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Old 09-08-2006, 06:04 AM   #24
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: iwama note, censored?

Erick Mead wrote:
Anger dies when everybody who remembers being angry is dead, eh?

Us poor unenlightened crackers have a lot to learn, I guess?
Hello Eric,

On rereading your reply, I think you might have missed my point about the road accident.

I have found by experience here that motorists really go out of their way to avoid hitting pedestrians and cyclists. Why? When such an accident happens and there are injuries, as I explained in a blog for Aikido Journal last year, the driver of the larger vehicle is immediately judged largely to blame, to varying degrees.

It is like a Greek tragic drama, in which the main actors are the hero (the driver, because he is guilty of hubris), the other characters (the cyclist/s) and the chorus (the inevitable bystanders, who are also closely involved as 'witnesses'). The gods are the traffic police, who appear to display the same biases as their Greek counterparts.

Unlike other Japanese conflicts, however, this is one that you cannot ignore, for you have to obey the law, and this means the law as it is interpreted by the police, the prosecutors and (especially, for the huge sums of money involved) the insurance companies. I do not know why the law should be like this, but it is, and if you want to live here peaceably, you need to know this. The law governing road accidents has recently been made more severe and if you as a foreigner don't know this, you can end up in a detention house and subsequently in prison, for being in more severe accidents (like accidents in which there is the slightest whiff of alcohol on your breath) and, of course, back home.

I mentioned the insurance companies because they pay out the money, to the victims and to the driver, for the repairs to the car. In the two cases in which I was involved, I largely carried out the instructions of my insurance agent, which was to have no communication whatever with the other party, other than what was thought essential (gifts, flowers, hospital visits, telephone calls in which absolutely nothing was stated very politely--I rarely had to make these calls, probably because I was judged incapable of handling the required nuances in Japanese).

In my opinion, the thinking behind the law is a relic of the ryouseiba rule in the Tokugawa period and the responsibility for the breaking of WA is a major factor. I have been involved in two major accidents (i.e., accidents involving substantial injuries to the other party and substantial damage to my vehicle) and the police have invariably asked, 'How could the conflict (the accident) have been avoided?' Certain answers are not acceptable (e.g., 'I should have stayed at home').

Now, it is my belief (and I have done no research about this, so that my belief is simply a belief) that this model of joint responsibility for the breaking of the WA, the harmony, extends beyond concrete, 'in-your-face' cases like road accidents to other cases like the Iwama problem, about which, because it is also an 'international' problem, it is possible to have various reactions and considered opinions.

I have always been struck by the fact that the Aikikai NEVER publicly discusses such issues. There has been the conflict with Tohei Sensei and now the conflict in Iwama discussed by Homma Sensei. You will find no contribution on the Internet about these issues from the Aikikai. This might be an 'ostrich' reaction, as 'westerners' might see it, or it might be a reaction fully in tune with the accepted cultural norms.

Stanley Pranin and I once interviewed Arikawa Sensei at great length. It was a wonderful interview, but he refused to give permission to make this interview public. I was seriously pissed off and I know Stan was. Of course, you can ask why.

Since George raised the issue as something that he and other like-minded aikidouka would not tolerate, I suggest that a serious conversation takes place with Yamada Yoshimitsu, Saotome Mitsugi and Chiba Kazuo Shihans about the Iwama issue. For my part, I will raise the question at the IAF Directing Committee Meeting, to be held in Paris in March 2007.

One other thing. Hiroshi Isoyama is a staunch proponent of 'international aikido' and often gives seminars overseas. However, I find it hard to believe that he would have placed a gagging order on the Ibaragi Dojo deshi. Well, you can be sure that I will ask him and Doshu, also, when we next meet.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-08-2006 at 06:07 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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