Sunday, January 28, 2007

Those semi-human women

Further reflecting Abe's "Beautiful Country" policy in which Japanese children would be coerced into patriotism which would, I guess, make other countries respect Japan, health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa today gave his vision of Japanese women as "birth-giving machines." Ahh, bushido?

"The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head, although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines."

A walk along the river

One thing about being close to the beautiful Tamagawa, is that one can find a lot of ways to enjoy the unique (of course it's unique, this is Japan where everything is, isn't it?) outdoors of Japan there. Today I took a little hike around the area. After watching a guy kick his purebred collie twice in the ribs for peeing on a weed (politeness? Bushido?), I went down to where the homeless stay--there are many along that river. They don't bother people and have their own community there.

I went past their tents and down along the river---plenty of gnats and fleas close to the water. I suppose it is about the closest thing to a natural area near the city. The litter is not from the homeless. It's from well-off residents...

Friday, January 26, 2007

I don't know why, but recently I have started having more bacon for breakfast. It ain't the healthiest food on earth, and I didn't really eat much of it in the States. Still don't, but I love the smell in the winter. I reminds me of home...getting ready for an early morning hunt or some other tough, cold, outside activity. Find good bacon isn't so easy here, but you can get just the regular stuff. Surprisingly, it is relatively lean---unlike Japanese beef which appears to be 99% fat. (Can I get some meat with the fat please?)
I have been looking around trying to find a decent translation school. I actually worked at one about 6 years ago, but I wouldn't call it decent. It was basically a fraud. Most of the material was illegally copied material which had been altered and rearranged somewhat with no credit given to the original authors. They did that to several GMAT/GRE texts. They were caught when a PO'd former teacher told his students what was going on. They went to a government office responsible for that area (FTC I believe) and complained. The bureaucrats ordered the money refunded to the 6. Only those six. No others. In fact, the school continued to use the material and obviously the government did not care.

Once one of the students complained about a class she attended in which the instructor mistakenly used the wrong material. This pissed the owner off. At the student. He told a friend---another instructor--that he had to get the woman to quit. If she quit on her own, under the law in effect at that time, they did not have to refund her money. So my friend was supposed to tell her that she should quit, that she did not have what it took to be an interpretor. He was more or less told to trash her. The owner told him if he did not get her to quit, my friend had failed. (Yea, really a friend, not me.)

Naturally, he did not want to do it, so he went to the instructor who had made the mistake. This guy was a contrary old bird, and not only did he refuse, he went to the owner and raised hell, pissing off the owner even more. I was so shocked, this kind, polite, Japanese man getting all pissed off because an old Canadian guy refused to lie to a student. That cross-eyed Canadian actually thought that it was best if we simply apologized to her! Stupid foreigner!!! (The owner used to sit around and laugh and tell stories about how he suckered some of the students into signing up for the unbelievably expensive courses. A "PhD course" for example, taught by a guy who at most may have had a college degree, and barely speak English. The course used scientific journals and such, which required a hell of a lot more to understand than just English anyway. Kinda had to actually be a scientist to understand them well enough to teach them.)

Let's see, I want to find a school with instructors educated properly---not following some kind of idiotic "method" made up by a drunk---and one in which I won't be ripped off. I know of one, but it is not really aimed at translation.

I have looked on the internet for university course online in this field, but can't find any yet. I much prefer a western educational approach anyway---it avoids unnecessary meaningless rote activities, and is less likely to involve some goofball crackpot "method." Well, there is Berlitz, but it is owned by Benesse, a Japanese company now---so it ain't western. Plus, their "method" is a bastardization of the communicative approach. And they don't offer any translator courses in Japan anyway.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Return to Yasukuni

Sooner or later. The LDP had a convention praising Abe and his reforms of the education laws to force feed patriotism to children.

Abe told the 74th LDP convention that his government built the foundation last year to create a "beautiful nation" with the passage of several bills. They include controversial revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education, requiring schools to instill a sense of patriotism in students.

The party also adopted the position that its members would continue to visit Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine, a major bone of contention with China and South Korea.


Abe wants the key campaign issue to be revising the Constitution."The Constitution is the framework, the shape of the nation, and based on the spirit behind the foundation of the (LDP), I would like to go after revising the Constitution," Abe said.

