I believe by the client’s reaction.

Coming back home on MRT, it occurred to me suddenly and without reason that maybe Harry Murata and Tony Lee, both my former colleagues but at different companies, one in Japan and the other in Singapore, were really walking in the campus of the same university, Sophia University. Both were a few years older than I. If so, that should be really amazing.

Harry disappeared without a trace from the Osaka office of the company we were working at apparently after some trouble with a Japanese man, who in a sense is (or was) superbly memorable because of our engaging and deep talks and his way of spending. Once, his house in Osaka was broken into by patients of a mental hospital in Wakayama, and NHK broadcast the incident live from its helicopter hovering over his house. I saw the footage at the Osaka office (still live) only because Harry asked me to come into a small room with a TV set in the office to see the broadcast. That night, at least another station (NTV with Sakurai Yoshiko as caster) was broadcasting the break-in. And the news of the death of Tony came from a Nikkei correspondent stationed in Singapore when I was working as the interpreter for Sheldon Adelson. I regret I haven’t asked Tony if he knew anyone whose name was Harry Murata. (I remember asking him about Agnes Chan, though.)

Tony is dead. And I don’t know where Harry is and how she is doing now.

Lessie, you are a fugitive.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Romanized Vietnamese

Vietnamese writing was changed that based on Chinese characters to Roman ones, as devised by a French man, Alexandre de Rhodes. “… roughly 80 percent of Vietnam’s population was more or less literate in the Chinese ideographs used for written Vietnamese. Aiming at break Vietnam’s cultural continuity, the French banned the Chinese characters and replaced them with either French or quoc ngu, the romanized alphabet perfected by Alexandre de Rhodes in the seventeenth century (p. 115, “Vietnam: A History”).”  I don’t know exactly when they banned it.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Gorby's Japan

Of Japan, Gorbachev in his 695-page long memoirs only wrote, “I did not go to London [for the 1991 G7 summit meeting] to beg for credits; a meeting of top leaders is not the place where money is given out. I did not sell the Azerbaijan oilfields to the British or the Kuril Islands to the Japanese.

Yes, the territorial dispute over the Southern Kurils was mentioned. But according to his memoirs, it was George Bush who mentioned it for furthering cooperation between the USSR and Japan.

His Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, visited Japan in January 1986, and he met the Japanese Foreign Minister in September of the same year and again a year later, both times in New York. Shevardnadze came to Japan again in December 1988. Another meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries took place in Paris in the following month, January 1989, followed by yet another in Paris in January and New York in September 1989. Foreign Minister Nakayama visited Moscow in January 1991, and Soviet Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh visited Tokyo in March 1991 before President Gorbachev himself came in April 1991 finally. And he and Prime Minister Kaifu met at the London G7 summit in July 1991. Gorbachev never let us know what was discussed during these meetings in his memoirs.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

No Sight of Japan in Gorvachev's Memoirs (to page 500)

After 500 pages (out of 695 pages in total), no specific subject related to Japan or Japanese politician is mentioned in “Memoirs” by Mikhail Gorbachev. So far, about Asia, Rajiv Gandhi and the Chinese leadership during his 1989 trip to Beijing, just days before the Tiananmen Square massacre, are the topics. This book is rather tough or tedious to read perhaps because this is an English translation from Russian and perhaps because his own writing. Not surprisingly, his mind seemed to be concentrated far more on how to advance perestroika in the USSR and improve its relations with the US and Western Europe. Shevardnadze’s speech of his resignation as Foreign Minister, which was really stunning, is mentioned rather in passing (page 390).


Monday, April 16, 2018

Le Xuan's Best Friend from Japan, Psychological Linguistics and Gorbachev's Memoirs

Le Xuan’s best friend from childhood was an outsider too, a Japanese girl. Their shared misery forged a permanent bond, and they remained in touch for the rest of their lives. (Finding the Dragon Lady, p. 31)

Like her Japanese friend from childhood, Madame Nhu’s new friends [Americans] were outsiders too, which made her feel comfortable around them. (p. 82)

Who is this best friend of hers from childhood? Shared misery??

I finished François Grosjean’s Bilingual: Life and Reality” several days ago, and the chapter about code-switching and borrowing” makes me wonder if the use of katakana characters in the Japanese language should be considered a case of code-mixing. Therefore, understanding Japanese seems to be a form of bilingualism. This idea is reinforced, of course, by the fact that the language cannot be whole without the help of Chinese characters. Is the use of Chinese characters also a form of code-mixing? Though I’m quite ignorant of how the Japanese language is defined or positioned in the field of linguistics, it seems to me that after all, it may not be a language so unique as many suppose, believe or claim. In addition, some words of Japanese and Vietnamese have similar pronunciations because both languages are influenced by Chinese.

