Four years ago a political "analyst" who actually can't analyze a thing thwarted my plan to establish myself in the United States as a professional writer. When I needed some pull, I got a lot of push from him.
That wasn't a big deal, however, except for this destitution that followed the loss of my last chance. I knew that the scum, or anyone else for that matter, couldn't change who I really am. Admittedly, though, I've since had great difficulty explaining what exactly I am to people in the local community.
Am I a nobody who ended up a loser in a fair competition overseas to elevate himself from a mere translator to an independent writer? Nope, nothing is farther from what happened to me.
I have never been a professional translator in my lifetime. Yet, throughout my career I've been deeply involved in translation in one way or the other; not only between two languages but also between two cultures or even two different groups of people in the same culture. In that sense, I think I am better defined as a full-time communicator than a part-time translator.
As I always say, thoughts and words are inseparable twins. This should also mean that contrary to the general perception, man's thoughts are really language-independent.
For that reason, when a translator wants to work on a book, or any other type of literature authored by a first-rate writer, he should keep in mind that his qualification all hinges on the full comprehension of and resonance with the whole idea laid out in the subject material because just converting it from one language into another is not what translation is all about. If an unqualified person dares to do it, he is doomed to destroy everything he puts his hand on.
In fact, I have known very few translators who didn't spoil a great idea they dealt with. Ian Hideo Levy, who has translated dozens of soul-stirring poems from Manyoshu (Ten Thousand Leaves), is one of the very few exceptions that I know of. That's why mindless destruction of invaluable thoughts happens so frequently.
On the contrary, when a first-rate translator somehow feels an urge to work on an intellectual crap just to make his living, it's the translator himself that is subjected to destruction. But this doesn't happen very often because unlike second-rate translators such as Edward Seidensticker, he has an eye to distinguish the real thing from fake, such as Yasunari Kawabata.
Here's a translation trivia: Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1968. At that time the Japanese legend of literature gave Seidensticker 50% of the prize money because he thought he had owed the translator that much. I sometimes think the self-deprecating Japanese writer might as well have retained a computer as a translator because that way he would have pocketed every single buck he earned from his literary rubbish.
I don't know if I am a good translator myself, but up until recently I often had to moonlight, and sometimes daylight, on translation of a wide range of materials from computer-related documentation to anthropological essay. Most of the time I was mercenarily motivated, but my customers often appreciated the mentally unrewarding and physically exhausting efforts I made for what I called "value-adding translation."
But for my part, it was always a nightmare.
Back in 1999, then president of the rotten Japanese subsidiary of SAP AG, German software giant, offered me a post-retirement job in the translation department of his company. Until I decided I couldn't take it anymore and moved on to oversee the "University Alliance Program" of the same company, I was working on the E-to-J translation of the GUI (graphical user interface) of SAP's flagship software product and its system/user documentations.
An added difficulty came from "Trados" - a translation management software developed by Trados GmbH. I was always told to ensure consistency between my translation of terminologies and those accumulated in the database from the previous versions. My problem was that most of my fellow translators had an extremely poor understanding of the source language (unorthodox German-English) and the target language (see NOTE below.) And more importantly, their knowledge in the system and its application areas, such as order processing, inventory control, accounting, and finance was also way below standard. As a result, the vast reservoir of terminologies in the Trados database was full of shit.
NOTE: Our target language was supposed to be Japanese. But actually it had to be something else. Apart from the fact that a good part of Japanese words were originally borrowed from Chinese, they are now mixing tens of thousands of Katakana Eigo, i.e. Japanese transliterations of English words into the "Japanese" language. As a result, Toransureetaa at SAP Japan were told to strictly adhere to the standard ways of mixing these different elements depending on the context. Also they were supposed to respect another set of standards for transliterating Ingurisshu words. Examples: Kasutama for customer(s), Benda for vendor(s), Paachesu Ooda for purchase order(s), Inbentori(i) for inventory, etc.
Basically it is true that translators, especially those working on technical literature, should stick with the consistency rule. But there are times when they have to say the right inconsistency is much better than the wrong consistency, as I did to my boss at SAP. But at the end of the day, I was always coerced into conforming to her sacred dung pool in order to preserve Wa, or false harmony.
I hear through the grapevine that even today SAP Japan refuses to listen to the voice of reason from real professionals. This way the company keeps wasting what little resources it has. No wonder it still remains the black sheep within the group of innovative software companies.
Now in dire poverty six years after retirement, I still think I would rather work part-time on the cleaning of the public lavatories in the Yokohama Chinatown where I live than do translation at a slightly higher hourly rate. Thanks to my experience with SAP, I'm so used to handling someone else's crap. But unfortunately, the job opportunity seems to be closed to the ailing 76-year-old.
Last week a local friend offered me an "E2J" gig. He runs a matchbox company that provides translation services along with guitar lessons for wannabe musicians. When he got an order from NEC, he thought it might help alleviate my financial difficulty if he subcontracted a smaller part of the job to me, which he actually did. I wasn't sure if I could meet the October 15 deadline for the 75 slides of the presentation material assigned to me.
But when my friend learned I'm physically too weak and my vision is too impaired to do the tedious job all by myself, he kindly sent me a rough translation he had already made using "ATLAS", a translation software developed by Fujitsu. I know from my past experience that normally I would be much better off without the assistance from the computer than with it. But I thought the ATLAS thing might help because in the narrower context of a specific technology, computerized translation could work a little better than Trados did for my former employer.
POSTSCRIPT October 2: As I said paragraphs earlier, the local fallout of my failure overseas is the huge perception gap about translation between my partners and myself as their contractee or contractor. As I told my audience one year or so ago, I had to farm out to my local friend I just mentioned above a voluminous transcript from a symposium organized by up-and-coming anthropologist Lara, Chen Tien-shi. The quality of the transcript was extremely poor except for Lara's speech. But since my subcontractor at that time doubly messed up the Word document with his lack of professionalism, I had to struggle at the last minute totally redoing his substandard J-to-E translation as if from scratch. Yet I paid him fully. Now I'm supposed to act as his subcontractor. Can I expect him to act like a professional this time around? No way. He had his ATLAS roughly translate the material for me. That's no harm; so far, so good. But yesterday, several days later, he said, "By the way my client (NEC) asks us to strictly adhere to its glossary for about 160 'special' words and phrases. NEC calls the attached Excel sheet the Kamisama (God) file." I replied: "No, I don't want to kiss Kamisama's ass because none of these words are associated with NEC's proprietary technology. You better reassign the job to a younger translator because a young one has much more stamina and a far better eyesight with which to do ass-kissing more efficiently than I. Besides he doesn't care too much about job satisfaction and self-esteem." He doesn't seem to have understood my point. Just one hour ago, he sent me a mail to say, "Yu, yes, please kiss Kamisama's ass as they require us to." It really sickens me to know one of my local friends is another male prostitute, and treats me like yet another.
Despite all the favor my friend did for me, this brought me back to the nightmare I have experienced in the past with computer-assisted translation.
Also I remembered that last October I took up the same topic on this website. At that time, some of my regulars kindly cooperated with me doing reverse-translation of some articles written in English and then translated into Japanese. We had no time to do the opposite (i.e. J-to-E, and then E-to-J) but we found out language translation is almost always doomed to failure, whether or not it's computer-assisted. We also learned it makes little difference whether it's from a high-context language to a low-context one, or the other way around. In short, language conversion works only when both the author and the translator are human beings with an exceptional ability for creative thinking. Those who lightly claim that they are contributing to further transcultural understanding should feel ashamed.
A couple of days ago, I gave another try to the language translation services provided by Google Japan because I wanted to know, for one last time, if the learning curve of the Internet service provider has picked up a little in the last 11 months. But it came as no surprise that the Japanese translation of my most recent post didn't show the slightest sign of improvement. As you can see in the Japanese text pasted at the bottom of this post, it's still much worse than if you give a chimp an E-J dictionary and tell him to translate my essay.
It's unfair to put all the blame on the primate because the disastrous situation with translation, and communication at large, exactly mirrors the inside of the skulls of all the human beings involved in this business. They include software engineers who developed the system filled with logical flaws, executives at Google Japan who gave a green light to the defective translation service, and equally important, customers who still think they are being served, rather than ripped off, by Google.
Nobody seems to have noticed that exactly the same thing is happening to YouTube, Google Analytics and all other services provided by the company. More or less the same thing can be said of the likes of Yahoo! and Microsoft. With a lot of spaghetti stuffed in their brains they have stopped thinking, learning, and communicating altogether. Now all they can do is to deal with the billions of birdies who keep tweeting all the time.
I don't know if the organization named Asia-Pacific Association for Machine Translation is still active today. But according to the chronology given by AAMT, Japan's first prototype machine for automatic translation was unveiled in 1959 when the supercomputer and database management systems were still in the fledgling stage.
Let's face it: the 53 years of the futile efforts are more than enough. It's about time we stopped talking about the progress of humankind through cross-cultural communications, with or without the help of the computer. Simply it's an illusion.
I leave it there because now I'm going to have to go through another ordeal with the PowerPoint file, while at the same time fending off the sadistic attacks by tax collectors from the City Hall. In the meantime I hope you will enjoy the big treat given below by the Google chimpanzee if you are a bilingual, or equipped with a software product for J-to-E conversion. · read more (122 words)
The director of the mental hospital is known for his fatherly compassion toward the inmates. One day when he strolled around the garden, he spotted an inpatient casting a fishing line into the swimming pool. The director stopped by the patient. Smiling knowingly, he said, "What kind of fish do you catch here?" The madman replied: "Don't be silly, doc. You can't catch any fish in a swimming pool." - A parable inserted in a book written by German psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers (title forgotten)
Hiroki Kuroda has now established himself in the starting rotation of the New York Yankees
Mark my words. The culture of Japan, if it still deserves to be called that, is all fake; rotten from tip to toe.
As I pointed out when talking about Japanese musicians, they do music in order to bring themselves together, while in any other civilized nation, people, at least adults, come together in order to do music. This is a fallout from the fact that just in a matter of one and a half century, the Japanese have imported so avidly from the West everything from Johan Sebastian Bach to Lady Gaga.
You can see the same inversion everywhere. Sports are no exceptions. As you may have already noticed, no other people in the world do so many different games. That is because the kind of game you choose to play does not really matter here. Actually it's not that you choose the game, but the game chooses you. As a result, it does not matter, either, whether or not you win the game.
Given this cultural climate, it's all the more delightful to stumble on an exceptional individual who has a real stuff, although that doesn't happen very often in my country of birth.
The other day my American friend, who is a resident of the same village I live in, sent me a link to an article in which NYT reporter David Waldstein tells an intriguing story about the ordeal Hiroki Kuroda had to go through before he migrated to the U.S.
Waldstein portrays, without exaggeration, how often Kuroda, now a New York Yankee, was whacked with a baseball bat, forced to run between foul poles from morning till dusk, and only allowed to drink polluted river water when he became dehydrated. In this country punitive conditioning is believed to be one of the most effective ways to instill the spirit of self-sacrifice and stoicism in young athletes.
