Thursday, August 31, 2006

Superior Japanese aesthetics, cleanliness

Fujiwara, in his Dignity of a Pompous Ass---sorry, I mean Dignity of a State, claims the non-Japanese cannot really understand beauty, not have the same sensitivities as pure Japan does.

Additionally, the article from the Nihongo Journal pointed out how clean the natives of Nippon are and how the rest of the dirty filty world outside of Japan would be better off if it were as clean as it is in Japan.

Well, I recalled an old book I had read in college by Isabella Byrd, a woman who traveled throughout Japan in the late 1800s. One for some strange reason gets a bit different view from her. She had traveled throughout much of the world and could probably make some pretty good comparisons. I am sure some of her observations are not politically correct by today's standards, but that's ok, since we are going by Fujiwara's and Japan' standards.

Her book, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan is available to read on the internet since the copyright has long expired. You can read it here.

Few would deny that Japan has a lot of beauty. However, most people did/do not live in beautifully designed and built houses wearing fine silk kimono and sipping tea while viewing the moon.

Read that book. I suspect that Fujiwara and his ilk would simply claim that she was just to dumb, too unevolved, too animal-like as a non-Japanese to have understood the exceptional, superior, godly beauty and aethetics of Japan and its pure-blooded inhabitants. (Not including the Ainu of course.)

"Nowhere is [racial prejudice] greater than in Japan and other lands of East Asia. Because the Japanese have merged their feelings about race, culture, and nation together, they have probably made their attitudes toward race all the stronger. It is as if they regarded themselves as a different species from the rest of humanity."
Edwin Reischauer.

Those Brits can be so vicious sometimes.

Making fun of ol' Peanut, Jimmy Carter and the possibility of Jimmy meeting (and most likely kissing) the ex-Iranian president Khatami. They should really lighten up on Jimmy, I understand he has become quite a house painter. If he keeps it up, he could come to Japan and be an English teacher---as long as he doesn't kiss all the students. I'm joking, he only kisses dictators and thugs.

See: Don't get Carter. He won't do.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fujiwara's "Dignity of a State"

Fujiwara Masahiko's best seller in Japan. I mentioned this earlier and have bought a copy. I intended to do some basic translation, but I have been beaten to it, thank goodness!

Fujiwara comes across as just another Nihonjinron bakero who believes that Japan, and thus the Japanese, and of course most especially himself are uniquely unique and in the end superior to all others on earth---in fact to the whole known (and unknown) universe. He opposes democracy, and about anything else he deems "western." He especially despises logic. Very unusual for a mathematician. But since anyone with any logic would laugh at the old fool's conclusion, one can understand his disdain for it.

You can read some basic translation and commentary here. He is up to about chapter 5 currently and it is quite interesting. You have to read it, the old goofball seems to be a total fool! (Naturally, he would probably claim that just because what he says is illogical---except when he has to use logic to prove a point---as a stupid simple-minded logical Westerner, you would be too stupid to understand anyway.) Remember, this is a best seller in Japan. Obviously, people are very attracted, or at least interested in what this old rightwing nationalist nutter has to say. The question is why?

I guess one can judge Fujiwara's knowledge of the world by understanding that he, like many other shall we say, "somewhat poorly informed/educated people," believes that Japan is the only country with 4 clearly distinct seasons. Many people believe that here, and everytime someone tells me such idiotic nonsense, I lose all respect for their intelligence, especially when that person has lived overseas in an area which has 4 distinct seasons. This old boy has done so.

We can understand why he has not had this translated and published in English. It would have to be sold as humor.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yasukuni Shrine, Nationalism, and the US-Japan Alliance

How did US policy toward Japan and the emperor affect the view of war-time guilt and the Yasukuni shrine? Excerpts from Japan Focus.

As Yomiuri Shimbun editor Watanabe Tsuneo comments of the exhibits, "That facility [Yasukuni] praises militarism and children who go through that memorial come out saying, '‘Japan actually won the last war.'"”


