Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (127)

Cherry blossom forecast this year seems to be difficult because the recent weather has been erratic, transitioning from early summer warmth to midwinter chill. It is said that Yoshino cherry tree may bloom in Tokyo at the end of next week.
Then, it is cherry blossom viewing. I remember going to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Ueno Park, Tokyo at night on April 3 from 28 years ago in the previous job era. There is an outlier between flowering and full bloom days, and the impact of global warming has become increasingly evident over the past 30 years. The photo taken by a cameraman of one of national newspapers, where participants were sitting in a circle enjoying cherry blossom viewing and drinking at that night, was published on the front page of the next day’s morning paper. I had a call from persons who saw that right away. I remember that I held a can of beer of my client instantly when I was captured in the photograph.
By the way, speaking of alcoholic drinks, I used to think “I liked alcohol and was strong”. As a matter of fact, I emptied a whole bottle of whiskey when I was young, and barhopping was also done frequently. But I think recently that the truth is that “I like the atmosphere drinking alcohol” rather than “I like alcohol”.
When I was an honorable consul of the Kingdom of Bhutan, I had a rare experience of attending a banquet at the Imperial Palace when the king and queen of Bhutan visited Japan as a state guest, and when Indian Prime Minister and Bhutanese Prime Minister visited Japan as an official guest, I attended welcome dinner hosted by the Prime Minister Abe at the Prime Minister’s official residential quarters. Drinking alcohol in such place was something like “I was pouring it in” before I knew it rather than “I enjoyed alcohol” in order to focus on conversing with those around me. As a result, I think that I quantitatively drank quite a bit.
For your information, there is no “solitary drinking” other than the quiet tipple in the corner of my house, and I like the atmosphere of an izakaya-style restaurant where everyone chats and laughs. I “drank standing” in front of a liquor store and also drank at luxury Japanese restaurant, but the taste of alcohol is the same no matter where I drink it, and it is just that the price is different depending on the location. For me, alcohol serves as a medium for communication. Therefore, my principal at the encourage meeting on the spot in the previous job era was “lower the cost per person to encourage more people to participate”.

■■What I have recently thought and focused on:
■Mr. Trump’s nomination of Republican Party’s presidential candidate is certain:
“Super Tuesday”, the climactic battle for the nomination candidate of both Republican Party and Democratic Party of presidential election held on November 5 this year, was conducted throughout the United States on March 5. Among these, former President Trump aged 77 won a landslide victory over former ambassador to the United Nations Haley 52-year-old female at the Republican Party contested by them in 15 states. The official decision will be made at Republican National Convention on July 15, but Mr. Trump’s nomination is certain, because Ms. Haley has announced her withdrawal from the race for the nomination.
Personally speaking, I wish she had tried a little bit harder, but in addition to a low profile, the third-place finish, against all expectations, being outdone by Governor of Florida DeSantis who later withdrew from the race for the nomination at the first contest of Iowa State supposed to build momentum was significantly impacted. The background for her withdrawal is that the hope for a favorable Supreme Court decision whether Mr. Trump will run for President or not has been shattered and she was also abandoned by a major donor. However, the independent voters support for her is quite high, and there is no doubt that she has remained a strong candidate of Republican Party for the next presidential election after four years.
On the other hand, at the Democratic Party, President Biden aged 81 aiming for re-election is certain to be nominated. The media’s attention has constantly been directed toward the Republican Party that has developed dramatic primary, but the direct confrontation between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump is about to begin, the same as four years ago.
By the way, Mr. Biden has an unyielding determination “to prevent Trump from becoming president”. But his biggest enemy for re-election is not only Mr. Trump but also that “he is old”. The image of the U.S. President by American people is “a strong president”. Therefore, showing weakness, getting sick or falling a bit is fatal to an election campaign.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump has more than 90 legal cases including the United States Capital attack, and if he loses the presidential election, far from losing a political life, he will go to jail if things don’t go well. That is why he is desperate. He has rock solid or fanatical supporters, and if he loses by a narrow margin, he may not admit defeat as before and it could further divide society. And if he wins, there is a concern that he will take revenge on the person who has neglected him until now. He does not have much interest in international cooperation.
He is nationalistic and his motto is MAGA, Make America Great Again! European countries are also estimating such cases and preparing for them. Demands on the defense front and trade front will become stricter for Japan as well and the impact will be significant. The person who secretly hopes for Mr. Trump’s re-election will be only President Putin. He is paranoid, and I feel that he has a strong desire to be dictator like Putin, President Xi Jinping, General Secretary of North Korea Kim Jong-un. To handle such person, chemistry plays a significant role in determining compatibility. In this regard, the late Prime Minster Abe got on very well with him and did not mind remonstrating with him. Who would be the right existing politician in Japan to deal with him?
By the way, what will decide the fate of presidential election is the trend of independent voters. According to the recent public opinion survey, in this regard, Mr. Biden seems to be leading narrowly. Right now, Mr. Trump is the center of attention, but I expect that a sense of balance for the state of democracy by American people will work. But I am still concerned about Mr. Biden’s age and condition of health.

■The number of returning driver’s license last year was 382,957:
According to the National Police Agency, death toll on the roads in 2023 was 2,678 increased by 68 compared to the previous year and increased for the first time in eight years. Until the year before last, there had been a year-on-year decline for the third consecutive year, but lifting of action restrictions on corona disaster is also pointed out as a reason for the increase. Incidentally, the largest ever annual death toll on the roads was 16,765 in 1970. Compared to that, the current situation has reduced to about one-eighth. The worst among all prefectures in Japan last year was Osaka (148) and next Aichi (145). Incidentally, 136 in Tokyo. 1,466 people accounting for 54.7 % of the deceased were over 65 years old. This ratio is almost the same every year.
On the other hand, the number of returning driver’s license last year was 382,957 decreased by 65,519 compared to the previous year and decreased for four consecutive years since 2020. The return by over 75 years old accounts for about 68 % of the whole. Compared to the number of returning 601,022 in 2019 when both mother and child were hit by an elderly driver in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, it is less than half. The number of licensed drivers over 75 years old is 7,282,757 as of the end of 2023, but it is expected to increase due to the influence of “the baby boom generation” born from 1947 to 1949. Raising safety awareness, developing safer cars including fully automated, and enrichment of ride-sharing eliminating the need for driving and so on are necessary. At the same time, it is also called “better safe than sorry”. Accidents happen in an instant. I think that we should encourage elderly drivers who are aware of the danger to return their driver’s licenses from the perspective of accident prevention.

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