Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Dignity of the Nation

I have had a tough time finishing Fujiwara Masahiko's nihonjinron rant in book form, but I have finally reached the last chapter. Not that it is difficult, it's just that it is a tedious, boring read of a book written by a man who believes that normal human feelings/emotions are experienced only by---or particularly by---Japanese. Of course this is what nihonjinron is. A mythical, quasi-religious fiction.

Fujiwara attacks the west in general and the US in particular. He draws ridiculous conclusions and makes hasty generalizations about the cultures and people of the west based on shallow stereotypes, hearsay, and the like. Europe and Britain do not escape his rants either. Other countries of the world don't really figure much, but he makes a few references to China, Korea, and other Asian countries/culture in the book---none especially flattering as compared to Dai Nippon.

He also attempts to discredit logic by setting up logical fallacies and then using logic to discredit them. From there, he leaps to the absurd conclusion that logical reasoning is flawed because he discredited the fallacy!! To give him credit (!?), he appears not to understand that he is attacking a logical fallacy with logic. A math professor who taught at a US university who does not understand logic.

He seems to actually believe that his sudden discovery that logic alone cannot solve all the world's problems is something that is nobody ever thought of in the Ayn Rand-ist, Mr. Spock-like US. According to Masahiko, we robotic idiots in the west cannot understand this: Logic alone cannot solve all problems! Wow! Who'd a figured!

He discredits democracy and champions a sort of dictatorship of mysterious elites in which citizens---scratch that---subjects have only one single right: The right to complain. It is possibly the most repressive system one could imagine, except that Fujiwara fantasizes that bushido would make it all OK because the elite dictators would show the peons bushidoistic compassion. And they would presumably be really, really smart. Smarter than all the subjects combined.

He cherry picks "facts" to such an extreme that many of his arguments are actually weakened for any but the true believer who can't be bothered to think. Just the type who would make an ideal subject in his fantasy-world bushido dictatorship. He very conveniently forgets things which Japan did in the past--such as the invasions of Korea under Hideyoshi, its annexation of Korea, the many internal wars in Japan's past, its treatment of minorities---the eta (burakumin) among others---in the Tokogawa era, most likely because these facts would discredit his whole thesis of neo-bushidoism. This especially applies to anything that seems a bit unpleasant about Tokugawa since this was a popular period for bushido . Since it worked so well for Japan in the past (?), he wants to export his neo-bushidoism to the rest of the world in order to save it. (It is amazing---no, comically naive---how he thinks Japan alone could solve all the problems in Iraq.)

I hope to write more, and in more detail as time goes on, but the book is simply ridiculous in most parts. He may have this great view of Japan and its past, as may many Japanese who don't know their own country's history, or much about the rest of the world except for nihonjinron myths, but I doubt many others share the fantasy. I'd suspect China and Korea might have a less than enthusiastic opinion of bushido. Though again, to give Fujiwara credit, he does admit that Japan was "mean" to China and "bullied" it in WW2. I have seen no mention of any "meanness" or "bullying" as far as Korea is concerned.

I will say, however, that he does not seem to share the exact same views as the right wing nationalists, the Abe/Aso/Tojo nutjobs. He may understate or leave out some of the things Japan did (at least in this book) but he does not deny that Japan did wrong in WW2.

As I read months ago on the internet (by a Japanese writer) there isn't much to be said for the contents of this book. The question is: What exactly is the purpose? Where does he want the country to go?

My question is: Why was this such a big seller in Japan? Do people really take it seriously? Do folks believe this sort of nonsense? (From what I have read and heard, many do like the nihinjinron "We are uniquely human" aspect, but feel a bit uncomfortable with his denunciation of democracy.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is this woman lying?

Abe and his ilk imply that she is. Japan's ambassador to the US implies that she is.

....Zhou has broken decades of silence to speak of her traumatic experience as a "comfort woman" -- the euphemism the invading Japanese used to describe women forced into sex slavery.

"I hid with my husband's sister under a millstone. Later, the Japanese soldiers discovered us and pulled us out by our legs. They tied us both to their vehicle. Later they used more ropes to tie and secure us and drove us away," she told Reuters in her home village in Jiangsu province.