Others are bit concerned that Abe and his ilk are a real threat to democracy.
According to this story, one result of some of the right-wing nutjob education reforms has resulted in what has been called by teachers as a sort of loyalty test. (Ruled unconstitutional by the Tokyo District Court, but Shitaro "Blinky" Ishara's administration is appealing. Sorry, I meant Shintaro.)

Speaking of Blinky, he is on track for his 3rd term as Tokyo governor. It appears that the citizens of Tokyo support, or at least do not reject, his racism. What does that say about Tokyo voters?

Oops! Fujiya poisoned folks too

but forgot to mention it. So, the food here is safer than any and everywhere else? A spokesman for the over 100 year-old food producer said:

"We realize our understanding of the importance of food safety wasn't adequate," company spokesman Fumio Shimada said. "This cannot happen again."

Over 100 years old and they still don't understand the importance of food safety. Does anyone actually believe that? It has to be the result of western--especially American---influence.

Article is HERE.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why do so many doubt Japan's sincerity?

Perhaps the guy saying this is an extreme example, but he a a veteran of WW2. Whereas many vets renounced the war and Japan's part in it, this guy follows the rightwing view of history. That is: Japan did nothing wrong in WW2. It was fighting imperialism and was tricked and forced into the war by American, Britain, China and the Dutch. East Indies. This is NOT a rare view, and as Abe, Fujiwara et. al. seem to desire, an increasingly common one. It seems to be acceptable for the rest of the world too. The US won't say anything as long as the Japanese government at least pretends to go along with whatever the US does; China in actuality isn't going to say much as long as Abe doesn't visit Yasukuni, and no other country will react either. So the Japanese version of history is about to become accepted. That version is that Japan was the primary victim of the war and its aftermath.

The old vet said:

History is written by the victors. Since the end of WWII, the Japanese history taught in our schools has been based on a U.S. program to promote war guilt and on left-wing propaganda. I don't blame the United States for this. They wanted a weak Japan, and their mission is accomplished; Japanese educated after the war do not have any confidence in their culture or in themselves.

Japan was forced to participate in WWII. The ABCD Powers (America, Britain, China and the Dutch East Indies) imposed such strong sanctions on Japan that we had no way to import oil, steel or anything. We were going to die or we were going to be invaded and enslaved.

Sound a lot like Fujiwara Masahiko? Yes, but even he thinks the Japanese invasion of China was wrong. However, this is the "pride" that Fujiwara, Abe, et. al hope to restore in Japan. Some would argue that it has never left, but it was just not as openly and aggressively pushed. Yes, Edwin Reischauer, Japan just suddenly made a complete and total change after WW2. Right back to the path of a open liberal democracy that it was heading for before the Americans forced them to invade and colonize China and attack Pearl Harbor. Naturally the colonization of China was necessary to fight European colonization of China. Fighting imperialism with imperialism. (Probably why the Chinese are so grateful. Filipinos naturally loved the Japanese soldiers like this one too.) Oh, please don't mention the fact that Japan colonized Korea nearly 40 years before they were forced into WW2. That would cause confusion. Anyway, the Koreans invited them, but have now become ungrateful.

You can read the full article HERE.

Ultra-rightists and free speech

These thugs have always been around in Japan, most have seen the most viable example of them driving around like toy Nazis in their sound trucks attacking anyone and anything which displeased their extremist views. Politician or journals who displeased them could look forward to the nutters sitting their sound trucks in front of their victim's home and blaring it all day and night. The "police" would very rarely interfere because they did not want to infringe on the thug's right of free speech. At other times, opponents of the Emperor worshipers were physically assaulted---even murdered---offices firebombed, or as happened last August to a opposition politician, homes burned. One rarely hears criticism of this by LDP politicians---Koizumi took weeks to condemn the arson on the home of Mr. Kato and his 97 year old mother. You get the idea that he did not sincerely feel it was something that he needed to criticize.

Of course recently, the government has been actively pushing the country to the right, as have populist writers. This is having a very obvious chilling effect on free speech and criticism of government policies.

Today's Japan Times reports:

It's "a distorted kind of nationalism that does not tolerate argument," said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Tokyo's Sophia University.

