Monday, December 24, 2007

And folks thought Japan was backing down

over hunting endangered whales. Ha! Wrong.

JAPAN'S cave-in on its plan to kill 50 humpback whales in the Southern Ocean this summer was not a breakthrough because whalers would continue to hunt the even more endangered fin whale, protesters said yesterday.

Japanese whale hunters will go ahead and kill 50 fin whales, even though they are officially endangered species and a moratorium on hunting them is imposed by the International Whaling Commission. Read more.

Of all the things in the world to get into major disputes about, Japan chooses whale hunting even though few actually eat the meat here. Very few. The government has to push it to get people to eat what little they do. This fight is purely about nationalism. One can see why Japan has the stature and maturity to be on the UN Security Council.

Unlike the production of new technology to fight global warming, there is little money to be made by Japan's industries by not not killing endangered whales. Could that be why Japan's mythically unique love of, and deep relationship with, nature is a little less apparent here?

Oh wait. I keep forgetting, some people hunt kangaroos in Australia, so it's the same as Japan hunting endangered whales. My apologies.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Justice Minister Hatoyama's friend's friends

are very happy this holiday season:

...when Afghan Ambassador to Japan Haron Amin learned Japan was withdrawing its Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels from the Indian Ocean on Nov. 1 and heard rebels supporting the Taliban praising it, he was shocked. (The article indicates that these "rebels" are al Qaeda.)

"To whom was the withdrawal of (Japan's) ships a positive signal? Not to the international coalition against terror and not to the Afghan people. It was encouraging news to al-Qaida and the Taliban," Amin said in an interview with The Japan Times Thursday.

Hatoyama, as many remember, said that he had a friend whose friend was in al Qaeda and this friend warned him away from a terrorist attack in Bali. Kunio, being the Justice Minister of Japan, took this seriously and was able to save his own buttocks. He apparently did a good job of keeping the information secret too as he warned nobody else of the plot until his new conference years after it occurred. No problem as he was not yet the Justice Minister at the time.

(Hatoyama later used the traditional Nakasone /Abe/LDP defense of claiming to have been misquoted and misunderstood. It appears that even Japanese reporters cannot understand Japanese.)

Fujiwara Masahiko

who wrote an absurdly illogical book in which he, among other things, used logic to show that an illogical statement was illogical and then claimed that this use of logic showed that logic doesn't work---especially in uniquely unique Japan must be soiling his panties.

Japan has reportedly been forced to suspend its humpback whale hunt due to pressure from the dastardly US as well as the sneaky Australian plan to use its military to track Japan's whalers. (I thought the latter was especially good, but wondered what some of the Abe/Aso/Fujiwara band of merry nutjobs would say).

What will likely cause Barcode head Fujiwara to have a tissy-fit is that Japan is claiming logic is on its side and its them thar furriners who are all emotional. I guess its just another sign that Japan is becoming a foreign country.

''Given that in a sense this seems to be a problem of differences in national sentiment between Japanese and Australian culture, it's not a matter that can be solved by appealing to one another through logic,'' Komura told reporters. ''I hope to discuss possible measures with the Australian foreign minister soon.'' (OK, Fujiwara-chan would like this part as Japan can avoid logic. It can pout instead like it did to start the humpback hunt.)

Japan argues that the IWC [International Whaling Commission] has become a place for emotional fights rather the setting for calm discussion, and has called for ''normalizing'' reforms that would return it to that function. From the AP on the NYT site here. Link won't last long.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More gun violence as a massive wave of foreignness

sweeps Japan.

A police officer at the Marunouchi Police box near Tokyo station was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Police suspect suicide. A shocked police official expressed his regrets over the means of suicide:

"It is truly regrettable that a police officer tried to commit suicide using his gun," said Tadao Ura, head of the Marunouchi division of the Metropolitan Police Department. More here.

Had the officer done it properly with a sword or knife there would be nothing to regret. Well, except for the bloodstains on the floor.

The deceased officer was found on the floor by a passerby.

Two other officers were assigned to the box at the time of the incident. One was out responding to an emergency call and the other was napping in another room.

Hopefully the officer who was napping was not too disturbed by the sound of a gunshot. At least he didn't have to get up and investigate the source of the sound before a passerby discovered the body.

Quotes from the Japan Times Online.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Japan becoming foreign

Recently there has been a lot of handwringing by politicians such as PM Fukuda and "experts" in the media about the danger of Japan "becoming like foreign countries." This has been especially noticeable since a murderer used a shotgun with rifled slugs (perhaps slugs. Some victims seem to have been hit by shot.) to kill two and wound six others last Friday evening.

It appears that the fact that a firearm was used instead of the much, much more common murder by knife is what set off this worry. It should be no surprise that this incident---entirely Japanese and involving only Japanese---is somehow connected to those dastardly foreign things. Had the murders been committed with a knife or other more "traditional" Japanese methods of murder, I doubt that Fukuda would have had anything to say about it.