Does this fit the "narrow" sense of coercion that Abe talks about or the regular meaning? I can't recall exactly how he tried to wiggle out of what he said and meant.

Full article on Reuters while it lasts. HERE

Monday, June 25, 2007

Who is responsible

Theresa Morris-Suzuki has an article in this week's Japan Focus about the Yomiuri (Newspaper) project (and book) about responsibility in WW2. I have not yet read this book, but did spend a little time skimming through it at a bookstore, and it seems to pull very few punches on attributing responsibility accurately for Japan in WW2. This is somewhat surprising as Yomiuri is considered a conservative newspaper---right-wing by some. Again, I have not read it so my impression is little more than just that. Morris-Suzuki's atricle explains much more and even mentions that there is also another volume not translated into English. That one seems truly interesting.

She also gives a short history of the Japanese government's (esp the LDP) lack of addressing its WW2 actions and the debate within Japan as early as the 50s concerning Hirohoto's responsibility. Not everyone in the country buys the right-wing's distortions and excuses. Hopefully, the present climate in which the right-wing revisionism seems to be spreading won't take hold deeply and folks like Abe, Aso, Fujiwara (I apologize for mentioning Fujiwara as he is a lightweight, but his book was/is popular in Japan), and others in the LDP and elsewhere of similar ilk.

The article is HERE.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Japan threatens US over sex slave issue

Do you suppose that the USA would have the balls to call Japan's bluff? Bush won't. Bush accepted Abe's nonsensical "apology" even though as far as we know Georgy is too young to have been a sex slave in WW2.

Would any of the Democrat candidates were they president? I doubt it. Clinton backed down in the mid 90s from Japan over the auto issue. So did all the presidents before, except for Tricky Dick.

Who has more to lose? Is Japan gonna refuse to sell to the US? Close Japanese markets or make it extremely difficult to compete here? Sell its dollar reserves and in effect not only severely damage the global economy but in the process destroy their own. (This one I could somewhat imagine.) Are they gonna kick US forces out of Japan (Oh please do!) and pay for their own defense and own military? Go it alone hoping Australia will take the place of Uncle Sucker? Ally with China? (Not right now.) Refuse to send its military overseas in "support" of the US by being restricted to their base and defended by another country's military?

Please Japan, let's see what you've got.

I haven't written to a congressman in several years, even though in the states, I often did. Now I am going to do so again. Japan is distorting history and deceiving itself and hoping others will let it get away with it. Japan has done so for years and became experts in the game. They even have numbers of foreign explainers and apologists to push their falsehoods for them. They do not expect the US to call them on this. They will probably be right, unfortunately.

Japan Times article on this HERE

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wrong again

Seems that folks in other places do handle food with dirty hands too. Right in front of your face. So why is everyone worried about BSE?

...the butcher’s where they handle both the meat and the money with the same bloody hands...I do like to show all my European visitors this snapshot of how life must have been in England before the health-and-safety lobby had amassed its great power.

From the "Award-winning blog", Tokyo Girl Down Under.
Actually, she isn't Japanese nor Australian, but British and writes one of the funniest blogs you'll ever read.

Wouldn't this be sweet

Peru's Fujimori, a buddy of Blink Ishihara, is considering running for office in Japan. Fujimori was shocking found to be eligible for Japanese citizenship when he was hiding in Japan to avoid extradition to Peru on corruption charges. Amazingly, it is not the LDP who has supposedly contacted him, but the People's New Party. I don't know the Japanese name, but I have never heard of it. According to the article, it is likely to jump into bed with the LDP if needed to assure the LDP almost continuous hold on power since the end of WW2. They are mostly former LDP members according to the article. Mostly retro-grouches whom Koizumi forced out after they opposed his postal reforms.

Peru is not amused. (Excerpt from

Omar Chehade, the head of the extradition unit in Peru's attorney general's office, said Fujimori was considering running for office "to avoid an extradition that is on the verge of being ruled on."

"Fujimori continues to play with his dual nationality and this shows he's desperate," he said.

Fujimori is under arrest is in Chile hoping to avoid extradition back to Peru. Japan will take him back. Criminal suspects of Japanese descent have a much better chance of getting a break from immigrations than refugees from anywhere else being persecuted for any reason do.

