Sunday, April 29, 2007
From the Japan Times Online Tokyo Shimbun editorial writer Hiroku Hanai. Full article here.
“He hasn’t changed his tune at all,” Mrs. Ruff said of Mr. Abe’s Friday remarks in a phone interview from her home in Adelaide, Australia. “He used his words very carefully. He’s getting away with it, he thinks.” (Full article at the NYT)
However, George Bush has: “I accept the prime minister’s apology.” (NYT)
But Representative Mike Honda seems a bit reluctant to:
“We would like the Japanese government to offer the victims of sex slavery an official apology endorsed by the cabinet and passed by parliament,"...“Why should the president of the United States accept prime minister’s apology? He wasn’t a victim of sex slavery.” (NYT Bold added.) And some folks questions George's intelligence.
He (Honda) is, of course, deluding himself. Abe and Japan ain't gonna give anything like a clear, unambiguous apology. Why should it? Japan was a victim of the war. (I'm being sarcastic. I haven't been in Japan long enough to believe that yet.)
All quotes are from the New York Times article of today by Norimitsu Onishi, who has been writing some excellent articles on this subject since Abe first opened his mouth about it as prime minister.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Supreme Court upheld a ruling Friday denying compensation to two Chinese women who were forced to work in military brothels during World War II. From the New York Times/aponline
Friday, April 27, 2007
Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said that Abe "expressed regret that his comments were not as he intended for them to be and expressed great sympathy with people who had been placed in that kind of situation."
...U.S. officials now say that Abe's recent public statements supporting the 1993 apology have been convincing and that Bush is unlikely to bring up the matter during meetings Thursday and Friday with Abe. From ABC News.
His comments were "not as he intended them to be." Of course not. He didn't intend them to raise such a stink. He did say what he personally has said he believed for years. Japan's Imperial Army did not force women to become sex slaves. It was contractors. This if true, makes a huge difference. To the right-wingers and most likely more and more Japanese. That is what they want. That is Abe's "Beautiful Country."
Is the US making a mistake jumping into bed with Japanese nationalists? They are conservatives, but Japanese conservatives are not in any way American-style conservatives. Well, traditionally. American conservatives are now big government, intrusive government folks too. But there are still huge differences.
Japanese nationalists also go a lot farther than denying the sex slave issue. They have simlar views of the Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731, WW2, the Tokyo Tribunal, (which is easy to criticize due to its sloppiness) and the San Francisco Treaty, as well as all other issues related to the outside world as well as Japanese society, past and present. The criticism of "too many" human rights, and all these "gaffes" that the nationalist make are made because they believe what they say. They are not really gaffes. .
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Well, anyway, if we pass stricter gun laws, it will look like we have done something to address the yakuza problem without really doing much. Supposedly, the police will also increase surveillance of these crooks. We'll see. Shouldn't be hard as they operate a lot right out in the open. Go to Oimachi a few blocks from the station and you can see them quite often having their meetings. Sometimes, there will be a couple of cops parked nearby in some tiny little girly-car watching guys driving Mercedes and Hummers. Impressive show of police power.
And we surely could not do anything about their right-wing nutjob sound-truck-driving thugs. Why, the LDP would have to take action against some of its strongest supporters.
Story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
In this case, the suspect is still going to jail for life as he was convicted in other nine other rape cases. What this says is that the prosecution (and police investigation) must have been unbelievably poorly done. How could a prosecutor of any competence fail to get a conviction in a country where 99% of the time they succeed? The court said that though the defendant may have been guilty of her murder, the prosecution did not provide conclusive evidence.
A related story at the JTO site by Jun Hongo and Eric Prideaux describes some of the problems/mistakes/incompetent screwups the Japanese "police" had during the investigation.
Asked by telephone about the report [a 2001 article in Time magazine which claimed that the police were reluctant to investigate a crime against a hostess because she was a hostess], a Tokyo Metropolitan Police spokesman refused to comment, because, he said, "Those events occurred in the past." (Japan Times Online.)
In the more recent murder of a young British woman (Lindsay Ann Hawker), the suspect is still at large after escaping barefoot from the police while being questioned and as his apartment either was being or was about to be searched.
In another related story from ABC News Online (Australia) the family of an Australian woman who died from drugs given to her by the suspect in the Blackman case (Obara) has urged a probe into Japanese police actions during the early part of the investigation:
"We'd like to know why when we went to the police, that our concerns and suspicions were ignored and laughed at," Ms Foster said... http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200704/s1905918.htm
His answers were evasive, vague, and basically nonsensical---what else would one expect? Of course he also attempted the everybody else did bad things too defense:
Your comments on "comfort women" caused an outcry in the United States. Do you really believe that the Imperial Army had no program to force Korean, Chinese and other women to provide sexual services to the Japanese Imperial Army?
