[FEATURE] For Whom Kamikaze Blows

Tuesday, March 15 2011 @ 07:16 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto


Now Cabinet spokesman Yukio
Edano is a household name. But
the former shyster is a crisis
management novice who only can
say, "Calm down, we are basically
OK." No wonder the natural
calamity turned into a man-made
catastrophe in a matter of 48 hours.
Now he has reduced himself to a
Shinto priest who conducts press
conferences as if they are a series
of rituals.
Most educated Westerners think they are familiar with the etymology of the Japanese word 神風, kamikaze or divine wind. But actually they aren't; they have never looked at the other side of the half-factual, half-fictitious events that supposedly took place in 1274 and 1281. Each time Mongol invaders attempted to land in Kyushu island of Japan, a ferocious typhoon blew their fleet against the rocks. Ever since kamikaze has been considered a savior by Shoguns and Emperors.

But of course, that does not mean their subjects have always viewed it in the same way. As is true with any other country, perhaps to a lesser degree, Japan is a nation where a handful of people have always prospered at the cost of all others.

In the last days of the Pacific War, kamikaze failed to deal a blow to the warships or bombers of the Allied Powers. So the Imperial Army headquarters had to resort to the idea of substituting young men for typhoons. That's how thousands of kamikaze pilots lost their lives for the absurd cause of protecting Emperor Hirohito from ruin which none other than the bastard had invited himself. Your history teacher have taught you that the ingenious tactic ended up in failure when the A-bombs were detonated over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But once again, you surface-scratching Westerners have overlooked the other side of the coin.


On March 15, the son of the super-
Class-A war criminal made a rare
TV appearance in an attempt to help
Edano bring calm to his subjects.
Many appreciated it because the
bastard has been known for his
absenteeism from the anniversaries
of the apocalypses of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki.
Thanks in part to MacArthur's generosity, but more importantly to the blind loyalty of the Japanese who wanted to save the demigod at the cost of their lives, it was a piece of cake for Hirohito to survive the war defeat and subsequently duck the responsibility to have started the unwinnable war. Sixty-five years later his son is still enjoying an easy life at his extensive estate located in central Tokyo without being affected by 計画停電 (keikaku teiden or scheduled cuts in power supply.)

Then came the M-9.0 quake late last week which was followed by a series of 33-foot seismic tidal waves. Who was it intended to save this time around?

Without a doubt, it's Prime Minister Naoto Kan who benefited most from the deadly windfall. The initial jolt of the March 11 earthquake rocked the Diet Building just when he was being grilled by the opposition lawmakers over the illegal donations he had received from a Korean resident in Japan. Actually, the particular irregularity that had just surfaced was not making a big difference to the suffering already inflicted on the people because by then Kan had proved much too incompetent to turn around the serious situation facing them. His approval rating had already sunk below 20%.

Despite all this adversity, Kan was still poised to stay in power as of March 11 primarily because the opposition camp led by the Liberal Democratic Party had thought it's not the right time to oust him. The LDP wanted him to carry through with the unpopular plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' "helicopter" unit from Futenma to Henoko against the will of the Okinawans. As I pointed out in my previous post, Robert Gates hinted on February 16, Washington, too, was expecting Kan to do this dirty job while he is in office. Match-fixing is not confined to Sumo wrestling in this rotten nation.

Even so, the Prime Minister had been on the verge of nervous breakdown when the quake of an unprecedented magnitude hit his nation. No wonder that Kan thought the divine wind had started to blow to save him from the cul-de-sac he was in. He took a French leave from the Diet floor to hurriedly set up a crisis control center.

Needless to say, his team had to be staffed so poorly that the only thing it has done so far is to exacerbate the situation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, now concurrently serving as the spokesman of the crisis management team, is a former shyster. In junior high, he must have learned that 1 milli-Sievert equals 1,000 micro-Sieverts. Also he knows Hydrogen explodes when it is mixed with Oxygen under a certain condition. But it is evident that he knows absolutely nothing about the basics of risk management.

If I were Kan, I would never have dreamed of picking Edano as the virtual head of the team, because you can never expect anyone with legal background to go extralegal. And there is no such thing as an effective emergency plan that is laid out within the existing legal framework.

To make it worse, the unqualified head of a crisis management team as he is, Edano allows his men to ignore the basic rules such as:
■ Strictly avoid wishful thinking,
■ Always be prepared for the worst case scenario,
■ Never distort facts or cover up what went wrong,
■ Act a little faster than a snail,
■ Be professional,
■ Be systematic,
etc.