The full story is here.

Not unexpected

Japan has one of the---if not the---lowest acceptance rate of refugees of any modern country. The Japan Times has an article about a Kurd family who was denied refugee status by Japan.

...Dogan left Turkey for Japan in 1999, fleeing ethnic and religious persecution in his homeland. He applied twice to be accepted as a refugee but was rejected both times...

...Dogan's lawyer, Takeshi Ohashi, criticized the government for giving the Dogans the cold shoulder.

"While I am relieved that the Dogans are no longer in fear of being deported (back to Turkey) and have been recognized as refugees in Canada, this result is an embarrassment of our country," Ohashi said....

We must guard the country's purity. Full article HERE>

Monday, June 18, 2007

Japanese angered by government's WW2 denials

Okinawan Japanese are anyway. The Education Ministry, in its drive to resolve the Japanese military of any wrongdoing in WW2, earlier "asked" school textbook publishers to remove references to the Imperial Army forcing Okinawan civilians to commit suicide. They all done did it themselves. Anyone who was there and has a different memory than the current kooks in power must be liars. Or senile. Just like all the former sex slaves. (Except for George Bush who accepted Abe's private "apology" for the sex slave issue which never happened anyway.)

The education ministry earlier this year requested publishers of history textbooks remove claims that the Imperial Japanese Army forced Okinawa residents to commit mass suicide during the waning days of World War II.

Again, like the sex slave issue, the kooks say there is no solid evidence (well except for witnesses and survivors, but they don't count):

...ministry officials said the accepted wisdom was that there was no solid proof that the military had overseen mass suicides in the southernmost prefecture...

The LDP caucus in the prefectural assembly had held off taking a position on the matter for several weeks. It felt there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the military had ordered or encouraged civilian suicide. (This was the local LDP caucus.)

Not all agree with the nutjobs:

Several Okinawans have testified that Japanese soldiers gave them hand grenades and told them to blow themselves up. Civilians were made to believe that U.S. soldiers would commit terrible atrocities.

But they must be liars. Everybody in the world is a bunch a lying nuts, except for the LDP, Abe, and the rest of their fellow traveling elite revisionists in Japan and elsewhere.

Full article from Asahi HERE

Another article from the Stars and Stripes HERE.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rightwing denies sex slaves In US ad

in the Washington Post. They must assume if they persist in this fiction enough that the rest of the world will agree with them. Their point seems to be that all of the victims of the Imperial Japanese Army's sex slavery are a bunch of liars, and that all the evidence--documentary and otherwise---is fake since so far nobody has found a specific type of document that they say is required to prove it happened. Is this type of evidence required to prove other historic events? Would it be required in a civil or criminal trial? Is this bunch the elite that Fujiwara Masahiko suggests should run Japan in a dictatorship?

AN Australian woman forced into sex slavery in World War II says she is trembling with anger at a Japanese Government advertisement denying the war-time atrocities.

The ad, signed by 44 members of Japan’s parliament, seeks to share “the truth with the American people” about the 200,000 “comfort women” who were driven into brothels during World War II. Article HERE


"The ianfu [comfort women] who were embedded with the Japanese army were not, as is commonly reported, sex slaves," it says. "They were working under a system of licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time."

The advertisement also says that many of the women earned more money than senior officers.

Article HERE

And more HERE

Since George Bush has accepted Abe's "apology" (What was Abe sorry for if it never happened?) and since he is an apparent ex-sex slave of the Japanese Imperial Army, (why else would he accept the apology?) perhaps the world will kowtow to these liars. Has Japan's elite--one can assume the elite that Fujiwara worships---changed since WW2? We are assured they have.

The important thing is that denying the sex slave issue is not the only goal of this bunch. The elite right-wing in Japan also wants to deny other thigs, such as the Bataan Death March and the Nanjing Massacre and any WW2 atrocities in general. In fact, they want to deny that Japan was wrong in WW2.

It's good that these folks placed that ad. Perhaps more people will take notice of exactly what kind of allies we are getting in the LDP elitists of Japan. If their influence continues to rise and their beliefs become more and more accepted and mainstream in Japan, perhaps then we will see just how much Japan has become more democratic and westernized as per Reischauer's old now discredited claims.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What can you do?

