Strong, incisive, and definitely opinionated, Yuichi Yamamoto is where I go to get perspectives on Japan. I may not always agree, but I am always impressed. The Japanese media, unfortunately, don't carry his brand of analysis.
- Gordon G. Chang
Gordon G. Chang is known as the author of an
insightful and courageous book titled The Coming Collapse of China (Random House, 2001).
Monday, September 09 2013 @ 03:33 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
OUR GOAL HERE IS TO MAKE YOU STOP TO THINK, AS WE ALWAYS DO, RATHER THAN STOP THINKING.
Last night I saw upon the stair a little man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. Oh, how I wish he’d go away.
- from a popular rhyme composed by William Hughes Mearns
Let me reiterate the single most important fact about humanity:
No one but yourself can manipulate you.
Surprisingly many adults in America refuse to accept the self-evident proposition which a kindergarten kid wouldn't have difficulty understanding. Some of them even insist this is something you have to prove, but can't.
Kenzo Okuzaki (right) at the tomb of his fallen comrade
It's as though they are saying that when a human being comes into existence, his identity has to be proved by someone else. Actually he already knows for sure that he is what he is. What he has yet to learn is something else.
Here's a simplest example. When a TV commercial made you think about buying the fancy product, you normally say, "I selected it from among other alternatives." You never say the product selected you. You even brag about the fact that you picked the right one. But once something went wrong with it, you would start to complain that you were deceived by the ad, although deep inside you can't deny it's none other than yourself that deceived you.
In 2001, a stupid white man made a fortune from the book about stupid white men he wrote for stupid white men. He was a notch smarter than these kindergarten kids because at least financially he was a little savvier than them. Since the beginning of this century, we've seen thousands of fraudulent writers and speakers emerging from obscurity using the same formula of Michael Moore. These crisis mongers, conspiracy theorists and doomsayers have invariably based their arguments, either explicitly or implicitly, on the false premise that human beings are manipulable. This is exactly how they could "dupe" millions of gullible Americans into buying bogus merchandise from them.
I'm not really concerned about the intellectual vacuum quickly spreading all over America. It's not my job to cure their refractory mental illness caused by developmental failure. What really concerns me is where my fellow Asians, especially Japanese, are headed.
In that respect, one question has long haunted me: What is this thing called the Emperor?
Is it a tyrant? The answer is "No." A plain idiot can't have a supernatural power to manipulate the hundred million subjects at a time as Hirohito did and his son Akihito is doing. Moreover, if Hirohito had been a dictator, then he must have been executed by the people before Douglas MacArthur acquitted him of the responsibility for driving the 3.1 million people to sacrifice their lives in the unwinnable war. Then, is it a mere puppet which is manipulated by someone else? The answer is also "No." Once again nobody can manipulate others. And if Hirohito had been a puppet, it must have bowed out as soon as these puppeteers were sent climbing the 13 steps to the gallows.
In 1947 MacArthur formally ordered Hirohito to step down from deity to become "the symbol of national unity." Time and again in the past, I have tried to explain to my audience the Japanese Emperor isn't a figurehead in the sense it's defined in the dictionary. American Heritage Online defines a figurehead like this: "A person given a position of nominal leadership but having no actual authority." If it were just a figurehead, even the super-generous Japanese taxpayers wouldn't be willingly shoulder an annual 20 billion yen to feed it, its kin and servants.
By now I have concluded it's just a phantom which isn't actually there. It's invisible, and yet it's always being felt by the Japanese people as if it were existent. Asian peoples, especially the Chinese and the Koreans can still visualize what other peoples can't. But my way of explaining what it's like to live in the haunted imperial shithouse has never really worked with my predominantly American audience. That's why I have often had to turn to visual aids.
There is another barrier facing me in that respect. My audience has all been brainwashed most typically by moviemakers in Hollywood to believe in the stereotypical perceptions and images of the Japanese. More than anyone else, the legendary film-maker Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) should be given credit for the total falsification. The truth is that although he was a well-built man (6 ft 00 in,) Kurosawa was given an exempt status from the draft because his father was in a position to influence a high-ranking officer in charge of conscription. He not only dodged the draft but also avoided facing the reality of the haunted country. These are why he kept sucking up to mindless movie distributors in the West throughout his career.
With all this in mind, I strongly recommend you watch the documentary film embedded at the bottom of this post if you want to learn the untold truth about this country, and you can afford to spend 2 hours viewing it. Since I'm completely in the dark about cinematography, I can't tell whether this 1987 movie titled The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On meets the standards of cinematic art. Yet, I'm sure unlike Kurosawa's baloney, it tells you the undistorted truth about the haunted people - their effete, self-pitiful, self-hateful, self-deprecating, self-destructive, mentally disintegrated, overly apologetic, and sometimes narcissistic attitudes. And beware you shouldn't expect yet another cheap story about a man who chases wartime superiors to bring them to justice. FYI: You can turn on English or Spanish caption by clicking the white icon placed at the bottom of the screen.
The protagonist is a Pacific War veteran named Kenzo Okuzaki. He was one of the handful of survivors of the suicidal New Guinea campaign. After he returned home in 1946, Okuzaki attempted to avenge himself on several people, including wrong ones. But his ultimate target was Emperor Hirohito.
On January 2, 1969, thirteen years before the shooting of this film started, he attempted to hit Hirohito with four "pachinko" balls (lead pellets) fired with a hand-made sling shot, for which he served a 1.5-year term in prison. This incident leaves you wondering what exactly Okuzaki was aiming at by his seemingly farcical attempt of symbolic assassination. Some of you may even suspect he was a psychopath. But actually no prosecutor, judge or courtroom lawyer ever thought he needed to take a sanity test.
The real question to ask is why he didn't kill Hirohito despite the fact that it would have been a piece of cake to get him. He had everything necessary with him - the resolve, the motive, the weapon, and the chance. In Japan you are not allowed to possess a firearm unless you are a soldier, cop or yakuza gangster. But it's evident that Okuzaki knew where to get one. In the mid-1980s, he visited the home of one of his former superiors carrying a real gun. When he knew the target wasn't in, Okuzaki fired a shot or two at one of his family members at point-blank range. He served a 12-year term in prison on charges of attempted murder. It should also be noted that he could approach the balcony close enough for the sling shot attack when his target stood on it. In those days, the balcony wasn't walled with bulletproof glass because it was totally inconceivable that Hirohito might be assaulted by its subject.
My answer to this question is as simple as that he knew his Hirohito wasn't there, or to be more precise, the weird thing waving its hand to the crowd from the balcony was nothing but a double of the phantom. His real target was deep within himself. It seems to me Okuzaki couldn't find a workable way to kill the "inner Emperor," as anti-establishment Japanese often put it, until the last day of his life. He died on June 16, 2005 at a Kobe hospital. The local news coverage was next to nil. But according to a foreign correspondent, his last word was "バカヤロー" (Fuck you!). He shouted out the same word over and over as if he was suffering a serious aphasia.
Admittedly Okuzaki was an uneducated man. He didn't have the ability to conceptualize things. Small wonder what the protagonist of the film says and does is more often than not incoherent. To make it worse, the director and the producer of the film don't seem to have understood his real message. So they keep the cameras running when these characters are talking about irrelevant things such as cannibalism which was commonplace in the jungle of New Guinea.
From late Saturday night through early Sunday morning, every fourth Japanese was glued to the TV to witness live the pretentious ritual taking place in Buenos Aires to select - through rigged vote - the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. The moment Jacques Rogge, outgoing president of the venal International Olympic Committee, announced Tokyo was the winner, the entire nation went into raptures. In the last couple of months these self-deceptive people had acted like drug addicts showing serious withdrawal symptoms. But now the 128-million junkies got everything they need in the next seven years.
You can't imagine what it feels like to spend the last days of one's life surrounded by these haunted people who now hope to see their imperial shithouse emerging as a viable nation toward 2020 with its land miraculously decontaminated of radioactive materials. · read more (1 words)
Anna’s husband seems to be a photographer. But I hope he would give me a permission for using this lovely picture here.
Last evening I attended one of those meetups held in this neighborhood heeding Jake’s kind suggestion. I'd felt I was badly in need of an intelligent and cheerful companion to overcome the geriatric depression which kept worsening not without good reasons.
There I stumbled on a young Slavic lady wearing a red sweater. Her bright eyes somehow reminded me of a Siberian tigress, a friendly one. She fully met my criteria.
Her name is Anna. She and I talked for more than an hour over glasses of oolong tea. I was impressed to find out she always had something to say more than just yes or no on the wide range of topics, from Vladimir Putin, to Joseph Stalin, to Andrei Panin, to linguistics (she’s at least quadrilingual,) to music of all genres.
As I wrote in my blog late last year, I admire the Russian people at large for their undaunted optimism.
If you watch a Russian movie or read a Russian novel, you will almost always come across a particularly Russian line spoken to someone in trouble:
Всё будет хорошо.
This sentence is literally translated like “Everything will be alright.” But in a typical Russian context, it means something else. When an American says these words, it’s little more than an empty promise or a lip service he is good at because he doesn’t know exactly how it will turn out OK, if ever it will, unless he is the author of the story. On the other hand, when a Russian says these words, he knows it MUST be alright because each individual citizen in Russia is the author of his/her own life.
Those who still remain prisoners of ideologies such as democracy or totalitarianism will never find it agreeable. But this is a deliberate statement I want to make after dealing with the predominantly-American audience of my blog for more than 12 years. · read more (13 words)
Recently I came across a young Russian lady named Zara who is willing to teach me her native language at a token price that buys her a little more than a cup of coffee and the subway tickets. You guys will think I have found some time to kill in the waiting room of Grim Reaper's office. But that isn't the case.
To me, learning any language can't be a goal in itself. This is especially true this late in life. A language is nothing more than a tool with which to conceptualize a raw idea into a communicable thought so a new resonance can be created every time you want to share it with others.
On Sunday one month ago, I was in a hurry to be on time for Zara's private lesson braving the stormy weather which hit this windy port city of Yokohama that afternoon.
It's when I was jaywalking toward the bus stop that all of a sudden a gusty wind estimated to have reached the velocity of 35 meters/second, or 78 miles/hour, violently thrust me from behind.
After taking several faltering steps forward, I fell down flat on the road like a frog run over by a car. There were at least dozens of pedestrians. Most of them stopped to have a look. Some of the witnesses may have videoed the scene but not a single one of them came to my rescue or even dialed 119 (Japan's 911.)
The Japanese are known to be the world's most compassionate and caring people. In this close-knit nation everyone babysits or wet-nurses everyone else all the time even when there is no need to do so. But they make a 180-degree about-face at the slightest sign of self-respect and self-reliance on the part of someone in trouble. They not only turn a cold shoulder to him, but make every possible effort to see to it that he is subjected to a merciless punishment because that's what he deserves. Their overgenerous compassion and contrasting cruelty here are the flip sides of the same coin.
Historically they have been victimized, rather than rewarded, for their unconditional allegiance to their society. That's why these conformists always gang up on the wrong people. Especially they tend to take it out on independent-minded individuals like me. I'm inclined to call their twisted cold-heartedness sadism of the slave.
Maybe I was supposed to play the role of a poor Gregor Samsa hit by the apple his father throws at him. In fact, though, their empty but unmistakably hostile stare down at me made it look as though the tables had been turned on these dregs of humanity. I found myself looking back at them from the ground level as if it was these insidious bastards that had metamorphosed into Kafkaesque vermin.
For a while I struggled, in vain, to get back on my feet. It's a couple of minutes later that a man in his late-30s or early-40s pulled over his SUV to the shoulder of the road and rushed out of it to do what Mencius expected any individual to do instinctively when he spots a toddler on the verge of falling into a well. If I remember it correctly, the famous Confucian went so far as to say if you don't have this instinctive empathy, you aren't a human being anymore.
While helping me up, he asked me, "Are you OK? You may have hit your head on the pavement. Shall I give you a ride to a nearby hospital?" All I could say was: "It's very nice of you. Thank you so much. But I think I'm OK now."
I stopped short of telling him the truth. I would have confused him if I had said: "I was not OK at all. Even before the accident I had long been far from OK physically because those who are surrounding me are not OK mentally."
The next day I visited my friend Hiroshi Shiono to ask him how to measure my blood pressure with the left arm totally disabled. He is the only doctor I can trust.
Although he isn't an orthopedic specialist, the moment he looked at my swollen wrist, he said, "Forget about blood pressure for now and visit an orthopedist right away. I'm sure some bones have been fractured there."
On doctor's instruction, the lovely and bright ladies at the reception desk, who are also my good friends for years, quickly made a web search to find me a nearby orthopedic clinic. One of them who bothered to come out from the office to keep the door open for me while I was stepping out said, "Good luck with your new doctor." They all know I am an extremely demanding patient.
As I wrote in the above-linked post, when I terminated my contract with the German software company ten years ago, I decided to opt out of Japan's medical and nursing-care system, entirely and for good, because it's cartelized from tip to toe by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan Medical Association, Japan Federation of Medical Workers Unions, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers, media, and the most important of all, tens of millions of juicy patients.
More specifically, I had five compelling reasons, one of them being the fact that arrogance on the part of doctors always goes over the top.
Traditionally outpatients, and inpatients alike, are so submissive to authoritative directives from Sensei, as a doctor is addressed here as if he were a deity. The physician, for his part, takes it for granted that it's him, not his patient himself, who has the final say on whether a treatment is needed at all, let alone what kind of treatment it should be. This is why I'd crossed out practically all medical practitioners before I somehow found my way to Dr. Shiono's clinic four years ago.
