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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Thursday, March 23 2017 @ 07:26 PM JST
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Japanese still clinging to carcass of sacred cow

Nothing is immortal, or omnipotent. Laws and treaties are no exception. But the Japanese are known to have an extraordinarily strong propensity to take it for granted that a good thing will last as long as it is needed. Worse, they never outgrow anything they've once been comfortable with.

On October 15 in the wake of the Far Eastern nuclear crisis, Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, stirred up a big fuss by suggesting that a nation-wide debate should be solicited over the advisability of Japan's nuclearization. The ripples have further intensified since Foreign Minister Taro Aso followed up Nakagawa's statement three days later. Ever since we've been seeing quite a show going on across the nation.

The two gentlemen worded their "controversial" remarks with utmost caution. They didn't forget to preface them by saying they still thought Japan should firmly uphold Hikaku San-Gensoku - the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. And yet, all opposition parties, from the Democratic Party of Japan (spinoff of a former intra-LDP faction) to the Japan Communist Party, are now considering to submit a nonconfidence motion against the Foreign Minister. Even Akihiro Ota, head of the LDP's coalition partner New Komeito, has expressed his displeasure at what seemed nothing more than a bland statement Japanese politicians often make.
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Sequel to Far Eastern Nuclear Crisis

This is to elaborate and update you on the situation touched off by the modest nuclear test conducted by North Korea on October 9 and my way of viewing it.

As had been written in the scenario since Pyongyang's last walkout on the six-party framework last November, a China-brokered agreement was reached in Beijing on October 31 between North Korean negotiator Kim Gye Gwan and his U.S. counterpart Christopher Hill to resume talks by the end of this year.

The initial reaction by the Tokyo government was quite interesting and suggestive. Hours after the news broke out, Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters in an ad-hoc meeting to the effect that Japan didn't want to see the representatives of a nuclear power sitting across the table. But overnight, the government subtly changed its stance just because George W. Bush welcomed the resumption and thanked China for its tenacious effort to make this happen.

The next morning The Daily Yomiuri pretended as if Aso hadn't made the offhand remark and instead quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki as saying: "The six-party talks are the most appropriate framework to resolve the nuclear issue, and we welcome the agreement on their resumption."
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When will they ever learn?


(Left) Rice plays same old tune
(Center) Li looking self-complacent
(Right) Aso in euphoria

More and more things are getting commoditized these days - practically everything from democracy, to peace, to love, to the quotas on emissions of greenhouse gases. Time is one of them. You can't but accept the plain fact that the trend looks irreversible now. I have difficulty, however, understanding the market behavior of the time segment. Despite the perennially bullish sentiment on time, a buyers' market situation has stuck there in recent years, especially in this part of the globe, with the Chinese and North Koreans dominating the game all the time. It looks as though there are some market participants who are unaware that they, too, are running out of it.

Another intriguing thing is that the Japanese are now on the selling side of time. Traditionally they were known to be its diligent buyers because since the mid-19th century, they had to play catchup in order to make up for the huge loss of time resulting from the seclusion policy that lasted more than two centuries. In retrospect, though, Japan had to shift its position from the other side a little prematurely because of the merciless gaiatsu pressure Ronald Reagan put on it at the height of the bubble economy through the Japan-U.S. Structural Impediments Initiative (SII). Obviously it was totally unrealistic to assume that by the end of the 1980s the Japanese had gotten over the effect brought about by the absence of contact with the external world for more than 200 years, given another decades of isolation in the prewar and wartime period.

It's been said among market dealers that the most important thing for a dealer is to judge when to sell the stuff and when to buy it back. In that respect the Japanese should all be disqualified from dealing in this particular item of commodity. I think this all stems from the premature opening-up of the nation forced by Reagan who had by then grown fed up with Japan's procrastination policy. As a result Japanese leaders and diplomats now think that they are still buying time when Japan is actually allowing China and North Korea to keep stalling for it at the cost of its own interests.
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The Postman Never Rings the Bell Twice

At 11:02 a.m. sharp, August 9, the bell of Urakami Cathedral, rebuilt, in 1958, 500 meters away from the Ground Zero of 1945 A-blast, started to toll along with the sounds from other bells, sirens and horns of ships in the port, to mourn for more than seventy thousand people who were sacrificed sixty years ago to prevent the "26-century-old" Imperial institution of Japan from being dismantled.

Quite understandably the Emperor didn't show up, or he hadn't been invited in the first place.

It's noteworthy that someone from the Russian Embassy was invited there to lay the wreath representing a nuclear power for the first time ever.

In his speech, Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito almost singled out the United States when he said, "I am angry that the leaders of the nuclear powers trampled on the hopes of people around the world who want to abolish nuclear weapons [at the Nuclear Nonproriferation Treaty review meeting in May]." This indicated the Cold War hasn't been, and will never be, over in the brain of the Mayor with some socialist background.

But otherwise, the proceedings of the memorial service were much the same as those for the Hiroshima part of the 60th Anniversary that had taken place three days earlier.
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60th anniversary was observed in the same old way

On August 6 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had a real hard day. Although he had an important appointment to see former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori at night in Tokyo (see today's TFP story "AN OBITUARY; Be prepared for another in next 24 hours"), he had to take a trip to Hiroshima early in the morning to attend the 60th anniversary of the Atomic bombing on the city.

At the memorial service attended by 55,000 people, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba declared the "369 days" (see Note below) from August 6, 2005 to August 9, 2006" to be a "Year of Inheritance, Awakening and Commitment."

Note: Mr. Akiba was particular about the number of days, rightly so. But to be more precise, a nuclear year from Akiba's point of view runs for 368 days except in a leap year. But wait, it's still a 365-day period, after all, running from August 9 through next August 8 because otherwise the next nuclear year would have to be shortened to a 362-day period. This is not really unimportant as it looks beacuse he was talking about a going concern whose business plan is subject to periodic review and redirection.

Last year the same mayor declared the coming nuclear year to be a "Year of Memory and Actions." At that time, too, Akiba failed to be very specific about his action plans except when he said the municipal government would submit to the U.N.-sponsored Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (May 2005) a proposal to build a nuclear-free world by 2020.
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It's about time to wake up to the nuclear reality

We are already more than two months into the 60th year since the A-bombs crushed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The August 1945 bombings on the two cities burned hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives instantly and the survivors have suffered a long-lasting after-effects out of exposure to radiation. Without a doubt these victims went through one of the worst mass-destructions in history.

But have we overcome the national trauma by now? Not at all.
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