Some things are difficult to adjust to when you move to a new place---especially to another country. After years there are still things I cannot adjust to.

I am making every effort not to be offended by the offensive word gaijin. It's a waste of time. A lot of non-Japanese of non-Asian origins use it for themselves anyway. Either they don't know or don't care. Even a large number of Japanese consider it offensive. I saw on wikipedia in the discussion area on the gaijin page where some non-Japanese had even said that hen na* gaijin(!!!)was more or less a compliment. (They removed most of the references to the term gaijin as being offensive. Now it just gets a brief mention with some quotes by foreigners using gaijin to refer to themselves.)

I'll get over that to a large degree. I haven't gotten used to the way many will break out in a trot to get ahead of someone in line. I notice this in convenience stores and grocery stores. In convenience stores, someone will hang around staring at a package of instant noodles trying to make the difficult decision or whether or not to buy it, but as soon as they see someone else moving toward the cash register, they suddenly decide not to buy it and rush to be first in line. If they have a full basket and the other person has a pack of gum, there ain't gonna be no polite move to let that other person go first. OK, so I have to remember that the point is to get ahead of everyone else whether or not I actually need to.

The sniffling. This drives a lot of westerners nuts. Got try to get over that too. People aren't gonna start using handkerchiefs. Sneezing and coughing openly on others, especially in trains? Well it's rude and disgusting to Japanese too, most especially if they are the one who gets the slobber shower. But then again, nobody will ever say anything to the offending swine. Just pretend nothing happened.

But what about the snot-sniffers who wipe their nose on their hand and then handle your food and your money with said snot-covered hand? What is the proper etiquette in this case? It has happened to me 3-4 times in the last year. All but one was in Denenchofu/Okusawa. Tonight I got an urge for a McDonald's 80 yen hamburger. Hell, one or two pieces of processed, freeze dried, and microwaved beef byproducts should be OK. I had quit going to the Denenchofu McDonalds because I felt that it was too dirty to eat in, but I figured it would be ok to get something to go.

Well, the old girl at the register had the sniffles. She did not have a tissue. Or gloves. Gloves would have made no difference anyway, because as she was taking my order, she wiped her runny nose twice on the palm of her hand. She did not play with the mucus as I have seen many do after a sneeze, cough, or good healthy nose wipe (on trains and other places) nor did she wash it off. She handed me back my change with her virus-covered snotty hand and then went over and grabbed my burgers and put them in the bag. What should I have done? What's the wonderfully polite Japanese way? What would ol' Barcode head Fujiwara Masahiko have recommended as a neo-bushidoist? I know what I would have said in the US or England or other English-speaking countries. Perhaps "Please wash your hands before touching my food." I could have said a similar thing in Japanese. But I didn't. I would have become a troublesome, complaining henna gaijin. And the same thing would happen again and again. Nothing would really change.

It's not that this sort of thing doesn't happen elsewhere, it's that I am not used to people doing it right in front of my face. Since they do, I suspect that it isn't really something so unacceptable here. Like the constant sniffling. Which is better to have someone handle your food with snotty hands in front of you, or use snotty hands to handle it without your knowing it? I do know that you can get fired in the US for it---I knew a girl who was fired because she kept picking or touching her nose around the salad bar at the place she worked. Would she have been fired here? Never mind, just enjoy your sushi.

*In case you don't know, hen (na) means weird. And "weird outsider" ain't no compliment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tojo running

Hideki Tojo's granddaughter is running for a diet seat. She has little support among the voters and even Abe is distancing himself from her. However, she apparently has decided that now is her time and the time for her political philosophy:

Her views are part of a resurgent right-wing fringe in Japan that espouses a hard line in territorial disputes with the country's neighbors and a rose-tinted view of its past militarism.

