An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Friday, July 25 2014 @ 03:57 AM CDT
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No Thanks for the "Least Unhappy Society"

We devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.
- from "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" by John Maynard Keynes

Keynes used a beauty
contest analogy when
he described the
mechanism to determine
stock prices

I am not going to get really used to this sense of alienation.

Now I see a growing number of my kin and local friends on the other side of the chasm lying before me.

Also I see there some American names and faces which were on this side before Obama's way of thinking (or not thinking, to be more precise) swept them away.

On Sunday I spent the whole afternoon at my elder son's place. He is a very caring person. From time to time I have to count on him to do physical tasks this Parkinson's sufferer can't do himself, such as cleansing the filters of the air conditioner.
Sometimes I even ask him for a small subsidy. But I find some consolation in the fact that if money should matter in life at all, he still owes me much more than I owe him.

He is a typical people person. Perhaps he doesn't have his own set of values. Even if he has one, he buries it deep inside so he can get along very well with everyone surrounding him. To borrow Keynesian words, he always follows "the average opinion."

It is true that I can attribute his group orientation and propensity toward mediocrity to the education he received from my ex, former in-laws and teachers in his early childhood.

On the one hand, the guiding principle for Japanese educators is something similar to the No Child Left Behind policy in the U.S. But on the other, also at work there is a Japan-particular way of thinking that any child who sticks out of the standard should be mercilessly hammered down.

At the end of the day, I must admit that it's me who was really at fault for what my sons have grown into. Simply put, I shouldn't have fathered them in this country in the first place.

Over time I've had to learn how to avoid futile disputes with him. The most important thing is not to discuss politics or any other serious issues. Whenever it's unavoidable to touch on a serious topic, I always make believe I'm just cracking a joke.

I do know he is opposed to the policy lines of the two major political parties and that his take on the Japanese way of life as a whole is not miles apart from his dad's. But that does not help because in our heart of hearts, we are divided over fundamental values. He is on the other side, too. By now I've chosen to remain just his friend.

Recently he is trying to talk me into moving to the apartment he plans to purchase to live with him, his CRPS-suffering wife and mother, i.e. my ex. (CRPS stands for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.) He says he would never interfere with my life. Yet I find his terms and conditions unacceptable because I know by experience that his Laissez-Faire policy is a trick, if a well-intended one. I would certainly lose more than I would gain if I complied.

Not that he would win. Any proposition is doomed to end up in a lose-lose deal in a society where everyone has lost his innate spontaneity and attitude of self-reliance.

All these people do is what they are supposed to do.

In those turbulent years on the eve of the revision of the U.S.-Japanese security treaty, I majored in economics in Keio University. More often than not I skipped classes because they were intolerably boring.

Like anywhere else, lectures Keio professors could deliver were empty theories they had borrowed or stolen from John Maynard Keynes or Karl Marx. In fact, though, Japan has never been a capitalist or socialist state.

By the same token, this country has never been a welfare state in the sense the postwar U.K. was under the Labour administration.

Japan has remained Japan all the time.

The only lecture that impressed me was one about Adam Smith I was listening to in my sophomore year. His theory said that only the Invisible Hand ensures a world where prevails what German philosopher Gottfried Leipniz termed the "preestablished harmony".

On the contrary I have never been really convinced by the Keynesian theory which the British economist thought was the only workable prescription for the problems facing the post-Great Depression world.
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Japan Trivia 9: 禊 (Misogi)

In Japan it's so easy to get purified.

If you draw the Old Maid, however, you get penalized for what you are not really responsible for. But don't worry too much because Japan is a civilized country - so they say. From time to time, you have to perform a harakiri ritual, but a symbolic disembowelment will suffice these days.

They call the whole process of ablution 禊 (misogi) or お祓い (oharai.) Although these words have their origin in Shinto terminology, they still remain everyday words because this is an essential part of Japanese life. Even when a construction company builds a modern high-rise building, the centerpiece of the groundbreaking ceremony (photo) is purification of the site conducted by a 神主 (kannushi or Shinto priest) or two.
In Act 5 of the political kabuki, Naoto Kan takes center stage as the new prime minister.

