Tuesday, March 17 2009 @ 05:23 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
As most Americans, from conservatives to liberals, have fallen into an
absurd delusion that the Harvard-educated black Messiah can walk on the
water, I am quickly losing interest in politics. Originally TokyoFreePress
was meant to be a political blog, but now I suspect it no longer deserves
to be called one. I no longer share with these political pundits the same pastime of untiringly scratching the surface of what's going on in Washington, let alone in Tokyo.
I couldn't care less, indeed, what's to become of America or Japan.
But do you understand what I really mean when I say politics doesn't matter to me anymore? If you are Japanese or American, you certainly don't understand
the real implication of my political apathy. I'll tell you why I feel that
Throughout my 73-year life, I have never belonged to a religious group
because I haven't been dumb enough to take part in the nationwide endeavor
to relativize values by saladizing various religions. Moreover, I suspect man's faith is something that should not be institutionalized in the first place. Hence, when I die,
I refuse to be incinerated and buried either in Buddhist or Christian format.
This, however, is not to say I haven't been influenced by the teachings of Jesus
Christ and Gautama Buddha.
Admittedly my take on Christianity is a little heterodox in that to me, Mary
Magdalene is the central figure in the life of Jesus. Some say she was
a prostitute. Some others hypothesize that she was Jesus's mistress, or even his wife.
I don't know exactly what she was. But I do know she was much more than
just a disciple of Jesus Christ. Other disciples are said always to have been jealous about her and kept asking Jesus, "Why do you love her more than all of us?"
I sometimes think God sent Jesus to save the beautiful woman, alone, or God
sent her to save Jesus.
Equally important to me is Buddhism. Among other teachings of Buddha, I
think his central tenet is this one: 色即是空. 空即是色.
You find these eight characters in one of the sutras translated into Chinese
from Sanskrit. One English translation of these words reads:
FORM IS EMPTINESS. EMPTINESS IS FORM.
A more explanatory translation goes:
EVERY FORM IN REALITY IS EMPTY, AND EMPTINESS IS THE TRUE FORM.
I would rather compress this tenet this way: NOTHING REALLY MATTERS. · read more (606 words)
Friday, March 13 2009 @ 03:05 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
I tend to go personal even when working on a book review because I don't believe
there is such a thing as impersonal truth.
One year or so ago I was writing a book about the fate of my home country to have it
published in the U.S. It was out of the question to use a Japanese publisher
because the book to have been titled The Unviable Japan was going to delve into the very core of the absolute taboo issues such as illegitimacy of the imperial institution. At the beginning, the American literary agent I was talking to was saying
it would become a bestseller. But the moment I gave the agent a preview
of the first draft of the synopsis, he changed his mind and started talking me out of further writing on. Over the telephone he subtly turned down my proposal even though the final proposal package had not been submitted yet..
He implied that I would not be accepted in the U.S. before establishing myself in my home country. From the beginning he had
known that I would not be accepted on my home turf. So he must have thought it was unfair to decline my proposal on that ground.
He tried to reinforce his rationale by saying American publishers and
their customers were too preoccupied at the moment with the presidential election and
the Iraq quagmire to show interest in Japan's fate - which was also what
he had already known when he said my book would become a bestseller.
American people I used know were very direct and straightforward in responding to me, either in the affirmative or in the negative, and giving the reason for that.
Most of the time they were confident about what they were talking about. They had not yet developed the American disease symptomized
by cynicism and hypocrisy dominating today's America. The literary agent should have saved me a lot
of time and money I spent for exchanging nicely worded e-mails and for placing lengthy collect calls for roundabout conversation.
