Monday, January 07 2013 @ 07:53 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. - Henry David Thoreau
The Chen family in the early 1970s
It's cold outside, and inside as well.
When the Snake was taking Dragon's place, I was writing a long letter to the Tax Collecting Department at the Ward Office of the Yokohama municipality to explain, for the hundredth time, 1) I have no reason to pay "Citizen Taxes" when my constitutional rights are in jeopardy, and 2) I have no money to pay them.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine - it's actually the wife of my friend, to be more precise - said, "You say your right to 'maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living' is being infringed by the Ward Office. But it seems to me they needn't have forced you to catch up so mercilessly if you had paid these taxes on time since 2006 in the first place."
I appreciated her frankness, but just like the tax collectors, she viewed the causal relationship upside down. At least I wanted her to understand that as former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul wrote in 2008, "economic freedom and personal liberty are not divisible."
It still remained a paper bullet, but I felt now I was exhausting every possible measure to peacefully convince the robbers that the Constitution is a reciprocal agreement between the state and its citizenry.
I added the Yokohama Bureau of the Asahi Shimbun daily to the list of the recipients of CCs, only to show the tax collectors that I was damn serious about my refusal to pay "Citizen Taxes." Actually I knew I couldn't expect any support from the Fourth Estate which has collusive relations with the three branches of the government through the news cartel called Kisha Kurabu.
During this stressful period, some of my friends gave me a helping hand, either directly or indirectly. Especially heartening was the New Year's greeting card from Lara, Chen Tien-shi (the toddler in the above photo.) In the postscript, she wrote to the effect that she does not really agree to the way the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) defines the stateless and classifies them into two categories, de jure and de facto.
The brilliant ethnologist certainly knows any definition of anything which all dates back to 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (NOTE below) was adopted can't serve the purposes of the 21st century. In the last 64 years, the Chinese Communist Party took over power from the Kuomintang, Deng Xiaoping opened up the People's Republic of China, the Cold War came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the PRC became the world's second largest economy. Nothing has remained unchanged.
NOTE: Its Article 15 vaguely says, "(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."
As I wrote in the previous post, most people in and around the UNHCR have already lost touch with the reality. The Geneva-based international body was founded in 1950 on a principle which is the worst possible combination of the busybody's ideology of America and other victors of WWII and the crybaby's mindset widespread in the rest of the world. It's no wonder the UNHCR still has great difficulty reaching a consensus on how to define statelessness while incorporating all the complexity and subtlety involved in it. As a result, nobody can tell exactly who should be protected exactly from whom. And yet, people there still claim to be exploring effective ways to "ameliorate the situations facing an estimated 12 million stateless people."
In short, the ideology-ridden UNHCR has politicized what should not be politicized at all.
Actually I have owed Lara more than I can repay. Among other things I have learned a lot from her intriguing autobiography just titled Stateless, which is the manifestation of her positive attitude toward life. It's this trait coupled with an unparalleled intellect that made her acquire Japanese nationality after the years of deliberation. According to the author, she wanted to find out what it would give and cost her to voluntarily enter into a contract with this nation-state which inflicted a lot of suffering on the home country of her parents in the 1930s through the first half of the '40s.
Like many of you, I have never been stateless de jure myself. But now I think I know how to deal with the fundamental question about my relationship with the country where I was born and have lived for 77 years.
Now in the face of the existential crisis, in which both my survival and principle of life are at stake, I'm urging the City Hall to immediately stop robbing me of 30% of my pension annuities on the pretext I had refused to pay Citizen Taxes from 2006 through 2011.
The constitutional/extralegal war I'm at can be unwinnable. But I still hope I don't succumb before the municipality does. I don't need any institutionalized support from the likes of the UNHCR because it always remains self-contradictory and empty words. All I need to that end is a moral support from such people like Lara (NOTE below) and other like-minded individuals, and monetary support from my selfless friends such as "DK" and the dentist. These people always remind me I am not a beggar as yet.
NOTE: Don't take me wrong, however. I have no intention to implicate her in my battle against the municipality in any way. Actually she hasn't approved, or disapproved my way of dealing with the municipality, either explicitly or implicitly.
Without their support, I would have been suffocated to death by what I call the Oxygen Taxes a long time ago. I call them that way because the Citizen Taxes are basically levied on your mere existence. You can't tell the difference between the local and central governments and criminal syndicates because yakuza gangsters, more often than not, demand "protection monies" from the residents who are living on their "turf" no matter whether the small shop owners are prospering.
I think taxation on your business transactions and properties is a different issue because, as the last resort, you can always avert them by refraining from selling or buying goods and services, owning properties, or using the infrastructure.
They always say, "Love it or leave it." I used to be saying this rhetoric was totally unacceptable because if all those who are unhappy with the way it is in their country leave it, nothing will change for the better in the future. But now I've realized I was wrong. If you don't love it, there is no reason you have to worry about the future of you country. They are right, after all: it's not them but you that must go away - from the system, that is. I am not talking about people to whom you are personally committed.
I don't love it. But I didn't leave it on my own either because I thought there was no reason I had to leave. Then, the City Hall stepped in to virtually declare me stateless de facto. That's how it all happened here. · read more (65 words)
Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 08:49 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Flowers of camellia japonica are blooming in my neighborhood with an air of Asian modesty
When I defined my post-retirement project as a "taboo-free web journal," not a few people seemed impressed. They said it was cool. But none of them knew what was cool about breaking taboos. To begin with, they couldn't tell what taboos really are.
By definition, any issue you haven't addressed seriously before is taboo; and any conspiracy that's been "revealed" over and over by self-proclaimed truth-seekers is not.
I knew from the beginning that my blog would become one of the most unpleasant websites around because most taboo issues I would discuss there would be disheartening ones such as our mortality and the emptiness of our lives.
On the contrary, I wasn't really prepared for people's response when it came to potentially exhilarating subjects, such as my proposition about a new sociopolitical model. Only seven "specimens" gave me feedback, online or offline, direct or indirect, from the U.S., Japan and South Korea. I was really shocked to find that with a couple of exceptions, all they gave me were the same old non sequituri (the plural form of non sequitur) or casual by-the-ways. This is an unmistakable sign that in the U.S., and in other countries to a lesser degree, taboo-ridden people have armed themselves with fake ideologies out of fear of change.
Now I belatedly realized that I had been wasting the limited amount of time left for me with the wrong people. I'd intended to give a finishing touch to my entire life. But actually I was spoiling it altogether.
It took me a solid couple of weeks until the panic attack resulting from the nightmarish experience more or less subsided.
As I wrote in the post in question here, ideologies are nothing more than the cinders from the past revolution or war. In the last century, the American people and their government have been scavenging for reusable ideologies along with worn-out religious beliefs with which to conquer the rest of the world.
Guess what, Americans today know only two ideologies. One is to serve the purposes of busybodies as the pretext for intervention in the lives of their fellow citizens and the domestic affairs of foreign countries. The other one serves the purposes of crybabies as the alibi for their inaction against "morally obscene and financially unsustainable" interventionism on the part of their government. In short, these change-phobic people take it for granted that ideologies are the world currency.
Totally fed up with these warm-headed and cold-hearted prisoners of ideologies in the U.S., I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to keep my positive attitude toward life until I go to the other side of heaven, the only thing I would have to do was to get back in close touch with my fellow Northeast Asians. These earthly people may not be ideologically savvy by American standards, but most of them are still equipped with an unclouded wisdom inherent to this part of the world. Don't take me wrong, however. I'm not talking about these Oriental rubbish invented by Hollywood.
My utmost respect especially goes to the Chinese, who are flexible enough to mix up seemingly incongruous ideologies such as Maoism and capitalism, or the solar calendar with the lunar calendar or even the ancient Mayan Calendar. More importantly, they have kept their traditional principles intact all along, unlike the Japanese whose unprincipled way of importing foreign things and ideas has resulted in a "cultural salad" by now.
From my point of view, the beauty of mixing with Northeast Asians lies primarily with the fact that they don't have to be reminded of our mortality and the emptiness of our lives every time we discuss issues. As a result, I can pass as one of the most pleasant persons to be with even in this holiday season.
The Japanese are quite different from other tribes. This archipelago is the cultural crossroad where the East has met the West in the weirdest and the most unfortunate way. The Americans have always been able to expect them to remain the second-class citizens of their evil Empire.
This, however, is not to say the Japanese are all yellow Yankees. Some of them, if not many, still keep the traditional Asian virtues intact, especially in mountainous farmlands and remote islands. When American ideologues talk about the Japanese people, it's just a word that represents faceless vassals and serfs in their Far Eastern fiefdom. But to me, they are all faces I've known in the last 77 years.
Even as for the Japanese living in urban areas, I'm reasonably comfortable talking to them because most of the time we can resonate with each other much more congenially than when I discuss ideologies with the American people.
For one thing, these Manga-loving people never ridicule me as an opium addict when I talk about a brand new sociopolitical model, even though I can't expect them to grasp my argument either in political or technological context. They pay due respect for my proposition simply because they know nothing new comes out of the manifestation of delusions under the guise of an ideology.
They would say: "Maybe it's a pipe-dream. But what's wrong with dreaming? Is there anything more real and creative than wild imagination?"
Lara and part of me at Bonenkai
My neighbor Lara, Chen Tien-shi is an ethnological researcher specializing in such issues as statelessness and the Chinese Diaspora. At the same time, she is a dedicated activist who has set up an NPO named "Stateless Network." Aside from the unparalleled intelligence that allows her to address these issues in all their complexity and subtlety, Lara has a very pleasant personality and an excellent eyesight.
One afternoon in early December, I walked past the Chinese restaurant owned by her parents. As usual she spotted me before I spotted her. She left her computer in the farthest corner of the shop, waving her hand at me as high as if she were a little girl who found her father in the crowd. She rushed out to say: "Can I expect you to attend the annual meeting of the Network?" I said, "I'm afraid not. I was just thinking about sending a proxy statement to the secretariat." "Then why don't you join us in our Bonenkai that follows the annual meeting?"