His past misdemeanors included a case in which it was revealed that he had neglected his duty to pay pension premiums. In 2004, he had to step down as head of the Democratic Party of Japan as a fallout of this "scandal." Then he took a long pilgrimage (photo) to cleanse himself.

Now fully purified, he came back as the DPJ chief and Japan's prime minister.

When it comes to Kan's predecessor Yukio Hatoyama and his de facto boss Ichiro Ozawa, hordes of kannushi in the media are saying in concert that they are quite OK now because they have already gone through their part of ablution ritual by symbolically stabbing each other to (feigned) death.

The only thing the mainstream media were concerned about was how Kan could distance himself from Ozawa who is still on parole, so to speak. But the sticking point quickly dissolved when Kan said, as he was supposed to say: "Despite everything we owe him, I will ask him to sit out and keep quiet for a while."

For a while means until the dust settles.

Along these lines they are now saying --

Let's forget about all the money Ozawa has stolen from taxpayers because it's all over now.

Let the thief retain his latent power as the Shadow Shogun because otherwise the most powerful Ozawa faction might spin off from the party.

Let's put the lid on Pandora's Box carelessly opened by Hatoyama to seal off what the Okinawans and some other Japanese glimpsed inside.
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Japan Trivia 8: Harakiri Ritual

腹切り, or harakiri, literally meaning belly cutting, must be familiar to you if you have seen 歌舞伎, or kabuki, Japan's overly stylized, intolerably boring dramatic show from the early 17th century. Sometimes Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly can be substituted if you think you can claim to be an expert in the Japanese "culture." only by scratching its surface.

In fact, though, Westerners, especially Americans, have never really understood that harakiri is not just suicide by disembowelment. Actually it's more of a ritual - one very unique to Japan. You can see nothing like this anywhere else in the world.

In the 1960s in Vietnam, not a few Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. A couple of years ago some Tibetan monks did the same thing. Even to shallow-minded Americans, these "barbecue shows" were not really unfathomable because these monks immolated themselves in protest against the brutal aggressors from America and China. The same can be said, perhaps to a lesser degree, of suicide bombers from Islamic countries.

On the other hand Japanese people never kill themselves to protest against anything. Neither do they cut their bellies in the depths of despair. Maybe Yukio Mishima, the rightwing nut still touted as the most important literary figure in postwar Japan, is a rare exception in that respect.

In November 1970, the homosexual writer stormed the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan's Self-Defense Forces accompanied by four members of his private army named Tate-no Kai. They barricaded the office of the commandant and tied the officer to his chair.

Then Mishima, together with his catamites, stepped onto the balcony to address the real soldiers gathered below. After his attempt to incite a coup d'etat failed, he returned to the commander's office to perform a harakiri ritual. There he eviscerated himself and ultimately died when one of his men did the preplanned task of 介錯, kaishaku or suicide assistance, by beheading the commander of Tate-no Kai with a samurai sword.

It's unlikely that a similar thing happens again in part because the Japanese people have no guts to remove anymore. But more important, the idea of protesting against something by committing suicide is quite foreign to the Japanese tradition.

Time and again I have called Japan a culture of apology. Not just that these people are excessively apologetic. More often than not their apology is worded like this: "I'm awfully sorry for everything I did. But actually I didn't do anything wrong. Just the same I apologize because that's what I'm supposed to do."

By the same token the Japanese commit suicide, if only symbolically, to punish themselves. It doesn't matter whether or not they are actually at fault when something goes wrong. The only thing they have in mind when performing the ritual is to save the defective organizations they belong in by putting all the blame on themselves.

Just remember that in 1945 it never occurred to them to punish the Emperor. They punished themselves, instead, as if 3 million lives sacrificed for Hirohito had not been enough.

That is exactly what Yukio Hatoyama intended to do on Wednesday. In his supposedly touching farewell address, the outgoing prime minister effectively said that he was willing to take responsibility for what he had not done wrong, or not at all.

It's for this very reason that Japan has had six prime ministers since the turn of the century. By the end of their terms, they almost invariably developed a sense of guilt over something that anyone else couldn't have handled in the right way, either.

