Saturday, June 27, 2009

LDP's Shiozaki, All-American

The LDP's (well, which party would you expect?) Yasuhisa Shiozaki has defended the recent revisions to the immigration law requiring non-Japanese to carry residence cards with them at all times by showing his own iron backbone: Well, America does it too.

One of [the DPJ's Ritsuo] Hosokawa's proposals that Shiozaki did not agree to was eliminating a clause requiring foreigners to carry residence ("zairyu") cards.

"We can't give in on that," Shiozaki said. "Carrying green cards is mandatory in the Unites [sic] States as well."* Japan Times

An excellent reason! No simpleton he. It is always impressive to see a politician with his own moral standards and irrefutable logic.

Unfortunately, Pot-Iron Shiozaki did not mention why the penalty for not carrying the card in Japan would be so much higher. There is, however, little reason to believe that money from the huge fines to be imposed will be used to pay for a Japanese war with Vietnam and its future invasions of a few Middle Eastern countries. The US, after all did those things, and Japan is already late.

There is also no truth to rumors that Shiozaki is spearheading efforts to give non-Japanese rights equal to those of permanent residents in the US or to introduce legal penalties with teeth---again like those in the US---prohibiting racial discrimination. Unfortunately, the interview ended before the reporter could ask when Shiozaki planned on pushing for an amendment to the Japanese constitution to allow citizens to possess firearms.

And can you believe that Hosogawa said these words: ..."illegal foreigners who are as good a citizen as ordinary Japanese"...My god, we can't let the DPJ win with members like him running around! This article and full in-context quote is here.

*I wonder---if the US repealed it's law, would Ol' Iron Balls support repealing the Japan version?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stupidest conversations of the week

1: Blogging Idiot: ...and after that my wife and I had curry at a small restaurant...

A-san: eeeehhhhh! What kind of curry, Japanese or Indian?

Blogging Idiot: (sensing imminent nausea) Japanese.

A-san: eeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhh! Japanese!!!

(A-san was impressed---or pretending to be---that I eat Japanese food. In Japan. With a Japanese wife. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

2: N-san: ( A friend who went to school in Canada and speaks English.) So you still take Japanese lessons?

Blogging Idiot: Yea, maybe I'll never stop.

N-san: So when you go to a shop to buy something, do you speak Japanese?

Blogging Idiot: (Thought, but not said: WTF kind of stupid question is that?) Uhhh, yes. Sometimes though people will start answering me in English even though they can't speak English.

N-san: HaHa. You don't look like the type who can speak Japanese.

Awkward pause as I tried to come up with an appropriate response that was not overly-direct, and as he---realizing what he just said---tried to avoid getting an overly-direct response.

N-san: Well only a few Westerners speak Japanese like a native.*

Blogging Idiot: ..............Unable to reply......(Thoughts: %#@#*&!!! Possible appropriately childish reply thought of too late: "You don't like like someone who can speak English. In fact, you don't sound like it either.)

3. U-san: The government is going to pass a new law which will make it easier for Japanese women to work while raising children. I don't know if it will work though, as it is a cultural problem.

Blogging Idiot: Is that so?

U-san: Yes. In the US, people can be single until they are 35-40 because it's a good image. They are just playing around---like playboys. But in Japan, people have to marry soon.

Blogging Idiot: ??????? (Last surviving braincell dropped dead.)

*And the Blogging Idiot certainly can't.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weird Japan to elimate cash to fight deflation!

So says the Times Online. Well, it isn't certain yet, but the journalist got some folks to (jokingly?) comment on the idea of eliminating cash in favor of electronic money to fight deflation.

With recovery elusive, a population doddering into old age and perhaps a decade of deflation in prospect, Japan may start mulling the most radical monetary policy of all — the abolition of cash.

Unorthodox, untried and, said one Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi strategist, “in the realms of economic science fiction”....

Several MPs* in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party believe the abolition of cash, though politically radioactive, might be technically feasible...