Earlier this month I came across Bernard Goldberg's most recent book titled A Slobbering Love Affair when I was up to my daily routine of video mining on YouTube. I was looking
for newest pieces of info about his take on the post-election climate of the United States. Some six years ago, I was quite impressed by the bestselling Bias (2002, Medium Cool) authored by the former star correspondent with CBS News soon after he was fired by Dan Rather
because of his op-eds in the Wall Street Journal (1996 and 2001.) In these op-ed pieces he accused the mainstream media of their liberal bias
A Slobbering Love Affair bears a lengthy subtitle that goes: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama
and the Mainstream Media. One of my American friends warned me that I would learn nothing new from
the book, but I went ahead and placed a rush order for my copy with Amazon.com
at a price of $17.13 plus $26.98 for shipping and handling. I knew my American
friend was right, but I thought I might want to resume working on the once
mothballed book if ever I could learn some secret from Goldberg to make my book truthful
and salable at the same time. While its subtitle promises the author is
telling the true story, the book made the NYT list of bestselling books,
albeit temporarily. · read more (1,125 words)
Thursday, March 05 2009 @ 04:14 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
More often than not the head of the Democratic Party of Japan wears
a geeky mask presumably because he is determined not to let
out the truth about his venal political career and the collusive alliance
between the U.S. and Japan, on which he has made a fortune.
AS USUAL the revelation of what will possibly lead to the fall of Ichiro Ozawa came too little and too late. On March 3 the government-paid 1st secretary of the head of the Democratic Party of Japan was arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of receiving donations from the now scandal-tainted Nishimatsu Construction Co., in violation
of the Political Funds Control Law.
At first the prosecutors were saying the bribe had totaled 25 million yen,
but in a matter of 24 little hours, the amount ballooned to 300 million.
Actually the prosecutors and the members of the press club attached to
their office needn't have used the roundabout method to gradually immunize the general
public. Everyone had known that to Ozawa, 300 million is nothing but peanuts relative to the total amount he has collected throughout his 40-year career in politics.
Everyone of us had also known why the wrongdoing by politicians always dribbles out to the surface this way. These prosecutors seem to worry that this society could not withstand a laparotomy which would create a sea of pus across the board. More importantly, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, who heads the prosecutors office, certainly knows that the entire edifice would instantly fall into pieces once a thorough investigation were to be launched leaving no sacred cows. Given the reluctance inherent to the prosecutors, normally disguised as prudence, it looks quite likely that they had a very special reason for targeting Ozawa this time around. They seem ready to run a risk of accidentally hitting the core of the root problem. For those who are unfamiliar with the convoluted political landscape here, the grandfather of the Justice Minister is Ichiro Hatoyama, a former prime minister, and a younger brother of Yukio Hatoyama, Secretary General of the DPJ (not a typo.)
Actually this is Ozawa's nightmare finally coming true. In the past, every time the nation's premiership came within his reach, he recoiled in fear of this scenario. But this time, even Prime Minister Aso had looked prepared for cession of power to the DPJ, until the offices of the crook, alias the "champion of reform," were raided.
In the last couple of years the ruling coalition between the Liberal Democratic
Party and Komeito has constantly trod the path to self-destruction. (Komeito is a party backed by a legitimized cult named Soka Gakkai.) As a result, the DPJ,
which was formed when the defectors from the LDP such as Ozawa joined forces with the former mainstream
faction of the Social Democratic Party, is now facing a windfall opportunity to grab power.
Against this backdrop, Ozawa and the elder Hatoyama are now saying that the arrest of the secretary of the party head must be a conspiracy of the Aso administration. This cannot be true, however. We are already seeing the list of the recipients of donations from the construction company rapidly growing so long as to include big figures in the ruling LDP, such as former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. And if you have a certain amount of commonsense, you are inclined to believe that what is going on between the Hatoyama brothers is a fixed bout, at best.
A little more plausible conspiracy theory has it that now the entire bureaucracy
is striking back against the legislature which has grown more and more defiant to it in the "theatricized politics" staged by the media. Now the bureaucrats feel that their vested interests are endangered. Although this theory has some point, they have no reason to single out Ozawa's camp. One of its most powerful support groups is the Federation of Public Corporation and Government
Enterprise Workers' Unions, which was the most important tribute to Ozawa from the defectors of the SDP. In Japan's public sector, there is no conflicts
of interest between employers and employees. From the taxpayers' point of view, both are parasites. · read more (992 words)
According to Ron Paul, there are 90 million vacant houses in America
today. (At first I thought I heard the maverick Senator say there are 19 million unoccupied houses, which was already something that threw me into consternation, but a transcript reads 90 million houses are in that condition.) On the other hand there are
tens of millions of people who only have a house or apartment that doesn't
meet the minimum living standard, or no place to live in at all.