"Japan did not fight a war of aggression. It fought in self- defense," she said. "Our children have been wrongly taught that their ancestors did evil things, that their country is evil. We need to give these children back their pride and confidence."
Article at

The same "....give back...their pride and confidence..." by denying any wrongdoing in the past that the right is pursuing. Apparently, the recognition of errors and mistakes which, according to the right-wing nutjobs, is too prevalent in Japan and is unpatriotic and shows a lack of pride and confidence. She is even more extreme. Few supporters but a trend is clear. Who knows how long it will last or how successful it will be. I haven't taken a poll, but from the limited number of people I know and have talked to about some of these views, there is little sympathy for the extremes. Even those (again, a select few not representative of anything except my acquaintances) who are "conservative" don't believe nor support much of the Abe/Fujiwara et. al. rhetoric.

(Just to note that after reading most of Masahiko Fujiwara's book, I'd say one should not assign him too much importance. He is simply the author of a poorly reasoned, self-contradictory nihonjinron book which is so silly that the only question is, why was it so popular here? How deep is the desire to return to an imagined fantasy-world past? Lot's of Japanese think he's a goofball. The first I ever heard of him and his book was last year when a Japanese guy mentioned it to me to seemingly make fun of one of Masahiko's bizarre assertions.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

More on Whaling

I still have sympathy on parts of Japan's position on whaling---that there is room for some harvest of some species and regulated hunting could be allowed (not including humpbacks). However, Japan seems to be on the losing side of this debate and it will become even more of a losing position in the future no matter how much Japan spends trying to buy support.

Japan Focus has an article on this too. I love this example of some of the logic displayed by the negotiators this year, especially when they tried to get Japanese whalers classified as aboriginal subsistence hunters:

“Why is aboriginal whaling allowed in the US but not in Japan,” asked Morishita, a reference to the award of a quota of about 50 fin whales to Alaskan coastal communities. Critics say the key difference is that Japan wants to sell its whale-meat commercially while aboriginal communities cull the animals to survive. The distinction is easily understood elsewhere. But in a country where the media selectively reports the whaling controversy, many people buy Morishita’s claim that the West doesn’t know its sei from its sardines.

The full article is here.

This week has several interesting articles, including one by R. Taggart Murphy who wrote the books, The Weight of the Yen and co-wrote Japan's Policy Trap which were two very good books concerning the Japanese economy and especially relating to Japan's holding of dollar reserves. This article is about the carry trade in which yen increasing becoming the currency used to borrow in, while investments are made in dollars and/or other currency due to Japan's almost nonexistent interest rate and the risks this entails, and why most Japanese outside of the Bank of Japan are not eager to see the rates rise. He discusses why it appears to be in the interests of Japan, China, and the US governments that the current system continue for now. Article here.

Why were Class A war criminals enshrined in Yasukuni?

Was it simply to enshrine those who died in combat for Japan? Just to provide a place for their souls? Or were there calculated political reasons?

Akiko Takenaka of the University of Michigan, who is currently working on a book about the history and politics of the shrine, has written an article for Japan Focus which provides an answer straight from the mouth of the guy who decided to do it. Yasukuni head priest Matsudaira Nagayoshi in July 1978, following the death of head priest Tsukuba Fujimaro, who had strongly opposed the enshrinement of Class-A criminals. Shortly after his appointment, Matsudaira, who had publicly called for reversing the verdicts of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal to restore Japan’s national spirit, added the war criminals’ names to the already completed list of names that were to be enshrined during the fall 1978 ceremony. Matsudaira’s eagerness to enshrine the fourteen is demonstrated in his later comment reflecting back on the enshrinement as “the one act of my entire life that I can be proud of.” He went on to explain that he had proceeded with the enshrinement as a way to discredit the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. Read the full article here at Japan Focus.

She also covers the connection between the shrine and the LDP, along with it's connection the the LDP's attempt to revise the constitution and revise the history of WW2.

Abe's "beautiful country": Nationalism from above

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to cast off the post-World War II order and transform Japan into "a beautiful country" filled with pride and confidence. This is the slogan of his premiership. It is as if he believes that Japan has sunk into a state of moral degradation since 1945, and is in need of salvation. It is almost as though he wants to turn back the clock to 1945 and start anew. he is concerned less about guilt over Japanese aggression during World War II than about the shame of not having dealt with the consequences of defeat.

