An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Thursday, March 23 2017 @ 07:25 PM JST
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Hopefully China is Not Just an Up-and-Coming Economic Superpower

Confucius (551-
479 BC)

Most scholars and pundits in America and some other Western countries are ignorant enough to attribute Asiatic backwardness to Confucianism. Worse, they are also arrogant enough to assume they wouldn't find any new wisdom if they bothered to go straight to the horse's mouths: The Four Books compiled circa 300 BC by early disciples of Confucius. The same can be said of their Japanese counterparts who are all yellow Yankees. It is true that they have learned in schools of maxims from The Four Books that recapitulate the Confucian principles. But they have never really understood the principal tenet incarnated in one of The Four Books titled 大学 (Great Learning). It reads: 修身斉家治国平天下.

There seems to be no standard way of expressing the idea in English. But an English-speaking Internet user has given it a try. This person translates these words like this:

"To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first set our hearts right so as to cultivate our personal life." (I made some modification to the last part of the quote for the sake of clarification.)

In short, your integrity as an individual is all that matters.

Policymakers and self-styled political analysts who habitually invert the Confucian logic should shut their mouth altogether if that means they can't make a fast buck anymore.

You don't have to convert to communism distorted by the bastard named Mao Zedong; neither do you need to agree with Deng Xiaoping who gave a new twist to Maoism. You just have to sober yourself up from the delusions being disseminated by Western demagogues and ideologues in order to see what is really at issue in this messy world.

As of writing this post, APEC 2010 is going on in this port city of Yokohama. As usual, participants from developed countries and developing countries seem to be divided over every issue on the agenda. It's quite predictable that at the closing session, the Japanese chairman will celebrate his own success in having all attendees sign the empty statement that essentially says, "Let's go on swimming together if only to sink together."
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Hillary Clinton Should Stop Busybodying Us

Once upon a time we
saw this picture

Recently I stick around in the neighborhood of Yokohama China Town, where I live, because I'm physically too weak to take an excursion every time I eat out, I can't afford to have a meal any more decent than livestock feed, and now it wouldn't make any difference to my health whether or not I avoid oily, stinky Chinese food. That's why these days I have befriended many local Chinese. Since most of them are quite intelligent, I can learn from both mainlanders and Taiwanese much more than I can from my brain-dead compatriots.

Last night I had a talk with a Chinese student working in a nearby eatery. The guy majoring in business administration here told me that he remembers what it was like to see the Tiananmen tumult even though he was a preschool kid in 1989. At the end of our stand talking in Japanese, he concluded: "I think our policymakers are no different from their foreign counterparts. They all stink." I said, "That's why you are studying business administration rather than political science. Is that right?" "You bet," exclaimed the guy.

Actually, if you compare the two governments between China and the U.S., it's almost a toss-up, but in a way Beijing has outdone Washington in recent years. In China their memories of the June 4 massacre are fading away by now. On the contrary the Japanese have yet to get over the scar from WWII because the "umbilical cord" that has connected us to America since 1960 is still there. Now totally eroded, it has started festering all over. As a result our entire nation remains crippled.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the incident, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly touched on her pet subject, calling on the Beijing government to release all those still imprisoned in connection with the protests, stop harassing those who took part and begin a dialogue with the victims' families. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Clinton's remarks amounted to "crudely meddling in Chinese domestic affairs."

Gang was right. Clinton has no moral authority to give the Chinese her annual lecture on human rights.
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Chinese Conspiracies

Climatic aberration engineered by China?

Sometimes a conspiracy theory is not only entertaining but also so wild and inventive as to catch us off guard when we mentally lazy people take it for granted that media's stories are by and large truthful. On the other hand, most of other allegations of conspiracies are little more than hogwash.

However, there is one thing in common between such theories which deserve a serious scrutiny and ones to be classified as rubbish; they always point a finger at Americans, especially Jewish-Americans. No "truth seekers" have put the blame on Chinese for any evil plot as if only Americans have malicious motives and enabling technologies.

