Monday, April 26 2010 @ 03:56 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Left: Hatoyama keeps apologizing to everyone for everything he has done, or has not Center: One of the brethren of this old man is governing Japan behind the scenes Right: Pro golfer Ai Miyazato has already won two LPGA tournaments this spring
My friend Jack asked me about my take on the rally staged yesterday in
Yomitanson, Okinawa Prefecture, in which 90,000 people participated to
protest against the recent move by the government to keep the U.S. Marine
Corps' "helicopter" unit in their islands. Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama looks to have backed down on his pledge to relocate it to 県外
(kengai, or outside of Okinawa) or 国外 (kokugai, or outside of Japan) in the wake of the April 18 rally in Tokunoshima
island, Kagoshima Prefecture.
I don't see a lot of differences between the two rallies. Protesters in
both prefectures had equally ambivalent sentiments; on the one hand, they
were opposed to any plan to have U.S. military bases in their respective
prefectures, but on the other, they were receptive of them deep inside. Their behaviors were
also similar in that they were discouraged from expressing their honne openly.
The Okinawa Governor is a good example. Hirokazu Nakaima was elected the governor basically on his campaign pledge to keep U.S. military bases in the prefecture while gradually trying to reduce the burden on the citizens. Yet, he somehow felt obliged to attend the April 25 rally to deliver a half-hearted and vaguely-worded address in support of the kengai relocation of the Futenma Air Station.
The reason behind their mixed feelings toward the U.S. presence in their lands
is because Okinawa's base-related income accounts for 20% of the prefecture's GDP, whereas these bases cover only a little more than 10% of the total area
of 2,276 sq.km or 879 sq.mi. Kagoshima Prefecture, too, could have expected a handsome amount of windfall from the $26 billion already funded by the previous administration had it not been for the April 18 rally.
However, there is one crucial difference between the peoples in Okinawa and other areas that include Tokunoshima.
Okinawa is Japan's last colony.
You may have been so brainwashed as to find it totally unimaginable that someday the Okinawans may seek independence from Japan. Yet, that is a little more likely than the Native
Hawaiians seeking secession from the United States. To say the least, if and when Japan's first-ever civil war breaks out, Okinawa will be the major battleground.
From 1429 through 1879, these islands were an independent kingdom under
the reign of the Ryukyu Dynasty. Even after Satsuma Domain, the fiefdom that is called Kagoshima Prefecture today, virtually
annexed it in 1609, the rich and diverse culture has still been flourishing
there among the bright, straightforward and self-respecting people.
Given their ethnological and cultural background, the Okinawans, except those who have chosen to abandon their ethnic identity to become assimilated into this nation where the process of disintegration is already irreversible, are a quite different people than the Japanese main-islanders. If you are skeptical about my argument, you just have to carefully observe any individual of Ryukyu ancestry. Just take Ai Miyazato for example; it's easy to tell the up-and-coming
LPGA pro golfer has nothing in common with Hatoyama except how many eyes,
nostrils and mouth they have.
In the last days of the Pacific War, Hirohito's Imperial Army killed or forced to commit suicide thousands of Okinawan women and children to shield the Honshu island against the all-out offensive being launched by the U.S. soldiers.
In 1972, twenty years after Japan's nominal independence, these islands were finally
"returned" to this country. Yet, these bases have remained there
as the "cornerstone" of the U.S. strategy in this region.
In 1996, then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto promised that he would rid
Okinawa of the Futenma Air Base at latest in seven years. But well before
2003, he was forced to retire from politics because of a bribery scandal.
In 2006, the LDP government reached an accord with the Bush administration
that the air station should be downsized by relocating 8,000 marines to
Guam and the rest of them should be moved to Camp Schwab in a less-populated city of the same Okinawa Prefecture.
It is the Democratic Party of Japan that promised to tear
up the 2006 accord and seek a kengai or kokugai alternative. When opening Pandora's box, Hatoyama should have been prepared
to ultimately invoke Article 10 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and
Security between the U.S. and Japan. In fact, though, the termination of
the 50-year-old treaty was the last thing Hatoyama would think about doing.