This does not mean that the Japanese people have made no efforts to come to terms with Japan’s war record. The opposite is the case: in the face of obstacles associated with US policies and Japanese nationalism, significant numbers of Japanese, particularly those of the wartime generation, absorbed important lessons concerning Japan’s disastrous wartime epoch and sought to make amends to its victims, not least by rejecting the wartime ideology of emperor, colonialism and kokutai. For example, many Japanese scholars have displayed dedication, resourcefulness and courage in researching and analyzing Japanese war crimes and atrocities and mounting vigorous critiques of government policy on Yasukuni and related issues.


Precisely the Koizumi administration’s support for the US war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s global “war on terror” buys it tacit US support for a Yasukuni nationalism. The new Yasukuni nationalism, however, in invoking a hardening Japanese assessment of the legitimacy of the Pacific War, has the potential to clash with a strengthened US-Japan

From an excellent new article by Mark Seldon in Japan Focus

Monday, August 28, 2006

Memo to all students:

In order to assure the highest levels of quality work and productivity from students, it will be our policy to keep all students well taught through our program of SPECIAL HIGH INTENSITY TEACHING (S.H.I.T. ). We are trying to give our students more S.H.I.T. than any other school. If you feel that you do not receive your share of S.H.I.T. on the course, please see your lecturer. You will be immediately placed at the top of the S.H.I.T. list, and our lecturer are especially skilled at seeing that you get all the S.H.I.T. you can handle.

Students who don't know S.H.I.T. will be placed in DEPARTMENTAL EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION PROGRAMS ( D.E.E.P S.H.I.T. ). Those who fail to take D.E.E.P S.H.I.T. seriously will have to go to EDUCATIONAL ATTITUDE TRAINING ( E.A.T. S.H.I.T. ). Since our lecturers took S.H.I.T. before they graduated, they don't have to do S.H.I.T. anymore, as they are all full of S.H.I.T. already.

If you are full of S.H.I.T. , you may be interested in a job teaching others. We can add your name to our BASIC UNDERSTANDING LECTURE LIST (B.U.L.L. S.H.I.T. ). For students who are intending to pursue a career in management and consultancy, we will refer you to the department of MANAGERIAL OPERATIONAL RESEARCH EDUCATIONAL ( M.O.R.E. S.H.I.T.). This course emphasizes on how to manage M.O.R.E S.H.I.T. . If you have further questions, please direct them to our HEAD OF TEACHING SPECIAL HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING ( H.O.T. S.H.I.T. )

Thank you
( B.I.G S.H.I.T.)

(I think I used to work at this place.)

From this site

Friday, August 25, 2006

Superior Japan

Until a few years ago, there was a magazine called Nihongo Journal meant for those studying Japanese. It, like many Japanese texts was full of ninhonjinron or some similar crap to try to convince students that Japan was not only uniquely unique, but in the end, superior to any other country.

Here is an example from a few years ago. I was studying, and though I rarely use this magazine because I don't want to puke, I had never read this before. Tonight I did.

Basically, it is telling the story of a girl (Kyoko) who was visiting her Japanese friend. As soon as they walked into the house, the Japanese girl asked "Aren't you going to wash your hands?" Of course, this visitor was surprised as her hands weren't dirty at all. Well, the Japanese girl explained, from the time that they are children, Japanese wash their hands and gargle when they come home. This tidbit of stunning information (for me, for I have yet to see a Japanese wash his/her hands any more often than anyone else when they come home.) caused the visitor to by all impressed once again with the wonderful Japanese. As expected, she thought, a Japanese. The Japanese like cleanliness. She continued to think, if only them thar other (lesser?) Asians would do the same. In fact, if other countries in the world would pay the same attention to cleanliness as the Japanese, there would not be diseases like SARS spreading.

