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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Sunday, November 23 2014 @ 10:39 AM CST
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[NEW YEAR's FEATURE] THINK, or Sink Like the Japanese


I was in business in this country from 1959 through 2005. In the first thirty years of my 46-year career, I learned a lot about business from management experts such as Peter F. Drucker and industrialists such as Frederick W. Taylor.

When I joined the Japanese subsidiary of Big Blue almost half-a-century ago, I was impressed to see the one-word signs that read "THINK" all over the workplace. I was told Thomas J. Watson, Sr., de facto founder of IBM, had made it the company credo.

For many years that ensued, America was, to me, a "thinking nation" more than anything else.

Today I still have great difficulty getting used to an America that does not think anymore. Its people "think" they are still thinking as their parents and grandparents did, but that is far from true. As has been the case with the Japanese, they now use their retrogressing brains only to find ways to economize on mental effort. As a result, they are processing information just on an ear-to-mouth basis. That's why they keep tweeting all the time these days.

On December 10, Bill Clinton visited Barack Hussein Obama at the White House to express his support for the tax cut compromise reached between the President and Congressional Republicans. When the former President emerged from the briefing room, he told reporters that the two men had had a "terrific meeting." At the end of his ad hoc speech, Clinton reportedly said:

"The United States has suffered a severe financial collapse. These things take longer to get over than normal recessions. We must first make sure we keep getting over it. We don't want to slip back down as Japan did."

Apparently, the American people think this was a clear manifestation of deep concern and firm resolve of the former and current Presidents about the problems facing the U.S.

But hold on a second.

From their empty, ill-defined and worn-out words, you can tell for sure that Clinton and Obama have never really thought, or will never really think about the root cause of the problems, let alone how to fix them. All they can do is to scratch the surface of these issues.

In his 1992 book titled The Bubble Economy, Christopher Wood, economic analyst at CLSA, wrote:

"America certainly suffers from an overdose of financial rot and empty buildings, [but not to the extent that Japan did in the 1980s.] America is an extraordinarily open society where the dirty linen is hung out for all to see [whereas] Japan is devilishly opaque."

Wood's observation about Japan was right because it is true its people have unrivaled skills to sweep unpleasant truths under the carpet. But he was wrong about America. Despite the widespread myth about its openness, America isn't a "brutally transparent" nation anymore. Its leader needs to have good insight to find the "dirty linen" hung out in the backyard.

On the same false assumption as Wood's, the American voters have constantly lowered the hurdle for presidential candidates to clear. That is why they have settled for one thinking-disabled President after another in the last two decades.

To put it bluntly, most Americans can't think today.

You may ask what exactly I mean by the 5-letter word.

Once again, let's take the Japanese bubble economy for example.

To borrow Wood's words, "Isaac Newton arrived in Japan in 1990." Ever since so many analysts and lay observers have talked about why, and how, the bubble burst as if there is such a thing as a bubble that never bursts. But not a single person, that I know of, has discussed why and how the bubble was formed in the first place.

The typical passenger view often has it that the burst was nothing but a spell of hiccups. That is why the Japanese have remained essentially unchanged all along. As anyone with a certain amount of commonsense can tell, it can't be true the people whose "diligence" and "innovativeness" made the postwar miracle possible and the people who look helplessly inept and purposeless today are two different species.

On the other hand professional analysts argue that the burst was one of those cyclic things just aggravated by some missteps by the monetary authorities. Wood argued in 1992 that as a result of the burst, Japan would have to change, as it did many times in the past, in order to "converge substantially with the West." He went on to say, "The country should emerge from its current distress a fully signed-up member of the international community, heart, head and maybe even soul."

But unfortunately for the CLSA chief strategist, that has not happened in the last 18 years simply because people's "heart, head and soul" are something you can't buy on the market.

Instead, Isaac Newton went across the Pacific Ocean in the fall of 2008.