More than half a century ago, American Marxist Leo Huberman (1903-1968) pointed out that in America the
practice of dumping "excess" grain into the ocean was commonplace
when millions of people were combating malnutrition. He said this was something
inherent to capitalist society. That is not really true but just the same,
the same incongruous thing can happen in today's America when a supplier of goods or services teams up with the Federal Reserve to manipurate the market mechanism.
Basically there are three tested ways - almost always tested unworkable - for the government to handle an oversupply
1. Let the supplier destroy the goods while leaving the potential customer
unprovided with necessities.
2. Subsidize either side or both so that the excess products can find their way to consumers at a price substantially lower than market.
3. Destroy both.
Since it's too obvious that the first option is doomed to further widen
disparity, any government in history hasn't really encouraged suppliers to destroy
Option 3 can be pursued most typically by means of a destructive war. Everyone knows the
Great Depression paved the way for the authoritarian and belligerent regimes
in Europe. But even for America, it took WWII to fully recover from the protracted downturn in economy since the 1930s.
Now that Obama, misguided by those multilateralists, has precluded the
warring solution, the Harvard-educated Santa Claus will certainly go for Option 2, which is the easiest, but the worst way (even more destructive than the warring option) to close or narrow the gap. Obama seems to believe this alternative is the only practicable course of action for
the United States, not only at home but also abroad. The president is right, on the premise that he is not really determined to seek a fourth way to bring about change. In fact he doesn't look prepared to step into an uncharted course. His lack of integrity prevents him from doing so. · read more (463 words)
Westerners still blindly believe in the myth that the hogwash disseminated by such dumbs as Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin has something to do with Marxism. Presumably this ignorance has made the hotbed for Obama's cheap socialism.
Many books have been written on why and how Japan's bubble economy burst
in the early 1990s. Now a myriad of words are being spent on the meltdown
of financial markets in Wall Street and the global depression it allegedly triggered, to explain
why and how the most recent bubble bust.
However, we are learning practically nothing
from these lectures because it's an utter truism that any bubble is doomed to burst sooner or later. There is no such thing as a sustainable bubble.
The real question, therefore, is why and how the bubble had to form, to begin with.
Professional pundits who tend to scratch the surface would readily answer this
question by attributing the current crisis solely to the greed prevailing in the financial
market in Wall Street or anywhere else. But I think they are oversimplifying the issue.
Heritage Dictionary defines greed as "a rapacious desire for more
than one needs or deserves." But do we know a person who doesn't have
greed as it is defined there?
Actually the core problem lies in man's desire, rapacious or not. But desire for what?
We all have desire for many worldly things, including money of course.
The materialist way of thinking is also centered around desire, but it cannot really explain the driving force of man's economic activity because materialists tend to get around the value issues. Although we are all drowned in
the endless chain of means, the ultimate object of our desire is the purpose
of life, which is sometimes referred to as "values."
I know that the Americans and Americanized people are not good at abstract thinking because they have an allergy to philosophy. But I don't think we can get around the question of what man's values are in the face of the ongoing crisis.
To make it even more difficult for these people to identify the real issues, they also have an allergy to Marxism. American Marxist Leo Huberman
(1903-1968) used to lament that all his compatriots knew about Marxism was that it was a horrible thing. Maybe they were, and still are, mixing up the
German political economist with such dumbs as Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.
But I think I must cite some important thought on the value-creating chain
from Marx's writing because he is the first, and perhaps the only, thinker to have shed light on the basics of man's economic activity in the industrialized
world. So-called socialists see virtue in production, or labor, while they always use the word consumption with a negative connotation. At least they think consumption is a necessary evil. Marx's way of thinking is 180-degrees different from such a puerile asceticism. · read more (800 words)
Sunday, February 22 2009 @ 02:19 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Anna Politkovskaya refused to get gradually suffocated by Vladimir Putin. She paid the price for that in October 2006 when she was gunned down by an assassin hired by the Kremlin.