That is why the equally loopy President of the U.S. called him a loopy
prime minister. These guys will never learn what really underlies all this
ado about nothing. As I have repeatedly argued, the gut issue with the
bilateral alliance lies with the fact that at least for the Japanese, there
are no real enemies to fight against and there are no values to defend
On the part of the Okinawans, their honne is certainly that they have had enough with the colonial rule by the Japanese. And now that the Americans, too, think of Okinawa as if it were their colony, they think serving two colonial masters at a time is way too much to tolerate. · read more (210 words)
Saturday, April 24 2010 @ 03:05 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
I was a good forecaster in the 1980s but had yet to grow into a mature planner
Today, it's a little better, but weather forecasters are warning that unseasonable
cold waves will come back over the weekend.
The Japanese archipelago is seated in the temperate zone except its northernmost and southernmost areas, but actually we are living in the cool-temperate zone these days. I think Hokkaido and Okinawa have now been moved up to the Arctic and temperate areas, respectively.
To me the biggest fallout from this climatic aberration is the further
deterioration in my health. Among other things, I'm suffering from an aggravated
sciatica. It involves intolerable pains just to move around or even
sit at the computer. Actually I have been creeping around.
At first I was cursing weather forecasters for their failure to foretell this. It's outrageous that my sciatic nerves sometimes outperform the state-of-the-art super computers and weather satellites they are equipped with.
But now it has dawned on me that Prime Minister Hatoyama may be the real culprit for the freezing weather.
In the 1970s I was trained to be a professional financial planner. I did
a lot of shortterm and midterm planning for the corporate balance sheets
(financial positions,) income statements, S&A (sources and applications
of funds,) and nearterm cashflow forecasts.
In the 1980s through the first half of the '90s, I was a local Chief Financial
Officer of a Swiss trading company. At that time I was concurrently working
on foreign exchange. As you may know, managing currency positions is critically
important for an international trading company. · read more (400 words)
Friday, April 23 2010 @ 05:38 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Left: They are supposedly getting rid of wasteful spending without knowing how to identify redundancies Center: Management guru Peter F. Drucker Right: Father of Business Process Reengineering Michael Hammer
When the Liberal Democratic Party was in power, quasi-governmental organization
mushroomed. Today there are more than 100 of them. They call them 独立行政法人
(Dokuritsu Gyosei Hojin) or independent administrative legal entities. The reason why government
agencies jettisoned what had been parts of their organizations and gave
them nominal autonomy was twofold.
Firstly they thought that by doing so, they could look slimmed down to taxpayers. By that time government agencies had grown way too bloated with their redundant manpower. Secondly they still wanted
to secure cushy post-retirement positions so high-ranking officials could still keep "descending from heaven."
The newly installed Hatoyama administration has so far failed to deliver
on its campaign pledges which were characterized as a dole-out policy, simply because it belatedly realized it is unable to fund these lavish programs.
The only exception is the makeshift system in which the government pays parents a monthly child-rearing allowance of 26,000 yen (US$280).
Now in the GDP contest of the economic Olympics, China is overtaking Japan
to become the silver medalist thanks to its huge population. And yet, the
Japanese have learned no lessons from this. They still don't understand
what really matters is the overall quality of the people, and not the headcount. So Hatoyama doesn't really care if it's not totally unlikely these parents
actually spend this 26,000 yen to buy themselves extra bottles of booze,
or even an extra dose of marijuana.
The only headache for the Democratic Party of Japan, therefore, is how
to secure the source of funds to be appropriated to the pointless program.
That's why a special task-force headed by Yukio Edano has been desperately
working on 事業仕分け (Jigyo Shiwake,) or budget screening, since the DPJ took power. Edano's team kicked off its second round yesterday, reportedly zeroing in on these independent administrative bodies.