To me the only part of doctors' job which is irreplaceable with a machine is triage, even outside of a typical emergency room situation. A quack who is unable to triage is nothing but a ripoff because he can't translate a diagnostic observation into a valid prognostic prescription that gives the patient two or more specific options for treatment and medication.
Aside from getting prepared for the same old norm of "3-hour wait for 3-minute consultation," I was readying myself on my way to the clinic to have to educate the chief surgeon on how to deal with a human being who has lived his life in his own way and now is going to die his death in his own way.
Looking at the radiographs, the chief surgeon explained: "Here you can see intra-articular fractures." I asked: "How long does it take to fix them? And more important, how much am I supposed to pay? Remember I'm uncovered." He started to size me up like the owner of a five-star sushi restaurant pondering how far the customer can swallow within his expense account.
"Maybe it costs you several hundred thousand yen over a few month period." He continued: "Our standard practice is to send you to a better-equipped hospital we are affiliated with for closer examinations and a full-fledged surgery. Of course we take you back to help you with the postoperative rehab."
He looked astounded as if he hadn't heard such outrageous words from anyone before when I said, "I would need to undergo a brain surgery before paying twice the amount of my monthly pension just to get the broken bone reconnected. And don't tell me my 80-year-old limbs could be fully recovered. They had long been on the verge of disassembly before I sustained the injury yesterday."
Showing him my left knee which was still bleeding, I added: "Just for instance I deliberately refrained from showing them to you because I think I can live with these bruises left untreated until the last day of my life."
I continued pressingly:
"So what would my option 2 be like?"
Obviously he had no Plan B prepared beforehand. But he reluctantly offered an alternative plan which he termed "joint preservation method" as it came off the top of his head. Actually it was nothing more than nonprofessional, and perhaps unprofessional, services bundled together to expedite the self-healing process. There is no role to be played by a highly-paid professional.
When I asked him how much this would cost me, the chief surgeon quoted it at Suman-yen (some 30-50K yen.) This was also outrageous because all he would need to make available to me are an aggregate 2-3 man-hours from: ● anyone who has the power to yank my forearm so the fragments of the broken bone fit together once again, ● an unskilled nurse who can immobilize my forearm with a "Schiene" (splint) and bandage and, ● a senile man licensed to operate an outdated X-Ray machine.
When I asked him to write me a diagnostic/prognostic certificate, which would cost me 2,160 yen, the orthopedist revised his verbal quotation to 100K. His excuse: "I intentionally doubled the estimate because I thought the higher the price, the more advantage you'll get if and when you show the certificate to the city hall."
In fact it turned out this trick didn't work for tax mitigation purposes because these tax-collecting zombies at the city hall still remained the prisoners of the 522-year-old, single-entry, cash-based, pre-Pacioli system. They said, "We can't tell if we will comply until you show us the actual amount you've paid."
In 1494 Luca Pacioli, who was a mentor and close collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci, and thus the real central figure of the Italian Renaissance, thoroughly systematized the double-entry, accrual-based accounting method as something one revolution or a big evolutionary step away from the dark ages.
That's how I had to settle for option 2 as it was proposed.
The main thing is how you live your life and die your death like a human being. But in any event you can't get around the money issue, or more specifically the affordability issue.
The real problem, however, is the fact that it's totally useless to discuss them with these thinking-disabled apes on either side of the Pacific.
In the quadrennial farce currently going on in the Planet of the Apes, for instance, one of the major concerns for voters seems to be whether to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. And yet not a single individual has pointed out they have to define the word affordability, first and foremost, in the context of the real life because otherwise they always end up playing an empty word game.
I think only when you can buy something that exclusively makes your life worth living, you should use this word. On the other hand when you buy something essential for your mere subsistence, affordability can never be an issue.
It's primarily out of curiosity about his criteria for affordability that I sent a mail to my ex-son. Admittedly, though, I wouldn't have had any reason to decline it if he had offered me some assistance such as a bridge financing for the medical cost. But as I had expected, the sadistic slave dis not offer anything to his former father, not even a single lip service like, "I sympathize with you."
He just wrote back: "If you expect something from me, you should agree to a precondition I might spell out then." He didn't specify his condition certainly because he couldn't. The only thing I knew he had in mind is an absurd delusion that I'm doubly suffering, first from the physical pain and then from the consequence of my decision to stay away from the "mandatory" medical and nursing-care insurance.
The truth of the matter, however, is that if I were to take out what tens of millions of gullible Japanese are duped into believing is an insurance policy, I would be paying an annual premium of 306K yen. This should mean that with 70% of the exorbitant medical cost of 100K-500K "subsidized" by the government, I would recover my premium only on the most "optimistic" assumptions that I sustain an injury of the same magnitude almost every year, or more than four times a year.
From the last half of the 1960s through the mid-1970s, I learned quite a lot from my counterparts and dotted-line bosses in New York about business administration and computer science. Among other things, I learned from them about risk management and actuarial science as the project manager who was assigned to implement Japan's first full-fledged corporate pension plan in the wake of the enactment of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) in the U.S.
Those were the days Americans still had a lot to teach me. Although I didn't want to be a qualified actuary, they helped me become familiarized with the basics of actuarial matters which would all come down to this equation:
where C, I, B and E stand for Contributions, Income, Benefits and Expenses respectively.
My ex-son is intellectually too lazy to imagine how hard his former father had to study to become a professional, if he was always womanizing at the same time.
Now he is one of those thinking-disabled, immature grownups who can't read, let alone write, a message any longer than 140 characters. But to make his short text long enough for communication between human beings, the bastard wanted to say: "Who cares? After all you deserve all this predicament because you have disowned us just because we don't defy the basic rules of this community and ditched my poor mother just because she had brought us up into people persons that you call conformists."
I didn't respond because I knew there's nothing in common between our sets of criteria for affordability and priorities.
I divorced his mother 35 years ago. At that time I was forced by her and her father to pay at least 40 million yen in cash and real estate. My ex-father-in-law was a small-time yakuza, previously peddling illegal substance. And now his metal-scrapping business was on the verge of going under. They said the money would be used mainly for the education of the kids. But years later I learned they deliberately punked me.
On top of the initial alimony, I spent an aggregate several millions during the subsequent 20 years especially to support my biological elderly son and his mother who was habitually getting her hand on the cash in her employer's safe until the next time the auditor would come in.
Eventually my ex-son dropped out of the School of Science and Technology at Gunma University because the guy thought it wouldn't be affordable anymore to go on pursuing his studies of information technology.
After he dropped out of school, the owner of a micro-company, who had been his high school senior, hired him at a fire-sale price. But the moment he got a job there, his maternal granduncle asked him to cosign as the guarantor when applying for a 15-million bank loan. The borrower had no intention to repay from the beginning. As a result, my ex-son had to file for personal bankruptcy several years ago after a protracted litigation.
The guy didn't learn a lesson from all this in part because he didn't have to. If he still learned anything, he rediscovered a magic to turn an unaffordable life into an affordable one. Every Japanese knows how it works.
To that end he first landed a position at the above-mentioned dad-and-son company which is actually a second-layer subcontractor of a major construction firm, or firms. Since then he has been doing more harm than good to his poor employer. At one time, he was named the prime suspect by the police and the owner when cash was stolen from the company safe although they didn't know his mother had been doing the same thing habitually.
Last Friday I took a long train ride to have a clandestine meeting with the owner of the company. I just wanted to find out why my ex-son hasn't been sued or fired by now.
He confided to me that the debt balance of his company is 70 million whereas its capital stock is as small as 10 million. A mortgage must have been placed on his private property, But that doesn't make the company's balance sheet shape any better. The owner seems to be too ignorant to understand the serious implication of a negative equity situation. He just insinuated that his company would be much better off if he were able to rid it of my biological son.
My ex-son can't read company books if they are kept with the double-entry accounting method as stipulated by the Commercial Code. But at the end of our meeting, I had an impression that the incompetent company owner is being blackmailed by the rogue I carelessly fathered over some irregularities and all he can do with that is to neutralize the blackmailer in one way or the other.
The next thing my offspring did to the same end when he was in his late-30s is to get married to a senior divorcee who had been kicked out by her former husband and child, or children. By that time he seemed to have decided to put all the blame on me for his miserable life, or make me always subjected to the severest possible punishment. To him this broad was an ideal mate because the surest way to unduly punish his parent was to punish himself.
Soon after the marriage, or possibly prior to it, she developed a "refractory illness" named CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) and became wheelchair-bound. By now it's evident her disease is 120% psychogenic. i.e. totally fake. But nevertheless her husband succeeded in getting her a handsome disability pension. As my son admitted at that time, the annual amount is more than 2 million yen, a little smaller than my pension, whereas the premiums she had paid from her paychecks were, at most, 10% of mine. In this weird kleptocracy of the people, by the people, for the people, they call it income redistribution.
Thanks to these nanny-state measures, they now find everything they want to afford more or less affordable. For one thing it's more than just affordable for them to feed their 2 Pomeranians with decent food their ex-father can't afford. This is essentially how most Japanese adults make their worthless lives affordable.
It's a couple of years ago I last visited their place. While pretending to listen to me, my son held tight one of his castrated dogs and concentrated on doing something to it. Then he looked my way with a creepy grin to show me the dog's penis which he'd caused to erect. This is his way of doing a symbolic masturbation to make up for the sexual unavailability of his mate, or incompetence of his own.
This is when I finally concluded I shouldn't have fathered him, or any child for that matter, in this rotten country. Most Japanese fathers cherish their offspring as if they were his doppelgangers. But since my reproduction activity was solely driven by the instinct for creative evolution, I never told my kids specifically which way to go. That's why they kept complaining I was intellectually too demanding.
To me it was a Long Goodbye which kept tormenting me almost for four decades.
On my part nothing is readily affordable.
All I can do is to save 1,180 yen every time the bandage the unskilled nurse wrapped around my injured arm loosens up by turning to either of the two kind women who have spontaneously volunteered to redo it on behalf of the nurse.
Last Saturday, the day after I visited the company owner, I met up with DK, one of the few male friends of mine. at a nearby coffee shop. I just wanted to talk about something Japanese macaques or American apes never want to talk about. We discussed a wide range of topics from music to creative evolution for more than 3 hours.
But when saying goodbye in front of the apartment building where I live, DK casually said, "Please feel free to let me know whenever you need a financial assistance." I know I should refrain from accepting his offer so lightly. But I'm afraid I can't rule out the possibility that I turn to him as the last resort once again.
Cancers are a different story. It would go against my principle to fight a battle, whether it's winnable or unwinnable, just for a mere subsistence. By the same token, I wouldn't allow anyone to tamper with my corpse. This is the last bastion of my dignity.
I might change my mind if and when the treatment by stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency technology became affordable to everyone. But now it's abundantly clear that chances are remote for STAP cells to be commoditized in the next millennium. As I wrote almost two years ago, Yoshiki Sasai, the mentor of the ambitious stem-cell biologist named Haruko Obokata, was murdered, and subsequently Obokata herself was stripped of her doctorate by the despicable Nobel laureate named Shinya Yamanaka, et al. That's the end of the story.
The most serious problem facing me for now is the fact that there are very few "little ordinary things that everyone ought to do" but can't with one hand almost disabled.
As a fallout, I've been even more confined to bed, or what used to be a futon mattress to be more precise, despite the further worsening of sleep fragmentation. I didn't take a low-angle shot at the onlookers because my camera in the backpack had been thrown out of my reach at that time. But actually I didn't have to because their vacant eyes only filled with unforgettable hostility have haunted me ever since.
The other day when I was lying awake as I do most of the time, a funny idea flashed into my mind. I said to myself:
"Our ancestors, be it 'Australopithecines' or any other genus, made a serious mistake several million years ago when they opted for erect bipedalism. If we were still crawling around on our four limbs, we would be able to move more smoothly and we might have learned to run at the speed of 60 miles/hour like the cheetah. As a result we would never take a tumble when we were blown by a gusty wind of 78 miles/hour."
Take it easy, though. You needn't get on your hindfeet to discuss serious issues such as which bathroom a transgender ape should use.
It's been said they started practicing bipedalism primarily because they wanted to make tools and handle them with their forelegs. But did they have specific purposes in mind for which they were going to use these tools? Of course they didn't. So it was like putting the cart before the horse.
Time and again I have argued in this website the claim that Japan has successfully civilized, or modernized, herself since the 1850s is totally false. I don't think I was wrong. The Japanese have imported the Judeo-Christian civilization under the slogan of wakon yosai, translated as "Japanese spirit coupled with Western learning." In other words, they turned the relationship between means and end upside down from the beginning.
As a result this cultural wasteland is now inhabited by tens of millions of Samurais wearing a suit, which they call a Savile Row (to be pronounced Sebiro) and feudal serfs in jeans.
But now at the sight of the yawning gap between technologies and quality of life everywhere, I have realized the perpetual and pervasive inversion of means and end has its real origin in the fact that our distant ancestors started practicing erect bipedalism so prematurely. · read more (65 words)
Sunday, December 27 2015 @ 07:30 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
"Even if we did achieve what we wanted with a very small state, we'd just be resetting the clock back to 1776, and it would roll forward exactly the same way again."
Stefan Molyneux is a controversial figure on the web. I had an impression that he was one of those crisis-mongering pinheads until I came across the first video embedded at the bottom of this post. These days there are very few people among the chattering classes in the West who can talk about the fall of Greece, or any other failing nation-state for that matter, based on a thorough analysis like he does here.
One of his essays is titled "The Stateless Society: An Examination of Alternatives."
