Monday, May 2, 2011

Time and Distance

So, apparently some interesting stuff went down this afternoon.

I looked up from my rice n' veg at lunch today and saw a tired-looking Wolf Blitzer on the CNN Japan Edition (which plays on constant loop in the cafeteria) saying something I didn't catch-- but got the drift soon enough from the news crawl at the bottom of the screen.

By 6 JST, most all of the gory details of the whole operation were out, and I was watching footage of Americans dancing in the streets at the dinner table with my friends.

Bin Laden's death marks the second time I've had an opportunity to witness major world news events from both the Japanese and American perspectives-- on Friday, I watched part of the Royal Wedding on NHK, finding myself distracted not only by the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury looked in bad need of a shave, but also that, simultaneous interpreters apparently being in short supply, his dialogue had been dubbed surreally by a middle-aged Japanese woman. I noticed also that the camera roamed about, lingering on the elaborate set-dressing in the Abbey, suggesting that viewers were being given the opportunity to see their fill of the exotic liturgical goings-on, perhaps with an eye to their own wedding plans.

The death of Bin Laden, needless to say, had a darker tone. Watching the TV at dinner, my tablemates seemed visibly disturbed by the news, and seemed relieved when I expressed some discomfort at the presence of chanting crowds at Ground Zero. All at the table wished aloud that the mastermind could have been tried in court instead of being cut down by a black-ops snatch-team. Reading NHK later, I got the same impression-- where American headlines read BIN LADEN FINALLY DEAD or variations, NHK's piece intoned <AMERICAN SPECIAL FORCES IN PAKISTAN KILLING> burying Osama's name on the third line and using the word satsugai, which my dictionary translates as "murder, killing". Most were equally bothered by America's apparent arrogance in not alerting the rest of the world in advance--Kazuma, my roommate, described the operation, with a sort of nervous laugh, as <a little cowardly...>. 

All of which is more than enough to give this American pause as I sit and think about world affairs (and impending homework) in a narrow dorm in rural north Japan.

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