|Earlier this month TokyoFreePress took up for its book review Say Good-bye to Zombies by Benjamin Fulford, former Asia Pacific Bureau chief at Forbes magazine. In that piece I wrote that there are two unignorable logical flaws, as summarized below, involved in the otherwise truthful and revealing book:|
Misplaced anti-American sentiment
In the chapter titled "The Yokota Shogunate", Fulford gives his readers a trivia question:
"Which of the following parties is in power in this country? 1. LDP, 2. Komeito, 3. DPJ, 4. GOP."
Of course the correct answer to this gimmicky question is 4.
In recent years North Americans, especially those behind the Democrats, tend to ascribe any problem facing us here to the selfishness of the U.S. Administration, insinuating that we should find, across the Pacific Ocean, a common enemy in George W. Bush. Japanese media follow suit. Actually they take advantage of each other just to serve their respective purposes. It's true that Bush, or any other U.S. President in history, has pursued the American interest at the cost of Japan, or any other ally or foe, who he thought was a sucker, and that our Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his predecessors have invariably acted like the U.S. Presidents' henchmen.
Benjamin Fulford, too, puts the blame on the U.S. for practically everything that went wrong here. With the chapter title, The Yokota Shogunate, he implies Japan has been governed by American colonialists from the USFJ air base located in Yokota. To evidence his allegation, Fulford points out the birth of the Liberal Democratic Party in 1955, for instance, was funded primarily by the CIA. He even goes so far as to say some of the yakuza organizations, too, have been financed by Americans in one way or the other.
If he says so, that must be so. But so what? A sober person would ask: What's wrong with a U.S. President prioritizing the American interest over other nations', be it Franklin Pierce who sent us Commodore Matthew Perry, or be it Harry S. Truman who assigned General Douglas MacArthur to rule the postwar Japan as the second emperor? Needless to say, the blame should be placed solely on the Japanese people who keep selecting their leaders who are unable or unwilling to defend them against any adversity coming from America. (See Footnote 1)
Fulford seems to be prepared for this criticism, in a way. In another chapter, he cites some OECD statistics about the ratios to the total population of the people whose household incomes were below the national average. As of 2000, Japan was already at the bottom of the list (in ascending order) with a 15.3% ratio as against the average among the member countries which stood at 10.2%. But Fulford quickly adds that the ratio for the U.S. also remained well below the OECD average. So U.S. Presidents have not done a good job, either, to ensure the well-being of the American people.
But isn't that a totally different issue than the one at hand? And is a terminally-ill patient supposed to care for others who have just caught a cold? Fulford shouldn't have raised any half-boiled allegation against the U.S. Administration unless he is ready to write another book to be devoted to the issue with the well-being of the Americans. Any serious problem should not be discussed in a sketchy, "BTW" fashion.
Or did the author want to suggest we Japanese remain 12-year-olds forever? If that is his intention, he didn't have to worry too much because that is going to be the case with us anyhow. Whenever something goes wrong with the children, the parents should be held responsible, of course. But I think he better drop his Japan revitalization plans altogether if they are based on that assumption.
Fallacies about dwindling population secondhanded from the media
In the final chapter (A Road to Revitalization) the author uses yet another worn-out trick when touching on the "issue" with the shrinkage in population. He approaches the problem from the wrong end by turning the causal relations upside down. I don't want to repeat what I wrote in "Don't kill yourself, and make love more frequently" , but you can never fix a problem if you mistake the result for the cause, or the cause for the result. Since the shrinkage in population is just one of those results from the root cause, you cannot reverse or even stem the trend by discussing it as if the shrinkage in itself is an issue.
In recent years the government, the media, and their loyal audiences have been untiringly politicizing the new demographic trend which is nothing more than an issue for the professionals called "actuaries", while Japan's pension plans have gone virtually bankrupt exactly because of this politicization of actuarial matters. (See Footnote 2) Nevertheless, even the former Forbes journalist has hastily climbed on the same bandwagon by taking a bite at the decoy issue.
It's a pity that our insightful Fulford uncharacteristically takes up the imaginary issue only to say it's a piece of cake to fix it. With an appalling naivete, he argues that Japan should employ a more open immigration policy to effectively counter all the consequences of the downtrend in population. If that is his proposition, Fulford doesn't have to worry too much because his solution is already on its way. As I reported in the above-linked piece, the Justice Minister has set up a committee to study how far the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law should be loosened to this end.
The author carefully avoids discussing the hindrance factors and the side-effects surely to be involved in his oversimplified prescription. Japan is not even Denmark, or France, or the U.K. Its people have been caught up in the delusive myth of homogeneity at least in the last four centuries. So a looser immigration policy will certainly exacerbate the situation rather than alleviate it. On the customer review page of the Amazon.co.jp website, a reader of this book even suspects Fulford can be a CIA spy who has been stationed here to cause a social disorder by advocating a full-fledged measure to encourage the influx of immigrants from China and South Korea. The reviewer has a point. Fulford should tell us how to change the potentially explosive racial chemistry between Japan and its neighboring countries before parroting the deregulatory measure currently planned by the Koizumi government.
