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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Sunday, September 21 2014 @ 11:04 AM CDT
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Who Said the Japanese Should Stay in the Same, Sinking Boat with the Americans?

Think of it as the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the American living room: our long-standing reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.
- Chalmers Johnson, July 30, 2009

Chalmers Johnson died on November 20 at the age of 79.

In today's America infested with demagogues and ideologues, scholars and pundits who address issues strictly based on facts as Johnson did are an endangered species. That is why the news from California somehow prompted me to place an order for his last book with amazon.com.

Actually Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope is an anthology of 15 essays written in the period from January 2004 through July 2009.

For his uniquely down-to-earth approach focused on "political economy" of subject countries, Johnson was known to be a "contrarian" scholar, and sometimes dismissed as an "oddball" among mainstreamers. Because of the prejudice, very little is known about him in the U.S. and elsewhere. So let me first summarize here his lustrous educational background and multihued occupational career.

In the 1950s, Johnson earned a BA degree in economics and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. During the Korean War, he was stationed in Japan as a naval officer. Later on, he taught at his alma mater, but at the same time he was a consultant for an affiliate of the CIA for some years.

Over time he developed a firm belief that it's imperative for serious researchers to receive the fullfledged education on the language and history of the subject country. This is exactly what differentiated him from other political scientists who always cut corners on their surface-scratching studies by neglecting the painstaking efforts to learn languages and histories.

How many Japan experts in the U.S., for instance, are discussing the subject country in an arrogant know-it-all attitude without comprehensive knowledge of the Japanese language and history?

To me talking about a country without knowing its culture inside out is something like an accounting-illiterate CEO trying to analyze the financial statements of his company. I find this "imperial hubris" all the more disgusting because of my personal experience with arrogant Americans in the last two and a half years.

Needless to say, one of the keys to understanding the message of this book is to refresh your definition of the word "imperialism." As usual not-too-many reviewers took Dismantling the Empire seriously on the ground that it's yet another manifestation of a wicked and unpatriotic ideology. Some even said it's totally unworthy of reading.

But now that you've known his bio, I hope you doubt that can be the case. In fact, those who read this book expecting to see all-too-familiar ideologies will be totally disappointed because the author only lets facts, some of them learned firsthand, tell their stories. In short his frequent reference to imperialism has nothing, whatsoever, to do with ideologies.

There's nothing new in the straightforward way Johnson defines the word. He says that imperialism is an international system where "militarily stronger nations dominate and exploit weaker ones."

As a political economist, Johnson primarily focuses on the financial aspects of imperialism. An essay dated July 2, 2009 puts the costs of maintaining "the U.S. Empire of Bases" at $102 billion a year. In another essay dated July 30, 2009, the author quotes Anita Dancs, an analyst for the website Foreign Policy in Focus, as saying the United States spends approximately $250 billion each year maintaining its global military presence." (I can't tell what the difference between the two figures represents, though.)

Johnson concludes that it's a "suicide option" to stay with imperialism which is "not only morally obscene, but fiscally unsustainable." As a former senior financial manager, I can't agree more.

Another keyword of the book is "blowback." Let's see how Johnson redefines the word that first appeared in a CIA postaction report in 1953. According to him, blowback does not simply refer to the unintended consequences of actions taken by the U.S. government, but more specifically to natural responses to such operations "that are kept secret from the American public and from most of their representatives in Congress."

The author presents a list of major countries that have given a blowback to the U.S. since 1953. Among other things, it's especially interesting to note that Japan isn't listed there. Johnson is absolutely right in deliberately excluding the "docile satellite" of the United States.

In the last 65 years, the U.S. has habitually played foul with Japan. So it's another miracle that America's Japan policy has never backfired. The bilateral relations haven't unfolded this way without reason.

Johnson was also known as an early "Japan revisionist" since the early-1980s when he was writing MITI and the Japanese Miracle. In those days he already coined a phrase "Cartels of the Mind" to describe the dark secret behind the economic and political miracle. So he is one of the very few Japan experts in the U.S. who know the reason why America hasn't faced a blowback from its Far Eastern ally.

In the last part of Dismantling the Empire, which was dated six months after Obama's inauguration, he specifically talks about "10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire." This is the only part I don't find really convincing primarily because a soul-searching step is missing there; I can't tell if it's Step Zero or Step 11.

The Americans, at large, have all taken it for granted that the world revolves around their country until the end of time, as did the Chinese 2.5 millenniums ago. The worst fallout from the Ptolemaic delusion is the fact that these people are totally incapable of introspection.

As it has become increasingly evident that the process of America's decline is no longer reversible, this "sophomoric ignoramus" resulting from their "infatuation with imperialism" has started taking a devastating toll on America's health. Unfortunately, though, very few Americans seem to have woken up so far to realize a serious self-examination should be Step Zero.

Especially it's deplorable as well as laughable to see these crisis-mongers in the U.S. inventing one crisis after another out of blowback. They do so simply because otherwise they would be out of work altogether.

Thank god, I still have a few good friends in America. One of them is a Montanan. He and I always take each other seriously and value differences. While awaiting the delivery of the book from amazon.com, I asked him to tell me his take on the idea of dismantling the empire. As usual he gave me a frank and thought-provoking input.