Nevertheless, the writer fails to answer the very question he seems to have intended to address: "Is it because of, or despite, the abusive hazing he experienced in the early days of his baseball career that he has finally come into bloom in the majors?" To put the same question differently, "Why didn't he choose to stay with Japan's Puro Yakyu when he was supposed to take his turn to bully juniors?"
Waldstein fails because he just singles out the most apparent aspect of the Japanese training method while passing over a more important feature subtly involved in it. In this country, repressive ways of molding people into desirable profiles are not confined to sports. It's also commonplace in all other walks of life such as politics, business, journalism, science, academia and art. This makes the issue at hand beyond the comprehension of a sports writer, or anyone else who can't grasp it in a historical and cultural context.
Many Americans have talked about the difference between baseball and its Japanese equivalent Yakyu. They include Bobby Valentine, current manager of the Boston Red Sox, Marty Kuehnert, former GM at the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and now a professor at Sendai University, and Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa and The Chrysanthemum and the Bat. Obviously these people eclipse Waldstein because they have better insight into sports and culture in Japan, and they addressed the same issue from much broader perspectives.
Yet they sometimes fell short of getting the question fully answered, because they, too, tended to overlook the most intricate aspect of the issue. More specifically, they often left out the question about why so many mediocre guys cruise past their seniors to stardom without being subjected to physical and mental abuse.
Back in 1967, Chie Nakane, professor of anthropology at Tokyo University, published a book titled Tate-shakai no Ningen Kankei, or Personal Relations in a Vertical Society. Her anthropological rubbish sold so well in the West that it's now become a classic of Japanology.
It is true that on the surface, Japan's "centralized feudal system" looked to be vertically aligned. But if that had really been the case, Shogun's reclusive regime, which actually succumbed to the gunboat diplomacy so easily, must have collapsed from within well before Perry's arrival.
The known law of dynamics says you can't topple a flat structure from the bottom.
And more recently, if Nakane's "theory" were to be considered true,
Emperor Hirohito must have been hung upside down by his subjects in the street of Tokyo,
before the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur, whose mission was to irreversibly flatten out this country with a fake democracy.
The fact of the matter remains that Japan is a nation which is integrated horizontally. It's ridiculous to see "personal relations," vertical or not, between the Divine Emperor and its subjects. Peer pressure is everything that counts in this country. At the end of the day the stupid professor just subscribed to the pedestrian view.
Believe me, Japan is a classless society. And that also means it's leaderless. If there are people who claim to be leaders, they are little more than shamans, at best, or moderators, most of the time, whose only role is to build consensus. At any rate a nominal leader needn't lead his organization with leadership backed by outstanding knowledge or skills in the activity his organization is supposed to perform. His ultimate goal is always to keep Wa among his people.
The dictionary says Wa simply means harmony. But as Robert Whiting observed, harmony is one thing and Wa is quite another. The morbid egalitarian obsession that has long haunted the Japanese people has its origin in the 17-Article Constitution promulgated by Shotoku Prince in the 7th century.
Given this mantra of Wa, the only prerequisite for the Japanese leader to fulfill is the ability to make sure the nail that sticks out be hammered down ingeniously but mercilessly. (See NOTE below.) To that end he should be able to identify the slightest sign of professionalism burgeoning on the part of individual members because professionalism poses the most perilous threat to the community built on the false harmony.
NOTE: The method most commonly used when ostracizing a persona non grata was, and still remains in some rural areas, the procedure called Mura Hachibu, literally translated as "purging 80% from the village." The remainder, 20%, represents participation in firefighting activity and the burial of the corpse when the subject person or his kin is dead. The reason the Japanese refrain from going as far as to 100% like ancient Athenians did is twofold. Firstly, if they went that far, the very principle of Wa might be jeopardized. Secondly, every Japanese individual, ostracized or not, is believed to become a god posthumously.
You can't imagine a group of people anywhere in the world that values discord over bringing individual vectors into one direction. But in no other country is harmony maintained only by nipping individual creativity and spontaneity in the bud.
This is the surest way to mediocrity and utter idiocy.
In his essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber defines the modern-day profession as a "secularized calling" which still requires an "ascetic devotion." In my interpretation of Weber's words as an avowed Buddha loyalist and retired businessman, every professional, from politician, to businessperson, to ballplayer, should act like the inpatient at the mental hospital. He should be damned serious about what he is doing, and very proud of it. But at the same time, he shouldn't lose soberness and humility. He should always keep in mind that it can well be an illusion to expect a big catch in the swimming pool. As I always say, the most important thing is to keep life-size views of one's life. Don't you ever talk big, if you are going to act small in the end.
Fortunately, there have been a handful of Japanese sportspersons with uncompromising, sober and well-focused devotion to the game. Before Hiroki Kuroda, we had Hideo Nomo. To say the least, Nomo was one of the very exceptional talents Japan has ever got. But actually, he would never have come into bloom as a fullfledged professional if he hadn't fled his home country in 1995. Only after he won the National League's Rookie of the Year Award in the same year, the Japanese people realized that they'd let go of a real talent.
He always reminds me of Maestro Seiji Ozawa who was kicked out of Japan by the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 1961. Only after the likes of Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein certified his talent as genuine, NHK offered sincere apologies and reimported him. He has since been enshrined as the home-grown Emperor of classical music. By the way, did you know Kabuki or any other thing which supposedly represents Japan's traditional "culture" toward the West is all created by this gimmick of reimport?
On the contrary the population of fake athletes still keeps growing. They include dozens of me-too Major Leaguers who all learned the wrong lesson from the success story of Hideo Nomo. Ichiro Suzuki, for one, has already been elevated to an indisputable deity in Japan's baseball even though he still has a long way to go before possibly being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you still believe in the exaggerated notion about the Confucian influence on Japan, you will wonder how a 38-year-old can be deified defying the world-renowned seniority principle. But actually it's senility principle that governs this country.
In 2001, the Nintendo-owned ballclub in Seattle started the whole process of reimport. In his first couple of seasons in the MLB, Suzuki stole not only many bases but also the hearts and minds of American baseball fans who had been fed up with these steroid-pumped-up Popeyes hitting 70-something homeruns every year.
Emboldened by the initial success, the Japanese media kept administering what I call the cultural steroid to Suzuki in order to make a Hinomaru-bearing hero out of the skinny guy. But in fact, because of, rather than despite his American Doriimu coming true, the Mariners kept sinking in the AL standings year after year.
By the time he was transferred to the New York Yankees in the middle of this season, Suzuki had developed a silly idea that the other eight guys were playing the game for him, not the other way around. This is why Joe Girardi, Yankees' manager, is now having hard times trying to make him recognize that without all this hyperbole he is just an average ballplayer.
As I said, the epidemic of anti-professionalism is not confined to sports. You can see the same thing happening everywhere. But among other things, the proliferation of Waido-sho, as the Japanese transliterate "wide shows," is an unmistakable sign that they have remained essentially unchanged in the last 13 centuries.
Every morning, and for the rest of the day, too, every national network airs one wide show after another exactly in the same format. The studio is always overpopulated with morons who claim to be experts, dozens of Terebi Tarento (TV personalities) who are actually talentless, and the empty-headed emcee who is only skillful at mixing up everything from political/economic news (see NOTE below), to Entame (entertainment) and sports, to today's fortune based on blood types and star signs, to weather forecast given in syrupy voices of two or more cuties which always contains laundry tips and clothing recommendations as its indispensable features. There you can see the Japanese culture has long been dead.
NOTE: News stories these idiots comment on in the way "even an idiot can understand" are all red herrings invented by the collusive alliance between politicians and the media. These days Japan's nuclear energy policy is always at the top of the list of media-salient "issues." Although it's too obvious that such a technological issue cannot be identified, let alone solved, by a bunch of laymen, these unprofessional pundits and scholars keep politicizing it so even an idiot can tell the pros and cons to be entailed in the government's proposal. The same can be said of all other false issues. In the total absence of respect for professionalism, they politicize what should never be politicized all the time.
These days I enjoy myself watching live on the Internet Hiroki Kuroda's solid outing every 5th or 6th day. It's a little more than just killing time to watch this guy in action. · read more (51 words)
Tuesday, September 11 2012 @ 11:28 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
[In some cases] where you can get to depends on where you're coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here. - Robert D. Putnam on his theory about Japan's path-dependent trajectory.
Japan underwent the baptism of an early- day gunboat diplomacy when the fleet of four "black ships" headed by Commodore Mathew Perry made a surprise port call at Yokohama harbor on July 8, 1853.
A samurai by the name of Zenzaburo Taki was ordered to commit harakiri suicide in the presence of European envoys and generals to settle the 1868 skirmish called the Kobe Incident.
As recently as six years ago, I still thought it was a total waste of time to ask a question using the past perfect subjunctive. Certainly I remained brainwashed into believing in the superstitious notion that what happened has just happened. But when I stumbled on the above-quoted words by Robert D. Putnam, my way of viewing things changed 180 degrees.
My former mentor once scornfully said of Putnam's theory: "It's yet another fatalism." As usual the self-styled political "analyst" who can't do anything but scratch the surface of things proved too ignorant to understand the intricate dynamics governing the real world. History never sticks with a linear path. If you look at current and historical events with unclouded eyes, you will see mixed signals everywhere in their zigzag motions.
Recently I have developed a tendency to indulge in the mental exercise of asking myself hypothetical questions about almost everything. It's true my new pastime makes it much easier for me to kill time. But it's not just a bitter-sweet mea culpa I seek when I look back on what has happened to me or my country of birth.
Over time I have arrived at the conviction that any future vision remains baseless as long as it's little more than an extrapolation from the past and that the best way to keep my crystal ball clear is to constantly pose what-if type questions. Just like the fancy time machine invented by Emmett "Doc" Brown of Back to the Future, this method often gives me a clear perspective about the future, and perhaps a few things more.
Without a doubt, the future mirrors what actually happened in the past, and perhaps vice versa. But it is also true that a future event is a reflection of what did NOT happen. (See Footnote for some examples.) You may wonder where to get a clue to identifying what didn't actually happen in the past and still has profound relevance today. Most of the time I get a good clue from the current state of affairs because the present time is the crossroad at which the past meets the future.
In other words, my time machine is designed to first send me forward to the past, and only then, back to the future. Quite naturally, one of my favorite questions is: "What would have become of Japan if the Civil War hadn't been fought in America in the first half of the 1860s?"
Initially I thought I might come up with an even more interesting answer if I asked what if those court-retained historians hadn't compiled Kojiki 1,300 years ago (712 AD) to seal off the prehistoric truth, entirely and for good. For that purpose I would be able to avail myself of Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) which was compiled in the mid-8th century to metaphorically reveal, under the guise of poetry, the forbidden truth about the days before the Emperors successfully mythified everything about their imperial shithouse. But on second thought, I realized my answer to this question would make little sense because then the country named Japan would have ceased to exist a long time ago.