Needless to say, Hatotama's guilty conscience stemmed from the fact that he had casually opened Pandora's Box from which cropped up the gut issue with the U.S.-Japanese security treaty. He was just too careless, or too bold.

As recently as nine months ago, the media hailed him as a change agent citing his approval rating that topped 70% at that time. But now they have started calling him a loopy policymaker, just as he actually is from the beginning, quickly lowering the approval rating below 20%. As usual, they don't feel obliged to apologize for misleading their audiences once again.

If Douglas MacArthur and Harry S. Truman had brought in here a presidential system in which the leader is elected directly by voters, that wouldn't have made any difference to this climate.

U.S. president and his counterparts in the G8 nations other than Japan are now complaining they have difficulty memorizing the name of the incumbent prime minister of Japan.
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Sooner or Later Someone Had to Open It

Mizuho Fukushima,
head of Social
Democratic Party
Apparently it's Obama who first opened Pandora's Box. On its lid I see a fingerprint that looks like his.

Thus far so many unmanageable things have been unleashed from the Box, such as the immense buildup of nuclear arsenals in the five-plus-four Nuclear Weapon States (NWS), unstoppable proliferation stemming from the utter hypocrisy inherent in the NPT, and yet another quagmire in Afghanistan.

Obama has been digging out these problems, one by one, in an arbitrary sequence and haphazard way. It looks as though we can't expect the guy to understand they are inseparable from each other.

These things you find inside the Box are so entwined that you can't disentangle them unless you address the whole issues at a time using a comprehensive and systematic approach. That is something the cherry-picking president will never think about doing.

For one thing the chemical weapons possessed by North Korea and many other countries still remain to be dredged up from the bottom of the Box presumably because Obama thinks the issue is too sticky to be listed as his pet subject.

This way he is doomed to fail to identify, let alone solve, a single issue.

Or, perhaps, the U.S. president, himself, is just one of those unpleasant things that came out of the Box opened by someone else.

Yukio Hatoyama, famously dubbed the loopy prime minister of Japan, did not hesitate to follow suit although the two leaders are quite different personalities.

Hatoyama's maternal grandfather was the founder of Bridgestone Tyre Company. At the age of 63 he is still receiving from his mother a monthly "child allowance," as they call it, of 15 million yen, or $170K, free of tax at least until the recent revelation of the fact. When compared to the scion of the Bridgestone founder, Obama is a pariah who even has difficulty establishing his identity in an honest way.

And yet both men have one thing in common; they have the guts to open up Pandora's Box without caring too much about the consequences. It only takes first-rate arrogance and ignorance like Obama's to think about lifting the lid of the black box so casually.

On the other hand, Hatoyama can't do this without shedding tears over the series of nightmares from the past because he is not so arrogant as the U.S. president. But that doesn't really matter; he is ignorant enough to think his predecessors, including his paternal grandfather Ichiro Hatoyama, have done basically the right thing.

Actually, as recently as early this month, the Japanese people were taken aback when Hatoyama admitted that he had promised the Okinawans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' "helicopter" unit to somewhere outside of the prefecture simply because he was completely in the dark at that time about why it should remain deployed there. He added that as he looked into the subject of deterrence, it dawned on him in hindsight that it should stay there in Okinawa.

In fact, though, defense experts keep saying in concert that the prime minister still remains a geopolitical novice. Retired admiral Timothy J. Keating, for one, has told Japanese reporters that Marines don't necessarily have to be stationed in Japan from a purely military point of view.

In August Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan won the snap election on the campaign pledge it had borrowed from the Democratic Party of America. Hatoyama said he would play the role of a change agent as if he hadn't known the Japanese people are totally change-disabled.

After the fuss over relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, and many other ill-defined issues in the last eight months, the prime minister announced last evening, in between his signature apologies to everyone, that earlier in the day Tokyo and Washington had reached an agreement that was supposed to supersede the 2006 accord on the relocation plan.

He had to do that before the weekend simply because the defense budget deliberations in the U.S. Congress are scheduled to start in early June.

At the last minute, he looped back, like a boomerang, to a plan that is almost identical to that of the 2006 accord only after further entangling the problems with the U.S.-Japanese "strategic alliance."