Bonenkai, literally translated as a forget-the-year party, actually refers to any get-together people have at this time of the year. I hesitated to answer in the affirmative because I wasn't sure if I could socialize nicely with other members of the group. Then I remembered I was badly in need of mixing with ordinary Asians even though most of them are typical Japanese.
Back home, I rehearsed myself for our empty conversation like this:
Me: "Ms. So-and-So, what do you do, I mean, for a living?" Ms. So-and-So: "I'm a school teacher." Me: "Oh, is that so?" Ms. So-and-So: "What about you, Mister ...?" Me: "Yamamoto is my name. I'm jobless." Ms. So-and-So: "!!??" Me: "By the way, this mapo tofu is very nice. Don't you think?" Ms. So-and-So: "Indeed it is"
Now I was sure it would be a cinch to express my opinions on the matters that I can't really relate myself to if I didn't forget the killer phrase. In the past I've practiced a lot with my American audience on when to say, "By the way."
Actually at the Bonenkai, everyone was asked to introduce himself/herself.
When it was my turn to give a self-introduction, I said: "Actually all I have to tell you about myself is that I am the oldest member of the group." Lara quickly cut in. "You are wrong, Mr. Yamamoto." "Who is older than I?" She said, "My father is 90 although he had to skip this gathering for some reason." I said: "Thank you for correcting me, Lara. I'm the second oldest." I went on: "It seems to me there are at least 7 or 8 people among you guys who have Japanese nationality, either acquired or given at birth jus soli or jus sanguinis. Now I want to ask you a small question: 'Do you know what's going on here on this Sunday?'" Nobody but Lara could answer my question.
Lara grinned and said as if to cover for her stupid classmates: "GENERAL ELECTION!" "You bet it is. I just wanted to remind you that Article 15 of the Constitution guarantees 'universal adult suffrage.' You should never fail to cast your ballot. I hear the polling stations are open until 8 PM. For my part, the last time I exercised my voting right was soon after I reached my voting age 57 years ago. But it's a different story."
At that moment, Lara raised her hand to ask me something which sounded like a planted question: "Mr. Yamamoto, why don't you vote yourself?" "Thanks for asking. I don't vote because I'm a de facto stateless person."
NOTE: Later in the day, the election officials announced the voter turnout was a record low 59.32%.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees classifies the stateless into two categories, de jure and de facto, as if it were someone's responsibility to distinguish them from one group to the other. Based on the pointless definitions, UNHCR has been aiming at reducing the stateless population by promoting its 1967 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons as if they were pests.
Unlike their leader Lara, the predominantly Japanese members of Stateless Network are all gullible enough to blindly swallow UNHCR's dogmas which are, in fact, the worst possible combination of two ideologies, one for busybodies and the other for crybabies. They all believe they are supposed to carry out a lofty mission of helping the stateless persons around the world acquire second-class citizenship of the respective nation-states, as if nationalities were alms from heaven.
But thanks to my friend Lara, now I have learned that these local folks, who are cool-headed and warm-hearted relative to the Westerners I know, can help me avoid another midnight fright and recover some sense of reality.
Around the same time, I even resorted to temporarily un-disowning my elder son.
It was just an emergency measure. For 77 years by now, I've lived my life in my own way, always looking for something to live for. Some Americans seem to think I should suffer the consequence. I couldn't care less. But it's a different story when it comes to my own offspring. Who could accept it when your biological son thinks you deserve all this "punishment"?
I just said to him, "Why don't we have small talk over sukiyaki dinner?" He complied right away because there was no particular reason to decline. Since I took a precaution to avoid touchy topics, we just talked this and that about musical instruments (he is a baritone sax player) and the computer.
Earlier in the month, he had invited me to his concert that would be held at a decent hall located at the edge of Yokohama city. I would never have attended it if it hadn't been given jointly with a group of professional jazz musicians who call themselves "Glenn Miller Sound Orchestra."
True, it was fake, but since Japan's top-notch jazz men replicated the Glenn Miller Orchestra (1938-42) to every detail, not only repertory- and arrangement-wise but also presentation style-wise, e.g. two vocalists stayed sitting around on stage even when an instrumental number was being played, I found their performance even more impressive than the real one I can hear only on YouTube.
A schmaltzy old man though I may sound, I was deeply touched when the female singer started to sing:
Why do robins sing in December, Long before the springtime is due? And even though it's snowing, Violets are growing, I know why and so do you
These danceable tunes from the Big Band Era (1935-55) always bring back the memories of fine moments. One year after the Tokyo Olympics, I was briefly living with a former Miss Hokkaido as her live-in boyfriend in a fancy apartment located near the Olympic Stadium. To me she looked to be outshining Monica Vitti starring in the 1962 Italian film "The Eclipse." We spent a night at a Yokohama nightclub named "Moonlight." In the predawn hours. we were alone on the dance floor. Filipino musicians were playing Frankie Carle's "Sunrise Serenade" for us.
Whenever I recall those good old days, I say to myself: "Who could have asked for anything more?"
And also in December I didn't forget to ask for the company of DK, who helped me out of the first round of financial crisis when the tax-collectors at City Hall robbed me of 30% of my pension annuity. Without his aid which totaled 700K yen over the 9-month period from October 2011, I would have been sunk a long time ago. Since then I've been feeling as if I were a composer of classical music who failed to produce a masterpiece to reciprocate the patronage by a music-loving royalty. But he readily booked himself for a dinner together. He gave me a fine treat at a nearby Korean restaurant. Among other things, I loved the braised pork cheek meat served there.
DK isn't a college graduate, but unlike my uneducated sons, he can talk about a wide range of topics from languages, to religions, to literature and to technologies. As always he footed the bill knowing I'm now going through the second round of the constitutional/extralegal battle. When we left the Korean restaurant, he stopped a taxi for me at the sidewalk filled with December festivity and casually handed me two thousand-yen bills for the taxi fare.
Over the yearend, I also owed heartfelt thanks to two doctors, especially the selfless dentist. On New Year's Eve, my decayed tooth started aching intolerably. I knew that in this weird country, all doctors and dentists would close their clinics between December 28 or 29 through January 3 or 4, as if it's prohibited to fall ill during this period. So I sent a mail to the dental practitioner just to ask when he will resume his business. Quite unexpectedly his reply mail hit my in-box in the wee hours of January 1. It said, "I plan to resume business on the 4th, but I don't think you can wait that long. You can come to see me this afternoon." And the dentist in causal attire gave me an emergency treatment and prescription. When I said, "I want you to issue me a bill this time around," he said, "Oh, no, Mr. Yamamoto. It's a New Year's gift from me."
My physical and financial crisis is still far from over. But now that I resumed close contact with some local folks, I think I can prevent myself from being psychologically alienated any further from real life. · read more (20 words)
"□ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □" - Diogenes of Sinope (When asked about his take on Zeno's arguments, he just stood up, without saying a word, and walked, in order to prove they were false.)
Every Internet & Manga cafe in Japan has tens of thousands of funny and serious Manga books in its library.
Day and night a number of "Internet cafe refugees" fence themselves in jail-cell-like cubicles.
I lived an extraordinarily rewarding life, but it's all over now. My English writing skills are too poor to describe the strange sensation, but I feel what I am today is exactly what I was. (NOTE at the bottom of this post.) I want to preserve the memories of my life until the last moment so they all vanish when I vanish.
I still hang around this side of heaven primarily because it's too cold outside to die there. So don't tell me I still have some obligation to give free lectures on life to you American people.
In fact, the scattered responses to my recent post about a new political model and its followup piece about the Deluge of Manga really let "me" down. Judging from the online and offline feedback from a handful of specimens, most, if not all, Americans can't address a serious issue such as this one in a principled way.
I just wanted to send a message that we can stem the overwhelming flood of Manga only when we come up with a new sociopolitical model with which to supplant the dead one, and vice versa. We can't solve either part because it's one and the same problem.
I have defined Manga so broadly as to include any visual or audiovisual aid that allows people with defeatist mindset and change-phobia to escape from reality. No more, no less. To me, George Orwell's Ninety Eighty-Four is a piece of Manga simply because quite a few Manga loving people here consider it as a high-end alternative to Gekiga (serious Manga) despite the fact the dystopian story is presented in a different format in Orwell's book.
I have absolutely nothing against Manga itself. The problem always lies with the people.
Nevertheless, those who gave me their comments, directly or indirectly, still talk about it in terms of good or bad, or, harmless or harmful. Simply it's a non sequitur to my serious argument. They might as well have ignored it altogether.
Among other things, they had difficulty understanding my frequent reference to Zeno's Paradoxes. As a result, they all thought my argument about the dichotomic world was way too far-fetched.
Last night I was writing the following sentences for yet another piece which might have been titled something like Evil resides in people's minds to further clarify my point.
"Just think of two places and plot them on a white canvas in the corners of your mind. Let's assume the places you pick are a utopia or a dystopia you tend to think Manga addicts are resorting to, and the 'real' world you tend to liken to a prison. Then you somehow feel an urge to bring a Manga-loving person back to the 'real' world. You try to drag him into the prison in the hope that he would wake up to the reality there.
"Then you realize that no matter how you map the two geometric points relative to each other, you will never succeed just like Achilles can never catch up with the tortoise. The reason your dichotomic tactic fails in human society is because you always opt to leave yourself out of the picture. What good do you think it would do to tell him to wake up when you are not creative and imaginative enough, yourself, to come up with a bright idea of a workable model for a new society? Nobody wants to wake up to the reality which is synonymous with hell. Everyone has the right to deceive himself the way he likes.
"Human nature is such that it continually transcends itself, or continually refuses to do so, in order to pursue, or suppress the 'free will' of its own.
