An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Tuesday, December 01 2015 @ 05:54 AM EST
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Americans May Soon Find Abstract Thinking Useful

From left: John Dewey, Betty Friedan, Ron Paul

Each era has its own way of thinking. In history a new way of thinking has always started with abstraction of things because almost by definition a new era cannot be a mere extension of the old one. If you just "reset" the past without conceptualizing it, as the U.S. President habitually does, you are doomed to see history repeat itself.

The beginning of the American Century roughly coincides with the emergence of the philosophical movements generically called pragmatism.

According to my American Heritage Dictionary the word is defined like this:

Philosophy. The theory, developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James, that the meaning of a proposition or course of action lies in its observable consequences, and that the sum of these consequences constitutes its meaning.

Simply put, usefulness is the value. This was a very straightforward manifestation of the American way of thinking. We used to admire the American people for this directness - but not anymore. Where can we find it in Obama's fake socialism?

The first book written by John Dewey, one of the founders of pragmatism, was published in 1903 under the title of Studies in Logical Theory. It is said that Dewey authored 40 books in his lifetime, but after him, not a single American to date has thought it necessary to update, let alone overhaul his thoughts or other pragmatists'. This intellectual laziness has taken a serious toll on the cultural and political climate of the United States. As a result pragmatism has now been reduced to a mere representation of ignorance and arrogance.

I have nothing against their obsession with usefulness. Yet I don't want to agree to their way of thinking until I ask them an important question: "Usefulness is quite OK, but useful for whom and what purposes?" In the past the Americans could readily find a convincing answer. But these days, most of them make believe they don't hear me. If I insist that my question should be answered, all they can say is: "Who knows? Who cares? We are too busy to toy with philosophy. It's totally irrelevant to real life".

The vulgar answer simply indicates that pragmatism itself has long outlived its usefulness in America. Although it remains to be seen what kind of philosophy will supplant pragmatism, it's high time for the Americans to demonstrate their ability in abstract thinking. If they don't wake up to the fact, say, by 2016, that only through abstraction can they come up with a new set of values most everyone can share, they will certainly see the final curtain fall on the American Century, and we non-Americans will scornfully say that these guys with defective brains really deserved their demise.
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Getting Back to the Basics of Things

From left: 1st and 2nd Emperors together, CIA agent disguised as Japan's prime minister, proxy war fought in front of the Diet building, anti-U.S. Socialist Party head stabbed to death

Mr. Yoshiro Takeuchi is a Japanese philosopher - the only one who thinks as far as I know. To be sure, he is not one of those pundits who peddle words to make their living. Small wonder his name means nothing to most Japanese.

He has fought for his cause throughout his scholastic career. Even today nothing seems to make him back down.

He is 85 now.

We have met once before. That was half-a-century ago, perhaps in 1958. He was an up-and-coming professor of philosophy at Kokugakuin University. I was a junior, or senior, at the school of economics of Keio University.

In those days I was wavering over which way to go after completing the undergraduate course. I had two options before me. As a politician or journalist I might be able to make a difference to the country more directly than in business. But I also thought the longest way about might be the shortest way home.

Either way, the future perspective was not really promising because I was already too un-Japanese.

It was on the eve of rokuju-nen anpo toso - the nationwide uprising against the U.S.-Japan security treaty which was going to be signed between Eisenhower's Secretary of State Christian Herter and Japan's Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in January 1960.

It was as recently as several years ago that we learned from a newly declassified document that Kishi was on the payroll of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency when he signed the treaty as the prime minister of Japan. But we already knew, though by intuition, that had to be the case and that the anti-anpo activists were just fighting a proxy war against America on behalf of the Soviet Union. It's true I sympathized with these red flag bearers yet I tried to distance myself from them as much as possible. · read more (462 words)

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Bill Emmott Certifies "Real Change" - But Not for Free

Bill Emmott, author of The Sun Also Sets,
may soon write The Sun Rises Again

The former editor of The Economist magazine was stationed here for three years at the height of Japan's bubble economy. During his tenure as the Tokyo Bureau chief and an associate member of the information cartel called Nihon Kisha Kurabu (Japan Press Club,) Bill Emmott learned many things about the pathology of the faltering nation. Among other things, he learned that anyone in a position similar to his can easily make a fortune as a notary public even after he gets repatriated or retires.