I don't like the word "society" here very much because it's based on a false assumption that a society should remain viable when it's separated from the state.
In order for a society to rid itself of a state, it has to be as cohesive as it can be. I don't mean a monolithic society under a totalitarian regime. What's really at issue here is how to achieve the highest level of cohesion among unshackled people so as to thwart any external system from hijacking them. In this context I think the Catalans are more accurate when they define their goal as a stateless nation.
Needless to say, I don't give a damn about who'll win the quadrennial farce currently going on in the U.S. But when the former Hewlett-Packard CEO was caught in a crossfire from every direction for her history of laying off 18,000-30,000 employees of her company, I, as a retired businessman, sympathized with this woman no matter how her face is "demented like a Halloween mask." But at the same time I thought it was the final confirmation that the American people will never learn it's not a government's responsibility to create jobs out of thin air.
This also indicated that as Molyneux seems to agree, the notion of a small government is nothing but an illusion as Cyril Northcote Parkinson already warned almost six decades ago.
As to how to achieve the goal, Molyneux takes it for granted, without giving any specific reason, that violence has to be avoided at any cost. He writes: "We cannot build on peace on blood. We are still so addicted to this lie. We have this fantasy that we honor the dead by adding to their number. What we need to do is remember that these bodies bury us. This ocean of blood that we create through the fantasy that violence brings virtue drowns us, drowns our children, drowns our future, drowns the world."
Hopefully Molyneux is right. Yet I hesitate to subscribe to his prescription based on a heavenly assumption. He argues that what he calls DROs (Dispute Resolution Organizations) should be put in place across the board. The greatest sticking point here is that not once has history seen an ancient regime peacefully hand over its power to a new one. It's true Russia's October Revolution itself was practically bloodless but the bloodshed from subsequent events more than made up for it.
As I've repeatedly argued on this website, it's a shame that the American people always play dumb about the historical fact that the independence war against Great Britain claimed tens of thousands of lives and since then their country has withstood all the challenge against their empire only on the heaps of the corpses of other peoples.
By the same token, French President François Hollande should keep in mind that almost one million people had to be killed for the noble cause of liberté, égalité and fraternité. Among other things, he shouldn't forget these victims included 16,549 people who were beheaded in the same way Western hostages were butchered by the Islamic State more than 2 centuries later.
At any rate I think it's about time intelligent people like Molyneux should have emancipated themselves from the fairytale about Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Deep inside everyone knows they couldn't have achieved what they are thought to have achieved without capitalizing on someone else's violence. Equally important, their achievements have invariably resulted in an aggravated chain of violence including the crucifixion of these martyrs.
The peaceful transition to a stateless nation may well prove to be yet another pipe dream as a small-government state already has. But nevertheless you can't rule it out because it still remains to be seen if the 7.5 million Catalans can eventually find a peaceful way to accomplish their unconstitutional aspiration for a stateless nation. As to the fate of Okinawa, its secession from Japan is much more unlikely because the process of its cultural assimilation seems to have progressed too far to reverse it. Worse, the islanders are doubly shackled.
It seems to me that if there still is another workable alternative, we'll see it when someone who isn't an imbecile like Mark Zuckerberg brings forward an unprecedented sociopolitical model fully leveraging an enabling web-based technology, which is, in fact, already there.
Molyneux also advocates "deFOOing." His coined word means leaving an obligatory relationship with someone from the same family of origin. This is quite natural because you can initiate a fundamental change in the relationship between a state and a nation only when you have freed yourself from old bondage.
Actually there's nothing particularly new in Molyneux's idea. Cuckoos, pandas, rabbits, and many other species have long practiced deFOOing.
For my part, two incidents of de-wedding cost me a fortune, literally and figuratively. DeFOOing I subsequently required from my two biological sons also cost me dearly. And yet, as a matter of principle, I have nothing against his idea.
It seems Molyneux published these essays well before Ron Paul's advocacy of the American Revolution revealed itself as yet another scam. Chances are that he has already taken back or modified these arguments. But as is evident from his words quoted at the top of this post, he may still remain a prisoner of the America-centric way of thinking which is essentially based on John Locke's philosophical rubbish about natural rights to "life, liberty and property." As long as he seems to believe history is undo-able or even redoable, we are largely divided over answers.
Voltaire once wrote, "Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." The most important thing to me, therefore, is that Molyneux and I share essentially the same question: exactly what brings together, or fails to bring together the nation, i.e. the people, and the state, i.e. the system to govern them. I am not sure yet if we have a common ground on which to deepen our thoughts on the most relevant issue at hand.
Since 2012, I have been discussing (or trying to discuss, to be more precise) the same question about the viability of the nation-state with my predominantly American audience, mainly from Henri Bergson's perspective of "Creative Evolution."
But every time I took up the issue, they instantly resorted to a cheap guerrilla tactic which was as gimmicky as Zeno's infinite dichotomy. It seemed impossible for me to make these guys engage in a mature discussion because they have been irreversibly indoctrinated since their early childhood to believe in America's Founding Principles as a set of indisputable axioms.
Quite naturally I ended up talking about education. I said that indoctrination or counter-indoctrination should never be intended in school and family education, and at least in the nonvocational setup, education should focus solely on training for practice of principled and creative thinking.
My heretical view of education also fell on deaf ears. Now I had to admit the chasm between my target audience and me is almost unbridgeable. These people "think" they are doing the thinking while actually they are not. A psychopath, almost by definition, does not doubt his sanity for a split second. Likewise how can you use your brain when you don't know what exactly it is for man to think like man?
On November 13, the day of the Paris multi-site attacks, no sooner had the news come out than thousands and thousands of truth-seeking idiots reflexively flooded the web with all-too-familiar words such as "false flag," "hoax" and "psyop." This once again reminded me of an American individual who regularly visited my website until March from Arkansas, the 3rd poorest state, i.e. the 3rd most parasitic state of America.
In fact he is handicapped physically, and most probably mentally as well. This makes him heavily dependent on the nanny-state programs all funded by poor taxpayers such as disability pension and tax relief. He wouldn't last a single day without these benefits.
Because of, rather than despite his inability to go self-reliant, he had developed a fanatic inclination toward dissident groups. For one thing he was under the strong influence of a conspiracy cult started by a female guru who likes to call herself Dr. Judy Wood. Her book titled "Where did the towers go?" was his bible.
In her book as voluminous as 485 pages, his guru attributed 9/11 to unnamed villains who made an experimental use of the "Directed Energy" technology developed by Nikola Tesla, et al. in the early 1900s.
It's important to know while Wood wanted to say the National Institute of Standards and Technology had attempted to cover up the conspiracy behind 9/11, she shared with the very NIST the same stupid assumption that the trivial event which claimed no more than 2,000-plus lives had changed the world forever, and thus needed an extensive and intensive investigation worldwide.
In the acknowledgment pages at the end of her book, there are three lists of high-ranking apostles and other disciples separated by their hierarchical status in the organization. And you can find the initials of this Arkansan as RT in the lowest class called "Other angels among us."
I always took utmost precaution when dealing with his secondhand conspiracy theory because I thought it would be counterproductive to hurt him personally. Most of the time my response was like this:
"Maybe you are right. But so what? It's not only useless but also harmful to keep talking about what has been done in the past as if it's still undo-able. And just name a single event in history that was NOT a conspiracy. Then I will be willing to discuss 9/11 more seriously."
Yet he thought my counterargument was a totally unacceptable blasphemy to Dr. Wood's oracle.
The Arkansan angel instantly exploded like a mentally-retarded child would have done over his own inability to effectively counter an argument he didn't like. After calling me names until he'd exhausted his almost inexhaustible vocabulary for ranting, he declared he would never again visit this website.
I wasn't surprised. What really surprised me was the fact that some other people, who were avowed patriots, if not fanatical ones, and had even tried hard to avoid a direct confrontation with the fanatic, now voiced exactly the same strong displeasure with my post.
At first I said to myself:
"What a coincidence."
Then on second thought, I suspected perhaps it was the final confirmation that patriots and dissidents in the U.S. were the two wings of the same dying bird. But still I wasn't really comfortable with the worn-out bird analogy.
Finally I realized it would all add up if I draw a parallel between the failed nation-state named the United States and conjoined twins which are almost inoperable.
Conjoined here means that they cannot kill each other no matter how they hate each other. Paradoxical though it may seem, this is the real reason behind the frequent but isolated occurrences of pointless shooting rampage everywhere in the U.S. Their favorite topic of the Second Amendment is nothing but a red herring.
If there still is a way to differentiate the Conjoined Twins of America and its satellite nation Japan, while the Americans can't kill one another despite the irreconcilable antagonism among them, the self-destructive people in this haunted nation even needn't kill one another. You needn't kill the dead. That is why the latter didn't think about using the once-in-a-millennium opportunity to execute the Divine Emperor themselves at the end of the war. Not only that, they also pleaded for Douglas MacArthur's mercy on Hirohito's life.
We will never see another assassination of U.S. President until the poorer states, e.g. Arkansas, are jettisoned as a result of the possible Civil War II. Only at that time, a parasitic angel representing abandoned states will come forward to play the same role John Wilkes Booth did with Abraham Lincoln.
Maybe this is too wild an expectation. But I don't care. In order to avoid further wasting my time with impossibly America-centric, egocentric, thinking-disabled and self-complacent people, now I'm redirecting my attention to other countries and regions where peoples address the fundamental question about the fate of the nation-statehood more seriously. Since I have very little to add to what I've said about Catalonia and Okinawa at this moment, my primary concern is Russia.
Here I'm not particularly talking about the Russian Republic. I'm focusing on "a greater Russia." To me any country where the East Slavic population accounts for the majority falls on this category. The current demarcations artificially determined between existing nation-states by the America-centric "international law" are no longer at issue. The area that concerns me most, therefore, includes Ukraine and some other former Soviet republics.
You may ask: "Why Russia?" The reason I single her out is because few other nations underwent the fundamental change of the entire polity on its own, i.e. from within, more than once in the last 100 years. You tend to belittle these turbulent years the Russians have gone through, by saying that in 1917, these ignorant peasants were duped amid the wartime chaos into the October Revolution by a "German spy" named Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who was allegedly supported by some Wall Street bankers and London financiers, and 74 years later they came to their senses when it belatedly dawned on them that "Freemasons' idea" which is normally referred to as "Marxism" hadn't worked either at home or overseas.
Most Americans and Western Europeans are too ignorant and arrogant to notice the Russians, alone, have lived out to the fullest the fate of the obsolete idea of the modern nation-state. These self-styled historians untiringly keep second-guessing because they can never look at history in the making.
Here I'm only talking about the people. Polities and regimes are not my concern anymore.
If I were to compare, nonetheless, the Russian head of state against their U.S. counterpart, all I could say is this:
Vladimir Putin certainly eclipses his American counterpart who some have dubbed "the Black Kenyan Monkey in the White House," both as the leader of the country and as a human being.
It is true that there is a certain similarity on the surface between the two. Just like the BKM has cozy relationship with the Military Industrial Complex that he has inherited from his predecessors, Putin devotes himself to the Russian Mafia along the way Boris Yeltsin paved for the former KGB spy.
If you want to know the reason the Russian President by far outshines the ape, nonetheless, it's simply because his people aren't as brainless and spineless as their American counterparts. Let's be reminded that amid his 2012 campaign, Ron Paul repeatedly stressed that "any government is a reflection of the people, not the other way around."
It's not the poor monkey but the American voters that really deserve the defamation. On the contrary, not a few Russian people have challenged the legitimacy of the Putin dynasty just like the Australian journalist named Julian Paul Assange did with the U.S. administration.
Just to name a few, Anna Politkovskaya, former Novaya Gazeta reporter, unflinchingly criticized Putin's war on the Chechens, and Alexander Litvinenko, former FSB officer, made various allegations against Putin's wrongdoings ranging from his covert backing of al-Qaeda to his habitual behavior of pedophilia. Politkovskaya was gunned down and Litvinenko was poisoned to death with Polonium-210, both in 2006. And in all likelihood hundreds of other personae non gratae have been assassinated to date.
Ironical though it may seem, this is the reason why Putin looks much more competent and alert than the president of the country some have already labeled "the Planet of the Apes."
As Russia experts such as Alex Pravda, Edward Lucas, Alexander Nekrassov and Andrew Wood seem to agree in the second video embedded at the bottom of this piece, the volcano named the Russian Republic along with its satellite countries will remain dormant for another decade or two because of the disabling social fatigue from the century filled with incessant violence. But my premonition is that its people will wake up and say they can't take it anymore well before the inevitable explosion of the American Empire which will trigger the implosion of the United States through Civil War II.
Once again, I have long graduated from political argument because it always ends up in an empty ideological contention. Not only that but I've also made it a rule not to discuss a faceless people as you always do.
In my mid- to late-teens I was hooked on the Russian people through their music, especially Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev, their literature, especially Mikhail Lermontov and Fyodor Dostoevsky, and their movies that all leveraged the rich tradition of Eisenstein's innovative cinematography and the Stanislavsky method.
For the first few years, Joseph Stalin was still alive but my attachment to the Russians had very little to do with the ideology. It was purely an emotional resonance with the Russians.
When it comes to the ideology, it's when I was already in my early 20s that I read The Capital: Critique of Political Economy, at least its first two volumes. Since then I've been of the opinion that Karl Marx is the first thinker, and perhaps the second last only next to Jean-Paul Sartre, who unraveled exactly what man's economic activity is all about beyond the point where his mere subsistence has been secured.
