OUR GOAL IS TO MAKE YOU STOP TO THINK, AS WE ALWAYS PRACTICE HERE, RATHER THAN STOP THINKING. BEWARE YOU CAN'T EXPECT SOMEONE TO DO THE THINKING ON YOUR BEHALF.
Left: Galileo Galilei defended himself at the Holy Office of the Catholic Church in 1633.
Right: Yesterday a shyster named Hideo Miki made his client Haruko Obokata apologize before the big crowd of news reporters.
Owners of Japanese
restaurant chain Senba Kitcho
Hideo Miki who staged the
HIDEO MIKI (三木秀夫) is one of those shameless shysters who are only good at spotting an ambulance and chasing after it. It's only late Tuesday night that I learned now Dr. Haruko Obokata is his client and she would be accompanied by the lawyer in her first public appearance in more than two months at a press conference scheduled for the Wednesday afternoon.
Apparently Miki visited her at the hospital where she was staying. There it must have been a piece of cake for him to dupe the greenhorn on the verge of nervous breakdown into signing the fraudulent retainer agreement.
A famous Japanese restaurant chain named Senba Kitcho is one of the most important clients of Miki Legal Office presumably since last November when its shops were raided over false labeling of some menu items and reusing the leftovers from previous customers. At that time Miki instructed the owner of the restaurant chain (the kimono-clad hag in the photo) to offer tearful apologies to the big crowd of people before taking a specific legal action.
That means that his modus operandi is to stage a typical ritual for tentative apologies before getting started with the substantive dispute over which party is more at fault, and only then ask for some leniency. This always works in this country where anyone in trouble automatically chooses to follow the same procedure. But it's a different story when it comes to a scientific matter.
I hastily looked around for his mail address but it was already 13 hours before the press conference when I found it. I quickly warned Miki about the following two points:
- You should never tell your client to offer apologies before the media crew. The moment she takes a bow, she loses her case. There's nothing in common between the STAP contention and the menu scandal.
- You should keep in mind that there is not much legal implication in the Obokata affair because only scientists can take care of science. The only thing you can help your client with is to seek a decent settlements with her current employer RIKEN, e.g. on the severance pay and compensation for defamation.
NOTE: According to a tabloid, the contract between Obokata and RIKEN was tentatively renewed on April 1 pending the final verdict. But she should know it's very unlikely that her authority as a unit leader can be fully restored. And even if she is fully reinstated, her research activities will be shackled by the corporate culture which is now even more fearful of making mistakes. Also it's been said that her alma mater Waseda University hints at the possibility to revoke her doctorate in the worst case.
I knew Miki wouldn't have replied even if I'd sent the mail one day earlier. The parasite certainly knows he would be out of work if he heeded my humble advice.
Actually during the televised 2-hour conference, the developmental biologist took a deep bow to the big crowd at least five times. Each time she repeated the same words: "I feel awfully sorry for causing all this trouble because of the lack of discipline on my part, the faulty way I presented the results of our experiments, and my immaturity as a professional researcher." It looks as though she didn't understand her former colleagues and bosses are more ill-disciplined and more immature. She should have known it's these eunuchs that caused all this mess.
In between Obokata stood firm with her method to create STAP cells. But who would believe in the story and the data supporting it given by someone who deprecates herself like this?
Without a doubt, the Japanese are the world's most gullible people. But this afternoon those present at the congregation had all of a sudden turned into the world's most skeptical people while their brains still remained empty. Not a single interrogator sounded like having expertise in forensic science or a minimal computer literacy, let alone developmental biology.
At one point Obokata said in response to a question to the effect that she has successfully created STAP cells more than 200 times. She added that she isn't alone in ascertaining the method proved workable. Totally unconvinced, the questioner said, "Will you please name one, but yourself, who has succeeded in creating STAP cells?" After a moment's hesitation, Obokata declined to comply. I am sure Dr. Charles A. Vacanti of Harvard Medical School was among the names she could barely swallow.
Now practically all commentators are saying Obokata virtually admitted to fabricating her story when she declined to name a single researcher who has created STAP cells.
I'm not good at speculating. But I think now it's increasingly obvious from the nation-wide witch-hunt that SHINYA YAMANAKA (山中伸弥), now the emperor reigning over Japan's regenerative medicine, is doing a dirty trick from behind the curtain. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012 for the discovery of the proprietary method to create iPS cells. Since the STAP method is something that will eclipse the discovery by Yamanaka and his colleagues in many ways, the Nobel laureate has a good reason to try hard to defend his vested interests against the threat posed by STAP cells.
There is another factor to the difficulty facing the rebels in cell biology. Nature Publishing Group has its Japanese subsidiary named Nature Japan whose annual sales were in the neighborhood of 3.2 billion yen as of 2012. If you take a peek at its customer list, you will notice RIKEN is among the biggest clients for Nature Japan. Also you will learn the quasi-governmental research institute, which is 2/3 funded with taxpayers' money here, is paying more than 70 million yen every year to Nature's subsidiary.
So far the group's headquarters in the U.K. has remained on the sidelines without giving a helping hand Haruko Obokata is dying for. That indicates that it hasn't realized it now faces the moment of truth.
As I said to someone sitting in the London office a couple of days ago, it's time something must be done by Nature if the publisher wants to preserve its prestigious status as an independent scientific journal. I suggested a couple of specific steps to be taken to that end.
In the meantime, Hideo Miki will have a rosy future thanks to these self-deprecating people who are conveyed in the ambulance to his office one after another. He will never realize Obokata has to defend herself just like Galileo did when the ailing 70-year-old was summoned to the Catholic Church.
This is also reminiscent of Seiji Ozawa, former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1973-2002.) In 1962 Ozawa was ostracized by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, and thus by the entire music world of the country. At that time he never thought about hiring an attorney or offering apologies to the government-owned broadcaster. He just left his home country. It's the NHK that apologized on its knees, 32 years later, for having kicked out the exceptionally gifted musician. The Maestro already knew when he was in his mid-20s that no one but himself could help him out of the jam.
Once again this sends me back to the same question: "Are we still evolving forward or are we quickly degenerating?" Actually I was working on a new post in which to discuss the same question from a different angle - "juvenile dementia." Hopefully I'll be able to upload it before long.