In theory, many Japanese could easily make the leap into a cashless world...

...the country remains a wholeheartedly cash-based consumer society. TimesOnline. (All emphasis added.)

That must be some good dope that the Asia Business Correspondent is smoking. What are the odds of any of this actually happening? What are the odds that any of it will be seriously considered in the near future?

1225PM: It [The BOJ] is unlikely... to brook anything as radical as abolishing cash. (From the same report.)

There is a point to the story somewhere.

4:10PM Originally linked to via the NYT freakonomics blog. "In Japan where the future comes early..."

*Well, that changes everything. A few unidentified politicians believe something may be technically feasible which means.......what?

Monday, June 22, 2009


Bubbles past is bit of a topic today, so perhaps this is a good time to link to a short article concerning the next possible bubble:

What happens when the most powerful nation in the world, with a reserve currency everyone trusts and holds, decides to push a big credit expansion — again, at the instigation of our financial sector?

...You borrowed from the Japanese at 1 percent and bought anything outside Japan that yielded a bit more (including United States subprime mortgages). The coming American carry trade is the same thing: it weakens the dollar, lifts the economy out of recession through exports, and creates inflation that reduces the real value of our debts. Economix, NYT

That'll work! Wouldn't want to be holding that debt though.

At the end of the article, the authors ask if we are laying the foundation for a much larger debt crisis. We are gonna find out...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Idiots to do an extended stay in Japan

I could never understand why people leave their country and go to a country like Japan with extremely strict drug laws and then try to sneak in drugs. I have a hard time feeling sympathy for people who do and get caught. At least they won't face execution here as they do in some other countries.

Two 20-something losers from the US who were posing as assistant English teachers, one at a high school, the other at a junior high got busted trying to have "mindcandy pills" sent to them through the mail. Naturally, they caught it at Narita.

Then again, I have never understood why anyone anywhere would risk their careers and prison for drugs. Just get drunk, it's not especially safe or healthy, but it's legal.

Apologize---if you are sorry

In May, the Japanese ambassador to the US officially apologized to former POWs of the Bataan Death March.*

Now a former Australian POW and the son of another POW are in Japan seeking an apology from PM Aso. The POWs, James Coombs and the late Patrick McAnulty (represented by his son), were slave laborers at the Aso Mining company during the war. Note that this is an apology from Aso as heir of the mining company, not an official apology by the government.

Lest anyone think that this apology stuff is going to be a habit, a "lawyer" who seemingly admits that he doesn't know what he is talking about said the following in regards to the mens request:

Katsuhiko Takaike, a lawyer who has been studying the issue of postwar compensation, admitted he was not familiar with the Aso Mining case but said Aso probably would be better off not apologizing.

"I can understand that (Coombs and McAnulty's father) suffered terribly and they want an apology," Takaike said. "But Japanese POWs also suffered illegal treatment too. We would have to start talking about that, too, or else it would be one-sided."

This is an argument of a lawyer? It sounds like one from a 5-year old. Naturally, the 5-year old mind of this fellow jumps into the everybody-did-it excuse too. A lawyer? Seriously? I knew that the government tried to increase the number of lawyers, but I didn't know that they now sell licenses at 7-11.

Waseda University visiting professor, Aiko Utsumi, author of The POW Policy of the Japanese Military, has a different opinion:

"I think should Aso meet with them — it is natural for him to apologize for the past....Aso is heir to the mine..."

Aso (and the government) denied that his company used POWs for slave labor until recently. He has not replied to letters sent by the men earlier this year.

All quotes from Pair seek POW apology from Aso at The Japan Times.

And speaking of the Death March this is interesting.

*There has been some debate on whether or not it was an official apology on behalf of the Japanese government, or a personal apology from the ambassador. However, it seems to be generally accepted as official. A video link to the speech/apology is here.

Treatment of non-Japanese to improve!!! New immigration bill soon to be passed!