I categorically refuse to agree to socialist ideas if the word socialism
should be understood in association with the hogwash dessiminated by the likes of Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin. But among other types of socialism, I think what I call "creeping socialism" is its most perilous mutant. The reason I feel that way is twofold.
Firstly, since creeping socialism is not a product of methodical thinking, it does not have logically verifiable substance. It's nothing more than an elusive climate prevailing in a nation. You can't rebut this type of socialism on theoretical grounds even if you find something fishy in the vague compassion shown in public discourse toward the weak and the poor.
Take the Americans as a case in point. Obviously their empathy toward minority groups mostly stems from the guilty conscience they harbor on behalf of their ancestors who may have owned slaves, traded them or taken part in the colonization of underdeveloped nations. It's not Obama that started all this. It dates back to the early-1960s when John F. Kennedy used the words affirmative action for the first time. In the last 40-plus years since JFK, the American people rid themselves of all mental barriers to having a black or female president.
Yet there is a sticking point in the undercurrent of this climate. The last question they would dare to ask themselves is: "Are we really prepared for having a gay president in the near future?" I don't think how to address the spouse of the president would be the only problem. And what if a president has no living family, like myself? But again, you can't logically prove this tide to be wrong.
Although the moral code John F. Kennedy advocated may not have aroused suspicion among his contemporaries, there is no denying that he was going to make up for his father's immoral acts in Wall Street in the 1920s, at least subliminally. And he was simply wrong when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you," because in doing so, the President was, in effect, urging the children and grandchildren of the victims of the likes of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. to ask what they could do to further sacrifice themselves for the American elite.
The bottomline of this hypocrisy is a constant relativization of values. Now it seems the entire value system is endangered in today's America. All along the American people have been conditioned to make believe it's a necessary evil to relativize values on the pretext that mounting conflicts between ethnic groups and genders would otherwise eat into the unity of the country.
Due to their intellectual laziness, another fallout from this trend, it never crosses their minds that they can possibly pursue the same end in a different way because god bestowed upon everyone a wisdom to exercise the right amount of tolerance while adhering to one's own values. In short, they are preserving national unity at the cost of their values. Ironically enough, the relativization of values has also resulted in a unique form of totalitarianism. Someone has exquisitely termed this climate "Digital Maoism." This makes one think that the negative tradeoff between national unity and values of each individual has taken a serious toll on America's strength.
Let me add something here in relation to the value issues. You may think I am mixing up a moral value with an economic value. But to me they are one and the same thing. Otherwise, every time you use the word, you would have to predefine which value you are talking about.
In the following installments of this series, I will spell out exactly how man's sense of values plays its role of the major driving force for economic activities and how specifically creeping socialism undermines the value system of a nation. · read more (374 words)
Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 01:46 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
In diplomacy, you sometimes turn to exchanges of symbolic gestures and nice but unbinding
words. But if you overdo it, or let the other side indulge in it, you will not only reduce international relations
to a ritual, but can endanger your own interests, typically by swallowing prohibitively
high costs today for benefits you may or may not reap tomorrow. This is how the Japanese reacted when Hillary Clinton chose their country as the first leg of her first overseas trip as U.S.
Secretary of State.
The Tokyo government flipped out over her maiden visit
because deep inside it felt Japan didn't deserve the honor especially
when the political turmoil and social unrest do not seem to come to an
end anytime soon.
For one thing, it came to the surface on Saturday in Rome that a wino was
at the wheel of Japan Inc. Shoichi Nakagawa, Japan's Finance Minister, was supposed to brief the press corps on the outcome of the G-7 Finance Ministers' Meeting. But he repeatedly fell asleep, and whenever he came to, all he could do was to mumble incoherent responses to reporters' questions in heavily slurred speech.
