Thursday, July 30, 2009

Land of a million vending machines

If I could use words
Like falling leaves
what a bonfire
my poems would make.

James Clavell, Shogun

It has been an interesting arrival to Japan. Unfortunately, it hasn`t been smooth as silk because Mickey Mouse is anal retentive and has been roaring at me. I don`t mean to cause trouble, but the kiddies and I aren`t always seeing eye-to-eye. We had an opening ceremony yesterday, followed by a speaker who was the Lt. Gov of Tokyo. The fellow was also a historian about Japan in WWII, so I asked him about the Fugu Plan. He sashimied it, saying it was just conspiracy theory and didn`t want to talk about it. Not especially satisfactory.

I went to bed early but woke up at 3am on account ofjetlag. I went wandering around, and found 7/11 and the joys of sake in a box. For 100 yen ($1) you can buy sake in a juice box including a lil straw. Sake settled the jet lag in a decent fashion.

Today we went to the US Embassy. We hopped the metro down to the embassy in the absolutely sweltering heat. In the best public diplomacy move, the embassy had a box of give-away fans done up with American flags. Public diplomacy of the deed in full force. In full irony, the flag fans were made in China. We received a lecture from the Embassy staff on the various positions at the embassy, and a little about about what brought the staff to their respective positions. I asked the public diplomacy chief about the embassy`s pub d outreach using new media technology and social networking.

After the embassy visit, my food security round table group went to the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss Japan`s various agricultural policies. We grilled the officials a bit about Japan`s protectionist policies related to rice.

After the meeting, we went by way of the bustling shinjuku metro station and waves of commuters to a reception for the JASC group held by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The reception was held on the 43 floor of a downtown building, the view of the city was stunning. We heard from the director of public diplomacy, who mentioned Japan`s anime/manga diplomacy. He declared himself a sake samurai and mentioned Japan`s sake diplomacy. We also heard from the US Embassy`s head of public diplomacy. I taught the Japanese delegation the word "shmooze," and we sipped sake and had a terrific spread.

Japan has been fascinating so far, my trick will be making peace with the program that is uptight and rigid. I am working on it, but it wont be easy.


Abba said...

Just think "SOP"

Yael Swerdlow said...

You worked for the Israelis...this should be a no-brainer.

Paul Rockower said...

Abba- I'm having the same problems with them as I had with SOP, that I don't do well with structure and overbearing direction. Remember, I almost got fired from SOP.

Yael- the Israelis at least improvise, a bunch of anal kiddies who don't know authority from leadership don't.