(Abe) ......The 20th century was a century in which human rights were infringed upon in numerous parts of the world, and Japan also bears responsibility in that regard. I believe that we have to look at our own history with humility and think about our responsibility.
But that's not what you said originally in the Diet. You said that there was no evidence.
(Abe) I wasn't the first to make the remarks that I made.But the main point is, do you now believe that the Imperial Army forced these women into this situation, and as prime minister of Japan do you apologize to them, and do you believe the Kono Statement [a partial 1993 acknowledgment by a Japanese official named Kono of Japan's responsibility for the brothels]?
My administration has been saying all along that we continue to stand by the Kono Statement. We feel responsible for having forced these women to go through that hardship and pain as comfort women under the circumstances at the time
(All quoted from the Washington Post 22 April 2007 article.)
Unfortunately, he was not asked how he stood by an apology that he claims is based on flawed evidence which he said, and has said for years is false. But anyway, I think most people get the point. The official position is that Japan stands by the quasi-official apology. The fact is that Japan does not really believe that its military was responsible.
Whether or not Japan is sincere in its apologies for anything is not the biggest point now. The point is that the myths that folks tend to believe about Japan suddenly becoming a completely different country with entirely different beliefs as soon as WW2 ended are nonsense. It is, true that Japan is a quite different society than the prewar Japan, but many of the prewar beliefs and tendencies still exist---most especially in the right-wing elites, but not exclusively. There seems to be a very strong tendency among the Japanese to believe that Japan was a victim---if not the victim---of WW2. Very, very, strong.
He found a report from the AP about Japan's Foreign Minister, Taro Aso, claiming that Japanese are better negotiators in the Middle East than are Westerners, particularly American because of hair and eye color. His comments in this instance don't really seem discriminatory to me in the context in which he said them, but based on his history, one can see why people are suspicious of him. (He once stated he wanted to make Japan a country where rich Jews would want to live. He is not the only Japanese to believe Jews are rich though, it is very common in Japan. Many believe Jews control the US financial system. It would be anti-semitic anywhere else, but not in Japan, of course. Anyway, this attitude would help Japan with Israel too.) You can find the full story at his site here. (If you scroll down the page, you can also read an article about his family's direct connection with slave labor in WW2 and some of the more extreme comments he has made.)
He's right. Japan has no baggage in the area. Perhaps there is another reason for Japan's success (?) in the Middle East. It's called money and not really taking a controversial stand on anything. Japan hasn't done much for the peace process that I am aware of, but maybe I missed something. Most of what Japan has been involved in is economic issues. I do recall that in the 1970s Oil Crisis, Japan (on principle I am sure) got off the oil embargo list by recognizing the right of self-determination of the Palestinians. Japan has consistently insisted that UN resolutions in the region be adhered to, but has done little more than that if anything. In other words, they have followed a safe path that required no real effort and did not put their oil at risk. One also has to remember that Japan did not send forces when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. It sent money. Let others in the UN spill blood. (Oh, yea, Article 9. That's the reason.)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
"My honest belief is that crime happened because Mayor Ito probably went too far in his peace activism,” said Hirotami Yamada, secretary general of the Nagasaki Council of A-bomb Sufferers, which opposes nuclear weapons. “Why would someone who is near 60 do something like this because of a mere 100,000 yen?” Some in Japan fear that political violence, aimed at silencing opponents of the right, may be increasing here. New York Times.
Full article here.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Unfortunately for Abe and his supporters, new evidence has been produced by Japanese researchers which seems to provide documentary evidence, including testimony by Japanese soldiers, which Abe says does not exist. Unfortunately, they will not have any impact on Abe's mind. They are not Japanese documents, so therefore, they cannot be accurate. In addition, they were used in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, which is not accepted as valid justice by Japanese of Abe's leanings, even though Japan signed the 1951 San Francisco Treaty in which it said that it accepted the judgment of the tribunal. Obviously, this was what is known as tatemae.
"It is clear that the comfort women system was a system of sexual slavery,” said a group member, Hirofumi Hayashi, a history professor at Kanto Gakuin University. “However, the movement to openly deny this has grown stronger in the government and elsewhere.”
However, Japanese political analysts said the documents would not sway conservatives, who had stepped up efforts to deny the war tribunal’s conclusions, calling them victors’ justice.
From the New York Times here.
The Japan Times article is here.