When forming his cabinet last fall, Prime Minister Aso handpicked Nakagawa as his Finance Minister although he knew very well the man had repeatedly made a scene because of his alcoholism. The media were also determined to hush up his mental illness. Amid Clinton's stay in Tokyo, Aso and Nakagawa tried to dodge criticisms by giving implausible explanations such as jet lag, overdose of cold medicine, etc. But finally he had to step down because the news had been repeatedly aired on TV and YouTube all over the world.
In early stage of the global crisis,
Nakagawa was giving the likes of Henry Paulson a lot of lectures on how
his country could "recover" from the burst of the bubble in the
1990s. Obviously the wino thought, like all of his intoxicated fellow countrymen, that the current distress was attributable solely to the sabu-puraimu mondai, or subprime woes, and the riiman shokku, or Lehman shock. The empty-headed Aso shared the same opinion that the crisis had long been gotten over in Japan with the ￥46.7 trillion (more than $500 billion) bailout measures taken by Koizumi and thus the current crisis is not homegrown. Based on the same misperception, he kept saying Japan would
be the first to come out of the depression this time around. But, in fact, their country now seems to be the last in getting away
from the crisis, either with or without a drunkard sitting at the wheel.
According to the data released on Monday, Japan's GDP shrunk by an annualized 12.7% in the last
quarter of 2008, while the U.S. and the Euro-zone countries only suffered
a 3.8% and 6% setback, respectively, in the same period. By now everyone
has realized that the Japanese government has been disseminating complete
hogwash, while doing absolutely nothing to counter the deepening crisis. · read more (723 words)
Thursday, February 12 2009 @ 08:50 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Nationwide and around-the-clock, people are cautioned over and over not to remit their money to the designated bank account until they positively identify the payee as someone they know in person
These days most of you must have grown increasingly puzzled over where Japan is heading. Where the heck will the wave of never-ending political fuss and social unrest wash these people ashore?
According to media-retained pollsters, Prime Minister Aso's approval rating
still keeps dipping after sinking below 20% soon after he took office. The popularity
that former Prime Minister Koizumi was enjoying seems to dwarf Aso's. It's nothing new that the media give exorbitantly high marks to a new PM, or PM-to-be, and then downgrade him to the bottom in a matter of months. But, can these figures still indicate something? Absolutely nothing.
1) These figures are utterly unreliable because they are unaudited. Even
if they were, still you couldn't be sure that they are not falsified. Japanese
auditors have time and again proved venal.
2) Pollsters never give their pollees a valid alternative. Respondents
must tick a leader they favor from among the same old figures such as Aso, Ozawa and Koizumi. There
is no such choice given in the questionnaire as "Whoever leads this
nation, Japan won't change for the better."
3) As a result, those who refuse to answer always outnumber other groups of pollees.
You should, therefore, look somewhere else for the true indication of where this country is
For one thing, Aso's most recent "gaffe" about the
postal privatization is somewhat intriguing in that respect. On February 5, the manga-loving Stanford-dropout
whose IQ is said to be 80, said out of the blue that he started to think
the Postal Privatization Law of 2005 might have to be thoroughly reviewed. Although the
law stipulates that the way to privatize and split the now-defunct Japan
Post into six independent entities in phases may be subject to adjustments
every three years, what Aso hinted at was possibly to reverse the privatization
process itself. Moreover, it was too late for the first triennial review
and too early for the second.
In order to justify his sleep-talk he is now saying that at the beginning
he was opposed to the privatization bill but finally convinced by Koizumi
to support it. Actually that means he made an aboutface for the second
time and is now making a third by quickly taking back the Feb. 5 slip of the tongue.
It's been an open secret that since there was more than $3 trillion at
stake in the privatization, U.S. policymakers who had vested interests
in American financial institutions salivated a lot in anticipation of a huge cut from the privatization
deal across the Pacific. That is why Washington put it high on the agenda
of the "U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy
Initiative" which had actually served as the one-way representations
of the U.S. demands from its far eastern ally since the
early-1990s. (As of today, there are signs that someone "suggested"
the Japanese Wikipedia entry about the policy initiative be deleted.)