When Clinton said he doesn't want to see his country slip back down like Japan did, with Obama standing alongside him, he didn't know what exactly he was talking about. The American people should not assume the thinking-disabled former President has learned lessons from Japan's failure any more than Obama has.

Actually you can track back Japan's misfortune well beyond the early-1980s. At least it dates back to 1945 when another brainless President thought he was paving the way for the reconstruction of Japan.

It's quite OK if Harry S. Truman intended to build an unviable nation here on the flattened archipelago because, then, the third vivisection next to the ones conducted in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was also a success. It's the world's most gullible Japanese who should take all the blame for the outcome of Truman's experiment. But what if Washington was well-intended? Then, it's a different story; now it's Americans' turn to suffer all the consequences of their leaders' inability to think.

I am not alone in seeing unmistakable signs that the entire nation of America is quickly getting Japanized in recent years. Presumably that is, at least in part, because of the obscene alliance between the two countries. In fact, it's very easy to become a white, black or brown Japanese; you just stop thinking. Then you start suffering just like the Japanese have in the last fifty years.

Yet, I don't know if the American people will wake up to show their resilience before it is too late. It now all hinges on their willingness to resume thinking, instead of just swallowing all the hogwash they hear from policymakers of both camps, or mainstream pundits and scholars covertly retained by them.

If you are ready to start your thinking-exercise right away, here's my tip:
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James Huffman is One of Those American Vultures Flocking around the Carcass of Japan


With Japan's "lost 20 years" being extended into another decade, the Japanese are dying for assurances and reassurances from America that their country is not really done yet. And that's where self-proclaimed Japan experts in the U.S. swoop down one after another like a flock of starved vultures.

It takes a firstrate chutzpah to rope people into believing Japan still shows vital signs without the help of a life-support system, but actually not a few American pundits and scholars have that impudence.

James L. Huffman, professor emeritus at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio (photo) is one of them. Like many others, the professor is ready to do whatever it takes to feed on the dead meat.

The Commentary page of the January 1 edition of the Daily Yomiuri features a breathtakingly ridiculous interview piece under the title of "Incompetent leaders no hindrance to progress." The caption summarizes the comments Huffman made in response to the phony questions raised by Cameron McLauchlan, DY staff writer, on behalf of Japanese suckers.

At the beginning, McLauchlan asked: "Japanese governments over the years have often been described as weak and leaderless. So where has the energy that developed Japan into a major power come from?" So the entire interview was conducted based on the false assumption that this country still remains a major power after all these lost 20 years.

They made believe Japan's international competitiveness has not fallen from No. 1 in 1990 to No. 27 in 2010, and that the accelerated exodus of top-notch scientists and engineers to China is an imaginary thing. This was only to allow the fraudulent professor to resort to his special skills in acrobatic logic to make absurd argumentation such as this:

"The Japanese people have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. They have always been highly innovative. That spirit may spring partly from the fact that government control has been lacking, or at least highly ineffective, in some periods."

But at the end of the interview, the interviewer and interviewee betrayed their transparent sophism. McLauchlan asked: "As a historian, what advice would you give to Japanese leaders today?"

Huffman should have answered, "As I said, the ineffectiveness on the part of the government fosters, rather than hinders, the innovativeness on the part of the people. In that sense, Naoto Kan is an ideal prime minister and needs no advice from me." Instead, however, the American historian had the nerve to say matter-of-factly that Kan should learn from the early-Meiji politicians such as Hirobumi Ito or Aritomo Yamagata who were driven by national prosperity and strength.

This indicates that the old Japan expert has lost touch with the subject country. Actually, Kan has learned too much from the early days of Japan's aspiration for a modern nation-state to learn how it ended up in failure in 1945.
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The Year of the Tiger in Retrospect


The tiger looks
unwilling to step
aside for the
rabbit

This is how I look back on the year 2010.

Just Awaiting My Turn

Time flies, indeed. Two years ago my health started to deteriorate dramatically. Initially I thought I had to take specific actions to prepare myself to say goodbye to all in a decent way. On second thought, however, I realized that it doesn't make any difference whether or not my I exit looks graceful. I just perish, and that's it.

