HORSE’S MOUTH: Born in Japan

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Gee, it seems like yesterday we were exchanging New Year’s greetings with everyone. Now, we’re only a couple of days from Thanksgiving.

As we often state, “Where did all the days go?”

Before we know it, we’ll be wishing everyone “Merry Christmas,” followed by “Happy New Year.”

On Thanksgiving Day, my oldest son and his wife invited us (and all the relatives) to his home for dinner.

These days, it’s probably the only holiday where we get together, so it’s something we look forward to.

Since I’m getting to be an old you-know-what, it’s nice to get together with the family.

Well, let me get on with today’s column.

With more and more Japanese Americans seeking and winning public office, it follows that a number of them will get involved in questionable financial problems that lead to criminal investigation.

The latest episode involves Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa.

Recently, he played golf at Revere Country Club in Las Vegas, running up a green fee of $583, and last year when he attended a forum on the East Coast, he upgraded himself to first class, quadrupling his airfare to $2,605.

Shirakawa enjoyed these perks although he didn’t have a penny to his name, according to bankruptcy court filings.

The veteran county leader declared bankruptcy despite his $143,031 salary and lavish expenses, which the county taxpayers pick up.

Shirakawa might be broke, but the 50-year-old supervisor has a history of spending freely with taxpayer funds, and with lax county oversight, his constituents have no idea they’ve been paying as he dines with his staff members, which appears to be a violation of county policy and federal law.

Shirakawa’s spendthrift behavior as supervisor since 2009 is now the subject of an expanding criminal inquiry by local prosecutors. He is simultaneously under investigation by the state’s political watchdog agency and is facing tens of thousands in fines for missing campaign reports from his 2008 run for office.

Revelation of Shirakawa’s lavish spending are forcing the county to tighten its policy governing how supervisors, and other county officials with credit cards, spend the public’s money.

Well, one thing I’m glad about regarding Shirakawa is that the media have not referred to his Japanese ethnicity in any shape or form.

I’m glad when one Rafu reader gets assistance from another reader of this newspaper, especially when one is seeking help and gets it.

Such was the case of one reader who was seeking help in finding yomogi. Here is her letter:

“The young lady Martha Nakagawa and her friend just delivered the yomogi seeds and the young shoots. I am ever so grateful to you for your help in obtaining the yomogi plants. We’ll work with them and maybe we can be successful in growing them. Then hopefully, we can introduce you to yomogi mochi. Thanks again for your help. Please keep my name anonymous, please.”

In her last email to me, Editor Gwen wrote she was going to the UCLA/USC football game played last Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

I wasn’t aware that Gwen was an UCLA fan, but she noted, “I hope they win.”

Well, her hope became a reality as the Bruins squashed the Trojans.

I was elated, too, because I’ve been a Bruins fan for many, many years, even when I was a resident of the Gakusei-Kai student house, which was the residence for JA USC students.

I watched the game on TV, but after the Bruins took an early lead, I turned off the set because I couldn’t stand to see USC roaring back to win the game.

I decided to turn on the TV set later for the post-game coverage. Needless to say, I was able to laugh at the outcome.

So I guess Gwen was hopping around at the result as I was.

Well, USC has another tough one this coming weekend. They face Notre Dame, an undefeated and nationally ranked team.

Speaking of football, I’ve mentioned it before but now I am really trying to clear out my sports memorabilia junk and would like to hear from some readers who might want to take them off my hand.

Over the years, I’ve gotten rid of some of them, but I really haven’t made a real effort to really “clear out.”

So, if any of you readers might be interested in picking up some sports stuff, let me know and I’ll mail you the list of collection items I have on hand. Just to mention a few:

• Footballs autographed by some of the star players who participated in the Japan Bowl all-star games.

• University of Pittsburgh football helmet worn by Tony Dorsett, the Heisman Trophy winner in 1978.

• A baseball signed by every member of the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1959 World Series.

These are just a few of the memorabilia I’m putting up for sale.

Contact me at my email address.

Will accept all fair offers since I’m not trying to make a lot of money.

I don’t play golf, but I’m a golf fan, so I usually tune into the Golf Channel to watch the pros play. That includes the LPGA (women’s) and the PGA.

Well, I don’t know what happened but since about a week ago, the Golf Channel disappeared from my TV set.