Most of his Japanese counterparts are too intellectually-challenged to understand the real reason behind this, but some of them feel deep inside that Japanese media lost their legitimacy in the 1940s, totally and for good. Today, they are still doing a good job in manipulating people's hearts and minds, just like they did as the Imperial Army's propaganda machine, now to the interest of the "iron square" that fortifies this kleptocracy as Canadian journalist Benjamin Fulford puts it. And yet they know anything they report or editorialize about can no longer sound authentic until it is notarized by someone from the former Allied Powers.

As soon as the Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, for one, told its London correspondent Saki Ouchi to interview Emmott.

Can you imagine the Tokyo correspondent of the New York Times might have asked a Japanese pundit in November 2008 whether Barack Hussein Obama would be able to deliver on his pledge to change America? Or did a Le Mondes reporter ask a Japanese expert in May 2007 whether Nicolas Sarkozy would live up to Frenchmen's expectations? But that is exactly what Japanese news media have always been doing for the subliminal reason mentioned above. The Emmott interview is nothing new.

Yomiuri's managing editor Kan Tsutagawa titled her interview piece like this: "Election marks 'real change' - Emmott says DPJ must bring bureaucrats to heel, revive economy."

When Ouchi asked Emmott for his opinion about one of the DPJ's pledges to set up a "National Strategic Bureau," modeled after the way Britain has crushed its bureaucracy, he said, "I think it's a good idea to learn from [our] experience."

There's no denying that Emmott is well-versed in the problems facing his clients in Japan.

Most probably he knows the DPJ was formed in 1998 by the spinoffs from the Liberal Democratic Party and that they had previously belonged to the most corrupt intraparty faction founded by the scandal-tainted Kakuei Tanaka. He must also know that when forming the DPJ, these thieves from the LDP chose to join forces with some outcasts from the Socialist Party of Japan just to gain over its huge support base: labor unions of government employees, who now desperately cling to their cushy positions. Japan's National/Local Civil Service Laws, which protect civil servants from being laid off, will never be amended as long as these unions have power.

All in all it's a commonsense matter that the DPJ cannot "bring bureaucrats to heel." The best we can expect from the new administration is to rebalance the power between the two groups of thieves.

The trick used here is quite simple: Ouchi refrained from asking Emmott the two most relevant questions, or they just did not cross her mind in the first place. These are:

"How can a group of thieves straighten out the mess caused by another?" and
"How can the tail wag the dog?"

The former editor of The Economist was just acting as a humble notary public now. Why then should he have felt obliged to answer the questions which were not asked?

An old saying goes: "Some people cannot see the wood for the trees." (I think the opposite is also true.) The Japanese always take it for granted that the likes of Emmott are much better off in seeing the wood than the wood dwellers. That is a very convenient assumption, but can it be true?
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Anthropology and Bias

Left: Yanomami Indians
Right: The essence of Japanese culture

Some of my intelligent friends on both sides of the Pacific think I am too "harsh" about my home country and its people. I am Japanese, at least technically. So this question has always haunted me since I launched this blog: "Am I biased against my fellow countrymen as if I were non-Japanese?"

Recently, though, it has started dawning on me that it's not me but them who are biased. More often than not they are biased in favor of these supposedly polite, amicable, hospitable, inventive, industrious, sheepish and dovish people. But bias is bias.