Stunning. As I have written, people go into trains in the winter and cough openly. At any time people will sneeze and often will NOT bother to cover their big mouth. The sound in a train actually hurts one's ears. I have seen cooks go into the toilet (once in Futakotamagawa, and once at the Tsuki restaurant in Sakuragi-cho Washington Hotel, use the toilet, and give one had a quick 1-2 second soapless rinse before going back to cook---or roll your sushi. I would say hand-washing is not especially noticeable in public toilets in Japan, certainly no more so than anywhere else I've been..

You can ride the train and watch many pick their nose and roll buggers. Yea, real clean. Look at this. Impressed? This, of course is something one wouldn't see everyday, (and most Japanese, as well as other peoples would be disgusted) but it obviously happened in uniquely "clean" Japan. Should other nationalities emulate that too?

Japanese people are usually personally clean, just like most people with good hygiene. Sorry, but otherwise, I don't see anything uniquely or especiallly clean about the Japanese.

I could go on, but this is the nihonjinron-type propaganda that people are fed when they try to study Japanese with some of the texts or magazines like this. I have met very few Japanese who will be as openly boastful, superior, and arrogant as the writer of this piece must be, but I suppose they are around.

Sorry about the unclear photo.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Racial Segregation as Creativity

The wonderful Hollywood crowd, the same ones who have the (extreme left) answer to all the world's problems have gone KKK with one of their idiotic TV shows. Racial segregation on a fake reality show. No problem, just like ol' Robert C. Byrd, the ex-KKK Democrat senator, as long as you claim to be a faux-liberal, you can be as racist as the Imperial Wizard and get away with it. Just make a good excuse. This time, they actually call it a "social experiment." Didn't we already have that in the US before the 1960s?


Since the suspect in the child murder case in the US was arrested in Thailand, there have been articles written about how poor little helpless schools in Asia are at the mercy of people coming over here to teach. The claim is that it is so hard to check the credentials of teachers that many schools---most---don't even try. Why, many "teachers" have credentials that are fake!!!!!

This is pure horseshit. These schools often don't check because they flat out don't give a damn. They want a warm body--well, dead would be fine if it could speak English. In Japan, I have heard of a large school chain in Tokyo which will happily create a university degree for those who don't have one. They used to offer a free black suit to new teachers too.

The only reason a degree is needed for most is for immigration law compliance. (Berlitz, for example does not require a degree as long as you can legally work here. If a degree were required, they'd lose a lot of teachers.)

If schools/companies were serious, they could simply insist on an official transcript from each teacher.

Teaching credentials are basically worthless. Some schools require them---those which work with children---and a few others do. Most do not. In fact, as I have mentioned, if you are silly enough to actually try to teach as you were trained (you know, teach students who have the time and desire to learn outside the classroom instead of look forward to an hour or to a week of fun.) you will make more enemies than friends.

TEFL credentials are often garbage anyway. You can get them in a few weeks on the internet. Many recruiters don't seem to be able to know the difference between real TESOL certification and the junk. Why? It doesn't make much difference in the bottom line. It also makes little or no difference when the school is pushing its own ridiculous method that a drunken monkey has come up with. A teacher would be trouble there, because he/she would tend not to want to use nonsense from a drunken monkey.

Public schools? Look at the JET program in Japan. What percentage have any teaching credentials? Yet the Japanese government knowingly recruits people without them, then whines and complains and blames the young teachers because they don't know how to teach. I do know of some high schools and junior high schools which do require that teachers are really certified. They are few and far between.

Background checks certainly are possible. They aren't free. I suspect the cost has as much to do with the lack of checks as anything else. I have always wondered about a system in which children are put into the classroom with someone who has had no check. I had thought that at least the government had checked for arrest records, warrants, criminal histories etc., but after some recent incidents (not related to teachers) in Japan, and the arrest of Karr in Thailand, I doubt even that now.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How the BBC got screwed in Japan

Or perhaps screwed itself.

