TokyoFreePress
      An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan




     
 
Welcome to TokyoFreePress Sunday, March 26 2017 @ 04:14 PM JST
  View Printable Version 

[Feature] The Moment of Truth for Japan's Tibet to Secede from Naicha's Failing State


The flag of the Ryukyu
Independence Party
The natives of the Ryukyus, better known as the Okinawa islands, call themselves Okinanchu or Uchinanchu when they want to stress their distinctive cultural identity.

On the other hand, they call the people in the main part of the Japanese Archipelago Naicha or Yamatonchu. The connotation of the former appellation is contemptuous while the latter is a neutral word. In that sense, Naicha to Okinawans are what gringos are to Latin American people.

The biggest difference you see between the two peoples lies in their quality as human beings measured by integrity, maturity and viability.

Traditionally, Naicha leaders have all been known for their propensity toward indecision, inaction and procrastination in the face of crises. Especially when it comes to foreign affairs, they have always let things drift until the problem solves itself. To them politics is like weather, as Ian Buruma once observed. They invariably fall into a state of thanatosis until the ferocious typhoon is gone.

That is why they make believe timeliness in action is not that important in diplomacy.

This way Japanese leaders have piled up formidable problems which should have been addressed much earlier and more straight ahead.

Just to mention a few, the Russo-Japanese dispute over the "Northern Territories," the Sino-Japanese feud over oil and gas fields in the East China Sea and the issue with the Japanese citizens kidnapped more than 25 years ago by North Korean agents all remained unaddressed until the other side had fully entrenched its interests there.

Believe it or not, never once has the Japanese government shown its readiness for a bloody warfare against the other claimant of the disputed territory or filed its territorial claim with the international arbitration organization. Instead it keeps grumbling all the time out of fear that a provocative word or act will inevitably lead to an all-out confrontation.

It is true that leaders of other countries sometimes procrastinate, too. But they are fundamentally different from Japanese procrastination artists. They always act first to get a head start and once a fait accompli is established, they start buying time to defend status quo, whereas Naicha leaders just wait and see all the while and start selling time when the other end wants to buy it.

More or less the same thing can be said of the issue with the Senkaku Isles, Diaoyutai in Chinese.

On September 7, a Chinese trawler collided against a patrol ship of Japan Coast Guard in the disputed waters off Senkaku. At the onset, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Seiji Maehara were saying they would handle the incident "strictly in line with Japanese law."

But once again it proved totally useless for them to raise their voices to repeat the same old claim that Japan has a "legitimate" right on the uninhabited islets. As always the Chinese leaders by far outsmarted and outpaced their Japanese counterparts. In retaliation, they arrested four employees of a Japanese construction company on the charge of spying military facilities in Hebei Province.

Amid the fuss, Maehara, now as the new Foreign Minister, visited New York where he had a talk with his U.S. counterpart. The moron was momentarily heartened by Clinton's signature lip service. She said, in effect, that the disputed isles were included, albeit implicitly, in the 1972 bilateral deal to "return" Okinawa from the U.S. to Japan, and thus, Article 5 of the bilateral security treaty could be invoked to secure Japanese interest there.

Back home the media were also stupid enough to gush over the "diplomatic victory" Maehara had achieved. But in a matter of hours, China could bring Japan to her knees like taking a candy from a baby. The skipper of the Chinese fishing boat was freed.

Yesterday, I was really taken aback by Kan's declaration of 有言実行・引き延ばし一掃内閣 (a cabinet to act without delay.) In his mistimed as well as misplaced declaration, the moron wanted to say that habitual procrastination in the past decades, mostly under the rule by the Liberal Democratic Party whereof he used to be a member, has now taken a devastating toll on the fate of this country and that he is now fully determined to quickly fix it.

What a laugh.

Actually things are getting even uglier. Yesterday, China released three hostages out of four in a gesture to mend the relations between the two countries.

The dull-witted Yamatonchu felt at a loss because with China's move, the problem was three-quarters solved before they could attain anything. They just kept wondering why only three until it slowly dawned on them that the Chinese government wanted to keep the unlucky guy in custody to deter the Japanese government from releasing the video of the crime scene. The Chinese knew one hostage is enough to stop the move.

The embarrassing situation triggered an outcry from among Japanese lawmakers of both camps for the release of the video footage - something none of them had thought about demanding from the Okinawa prosecutors in the last three weeks.

Political commentators and self-styled China experts, too, responded to the situation larghissimo. They started saying the video should be made public "immediately" to show the "international community" how the Chinese vessel hit the patrol ship, twice, in the starboard only when the problem had been 75% solved unilaterally by the country which had created it also unilaterally.

As usual, the idea of releasing the hard evidence occurred to these quarterbacks only when it was already Monday morning. Now there were only two options before the Naicha government.

Option 1: Turn the clock back to September 7 by complying with the demand to release the video.
Option 2: Swallow the remaining 25%.

Whichever way it goes, the end result is the same. Japan goes around in circles forever.

Small wonder Kan's cabinet supposedly to act without delay has started stalling for time once again in a matter of hours from his declaration of no-procrastination policy.
· read more (619 words)
  View Printable Version 

Primarily an Educator


The bright student
and the dedicated
teacher
Mr. S is the one who reminded me of Mencius' words about man's innate spontaneity through his devotion to adding rare materials to the exhibits of the Cyber Museum I launched three and a half years ago.

Once again he brought in a large pile of photocopies of old magazine articles written by or about my father Mineo Yamamoto. I said, "I really appreciate your efforts, but I'm afraid I may not have them uploaded to the site because I don't have time, money and most importantly, enthusiasm to do so anymore." The selfless guy said, "That's no problem."

He added: "This time I have realized that your father was primarily an educator, fully dedicated one."

Among the batch of paper in front of us, there was a 1943 article in a questions-and-answers format from a magazine meant for schoolchildren. One of the questions asked of my father was: "Why and how can an airplane fly high defying the law of gravity?" He was enthusiastically answering the question by citing how a kite soars and how an atomizer works.

This is what Mr. S had in mind when he said my father was a good educator.

I have inherited from him many things including Parkinson's disease. But among other things, I owe him this particular attribute. Like him I have believed throughout my life that the only effective way to learn things is to teach them, and sometimes vice versa; most of the things I've learned have been learned through teaching. This is where the learning process of human beings differs from that of apes.

Ten years ago, I taught an MBA class at International University of Japan. I had a lot of fun teaching 30 or so foreign students there. I hope they also had fun discussing with me the use of the networked computers as an essential enabler of renovation in business. But that was only for a semester and my only experience lecturing at a higher-learning institute.

So I usually introduce myself as a businessman-turned-blogger. But to be more precise, I was born to be a fully committed educator before anything else. It always sickens me to have to deal with intellectually lazy, learning-disabled guys even when their idiocy is none of my business.

And what exactly have I taught them?

In my recent post entitled A Graveyard for the Musical Legacy of the West, I talked about the inversion of the ends and the means. In that connection I wrote the only thing that can set right the inverted value-creating chain is versatility.

Just remember that George Washington was primarily a farmer and agronomist, and Thomas Jefferson had many faces such as architect's, astronomer's and inventor's. I don't think we can expect single-minded political racketeers and tunnel-visioned political analysts to be able to reverse the ongoing process of the decline of civilization.

That is why I have always adhered to interdisciplinary subjects.

Have I succeeded so far? Only to a certain extent.

I remember educating on-the-job an intern by the name of Nathalie Guy when I was a senior manager at a Zurich-based trading company. I taught the brilliant French lady how to manage the foreign currency positions on a handmade system of my own based on Macros and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications.)

Our teacher-student relation was very fruitful because Nathalie was so enthusiastic not only about learning computer systems, forex and business as a whole but also about reciprocating.

When it came to my interaction with Japanese audiences including my bosses, peers and subordinates, it was a disaster most of the time. Simply they don't have willingness to learn. The same is more or less true with my own kids.

To borrow Wynton Marsalis's way of saying it, since they think everything has its place, they don't need to look for a new place.

I think I once wrote about Karl Jaspers, a German psychiatrist and philosopher. Although he has had little influence on my way of thinking and living, I was deeply impressed by an anecdote inserted in one of his books I read some 55 years ago. It went like this:

The director of the mental hospital is known for his unparalleled 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."

I'm inclined to classify people into four types like this:

Type 1: Bigmouths who boast they went fishing at the seaside and caught a big fish while, in fact, they went nowhere and caught nothing.
Type 2: Gripers who claim to have been out at sea for fishing but came home empty-handed; they spend the rest of their lives telling sour grapes stories, or inventing plausible excuses.
Type 3: Tricksters who admit they cast a fishing line at the poolside but caught a big fish which is actually nothing but the product of a delusion.
Type 4: Madmen who fall under the same category with Jaspers' patient.

Throughout my adulthood, I haven't known, in person, a single individual who doesn't fit any one of these descriptions.
· read more (191 words)
  View Printable Version 

It's Not Act 5 of Political Kabuki, but Your Firstrate Ignorance, that Drives Me Crazy


The tomb of my
aborted book
The idiot by the name of Naoto Kan barely defeated the bandit named Ichiro Ozawa in the September 14 presidential election of the Democratic Party of Japan. On the surface, the tumultuous days are over with the revolving door of the prime minister's office coming to a halt.

Wasting no time, American political analysts have already resumed disseminating the same old hogwash about Japan as a reliable partner that shares more or less the same values and the same problems with the United States. Still they don't know what they are talking about.
Totally clueless about the intricate plot of the political Kabuki, these intellectually lazy Japan experts (or are they just retarded?) have started claiming they now see an unmistakable sign that the country is getting back on the right track.

