Wednesday, July 25, 2001

A Squall of Blessings

The Tokyo area had a real rain storm today, the first in a while. For a month beginning June 22nd, we'd only had 2% of our annual average. I heard the rumbling sounds of thunder somewhere in the distance as I was sitting in my office at Seicho-No-Ie Headquarters working at my computer. I didn't expect much to happen since the same thing had happened the day before and it had only rained a little. But, I remembered my wife, who had been listening to the weather report, say, "It's supposed to rain today." The sound of the thunder got closer and closer and soon became so loud that it could've startled anyone out of a drowsy afternoon in the intense heat of the season. Eventually, huge droplets of rain began to fall.

Some crows, seeking refuge from the rain, flew from the building. Passersby began to run and the grayish asphalt ground became darker. Knowing that I'd get wet, I leaned out of the open window, and, from the garden spread out below, came the smell of the soil--the earth. "This is the smell," I thought. I hadn't smelled this in a while. There was a certain dusty smell mixed into it at first, but, as the ground turned from a yellowish gold, to a dark earthy tone, it became the rich, moist smell of the rain drenched earth. The sound of the rain against the trunks of the cherry and camphor trees right in front of me resounded pleasantly, much like the sound of a running river. It was drowned out at times by the sharp explosive sound of the thunder. The thunder is sometimes far in the distance, and at other times gives a deafening roar from somewhere surprisingly nearby. This squall went on for about an hour and a half.

The day before, on the 24th, we had a record breaking high of 38.1 degrees Centigrade (100.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tokyo and 40.0 degrees Centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Maebashi City. One of the reasons for this was the lack of rain, but I'd like to hope that it'll cool down a bit with this rain. The day before that, on the 23rd, negotiators from 180 countries, including Japan, reached a compromise agreement to salvage the Kyoto Pact, clearing the way for the first treaty to combat global warming. The U.S., by refusing to join the effort, was the only major country to remain "outside the circle", but, for now, we can only begin with those who are in agreement. We can't waste any more time.

The U.S. rejected the Kyoto Protocol as harmful to U.S. business. It may be that, in the short term, global warming does, indeed, contribute to economic development. According to today's Asahi Shimbun, department and convenience store sales, power companies and gas stations are reportedly doing brisk business. This is, however, simply like people who have been "tortured" spending money to protect themselves. Some time ago, people argued that "wars help the economy", but we all know that a world without wars or torture is far superior and desirable to one with.

- MT

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