"The bills are well made. Foreigners obeying the law will be treated better..."

The bills also have a provision to prevent the ministry from using that data improperly, a decision that was made to ward off criticism that "the minister" could abuse the zairyu card number to violate foreigners' privacy. But no penalty for such abuse was listed. (emphasis mine) Japan Times

No penalty? I'm sorry, but having seen so many of these "no penalty" laws, I would say that provision is an effing joke. Why wasn't non-compliance by non-Japanese made penalty-less too? Because if it had been, the law itself would have been an effing joke.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The party is over? Nah, just a toilet break...pass the beer

There's been a lot of great economic news over the last few days informing us that the worst recession since the Great Depression may be coming to an end. Actually, such a disastrous recession seems to have been little more than a slight blip. Things are said to be leveling out now, and naturally the only way to go is up.

Last September, as I watched the news over the weekend that the Lehman Brothers collapsed and Merrill Lynch was purchased by the BOA, I thought the world had changed for good. For one thing, I thought that the old idea that the US could live on the credit of foreign countries while those countries depended on over-consumption by US consumers would have to end. It seems I went a bit overboard as I don't see any evidence that any country involved is preparing for such a supposedly inevitable change.

PBS Frontline just ran a program about that September weekend and what went on behind the scenes in the deal for the Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. It reminds me of the story of JP Morgan in the 1907 Panic in which he locked a group of bankers in a room and would not let them out until they all agreed to sign an agreement to bail out Wall Street. This time, however, it was not a private banker doing the arm-twisting (or kneecap-breaking), but the US government in the person of Hank Paulson.

"If you don't get with the program and you don't sign this piece of paper, tomorrow morning you could turn on the television and see Hank Paulson talking about your bank in a negative way..."

and I'm beginning to get about enough of Paul Krugman again, who appears in the program just long enough to utter this brilliant insight:

"...[Paulson] doesn't strike me as the most reflective guy...but he must have been sitting there saying..."My god, we may be presiding over the second Great Depression..."

I can sure see why Mr. Krugman won a Noble Prize. Time to go back to the day job at the New York Times of blaming everything on earth on Little Bush. No, wait, Bush is gone. Maybe Sarah Palin.

At the end, we are assured that:

"This was one of the pivot points in American history. That old way of looking at things; that old way of puttin' on a party...It's over.

How can we tell? Other than the government running half the private sector now, and perhaps a few adjustments in financial regulations, what exactly has changed?

The program is one hour and a much better way to spend time than watching some goofy movie on WOWOW or a noisy variety show.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hatoyama, the hero

Who would have ever thought that Kunio Hatoyama would have become so famous, so quickly, not for making a bigger fool of himself, but for making Aso look like a fool? A quick glance at the morning TV news programs showed a number of stations poking fun at Aso and the LDP using by using Hatoyama. Hatoyama came off looking pretty good and Aso as the Aso who couldn't read kanji of a few months back.

What if the Hatoyama resignation/firing is the final push that knocks the LDP out of power? Kunio Hatoyama.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Peter Schiff

discussing the Japanese government's enthusiastic confidence in the US dollar via AnarchyJapan---thanks Matt.

Also on Japan Economy News Blog at left.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another overseas organ transplant

Eleven-year-old Hiroki Ando will likely die if he does not get a new heart.

Hiroki suffers from cardiomyopathy, which inflames and impairs the heart. The same disease killed his sister five years ago.

He's under 15 which under current law prohibits him from getting a transplant in Japan---however his folks and others were able to raise enough money to get him sent to New York where he is awaiting the transplant. I think the CNN headline Boy not allowed to get life-saving transplant in Japan is true but somewhat misleading since it makes it seem like he's in Japan dying at the hands of some cold-hearted bureaucrat. Gets folks to read it though, and I suppose that's the point.

An amendment to eliminate the age restrictions is currently being debated in the Diet.

He has a "diary" on his mother's blog, which is written simply enough that even I can read it.

