Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Useful Idiots

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panagouliashy continues:

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

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

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

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

(Anything goes. Summary executions?)

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

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

Not an apologist, but the question must be answered:

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

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

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