Japanese Emperor Addresses the people

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In his second-ever televised speech to the nation, document.write(“”); the
Emperor of Japan (now 82-year-old) announced that his age makes it difficult to perform his duties in a satisfactory manner, hinting that he would wish to abdicate his ceremonial role in favor of the Crown Prince (his son Naruhito).

He addressed his concern directly to the Japanese people because his symbolic role prevents him to intervene in the political system (meaning he cannot ask the Prime Minister or the Diet) and the Constitution does not include any provision in case of abdication. He is concerned that his diminished capacity could affect the Nation and doesn’t want his death (as well as all required mourning and passation of power rituals) to burden his successor. I guess he is also afraid that any (constitutional) talks of abdication could bring up the delicate subject of the relevance of the Imperial system. He seems to think that a gradual succession through a Regency would be the best solution.

(Sources: BBC, BBC, NHK World, NHK World, YouTube/NHK World)

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The full text of the address after the jump:

A major milestone year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has passed, and in two years we will be welcoming the 30th year of Heisei.

As I am now more than 80 years old and there are times when I feel various constraints such as in my physical fitness, in the last few years I have started to reflect on my years as the Emperor, and contemplate on my role and my duties as the Emperor in the days to come.

As we are in the midst of a rapidly aging society, I would like to talk to you today about what would be a desirable role of the Emperor in a time when the Emperor, too, becomes advanced in age. While, being in the position of the Emperor, I must refrain from making any specific comments on the existing Imperial system, I would like to tell you what I, as an individual, have been thinking about.

Ever since my accession to the throne, I have carried out the acts of the Emperor in matters of state, and at the same time I have spent my days searching for and contemplating on what is the desirable role of the Emperor, who is designated to be the symbol of the State by the Constitution of Japan. As one who has inherited a long tradition, I have always felt a deep sense of responsibility to protect this tradition. At the same time, in a nation and in a world which are constantly changing, I have continued to think to this day about how the Japanese Imperial Family can put its traditions to good use in the present age and be an active and inherent part of society, responding to the expectations of the people.

It was some years ago, after my two surgeries that I began to feel a decline in my fitness level because of my advancing age, and I started to think about the pending future, how I should conduct myself should it become difficult for me to carry out my heavy duties in the way I have been doing, and what would be best for the country, for the people, and also for the Imperial Family members who will follow after me. I am already 80 years old, and fortunately I am now in good health. However, when I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now.

I ascended to the throne approximately 28 years ago, and during these years, I have spent my days together with the people of Japan, sharing much of the joys as well as the sorrows that have happened in our country. I have considered that the first and foremost duty of the Emperor is to pray for peace and happiness of all the people. At the same time, I also believe that in some cases it is essential to stand by the people, listen to their voices, and be close to them in their thoughts. In order to carry out the duties of the Emperor as the symbol of the State and as a symbol of the unity of the people, the Emperor needs to seek from the people their understanding on the role of the symbol of the State. I think that likewise, there is need for the Emperor to have a deep awareness of his own role as the Emperor, deep understanding of the people, and willingness to nurture within himself the awareness of being with the people. In this regard, I have felt that my travels to various places throughout Japan, in particular, to remote places and islands, are important acts of the Emperor as the symbol of the State and I have carried them out in that spirit. In my travels throughout the country, which I have made together with the Empress, including the time when I was Crown Prince, I was made aware that wherever I went there were thousands of citizens who love their local community and with quiet dedication continue to support their community. With this awareness I was able to carry out the most important duties of the Emperor, to always think of the people and pray for the people, with deep respect and love for the people. That, I feel, has been a great blessing.

In coping with the aging of the Emperor, I think it is not possible to continue reducing perpetually the Emperor’s acts in matters of state and his duties as the symbol of the State. A Regency may be established to act in the place of the Emperor when the Emperor cannot fulfill his duties for reasons such as he is not yet of age or he is seriously ill. Even in such cases, however, it does not change the fact that the Emperor continues to be the Emperor till the end of his life, even though he is unable to fully carry out his duties as the Emperor.

When the Emperor has ill health and his condition becomes serious, I am concerned that, as we have seen in the past, society comes to a standstill and people’s lives are impacted in various ways. The practice in the Imperial Family has been that the death of the Emperor called for events of heavy mourning, continuing every day for two months, followed by funeral events which continue for one year. These various events occur simultaneously with events related to the new era, placing a very heavy strain on those involved in the events, in particular, the family left behind. It occurs to me from time to time to wonder whether it is possible to prevent such a situation.

As I said in the beginning, under the Constitution, the Emperor does not have powers related to government. Even under such circumstances, it is my hope that by thoroughly reflecting on our country’s long history of emperors, the Imperial Family can continue to be with the people at all times and can work together with the people to build the future of our country, and that the duties of the Emperor as the symbol of the State can continue steadily without a break. With this earnest wish, I have decided to make my thoughts known.

I sincerely hope for your understanding.