But every time I quoted Marx on my blog, the Arkansan angel never failed to say: "I haven't read a single page of Marx. And yet I'm sure you are mistaken because he was a Freemason." His way of "thinking" is typically American.
Equally important, I've also loved their language. When I was a sophomore, I learned it as the third foreign language. Instantly I fell for the language primarily because of its sounds and rhythms. I think especially its pleasant rhythms can be attributed to the fact that Russian is a language even more "high-context" than Japanese. For one thing, a common noun always inflects from nominative to genitive to objective. For another, it has no definite or indefinite article. Moreover, there are no such ambiguous tenses such as present perfect or past perfect. Everything is understood with a very small number of words. The only downside of the simplicity is that it may sometimes constitute inaccurate communication.
You may not believe it, but when renewing my old affection for the Russians, I've spent an estimated 150 hours in the last couple of months watching on YouTube 10 movies and 160 episodes from 20 serial TV dramas with the English subtitles always turned on. I think my severe sleep disorder helped me much in staying awake for such a long time.
The serial dramas included semi-documentaries titled "World War I" (53 minutes x 8,) "World War II" (45 minutes x 18) and "The Korean War" (53 minutes x 4.) What was the most impressive about these semi-documentaries is that not once have the Russians seemed to be willingly fighting a gruesome battle. Simply it's wrong if you think most Russians are brutal people who don't hesitate to see the white snow stained all over with the blood from the enemies' throats they slashed with their knives.
Not a few soldiers and partisans fought it out despite the fact that their parents and siblings had been executed by the likes of Cheka and NKVD. Even a great number of high-ranking generals had to fight the immediate enemies with a gun pointed at their back. In short most of them were stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
This is something beyond imagination of the Americans because to these self-appointed policemen of the world, taking part in warfare has always meant voluntarily, if not willingly, going on an overseas expedition to fix someone else's problem. The last thing they would understand is that the preservation of the nation-statehood which was already on the verge of falling apart everywhere was what the two World Wars were fought for.
In that respect it's a pity that ignoramuses such as Churchill, Roosevelt and Truman took it for granted America's founding principles based on John Locke's philosophical rubbish hadn't been superseded by the works such as "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State" (Friedrich Engels, 1884) and "The State and Revolution" (Vladimir Lenin, 1917,) and would prevail in the never-ending American century where member countries of the U.N. would swim together until they sink together.
For a different reason, the Japanese can never really understand what was going on in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter.
They are misunderstood themselves to have been extremely belligerent people in the past. Today they are known to be pacifists. Actually they boast that not a single drop of Japanese blood has been shed in warfare and not a single enemy has been killed by a Japanese soldier since the end of the Pacific War. And yet the fact of the matter remains that in the last 10 years its aggregate defense expenditure has topped 47.9 trillion yen (US$ 400 billion at the current exchange rate.) I suggest that you shouldn't waste your time to figure out how to characterize these eerie people.
But never fail to notice that even in the Great Patriotic War, not a single Russian soldier carried out a suicide attack shouting out, "Long live Stalin."
Now let me summarize how many Russians lost their lives in the Russo-Japanese War, the pre-revolution uprising of Moscow, the 2 revolutions, the subsequent civil war, Stalin's "Great Purge," the Battles of Khalkhin Gol and other skirmishes in Asia, the two World Wars and wars in the Korean Peninsula and Afghanistan. If my calculation is correct, the turbulent 20th century claimed 30-90 million Russian lives (See NOTE) if you exclude those who had to be murdered in order for Vladimir Putin to rise to power.
NOTE: Official statistics puts the number of people who were killed by Joseph Stalin at some 682,000, while some in the West estimate that actually 61 million were murdered by the dictator. They want to make it look like a Russia-particular problem that wasn't inherent to nation-states in general. I think the truth is somewhere in between.
In an installment of the series dealing with WWI, the background against which the melancholic march "Farewell of Slavianka" was composed by the leader of a military band named Vasily Agapkin is explained in detail. If you compare the video 3 below with marches composed by John Philip Sousa or Carl Teike, or the video 4 with Jule Styne's "It's been a long, long time," you may see what it was like for the Russians to have to go through all these bloody years.
And if you have some more time to spare, you may want to take a listen at the last video which is actually a Geisha version of the Slavianka song. I spent most of 1945 in a small village in Yamagata Prefecture, north-eastern part of the mainland Japan. Everyday I heard the very same record played over and over because the young daughter of the family that provided accommodation for us was practicing an exotic dance to the self-pitying tune. In those days, thousands of Kamikaze pilots and other Japanese soldiers were launching suicidal attacks with the famous war cry "Tenno Heika Banzai" (Long live the Emperor.)
The entire media is controlled by the Russian government as is true with the U.S., Japan and South Korea. So it's quite natural most Russian fictions have sickeningly syrupy happy endings as if in reality they weren't afflicted with the epidemic of alcoholism and abnormally short life expectancies.
And yet, some of the dramas I watched were touching in a way nonfictions wouldn't have impressed me so deeply although they were more often than not based on historical facts.
Mishka Yoponchik, Odessa gang turned Red Army officer
"Once Upon a Time" starring Evgeny Tkachuk as Yaponchik
More specifically, the following dramas are something you can't expect from uncreative filmmakers and TV producers in the U.S., Japan and South Korea.
This is "roughly" based on the turbulent life of a real man nicknamed Ми́шка Япо́нчик (Mikey the Jap.) He was the leader of a Jewish gang based in Odessa amid the waves of pogroms until the Bolshevik Revolution reached the city on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. The "humane gangster" and his men joined forces with the communists but he was executed in 1919 because of his disobedience to the new regime.
Odessa, currently within the territories of Ukraine, is one of the cities I wish I had visited in my lifetime. I enjoyed myself watching these settings of seaside lanes, old-fashioned restaurants and quaint little towns in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. It's sometimes too "roughly" based on history, e.g. in a Jew-owned nightclub, the band is playing "Bei mir bist du schön" which was actually composed more than ten years later.
But that doesn't really matter. The most important thing about these stories is that the way each Russian individual, fictitious or not, engages himself in history defies all the stereotypical perceptions the Westerners tend to harbor.
I was also impressed by the fact that I never failed to hear one of those characters in a drama saying to someone in trouble the particularly Russian line that goes:
Всё будет хорошо. (Everything will be alright.)
This must be very familiar to you if you have watched or read Anton Chekhov's play before. You never know exactly how it will turn out OK unless you are the author of the story. But it's not a lip service Americans are good at. It'll be alright simply because it ought to be alright in Russia where each individual citizen is the author of his/her own life.
For this very reason, I wouldn't be surprised if the Russians achieve, or at least attempt, a Copernican change in the way to bring the people and the system together in the not-too-distant future.
On the contrary if you have a Japanese friend, you must have noticed that you can't have a talk with him without hearing the killer sentence that goes: "It can't be helped (まあ仕方がないさ.) This is the real reason Japan will remain a cultural wasteland that serves as a irreplaceable graveyard for the Western civilization until the end of time.
They say the Japanese government is honest enough to admit its indebtedness is going to reach 1,229 trillion yen, or 245.9% of GDP by the end of this fiscal year. That is even higher than Greece's Debt-GDP ratio which stood at 177.1% as of December 31, 2014.
However, as I've often pointed out, it's a transparent trick. For one thing GDP doesn't represent government's productivity. Anyone in his right mind doesn't want to repay someone else's debt unless he has a compelling reason to do so.
Another thing that makes it a gimmick is the fact that the government-retained economists, analysts, and professors keep saying, "Don't worry too much because government's creditors are mostly its own people." They should know even in the world's most monolithic country, the people are a separate entity from their state and they aren't owned by their government. What they are saying all comes down to the truism that in Japan's consolidated balance sheet, which is nonexistent rather than just undisclosed, the accounting equation (Assets=Liabilities+Capital) would still hold true.
And most importantly, there is a sizable amount of debt without IOUs incurred mainly from the national pension plans most of which are contributory type.
In 1494, at the height of the Italian Renaissance, Luca Pacioli, who was the mentor, collaborator and math teacher of Leonardo da Vinci, invented the double-entry accounting method based on his own discovery that in the modern world, man's deed should always entail two or more different implications which are often contradictory with each other.
When I wrote it would take an eternity for Japan's public sector to switch its accounting system to the one Pacioli advocated 521 years ago, I referred to it as the Pacioli Revolution because the change in the bookkeeping method is only the smallest part of Pacioli's invention.
If you visit the website of the Japan Pension Administration, you will find the amount of the fund entrusted to it and its breakdown, i.e. investment portfolio, buried deep in the innermost pages. According to these pages, the total assets entrusted to them by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare amount to some 123.9 trillion yen. But the funny thing is that you won't find the total amount of liabilities which should represent their fiduciary responsibilities toward us. What a joke. They just want us to swallow the amount of the total assets which isn't supported by the amount of the total liabilities at all.
Actually it took me more than one year to convince them that it's my right to know at least my part of their fiduciary responsibility, i.e. how much they owe me. At first they flatly declined to comply with my demand, saying, "No one has ever asked us to disclose such data." I had to tell them I was a project manager when the Japanese subsidiary of IBM Corporation implemented nation's first ever pension plan in the wake of the enactment of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) in the United States. Only then they reluctantly sent me incomplete data including my payment history of pension premiums dating back to April 1959. I had to extrapolate myself the rest of the actuarial data such as the rates at which to come up with the present values of the premiums.
From my own Excel chart shown above, now I know I will have to live on until I'm 99 if I want to fully reclaim what I paid throughout my career. And I should be around until I'm 110 if I want to get paid the return on investment on top of my contributions.
Now I must ask:
Who has stolen this much from me?
Kleptocracy of the people, by the people, for the people
In the past I have often pointed out that it's a piece of cake in this country even for an inexperienced swindler to chisel these dupes on a false identity.
Every time I talked about the pathology of Japanese credulousness, American visitors to this website never failed to defend these suckers, saying I was just exaggerating their stupidity. That is quite natural. From the colonialist point of view, these guys are an ideal partner because they are submissive enough to be reshaped into any form that readily conforms to entirely foreign and fake principles.
On the other hand their Japanese counterparts would always say scornfully of the victim of an identity scam: "What a gullible guy. I would never have acted that generous. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no money to be swindled in the first place."
They don't seem to know the real implication of what they are saying. But, In fact, they all know deep inside that in this country, the more you are credulous, the more it's likely you win the game, and it's never the other way around.
Maybe my former "friend" Benjamin Fulford is a different story. He is a little savvier at least financially. The extremely prolific writer as he is deceived himself before he did others.
Fulford has authored more than a dozen books in Japanese. In 2004 he published "泥棒国家の完成" (Mopping up the state dominated by thieves.) To be more precise he should have translated the word kleptocracy as 追い剥ぎ国家 which means a state dominated by robbers rather than thieves. But either way, credit should be given to the author for using the inflammatory word in public for the first time here.
However, the subtitle already betrays the daring title. It reads something like "Political racketeers, bureaucrats, big businesses and yakuza gangsters are fully aligned behind it." As usual Fulford is careful enough to exclude his audience from those who are responsible for the rotten regime.
Now it's evident from his disgraceful lie about "the innocent victims" that he has a shrewd eye set on the very same loot to secure his handsome cut in it.
The fraudulent author has now been naturalized and surrounded by a growing number of Japanese cultists. You may think these loyal members of his conspiracy cult must have a certain amount of critical mind. But that is not the case at all. For one thing they dare not ask their guru the following questions:
● Which is more kleptocratic, your native country Canada or adopting country Japan? ● If Canada is more like a kleptocracy, why did you write about the problem inherent to Japan before addressing the problem facing Canada? ● If Japan is worse, why did you become naturalized here?
Now this kleptocracy is getting into its real mop-up stage with the "My Number Law" sneakily enacted on October 5 behind the smoke screen about nonissues such as "hawkish" bills related to the Japan-U.S. security treaty. They did this on a paper-thin pretext that the My Number system will "make various administrative procedures smoother." But on the contrary they intended to double the steps involved there in order to secure their jobs while creating extra revenues for their pet contractors.
Mitsuru Kuroda, former local government employee, warns in his blog that an estimated 0.5 to 1 million unregistered people are now losing their employment opportunity and all the entitlements simply because My Numbers won't be assigned to them. Although Kuroda doesn't mention it, these subhumans still can't expect they will be relieved of the duty for tax payment.
Relatively well-informed about nation's demography, Kuroda makes an educated guess. Yet I think it's a gross underestimate. Who can be so sure about the "ghost population"? It's something like telling how many perfect crimes have been committed when a perfect crime is defined as one which hasn't been detected.
Certainly I'm one of them. I can't expect to have a My Number given to me because my residence registration was erased when I decided to opt out of Japan's medical cartel for five specific reasons. That means that Japan Pension Administration will start finally defaulting on its pension obligation toward me at earliest in January. It's something like your bank declares out of the blue that you are not allowed to withdraw your deposit because your 6-decade-old bank account number is no longer valid as from today.
It's a blatant crime the kleptocracy committed against the people.
Recent reports had it that earlier this week, hundreds of people filed class action lawsuits against the government on charges that the My Number System is unconstitutional. But it's obvious these plaintiffs had been waiting until it was too late just like Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and his supporters started a full-fledged campaign against the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station from Futenma to Henoko only after Onaga's predecessor had made it a fait accompli.
The new system is expected to create a trillion-yen business opportunity for the IT industry. Everyone knows the plan is irreversible now because the bureaucrats have already pocketed the bribery of at least 100 billion yen. Now I must conclude this is just yet another alibi exercise.