The only sentences I had difficulty understanding go like this:

"If Japan were serious about removing U.S. military bases, there [would be] only one way to do it. That would require hard work, money and some years. Japan would have to prove that it has developed a hard capability to defend itself well and to generate serious working military relationships with the rest of Asia. Our leaders would not accept a few guns and boats. Without that proof, no American bases will close."

I'm always inclined to play devil's advocate when discussing fundamental issues like this one. So my outlandish questions are:

■ Why would Japan have to prove anything to anyone before choosing its own course?
■ What if the Japanese have no intention, deep inside, to defend itself? Indications are that they would rather see Japan become the 51st state of America or 24th province of China than fight against anyone.
■ Which country(-ies) is Japan supposed to defend itself against?
■ Why would Japan have to seek an approval by the President of the United States when it comes up with a plan?
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Japan Trivia 12: Unlikely People to Have Thrown in Lifesavers for Drowning Prime Minister


The blue line represents
Kan's approval rating
In my previous post, I updated you on the approval rating of the Kan administration which had nosedived from the vicinity of 65% to 27.8% in a matter of two months according to Jiji Press. The reason behind the sharp decline was because even the world's most credulous people had become too used to "legal" red herrings to be put further away off the scent of the real issue.
Although the approval rating further dipped over the weekend to 21.8% according to Fuji News Network, Akikan, or the Empty Can, as Naoto Kan is dubbed lately, still hangs on to the revolving door of the Prime Minister's office. There are two reasons he is barely able to stay afloat.


Yanagida keeps
aplogizing
On November 14, one of his cabinet members Minoru Yanagida was with his supporters in his Hiroshima constituency to belatedly celebrate his appointment as Justice Minister two months ago. At that time, the head of nation's corrupt judicial system confided to the local congregation that actually it's a cinch to carry out his responsibility as Justice Minister because the only thing he is supposed to say when answering touchy questions in the Diet is to automatically repeat the following phrases interchangeably:
1) I can't comment on the specific issue.
2) We are dealing with the matter based on the law and available evidence.
Actually he had used these sentences 33 times since he was appointed by Naoto Kan to the position.

The moment the news got out, the opposition camp started to screech, saying Yanagida's remarks were totally impermissible because these words constituted a contempt of the Diet. The entire nation instantly turned into a madhouse. As usual the media got extremely nitpicky about the semantics of the harmless gaffe and replayed the video footage at issue over and over again - more frequently than Yanagida had repeated his taped answers in the Diet.

The Justice Minister offered sincere apology to everyone, automatically repeating the same excuse that although he hadn't intended to make light of Diet deliberations, he felt too much at home, surrounded by his Hiroshima supporters. He added that he was under the heavy influence of alcohol at that time.

This was yet another reminder of what I call the Culture of Apology, the peculiar climate where an unlucky person apologizes for something he is not particularly responsible for.

But the Liberal Democratic Party and other opposition parties wouldn't listen in part because this was just part of the predetermined misogi ritual and in part because there was nothing else to nag Kan about at that moment. On Monday the Prime Minister had to sack Yanagida.

This always happens when it becomes too evident that something is fundamentally wrong with this nation. Last prime ministers of the LDP administration and the first prime minister of the DPJ administration invariably dug their own graves because of a slip of the tongue.

In June I told my audience what the misogi ritual is all about when Yukio Hatoyama stepped down as prime minister. But nobody seemed to understand. Some Japan experts in the U.S. went as far as to promise Hatoyama's successor would lead the way to a new Japan. They were mistaken once again although none of them blushed for a split second..

If you still don't think my explanation is good enough to convince you why the bastard had to lose his cushy job because of a casual slip of the tongue, you may want to turn to these Japan experts in the U.S. who boldly claim to have more unbiased and clearer views of Japan than this humble blogger who has lived these turbulent years in this country since 1935.

Better yet, though, you can expect the best answer from those in the same occupation with Yanagida. In particular I recommend you contact Nobuteru Ishihara, Secretary General of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party. He is a son of the equally retarded Tokyo Governor who was once named a "Social Neanderthal" by Australian journalist Ben Hills. Also he is known to be a senior member of Sukyo Mahikari, a cult somewhat akin to the world renowned Aum Supreme Truth.

I can't guarantee you that he is reachable right now. But if you have the luck to ask him your question, keep this in mind: you should pitch a nasty curveball to the Secretary General of the LDP in order to get a meaningful answer. You should perhaps word your question like this:

What's wrong with an idiot telling his fellow idiots a stupid thing like this?

Of course, the moron wouldn't be able to utter a word in response to your tricky question. But be assured, that is the best answer.

Then came the November 23 "surprise" attack by North Korea on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. It took Japan's commander-in-chief as long as seven hours to issue a rubberstamp statement that said:
■ We strongly condemn the attack.
■ We will do our best to gather and analyze information.
■ We will work together ever more closely with South Korea and the U.S.
■ At this moment we don't think the North Korean attack will directly affect Japanese citizens. But just in case, we should be prepared for a worst case scenario.
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Farewell to Shysters


Akikan's days are
numbered

Sengoku, the former
ambulance chaser, is
now in defense of China
A little more than two months ago, the presidency of the Democratic Party of Japan as well as nation's premiership was being contested between the double-dyed villain by the name of Ichiro Ozawa and the firstrate idiot named Naoto Kan. At that time I told my audience that the country was getting stuck "in between the devil and the deep blue sea" as the old American song goes.