At the onset of the cutback exercise, the specially assigned budget assessors were saying they would cut back on wasteful spending, be it the project
cost already funded by the former administration, the maintenance cost for
a finished project, or standing charges (personnel costs and overhead) to maintain the organization of
a government or quasi-government entity as a going concern, leaving no sacred cows.
Of course, they were lying. One example was the huge, but useless dam which
is now under construction in Iwate Prefecture, Ichiro Ozawa's constituency.
Now the budget screening team assigned to the National Museum of Nature
and Science, one of the independent administrative entities, has started
to review, on-site and off-site, the museum's activities to know specifically where
to find fat.
A couple of days ago, I saw on TV Kazuyoshi Suzuki, senior curator singlehandedly in charge
of aeronautics, robotics and other technologies, unenthusiastically explaining
to the inspection crew something about YS-11, a Japanese-made airliner
which was recently retired, standing between the mothballed aircraft and the inspectors. · read more (385 words)
Left: Bird's eye view of Tokunoshima Island Right: Protest rally of April 18
The logic of the Japanese people always loops over everything they think is at issue. This is a telling evidence that they don't know what exactly they are talking about.
Yukio Hatoyama, for one, keeps saying he has a miraculous plan which he
believes will break the impasse over Futenma relocation to everyone's satisfaction.
Yet, he still refuses to disclose his fukuan (secret plan) to the residents of the island he has in mind. The only
party he says he has confided to, certainly on deaf ears, is Washington.
The Japanese way of decision-making is frustratingly slow because in fact
it's not a decision, but consensus-building. To gauge the public response to his plan beforehand, Hatoyama has been leaking, little by little, pieces
of information that point to the new place to accommodate the widow-making
By now everyone knows:
■ it's Tokunoshima Island of Kagoshima, the prefecture neighboring Okinawa,
■ Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito is one of Ichiro Ozawa's henchmen,
■ Ito is enthusiastic about accepting Hatoyama's fukuan because he would be able to claim a handsome share in the economy-boosting
deal which is estimated to involve hundreds of billions of yen (close to ten billion in US$,)
■ the three town mayors of the island are not so enthusiastic, and have
organized protest rallies because they somehow felt they had lost face. They felt insulted by Hatoyama just like Obama felt pissed off when he became aware his Japanese counterpart wasn't serious about delivering on the now-famous "Trust me" stuff,
■ on April 18, 15 thousand out of 26 thousand islanders took part in a
■ these people are unlike the self-respecting and straightforward residents of Okinawa Prefecture, Japan's last colony. So an estimated 50% of the protesters actually want to have the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station in one of their villages,
■ in honne, they are expecting to have tiny leftovers from these profiteers such
as Ito, Ozawa and civil engineering and construction companies,
■ those villagers, who actually favor Hatoyama's fukuan and yet felt obliged to participate in the rallies, did so out of fear
Washington's take on this alternative, which the loopy Prime Minister says
he has already whispered to someone in charge there, is that it can't accept
any plan which is not supported by the local residents, or makes the distance between Okinawa and the new site any longer than 120km, or 75mi. For your reference, the ground forces will, in any case, remain stationed in Okinawa which is 200km, or 125mi, away from Tokunoshima. · read more (123 words)
Thursday, April 15 2010 @ 07:33 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Fats Waller might have sung:
Two loopy peoples with nothing to share,
But too much in love to say goodbye
According to Washington Post columnist Al Kamen, some in the Obama administration have dubbed Yukio Hatoyama "the increasingly loopy Japanese Prime Minister." They are uncharacteristically right.
I always liken this nation to a state-of-the-art computer. The problem with this particular machine is that it has a bug-ridden program loaded in it and that it does not have a self-correcting mechanism built in there to locate and remove fatal logical flaws. Soon after you launch the program, the system starts looping and keeps coming back to the same step over and over until some external factor brings it to an "abend". (Abend is an IT jargon that signifies an abnormal end.)
The hapless Japanese have been caught in a loop for centuries because they have failed to learn any lesson from the previous incidents of abend - the A-bombs and the burst of the bubble economy. So there is no reason to single out Hatoyama. His predecessors were invariably like him.