If you take a train ride in Tokyo, or any other Japanese city, at any time of the day, you will notice that one-third of the passengers are deep asleep with their mouths wide open. It's astounding to know they have skills to "stand-sleep" when they can't find an unoccupied seat. Another third are absorbed in manga (comic books) while the rest of the passengers busily working on silly text messages of haiku-length or checking out burogu on their handsets. But still something deep inside prohibits you from readily admitting that their lives are as empty as zombies'.

There's no other way to call the attitude of these Japanophile people than bias. They always reminds me of anthropologist Ruth Benedict, and then John F. Kennedy.

My American Heritage Dictionary defines anthropology like this: the scientific study of the origin and of the physical, social, and cultural development of behavior of man.

According to a Wikipedia entry, the English word was first used in 1593 to signify the study of human beings, everywhere and throughout time.

In the past most anthropologists, especially those in America, arbitrarily confined their subjects to uncivilized tribes. It is true that the author of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword did not call the Japanese barbarians. But she thought their exotic behavioral patterns made them a good research subject in the last days of WWII. If she had thought the Japanese people were civilized, she would never have effectively suggested the A-Bombs be dropped on the relatively unimportant local cities so as to keep the Emperor alive at the cost of the lives of 200,000 ordinary citizens incinerated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The last tribe she would have put under scrutiny was her own compatriots because in doing so, she would have found it unavoidable to scrutinize her own self. Through a serious soul-searching, she might have realized that she was too biased to be called a scientist.

Then came Kennedy's affirmative action which was in effect intended to promote reverse discrimination. Benedict would no longer have taken up any government-sponsored project even if a U.S. president after Kennedy had told her to do so. By the same token, it is totally inconceivable that George W. Bush might have commissioned someone to work on a report about the Iraqis from an anthropological perspective, instead of the WMD angle, because that would have been considered to constitute an act of racial profiling.
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Nichts Neues Happened Here on Sunday

Left: History of Japan's political landscape as of 2004 which is now subject to a minor update
Center: Streets of Yokohama China Town getting ready for the 60th anniversary of the Revolution
Right: Jiang, my friend from China

When I stepped out of my apartment on Sunday night, everything looked as usual except that some prettification work was going on here and there in the streets of the China Town in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution.

No sooner had I walked into the nearby Chinese eatery I frequent than my Chinese friend Jiang pointed at the large screen display and said, "Seems like a landslide for minshu-to (the Democratic Party of Japan.)" I said, "Bullshit. This is all prefixed. Nothing has changed, and nothing will. Four years ago we saw another landslide when the media said it was LDPs turn to win. It's just that the same media kept saying it's DPJ's turn this time around." This ignited a casual conversation about the trajectories of the two ailing, or even failing, countries - Japan and China. We talked over the resemblances and differences between the two.

I didn't expect any professional comment from the young guy because he majors in business administration at the Sanno Institute of Management. But if one studies business, it's more likely than with a politics major that he understands what exactly the word "change" means. I usually avoid discussing change because the abstract word in itself means nothing. As a matter of fact, my organization theory backed by my 46-year-long career tells me any institution has to go through a destruction phase before its rebirth. There is no such thing as smooth, incremental change. I would call what we are witnessing right now a metamorphosis rather than change. Japan has metamorphosed many times in the past, most recently in 1993. Yet it has remained essentially unchanged. Otherwise these candidates for the parliamentary election would not have called in concert for change just like they did 16 years ago, and in 2005 to a lesser degree.

I asked Jiang, "Don't you think your country would be better off if it imported the Japanese version of the representative democracy, so its people don't have to listen to Hillary Clinton's annual lecture on democracy anymore?" He answered: "I don't think that is possible in the next 50 years. But I think in the near future China should implement a limited suffrage." By "limited suffrage" he meant an electoral system within the framework of the single-party system. I said, "That's exactly what we have in place here since 1955. By virtue of our nominal voting rights, we have been exempted from attendance at Clinton's class. But at the same time, we are sunk by now for the same reason."
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A Midyear Update on My Sandbag Exercise

This is to update my audience on the traffic of my website.