Another question I posed on this website more often than I do now is
what if General Douglas MacArthur hadn't acquitted the Emperor of his crime of driving 3 million people to death in the unwinnable war. But in the end I realized that this exercise, too, makes little sense simply because the "postwar regime" is not a history yet; it's still there.
These are why I'm more and more inclined to focus on the last 15 years before the Shogun ceded power back to the Emperor.
It would have been a piece of cake for European expansionists to arm-twist poorly-armed samurais whose average height was a mere 5 feet. Hollywood had yet to invent all this myth about samurais' bravery. But as a matter of fact, Britain and France were already realizing they had been way too overstretched. That's why their half-hearted attempts to make inroads into Japan all ended up in local skirmishes breaking out here and there in the mid-1860s. Among other things, it's noteworthy that these incidents were, more often than not, settled in an exotic ceasefire ceremony in which one or more samurais committed ritual suicide by disembowelment in the presence of delegates from Britain and France.
In 1851, U.S. President Millard Fillmore, the last member of the Whig Party, sent Commodore Mathew Perry on an expedition to break this reclusive country open. Perry arrived at Japan only on July 8, 1853 because on his way to the final destination he'd stopped over at the Ryukyu Kingdom, today's Okinawa, and some other places, where he had a lot of fun.
The fallout of the delay was that by the time his 4-ship fleet finally anchored in the harbor of Uraga near Yokohama, Franklin Pierce had succeeded Fillmore as U.S. President. I know nothing about him except that some say the Democrat is one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. For an unknown reason, however, Pierce ordered Perry to refrain from using force to invade Japan.
Actually the Commodore did not have to use force because the Shogun at that time was yet another Japanese leader who, in the face of a crisis, would let things drift until the problem solved itself. And his samurais were equally incompetent. All they could do was to commit harakiri suicide to save their master's face whenever it was necessary. No wonder they were instantly caught in a panic at the sight of the "fireworks" from the Susquehanna, Perry's flagship, to belatedly celebrate the 77th Independence Day. Perry's mission was completed when Japan-U.S. Treaty of Amity and Friendship, also known as the Convention of Kanagawa, was concluded in 1854. Four years later, the U.S. chose to settle for an unequal treaty, known as the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which unilaterally stripped Japan of the right to impose import duties on the goods from the U.S.
In subsequent years, there was no new development in the bilateral relations primarily because Abraham Lincoln was preoccupied with the First Civil War.
Because of the combination of these factors, which was largely accidental, America had to shelve its colonialist ambition for almost nine decades. As a result, the occupation of Japan involved much more bloodshed than if America hadn't postponed the implementation of its Japan invasion plan that long.
This always brings me to the most relevant and valid question: "What consequence would have ensued if Lincoln hadn't faced a lot of trouble at home?"
Japan would have been colonized - no doubt about it. Although there might have been sporadic insurgences seeking independence, these movements would never have turned into a fullfledged colonial war. Defeatist-minded rebels must have chosen ritual disembowelment over an all-out confrontation.
With Shogun's incompetence and samurais' cowardice in mind, I can tell for sure that Japan would have followed more or less the same course it actually did, except that more than 3 million lives, including those 225 thousand incinerated in the nuclear fireworks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would have been saved.
Now in the face of the protracted economic doldrums and the deepening political imbroglio, the Japanese are totally at a loss over what to do. But for you to agree to my retroactive forecast, you don't need to closely study the current situation here because there's absolutely nothing new in their endless repetitions of the same follies. Japan has nowhere to go but down. Likewise, it would still have nothing to do but go into pieces if what did not actually happen in the mid-19th century had ever happened.
And what about myself? Should this all mean that my entire life was "much ado about nothing"? Now am I about to die leaving nothing to my posterity?
My answer to the first question: No, not at all. It is true I also fought an unwinnable war throughout my lifetime. But in return I was rewarded with gorgeous prizes. That is more than enough. · read more (264 words)
I still don't know exactly when and how the evil American Empire will collapse. Neither do I know which comes first, the fall of the empire overseas or the total implosion of the worst rogue country in history named USA. Yet I am 100% sure that most of its people are practically brain-dead by now.
How can I be so sure about that? Almost every day from August 2011 through this past May, I tried to keep myself closely posted with their public discourse mainly on the web.
That's how. So don't take it personally if you are an exception.
Now I ask myself, "What lessons have the Americans learned from the miscarriage of the Intellectual Revolution started by the former Texas obstetrician?"
Answer: Absolutely nothing.
This is evident from the fact that these brainless, spineless and self-righteous American egomaniacs still put all the blame on the Republican establishment and the mainstream media. They certainly know that is the surest way to avoid facing up to the lessons to be learned there. The fact of the matter remains, however, that it's none other than themselves who were at fault for the miserable failure. Some of them even thought they could buy their civil liberties for 50 bucks.
The only possible reason they are so learning-disabled is because they always want to save the painstaking effort to internalize those issues they are talking about. As I repeatedly warned in this blog, without going through the process of internalization, they will never be able to identify real issues. As long as they are conditioned to remain mentally so lazy, all they can do is to scratch the surface of issues and find correct answers to given questions.
At times some of them say they agree with me. But I know they don't quite understand my point. When they address what they think is at issue, it's always someone else's headache. It never crosses their minds that first and foremost they should look into their own sick souls. Instead, they indulge in studying what is allegedly going on in the outside world, be it China, Iran, Syria or Greece. Now they have lost life-size views of things. It's laughable to see an American individual who can't even take care of himself keep talking about global trends and history of mankind.
The American Heritage Dictionary says the word "internalize" means "to take in and make an integral part of one's attitudes or beliefs." The definition is not totally wrong. But it still falls short of transcending the bounds of dualism the Westerners are so used to. Empathy or antipathy with other people is far from enough to internalize issues.
This is not to say, however, the Asiatic monism should be applied to the interpretation of the word.
As I have repeatedly argued, Buddha knows no gods or no isms, not even atheism. Why can he be a monist, or dualist for that matter? (See NOTE below for the American Heritage's definitions of these isms.) In the last 1.5 to 2 millenniums, Buddhism has been largely distorted by the Japanese who have "saladized" everything from religion to language, and by some other Asian peoples, perhaps to a lesser degree. As a result what the Americans think is Buddhism today, in fact, has nothing, whatsoever, to do with Buddha's tenets.
NOTE: Dualism means the view that the world consists of or is explicable as two fundamental entities, such as mind and matter, whereas monism is the doctrine that mind and matter are formed from, or reducible to, the same ultimate substance or principle of being.
In this respect you should also be aware that the English word "internalize" is a transitive verb. It cannot be intransitive in any event. On the contrary, it does not take an object, either direct or indirect, in the context of Buddhism. You are, therefore, doomed to fail when you attempt to take in something external and make it an integral part of your inner self. Actually that's what Americans are doing at their best.
Buddha's teaching all boils down to the unequivocal statement which goes: "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form." This may sound too esoteric. But if you once empty your brain of those half-baked ideologies, you will know the words are so simple and clear that you can never paraphrase them. It's all the more regrettable that Americans never really understand internalization is the key to identifying relevant issues in the real world.
They have no difficulty in gathering external information because everyone has a sensory nervous system which is more or less functioning. But when it comes to internalizing the input data, they get stuck. That's basically why they selectively toy with their pet subjects all the time.
This way, they play into the hands of the media, be it mainstream, alternative or social, whose sole role is to feed their gullible audience with one red herring after another.
Because of incoherence and inconsistency inherent in any false issue, their brains are now stuffed with a jumble of delusive ideologies or ideological delusions. Whenever I try to visualize the logic circuit inside their skulls, something that looks very much like a bowl of spaghetti conjures up.
Here's a typical example: The self-styled sinologist predicted in 2001 that China would collapse in ten years. When the magic year was over without seeing the collapse, he revised his forecast matter-of-factly, saying, "I was wrong only by one year." But practically in the same breath, he predicted that Japan would overtake China, GDP-wise, once again in 2013. It's as though you can overtake someone who is no longer existent at that time. Remember the verb "overtake" always requires an object.
Given the vast intellectual vacuum prevailing in the U.S., it came as no surprise to know not a single American has openly challenged his unprincipled way of dealing with a serious issue which directly concerns 1.3 billion human beings living in that country. But it was a little amazing to know that even the Chinese didn't think he had discredited himself, totally and for good.
I have recently noticed that in stark contrast to his book, my blog is extremely unpopular among my predominantly American audience presumably because I am a firm believer in the central principle of Gautama Buddha. I suspect it's too straightforward for the people who are so used to the spaghetti-like logic. · read more (61 words)
I'm still hanging around at the waiting room of Grim Reaper's office without knowing exactly when my turn comes along. Aside from household chores, I have nothing in particular on my to-do list, except periodically reviewing the situation with the second round of my legal/extra-legal battle against City Hall, and updating my blood pressure chart and "dose control sheet" to keep the medical cost to an absolute minimum.
Now that I'm gradually getting used to the flood of Sumaho, though still with some difficulty, the only things that really disturb my peace of mind for now are money issues, and this horrible toothache.
The day before yesterday, I went to the nearby eatery I frequent to take a swallow of, rather than a bite at a humble dinner.
As soon as I sat at the table, I said to the wife of the owner-chef: "It seems I ought to visit Sensei (the dentist I mentioned in a recent post) tomorrow if only for the pain relievers and antiphlogistic drugs. Any other dental practitioner would refuse to write a prescription as a stopgap measure, insisting a careful examination and 'causal treatment' are needed, instead."
The woman knew that I couldn't financially afford the removal of a tooth and any dentures to replace it. She assured me that was the right thing to do.
When I was through with my dinner, her husband emerged from the kitchen and offered me something that looked like rolled-up 1,000-yen bills. He mumbled almost inaudibly: "You can use this for the train fare to visit Sensei's clinic." I declined to accept the monetary gift because there was no reason for him to do me such a favor. But he slid it down into my shirt pocket.
Yesterday, I visited the dental office for the first time. It was a 30-minute train ride. I'd just expected the independent-minded dentist, who recently abandoned the membership in the cartel named Japan Dentist Association, to write me a prescription of affordable drugs without any treatment. But the moment he looked at the swollen part of my gum, he said: "Any medication won't work anymore unless you allow me to remove this one." I refuted: "As you already know, I can't simply afford that." His answer: "Of course, it's free of charge. We are regulars at the same restaurant, right?" Actually, he later instructed one of his assistants to make it all free except for a token fee for the initial visit. At the reception desk, I asked her: "How much would it have cost me?" She said, "Something more than 10 thousand."
I really felt grateful to the dentist and the owner of the restaurant for everything they did to me in the last couple of days. But at the same time, I was very uncomfortable.
The generous donation in the amount of 700K yen my close local friend "DK" gave me from October 2011 through June 2012 is a different story. At that time DK said he just wanted to "reciprocate" because he had learned a lot from my way of thinking and living.
