Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The Japanese prime minister gazed politely at the top of the desk, giving his counterpart space to process the news.
“But, Daiki,” the president finally found his voice, “How could you do this without informing us--er, the international community?”
The prime minister met his eyes with a smile that was genuinely warm, a fruit of the long and mutually beneficial friendship between the two countries. “Could we have done this at all, had we informed the international community of our intentions? Would you have allowed us to proceed in our own way, with our own priorities?”
The answer, an obvious No, hung unspoken between them.
“But--,” the president floundered again, “Why, Daiki? You dumped a lot of money into this, but you say it wasn’t a military project?”
“I absolutely insist that it is not.” The prime minister put the slightest of stresses on the word is, a reminder that they were discussing a present reality. “It is in fact the most simple of economics.”
“As long ago as 2005, average housing costs in Japan were 35 million yen per year. Almost three hundred-thousand dollars every year! And the average size of a family dwelling was less than 93 square meters. Can you not see the pressures we had to deal with? America still has vast, unexhausted expanses of land--places where no person goes, or has need to go. Japan does not have this luxury, and has not for centuries. What were we to do?”
The prime minister paused a moment as if waiting for an answer, and the president could have sworn that there was a twinkle in his dark eyes. The sonuvabitch was enjoying this!
“Okay,” the president took a deep breath, “Then how? How did you do this without us knowing?”
The prime minister threw back his head and laughed. “Wonderful! You are stunned, your are offended--and yet you cannot help but want to know ‘how it was done’.”
The president scowled, unamused.
“Your spirit of adventure, my friend.” The prime minister smiled across the desk again. “It is what I admire about you--about your country--and why I knew that you would understand, eventually, why we have done what is done.”
The president nodded. It was pure flattery, he knew, but it did ease the sting a bit. “So tell me--wait a second. Chris!” he raised his voice, and his personal secretary appeared in the doorway of the Oval Office.
The president called for coffee for himself and his guest, then waved for the prime minister to continue.
“I mentioned the year of 2005 deliberately.” The prime minister began his explanation. “Our leaders had foreseen the dilemma many years before then, but it was in that year that we seized upon our solution. It was in actuality proposed by the president of Toyota, and he also offered an impressive funding effort, in return for a reasonable ownership in the final enterprise.
“There could not have been a better time for us to begin developing the necessary technology, or for our ultimate goal to go unnoticed. The world of automobile production had already overcome all but the most nominal of challenges involved with virtual testing. Vehicular systems were being designed, tested, and approved or discarded--all without construction of mechanical prototypes. It was clear to the president of Toyota that the testing race track was already becoming obsolete, and he saw that it only needed a strong push for the same to be true for our own enterprises.”
The secretary entered, laid a silver tray with coffee pot, cups, creamer and a bowl of sugar lumps, and was gone. A brief silence reigned as the president poured the coffee and they each took a long sip. Both men drank it black.
The prime minister sat back with a contented sigh and continued his story:
“By 2012, our most obvious needs had been met. Given our own advances in the field of computer-modeled testing during that time, it was not necessary for us to physically test our full-scale vehicles, and so nothing was done which would have alerted the global community. We then turned to the more complex and, frankly, more interesting challenges.”
“Food, water and heat. Do you have some invisible railroad, hauling things out to the colony?” The president wanted to know, for several reasons.
“No.” The prime minister shook his head. “That would have been prohibitively expensive. The Dekassegui are entirely self-sufficient, connected with Japan only by our wireless communication network.”
“And the people living there?” The president was taken aback.
“They have never returned to Japan. They ‘telecommute’ to work in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka. They keep in touch with family and friends over the internet. Video web-cams, video-phones, all things like that.
“It is this isolation that we wish to correct. Now that the Dekassegui are well established, we believe that their economy would support regular trips between New-Kyoto and Japan. Perhaps one every two years or so. But,” The prime minister shrugged, “We cannot hope to do that and remain unnoticed. So, I am here.”
“How long did you say the colony has been there?” The president asked before taking a big gulp of coffee. He wished it was whiskey.
“Ten years this week.” The prime minister answered.
Before I got into office. Not all the news was bad, anyway.
“You said they telecommute. How many people live there, then? Fifty? A hundred?”
“Excluding the children which have been born during that time,”
“--two thousand and four persons.”
“Holy mother of god!” The president blurted.
“The Greater Tokyo Prefecture is populated by over fourteen-million people. Yokohama holds four-point six million. These Dekassegui are merely a fraction--what you would call a remnant--that offer hope to us.” The prime minister sipped at his coffee. “The smallest American towns hold nearly that number, and they are hardly self-sufficient.”
“But how could a city--because that’s what we’re talking about here--a city of two-thousand people not be noticed?!” The president wanted to know.
“I assure you that we did what we could to make the architecture unobtrusive. And I do believe that certain amateur, um, observers, have taken note of our New-Kyoto. They have been ignored or abused generally by more professional society, I’m afraid. It will bring me some pleasure to vindicate them, even at this late date.”
The president looked up sharply, but the prime minister’s face was fixed in that gentle smile, with no trace of sarcasm. A new thought struck the president.
“Ten years ago! You established that colony while we were retooling our satellite defense system, and interfacing it with yours!”
“As I said, there could not have been a better time for us to act. North Korea threatened us with nuclear weaponry, and President Bush was encouraging us to advance our satellite capabilities, in order to enhance global response to terrorism. With no harm to you, and a great deal of gain for us, yes, that is what we did,” The prime minister said.
“Well-- what about mining rights?” It was a stupid question, the president realized too late, but his mind was reeling, and he had grabbed the first thought that floated by.
“We will of course be delighted to partner with any American corporation that seeks to invest in the development of our colony.” The prime minister answered graciously.
“We will be making an announcement to the global press in two days time,” he continued. “I wanted to give you this opportunity to converse personally, and to be better prepared when we reveal our success to the world.”
The prime minister was standing now, offering his hand. His time was limited, he said, as he was sure was the president’s time. He appreciated being able to meet personally. The president shook the offered hand, trying quiet the clamor in his brain. He walked the prime minister to the door, but had no idea what he was saying. Something about the New York Yankees. Sure, sure. Then he was back at his desk, staring at the polished wood. The Japanese had a ten-year old, two-thousand person city on the moon.
How the hell was he supposed to explain this to the American people?