"Easier said than done, but you should know it doesn't make any sense to tell others to change without changing yourself.
"You should know you have also chosen to remain fenced in Zeno's prison. There may be some other guy who thinks he remains outside of the fantasy world. He says to the inmate: 'Stay inside if you feel comfortable there.' But actually he has also fenced himself in a prison built on his utter ignorance.
"All in all, everyone in this picture is trapped in the same illusion."
When I came to this point, something clicked in my mind. I said to myself: "Shit, what the hell am I doing here? I've already done as much as I could. I don't want to waste any more time on this futile discussion."
Now I know time isn't ripe yet, and will most probably remain so forever, for the Americans to break what I call "Imperial Determinism" amid the vast intellectual vacuum spreading across North America.
I went to bed although it's actually nothing but a couple of dirty, crumpled rags. As usual I couldn't fall asleep despite the fatigue. Then, I got stricken by a spell of panic over how I've been screwing up my entire life when the final curtain is falling on me. Until dawn, I kept asking myself, as if in delirium, how to get out of this jam.
There are only two roles played on the stage: one for the Rebel, the other for the Plain Fool. There is a third role which is played by the Revolutionary, but he normally stays off-stage throughout the dichotomic drama.
My lifetime philosophy teacher Jean-Paul Sartre observed the Rebel is a clown because he badly needs his enemy to withstand his rebellious attack so he can remain the same Rebel all along. But now I've learned the Rebel also needs the Revolutionary because he is there to prove for the Rebel that the Revolutionary is an inviable species. In a dichotomic world, he always ends up destroying himself.
The Plain Fool may hate the Rebel because the Rebel is there to mercilessly attack him. Yet, he also needs the Revolutionary on his side because he wants to sleep in peace with a belief that the Revolutionary always keeps vigil on his behalf. The Plain Fool needn't know what the Revolutionary is watching out for. It's none of his business.
Maybe I can define my role as that of the Revolutionary. But I don't want the Rebel or the Plain Fool to count on me because it's always a he. At least in Japan, women don't belong to the dichotomy unless/until they are fully assimilated into the male-dominated world. Actually it was always a woman, who was too intelligent to be called the Plain Fool, that made my life really worth living. Not that all Japanese women are like this - far from it. The Manga-loving female manager at the tax-collecting department of the municipal office, for one, is a real bitch.
I said to myself it's about time to have
abandoned the role of the Revolutionary. It's none of my business to suggest my predominantly American audience that they should seek a brand-new sociopolitical model.
Enough is enough.
To make up for the sleepless night, I took a long afternoon nap. At a little after 5 PM, a sudden jolt woke me up. Funnily enough, the first thing that cropped up in my mind was that cockeyed, short (5'02"), impossibly nicotine-addicted Frenchman named Jean-Paul Sartre, and his ontological essay titled L'Être et le néant. If I remember it correctly, he wrote in the book to the effect that natural phenomena such as winds that blow, streams of the river and waves of the sea are the "disease" of L'Être en-soi (being in-itself.)
His statement here was not really convincing. But now I think I've really understood the idea. When a dichotomic world falls apart, it will be caused by itself, like in a case where a big quake destroys Japan. Fortunately or unfortunately, most seismologists are now saying the probability of a real devastating earthquake hitting the metropolitan area in the next four years is 70%.
Incidentally, did you know that an exceptionally talented Manga cartoonist has recently debuted in New Jersey, U.S.A.? His name is Gordon G. Chang. Although he still uses the format of political analysis here, its content is unmistakably Manga. · read more (354 words)
Sunday, December 02 2012 @ 01:14 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. - Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
Simply, neither is the case here.
"Deluge" is the only word I can think of to describe the overwhelming flood of Manga in this country. In 2011, 968 million copies of comic books and magazines were read by the Japanese, from prime ministers to corporate executives, to yakuza gangsters, to the homeless. But this is only part of it. On TV and the Internet, and in movie theaters, they saw another myriad of animated Manga called Anime.
Besides, they often read supposedly serious books as a high-end alternative to Manga. George Orwell's Ninety Eighty-Four, for one, has deeply resonated with Japanese Manga lovers, although it hasn't been published in the Manga format thus far.
You may not believe, but remember Manga is a visual, or audiovisual aid that allows its readers to escape from reality. To these defeatist-minded, change-phobic people, it doesn't matter whether the story is about a utopia or a dystopia. How sweet it must be to imagine we are all doomed. For sure, it's as irresistible as fantasizing about yourself surrounded by cuties all in the nude.
This makes comic books and magazines the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
And if you think some cabal is hatching a plot to lull the Japanese people into a fantasy world, you are caught in a delusion, too. No matter how far the process of degeneration has progressed in this country, the Japanese still remain human beings, though they've come very close to apes now. They could have thwarted the "conspiracy" if they hadn't chosen on their own to go for Manga as a harmless substitute for the object of their innate imagination.
In other words, it's none other than themselves who wanted to escape from reality. Jean-Paul Sartre called this behavior Mauvaise foi (self-deception.)
This makes you think that although it's too late for the Japanese to stem the torrent, the American people can still reverse the process of their Japanization if they somehow find a way to overcome their deep-seated change-phobia.
In this respect, well-educated Americans may not necessarily lead the way. They tend to distance themselves from the influence of the Manga-immersed Japanese culture so as not to look vulgar. But it's a futile attempt. These people can convert to Manga addicts on the slightest cue because they are unaware that the problem lies with people, not in Manga itself.
French philosopher Henri Bergson observed that intuition and imagination play the pivotal role in our developmental process. For a certain period of time in my childhood, I was also hooked on Manga. And I think Manga helped nurture my creativity. But if you become addicted to it, as the Japanese all did, it's inevitable that delusion takes the place of an unstunted imagination.
Traditionally, in the U.S., and the U.K. to a lesser degree, there are lots of criticisms against Bergson's theory. An unnamed person on this website argues: "Bergson seldom offers proof or logical procedure to substantiate his statements. He asserts; he does not deduce his ideas from verifiable facts. .... Such intellectual pursuits appeal to metaphysical 'concepts' that by their very nature lie beyond the possibility of verification. .... Consequently, as is the case with so much philosophical jargon, such claims as Bergson's are epistemic nonsense." This is a typical argument based on the simplistic positivism and empiricism particular to Anglo-Saxons.
These guys are all mistaken simply because they forget that Bergson single-mindedly sought an answer to Zeno's proposition about a motionless, frozen world.
I will never accept the American version of Zeno's paradoxes, which I'm inclined to call "Imperial Determinism," because it is solely meant to preserve the status quo of Pax Americana. It provides a plausible alibi for the American people who keep playing dumb about their inability to stop their colonialist government from pursuing its "morally obscene and financially unsustainable" (Chalmers Johnson) interventionist policy.
Actually, there are more level-headed people who have been challenging the paradoxes from the mathematics or physics point of view. But we Asians don't want to become mathematicians or physicians so we could come up with an actionable plan to overcome all these difficulties brought in this region by the worst rogue country in history named America.
After all, the answer given by Diogenes the Cynic (412-323 BC) is the most straightforward and convincing. When asked about his take on Zeno's arguments, Diogenes just stood up without saying a word, and walked, in order to demonstrate the falsity of Zeno's conclusions.
Zoren Kierkegaard expressed a similar thought when he wrote in his diary: "It is quite true what philosophy says: that life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived forwards." · read more (46 words)
Wednesday, November 28 2012 @ 10:38 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
This essay was actually contributed by a person who wants to be called Diogenes of Arkansas in response to my most recent post titled In search of a brand-new political model. Your quote by Jefferson (One man with courage is a majority) is a metaphor for the form of government the founders of the American Republic created—a Constitutional Republic.
“The purpose of a Constitutional Republic is to place limits on the tyranny of the majority. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
“If, on the other hand, a legislative power could be so constituted as to represent the majority without necessarily being the slave of its passions, an executive so as to retain a proper share of authority, and a judiciary so as to remain independent of the other two powers, a government would be formed which would still be democratic while incurring scarcely any risk of tyranny.”
When people claim the U.S. is a democracy, they are wrong, because a democracy means that the majority rules, which is how you can have 500,001 impose their will on 499,999 in a population of 1,000,000. Yet, this is now the practice in the U.S., which is unconstitutional and a violation of the spirit and intent of the Constitution as the fundamental legal document in the U.S Republic.
Your statement on Japanese people escaping into cartoons and comic books caught me by surprise. However, when I looked into American comic book sales figures, the rate of sales has grown approximately 30%, according to “Comic Chronicles”.
While I noticed that television appears to be showing more cartoons aimed at adults, I was surprised to see that Fox is the main cartoon network for adults in primetime, and that all of them are spoofs on American families or fathers. This is the list I found at Fox, which appears to me to have increased in number in the last ten years: American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, and the long running comic strip transitioned to cartoon The Simpsons.
Thus, it leaves one to consider that your data in Japan may be reflected in the U.S. So not only are Americans importing Toyotas and Fukushima debris, we are getting infected by your escapism plague as well. I’d like to say, “Thank you for your gifts,” but it doesn’t seem appropriate.
This quote of yours about how you envision a new constitutional form of government has at least two glaring flaws to me.
“If I were them, I would put forth a general design concept on the web as a draft constitution for online skull sessions. Our constitution would say the new government should consist of two branches, instead of three, because there would be no legislators. The executive and judicial powers would lie with the smallest units of people such as private companies, towns or villages.”
Private companies are still companies. Companies have a vested interest in controlling legislation to benefit their business interests above the interests of the mass of individual members of the society or country, or to paraphrase Jefferson, “The majority of one.”
In the U.S., the Judicial branch of government is so corrupted at ALL levels that some other system needs to be created, and this goes as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, where they illegally and unconstitutionally decided the winner in the Presidential election of 2000. All the Justices that voted in this way should have been impeached by Congress, but it never happened because Congress is totally, and I mean TOTALLY, corrupt. This includes the fake hero Ron Paul.
