Friday, November 30, 2007

I feel his pain

as Billy "give-me-some-nooky" Clinton used to say. This guy appears to be a long-term resident of Japan who has gotten fed up with being called a criminal, a terrorist, a disease-laden sub-human by the democratically-elected representatives of Japan and their kneepad wearing lackies in the media:

Preventing the summer Olympics going to the likes of Ishihara is something I will make my life's goal if necessary. If they are going to treat me like a criminal, insisting on fingerprints and a photo, then there is a price to pay. Loud, peaceful protest.

So he put up a website about refusing Japan (Tokyo and "Blinky" the bigot Ishihara) the Olympics in 2016:

Let's not reward a nation which honors its unrepentant

Class "A" War Criminals, and still glorifies its past regional aggression with an event whose aim is to promote international peace and understanding.

Click to visit the site and read the "ABCs" of why he thinks Japan should be denied the Olympics.

Some will think he has gone overboard---that he is exaggerating---but then again, it sounds no worse than what the rightwing nutjobs of Japan say about non-Japanese. What comes around, goes around.

Quite a number of long-term, law-abiding residents seem to be much more upset at Japan's latest anti-terror, anti-crime, anti-foreign resident move than anything in years. I wish I could believe that it will make a difference. It won't. Japan---the nutjobs and others---doesn't give a damn what a bunch of non-Japanese think. That is unless Uncle Sam leans on Japan a bit. It won't in this case as Sam pushed the basic idea of finger-printing visitors and tourists which gave the bigots in power license to go to extremes.

Mean Canadians pick on Japan

Yes, now even Canada has entered the sex slave issue. Months after the evil US did (when I-quit-cause-I-gotta-sh*t Abe was still PM), the Canadian Parliament has asked Japan to apologize over something that Abe and his rightwing loony birds claim never happened. Or at least if it did happen, the Imperial Japanese Army was not responsible for it.

Apparently, Canada does not understand that although Abe denied Japanese government responsibility for coercing women into sexual slavery, he later (under evil US pressure) claimed that he stood by the 1993 unofficial apology in which responsibility was accepted by the government. Why would anyone be confused by that? Even George Bush accepted Abe's apology although most did not know that little George had been a sex slave in WW2.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Abe and his ilk in Japan for the continued misunderstanding and harassment of poor Japan. I deeply regret that some things happened to Japan concerning some things which may have occurred in WW2 (although everybody did it) which caused foreigners to misunderstand the pure intentions of Tojo, the wartime government, Emperor Showa, and the the Imperial Japanese Army. We non-Yamato-types are all so stupid.

The Reuters article is here---while it lasts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Japan Times has an interview with the author of one of the better Japan blogs, Observing Japan.

His blog is especially interesting because he actually served as a foreign policy adviser to a DPJ member---something I assume to be extremely rare for non-Japanese.

Harris recently completed an internship year as a foreign-policy adviser to Democratic Party of Japan Diet member Keiichiro Asao, giving him an inside perspective that has helped make his blog a must-read for followers of Japanese politics.The full article is here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A stabbing even when gun control is being toughened!!!!

I mentioned this sort of thing Monday---anytime the US media mentions crime in Japan they always refer to Japan's gun control laws whether or not the crime has anything to do with firearms or not.

The AP has thoughtfully provided an example. Yesterday, the yakuza thugs had a field day of killing one another. One was shot and one was stabbed. The AP reports:

TOKYO (AP) — A reputed organized crime leader was shot to death and his driver was fatally stabbed Tuesday in a brazen attack in southern Japan, police said, even as the country moved to toughen firearms laws....

...They also follow moves to toughen punishment for owning guns in a country that has long prided itself on crime-free streets. More

I can see a relationship between a shooting and firearms and perhaps gun control, but I don't get what it has to do with stabbings.

On a related note, police did find the man who stabbed a grandmother and her 2 granddaughters---age 3 and 5---to death. He was the grandmother's brother-in-law, Masonori Kawasaki. One wonders: Had he not had easy access to a knife, would these children still be alive? Would the new, tougher, gun law have prevented these murders had it been in effect earlier?