For one thing some conspiracy theorists, also known as truth seekers, have recently started broadcasting that a network of Jewish cabals headed by David Rockefeller has put the HAARP technology in use to artificially cause devastating earthquakes such as ones in Niigata, Japan (July 2007) and Sichuan, China (May 2008). HAARP stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program based in Alaska. Some of them even go on to say that China is now thinking about retaliating against the terror attacks from the ionospheric research facility.

Actually we have seen China prioritizing the developments of various state-of-the-art technologies such as ones for:
* repelling rain-bearing clouds from the skies over Beijing on August 8 so the Opening Ceremony of the 29th Olympics wouldn't be ruined
* doctoring the welcome performance at the Opening Ceremony by making the supposedly better looking girl lip-sync a song sung by a less telegenic kid
* making the fireworks more spectacular by airing something pretaped by computer graphics
* mass production of melamine-tainted powder milk for export to Japan
* mass production of pesticide-tainted food stuff for export to Japan
* terrorizing the cyberspace all over the world
etc, etc.
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Let Them Slaughter a Chicken to Warn the Monkey as They Please

Minxin Pei, Senior Associate and Director of the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, titles his recent essay "Execution may not curb venality in China." (Use of italics is mine.) In the piece that deals with the execution of the country's former chief food and drug regulator on the charge of bribery, Pei concludes:
"Short-term fixes, such as making examples of a few corrupt officials, cannot solve China's food safety problem. To regain the confidence of the consumers of Chinese products, [the Beijing government] must demonstrate sustained political commitment and undertake many of the institutional reforms it has resisted for years."

If you have read an accounting primer, you know that in the Assets part of the Balance Sheet, there is an item called Deferred Charges, or Deferred Costs. (Minxin Pei also refers to them as "huge delayed costs.") What is tricky about the rules of accounting is that some costs incurred in the past are classified in assets, not liabilities, in a special treatment accountants term "capitalization." Since in general, the more assets you have, the more likely it is the B/S of your company whets a good appetite of investors, people are sometimes misled by your B/S when it is bloated with the fake assets.

This is especially true when investors are not used to looking at the other side of the B/S. Professional analysts, on the other hand, will never be misled where unsettled liabilities associated with the deferred charges are still there. But they are sometimes deceived, too, when the liabilities aren't there anymore. You may have already paid them up somehow. But when you can hardly afford to repay your debts, it's more likely that you have duped a benevolent person into shouldering the burden on your behalf. Or you may even have put them off the B/S arbitrarily. (Accountants call such an off-the-B/S indebtedness a "Contingent Liability".) When your company is on the verge of bankruptcy, you, therefore, have a good reason to resort to one or two of these financial gimmicks so the B/S still looks in good shape to you creditors. More often than not this works - unless the auditor you retain is an honest man.
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When You Want Things to Change, You Have to Change Yourself First

In May, Chinese environmentalist groups in the coastal city of Xiamen finally succeeded in making city's Vice Mayor Ding Guoyan say, "The city government has listened to the opinions expressed [by the citizens who took to the streets in response largely to text messages disseminated by environmental protection groups] and has decided, after careful consideration, that the project must be reevaluated."

The aborted project was to produce a petrochemical substance called p-Xylene, which is an essential raw material for colorants in fabrics, solvents for pharmaceuticals and pesticides, and some other things. P-Xylene is a highly toxic substance that can cause dire birth defects over time.

Now that the countdown for the Beijing Olympics has started, it seems the Beijing government and local authorities in Xiamen had to "listen to the opinions." And yet, it remains true that the ostensible success was attributable to the fact the organizers could mobilize a big crowd by cellphone. So far so good.
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TokyoFreePress in touch with local Falun Gong practitioners

Left: Li Hongzhi, founder of Falun Gong
Center: Wang Wenyi, heckler at White House ceremony
Right: Falun Gong protesters in Yokohama China Town

I have grown all the more curious about the school of people who are practicing their proprietary type of qigong called Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, since Wang Wenyi ruined Hu Jintao's great moment when the Chinese leader was in the middle of the pageantry of the welcome ceremony at the White House on April 20.