On the contrary we don't have common areas of interest among us. It is true that the dental practitioner and I share the same opinion about Japan's medical cartel. But it seems we are not really on the same page because Sensei left Japan Dental Association for a reason that has something to do with a conspiracy theory he believes in. He is a regular at a series of seminars organized by Benjamin Fulford.
And most importantly, they owed me absolutely nothing.
On my way home, I quickly analyzed my ambivalent feelings.
I have already talked a lot about my father's extraordinary education policy. But I haven't talked that much about the DNA and other factors involved in my formative causation. When Rupert Sheldrake hypothesized on "morphic resonance," his main concern was with its physical aspects. But now I want to talk a little about the influence these factors had on my personality.
All I know about the diplomatic career of my maternal grandfather is that he was one of the delegates when the Treaty of Portsmouth was inked at the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and that he was the consul general, perhaps stationed in New York, at the time Woodrow Wilson was in office. In all likelihood, he was yet another Japanese diplomat who remained under the influence of the Wakon Yosai mindset. Nobody expected him, or his colleagues, to be competent enough to fend off the imperialist ambitions of Wilson's America.
Genealogy-wise, he was a descendant of a high-ranking samurai serving the Mori clan of Choshu Domain throughout the feudal era.
There is a Japanese proverb that goes: "武士は食わねど高楊枝 " which literally means "A starving samurai should hold his toothpick high." Some say it has the same implication as the old Western adage that says: "The eagle doesn't catch flies." But I suspect their interpretation is wrong because the Japanese saying just refers to feigned stoicism which was considered the single most important virtue of samurai. Apparently I have inherited something to be called "greed deficiency syndrome" from my maternal lineage. Although I don't know whether I have acquired it or it's congenital, that is basically why my post-retirement life has been so poverty-stricken.
A more important influence, however, comes from my paternal bloodline. It traces back to generations of ninjas who belonged to the Kouga school of Ninjutsu. They were to the Tokugawa Shogunate what CIA agents are to U.S. presidents since FDR. Aside from their acrobatic agility and other physical abilities, they had first-rate intellectual faculties such as good analytical mind coupled with keen instinct to identify enemies, and boldness to quickly kill them as the necessity arose.
As to loyalty to the master, my father looked to have been largely mutated. He never concealed his contempt for the Emperor. But it all adds up when I take into account the historical fact that in 1867 the Shogunate ceded power to the Emperor after a fierce battle. Throughout his lifetime, my father remained loyal to his own cause. I think I inherited from him the unwavering inclination to value dignity more than anything else.
These are the attributes I have inherited from, or through, my father. And that's why I would rather be a robber than a beggar.
Usually I am a friendly and compassionate person with a superb sense of humor. That's how my local friends describe me. But at the same time, I am a very dangerous person who always wants you to respect me. If you don't feel like it, you should at least fear me.
In the last several years I've experienced a lot of humiliation from Americans. They are extremely touchy and easy to get hurt. But at the same time, they are too insensitive to notice they are hurting others much more than others hurt them. That's presumably because they think they have special privilege to insult others, especially serfs in the American fiefdom. · read more (55 words)
Production is thus at the same time consumption, and consumption is at the same time production. Each is simultaneously its opposite. But an intermediary movement takes place between the two at the same time. Production leads to consumption, for which it provides the material; consumption without production would have no object. But consumption also leads to production by providing for its products the subject for whom they are products. The product only attains its final consummation in consumption. A railway on which no one travels, which is therefore not used up, not consumed, is potentially but not actually a railway. Without production there is no consumption, but without consumption there is no production either, since in that case production would be useless. Consumption produces production in two ways. - From Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx (1859)
IBM System/360 was announced in 1964
The legendary IBM PC hit the market in 1981
It seems the death of the PC is the talk on the web these days. The alleged cause varies from an obituary to another. Some say the death is attributable to the world-wide proliferation of smartphones while a little more computer-savvy people think the PC went virtually extinct in the wake of the widespread application hosting services comprehensively called "cloud computing."
I don't want to attend the deathwatch because I am sure that the corpse was misidentified as my longtime friend's.
The false obituaries, however, bring me back to the early 1950s when I was preparing myself for the rocky adulthood ahead of me. One day I stumbled on the following sentences in an 1843 entry of Soren Kierkegaard's 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. (English translation by Peter Rohde.)
Later in the same year the Danish philosopher wrote a book titled Repetition. He titled the book that way because he thought repetition should be the same thing as "forward recollection." He hypothesized subliminal recollection of the past was the only thing that would guide him in the right direction. That is why Kierkegaard concluded that his dilemma would be solved with his faith in Christianity, the only source of his intuition. Unfortunately, though, I was already under the influence of Buddha who knows no Gods and no isms, including atheism. To me denying God was another way of admitting him.
A few years later I came across the Japanese translation of Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics. Etymologically, the coined word has its origin in Ancient Greek that meant "the art of governing." Wiener's interdisciplinary study specifically deals with the question about how the sender of information can use the feedback from its receiver to correct himself, and then update the receiver with new output. I thought I would be able to apply his theory about the feedback mechanism to optimize the way to govern myself. As I wrote some three years ago under the title of The Smart Way of Making Mistakes, it's more important, either in business or personal life, to learn a lesson from your mistake than to make no mistakes at all. In other words you must be error-prone because the more you err, the more you learn.
This is not to say, however, I've never failed to learn from my mistake. I must also admit that even when I failed, I sometimes got back on the right track just by accident. And yet, there were times I would never have overcome a crisis facing me without leveraging lessons I'd learned before.
That's basically how I decided, in 1963, to become a small part of the computer industry. Electronic Data Processing system, or EDP for short, based on the "stored-program" concept developed by John von Neumann, et al. was still in its fledgling stage. But perhaps I already knew that was the surest way to grow into a mature man - one who always embraces change, or even initiates one. I may look to be second-guessing on my career, but actually I am not.
I know that if you are an American, you think it's too far-fetched a thinking to see a link between the Kierkegaardian dilemma and the computer. That's simply because you never think the way I do, or don't think at all for that matter. I don't want to waste your time, and mine either, by telling you how two other thinkers, Max Weber and Karl Marx helped me as catalysts to become involved with information technology the way I did, though mainly as its user.
But before I go on, let me quickly talk about my interpretation of Marx's thoughts on the value-creating chain.
Your parents and grandparents were taught nothing about Marx except that he was a bad guy. Yet some of them must have been smart enough to intuitively understand the dialectical mechanism that governs an industrialized economy. Unfortunately, though, most of them are gone without handing down to posterity their wisdom, work ethics and no-nonsense attitudes toward life. As a result, your generation doesn't have the foggiest idea of what man's economic activity is all about even after completing the MBA course at Harvard Business School. You just take it for granted that economy is something in which people take care of clothing, food and housing among one another, while providing cheap entertainment in between. Small wonder you have recently swallowed yet another stupid notion that economy is something revolving around the conflict between Wall Street and Main Street or 1% versus 99%.
It's true that not once did Marx present the oversimplified formula "Geld-Ware-Geld" or Money-Commodity-Money. But as is evident from the above quote, Marx was keenly aware of the third factor, i.e. technology. Maybe he deliberately put it aside for the purpose of clarity, or he just assumed a flat or linear development of technologies after the first Industrial Revolution. Aside from the class struggle he always stressed, there has been a perpetual battle between technologists and users of their products. And it's important to note that it can't be won by either side where there is a yawning gap between the two. The Luddites are a different issue here.
One year after I joined IBM as a sales trainee, Tokyo hosted the 18th Olympic Games. At the closing ceremony, the Japanese were impressed to see someone from IBM proudly hand over to Avery Brundage, then President of the International Olympic Committee, a thick record book compiled overnight by IBM System/360. But some of us already knew this was not what the modern computer was invented for. Actually we had a great sense of uncertainty about what the coming computer age would look like. All we knew was that Japan wouldn't get on the high-growth track without computerization.
I still remember the touching moment in the midnight hands-on training session when the COBOL program we wrote and rewrote over and over completed the task at hand as intended. My teammates cheered especially when the process started in the right way. On the contrary I was moved when the computer responded to the "STOP" command at the right time and in the right way.
In the subsequent years, we were feeling increasingly frustrated with never-ending conflicts between hardware and software engineers and endusers of their products and services. It was as though someone had put buttons in the wrong holes. We were supposed to expect a synergy effect from the cooperation between computer-illiterate business people and business-illiterate engineers, but actually we always ended up seeing an anti-synergy effect.
With what I named the multiplication rule at work everywhere, 0.5 merged with another 0.5 never makes 1.0 or larger. The arithmetic notation which seems to apply in the real world, instead, is: 0.5 multiplied by 0.5 makes 0.25. In later years I found out that my empirical theory applies not only to business and technology but also any other combination of different things such as cross-racial marriages.
Toward the end of the Mainframe Era, one of the fathers of the modern computer contributed an interesting article to a computer journal. (I forgot whether it was Neuman or John Adam Presper Eckert, Jr.) He argued to the effect that the traditional system architecture in which a number of "dumb" terminals were subordinated to the mainframe machine was as obsolete as the centrally-planned Soviet economy.
You don't quite understand the real implication of his statement if you are one of those people who have never committed themselves to revolutionizing the value-creating chain in the real world, where most everything comes down to the question of how to bring heterogeneous elements together. Since you always mix up ends and means, you think the computer, in itself, represents a value. It's, therefore, none of your concern how different devices with different functions interact with one another, let alone how the computer interacts with its user.
Here and there in the industry, however, a subtle change in attitudes toward the computer had already been underway. Under the circumstances, the Soviet analogy deeply resonated with some of us. It is true that the new trend still remained amphibious, but we were already preparing ourselves for what we would later call "enduser computing."
We had yet to see the arrival of the "smart terminal" but we already had some tools with which to rehearse personal computing under the conventional environment for central data processing. For one thing, we could avail ourselves of "A Programming Language," APL for short, which was an "interactive array-oriented language" developed by Kenneth E. Iverson decades earlier.
In 1983, one year after the first customer shipment of the legendary IBM PC in the U.S., the Japanese subsidiary of IBM announced its Japanese version under the brand name of "IBM Multistation 5550." The top page of its promotional brochure read: "IBM Multistation 5550 is a calculator and a wordprocessor combined into one." The stupid copy unmistakably indicated that the developers of the new product and their target customers were not on the same page yet.
17 years later, I had an opportunity to teach an MBA class at International University of Japan. At that time Grant Norris, now an IBM consultant, gave me a special permission to use his material for my lecture on E-Business and discussions with my foreign students. In a book he co-authored with his fellow consultants, Norris wrote: "Adaptive technologies move earlier technologies forward incrementally [while] disruptive technologies change the way people live their lives or the way businesses operate."
From my MOT (Management of Technology) point of view, where people tend to deal with a disruptive technology as if it were adaptive, Marx's value-creating chain doesn't work because then there is no compelling reason for scientists to seek a major technological breakthrough anymore. As a result, consumers become even more change-resistant because they know life is much easier with existing technologies. Hopefully I will come back to this point in a separate piece.