As usual most of you thought I was exaggerating or just analogizing the situation the Japanese are in. But I wasn't. What I meant to say was that Japan is already a dead nation. The country still shows weak vital signs, but that is only because it is on an artificial respiration system.

Since the burst of the bubble economy in 1990, mythomaniacs in Japan's media organizations have acted like they are mandated to invent one false contention after another to dupe their credulous audiences into believing there still are valid alternatives to choose from.

Among other tactics to put people off the scent of real issues, it is especially noteworthy that they make believe every problem has its roots in laws, and thus, can be solved by new legislation, or amendment to an existing one. Along these lines, they always cite a law which is actually irrelevant to the issue at hand, or focus on the wrong article of a relevant one.

Take the Constitution for example. They always talk about whether to amend its war-renouncing Article 9, whereas you can't even get to Chapter II which includes the particular article before getting stuck with Chapter I that defines the role of the Emperor in such a way that eviscerates Chapter III which supposedly defines the "rights and duties of the people." The fundamental law of a nation serves as the master agreement between an individual citizen and the country where he lives. That is why I have recently terminated my contract with this failed country.

Another example is the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan. In the last half century, not a single pundit who was not under the influence of communism has discussed the invocation of Article 10 of the treaty which provides for the procedure for its termination. To sidetrack people from the real issue, media obscurantists are untiringly talking about other clauses such as Article 5 or auxiliary pacts such as Japan Status of Forces Agreement in order to instill in people the absurd delusion that in an emergency, the Americans will come to the rescue of the Japanese even at the cost of their own lives.

Since early September, the Japanese have heard of yet another bunch of laws. When voters in and outside the DPJ faced the insoluble dilemma between Kan and Ozawa, Yoshito Sengoku, Chief Cabinet Secretary and Ozawa's archrival, got the press corps in Kantei Kisha Kurabu, or the press club collusively attached to the Cabinet Office, to focus solely on Ozawa's violation of the Political Funds Control Law. Sengoku thought he could gloss over the ineptness of the Kan administration just by scapegoating the former Secretary General of his party.

It was as if the DPJ could have gained power from the Liberal Democratic Party last year without Ozawa's unparalleled skills in pork-barreling. Also it was as if Sengoku and Kan had proved morally stainless. The matter of the fact remains that they are just petty thieves when compared to the unrivaled master of robbery.

Ironically, though, a series of criminal cases broke out around that time where small fish such as a manager at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare were found to have been framed by public prosecutors and judges to save a little bigger ones close to the DPJ administration. Since it was obvious that these exonerees were just the tip of the iceberg, the entire judicial system of the nation could have discredited itself.

But once again the media kicked in; this time it was Kensatsu Kisha Kurabu, the press club attached to the Public Prosecutors Office, that artfully localized the implication of false accusations as if they were isolated cases. As a result, Ozawa has still remained Public Enemy No. 1.

That is how the Chief Cabinet Secretary could help Kan retain Japan's premiership. The cabinet approval rating shot up to 70% despite the fact that the incompetent Prime Minister had delivered, or would deliver, absolutely nothing on his promise about "Least Unhappy Society."

If you are not familiar with Sengoku, here's his bio. The bastard was one of those empty-headed campus activists before he dropped out of Tokyo University's Faculty of Law in 1968. Until he got into politics in 1990, he was a left-leaning courtroom lawyer. That is why he sounds so confident when talking about laws.

On September 7, a tiny Chinese trawler gave a soft pat on two patrol ships of Japan Coast Guard in the "disputed" waters off the Senkaku Islands, Diaoyutai in Chinese. The incident gave another legal challenge to the former lawyer. This time it was something about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Japan's Code of Criminal Procedure.

To make a long story short, his expertise in laws didn't help him a bit in handling the Senkaku incident. While he is totally unable to look beyond laws, the Chinese don't give a damn to the international law simply because it meant absolutely nothing in the twilight years of Pax Americana where the Law of the Jungle prevails everywhere. Who could have resisted temptation when it was something like taking a candy from a baby to brush aside Japan's sheepish territorial claim and demand the immediate release of the skipper of the trawler?

As an old proverb goes, the cock is bold on his own dunghill. Now the former ambulance chaser started acting like an attorney retained by the Chinese accident faker. Emboldened by dull-wittedness and docility of his fellow countrymen, Sengoku started giving them lectures on Article 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that says in certain circumstances, it's left to the prosecutor's discretion whether to indict a suspect. Unlike with the Chinese, it was a piece of cake for Sengoku to insinuate the Japanese into believing the specific circumstance, where the Chinese captain declared, after his release, that he would do the same thing in the future, justified the invocation of Article 248.

In the meantime, it was slowly dawning on these retarded people that it was about time to have seen, with their own eyes, the video footages which were said to show how the Chinese ship rammed into the patrol ships of Japan Coast guard.

As I have repeatedly said, the right time to act in international relations is before your opponent acts, or at latest, immediately after that. But the Japanese have never learned that the right time, once missed, will never come back. That is basically why I'm inclined to call them unviable creatures.

Totally unaware it was too late to effectively respond to the provocation by the Chinese, the opposition camp led by the LDP and the general public blindfolded by the media started voicing their desire to take a peek at what had really happened in the East China Sea on September 7.