Since most gun crimes are committed by the yakuza, it would seem that even if the new gun laws work, they'll have little effect on violent crime overall. Why? Because most murders one reads/hears about are committed with knives. Kitchen knives.

So why doesn't the government do something about the readily available assortment of knives in Japan. Anyone can walk into an knife store and pick up a razor sharp knife with a 7 inch or more blade, no questions asked. Does the average citizen need a knife that big and sharp? A 4 inch blade can take care of most cooking chores. For jobs requiring bigger knives, we could have a licensed butcher do the cutting. So why doesn't the government restrict or ban these assault knives which are good for only one thing----slicing flesh. If we could save but one life, wouldn't it be worth it? Is there a knife lobby in Japan stopping such sensible legislation?

Or is murder less of a problem as long as firearms aren't involved? Or, could it be that in order to pretend to be doing something about something for which there are no easy answers, we gotta do something which won't really inconvenience anyone.

(Need I tell anyone that I am being sarcastic?)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

McDs Japan joins the food fraud crowd

Why not? Not mislabeling food would make a company a nail the sticks up and, as we have all heard ad nauseum, in Japan the nail that sticks up gets banged down.

We could blame this on the US. After all, McDonalds is a US company. However, McDonalds Japan is independent from McDs US. Plus, from the events of the last several months, we have to assume that mislabeling food is sort of common here. Maybe even universal. Perhaps it's just another thing that makes Japan uniquely unique.

McDonald's Japan acknowledged Tuesday that several of its franchise restaurants intentionally mislabeled the production date of salads to extend their shelf life, exacerbating food safety worries in Japan.

The company will cancel its franchise agreement with Athlete Co., a Japanese company that admitted to the mislabeling at at least two of the four McDonald's outlets that it runs in central Tokyo, according to Shotaro Shimizu, a McDonald's spokesman.

Read more
at IHT.

Monday, November 26, 2007

But what about the new gun control laws?

In every article about crime in Japan, the US media always starts off by referring to Japan's strict gun laws and implying that this is the reason ( and apparently the only possible reason) for the relatively low crime rate in Japan. Usually, our reporter will say something like: "Japan, with its strict gun control laws which restrict firearms to police and military, is concerned about the increasing number of thefts of green tea from vending machines." (By Ima Dufus of the Boston Glob). Not only are these articles factually incorrect---rifles and shoguns can be legally possessed by licensed hunters outside of Tokyo and perhaps other large cities---guns often have no relationship with the crime being discussed in the article.

Earlier this year, the government decided it was time to crack down on firearms crimes (the vast, vast, majority committed by yakuza and their rightist buddies) by making the strict firearms laws even stricter. Of course this impressed the yakuza who make a habit of strictly obeying laws.

Earlier this month, a rather stupid gangster decided to murder another rival gangster who was a patient in the hospital. Our idiot took his illegal piece into the hospital room and illegally fired it illegally murdering a man. Unfortunately for the thug---and more unfortunately for the murder victim---he killed the wrong man. Seems the guy he intended to murder had checked out earlier and another patient was in the room. He was arrested today with 2 illegal handguns after illegally firing one into the air when the police tried to arrest him.

A real yakuza thug was also gunned down (illegally) today by rival thugs in front of another hospital. I am guessing he was the intended target and not another yakuza mistake. More gun control is the answer. Not addressing the yakuza issue. I don't know though, with gun control laws already quite strict, just how will making these laws stricter reduce the number of murders among criminals for whom murder is an thing of honor?

Let's acknowledge the explainers: In Japan the yakuza is a good thing because it gives young thugs a place to go and develop into hardened killer thugs while providing a disciplined environment. This is better than just letting them run wild on their own. (And there is not and never has been any relationship between the authorities---LDP and law enforcement---and the yakuza and their right wing nutjob buddies.)