My blogging philosophy has remained unchanged. I still pursue a taboo-free journalism because I don't think I would be able to write truthful and truly relevant pieces without fully emancipating myself from all these fallacies about the legitimacy of Japan's three pillar institutions: the Imperial Institution, the media and the strategic alliance between Japan and the U.S.

I do know truth always hurts and nobody but a masochist likes to get hurt. How I wish I could entertain my predominantly Western audience like Benjamin Fulford always does. As you may be aware, the pet subjects of the Tokyo-based "truth-seeker" are 9-11 being a conspiracy masterminded by a Jewish cabal, the Sichuan Earthquake of May 2008 being artificially caused by a leading-edge magneto-optical technology named HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project,) and the like.

I don't know if these allegations are solidly substantiated. If they aren't, still that does not necessarily mean Fulford is a liar. The key to judging the authenticity of his theory is whether or not you can really relate to, or internalize, the warfare allegedly going on between the "Illuminati" and heroic saviors of humanity scattered around the world. And I can't.

So his business doesn't hurt anybody in particular. Even David Rockefeller doesn't really seem to get hurt. It only entertains hundreds of millions of dupes you encounter not only in Japan but also every corner of the globe today. That is the secret behind Fulford's huge success on both sides of the Pacific. On the contrary, I wasn't born here to please people like a prostitute. That always leaves me in a dire cash-drought, but I have no plan to change my blogging philosophy in these twilight days of my life.

To make up for the absence of a monetary goal, I have developed my own yardstick for performance measurement. With this KPI in mind, I periodically work on the traffic analysis using the built-in statistical functions of my blogging software called Geeklog since the inception of TokyoFreePress in September 2004 and a little more sophisticated measurement tool named Google Analytics since January this year.

To me TokyoFreePress is something like a sandbag. I don't jog, but whenever I'm relatively in good shape, I keep pounding at the bag by writing new posts and rewriting old ones to further clarify my heretical views. If there is anything to be desired, I want more visitors to join in my sandbag exercise.

Now that it seems quite unlikely that this old fighter makes a comeback to the ring before he dies, I need to have something that incentivizes my sandbag exercise which is otherwise more of a physical torture than a mental pleasure. To that end, I sometimes make believe that some of these figures I see on the "Dashboard" of the Google Analytics bear dollar signs before them.

As a matter of fact the technology that would actually allow me to charge you a buck every time you visit my site is there, but as is the case everywhere else, independent bloggers are practically barred from using it. So only by imaginarily tearing down this social barrier, I can feel I am not so helplessly poverty-stricken as I actually am.

Traffic Overview

As of August 24, my overall performance looks like this:

Measurement Readings on Geeklog Readings on Analytics Remarks
a No. of Hits to System Since Inception 1,264,720 N/A Inception: September 2004
b No. of Hits YTD August 24 162,161 N/A Extrapolation
c No. of Visits YTD August 24 N/A 6,774 -
d No. of Page Views YTD August 24 N/A 20,079 -
e No. of Visits Since Inception N/A 26,314 Extrapolation
f No. of Page Views Since Inception N/A 73,106 Extrapolation
g Daily Average of Visits - Adjusted N/A 11.5 Accidental hits, my own accesses and spammers' are eliminated on an educated guess basis
h Daily Average of Page Views - Adjusted N/A 32.0 ditto

On the assumption that accidental hits, my own accesses and spammers' have accounted for 20% of the cumulative number of visits, I have earned more than an imaginary US$ 20K in the last 5 years. · read more (1,323 words)
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Obamitis Virus Hits Its Cradle - Japan's Ground Zero

Left: Hiroshima part of the ceremony to commemorate the 64th anniversary of Harry S. Truman's heinous crime
Right: Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba reading out his idiotic Peace Declaration 2009

Japan is a country which is inhabited by innumerable gods. We used to be talking about yaorozuno-kami, or 8 million gods. But with Japan's living population steadily shrinking in recent years, I am sure the nether world here is having a population explosion by now because every Japanese is believed to be given the citizenship out there as soon as he dies. They also believe that these gods make a homecoming trip during obon yasumi, or the bon holidays which fall on mid-August.

