New Year’s Resolution
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions myself. Not everyone does, and I sometimes feel tempted to come right out and declare them stupid and annoying. Well, annoying, anyway. But I’m too polite to ever do that. In the English teaching business here in Japan it is standard practice to teach Japanese that making New Year’s resolutions (“hōfu” in Japanese) is the thing to do. It’s not. What I do instead of making resolutions is live my life the way I want to and then live with the consequences. It seems to me that people who are bent on making resolutions are unable to do the same. It’s a sad commentary. I think most people just don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about New Year’s Resolutions. The passage of time is less funny than tragic.
In December I was wondering if Japanmade resolutions or set national goals for the year what would they be? Or, what would I like Japanto do, to accomplish or to aim for in the New Year?
There are so many important things for Japanto devote itself to in 2012 that to exclude them by recommending just one thing seems not only unfair but foolishly incredible. But I will try. One glimpse of Japan shows us a country with a lot on its plate already: recovery and reconstruction from the March 11thdisasters; nuclear energy safety and environmental issues; economic problems like spiraling national debt, employment, manufacturing and export, low birth rate, decreasing population and the burden of geriatric medical care; domestic problems like guest military base relocations and a proposed consumption tax hike. (Revenue of which will go where? Disaster reconstruction? National debt repayment? Ineffectively split between the two, more than likely.) These are more than enough to inspire one with zeal or fear, depending. Contemporary Japan is not a place for the faint hearted.
But if there is just one thing that I hope Japan accomplishes in the New Year it is that it signs the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. And I hope Japan signs it without implementing domestic amendments designed to avoid or derail the agreement’s intentions: recognition of the integrity of foreign courts’ child custody decisions; recognition of the human right of children to experience both their biological parents; recognition of the human right of both divorced parents to experience their children; recognition of the right and proper rule of law. By protecting fugitive criminals - Japanese souses who kidnap their own children and then flee their foreign homes for sanctuary in Japanwhere they are beyond the reach of law and of their ex-spouses - Japan has earned its reputation as a haven of cavalier disregard for human rights and the due process of law. As a civilized country, Japanought to have signed the convention decades ago.
In view of the obvious major problems facing Japan the matter of the Hague Convention is just a little thing. But it is a step forward, but every little step is an advance.