For my part, the never-ending farce is constantly distracting me from concentrating on something I ought to finish before I go. It bothers me not precisely because it's a farce. To me the most irritating thing is to hear so many educated Americans talk about Japan like they are morons.

I know I can't afford to waste a single minute to try correcting Americans' take on the series of events unfolding here. But I also know there are times when I must defend my principle regardless of whether the issue at hand is my baby.

Two and a half years ago, I was working on a book which would have been titled The Unviable Japan.

At the beginning, the American literary agent was saying it would instantly hit the list of bestsellers. Completely in the dark about the reality of the rotten publishing industry in America, I took her words at face value. I didn't notice that actually the broad was just looking for catchy titles such as mine. So I did a lot of preparatory research to fully substantiate my heretical theory.

I had a brother-in-law who was an executive at Nissan North America for many years. He was an extraordinarily versatile person. But his last years were mostly devoted to writing a book about the foundation of the nation currently called Japan.

He tracked it back to the third century when a shaman queen named Himiko was governing the main part of the archipelago because all the prehistoric truth was sealed off by two history books compiled by court-retained historians in the early-8th century.

To that end the ailing retiree strenuously went through antique books and ancient documents, 1,500 of them.

The former Nissan executive sent me his book weeks before he passed away. In the enclosed memo, he wrote: "I'm really looking forward to reading your The Unviable Japan."

In early March 2008 I sent an outline of my book to the agent. A week or so later I called her up to see what her take on my document was like. At the end of a lengthy conversation, the agent handed down her verdict in a roundabout way. In effect, she said: "It's you, not your country, that is not viable."

I shouldn't have expected an American literary agent to understand that at times there are wannabe writers who seek truth much more than money and fame.

Two and a half years have passed, but many educated Americans still remain ignorant, arrogant and complacent.

For one thing, they never understand, or want to understand that you can't reset history, let alone change it, no matter how fervently the swindler in the White House insists you can.

In general, Americans process thoughts that fit comfortably into their ideologies, or business lines, purely on an ear-to-mouth basis, whereas they let heresies like mine pass through from the right ear to the left. They don't seem to need a brain at all. But let me quote Harvard public policy professor Robert D. Putnam one last time.

He explains his theory about "path-dependent trajectory" like this:

Where you can get to depends on where you're coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here.

Recently I'm learning more from Nikkan Gendai, the most popular tabloid here, than from other dailies published by the Big 5 media groups about what is exactly going on in and around the DPJ administration. Despite its vulgar sensationalism and unprincipled gossipiness, truth sometimes smells between the lines there.

I have analyzed the ongoing scene of Act Five of the political Kabuki using this relatively reliable source together with Putnam's theory.

For now my conclusion can be summarized like this:
· read more (1,141 words)
  View Printable Version 

Purist's Point of View: A graveyard for the Musical Legacy of the West (PART 2)

CONTINUED FROM PART 1

It was General MacArthur who taught us the merits of democracy and pacifism and guided us with kindness along this bright path. As if pleased with his own children growing up, he took pleasure in the Japanese people, yesterday's enemy, walking step by step toward democracy.
- from the Asahi Shimbun daily, April 1951. (English translation by Ian Buruma.)


If the Anglo-Saxon was, say, 45 years of age in his development, in the sciences, the arts, divinity, culture, the Germans were quite as mature. The Japanese, however, in spite of antiquity measured by time, were in a tuitionary condition. Measured by the standards of modern civilization, they would be like a boy of twelve as compared with our development of 45 years.
- from Douglas MacArthur's testimony at a joint committee of the senate on May 5, 1951.




One of my sons is the leader of a nonprofessional jazz band. Unlike his father and paternal grandfather, this guy is a people person from tip to toe. The only criterion he uses when selecting pieces for the next concert is what his men want to do and what his friends expect him to do. That leaves him no room to comply with his dad's request for "pure" jazz or heed his advice about the articulation and phrasing particular to it.

I would find his attitude toward music more or less acceptable if ever my son were a mercenarily-motivated professional musician. But that is not what he is.

He is not alone; the Japanese, in general, do music in order to bring themselves together, while in a civilized society, the priority is diagonally different; people come together for the purpose of doing music, and not the other way around.

You can see the same inversion of the ends and the means everywhere.

Take sports for example. To them win or lose does not really matter because it's not what sports are all about.

This all stems from their forced immersion in the Wakon Yosai potpourri which has made their behavior toward state policy ambivalent and noncommittal. Over time, people have developed a weird habit of responding to messages from above, or even from peers, without mental engagement. There is no sense of commitment; there is only a sense of obligation.

Against this backdrop, Japanese rulers have found out that the most effective way to prod their subjects into swallowing the cause they can't really relate to is to condition them the same way Ivan Pavlov did his dogs. Now they know it's a breeze to get their messages through in the total absence of common values if they use musical tones in place of verbal messages.

This way the Japanese have become accustomed to reflexively reacting to particular musical pieces artificially associated with particular messages as if they still owe allegiance to the failed regime.

One small example is the street concert given by the garbage truck practically every morning. Over and over we hear the familiar Scottish tune Comin' Through the Rye in between taped messages from the city hall and the local police station. Especially in recent months, this message is repeated over and over again: "Don't remit your money to the designated bank account just because someone you can't positively identify tells over the phone you owe him something; it can be a scam."

I have nothing against the idea of using music for practical purposes. Basically it does no harm to deal with music that way because musical art, or any other art form for that matter, is not consumable. But it's a different story when it comes to the Japanese way of constantly subordinating musical values to something else. They go way over the top in that respect. As is the case with my own son, the younger generations now refuse to receive what little cultural heritage we have to pass on to posterity.

National Anthem

Like any other country, Japan has a statutory anthem which is titled Kimigayo, or His Majesty's Reign. But if you listen to this song, you will notice there are fundamental differences between Kimigayo and other national anthems.

For one thing, the Japanese anthem does not represent any value inherent to the regime in the way La Marseillaise is a manifestation of liberty, equality and fraternity. It is still widely believed that the reign of His Majesty dates back to 660 B.C. when the son of the sun goddess created this country. Kimigayo represents an absurd myth, not values.

Small wonder its lyrics never touch your heart strings. Actually, no Japanese understands, or wants to understand, what these enigmatic words want to say.

To make the lyrics even more incomprehensible, the tune does not fit into the drawling words in terms of articulation and intonation. It is said an obscure German composer by the name of Franz Eckert wrote the melody with the help of two Japanese. He should have known that it was next to impossible to make his tune, which is more or less in line with the Western scale, go with the Japanese words, which are as flat as the Great Plains.

All this has made Kimigayo the world's most yawnful (disgustingly so) national anthem. Yet Japanese have never thought about abandoning it, because to them a national anthem does not have to bear any musical value, let alone represent such values as liberty and equality.

Deep inside, however, they wish they could sing a more singable song with straightforward lyrics, such as Das Deutschlandlied (The Song of Germany) composed by Joseph Haydn.

That is evident from the fact that in the late-1940s NHK virtually selected Beethoven's 9th Symphony, often referred to as Daiku (or No. 9) here, as Japan's second national anthem.

In this country there are thirty professional orchestras including the one owned by NHK. If you include semiprofessional and nonprofessional ones, there are thousands of them. And believe it or not, especially in December, practically every one of them takes up this particular symphony for its regular concert.

Once again, the selection was nothing but arbitrary; the substitute anthem didn't necessarily have to be Daiku. Any other musical piece would have been considered to serve the purposes as long as it comes from the West, and sounds grandiose.

Now even a plumber can sing along to the famous theme of its 4th movement. Of course they don't have the slightest idea about what Friedrich Schiller's lyrics say. To them, the more incomprehensible the words, the more profound they sound, as is true with the sutra chanted by the Buddhist monk at the funeral.

Rajio Tiaso, or Calisthenics on Radio and TV

If you have visited a Japanese company, or foreign company owned by the Japanese, first thing in the morning, it is likely that you have seen the employees doing an exotic exercise at the company yard or in the office to a boring tune on the radio. You thought they were warming up for the day's work, or just trying to physically keep in shape. But you were wrong. Rajio Taiso is not aerobics or Tai Chi.

Actually it's yet another invention in the wartime NHK should be given credit for.

In those days, the broadcaster repeated a slogan that went: "A hundred million hearts should burn like a fireball (一億火の玉となって)" to fight back barbarians from the West. The broadcaster thought a gymnastic exercise was needed to spark that fireball.

Hitlerjugend (the Hitler Youth) was doing a similar thing, but it was primarily intended to develop physical strength and agility. Besides, the Germans never thought they could train adults that way.

It's interesting to know that the "new NHK" thought it was necessary to revive the same Rajio Taiso format even under the war-renouncing Constitution. Once again it was intended to nourish a sense of oneness among people and loyalty to organizations to which they belong. Even today the Japanese are doing the standard exercise to the supposedly airy tunes (there are two sets of routines) at home, in the workplace and school yards. This ensures harmony and unity among the 127 million people by mentally, or even spiritually warming them up every morning. .

Is There Japanese Equivalent of the Phrase "Captive Audience"?

Actually there is none simply because they don't need such an expression. Around the clock the Japanese are in captivity wherever they go.

I have already talked about the street concert by the garbage truck. Since the walls of my apartment are not really sound-proof, it's as though I am sitting in the front row of the concert hall.

I remain in captivity wherever I go. Even when I go out for my meal, the musical noise never sets me free. I sometimes think I might as well wear earplugs all the time. It's almost as though the articles of incorporation of every Japanese restaurant prescribe that music should be the integral part of its customer Saabisu.

One of my American friends living in this neighborhood once said: "I have been impressed to know the Japanese are avid music lovers without exception. They seem to appreciate all kinds of music all the time." I said: "No, that's not what they are. On the contrary, they disdain music as if it were rubbish. These apes just can't see the difference between Bach and Hippu Hoppu."