Don't have time to write much about this, if you had purchased all the equipment needed to view the BBC in Japan on satellite, you already know this. You certainly didn't learn it from the Japanese press. Article is here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rightwing Terrorist

Although the news about this is not very big in Japan, the guy who burned down Kioichi Kato's home, apparently for criticizing Koizumi's Yasukuni visit, has been found to be a rightwinger. Wow. What a non-shock.

Here is an article on it. I suspect the news has been somewhat muted because of possible rightist retaliation and threats. Normal in Japan.

19 August I have to correct what I said above. According to one TV program, there has been over 8 hours of coverage this week of the arson. I missed most of it somehow, but it has been covered on TV at least.

August 29 update:
Asahi Shimbun article in Japan Focus about this story here

Edwin O. Reishauer, an anti-Japanese Racist?

While most people remember Edwin as sugarcoating most every thing about Japan, this guy, TANAKA Tomoyuki, claims Reischauer was an anti-Japanese racist who could not speak Japanese "fluently." The latter would come as a huge shock to most, but since I guess it was not perfect enough to make some Japanese uneasy---as often happens when they encounter a foreigner who does speak at native level---Tomoyuki refuses to call it fluent. There is some question, however, on whether or not Tomoyuki can speak Japanese himself. I guess Tomoyuki is not Japanese, which could explain some of his comments.

He has (had?) a newsgroup set up, although it is primitive and looks to be 10 years old here.
The page is titled Reischauer dedicated his life to promoting anti-Japanese racism.

He quotes Reischauer:

"Nowhere is [racial prejudice] greater than in Japan and other lands of East Asia. Because the Japanese have merged their feelings about race, culture, and nation together, they have probably made their attitudes toward race all the stronger. It is as if they regarded themselves as a different species from the rest of humanity."

and implies that this statement was made because Reischauer was an anti-Japanese racist. This was a very common response (and still is) to any criticism of Japan. The critic is attacked as racist by those Japanapologists. When I read the above statement, I couldn't say how true it is---"Nowhere" may be a bit strong, but the rest of the statement would be hard to disagree with. The only surprise to me is that Edwin Oldfather actually wrote that. I read most of his books in college and don't remember that. Perhaps I need to read a few of them again, if I can keep from throwing up from some of the nonsense he wrote.

Anyway, the page is a hilarious---I want to find the rest of his stuff. His address was Your tax dollars at work?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I Stole This Quote

but it is so true:

We used to think that a hundred million
monkeys at a hundred million keyboards
eventually could
produce the complete works of
Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the
Internet, we know this is not true.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Rightwing and Criticism

caused the fire at Kato's house, and as mentioned below, it appears to be arson, perhaps related to Kato's criticism of the Yasukuni visit. A detailed article is here.

Despite all this, one can't be misled by China's distorted claims that Japan is reverting to the militarism of WW2. It isn't. There is no present danger of Japan attacking any country. Except for the loony few there is no support for any such thing in Japan. China is as guilty as Japan---if not more so---in stirring up nationalism inside the country.

Korea plays this game too: (from the New York Sun)

President Roh of South Korea called on Japan to "prove it has no intention to repeat"its past aggression as his government summoned the Japanese ambassador to issue an official protest.

These kinds of statements are ridiculous, and I have to believe they know it when they make them. I spent 2 years in Korea in the Air Force, and well remember that the Japanese were demonized and hated by a huge percentage of the population. In fact, they were more worried about Japan attacking than North Korea, even though North Korea constantly sent spies to South Korea, kidnapped South Koreans, blew up half of the ROK government, attempted to assassinate the South Korea president/dictator Park Chung Hee, blew up an airliner and much more. To worry about Japan was and is absurd.

Japan is becoming more assertive and doing so in some peculiar ways. However, the threat to the region is not Japan---it is South Korea's brother to the north, Kim Jung Il. His father had no problem with starting wars and committing terrorist acts, does Kim Jung Il?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Japan and Foreign Aid

We have all heard how by some measurements, Japan is one of the largest foreign aid donors in the world. But just how true is that? Who and why do they give aid? Strangely, details about that are not so openly boasted about by the government. This article gives a bit better idea of exactly what is going on. Japan does least for developing countries
(Sorry but it is from the Japan Times, you have to register to get in. Free, just requires that you supply marketing info. If the only accurate info you provide is your e-mail address, it's fine.))