Read more
in the Japan Times online.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pride, tradition, special love of nature and killing endangered animals

Defying international pressure and a global whaling ban, the government of Japan launched its whaling fleet Sunday morning for an international whale sanctuary around Antarctica, where it intends to kill more than 1,000 whales over the next four months....

Japan has announced that the fleet intends to kill 50 endangered fin whales, 50 threatened humpback whales and 935 minke whales this season. Read more here.

I have mixed feeling on whaling. I don't oppose it if it is done in a humane and sustainable manner. That it is done that way is questionable here. So from what I have read, it would seem that some harvest of minke whale would could be tolerated. The problem comes from killing threatened or especially endangered animals, which Japan is doing. Of course claiming it is for scientific research (everyone knows that this is a joke) is another problem. If Japan is going to defy "international pressure," why not just openly say that they are killing whales for a somewhat mythical Japanese tradition? After all, this is Japan where real or imagined tradition excuses/ trumps everything. (We also have to keep in mind that during the last IWC meeting Japan threatened to start killing humpbacks out of spite if the IWC did not give Japan its way.)

Of course, we must acknowledge the explainer/apologist argument: Other countries allow hunting too (say squirrels in the US), so nobody can say anything about Japan.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brrrr. 52 degrees out

I am beginning to feel like I am in Texas---where I spent a few years some time ago. Back then, after suffering through summers of repeated days of lows of 75 and highs of 95, when October came and the temperature dropped to the 80s, I could convince myself it was cool. By the time temperatures dropped to the mid 70s, you'd see folks breaking out jackets. I never went that far.

Tonight there is a strong wind blowing and you can smell winter in the air. Or winter as it is in Tokyo. Snow is rare here, maybe once or twice a year. Occasionally, a big storm will hit and drop deep, wet snow which pretty much paralyzes the city. I have been very lucky and not been caught in that on a work day.

I read something by a nihonjinron fundamentalist the other day that the seasons were becoming less distinct in Japan due to global warming. That must explain it. Soon, Japan will be like all the other places on earth with no clear distinctions between seasons. You'll be able to go outside in October and wonder if it is autumn or summer or winter. In old Japan this confusion never happened.

Strangely though, when I lived here in the early 90s, I never noticed the especially distinct seasons. Even when I lived in Toyama. It snowed a lot, but it never really got cold. About freezing was as cold as it got. They even kept the sidewalks clear of snow with water. There were nozzles in the sidewalks which they turned on when it snowed and the water kept the snow from sticking. Gotta go up north to hit real cold.

My very first trip to Japan was in 1977. It wasn't really a trip to Japan, we just transferred at Haneda. I don't remember much about it except for the fact that I thought it was unusually warm for November compared to November at home. Global warming has been around longer than we realize, I guess, and it has probably affected Japan in a unique way.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The safety country

I have long wondered about the repeated, mostly unchallenged claims about Japan's being one of the most (or as some seem to believe) the most crime free country on earth. The later is obviously not true. There is a big problem in comparing crime stats---or most others---country to country. Laws are much different. Conviction rates, investigation methods, the willingness of the police to investigate reported crimes, the relationship between the populace and the police are just a few things that could affect reported crimes.

In the early 90s, the Japan Times had a long article on the police in Japan concerning how the cops would often refuse to take action on criminal complaints. One non-Japanese, who had been assaulted by a shop-owner was told by the cops that if he were in the US, he would have been shot implying that being assaulted by a guy with hedge trimmers wasn't so bad. The shop owner was not charged with any crime. Also in the article, the attitude of the Japanese police toward rape victims was addressed, which was basically the idea that the woman was responsible in some way. (Yes, I know that this is a problem in many countries, but that does not in any way excuse it in Japan. Sorry.) Most of us have seen cops either on TV news shows or in real life being assaulted by people---pushed and shoved. Now in the US, that is a crime and you are gonna be arrested after being introduced to the pavement. Apparently not in Japan. I watched a TV program earlier this year in which the cops were investigating graffiti "artists." With a TV crew in tow, they confronted a group which included a young French guy. When the Japanese guys were shoving and shouting at one group of cops, the French kid was sitting on a short concrete barrier and took out a marker and made a 2" or so mark. Immediately, Tokyo's finest jumped him with the reporter screaming---and I mean SCREAMING---into the mic about the "gaijin" being arrested. The others who would have been arrested for assault, thereby increasing the crime stats in the US, were not arrested in Japan.