Things are quite confusing at this time of the year with family reunions between the deceased and their living descendants taking place across the nation. It's next to impossible to tell who are dead and who are still alive. For my part, I'm reasonably sure that I'm still awaiting my turn at Grim Reaper's waiting room. Yet, I may be wrong. Who knows?

To avoid misidentifying the dead as the living, or vice versa, Tokyo-based conspiracy theorist Benjamin Fulford generically named the Japanese zombies, before he became extremely popular among none other than these zombies, that is.

Heralding the bon holidays every year are the annual ceremonies solemnly held at the ground zero of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The people have not found it particularly necessary to make August 6 and 9 national holidays because the two events are only part of their activity for the month solely devoted to the dead at large in this land of shamanism.

Past several decades have seen the same proceedings repeated at the ground zero of the two cities according to a long-established agenda and format with the successive mayors reciting their empty and bland "Peace Declarations" as the priests presiding over the rituals. Watching my fellow countrymen going through these formalities, I always get a surreal sense of attending my own deathwatch.

If there was anything new in their Peace Declarations 2009, it's the citations from Obama's speech in Prague. Both mayors must have found the April 5 speech by the U.S. President irresistibly sexy. That's why they couldn't help parroting Obama's most famous line at the 64th anniversaries of the bombings. It goes:

As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon (sic), the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba felt that it was not enough just to repeat after Obama. When concluding his declaration, he suddenly switched to what he thought was English to read out the following sentences:

We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority(!?). Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can. (The exclamation mark and question mark are mine.)

You may be inclined to call the Mayor a moron. But I suspect that is not the case with him. Actually he completed his doctorate in mathematics at MIT some 40 years ago. How can a Ph.D. from the prestigious school be an idiot? And more importantly, he and his counterpart in Nagasaki are not alone.

So, I want you to look at the following fact sheet about a deadly mental illness to be named something like Obamitis before jumping to a conclusion about their pathological problem.

1 Name of Disease Obamitis - so named after the U.S. president who has disseminated the newest strain of the virus all over the world.
2 First Outbreak Observed in Japan a long time ago.
3 Symptoms Sufferers lose their ability to internalize things using their own brains. As a result they always talk about their own problem in vague generality as if it were someone else's. The inability to address problems specifically and systematically always leads the patients to utter inaction in the face of a complicated situation. They often develop echolalia in complication.
4 Worst Possible Consequence Brain-death.
5 Etiology The Obamitis virus causes the disease.
6 Diathesis People with shamanism background are far more likely to become infected with the Obamitis virus than Christians and Muslims. For example, the Japanese traditionally think politics are like weather. When Mongolians attempted to invade Japan in 1274, kamikaze, or Divine Wind from a ferocious typhoon, blew their fleet against the rocks while Japanese had been freezing in total inaction. Ever since they have become susceptible to the idea that the only thing their leader has to do in the face of a crisis is to pray, as a priest, for a change of the weather. When the incantation doesn't work, they leave things adrift until the problem solves itself. The apocalypse in the two cities is an excellent example that shows how effectively a problem can solve itself.
7 Transmission The main pathway for the viral transmission is through excessive intake of ill-defined, bland and empty words such as peace, democracy, nonproliferation, dialog to promote mutual understanding, common values, etc.
8 Environmental Factors There is a good reason to believe the monsoon climate provides the optimum for the virus. Especially, the steamy weather of August in East Asia is considered to be the most favorable condition for the growth and reproduction of the virus. However, the recent pandemic situation in the U.S. indicates that the newest strain of the virus is viable in other regions, as well.
9 Cure None.
10 Statistics TokyoFreePress estimates that there are more than 100 million patients in Japan right now. In the United States, there were at least 69,456,897 adults suffering from Obamitis as of November 4, 2008. The numbers are still growing on both sides of the Pacific.
11 Japan Trivia The Japanese people all believe their fortunes have been predetermined by astrology, Zodiac signs or blood types. Given their extremely superstitious and suggestible trait, every TV station with nationwide network thinks it's essential to spare at least 5 minutes every morning to provide its viewers with the forecasts for the day. This is the secret behind Akiba's Obamajority stuff.
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And Who Will Have the Last Laugh?