As I recall, another Nagasaki (or near there) mayor was shot by a rightist, but survived, in the late 80s (1990 according to one article) because he hinted that the late emperor Hirohito bore some responsibility for WW2. Reports here, and here and everywhere.
Handguns are banned for normal people in Japan, but rifles and shotguns are permitted in rural areas. The yakuza has firearms of all types and has few problems acquiring or using them.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Why? You generally don't have time to do much of what you should be doing. Often the students won't do much of anything outside of class---1-2 hours per week. Another is that Japanese education and the view of teacher/student roles are much different. But of course, the "student" here is actually a customer in a private business which has the primary duty of making a profit. If not, then the "teachers" would soon be unemployed.
Since the student is the customer and no matter how bizarre their ideas are about how best to acquire a language, you tend to have to play along a little. You can try to persuade folks that perhaps it is impossible and counterproductive to correct them immediately for every single grammatical---or other---error they make, but since most Japanese are drilled to death from junior high school onwards with such nonsense, you aren't likely to succeed.
I met one new student the other day who immediately tested me by making small "errors" during our introductions and a short get-to-know one another chat. She then pointed out errors that she intentionally made and asked me to correct them all immediately. I explained why instructors didn't usually do that (and that it is impossible anyway) but she, like many, is an expert on teaching English, even though she has a huge misunderstanding of what is important and effective in teaching and learning.
You run into these types regularly, but this one is a case beyond any that I have met. So, know I have to decide how to proceed and perhaps get her beyond the anal-retentive---hell, in her case anal-frozen---grammar-nazi idea. But since she already knows everything, it will not be easy and I suspect it/I will ultimately fail.
(Now what was it that I disliked about teaching children? Hmmm. Perhaps I should go back to that as long as I am in this field.)
A CELTA certificate is more than adequate in Japan. In fact, if you aren't in one of the NOVA, GABA, Berlitz, AEON, ECC eikaiwa chains, you may get good use out of it some of the time. Anything more is basically a waste, unless you get the magic masters degree which makes it easier to get a job teaching in a university. (Whether or not you can use the knowledge you acquired in getting it to teach there is another question.) An undergrad TESOL degree, minor, or certification is sorta in no man's land. Not a masters degree, and more than you need. Besides, few know what the hell it is anyway so you won't gain any advantage over a CELTA holder. About all you'll have for all the extra time and money spent is a bunch of extra theories floating around in your head getting in the way of the teaching. Or if all else fails, go to Berlitz and get their rudimentary 6 day course. It is good enough for eikaiwa (though it isn't really well-understood or used at Berlitz. Don't believe it? Ask some instructors what the difference is between learning and acquisition. See if they can answer in detail if at all. It ain't all that important in Japan!)
Here is a hint: In Japan, an ad for a qualified teacher usually means native speaker (a restriction that is big mistake) with some experience at something. Or, someone dumb enough to work for them on a lower than usual salary. Or something. It does not necessarily mean any formal credentials, because, again, they ain't all that important. Or frankly, not all that relevant.
Friday, April 13, 2007
It seems that not all Japanese are impressed. The extreme right-wing nutjobs in noise trucks were out in force. (Do these goofs have jobs? Where do they get their money? I know they are connected with the yakusa, but still...)
Some folks here see Japan as sort of superior to others because, according to the delusion, Japan/Japanese put principles before money. Many other countries and people care ONLY about money. I have heard many versions of this, Fujiwara I'm sure feels this was the Japanese traditional way. (After all, he wears the world's most bizarre-looking combover as a matter of principle. Some might pay him to cut it off his bald noggin', but I suspect he'd refuse.) These types do not appreciate it when they try to buy some money loving foreigners and they don't stay bought:
Wen has sought to use his human touch as a diplomatic tool, but some ordinary Japanese watching from afar were skeptical.
"I saw him on TV and he seems to be nice," said housewife Yasuyo Komori, 66, as she took her daily walk inside the palace grounds. "But I don't have a good image of China," she said.
"The Chinese people seem to think Japan is bad. We've given them money and their leaders should tell them that because there is a lot of ill-will," she said.
I am sure that if the Chinese government told the Chinese people the truth about Japan since WW2, the average Chinese would have a much better impression than the distorted one they have now. However, I sort of doubt that the fact that Japan sent money to China (no strings attached, out of the kindness of its heart of course) that people would forgive all. Perhaps, just perhaps others have some principles which are not for sale either.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Was this unusual in "safe" Japan? Well, murder is unusual in most places. But the stalking, assaults, rapes and so on do happen. The Japan Times has another article about this:
Reported stalking cases likely just the tip of the iceberg.