When the Multistation was unveiled, I was the local CFO at an international trading house headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded in 1865 in Yokohama by two Swiss merchants, this company was yet another example of the curse of the multiplication rule I mentioned earlier. For one thing, people from the owners, to expat executives, to local employees took it for granted that their strength lay with the Wakon Yosai (Japanese spirit and Western learning) mindset which dates back to the 1860s. But actually, this formula, which was applied to Japan's "modernization" (actually it's just industrialization,) had long proved unworkable because of what I call "technology fetishism" as its inevitable consequence.
The Swiss company always claimed to be a "value-adding trader," but in fact, it was just adding costs which had to be passed on to the customer every time goods changed hands. It went virtually bankrupt several years after I left it, primarily because of its technophobia, the reverse side of technology fetishism. I still remember a 40-something-year-old accountant in my shop double-checking the computer output with her abacus. Believe it or not, she wasn't an exception.
As a senior manager overseeing the entire administration, I submitted to my Swiss boss, named Kurt E. Sieber, a purchase proposal in which I said I wanted to have a 5550 just because I had long had in mind a lot of essential tasks which wouldn't be done effectively, or even performed at all, without a PC on my desktop. Although there were very few reference books readily available at bookstores, I didn't care a bit about how to use the new technology because what for to use it was my only concern. I was more of a businessperson than an IT engineer, but I could learn, in due course, how to use these applications such as Multiplan (the precursor of Excel), BASIC, and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications.)
At the initial stage, the Multistation had no hard disk drive in it. Instead, it used 3.5" floppy disks. And its RAM capacity was a mere 256KB (not a typo,) expandable only to 512KB. But to the money-worshiping Swiss executive, specifications were no concern. The hardest part was to convince him that I wasn't out of my mind when I asked him for 1.5 million yen (US$ 19,000 at the current exchange rate) to buy a "small toy." It took me months until I finally got his reluctant approval.
Another ten years were needed for Sieber to come to terms with the idea that even in his fiefdom, he couldn't get away from the peril of personal computing any more. I suspect, however, it would have taken an eternity had it not been for the invention of a convenient technical term - "Client/Server Model." The fancy phrase allowed any interpretation you liked because nobody couldn't tell exactly how the "new" model differed from the conventional architecture for centralized computing, except that peripheral devices had now grown a little smarter and that clients and servers were often networked using the communications protocol called TCP/IP. It was quite OK if endusers sitting at their smart terminals still wanted to remain dumb. In short, the notion about the client/server meant nothing more than the old Soviet system disguised as a little more user-friendly environment.
Sieber was a former captain at a tank unit of the notorious Swiss Army. That meant he would never emancipate himself from hierarchical way of thinking. No wonder he chose to settle down in this country despite his contempt toward the Japanese. He found the easiest people to exploit in this classless society where peer pressure always prevails among locals. But at the same time he was an unblushing robber. By the time I reached the mandatory retirement age, he and his men had started to confiscate, and then alter the intellectual property I'd accumulated in my computer, as if to defuse the time bomb I'd set to blast the "legacy" system. My repository included hand-made systems for an online exercise of the corporate budgeting and up-to-the-minute control of currency positions, just to mention a few. I called them "systems of the user, by the user, for the user." Despite the fact that the amount of the corporate resources I'd used to develop these mini-systems was negligible small, they didn't pay me a single Swiss franc in royalty. I didn't sue them because I knew these systems and user manuals were nothing but pearls being cast before change-disabled swine.
In 1993, three years after Japan's economic bubble belatedly burst, an epochal book was published in the U.S. The book titled Reengineering the Corporation - A Manifesto for Business Revolution was authored by the late Dr. Michael Hammer with the help of James Champy. Unusually for a business book, it spent more than six months on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. But I know very few among my predominantly American audience have read the reengineering classic in part because most of you thought "reengineering" was yet another way to refer to "restructuring" - jettisoning unprofitable business lines, cutting redundant manpower, etc. You don't give a damn about quality of life and real values it calls for. That's why you never understand the positive side of Dr. Hammer's argument. He just wanted to present a methodology to use networked computers as the enabler of "fundamental, radical and dramatic" change in a clear departure from the principles laid down by Adam Smith more than two centuries ago.
Hammer writes: "Reengineering isn't another idea imported from Japan. It isn't another quick fix that American managers can apply to their organizations. ...... Rengineering isn't about fixing anything."
When I was a contractor overseeing the "University Alliance Program" at the rotten Japanese subsidiary of SAP AG, the German software giant, I had a chance to translate Dr. Hammer's PowerPoint slides into Japanese. To me he looked more like a down-to-earth business consultant than yet another management guru. But unfortunately his avid advocacy of a business revolution hasn't borne fruit by now for the reasons I have mentioned.
In 1995, James Champy, the other coauthor of Reengineering the Corporation, published, solo this time, a followup book titled Reengineering Management - The Mandate for New Leadership. Champy had a good reason to author it singularly. CSC Index, a consulting firm he was heading then, sent out an extensive questionnaire to more than 600 CEOs in North America and Europe to find out if the intended revolution had been paying off in their organizations.
In his book, Champy wrote: "[Overall], the study shows, participants failed to attain these benchmarks [for shortening the cycle time, reducing costs, increasing revenue, etc.] by as much as 30%. ..... This partial revolution is not the one I intended. If I've learned anything in the last 18 months, it is that the revolution we started has gone, at best, only halfway. I have also learned that half a revolution is not better than none. It may, in fact, be worse."
From his findings, Chapmy concluded the fundamental problem lay with the corporate culture, and that it was CEOs' responsibility to revolutionize it.
At the 1997 World Economic Forum in Davos, Andy Grove, co-founder and then Chairman of Intel Corp., said to the effect that change in the corporate culture is the key to success in BPR (business process reengineering.) Grove was absolutely right. But he shouldn't have added that the cultural revolution should be driven from the top, just as Champy shouldn't have written Reengineering Management. Success in corporate revolution, or any other revolution for that matter, solely hinges on unfettered spontaneity and creativity on the part of ordinary people. And a corporate culture is just a reflection of nation's culture. It's ridiculous to expect one of those egomaniacs in the executive office to act as a change agent.
At the height of the economic boom, a variety of "participatory" programs such as kaizen (company-wide efforts for reform), kanban (just-in-time inventory management system), and TQC (programs for total quality control) were widely practiced across Japan Inc. Japan experts in other industrialized countries, especially in the U.S., have always touted these "bottom-up" approaches as the recipe for Japan's phenomenal success. But as always, they are wrong. If these programs had really been bottom-up, then we wouldn't have seen the economic bubble form and burst that easily, or the Japanese must have shown, a long time ago, the vigor and resilience needed for recovery from the economic doldrums and political impasse.
Here's one little question for you: Did you know your personal computer mirrors what you really are? I don't know if you did, but in fact she mirrors you even more than she does her developer or manufacturer. Number-crunching or word-processing, let alone apple-polishing, is not her job; always getting you an undistorted feedback is.
Those obituaries are all wrong, after all. If your PC looks to be dead, it's you, not she, that's been actually dead. As quoted at the top of this post, Marx observed that "a railway on which no one travels is potentially but not actually a railway." In another paragraph of the essay, he paraphrased the same idea more succinctly: "Consumption gives the product the finishing touch." Now at the sight of your underused PC, Marx would say:
"A PC you don't want to use real creatively is potentially but not actually a PC."
He would also say the same thing with respect to Web-based technologies.
Now seven years into my retirement, I'm being overwhelmed in the face of the explosion of Sumaho, as the Japanese call smartphones, and other types of hand-held devices.
According to the World Bank, the population of cellphone users has been growing exponentially in the last couple of years and will soon top the 6 billion mark. That should mean everyone except children starving to death in Africa is fondling his handset all the time
while he has nothing in particular to communicate with others, electronically or otherwise. Maybe his stomach is not empty, but it's for sure his brain is. I don't know any other words than "mass addiction" to describe this trend.
Apple's iPhone, for one, is a typical example of adaptive technology. Once again, an adaptive technology is something you can live without. In other words, it's, at best, a nice-to-have. Believe me, I have absolutely nothing against your desire to own such a fancy product. All I want to say is I have a great difficulty living shoulder-to-shoulder with people who think these gadgets are must-haves just like junkies think they can't live without the drug which, in fact, is not so much in the substance. And especially in a conformist society like Japan, this addiction is highly infectious.
To make the plague of addiction even worse, the IT industry is single-mindedly building the infrastructures for "ubiquitous computing" and "cloud-computing." Now this is a global trend.
Needless to say, however, the situation in Japan is even more disastrous because of the legacy of Wakon Yosai and technology fetishism resulting from it. With the entire population drowned in the Great Flood of mobile devices, nation's value-creating chain now seems to have gone into pieces, totally and perhaps irreversibly.
Day in, day out, and around the clock, people from young to old pass me by with their fingertips glued to their Keitai (mobile phones,) or vice versa. These days not a few Japanese go to the bathroom, or even to bed, without parting ways with their beloved cellphones. If you take into account the fact that Japan's population density is 10.2 times higher than that of the United States, you may understand what it is like to be among 100 million Keitai users. · read more (32 words)
A Japanese proverb goes: "A fowl taking flight does not foul the surface of water." (立つ鳥水を濁さず.) I still think it would be nice if I could vanish leaving no clue to my existence behind. But with a foot already on the other side, I've recently realized it's not my duty to do away with the corpse soon to start decomposing and clean up all the mess surrounding it. I may fail to disappear like the bird, but that is that.
Some among the bereaved may complain, but after all, I'm not at fault for their trouble any more than they are.
This is my Bodhi.
Recently I often wander about the seaside area of the city late at night. I'm looking around for the right place to sink myself when time comes. Just between you and me, there's Plan B. But I think its scenario is a little too bloody to talk about openly.
With the other foot still on "this" side of the Styx, however, I haven't fully extricated myself from Kleshas yet. Among other things, I still find it a little too hard to leave behind those people and things that have made my life worth living.
As I always say, I'm too honest a person to cherry-pick things that make me look good or right. For that reason I may look to have had a hard time throughout my lifetime. So you think I am going to have my day for the first time at the last moment of my life. But as usual you are wrong. I've never been an ascetic person. I'm an avowed hedonist. Therefore, my life was full of gorgeous prizes such as unforgettable relationships with unassimilated young women who were all intelligent, compassionate and graceful. It's just that I'm neither braggart nor exhibitionist. I don't want to share my experience with anyone else because it needn't be shared in the first place.
Apart from the bright side of my life, the following are some of the faces that still keep disturbing my Moksha state of mind.
The most annoying of all is this scum named Chang. When I sent him the link to my most recent post, he didn't respond. His MO in the face of a criticism that he has never dreamed of hearing from a colonial of the American Empire is to stick his empty head in the sand like an ostrich.