Now my only problem is that the progress of the constant worsening of my incurable ailments is too slow to tolerate. As a result, I have grown impatient more than ever with things and people, especially when they waste my limited time.

Even when in business I was always irritated by my Japanese colleagues who were invariably dull-witted as fluorescent lamps. One day I blamed one of my direct reports for his goof, though in a roundabout way. The next morning, he showed up in my office and said, "Your criticism is something like a time bomb. It always hits me only when I go to bed. As usual it dawned on me that you had told me to change my way of doing things only before I fell asleep last night." It always takes time like this in this country.

The talking ATMs are also an irritant. Five years ago I told you how talkative ATMs were in this country. Today they still remain intolerably verbose. Especially the taped female voices always get on my nerves. When withdrawing a small amount of money from my bank account, I normally press the "English Conversation" button just because the voices of English speaking women are less syrupy. Yet, at the end of my transaction, we close our conversation like this:

Me: Yes, I'm 120% sure I have everything.
ATM: Are you sure you have everything? (Everything means the card I inserted in her, money I withdrew from her and the voucher for the transaction.)
Me: You're welcome in advance.
ATM: Thanks for using me. I hope you'll come back soon.

Hate to See Dat Evening Sun Go Down


In a way it's saddening to find myself barking at Americans throughout the year because it's their parents and grandparents who taught me always to play it straight and honest.

Perhaps it's another fallout from the further worsening of my health that I now view things unfolding on this side of heaven as if from the other side. I'm quite confident that I am unbiased when I say Japan is a dead nation and that America is also heading for ruin. Not that I haven't had to correct myself at times, but I'm not like those American pundits who have to correct themselves every second day.

In December 1948 Douglas MacArthur ordered the release of Nobusuke Kishi, one of the Class-A war criminals, from Tokyo's Sugamo Prison without giving any explanation for the pardon. Actually, the general and his boss in Washington intended to make Kishi pay for what he'd done in wartime with another unpardonable crime. The CIA employed him as its undercover agent who was to serve concurrently as Japan's Prime Minister. Just like the Shogun who was forced to swallow the unequal Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, Kishi signed the 1960 revision of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

Forty-nine years later, a small group of independent journalists filed a class action lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, complaining the entire security arrangement was unlawful. But judges flatly turned down the accusation while the media were determined to shut their mouths even about the mere fact that the litigation was underway. Across the Pacific, the American people were also playing dumb. Or perhaps, they were all dumb in fact.

They have blacklisted countries such as Iran and North Korea as rogue states. I am at a loss over where, then, to classify the United States. My vocabulary of pejorative is too poor to describe such a shameless nation and its people who have lost self-esteem completely.

Lara

This past Christmas Day I turned 75, but it's heartening to know that there still are some young ladies who think of me on the morning of December 25. Lara is one of them.

Over the yearend, she is staying in Los Angeles, accompanied by her husband and son, to attend a conference being held there. On my birthday, Lara sent me a mail in which she wrote: "The first thing that popped up in my mind when I woke up this morning was that it's your birthday today."

Lara and I share the same wavelength because both of us are stateless at heart. We are Japanese, but only technically. It's true that we are greatly divided over how far to stress the positive side of statelessness, but that doesn't affect our friendship at all because we value differences and take each other very seriously.

What fosters our mutual respect is the fact that we don't give a damn about geographical or ideological boundaries. I don't know, or don't want to know, what political platform she subscribes to. All I know is the fact that Lara has the sensitivity and compassion of Japanese women at their best combined with realistic attitude toward life particular to Chinese women.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


Throughout the year, the Japanese have remained stranded in the same insoluble dilemma between the firstrate idiots named Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan and the topnotch bandit named Ichiro Ozawa. One year ago I suggested in this blog that someone should take Ozawa's life, or I would have volunteered to kill the villain myself if I'd possessed a firearm.
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[FEATURE] An Assange-Proof Nation



Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner is one of those informative but worthless books you never want to read again. It would be a total waste of time to reread such a fraudulent book.