Blood Bead

“Tokita, document.write(“”); already into his middle age, has been teaching at a film school in Kyoto for a while. He would prefer to be directing films rather than teaching about them but it pays the bills and life isn’t bad. Indeed, he is having an affair with Yui, the pretty secretary of the film school. Still, the fact that he hasn’t been able to finish his script and find funding for his project nags him enormously. He is a filmmaker not a schoolteacher… Then, on the street, he runs into a striking young high school girl and his life changes. Not necessarily for the better. He is immediately smitten with Ritsuko. He begins to stalk her. He becomes delusional. His life itself becomes a film. And its ending has not been written.”
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(Text from the
Festival’s program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

I enjoyed this movie (what’s not to like with a movie with lots of beautiful nudity?) but it’s a little hard to talk about it. I’ll do my best. The story is relatively simple and yet rather complex altogether. However, it’s always interesting when movie makers turn the camera on themselves.

Movie director Tokita (Eiji Okuda) is teaching at a film school in Kyoto. He has a rather good life with his mistress Yui, a secretary at the film school, but he would rather be making movies than teaching about them. However, he has not been able to finish a script in a while. He says that, as long as he is thinking about a script, he can still feel he is a director. He is currently working on a pinku eiga script largely inspired by his relationship with Yui.

Tokita is in his sixties and can hardly get an erection, particularly when he’s drunk, but it only makes him more obsess with sex. The title of the movie refers to the “Akadama” legend saying that a blood bead will come out to mark the very last ejaculation of a man.

One day, he notices a high school girl and starts following her, stalking her and becomes obsess by her. He imagines having an affair with her, rapping her even, but he is stuck and doesn’t know how to end his story. At some point, he discovers that the school girl prostitutes herself (she’s charging $700!). He succumbs to the temptation and sleeps with her, but feels disgusted with himself afterward. Seeing his increasing obsession for Ritsuko while typing the script, Yui decides to leave Tokita.

Tokita feels desperate but succeed to finish the script anyway and presents it to a production company which doesn’t sound very receptive. He pleads that it would be his last movie, and ask to please give him a chance! Tokita gets drunk but, as he receives an email from the production company saying that they agree to finance his movie on some conditions, he gets hit by a car and dies!

Once again we have here a movie that tackles the subject of the increasingly older population of Japan which reflects a serious preoccupation among the population. This time we are presented with the despair that sexual frustration and the worth of one’s legacy can provide to an elderly man.

Director Banmei Takahashi, who is himself not unfamiliar with pinku eiga, said in the Q&A that he thought young directors were not putting enough sex in their movies and he wanted to remedy that. He also said that he killed the main character at the end because one of his friends died that way and he wanted to make an homage to him.

During the course of the movie we follow both Tokita’s life, the story of his script as well as his own fantasies, and this makes it rather difficult sometimes to discern which is what. However, it is a good and interesting movie — albeit a little weird — that offers a reflection not only on Japanese cinema but also on the life of elderly men. And, of course, there’s plenty of sex scenes!

Blood Bead (????/ Akai Tama / Perle de sang): Japan, 2015, 108 min.; Dir./Scr.: Banmei Takahashi; Music: Gorô Yasukawa; Phot.: Shinji Ogawa; Ed.: Kan Suzuki; Cast: Eiji Okuda (Shuji Tokita), Fujiko (Yui Oba), Yukino Murakami (Ritsuko Kitakoji), Shota Hanaoka (Kenichi Yajima), Shiori Doi (Aiko Kato), Tasuku Emoto (Aoyama), Keiko Takahashi (Yuriko). For a mature audience (18+).

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 29th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 10, 19h00 – the theatre was a little less than half full) as part of the “World Great” segment. The director was present for a Q&A after the screening.

For more information you can visit the following websites:
Blood Bead © 2015?Blood Bead?Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction and Q&A

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Weekly notable news (week 32)

First, document.write(“”); on a personal note: the last few months have been quite trying for me (the summer has zipped past in no time). On top of having to adapt to a new job at an even crazier library, I undertook some (expensive) renovations at home and managing the various team of workers was quite a challenge. And not only I sprained my ankle (with a small fracture) so I had to wear a pneumatic cast for over a month (still do) but I also had to suffer another painful medical problem (won a free game in our pinball’s medical system). And I broke my glasses this morning. It seems that I am in for another anus horribilis. All this left me exhausted physically, mentally and morally. I lost all patience I had left to deal with (stupid) people and the world (tired of Trump and all this violence). To quote Indiana Jones, I am really getting too old for this shit. Therefore, I didn’t write much lately. Sorry.
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However, all is not lost. The weather has been beautiful in the last few days and I am starting to feel better (hopefully it will keep improving; think positive: life is good). In the last week or so, I’ve been trying to remedy to this unfortunate neglect in my blogger’s duty. And, since the film festivals season is at our doors, I am starting to put online my movie comments from last year’s MWFF, in order to build up the interest and anticipation (whether the festival happens or not). I hope it’s working.

As always, I also keep myself acquainted with the affairs of the world. So, here are a few notable news & links that I came across this week (in no particular order):

And some Funnies…

Between Friends: Saturday, April 2, 2016

Rhyme with Orange: Monday, April 4, 2016

Ben: Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dilbert: Sunday, April 17, 2016

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