Ms. Wang, 47, is a doctor and journalist who is practicing Falun Gong in the U.S. Reports have it that she yelled at the Chinese leader and his host, "President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong," before she was escorted away by the guard. Bush was quick enough to apologize to his Chinese counterpart and order his men to consider legal action against the transgressor. In response, Wang reportedly said, "It's not a crime, but an act of civil disobedience." But she now could face six months in jail for "harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official."

Encouraged by Wang's "individual act of conscience", predominantly Chinese Falun Gong practitioners living in Japan look to have stepped up their protests against the persecution inflicted on their colleagues in mainland China, especially those who were imprisoned and had their organs "harvested", after or sometimes even before the execution. According to them these organs are being sold in the blackmarket at the price of 500 bucks apiece.

Since many decades ago I have known of the generic term "qigong", kikou in Japanese, which points to some esoteric thing practiced by people who believe that the human body has an "energy field" generated by respiration (qi or ki means breath in Chinese and Japanese, respectively). Some of them even theorize illnesses can be cured by the therapeutic effect that a certain state of the spirit has on the body if it's cultivated through practicing qigong. I think this idea is in part truthful as well as superstitious at the same time. For one thing, I opted to go uninsured, medical cost-wise, for various reasons when I called it a career. And ever since I have never been hospitalized despite an even increasing amount of tobacco consumption (80 pieces everyday) and many other habits widely believed to cause illnesses. So you can distance yourself from Japanese quacks who are so prone to commit fatal errors if you cultivate a certain state of mind deep inside.
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Chilling sight of audience at Rolling Stones' Shanghai concert

Earlier this month, the British rock group's longtime dreams finally came true. Their plans for China tour had been aborted a couple of times in the last 25 years, most recently when the SARS epidemic thwarted their concerts in 2003. Apparently we are supposed to see here yet another sign that the once-reclusive country is further opening itself up, gradually but steadfastly. But I see no reason to be encouraged by the China's recent moves. We already knew that the opening up in a similar way of the feudal Japan in the mid-19th century has gotten us nowhere, perhaps but hell.

Neither did I feel betrayed by Mick Jagger and other stones who went ahead with their gig in China even though they had to comply with the demand by Chinese officials not to play several numbers blacklisted as too risque and offending. Fortunately enough, though, this did not mean anything to me because I hadn't particularly held the U.S.-based rock musicians in high esteem from the beginning.

Instead I couldn't but feel scared watching the big crowd of people, who are not allowed to choose their own leader, go wild over the live performance just like any other audience of a rock concert everywhere else in the world. I just wondered all a new how far these people will go on living like this, clinging to the sheer falsehood and self-deception, and perhaps more importantly, how far America and other Western nations keep dancing with them just because of their big appetite for the world's most populous consumer market. This also brought me back to Karl Marx's 1857 writing I read some 50 years ago.
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Et tu, Microsoft?

From left: Mephistopheles, the Devil; Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft; Steven A. Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, when the Roman leader finds Marcus Junius Brutus, his right-hand man, among a group of senators who are seeking his life, he says, "Et tu, Brute?" (And even you, Brutus?) That's exactly how Chinese bloggers must have felt when Microsoft's MSN Online Division shut down a blog run by Zhao Jing, alias An Ti, hours before the turn of the year. Zhao worked for the Beijing Bureau of the New York Times as a research assistant, and recently stepped up his pro-democracy rhetoric to support the reporters at the Beijing News who had gone on strike in protest against the dismissal of a progressive editor.

According to the Beijing Bureau of Associated Press, Brooke Richardson, group-product manager at the Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., said, "When we operate in markets around the world, we have to ensure that our [blog-hosting] service complies with global laws as well as local laws and norms." Richardson added that they shut down Zhao's blog for violating Microsoft's code of conduct which stipulates that users must be in compliance with laws in the country in which the user is based.
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What makes it FT's business, or Rumsfeld's, to decide how soon China should be democratized?

On June 9 the Daily Yomiuri carried an analytical report titled "Sooner or later, China will embrace democracy" it borrowed from Financial Times. I read through the article written by Victor Mallet to see if there was any substance behind this truistic headline, by any chance. I found none.