On the crime front so far today:

A woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday for starving her 1-year-old son to death by leaving him at home unfed for more than a month. More here.


The Tokyo High Court on Monday trimmed two years off the prison sentence of an 18-year-old youth convicted of stabbing his parents to death and causing an explosion at the family's Tokyo residence in 2005, acknowledging the boy suffered at the hands of an abusive father. More here

Complaints prior to the shootings:

...Nearby residents had consulted with a local police officer over the man's possession of guns due to his strange behavior, but the officer apparently never acted on their concerns, the sources said. More here.

and of course more crime/scandals in the government:

Accused bribe-taker Takemasa Moriya was provided with at least several hundred thousand yen out of a ¥160 million Defense Ministry slush fund while he was still vice defense minister, several defense sources alleged.

The ministry has been under fire since recent allegations that it systematically amassed a slush fund for use by senior officials and related departments out of money earmarked for information-gathering, and that some officials used the off-the-books money for entertainment. More here.

Are those foreign too? Or is Japan just being like Japan?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nanjing Never Happened.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese must spread the word that they committed no massacre at Nanjing, a film director told a symposium on Friday, a day after China marked the 70th anniversary of the incident in which it says 300,000 died.

Satoru Mizushima's new movie, "The Truth About Nanjing", premieres in January. It is an attempt by Japanese nationalists to counter a series of foreign films, made to coincide with the anniversary, which tell of the carnage which followed the fall of the Chinese Nationalist capital to Japanese forces in 1937. Read more.

Related story at

"When [the Allied Powers] opened the so-called Tokyo war-crimes tribunal [after World War II], they needed evidence that Japan committed greater atrocities [than the Tokyo air raids and use of atomic bombs], so they made up the so-called Nanjing Massacre, which was completely unfounded," declares Mr. Kase, chair of the Committee for the Examination of the Facts about Nanjing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting away with homicide

In April 2006, a Yokohama court awarded the family of a young mother who was killed by a wheel which fell off of a Mitsubishi truck 5.5 million yen---about US$45,000. That was the cash value of her life according to Japanese law I guess. At that time the court rejected the demand that a penalty of ¥160 million (about $1.3 million US)be imposed on Mitsubishi. After all, which is more important, a citizen's life or a company's well-being? We all know that a small financial "penalty" like that would be nothing to a huge conglomerate like Mitsubishi.

Yesterday, after an appeal by the prosecution, the full weight of the Japanese legal system struck the final blow to Mitsubishi for its intentional negligence in this case. (Yes, intentional. They knew the wheels were defective and hid and lied about the fact. The same as with other Mistubishi autos and trucks.):

The Yokohama District Court handed suspended prison terms Thursday to two former senior officials of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for neglecting to take action to prevent a defect-linked accident in Yokohama in 2002 that killed a woman and injured her two sons.

..."The defendants caused the accident to occur by failing to recall the products and unthinkingly neglected the situation when they could have readily anticipated that the wheel hubs were not strong enough," the judge said. Read more.

This is normal for crooked executives in Japan. No jail time. Will they still be working in some capacity for Mitsubishi? Don't know, but I suspect they will be. I am sure this will send a message to all companies in Japan that this sort of thing will not be tolerated. Why, you can't just negligently kill someone and get off nearly scot-free.

I guess nobody is really at fault here. It can't be helped. Thank god that Japan is not like the US where survivors could sue and put some real teeth in the results, and the company would think twice before pulling the same thing again.

The Rape of Nanjing

that never happened according to the more extreme (and dangerous) nutjob right-wingers in Japan. From the Independent UK:

...."I really, really hate the Japanese. I was raped when I was 11 years old. I tried to commit suicide three times afterwards," said Zhang Xiuhong, 81. She was recalling the six-week-long Rape of Nanking....her face flushes as she recalls the events of that grim December 70 years ago.

A sign of Japanese ambiguity about the issue came in the respected Yomiuri Shimbun...."Recently, even some Chinese scholars say scholarly debate should be deepened on the number of victims. Such a flexible stance has started to be aired....

....While the editorial has a balanced and seemingly rational tone, it is in sharp contrast to the kind of debate that one sees in Germany on any issues relating to the Holocaust. What would happen if a German historian were to accuse a Jewish historian of inflexibility on the number of people who died at Auschwitz, or if someone were to write that the number of Jews who died in Europe was only 600,000 and that only a fraction of those deaths were murders that violated international law? Read more.

That there are many in the government and other elite who subscribe to the view that Nanjing was either blown entirely out of proportion or completely false ought to send a warning to the rest of the world of what certain elements would do were they able to get their way. Abe, although not publicly going so far as saying Nanjing never happened, perhaps gave us some clues. Aso is another. Fujiwara Masahiko appears to be another who believes Japan did nothing especially or exceptionally wrong in WW2. What is this group's view of the world in the future? What world goals/views do they have in common with the US, Australian, or European views?

