1 – 8 : Chapter 1 ALMOST PARADISE : Good bye, WADATSUMI / He and a little witch of Tokyo Bay

 Ho’ori wrote one report.

 The theme was about a certain fishermen’s union which manages a certain big river in Tokyo.

 The fishery right which is permitted to treat river fish as resources for them exclusively is surely important for protecting fishermen’s lives, cultures, and rights, but naturally, proper exercise is being demanded at all times.

 On ‘the river’ which was controlled by the pirates, because this place itself had been considered dying in old-time, fishermen had given up their rights related to their work and they were receiving compensation from the government. And nowadays, the regeneration of the river, which had been started focusing on passenger transporting as the main theme, made the professional fishermen’s work more difficult. So they were continuing to choose the money instead of taking back their old place. This was the reason why the pirate children could show a big face on the river. In short, the sight of ‘the river’ of now had been caused just by chance. If that was not, the kids could have not caught the chance even the edge of it, for many difficult problems about fishing rights. About the fishing environment too, by the eyes from other Tokyo rivers, it could be said this ‘the river’ was in a special situation.

 But basically in Japan, fishermen unions are being set on almost all rivers, except many rivers of Hokkaido and some rivers of Honshu and other small islands. And growing and stocking with fish in their river is one of the main works of each river fishermen’s union.

 Yes, at present, for almost all of them, their main work was not directly to get fish from their river. For recent decades, making their customers fish the fish had been exactly their main job.

 Because the Japanese freshwater area isn’t huge, wild resources have a limit. For this reason, the unions can’t gather many customers who enjoy fishing as their leisure in the natural capacity of each river if they will rely on only pure resources. And general customers tend to prefer sea fish, a freshwater fish market of Japan is not big than that of saltwater.

 So, for a long time, as a custom, almost all freshwater fishermen’s unions in Japan are breeding Ayu or trout as business and releasing them to their river for collecting fishing license fees from customers enjoying fishing as leisure. Namely, they are using their territory like a big fishing pond. Recently people reviewing such way to use the river had been increasing, but after the end of WW2, there was certainly the period that almost all rivers of Japan, except really a few, had been managed as fishing ponds only for profit.

 But about that river, problems had not been that only.

 In the downstream area of that river, which Ho’ori had investigated, even releasing projects were not been done except carps-releasing as a traditional event of May. In spite of its great capacity, somehow, it seemed that no one was regarding this river as the serious source of benefit. As a result, it could have been said that this river’s union had already become an old-age pension system for descendants of people who had called themselves professional fishermen in this river in old-old time. Relying on the old custom, that system had been being run by collecting fishing license fees from customers, in spite of not performing anything worth it for them. Even clean-up events were planned by resident’s volunteer groups, not by the union. (Nowadays carp releasing is criticized as destroying the natural environment.) 

 So, if had known the actual situation of this river, anybody should wonder about its background when a subsidy application for exterminating invader fish had been filed from the union.

 Because, on the river, fish-releasing for recreation fishing hadn’t been done for a long time. When fishermen’s union plans to gain the subsidy for exterminating invader fish, generally it purposes to protect a kind which they breed and release for their customers. So, it should not be needed to this river.

 Furthermore, now, Black bass which tends to get called as a hostility invasion species in Japan (and for this reason, tends to become a target of eradication movement) had been becoming the almost only popular target to people who visited this river to enjoy fishing. (* In Japan, ‘large mouth’ and ‘small mouth’ both are called ‘Black bass’ generally.). Lack of environment management had overlooked the distortion of biodiversity and invited oligopoly of a kind. And, whether it was lucky or unlucky, by chance, the kind was a popular fish as a target of some leisure fishermen. Thus comparing with such as ‘the river’, it could be said this river had been failing to get the rebirth, but without any effort, the union could be earning the fishing license fees basing on the kind which they eliminate in the usual situation, so the situation was being kept.

 In addition to that, some other strange data had been also there on the documents reporting about this river. For example, small subsidies had been approved too easily many times unnaturally. Or, the ecological rebuilding plans which were aiming at exterminating of Black bass had been done so lively on the surface of papers, but according to the date of counting population on the real river, this invasive species was keeping increase as before. And as if taking balance with that real data the sum of the subsidy also was increasing more without any point out from anyone.

 At first, Ho’ori didn’t know fine details at all. His ex-direct boss too. He was merely given the order to make an environmental report about that big river which was regarded as an ideal model area for eliminate-campaign against the invasive species.

 “This river is passing through near the huge city and has the name being well-known by people of Japan.”