Most recently the stupid bird chirped on the World Affairs website about China's [undue] claim on Japan's Okinawa. With his bloated sense of self-importance, the former ambulance chaser now seems to have appointed himself as the presiding judge at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Obviously Chang had to seek an alternative source of income in the wake of the near-bankrupt situation on the part of his employers in Washington. Now in the new capacity of the chief arbitrator of territorial disputes, Chang declares the Islands of Okinawa to be part of the dead country named Japan. Nothing is farther from the truth: Okinawa is for the Okinawans - PERIOD.
He has never talked, and will never talk, about "China's Tibet." By the same token, he would never admit America's interventionism is much worse than "China's expansionism." This is yet another confirmation that Chang has no problem using faceless people wherever they are useful to promote his fake ideology.
The dedication to his The Coming Collapse of China goes: "For the boy who left China in search of a better life -- my father." This already reveals that the author has inherited the worst aspects of the Chinese traits from his selfish and cowardly father. In the early 1940's, Chang's father quickly fled his home country to "the land of the free" in search of stingy material wealth, instead of staying with his fellow countrymen to fight against the Japanese or the communists.
In the uncharacteristically well-done book, the author recollects how his father enjoyed himself when his son took him on a homecoming trip to the continent. At the sight of the affluent urban life, the old man looked to have renewed a great sense of pride for being an ethnic Chinese. Obviously it didn't cross his mind for a split second that although people always attribute China's economic rise to Deng Xiaoping's policy of reform and opening-up, the prosperity was achieved only at the cost of tens of millions of lives of ordinary Chinese.
In short, Chang's father doesn't understand, any more than his educated son does, that each individual citizen should firmly commit himself throughout his lifetime to building, destroying, or reinventing his country, either native or adoptive. The old Chang who came to America just to reap the harvest from the seeds sown by early settlers didn't care a bit about exactly what he was pledging himself to when parroting the Oath of Allegiance at the immigration office.
What a disgusting family.
Fortunately for me, though, their shitty family history is none of my business. I only think it's my duty to prevent poor American people from getting their empty brains further damaged by the con artist.
Chang asked Shintaro Ishihara to write the foreword to the Japanese version of his first book. Ishihara is the Tokyo Governor who has stayed in the cushy position for the straight 13 years by now. The bastard was once dubbed a "social Neanderthal" by Australian journalist Ben Hills, but he doesn't care too much because millions of cultist-like Tokyo citizens as well as quite a few brain-dead Japan experts in the U.S., such as Chang, are always behind him.
In May 2004, Chang visited Ishihara to interview him in preparation for his second book, which would later be ridiculed by the Daily Yomiuri as "a sensationalized, contradictory, jumbled and half-baked mess of a book." When Chang sent me the tape to ask me to translate his friendly conversation with the Governor, I was taken aback to know it was more like a chat between kindergarten kids than a serious discussion between the Governor of Japan's capital and the prominent political "analyst" from the U.S.
In October 2009, Ishihara's first bid to host the 2016 Olympics failed. But a couple of months after 3/11, the unrelenting Governor made a comeback with his second bid for the 2020 Summer Games. In May, the International Olympic Committee shortlisted Tokyo with two other candidate cities. This meant that in 2013 the corrupt IOC might give him a green light to treating thousands of athletes from all over the world with cesium-contaminated food.
In early July, 16 months after 3/11, an "independent" Diet panel released a final report on how Naoto Kan's government failed to prevent the Fukushima nuclear accident from developing into a full-scale disaster, and from posing a growing threat to nation's food chain. The Yomiuri Shimbun daily summarized the survey results like this: "[The report] vividly describes it was a 'man-made' disaster." It was as though the mainstream media weren't the main culprit of the information blackout themselves. Worse, not a single person has filed a class action lawsuit against the government.
It's also astounding that nobody has dared to point out Ishihara's move to further spread the radioactive contamination beyond national boundaries is insane.
In his 2003 book "Inventing Japan - 1853-1964" Ian Buruma devotes its "Prologue" solely to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics because the Japanese thought they could use the games as a springboard to reinventing their country. Early on, Japan's spectacular rise looked unstoppable like it did a century before. But in 1990, the high-growth era came to a screeching halt. Buruma seems to see a precursor to the ultimate failure in the way the two athletes, a marathon runner and a woman hurdler, handled the humiliation of having lost their games. In later years both killed themselves.
It's true that we haven't seen a suicide case associated with a defeat in an Olympic game lately. But the Japanese still remain pathologically obsessed with the Olympics with their traditional Harakiri mindset. This is an unmistakable sign that the Japanese are a terminally ill people.
Since July 27, every media organization has been acting as if it were Sports Illustrated or ESPN. Around the clock, newspapers and TV channels keep dramatizing the same old stories about mediocre athletes' roads to a graceful defeat. And while giving planted answers to predictable questions from news reporters, judoists and other contestants who failed to live up to nation's expectation keep blubbering to express sincere apologies to their home country. So far I have noticed just a few self-motivated individuals in the disproportionately large Japanese delegation. These exceptional athletes don't look to be interested in taking a dose of the media-administered performance-enhancing drug, i.e. the flag of the Rising Sun. Even Uday Hussein, who tortured to death some athletes who had lost their games, would blush at the sight of these weepy Olympians.
By contrast, Queen Elizabeth was a breath of fresh air amid the show of insanity at the Opening Ceremony. She was spotted intently picking her nails when the Great Britain marched into the Olympic Stadium. It's quite natural that peoples from Egypt, Syria, Iran, Libya, North Korea and the like think the leap-year event is where to demonstrate their nationalism. Since these countries are constantly terrorized by the worst rogue nation in history named the U.S.A., they are in the process of redefining their statehood in the face of the imminent collapse of Pax Americana.
The same can be said of some European countries afflicted with financial woes. On the contrary, it's really sickening to see the misplaced manifestation of patriotism by other peoples because their nation-states have already been outgrown by the reality of the 21st century.
I still have some other topics to take up in this blog on a little unrealistic assumption that I have enough time and energy to finish writing. One of them is the recent talk on the web which has it that the personal computer is dying, or even dead, because of the proliferation of smartphones and the new network environment called "cloud computing." In fact, though, it's not the PC, but your brain that is dying.
Once again this reminds me of my aborted book. I was going to title it The Unviable Japan. Some native speakers of English have warned me that the generally-accepted antonym of "viable" is "inviable." Because of, rather than despite their advice, I went for the nonstandard word "unviable." Reason: In this world, there can be no such thing that is not viable and still exists. What I wanted to mean by the title is that my country of birth is not only change-disabled but also unable to cease to exist when it should. It will keep showing weak vital signs until someone removes the 67-year-old life-support. I don't know, but it can be a gigantic earthquake.
When I was rewriting the outline of the book in July last year with the help of my friend in Arkansas, I realized there's no sequel to The Unviable Japan.
On the surface, many things have cropped up here since 3/11. For one thing, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan literally went into pieces in early July. As a result, an uncountable number of "new" parties have emerged like we saw in 1993. They are just repeating what Ian Buruma called "another fake dawn."
Back in May, the government released intriguing results of a survey, which revealed that 23.4% of respondents had answered in the affirmative to this question: "Have you seriously considered suicide lately?" When it came to pollees in their 20s, an astounding 28.4% answered they had thought about killing themselves. However, there's nothing new in the revelations. This is just yet another confirmation of the estimate by Yoshi Yamamoto, Director of the Mental Health Center of Yokohama. In his 2004 book titled Japan Unbound, John Nathan quoted him as saying, "Some 5 million Japanese are contemplating suicide at any given moment."
There's another earthly concern of mine: money. One of my local friends helped me out when the tax collecting department of Yokohama City Hall robbed me of 30% of my pension (700K yen from October to June.) Now that the second round of the constitutional but extra-legal battle has started, I'm at a loss.
As I said, I've already packed up for the long journey. And yet I'm still very fussy about when to depart, where and how. This has made it necessary for me to put my aborted book on sale. It remains an outline, but I believe it can pass as a stand-alone book because the total wordcount for 13 chapters already stands at more than 12,000, and as I said, there's very little to add or update on. And of course, the copyright is reserved here at this moment. The price I have in mind is US$ 9K, or 700K yen. It's negotiable to a certain extent.
Take a look at the "Preface" inserted in my previous post and Chapter 1 below here. If you are interested in publishing The Unviable Japan as a mini-book or making use of my manuscript in any other way, please contact me at email@example.com. · read more (1,672 words)
Thursday, June 21 2012 @ 10:23 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. - Thomas Jefferson
The mainland Japanese deserve all this humiliation. But my heart keeps aching for the Okinawans until it stops beating.
I still have several backlog issues to discuss with my audience before I close down my shop for good. Since I'm uncertain as to exactly when time runs out for me, I thought I should set the record straight, before anything else, with G. G. Chang, the most despicable person I've ever met in my lifetime.
All I know about Chang is that he is a total sellout. But it looks as though he is holding something back when talking about his personal background. For instance, Chang has never disclosed the year of his birth, and he seldom talks about the Vietnam War. This arouses your suspicion about what he was doing in the depth of the Vietnam quagmire. He can well be one of those war-mongering neocon hypocrites who dodged the draft themselves in their late-teens or early-20s.
But for now, I'll leave out the personal aspects of our working relationship in order to focus on the role the small-time racketeer in New Jersey has been playing as a cat's paw or mouthpiece of Washington under the guise of a political "analyst."
Hopefully in a separate post, I'll elaborate on his attempts to exploit this blogger as his irreplaceably reliable Tokyo correspondent at a bargain price. It didn't cost him any more than a retainer of a cheap Cross ballpoint pen and a plate of sushi. But for my part, his habitual lies, which have amounted to a serious breach of trust over time, caused me a costly loss of time, money and opportunity.
In May 2004 at a sushi bar in Roppongi, downtown Tokyo, Chang confided to me that he had felt an urge to write a book about the fate of his father's home country before turning 50, which he did in 2001. To tell the truth, I was favorably impressed by The Coming Collapse of China (Random House, 2001.) Not that I was convinced, or unconvinced, of his prophecy that the People's Republic of China would collapse by the year 2011. I just thought the author raised a very valid and relevant question when he boldly asked whether the world's most populous country can be considered a going concern just by virtue of its monolithic system. As I quoted Voltaire as saying, where to identify the real question is much more important than how to answer it.
In fact, though, neocons in the U.S. jumped at his answer. The emboldened Chang went on to write his second book under the title of Nuclear Showdown (Random House, 2006.) An old proverb says a fox isn't caught twice in the same snare. Even the empty-headed neocons in the U.S. could now see right through to his total inability to analyze intricate things such as international politics.
Traditionally the Japanese publishing industry doesn't give a damn about an American book which received poor reviews at home. Small wonder Soshi-sha, the publisher of the Japanese version of The Coming Collapse of China, or any other publishing company, hasn't printed a Japanese version of Nuclear Showdown.
On February 26, 2006, a staff writer of the Daily Yomiuri by the name of James Hardy gave a review to Chang's rubbish under the title of Radioactive Rhetoric. Hardy wrote: "More often than not, our own Clouseau of Counterproliferation - hey, this alliteration thing's easy - misses the point, and Nuclear Showdown is a sensationalized, contradictory, jumbled, half-baked mess of a book."