I have already told my audience why I disowned my biological elder son. I could put an end to our feud, that stemmed from his strong antipathy toward the ex-husband of his mother for being intellectually demanding since his childhood, when I said, "I apologize for having fathered you guys at all. This is the greatest mea culpa of my life."
There's nothing to add except that breaking-up was hard to do like everywhere else. Since I have no tangible assets carrying a yen value possibly to hand down to him or anyone else, that's the end of the story.
As for the younger one, it was a lot easier. I'd already been too tied up with his elder brother to expect him to grow into a mature man wiping off all the influence from his maternal grandfather who turned out to be a former small-time yakuza gangster and his entire clan which was under the influence of the Soka Gakkai cult.
Eventually I lost both.
Twelve years or so ago the younger one married an obnoxious divorcee. At that time he changed his surname to save his stepson from suffering the stigma at school. Soon twin sons were born to them. I was kind of forced to meet them when they were around one year old but afterward I kept declining to see them again primarily because in Japan giving at least 5K yen, preferably ten times as much to be spent for crap is the only important role a grandparent is supposed to play every time he sees his young grandchild.
This past summer my son started to insist all over again that I should meet his twin sons during their summer break. He said: "Now my 11-year-old kids seem to be in the early stage of identity crisis. They are anxious to know about the 25% of their biological roots." I complied because there was no reason to decline. But I didn't fail to warn him to tell them in advance that I am the weirdest man they have ever met and they should not expect a single buck from me.
At first I couldn't tell one twin from the other. So before the lunch I "interviewed" them, one by one. I handed each of them a simple questionnaire to make it easy for them to introduce themselves before my digital camera. Later I uploaded the videos to share them with a limited audience.
After they introduced themselves to me, I tried a quiz on my son and his kids. I said: "If you guys 'think' I am a 25% ea of you kids, you are completely wrong. Believe me, I'm nobody's part. To begin with how many ancestors do you 'think' you have?" Neither my biological son nor his kids could answer. They didn't understand why I raised such an unusual question in the first place.
I explained: "As you know, some of my ancestors, i.e. our ancestors, were ninjas by occupation who served the Tokugawa Shogunate which was in power from 1603 to 1867. If you use the Excel exponential function (2^(2015-1603)/20) on an assumption that 20 years make one generation, you will find out we are 2 million ancestors away from the first ninja even if you forget about collateral ones.
"Moreover," I continued, "there's no reason to stop at the first ninja if you really want to trace your roots. I'm afraid you guys still believe, deep down in your hearts, in the downright lie that Japan was founded on February 11, 660 BC by the son of the Sun Goddess. Then you should know you have an astronomical number of ancestors. If my Excel calculation wasn't wrong, it's
They were shocked but obviously not by the number itself. In the face of a frightening abyss, they were totally at a loss over what to make of the arithmetic.
To them an "identity crisis" is nothing but a rite of passage where they are supposed to pledge an unconditional allegiance to the homogeneous society that embraces the trilogy of faiths. That is why they didn't understand "identity," "root" or any other borrowed word had to be defined more precisely than the stupid writer named Alex Haley did in his 1976 bestselling book titled "Roots: The Saga of an American Family."
Actually I was playing devil's advocate as usual. What I was getting at could have been summarized like this:
One's sense of identity is an emotional attachment and/or an intellectual resonance felt voluntarily (not obligatorily) and spontaneously (not biologically) toward specifically portrayable figure(s) in the huge family tree.
A larger group of faceless people such as mankind, male, female, working class, capitalists, the stateless, the handicapped, liberal, conservative, etc. has nothing, whatsoever, to do with it.
The only thing that pleasantly surprised me was the answer the younger twin (photo) gave to my banal but tricky question: "What do you want to be doing when you become an adult?" The older one answered without hesitation, "I want to be a policeman." But his younger brother declared, after mumbling for a while, "I haven't made up my mind on that yet."
I was really impressed because this is an utterly atypical way an 11-year-old would answer the standard question. Most every kid answers it without hesitation because he knows it doesn't really matter whether he is fully committed to his "dream" to become a cop, an astronaut, a professional athlete, an artist, a TV personality, or anything else. In fact, though, you can't seriously commit yourself to anything until you find out who you are, i.e. your identity.
It is the same thing that Henri Bergson exquisitely analogized as a "canvas which the ancestor passes on for his descendant to put his own original embroidery."
I was going to tell them a chimp can recognize itself in the mirror but it isn't concerned a bit about its identity. At that time my son and his elder son quickly sent me a clear signal that they didn't want to listen to my lecture on identity. So I stopped there to concentrate on the free lunch.
Back home, I started to write a followup letter to my son to tell him that I was really impressed by his younger son's answer and that as his principal educator he should try hard to protect him against incessant indoctrination or counter-indoctrination the boy is subjected to at school or everywhere else. But on second thought, I said to myself that it would be totally useless. After all I am his biological parent who miserably failed to cultivate his thinking ability.
In the letter I wanted to send a link to the video embedded at the bottom of this post to explain how geese are imprinted almost at birth. Certainly he would have said, "Don't worry, father. We are not geese, but human beings."
In response I would have told him to watch the second video which clearly shows the chimp by far outperforms the human being at least in certain kinds of cognitive abilities. Anyone who believes we are superior to chimps should be able to tell exactly how. And if he "thinks" man does the thinking whereas an ape doesn't, he should be able to tell exactly what it is for man to think like man. I would have had to explain sorting out tons of information children are gathering on the web or anywhere else has nothing to do with the process of man's thinking.
I stopped short of completing the letter because after all I know it would be a total waste of time to repeat my thought-provoking lecture on the Digital Altar to someone who is already thinking-disabled like "well-educated" elements among my audience, let alone uneducated guys like my biological sons.
Recently I learned that a man named Stefan Molyneux has been talking about the merit of "deFOOing." (FOO stands for the Family of Origin.) He said all adult relationships should be voluntary and discretionary rather than obligatory in the context of his primary advocacy of a "Stateless Society." For a certain reason I prefer the words "Stateless Nation." I may come back on the issue of deFOOing if time permits. But for now I have concluded Molyneux's "thought" isn't worth studying more in depth. · read more (2 words)
Wednesday, November 11 2015 @ 01:23 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
WARNING: This post is rated NC-17.
If the Anglo-Saxon was, say 45 years of age in his development, in the sciences, the arts, divinity, culture, the Germans were quite as mature. The Japanese, however, in spite of antiquity measured by time, were in a tuitionary condition. Measured by the standards of modern civilization, they would be like a boy of twelve as compared with our development of 45 years.
Up until late last year I was obsessed with a silly idea that I had to become fully prepared for my disappearance even though I have nothing tangible to hand down to my offspring. My Microsoft Outlook was filled with so many overdue tasks to catch up with that I hit the snooze button several times everyday.
In December I had to change my plan as my physical condition had worsened one step further.
In the last three and a half years I have been using MS Excel to closely monitor my systolic and diastolic blood pressure and some other cardiovascular readings. Not that I fear death. When I wrote I am immortal, I really meant it. The main reason I started the daily measurement, nonetheless, was because I wanted to keep to an absolute minimum the medical cost entailed in the prescriptions and occasional triage sessions with my friend Dr. Shiono.
I brought the most up-to-date chart to his office because I thought I could expect a reliable opinion from him on whether to take a simple electrocardiogram test. I didn't explicitly added that it was as far as I could barely afford. But well aware of my resolve to stay away from Japan's medical cartel, he just said that was the right thing to do.
Looking at the test result along with the MS chart, Dr. Shiono matter-of-factly said he saw an unmistakable sign of severe atrial fibrillation induced by a cardiac valvular disease and that most probably it was a matter of time it would develop into a fatal cerebral infarction. We didn't talk about a closer examination or an additional medication.
On my way home I said to myself: "With my days, or even hours and minutes, being numbered, I can't afford the time to tidy up all that mess resulting from my Diogenes Syndrome. Why should I bother to save someone from the daunting task I may otherwise leave behind? At any rate I need to wrap it up so I won't have to waste another life, which I don't actually believe, by asking the same stupid questions over and over about where I came from and what for. But after all wrapping up a life isn't packing up for a long journey."
My lifetime philosophy teacher used to say, "We are our choices," or "We are condemned to be free " When I look back on my trajectory, I must admit it was during a relatively short period of time that I could really change my path because committing myself to something or someone always meant finally closing the door to other opportunities. For the rest of the time I've been just reaping the harvest from my choice, or trying to come to terms with the adverse consequences inevitably entailed in it. This is why most individuals among my audience don't want to face the ontological reality of life.
For my part the first step to further going on is to admit what is done is done. And yet I still remain condemned to freely choose a way to sum up my own life. The most sticking point, therefore, lies with the fact that it's always too soon until it becomes too late when I try to deal with something while it's still going on.
Maybe I had expected someone to give me a little clue to the way out of the thorniest dilemma.
On the evening of May 3, the day which fell on the 68th anniversary of the enactment of the MacArthur Constitution, I came across a plump and short woman who was presumably in her mid-to-late 60s in a small eatery I frequent. She later introduced herself as a retired schoolteacher. Apparently she didn't have any kind of handset as far as I could see. But who knows? She could be just one of those technology-shy or IT-illiterate old people.
I was almost through with my humble dinner when I overheard her having a serious talk with two male Indians across a nearby table. She didn't have the faintest air of femininity as if she'd used it up in the course of indoctrinating her pupils while getting assimilated herself into the male-dominated system. I wouldn't have paid a closer attention to the broad if she hadn't been giving the Indians a history lecture on postwar Japan.
In everyday discourse in this country, people have a strong tendency to avoid sociopolitical issues. Not that they are too divided over them. On the contrary there is no real political contention in the nation of digital shamanism where professional priests singlemindedly pursue the traditional art of governing serfs (matsurigoto) through ritualized proceedings.
Although people who are already suffering senile dementia may still have a faint memory of their reverence for the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, it had to be buried deep inside like your childhood trauma. As a result those afflicted with juvenile dementia know nothing about his contempt for their parents and grandparents.
I am a funny person whose favorite pastime is to give an ad hoc lecture, for free, to anyone who desperately need to avoid the tangible or intangible cost entailed in his blind obedience to social taboos. One of the reasons behind my peculiar habit is that I believe educating others is the only way to get educated. Galileo is believed to have said, "I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."
A recent example was when I taught a small barbershop owner how to avoid being overexploited by the certified tax accountant she has long retained for her annual tax return. I said all she would need to do to save her a substantial part of retainer was to find herself an inexpensive software package built on Luca Pacioli's double-entry accounting method, because it would at least take care of the calculation of the consumption taxes (Japan's VAT) which was a little too tricky for anyone who is in the dark about accounting. I don't know if she has decided to heed my advice.
In a separate session we had soon after her husband had died, I gave her a tip on how the widow can evade an exorbitant donation demanded by her family temple under the name of Buddha to give her deceased husband a fancy posthumous name.
When passing by their table on my way to the checkout counter, I approached the lecturer to say: "I didn't particularly try to eavesdrop on your conversation, but can I tell you something about MacArthur just to set the record straight?"
Still confident in herself at that point, she generously said with a defenseless grin: "Why not? Just shoot."
In between she kept taking sips of wine while the younger Indian was holding the bottle with his right hand so he could quickly refill her glass whenever it was emptied. I later learned the students were merchants peddling pricey fashion items imported from their home country in the nearby shopping mall and that the lecturer was one of their most important customers. It was obvious that the Indians had been listening to their customer's lecture so attentively just out of the sense of obligation.
But when I jumped in, the Indians were quick enough in gathering my impromptu lecture would be an unavoidable step to further duping the sucker into buying an extra saree or two. One of them brought me an extra chair and a glass. I sat down and said, "Thanks, but I don't drink." But now they were all ears although I still didn't intend to give them a full-fledged lecture.
Throughout my career, I strove to develop a proprietary teaching method based on my belief that education is not indoctrination or counter-indoctrination, but training for practice of principled and creative thinking, no more, no less. When I finally came up with a unique way to effectively provoke creative thinking among my audience, I realized I'd been influenced to a great extent by management guru Peter F. Drucker (See NOTE)
NOTE: Time and again did Drucker warn his audience, in many different contexts, to the effect that giving a wrong answer to the right question is much better than giving the correct answer to a wrong question. He died 10 years ago today at the age of 95 but if someone had told him that an evil Jewish cabal (or al-Qaeda) was behind 9/11, he must have said: "Oh, is that so? But so what? At best that's giving the correct answer to a wrong question."
I've invariably tried it with my audiences, be it the MBA class of 2000 at the International University of Japan or business and IT professionals I was addressing on various occasions. To tell the truth, however, this method was so unconventional that it did not always prove very effective, even with the audience of my blog. When I said, "Let's think," people said more often than not that's what they were doing. But how can you think like man when you don't know exactly how to use the brain-shaped thing sitting at your top?
Since I saw no reason to make my lecture on the night of the Constitution Day an exception. I automatically applied my method although inside my brain I substituted the above-linked post for the syllabus. But before really getting started, I had to make a correction to her understanding of the general's remark.
I said: "You were saying that 70 years ago MacArthur said Japanese adults were all 12-years-old. But to be more precise, it was 64 years ago, May 5, 1951, that the repatriated SCAP recounted his experience with Japanese adults he'd dealt with. Actually he said they were all 12-year-olds when compared to the Anglo-Saxon and the Germans who he thought were as mature as 45-years-old.
"More importantly, you shouldn't play it down as if it were a casual slip of the tongue; it was a sworn testimony he made before the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee."