Although Hatoyama could meet the deadline, he had a lot of reasons to sound apologetic.

As he almost admitted himself at the press conference following his announcement, the "new" plan would now be utterly unworkable in the wake of the recent upsurge of anti-American sentiments in Okinawa.

For one thing all these structures, including the V-shaped runways, need a Governor's permit which he says he would never give to the Hatoyama government.

Yet you can tell for sure that in his telecon with Obama earlier in the day, Hatoyama boldly said, "Trust me," for the third time.

It's small wonder the only sane person in his cabinet, Mizuho Fukushima from the Social Democratic Party, flatly refused to sign the cabinet resolution. Reportedly a tearful Hatoyama reluctantly gave her a pink slip.
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Work Hard on the Whodunit with a Fresh Eye; It's the Only Effective Way to Prevent Senile/Juvenile Dementia

Left: This picture illustrates what happened in the Yellow Sea in March 2010
Right: Reichstag fire in February 1933

I have never been a conspiracy theorist myself.

Yet, I share with these "truth-seekers" the same skepticism about official announcements and reports. This is why I feel much more kinship with them than I do with mainstream "social scientists" and "analysts." I have practically nothing in common with these guys who take everything for granted wherever the pieces of information at hand came from an authoritative source and can serve their ideological purposes.

They always shrug off my heresies presumably because I am a nobody. That's quite OK with me, but don't take me wrong; I am not deprecating myself. On the contrary I'm so proud of my nobodyness. That I remain uninstitutionalized means I have absolutely nothing to lose, let alone gain, whether or not my theories prove wrong at the end of the day. Nothing prohibits me from telling what I believe is true.

Actually these mainstreamers have good reason to brush aside my thoughts. They say the premises on which I base my seemingly far-fetched arguments are unsubstantiated.

But I think anyone, heretic or not, has the right to talk about his take on an issue without full knowledge of the facts concerning it. It's unrealistic to expect him to fully substantiate his hypotheses before expressing his opinion - unless he is a CIA agent, that is.

I know that most of the time I can substitute my commonsense or business sense for proven facts.

Another thing mainstream analysts should keep in mind is that their orthodox arguments, too, remain unsubstantiated all the time.

By comparison, the predominantly Japanese members of a local discussion group I participate in take me a little more seriously. And yet, I'm often inclined to play devil's advocate in our weekly session because otherwise no one would wake up. To that end I often emulate conspiracy theorists who shed light on the unfamiliar side of things - because who said it's the reverse side?

For that reason, most group members frown at this argumentative old man all the time.

They are too brainwashed to question widely accepted premises that war should be avoided at any cost, job security should always be ensured, the higher the population growth rate, the better off the nation, American marines are deployed here to defend the Japanese at the cost of their own lives, and so on.

Every time I ask them what's wrong with war, what's wrong with unemployment, or what's wrong with the shrinking and aging population, they are at a loss over what I am getting at. They quizzically look at me as if I'm saying, "The sun rises in the west."

These are basically why I always side with heretics and throw provocative words at "ordinary" people.

But this is not to say there isn't an unbridgeable chasm between conspiracy theorists and me.

Actually I have always distanced myself from truth-seekers despite the sense of affinity I feel toward them. I have never wanted to join in the lucrative conspiracy-mongering business.

In fact, their business is really prospering these days with millions of cultist-like dupes flocking around them. Today, if you make a Yahoo! search using [9-11 conspiracy] as keywords, you will see more than 95 million URLs coming up. Ironically enough, this is something that discredits self-proclaimed truth-seekers.

It's a shame, for my part, that according to the statistics page of my Geeklog, the 10 most viewed posts include 3 stories dealing with Benjamin Fulford, prominent C-theorist based in Tokyo. Even among my 63 YouTube videos, the top 3 videos have his name in their titles.

They may still refuse to accept a proposition just because "everyone says so," but now they side with a huge crowd of gullible people who instantly bite at anything from a conspiracy theorist just because "he says so."

Actually I haven't been in touch with Fulford since November 2007.

In the meantime I think his list of malicious schemes plotted by the likes of the Jewish cabal headed by David Rockefeller has grown longer very quickly.

