Perhaps he was feeling somewhat nostalgic about the autumn scenery back home. Novelist Soseki Natsume (1867-1916), during his stay in London, once went to see a chrysanthemum display. He even wrote a haiku poem about it, which goes like this: Chrysanthemums bloom / white and yellow as though to / conjure up Japan.

In this poem, the white chrysanthemum precedes the yellow most likely because he wanted to retain the Japanese 5-7-5 syllable structure. He could not have prioritized one color over the other. However, in China, where the same flower is appreciated, it is said the yellow chrysanthemum is especially admired. If you check the meaning of the Chinese word for “yellow flower” in the Chinese-Japanese dictionary published by Shogakukan Inc., the first definition given is “chrysanthemum.”

A certain person likely has some kind of priority set in his mind, too. Your columnist is now talking about Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Is the economy white and military strength yellow? At the opening of the Chinese Communist Party Congress on Oct. 18, the president reportedly said that China has gone from “becoming rich” to “becoming strong.”

Chrysanthemums bloom / white and yellow as though to / conjure up China. This poem must surely be on his mind right now. He also said that China will build a “world-class military” by the middle of this century. World-class, he says. What actions will China take hereafter to be deemed as such? Neighboring countries must be vexed.

Let’s, for a minute, think about the good terms we are on with our neighbor. We have visitors coming over from China for tourism and shopping, and China is the factory of the world as well as a huge market. I believe we are receiving a bundle of white chrysanthesums from them. Don’t they realize that is enough and we are very grateful?

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Oct. 19 issue.


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