The very first leaf of the extraordinarily voluminous book is almost blank only with a brief quote printed in the center as if it were an insurmountable oracle. It reads:

There are no secrets that time does not reveal.
- Jean Racine, Britannicus (1669)

I don't think Weiner had read or saw the French play that is said to depict historical episodes about the Roman Empire. But that doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that he thought he could help "time" unearth the whole truths just by mining for the newest crop of declassified documents at the U.S. National Archives. After all, Weiner is just one of those stupid and arrogant American pundits who don't notice there is a fundamental flaw of logic involved in the line from the French drama - something even a kindergarten kid may detect.

The author should have known who have suffered the most the consequences of these crimes committed by the CIA in the last six decades. It's not Harry S. Truman who signed the National Security Act of 1947 on which the intelligence agency was founded, Dwight D. Eisenhower who thought intelligence was "a distasteful but vital necessity," or Tim Weiner who revealed dark secrets about what successive directors of the agency did only to win yet another award.

It's us non-American citizens who have really suffered. Certainly "the docile satellite of the United States," as Chalmers Johnson called Japan, is one of the most affected nations.

For one thing, we were told in the book, officially for the first time, that Nobusuke Kishi, Japan's Prime Minister (1957-60,) was an undercover agent of the CIA when he signed the revision of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

With their long-held doubt about the lawfulness of the treaty finally confirmed, a small group of independent journalists filed a class action lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in February last year. But it was a piece of cake for the judges to brush aside their complaint. This was yet another reminder that the judicial branch of the Japanese government is not an independent entity as the Constitution calls for, just like the government itself is a puppet of Washington.

More importantly, the poor plaintiffs woke up too late, as usual. Once missed, the right timing will never visit you once again.

The reason Weiner failed to make a bit of difference to the rotten relationship between the two countries is because he based his research work on a false assumption that the whole truth will come to the surface sooner or later as Racine may or may not have thought.

This brings me to Bertrand Russell, British philosopher and mathematician (1872-1970.) He was widely acknowledged as a dedicated anti-war activist, which is what he actually was after losing his unrivaled intellect. But very few know that Russell was also a realistic thinker when he was younger. In his book on education (I forgot its title) he wrote to this effect:

"People always say, 'A real talent should come into bloom on its own no matter what adversity is in its way.' But this is something like arguing there cannot be a perfect crime."

Before Weiner, we had already heard a lot of bullshit from "truth seekers" who found a lucrative business opportunity in the niche created by those mainstream ideologues and demagogues. It's these conspiracy theorists who first detoxified revelations of truth.

Now the mainstream media are rife with leaks of innumerable classified documents by WikiLeaks. Although similar whistleblowing sites are mushrooming on the web, the media don't really look upset. From their previous experiences, they know for sure that at the end of the day they can neutralize these whistleblowers, and even in the worst case, make their world's most gullible audiences dismiss the new herd of cyber-warriors as nerds or oddballs.

The only thing that explains all this ado about nothing is the fact that, as Russell exquisitely pointed out, there are perfect crimes, a lot of them.

A perfect crime does not necessarily have to be carried out in an artful way. Actually the words only refer to a crime whereof no victim notices he has been victimized, or a more cognizant victim is not vocal enough to be heard by many.

Needless to say, Japan's Emperors have perpetually committed unnoticed crimes in the last thirteen centuries. They have always succeeded despite the fact that the imperial lineage has been filled with mentally retarded bastards primarily because of repeated incestuous marriages. The only reason behind their success stories is because their subjects have been equally retarded.

In his 2006 book titled Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne, Australian writer Ben Hills revealed part of the dark secrets about Japan's imperial family. Unlike Legacy of Ashes, Princess Masako was instantly banned here simply because Hills' revelations were considered much more harmful.