 He had been ordered to make such a report because of such a very simple reason. It was a so ordinary phenomenon on the daily job. Even if it had ruined someone’s future.

 Because it was a thing like a subcontracted work ordered by other Ministry, his ex-boss showed few enthusiasms for that work. So Ho’ori himself also had been estimating this investigation will have been ended very soon since he had arrived at the actual location. It would have been finished by spending a half-day at most if he had not asked like this…, Soon after getting down the car, he found a young man doing lure fishing. So then,

 “Hey, have you catch a big one?”

 On a whim, he asked the man. Because the fisher was in a distance which his voice can reach just by chance. And these words were the start of everything. The young looked back and shown a very sunny smile to him and,

 “Yeah, here is an awful hot point!”

 When seeing the fishing tackle of the man who happily said so, and looked at man’s trophy photos and a proudly face, a tiny doubt caught Ho’ori’s mind. At that moment, already, his future had started changing. Of course, at the place where he had never known it. All of the young man’s big trophies were black-bass. And he said that fishing on this river shore was his habit almost every day and he was able to get big fish almost every time. In addition to that, while showing by his mobile tool the photos which proofed what he said, the young man confessed in a shy face that actually these trophies were not the results of his fishing skill.

 “Really? But…, I never do black-bass on lure fishing, so can’t understand it practically, but I guess 15lb fish is so rare. Isn’t it? I guess this fish is remarkable size especially in Japan”

 “Yes, it will be rare in other places. But it’s not so rare in here. Yesterday I caught only middle size fish but lots of. My goal of today is to catch a bigger one. But,”

 Anyone who comes here can catch a big one almost all the time. The young man said so and gone back to his fishing. For a while, Ho’ori was just standing alone blankly, at the river shore covered with pampas grass.

 Even if Ho’ori was not a capable man, he would have noticed one mystery being here.

 And fortunately, or unfortunately, of course, he was not a fool. And moreover, before the departure, at his office he had already heard some recent news about this place. Especially the news, that an exterminating operation had taken on a large scale the day before yesterday and the operation had given powerful damage to the alien fish in that area, had remained in his mind clearly. And the news had told, that mission’s target had been black bass…,

 The three questions had been there.

 First, why the young man and other fishermen could have gotten big or lots of fish in the place which have been exposed to the huge exterminating operation just a few days ago? Second, had the exterminating operation been taken really? Third, if the exterminating operation had not been taken in fact, where the money as subsidy had gone? It was a common story in this world but a too big theme for Ho’ori. Because he was not a specialist about such wonder moving money. So then,

 “On this river, it is likely that river keepers are not doing the plan of exterminating invasion species enough, so it is not appropriate for our model case.”

 He had added such a postscript and submitted the report with some data. In his mind, he really did only that. That must have been perfectly a part of his natural job even if being seen from another person’s perspective. It had not infringed on someone’s territory. It also had never been also a work accusing anyone, even as a tiny possibility. Probably that minimum typing had been no more than a ‘tiny tiny’ sprout to heal his feeling like a sense of justice.

 However, in this world, there is someone also who hates even such ‘minimum’ or such ‘tiny tiny’.

 Already he had heard the announcement about the personal reshuffle of him, so had not wanted to know anything anymore, but after everything had been finished, he had been forced to hear from his ex-boss about the detail of the moving of the money.

 He had explained to Ho’ori that the fishing license fees had been supporting the old members of the union correctly. But on the other hand, as expected, it also was true that the subsidy money had been spent for supporting expensive carps living in the pond of someone’s mansion while pretending the payment from the union to the dealer which had undertaken the exterminating plan. And from the method of making a trick by using a fishermen’s union, it also could have been imagined easily that the owner of the mansion and of the carps was a very good friend with VIPs of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan.

 He heard so. And, at that time, Ho’ori was working in the department close to the center of that Ministry.

 Even if couldn’t have known the high-class friendships being connected on the clouds, even if no way to know it at all, there had been no reason at all him to be able to expect being overlooked by them. Why? Because it is the society of adults.

 “Maybe this is a retaliation for your report.”

 His ex-boss had said so but it had not been ‘maybe’, had been ‘sure’. More some days after, he had heard by chance the reason why the all concerned had gotten investigated. It seemed that there had been someone who had intentionally let the report leaked out. And Ho’ori had been made to know also that the investigation had not reached the owner of the expensive carps. The person and the friends were in the original place still more. They had not moved even a bit.

 And then, Ho’ori had come to ‘the river’.

Ⓒ2016 Takagi Tokio

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