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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Poetic, but maybe not justice: Japan demystified in haiku
One of my goals in writing for The Japan Times over the years has been to try to render the seemingly arcane functioning of the Japanese legal system a bit more comprehensible to non-Japanese, non-legal types. This involves a big assumption that I understand it myself, but I have at least tried to offer up an analytical framework for trying to understand how things work in the legal sphere here (executive summary: You will probably lose).
Upon reflection, however, I fear that as a lawyer myself I sometimes may be too verbose, too meandering in my expositions about the quirks of Japanese law. Further reflection also brought the realization that I live in a country which has a well-established, powerful medium for conveying complex emotional situations in a minimal number of words: haiku. Since satirizing the inanities of daily life through senryū (a type of haiku) is also a popular pastime in Japan, it seems like a particularly apt medium for some of the things I write about. So without further ado, I offer up the following as my own attempted renderings in that format on the subject of Japanese law, justice and government.
You want a lawyer?
Sunrise — ohayo!
Can't see your children
Cops went to onsen
Even robots die
It's not gambling
Supreme court ruling:
Mandates to teachers:
Random card checking
Ministry old boy
Barred from the hot springs
Notice on bus stop
Highways and airports
Colin P. A. Jones is a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto. Light Gist offers a humorous take on life in Japan on the last Tuesday of the month. Send comments and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
To mark the occasion, The Japan Times is soliciting English haiku from readers on all aspects of life in Japan — the good, the bad and the ugly. To learn more, see our Community Anniversary page.