....Abe seemingly yearns to erase the period altogether as he denigrates reason and elevates emotion as the path to making Japan whole and authentic again. (This fits well with Fujiwara's view.)

...Nationalistic bombast is what we are getting from the political class. Rather than nationalism welling up from the people, we are witnessing the emergence of nationalistic politicians who are rather hawkish on foreign policy, especially on matters of security, notably towards Asia. This is a wave of resurgent nationalism from above....

This is an extraordinarily interesting article by Masaru Tamamoto. Full article on

TV 4 and gaijin

Kanto area channel 4 did an update on the murder of Lindsay Hawker this morning. The reporter on the case who is sort of a Gerado Rivera-type repeatedly referred to gaijin while occasionally adding the suffix san. This despite the fact that broadcast guidelines supposedly prohibit the use of this derogatory term. There is nothing one can do about this as it simply reflects the mindset of many in Japan. Forget political correctness, racial discrimination itself is still legal in Japan. And look at who has been re-elected as the mayor of Tokyo twice despite being an open bigot/racist.

The police still have not caught Ms. Hawkers killer (Ishihashi).

(The use of the term gaijin, does not, however, make the user a racist. Its use is widespread, even among Japanese who live in other countries who may call the citizens of that country gaijin. Japanese tend not to use it in front of a non-Japanese, and many believe it would be rude to do so. It is so controversial apparently, that Wikipedia has rewritten its page and pretty much eliminated its discussion on the controversy. No citations, they claim. They also cannot find citations that support the fact that Chinese are called Chukokujin. Would not a Japanese-English dictionary suffice?)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Double Standard?

Japan is one of the strongest proponents of increasing pressure on North Korea through the use of sanctions. This is aimed primarily at getting North Korea to acquiesce to Japan's demands about the abductee issue, not the nuclear issue which Japan seems to view as a secondary problem. Naturally, the people who will suffer most from sanctions unless they are very carefully done are the North Korean people.

Japan has taken a much different approach to Sri Lanka. Some donor countries have cut off aid, but Japan is not one of them.

The Japanese envoy said that while the human rights violations were too numerous and not in the least acceptable for a civilised country (as opposed to "uncivilized" countries? Name one.) like Sri Lanka, the people of the island should not have to suffer the consequences of their leaders’ policies.
“Our help is for victims of the conflict. People should not be punished for actions or policies of their leaders.”
Short article here.

And here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fujiwara, Masahiko

AKA Ol' barcode head (barcode is what Japanese call those guys who are bald on top but let their hair grow long on the side then comb it over the top in the belief that nobody will know) has had his intellectual masterpiece (AHAHAHAHAHA) translated into English. I just got a copy, and frankly I have given him too much credit in the past based on some partial translations of it. I am actually stunned that anyone could take it seriously. A third grade kid would know better I would assume.

I haven't read it all, but the first few chapters are spent with a unbelievably weak, shallow attempt to refute ration, reason, and logic. One way he attempts to do this is to set up a straw man argument that logic can explain everything and solve all problems, and then attacking it. The first question one would ask is "Who said this was true? Who believes this?" He doesn't say, but he implies that this is what the West believes. (From what I have read so far, it appears he truly believes this.) We are all like Mr. Spock.

In the forward, he humorously states that these are his beliefs, and he believes he is right and everyone else is wrong. OK, no problem there, at least he admits what the rest of us deny. The question I have is why did this book become so popular in Japan when in later sections he opposes any rights/freedoms at all except for the right to criticize leaders and rejects democracy in favor of a dictatorship of the elite. (Yes, dictatorship. If they make all decisions and tell everyone what to do, no matter how benevolent, is it not a dictatorship?)

He believes the elite---I have only skimmed the later chapters so far and haven't a clear definition of who he means by elite---should govern. And naturally, as before when he said something about saving the world through bushido, he believes that he has something here that the world can learn from.

I plan to read this over the next few days and check some of his facts, many of which are very, very questionable, if not obviously wrong on first glance.( There are no footnotes/references for his assertions/facts anywhere in this book which should tell us something, although this is not unusual in these types of books written in Japanese for Japanese.)