He started off his conspiracy revealing business with 9-11, which he theorizes was a hoax, and computer viruses which he believes are created and spread all over the world by anti-virus software vendors such as McAfee. But now he is talking about many other things including the earthquakes in Niigata (July 2007) and Sichuan (May 2008.) According to Fulford, these calamities were artificially caused by the cutting edge technology called HAARP. (HAARP stands for High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.)

Mine has also been growing longer. It started with the "selective genocide" abetted by Ruth Benedict, the 1955 System artfully designed by Dwight Eisenhower and CIA, and the revision of the U.S.-Japanese security treaty signed between Eisenhower and his henchman Nobusuke Kishi.

Recent additions include the Moscow subway bombings (March 2010) which I think may have been instigated by former KGB spy Vladimir Putin, and the sharp plunge in stock markets (May 2010) which I suspect was possibly caused by something else than an erroneous transaction by a "fat-fingered" trader from the Citigroup. And there is the "global warming swindle".

But among other things, I find the March 26 sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan most intriguing. It seems to me that other possibilities than what the May 20 investigative report has indicated cannot be totally ruled out.

On Sunday Japan's prime minister Yukio Hatoyama made his second trip to Okinawa. Japan's last colony.
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The Road to Ruin

Luca Pacioli (photo) was an Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar.

In 1494. just two years after Columbus discovered the continent that has now reduced to a land for second-class nations such as the U.S., he wrote a book titled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion.)

The book consists of five sections. One of them was intended to systematically describe the book-keeping method which had been practiced by merchants in Venice during the Renaissance period.

Actually I haven't read Summa in my life. Neither have I read any accounting primer based on Pacioli's theory. Instead I taught myself on the job about these boring and tricky debits and credits just because I wanted to understand what was really going on underneath the surface of business and my personal life. It has never crossed my mind to become a CPA.

Nevertheless, I have learned from Pacioli's double-entry accounting method one important thing I could never have learned anywhere else. It can be summarized like this:

Everything that happens to me, or I make happen, involves, without exception, two or more distinctively different aspects in it, which are, at the same time, totally inseparable from each other.

People of all occupations, even including professional accountants, always single out one facet at a time as it serves their purposes. If they want to make a thing at hand look good, they opportunistically shed light on the good aspect and try to pass it off as the fact, so they can label me a negativist. When they want to make the matter look bad, they selectively focus on the bad aspect and call me a daydreamer.

I've had enough from this false factualism in my lifetime. By now I've grown sick and tired of ideological notions disguised as facts.

Six days ago I browsed through the web looking for demographic and economic data for the top three economies to write Forget about Other Olympics. At that time I also took a look at such figures as the population, GDP, per-capita GDP, Gini Coefficient and sovereign debt for Hellenic Republic, better known as Greece, in part because the modern Olympics have its origin in that country.

Below here I summarize the results:

GDP in Billion $ Public Debt in Billion $ Public Debt in % of GDP Rank Remarks
Greece 338.3 365.7 108.1 9
U.S. 14,430.0 7,633.5 52.9 54 See Note 1
China 4,814.0 876.1 18.2 103
Japan 5,108.0 9,812.5 192.1 2 See Note 2
Source CIA Report for 2009 Inverse Calculation CIA Report for 2009 ditto

Note 1: According to the most recent estimate, it's a matter of time that U.S. public debt tops $10 trillion.
Note 2: Japan ranks No. 2 only next to Zimbabwe.

For the U.S., China and Japan, I concluded that a comparative look at these figures doesn't tell anything, unambiguously, about the problems facing them, let alone their fates.

Even if I had been able to find reliable data for the accumulated shortfalls in these countries, that wouldn't have made the total picture any clearer except that when taking into account astronomical deficits which still keep ballooning in the U.S. and Japan, the situation would have looked even closer to catastrophe than the above figures indicate.

As to the Greece Crisis, analysts, pundits and many others are saying it has been more or less contained with the rescue funds offered by the EU and the IMF although they admit additional measures are needed to prepare themselves for another wave of crises possibly triggered when other member countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy become insolvent.