She was just listening as if my correction hadn't made any difference to the topic. In the total absence of the willingness to redefine the issue at hand on her part, I had to play the role of the questioner, as well. Now Our conversation which wasn't really interactive went essentially like this thereafter.
I said, "At first let me ask you if you think our parents and grandparents really deserved his slander. If I am not mistaken, it sounded as though you thought they did." Her answer: "You are not mistaken. I think MacArthur was right, more or less." I asked her: "Could you tell me the reason why you think they were that immature?" "I haven't given a thought to the question from that perspective before. But I somehow feel that way."
Now I had to cite my own reasons: "Just let's be reminded that our parents and grandparents pleaded for his special mercy on Hirohito's life instead of claiming it ourselves for having sacrificed his subjects, more than 3 million of them, just to save him and his family. He was generous enough to accept the insane wish. As a result, the SCAP was revered as the the blue-eyed "Second Emperor" during his reign which extended from 1945 to 1951. And on April 16, 1951, the day of his departure, he was once again taken aback on his way to the Haneda Airport at the sight of the streets closely lined with 200 thousands Japanese enthusiastically waving small Stars and Stripes."
I went on to ask her the next question. "Do you think he was really qualified to look down on them?" Once again she was caught off guard because she hadn't expected another question was coming in that respect. I explained: "If MacArthur's had a good reason for his contempt for the 12-year-olds, that does not necessarily mean he was 45-years-old. The pot sometimes calls the kettle black." The retired schoolteacher fidgeted for a while before she managed to mumble out something like this: "To be honest with you, I didn't know exactly what made him think he was qualified to be so contemptuous about the Japanese. I just thought his attitude was somehow understandable."
I answered my own question: "The general had to resort to the unsophisticated age metaphor at the congressional hearing because he was also 12-years-old, maybe 13 at best. If he had been a well-educated, mature man, MacArthur might have used the anthropological term 'neoteny' which would have unequivocally meant an incurable illness particular to the descendants of a rice-growing tribe. Decades later Robert D. Putnam would write of this terminally-ill country, "In some cases where you can get to depends on where you're coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here."
I went on. "Now that you have acquired some background information, do you think we contemporary Japanese still deserve that characterization? In other words, have we changed in the last 64 years?
The lecturer-turned-student had already started blushing. Or her face may have just flushed because of the uninterrupted gulps of wine. Now that I belatedly realized I'd fallen into the same, old trap despite the utmost precaution I'd taken, I answered my own question on her behalf once again.
"Traditionally we have been so used to being taught by teachers like you that we haven't used our own brains over how to overcome our developmental failure. As a result most of us 'think' we have to learn our lessons from past mistakes as if history were redoable or even undo-able. If there is still something to learn from history, it's the very fact that there's absolutely nothing to learn there."
I stopped there because I knew it would be counterproductive to further grill her and I had no intention to make her lose face before the Indian merchants.
At that point, one of the Indians opened his mouth for the first time as if to placate the argumentative old goat so both sides would find common ground to soft-land. He said, "We wonder why you still keep your brain this sharp at the age of 79. What is the secret of your extraordinary lucidity?" I said, "At least in part I owe this to your home country. As you know, turmeric-rich food such as my favorite noodle in curry soup is available around here at a very reasonable price."
But the retired schoolteacher felt she had to add some spice to the compliment by her vendor. She said as if to hand down the final verdict:
"Mr. Yamamoto, this is a downright tragedy."
"Tragedy" (悲劇) is not an everyday word in Japan. Totally unprepared, I was about to say, "You bet it is!" But before actually uttering these words, I asked her for a clarification: "What exactly is tragic about this? And for whom?" Equally unprepared on her part, she gave me an offhand explanation. "Of course, it's you I'm talking about, Mr. Yamamoto. It seems to me you are completely against the natural providence that says as one grows old biologically, his cognitive faculty should also deteriorate accordingly." Her argument sounded all-too-familiar but once again it seemed she was just parroting the general who said in his farewell speech: "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
Or maybe she implicitly quoted Pierre de Coubertin who famously echoed the words of Roman poet and satirist Juvenal: "Mens sana in corpore sano." Now she turned out to be yet another Japanese macaque who can't wait until 2020 to see the 2-millennium-old crap reconfirmed as an indisputable axiom.
More than three years ago I posted a piece that dealt with Japan's medical cartel. There I raised dozens of questions those who blindly believe in the myth the World Health Organization has been disseminating about the world's most effective medical system of Japan dare not ask. They included: ● What should the "healthy" longevity Japan boasts mean when one in four Japanese is seriously considering suicide according to the government statistics? ● How can Japan's overall medical achievements be considered outstanding when every third Japanese is supposedly suffering hypertension according to the likes of The Japanese Society of Hypertension? ● Are Japanese doctors considered really productive when "a 3-hour wait for a 3-minute treatment" is the norm for their outpatients? ● Does it make any sense to evaluate the Japanese medical system when 70-90% of outpatients are just pretending to be physically sick, but in fact, mentally ill?
Although not a single individual who read my post gave me a feedback as useful as the retired schoolteacher's, it is evident from the obsessive-compulsive behavior of these supposedly decent and polite people that Japan has established itself as a model country only at the cost of incurable mental illnesses. In a restaurant or a coffee shop, these creepy creatures can't refrain from talking nonstop for hours about their own or their children's blood, pus and excrement, as if their only concern is mere subsistence.
There's more to it. Just take a look at these pictures I took during my recent train ride. As you can see here, these Sumaho-addicted, thinking-disabled zombies become auto-intoxicated, at a certain point of the uninterrupted connection among themselves, from the overdose of what I call "the shared emptiness." And the moment they get disconnected, they instantly fall asleep.
The continuous "hollowing out" of Japan's economy since the mid-1980s has taken a devastating toll on people's minds, and they are now empty inside, figuratively and literally.
It should be noted here that Sumaho is NOT the Japanese contraction for a smartphone. It has nothing to do with a mobile phone with added functionality.
In this nation of conformists, one-on-one communication is not really needed; the occasional exchange of a text message shorter than the 17-syllable haiku poem, sometimes with a selfie or two attached to it is more than enough.
I started shooting using my cheap digital camera only after most commuters had got off at the Yokohama central station, everyone holding his handset. But at that time they already gave a menacing glance at the old cameraman, perhaps not because I had a digital camera in my hand but because I didn't have a Sumaho. Obviously I am always a public nuisance or a potential troublemaker.
I couldn't care less, though. It's not my fault at all. If something horribly tragic is taking place here, it's their tragedy, not mine.
According to the official statistics, 968 million copies of comic books and magazines were sold in 2011 to the 127 million people including company executives and political leaders. This accounted for 36% of year's publication of all genres. No wonder the population of lingerie thefts and voyeurs still keeps growing among social elites such as former CEO of IBM Japan Takuma Otoshi, incumbent Minister in charge of reconstruction of the areas afflicted by 3.11 disaster Tsuyoshi Takagi, and many others.
Now that comic books have been increasingly replaced with Sumaho, we are getting even more used to it with the population density in this traditionally close-knit society 10.3 times higher than in the U.S.
To say the least, the situation here is more than just suffocating.
And yet I don't think my conversation with the former schoolteacher was a total waste of time. With her unique and original way to recapitulate my 80-year-long life for me only 1.5 hours after we met, she at least reminded me of the importance of wisdom. We sometimes optimize the hard disc with the file defragmentation program to improve the performance. Likewise we have constantly to eliminate unessential knowledge to improve our wisdom.
The real problem here is what criteria to use to weed out unnecessary pieces of knowledge. Actually my criteria are such that make my life challenging. How to avoid risks or how to economize on the use of limited amount of resources is never at issue because if I prioritized the easiest and safest course of action, I would end up in a fairyland where everything is predictably comfortable and everyone is fully assimilated into the existing system.
In fact her words were heavily weighing on my mind for months, but I should have known I couldn't expect anything more than a misplaced verdict from a fully assimilated, androgynous woman like her.
In retrospect, I was an incessant womanizer throughout my adulthood who was driven solely by my unconditional adoration for genuine femininity. To me it was, and still remains, the only source of creative life. Without always having a woman within my reach, I wouldn't have lasted this long, let alone grown into a mature man. Admittedly I've sometimes had an intimate relationship with a wrong woman, including my second ex, and suffered its consequence for years. But now I think that it was unavoidable because I didn't intend to live an error-free life from the beginning.
Not that I loved faceless and fleshless women like most of you sexists and anti-sexists always do. I was extremely choosy about the women I became romantically involved with. In that context I think I was closer to a sex addict than to the believers or disbelievers in the mere idea of "the feminine mystique."
In this regard, I often compare myself with Josef K, the protagonist of Franz Kafka's The Trial because he constantly makes sexual advances "like a thirsty animal" with practically every woman he comes across in his apartment house, the courtroom, and lawyer's office.
But despite our striking resemblance on the surface, there is a fundamental difference between us. French writer Gustave Flaubert once observed: "God is in the details." And Kafka's way of describing the intimate relationships Josef K has with women is too surreal to conjure up vivid images. This indicates that he wants to make love to women just to relate himself to the alienating world through faceless and fleshless women. Needless to say, such an attempt is always doomed to failure. Simply put, Kafka as personified by Josef K was a eunuch.
Recently some critic tried to shed light on Kafka's sexual potency by analyzing Gregor Samsa, the central character of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, from the wornout Freudian perspective. He theorized that the scene in which Gregor's father kills his son who has been transformed into a giant vermin by throwing an apple at it unmistakably symbolizes that his tyrannical father has virtually castrated his son.
I read the two novels several times each when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Each time I found them quite intriguing but they always left me wondering why the author of mere cas cliniques (clinical cases) was touted as one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century who almost prophesied the Holocaust.
My father was also an impossible tyrant. He was fighting against conformism, conventionalism and mediocrity surrounding him with his double-edged sword as any other first-rate scientist would do against the totalitarian regime. But thank god, the talented aircraft designer never used the sword directly against his own son. Instead he was going to use me as an additional weapon by training me to grow into a double-edged sword myself.
When I inventory a dozen or so mates to whom I committed myself wholeheartedly, I am always struck by the fact that my first ex-wife outshone other beautiful women with her irresistible charm and unforgettable grace.
On top of that, she had an extraordinary ability of conceptual understanding. To me it was a bonus because almost by definition, femininity tries to understand rather than conquer. Feminine attributes such as intuitive sensitivity and deep empathy can more than make up for the lack of the reasoning faculty.
Since my second ex demanded I destroy everything reminiscent of my first marriage, I don't know if my memories of the moments we shared in the period from 1957 through 1963 hasn't been sublimated at all in the last century. Yet I'm reasonably sure she was the ideal partner to spend the rest of my life with.
I think this was attributable at least in part to her upbringing.
Her maternal grandfather was one of the Imperial Army officers who were imprisoned for their failed attempt of the coup d'etat of February 26, 1936, which actually paved the way for Japan's stepped-up aggression in China by an odd twist of fate. But his daughter was a prominent figure in the world of the modern tanka (traditional 31-syllable poetry.) My first ex was born between the gifted poet and a reputable physician.
On the other hand, as you can infer from the above picture, which was most probably taken by her, around the time I was 19, Back then I was an impossibly egocentric and immature person as so many old men surrounding me today.
In those days I wasn't a particularly handsome and sexy guy. But my friends were saying I was a "girls' cup of tea" on and outside the campus. Perhaps these girls found my sulky attitude and anti-social behavior somehow attractive. For one thing I skipped almost all classes in my junior and senior years to engage in some political and journalistic activities in the wake of the nationwide protests against the renewal of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.
Maybe she was one of those girls who were precipitously attracted to the punk that I was. On February 14, 1957, she gave me unforgettable 2-item gifts, one of which was a 45-RPM record featuring Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan playing My Funny Valentine. The other one was Sartre's play titled Nekrassov. I was really impressed because those were the days the Western customs such as Barentine's Day had yet to be introduced here (only for an utter bastardization.)
On the campus, and outside, we always stuck together. Some idiots on the campus used to say: "You two seem to be emulating the relationship between Sarutoru (Sartre) and Bobowaru (Beauvoir.)" We never failed to say: "It's none of your business. We don't emulate anyone in the first place."
We were formally wedded in 1960. But our marriage didn't last more than 4 years I left her for another woman as if to rid myself of the pressure of living with an ideal mate. Even worse, in the last days of our life mostly living together, I deliberately made fun of her by flirting with the new girlfriend in her presence.
It is true it was a little suffocating to stay with an exceptionally intelligent, elegant, sensitive, and sensual lady like her when I was still at a loss over which way to go. But to be more precise, it was too hard for me to find a way to reciprocate her willingness and readiness to help me out of the crisis facing me at the workplace and everywhere else.
When trying to sum up my life more than half-a-century after our breakup, I must admit something still remains unsettled deep inside, and that's what hinders my Operation Wrap-up.
What I did to her was really irredeemable because as I wrote earlier in this post, most of the time what's done isn't redoable or undo-able. She may think or want to think she has already overcome the aftereffect of the tragic accident I caused her. But ironically enough, I know she can't recover what she has lost in our failed marriage. For instance, she could have been a first-rate writer leveraging her unparalleled potential.
At one time, I thought I could turn to her to wrap me up because between us we had much more than just a good chemistry or the same wavelength but a deep resonance that could have led us to the same goal of life, though it was a little premature at that time. But I said to myself that it's not the right thing to do to renew contact with my 80-year-old girl this late in life.