After “Bilingual,” I started and already finished “Psycholinguistics of Bilingualism” by Grosjean and Ping Li. This book, somewhat related to those by Steven Pinker, which I read many years ago, delves more deeply into the mechanism of bilingualism and provides more information than “Bilingualism.” Though both books do not offer much data about Japanese bilinguals, I found that the chapters of “Written Language Processing” and “Language Acquisition” of “Psycholinguistics of Bilingualism” relevant to my own experience.
Now, I’m reading “Memoirs” by Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Dragon Lady (or Her Mother)

I finished Kuusinen’s “Before and After Stalin” two nights ago and am half way through “Finding the Dragon Lady” by Demery. Both stories (and “Stalin’s Spy”) are fascinating.

One afternoon in the autumn of 1942 I was doing my round of the barracks with a medical orderly when a group of prisoners came in: they had been working all day in pouring rain and were soaked to the skin. They threw their padded jackets on to the floor of the drying-room, and many also left their wet boots there. I opened the door and was met by a revolting smell from the damp, sweaty garments. Then I saw something move under the heap, and the orderly pulled out a man, evidently a Japanese, still wearing his sodden jacket. He tried to stand up, but failed, and was obviously very ill. We took him to the clinic en route for the hospital. He answered my questions in a faint voice, smiling in the Japanese manner. He told me his name and said he had been the chief delegate of the Japanese Communist Party to Moscow and a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. Next day I heard that he had died in hospital. So, although he had not been shot like so many Comintern officials, he had met his end no less surely through years of hardship in prison and labour camps. (PP. 168-169, Before and After Stalin, Aino Kuusinen)


French reports tallied [Madame Chuong’s] lovers, including the most important – and most threatening – one. Sometime after his arrival in 1939, the Japanese diplomat Yokoyama Masayuki betrayed his French wife for Madame Chuong; in return, she was described as more than his mistress. Madame Chuong became the Japanese consul’s right arm” in Hanoi. To the French, it was an ominous sign that a woman as smart and ambitious as Madame Chuong would choose the Japanese over the French. She was doing what she could to help secure her family’s good position in quickly shifting political sands.

The allegations were transmitted to Paris on faded onionskin sheets and archived, preserving the tittle-tattle of diplomats for posterity. According to one rumor that gained traction many years later as café gossip, among Madame Chuong’s many lovers in Hanoi was a man by the name of Ngo Dinh Nhu. (p. 35, Finding the Dragon Lady, Monique Brinson Demery)

Madame Chuong: mother of Tran Thi Le Xuan (Madame Nhu, “the Dragon Lady”), wife of Ngo Dinh Nhu, chief political advisor of Ngo Dinh Diem, his older brother and President of the Republic of Vietnam


Shame on you, Lessie!!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Aino Kuusinen and Richarad Sorge, and Myself

Aino Kuusinen appears in many places of “Stalin’s Spy.” And I somewhat find myself in the following passages:

Richard was not an easy person to live with, Christiane had discovered. He was self-contained, with deep inner resources, and although he was fond of her, she could as easily have lived without her. ‘No one, ever could violate the inner solitude, it was this which gave him complete independence – and perhaps explained the hold had had over people.’ (p. 26, Stalin’s Spy)

The tiny German community did not provide the intellectual and cultural nourishment he craved, or satisfying comradeship: he complained repeatedly that he had ‘no friends.’
During his seven years in Japan we sense that Sorge keenly felt himself to be the sad wanderer of the poem written in his student days – ‘eternally a stranger who condemns himself never to know peace’. (p. 119, Stalin’s Spy)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I Started "Stalin's Spy"

This afternoon, I finished my re-read of “北方領土特命交渉” and found “Stalin’s Spy” in my letter box. I started this book tonight. As for Japan’s negotiations with the Soviet Union and Russia over the “northern territories,” I should read at least a book written by 東郷和彦.

Shame on you, Lessie!! And your country!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Quiet March

This month has been quiet as I had predicted. Considering the amount of work I’ve done, it is very unlikely to lose money for this financial year (October 2017-September 2018). What worries me is, of course, how much more work I can get to the end of September, thinking about not this FY but the next. If things go as I think they do, my company should expect earn only around S$2,000 or less per month for the rest of the FY.