Spammed again

Apologies to those who have e-mailed me through this blog if you are getting spammed with garbage with my address. This is the third address from this blog that it has happened to this year. One account was even stolen. It's getting to the point that I will have to change it once a month.

Or maybe not...Bobbsey Twins in the DPJ's future

The rumor of the LDP's K. Hatoyama and the DPJ's Y. Hatoyama joining together in the DPJ continue:

..."If the DPJ secures a majority in the election, Kunio would have a good chance of getting a key post"...

Signaling their increasing closeness, the Hatoyama brothers formed a political school last year called Hatoyama Yuai Juku (Hatoyama Fraternity School) to promote a philosophy of fraternity as advocated by their grandfather, with the aim of creating a society based on love and happiness...Japan Times.

Kumbaya. The future is bright. Kunio is here to stay. I wonder if his stand on the Japan Post Holdings mess was due to principles or something less noble?

Friday, June 12, 2009

(Kunio) Hatoyama just fades away

What a lovely Friday. So nice that although I am brokenhearted over Kunio's goodbye, I have been unable to shed any tears. I still hear that he may resign the LDP and so I should worry that there could be some truth to the rumor that he might join his brother's DPJ. I have been assured, however, that this could never happen, since the two "hate" each other.

Even if K. Hatoyama does resign the LDP, he should have plenty of contacts with more exciting options for the future than the DPJ could ever offer.

Of course, this is said to damage the LDP's election prospects too. Just another thing to weep over when I get the time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Peter Schiff commits blasphemy

His ideas on the US economy are way too cautious and pessimistic. Japan and China have no choice but to continue to fund the US party anyway...we hope and pray.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Schiff
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

12 June: Edited to clarify that my comments were meant as sarcasm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ol' Duke and the DPRK

When I was in the USAF, I once had a drug dog named Duke.

Now Ol' Duke was a somewhat nutty dog, in fact one of the nuttiest that I ever handled or trained. What made Ol' Duke nutty was not only that he was flaky and hard to train as a drug dog, but the fact that he played bad-ass all the time---especially with me. Rub his stomach and he'd growl and give me the eye like he was ready to chew my arm off. Tell him to get into a vehicle and he'd do the same. Tell him to get out and ditto. Sometimes, he even growled when he peed.

One day, when I was taking him back to the kennels to put him away after a midnight shift, he seemed to sense that I was going on break for 3 days. He was not especially enthusiastic about that. When I reached over to grab the leash and take him out of the car, he grabbed my forearm with his mouth, looked me right in the eye, and put just a little pressure on---not enough to really hurt, but enough that I could feel his big canines pushing into my skin.

Now I had seen all of Duke's tricks before, and although I usually just laughed at him, this was different. Duke may have been a bit of a bluffer, but he had bitten a previous handler and was, of course, attack-trained. I wasn't afraid of the old boy, but I did have respect for what he could do.

Ol' Kim Jung Il et al of North Korea have been making noises again. Just a day or so ago, they changed their stance that any nukes that they produced would only be for defensive purposes and said that they would now use them in a "merciless offensive".

I no longer have any access to any classified information. About all I can do is read media reports and items from various sources on the Internut, and everyone knows how unreliable those often are. But I do think that I "know" enough to guess that the DPRK's latest growls are nothing but growls, for exactly what nukes are they gonna use? I suppose they could have more ready to go than the two that they tested, but I kinda doubt it.*

Ol' Duke had more sense as he had something to back up his growls and it wouldn't have gotten him killed if he did. Is far as I know, the DPRK can only fully back up theirs by killing thousands of South Koreans in Seoul and starting a war which would assure the destruction of the regime.

I felt sorry for Ol' Duke** and stayed late playing with him that morning and later came back during my break to spend more time with him. Who will feel sorry for Ol' Kim?

*24 June: Estimates are that they have enough plutonium for at least 6. I have seen other estimates that they may already have several more. There seems to be few who believe that they have the ability to mount any on missiles yet.