Fukuda seems like a huge improvement over Abe, mainly because he is one of the old-style politicians who sort of blend into the background. He has not been out trying to relive WW2 and offend every other country in the region and world with stories of Japan's innocence. But the nutjobs have not gone away. They have been in government at least since the reversal under SCAP after WW2. I understand why one of the past commanders of US forces in Japan said (I am paraphrasing from memory) one of the reasons for keeping forces here is to keep an eye on Japan.

Trans-Pacific Radio has a good article on Nanjing from last year here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A tale of 2 Japans

Many courageous Japanese World War II veterans, historians, teachers, and others of moral conscience are frustrated and penalized when they attempt to inform an apathetic Japanese public....

...Does the Japanese Government intend to deny the documented war crimes until the last victims and witnesses finally die off? Yes, because the Japanese view themselves as innocent victims of WWII. Culturally, Japan believes that its victimhood is more relevant than the unpublicized evils inflicted upon millions who suffered under its cruel military rule.

Japan's response to the outraged cries of survivors and astonished historians echoes the comic’s retort when caught in the act: "Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?" But no laughs are found in this insult to truth. Full article here.

From Ron Wulkan, the author of a new novel about Japan. What distinguishes this writer from most is that he was a military policeman during the Occupation and he worked with Japanese who had witnessed or participated in war crimes. Because he was interested in Japan, some fellow soldiers called him a "gook lover," which he took as the title of the book. His interest in Japan appears not to have become a mindless acceptance of everything Japanese like so often seems to happen. Instead his book is "a pro-Japanese, pro-Asian, but anti-Imperial Japan novel."

On the other hand, Ms. LaVel Daily, an ikebana expert, was recently awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan. In a newspaper interview with the Houston Chronical she was asked:

Q: We did fight a war with Japan. How does that square with the civility of the people you describe?

A: I must say, I was young enough that I didn't know very much personally about that war, but I was in Japan about three or four days after 9/11. When they learned I was from the United States, they expressed extreme grief. I was in Japan when the newspapers and television showed Japanese military boarding transport aircraft to go to Afghanistan (for a support role). I've always felt the Japanese were our friends and supported the United States, totally.

From this answer and others during the interview, one can guess that she is a very deep thinker. Forgot to answer the question though. Didn't personally know about the war, you see. Never read a history book either, I suppose. And certainly does not want to say anything that she thinks might offend certain folks (Abe, Aso, and assorted LDP et al nutjobs and emperor worshippers) in Japan. Something implying some kind of guilt on Japan would do that.

Which person do you think is more honest, accurate, knowledgeable, and thoughtful when it comes to Japan, the WW2 vet or the ikebana teacher? Which person do you think really has the best interests of Japan---and the rest of the world---at heart?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Another whining foreigner, James Fallows,

who was one of the so-called "revisionists" to the E. O. Reischauer et al sugar-coated version of modern Japan in the late 80s and early 90s when he wrote for Atlantic magazine (he still does) visited Japan over Thanksgiving. Unlike some of our resident apologists, he did not especially appreciate Japan's new policy even if America does it too. My god, does he not know that if the USA does it, right or wrong, that it provides justification for everyone?

Japan's way of ushering in the Thanksgiving holidays has been to institute mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of all foreigners entering the country. Let me put this bluntly: this is an incredibly degrading, off-putting, and hostility-generating process. The comment is not anti-Japanese: when the U.S. does this to foreigners, it's wrong and degrading too (as many people, including me, have pointed out over the years). But Japan has just ushered in this procedure, and they deserve to take some heat for it....

....It’s one thing, and wrong enough, for the U.S. to apply similar measures in the panicky, immediate, “we’re for anything that is called ‘anti-terrorist’ ” mood of the 9/11 aftermath, which is when the U.S. began discussing similar “biometric” measures. It’s even worse to do it six years later, after a chance for cold deliberation about the prices society is and is not willing to pay to keep itself “secure.”

I learned of this from where I often find similar interesting material.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Useful Idiots pt 2: The anti-democratic (baka) gaijin

In the recent debate over Japan's new fingerprinting law for tourists, residents, and permanent residents, a few non-Japanese seem extremely offended that a non-Japanese resident, permanent resident, or even visitor exercises his/her right---even in Japan for now---of free speech or peaceful protest.

