As I've blogged before, I spent years fighting the Japanese national ID system
, pushing for a 3 year moratorium on the bill to allow privacy and security to be fully considered before rolling the system out. Even though our movement had majority support among politicians, the public and even the media, the system rolled out "because it would have caused too much confusion to stop it," according to one senior policy oriented politician. Afterwards, I had a choice of either continuing to protest a running system from the outside, or work on the inside trying to point out issues and watch over the deployment. I ended up on various government oversight committees where I have continued to point out issues and still argue that they should shut the current system down.
To my surprise, my hometown Mizusawa has the second highest proliferation of the national ID cards at 10% and hosted our Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications study group today. As the local government officials discussed their system proudly, I felt some pain as I pointed out some of the risks. They knew that I was local so they asked my support for their initiative in that local family style... Scenes from The Godfather cross my mind. It reminded me a bit of the scene in Godfather II during Michael Corleone's trial where they bring the brother of key witness Pentangeli from Sicily to the hearing. All it takes is one look from the brother to change the Pentangeli's position. OK. It's wasn't that bad, but it reminds me of the same thing.
My family has been building and running schools in the town for the last three generations and we just rebuilt our nurse school, which at some point I will have to "run". Until recently, our family funded the schools, but now relies partially on government support. As with most semi-public endeavors in small towns, it requires "community support." Thus The Godfather reference above.
After the study group meeting at City Hall, I visited our family grave. I took a look at where my name will at some point be etched as the 19th family head of the Ito family. I took the opportunity to grill my uncle a bit more about the specifics of our history since I'll be the custodian of this information at some point. I also had him collect up various family history documents. It appears that the first Ito, moved into our current home about 400 years ago and was some kind of union of a 25th descendent of Emperor Kanmu, the 50th Emperor (we're on #125 now), and Kawatari Fujiwara. I can't understand the old-fashioned Japanese text to understand the details of the arrangement. I believe Kawatari Fujiwara was from the Fujiwara family that lived in our region until they were defeated around 400 years ago. The only thing left from this period of the Fujiwara estate/castle is a golden pagoda and mummies in Hiraizumi. Anyway, the story I heard from my mother was that after their defeat, the survivors fled and started their own families in the region, and took the character "Fuji" from "Fujiwara" and changed their names to "Saito", "Goto" and "Ito" which all use "Fuji" character for the "To" part of the names. Anyway, I'm not positive about the details so I better find out more before I have to take over the family and my children start asking me all kinds of questions.
As always, staring at the place on the gravestone where my name will be etched along with all of the previous family members makes me feel like a mere blip in history and is humbling and strange.