Judge Ooka and the Bogus Bailout Bonus
as not told by I.G. Edmonds
One day the merchant Ayigi came to Judge Ooka’s courtroom.
“Lord Ooka, you must help me. My business is failing.”
The old judge was surprised.
“How can it be failing? Haven’t you sold insurance to everyone in Yedo?”
The courtroom audience murmured their approval. They knew as well as Ooka that Ayigi was one of the richest men in Yedo.
“Yes, honorable honor, I have many customers and that is the problem. The business has no more money. If my business fails, no one in Yedo will be insured.”
Lord Ooka thought about the matter. It would be terrible, he knew, if all the merchants and homeowners in Yedo could not depend on their insurance.
The audience grumbled and fidgeted as Ooka looked over Ayigi’s records. Not wishing to delay everyone, he skimmed over them quickly. He saw that many businesses and homes were indeed insured by Ayigi.
“One willow reed cannot lift a weight,” he told the audience. “But many willow reeds woven together may make a basket that can carry the weight. I will impose a tax of one Ryo on every person in Yedo. Ayigi’s business is too big to fail, so together we will lift it up.”
The crowd groaned. None of them wished to part with a Ryo.
That night as he returned to his home, Ooka passed a house of ill repute. He saw Ayigi stagger out, stinking of Saki and surrounded by fallen ladies. Ayigi’s many servants carried new kimonos, golden jewelry and lewd statues which he had purchased.
“Thanks for the bailout, Ooka!” slurred the merchant.
Ooka was furious.
“The money was not for you to waste!” he shouted. “The money was to insure Yedo’s homes and businesses.”
“Very true, most honorable honor,” said Ayigi. “However, my company is so successful now that I will be forced to give myself a bonus. It is in my contract, which was one of the records which I showed you in court this morning.”
Ooka’s ears turned red. The laughter of the servants and fallen ladies pained him as he walked home.
The following day, Ooka summoned Ayigi to his courtroom. Many people had heard about Ayigi’s behavior and had come to court to see Ooka strip the man of his bonus.
“Ayigi, please show me again the contract which assures you of a bonus.”
Ayigi produced the scroll and Ooka read it carefully.
“Yes, I see that you must be paid the money. I will impose a new tax of one Mon on the people of Ryo.”
The courtroom audience stared in disbelief. Surely, the judge had lost his senses this time. They had expected Ooka to have the man flogged. Instead, Ooka was going to give him more of their money.
“Thank you, honorable honor, you are very wise,” said Ayigi.
“However,” said Ooka, “your contract does not say that I, Lord Ooka, must collect the money for you. So you will have to visit each person in Yedo and beg them for your Mon. You may begin at this address.”
Ooka handed the man a slip of paper.
“Lord Ooka, this is the address of the orphanage. I will find no money there.”
“The orphans must pay you! Your contract demands it. If they do not have Mon you may take their clothing. If they do not have clothing you may take their food.”
“But, Lord Ooka…”
“You must go! Your contract demands it.”
The following day, Ayigi returned to court. He asked Ooka’s permission to tear up the contract. He told Ooka of his plan to spend his own money on clothing and food for the orphans. And in fact, he became the most generous man in Yedo.
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