According to Mallet, Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, had a talk with Cui Tiankai, China's senior foreign ministry official, on June 4 when they attended the Asian security conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies held in Singapore.

After accusing China of under-reporting its military budget, Rumsfeld "strayed beyond the normal boundaries of defense policy" and warned Cui that China should accelerate its process toward "a more open and representative government."
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North East Asian peoples who can never look to the future

On Saturday, April 9, Chinese people took to the streets in Beijing in yet another wave of anti-Japanese rallies staged to protest the newest versions of junior-high history textbooks that the Education Ministry-sponsored screening body had approved, on Tuesday, as compliant with its guidelines. According to the Japanese media the number of people that pelted stones and pejorative and derogatory words at the Japanese Embassy, banks, restaurants and other businesses reached 20,000, the biggest Japan-phobic crowd since the 1972 normalization of diplomatic ties between the two nations. These people were not only protesting against the newly approved textbooks that "gloss over" or "whitewash" Japan's wartime atrocities against their parents and grandparents, but also campaigning to thwart Japan's desperate bid for buying, "at any cost," a permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council. Some say they were just diverting their mounting anger to the wrong government. But they were not really that wrong when they chanted, "(Japan's Prime minister) Koizumi is a dog, and dogs are no good," because from the TFP's point of view, Koizumi is no good at all and he isn't any better than Chinese leader Hu Jintao. · read more (1,436 words)
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What the heck does ODA stand for?

We all knew the answer to this question when Japan started it some thirty years ago. But not anymore, as far as its China part is concerned, now that those fallacy artists such as Junichiro Koizumi, Hu Jintao, and the media both in China and Japan have started to give a variety of opportunistic definitions to this abbreviation.

On November 30 in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, Prime Minister Koizumi had an audience with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao after his aides had repeatedly begged for the bilateral talks. Prior to the meeting between the two prime ministers, many people had voiced their more or less twisted opinions based on their own definitions of the three-letter word. On Nov. 28 Koizumi himself told the reporters in his retinue: "As China has achieved remarkable economic development, it may be time that it 'graduates' from Japan's official development assistance'. Here Koizumi was just reiterating his decision announced back home on Nov. 26. On Nov. 27 China's foreign minister Li Zhaoxing "shrugged off" the Japan's decision saying "The Chinese people only need to rely on their own intelligence, power, unity and determination to build a developed country."
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China's nuclear sub accomplished its mission, anyhow

Let us reconstruct from available news reports how the things unfolded around the recent intrusion of a Chinese nuclear submarine into Japanese waters:

November 8, afternoon - The government was informed by the U.S. that a nuclear sub of unknown nationality had been spotted.

November 8, late at night - Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C reconnaissance aircraft spotted the sub in the Pacific Ocean, south of Okinawa. The Defense Agency determined it was a little outdated Han-class nuclear sub from the Chinese Navy judging from the characteristic screw sounds. P3-C continued to trail it around the clock.
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Cut off ODA to China immediately; But that's not enough

It's yet another territorial dispute, with some implication of oil exploitation rights, if you want to call it that when one side is acting like unruly pirates and the other side like timid suckers.

The dispute stems from the fact that the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that waters up to 200 nautical miles from the coastline of a country should be considered its EEZ (exclusive economic zone) whereas the distance between Japan and China is less than 400 NM, and that it is believed there lie largely untapped veins of natural resources just around the disputed demarcation. For one thing the Chunxiao gas field, where China has kicked an offshore exploration project into high gear, is located so close to the alternative EEZ demarcation proposed by Japan (based on the equidistance rule) that China will most probably hit veins which extend to the Japan's side of the median line.
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Someone else's status quo

When Wen Jiabao, alias "bu dao weng" (tumble doll) visited the U.S. last December, George W. Bush became the first president of the United States that had discouraged a democracy while encouraging a totalitarian regime by warning Chen Shui-bian that he wouldn't tolerate the "defensive referendum" Chen was planning for March on the grounds that it would destabilize the status quo in the region. At that time many neocons, including Robert Kagan and William Kristol said: "President Bush performed a kowtow that would have made Bill Clinton blush." · read more (229 words)