But the fact of the matter remains that these bailout funds and newly-planned Euro-defending mechanisms are actually aggravating, rather than easing, the situation.
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Forget about Other Olympics

Ordinary - not too smart, not too dumb - people don't give a damn. The only Olympics they are interested in are the athletic events the IOC stages every leap year.

On the contrary, social scientists and analysts can't wait until the next time they can wave the national flags and sing the national anthems in euphoria. That is why they are so anxious to be updated on the standings of their respective countries on a yearly basis.
Now it looks as though they think analyzing quantifiable aspects of life is what social sciences are all about. Their obsession with what I call the Demographic Olympics and the Economic Olympics can only be explained by their inability to drill down on the root problems facing each contestant.

Yesterday I unenthusiastically spent the whole afternoon to compile the following tables of standings for some popular games.

Exhibit 1: Population

Contestant Total Population in Mil. Rank
Gold: China See Below
Silver: India 1,181 2
Bronze: U.S. See Below
U.S. 309 3
China 1,339 1
Japan 127 10

Exhibit 2: Population Density

Contestant Total Population in K Area in Sq Mi Population per Sq Mi Rank
Gold: Macau 542 11 48,110 1
Silver: Monaco 33 1 43,375 2
Bronze: Singapore 4,988 274 18,190 3
U.S. 309,212 3,794.101 81 ca 172
China 1,338,613 3,704,427 361 ca 74
Japan 127,380 145,925 873 ca 32

Exhibit 3: GDP (Nominal)

Contestant GDP in Billion $ Rank
Gold: U.S. See Below
Silver: Japan See Below
Bronze: China See Below
U.S. 14,256 1
China 4,909 3
Japan 5,068 2

Exhibit 4: GDP per capita

Contestant GDP in Billion $ Total Population in Mil. GDP per capita in $ Rank
Gold: Luxembourg 52 1 103,018 1
Silver: Norway 383 5 78,832 2
Bronze: Qatar 84 1 64,102 3
U.S. 14,256 309 46,104 11
China 4,909 1,339 3,667 ca 98
Japan 5,068 127 39,786 ca 17

The Japanese, and Japan experts in foreign countries as well, have been saying that the nation is losing its vigor as a result of the shrinking and aging of population. But as I have repeatedly said, losing vigor is not the result, but the cause. They constantly turn the causal relationship upside down simply because they are totally at a loss over where to find the cause. · read more (667 words)
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The Man of Preface

When I was with that Swiss company named Siber Hegner, I was known as the Man of Preface because every time I addressed the predominantly Japanese and Swiss audience, the introductory section of my speech was by far longer than the main part. For the same reason, my e-mails tended to be something they likened to ふんどし (Fundoshi or Japanese loincloth.)

For that reason, I was extremely unpopular, hated, or even feared among my bosses, subordinates and peers.

In Japan, or any other country to a lesser degree, there are so many red herrings being dragged around to distract attention from the real issues. They include:

■ how to realize a nuke-free world,
■ how to counter the global warming,
■ how to stem the shrinking and aging of population,
■ how to attain a vice-free world,
■ how to create jobs to bring down unemployment rates,
■ how to redress income disparities at home, and between developed countries and underdeveloped countries,
■ whether to part ways with the "modern 2-party system" to go for a postmodern tripolar system,
■ whether to amend the Constitution,
■ where to identify wasteful spending and which 独立行政法人 (Dokuritsu Gyosei Hojin - Independent Administrative Entities) to eliminate to that end,
■ where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey unit.

The list of decoy issues, or nonissues, goes on and on until the end of time.

The only question they would never think about asking is:

"How practicably can we make justice prevail?"

I think there are two reasons why red herrings keep proliferating all the time:

■ without the lure of the scent from these fish, even the rhinitis-suffering bloodhounds could easily track down the foxes, e.g. the Emperor,
■ no politicians, pundits, analysts, journalists, or scholars could live a single day without them; they would be out of work altogether.
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Japan Trivia 7: Vice-ful Japanese are Further Ratcheting up Their Quest for a Vice-free Nation

Left: Sourced from the stats compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry
Right: Sourced from the recent Population Survey Report

While in business I often asked an unusual question of applicants for key positions in my shop or prospective business partners for important projects. In a by-the-way tone I asked them, "What's your vice?"