I think it is safe to say that if we examine ancient history, the first form of what might be considered government were the herds of animals. These herd animals simply gathered together instinctively for protection and species reproduction. All members of the herd were free to come and go as they pleased. Clearly, some members had to have broken away to form new herds, which could be considered in human terms as bands or tribes. It could be argued that this herd instinct was reflected in the behavior of the ancient hunter-gatherers.
With the death of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, civilizations emerged and with them governments. This monumental change in the relationship between humans (civilization) was the beginning of enslavement. Afterwards, every living thing was born into slavery, whether plant, animal, or human. In the Christian bible’s Old Testament myths, a god created everything and gave humans the right to be slave masters of all other things, as long as they kept the covenant this god demanded—a small price to pay to be in the coveted position of master. Thus, even as far back in mythological Middle Eastern time, we see that a master (god’s chosen people with divine rights above all other peoples) and slave relationship was invoked by none other than a god (actually the clever concept of the author of this text), a wrathful god that was, by HIS own words, dangerous if crossed (this text may be the first written example of a domestic terrorist threat).
Down through the ages hence, whether pre- or post-Christian, occasionally some oppressed peoples have challenged this unjust birthright like the Diggers in England. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the communities and ideas set forth by these Diggers and Levelers were yearning to return to the freedom experienced by the hunter-gatherers. As can be expected, the conditioning, even then, was such that these liberating ideas were resisted by the majority, and these radicals were easily squashed by the persons with the means to force them to submit—meaning Cromwell and Fairfax, who controlled the military forces.
Eventually, the master/slave system had its first real challenge with the Greek experiment, and resting on the shoulders of those Greek geniuses were the scholars of the Age of Enlightenment. In the North American colonies, the scholars of these ideas of man’s innate freedom (The Rights of Man) appear to have been sufficient in number to affect enough people and motivate them to revolt against their master, the King of England and the power behind the throne that is greater than the king.
Because these Enlightenment scholars were men of letters, they used letters to create rules for the correct behavior and conduct between humans in their colonies. Thus, a Constitutional Republic was created. Of course, it was ignored and usurped almost immediately by such laws as the Alien and Sedition Acts, which pitted those supporting states’ rights (those who supported each state as a sovereign nation and supported the concept of a weak federal body) vs. the federalists (those supporting a strong federal government able to impose its will on weak states).
The history of the United States and nearly all governments in the world are examples of the usurpation of Constitutional laws. The only exception to this that I’ve read about is when no laws were written down but were memorized by the citizens. Everyone must know the laws by heart, and thus, any violations of these laws or new legislation to override these laws would be immediately known to all of the citizens in the society. No Supreme Court was necessary to interpret the laws, since everyone knew the laws’ intent.
On the successful completion of the revolution in the colonies, a Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. It included these most important words, reflecting Enlightenment principles and the sentiment of Thomas Paine, author of the Rights of Man.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Sounds good on paper, but in less than eighty years, the existing form of government was challenged by states that wanted to exercise the right “…to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” and create a binding legal framework for themselves that more closely suited them. Abraham Lincoln, a traitor to the Constitution as supreme law and the spirit of this declaration, deliberately started the American Civil War that saw over 500,000 souls lose their lives. He and the Congress that permitted his dictatorial initiation of this war were responsible for the utter destruction of the infrastructure of those independence minded states. It was a classic Clausewitz-style war of total destruction. One could say with certitude that Lincoln’s deadly act was the inevitable outcome of simply one more failed system in the long history in the ongoing experiment of humans to either govern themselves or to be living as slaves in varying degrees of oppression by others.
Spooner’s introduction to his paper is a reflection of support for the Rights of Man, and a condemnation of Lincoln’s murderous coup d’état.
“The question of treason is distinct from that of slavery; and is the same that it would have been, if free States, instead of slave States, had seceded.
“On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.
“The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, make them traitors and criminals.
“No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle --- but only in degree --- between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and [*iv] asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
“Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that --- in theory, at least, if not in practice --- our government was a free one; that it rested on consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established.
“If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be known. If it be the principle of the Constitution, the Constitution itself should be at once overthrown.”
The key word here is “consent.” No government today anywhere on this planet has the consent of the governed. As Spooner later states in his paper, he didn’t participate in this written contract known as the U.S. Constitution. It can only apply to those who were alive when it was created and agreed to be bound by it, and since he was never a signatory to this contract, it can’t have any power over him. This is why Jefferson is quoted as advocating a revolution every twenty years, so that the next generation may create their own rules that men would agree to abide by during their lifetimes.
Later, in more recent history in Republican Spain, some areas were ruled by Anarchists—persons that believed in total self-governance and elimination of all forms of external coersion. While this experiment was reported to be successful, and testimonies tell us those persons affected by this method were very pleased with it, they came under attack from both the Soviet supported Communists and the Fascist Falange. It seems that pyramidal power structures of oppression by a few against the many always gain the upper hand, and independent rule is such a threat that it must be totally exterminated, as we saw with Lincoln’s betrayal of the Rights of Man during the Civil War.
And how far has the American Constitutional Republic sunk in the quicksand of no return? Americans live in a police state that most people refuse to see. The constitutional right of a President to issue Executive Orders, which was not clearly spelled out in the original document, has allowed for the creation of dictator to arise. Now we have a President that has gone to the most extreme end of tyranny—he has created an Executive Order that allows him and any future President to order the murder of anyone, anywhere, and this includes American citizens. No habeas corpus right, which was lost in previous legislation passed by members of both houses of Congress; no right to a trial; this is clear Stalinism or Maoism, two of the biggest mass murderers of their own citizens in world history. And when I’ve reported to my neighbors these and other equally dangerous acts by the American government, I get nothing but a blank stare. This behavior by Americans near and far is clear evidence of escapism and denial. Don’t worry, be happy.
So, whether your e-Democracy is possible, or if the opportunity for the public to institute a similar system as advocated by Gerald Celente of Trends Research, it isn’t going to happen. For change to occur, it must begin with an informed citizenry, and that public is comprised of individual members, each one needing the complete ingestion of all the relevant data, and more importantly, having the motivation to want to know this data. The basic reason for the failure of this kind of liberating concept is that most people are ossified, and, as you rightly label it, “change disabled.” The label “cowards” is also an accurate description. Thus, based on my observations up to this point, we can assume that we will be witnesses over the coming years and decades of an even greater and more pernicious form of imposed slavery, and that no matter how constricting it will become, these “change disabled” will not resist, as long as they are able to flee into their comic books, or cartoons, or in the example of the Soviet Union—vodka bottles. These are the responses of the defeated, and our masters know they’ve won. · read more (7 words)
Monday, November 26 2012 @ 12:55 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
One man with courage is a majority. - Thomas Jefferson
It has belatedly dawned on the gullible American people that the mainstream media and chattering classes are spreading fallacies more than they tell the truth. Yet, most of them still believe in the silly notion that the alternative and social media are more reliable than their mainstream cousins.
How do they know that? Their typical answer is: "Just by intuition." But remember when someone wants to instill a delusive idea in your brain, his first target is your intuitive faculty because it's the most vulnerable part of a human being.
As the dust has settled down more or less on the post-Election America, they are gradually accepting the outcome of the election although at least 70% of the voting-age population still feel cheated by the media and political establishment.
They know very well that reluctantly accepting unacceptable things is the easiest and most effective way to remain uncommitted. Actually these people have already restored their old habit of putting all the blame on others for everything that went wrong. It's out of the question for them to demand a rerun of the whole election process.
This way they are getting poised to repeat the same follies toward 2016. To this end, they make believe they are unaware of the untold truth about the leap-year farce: Obama wasn't the winner.
If you take a look at this Wikipedia entry and do some grade-school arithmetic, you will know the real winners were those 89 million people (40.0-42.5% of the voting-age population) who refused to exercise their voting right. Obama's share of popular vote is shown here as 50.8%. But if you discount it with the extremely poor voter turnout, you will know Obama got only 29.9% against the total voting-age population.
I know most Americans today don't like Jefferson's quote you saw at the top of this post simply because it sounds undemocratic. These people think they should strictly adhere to majority rule. In fact, though, they are now nullifying their cardinal rule on the pretext of the very same principle.
70% of the people, Republicans, independents and those who passed up the meaningless poll, are more or less unhappy with the election results. But it seems they want to look away from the obvious fact because more and more they have developed a defeatist mindset. They know very well losers are excused from painstaking efforts to break this cul-de-sac, and thus, given a special privilege to attribute their own failure to someone else.
Actually it's this sense of defeat and resignation being felt among these auto-suggestible masochists that makes the Kenyan Monkey grin from ear to ear.
Whether you like it or not, the fact of the matter
remains that American democracy IS DEAD with the entire electoral system finally falling apart.
Romney might want to correct his concession speech because it's not Obama, but those who didn't cast their ballots, who actually defeated him. By the same token, Obama might want to deliver a concession speech on the day he is sworn in for his second term. But now it's too little, too late, to reverse the process of the decline of America. The country is now headed for its total implosion.
Which is addicted to opiate, you or me?
This leaves us wondering what to expect from those 40-Percenters who refused to attend the November 6 ritual.
As I always maintain, people's fate hinges solely on the quality of each individual. And needless to say, it can only be measured by his ability of creative and imaginative thinking. This is especially true in the face of the moment of truth such as this one.
The single most formidable problem that is undermining the vigor of the nation is fear of change on the part of its people. It is created by the lack of imagination. For almost seven decades by now, American people at large have been supporting their government's efforts for "nation-building" overseas. But when it comes to the destruction and rebuilding of their own country, they all feel weak at the knees and their imagination freezes before the daunting task.