So I called a number that I got through a little research and found that for those wanting to continue watching the Golf Channel, a fee would have to be paid.

It isn’t a large fee, but I concluded the fee will probably go up and up like the rest of the pay-TV outlets, so I told the person on the phone, “Forget it.”

Just curious if any of you who watch the Golf Channel encountered the same thing I did in contacting the company.

Would like to hear from you readers who may have attempted to learn why the Golf Channel suddenly became a pay-for-view outlet.

As a “gaijin” who lived and worked in Japan for three years, I am always interested in how the working visa law is being handled by the Japanese government in this day and age.

I worked in Japan with a working visa in the early 1960s.

In those days, a foreigner allowed to work in Japan had to have a working visa, which was good for the length of time the foreigner signed to work for a Japanese company.

Well, according to the latest report, a lot of foreigners are being asked to leave Japan because their contracts with their Japanese employers were not renewed, even if they were still working for the firm.

Many foreigners are now forming protest groups to fight the deportation ruling.

A lot of foreigners got married in Japan to Japanese citizens and had children, which would make their offspring Japanese citizens. Unlike the U.S, the foreigners’ status doesn’t change even if their children are “Japanese” through birth.

I don’t know how many recall my situation during my stay in Japan.

My third son was born in Tokyo. When I went to the U.S. Embassy to get a passport for him, the embassy spokesman who handled my case told me, “Since you and your wife are of Japanese ancestry, your son will have to leave Japan before he turns 7 or will lose his U.S. citizenship and become a Japanese citizen.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I found that it was the law.

If a Caucasian American citizen had a child born in Japan, he/she could live there as long as they wanted to and still maintain their U.S. citizenship.

It was because of this that I have over the years paid close attention to foreigners living in Japan.

Perhaps that’s why when our son was born in a Tokyo hospital, we gave him his name Mark and also a Japanese name, Tokio.

Of course, he rarely uses Tokio, only when people ask him what his full name is.

Ha. Maybe I should have given him the Japanese middle name of Shibuya, the hospital in which he was born.

Of course, it never became an issue because I quit my job and we returned to the U.S. when he was only 3 years old.

About a month ago, I received a letter from a reader about how a motorist who might have received a speeding ticket could contact a certain law office to avoid having to pay a fine.

Well, it was an email, so I eventually erased the letter.

Now, unfortunately, I received another email from a reader who wrote:

“Received a speeding ticket coming back from Vegas on the 55 Highway in Orange County. I remember your article regarding a firm that goes to bat for the common man who receives such an award. Could you forward the information so that I can get representation?”

The letter was signed by Dale Hachiya. If the reader who sent me the information on traffic tickets reads this, can you resend the message so it can be passed on to Dale?

I wish I had kept the original letter.

This is from reader “Retired Mas.” He wrote:

• I’d just come out of a shop with a meat-and-potato pie, large chips, mushy peas and jumbo sausage. A poor homeless man sat there and said, “I’ve not eaten for two days.” I told him, “I wish I had your will power.”

• A fat girl served me in McDonald’s at lunchtime. She said, “Sorry about the wait.” I said, “Don’t worry, you’ll find a way to lose it eventually.”

• Japanese scientists have now created a camera with such a fantastic shutter speed that it is now possible to take a photograph of a woman with her mouth closed.

• A man in a hot-air balloon is lost over Ireland. He looks down and sees a farmer in the field and shouts to him, “Where am I?” The Irish farmer looks back up and shouts, “You’re in that basket.”

Okay, since I’m still pooped out from the recent trip to Vegas, I’ll fill out today’s column with reader Jeri Fujioka’s contribution, called “Seniors are not to blame.” I assume Jeri is my age. At any rate, here is her contribution:

“Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others.

“However, upon reflection, we would like to point that it was not senior citizens who took:

• The melody out of music.

• The pride out of appearance.

• The courtesy out of driving.

• The romance out of love.

• The commitment out of marriage.

• The responsibility out of parenthood.

• The togetherness out of family.

• The learning out of education.

• The service out of patriotism.

• The Golden Rule from rulers.

• The civility out of behavior.

“Just look at the seniors with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand at attention with their hands over their hearts.”
Bravo.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi George,

    You should take your collection of sports memorabilia to the “Pawn Stars” shop on Las Vegas Blvd. Who knows, you might get on the TV show…

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