The LATimes has an article about this sort of thing, but I cannot get my registration to work on their site, so it can be accessed at Scroll down to LA Times how J Police Ignore...An excerpt:

Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges.

Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world… “All the police care about is how they look to people; it’s all PR to show that their capabilities are high,” Saikawa says. “Without autopsies, they can keep their percentage [of solved cases] high. It’s all about numbers.”…

I am very skeptical about most stats, especially Japanese government stats which show how Japan is in some way ahead of, uniquely different than, or better than other countries. Japan is not a crime-filled, dangerous country, especially as far as foreigners are concerned. But I'd bet it ain't as safe as believed and that the most dangerous criminals ain't non-Japanese.

Japan is owed yet another apology

by the US (naturally, as it is the root of all evil) and, somewhat surprisingly, by Europe. Let's just say by the West in general.

Over the last few weeks I have had several folks---Japanese, but I am sure there are plenty of non-Japanese who will agree---have told me about reading that until several years ago, Japan used a processed-on dating system on food as opposed to the use-by system now in place. Why the change? Why, according to the stories, the US and Europe pressured poor little Japan to change to make it easier to sell imported goods. The imported foods were at a disadvantage under the old system due to the shipping time required for products to reach Japan.

Obviously, had the foreigners not interfered, there would have been no food scandal in Japan, and Japan would have still been producing pure food. No manufacturer would have altered the produced-on date for their benefit. None of them would have mislabeled food or committed other frauds.

Just another bad thing going on in Japan that can be attributed to foreigners. Curiously, I remember that one of the companies involved in a recent scandal said they had been doing it for over a decade. If so, you have to assume that the evil foreigners were involved even earlier.

But anyway, so far nobody has been proved to have gotten sick from any of these products. So I hear from explainers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ex-PM Abe regains bowel control

"I quit 'cause I gotta sh*t" Abe returned to the Diet for the first time since his resignation. He didn't really say much of value. Perhaps he is still a bit unwell, or perhaps he has nothing to say.

One can understand his digestive disorders when one considers the pressure the right winger was under. It turns out that his statements last spring that there was no credible evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army was directly involved in forcing women to become sex slaves during WW2 were his real, honest beliefs. His later illogical attempts to back away from that claim and say that he stood by the 1993 unofficial "apology" were a result of the most evil country on earth, the enemy of all good everywhere---the United States---forcing poor innocent Abe to to do so:

The United States warned Japan in March that Washington could no longer back Tokyo on the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese...The warning, delivered by U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer to a senior government official, prompted Abe to change his stance and announce that he stands by Japan's 1993 official statement of apology to the "comfort women," as they are euphemistically known, the sources said. ( From JTonline here.)

Abe and Japan. Victims again. It must have been so humiliating for Shinzo and his merry band of nutjob sympathizers in the LDP to withdraw the truth and go back to living a lie about poor Imperial Japan's guilt in forced sex slavery in Asia. Obviously, this caused an upset stomach and diarrhea. Some may not understand why a case of the runs would cause the PM to resign 3 days after he said he wouldn't, but if one is full of sh*t a case of diarrhea can be a very messy affair.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

False food labeling case 1 trillion

Or thereabouts it seems:

Police on Saturday raided meat packer Hinai-Dori in Odate, Akita Prefecture, on suspicion of processing and selling chickens and eggs falsely branded as the "Hinai" variety in violation of the unfair competition prevention law.

