Thursday, July 11, 2013

Soyokaze Stories: Harbor

The gray haired man stared down towards the group below with disdain and indignation. How dare they?! It was pathetic - this mob behavior. He checked his watch. They had been at this for hours. He'd be damned if it was going to stop him from leaving the building again. Having to have lunch brought in was one thing, but being held hostage by protestors in his own building? That was outrageous.

"Did you need me to call someone, Sir?"

He turned to face his assistant - his face a blank as if he didn't know what she was saying.

"A car? Additional police officers? Namura is doing his best, but...there are so many of them now." She rubbed her arm. "It's disturbing."

He snapped himself back into awareness. "No, thank you, Miss Tanaka. I'll be fine."

"I'm worried. Perhaps setting a meeting to talk through the harbor planning would...." She was cut off by his stern and warning tone.

"Miss Tanaka. I will not be blackmailed or threatened into meeting with hostile workers and villagers. I have made my decision based on the facts and the finances that are involved, not sentimentality and fear. Agreed?" His brow furrowed when her face fell and she looked to the floor. "You don't agree?"

She raised her head. "May I sit?"

He nodded with a grunt, waited for her to sit, then took his chair. The sun blazed in through the open window behind him. He pressed a button on his desk and the window behind him grew darker - the LCD shade slipping into a smoky, opaque state.

"Thank you." She smiled, then said, "Sir, you know that I hold you in the highest regard. I've worked for and with you for many years now." She folded her hands in her lap and maintained eye contact. "But, I do not agree with the company's stance on the situation in Soyokaze." She kept her eyes trained on his.

Gorou Yamashita lifted his chin slightly, relaxed his brow and said, "Why? What did you find wrong in our choice, Miss Tanaka?"

Tanaka drew in a breath. "According the environmental studies presented, making the harbor area larger will not have lasting, adverse affects on the surrounding area. Due to land right issues, the only ones that would be allowed to fish in the area are members of the Soyokaze fishing community." She licked her dry lips. She wasn't prepared, but the documents were fresh in her mind. "And the major benefit to the people of Soyokaze and the people of Shizuka based on the increased product would be immense."

"And, what about the future, Miss Tanaka?" He wanted to stand, but remained seated. "A future where the people of Soyokaze are worse off due to land being overworked, seas being over-fished and and the charm that drives tourists there in the first place torn from them by greed? What then?"

"Do you honestly thing they would let that happen, Sir?" Her eyes remained locked on his. She paused for a moment, then continued when he remained silent. "These people like their village small. They are comfortable. The Mashita Family has worked for generations to ensure that this remains the case. So much work has gone into building their community and building the relationship between Soyokaze and Shizuka."

Yamashita nodded.

Tanaka continued. "Many people have tried to purchase land for the development of hotels and resorts in the area and they have refused time and time again. They simply want their say in their industry and...." She stopped herself.

"Go on." Yamashita leaned back in his chair and waited.

"They want us out of it, Sir."

He stared at her for a moment, then nodded.


The heat started to creep in around the edges of the morning at the harbor of Soyokaze. Work was put on hold as crowds pressed into the limited space. The smell of salt air and fish mixed with the blooming blossoms at the station. A cool breeze swept through the crowd from time to time like a blessing.

Cameras focused on Gorou Yamashita as the officers on the scene tried to calm the mixed crowd of sightseers, protestors and villagers. They were wild with energy - Yamashita's announcement still hanging in the air. The shouts and cheers were deafening.

Yamashita held up his hand and asked for another moment of quiet. The roar turned to a murmur.

"Thank you. Thank you." He nodded and motioned to the front row of chairs before him. "Yes, Ms. Namura?"

A woman in a blue dress stood and called out over the rumble of the crowd. "Thank you. What brought about this change, if I may ask? The people of Soyokaze have tried to get this passed for months and you and your company have done what you could to stop this harbor project from going through. Why the change of stance now, if I may ask?"

Yamashita nodded, acknowledging the question, then thought a moment. He glanced down to the podium, then back up to the crowd. "In life, we make many choices. We base these choices on many factors. Many past experiences. There are times where these past experiences get in the way of future plans. This was the case here." He tapped the podium. "Uminoikimono has spoken with additional resources after this most recent push for Soyokaze Harbor development and a new voice has helped us come to this decision. We appreciate the patience of the people of Soyokaze and the additional advice of the person in question." He nodded and held up his hand once more. "Thank you."

At that, Yamashita turned from the podium and made his way back to his chair amongst the roar of a happy crowd and the clicking and flashing of cameras.

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