MUSINGS / July 26, 2018

The Yomiuri ShimbunThis is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s July 26 issue.

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When novelist Takehiro Irokawa (1929-89) played mah-jongg with his writer friends, he always won, but just by a little. Junnosuke Yoshiyuki (1924-94), another novelist, had to wonder why it always ended up that way.

When he was young, Irokawa lived off playing mah-jongg for a time. He would in fact go easy on his opponents so as not to reveal he was a professional. When his “Majan Horoki” (A wandering mah-jongg player’s notebook) was published under the pen name Tetsuya Asada — when pronounced, the name has an intended pun meaning, “I stayed up overnight and into the morning” — Yoshiyuki knew by intuition that Irokawa went by another name, they say.

When Irokawa had something to say about gambling, he called himself Asada. He once said in an essay titled “Watashi no Shakai Fukki” (My return to normal life) that the scary side of gambling is in “having to confront the issue of finding a way to elude destruction, knowing that sooner or later you would be ruined anyway.”

The casino law the Diet recently enacted is not so popular. According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey, as many as 62 percent of respondents said they do not support the legislation. Even if customers gather from inside the country and overseas to spend their money to the benefit of the area [where the casinos are located], there will always be people who ruin themselves. The voice of the public must also include many who loathe pathological gambling.

This columnist, who is not at all confident about suppressing his passion for gambling, is terrified by Asada’s words, and therefore I have decided to stay away from it from the beginning. I am sure a lot of you feel the same way.Speech

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