Now amid the outcry for the disclosure of the videos, Sengoku had to turn to Article 47 of the same Code of Criminal Procedure; he kept saying it would run counter to that article to make public the touchy videos.

To be more precise, however, Article 47 prohibits, in principle, the disclosure of evidence prior to the opening of trial. But never mind, nobody has bothered to question Sengoku's distorted interpretation of the law because he is an oracle, after all, who passed the highly competitive bar exam many years ago, and the reporters stationed in Kantei Kisha Kurabu were still enthusiastic about covering up the transparent trick behind Sengoku's alibi exercise.

Then, on the night of November 4, someone uploaded some video footages on YouTube that showed unspectacular scenes of the Battle of the East China Sea.

Now Sengoku faced, or thought he was facing, another legal issue. Typical of Japanese men of his age, he is totally in the dark about the way information flows in the era of WikiLeaks. And yet, the dolt didn't realize he was barking up the wrong tree when he proclaimed that the leak constituted a crime in the light of Article 100 of the National Civil Service Law that stipulates the "obligation to preserve secrecy."

This was yet another false issue because nobody but the Chinese should get hurt looking at the videos and any information that had been accessible to all employees of the JCG and dozens of lawmakers before the "leak" could not be considered classified. But dozens of lawyers, ex-prosecutors and law professors appeared on TV waido sho ("wide shows") day and night to chitchat about the "issue."

Wide shows are run by all TV stations with nationwide network exactly in the identical format, and boast highest viewer ratings in this brain-dead nation. Since these programs deal, at a time, with a wide variety of topics ranging from failed relationships between untalented tarento (TV personalities) to bizarre criminal cases, to Prince William's engagement, to politics, these self-proclaimed pundits can only scratch the surface of "serious" topics such as the video leak.

On November 13, a 43-year-old Second Navigation Officer of the JCG turned himself in, saying he had thought the Japanese had the right to know the truth and that he was prepared for any punishment. On November 16, the public prosecutors dropped the charge against the whistleblower in the face of the public outcry for his release. He may have lost his job, but the same contention is still going on in the Diet and on TV as of my writing this post.

At the beginning of this 2-plus-month-long ado about nothing, Kan owed Sengoku a lot for his initial advance which was so striking that some American pundits hailed him as a savior of the ailing country.

But after all this legal gibberish, his approval rating nosedived from somewhere around 70% to an astounding 27.8% according to Jiji Press.

Now we have seen hundreds of people rallying here and there to demand the reinstatement of the Devil. In a sense, they have a point. At least Ozawa wouldn't have begged Hu Jintao on his knees to set aside at least 25 minutes on the sidelines of the APEC Summit Meeting for a bilateral talk. Akikan or the Empty Can, as the Japanese dub Kan lately, desperately asked Hu's mercy to save him from losing the right half of his face. At the ASEM Summit Meeting held in Brussels last month, Akikan had already lost the left half when Wen Jiabao gave him 25 minutes in a hallway.

At the last minute, Hu agreed to give Kan just 25 minutes on the condition that he not un-shelve the touchy Senkaku issue. In 1978 Deng Xiaoping forced his Japanese counterpart to swallow the idea of shelving it practically for good.

Not all those who were disappointed by the Kan administration think that trying to live with the Devil is a little better than jumping into the deep blue sea. So some of them have now started to talk about the Grand Coalition between the DPJ (minus Ozawa's faction) and the LDP. But they have learned no lessons from the past either. And there still is the public discourse about seikai saihensei (political realignment) lingering on. But it has long tested unworkable, too.

Throughout my 46-year career and 75-year life, I have studied various laws including Commercial Code, Civil Code, Securities Exchange Act, tax laws, antimonopoly legislation and Labor Standards Law as necessity arose. But I have never thought about becoming a law practitioner or doctor of juridical "science" myself. Here's the reason:

I have known in person not a single man with legal background who understands the very basics of a legal system. People tend to think laws govern their lives and thoughts, but actually it's the other way around; it's them that write, abide by, defy or rewrite laws.

In the U.S., the situation is a little different because America, unlike Japan, has a great Constitution that embodies the founding principles of the nation. But as I observe, most American lawyers are there only to stymie their clients' attempt to look beyond state and federal laws which are unconstitutional to varying degrees. As a result, now you can see a striking resemblance in behaviors between the U.S. administration headed by the alumnus of Harvard Law School and the Japanese government practically run by the dropout of Tokyo University's Faculty of Law.

Small wonder that America is quickly getting Japanized these days although it will take some time until the American people understand they are getting nowhere if they remain stuck between liberals and conservatives.
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Hopefully China is Not Just an Up-and-Coming Economic Superpower


Confucius (551-
479 BC)

Most scholars and pundits in America and some other Western countries are ignorant enough to attribute Asiatic backwardness to Confucianism. Worse, they are also arrogant enough to assume they wouldn't find any new wisdom if they bothered to go straight to the horse's mouths: The Four Books compiled circa 300 BC by early disciples of Confucius. The same can be said of their Japanese counterparts who are all yellow Yankees. It is true that they have learned in schools of maxims from The Four Books that recapitulate the Confucian principles. But they have never really understood the principal tenet incarnated in one of The Four Books titled 大学 (Great Learning). It reads: 修身斉家治国平天下.