When eating out at an eatery you haven't visited before, you've got to be prepared for the annoyance caused by a very unlikely combination of food and music.

If you already have the knowledge about the particular combination, the piped-in music won't bother you too much, though. For instance, I know at a Udon shop I frequent, I hear smooth jazz played by the likes of Chet Baker, Stan Getz, and Bill Evans although it sometimes includes the East Coast stuff which is not too smooth. I am an avowed jazz fan. So I don't have any problem swallowing the Japanese noodle while listening to jazz. I sometimes wonder how other customers, who don't look to appreciate jazz, can easily digest Udon in the roaring sound of the American music. But that's none of my business.

On the other hand when you are not sure about the type of music the restaurant owner is partial to, it can be a disaster. You never know what it feels to have Japanese breakfast of Natto (fermented soybeans) and Miso-Shiru (soybean paste soup) when the entire place is filled with the solemn sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio. (This happens especially in the holiday season.)

The other day I was having American breakfast at a restaurant in a small hotel in this neighborhood. The music for the grand finale of Swan Lake was going on in an earsplitting volume. Tchaikovsky's hyperbole really drove me crazy. I motioned a waiter over. He was a punk with a loony face. I said, "I don't want to eat my fried eggs at the Bolshoi Theater." My message didn't get through to the idiot until I pointed at the outlet of the intercom with a frowning face.

By comparison, catering establishments run by Chinese are a little more tolerable because these restauranteurs are more civilized than their Japanese counterparts. They know when sitting at the table, the normal human being concentrates on food, and some other personal tasks such as witty conversation, reading and writing - except at a dinner show.

At times you may hear those wavy, whining tunes in their places. But you will never suffer motion sickness because these Chinese songs are only faintly audible.
· read more (815 words)
  View Printable Version 

Purist's Point of View: A Graveyard for the Musical Legacy of the West (PART 1)

That myth [about the innate ability of early jazz musicians] is being perpetuated to this day by those who profess an openness to everything - an openness that in effect just shows contempt for the basic values of the music and our society. If everything is good, why should anyone subject himself to the pain of study? Their disdain for the specific knowledge that goes into jazz creation is their justification for saying everything has its place. But their job should be to define that place - is it the toilet or the table?
- from July 1988 New York Times article written by Wynton Marsalis.



Wynton Marsalis,
American trumpeter
and advocate of
purism



Violin-playing robot
developed by Toyota
I was working on the next installment of my Japan Trivia series to be titled something like "The Fecal Truth about the Japanese: How They Eat, and What for" when I realized that I would have to shelve the piece dealing with the eating habits of the Japanese to write a separate post about music.

As any sane person living in this country knows, incessant and pervasive nuisance caused by background music is a real nightmare. Especially as a person who eats out everyday, I have great difficulty coping with BGM while having meals because practically every restauranteur is obsessed with the silly idea that his customer invariably wants to hear piped-in music as an essential part of the saabisu. (Saabisu is the Japanese transliteration of the English word "service" but actually it means any worthless thing that is provided to customers for free.)

For my part, music is one of the few things that are too important to trivialize.

I used to be a self-taught musician mainly noodling around at the keyboards and the guitar. Also I was a star singer at karaoke parlors. But that was many decades ago. Now I am just a lay music lover. Yet, I am still extremely fussy about music because it is something I can't live without.

Reverence for Music

Virtually all wartime songs were tributes to cheap heroism and self-sacrifice for the cause of the holy war. So it was only after the war that I first encountered classical music, and subsequently, jazz.

My maternal grandfather was one of those Westernized samurais once stationed in New York as consulate general when Woodrow Wilson was in office. Against this background, my siblings and I found out, when we were still preteens, that our parents had had a small collection of 78-rpm records of classical music.

I still remember huddling, for warmth, with mother and sisters in the run-down living room while listening to Carl Maria von Weber's Invitation to the Dance. It was the famous orchestral rendition by Hector Berlioz played by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Leopold Stokowski. It's not only the frosty air in the unheated room, but also the music that made me shiver. I still didn't know Benny Goodman's Let's Dance, but ever since I have developed an overwhelming sense of awe toward music of any genre.

One of the DVDs I have treasured is titled Ella Fitzgerald - Something to Live for. Indeed, good music, such as hers, is something that has made my life worth living, or at least, a little more tolerable than it would have been without it.

I can't but despise those self-proclaimed musicians and music lovers who deal with music so lightly.

Incidentally, it is for the same reason that this blogger always feels disgusted at these professional writers who have no reverence for words. Languages are just tools for communication, but words are not. As I have always said, words and thoughts are inseparable twins.

Culture in a Salad Bowl

Time and again I have discussed what I term "saladization of culture" which has been going on in this country for quite a while.

For example, religions have been saladized here for many centuries.

In his book titled Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne, which has been virtually banned in this country, Australian journalist Ben Hills describes what he calls trilogy of faiths like this: "Most Japanese of Masako's generation never worship, but happily embrace a trilogy of faiths. They see no contradiction in being taken to the local Shinto shrine to be recorded at birth, marrying in Christian ceremonies (thousands of them in Australian churches as part of honeymoon package), and having their bones buried in Buddhist family tombs."

I have also talked a lot about the linguistic salad. But very few have taken me seriously.

Their typical response to my salad theory is something like this: "What's wrong with cultural salads? Similar things have happened anywhere else in the world. There can be no such thing as a culture of unmixed lineage. In history, different faiths and languages have always influenced each other and sometimes even converged into one."

It's as though they think I am biased against the Japanese people and their culture because I lack education. But if I'm an uneducated person as they think, I don't know what to call these guys whose toolboxes are filled with ideological (i.e. relativist) rubbish that allows them to prattle about sociopolitical issues without the poorest insight into absolute values people are living for.

Actually what I am talking about has nothing to do with their superstitious belief that something new and better will automatically emanate wherever East meets West. To clarify my point, let me explain my theory one last time.

There had been sporadic cultural exchanges between China and Japan, solely at the court level, until the Shogunate put in place the seclusion policy in the early 17th century. But the bilateral relations were one-sided; at times Japanese emperors sent official delegates to their Chinese counterparts but the Tang or any other dynasty never felt obliged to reciprocate.

When the American warships came along in the 1850s to coerce the Shogunate government to open up its domain to the West, Japan was exposed at a time to everything that had happened outside of China's cultural orbit since a millennium before.

Nothing of this magnitude has happened to any other reclusive regime in history. Even the Soviet regime didn't last more than seven decades.

To effectively cope with the flood of the Western civilization, the Meiji Emperor and his government set forth various countermeasures which all came down to the notions of Fukoku Kyohei, or wealthy nation and strong army, and Wakon Yosai, or Japanese spirit and Western learning. (The word Meiji signifies "rule by enlightenment.")

The success in the Fukoku Kyohei part of their insatiable aspiration for modernization was attributable to the fact that it was solely driven by the government. That way the country could quickly catch up with Europe and America in a matter of several decades.

It was a breeze because the development in sciences and technologies always follow linear paths.

The real difficulty lay with the other part of the drive for Westernization because it was next to impossible for ignorant ex-samurais in government offices to effectively handle the influx of knowledge and expertise in humanities and social sciences which had developed along nonlinear paths. The only thing they could do was to sort them out using arbitrary criteria, put them in a salad bowl, and insist they were effectively weeding out such elements that would go counter to the traditional Japanese values.

For a while, the ingenious art of cherrypicking someone else's cultural heritage, too, looked to be working well. But the deceitful Wakon Yosai policy had to blow up altogether by the time Japan started the suicidal war in the early-1940s.

Disastrous Fallout

Japan's approach for Westernization has left incurable scars on the Japanese culture as a whole. Its consequence is twofold.

Firstly, it fatally damaged what little spontaneity the subjects of the Emperors and Shoguns may have previously had. I'll elaborate on this later.

The other fallout is the fact that over time these people have become unable to distinguish between the ends and the means. The value-creating chain is still there, but it's been fatally damaged. The purpose of life and the tools with which to pursue it are now interlinked in the wrong way.

For one thing, I haven't met a single computer engineer who can tell IT is not a goal in itself. Likewise, English teachers or learners who know that a language is nothing but a tool for communication are rare species in this country.

Today Japan still boasts a huge trade surplus that stood at 24.8 trillion yen as of 2007. But if you single out the trade balance in "services" that include payments for royalties and many other intellectual properties, you will know the country has chronically been running deficits in the range from 2.1 to 6.5 trillion yen in the last 25 years.

This is an unmistakable sign that the overall creativity of the Japanese has run dry, if ever it was once there.

NHK, the Certified Gravedigger

In the course of learning the musical art of the West, the Japanese elite had to become familiarized with every school of classical music all at once. Just imagine what it was like to be exposed to Gregorian chants, Renaissance music, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Mozart's Requiem in Latin, Beethoven's symphonies, Schubert's lieder, Chopin's piano pieces, Viennese waltzes, Brahms' Requiem in German, music dramas by Wagner before and after he revolutionized tonal music with the "Tristan Chord," along with Auld Lang Syne and My Old Kentucky Home - all in a very short period of time.

Obviously this was already too much to digest for ex-samurais in the Ministry of Education. All they could do to put the flood of European and American music under control was to use selection criteria which were nothing but arbitrary. It's small wonder that they felt more at ease when the anti-West chauvinism came to the fore in the late-1930s. Most of these musical pieces were simply banned although their lyrics had been translated into Japanese or totally rewritten.

A more or less similar thing happened in 1945 when Japan was once again forced to open herself up to the outside world. This time around they had to deal with modern classics such as the works of Bela Bartok, Carl Orff, Olivier Messiaen and Samuel Barber, along with all schools of American popular music ranging from New Orleans jazz, to swing jazz in the Big Band Era, even to bebop - once again all at once.