**Alas, poor old Duke is long gone, unlike the should-have-been-history-by-now Stalinist government of North Korea.

Monday, June 08, 2009

More concerns that DPRK will push Japan to nukes

At the same time that the US is considering putting North Korea back on the terrorist list, and placing more financial restrictions on the country, and the UN Security Council seems to be getting a little more serious about tougher sanctions, North Korea has sentenced two US journalists to 12 years in prison:

North Korea on Monday sentenced two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor in a case widely seen as a test of how far the isolated Communist state was willing to take its confrontational stance toward the United States. NYT article

Obama appears to have gotten fed up with DPRK's repeated games and won't offer any new incentives for it to dismantle the nuclear facility, and fears that Kim Jong-il and crowd will start a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia:

...Mrs. Clinton said the United States feared that if the test and other recent actions by North Korea did not lead to “strong action,” there was a risk of “an arms race in Northeast Asia” — an oblique reference to the concern that Japan would reverse its long-held ban against developing nuclear weapons. NYT US Weighs Interecpting North Korean Shipments.

North Korea has threatened war if the UN imposes sanctions or if the US/UN interferes with its vessels. Of course they've threatened war many times since the last war they fought in which they would utterly defeated until China felt threatened enough to intercede. But who really knows what Kim will do?

Weirdo Japan story from the US, again......

This made the weirdo news run in Japan too, though I'd take it as the typical entertainment fluff. Could be wrong though.

And so could she:

Fukasawa [Who coined the term "Herbivore Men"] estimated some 20 percent of men are what she would call "herbivorous" and said their attitudes were influencing others. Indeed, she said, it was a return to the norm for Japanese men, rather than a departure.

"It was after World War II and the post-war economic growth that Japanese men gained the reputation as a sex animal through the competition with the West. Looking back beyond that time, older literature talks a lot about men with the kind of character we see in the herbivorous boys." CNN

After WW2? Before that men were passive guys not interested in sex? What about Genji of the Tale of Genji? Why where'd Lady Murasaki get the idea for his character? Not interested in money? How did the samurai get indebted to the merchant class if nobody was interested in money? Must of been the women's fault.

Ministry in cover up to protect corporate interests over citizens'

The farm ministry uncovered 879 cases of mislabeled food products last year but only disclosed 110 of them in order to protect the companies responsible, according to documents obtained from the ministry Saturday. Japan Times full article.

The penalties for the companies involved were warnings and guidance and the fraud was covered up to prevent "a big social blow" to the crooked companies involved? I am sure none of that will ever happen again as they have no doubt learned their lesson.

Didn't the friend-of-a-friend-of-terrorists, Kunio Hatoyama,who is now head of the Ministry of Communications, just recently issue a warning to one of the TV stations (Fuji?) for reporting something that "wasn't true"? Who will lecture and warn the bureaucrats?

Enjoy your next meal, whatever substance it is and wherever it came from.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What's the keyword?

Over on Japan Economy & News Blog, one can read a number of reports on the continuing decline in sales at department stores. I suppose there are many reasons for this, but one thing is for sure: Poor service has nothing to do with it, for Japan is as well-known for its uniformly good---even superior---service as it is for being hygiene-obsessed and uniquely having 4 seasons.

Imagine my surprise when due to what she called bad service, the wife decided to go down to Minatomirai for lunch instead of our usual Takashimaya. She didn't actually refuse to go, but said she'd eat at Takashimaya (reluctantly) but would do no shopping.

So off to Yokohama we went, with her explaining her reasons---repeatedly over the 20+ minute ride---for cutting up our Takashimaya credit card and ditching thoughts of investing in Takashimaya stocks*. Seems she was so upset by the service at the Shinjuku Takashimaya that even after several complaints and entirely phony apologies, she is planning on sending a written complaint to the president of the company.