"A whiny male voice asked me in Japanese if I was Laura," Fitch recalls of the morning two years ago. "I was tired, I wasn't thinking about who he could be, and I answered yes. "Then he said, 'Is this the Laura that lives at such and such an address?' and I said yes again. Then he said, 'You just got out of the shower, right? ' " Fitch explains, adding that she had a small window in her bathroom that looked out to the front of her building. "At that point I clued in and freaked out. I hung up immediately, checked my locks and called my friend who lived next door...
...After receiving her first freaky phone call, Fitch went straight to the police, who she says were "not too concerned"..."I was told that he was just a boy having fun, that I should change my number and forget about it....
...."I could hear him jacking off on the phone and he asked me if I had ever seen a Japanese penis and then he would proceed to blow his load"...."However, that still wasn't enough for the police and they said that he had to want to date me"...
How, you wonder, can The Japan Times be so open about stories that other Japanese newspapers gloss over or ignore? One, it is made for foreign residents, and secondly it is not a member of the kisha, the "press club" used by the government to control and manipulate the press by eliminating access to official sources to those who piss it off.
The Victim Support Center in Tokyo is at (03) 5287-3338 should one need to contact an organization who will help with a similar problem when the Japanese "police" are too busy playing mahjong to help.
Monday, April 09, 2007
In the early post war years, Sakae Menda was arrested for a theft and during the 23 day period in which the Japanese police are allowed to hold a person without charge:
During interrogation, the 23-year-old was starved of food, water and sleep and beaten with bamboo sticks while being suspended upside down from a ceiling. Menda signed a statement written by the cops and was convicted of double homicide on Christmas Day 1951.
He was released in 1983 as even the Japanese court system recognized that the confession was tortured out of him.
He points out that the system that tore his life apart is still unchanged: the police can still hold a criminal suspect for 23 days without any judicial oversight; confessions still carry enormous weight, with over 99 percent of criminal charges ending in victory for the prosecution -- and the condemned are still kept in solitary confinement with virtually no chance of a reprieve.
"The powerful have the upper hand here," he says.
"I went to see the police when I was released, and I asked them how they felt about what they did to me. They told me they were just doing their job."
He remains pessimistic that the system will change..."I heard that a judge once said it was natural to sacrifice one or two citizens for the sake of Japan's judicial stability. "
Full story HERE. There are two other related articles.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
`I along with most Japanese are deeply embarrassed at the irresponsible statements of our Prime Minister and other officials. Prime Minister Abe is the grandson of a convicted War Criminal. The Foreign Minister Taro Aso, is the scion of Aso Cement a company that rose on the back of Korean slaves brought over from the peninsula.
It is time for someone to say `no` to this continued foolishness and to do something about the current impasse.`
(Takeshi) Maki, a well known Fashion Designer and Philanthropist is putting up 20 Million Dollars of his own funds to move forward the situation on the Korean Peninsula...
"I am 78 years old and am not afraid of anyone. I am embarrassed by the foolish attitude of my country and want to do something about it."
His one-page website is here
That fact is, obviously the voters do not think that Ishihara's words and beliefs are unacceptable enough to kick him out of office. Several years ago, Makiko Tanaka, (former LDP member and cabinet official, as well as the daughter of one of Japan's most powerful prime ministers and the man who pretty much created the LDP and government of today) said that it would be a bad idea for the Prime Minister to be directly elected by the public because people would vote for a dictator if he was a "strong leader." I have seen no evidence that she was wrong.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
99.9% are guilty. Japan? No, not this time, but guess who? Answer here.
American as Japan's whore. We should not worry about the thousands of Americans killed in Iraq, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, as these are unimportant things in the world. The big, overwhelmingly important thing is that the U.S. should send its people to be killed solving Japan's problems.
I have heard this many times from various Japanese. The common theme is that the US has some absolute duty to fight for Japan. Japan can't you see, because of its (American written) constitution. Article 9 which prevents Japan from having a military even though it has one. (In the wide sense of the word military, not narrow. Or visa versa.)
So in many ways it is good that Abe is going nutcase rightwing and defending the Japanese Imperial Army's atrocities. This way, Japan can go the final steps to ensuring its military can get Japan into another war and hopefully keep the US out of it. Japan can get its own men killed if it wants to go to war. They are not superior to Americans or anyone else, so why should their lives be protected by others giving theirs?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
He occasionally writes nature columns for the Japan Times.