Totally unprepared, some invented impromptu mischievous things they might have actually done when they were naughty kids; some others just shrugged off my question with a grimace or wry grin. But any runaround served my purposes because I didn't expect them to confess to a felony at a job interview.

I just wanted to weed out two types of candidates: perfectionists on one hand, and those who would easily settle for mediocrity on the other. To me the single most important thing in business was to clearly identify pros and cons involved in the courses of action we had in mind and find out which one would give us the best tradeoff.

I still think my tactic would have worked out had it not been for the fact that very few candidates met my screening criteria.

If they had been honest about their vices, I would have felt obliged to tell them mine - that I was (and still remain) a nicotine addict, an excessively amorous person by Japanese standard, and so on. One of my close friends recently diagnosed me as suffering "polyamory." To set the record straight, however, that is not exactly the case with me.

Even today I often ask the same question of new acquaintances in order to avoid wasting my limited time mixing with morons who don't know there is no such thing as a free lunch, or an endeavor free of risks and costs.

Last July Hiroshi Nakada hastily resigned as Yokohama mayor seven months before the expiration of his term to climb the bandwagon of "realignment" going on at the level of national politics. The reason he couldn't wait until April is obvious; he feared the innumerable crimes he had committed while in office would otherwise come to the surface to thwart his undeserved aspiration.
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Chinese philosopher Mencius (372-289 BCE)

Very few Japanese adults are self-reliant. Most of them have developed the typically Japanese behavioral pattern of constantly wetnursing each other since their childhood. As a result they have also lost their innate spontaneity. They act only in response to external stimuli.

In that sense, the person I'm talking about here is a real exception. I will call him by a pseudonym "Shohei."
In 2007 I launched a family website, perhaps the first of its kind here, which initially consisted of three parts: Family Reunion pages, Memorial Service section and Cyber Museum to commemorate my late father who was a prominent scientist. The first two have already been closed because my siblings, sons and in-laws did not understand what I intended to have these sites for. But the Museum is still there.

Since the onset, I've had great difficulty gathering documents, reports, photos and 35mm film footages concerning my father's accomplishments. It's this youngish guy that volunteered to help me out.

At libraries and museums, the dedicated person has been trying very hard to dig out these valuable materials to help beef up the exhibits on my site. Sometimes these materials were buried deep underneath other items piled up in the basements of these museums, and totally unattended as if they were trash.

I encountered Shohei on the Cyber Museum. He is in his mid-30s. Since graduating from university where he majored in photographic art, he has been working at a small shop dealing in traditional cameras.

So aeronautics is very foreign to his educational and occupational background. He says he is still not really interested in aircraft as such. According to him, the only thing that has made him deeply engaged in what he is doing, after work, is personal relations he has developed with his customers.

His clientele are predominantly elderly people except for a handful of professional photographers. And among these old people there are not a few retired aeronautical engineers. I don't know why, but traditionally those who specialize in aeronautics tend to become hooked on cameras. (My father, too, treasured his Leica in his lifetime.)

This is how Shohei has become personally involved in the preservation of Japan's history of aviation. Some of these retired engineers have already passed away, but those who are still living the last days of their lives keep telling him the stories about their unfulfilled dreams every time they drop in the camera shop. They also provided him with materials he had been looking for, to no avail, at libraries and museums.

Shohei summarizes his part of the story this way: "It is a series of coincidences that has made me do what I'm doing right now. I take it as my destiny."

Actually he doesn't look like one who believes in fatalism. So I was still wondering how come this guy keeps looking for these materials so enthusiastically, expecting no rewards.

A couple of weeks ago, he sent me a CD that contained an e-book he wrote by MS Word. Properties Dialog Box says these files are as voluminous as 25 MB altogether, including spaces and JPG files inserted here and there. (A Japanese character takes up 2 bytes.)

Again, he says he has no intention to make it a "real" book bearing an ISBN in expectation of royalty income. At any rate, he knows that given this climate where there is no tradition to hand down intellectual legacies to posterity, it wouldn't sell.
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