Money will always be a universal weakness
Witty cynicism is the soul of senryu, a form of haiku poetry with a satirical twist. Here's one punchy example: "A pseudo-Edokko hoards money." In old Edo (present-day Tokyo), an authentic Edokko (an Edo native) was supposed to be a liberal spender who'd be mortified if he didn't spend all his money as quickly as he earned it.
I assume smart Tokyoites would be more annoyed than charmed by L&G Co., which has come under police investigation for suspected violations of the investment deposit law.
The company was inviting the public to subscribe to its investment scheme, which required subscribers to shop on the company's online market and other transaction sites using a mock currency which the company promoted as "the money that never runs out."
The investors assumed that their accounts would be "replenished" as soon as the balance hit zero.
L&G called its mock currency "Enten." With the en standing for the Japanese yen and the ten meaning heaven, the name suggested money showering down from heaven.
Using the fake money, the company collected a huge amount of real money. Promising too-good-to-be-true high annual dividends of 36 percent, the company is said to have gained an incredible 100 billion yen, which 50,000 people around the nation invested in the Enten scheme.
It appears that the company continued operating on a shoestring, using collected investment to pay dividends. But, finally, it lost its liquidity and started using Enten for the payment of dividends.
Obviously, even the "money showering down from heaven" was not inexhaustible. The company has since stopped paying dividends altogether.
In "Wagahai wa Neko de Aru" (I Am a Cat), the novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) says cynically that anyone who wants to make money has to be lacking in three things--heart, sense of obligation and the ability to feel shame. In L&G's case, its money-making philosophy apparently required it to also lack two other things--ethics and respect for the law.
While the prototypical Edokko showed off his detachment to money, a senryu from that era shows he wasn't really so averse to money, deep down: "Hey, gold coin/ Stay with me/ Just for tonight."
In fact, the other senryu about a pseudo-Edokko hoarding money seems to reveal the author's envy for those who have put together a little nest egg. Human weaknesses seem universal, and there will never be an end to shady money-making schemes of all sorts.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 5 (IHT/Asahi: October 6,2007)