More fallout from the Yasukuni visit?

One of the opponents of Koizumi's visit today is a member of his LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), Mr. Kato. (I do not recall his first name.) A house in which his mother was staying was burned tonight. Fortunately, his mother was out for a walk at the time. A 63 year-old man with stomach wounds was found outside of the house and was taken to the hospital---so far he is unable to speak because of the seriousness of the wounds.

Is it possible that this guy is a right-wing loony-bird who objected to Kato's opposition to the Yasukuni visit and he decided to burn Kato's house down and commit suicide as a protest? This is the way things were done in the past in Japan (prior to the war) and is still possible, especially among the extremist right-wing emperor worshippers whom many believe that Koizumi is visiting the shrine to please. We will see as the story develops, I guess.

Historical Revisionism and NHK

As is pretty obvious, there is a widespread feeling in Japan that the country was a victim in WW2, not an aggressor. Just watch NHK TV and their documentaries on the era. This is especially obvious this month every year, the anniversaries of the atomic bombings and Japan's surrender.

Japan Focus has an excellent article on how scandal-plagued NHK has become more and more a conduit of this type of propaganda. You can read it here.

An exerpt from that article on how the powers in Japan view any hint of Japanese wrong doing in the war:

On August 9, 1993, Hosokawa Morihiro became the first non-LDP prime minister in 38 years and, in his inaugural press conference, stated his belief that Japan had waged "a war of aggression, a war that was wrong." This rather self-evident observation was unprecedented for a Japanese leader, although during the remainder of his brief tenure Hosokawa would refer more discreetly to a war that had included aggressive acts.

(A group of LDP Diet members began meeting a few days later in reaction to Hosokawa'’s statement, which helped galvanize the forces of nationalism and historical revisionism that have since become prominent. An account of the period on the Liberal Democratic Party'’s website refers to "“notable mishaps including Prime Minister Hosokawa's widely-criticized assertion at a press conference that Japan had acted as an aggressor in the Second World War (Nihon no shinryaku senso)."”[9]

Reaction to Elvis Koizumi's Yasukuni Visit

is varied in Japan. Half of his own party objected mostly because of the damage it is doing to Japan's diplomatic relations in northeast Asia. The opposition parties are pretty much fully opposed, because they believe it is inappropriate to worship at that shrine which includes class A war criminals and has a section which justifies Japan's actions in the war. Many consider it as morally wrong as do the real victims of Japan's aggression in the war.

From the NHK evening news tonight, the so-called "man-on-the-street" interviews gave a mixture of opinions, mostly leaning toward support for Koizumi's Tojo worship. (Naturally, this stuff is nearly useless as a gauge. A program after the news gave me a similar impression as most of the guests seemed to support it. I did not watch it all, however.)

Many Japanese oppose this sort of thing and are well aware of Japan's WW2 wrongs. However, they seem to be a decreasing minority. They certainly don't have enough power to force a change. I believe this sort of thing will increase, rather than decrease, especially if Abe becomes the next PM. He is even more nationalist and rightwing than Elvis Koizumi.

(Today Koizumi made it an offical government visit by signing his name and title. In the past he gave the bogus argument that he was doing so as a private citizen. So I guess one can say that the Japanese government was officially represented by Koizumi at the shrine today. I am sure that would be denied though.)

Koizumi Thanks Tojo et al at Yasukuni Shrine

To celebrate the surrender of Japan in WW2, the war of which Japan was the greatest victim, Prime Minister Elvis Koizumi worshipped at the shrine this morning. Basically Japan is telling China and Korea to go to hell. It's an internal affair of Japan, the victim of WW2. One will note that the right-wing emperor worshippers and thugs which the Japanese government says has nothing to do with Elvis' visit was there attacking protesters as usual.