Since the government had been too battered to lead the way by that time, NHK, the same organization which had served as a mouthpiece for the Imperial Army until August 1945, took over the task of Japan's cultural restoration.

The government-owned broadcaster was founded in 1925 although its official website puts its birth at 1950 as if to whitewash the war crimes it had committed not long before. At least, "the new NHK" claims it has modeled itself on the BBC of the United Kingdom.

However, if you take a look at the Royal Charter under which the BBC has been operating, you will know the two public broadcasters have nothing in common at all.

For one thing, the 2007 Charter says one of the goals for the BBC should be to "stimulate creativity and excellence" among its audience. On the other hand, what NHK has been doing throughout its 85-year history in business all comes down to serving the political regimes of the times.

It is true that in the postwar era, nation's polity looked to have undergone a significant change, with the demigod opportunistically transforming himself into a mere symbol of national unity. Yet to date, the broadcaster has remained the propaganda machine. The only thing the "new-born" NHK had to do was to make the same recipe of the cultural salad re-attuned to the postwar regime which resembles democracy only on the surface. Obscurantists in NHK still feel mandated to manipulate the hearts and minds of their audiences under the guise of enlightenment.

Andrei Jdanov was a Soviet politician who, in the 1940s through '50s, put into practice Stalin's idea that every art form should serve the cause of the proletarian revolution. But even Jdanov would pale before NHK.

By the early-1950s, all the newspaper publishers, who had also gotten away with due punishment, set up their broadcasting arms. These commercial broadcasters just joined forces with NHK to systematically deform and destroy the cultural heritage imported from the West.

Art of Nipping Homegrown Talents in the Bud

Throughout the history of radio and TV broadcast in this country, the overriding norms have always been conformity, mediocrity and homogeneity.

On the one hand, they have diligently neutralized potentially poisonous elements of music and all other art forms originated in the West. But on the other, these grave-keepers have been watching out for homegrown talents sprouting here and there.

For six years from the late-1940s through early-'50s, Seiji Ozawa and I were attending the same high school. With his unusual desire to excel, he already outdid the rest of us in music, and rugby.

As anyone who loves classical music knows, Maestro Ozawa eventually achieved a phenomenal success as the music director of the prestigious Boston Symphony Orchestra (1973-2002.) Since early 2010, he has been on a leave of absence from the Vienna State Opera due to esophageal cancer, but he still does not look ready to call it quits because he is too much in love with music.

In the early days of his career, Ozawa briefly served as the regular conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra. He had already been known for his unrivaled talent and un-Japanese style of dealing with music and musicians. But that was exactly where NHK found him outrageous. The young guy was virtually ostracized in December 1962.

When he landed in the U.S., Newsweek magazine (or it may have been TIME) wrote that as a Japanese proverb goes, the nail that stuck out had to be hammered down in his home country.
· read more (606 words)
  View Printable Version 

Ozawa Has Got the Japanese in between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


The Shinto priest always
prays for an immutable world
As always, you didn't take me seriously.

You thought that there was no reason to believe in the heretical argument made by the humble blogger, especially when any reputable analyst wouldn't subscribe to it.

But obviously, it was my fault if you couldn't predict that Ichiro Ozawa and Yukio Hatoyama would re-emerge from behind the curtain, where they had been sitting out since early June. Ozawa now seeks the leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan and possibly of the country - the positions Naoto Kan has miraculously held in the last three months.

Presumably, the hardest part for you to understand was the implication of the symbolic double-suicide committed by Hatoyama and Ozawa. Actually it was just part of the political kabuki.

But my English writing skills were too poor to convince you that misogi can't make any difference to the trajectory of this nation because avoidance, not promotion, of change is what misogi is all about. No matter how many times the same ritual is repeated, that won't bring about any fundamental change.

To make it worse, that was something you were fully determined to ignore, for an obvious reason.

As a result, you thought the exit of the two had paved the way to a new Japan. That is why you assured your friends, clients and audiences that with the revolving-door situation dissolved by the 8th Prime Minister since the turn of the century, Japan had finally become a reliable partner to do business with.

I'm afraid you may have found it really embarrassing, or even shocking, when you found out the two co-founders of the DPJ had not been dead yet. So let me apologize if you lost face over Ozawa's move in one way or the other. · read more (570 words)
  View Printable Version 

[FEATURE] Japan Trivia 11: A Nation of Living Buddhas

As I always point out in relation to the annual rituals staged in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan is a surreal country where the dead and the living are "living" together. Believe it or not, I am not exaggerating or analogizing the situation.

Especially at this time of the year, the threshold between life and death almost melts away like asphalt in the sweltering heat of midsummer particular to this monsoon climate.

On July 28 in Tokyo's Adachi Ward, a mummified body was discovered lying in bed when an old woman stepped into the room to celebrate her father's 111th birthday. According to the ward office, the remains were identified as those of the "111-year-old" who had holed up in his room since 1978. The last words the mummy's family heard from him 32 years ago were:

"俺は今から即身成仏する (Leave me alone; now I'm becoming a living Buddha.)"

This prompted municipalities across the nation to carry out onsite investigations into the actual conditions of all those who are supposedly aged 100 or older. As a result, it was learned that at least hundreds of Japanese "centenarians" are actually missing for many years, most of them presumably dead.

POSTSCRIPT September 10: According to the data released today, 234,354 "centenarians" were found to be missing. The oldest one among them came into being around the time Polish composer Frederic Chopin was born.

If you have commonsense, you can tell for sure that the missing centenarians must be the tip of the iceberg. Yet, the Japanese have since singled out "centenarians" to avoid questioning the actual situation for all other age brackets, from 0 to 99. They know that otherwise they would certainly have to gaze into the abyss lying before them - if they haven't hit its bottom themselves yet, that is.

In this respect, let me add something below:

■ "Living Buddha" here is the Shamanistic way to refer to a zombie, and has nothing to do with Gautama Buddha.

■ According to the official statistics, roughly one-million people die every year, including more than 30 thousand who kill themselves. On the other hand, as Newsweek's Japan edition once reported in its cover story, there is no coroner system in place here. The reason is because more often than not the bereaved are superstitious enough to believe a corpse is the place where a deity dwells. That's why it's widely considered blasphemous to have the body of the deceased autopsied. As a result, 15% of dead bodies are cremated leaving the cause of death undetermined. Another fallout from this is the fact that a good part of those who die mysterious deaths remain unidentified.
· read more (375 words)
  View Printable Version 

Akihito Mourns for Dead Cows and Pigs on the 65th Anniversary of Hiroshima



Two new dolts, Ban
Ki-moon and John
Roos, made 55,000
mourners' prayer
ring even more
hollow
There was nothing particularly new in the way the 65th anniversary of the A-bombing on Hiroshima was marked yesterday.

Any sane person could tell that two important things were still missing: attendance of Emperor Akihito (Hirohito's son) and sanity on the part of his poor subjects.

On the same day in his nicely air-conditioned palace, the bastard opted to see the governor of Miyazaki Prefecture where the emergency situation with the foot-and-mouth epidemic had just subsided after killing 289,000 livestock.

Do I have to explain why he felt like having a chat with the governor over the dead cows and pigs while U.S. Ambassador and U.N. Secretary General, both in mourning attire, were being baked under the scorching sun at ground zero?

Although the blank and sulky faces were betraying their indifference to what happened in the city sixty-five years ago, both Roos and Ban were dutifully offering a silent prayer for the 140,000 human beings incinerated for the cause of preserving the imperial institution.

As usual, not a single news reporter or commentator mentioned Akihito's absenteeism. (Postscript: On the contrary, when Roos skipped the ceremony in Nagasaki three days later giving an implausible excuse, Japanese media did not conceal displeasure.)

Now that the number of the participating countries has reached a record 74, it's increasingly obvious that none other than this mass-stupidity has hindered the progress of nonproliferation, instead of expediting it. I wouldn't be surprised if the 66th anniversary is attended by some new faces such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Below here I'm going to re-post the body text of the essay I wrote one year ago under the title of Obamitis Virus Hits Its Cradle - Japan's Ground Zero.



Japan is a country which is inhabited by innumerable gods. We used to be talking about yaorozuno-kami, or 8 million gods. But with Japan's living population steadily shrinking in recent years, I am sure the nether world here is having a population explosion by now because every Japanese is believed to be given the citizenship out there as soon as he dies. They also believe that these gods make a homecoming trip during obon yasumi, or the bon holidays which fall on mid-August.

Things are quite confusing at this time of the year with family reunions between the deceased and their living descendants taking place across the nation. It's next to impossible to tell who are dead and who are still alive. For my part, I'm reasonably sure that I'm still awaiting my turn at Grim Reaper's waiting room. Yet, I may be wrong. Who knows?

To avoid misidentifying the dead as the living, or vice versa, Tokyo-based conspiracy theorist Benjamin Fulford generically named the Japanese zombies, before he became extremely popular among none other than these zombies, that is.

Heralding the bon holidays every year are the annual ceremonies solemnly held at ground zero of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The people have not found it particularly necessary to make August 6 and 9 national holidays because the two events are only part of their activity for the month solely devoted to the dead at large in this land of shamanism.

Past several decades have seen the same proceedings repeated at ground zero of the two cities according to a long-established agenda and format with the successive mayors reciting their empty and bland "Peace Declarations" as the priests presiding over the rituals. Watching my fellow countrymen going through these formalities, I always get a surreal sense of attending my own deathwatch.