Please forgive any spelling or grammar errors. As Fujiwara said, Americans can't write English because in English classes we only learn typing. (I never knew that. My English teachers were all radical nuts who taught English grammar, spelling, composition and that kind of stuff. But this is Japan. If it is written in a book by a guy with a PhD in any subject, it has to be true. Cannot doubt nor debate it. Especially if he has a barcode on his bald head.)

We must once again be "Japan the proud, Japan the different," Masahiko Fujiwara.
Has it ever not been? Has it ever truly been "Japan the humble, the same as others"? In action and core beliefs as well as in tatemae (window dressing) words?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Foreign Workers in Japan

One of the funnier things we can read about or hear about is how Japan is going to use foreign workers to make up for the population decline due to the rapid aging of society. Wouldn't hold my breath for that. Some of the old retro-grouches would starve first. The only chance for it to happen would be to import low-skilled, poorly educated people and watch and control them carefully.

The Japan Times recently published an article about foreign scientists who came to Japan and actually believed that they were going to be treated as intelligent, professionals with valuable skills. AHAHAHAHA. Guess they sort of forgot to put their research skills to work on investigating Japan before coming. Or they believed what they were told by the employers. April Fool all year round.

...internationalization of the workforce is often linked to the notion of the erosion of national identity, a well-polished political foil tied emotionally to the fanciful idea of Japanese racial and genetic homogeneity... (This sounds racist or at least racialist. Couldn't happen in Japan, as there is no racism here.)

...The numbers of both female and foreign scientists employed at Japanese universities are "extremely low" relative to other member countries of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the government admits (see ). However, despite the government's statements to the contrary, many government initiatives actively prevent the integration of foreign scientists into the Japanese research and university environments....

...The emphasis is on the short-term turnover of a small number of researchers, and there is no provision for long-term integration.... eminent senior Japanese scientist at Osaka City University acknowledges, "It is unfortunate for research and students that it is almost impossible to keep good foreign scientists in Japan."

...The only other employment option available to foreign scientists who persist in pursuing their research objectives after JSPS funding is withdrawn and who cannot find work at a university is to become an employee of a Japanese scientist who works at a college/university and can use "kakenhi" grants (Japanese government research funding) to provide a salary for the foreign scientist. Employed via this method, foreign scientists find that despite the fact that they might produce world-class research, they are outside established Japanese university bureaucratic procedures, excluded from university decision-making processes and are politically powerless within the university because of the position of subservience they must assume in order to be able to continue their research. This employment avenue is the road to inequality and discrimination... (In Japan? NOOOOoooooo!)

...Brian Budgell is a Canadian scientist, resident in Japan for the past 15 years and currently an associate professor at the School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at Kyoto University. Here he recalls his introduction to the university five years ago.

"On my first meeting with the head of school and the head of my division, I was informed that I was 'not a doctor in Japan' and that I would be assigned to teaching English. I was told to forget about research. This was quite different from the position that I had been led to believe I would hold. However, for the sake of my children, I could not suddenly resign.

(My God! Was he lied to? Deceived? No, Japan is special. That stuff only happens in foreign countries.)

"In the intervening years, every request to the school for research support, and every request for 'kakenhi' (government grants) has been denied...

Pesky Japan-bashing baka gaijin. Causing trouble for pure Japan. Poor Japan, victim yet again.

FULL ARTICLE at Japan Times Online, by Peter Osborne. (Pesky foreign rabble-rouser.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Speaking of Whaling

It has been mentioned in several articles in the English language press in Japan and many overseas, that the so-called whaling tradition in Japan really began after WW2 during the US Occupation when the US pushed Japan to use more whale meat in schools and other places. If I remember correctly, one reason was to reduce the food costs.

This type of information most likely never reaches the average Japanese. According to an article in the Canberra Times:

Earlier this year, I had a chance to talk to a Japanese journalist who specialises in fishery and whaling issues. According to this journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, whaling articles in Japan are usually written without getting the views of either environmentalists or government officials from the anti-whaling countries.

It is not their restricted English that stops Japanese journalists from making an inquiry (all major international environmental organisations and major anti-whaling countries are equipped with Japanese speaking PR specialists in Tokyo). Rather, there is an ongoing Japanese media practice that prevents Japanese journalists from crossing horizons to hear the word of their "adversaries."