Although they don't want to admit it, it's not a mission impossible when it is well-conceived. Just for one thing, it should not be that unrealistic for the American people to press their government to immediately withdraw from some multilateral and bilateral frameworks such as the United Nations, the NPT and U.S.-Japan security treaty. When that happens, they will see a completely different situation arising overnight. NATO is a different story because it involves too complex tasks. But that will hopefully help ease people's fear of change.
Quite a few Americans have learned a wrong lesson from the Japanese people. As a result, they are already Japanized to the marrow. Now it's too late to undo the Japanese influence on them. But the rest of the people can still learn many don'ts from the Japanese to avoid repeating the fatal mistakes they have committed.
For one thing, the Japanese people have been strictly prohibited, or strongly discouraged at best, from creative and imaginative thinking since their early childhood. As you may have noticed, Japanese adults, from prime minister, to corporate executives, to yakuza gangsters, to homeless, are all hooked on Manga (cartoons) simply because they are badly in need of a harmless substitute for imagination. (See NOTE below.) Now Manga to Japanese grownups is what sci-fi movies are to preteen kids in the U.S. In short, Japanese comic books and Anime have proved the best recipe to make people remain change-disabled from cradle to grave.
NOTE: According to the official statistics, 968 million copies of comic books and magazines were sold in 2011. This accounted for 36% of the publication of all genres in the year. Remember Japan's population stands at 127 million.
Most Americans would say they can't expect that much from those who didn't cast their ballots because they have no organization to represent them. But they are wrong. In that respect, they should know that the Japanese have developed a phobia about anything that isn't neatly organized. And this trait has taken a devastating toll on the viability of the nation. When one wants to unleash his imagination and creative thinking, any organization serves as a liability rather than an asset.
I think these uninstitutionalized Americans should, first and foremost, make every possible effort to overcome their defeatist mindset and phobia. Only then, a small number of people will hopefully come forward to form a loosely organized group. The time is ripe for them to successfully bring a critical mass of Netizens around their design concept for a brand-new government model. Every precaution has to be taken, however, against the dirty trick Google or any other "independent" SEO (search engine optimization) company could well use to tamper with their effort. These guys constantly un-optimize the traffic to/from harmful websites such as this one of my own.
If I were them, I would put forth a general design concept on the web as a draft constitution for online skull sessions. Our constitution would say the new government should consist of two branches, instead of three, because there would be no professional legislators. The executive and judicial powers would lie with the smallest units of people such as private companies, towns or villages.
I don't know how soon the virtual government would supplant Washington, but there's no reason to believe you can't do something of the same magnitude that the empty-headed kid by the name of Mark Zuckerberg could generate in a matter of a few years. At any rate, don't make believe the current system is more or less functioning. If you still want to live in delusion, you should stop criticizing the media and political establishment for good.
I don't care if their design concept bears little resemblance to my sketchy description of the edifice I'm inclined to call e-Democracy because the name of the game is just narrowing the yawning gap between potentially change-enabling technologies and totally change-disabled sociopolitical systems which are centuries apart now.
But I want them always to keep in mind that there's no room for ideologies in their endeavor. Any ism, be it capitalism, socialism, conservatism, liberalism, or even anarchism, is just the cinders from the past revolution. That's why Gordon G. Chang and his fellow ideologues look very much like hobos scavenging for kitchen waste.
I also think there are some other countries to watch, such as China and Greece. It seems to me these peoples from the cradles of the oldest civilizations are now taking an uncharted course with their inventive, down-to-earth, bold, tough, delusion-free, and ideology-free mindsets and attitudes. · read more (48 words)
Friday, November 23 2012 @ 02:52 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
It turned out to be another fake dawn. The electoral changes did not go far enough to make a difference. The opposition leaders wasted their energies fighting among themselves. Outside the LDP, Ozawa was unable to spread enogh money around to get things done and keep his party members happy. In 1994, the LDP was back in power in coalition with , of all parties, the socialists. By 1997, Ozawa and his fellow rebels against the LDP were finished..
- Inventing Japan - 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma, 2003.
Part of Chojuu Jinbutsu Giga
After desperately clinging to power for 62 weeks, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda finally succumbed to the pressure for his virtual resignation. Pressure from whom? None other than himself.
On November 16, he dissolved the Lower House, knowing his Democratic Party of Japan would never come back to power again. The all-too-familiar political turmoil had already started a couple of months earlier.
The Japanese are now witnessing deja vu of the "political realignment" of 1993 where "new" parties mushroomed, existing parties renamed themselves, and split up into two or more, merged with others, while dozens of lawmakers made party-hopping back and forth from one party to another.
As of today, there are at least 14 political parties as you can see below:
Name of Party Head
Democratic Party of Japan
Current Prime Minister
Liberal Democratic Party
Grandson of Nobusuke Kishi. Prematurely stepped down as PM in Sept. 2007
when he mentally collapsed.
Komei-to (Political arm of the legitimized cult Soka Gakkai)
Champion of party-hopping
Son of former Finance Minister
Quit the high-paying job of Tokyo Governor in October to collect a handsome amount of retirement allowance.
Japan Communist Party
Yet to wake up from the dream of the Cold War era.
Social Democratic Party
An old stakeholder in Japan Post before its privatization by Bush's order.
Served 17-month-term in jail
Formerly 2nd-rate university professor
Former Governor of Nagano Prefecture
NOTE: WK signifies "Who knows?"
Is this a manifestation of political diversity of this country? Not at all. They insist they are divided over many issues, but simply that is not true. Although there are 14 different combinations of answers to media-salient fake issues such as whether, and how fast, to phase out the nuclear power plants, their political platforms all come down to one and only worn-out cause: restore the imaginary prosperity, unity and harmony under the reign of the Emperor and the U.S. President.
I don't know what to make of this landscape where 14 political groups are competing against one another for a single empty cause. How do I know when these political racketeers don't know what they are doing themselves? All I can tell is it's yet another confirmation that Japan has been going around in circles for many decades by now. To say the least, it turned out to be another lost 20 years.
It's as though I am looking at Chojuu-Jinbutsu Giga (animal-person caricatures), a set of picture scrolls, unfolding before me. The caricatures were drawn in the 12th through 13th centuries by Buddhist monks to satirize subhuman creatures in action without knowing what they were doing.
Just for one thing Shintaro Ishihara, 80-year-old imbecile who had been remote-controlling a small group named Rise Up Japan Party from his Governor's office, took it over in mid-November with a lot of fanfare and renamed it something like The Sun Party. But just a week or so later the ex-Governor announced that he had dissolved the Sun Party to merge it into another new group headed by a 43-year-old ex-Governor of Osaka named Toru Hashimoto.
On the surface Hashimoto's political agenda is miles apart from Ishihara's. But if you take a closer look at them, you will know that the two guys are 360-degrees, rather than 180-degrees, different from each other. The common denominator between Ishihara and Hashimoto is the fact that both of them are the most unscrupulous racketeers.
Hashimoto, who is a former ambulance chaser, has authored many books in which he openly says the most important attribute for a successful politician is the skills to deceive people without getting convicted. Ironically, his defiant frankness has earned him a reputation that he is an honest person. His biological father was a yakuza gangster. That's not his fault as he always insists, but if he has an unmistakable yakuza mentality himself, as he actually does, that's a different story.
General Douglas MacArthur did two things to the Japanese in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Firstly he handed back Emperor Hirohito alive to the people. Equally important, he gave them a multiparty system when he ordered Nobusuke Kishi, grandfather of Shintaro Abe, to lay out the 1955 System in exchange for his release from the Sugamo Prison, instead of sending him climbing the 13 steps to the gallows.
You never know whether it was a gross negligence or a willful act. But if he did it by design, MacArthur was one of the best conspirators of the 20th century because a multiparty system is not only totally dysfunctional in a country where people have no idea about civil society, but also fatally damaging to it. It's unlikely that the General, who knew all the Japanese were 12-year-olds, didn't know they didn't have a sense of self. Over time anything other than a single-party system will undermine a monolithic country like Japan.
It's, therefore, no accident that this country has seen the same "much ado about nothing" over and over. Every time this happens, the media untiringly tell their audience to expect a new Japan to emerge from the turmoil always termed "political alignment." This time around, the social media have joined forces with them to tell the people to repeat the same folly expecting a different outcome in the upcoming snap election of the Lower House.
Something is fundamentally wrong with this system. And there is no way out of the deadend situation.
I know you Westerners, especially Americans, will sneer at this political landscape. But hold on a minute. Are you sure this is a "fire on the other shore"? Don't you ever expect the Japanese to refrain from re-exporting to your country this rubbish called "American democracy." It will bring you a disaster because a multiparty system twisted in the Japanese way is totally incongruous with your country where the process of America's Japanization has reached its final stage.
In recent years I've been more and more out of touch with your take on the political situation there. So correct me if I'm wrong. I think there are only two types of people in the U.S. today: those in the mainstream and those in the fringe. Mainstreamers admit they are facing some serious problems but they are confident that these problems will be contained sooner or later. On the other hand, people in the fringe say there's practically nothing that doesn't constitute a major problem, and all these problems have gone out of control by now. To put it differently, mainstreamers are swimming in the vast intellectual vacuum created by nation's chattering classes while those in the fringe are drowning in it.
Contrary to your belief, however, I think the two groups have one important thing in common: both are so self-righteous as to attribute these problems to someone else's failure. They constantly externalize, instead of internalize, anything that went wrong, and project it to the other side. In short, they are too busy telling other people to change to change themselves.
It makes me grin to imagine how these Buddhist monks would portray the microcosm of America in which the Kenyan monkey and the monster in the U.S. State Department are in action while they don't know what they are doing. Other people are just looking on.
Their self-deceptive attitudes make the American people look very much like Emperor Hirohito. In 1945, the zombie in the Imperial Palace ingeniously convinced MacArthur that he was a poor victim of the reckless generals of the Imperial Army. It's as though the Americans have learned from the Japanese Emperor how to fabricate a plausible alibi.