If there was anything new in their Peace Declarations 2009, it's the citations from Obama's speech in Prague. Both mayors must have found the April 5 speech by the U.S. President irresistibly sexy. That's why they couldn't help parroting Obama's most famous line at the 64th anniversaries of the bombings. It goes:

As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon (sic), the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba felt that it was not enough just to repeat after Obama. When concluding his declaration, he suddenly switched to what he thought was English to read out the following sentences:

We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority(!?). Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can. (The exclamation mark and question mark are mine.)

You may be inclined to call the Mayor a moron. But I suspect that is not the case with him. Actually he completed his doctorate in mathematics at MIT some 40 years ago. How can a Ph.D. from the prestigious school be an idiot? And more importantly, he and his counterpart in Nagasaki are not alone.

So, I want you to look at the following fact sheet about a deadly mental illness to be named something like Obamitis before jumping to a conclusion about their pathological problem.

1 Name of Disease Obamitis - so named after the U.S. president who has disseminated the newest strain of the virus all over the world.
2 First Outbreak Observed in Japan a long time ago.
3 Symptoms Sufferers lose their ability to internalize things using their own brains. As a result they always talk about their own problem in vague generality as if it were someone else's. The inability to address problems specifically and systematically always leads the patients to utter inaction in the face of a complicated situation. They often develop echolalia in complication.
4 Worst Possible Consequence Brain-death.
5 Etiology The Obamitis virus causes the disease.
6 Diathesis People with shamanism background are far more likely to become infected with the Obamitis virus than Christians and Muslims. For example, the Japanese traditionally think politics are like weather. When Mongolians attempted to invade Japan in 1274, kamikaze, or Divine Wind from a ferocious typhoon, blew their fleet against the rocks while Japanese had been freezing in total inaction. Ever since they have become susceptible to the idea that the only thing their leader has to do in the face of a crisis is to pray, as a priest, for a change of the weather. When the incantation doesn't work, they leave things adrift until the problem solves itself. The apocalypse in the two cities is an excellent example that shows how effectively a problem can solve itself.
7 Transmission The main pathway for the viral transmission is through excessive intake of ill-defined, bland and empty words such as peace, democracy, nonproliferation, dialog to promote mutual understanding, common values, etc.
8 Environmental Factors There is a good reason to believe the monsoon climate provides the optimum for the virus. Especially, the steamy weather of August in East Asia is considered to be the most favorable condition for the growth and reproduction of the virus. However, the recent pandemic situation in the U.S. indicates that the newest strain of the virus is viable in other regions, as well.
9 Cure None.
10 Statistics TokyoFreePress estimates that there are more than 100 million patients in Japan right now. In the United States, there were at least 69,456,897 adults suffering from Obamitis as of November 4, 2008. The numbers are still growing on both sides of the Pacific.
11 Japan Trivia The Japanese people all believe their fortunes have been predetermined by astrology, Zodiac signs or blood types. Given their extremely superstitious and suggestible trait, every TV station with nationwide network thinks it's essential to spare at least 5 minutes every morning to provide its viewers with the forecasts for the day. This is the secret behind Akiba's Obamajority stuff.
· read more (307 words)
  View Printable Version 

It Takes a Retarded Journalist to Juxtapose Elizabeth Bishop to the War Criminal


Elizabeth Bishop,
American poet
(1911-79)
Hirohito, the worst
war criminal in
man's history (1901-89)

In his recent article on The Times, Matthew Parris quoted some passages from Elizabeth Bishop's poetic work and Emperor Hirohito's declaration of war defeat.

Apparently the piece titled "Like Hirohito, we need to find the right word for losing" was written to tell British Prime Minister David Cameron how to expostulate with Obama about the impasse of the Afghan War.

Parris wrote: "We are losing Afghanistan. Losing, all losing, gets harder, then it gets easier. Losing in Afghanistan will get easier after we pass that point when the truth, just saying it, first sticks in the throat and then is finally acknowledged. As our Prime Minister headed for Washington to see Barack Obama, we were nearing that point."

What a nonsense.

I was not interested in discussing such a journalistic crap from the gay pundit. Neither was I concerned about the outcome of the talks between the two leaders.

And yet, I wanted to set the record straight for the American poet because she is one of my favorite literary figures. At the same time I wanted to point out that it's about time the Brits dropped all the silly jokes about the Japanese counterpart of Queen Elizabeth II. The bastard didn't have the foggiest idea about the art of losing in the face of Japan's moment of truth.

Parris's citation of Bishop's poem titled One Art was so incomplete and inaccurate, I'll show you its original text here:

The art of losing isn't hard to master,
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster;
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Some more stanzas follow but as you can already see, One Art sounds a little like Buddha's tenet about impermanence. A helplessly shallow journalist as he is, Parris didn't know he should not have expected the equally superficial guys in Downing Street and the White House to apprehend such a profound concept as the art of losing.

Alongside of Bishop, Parris also quoted the Japanese Emperor.

I can't afford the time to double-check, but according to Parris, the concession speech Japan's principal war criminal mumbled out on the radio on August 15, 1945 went like this:

"To our good and loyal subjects, the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage. *snip* The thought of those officers and men who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart day and night. The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers are the objects of our profound solicitude. However, it is according to the dictate of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable."

Parris concluded his article with a ridiculous remark that "the Emperor was right."
· read more (901 words)
  View Printable Version 

Further to the Election Report


Left: In this rare session sponsored by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on July 9, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia and an associate professor in international politics at Johns Hopkins University argued that the official report on the Cheonan sinking was fake. But usually members of the FCCJ keep scratching the surface of things happening here to cater to largely biased editorial positions of their head-offices.
Center: Ichiro Ozawa still remains the Shadow Shogun and is getting prepared for a comeback
Right: Yoshimi Watanabe is up and coming now

This is to follow up the flash report I posted when the election returns were being finalized.

Western Media's Take

Once again they are responding to the results of the Sunday poll in a breathtakingly stupid way.

They say in concert that the outcome of the election will once again destabilize the situation here. It's as though they think Hatoyama's resignation early last month had once stabilized it.

Stabilized for 5 weeks? Don't be silly.

These guys also attribute DPJ's defeat to the fact that amid the election campaign, Kan started to say the consumption tax (Japan's VAT) might have to be raised from 5% to 10% to prevent Japan from treading the path similar to Greece's.

Reportedly Japan's prime minister had hinted at a consumer tax hike in the G20 meeting in Canada to prevent budget deficits from further ballooning. At the same time he seems to have promised the leaders from other countries that he would lower corporate tax rates so as to ensure economic growth. It's appalling to know the former finance minister didn't know the value-added taxes in Greece were already in the range of 8-19% when the crisis broke out there.

It is true that Kan himself attributed DPJ's defeat, in retrospect, to the fact that he had once again broke his previous campaign pledge by carelessly mentioning the tax hike. But this doesn't explain why then the major opposition LDP, which also made it clear that doubling the tax rate would be necessary, could regain part of lost ground.

The fact remains that the real cause of the setback suffered by his party is that he didn't really address, let alone propose any solution to, the key issues ranging from corruption that persists, to the U.S.-Japanese security treaty that increasingly proves irrelevant in the post-Cold War era, to the dole-out policy that has gone over the top by now.

The consumption tax was just a decoy.

Needless to say Tokyo correspondents of foreign media are at a loss what to make of the sudden rise of the fledgling Your Party.

When will the media in the West ever learn they are largely misguided by their empty-headed Tokyo correspondents?

Committee for Inquest of Prosecution

At this moment Ozawa's fate all hinges on the Committee's second verdict due at the end of this month and Prosecutors Office's response to it.

The Committee consists of eleven members who are periodically picked "randomly" from among "ordinary citizens." For an obvious reason, occupations, genders and ages of those who are picked at random remain undisclosed on the pretext of protection of privacy.

Of course "at random" can mean anything. At best it's a roulette, Russian or not. And at worst, it can mean that the committee is totally fictitious and nonexistent in the first place.

It still remains to be seen whether or not Ozawa can make a comeback in style at the plenary convention of the party scheduled for September. But I am reasonably sure there is no chance for Kan to get reelected at the convention and that although Ozawa can't even run if he is indicted, that's not the end of his political career.

As some have already started speculating, it's fairly likely that the most powerful intra-party faction headed by Ozawa seeks to spin off from the DPJ to form yet another new party. Time and again has he come out of similar crises by resorting to this tactic.

Not a single one can outmaneuver the Shadow Shogun.

Rapid Rise of the Your Party

Admittedly the strong showing of the Your Party was really phenomenal. Head of the newborn party Yoshimi Watanabe has been able to convince millions of voters that it can serve as the real alternative to the old parties all bound by strings of particular interest groups. He kept saying the only way out of the deepening crisis is to drastically downsize the legislature and restructure the bureaucracy. Only by these measures, he said, the Japanese can bring their nation back on the right track.

Yet it is important to note Watanabe's prescription for sustainable growth still falls way short of reinvigorating the failing nation.

His father, Michio Watanabe, was the Minister of Agriculture and Fishery (1978-79,) the Minister of Finance (1980-82,) the Minister of International Trade and Industry (1985-86) and the Foreign Minister (1991-93.) In those days, his ministries were solely mandated to protect the private sector, especially major financial institutions and other key industries, from foreign competitors.
· read more (157 words)
  View Printable Version 

Is This Anything New?

Party Pre-election
Seats
Gain/Loss on
Contested Seats
New Seats
Democratic Party of Japan 116 -10 106
People's New Party 6 -3 3
Liberal Democratic Party 71 +13 84
Komeito 21 -2 19
Japan Communist Party 7 -1 6
Social Democratic Party 5 -1 4
Your Party 1 +10 11
Other 15 -6 9
Total 242 0 242

NOTE 1: The two parties shown in red font have formed the ruling coalition.
NOTE 2: Komeito is a legitimized cult which was a minor coalition partner of
the Liberal Democratic Party until August last year.