Dr. Shiono I mentioned earlier in the post is an ardent music lover. Every once in a while he has prescribed me, for free, his favorite musical pieces such as Hilary Hahn's Bach in one way or the other along with Amlodipine and Valsartan at discounted prices. But late last month, he had his assistant hand me two recordable CDs. The pieces nicely burned onto them included a timely prescription of Carlos Kleiber's excerpts from Tristan and Isolde.
Operas are not particularly my favorite genre. But Richard Wagner's "musical dramas" are a different story because his "endless melodies" totally replaced overly dramatized arias and other showstoppers which are awkwardly bridged from one to the next with boring recitatives. Wagner's melodies just keep flowing throughout a scene.
The famous last scene of Tristan and Isolde is generally called "Liebestod" (death of love, or love of death) but it's believed that Wagner himself wanted to call it Verklärung or transfiguration. Either way Liebestod to me is the same thing as Lebenstod (death of life or life of death.)
Critics say the German composer wrote this musical drama under the influence of Arthur Schopenhauer who was in turn influenced by Buddha's Four Noble Truths. But as an avowed Buddha fundamentalist, I think this is ridiculous. It's my understanding that death can't consummate life or anything else in one way or the other because as I've said many times before, death is at the very core of life.
Another second-rate philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is often quoted as saying: "Tristan and Isolde is the real opus metaphysicum of all art -- insatiable and sweet craving for the secrets of night and death." I don't know if that is what Wagner's Liebestod is all about.
This is not to say I wasn't overwhelmed by the overpowering scene in which the dying Isolde sings as if in an ecstasy over her lover's death.
As to the "Tristan chord" (F, B, D♯, and G♯) I think Musical Director of the Royal Opera House Sir Antonio Pappano explains it very precisely in the video embedded below. As he says, the strikingly modern chromatic chord resolves into a diatonic chord which someone calls "the most beautifully orchestrated B Major in the history of classical music." To me the Tristan chord was one of the most important combinations of notes because up until recently, I was giving nontechnical advice, off and on, to young Jazz musicians here.
My Operation Wrap-up still goes on with the inherent dilemma unresolved. But for now I really appreciate Dr. Shiono's Tristan prescription because it at least gave me a clue to resolving the dilemma on time. Now I know my life is neither a tragedy nor a farce. · read more (2 words)
I couldn't sleep a wink last night because we had that silly fight I thought my heart would break the whole night through I knew that you'd be sorry, and I'm sorry, too
From a song Frank Sinatra sang several weeks before he actually had a sleepless night over how to cheat the conscription doctor.
Only with a few exceptions, my most recent post got good reviews locally including the one from Mr. Hiroaki Koide himself. The scientist and anti-nuclear power activist didn't seem to fully agree with me, but I refrained from further argument because I thought it would be counterproductive to point out to someone who doesn't specialize in neuroscience that his view of man's aging was unscientific.
Especially heartening to me was the offline feedback from Lara, Chen Tien-shi (photo.)
In the postscript of the piece, I'd written to the effect that if we want our society to go on evolving, we should hand down to our children and grandchildren un-sanitized, unstandardized accounts in first-person singular of how each of us lived out our part of history.
In response, Lara sent me a pleasant mail scattered with smile-inducing pictograms. She wrote:
"I also enjoyed discussing the issue with mature people like you. (*^_^*) In recent years I've found myself going through a transformation from a researcher and activist to an educator. Maybe that's simply because I've been a faculty member of the university for a couple of years by now. Or I may have learned my limitations as a researcher and activist. f^_^;."
It seems we are exactly on the same page now despite the fact that we are almost two generations apart.
In her 2005 book titled Stateless, she talked about how precisely the 1972 normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, which coincided with the breakup of the relations between the Republic of China and Japan, affected her own life, and immediate family's.
The most impressive among many other episodes is the one in which the author, then a guest researcher at Harvard, experienced in 1998 when she sent an application to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. After a 4-hour bus ride from Boston to Manhattan, she was shocked because the interviewer at the UNHCR flatly turned it down just because the applicant didn't have a nationality at that time.
From the way she depicted the traumatic episode without ideologizing it too much, it's evident that she had fully internalized the fallout of the series of geopolitical events of the 1970s.
I don't believe that with her unparalleled talent, the up-and-coming anthropologist can have hit her limit so soon. She has just reached another turning point in the ceaseless process toward a higher level of maturity as an individual human being. I'm also inclined to attribute her growth to her experience as a mother.
On the contrary, self-styled historians and the truth-seeking conspiracy maniacs in the U.S. didn't like my post for an obvious reason. Like sufferers of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, they invariably talk nonstop about history as if it were something undo-able or redoable by doing so.
In fact, history can hand down itself to the future without the help from those who are caught in pathological fixation to the past.
As to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, one American gentleman wrote to us:
"I understand how resentful you are about the nuclear blasts at the end of the war. Indeed there might have been an easier way to handle the problems at the time. I can tell you also that things were very bad for our people at the time. We were very afraid that we would all be enslaved or murdered if we lost the war."
Of course "we" are not resentful about the blasts which was ordered by Harry S. Truman in a total departure from the textbook tactic of decapitation - or any other thing the United States did to our country. But his revealing story about America's seven-decade-old paranoia somehow reminded me of a 1943 song: "I couldn't sleep a wink last night."
Because of, rather than despite its cheap sentimentalism, I used to love this ballad. What made it even more impressive was the fact that Frank Sinatra sang it a cappella. Were the studio musicians all too busy getting prepared for the possible invasion of the Japanese troops?
That wasn't the case, of course. I still remember hearing a disc jockey of an FEN program called "Big Band Countdown" explaining the reason: they were on strike for a pay raise when Sinatra was crooning the lovely tune. No one in his right mind didn't believe he might be "enslaved or murdered" as the physically- and perhaps mentally-disabled president FDR may have propagated.
I still didn't know Sinatra actually had a sleepless night or two over how to get classified "4-F" (unfit for service) by the conscription doctor several weeks after he recorded that song. Although you can't sing the way he sang it in November 1943 (watch the video embedded at the bottom of this post) if your eardrum is perforated, that was found to be the case the day he showed up at the conscription office in December.
Many people hate Sinatra; they say he was an egomaniac, a sex addict and had a close Mafia connection. But actually they hate him because he was honest even when he cheated the inscription doctor. I still think Sinatra was one of the most remarkable American individuals of the 20th century because the guy fully lived it out in the days just before nation's overripe culture was about to start irreversibly decomposing.
Now let's stop substituting someone else's history for our own. Instead we should intensively talk about sleepless nights we have actually experienced in our lifetime without letting our self-censorship mechanism fabricate or sanitize them too much. · read more (31 words)
Wednesday, April 22 2015 @ 10:33 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
From Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson
Mr. Hiroaki Koide
I sent the link to my most recent post to Mr. Hiroaki Koide, who had just reached the mandatory retirement age this past March as an associate professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.
In his reply mail, Mr. Koide said, "The more I learn about the reality facing the Okinawans, the more I feel ashamed of being a mainlander."
He added to this effect: "To this mail I attach my recently published essays in which I draw a parallel between the Japanese who failed to bring the Emperor to justice for his war crime and their descendants who have once again let 'the Nuclear Mafia' go unpunished for the Fukushima disaster."
Mr. Koide concluded one of his essays by describing his frame of mind like this: "Like it or not, every creature is destined to grow old and die. The mandatory retirement age is just one of the milestones along the way. With this in mind I will be fading away little by little. Throughout my career I have chosen to do what anyone else doesn't or can't. But from now on I'll be even choosier about what to do, and keep looking for what I can."
His writing deeply resonated with me. But at the same time, it reminded me of a letter I wrote to the editor of The Japan Times nineteen years ago when my retirement age was drawing near.
Among other things I found a 638-page book titled The Fountain of Age very helpful in understanding what exactly man's aging is.
Its author Betty Friedan wrote that as neurological and gerontological studies had revealed in recent years, people over 65 demonstrated an almost limitless potential to grow if they were exposed to stimulating real life, instead of segregated into nursing homes or the like. (See NOTE.) She added longitudinal studies showed they tended to outperform younger people when measured in terms of ability for "contextual thinking," rather than abstract thinking. Friedan quoted neuroscientist Arnold Scheibel as describing the spectacular dendrites' projections which can be seen even when an aged person is learning new things as dendritic fireworks.
NOTE: Actually my question was always "what if not," not "what if," because in reality we were always segregated. But I think now I know the answer.
I was especially impressed by her explanation about the historical origin of the mandatory retirement age. According to the author, the world's first rule on retirement was laid down by Otto von Bismarck of the Second Reich. The Prussian leader demanded every government employee retire at the age of 65 when life expectancy at birth was a mere 37 in his country.
Although Bismarck's decision may have been more or less arbitrary, I thought it shouldn't be ruled out that in theory the following arithmetic notation could hold true given the average lifespan of the Japanese which stood at 74-5 at that time.
This prompted me to write a letter to the editor of The Japan Times to suggest the mandatory retirement age be raised to 130 across the board if ever these ageists couldn't live without one. Needless to say, I wasn't talking about the retirement age of government employees. As a taxpayer, I would have said it should be lowered to 13 because that's where the brains of millions of these parasites at public offices stop growing.
Everybody thought it was a tasteless joke. Admittedly I was playing devil's advocate. Yet I was damn serious and still remain so 19 years later.
Japan is an eerie nation-state in that it was not created by any human being. That means there wasn't any founding principle that would have been used to bring the nation, i.e. the people, and the state, i.e. the system, together. The nation and the state were one inseparable entity from the beginning.
The Japanese are taught the 17-Article Constitution allegedly promulgated by a fictitious figure named Prince Shotoku in the 7th century was where they can find the principle, or at least its substitute. But there's no other way to interpret Article 1 of the Constitution, that supposedly stipulated harmony should be put before anything else, than to understand harmony should prevail over any principle.
The legal system was already there when the people found themselves inseparably incorporated in it.
This is why the Japanese always "think" it's the law that changes the people whereas it's the people that should change the law. In fact they have developed a tendency to constantly enact laws invariably modeled after legislation in the West in order to avoid changing themselves.
Take the Equal Employment Opportunity Law of 1986 for example. Almost three decades have passed since it was enacted but practically nothing has changed.
Sexist bias (See NOTE) still remains a widespread practice, though a little less explicit now. Fortunately, some, if not many, Japanese women have fought the discrimination in an ingenious way. They have refused to get assimilated into the male-dominated society by neglecting the feminine duty as a "birthing machine." As a result the decline in Japan's fertility rate seems unstoppable now.
NOTE: I'm not advocating equality. Remember Japan is a principle-less country. Violation of what unprincipled Americans call human rights has never been really at issue here.
On the contrary, we don't see the slightest sign that biologically old men are defying the equally deep-rooted ageist bias. Apparently they are all determined to submit to the demand that they conform to the stereotypical profiles given to them.
As if in a self-fulfilling prophecy, they have stopped growing by confining themselves in actual or virtual nursing homes and playing the state-defined role of the senior citizen.
The official statistics puts the population over 65 at 31.9 million whereof 4.6 million are afflicted with senile dementia. Needless to say this is a gross underestimate simply because those who are compiling the statistics are already suffering from what I call "premature senility" themselves.
To make it even worse, this particular state has long withstood all the difficulties resulting from the lack of principles by defining itself as a mechanism of income redistribution. In a normal country, people conduct themselves on the principle of self-reliance. They do help one another as the necessity arises, but basically it's a voluntary and spontaneous act. But in Japan, it's always the state that extends a helping hand to the people who it unilaterally picks as beneficiaries of the benefits funded by taxpayers. As a result the people feel they are indebted to the government.
For one thing Japan's national pension programs are mostly contributory type. But in this sick nanny state, every pensioner feels he is nothing but a burden on the younger generations, who are actually suffering premature senility or juvenile dementia.
It's, therefore, no accident they forget that a society evolves only when mature people hand down to their children and grandchildren what they have experienced or witnessed firsthand as independent individuals.
It's true NHK and the like keep saying, day in, day out, that we should listen to the elderly before they are all dead so as not to weather away what they have experienced. But how can we expect someone to narrate un-sanitized, first-person singular, nonstandard accounts of how he lived the history when he feels he is nothing but a social nuisance? He "thinks" he owes the state much more than the state owes him.
In his lecture at Okinawa University, Mr. Hiroaki Koide confided to his audience that his lifetime role model is Shozo Tanaka. (See the picture on his desktop in the above photo.) It's quite understandable. But if it's not too irreverent to say something about the second career of the first-class scientist and seasoned activist like him, my humble advice would be that now it's his turn to be his own role model.
The good news for him is that unlike this blogger, Mr. Koide has a large audience of his followers. But the bad news is most of them don't seem to have the ability to really internalize what they have heard about Okinawa, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima. In all likelihood, they will repeat the same mistake we old generations have committed in the past, That is evident from the way they chant the all-too-familiar incantations like "No more Hiroshimas," "No more Fukushimas," etc.
Our generations know many things that they don't know.
We have known or even witnessed how people let Emperor Hirohito offer the strategically unimportant cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and densely-populated downtown Tokyo as sacrifices so Franklin Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman would refrain from decapitating the nation in a total departure from the textbook tactic. It's true the very heart of the capital was targeted. But records have it that thousands of bodies were piled up in Yuraku-cho Station of the Japan National Railways, while the Imperial Palace which is located just around the corner from the station was deliberately kept intact.
The same is true with the life of Hirohito. In 1947 he sold off Okinawa to the Unite States to reciprocate these favors.
