HORSE’S MOUTH: Goodbye, Dear Friends

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Feb. 7, 2015)

This is my last column. Goodbye, dear friends, and thank you for reading my chatter during these 25 years.

Well, it’s been 25 years since I wrote my first column for The Rafu back in 1990, so I shouldn’t even think of the word “maybe.”

It’s really time to hang ’em up, so this will the final edition of “The Horse’s Mouth.”

Being a columnist hasn’t been a chore. I have enjoyed pounding out two columns a week and hopefully, Rafu readers have enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: Mr. Y, OH, NO! Shame on you for not giving us advance notice. Do give it a second thought regarding retirement, PLEASE!)

When then-English section Editor Naomi Hirahara asked me to join The Rafu’s staff, I couldn’t imagine I’d last 25 years.

I have to thank current Editor Gwen for her continued support. Also have to thank Maggie and business manager Yoko-san for their support.

No, I don’t know what I’m going to do after writing this column and “retiring” as a newspaper columnist.

I realize that I’ll have a lot of free time on my hands because while thinking and putting my thoughts on the pages required didn’t take up that much of my time, it did take up time.

Perhaps if I get sufficient requests to occasionally pound out a column or two, I might consider returning to my old keyboard.

Yeah, I know I’m an old fogie, but if I have a lot of loose time on my hand, getting back to the old keyboard might be an option. We’ll see.

Heck, it’s “only” been 25 years since joining The Rafu but over 70 years since I first started banging out my column back in relocation center days in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

Kind of tough for me to even believe the time span of 1942 to 2015.

Editor Gwen wasn’t even born yet when I first hit the keyboard of a typewriter. We didn’t even have an electric typewriter back in 1942 when I was taking a typing class at Heart Mountain High School.

Oh well, let me get on with my chatter about my career as a journalist as I close the door.

For one thing, just being a journalist was something I could never imagine when the U.S. government forced all Japanese Americans to be tossed into relocation centers, especially being a farmboy from a country town in Northern California.

I’m always curious how many JAs had their careers changed by World War II and the evacuation of Japanese Americans.

Needless to say, I am considering producing a book on my life from a farmer to a newspaper columnist.

I know that the war and evacuation changed life for many Nisei, but I don’t recall reading too many stories about this experience, even though many stories have been written on the matter.

Hopefully, my making these comments might inspire some authors to do it.

Hey! History is history.

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Since this is my final column, I guess I will toss in a couple of letters from readers like this one from Shizuye Susie Isaacson, who wrote:

“Mr. Yoshinaga, I have been following you for many years. It is wonderful to know that you are still kicking well and still keeping up the good job.

“In The Rafu you are one of my energy sources. Keep it up and stay in good health.”

Thanks, Susie. The fact that your name is the same as my wife’s makes it nice to run your letter.

Here’s one from a Nisei “guy”:

“Horse, I’ve been reading you before you joined The Rafu and when you were still with The Kashu Mainichi. Yeah, I don’t agree with you too often but I find your column something I look forward to because you touch on issues most of we Nisei look forward to and whether we agree or disagree, find them to be for our benefit.

“Keep up the good work.”

It’s been a great experience for me and I hope other columnists in the future will fill in the space I leave with my retirement.

I’m sure there are Yonsei and Gosei journalists out there who will continue to touch on the many issues that will pop up in future years in the JA community.

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Almost everyone thinks about retirement while still on the job. Here’s one from Derek Seo, who writes a column called “Money Matters.”

“One of the great benefits of retirement is having the time and freedom to pursue interests that didn’t fit into your schedule when you worked 40 or more hours per week. If expensive travel is on our bucket list, you’ll want to account for the cost of it as you’re planning retirement. Here are five tips to help you prepare to hit the road when you’re ready to retire.

“Include travel as an item in your retirement plan.

“Without the funds to pursue travel, you likely won’t get too far. As you plan for your living expenses in retirement, you need to account for the impact that travel costs will have on your budget. Depending on the extent of your travel plans, it could add up to a significant sum. Take a hard look at what you might be spending on an annual basis and if necessary, explore some less expensive options to get the most out of travel in retirement.

“Aim to stay in good health.

“To be able to handle the rigors of travel, it helps to be in good physical shape. Just as you need to plan ahead to have your finances in order, it’s also important to maintain your physical health. In the years leading up to retirement, focus on healthy eating and regular exercise so you’ll be prepared for what could be a more active lifestyle in retirement.

“Don’t delay your plans.

“Once you each retirement age, you have the time to travel but you don’t want to wait too long to get going. Most retirees try to plan their biggest travel excursions in the early years of retirement. They are in better condition and have more stamina to manage the physical challenges that go with major travel. As a result, some people choose to spend more money in the early years of retirement and then trim lifestyle expenses later in life when travel has subsided.

“Determine your travel priorities.

“Where do you want to go in retirement? If you are married, are you and your spouse interested in the same destinations? Do you hope to join up with tour groups or do you prefer traveling on your own?

“Start making a list of where you want to go and try to determine what the budget may be to help you make an accurate financial estimate.

“If you are planning to spend time overseas, make sure you have a current passport ready to go well in advance. If countries you are visiting require a visa for entry, make sure you know what needs to be done to make sure that happens. If you plan to travel across the country in an RV, do your research ahead of time to see what type of rig will work best for your needs. In short, don’t let the first day of retirement arrive without having a plan so you can begin traveling right way.

“The key point for anybody with a serious travel ambition in retirement is to go beyond dreaming and do some significant preparation in advance. That includes saving money, taking care of your health and researching potential trips so you make the most of your travel in retirement.”

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Okay, let’s run with a Vegas dateline.

Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai expressed his commitment to the company’s struggling consumer-electronic business, including smartphones and said that the key to turning around Sony is to cast a wide net to new ideas.

Some investors and analysts have called for a breakup of the 68-year-old company, where in recent years profits in businesses such as insurance and movies have made up for chronic losses in Sony’s traditional consumer-electronics turf. But Hirai said he didn’t consider any of Sony’s major lines of business to be appendages that could be carved away.

Hirai’s comments came after one of the largest-ever hacking incidents struck Sony’s movie studies in November. The cyberattacks exposed the personal information of more than 47,000 current and former employees as well as email conversations between executives about business negotiations.

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Well, that just about winds it up for the last chapter of “The Horse’s Mouth.”

It’s tougher than I thought to wind up writing a column after so many years.

So unless the wheels at Rafu don’t want me to retire and talk me back, this is “sayonara.”

There are a lot of ways to say goodbye. Needless to say, “goodbye” is the easiest way to say it, but in different languages, there are other words.

In Hawaii, it’s “aloha.” Then if you want to go to south of the border, it’s “adios.” And in Japan, “sayonara.” The list can go on and on.

For me, I’ll stick with “Goodbye.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and can be reached at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

(NOTE: Mr. Yoshinaga has since reconsidered and is resuming his column.)

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