Yet, it's good to know that the truth about Japan has started dawning on the
American people at long last. At the same time it's a shame that they still don't realize they are just seeing a mirror reflection of their own selves in the loopy Japanese.
· read more (239 words)
Saturday, April 10 2010 @ 10:25 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
It's not just that these "old runaways," as some call these LDP
defectors all in their late-60s or well into 70s, have lost their way, but
they have also run out of words for their party name. Bland words such as "liberal," "democratic" and "people's" have all been used up by now.
That's why they brought the first-rate swindler named Shintaro Ishihara (posed on the extreme right of the photo) into the picture.
The five former senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party were at a loss over what specifically to do to prevent the ruling Democratic Party of Japan from further "wreaking havoc on this country." But when it came to the naming, they certainly knew who to turn to. Duping the extraordinarily gullible Japanese into believing in empty words is Ishihara's only forte.
That's how they came up with the fancy name - Tachiagare Nippon (起ち上がれ日本党) or Rise Up Japan Party. And that's why the 75-year-old self-proclaimed rightwinger attended today's kickoff meeting before
the press corps. Although he volunteered to stand godfather to the new party, he stopped short of becoming one of the founding members himself for an obvious reason.
In exchange for his favor, however, he took the liberty to put his pet subject - constitutional amendment - at the top of the policy statement of the new group. This also helped the founders. Kaoru Yosano, one
of them, was the last Finance Minister of the LDP administration who was
known for his fiscal conservatism. But, aside from Yosano's unarticulated aspiration
to stem the further snowballing of fiscal deficits, they'd had no ideas
about what to do to reverse the disastrous situation facing this country until Ishihara extended an extra favor. Small wonder that they, wasting no time, took a bite at Ishihara's bait.
Actually these rebels, apparently suffering senile dementia, still think new laws can make a new
Japan, while in fact it's always the other way around: it's a new breed of Japanese
with firm resolve to transform themselves into sound and viable people that can make good laws.
Against this backdrop all the media organizations hastily took polls about
constitutional amendment, as they have done hundred times in the past,
and released the results, unaudited ones as usual. · read more (266 words)
Some two weeks ago in Doha, Qatar, the Monacan delegation to the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) made an unexpected
motion to impose a total ban on the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna to
Japan and some other tuna-consuming countries.
Thanks to China's effort to win African nations over to Japan's side in
the anticipation that Japan would reciprocate when the international trade
in edible sharks and the domestic trade of South China tigers are tabled, a comfortable
majority voted against Monaco's proposal.
But at first, I was upset because I found myself sharing the same sentiment with my former fellow countrymen for the first time in decades.
Some forty years ago, I got my liver and gallbladder seriously damaged at a time due to excessive intake of alcohol and animal fat. The company doc at the Japanese subsidiary of the Big Blue warned me that my condition was extremely hard to handle because the liver required a diet high in protein while both organs needed low-fat food. Any dietary measure could be a double-edged sword.
Fortunately, though, I found this situation somehow manageable because
I had been an enthusiastic fish meat lover since my childhood.
Ever since I have been heavily depending on fish oil which is believed
to be rich in Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and relatively harmless cholesterol. And the only problem that has arisen recently is that financially I can barely afford the seafood-centric diet.
Now that my Doha crisis is over, am I feeling comfortable? Not yet.
These absurd initiatives brought up one after another by CITES, also known as
the Washington Convention, are always reminiscent of the self-deprecating
attitudes of the Japanese, which Westerners have tended to mistake for
the Oriental virtue of modesty.
Up until 50 to 60 years ago, the Japanese people weren't used to exchanging
gifts with Westerners. So they had to hypothesize that their traditional
way would apply when they gave something to their American friends or received
something from them.