Gullible people who swallow anything they hear from an authoritative figure such as Alan Greenspan are now puzzled over how to interpret recent news stories that seem to indicate that the worst is over by now. It looks as though the global crisis has proved far more short-lived than initially expected. Maybe the former FED chairman just wanted to pull their leg when he exaggerated the enormity of the situation in September last year.

With stock prices seemingly bottoming out, analysts and investors are upbeat everywhere and with financial institutions quickly ridding their balance sheets of tons of toxic assets, they are foreseeing rosy pictures based on their hefty second-quarter results.

Budget deficits are still ballooning and jobless rates remain high all over the world, but never mind; these are side issues.

So, have the governments of the G-20 nations performed miracles? Or was it yet another cheap trick?

They call it a business cycle inherent to capitalism which is, like climatic changes, basically unavoidable, if can be alleviated to a certain degree. It's just that a handful of bandits in Wall Street aggravated the downtrend with their excessive greed. But I don't agree to this characterization of the downturn because in all likelihood this looks more like an artificial crisis than a cyclic one.

This perception naturally leads you to these questions:

■ who were shaken off in the course of the deepening of the crisis?
■ and who are poised to have the last laugh in anticipation of a handsome profit to be reaped from it.

Small wonder most journalists, pundits and professors agree to the greed theory because they always side with the real culprits whoever they actually are. This is the easiest and the most effective way to defend, or even boost their vested interests in the status quo. To that end, they always see a conflict where there is none.

Their pet subjects, therefore, are constant struggles between two different groups of people, such as the working class v. capitalists, producers v. consumers, whites v. colored, men v. women, creditors v. debtors, democracy v. autocracy, the West v. the East, the North v. the South, Wall Street v. Main Street, and so on and so forth. In fact, though, none of these abstract groups represents any specific people. This is no way to deal with multifaceted issues in the current world order which is in the process of a total disintegration today.

To me these struggles are too stereotypical and more or less imaginary. I see the real battleground somewhere else.

For one thing, last fall we were supposed to see every participant in the equity market panic-selling all the shares he had held. Although no one seems to have doubted that was true, that wasn't true. You can't sell if you don't find a buyer. And recent rebound in stock prices is an unmistakable sign that the ones, who sneaked into market using the "dollar-cost averaging method" or the like, have now started shifting to the selling side, if slowly and carefully, so individual investors can buy back at a "minimized" loss what used to be in their portfolios.

By the same token, banking business also takes two, like tango. You can't lend money so recklessly unless there are reckless borrowers at the other end. This is a commonsense matter, but our regulators have always portrayed the creditors as the victims. They have a good reason to distort the picture this way.

In the October 13 issue of TIME Magazine, Niall Ferguson pointed out that as of 2006, American households were indebted as much as 100% of nation's gross domestic product whereas back in 1980, their debts had only accounted for 20% of GDP. According to Ferguson, American banks and other financial institution were even deeper in debt. By 2007, their indebtedness had accumulated to 116% of GDP.

In April, U.S. president showed a transparent gesture by asking his friends in the 13 major credit card companies to refrain from "unfair" and "deceptive" practices with their debtors. Once again he failed to address the real issue indicated by the fact that millions of card holders are already "maxed out." for a different reason.