This means that the Japanese public are very ill-informed about the whaling issue. Canberra Times article (editorial) here.

This type of "coverage" seems to apply across the board. I rarely speak to people no matter how international or educated who seem to be aware of much of the rational behind the debates concerning Japan from overseas governments or organizations. This kind of information is readily available in English, but obviously not so readily discussed in Japanese in the Japanese media. One cannot in any way assume that the same is included in a Japanese-language newspaper as in the English-language version. Some, like the Japan Times, do not have a Japanese language version.

One important example is the fact that Nature magazine published an article calling into serious doubt that a Japanese scientist was able to identify remains said to by those of one of the Japanese kidnapped by North Korea as not belonging to the Japanese victim. The Japanese scientist himself admitted flaws and doubts with this finding. It has not received much if any coverage in Japan. Naturally, the Japanese government pretends the controversy never happened or is not significant.

Japan's special relationship with nature: ivory and CITIES

THE Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has disregarded evidence of Japan�s poor record on regulating ivory trade and instead officially released 60 tonnes of stockpiled ivory for importation to that country.

Whales should not feel that they are a special case.

vidence that Japan clearly fails to meet the bar set by the CITES framework...

The Standing Committee is disregarding this evidence just as it ignores that the 2.8 tonne seizure of contraband ivory in Osaka in August of last year ...

...This decision was made without the knowledge of the recent 2.8 tonne seizure of contraband ivory in Osaka, which the Japanese did not disclose until after the meeting of the SC... investigative report released by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare; last week details significant loopholes in the Japanese system that allow illegal ivory derived from elephants poached in the wild to be laundered in astronomical sums into the legal domestic ivory market. From the Matangi Tonga Online.

Unique Japan. We can all be sure there is a logical explanation for all this. Perhaps it's a misunderstanding of traditional Japanese culture by stupid foreigners---sorry baka gaijin.
Or, perhaps it's all foreign lies like the sex slaves, Nanjing, The Death March of Bataan, or claims that Foreign Minister Abe's family business used POW labor in WW2. All lies and evidence to the contrary is never the correct evidence. Some may explain it a zen-related. One can be sure, however, that in some way Japan is being victimized by all this.

Full article from Matangi Tonga Online here

Monday, June 04, 2007

Japan needs clean diapers

I guess I am not the only one who thought Japan's pouting at the IWC was sort of childish.

Japan needs clean diapers after IWC "dummy spit"
from CDNN

Friday, June 01, 2007

Japan may quit IWC

Deja vu all over again. In the 30s Japan quit the League of Nations because the rest of the world didn't see fit to give Japan what it wanted in China. This began the collapse of the League. (It did not really collapse, but soon Japan's allies---Nazi Germany and Italy followed it out which certainly made the League less than relevant in preventing WW2.) Japan may take the same route with the International Whaling Commission since buying votes and issuing threats to increase its whaling more if it didn't get its way haven't worked.

Whale meat is not popular here, it is the nationalistic aspect which appeals. Japan as victim yet again! The government is trying to promote the consumption of the meat, but it doesn't seem they have been successful. There have been reports that much of it goes to waste in storage or is used to make pet food. They recently tried to get the few villagers who hunt whale declared indigenous hunters---like the Inuit. A few years ago, it tried to stop the Inuit and other indigenous people in remote areas from hunting since Japan couldn't. It reminds one of a spiteful 2 years old. If I don't get my way, I won't play.

I am personally undecided on minke hunting. From what I have read, it is sustainable and Japan and others should be able to hunt some as far as I am concerned. But when I see this type of action, along with its money politics, bandwagon logic, and spiteful temper-tantrums, I don't have much sympathy for Japan's position.

Story from Bloomberg HERE
It's pouring rain in Tokyo, but the weather report says it is now partly sunny and 20% chance of rain decreasing to 10%. It depends on the TV station too, as they all give different versions of the weather. And they are all wrong. Guess we got the 20%. What's interesting is that one could have looked out the window this morning and known it was going to rain or at the very least have known that it was not partly sunny. Maybe those weathermen(persons?) don't have the deep relationship with nature that is claimed for Japanese.