There seems to be no standard way of expressing the idea in English. But an English-speaking Internet user has given it a try. This person translates these words like this:

"To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first set our hearts right so as to cultivate our personal life." (I made some modification to the last part of the quote for the sake of clarification.)

In short, your integrity as an individual is all that matters.

Policymakers and self-styled political analysts who habitually invert the Confucian logic should shut their mouth altogether if that means they can't make a fast buck anymore.

You don't have to convert to communism distorted by the bastard named Mao Zedong; neither do you need to agree with Deng Xiaoping who gave a new twist to Maoism. You just have to sober yourself up from the delusions being disseminated by Western demagogues and ideologues in order to see what is really at issue in this messy world.

As of writing this post, APEC 2010 is going on in this port city of Yokohama. As usual, participants from developed countries and developing countries seem to be divided over every issue on the agenda. It's quite predictable that at the closing session, the Japanese chairman will celebrate his own success in having all attendees sign the empty statement that essentially says, "Let's go on swimming together if only to sink together."
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[FEATURE] The Battle of the East China Sea Not so Spectacular

Last night the Japanese government and mainstream media were caught offguard by the leak of 44-minute video footages on YouTube.

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[FEATURE] Even a Little Birdie Can Tweet about Eternal Primacy of America

Capitalizing, directly or indirectly, on the blessings of the Internet, political analysts have been proliferating all over the world. In America, alone, there are millions of them if you include self-styled pundits.
You can classify them into two types: weather forecasters and Monday morning quarterbacks. It's a known fact that there always is a cozy relationship between the two groups. Unless pundits who specialize in predictions are so prone to misread clues to future events, MMQBs are out of work. And if MMQBs have a good command of sophism to convince their audience that they are not just secondguessing, prophets lose their jobs.

In between the two categories, you sometimes come across amphibians who have the guts to play the two different roles all by themselves. By doing so, they effectively hedge against the risk of losing jobs.

It's some of these amphibious pundits who foresaw the emergence of a new and viable Japan in June when Naoto Kan and Katsuya Okada succeeded Yukio Hatoyama and Ichiro Ozawa as prime minister and secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, respectively.

In fact, though, signs of the total collapse of the country have since been felt, rather than just imagined, around the clock and on every corner of the Japanese archipelago. Those who have good ears even hear the entire edifice crashing down.

Five months after the misogi-like transition of power, even these zombie-like people can tell the Kan administration will fall apart in a matter of months.

When it comes to foreign relations, the Tokyo government is now in total gridlock because Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang are steadfastly closing in on the doomed nation. I'm inclined to term it the MBP strangulation regimen after the ABCD alliance against Japan in 1941.

Kan and his foreign minister Seiji Maehara are counting even more on their American counterparts for help. They know that if the Republicans are to regain lost ground toward 2012, that won't make a bit of difference to the absurd security arrangement between the two nations, one dead and the other dying.

This is yet another confirmation of Douglas MacArthur's testimony at a joint committee of the Senate. On May 5, 1951, the general exquisitely said: "Measured by the standards of modern civilization, [the Japanese would be like boys] of twelve, as compared with [Americans' and Germans'] development of 45 years."

MacArthur was so foresighted that he also knew by 2010, all Americans would look like 104-year-olds.

So, are amphibious pundits in America blushing or scratching their empty heads these days?

No, that's what they will never do. As usual, they have a good excuse, particularly in this November. "Currently we are too preoccupied with the midterm election to be really concerned about Japan. Maybe we were a little too optimistic when we said the country was getting back on the right track. But so what?"

It's in this intellectual vacuum that a growing number of political analysts in the U.S. have started twittering. The eagles have lost their piercing eyes to identify their targets and sharp claws to cut out enemies' hearts. So all they can do is just to keep chirping.

It's true that they can't outdo the Japanese who are very good at compressing ideas into the traditional 17-syllable format. But that doesn't really matter; Haiku poetry and tweets are basically the same thing.
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[FEATURE] The Paradox about Statelessness


Chen Tien-shi's
book about
statelessness
One year ago today, I stumbled on a Japanese book titled Stateless. I instantly gave it a five-star review on my website.

If you look at customer reviews on Amazon Japan's website, you will think I am not alone in being so enthralled by the book. As of today, the Amazon rating has averaged 4.5 stars. But actually I have very little in common with these readers.

A comment posted by a reviewer who gave the book a 3-star rating reads like this: "I found the book very informative but I can't agree to the author's way of thinking because of its tilt toward negativism."
An oldish Japanese woman, who is one of my former colleagues, has once told me the same thing about this book. She said something like Joseph McCarthy would have said sixty years ago: "I find the author's negativism really disgusting. Her family came over to Japan on their own. Nobody brought them here against their will. So, love it, or leave it."

The Amazon reviewer, and Japan's McCarthy alike, have much more in common with many other ignorant and arrogant people in and outside the United Nations than with this blogger; they all have a bug-ridden logic circuit embedded inside their skulls. They constantly mix up things at issue with their take on them. That is basically why they use these words, positive and negative, so lightly.

Because of this confusion, they always distort the arithmetic rule. While, for instance, a negative view of a negative thing makes a plus, my positive view of something they think has a negative value does not always mean I am a negativist.