When I first came to Japan, and later, when I visited or lived in villages and small towns, folk would welcome the swallows, and put out small trays under their nests if the mess bothered them. Some even hung upside-down umbrellas under the nests for this reason. Swallows not only nested under eaves, but even inside buildings.
It was still like that 25 years ago when I first came to Kurohime, here in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture where I live. At that time, swallows nested inside the station and it was a delight to watch them. Then the station was redecorated, and they were discouraged from nesting inside. Lately though, to discourage these lovely little harbingers of summer, the squeamish locals have been spreading ugly plastic sheets all over the place and hanging fake crows outside as well.
Some years ago, I heard from a friend that the manager of a golf club house in Karuizawa had 30 or so swallow nests, with young inside, destroyed because a lady complained about a speck of bird dropping on her blouse. I've heard similar stories about a supermarket here where I live....To me this is all a sign of the increasing selfishness and mean-spiritedness of so many contemporary Japanese who seem to either not know of or not care about the beauty of the birds themselves, or the long journeys they have made from distant Southeast Asian countries or faraway India -- let alone their wonderful soaring flight or all the harmful insects they consume.
Unique love of nature? Like that of most city folks everywhere, only in the abstract. Only as Disney "nature."
Monday, April 02, 2007
...I would strongly recommend that you forget the stereotype about Japan and its people. Politicians & law enforcement are seriously corrupted, as in many parts of the world, and you will find a number of things that just do not make sense, including laws. I’m sorry to say this, but laws in Japan are not designed to protect people at all.
I’d like to repeat for those who plan to visit Japan; do your homework, study about the safety-related conditions in modern Japan, and know that God does not protect you from murderers...Full article and full comment here. You can find the full comment under "Ken."
Tatsuya Ichihashi, (Ishihashi?)the suspect in the murder of Lindsay Hawker and who escaped barefoot from the law enforcement professionals as they searched his apartment has not been caught yet. Generally, there seems to be less coverage of this murder of a young British woman than one sees than there is if a foreign person murders (or commits some other violent crime) against a Japanese. Although I have not spent much time watching the government controlled NHK TV, when I have, I have not seen a single mention. I would assume there has been some there. On channel 6 and 10 in Tokyo, there has been coverage, and also on the morning shows. Often this will be in 3-5 minute blocks. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that in the cases of a Japanese victim, there is more that 3-5 minute blocks and NHK does cover it in detail too. (Channel 4 often slips and calls foreign suspects "gaijin" even though this word is not supposed to be used on TV or radio.) But I may be overly sensitive on this and I pay a lot of attention to it.
I have not looked at a Japanese language newspaper to see how it is being covered there, mainly because reading it is so difficult and takes a lot of time to understand. But, if I can find some articles short enough, I will do so to see if some internet rumors I have read are true and to find out exactly how his last name is spelled. I have seen, Ichihachi, Ishihashi, and Ichihashi. I never paid much attention to his name when watching TV. (Japanese newspapers often have two versions of a story, one in English for foreign residents, the other for Japanese. More than just the language used differs.)
I do know that the fine Japanese law enforcement professionals may be considering the possibility that the Japanese murderer may be in disguise. They suspect he may now be wearing shoes again. This could complicate their search.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Is there any idiot left on the face of the earth who thinks Abe and Japan still honestly stand behind the 1993 Kono apology concerning sex slaves? Is there any naive apologist left who believes that Japan (the elite rightwingers) sincerely think that Japanese actions in WW2 were especially wrong? It won't be long, if Abe and his ilk continue on this path, until this view of history becomes accepted as fact among the Japanese. I already hear the idea when discussing China, that the problems Japan has is due to "a different view of history."
From the New York Times:
The decision [to revise the texts] on the Battle of Okinawa, which came as a surprise because the ministry had never objected to the description in the past, followed recent denials by Mr. Abe that the military had coerced women into sexual slavery during the war.
It was only in the late 19th century that Japan officially annexed Okinawa, a kingdom that, to this day, has retained some of its own culture. During World War II, when many Okinawans still spoke a different dialect, Japanese troops treated the locals brutally. In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan — a starkly different view from the Yasukuni Shrine war museum, which presents Japan as a liberator of Asia from Western powers.
During the 1945 battle, during which one quarter of the civilian population was killed, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa’s defense and safety. Japanese soldiers used civilians as shields against the Americans, and persuaded locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. With the impending victory of American troops, civilians committed mass suicide, urged on by fanatical Japanese soldiers.
“There were some people who were forced to commit suicide by the Japanese Army,” one old textbook explained. But in the revision ordered by the ministry, it now reads, “There were some people who were driven to mass suicide.” Full story here.