Since the middle of February, I’ve re-read the following books:

パンツの面目 ふんどしの沽券(米原万里:ちくま文庫)
言葉を育てる 米原万里対談集(米原万里:ちくま文庫)


「打ちのめされるほどすごい本」で読書日記や書評の対象になっていたうち、「Stalin’s Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring (Robert Whymant)」「Before and After Stalin (Aino Kuusinen)」と「Memoirs (Mikhail Gorbachev)」、それから「南ベトナム」について知るうえで、おそらく欠かせない「Finding the Dragon Lady: The Mystery of Vietnamese Madame Nhu (Monique Brinson Demery)」を注文し、到着を待っているところ。
Shame on you, Lessie!! You’re not human.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

So Unusual about Singapore

What’s so unusual about this scene in Singapore? Power poles.

Sakurada Junko and "Uku Uku"


Shame on you, Lessie!!

Saturday, March 10, 2018



Shame on you, Lessie!!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Japan Trip, Another Mistake of Lifetime and LIfe Insurance Work

I went back to Japan to visit the local pension office in Kyoto and the temple in Osaka where mother rests (for the first time). My original plan was to depart Changi at 1:30 of February 19th by SQ618 and Kansai at 23:00 of 20th (SQ615), a one-night trip.

I expected to receive an e-mail from Singapore Airlines asking me to check in online for the return flight to Singapore. I didn’t receive it. I signed in to its website to search my booking. It said there was no such flight booked.

I could’ve gone to the Kansai Airport without further checking. But I felt really strange and decided to call the number listed on the website.

I explained what was happening and the person I talked to said “The flight booked was for yesterday.” It was not possible as I arrived only “yesterday.” Then, she said, “Your return flight is booked for MARCH 20.”

Because they were mid-night flights, I paid my very close attention only to the dates and times, not months… I had booked the wrong flight.

I cancelled the March flight and booked SQ619 departing Kansai at 11:00 on 21th, costing me 67,700 yen (S$859.12) for rebooking and 13,400 yen (S$170.04) for an extra night at the hotel. This is the kind of mistake you can make only once in your lifetime. My schedule was to go to Senai in the afternoon of 21th, which became impossible, causing trouble for my client.
I delivered the last life insurance file yesterday. That concluded a job of about six months.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Still Working on "Life Insurance" and Decision to Return

I keep working on the last file of “life insurance.” It began with Dr. Solomon Huebner and I believe I’ve learned something about the philosophy and system of life insurance, though personally I find not many things applied to me as the system assumes familial love and bonds, which I don’t have. I’m someone who don’t, can’t, share their idea.

After some hesitation, I decided almost impulsively with the help of alcohol to return to Japan after the lunar new year holiday just to make payments into my pension scheme, get slips necessary for more payments and visit the temple where Mother rests, almost two years after her ashes were brought there. Departure, Singapore on February 19 (1:30) and Osaka on 20 (23:30).

Shame on you, Lessie.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Death of Nishibe Susumu

On 21th of this month, Nishibe Susumu was found dead.  Apparently, he killed himself by drowning.

He influenced and inspired me indelibly when I was in my 20s to begin thinking about things a little complicated and abstract especially with his work, “The Revolt against the Masses,” which of course was his reply to “The Revolt of the Masses,” authored by Ortega Y Gasset (published in 1929).

I took a day off on December 31. Otherwise, it’s been only “work and me.” I think I’ve done a lot since last September. These long-terms projects will be over, and another period of worries will begin.

Shame on you, Lessie.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Japan Can Demand an Aplogy From Korea over "Sex Slavery"

Yesterday, the government of South Korea announced that it would keep the agreement former President Park had concluded with the Japanese government over the “comfort women.”
In the announcement, however, President Moon still seeks an “apology from the heart” from Japan.
Ha! Then, Japanese-Japanese former comfort women can demand an apology and compensation from Korea for having been subjugated to be "sex slaves" of soldiers of Korean origin.

Where are you, Lessie? I'm looking for you. Shame on you. Are you in Hong Kong now? 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

First Real Job This Year

I did absolutely no work on December 31, but resumed my work on the New Year’s Day. I thought about welcoming the new year at the neighborhood bar. But I just stayed home. 

Today (3rd), I had an interpretation job at the coffee shop at the MBS lobby. It was about a project to set up hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam, especially of ophthalmology. I met two from J&J Vision, SEA commercial director and APACJ marketing director, and an ophthalmologist visiting here from Japan. It was their first meeting for exploring what they would be able to do work together. I can say that the talk went smoothly.

The SEA director said the administrative division had recommended me as interpreter for this occasion and the surgeon seemed to be satisfied with my work because, as he understands and said to me at the end of the meeting, ophthalmological topics are not easy to deal with for interpreters.

I only accidentally started working with ocular people” 8 or 9 years ago. But today, working for people I’d never met before and about topics I’d never worked on, my experience helped.
Where are you, Lessie? I'm looking for you. Shame on you.