In November 2006, I uploaded a post under the title of "Is e-Democracy too wild an anticipation?". I thought the most formidable challenge facing us today is
how to narrow the yawning gap between the obsolete sociopolitical systems and the technologies of the 21st century. Technologies and social engineering methodologies are centuries apart now. Time and again we have learned that the wider the gap, the more disastrous the consequence. But every time we have chosen to forget the bitter lesson.
When I wrote the piece, George W. Bush, in his second term, had already been labeled the second-worst president in U.S. history. But he didn't know he would soon be demoted to the third place.
In the last six years, almost 4,300 people have read this post. But none of them, but Gordon G. Chang, have given me a feedback presumably because it would require a creative thinking to fully explore the viability of an e-government. It remains a pipe dream as long as you think about just supplanting the old technologies with the web-based ones, which is "disruptive" in nature, while assuming the "as-is" sociopolitical systems and the underlying concept of the nation-state should still stay there. It's as though even America's electoral systems haven't proved totally unworkable.
Perhaps, still you can't really visualize a dramatic change that would lead to an e-Democracy. Let me ask you this question: "Do you know, by any chance, that even the empty-headed kid named Mark Zuckerberg could cause a sea change, for better or for worse, in the behaviors of Netizens in a matter of a few years?"
When I sent the link to Chang, he gave me a few mails. In the first mail, he wrote; "I was at a war game all weekend, so I have not yet had a chance to look at the pipedream stuff." (Emphasis mine.) The next day he came back to say: "Very funny, YY. I have no grandchildren. The war game was at the University of Pennsylvania. It was co-sponsored by a Washington think tank. My team lost. I will try [to read that piece] today." A couple of days later, he said: "Tons of interesting thoughts here. The second paragraph needs much more explanation so readers don't get lost." I think that's when I realized, for the first time, that I had to write off this self-complacent bastard.
Admittedly my 6-year-old proposition remained a little too sketchy. But still I want my audience to do some creative thinking using their own brains and give me a feedback that will, in turn, make me think using my own brain. That's why I take up the same issue once again here in the face of the total confusion in my native country.
Or, do you want to stay in the cul-de-sac, grumbling or lamenting over someone else's failure all the time?
In the last several years, many Americans, including Chang, have labeled me a negativist, which is not what I am. Now I think I should return the same infamy to you. You always shy away from action because of your mental inertia and physical cowardice. Yet, you still suspect I'm a daydreamer who habitually abuses opiate.
But in a sense, it's not your fault. It can't really be helped because you haven't experienced real poverty yourself thus far. To you wealthy flapjaws, "poverty" or "injustice" is just a word. For my part, however, I have to live on junk food which makes the real hogwash fed to swine look like a gorgeous treat. Day in, day out, I live that way because I'm supposed to support empty lives of emplobies in central and local government.
I sometimes think we are seeing the first sign of the restoration of democracy in the very cradle of the great idea - Greece. Its "shadow economy" now accounts for 25% of nation's GDP, which translates into much more than 25% of the population. · read more (44 words)
Saturday, November 17 2012 @ 11:01 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Production is thus at the same time waste or destruction of material, financial and human resources, and consumption is at the same time negative production.
- Words from Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx (1857) paraphrased by this blogger.
I am a humble blogger who has lived for almost 77 years and is now dying in dire poverty. I am well aware most of you think I am Aesop's fox because I seem to have walked away from the bunch of grapes with my nose in the air, saying the grapes must be sour.
But nothing is farther from the truth. I've never said grapes are unripe here. Instead I'm always saying I can tell from my experience that they are worm-eaten all over.
Besides, earlier in my life, I've had fine moments when I had a lot of sweet grapes before worms ate into them. There's no reason I have to look around for a fairyland where quality of life hasn't eroded yet.
Given this perception gap between us which seems almost unbridgeable, it's all the more annoying to hear empty-headed ideologues in the U.S. talking about the future of Northeast Asia under the guise of political analysts.
Sometime last year, Gordon G. Chang had to revise his 10-year-old forecast that China would collapse by 2011, saying, "I was wrong, but only by one year." Now as the end of 2012 draws near without seeing imminent signs of his prophecy coming true, Chang must be sweating a lot over how to ask his patrons and followers to give him another reprieve. Learning no lessons from his repeated failure to predict what's happening in this region, he wrote on Forbes.com in September 9, 2011 that Japan would once again overtake China as the world's second largest economy by 2013. Chang's disciples are too nice with their guru to ask him this simple question: "What yardstick are you going to use to figure out GDP of the nation which will have disappeared one year earlier?"
These unprincipled guys arbitrarily single out GDP, or sometimes sovereign debt, when talking about the wealth and health of nations as if they are talking about the Olympic games. Worse, the only thing these makeshift economists can tell about GDP is that the abbreviation stands for Gross Domestic Product. It's about time you should stop being distracted by their amateurish arguments about how soon China catches up with the U.S. GDP-wise, whether or not Japan overtakes China in the foreseeable future, etc.
From 1955 through 1959 I majored in economics and industrial relations at Keio University. Before we went on to study macro- and micro-economics, we had to get familiarized with the tricky rules of debits and credits. I was a dull-witted freshman. So I failed to grasp the principle behind the modern accounting method invented in 1494 by the Venetian genius named Luca Pacioli. It was only after I became a corporate financial manager 10 years later that I understood why income has to be posted on the credit side along with debt, and expenses have to be recorded on the debit side as if they were assets.
Since Pacioli's principle isn't just about debits and credits, it really adds up only when you take a look at it from a much broader perspective. It all comes down to this: Everything has two or more different aspects in the real world. To put it differently: Goodbye to ideological delusions and delusive ideologies.
Karl Marx observed that a producer produces a new product by consuming existing one and a consumer, in turn, consumes the product to produce a newer one. In that sense, he echoed Pacioli's principle while trying to adapt it to the post-Industrial Revolution era.
And this is exactly where the flyblown brains of these self-styled economists like Chang stop to work. And that is why they keep talking about nations' wealth and health so lightly. I even suspect those of you who are well-educated but have little experience engaging in an actual process of production of wealth think the accounting equation is something for number crunching nerds and has nothing to do with your own life. As a result you always end up scratching the surface of things even when you address your own problem. You self-righteously think problems are always for someone else to solve.
In the last five centuries since Pacioli, valuation of assets and liabilities have been an everlasting challenge for professional accountants in and outside FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) or IASB (International Accounting Standards Board). Especially in recent years, the hottest topic among them has been how to deal with intangibles such as intellectual property. I have no interest, whatsoever, in how these vultures flocking around paper money are measuring their imaginary wealth. But I am still deeply concerned about how these accounting experts bring up to date the way to value and revalue man's tangible and intangible wealth.
So I became a sophomore and then a junior without really understanding the basic principle of economy. In subsequent years, I skipped almost all classes primarily because not a single professor lectured on his own theory tested against the reality of the Japanese economy. As anywhere else in this country, these incompetent teachers kept talking about foreign ideas borrowed from the likes of François Quesnay, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes.
Sometimes I think if the economic faculty of Keio University had had a class on Wassily Leontief's input-output analysis in which macroeconomics converges with microeconomics、I mightn't have skipped it. The Russian-born economist had already defected from the Soviet Union, but it was only 14 years after my graduation that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize to Leontief. That is the only reason I missed the opportunity to learn his economic model which, in essence, was derived from Marx's analysis of production-consumption chain.
Outside these boring classes, I read many books written by the likes of Max Weber and Karl Marx. But it was only after I got into the business world that I learned first-hand that the economic system actually in place here is neither capitalism nor socialism.
This is not to say, however, the bachelor's degree is the only thing I obtained at my alma mater. I acquired one thing which was much more important than the diploma. What I learned there and have never forgotten is the fact that the greatness of these great economists such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx lies with their principled way of theorizing on what man's economic activity is all about. They invariably based their theories on the premise that monetary, religious and secular values can be, or at least should be, defined univocally. To them value is value.
It was only after the Great Depression that Keynes, his followers collectively called demand-siders, and their opponent supply-siders derailed economics into a mere tool for financial institutions and governmental organizations to make a fast buck or manipulate markets.
As this blogger has repeatedly pointed out, people in America, and some other countries to a lesser degree, have lost the ability to conceptualize things which Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers of the country used to have. These birds don't think they have to define words such as "value" and "change" when they tweet about them. In my definition of these words, you can't have a value without changing something.
Perhaps revolution, in the original meaning of the word, is the most effective way to change things. But it's useless to talk about revolutionizing status quo with these effete people. That's basically why I always focus on more "peaceful" way to create values in my blog. My message is that you don't have to be a revolutionary in order to be a change agent. Just create values, i.e. genuine wealth.
Another conceptual thing I want to stress here is that the creation of a value, or its destruction for that matter, is not a natural process. Values never generate themselves. The single most important driving forth in the value-creating chain is always people.
With all this in mind, let me talk about Gross Domestic Product for a moment. As you may already know GDP consists of the following four elements: ● Private Consumption ● Gross Investment ● Government Spending ● Trade Balance. It's important to note human beings play the central role throughout all these elements.
Private Consumption normally accounts for the largest portion of GDP, typically at around 60%. But you can also see personnel costs, i.e. corporate investment in human resources, in other GDP components. For one thing, a good part of your salaries, bonuses, other "fringe" benefits, and "overhead" expenses are included in corporate investment in "inventories" of the goods. And Government Spending is always funded by taxes withheld or voluntarily paid from your paychecks.
There's no denying that GDP is one of the important indications of the quantitative values being created in a year. But since values, or potential values to be more precise, are all created by man, GDP tells us only part of the story about our pursuit of wealth. Let us be reminded of Marx's succinct words from his contribution to Critique of Political Economy. He wrote: "Consumption gives the product the finishing touch." This requires us to take a close look into the qualitative aspects of the production of wealth.