A more assertive extremist fringe is believed behind the trend. The country's estimated 10,000 ultra-rightists, who espouse hardline stances in territorial disputes with neighboring countries and a rose-tinted view of Japan's past militarism, have become increasingly violent in recent years, the National Police Agency said in its annual report last year.

At the same time, national pride is in fashion again. The government has passed a law requiring patriotic education, pushed for a revision of the pacifist Constitution and upgraded the Defense Agency into a ministry.

You can read the entire story here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Food companies and old ingredients.

Once again, a major Japanese food producer has been caught using old milk---past its expiration date---and other old ingredients of questionable saftey in food. Several years ago, Snow (brand) milk was caught re-packaging expired milk and selling it as new. Now Fujiya, a major confectioner has been caught using old milk. They used old milk, old eggs, and old jam to make cakes and pastries. The management knew about this, but kept it quiet for a period because nobody got sick. It did NOT recall a single product until the practice of producing unsafe food with bacterial levels above government standards was disclosed.

This is quite a shock as I always hear from folks that Japanese food is the safest in the world. Everyone trusts Japanese food. Even thought his type of thing repeatedly occurs. But it's not really a problem of course, because in your country---whichever it is---there have been food safety problems too. Therefor, Japan's problem is nothing special, and nobody--especially non-Japanese, have any right to say anything. Just be a happy boy or girl and repeat how wonderful and unique (and incomprehensible to others) Japan is.

Anyway, the president will resign---they always do and then take another position in the company. The article is in the Japan Times here.

Precce (Tokyu) does something strange with its milk nearing its expiration date too as I wrote about earlier here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Living in Japan, the things that the Japanese government does has more of a direct effect on my life than what the US government does. Since I am a legal, long-term resident of Japan which is still a democracy despite the objections of the neo-bushidoists like Fujiwara Masahiko, I do have a right and duty to be involved.

Despite my and others concerns about the direction in which Japan is heading, the bigger danger at present is the direction in which the USA is heading (and has gone). The disgusting spectacle of Saddam Hussein's hanging, in addition to being embarrassing---if not scandalous to America, was about the final straw for any hopes of success in Iraq. This is the "young democracy" we have put in place? We allowed a rush to hang Hussein before he even answered for other crimes, and then let a bunch of amateur-hour thugs make a mass murderer look dignified and sympathetic. It's obvious that whatever a democracy is, we aren't going to get much a one in Iraq for years if ever.

Now Bush is threatening---and taking---action against Iran. I have no doubt that Iran is involved in supporting the insurgency in Iraq. I have no doubt that Iran is pleased with the situation there and rejoices over the killing of American troops and Iraqi Sunni civilians. The problem is, is it worth expanding this war to hinder Iran's support? We know we aren't going to stop it.

Most Democrats have no plans, all they can do is oppose everything Bush comes up with and make various proposals of how we can cut and run now that we have destroyed the Iraq that existed before 2003. (Is what exists now better?) I have hopes that Joe Biden is different (he is seriously thinking) as are a few other Democrats and hopefully some Republicans(John McCain) and that maybe they can come up with some real ideas---if that is even possible any longer.

We cannot just blame Bush and the Republicans as many, if not most, Democrats voted for the war. John Kerry was the top shameless hypocrite who did so. And American citizens ARE responsible. Bush said before the war that it would be long and difficult. Apparently, many thought that was a joke. We are now morally responsible for what happens in Iraq, just as we are responsible for the mocking, sleazy execution of Saddam. We let it happen, we let it go forward, even if we did not spring the trap door. We DID invade Iraq looking for weapons which did not exist.

I once was able to explain most of what the US was doing internationally, even if I did not agree with it. I no longer can. What can we say about the mess of Hussein's rushed execution? How can we explain invading another country against the will of most of the rest of the world when that country did NOT pose an immediate threat? How can I criticize the actions of Japan in WW2 when we are doing things which are obviously immoral. Granted, in general the US will try its own soldiers as war criminals, while Japan never has, but that is not enough of a defense. (I gotta wonder if we would try one of our politicians as a war criminal. Tough for a democracy since that might make those who elected him or her equally guilty). Any criticism of Japan is answered with "Ahh, but your country has XYZ too, so you cannot say anything about Japan. It's all OK, everyone does it."

