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MUSINGS / July 27, 2017

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s July 27 issue.

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When Donald Keene, a scholar of Japanese literature, visited the house of a friend in New York, the great actress Greta Garbo was also there. Keene recounted the experience in The Yomiuri Shimbun. There was nothing left of her legendary beauty and she had put her lipstick on but it went beyond the line of her lips.

It is said that Garbo could not bear to look at the fading beauty of her face and so avoided mirrors at the time. It is understandable that she could not wear her lipstick properly, but it’s a sad story all the same.

If a mirror reflects a person faithfully, the person feels uncomfortable. But if the person stays away from mirrors, more evil consequences result. Mirrors are sometimes troublesome. The existence of the media may resemble a mirror for power.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was reported to have criticized the media again at a gathering for members of his party faction. “We pay fees to subscribe [to newspapers], so you writers should take responsibility [for the content of your stories],” Nikai said.

Fair enough. But I have to question his other remark: “We won’t listen to such a thing [public criticism].”

I remember a line in the drama “The Inspector General” by Russian playwright Nicolay Gogol: “Don’t find fault with the mirror when it’s your own face that’s distorted.” No administration has ever become beautiful after blaming the mirror.Speech

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