I was not really interested in knowing the results of the Upper House election. Neither did I think the outcome would be report-worthy at all

On second thought, however, I felt an urge to post a flash report because so many self-styled Japan experts in the West have been misleading their audiences to believe the resignations of the former prime minister Hatoyama and the "former" Shadow Shogun Ozawa have paved the way to the rebirth of Japan as a sound and viable country. For an obvious reason these guys are determined to defy the fact that the misogi ritual can't have changed anything about the corrupt and disoriented regime.

Let me repeat one last time that no matter how often the Japanese replace their leader, their nation remains unchanged as long as they refuse to change themselves as they have done in the last 13 centuries.

As of writing this piece, yet another allnight dibeto ritual is going on on TV Asahi with media mogul Soichiro Tahara acting as the priest. As usual the debaters go in circles around the "issues" with the U.S.-Japanese alliance, widespread corruption, impediments to sustainable economic growth, ballooning sovereign debt and the bankrupt welfare programs. It's as though they are addressing different issues than those facing them before the election. They are getting nowhere before the daybreak because the priest is skillful enough at getting around the real issues.
· read more (256 words)

  View Printable Version 

Where Okinawa is Headed

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.
- George Washington



So many people talk about the Okinawa issue these days. But very few of them really care about the suffering of the 1.4 million Okinawans, which actually constitutes the gut issue with the alliance between the U.S. and Japan.

Based on the false premise that Okinawa is just the forty-seventh prefecture of Japan, politicians and political analysts on both sides of the Pacific keep scratching the surface of what's really going on out there.

These political racketeers make every possible effort to get around the real issue simply because they know very well that delving into the heartache of the Okinawans as second-class citizens will jeopardize, in one way or the other, their ideological cause on which they make their own living.

In my view, you can't really understand the predicament the Okinawans have been going through in the last 65 years under the partial occupation of their lands by the U.S. armed forces without further tracking it back to the early-17th century when Satsuma clan annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom on behalf of the Tokugawa Shogunate based in Edo, the city named Tokyo today.

Sixty-five years have passed since the Tokyo government yielded its rule over the islands to Washington. The "return" of Okinawa thirty-eight years ago has made little difference to the situation; the people are still suffering under a two-tiered oppression - something really unprecedented in modern history.

But for now, let me focus on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between U.S. and Japan and SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) signed on January 19, 1960 between U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Nobusuke Kishi, a CIA agent.

Delusion on Delusion

The single most important question the Japanese must ask themselves is what the U.S. Marine Corps are deployed there for.

The rubberstamp answer they hear from policymakers and political pundits of the two countries is that they are stationed there to protect Japan against its enemies or deter them from launching an attack on the country.

Give me a break.

It's too touching to be true that the USMC units based in Okinawa are poised to risk their own lives to protect the Japanese living more than 5,000 miles away from their own home country. This is a fairytale especially when the Americans have increasingly proved incapable of even taking care of themselves.

The USMC's missions defined by the National Security Act of 1947 do not include defense or deterrence in the first place. And in reality, the marines deployed in Okinawa are spearheading amphibious and expeditionary warfare in and around Afghanistan and Iraq.

NOTE: Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force has "bought" six AEGIS-equipped destroyers to defend the Japanese archipelago from possible missile attacks. But since this is a different issue from the USMC deployed in Okinawa, I don't touch on it in this post. These vessels are said to be filled with state-of-the-art technologies all sealed off in a black box. But actually it's a Pandora's Box which is the subject I'm addressing here.

Aside from the definition of their roles, what enemies are they supposed to defend Japan against?

Maybe the People's Republic of China is at the top of their list of potential enemies.

What a delusion.

Just for one thing, a record 481,696 Chinese tourists flocked to Japan in 2009, up 20% from 2007. Each of them spent an average 110K yen ($1.2K) for shopping a wide range of consumer goods from appliances, to cosmetics, to high-end nailclippers. The Japan National Tourism Organization is now expecting the influx of cash from the continent to accelerate in the years to come.

Another example of Japan's dependency on China is imports of raw materials. Although Japan at present has to depend more on Chile than China for the supply of lithium, the country's morbid culture centered around the keitai (handset) technology will fall apart if China further lowers its export quota on the rare metal mainly excavated in Tibet.

So, make no mistake - automakers are not alone in increasingly getting addicted to the world's most populous and prosperous marketplace. It's not China's problem, but Japan's.

In the wake of the deepening economic doldrums, Japan couldn't withstand a single day without China. China, too, has to count on Japan to sustain its growth path, but only to a far lesser degree.

Amid the campaign for the upcoming Upper House election, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, as the "cheerleader" of the Rise-Up Japan Party, has been repeatedly warning the voters that if they don't support the newborn party he roots for, Japan will be demoted to the 24th province or 6th autonomous region of the People's Republic of China from the 51st star on the national flag of the United States. The old cretin at the helm of the metropolitan government should know this won't make any difference to Okinawa's status as Japan's 47th prefecture.

In short, you've got to be totally out of your mind, or out of touch with reality, to foresee a military conflict between the two countries in the first half of this century.

Maybe China's ambition to capture Taiwan is a little more real, but there is no reason the Okinawans have to suffer the consequence from the possible conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

What about North Korea, then? It's another baloney that the tiny republic whose defense budget is estimated at the vicinity of $6 billion poses a threat to Japan whose military spending always tops $40 billion. The American fortress in Okinawa is nothing but superfluous.

True, you can't rule out Ryu Murakami's scenario in which North Korea successfully subverts the ailing Japanese regime, but there will never be a nuclear warfare as the novelist expressly stresses.

I don't care a bit about the reason why on earth the U.S. has had to turn down so frantically North Korean U.N. Ambassador Sin Son Ho's request to reopen the probe into the Cheonan sinking. Neither do I care exactly why the U.S., notwithstanding, has stopped short of calling it an act of international terrorism.

But one thing is for sure; the incident in the Yellow Sea has nothing to do with Okinawa.

NOTE: According to the recently declassified documents, even Nobusuke Kishi, the traitor, confided to some officials in the Foreign Ministry his fear that Japan would possibly get embroiled in a military confrontation between the U.S. and a communist regime in the Far East.

Red Herrings

To gloss over all this hocus-pocus, politicians and pundits on both sides of the Pacific have invented a lot of red herrings about SOFA.

Their modus operandi is to single out isolated incidents such as sexual crimes committed by U.S. servicemen stationed there, or the 1959 crash of the U.S. jet fighter (F-100) into an elementary school that left 17 dead and other 210 injured. It's as though Japanese men have seldom raped their female compatriots, or car accidents caused by locals haven't killed much more civilians in the last 51 years.

To that end they make believe that the single most important issue involved in Japan's part of SOFA is which party should have civil and criminal jurisdiction. Even the anti-U.S. leftists here have never failed to raise their voices to demand the transfer of jurisdiction every time a U.S. serviceman raped a Japanese girl.

Actually the media-salient topic of how to handle criminal cases around the military bases is yet another red herring because it has nothing to do with the core issue with the islands of Okinawa.

Regime for Dual Oppression of Japan's Tibet

It seems to me that self-styled American experts in the Okinawa issue, and their Japanese minions as well, feel mandated to perpetuate the dual oppression regime for another half century. To that end they keep pontificating on the necessity for the Tokyo government to remain under the wing of America.

I don't know any other word than a colony to describe what Japan is to the U.S. and what Okinawa is to Japan.

In general terms, a colony is defined like below:

■ A colony is a territory which is politically controlled by people living in a geographically separate land.
■ The natives who inhabit the region have ethnic, cultural and historical background which differs from that of the ruling group. Despite the inevitable progress of assimilation over time, their distinctive identity is retained for many centuries.
■ A local governing body may or may not exist. Wherever there is one, it looks like yet another local government on the surface. But essentially, it is totally subordinated to the government of the mainland. Its autonomy is largely a nominal thing.
■ A minority group among the natives willingly collaborates with the government of the suzerain power solely because of the financial interests they are vested there, while the vast majority of the people have nothing but to suffer from the subservience.

No sane person can deny both Japan and Okinawa meet these descriptions, though to varying degrees.

The beauty of this regime is that the U.S. government doesn't have to deal directly with the Okinawans who have been going through all this predicament in the last sixty-five years. So the Obama administration seems fully determined to preserve the mechanism of exploitation without running counter to the nation's founding principle. In this respect the incumbent president is no different from his predecessor.

And that is where American pundits who claim to be well-versed in Japan's sociopolitical landscape kick in. Now they have rallied behind Washington's absurd foreign policy both from liberal and conservative camps. This is a real bipartisan effort.

The primary mandate these bastards are given by Washington is to constantly mix up legality with legitimacy by always putting laws and legal documents before people. In fact, though, we all know it's men that sign them - not the other way around.

To that end, these Japan experts try hard to prove that America's Far Eastern ally is a sovereign and viable nation with a legally competent government. It takes a special set of skills to defy all the evidence indicating that the successive Tokyo governments have always acted like a dupe.

To be more specific, skills required from them can be summarized as below:

■ They have to have a good enough memory to name 7 prime ministers of Japan who came in and went out of office through its revolving door since the turn of the century.
■ They ought to have a nerve to look back at the 14 remarks each of them made one week after and six months after each transition of power without blushing for a split second.
■ They should be able to ignore the fact that these prime ministers have invariably left in the air the gut issues with the convoluted trilateral relations between Washington, Tokyo and Okinawa islands. In other words, they should be able to skate over people issues because it's next to impossible to mold living people in an ideological context even with their special skills to falsify the truth.
· read more (405 words)
  View Printable Version 

No Thanks for the "Least Unhappy Society"

We devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.
- from "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" by John Maynard Keynes


Keynes used a beauty
contest analogy when
he described the
mechanism to determine
stock prices

I am not going to get really used to this sense of alienation.