Take statelessness for example.

Those whose brains are prone to logical confusion take it for granted that any word suffixed with "-less" is a negative thing. But what about the word "flawless" for instance? You say, "I got your point." But hold on, because you don't. If I say, "Your skills in pickpocketing are flawless," how would you respond?

In fact, things are all neutral - neither positive nor negative.

The word stateless simply means that the nationality column of your passport says you have no nationality - no more, no less. It's you that should decide whether or not statelessness is a desirable status to be in.

To me that status is something you have to be proud of. You are mistaken when you label me as a negativist simply because I'm in favor of statelessness which you think is a negative thing.

The same can be said of humanright advocates in and outside the U.N. They keep mixing up subjects with objects. That's why, for instance in 1961, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees drew up the "International Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" based on the obsolete document called "The Universal Declaration of Humanrights."

If you are stupid enough to insist that the international body founded when the Chinese continent was still under the rule of Chiang Kai-shek has not yet outgrown its raison d'etre, you should give us a specific reason you think statelessness should be reduced, rather than increased. Or at least you should tell us why no more than 19 countries have signed the treaty of 1961 thus far despite the ardent call by the UNHCR in the last half century.

I think it's not only useless but also harmful to cling to the outdated hypocrisy based on the absurd assumption that Pax Americana will last many more years, if not forever.

With the pathological obsession with statelessness as something undesirable, these people are contributing to the proliferation, not the reduction, of stateless population. They claim that they know no borders, but actually they know them more than anyone else does. Besides, they have put up another wall that separates the stateless from the "stateful."

Here, I am talking about a book written by a first-rate scholar who specializes in ethnology and international law, and people's responses to it. It's a different story when it comes to what doers do.

Actually author Chen Tien-shi has another face; she is a dedicated activist.

Besides delving into issues with statelessness and the "Chinese Diaspora", she has also engaged in grassroots activities such as building up a worldwide network for the stateless. So it's quite understandable that she has no guts to tell these individuals, in person, that they should be proud of the plight resulting from their status. Presumably, all she can barely say is: "You shouldn't feel ashamed of the predicament you are going through."

Life is not so simple as you think it is.
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[Feature] The Moment of Truth for Japan's Tibet to Secede from Naicha's Failing State


The flag of the Ryukyu
Independence Party
The natives of the Ryukyus, better known as the Okinawa islands, call themselves Okinanchu or Uchinanchu when they want to stress their distinctive cultural identity.

On the other hand, they call the people in the main part of the Japanese Archipelago Naicha or Yamatonchu. The connotation of the former appellation is contemptuous while the latter is a neutral word. In that sense, Naicha to Okinawans are what gringos are to Latin American people.

The biggest difference you see between the two peoples lies in their quality as human beings measured by integrity, maturity and viability.

Traditionally, Naicha leaders have all been known for their propensity toward indecision, inaction and procrastination in the face of crises. Especially when it comes to foreign affairs, they have always let things drift until the problem solves itself. To them politics is like weather, as Ian Buruma once observed. They invariably fall into a state of thanatosis until the ferocious typhoon is gone.

That is why they make believe timeliness in action is not that important in diplomacy.

This way Japanese leaders have piled up formidable problems which should have been addressed much earlier and more straight ahead.

Just to mention a few, the Russo-Japanese dispute over the "Northern Territories," the Sino-Japanese feud over oil and gas fields in the East China Sea and the issue with the Japanese citizens kidnapped more than 25 years ago by North Korean agents all remained unaddressed until the other side had fully entrenched its interests there.

Believe it or not, never once has the Japanese government shown its readiness for a bloody warfare against the other claimant of the disputed territory or filed its territorial claim with the international arbitration organization. Instead it keeps grumbling all the time out of fear that a provocative word or act will inevitably lead to an all-out confrontation.

It is true that leaders of other countries sometimes procrastinate, too. But they are fundamentally different from Japanese procrastination artists. They always act first to get a head start and once a fait accompli is established, they start buying time to defend status quo, whereas Naicha leaders just wait and see all the while and start selling time when the other end wants to buy it.

More or less the same thing can be said of the issue with the Senkaku Isles, Diaoyutai in Chinese.

On September 7, a Chinese trawler collided against a patrol ship of Japan Coast Guard in the disputed waters off Senkaku. At the onset, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Seiji Maehara were saying they would handle the incident "strictly in line with Japanese law."

But once again it proved totally useless for them to raise their voices to repeat the same old claim that Japan has a "legitimate" right on the uninhabited islets. As always the Chinese leaders by far outsmarted and outpaced their Japanese counterparts. In retaliation, they arrested four employees of a Japanese construction company on the charge of spying military facilities in Hebei Province.

Amid the fuss, Maehara, now as the new Foreign Minister, visited New York where he had a talk with his U.S. counterpart. The moron was momentarily heartened by Clinton's signature lip service. She said, in effect, that the disputed isles were included, albeit implicitly, in the 1972 bilateral deal to "return" Okinawa from the U.S. to Japan, and thus, Article 5 of the bilateral security treaty could be invoked to secure Japanese interest there.

Back home the media were also stupid enough to gush over the "diplomatic victory" Maehara had achieved. But in a matter of hours, China could bring Japan to her knees like taking a candy from a baby. The skipper of the Chinese fishing boat was freed.