Actually tough disciplinary measures should have been imposed on the credit card users as well - and more importantly on their role model, president himself. His administration is habitually acting even sillier than its debt-ridden supporters. In the absence of this awareness, not a few independent analysts have been warning that they see a credit card crisis on the horizon if the current one triggered by the subprime woes may subside before long.

Just listen to Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor, talking in this YouTube video about America's Debt Epidemic. It is these sick people incapable of living within their means that elected Obama as their role model.

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Defiantly Committed to Fellow Countrymen

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale?
Polonius: Very like a whale.

- From Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet

As I have written before, I wouldn't have joined the workforce as a "new grad" fifty years ago had it not been for a bit too optimistic assumption that as a corporate warrior, I would be able to make a positive difference to the community by actualizing my own self. Subsequently I remained fully committed to the things I was working on and the people I was working with until the end of my 46-year-long career mainly spent in the Japanese subsidiaries of foreign companies headquartered in the U.S., Switzerland and Germany.

In early years of my career with these foreign employers, I was torn apart in a situation that always required a dual loyalty. But over time I acquired a certain set of skills which enabled me to effectively deal with different business practices, governing laws and the underlying cultures without compromising on my own principles. I would call this skill set integrity.

When I was overseeing finance and administration at the Swiss company, my direct boss was a self-important macho married to a Japanese woman. With his massive body weighing over 250lb, the egomaniac expat looked like a sumo's grand champion but actually he was a former captain for a tank unit of the Swiss Army. He thought he had a special privilege to reign over us like a tyrant or a colonial governor because so many local employees had spoiled him for more than a quarter century since he first landed in the country which had yet to fully recover from the ashes of the war.

To make sure the supreme power he thought was bestowed on him wasn't a megalomaniac delusion, he always surrounded himself with sycophants. So it was a big misstep that he hired me as one of his righthand men in the early 1980s.
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Our Way of Living and Dying

Only dead fish go with the flow. (Sarah Palin, July 4)

Earlier this week the latest figures of average life expectancy were released. The statistics showed that Japanese women are enjoying the world's longest life span of 86.05 years while Japanese men ranked No. 4 only next to their counterparts in Iceland, Switzerland and Hong Kong. This leaves you wondering what the heck we cling to our empty life that long for.

Here's another citation from The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.. Actually it's a requotation because author Ruth Benedict was just quoting a wartime broadcast which was all too familiar to the Japanese people of my age or older.

After the air battles were over, the Japanese planes returned to their base in small formations of three or four. A Captain was in one of the first planes to return. After alighting from his plane, he stood on the ground and gazed into the sky through binoculars. As his men returned, he counted. He looked rather pale, but he was quite steady. After the last plane returned he made out a report and proceeded to Headquarters. At Headquarters he made his report to the Commanding Officer. As soon as he had finished his report, however, he suddenly dropped to the ground. The officer on the spot rushed to give assistance but alas! he was dead. On examining his body it was found that it was already cold, and he had a bullet wound in his chest, which had proved fatal. It is impossible for the body of a newly-dead person to be cold. Nevertheless the body of the dead captain was as cold as ice. The Captain must have been dead long before, and it was his spirit that made the report. Such a miraculous fact must have been achieved by the strict sense of responsibility that the dead Captain possessed.

Constantly misguided by the dictionary that wrongly defines 民主主義 (minshu-shugi) as democracy, 天皇 (tenno) under the postwar Constitution as a useless but harmless figurehead, and 変革 (henkaku) as change, those arrogant, intellectually lazy, surface-scratching, cherry-picking Japan experts in the U.S. tend to underestimate our supernatural power to flexibly cross the boundary back and forth between life and death, or our propensity to roam around the border so aimlessly and interminably. Benedict and her fellow countrymen have always said that:
■ wartime Japanese were so superstitious as to believe in the absurd propaganda such as this one,
■ but after the war defeat they came out much smarter.
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