Fujiwara rejects logic, rationality and reason in his book. He should be pleased with Bush and Americans now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Unique love of nature

It's OK. Other countries have litter and pollution too.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stupid Tattoos

We have all read articles etc., about the Japanese using absurd English as decorations on clothing, bags, and so on. The New Yorks Times and other newpapers seem to find it informative to run a few articles about this, complete with examples every few years. Tourists to Japan become near orgasmic at the sight of some of the weird English one can see.

Well, according to a Japan Times article, and a NYT article, westerners seem to be just as weird---or more so---in their use of kanji (Chinese derived characters) for tattoos. Actually, this is even weirder because it is a tattoo and thus permanent. I have never seen a Japanese with "Pokkari Sweat" tattooed on their ass. But Britany Spears has weird or strange (hen 変?)tattooed on hers.

There is even a blog devoted to these type of tattoo screwups here.

I remember when the movie Black Rain (with Michael Douglas) came out in the late 80s. Our local video store in Pullman, Washington where I was attending college had posters (perhaps from the studio) with the title in katakana. It was supposed to be written ブラク レィ-ヌ(not sure if the small ィ is needed. Feel free to check.), but they wrote the last part, rain, backwards---something like ブラク ヌーレィ which reads Black Nurei.

It's just a movie

but this one sounds interesting. It's an exploration of Japan's legal system in which over 90% of people arrested are convicted. (I believe the actual figure is close to 99%) . You are basically guilty and must prove yourself innocent.

A review is at The Japan Times. From the writer:

One lesson that I have learned from these experiences and observations is that the Japanese are a law-abiding people for a very good reason -- once the system here has you in its grips you are well and truly in the meat grinder. True, safeguards exist for the accused, who are entitled to a defense lawyer, but the legal scales are tipped in favor of the police and prosecution, who want to save face by convicting as many "criminals" as possible -- and nearly always succeed.

I'll bet this movie will tell a lot more about Japan than such idiotic nonsense as The Last Samurai.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The source of Japan's identity

Japan has changed since the end of WW2. Lot's of things were different then. But after the war, everything suddenly changed. Except for a few things from some patriotic government appointees.

When interviewed by the Japan Times about the great fortune that Japan had in finally getting a probable male successor to Emperor Akihito instead of having to amend the law to allow a mere female, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shinomura said:

"If (Japan) allows the descendants of females to become emperors, then they would be no different from ordinary citizens. The respect that people have (for the emperor) will become distorted, thereby distorting the Imperial system itself."


"I believe the Imperial family exists as the source of Japan's identity."

Some folks disagree:

"The Imperial Household Law clearly violates (the United Nations) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women," said Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party. "I believe that (the Imperial system) should treat men and women as equals."


According to Constitutional expert Koichi Yokota, Article 24 states: "marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes," but under Article 10 of the Imperial Household Law, male members must receive permission to marry, from the Imperial conference, which is presided over by the prime minister.

This is to prevent a future emperor from being blond or of mixed race, and from divorcing, Yokota said. "This is nothing but discrimination."

Near Tachikawa

at the Tama River.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

From Donald Ritchie

a well-known writer about things Japanese---most especially movies---who has lived in Japan for over 60 years said the following in a recent interview. I agree 100%:

People say, "When did you fall in love with Japan?" I never did; Japan is not lovable, but it's supremely interesting.

From Japan Focus of course.

Abe and his goals

Being on vacation, I try NOT to pay attention to Japanese politics very much. you know, like Last Samurai Tom Cruise, I am trying to become more Japanese than the Japanese.

However, Japanese Focus has a new article out about Abe's "soft mood" and the rightward rush of Japan. This addresses the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education. For as long as the article is up, you can read it HERE. (article 2302)

An excerpt about some of Abe's cabinet's views:

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura Hakubun would suggest (as he did in October) that the government rescind its official apology, issued in 1993, for the suffering of the estimated 200,000 Asian women who were forced to serve as “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Army.


A recent analysis in the weekly Shukan Kinyobi revealed that 22 of 25 diet members in Abe’s Cabinet, the cabinet secretariat, and his core advisory staff are members of one or both of two ultranationalist alliances within the Diet

Did I mention Japan's rightward rush? Wonder why China (in addition to its own political motives) does not believe that Japan was sincere in its apologies for WW2 atrocities?