Yesterday, I was really taken aback by Kan's declaration of 有言実行・引き延ばし一掃内閣 (a cabinet to act without delay.) In his mistimed as well as misplaced declaration, the moron wanted to say that habitual procrastination in the past decades, mostly under the rule by the Liberal Democratic Party whereof he used to be a member, has now taken a devastating toll on the fate of this country and that he is now fully determined to quickly fix it.

What a laugh.

Actually things are getting even uglier. Yesterday, China released three hostages out of four in a gesture to mend the relations between the two countries.

The dull-witted Yamatonchu felt at a loss because with China's move, the problem was three-quarters solved before they could attain anything. They just kept wondering why only three until it slowly dawned on them that the Chinese government wanted to keep the unlucky guy in custody to deter the Japanese government from releasing the video of the crime scene. The Chinese knew one hostage is enough to stop the move.

The embarrassing situation triggered an outcry from among Japanese lawmakers of both camps for the release of the video footage - something none of them had thought about demanding from the Okinawa prosecutors in the last three weeks.

Political commentators and self-styled China experts, too, responded to the situation larghissimo. They started saying the video should be made public "immediately" to show the "international community" how the Chinese vessel hit the patrol ship, twice, in the starboard only when the problem had been 75% solved unilaterally by the country which had created it also unilaterally.

As usual, the idea of releasing the hard evidence occurred to these quarterbacks only when it was already Monday morning. Now there were only two options before the Naicha government.

Option 1: Turn the clock back to September 7 by complying with the demand to release the video.
Option 2: Swallow the remaining 25%.

Whichever way it goes, the end result is the same. Japan goes around in circles forever.

Small wonder Kan's cabinet supposedly to act without delay has started stalling for time once again in a matter of hours from his declaration of no-procrastination policy.
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Something More Destructive than Nitroglycerin- or Enriched Uranium-based Explosives

You know what - there are weapons even more dangerous than nuclear devices or biochemical substances; they have been developed for the use in more covert hostilities including cyber-warfare.

The unconventional weaponry they use in modern-day battlegrounds is more of corrosives or toxics than explosives.
These agents are by far more perilous than any other weapon for the following two reasons:

● There is an ample supply of this type of weaponry. It is available to everybody and everywhere at affordable prices. Normally it doesn't cost you anything more than your cheap soul.
● More often than not, they are invisible. That also means you can't really identify your enemy.

This always constitutes a formidable challenge to organizations responsible for national security. While overt cyber attacks by Chinese or revelations of military secrets by the likes of WikiLeaks are relatively easy to handle, the hardest part lies somewhere else.

U.S. Cyber Command, for one, is at a loss over who it is really fighting against, let alone what for. Head of "USCYBERCOM" Gen. Keith Alexander cannot even tell what his invisible enemy's target would be and what weapons the enemy is equipped with.

To me, however, it's easy to answer the last question; the weapons most commonly used against him are information spread around, verbally and visually, in every layer of cyberspace. In short, they are words and images.

If there is anything in which USCYBERCOM can find consolation, it is the fact that hordes of cyber warriors are giving it a helping hand from every corner of the country, and even from the other part of the globe, including Oslo, Norwegian capital.

Most recently, a highly-acclaimed Chinese dissident named Liu Xiaobo was enshrined as the year's Peace Prize laureate by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Liu's wife Xia reportedly quoted her husband as saying, "This prize goes to all of those who died on June 4, 1989," when she visited him in prison.

Very touching, isn't it?

You can't figure out how the Lius are going to share the prize money of SEK10-million with the deceased, but stupid Americans of both camps have wasted no time to gush over their empty rhetoric about a free China.

Ironically, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan was not so enthusiastic about Liu's feat in deference to his Chinese boss, Wen Jiabao. He reportedly said: "My view is that the release [of Liu from prison] is desirable, but in what form we should seek this will need to be discussed."

Setting aside the absurd remarks made by the Japanese idiot for now, I wonder if you have read the now famous Charter 08 signed by 350 pro-democracy activists including Liu. If you haven't, I think you better forget it for good.

It would be a total waste of time to examine the wordy manifesto because as anyone can easily predict, wornout, empty, banal words, such as representative democracy, universal suffrage, humanrights and freedom, are scattered all over the Charter. These reform-mongers based it all on an outdated and watered-down ideology that dates back to the days long before the Internet took hold.

And what is totally missing there is a clear vision of a free China and the real life of 1.3 billion individual citizens living there. It's as though they think a change in the political system will automatically bring about change in people's way of thinking and living, while in fact, it's the people that change the system.

This way these obscurantists are constantly turning the Internet into a "disenabler" of real change whereas it's potentially a powerful enabler of it.

Unfortunately, it was nothing new that the Oslo-based Committee had discredited itself by crowning leading ideologues such as Liu.

In his will, Alfred Nobel said to the effect that the Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who "shall have done the best work" to promote peace. But the Committee seems to have rewritten Nobel's will like this:

"The prize should be awarded to a person who talked most frequently and audibly about peace, freedom and humanrights. Whether or not the person has actually delivered on his promises should not affect the Committee's decision."