Early on, the Commentary magazine, the haunt of diehard neocons, welcomed him as a star contributor to its blog named Contentions. Now Chang learned he could add extra bucks to the fortune he had already made from The Coming Collapse of China, and Nuclear Showdown to a lesser degree, just by capitalizing on the vast intellectual vacuum prevailing in the U.S. This is the only thing the learning-disabled guy could learn as a parvenu in the American chattering classes.
Unfortunately for him, though, it didn't take long before Chang's neo-conservatism revealed itself to be a mercenarily-motivated fake. The poor wreck of the makeshift neocon was sacked by Contentions two months after the Kenyan monkey was sworn in. He wrote in his March 14, 2009 mail to me: "I'm really curious why Commentary cut my blog." But to me it was obvious he was cut simply because the unprincipled guy had now started flirting with the Obama administration.
He still desperately clings to the likes of Wall Street Journal and Forbes in order to stay in the lucrative monkey business. The only thing he has to do to that end is to constantly revise the timeline for China's demise. But basically the con man is sunk by now.
All this while, I tried very hard to build a productive working relationship with Chang from which both of us might have benefited had it not been for his inability to do so. It lasted about 5 years since mid-2003. In early 2008, I submitted a 10,000-plus-word outline of a book I wanted to publish in the U.S. to Chang's literary agent named Rosalie Siegel.
From the beginning, I had told Siegel that I hadn't established myself as a professional writer here because I had devoted my entire career to business. She assured me that shouldn't be a problem. It was only after the hag read my outline that she said there was no way for a locally unestablished writer to make inroads into the publishing industry in the U.S. I should have known before investing a tremendous amount of time and money in research and actual writing that I was promoting something that they were determined not to hear, and had never heard in the past, from a vassal of America's Far Eastern fiefdom. In order to prove she'd had no intention to cheat me, she had to resort to nitpicking over minor problems with my writing style as if she were licensed to teach English composition. Especially she carped at the fact that there were too many "run-on" sentences.
I belatedly realized that the fraudulent literally agent and her client were there to keep at bay any idea that would seriously undermine the status quo with the American dominance in Northeast Asia. They were, and still remain, censors virtually on the payroll of Washington.
A week or so after I had the last telephone conversation with Siegel, I said to Chang that his literally agent was too stupid to understand that thoughts and words are inseparable twins; there's no such thing as a brilliant thought expressed by a banal word, or a fresh word to describe an insipid idea. In response, he wrote to me: "You are wrong when you write that words and ideas are inseparable twins. Writing and thinking are two different talents, and few people possess both. Just think of the reverse of you: the world is full of ill-conceived ideas that are communicated flawlessly." He spilled the beans. This was the final confirmation that Chang is yet another empty-headed flapjaw.
For all this revelation from me, he may file a defamation lawsuit against this 76-year-old blogger who is dying in dire poverty. But the former shyster should know he would lose much more than he would get out of it.
In mid-2011, someone in Arkansas strongly suggested I revive the once-aborted book. He introduced me to his friend who had started a publishing company in New York a couple of years before. He even volunteered to proofread my manuscript. But before I could complete rewriting, I gave it a second thought: now it's for sure that I was dealing with exceptionally honest people; but the rest of the Americans are all small-time crooks like Chang and Siegel. That is how I finally gave up trying to get my simple message through to American readers: they should elect a President who would invoke Article 10 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty to send his Japanese counterpart a termination notice as soon as he is sworn in.
If you are interested, please take a peek at the outline of the Preface below. I'm also thinking about inserting the outline of Chapter 1 if and when I have a chance to post Part 2 of my allegations against Chang. · read more (1,230 words)
Saturday, June 09 2012 @ 04:59 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
PRECAUTION: If you don't want to read an essay any longer than 140 characters and written by a Japanese nobody like this blogger, you hit a wrong website. Please Google again.
Top: On August 15, 1945, people went down on their knees in front of the Imperial Palace. Bottom: On September 27, Douglas MacArthur gave an audience to Emperor Hirohito.
Honesty is the only virtue bestowed upon me. Unlike many of you, I just can't cherry-pick things that make me look good or right. It's not because I am an exhibitionist that I constantly talk about my marriages and education of my biological sons which all ended up in failure.
The first feud started between my father and me around the time Japan launched a "surprise" attack on the obsolete Pacific Fleet Franklin Delano Roosevelt had moved to Pearl Harbor from San Diego. I was a 6-year-old kid at that time. The feud lasted until two decades or so later.
The second one started in 1968 when I fathered my first son. By that time I had already gotten over the first one I experienced as my father's eldest son.
I don't want to oversimplify my saga the way I would possibly do by ascribing the failed part of my life to someone else's fault. I think that by doing so, I would discredit myself and my argument that Japan had been a dead country long before I was born.
As I told my audience in the above-linked post, and on some other occasions, my father was obsessed with the idea that the only way to avoid sacrificing his eldest son for Emperor Hirohito, most typically as a Kamikaze pilot, was to make a top-notch scientist out of his dull-witted kid.
I was still 9-years-old when the imperial government accepted the Potsdam Declaration. But the intransigent aeronautical scientist wouldn't change his abnormal principle on which to educate his son, presumably because the imperial institution had still been kept intact, and on top of that, Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, had enthroned himself as the "Second Emperor."
My dad was a born scientist from tip to toe. But I sometimes suspect he was a crazy man.
Every time I look back on my wartime and postwar nightmare, I have this flashback. In those days, the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers (GHQ) often summoned my dad to interrogate him about his wartime research and development activity. At least on one of these occasions, he took me along to the GHQ building that had used to be the head office of Daiichi Life Insurance Company. I don't know why he wanted me to be with him. And I can't recollect where he made me wait inside the building until he was through with the interrogator(s) and what I was doing while awaiting.
But I remember that when crossing the Hibiya Park, which had reduced to a mere green field, diagonally toward the GHQ building, he gave a grudging look at the Imperial Palace which still stood upright in the center of the flattened city just across the moat from GHQ. When people were starving to death, Emperor Hirohito was doing very well although he kept a low profile so he wouldn't be hung upside down in the street like when Benito Mussolini had been executed in Milan a year or two earlier.
Actually the bastard in the Palace didn't have to fret about the possibility of following the same fate as the Italian dictator's. When MacArthur ordered the Japanese to model their Constitution after his country's, he ruled out the idea that the Second Amendment to the U.S. constitution should also be incorporated in the fundamental law. On the other hand, the SCAP thought it would be harmless if his Japanese subjects wanted to have articles equivalent to the First Amendment because it would be a piece of cake for the extra-constitutional general to override the Japanese Constitution whenever he felt like it. Actually the Second Emperor suppressed freedom of speech from GHQ very effectively. I still remember my father showed us incoming letters delivered to him with their envelops already opened, and many words and sentences blacked out.
Things remained essentially unchanged. I think that is why he did not change his education policy with his eldest son long after the war defeat. His principle all came down to this: "Always be different from your friends and never go with the flow because that's the surest way to sacrifice yourself for the Emperor." If I'd had a strong confidence in myself, I would have realized much earlier than I actually did that his principle was a double-edged sword. I would have interpreted his words a little differently and learned to assert myself much harder.
Instead, I simply resorted to weak perverseness and defiance. It never crossed my mind that I had the right to sometimes have fun with my friends a little more than just playing baseball after school hours. As a result, I collapsed in my early teens and never regained my self-confidence until I was in my mid-20s.
To me 1968 was one of the greatest years in my life. I fathered my first son. MacArthur had long been gone, and in the U.S., France and everywhere else in the world, anti-war movements were in full bloom. But nevertheless, the Japanese youths were still acting like their parents and grandparents had. True, they were protesting against the status quo, but only on behalf of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. None of their movements were home-grown. They were just importing irrelevant ideologies from foreign countries which were not governed by a war criminal like Japan's Emperor.
When my first son was born, I said to myself, "Don't repeat my father's mistake by going to extremes as he did to me." But by the time my son became a schoolkid, I realized my guiding principle for educating my son could not be that different from my father's. It's not only his mother (my ex) but also his maternal grandparents, teachers, friends and neighbors that wanted him to be a people person, i.e. conformist.
My ex-father-in-law was a former Tekiya. An English entry to Wikipedia defines a Tekiya as one "who primarily peddled illicit, stolen or shoddy goods" to serve as one of the major sources of funds for a Yakuza syndicate. He once told me proudly that his merchandise had included "Philopon," methamphetamine-based illegal stimulant which had often been used on Kamikaze pilots. It's this former Yakuza who in later years siphoned a good part of my alimony which was primarily meant for the higher-learning tuition for my sons. As a result, my elder son dropped out from the university where his paternal grandfather had taught decades earlier.
On top of the fight against the Yakuza mentality rampant among my former in-laws, I also had to fight a fierce religious war when my ex signed up to Soka Gakkai under the influence of this Tekiya and his wife.
With more than 10 million members in Japan and another 192 million in foreign countries, SG claims to be the most powerful and the only authentic "lay" religious movement within Nichiren Buddhist sect. Its political arm Komei-to is also powerful enough to have been the coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party when the LDP was in power.
In fact, though, SG is nothing but a legitimized cult, which has nothing, whatsoever, to do with Buddha's tenets. In 1995, some
members of Aum Supreme Truth, SG's cousin, released deadly sarin gas in subway trains leaving 13 passengers dead. As a result the group was virtually disbanded. On the contrary, SG has been legitimized quickly and steadfastly
in the last several decades because of, rather than despite the fact that it spreads more poisonous substance: superstition coupled with conformism.
I think I might have tolerated my ex's superstitious belief if she hadn't involved our sons in it when they were still in their preteens. Throughout the 1970's, I had to see every night our sons sit alongside of their mother before Butsudan, the family altar, to chant the abracadabra particular to Soka Gakkai. In 1981, I said to myself, "Enough is enough."
When I call it a religious war, I'm not exaggerating the situation which led to our divorce. Take a look at the official statistics recently compiled by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, MEXT for short. According to the MEXT survey, people who belonged to lawful religious organizations totaled 209 million, more than 1.6 times of the total population of this country, which stands at some 127 million. And we know this is a gross underestimate because MEXT confined its survey to tax-exempt organizations. There are many other non-tax-exempt groups, tens of thousands of them. Deep inside, everyone knows at least 300 million Japanese hold on to religious faiths. This vouches for the observation of Australian journalist Ben Hills that the Japanese embrace the "trilogy of faiths" and do not feel particularly uncomfortable with the religious salad.
Given this climate, if I have to identify the specific group of people I have been at war with, it's none other than the entire population of this country who are enlisted in Tennoist cult (the Emperor cult) at their birth. As shown in the picture embedded at the top of this post, their parents and grandparents went down on their knees and wept on August 15, 1945 at the plaza in front of the Imperial Palace. Believe it or not, they were offering their sincere apologies to the super class-A war criminal for their inability to defend him against the U.S.-led allied powers. Not a single Japanese thought Hirohito "deserved ten thousand deaths" (万死に値する) for driving more than 3 million subjects to death as a human shield for the bastard in the unwinnable war.