Now I see a growing number of my kin and local friends on the other side of the chasm lying before me.

Also I see there some American names and faces which were on this side before Obama's way of thinking (or not thinking, to be more precise) swept them away.

On Sunday I spent the whole afternoon at my elder son's place. He is a very caring person. From time to time I have to count on him to do physical tasks this Parkinson's sufferer can't do himself, such as cleansing the filters of the air conditioner.
Sometimes I even ask him for a small subsidy. But I find some consolation in the fact that if money should matter in life at all, he still owes me much more than I owe him.

He is a typical people person. Perhaps he doesn't have his own set of values. Even if he has one, he buries it deep inside so he can get along very well with everyone surrounding him. To borrow Keynesian words, he always follows "the average opinion."

It is true that I can attribute his group orientation and propensity toward mediocrity to the education he received from my ex, former in-laws and teachers in his early childhood.

On the one hand, the guiding principle for Japanese educators is something similar to the No Child Left Behind policy in the U.S. But on the other, also at work there is a Japan-particular way of thinking that any child who sticks out of the standard should be mercilessly hammered down.

At the end of the day, I must admit that it's me who was really at fault for what my sons have grown into. Simply put, I shouldn't have fathered them in this country in the first place.

Over time I've had to learn how to avoid futile disputes with him. The most important thing is not to discuss politics or any other serious issues. Whenever it's unavoidable to touch on a serious topic, I always make believe I'm just cracking a joke.

I do know he is opposed to the policy lines of the two major political parties and that his take on the Japanese way of life as a whole is not miles apart from his dad's. But that does not help because in our heart of hearts, we are divided over fundamental values. He is on the other side, too. By now I've chosen to remain just his friend.

Recently he is trying to talk me into moving to the apartment he plans to purchase to live with him, his CRPS-suffering wife and mother, i.e. my ex. (CRPS stands for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.) He says he would never interfere with my life. Yet I find his terms and conditions unacceptable because I know by experience that his Laissez-Faire policy is a trick, if a well-intended one. I would certainly lose more than I would gain if I complied.

Not that he would win. Any proposition is doomed to end up in a lose-lose deal in a society where everyone has lost his innate spontaneity and attitude of self-reliance.

All these people do is what they are supposed to do.

In those turbulent years on the eve of the revision of the U.S.-Japanese security treaty, I majored in economics in Keio University. More often than not I skipped classes because they were intolerably boring.

Like anywhere else, lectures Keio professors could deliver were empty theories they had borrowed or stolen from John Maynard Keynes or Karl Marx. In fact, though, Japan has never been a capitalist or socialist state.

By the same token, this country has never been a welfare state in the sense the postwar U.K. was under the Labour administration.

Japan has remained Japan all the time.

The only lecture that impressed me was one about Adam Smith I was listening to in my sophomore year. His theory said that only the Invisible Hand ensures a world where prevails what German philosopher Gottfried Leipniz termed the "preestablished harmony".

On the contrary I have never been really convinced by the Keynesian theory which the British economist thought was the only workable prescription for the problems facing the post-Great Depression world.
· read more (450 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 9: 禊 (Misogi)



In Japan it's so easy to get purified.

If you draw the Old Maid, however, you get penalized for what you are not really responsible for. But don't worry too much because Japan is a civilized country - so they say. From time to time, you have to perform a harakiri ritual, but a symbolic disembowelment will suffice these days.

They call the whole process of ablution 禊 (misogi) or お祓い (oharai.) Although these words have their origin in Shinto terminology, they still remain everyday words because this is an essential part of Japanese life. Even when a construction company builds a modern high-rise building, the centerpiece of the groundbreaking ceremony (photo) is purification of the site conducted by a 神主 (kannushi or Shinto priest) or two.
In Act 5 of the political kabuki, Naoto Kan takes center stage as the new prime minister.

His past misdemeanors included a case in which it was revealed that he had neglected his duty to pay pension premiums. In 2004, he had to step down as head of the Democratic Party of Japan as a fallout of this "scandal." Then he took a long pilgrimage (photo) to cleanse himself.

Now fully purified, he came back as the DPJ chief and Japan's prime minister.

When it comes to Kan's predecessor Yukio Hatoyama and his de facto boss Ichiro Ozawa, hordes of kannushi in the media are saying in concert that they are quite OK now because they have already gone through their part of ablution ritual by symbolically stabbing each other to (feigned) death.

The only thing the mainstream media were concerned about was how Kan could distance himself from Ozawa who is still on parole, so to speak. But the sticking point quickly dissolved when Kan said, as he was supposed to say: "Despite everything we owe him, I will ask him to sit out and keep quiet for a while."

For a while means until the dust settles.

Along these lines they are now saying --

Let's forget about all the money Ozawa has stolen from taxpayers because it's all over now.

Let the thief retain his latent power as the Shadow Shogun because otherwise the most powerful Ozawa faction might spin off from the party.

Let's put the lid on Pandora's Box carelessly opened by Hatoyama to seal off what the Okinawans and some other Japanese glimpsed inside.
· read more (446 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 8: Harakiri Ritual

腹切り, or harakiri, literally meaning belly cutting, must be familiar to you if you have seen 歌舞伎, or kabuki, Japan's overly stylized, intolerably boring dramatic show from the early 17th century. Sometimes Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly can be substituted if you think you can claim to be an expert in the Japanese "culture." only by scratching its surface.

In fact, though, Westerners, especially Americans, have never really understood that harakiri is not just suicide by disembowelment. Actually it's more of a ritual - one very unique to Japan. You can see nothing like this anywhere else in the world.


In the 1960s in Vietnam, not a few Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. A couple of years ago some Tibetan monks did the same thing. Even to shallow-minded Americans, these "barbecue shows" were not really unfathomable because these monks immolated themselves in protest against the brutal aggressors from America and China. The same can be said, perhaps to a lesser degree, of suicide bombers from Islamic countries.

On the other hand Japanese people never kill themselves to protest against anything. Neither do they cut their bellies in the depths of despair. Maybe Yukio Mishima, the rightwing nut still touted as the most important literary figure in postwar Japan, is a rare exception in that respect.

In November 1970, the homosexual writer stormed the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan's Self-Defense Forces accompanied by four members of his private army named Tate-no Kai. They barricaded the office of the commandant and tied the officer to his chair.

Then Mishima, together with his catamites, stepped onto the balcony to address the real soldiers gathered below. After his attempt to incite a coup d'etat failed, he returned to the commander's office to perform a harakiri ritual. There he eviscerated himself and ultimately died when one of his men did the preplanned task of 介錯, kaishaku or suicide assistance, by beheading the commander of Tate-no Kai with a samurai sword.

It's unlikely that a similar thing happens again in part because the Japanese people have no guts to remove anymore. But more important, the idea of protesting against something by committing suicide is quite foreign to the Japanese tradition.

Time and again I have called Japan a culture of apology. Not just that these people are excessively apologetic. More often than not their apology is worded like this: "I'm awfully sorry for everything I did. But actually I didn't do anything wrong. Just the same I apologize because that's what I'm supposed to do."

By the same token the Japanese commit suicide, if only symbolically, to punish themselves. It doesn't matter whether or not they are actually at fault when something goes wrong. The only thing they have in mind when performing the ritual is to save the defective organizations they belong in by putting all the blame on themselves.

Just remember that in 1945 it never occurred to them to punish the Emperor. They punished themselves, instead, as if 3 million lives sacrificed for Hirohito had not been enough.

That is exactly what Yukio Hatoyama intended to do on Wednesday. In his supposedly touching farewell address, the outgoing prime minister effectively said that he was willing to take responsibility for what he had not done wrong, or not at all.

It's for this very reason that Japan has had six prime ministers since the turn of the century. By the end of their terms, they almost invariably developed a sense of guilt over something that anyone else couldn't have handled in the right way, either.

Needless to say, Hatotama's guilty conscience stemmed from the fact that he had casually opened Pandora's Box from which cropped up the gut issue with the U.S.-Japanese security treaty. He was just too careless, or too bold.

As recently as nine months ago, the media hailed him as a change agent citing his approval rating that topped 70% at that time. But now they have started calling him a loopy policymaker, just as he actually is from the beginning, quickly lowering the approval rating below 20%. As usual, they don't feel obliged to apologize for misleading their audiences once again.

If Douglas MacArthur and Harry S. Truman had brought in here a presidential system in which the leader is elected directly by voters, that wouldn't have made any difference to this climate.

U.S. president and his counterparts in the G8 nations other than Japan are now complaining they have difficulty memorizing the name of the incumbent prime minister of Japan.
· read more (318 words)
  View Printable Version 

Work Hard on the Whodunit with a Fresh Eye; It's the Only Effective Way to Prevent Senile/Juvenile Dementia


Left: This picture illustrates what happened in the Yellow Sea in March 2010
Right: Reichstag fire in February 1933

I have never been a conspiracy theorist myself.

Yet, I share with these "truth-seekers" the same skepticism about official announcements and reports. This is why I feel much more kinship with them than I do with mainstream "social scientists" and "analysts." I have practically nothing in common with these guys who take everything for granted wherever the pieces of information at hand came from an authoritative source and can serve their ideological purposes.

They always shrug off my heresies presumably because I am a nobody. That's quite OK with me, but don't take me wrong; I am not deprecating myself. On the contrary I'm so proud of my nobodyness. That I remain uninstitutionalized means I have absolutely nothing to lose, let alone gain, whether or not my theories prove wrong at the end of the day. Nothing prohibits me from telling what I believe is true.