Traditionally, a Japanese who is put in charge of crisis management tends to think his primary responsibility is to calm down people who are extremely prone to panic. To prevent them from panicking, he always tries to immunize them for an inevitable eventuality by feeding critical information only little by little. He admits to the whole truth only when it is too late.

That is exactly what Edano is doing right now. Yesterday he assured Japanese people that they were basically OK for the time being and today he says they still remain OK for the time being, though to a lesser degree, and so on.

Obviously, the fact that Edano uses this qualifier "for the time being" (差し当たって or sashiatatte) so frequently indicates that he has learned the wrong idea from Confucianism. Some 2,500 years ago, the Chinese philosopher said to this effect: "Make the people rely on you, and to that end, never let them know what underlies your decision."

While Edano kept telling people not to be swayed by groundless rumors about the series of explosions at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant located 124 miles away from the capital, the natural disaster quickly turned into a man-made crisis.

Aside from the lessons to be learned from the consequences of his mishandling of the situation, this is also yet another confirmation that the human element is the single most important factor when addressing nuclear, seismological, meteorological, or medical issues. In other words, Japan's technological/scientific superiority is nothing but a myth.

In the last couple of days I have discussed the matter with Mr. Gordon G. Chang. He asked me if I thought the relief for Kan is only temporary. To my regret, I had to answer in the negative.

It is true that as things have worsened, a growing number of political analysts and laypeople, who are not affiliated with the mainstream media, have been calling for a "national salvation government" to immediately replace the Kan administration. They say nobody can expect the leader who has proved totally incompetent even under the normal situation to lead the way out of the unprecedented emergency. But as a matter of fact there are very few candidates for the next Prime Minister and Chief Cabinet Secretary who would outdo Kan and Edano. More importantly, the people here are so used to seeing their leaders become paralyzed, like a spider in thanatosis, in the face of a crisis, that they do not think it would make any difference whoever is at the helm.


During the wartime NHK served as
the mouthpiece of the Imperial Army
The way Edano conducts those press conferences is more than just reminiscent of 大本営発表 (Daihon-ei Happyo or press releases by the headquarters of Japan's Imperial Army broadcast by NHK.) Good news was always exaggerated while bad news was always hushed up until the very last day of the Pacific War.

I remember listening to the NHK announcer in the last week of the Pacific War. He was saying something like this: "Calm down and never be swayed by groundless rumors about the new weapon our enemy used in Hiroshima. As long as you remain fully determined to use your 大和魂 (yamato damashii or dauntless Japanese spirit) to exterminate our enemy, we will still be OK. Thus, our Divine Empire is invincible."

NHK was telling the truth, as it does today; in August 1945, the Japanese people found out that the imperial family was really imperishable.

By the same token, Naoto Kan will remain in office at least until the Futenma relocation plan is implemented. But now it seems even more likely that he will serve out his first term as DPJ president and Japanese Prime Minister which ends in September 2012 because tens of millions of Japanese have now started to say in chorus that it's no time for finger-pointing.

Yes, it's no time for updating Kan's approval rating; it's no time for discussing the protracted Futenma issue. Also it's no time for putting the blame on anyone for his decision to assign 50 workers of Tokyo Electric Power Company supposedly to perform some suicide mission at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, no matter whether it was really unavoidable.

Postscript: On March 16, Edano announced that white smoke had started to billow near the gate of the plant and that TEPCO employees had been evacuated immediately from the site. As usual he didn't specifically mention the number of the evacuees and how far they had been exposed to radiation. Later in the day, CNN reported workers who remained on site had been slashed from 800 to 50. The next day some U.S. newspapers called these 50 TEPCO operators "the faceless heroes." Actually they were not only faceless but also nameless. And more importantly, nobody could tell what exactly they hung in there for. Maybe they remained there without a specific mission to perform. In any event, they cannot be likened to the NYC firefighters in the WTC buildings. Under the circumstances, these American reporters should have, instead, drawn a parallel between the 50 and the kamikaze pilots

In short:

The more Kan mishandles the situation, the longer he can stay in power.

This is the real beauty of kamikaze, whether it's natural or artificial.

For the Japanese people, this is triplet disasters with quake, tsunami and Kan all combined. If we could still expect another blast of kamikaze, I would want it to be a radioactive wind measured somewhere around 10 Sv/hour. Who could ask for anything more if Kan was "accidentally" exposed to the fatal radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant?

At any rate it would be no accident, after all.

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