Nationalist supporters of the shrine holding banners proclaiming solidarity with the emperor stood out among the crowds paying their respects at the shrine, where TV cameras and reporters had awaited the prime minister's arrival.

A group of right-wingers attacked a van carrying opponents of the shrine visit, some throwing rocks and others banging on the vehicle with umbrellas. Riot police moved in and the van left

Of course, as Elvis explained to the Australian Prime Minister (Downer) it's all a cultural misunderstanding. You see, Japan is special and never wrong in any way. Anyone who thinks it may be wrong simply doesn't understand Japan, which is ok, because it is impossible for foreigners to understand.

(The shrine, which played a central role in the state Shinto religion that mobilized the nation to fight in the name of a divine emperor, considers 14 wartime leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as Class A war criminals to be "martyrs"---quoted from the Washington Post)

There is no truth to any rumor which may claim that Japan's WW2 ally, Adolf Hitler, will be inducted into the shrine, because as we all know, the Nazi-Japan alliance was one of convenience, not shared ideals. Sig Heil! Bonzai!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Obon is a holiday break for many in Japan, as they return to visit their "hometown," or at least their parents and relatives. So there are fewer people than usual in Tokyo. I wish more would leave, then the air might clear up as it does at New Year when many leave the city.

This year, I am taking a 4 day break, working only Wednesday morning and early afternoon at my "private" company class. (Private because it is one that I got on my own.) A week of pretty much doing what I would like to do without worrying about this class or that one. Without preparing or even thinking much about teaching. (Deja vu---I fell like I am back at B....Ber....Ber...I give up, I can't even mention the name.)

Free Speech

in Japan. Free political speech. Just how free? A lot of Japanese ask that question, as does the comedian Hikari Ota, one half of the pair of comedians know as Bakusho Mondai, who is a little more open about making fun of politicians. The NYT had an article about him here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Let's cap the foreign population at 3%

in Japan. You know, keep the country and the blood as "pure" as Koizumi's heart when he worships at Yasukuni shrine.

Actually, this is part of a Justice Ministry idea for managing foreign immigration in the future. It doesn't sound all bad, and there are some good ideas, like making foreign kids go to school. A Japanese language requirement for all. As I read it, there will be a basic language requirement before one can even come here to work. Wanna bet that they don't exempt eikaiwa kyoshi? (English conversation instructors). The problem is, who will judge this ability. I suspect it will be the usual Japanese written test with all kinds of basically irrelevant questions or arcane knowledge required.

You can read this story here

Some folks are lucky

I have read about this kind of thing happening in Japan before---someone inviting a stranger---always a foreigner---into their home overnight. (There is a TV show similar in which a Japanese TV star, camera crew in tow, runs around in small towns asking to be put up for the night. This is a bit different.) It can happen in any country---I know it is possible in the US in rural areas---but it is an unusual thing too. Would you invite a stranger to stay overnight with you? It is a bit more surprising to me when it happens in Japan, given the propaganda Japanese hear form the time they are children about how dangerous the outside world, and thus outside people are compared to Japan. Naturally, not everyone believe that bull.

Anyway, here is the story.


I mentioned earlier that I started seriously studying for JPLT level 2. Passing this test doesn't mean a a lot as far as actually being able to use what you've learned to actually communicate with human beings, but it certainly provides a goal and motivation to study.

I talked about some useful books for studying Japanese. Many of those were designed to help people learn to speak, not just study for a test. (That's how we studied Japanese in university in the mid-late 80s. Basically, we used Grammar-translation, the same thing most Japanese students study. Language learning for tests, not communication.)

I have revised my opinion slightly on An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. Most of the readings and even roleplays apply to university life and are basically irrelevant for adults, but it does have some good grammar explanations. Much of the grammar is needed to pass Level 2. A lot of the vocabulary is needed for level 2 also. So it is a useful text.

