I think I can see why philosopher Yoshiro Takeuchi refers to the way things are in this nation as "tenno-kyo teki seishin fudo," or a cultural climate immersed in the Emperor Cult. His way of naming the intractable mental illness, however, is not very accurate because Mr. Takeuchi utterly downplays the media's role in fostering it.
Japan's oldest newspaper publisher is The Yomiuri Shimbun whose precursor was established in 1874 to "enlighten" the subjects of the Meiji Emperor in line with his Fukoku Kyohei (wealthy nation and strong army) policy line. The Yomiuri was soon followed by these media enterprises such as Asahi, Mainichi and Sankei, and later by NHK, the only public broadcaster, which came into business in 1924 to pursue the same end. Ever since they have been an integral part, to say the least, of this Emperor Cult. It is for this reason that I think it's more precise to rename Takeuchi's Emperor Cult as a Media Cult.
In postwar Japan, which has seen the Emperor demoted from demigod to a mere symbol of national unity, the object of worship is no longer confined to the fool sitting at the palace. Now it can be anyone or anything, be it a ballplayer, an "artist" or a political figure. Mediocrity is the only criterion to decide who to enshrine.
Along the lines, they have hyped yet another craze into a sub-cult, one after the other. These sub-cults include Nagashima Cult, Ichiro Cult and Ryo-chan Cult. If you are not familiar with these Japanese names, which are always mentioned in association with hinomaru, the national flag symbolizing the rising sun, they are all mediocre athletes by world standards, except for the right fielder of the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro can boast a certain statistical significance he has achieved in the Nintendo-owned ballclub, but nobody can deny his way of playing the game is always boring and sometimes even disgusting. But beware, it constitutes a lese majesty if you put down these national heroes as second-rate sportsmen.
Takeuchi's Emperor Cult just sits at the top of these sub-cults. The former would be nothing without the latter.
Now that the entire society has turned into a huge cult, it's no wonder that innumerable groups of freaks have been mushrooming across the nation to claim their share in media saliency.
This Saturday afternoon, I was strolling around the streets of the port city of Yokohama, one of the cities which cradled Japan's twisted aspirations to become a modern nation 150 years ago. As usual, dozens of citizens were reciting sutras, apparently without having the slightest idea about the supposedly profound meaning of their own incantations.
I casually shot them with my digital camera to upload a video to my YouTube channel. I embed it below here because I thought you might be interested in viewing it.
If you are unfamiliar with Zeno's paradoxes (there are seven of them,)
you may want to look at the YouTube video embedded below:
Like all other schoolkids in Japan, I learned of Zeno's paradoxes when
I was in my mid-teens. The stupid boy, that I was, found them almost frightening. Any geometric explanation did not soothe me. It was only after I read Henri Bergson's book titled something like Time and Free Will several years later that I overcame Zeno's nightmare.
Most friends of mine were not that stupid. They weren't shocked in the
first place and quickly forgot these paradoxes. That is why they still remain superstitious about things and keep saying there are so many things that cannot be
explained rationally in this world.
Let's just face it. Let's not waste our time on unsolvable problems.
For my part, I owe Zeno a couple of things even in my adulthood. For one thing, thanks to his paradoxes, I could acquire a mental attitude to take nothing for granted.
The other thing I owe him is that I became aware it is sometimes effective to play devil's advocate when I am talking to an intellectually
Recently my blog audience raised their eyebrows when they read my post
titled Obamitis Virus Hit Its Cradle - Japan's Ground Zero. In that piece
I wrote: "[The A-bombs] should never have been dropped on the relatively
unimportant local cities such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead the Little
Boy and the Fat Man should have been detonated over the heart of the capital
to exterminate the Emperor and his family." · read more (299 words)
Monday, September 21 2009 @ 07:01 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Philosopher Yoshiro Takeuchi and his wife
In response to my request for an interview, Mr. Takeuchi said in effect, "Let's have a preliminary talk to size
each other up before possibly discussing the specific questions you have
That is why I took a long trip yesterday to the place he lives. Some of his students
By the end of a long skull session over Emperor Hirohito, his son Akihito,
President Obama, A-bombs and democracy, I found out the following two things:
■ his students are pretty intelligent, at least potentially, but most of them, if not
all, have difficulty really internalizing these issues, and
■ the philosopher, born in 1924, took part in the war, mainly on the Chinese
His thoughts about his own experience as a soldier are ambivalent, to say the least. With his
admirable candor, he admitted to having had a part in an inexcusable crime.
And yet, he believes he did the right thing when he chose not to refuse
military service, or simply to desert from the army.
Put it bluntly, this is nothing but a self-deception. But, at the same
time, I thought it would go counter to my principle to throw stones at anyone who
has had more than enough on the cross, let alone this particular person
who has climbed up there on his own. More importantly, I might have done
the same thing if I were ten years older.