"It is too costly if we really use Hinai chicken," he (the company president) told reporters.
Full article here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More mislabled food fraud

Just on the news this evening Senbakicho (?) has been caught selling mislabeled chicken, beef, and more. Earlier, they had been caught falsifying dates. It never ends.

Ministry of Justice Human Rights hearing

Somehow, the Ministry of Justice in Japan and the term "human rights" don't seem to fit well together, but Debito Arudo at Trans-Pacific Radio writes of a MoJ sponsored Human Rights meeting he attended earlier this year. Seems the right-wing nutjobs attended and were able to disrupt the meeting with little to no interference from the MoJ bureaucrats running the show. Even more interesting is what happened as the meeting ended which shows exactly how many Japan---and non-Japanese view discrimination in Japan:

The last straw was when one of the attendees referred to a famous Korean born to a Comfort Woman as a “bastard child” (shiseiji). Our side demanded the representative from the Ministry of Justice do something. It was within his ministry’s mandate to silence hate speech. He remained silent.....

....It almost came to blows. Even then, no security was called, and nobody was asked to leave. The meeting was brought to a close a half-hour early.

But here’s when it got really interesting. I was about to leave when one of disrupters actually came up to me with a smile and a friendly tone of voice. He turned out to be an assemblymember from Hino City, near Tokyo, and was quizzical as to why I was here.

After all, this is his view: White people in Japan have it good here because of Japan’s inferiority complex towards them. So discrimination cannot happen towards them. It only happens towards the lesser peoples of the world, and they’re only here taking advantage of the Japan we Japanese built up. They shouldn’t be here asking for anything. Therefore I as a superior Caucasian should have nothing to complain about.

I have seen and heard this attitude a lot. Several years ago, after Shitaro---oops, how childish of me---Shintaro "Blinky" Ishihara went into one of his bigoted rants about the Chinese and (shockingly) it was covered by the foreign press, a Japanese apologist wrote to the International Herald Tribune and explained it away because Blinky was talking about Chinese. Not Americans (synonymous with white folks in Japan, though many will tell you a few repressed minorities live there as do the rich Jews who control the country). Therefore, there should be no problem for white folks since it was the Chinese who Shit (hand slipped, sorry) Shintaro was insulting and demeaning.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

December fund raiser for Japan child abduction documentary

When my son finally came out of the house, I yelled, 'Kento, are you OK? " then the gangster pushed me away and eventually jumped on my back. The whole time he was repeating in English 'This is Japan!'"
-Steve Christie, Left behind father.

From the trailer of this film: Every year 100 American children, 10 Canadian children and ?? German, ??Australian children...are abducted to Japan. None have been returned.

More information on the fund raiser (December 11) at

Ready for the big one?

Most know Tokyo is located in a major earthquake zone. Most also know that Japan has various laws on the construction of earthquake resistant buildings. My understanding is that if you live in an apartment built after 1981, you are in one of the more modern earthquake resistant jobs. In theory. In reality, you may be living in a shoddily built piece of crap that will turn into a death trap with any sort of strong quake.

Last year a Tokyo architect was convicted of designing numerous buildings with substandard reinforcement in order to save money. He appealed and has just lost the appeal (No surprise, this is Japan, after all.):

In Wednesday's decision, presiding Judge Kunio Harada stated that the accused "not only attempted to dodge liability, but tried to put the blame on others" by lying under oath that he was pressured to fake construction blueprints. The disgraced architect also stated at the Diet that the fabrications began in 1998, when in fact they started in 1996.

The perjury "was an attempt to selfishly protect his own interests, which leaves no reason to consider extenuation," Harada told the court, adding that the false testimony resulted in delayed inspections of substandard buildings Aneha designed. (From JTonline.)