It's funny how all the language acquisition theory that I studied has not made it any easier for me to really learn Japanese. Every small increase in ability still takes a lot of time and intentional effort. I do a lot of the stuff which supposedly helps. I do as much "extensive" reading as possible. But to learn new vocabulary, I still fall back on memorizing word lists. Reading then reinforces what I have learned when I encounter the words or grammar structures that I have studied, but it gets no easier.

The Next Prime Minister, Taro Aso

It could be argued that Prime Minister Koizumi's major foreign policy success, other than the normal kowtowing the US, has been his talent at angering China and Korea through his visits to Yasukuni. One wonders exactly what he thinks he is achieving by this; what benefit there is for Japan or anyone else, but he is rumored to be planning to visit it again on 15 August, the anniversary of Japan's surrender. (In a recent letter to the editor of the International Herald Tribune, one official representative of the Japanese government denied that Koizumi was visiting the shrine to appease the Japanese rightwing. Officials are very skilled at immediately responding to any criticism in the press and explaining it all away. Japan is always right, always innocent. So it's not rightwing appeasement like most think. Then why?)

His possible successor, Foreign Minister Aso who has made several statements in the past explaining away or justifying Japanese actions in WW2, recently made headlines after it was announced that he too, had visited the shrine, and is believed to plan to do so should he become prime minister.

Aso's family's company kept Allied prisoners as force labor during the war. He invited---then disinvite---Ambassadors from former Allied countries to a July 3 ceremony to commemorate prisoners who died in Japanese custody during the war. Most believe this happened because Aso was afraid of controversy over his own family's involvement in forced labor. Read about it here.

Japan is becoming more aggressive in its foreign policy. It is time for this to happen instead of continuing to depend on the US to set it for Japan while also providing a military for the country. But one has to wonder what Japan's world view is. What overall goals does it hope to achieve in its foreign policy? Punish North Korea for kidnapping Japanese while forgetting about Koreans that Japan kidnapped because it was done by the war time government? Insult Japan's WW2 victims by worshipping at Yasukuni? Increase whaling quotas? These are the diplomatic objectives of the world's second largest country? Is this why Japan wants on the UN Security Council?

Monday, August 07, 2006


turns out to be positive for doping for both the A and B samples. The thing that started me believing that he was likely guilty was the finding of testosterone from an outside source in the sample. That is pretty hard to explain away.

It will be interesting to hear his defense, but it'll have to be good. Like almost everyone caught, he will deny and deny it.

It's a real shame. I thought this year's Tour de France was really good. I thought his performance on stage 17 was one of the best in the Tour's history. Now, it may all have been a big fraud. I think I will just not bother anymore with procycling. They may not have any more dopers than any other sport, but when the biggest event of the year is invalidated because of dopers, and every champion is accused of being one, who wants to watch it? WADA and UCI don't follow their own rules then try to enforce rule on the athletes. (The test results should have never been released, before both samples showed a positive. His reputation was permantly damaged as soon as the A sample results were leaked/announced. Tried in the press.)It's more like a giant soap opera. A clown show. I'll just try to race here in amateur events---as tough as they are to get to---when I get a chance, and train and ride just for the fun of it. Always more fun to play a sport than watch someone else do it anyway.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

6 August, 61st Hiroshima Anniversary

On Sunday evenings, I usually watch TV. Except for the evening news, it is the only TV I regularly watch.

Tonight was the normal anniversary so of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and how it affected the biggest victims of World War 2, innocent Japan. Why, here it was, trying to free China and other Asian countries from Western imperialism so that it could impose Japanese imperialism, when all the sudden the whole world showed up at Japan's door and started attacking it for no good reason. This unfair Western aggression against poor, innocent Japan began when Roosevelt tricked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor.