Yet Japanese could have purchased a copy of Princess Masako through the likes of Amazon.com. By 2006, Japan's Internet Penetration Rate had already topped 80%. But as usual what I term the "Glass Firewall" which is far more unpenetrative than China's Great Firewall could keep the poisonous truths at bay.
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Monster at U.S. State Department Chasing after Its Fellow Monsters in Foreign Lands

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 and brains right so as to cultivate our personal life.
- Confucius




The mom of a
sonuvabitch in U.S.
State Department
Judging from your responses to my review piece on Chalmers Johnson's Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope, I have figured out that the time is not ripe yet to try to convince the American people that maintaining military bases all over the world is a "suicide option" as the late Johnson warned. Under the influence of patriotic idiots from both "conservative" and "liberal" camps of the nation, the American people are fully determined to brush aside any commonsense argument such as mine.

They stubbornly refuse to understand I'm not one of those empty-headed peaceniks like the moron in the White House. On the contrary, I think war is a great thing because more often than not it is filled with a promise of real change, while peace always stinks.

Why, then, do I disagree with these mainstream political analysts retained by the military-industrial complex of the U.S.?

Reason 1: For better or for worse, there will never be WWIII if the appellation should mean a nuclearized version of WWII as these crisis-mongers want us to envision it. 21st century's warfare is nothing like ones familiar to the lovers of spectacular films starring Bruce Willis.

Reason 2: More importantly, no one knows where to find the real enemy these days. Old hawks in America should know that not a single nation in history has waged a war against someone who held its IOUs worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

I must admit that by now the American people have grown too ignorant and arrogant to wake up before they run out of time. Yet, I hope that if there still remains some sanity in the corners of their minds, it will be a little easier for them to take my views of the nonmilitary part of America's interventionism a little more seriously.

In 1821 John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, said:

"America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy."

190 years later, in the twilight years of the American century, we have a serious problem with the Monster in the U.S. State Department crusading against her fellow monsters in foreign lands.

The former shyster believes she has the right to police people's way of life on every corner of the world. And now that the nation of Confucius has started to threaten America's primacy, her fanaticism is going over the top.

Worse, America's arrogance has spilled over across the Atlantic. Emboldened by Clinton and other busybodies in America, an increasing number of Europeans have now started telling Asians what to do, and how to do it. Examples:

■ In October the Norwegian Nobel Committee thought the Chinese government should release Liu Xiaobo from jail because he is the year's Peace Prize laureate. (Actually, things unfolded the other way around; Liu was awarded the prize because he had been imprisoned.)

■ In November Reporters with(out) Borders (RSF) further elevated the Japanese media to No. 11 position as if Japan's Glass Firewall, which poses a more serious impediment to press freedom than China's Great Firewall, had been torn down. On the other hand, the "press freedom watchdog" thought China should remain at the bottom of the ranking primarily because many dissidents are still behind bars.

In short Thorbjoern Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and Jean-Francois Julliard, Secretary General of RSF (I don't know how to create the French letter "C" with accent sedille on my computer) arrogantly thought the Western standards should apply everywhere in the world.

Yet, even these European bastards eclipse before the mom of a sonuvabitch in the U.S. Department of State.

When Colin Powell was Secretary of State, he signed the 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report, in which Japan was downgraded from "Tier 2" to "Tier 2 Watch List" on the ground that the country had imported too many sex slaves from its backyard countries. Then in 2005, Condi Rice moved up Japan back to the Tier 2 placement simply because then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, known for his perpetual abuse of women including his ex-wife and a geisha who committed suicide, had taken a legislative measure for import ban. Since the token measure was implemented, an increased number of Japanese men had to go abroad to buy sex.

Ever since I'd lost interest in the TIP Report until several days ago when I somehow started wondering how the annual report signed by the Monster was organized.