Throughout his formative years, my elder son, as well as his younger brother, was brainwashed by my ex-wife to believe in false stories that we broke up because of my incessant womanization, and he had to drop out of university because I was a deadbeat dad. Nothing was farther from truth. But learning a wrong lesson from his father's life which was actually filled with relationships with unforgettable women, he now seems to have chosen to bind himself to one and the only woman who has long been bound to the wheelchair herself. Like all his fellow countrymen, he believes that self-sacrifice is more important than anything else. To him it's an abhorrent crime to pursue personal happiness. I don't think he will someday emancipate himself from the pathological obsession with self-sacrifice. Simply, he never wants to be a free, self-reliant and wholesome man.
Guided by the same spirit of self-denial, he has grown into a perfect people person. His biological dad has almost always been hated or feared by his peers, subordinates and bosses. In stark contrast, my son is liked by everyone he meets. Unfortunately for him, though, he has never been really loved or admired. Who would wholeheartedly trust someone who thinks he can be committed to so many people at a time?
On the surface, my son's philanthropy is extended to his dying father, as well. But I know that deep inside he feels he can't punish me enough for leaving his mother for a brighter and more charming woman when he was a 4th grader. A couple of years ago, he insisted I move to his place to live with him, his wheelchair-bound, CRPS-suffering wife, their dogs and my ex-wife. He promised that he would see to it that my privacy would be fully respected. But I knew there was no such thing as a free lunch between us, and that I was supposed to reciprocate in one way or the other. Now in the wake of the hypertensive crisis I've been going through, he seems to think I'm suffering the well-deserved consequence of refusing the invisible strings attached to his offer.
One day last fall, I mailed to my son to say, "Why don't we visit my dad's burial place the next weekend? It's been a long time since we last went there." Several years earlier, I had parted ways with the Buddhist temple in Tokyo where our family tombs had long been located. At that time I moved the urns that supposedly contained the ashes of my parents to a secular burial place atop a hill in Gunma Prefecture, 70 miles away from Tokyo.
Before I moved the ashes, I was a little better off, financially, than I am today. But now I'm broke because I had to purchase the "permanent" leasehold right on the new burial place, and at the same time, I launched Yamamoto Family Website, Japan's first website of its kind. I've had no intention to have my bones buried in the grave, but these projects cost me more than a fortune. I just thought the virtual and real sites would help bring my family together once again. But actually, my sons, siblings and in-laws did not show enthusiasm to my idea of restoring family bonds.
When I asked my eldest son if he felt like joining my trip, I knew he would comply because that was something he was supposed to do in this society. But at the same time, I knew he would comply only out of a sense of obligation. He even sounded like he was wondering if he still owed me something.
He insisted to give me a car ride. I preferred the train ride because it would be much faster, and more importantly, much safer. When I knew he wouldn't give in, I thought I had to prepare myself for the danger inherent in sitting in a passenger seat when a people person is at the wheel.
The Japanese people are known to be prone to an untimely sleep. The reason is because a people person has too many obligations to fulfill with too many people in a matter of 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The only time he is reminded that he needs some sleep is when sitting in a business meeting, which is nothing but a ritual here, or sitting at the wheel. My role would, therefore, be to keep my son awake during the 5-hour-long roundtrip.
The hardest part was to throw an uninterrupted stream of words at the back of my chauffeur while making sure to carefully weed out a thought-provoking issue such as politics, culture or religions. He wrongly believes that like his paternal grandpa, and unlike his dad, he has a profound insight into technology and science. If I had dared to take up a political issue, he would have said, "Oh no, not again, dad. You know I'm not interested in talking about subjective matters." Actually, not once has he visited his father's website. The reason: "My English proficiency is too poor for that." This is a standard excuse you hear from a Japanese all the time. As a matter of fact, his Japanese proficiency is also very poor. It's just that he doesn't want to use his own brain to THINK in the way a human being in his right mind does. Another tacit rule for the selection of topics is that I have to refrain from bringing up any real and relevant issue. I'm always supposed to talk about false or irrelevant issues.
For instance, I thought the GPS was an ideal topic to take up with my moody driver on our way to the burial place at the mountaintop. On the surface it looked to have a certain relevance to our trip which sometimes had to be guided by Kaanabi, the car navigation system, but actually had nothing, whatsoever, to do with his paternal granddad for whom he was writing off the whole Saturday. I kept talking to his back everything I knew about the GPS. The system needs to have two satellites to gauge a horizontal distance with Pythagorean equation in use; it needs another satellite to know the vertical distance; a fourth satellite is needed to adjust time differences. These pieces of information had been stored somewhere in my brain since I received them from someone else. And now I was just sending them out to the next receiver purely on an ear-to-mouth basis. I might have discussed the same topic with a taxi driver.
My son answered over his shoulders in a drowsy voice: "Dad, I already know all that stuff." His back was asking: "What the hell are you getting at?" Yes, certainly he knows everything, except that to an ordinary citizen, the GPS is nothing more than a nice-to-have. It's a must-have only for the military and perhaps for the police. But I stopped short of telling him what I was really getting at because I wanted to avoid a traffic accident.
Five hours of this was more than enough. I learned all anew that I have nothing to communicate with him, or any other Japanese for that matter, who doesn't see any problem with applying technologies of the 21st century to business practices and personal lives which have all remained unchanged since the 19th century.
The situations I've gone through in my 76-year life are not really atypical of those experienced by the Japanese of my generation. Even so, I suspect a Westerner who is not a resident here has great difficulty clearly visualizing the weird things that have happened to us in those turbulent years. He may say he agrees to my heretical theory about the terminally-ill country where I was born. But he never fails to add, almost in the same breath, that Japan is ahead of industrialized nations in the West in many respects, nonetheless, especially in technological development. I can't but give up. · read more (75 words)
Sunday, June 03 2012 @ 09:32 AM CDT
Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto
Top: Jesse Benton Bottom: Doug Wead
In my previous post, I pointed out that what's going on around the U.S. presidential election is something more than just yet another leap-year farce. I called it Revolution Scam 2012. I don't think I was wrong.
But I wasn't quite right when I wrote the primary suspects are campaign spokesman Jesse Benton and senior adviser Doug Wead. Now I've learned Ron Paul himself is more responsible for the crime than these small fish are.
And yet, my way of thinking remains basically unchanged: where there are no potential dupes, there are no swindlers. That is where scam is fundamentally different from other types of crime. In this context, whatever happens to the American people, they deserve it.
Here's how I have found out more precise information about Revolution Scam 2012.
Over this past weekend, I was doing my video mining to find out what's going on at the Bilderberg Conference being held behind closed doors in Chantilly, Virginia.
Before hitting this one embedded above, in which Iraq war veteran and talk radio host Adam Kokesh interviews author and journalist Webster Tarpley in the neighborhood of the venue of the Bilderberg Conference 2012, I watched a dozen other related videos. One of them was an interview of obscure person who identifies himself as veteran journalist Jim Tucker by Alex Jones, one of the noisiest and most active conspiracy theorists. In this video Tucker tells Jones that his inside source eavesdropped "Bilderbergers" enthusiastically talking about a plot to murder Ron Paul in a prearranged plane crash.
Then I found another video in which the same conspiracy theorist interviews Tarpley. This one really drives you crazy in part because it's interrupted too often due to a technical glitch, and in part because the interviewer talks too much. But nevertheless, the facts Tarpley exposes about Paul's deceitful causes there are somewhat eye-opening.
Following are some of the things I could learn from my video mining:
● The idea that the Bilderbergers have a hostile view of Ron Paul is baseless because just like Mitt Romney has his good friend Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. among the Bilderberg members, he has Peter A. Thiel, German-born venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal supporting him. ● Now that these old heavyweights such as David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger are losing their influence, the "more sociopathic" young generation is taking over the Bilderberg group. Thiel, 44, is one of the members of Bilderberg's Steering Committee. ● Despite all the fallacy that the Ron Paul campaign is supported mainly by hundreds of thousands of small donors, the German-born venture capitalist contributed $2.6 million to Ron Paul from December to January. ● Actually Ron Paul has played an "auxiliary" role for the Romney camp from the beginning to save the former Governor of Massachusetts from the formidable challenge by other opponents such as Rick Santorum. ● No wonder, Ron Paul's son Rand has started "flirting with Romney in public" since May 23 when they had a meeting behind closed doors. (Tarpley says that if he were a Ron Paul supporter, his world view would have crashed to the ground at that time.) ● In short, "vote for Ron Paul is vote for Mitt Romney." ● Despite his reputation as a strong opponent of crony capitalism, Ron Paul is a champion of nepotism. According to the research made by Tarpley, Paul has put 61 relatives on the payroll of his campaign and Congressional offices. Nepotism is not necessarily unlawful, but it's impermissibly unethical in certain circumstances. ● One of the recent additions is his campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. He married one of Ron Paul's granddaughters allegedly because he wanted to subvert the campaign goal from within.
In the last several years, I have learned a lot from Ron Paul. Although Doug Wead was lying when he said Dr. Paul was the most incorruptible person in the U.S, the Texas Congressman did the best he could under the given circumstances. Now thanks to Tarpley, I could finally wipe out delusions about the libertarian cause. That I was able to write it off, however, does not mean I'm now converting from the Ron Paul cult to something else.
As to the specific question about who to vote for in 2012, all he can say is, "You should get yourself out of that [passive] mentality." He believes "protest is for wimps, but revolutionaries want power," and that in order to counter the tide of "neo-feudalism," which conspiracy theorists like to call New World Order, we have to have workable programs. He quickly adds it takes an organization to promote and implement these action plans, which, in turn, calls for a "class-conscious" leader, such as Alexis Tsipras of Greece. Of course, he falls short of telling where to find that leader. Who wouldn't? In today's America, it's next to impossible to find an individual who is not brainless and spineless.
To dodge these questions, Tarpley has to say jokingly that in November, U.S. voters will see the birth of "Mitt-Rand" administration. Since he is an avowed admirer of Charles de Gaulle, he misses Gaullism which had been gone by the time Francois Mitterrand took office.
But to me, that is enough because it's none of my headache how the new U.S. President will accelerate the process toward the fall of the evil empire and the subsequent implosion of the United States. All I wanted to know is whether my Japanese posterity will remain the same bunch of vassals of the Far Eastern fiefdom of the failing country. Webster Tarpley has given his answer to that question.
In the last 37 years since the Rambouilette Summit, the Japanese have taken pride in being 1/8 of the world, if only nominally. They still hold a diluted share of 1/20 today. But in reality, the presence of their country has been within a range of 0/18 to 0/23 since 1954 when the most influential G called the Bilderberg Club was founded.
According to the only press release made to this date, 147 people from 23 countries and some international organizations such as WTO and IMF participated in the Bilderberg Conference 2012. Needless to say, they included attendees from China and Russia, but not a single person was invited there from Japan. · read more (164 words)