In those days, and even today to a lesser degree, a Japanese gift-giver
never failed to say, "Let me present you something. I'm awfully sorry,
but this is real rubbish. So I'm afraid you won't like it." The moment his American friend grabbed the aesthetically packed gift, he carelessly tore off the wrapping to find out what was in it. This made the
Japanese feel more embarrassed, or even insulted. · read more (243 words)
Saturday, March 27 2010 @ 09:24 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
I have nothing against Paul Potts or Susan Boyle, but I think it's fair to point out that while they used YouTube as a steppingstone to success in the mainstream, there are a small number of people to whom the video-sharing website owned by Google Inc. is the last straw.
Even though they can't expect any more than 5-digit numbers of viewers, perhaps with the remarkable exception of Ron Paul, that is as far as they can go in this insane world dominated by swindlers in governments and media-favorite crisis mongers.
The following are some of the results of my recent video mining:
To be able to listen to these voices of reason, you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist. All it takes is commonsense. There's no need to invent an evil network of Jewish cabals.
· read more (217 words)
American Heritage Online defines a figurehead like this:
"A person given a position of nominal leadership but having no actual
On the other hand the first article of Chapter 1 of Japan's Constitution
defines the Emperor as follows:
"The Emperor shall be the Symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power."
When compared to this provision, the prewar Imperial Constitution was much
more straightforward because it almost explicitly declared that the Emperor
was a deity.
In fact, the only thing his subjects know for sure about the incumbent Emperor is that his father was stripped of his deity in 1945 by the American general. They
don't know, however, what has become of Emperor Hirohito (photo on the top) and his son after
the imperial decree dated January 1, 1946. The rescript was dubbed "Ningen Sengen" or Declaration of Humanity because in that document the former Divine
General of the former Imperial Japan, in effect, scratched his head and admitted he had never been a demigod.
The belated confession was interpreted to mean that it wasn't him that had to be held responsible for driving more than 3-million Japanese to death for the absurd cause of preserving the royal lineage which had allegedly lasted more than 25 centuries.
If there is any other thing his subjects are aware of, it's the fact that
he is not a man, either. For instance he and his immediate kin are not
registered in accordance with the legislation about family registration.
That means his family is an exempt from all the constitutional rights and
duties stipulated in Chapter 3.
Small wonder the Japanese head of state looks more like a zombie than what
the Westerners call a figurehead.
American Heritage gives several definitions to a zombie. Among them, the
following descriptions especially clicks:
■ A supernatural power or spell that according to Voodoo belief, can enter into and reanimate a corpse.
■ A corpse revived in this way.
■ One who looks or behaves like an automaton.
Yet, there's no denying that the Japanese people, whose parents and grandparents
had to sacrifice themselves for the unfathomable creature in the mid-20th
century, are not really comfortable with these definitions. That is all
the more true because they are still haunted by the stupid-looking son
of the demigod.
As if to solace their angst, some compassionate Americans have said: "Figureheads are everywhere. Even in our country, we have quite a few people doing nothing in their cushy positions." · read more (295 words)
You plan to visit Japan for the first time to discuss a sensitive issue there with a prospective business partner. You randomly pick one from among innumerable Japan experts to seek his advice. Your selection can't be wrong; anyone who claims to be well-versed in this country will tell you one and the same thing.
He warns you that it's key to effectively dealing
with the Japanese to distinguish tatemae from honne.
There is an English entry to Wikipedia that discusses this topic. The Wikipedian
defines these words as follows:
"Honne refers to a person's true feelings and desires. These may be contrary
to what is expected by society or what is required according to one's position
and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one's closest
friends. Tatemae, literally facade, is the behavior and opinions one displays in public.
Tatemae is what is expected by society and required according to one's position
and circumstances, and these may or may not match one's honne."
I have no idea about who the Wikipedian is. But I know it's these shallow minds that "promote" transcultural understanding in the wrong way. A Westerner who looks at this entry feels relieved to have his stereotypical view of the Japanese confirmed for the hundredth time. But actually he is looking at the mirror reflection of the liar that he actually is.
Actually, Japanese honne is almost 180-degrees different from Westerners'. Take the war-renouncing Constitution of Japan for example. · read more (484 words)