You cannot rewrite history, or "reset" it as Obama claims to
be doing. All that matters, therefore, is how to avoid the same mistakes
in the future. To this end we should work on a concrete plan to hunt down the
war criminals who are still on the loose as of today until we can nail them to
the cross. · read more (1,079 words)
Left: Michiko Kanba who was lauded as Japan's national hero by Mao Zedong Right: Makoto Oda, another hero who mixed up Japan's problems with Vietnam's
I think the words "a retired businessman" would best describe what I really am. I don't know if my career was successful or not so successful, but that does not
make any difference to my argument here.
To be more precise, however, I retired rather involuntarily at the age of 69. According to Betty Friedan, author of The Fountain of Age, Otto von Bismarck of the Second Reich was the first to have come up with the absurd idea that one should stop living actively at a certain biological age. He set the first-ever mandatory retirement age at 65. In those days, the average life expectancy at birth was a mere 37 in Germany. If you apply today's life expectancy here, this roughly translates into 140. But unfortunately, my last employer, the Japanese subsidiary of the world's No. 3 software giant SAP AG, was not good enough at simple arithmetic.
For most of my career, I was a manager overseeing finance and administration. And the forced retirement that aborted my pursuit of self-fulfillment was only part of the problem I have had as a businessperson.
Perhaps I have dealt with thousands of people in the past. Through my largely cross-cultural interchange with these people, I became aware of a distinctive feature of my fellow countrymen: they had a great difficulty internalizing their own problems, let alone someone else's. Due to this defect, even today most of my Japanese friends think I was working
on money while in business. This is not true, however. Far from it.
I have repeatedly quoted Karl Marx on this blog. To me the essence of Marxism has nothing to do with those bastards such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao or Hugo Chavez.
"Production is at the same time consumption, and consumption is at the same time production. [For example] a railway on which no one travels (snip) is potentially but not actually a railway. Without production, there is
no consumption, but without consumption, there is no production, either."
My way of interpreting these sentences is that money is not what business is all about. The ultimate goal for a worker, either white
collar or blue collar, is to create values, not monetary wealth. In other words, industry is nothing but a value-creating chain.
It is really amazing that Marx came up with his theory without any experience in business. On the other hand, it is quite disappointing to know my fellow countrymen of all generations, and all occupations, will never learn the real meaning of man's economic activitiy. Especially those who have never been in business in their lifetime are unable to figure out what this retired businessman is talking about when he says he still has something to settle before he goes. They think he is just killing time at the Grim Reaper's waiting room.
To me, anpo, or the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States
and Japan, is one of the most important issues that remain unsettled. Unlike with these people who are totally disabled to internalize
things, anpo is my own problem, not someone else's.
To make my situation even worse, they all share the same trait which I call
the haiku mentality. The haiku way of communication works only where people share the same set of word
associations because otherwise you can't get your message through in a
In addition, most Japanese suffer from pathological fixation to the past. To them history is more important than the future. To make my longer-than-haiku story short, this disease is yet another fallout from the haiku mentality.
Given this propensity, their attitudes toward anpo are also very unique. The moment they hear the stimulus word anpo, the Japanese are instantly overwhelmed by a flood of related, sometimes unrelated, images and the words associated with them as if in a compulsive flashback. It looks as though they are not concerned about the future of this nation, with or without anpo.
They are conditioned so you can always expect the same set of responses from everyone. These stimuli include a wide range of memorable events coupled with names involved there, such as:
■ violent protests organized by the communists who, in truth, were fighting a proxy war on behalf of the USSR or the PRC,
■ the death of Michiko Kanba, who was posthumously called a Japan's national
hero by Mao Zedong,
■ the emergence of Makoto Oda who organized Beheiren, Citizens' League for Peace in Vietnam as if his home country had been destroyed by "Agent Orange,"
■ Seiji Tsutsumi, de facto owner of Seibu Enterprise, and many other likeminded
people who matter-of-factly converted to the Japanese version of capitalism as soon as the treaty was ratified,
■ the war-renouncing Constitution which is widely considered the only valuable
thing Douglas MacArthur, alias the Second Emperor, left behind,
■ 200,000 citizens incinerated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who, in fact, were victimized by the conspiracy of Harry S. Truman and Ruth Benedict to bring Emperor Hirohito to his knees without physically destroying the super Class-A war criminal who wasn't living in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, by chance. · read more (603 words)
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
According to my American Heritage Dictionary the word is defined like
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. · read more (414 words)
Monday, September 14 2009 @ 12:51 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
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.
has fought for his cause throughout his scholastic career. Even today nothing seems to make him back down.
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.
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.
way, the future perspective was not really promising because I was already too
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)
Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:31 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
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.
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? · read more (503 words)
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. · read more (551 words)
Monday, August 31 2009 @ 09:10 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
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
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." · read more (332 words)
Tuesday, August 25 2009 @ 05:05 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
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
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.
As of August 24, my overall performance looks like this:
Readings on Geeklog
Readings on Analytics
No. of Hits to System Since Inception
Inception: September 2004
No. of Hits YTD August 24
No. of Visits YTD August 24
No. of Page Views YTD August 24
No. of Visits Since Inception
No. of Page Views Since Inception
Daily Average of Visits - Adjusted
Accidental hits, my own accesses and spammers' are eliminated on an educated
Daily Average of Page Views - Adjusted
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)