I know a few folks who are employed as architects and who have a pretty good knowledge of the industry. Most of them are Japanese. There is quite a bit of doubt among them that he actually did lie when he said he was pressure to fake the blueprints. According to one of these people, this sort of thing is not likely an isolated case, but the government cannot possibly address all of the defective buildings. I just recently heard a story from someone in this industry about a building which a US company was interested in leasing in the Shibuya area. His company was being asked to bid on the project to help the US company set up an office there. He had to decline as the building, although brand-new, was very poorly constructed with chunks of concrete already falling off the interior walls and ceiling, and massive water leaks were already weakening it. He felt the yakuza was likely involved in the construction of the building. Again, something not exactly unusual in the construction/real estate industry.

I did get to see some photos of the fine workmanship at this site. It sort of makes me a bit less confident in the earthquake resistance of buildings here. I guess if one is lucky and lives or works in a building/home designed and built by honest people who followed the law, you make come out OK. If you live in a shoddy, cheaply made piece of junk, you may have just enough time to kiss your a** goodbye before it collapses on you and yours. The wonderfully exciting thing is that there is no way to know without actually having your place professionally inspected. Since this usually requires some cutting and other invasive/damaging methods, this ain't likely to happen unless you own the house/building. And then, if you find that it is not built to standards, what are you going to do? Sell it? Sue the builder? That last option is a joke, of course. Unless you have 300 years for it to crawl through a Japanese court.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The love of nature and lack of discrimination

are characteristics of the essence of Japan in the minds of some such as Fujiwara Masahiko-chan and many non-Japanese neo-Last Samurai ninja wannabes.

C.W. Nicol, who is a naturalized Japanese citizen who has written about the outdoors and nature in Japan (as well as been on many TV programs) and who has put his money and actions where his mouth is has an interesting article at JTonline:

For many years the Ainu were forbidden to hold any traditional ceremonies, even funeral rites, and although the right to conduct a salmon thanksgiving ceremony has been granted by the Japanese government in recent years, Tokyo has continued to be downright mean and stingy, allowing only a ridiculously small number of wild salmon to be taken in the traditional ways dictated by the ceremony and the whole Ainu people.

Prejudice and the denial of rights to the Ainu have continued long after they were deprived of their land, hunting and fishing rights. It is a truly disgraceful record for the Japanese government, which still refuses to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people, despite a United Nations Declaration that insists on recognition for these rights...

...Here, Japanese officialdom turns a blind eye to poaching, whether of wild salmon, rare flowers and insects or whatever. But it still niggles and haggles about traditional Ainu fishing rights....

...we came to what Haruzo wanted to show me. He got out of the vehicle and spread his arms with an expression of disgust on his face. A whole mountainside had been denuded of trees and crisscrossed with bulldozer scars. Already the streams were running the color of miso soup with the erosion.

It's all OK though, because other countries do bad things too.

More semi-rotted food and shoddy, fraudulent products.

The scandals involving Japanese food producers continue and are now so frequent that one who is concerned about food safety might have to turn to foreign food (eeeeewwww!) of even worse Chinese food in order to have any level of confidence. At least that evil foreign food has passed some type of inspection. The same cannot be said for Japan produced "food" products.

Japan's Mister Donut chain recently got caught using old, out-of-date juice in some of its drinks. I suppose this could be understood as Mister Donut was originally an evil foreign company, so since all foreign companies do that sort of thing---unlike the pure Japanese companies---this is no surprise. Except that it only seems to have happened in Japan in shops under control of Japanese management. Well, what's a little out-of-date juice? So far, nobody is known to have died.

As to corporate fraud and greed, (NOVA has been pretty well covered recently) Toyo Tire was the second company found to have cheated on fire tests for some of their flame resistant building materials. Turns out they only used the real fire resistant materials to pass government tests, but then sold substitute material---much of which is used in schools---which were not at all fire resistant. So what's wrong if a few kids get roasted? At least Toyo Tire is not an evil foreign company, although any sort of fraud or wrongdoing that they were/are involved in is likely the result of Western (especially US) influence. Anyway, the executives apologized, so everything should turn out fine.

What about the poor kids who have to eat old, out-of-date, falsely labeled food in a school with fake fire proofing. This seems like what happens all the time in foreign countries. How could it happen in pure Japan? Damned foreigners!