Out of curiosity I clicked the PDF file titled "TIP Report 2010" on State Department's website. I was overwhelmed by the unprecedentedly voluminous report; it took 10 minutes until my cheap computer finished downloading the 22MB, 373-page-long report.

Its content is essentially no different from the days Powell and Rice were in office but I see a distinctive fingerprint of the Monster in the monomaniac meticulosity with which the report was compiled.

Japan's placement remains unchanged at Tier 2. That indicates the Monster found the sexual behavior of Japanese men barely acceptable when compared to that of her adulterous husband.

If there is anything new in the latest edition of the report, the Monster had her men redefine the scope of the survey into the situation with modernday slavery in each country. For one thing, prostitution is now included in the list of "What is NOT Trafficking in Persons." Of course, that does not mean the Monster has ceded it to someone else as none of her babies. Presumably she gave it up to make her friend Angela Merkel happy. Germany where prostitution is flourishing is still among Tier-1 countries.

American taxpayers are funding the "discretionary" $55 billion/year operation with 25,000 direct employees on its payroll. If you take into account the fact that the State Department often rents out the USS George Washington from the Defense Department when the Monster's menacing look isn't effective enough, and that it habitually depends on CIA spies, you will find the stupidity of American taxpayers really appalling. Without doubt, they are heading for ruin.

Basically, it's none of my business, though. On this side of the Pacific, we are more concerned about intangible consequences from Washington's spending spree.
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Don't Tell Me Reporters "without" Borders Knows No Borders

The phrase "Fourth Estate" was coined by an 18th century's Irish statesman Edmund Burke but now it's commonly used to stress the independence of the media from the three branches of a government. Personally I'm inclined to include "independent" experts in sociopolitical issues in the fourth branch of the regime because they can't live a day without the favor from the media.

In reality, though, not a single mainstream media organization is independent of the other estates. That is why someone founded Reporters without Borders, or Reporters sans Frontieres in French, in Montpellier, France as a "press freedom watchdog" 25 years ago. The nonprofit organization, now based in Paris, never refers to itself as RWB presumably because a "W" can stand for "with" as well as "without." Instead, it uses the French abbreviation, RSF, even in an English publication.

I don't know, neither do I want to know, when RSF started releasing its annual press freedom ranking.

With these in mind, let's take a look at the following table:

Country Ranking
2004
Ranking
2008
Ranking
2010
No. of Countries/Regions on the List 167 173 178
Canada 18 13 21
China 162 167 171
France 19 35 44
Germany 11 20 11
Italy 39 44 49
Japan 42 29 11
Russia 140 141 140
United Kingdom 30 23 19
United States (American Territory) 22 36 20
United States (Extra-Territorial, incl. Iraq) 108 119 99


In recent years RSF had already discredited itself as an independent body by favoring some countries and disfavoring some others apparently under the influence of obsolete ideologies flavored with liberal bias. But if you look at the most recent standings for the G8-plus-1 countries shown on the extreme right column, you will know these self-styled guardians of press freedom now look really like hordes of cretins.

Just take Japan for example.

Earlier this week, an Italian journalist by the name of Silvio Piersanti gave me an e-mail from his newsroom at Il Venerdi (Friday) to ask a very valid question. He was wondering about the reason behind Japan's quick ascension in the RSF ranking. He needed that information because he was writing an article on the Japanese media.

My answer was that there was no reason, whatsoever, for the phenomenal rise. The notoriously exclusive Kisha Kurabu (press club) system is still there and we don't see any sign that it's going to disappear anytime soon. Reporters and editors in the "information cartel" are still doing a good job by ingeniously standardizing, sanitizing and homogenizing news stories as Laurie Anne Freeman exquisitely described in her marvelous book, Closing the Shop.

The most recent news reports have it that in the face of the free fall of his cabinet approval rating, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is now thinking about joining forces with the largest opposition LDP over the yearend. In disseminating their speculation about Kan's survival strategy, media obscurantists are trying to immunize their gullible audiences for the idea that when something like that materializes, we call it a Grand Coalition. But actually, that's not what it is; it's yet another reunification of the twin parties coming from the same egg.