Many of these non-Japanese claim to be Americans from the US. Yes, the same US that promotes democracy and free speech rights throughout the world? (OK, in some cases it is more lip service than much else when US interests may not match its ideology.) I wonder if these folks, Americans or not, hold the same beliefs about non-US citizens in the US. (Or non-citizens in their home countries.) For example, does that mean that one who is not a citizen in the US has NO right to say anything no matter what actions the US government takes that affects them? Would these same folks expect their spouses who may be permanent residents of the US to passively accept everything the US government does in the name of "security"? Would these folks also insist that all Japanese residents of the US also keep their mouths shut or leave? Have non-military Americans actually become such a frightened, quivering crowd?

If not, why do they demand non-Japanese residents passively accept everything the Japanese government says? Do they expect less of Japan? Do they assume that Japanese citizens cannot deal with free speech or peaceful protest? Or do they just want to go along to get along and be a nice, passive, smiling subject in the mistaken belief that everyone---even Ishihara and the nutjobs in the soundtrucks---will like them and call them good little (baka) gaijin?

I would assume if one does not like free speech that instead of telling others who are practicing free speech to leave, that they could themselves leave and go to one of the nearby countries which do not permit free speech. Then they could be happy living under a government in which they must accept without question everything they are told to do in the name of security.

And they could still be (baka) gaijin.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Useful Idiots

Supposedly, Lenin came up with this---or something similar in Russian---to refer to Westerners who believed in the communist system and excused (or denied) the police-state terror he was imposing on Russia at the time. Of course Japan is nothing like that and the Japanese government is imposing nothing at all like the police state of those times.(I am not being sarcastic here.)

However, for decades there have been plenty of apologists/ "useful idiots" who will swallow/excuse/explain apologize for anything that Japan does. E.O. Reishauer in some his writing and claims seemed to be one of the most useful. If anyone recalls the 80s during the bubble years and the trade friction between the US and Japan, Eddy was running around claiming that the problem was mainly that of Americans misunderstanding Japan---not because Japan was protectionist. (Especially see early editions of his comedy The Japanese.) Later, in one of his last TV appearances, he went on PBS (?) to defend Hirohito at a time when historians were first beginning to challenge the old claims of Hirohito's naiveté and innocence concerning WW2 were less than perfectly accurate.

The Japan Times online has a few folks whom some might accuse of being "useful idiots" who wrote in concerning the new fingerprinting law similar issues. Many seemed to believe any claim that it is for "security" is unquestionably valid and that it will be successful at providing security just because the government says it will. Others appear to agree that non-Japanese (including themselves?) are the sort who do have innate criminal tendencies and should be watched closely.

But my idea of the near perfect apologist, and if I may, the most "useful idiot" for his response to an article about the widespread use of security cameras in Japan goes to:

B. Panagouliashy: Why is it every time I read or listen to foreigners in Japan rant on about the change in Japanese security precautions it's all about them? Japan is trying to protect and serve its own citizens.

(Two reasons: 1) You don't read much; 2) Just a guess...because foreigners are the ones who are targeted by many of these "security" precautions? Japanese aren't being fingerprinted, photographed, or constantly called criminals or potential terrorists, because there are no Japanese criminals or terrorists? It is wonderful that Japan is trying to protect and serve its own citizens. How about legal residents? Protecting them by targeting them because they are more likely to be terrorists and criminals? Prove that one.)

Panagouliashy continues:

Another point in Mr. Hassett's article was about the police detaining a Canadian for numerous days. There is a drug problem in Japan now. A large percentage of foreigners proliferate the drug trade, either by being consumers or selling. This is a fact.

(Uhh...the Canadian was held for nearly 3 weeks and released as he was the wrong guy. His only crime was that he was a non-Japanese and so the cops decided he must have been the non-Japanese they were searching for. Pangouliashy thinks that his arrest was justified---after all he claims "a large percentage of foreigners proliferate the drug trade." I wonder, what that percentage is? Are a large percentage of users and dealers also Japanese? Should the nearest Japanese be arrested and held anytime a Japanese criminal is being hunted? Is Pangouliashy volunteering? After all, how do we know that he/she is not involved in drugs since he/she is obviously not of Japanese origin. OK, I am assuming that based on the name, but why not? The mere possession of a foreign-sounding name is, in itself, suspect.)

Second place goes to someone who, of course, does not live in Japan, but "visits" a lot from Singapore (no, not ex-PM Lee Kuan Yew), but a Mr. or Ms. Soon Hock:

Japan should be allowed to do what it deems best for its country.

(Anything goes. Summary executions?)

There are pros and cons to this unwelcoming fingerprint policy. Japan's reasons — minimizing crimes and terrorist attacks — are valid reasons and the end results speak for themselves.

(What end results??? It just started. Or is Soon Hock telling us that the end justifies the means?)

Not an apologist, but the question must be answered:

Giko Jayashi: Why is this (fingerprinting and photographing) system only for foreigners? Is it that no crimes are committed by Japanese citizens? (Yes, that is the reason.)

The full article which includes statements by others, who like Giko Jayashi are not so willing to uncritically accept everything the government says here.