A CIA agent or not, his biggest mistake lies with the fact that he sees a problem where there is none, while overlooking the real one. He fails to understand what's really at issue is not the number of people, but the overall quality of people. It's almost unbelievable that a seasoned journalist, like Fulford, doesn't understand that it doesn't matter at all how many zombies are in the train bound for hell. Without this perception, Fulford's revitalization plans are nothing more than an empty promise.
It's also appalling to know that the author automatically subscribes to the widespread notion that we are facing an acute labor shortage ahead. If he really fails to see there is an enormous redundancy, not a shortage, in manpower both in private and government sectors, his proposals for the rehabilitation of government finances are nothing but a rubbish.
Yet another juxtaposition of two incomparable figures
As the media often do, Fulford sees a certain parallel between Japan's Prime Minister and the last leader of the Soviet Union whereas the two figures are not really comparable. The only point at which the author differs from the media is that to him, Mikhail Gorbachev was almost as incompetent as Junichiro Koizumi is. For one thing, he argues, Gorbachev was the main culprit for the concentration of the national wealth in a handful of oligarch and the Russian mafia.
Here again Fulford misses the point. Actually if there ever is a point in comparing the two figures, Gorbachev didn't say he was going to destroy the system and actually broke the loco into pieces before it got to hell whereas our Koizumi did say he was going to destroy his LDP, the core institution to the 1955 System (one of his campaign pledges for the 9-11 poll), and yet failed to do so. He even failed to disband the intra-party factions.
The destruction artist, as I call Gorby, knew very well that the only workable way to reform an unreformable system was to totally destroy it, first and foremost. Only in this disruptive approach, could Gorbachev effectively preset a bomb in the "locomotive" in 1985 to have it detonated six years later. To the Soviet leader, it didn't matter who would actually detonate it, and how. Much less could he be sure that an open and sound social democracy he was dreaming of would ensue after the greenfield situation he was about to create. The Soviet Union collapsed. That's the mission completed as far as Gorbachev is concerned. Fulford should know it's a more formidable task to totally destroy a system than to build a new one from scratch. In this context, if I have to single out the most important flaw involved in his book, it's his failure to make the final chapter something to be titled "A Road to Total Destruction" instead of "A Road to Revitalization".
Or is the author of the otherwise truthful book still daydreaming that his makeshift plans for revamping this nation can be implemented by an incremental approach, and in the form of a smooth and evolutionary transition? But then, he is just exaggerating, or joking, when he writes time is running out on us. By the way, the regime change in 1991 would have entailed a lot of bloodshed if Koizumi had been there in place of Gorbachev.
Benjamin Fulford concludes his comparative examination of the two incomparable figures by saying Gorbachev is slightly better than Koizumi because unlike the Japan's Prime Minister, the last leader of the Soviet Union had an "affection" toward his people. Likewise, the author of Say Good-bye to Zombies is only a notch better than Japanese journalists, if he allows me to compare him to the professional liars in the media organizations, because with his relatively good insight into what's going on here, he could make the most of the privilege of Westerners to tell the truth up to a certain point, but certainly not any more than that.
Since I reread the book, these transparent chicaneries have made me suspect the author was mercenarily motivated although he repeatedly stresses he was too much in love with this nation (for an implausible reason) to keep his mouth shut in the face of the flourishing "kleptocracy". I have nothing against a book aimed at a commercial success unless the goal is sought at the cost of the truth. Actually the truth about this book is that he has his own vested interest at stake in his fake revitalization plans, just like Koizumi has his own in his deceptive reform programs.
I don't have any problem with those habitual liars in the media because there is always a tacit agreement in this country that it's their primary mission to dupe us into accepting everything state wants us to by disseminating fallacies. As Fulford observes in the book, the Japanese people are still swallowing, day in, day out, Daihon-ei Happyo, or news releases by the Headquarters of Japan's Imperial Army, six-decades after the series of official lies led this nation to the ruin.
But frankly I do have a serious problem with Say Good-bye to Zombies because now it seems to me his "affection" toward us is only as genuine as Koizumi's, no matter how hard he tries to convince us, e.g., by announcing he now thinks about becoming naturalized here. We traditionally take it for granted that Western journalists tell us the truth because they have no constraint to be dishonest. Having lived in this country for many years, Fulford, like his old friend in Kobunsha, knows that very well. But his affection seems to be confined to these credulous people. Obviously he doesn't know there are a handful of people, including this blogger, who refuse to act like suckers, or zombies, to Westerners any more. They are the species he never encountered here in the good old days he spent in Tokyo as a student at Sophia University.
Footnote 1: The same thing is going on over Bush's Iraq policy. People in the anti-Bush camp talk a lot about the Halliburton stuff. I'm not sure if they are telling the truth. But who cares? At least the 230-year-old democracy isn't heading for hell. And encouragingly enough, there are a certain number of Iraqis who are too much concerned about their own country to dig into Dick Cheney's source of income. These are why our Canadian journalist has opted to settle down here, instead of his native continent, or Iraq.
Footnote 2: Actuarial issues are not the only thing that's been unduly politicized. Investment decisions have also been constantly politicized in terms of when to get into which market and when to get out.