I'm one of the remnants from the turbulent days of nationwide protest against the Security Treaty of 1960. Although something prohibited me from marching toward the Diet Building myself, I feel something still remains unsettled deep inside when I recall that then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, former Class-A war crimes suspect and the grandfather of Shinzo Abe, signed the treaty amid the anti-treaty outcry. In 2007 then New York Times reporter Tim Weiner revealed that Kishi was an undercover agent of the CIA disguised as Japan's Prime Minister at that time. A small group of citizens was going to file a class action lawsuit to have the treaty repealed. But their appeal was instantly turned down by the authority.
Of course Mr. Koide is much better off than I in telling the young people of the crime the Nuclear Mafia has committed in the past, and will be committing in the future. And I think he is "old" enough to know there's no reason to believe we can expect a different outcome from repeating the same traditional approach to these issues over and over again.
Equally important, now he can express himself more freely to political racketeers and media rogues because he is no longer shackled by the National Public Service Act. · read more (224 words)
HEADNOTE: In the previous version of this post, I wrote a lot about the futile discussion I'd had with unprincipled American individuals over what brings or fails to bring together the nation, i.e. the people, and the state, i.e. the system, and what happens when a founding principle is outgrown by the new reality or proves to have been false from the very beginning. But now I've realized these people I've talked to aren't prepared for a serious discussion because they have been irreversibly indoctrinated since their childhood to believe in America's Founding Principles as indisputable axioms. Actually the Founding Fathers of their country just borrowed John Locke's philosophical rubbish about the "natural rights to life, liberty and property." That is why now I'm uploading a shortened version crossing out all the hogwash so we can get down directly to the formidable issue of statelessness. .
The Japanese transformation from a nation of feudal fiefdoms, presided over by a samurai dynasty, to a modern Western-style nation-state was always going to be a patchwork job. The constitution was largely Prussian, the navy was fashioned after the British Royal Navy, and so on. But the biggest problem for Meiji-period intellectuals and politicians was to find the most suitable model for a modern state.
From Occidentalism coauthored by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit. Buruma also authored a book titled Reinventing Japan - 1853-1964 in which he observed the postwar reconstruction was also a patchwork.
A parade to mark the end of the Luna New Year festivity went by when we were in the middle of a skull session at Chens' place
An Example of the Traditional Nonprofit Approach - Stateless Network
Lara, Chen Tien-shi, founder of Stateless Network
In the fall of 2009 I came across an eye-opening book titled Mukokuseki - Stateless. When I was through with the book for the first time, I already knew author Lara, Chen Tien-shi is a rare species in that she always keeps a life-size view of the world. This is a remarkable attribute because most other people talk big while acting very small.
Deeply impressed by her wholehearted dedication and down-to-earth approach toward the problem facing the stateless, I soon became fully committed to the cause of the nonprofit organization Stateless Network Lara founded in January 2009. I still remain so although what I could do for the group is quite limited thus far.
In late-February Lara gave me a mail to invite me to an extraordinary meeting where the key members of Stateless Network were going to have a skull session over the future direction of the nonprofit, multi-ethnic organization.
I was very honored by the invitation from the youngest daughter of one of the wealthiest families of this Chinatown because I am one of the poorest and oldest residents of the same community.
I think she had two things in mind when inviting me to the important meeting despite the fact that I have fallen almost 2 years behind in my payment of the annual due, and equally important, I don't fully agree to the principle on which she is steering the Network.
Firstly Lara must have wanted to acknowledge that she still owed me a response to the homework I'd given her about the viability of a "stateless nation." She must have thought I would better understand her answer to my challenge by participating the steering committee, because the issue at hand is too complex, multi-faceted and subtle, and has too far-reaching implication to address just by quick exchanges of words.
The other reason she thought I should attend the meeting may have been that she just wanted this old loner to have fun mixing with these youngish people with diverse backgrounds.
It looks as though Lara made a good decision for me if these were her objectives.
Japan, where she was born and brought up, is an eerie country. It wasn't founded by anyone; it just generated itself sometime between 600 BC and 712 AD. Needless to say there has never been a founding principle. The dubious 17-Article Constitution, which was supposedly promulgated by Prince Shotoku, who is most probably a fictitious figure, famously said in this land harmony should prevail over anything else. People have always substituted it for a founding principle, but actually it's not a substitute of any principle because it was meant to unconditionally prohibit them from conducting themselves on their own.
Against this historical background, the way principle-less, rather than unprincipled, people communicate with one another in a meeting is very unique. More often than not, reaching a specific agreement isn't the objective of the meeting. Normally there's no articulated proposition put on the table; neither is there any substantive argument. When there is one, it's presented and discussed before or after the meeting, most typically at a bar. In short a meeting, or any other form of communication, is little more than a ceremonial event to build consensus about a predetermined answer.
Although the time during which I was exposed to communication in the international setting is still twice as long as her international career, Lara seems to be much better skilled in that respect. And yet, she still remembers that in a local meeting she has to seal off those skills and play the role of a Shintoist priest, or priestess, so to speak.
Lara's opening speech, delivered in an unusually casual manner, had just a few substances in it. At first she insinuated that this Stateless Network will still remain closely affiliated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But she said she isn't really convinced that stereotypical UNHCR's definition of a stateless person is clear enough and that the ambitious goal proclaimed in its 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is attainable in the foreseeable future. Then she added that some other factors have made it even more unrealistic to achieve the goal. For one thing, she confided, she fell ill last year. She didn't say how serious it was.
The meeting was constantly disturbed by her 9-year-old son clinging to the chairwoman with his arms around her neck. Lara didn't seem to be annoyed at all. She certainly knew the Sunday meeting was a serious loss of opportunity for the kid to have intimate contact with his mom. Another source of disturbance was the paraders incessantly making deafening noises of drums and firecrackers on the street. She didn't care too much either. Neither did other attendees including myself.
The way Lara presided over the meeting indicated that she and I are still on the same wavelength in that both of us are inclined to have diverse people loosely networked rather than build a monolith with a fixed principle.
Following the semi-formal session, Lara treated us to a gorgeous dinner. I enjoyed talking with people sitting in the hearing distance as we were supposed to. They included an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo and Thai woman and her daughter.
In the last 45-60 minutes I concentrated on a conversation with a young, brilliant lady named Rina Ikebe who had moved over to the seat next to mine. Miss Ikebe introduced herself as a student studying "community psychology" at a postgraduate school of Tokyo's International Christian University. I enjoyed our conversation all the more because she was very good at active listening.
I asked her: "What do you think connects you to this country, or how do you really relate yourself to Japan?" After thinking it over for a while, she said: "Maybe it's my nationality, isn't it?" I said, "I don't think so. Your nationality is nothing more than a certificate of the ties you have already established with this country."
I might have added it's a principle that brings or fails to bring together the nation, i.e. the people, and the state, i.e. the system, and that this is exactly where the media find their essential role. Although this was the most relevant topic for the community psychology major, I left it unsaid in part because I thought I had to refrain from spoiling her appetite and my own. More importantly, I knew an exceptionally bright woman as she is would have found it superfluous if I had given her any more lead to my theory about the modern nation-statehood.
Then encouraged by her story about her late-father who was a scholar of French literature and European history, I tried a simple quiz with Miss Ikebe: "Do you know how the life of Marie Antoinette came to an end?" She answered delightedly: "Beheading by the Guillotine!" The next question was: "How many French people, roughly, were killed in the same way?" She didn't know that the correct answer was 16,594.
I produced from my backpack the printout of my most recent post, saying, "If you are interested in these subjects as a student of community psychology, why don't you keep it."
From time to time, Lara was giving a glance-over at us across the huge Chinese roundtable as if she was worrying I might be instilling in the young student poisonous ideas about the failed nation-state. But I hope she knows very well that I am a person who never bites the hand that fed him.
After the party was over, I stayed on there to be alone with Lara, her parents and one of her elder sisters. I said to her, "I didn't know you fell ill. Are you getting better now?" She smiled and said, "Yes, now I'm OK." Her sister quickly cut in to say, "No, she isn't."
I said: "Remember you aren't Mother Teresa. You should always prioritize your own personal life and your son's. Nothing is more important than that."
These are the people I want to have around until the second-to-last day of my life.
New Approach to Turn the UNHCR Formula Upside Down
Okinawa native entrepreneur Takashi Hiyane
Lara's colleagues are the type of people who would rather extend a helping hand immediately and directly to specific individuals with a nationality problem than formulate a longterm plan to save millions of stateless people at a time. As a matter of fact, though, they tend to act on a first-come, first-served basis. More often than not, therefore, they end up wasting their limited amount of human and financial resources on those who just fall on the UNHCR definition of the statelessness but actually crybabies with no sense of self-reliance.
If you are really concerned about these people who are allegedly persecuted in many ways for their de jure or de facto statelessness, you should not take it for granted that aiming at the reduction of stateless population is the only way to address the issue at hand.
In fact there are people who have chosen to pursue the same end from a totally different perspective.
In recent years the geopolitical landscape has been undergoing a sea change in every region of the world. Most noticeably, the number of minority groups seeking secession has been on a sharp rise.
In a sense this is reminiscent of the days when the massive exodus of pro-Kuomintang Chinese from the continent was taking place. But I see a fine line between an ideology-driven split-up of a nation-state and total or partial breakup of a nation-state where a more fundamental thing than a political ideology or a religious dogma is at stake. We shouldn't mix up the two because such cases as Crimea and the pro-Russian region of Ukraine have very little to do with the quintessence of the statelessness issue.
In the realm of breakup of nation-states without ideological implication, we have witnessed some regions in European countries seeking secession for varying reasons.
As to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, I still don't know exactly what to make of it. All I can tell is that we should refrain from hastily jumping to a conclusion like those prisoners of America-centric way of viewing the world who call the ISIL a gang of terrorists so lightly
Let's face it: very few modern nation-states have been created without a tremendous amount of bloodshed. The American Independence War claimed tens of thousands of lives. The death toll of the French Revolution is believed to have reached one million that included 16,594 people beheaded by the Guillotine.
I'm more concerned about the likes of the Scots, the Basques and the Catalans although their aspiration for independence has yet to be fulfilled thus far.
Just take Catalonia for example. If its bid for secession from Spain had succeeded last October, the entire 7.5 million Catalan population would have become stateless overnight on the premise that the newly-born nation wouldn't have sought a membership in the U.N., the dead international body founded when the Chinese Continent was still ruled by Chiang Kai-shek, or the failing one named the European Union. The 54-year-old dream of UNHCR would have come true, or turned into a nightmare, the moment the Spanish Constitutional Court had somehow rescinded its ruling that the planned referendum was unconstitutional.
As a result statelessness would have meant absolutely nothing anymore to the Catalans because now everybody would have been stateless on his/her own will.
A more relevant example for us Japanese is Okinawa.
Now it's an open secret that in his "Okinawa Memo" delivered to W. J. Sebald sometime around September 20, 1947, Emperor Hirohito said to Douglas MacArthur that "the U.S. military occupation of Okinawa, and such other islands as may be required, should be based upon the fiction of a long term lease - 25 to 50 years or more - with sovereignty retained in Japan."
To put it bluntly, the father of the incumbent Emperor Akihito sold off Okinawa and its residents to the United States just to reciprocate the super-generous leniency Hirohito was expecting from Harry S. Truman.
Adolf Hitler had killed himself on the wake of repeated attempts of his assassination such as Operation Valkyrie of July 1944. The corpse of Benito Mussolini had been hung upside down in the street of Milan. But Hirohito knew very well that it was a piece of cake to avoid facing the same fate internally. So he made every possible effort to escape conviction at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East because otherwise he must have been sent climbing the 13 steps to the gallows after all.
In 2005, then associate professor of the University of Ryukyus by the name of Lim John Chuan-tiong conducted an opinion survey. He found out that 45.4% of the respondents thought Okinawa should eventually seek secession, whereof 20.5% even said the islands should declare independence, immediately and unilaterally.
I don't know how reliable the survey results are. But it's for sure that the 1.4 million islanders have now been fed up with the lip service they hear from the mainlanders, who they like to call Yamatonchu. And the monetary compensation from the Tokyo government is nothing but an insult because it only benefits a handful of government contractors.
Deep inside, they seem to know they will have to live with the perpetual presence of the U.S. military as long as they remain part of Japan which is little more than a satellite nation itself.
Now the newly-installed Governor Takeshi Onaga has started to sing to the same, old tune of lessening the burden of U.S. military bases his predecessor Nakaima kept singing during his tenure. It's as though the problem lies in the 74% concentration of U.S. military installations in Okinawa islands whose size accounts for a mere 0.6% of Japanese Archipelago's. But the fact of the matter remains that the very presence of the U.S. military forces in North East Asia is the problem.
Without a doubt the movements for the independence of these subtropical islands are further on the wane. And yet we shouldn't forget still there are people like this person named Takashi Hiyane (photo.)
As far as I know, he hasn't explicitly mentioned an independent Okinawa, let alone the statelessness issue. But obviously the youngish entrepreneur is looking for a new sociopolitical model which has nothing in common with the outdated idea about creating a small, closed, cult-like society like the communities of the Amish in North America. To him, the restoration of the Ryukyu Kingdom is out of the question.
I know very little about the "Lexues" company he founded 17 years ago. But in his recent TV appearance, Hiyane said to this effect: "Only by leveraging the creative minds of the native Okinawans, we would be able to return the annual appropriation of 200 billion yen to the Japanese government."
The implication here is that it's too soon to call an independent Okinawa a pipe dream.
Still there is a long way to go until we find a workable solution to the problem. But I've written this post just to juxtapose the two 180-degree different approaches without any preconceived answer. Yet I hope this will give some clues to those of you who have creative attitudes toward life.