It has to be a unilateral initiative simply because Japan is in a position
to one-sidedly reciprocate America's favor to shelter it with its nuclear umbrella although you can't tell for sure the U.S. will never take it back when
it actually starts pouring. This is basically why Japan's domestic and foreign
policies have kept wavering all the time without any internal necessity. Aso is no exception.
An independent Canadian journalist based in Tokyo theorizes that the Koizumi
administration railroaded the postal privatization bill to comply
with the undue demand by Washington. He says that Koizumi's finance minister
Heizo Takenaka is a disciple of Henry Kissinger, who, in turn, is a loyal
henchman of David Rockefeller. This may be yet another delusion we hear from those "truth-seekers." But where there
is no fire, there's no smoke.
The single most important flaw inherent to allegations made by conspiracy theorists is the fact that they always make believe those who repeatedly fall victim to malicious plots are innocent. Actually a victim is a politically correct way of naming an accomplice. In a sense, it's these morbidly suggestible and docile people that make otherwise decent people feel inclined to act like swindlers.
Let's turn our eyes to their domestic behavior. For one thing, take a look at the following numbers which
I recapitulated based on the statistics compiled by the National Police Agency:
Tuesday, February 10 2009 @ 02:43 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
On Monday, U.S. military chief Gen. Walter Sharp called on North Korea
to refrain from further brinkmanship in reference to the recent moves which
are suspected to be the preparation for launching the Taepodong-2 ballistic
missile. He reportedly said, "Many, many countries around the world
are watching North Korea right now to see if it will act responsibly."
Give me a break, General. Haven't you learned that the right thing to do
in the face of a provocative move by Pyongyang is not to talk, and not
When I was a canid-phobic kid, my mother used to tell me to avoid eye contact
with dogs while refraining from running away from them. For the 7-year-old
kid, it was quite difficult to observe this rule, but I don't think it's
too hard for a general to practice it, because any adult knows that a dog
that barks a lot will never bite. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland giving
little signs of it beforehand. Two years later, Japan did the same in Pearl
Harbor, having been emboldened by the initial success of what its European
ally had named "blitzkrieg" or lightening war.
It's now obvious that Obama, Clinton, Gates and their generals should prepare their country for a possible lightening without talking too much about transient successes and failures in their Munich Conferences. · read more (307 words)
Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 11:42 AM CST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
The maverick congressman looks to have grown haggard in his most recent video, but he still remains optimistic about America's future.
Currently I am working on a provisional closing of my earthly books. Soon
after I got started with the task, I realized that I should totally write
off sizable pieces of asset, both tangible and intangible, in which I have invested my time, energy,
money and emotions in the last 46 years. The junk that has hollowed out
my balance sheet is my Americanism.
I have studied, worked, made a family, fathered kids and destroyed
the family ties, all in a way an average American might have conducted himself in this country where civil liberty is an empty promise. I was Americanized from tip to toe, until that person of African ancestry
became the President of the United States.
Since WWII, every nation in the world has been more or less Americanized.
But no other sovereign nation has imported the American way of life as
thoroughly and quickly as my country of birth has. When two different
cultures meet, an allout conflict is unavoidable, most of the time. But that has never been the case with this country. Because Japan had
long lost its cultural identity since it got into China's cultural orbit
in the 5th century, it could absorb any foreign influence like a sponge in subsequent centuries. It was what I call a cultural salad that had paved the way for Japan's postwar Americanization.
I acquired my American way of thinking quite differently. Otherwise, I
wouldn't have thought about writing it off at this late stage of my life.
What I found intolerable with today's America was the fact that there are
unmistakable signs the vast majority of its people have been Japanized.
For one thing, the Obama administration decided to set aside $33 billion
for the State Children Health Insurance Program. Also the administration
is going to fatten unemployment benefits while at the same time artificially creating 3
million nonvalue-creating jobs out of thin air. All in all, the stimulus package would eventually cost every American citizen $6,700, if the burden were to be evenly distributed. Now Obama and his followers
are out of their minds. They wouldn't listen to the voices of reason, such
as the one from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who asked, "Must
we repeat Japan's stimulus mistakes?" · read more (1,353 words)