A week or so ago, she had stopped at the Shinjuku branch of Takashima to pick up some sushi and discovered that they were holding a special event there for Kyushuu foods. After picking up some ¥200 each fish cakes from one vendor, she went into line to pay. The clerks were telling folks which line to stand and wait in because it was quite crowded.

Finally, she got to the Money Taker. The MT woman said, "Keyword, please."

A**ko: Huh? What keyword?

MT: Didn't you see the TV CM? You have to have the keyword.

The wife, not being the submissive little Japanese lady of myth and fetish was less than pleased to be bothered with such nonsense and let the woman know it. The "embarrassed-looking" Money Taker went to ask the "Idiotic-Looking Manager".

I-LM: We're very sorry, but we can't sell you those fish cakes without the keyword.

A**ko: Do you mean I have to watch TV for a keyword and I can't buy anything here if I don't? I don't care about the discount, I just wanna buy these.

I-LM: Sorry. There are many other items that may be useful to you that you can buy here, but since this is a special event, you cannot by those fish cakes without the keyword. It's only those which you cannot buy.

Ready to punch an Idiotic-Looking Manager A**ko: You don't have any signs saying that a keyword is needed. None of your staff told anyone. I stood in line to buy these. Why don't you let people know before they waste their time?

I-LM: Well, if we put a sign up, then customers will tell each other the keyword and anyone could buy it.

After a few minutes of this, and perhaps fearing for his life, he offered to call someone higher up "to apologize." She refused as "I didn't want an apology! They wouldn't admit that they did anything wrong, they just wanted to apologize because I had to wait."

She sent an e-mail through Takashimaya's website complaining about that, and they wrote back and said that they would set up a sign informing customers of the need for a keyword in future events. Since they still "have not admitted they they did anything wrong," she still refuses to accept any vague non-apology apology.

Personally, I find this shocking! Less than perfect service in Japan? And an improper apology from the always polite citizens who always sincerely apologize? Perhaps the wife has been spoiled and no longer understands Japan.

*We would not invest in the stocks expecting to gain anything, but because stockholders get a 10% discount on purchases. Mitsukoshi offers a similar scam deal and she is now considering an "investment" there. This isn't an uncommon thing in Japan from what I have heard and it is done for the discount and other benefits, not as a "normal" investment.

Tiananmen debate at NYT

It's obvious that to many, the killing of Chinese citizens in June 1989 by the PLA is not universally seen as an evil.

Nicholas Khristof's Answering Your China Questions at the NYT has comments by folks who hold differing views:

Mr. kristof, I can’t believe that you’re so ignorant you said university students nowadays don’t know the names like Wang Dan in China. How many students have you talked to? As I know, most of my classmates and friends in university watched vedios about the Tiananmen Square,...Baowei

...we Chinese must be doing something very right. Is that because our undemocratic government did not screw up the economy? Or is that your universal human rights idea is neither universal nor human, and we are the foremost counter example? "A Chinese."

...What started as a legitimate protest by the students was quickly taken over by the CIA thugs who wanted to fish in a revolt river, but since the Chinese Government knew better, these CIA criminals failed miserably. "Mella"

...not a single comment to the effect of ‘let us honor the memory of the innocent dead that fell in Beijing twenty years ago’...Lei

Another historical event has become something which didn't happen, or if it did was completely exaggerated, or was caused by foreigners and will be a subject of endless debate.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

But it's different here.

This is Japan. No, not talking about bigotry being uniquely acceptable in Japan 'cause Japan is special like some fellows of foreign origin who write occasional gomi for a certain English language newspaper in Japan say. Instead, I'm talking about this.

More "mutual understanding"

Mutual understanding seems to be spreading since it has worked so well in the past. (I think "understanding" means pretend to accept what ever happens. Don't complain or criticize no matter what.) China, which has obviously observed how this process works, has decided to pursue it with the US too.