I have nothing against the idea that things have to be kept clean as much as practicably possible. And generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with producing these amenities and selling them with a modest amount of frills called Saabisu here, although I can't afford to have such nice-to-haves myself. But even if you don't have first-hand knowledge in economy through working experience, you can tell only with your commonsense that overdoing things like this is not only useless but also harmful. It always entails a prohibitively large amount of waste of material, financial and human resources. That's why I think these people with pathological obsession with perfect cleanliness are destroying values much more than they create them by developing, manufacturing and selling the special condoms.
Equally important, you can never expect a sound spending habit from these sick people.
Their salaries are always subjected to theft by the tax authorities. Needless to say, they pour the loot down the drain called "government spending" for bridges to nowhere, soldiers who never fight, weapons they never use in actual warfare, and public servants who only serve themselves.
And how are these people working in the condom companies spending their take-home income?
Aside from daily necessities for them to stay alive aimlessly, they buy LCD TV sets, for instance. What for? To watch kiddies' anime, news programs filled with lies, and Waido-sho (variety shows). Also they allocate an average 34% of their disposable income for the education of their children. They make believe they don't notice these mentally neotenized parents and teachers can never help their kids grow into mature adults. Actually they are just reproducing the same stupidity from a generation to the next.
They also buy a personal computer. What for? To use it for Internet games, Buroguing (blogging) on their empty lives, or chatting on Mixi (Japan's largest social networking site). In other words, they are "using" the technologies of the 21st century for the same things their immediate and distant ancestors were doing without a computer.
An IBM consultant named Grant Norris once said: "Adaptive technologies move earlier technologies forward incrementally [while] disruptive technologies change the way people live their lives or the way businesses operate." He meant to say it's ridiculous to use a disruptive technology as if it were adaptive. That's the surest way to make a change-disabler out of the potential enabler of change.
Besides, practically every PC user installs in his computer an Internet security software such as the one from McAfee. These super credulous guys don't know, or don't want to know that all anti-malware software vendors, on the one hand, play the role of firefighters, and on the other, act as arsonists. Their business model is a typical example of what I call "negative production."
One of their typical behaviors when they get paid the biannual bonuses is to visit a local car dealer to purchase a Toyota or a Nissan. What for? Primarily to drive to their condom factories and adjacent offices. Another thing they often do is to take an overseas trip. Most of the time their destination is an outlet of these Duty-Free Shoppers. At a DFS, most of them purchase one of these luxury goods such as Louis Vuitton handbags.
According to a 2004 survey conducted by Merrill Lynch, Japan sale for highend marketers peaked at US$16 billion in 1996. After that, the sales somewhat slowed down, but in 2003, 3 years after the burst of the bubble economy, the Japanese people were still buying luxuary products worth US$10.8 billion, accounting for 40% of their worldwide sales. Chinese people may have temporarily caught up with Japanese in this respect, but it's astounding that the figure for 1996 was 7 times larger than Mongolia's GDP for 2005. This is an unmistakable sign that their unusually big appetite for values remains unsatisfied with industrial rubbish they can produce themselves.
Since the value-creating chain is open-ended, the same story can be told of employees of manufacturers of consumer electronics and automobiles. These are the "finishing touches" Japanese consumers can give to the industrial output. In short, the entire production-consumption chain of Japan has totally fallen apart.
According to IMF, Japan's GDP stood at $5,867 billion as of the end of 2011. But because of the broken chain, the world's third largest number means practically nothing. Japan's GDP is half-empty now, to say the least. This is a deliberate statement.
Some experts cite the huge accumulation of wealth, i.e. "household financial assets" which stood at 1,513 trillion yen as of 2009, as a proof that this economy is still sound. But values without substance will remain empty no matter how long they go through the process of fermentation.
Admittedly my economics remains an empirical theory because quality of life is an intangible thing. But sometimes intangibles can be measured quantitatively as some accounting experts have shown us. If I were an econometrician, I would certainly try to come up with the formula for something to be called a "cavity deflator" with which to gauge how far Japan's wealth has been eroded.
Actually I don't care too much about the emptiness of your life. At any rate it's none of my business. Throughout my first and second career, I did the best I could to make a difference to the shitty Japan Inc. There's nothing I could do anymore.
Maybe I will be a little better off if I know who I'm talking to on this website. It seems to me the American people have yet to recover from the election hangover. Mainstream Americans are still acting like fruitworms eating further into rotten grapes. Another group of people are saying grapes are too sour to eat with their signature cynicism as if they aren't dying for juicy fruit. A third group of people on the fringe are a little savvier. But they remain hesitant to leave the dead grapevines right away in search of a new vineyard. Instead they are untiringly warning grapes are pest-laden there. All these folks deserve the predicament facing them because none of them think about fixing, or better yet, revolutionizing the entire value chain with an unwavering resolve and down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach. · read more (39 words)
Wednesday, November 07 2012 @ 03:36 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Sap flowing through the trunk heels the wounds of a tree to help its healthy growth Termites infesting a big tree eventually uproot it over a long period of time
I call it a farce, but not because Obama, Romney and/or Paul are clowns.
When will ordinary Americans ever learn that they are the clowns? It's solely their fault that things unfolded the way they did in the last four years and beyond.
Throughout the duration of the farce, the mainstream Americans were attributing things that went wrong to their opponents.
Other people were essentially no different. Not a few on the fringe were self-righteously saying a "huge awakening" was going on on the part of the general population and that an American Revolution was on its way. But a huge awakening from what? Actually it was nothing but a delusion on the delusion.
These sick people are unaware that they are just projecting to the other side the problem they can't solve themselves. After the election results came out, these good guys are still insisting the revolution was aborted because bad guys in the media prevented people from fully awakening.
Now the farce is over, but practically all Americans still make believe others should change before they do themselves. Isn't it about time to have dropped all these jokes? Such an alibi exercise hasn't worked before, and will never in the future.
Don't take me wrong, however. I'm not instigating these chicken-hearted people to kill the most unscrupulous one of the three, the Kenyan monkey perhaps, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Time and again it's been proved they have no guts needed for such a bold move, and they have too many excuses for their inaction. As I kept saying since 2008, what they need to do, instead, is a serious soul-searching to know exactly who they are. But beware, you can never define what you really are by a half-baked ideology you support or oppose, or religious values you believe or disbelieve in.
Until they define themselves in the right way, they can never internalize any issue facing them. Neither can they emancipate themselves from the delusive idea that the problem always lies with others, while the fact of the matter remains they are the problem themselves.
Only through a serious effort for self-examination, they can find a life-size view of things surrounding them. Then they will stop talking big while actually acting very small.
It's also important to know there's nothing wrong with acting small if they base their plans on a down-to-earth vision about the future, i.e. what nation should emerge in the North American continent after the inevitable collapse of the American Empire overseas and the likely implosion of homeland U.S. It's far better than just grumbling about their fellow countrymen who are in a hypnotic state while doing absolutely nothing with them. Hopefully they will define their role as that of sap, or termites.
Some may want to change their country just like drops of sap help the tree grow over a long period of time by constantly transporting nutrients through its trunk. Some others may choose to be termites infesting the heartwood of a tree or wooden structure and eventually cause it to break down.
Whichever approach they take to make a difference to their country, these processes may progress at a glacial pace. But I hope the Internet will help expedite them if they know how to leverage the worldwide web which was originally meant to be an enabler of change as is true with any "disruptive" technology. It's a different story, however, if they still do not realize "alternative media" and "social media" are, more often than not, a change-disabler.
Or.....if they can't tell the difference between web-search and soul-search, they might as well join these Japanese macaques who are conditioned to instantly jump at anything given to them. · read more (9 words)
Saturday, November 03 2012 @ 06:06 AM JST
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Japan's unemployment rate is shown in black against other G8 nations.
A receptionist automatically bows at a constant interval where there are no customers in sight.
One of the regulars at my website brought up a somewhat off-the-topic subject in response to my previous post. He wanted to say the Democrats are undermining the American values.
Currently I'm fully tied up with my constitutional battle against the municipality of Yokohama. But I thought I had to write another piece to further clarify my points from a different angle because what I want to tell my audience and the cause of the war I am waging come down to one and the same principle.
I said in my reply that I think the Democrats and the Republicans are the two wings of the same bird as is evident from the way they talk about "issues" such as jobs. Then he came back to say, "I can’t tell the difference between a girl mosquito and a boy mosquito and yet the girl and boy mosquitoes get it figured out."
His mosquito analogy is essentially different from my bird metaphor. And, of course, none of us are mosquitoes, e.g. ones caught trapped in the web. This is exactly what I wanted to make sure when I asked you who you really are in the above-linked piece. Actually I had suspected some of you could be eels, if not mosquitoes.
He is my longtime friend, and personally I have absolutely nothing against this respectable gentleman. And I think I am a flexible person. But I can't give in an inch when it comes to a matter of principle.
It's important to note you can't artificially create jobs out of thin air and it's none of the President's business in the first place. The only exception is murderous ones a President might create in the military and the military-industrial complex.
Let me first define the word "job" because talking this and that about a poorly defined subject will get us nowhere. What is the thing called a job?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by and large, has it right when defining who are employed and who are unemployed. But actually the classification by BLS doesn't make a bit of sense except when it says volunteering is not an occupation. It doesn't say a word about exactly what a job is.
Realistically speaking, robbery, for one, is a legitimate job if these tax-collectors in the city hall are performing their contractual obligations when they forcefully collect taxes from their employers. Prostitutes and their pimps are also doing decent jobs if the "presstitute" I referred to as "AK" in my previous posts claims to be a journalist. Likewise swindlers should be considered to hold respectable jobs if Gordon G. Chang is classified in the category of self-employed in the labor statistics.