It's not that Japan's media are particularly in love with Akikan (an Empty Can) as Kan is dubbed lately. But they certainly know the last bastion of the current polity named the 1955 System is this Kisha Kurabu where the Fourth Estate can have a clandestine affair with any one of the other estates.

The first name of the Italian journalist reminded me of Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon. I asked him if he thinks Italy will quickly overtake Japan on the RSF list when the other Silvio resigns as prime minister. In response, he wrote:

"I'm afraid that he won't resign. His ultimate dream is to end his political career as President of the Italian Republic after changing the constitution to give him more decisional power. (His model is his close friend Putin.) If he manages to survive the current crisis (we will know it on Dec. 14th's confidence vote in Parliament) we'll have to stand him for several more years, unfortunately. This coming Saturday, there will be a big march through Rome against Berlusconi. We expect about 2 million people taking part in it. (snip) [But] the real problem is that the majority of Italians like Berlusconi; his Byzantine style of life, his cynical shrewdness."
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[FEATURE] Which Country Will Collapse First - China, Japan or America?

It all started when I stumbled on this controversial book titled The Coming Collapse of China.

Until then I hadn't imagined that there could be an author specializing in the unscientific field called political "science" who, like management gurus such as Michael Hammer or Peter F. Drucker, wouldn't take it for granted that when the subject entity is big enough, it should be considered as a going concern.

As I wrote in those days, I didn't really care about the fate of China. Seven years later, I still remain that way because where the country is heading is basically none of my business. Recent rumors on the Web have it that Gordon Chang, the author of the book, has now revised his prophecy, saying the collapse will happen in ten years from now if not in 2011 as he originally predicted. My take on the rescheduling is: who knows, and who cares?

I still remember writing a long mail on March 1, 2003 to Mr. Chang. The subsequent exchange of views between us in more than 2,000 mails and one face-to-face talk at a sushi bar in Tokyo's Roppongi has helped me transform myself from a retired businessman into something else. As of now I am still unable to tell the name of the shore on which I was washed up.

Yet, I think I can give you some tips if you are a proponent or an opponent of any collapse theory.

There are two important questions you must ask yourself before discussing the probability of China's collapse, Japan's or America's.

Question 1:

"Am I planning to take specific steps to expedite or prevent it, or just forecasting about something I can't really internalize?"

As I wrote earlier this year, plans are one thing and forecasts are quite another. It is true that forecasting is an integral part of a plan, but if you remain uncommitted to your forecast, you can't call it a plan.

And if you are only betting on a horse, instead of jockeying yourself, you should know the fate of a nation has nothing in common with the result of the horse racing.

The same applies if you are a weatherman. You've got to be an idiot to claim you can foretell the weather of the day one year from now because you are equipped with state-of-the-art supercomputers hooked up to meteorological satellites.

You may still insist that you are committed to something or someone. But hold on a second.

The single most important thing to understand is that you can never commit yourself to faceless people or those living thousands miles away from your hometown. All you can actually do is to tweet, like a little birdie, about the doomed future of China, or the endless supremacy of America, for that matter.

Question 2:

"How do I define the word 'collapse'? Does one of those regime changes deserve to be called a collapse?"

Another way to ask about the same thing is: "Would I readily declare a brain-dead person dead?" If you wouldn't, you should drop all your argument for or against the collapse theory at hand.

In this "globalized" world where state-of-the-art life-support systems are available everywhere at affordable prices, it's highly improbable for any nation-state but tiny banana republics to literally fall apart.

With these questions always in mind, I started writing a book which I would have titled The Unviable Japan two and a half years ago. In retrospect, I suspect the American literary agent might not have pissed me off the way she did if I had thought about titling it The Coming Collapse of Japan; she wouldn't have been upset so much because then I was just forecasting Japan's future while remaining uncommitted to anything.
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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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