In celebration of June 4 1989 Tienanmen Square:

Chinese police aggressively deterred dissent on Thursday's 20th anniversary of the crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, ignoring calls from Hillary Rodham Clinton and even Taiwan's China-friendly president for Beijing to face up to the 1989 violence. AP

China has gone through enormous changes in 20 years, so what is the government worried about? The one-hour plus PBS Frontline online The Tank Man (2006) is a good reminder of those days and more recent times. It enhances mutual understanding.

9:55PM: The Frontline video has a section with four young Chinese students who could not identify the famous photo of the man and the tank. Knew nothing about it.You can find denials that anything out of the ordinary happened at Tiananmen in many places on the Internet, for example in the comments to a The Online Photographer post from one of the anonymous posters (#6 at 4:05PM). The Chinese government has done its work well. The assertion of some at the time that China did no more than what the US government would do under similar circumstances has taken hold. It always come back to the US somehow...

Speaking of Tiananmen, the late Premier Zhao Ziyang's Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang is sorta available at as long as you are in no hurry to get it. Zhao Ziyang was the guy who went to the square and was sympathetic to the student protesters which ultimately ended his career. The book was recently discussed on the PBS Jim Lehrer Newshour.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Justice delayed, justice denied

A man wrongly imprisoned for murdering a 4-year old has been released from prison. As is commonly the case, he had "voluntarily"confessed to the crime, but later withdrew the confession. Since the criminal justice system had locked up the wrong guy, they have so far missed out on searching for the real killer whom we might assume is still running around free. Since there is a statute of limitations even for murder in Japan, the 17 years that have passed may be very significant if they are counted towards the 25 year limit.

"I'll never forgive the real culprit, even if the statute of limitations expires," Toshikazu Sugaya, 62, told reporters in Chiba after his release. "From now on, I will work to support people who have also been (wrongfully) convicted."

Manabu Sasamori, a lawyer in Sugaya's defense team, slammed the prosecutors, saying: "It is only natural that he be released. Actually, this step came too late."...The prosecutors will probably admit they forced a confession out of Sugaya once his retrial begins, Sasamori added. [His conviction is expected to be overturned in retrial] Japan Times

Perhaps this sort of thing might be prevented or at least reduced if recording of police/suspect interviews was required. But no, according to confessed terrorist contact Kunio Hatoyama*'s "Justice" Ministry successor, considering that "would be difficult."**

Serving 17 years in prison for nothing is probably just a bit difficult too, but since politicians and bureaucrats very, very rarely ever serve that kind of time none of them are gonna worry too much. And besides, we've often heard those guys who run the system with kobans---I refuse to call them professional law enforcement officers---say that to record those interviews would damage the "trust" that suspects and Japan's finest develop. I wonder what Mr. Sugaya would say about that trust? Imagine just how stupid they must think the public is to even make that kind of statement. (Or perhaps how apathetic/passive the public is?)

Speaking of the boys in blue, in Okayama a 29-year old officer in charge of theft investigations was apprehended by two high school boys after he snatched a purse from an old lady. No word on whether or not he has apologized yet.**

Were I a religious person, I'd be praying for a DPJ victory. However, there is a horribly frightening rumor going around that the friend of a friend of terrorists, Kunio Hatoyama, may be considering going to the DPJ!

* This fellow is still a government minister. Why?

**Both shown on the 6PM news.

Old news about Roos

Spending days avoiding non-work related computer stuff has some benefits. One can actually read a book, for example. Unfortunately, it also results in missing a lot, sorta like living in the past. That isn't necessarily all bad, but the the past of the 21st century seems to be about 3 days ago instead of the years and decades we used to think of as the past.

On second thought on the now ancient news about John Roos, maybe the appointment of a unknown with no specific knowledge of Japan as US Ambassador to Japan is not a big deal. After all, one of the early Japan apologists and US Ambassador, Edwin O. Reischauer, was often said to be confused about which country he represented---Japan or the US. Don't think we need another of those. On the other hand, I have heard that Roos was handed one of Reischauer's books to bone up on Japan. Oh, goody.