As a result, it now looks as though the Committee sponsors an annual speech contest. You just splash flowery words about an oppression-free, nuclear-free and emission-free world, from your toolbox, which is actually an arsenal filled with digitalized TNT or fissile material, on notable websites, or better yet, through the mainstream media. And you become eligible to be nominated by the Norwegian Committee.

It still remains a mystery why Mahatma Gandhi was passed over every time he was nominated. Among other years he was shortlisted, 1948 was the year he had already been assassinated by a fellow Hindu for his unique contribution to India's independence. No one could deny that "The Father of India" had done "the best work" by that time.

The same is true, perhaps to a lesser degree, with Ronald Reagan who missed the medal in 1990 when Mikhail Gorbachev was singled out for the well-deserved laurels.

In my previous post, I talked about my way of classifying people I have known in person into four types. Every once in a while, however, we see a man of integrity like Gandhi or Reagan who I would classify into a fifth category.

But actually, an increasing number of dignitaries who hadn't made any outstanding contribution to Nobel's cause have been awarded the Prize. They included Henry Kissinger (1973), Eisaku Sato (1974), the Dalai Lama (1989), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Yasser Arafat (1994), Kim Dae-jun (2000), Kofi Annan (2001), Jimmy Carter (2001), Al Gore (2007) and Barack Obama (2009).
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Primarily an Educator


The bright student
and the dedicated
teacher
Mr. S is the one who reminded me of Mencius' words about man's innate spontaneity through his devotion to adding rare materials to the exhibits of the Cyber Museum I launched three and a half years ago.

Once again he brought in a large pile of photocopies of old magazine articles written by or about my father Mineo Yamamoto. I said, "I really appreciate your efforts, but I'm afraid I may not have them uploaded to the site because I don't have time, money and most importantly, enthusiasm to do so anymore." The selfless guy said, "That's no problem."

He added: "This time I have realized that your father was primarily an educator, fully dedicated one."

Among the batch of paper in front of us, there was a 1943 article in a questions-and-answers format from a magazine meant for schoolchildren. One of the questions asked of my father was: "Why and how can an airplane fly high defying the law of gravity?" He was enthusiastically answering the question by citing how a kite soars and how an atomizer works.

This is what Mr. S had in mind when he said my father was a good educator.

I have inherited from him many things including Parkinson's disease. But among other things, I owe him this particular attribute. Like him I have believed throughout my life that the only effective way to learn things is to teach them, and sometimes vice versa; most of the things I've learned have been learned through teaching. This is where the learning process of human beings differs from that of apes.

Ten years ago, I taught an MBA class at International University of Japan. I had a lot of fun teaching 30 or so foreign students there. I hope they also had fun discussing with me the use of the networked computers as an essential enabler of renovation in business. But that was only for a semester and my only experience lecturing at a higher-learning institute.

So I usually introduce myself as a businessman-turned-blogger. But to be more precise, I was born to be a fully committed educator before anything else. It always sickens me to have to deal with intellectually lazy, learning-disabled guys even when their idiocy is none of my business.

And what exactly have I taught them?

In my recent post entitled A Graveyard for the Musical Legacy of the West, I talked about the inversion of the ends and the means. In that connection I wrote the only thing that can set right the inverted value-creating chain is versatility.

Just remember that George Washington was primarily a farmer and agronomist, and Thomas Jefferson had many faces such as architect's, astronomer's and inventor's. I don't think we can expect single-minded political racketeers and tunnel-visioned political analysts to be able to reverse the ongoing process of the decline of civilization.

That is why I have always adhered to interdisciplinary subjects.

Have I succeeded so far? Only to a certain extent.

I remember educating on-the-job an intern by the name of Nathalie Guy when I was a senior manager at a Zurich-based trading company. I taught the brilliant French lady how to manage the foreign currency positions on a handmade system of my own based on Macros and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications.)

Our teacher-student relation was very fruitful because Nathalie was so enthusiastic not only about learning computer systems, forex and business as a whole but also about reciprocating.

When it came to my interaction with Japanese audiences including my bosses, peers and subordinates, it was a disaster most of the time. Simply they don't have willingness to learn. The same is more or less true with my own kids.

To borrow Wynton Marsalis's way of saying it, since they think everything has its place, they don't need to look for a new place.

I think I once wrote about Karl Jaspers, a German psychiatrist and philosopher. Although he has had little influence on my way of thinking and living, I was deeply impressed by an anecdote inserted in one of his books I read some 55 years ago. It went like this:

The director of the mental hospital is known for his unparalleled compassion toward the inmates. One day when he strolled around the garden, he spotted an inpatient casting a fishing line into the swimming pool. The director stopped by the patient. Smiling knowingly, he said, "What kind of fish do you catch here?" The madman replied: "Don't be silly, doc. You can't catch any fish in a swimming pool."

I'm inclined to classify people into four types like this:

Type 1: Bigmouths who boast they went fishing at the seaside and caught a big fish while, in fact, they went nowhere and caught nothing.
Type 2: Gripers who claim to have been out at sea for fishing but came home empty-handed; they spend the rest of their lives telling sour grapes stories, or inventing plausible excuses.
Type 3: Tricksters who admit they cast a fishing line at the poolside but caught a big fish which is actually nothing but the product of a delusion.
Type 4: Madmen who fall under the same category with Jaspers' patient.

Throughout my adulthood, I haven't known, in person, a single individual who doesn't fit any one of these descriptions.
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