I personally believe it was absolutely wrong to attack a city when it was known that so many non-combatants would be killed. You may argue that women were contributing to the Japanese war effort, but you cannot make that argument for children. We intentionally killed women and children. Intentionally because we knew it would happen and it was more than "collateral damage." Japan was doing the same thing and worse in China, but that is no excuse. Another problem is that the bombings allows Japan to see itself as, and to play, a victim of the war and escape accepting responsibility.

There are many other reasons why I think it was wrong, but it has been argued and debated for years, and I can add nothing new. The bomb however, in no way excuses anything that Japan did in the war, nor does it make Japan a victim of the war that they started.

(Most people are not aware that Japan had attempted to build an atomic bomb during WW2, as had Germany. They failed having never come close, but they tried. I don't doubt that they would have used it had they had one. The scene of a Japanese fighter pilot warning children to take cover during the Pearl Harbor raid in that bad Pearl Harbor movie a few years ago wouldn't have been likely.)

Anyway, this is normal every year at this time. There be more on the 9th, the anniversary of Nagasaki. Then, on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender, Koizumi will go to Yasukuni shrine and worship convicted war criminals to appease the right wing and others, including the families of some of the veterans. Oh, I'm sorry, he said he goes to pray for peace. It's a matter of the heart.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Japan and the Environment

Everyone knows that the Japanese have a special relationship with nature and the environment. We've heard it a million times. Ask an Japan apologist/explainer or any nihonjinron true believer. After all, this is where the great Kyoto treaty to fight global warming was signed.

Unfortunately, you could never tell that this is the case by talking to Japanese citizens or observing their, or the government' actions. You very, very, very, very---did I say very?---rarely ever hear of pressure to conserve, preserve, or protect the environment come from citizens, or citizen groups. It comes from business for economic purposes, or from the government for similar reasons. The government has most often pushed any conservation efforts by increasing costs to consumers and households. They surely don't want industry to bear much of a burden.

  • Japanese homes and apartments have little (or no) insulation. Double-paned glass windows? Forget it. Imagine the energy loss from this. Instead of telling offices to raise or lower thermostats to uncomfortable levels to save energy, perhaps forcing builders to improve insulation would be more effective. Even a tax break to subsidize homeowners who do insulate their homes might help.
  • Plastics bags for everything. Recently businesses have found the cost of plastic increasing rapidly, so they are trying (not very hard) to reduce the number of plastic bags consumers supposedly demand. Everything is wrapped. Go to 7-11 and buy a yogurt. You will get a plastic spoon and a bag. Include a juice and you'll get a straw too. Buy a pre-cooked food, salad or whatever and get another spoon, fork or chopsticks. They may even wrap it in a separate smaller plastic bag. Why not just stop? Well, it's a Japanese tradition! I actually read that in the newspaper a few months ago. Yes sir, it's rude to give someone a carton of orange juice without a bag and a straw. Japan appears to be the only modern country in which tradition excuses everything.
  • Air conditioning outdoors. Ye, we do it here. It has decreased to some extent, but you can go to some shops in Tokyo---Akihabara used to be really good at this---and they will have the shop doors wide open with the AC going full-blast. Feels really nice when you are outside on the sidewalk walking by, but I am pretty sure this has a less than wonderful effect on greenhouse gases.
  • Whaling and using some of the meat for dog food. Yea, this ia a Japanese tradition, too, even though consumption has always been rare.
  • Doing laundry every day whether it is needed or not. Full loads? Forget it. One dirty sock is enough.
There are tons of other things, most of the rivers dammed, native forests decimated and replanted with cedar trees to provide the timber industry with profits, but which have instead caused serious and increasingly common allergy problems in the spring and more. It is all old news, written about in the book Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr about 4-5 years and, much of it was known earlier.

There are some very rural, natural areas in Japan, of course. But you can bet it isn't because Japan is protecting or preserving it or would even do so if it were threatened. (unless by evil foreigners, of course) Frankly, most people don't really care enough to do something about it. And, citizens really are not going to be activists for much of anything in modern Japan. We'll all wait for the government to tell use what to do, and even better yet, do it for us.