Japan's Statistics Bureau of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications handles jobs data essentially in the same way. But unemployment rate still stays extraordinarily low in Japan (see the graph embedded above) as compared to the U.S. even amid the deepening economic doldrums here. It is true that the Statistics Bureau here is habitually fabricating jobs data as its U.S. counterpart does. But if you want to know the real reason behind the huge gap, it's far from enough to question the trustworthiness of the labor statistics. I think we need to look into other factors particular to this country.
Gordon G. Chang is a breathtakingly unprincipled person who has no sense of responsibility for what he says. Just for instance, one of his favorite topics was the demographic "issue" supposedly facing "America's most important partner." He kept parroting the Japanese media until the fall of 2008 when they realized the red herring had too dried up to distract people's attention from the real issues. Until then Chang was making a big fuss over the Japanese population which was allegedly shrinking in size while the process of biological aging was further accelerating.
I told him, over and over again, it was simply wrong to assume Japan's economic vigor was declining as a result of the dwindling population because it's turning the causal relationship upside down. Every time I pointed out shrinking population can't be an issue in a nation like Japan where there are too many people relative to its anemic pursuit of value-creating activity, he shrugged me off. Presumably he thought there was no reason to believe in an obscure blogger, that I was, when the entire fourth estate of the country observed the situation in a diagonally different way. The last thing he would understand was the very basic principle that the overall quality of people by far outweighs the number of people. As the imaginary issue fell into oblivion here, Chang started playing dumb as if he'd never said population was at issue.
And it makes little sense to talk about the population of a country without knowing the square-mileage of the land it covers. The population density of this country is already way too high. In the U.S., for instance, the number of residents per sq.mi is a little below 83 while in Japan 868 people are living in a range of 1 sq.mi.
To Chang, the Japanese were basically faceless people. Needless too say, he didn't give a damn about their inner selves when he talked about Japan's bright future under the wing of the United States. In 2004, I presented him a copy of John Nathan's Japan Unbound in the hope that he would stop scratching the surface of this nation. But again he ignored everything that didn't fit into his cheap ideology.
For one thing, he made believe he didn't notice that in the book Nathan quoted a director of the Mental Health Center of Yokohama as telling him, "Some 5 million Japanese are contemplating suicide at any given moment." It would be all the more out of the question for this guy to pay attention to the results of a survey recently conducted by the government, which said 23.4% of the respondents had answered in the affirmative to this question: "Have you seriously considered suicide recently?" When it came to the pollees in their 20s, an astounding 28.4% answered they had thought about killing themselves lately. This unmistakably indicates that the Japanese are well aware a good part of them are redundant.
With these facts and perceptions all taken into account, it looks all the more mysterious that Japan's unemployment rate has stayed at the lowest levels among industrialized countries for many decades. Among other things, it's especially unfathomable that we don't see a competitive labor market which would have inevitably arisen where there are too many people in a small strip of land. The fact of the matter remains that people here needn't compete against one another seeking scarce employment opportunities. As a result they don't have a motivation to improve themselves. This should be interpreted as an indication that what a job means to the Japanese is completely different from what it means to other peoples.
Pathological obsession with perfection
When I was in business, I already knew something was fundamentally wrong with this country. The only reason I could think of for the abnormally low jobless rate here was because this country is abnormal.
As I told you when I talked about the false obituary on the personal computer, one of my people in the accounting department was often spotted verifying an MIS output with her abacus. I said to her, "What the hell are you doing here?" The veteran accountant blushed and fidgeted for a second, but somehow found nerve to say, "I do this - just in case, Mr. Yamamoto." A couple of months later she decided to upgrade her verification system from the abacus to a calculator.
Then came the Plaza Accord of 1985 which ushered in the days of uncertainty. Now the woman belatedly realized that no matter how many times she double-checked a yen value, it would have to be restated at a new exchange rate against the US$ or the Swiss Franc by the time I sent the financial report to the headquarters.
I couldn't give her a pink slip for two reasons. Firstly, she wasn't alone, far from it, in being so fussy about accuracy. If I had fired her for her compulsive idea that everything had to be perfect, I would have had to dismiss everyone in the organization. Secondly, in this country where the world-renowned practice called "lifetime employment system" was, and still remains, the norm, joblessness isn't just the state of being out of work. It means much more than loss of income source, and perhaps loss of house to live in and family to live with. When you deal with such people who are driven too much by the obsessive ideas about maintaining a harmonious society to be really values-driven, you have to use quite different elimination criteria from those used in a little less abnormal country.
By the time I called it a career, I concluded that Japan would become a normal country only if and when its jobless rate soared to somewhere around 20%, or even higher. That would mean the number of the jobless should grow at least by 400% in the not-too-distant future. This is almost an unattainable goal as long as we take it for granted that Japan is a going concern.
In 1955, a Briton by the name of Cyril Northcote Parkinson observed that "the demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource." In a sense, his theory is the supply-sider's view applied to the labor market. But it is important to always keep in mind that Parkinson's Law is not a law of physics. You can change it if you and your colleagues are principled people. Otherwise the consequence is disastrous as we have already seen here in this country.
The condoms for umbrellas and the state-of-the-art devices to autoload them are just the tip of the tip of the ice berg. Time and again I have discussed the issue of corporate redundancies on this website. In the first such post, I focused primarily on Saabisu lavishly given by large to small players in the service industry. Saabisu is the Japanese transliteration of "service" but it means a very different thing from service in that it is basically free of charge and it's something you can live without or sometimes you are better off without. It typically includes Oshibori (I don't want to bother to explain what it is), Pointo Kaado (ditto), Bakku-guraundo Myuujikku nobody appreciates, and automatic bowing (see the second photo). The list of Saabisu goes on and on.
At any rate, I have great difficulty figuring out why Japanese travelers don't think a smile from a cabin attendant suffices. It is true that with the late arrival of low-cost carriers, local airlines have started to seek the way to keep Saabisu to the minimum. But just trimming a small part of these frills is far from enough. As long as these sick people remain obsessed with the compulsive idea to pursue the unrealistic goal of "full-employment," it's for sure the same absurdity will come back the moment they see the slightest sign of turnaround and will soon start getting bloated until it "matches the supply of the resource."
Here's another case in point. Law says you are prohibited from smoking if you are 19 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes of age, or younger. In recent years, those who are stupid enough to believe such a law is practicably enforceable have been stepping up measures for a stricter observance of the law. A couple of months ago, municipalities across the nation ordered convenience stores and other retailers dealing in tobacco products to tell anyone who wants to buy a pack of cigarettes to swear he is not a minor by pressing his finger to the touch panel of the point-of-sale system which just reads "OK" or "Confirm." I sometimes ask the salesclerk: "By any chance, do I look like a 19-year-old kid?" The clerk always says apologetically: "No, not at all. We are doing this just because we are told to."
I know if you have never taken part in an actual production process yourself, you will say, "It's not a big deal. Why don't you just follow his instruction without saying a word?" But actually it must have taken a tremendous amount of man-hours for them to make a minor change to their POS system. Someone defined the "user requirement" in writing. A second person translated it into a "program specification." A third one coded it into a computer program, which certainly needed a lot of testing and debugging. Only then they could go live with the new "system."
This is the way material, financial and human resources are chronically wasted in this country. Manufacturing sector is no exception. Earlier this week consumer electronics giants such as Panasonic, Sony and Sharp announced they are expecting huge losses for this fiscal year. As usual they put all the blame on the economic slowdown in China and the continued appreciation of the yen. They will never admit, until it is too late, that the only way to rectify the shaky situation is a drastic downsizing which would force them to dump tens of thousands of people being wasted there.
Now the world's third-largest GDP, either nominal or in "real" terms, is actually hollowed out as the immense waste of resources has fatally eaten into Japan's industrial base. In this context let us be reminded of the exquisite words by Karl Marx. To apply his observation about the value-creating chain to Japan Inc., we have to paraphrase it this way:
"In Japan, production is at the same time the destruction or waste of resources, and consumption is at the same time a negative production."
Marx observed: "Consumption gives the product the finishing touch." But the Japanese are now transforming potentially change-enabling products into change-disabling ones by habitually misusing them. This leads to a vicious circle because now the "misusability" has become the key to success for marketers.
As I pointed out when I talked about the fecal truth behind the burst of the bubble, the Japanese economy has been inflated artificially to the extent that it's now half-empty, to say the least. I know very few of you readily accept my heretical view because most of you, like Chang, think there's no reason to believe in an obscure blogger who constantly brings subjective values into economics. Fortunately for me, though, I'm not alone. Peter F. Drucker, for one, repeatedly said to this effect:
"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what needs not be done at all."
Actually Drucker wanted to say it's not only useless but also harmful.
Even in Japan, there are a handful of people who realize problems deep-rooted in Japan Inc. Kazuo Yuasa, then chief consultant at Nittsu Research Institute and Consulting, Inc., wrote in 2002 about his first-hand experience with a Japanese steelmaker where people were working very hard on a big project for "what needn't have been done at all." These are basically how the Japanese can miraculously keep nation's unemployment rate well below 5%. In this country it's a piece of cake not only for private sectors but also for the government to churn out as many jobs as they like, because these people are pathologically obsessed with perfection - perfect cleanliness, perfect accuracy, perfect certainty, perfect punctuality, perfect conformity, and most importantly perfect harmony among the community members - so anyone won't displease, upset or offend anyone else in any way.
And these are why I've been out of work since 2006 when these bastards at the rotten subsidiary of SAP AG, who were all suffering juvenile dementia, subtly suggested it was about time to have terminated our contract because I had already turned 70. If you are interested in knowing more about the ageist bias widespread in this country, you may want to look at the letter I sent to the editor of The Japan Times 16 years ago.
These are also what have since been driving me to an all-out war against the city hall. Unwinnable though it may seem, I won't stop fighting until the last day of my life. Not only my survival but also my principle are at stake there. · read more (22 words)