Actually these mainstreamers have good reason to brush aside my thoughts. They say the premises on which I base my seemingly far-fetched arguments are unsubstantiated.

But I think anyone, heretic or not, has the right to talk about his take on an issue without full knowledge of the facts concerning it. It's unrealistic to expect him to fully substantiate his hypotheses before expressing his opinion - unless he is a CIA agent, that is.

I know that most of the time I can substitute my commonsense or business sense for proven facts.

Another thing mainstream analysts should keep in mind is that their orthodox arguments, too, remain unsubstantiated all the time.

By comparison, the predominantly Japanese members of a local discussion group I participate in take me a little more seriously. And yet, I'm often inclined to play devil's advocate in our weekly session because otherwise no one would wake up. To that end I often emulate conspiracy theorists who shed light on the unfamiliar side of things - because who said it's the reverse side?

For that reason, most group members frown at this argumentative old man all the time.

They are too brainwashed to question widely accepted premises that war should be avoided at any cost, job security should always be ensured, the higher the population growth rate, the better off the nation, American marines are deployed here to defend the Japanese at the cost of their own lives, and so on.

Every time I ask them what's wrong with war, what's wrong with unemployment, or what's wrong with the shrinking and aging population, they are at a loss over what I am getting at. They quizzically look at me as if I'm saying, "The sun rises in the west."

These are basically why I always side with heretics and throw provocative words at "ordinary" people.

But this is not to say there isn't an unbridgeable chasm between conspiracy theorists and me.

Actually I have always distanced myself from truth-seekers despite the sense of affinity I feel toward them. I have never wanted to join in the lucrative conspiracy-mongering business.

In fact, their business is really prospering these days with millions of cultist-like dupes flocking around them. Today, if you make a Yahoo! search using [9-11 conspiracy] as keywords, you will see more than 95 million URLs coming up. Ironically enough, this is something that discredits self-proclaimed truth-seekers.

It's a shame, for my part, that according to the statistics page of my Geeklog, the 10 most viewed posts include 3 stories dealing with Benjamin Fulford, prominent C-theorist based in Tokyo. Even among my 63 YouTube videos, the top 3 videos have his name in their titles.

They may still refuse to accept a proposition just because "everyone says so," but now they side with a huge crowd of gullible people who instantly bite at anything from a conspiracy theorist just because "he says so."

Actually I haven't been in touch with Fulford since November 2007.

In the meantime I think his list of malicious schemes plotted by the likes of the Jewish cabal headed by David Rockefeller has grown longer very quickly.

He started off his conspiracy revealing business with 9-11, which he theorizes was a hoax, and computer viruses which he believes are created and spread all over the world by anti-virus software vendors such as McAfee. But now he is talking about many other things including the earthquakes in Niigata (July 2007) and Sichuan (May 2008.) According to Fulford, these calamities were artificially caused by the cutting edge technology called HAARP. (HAARP stands for High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.)

Mine has also been growing longer. It started with the "selective genocide" abetted by Ruth Benedict, the 1955 System artfully designed by Dwight Eisenhower and CIA, and the revision of the U.S.-Japanese security treaty signed between Eisenhower and his henchman Nobusuke Kishi.

Recent additions include the Moscow subway bombings (March 2010) which I think may have been instigated by former KGB spy Vladimir Putin, and the sharp plunge in stock markets (May 2010) which I suspect was possibly caused by something else than an erroneous transaction by a "fat-fingered" trader from the Citigroup. And there is the "global warming swindle".

But among other things, I find the March 26 sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan most intriguing. It seems to me that other possibilities than what the May 20 investigative report has indicated cannot be totally ruled out.

On Sunday Japan's prime minister Yukio Hatoyama made his second trip to Okinawa. Japan's last colony.
· read more (673 words)
  View Printable Version 

The Road to Ruin



Luca Pacioli (photo) was an Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar.

In 1494. just two years after Columbus discovered the continent that has now reduced to a land for second-class nations such as the U.S., he wrote a book titled Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion.)

The book consists of five sections. One of them was intended to systematically describe the book-keeping method which had been practiced by merchants in Venice during the Renaissance period.

Actually I haven't read Summa in my life. Neither have I read any accounting primer based on Pacioli's theory. Instead I taught myself on the job about these boring and tricky debits and credits just because I wanted to understand what was really going on underneath the surface of business and my personal life. It has never crossed my mind to become a CPA.

Nevertheless, I have learned from Pacioli's double-entry accounting method one important thing I could never have learned anywhere else. It can be summarized like this:

Everything that happens to me, or I make happen, involves, without exception, two or more distinctively different aspects in it, which are, at the same time, totally inseparable from each other.

People of all occupations, even including professional accountants, always single out one facet at a time as it serves their purposes. If they want to make a thing at hand look good, they opportunistically shed light on the good aspect and try to pass it off as the fact, so they can label me a negativist. When they want to make the matter look bad, they selectively focus on the bad aspect and call me a daydreamer.

I've had enough from this false factualism in my lifetime. By now I've grown sick and tired of ideological notions disguised as facts.

Six days ago I browsed through the web looking for demographic and economic data for the top three economies to write Forget about Other Olympics. At that time I also took a look at such figures as the population, GDP, per-capita GDP, Gini Coefficient and sovereign debt for Hellenic Republic, better known as Greece, in part because the modern Olympics have its origin in that country.

Below here I summarize the results:

GDP in Billion $ Public Debt in Billion $ Public Debt in % of GDP Rank Remarks
Greece 338.3 365.7 108.1 9
U.S. 14,430.0 7,633.5 52.9 54 See Note 1
China 4,814.0 876.1 18.2 103
Japan 5,108.0 9,812.5 192.1 2 See Note 2
Source CIA Report for 2009 Inverse Calculation CIA Report for 2009 ditto

Note 1: According to the most recent estimate, it's a matter of time that U.S. public debt tops $10 trillion.
Note 2: Japan ranks No. 2 only next to Zimbabwe.

For the U.S., China and Japan, I concluded that a comparative look at these figures doesn't tell anything, unambiguously, about the problems facing them, let alone their fates.

Even if I had been able to find reliable data for the accumulated shortfalls in these countries, that wouldn't have made the total picture any clearer except that when taking into account astronomical deficits which still keep ballooning in the U.S. and Japan, the situation would have looked even closer to catastrophe than the above figures indicate.

As to the Greece Crisis, analysts, pundits and many others are saying it has been more or less contained with the rescue funds offered by the EU and the IMF although they admit additional measures are needed to prepare themselves for another wave of crises possibly triggered when other member countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy become insolvent.

But the fact of the matter remains that these bailout funds and newly-planned Euro-defending mechanisms are actually aggravating, rather than easing, the situation.
· read more (1,204 words)

  View Printable Version 

Forget about Other Olympics


Ordinary - not too smart, not too dumb - people don't give a damn. The only Olympics they are interested in are the athletic events the IOC stages every leap year.

On the contrary, social scientists and analysts can't wait until the next time they can wave the national flags and sing the national anthems in euphoria. That is why they are so anxious to be updated on the standings of their respective countries on a yearly basis.
Now it looks as though they think analyzing quantifiable aspects of life is what social sciences are all about. Their obsession with what I call the Demographic Olympics and the Economic Olympics can only be explained by their inability to drill down on the root problems facing each contestant.

Yesterday I unenthusiastically spent the whole afternoon to compile the following tables of standings for some popular games.

Exhibit 1: Population

Contestant Total Population in Mil. Rank
Gold: China See Below
Silver: India 1,181 2
Bronze: U.S. See Below
U.S. 309 3
China 1,339 1
Japan 127 10

Exhibit 2: Population Density

Contestant Total Population in K Area in Sq Mi Population per Sq Mi Rank
Gold: Macau 542 11 48,110 1
Silver: Monaco 33 1 43,375 2
Bronze: Singapore 4,988 274 18,190 3
U.S. 309,212 3,794.101 81 ca 172
China 1,338,613 3,704,427 361 ca 74
Japan 127,380 145,925 873 ca 32

Exhibit 3: GDP (Nominal)

Contestant GDP in Billion $ Rank
Gold: U.S. See Below
Silver: Japan See Below
Bronze: China See Below
U.S. 14,256 1
China 4,909 3
Japan 5,068 2

Exhibit 4: GDP per capita

Contestant GDP in Billion $ Total Population in Mil. GDP per capita in $ Rank
Gold: Luxembourg 52 1 103,018 1
Silver: Norway 383 5 78,832 2
Bronze: Qatar 84 1 64,102 3
U.S. 14,256 309 46,104 11
China 4,909 1,339 3,667 ca 98
Japan 5,068 127 39,786 ca 17

The Japanese, and Japan experts in foreign countries as well, have been saying that the nation is losing its vigor as a result of the shrinking and aging of population. But as I have repeatedly said, losing vigor is not the result, but the cause. They constantly turn the causal relationship upside down simply because they are totally at a loss over where to find the cause. · read more (667 words)
  View Printable Version 

The Man of Preface


When I was with that Swiss company named Siber Hegner, I was known as the Man of Preface because every time I addressed the predominantly Japanese and Swiss audience, the introductory section of my speech was by far longer than the main part. For the same reason, my e-mails tended to be something they likened to ふんどし (Fundoshi or Japanese loincloth.)

For that reason, I was extremely unpopular, hated, or even feared among my bosses, subordinates and peers.

In Japan, or any other country to a lesser degree, there are so many red herrings being dragged around to distract attention from the real issues. They include:

■ how to realize a nuke-free world,
■ how to counter the global warming,
■ how to stem the shrinking and aging of population,
■ how to attain a vice-free world,
■ how to create jobs to bring down unemployment rates,
■ how to redress income disparities at home, and between developed countries and underdeveloped countries,
■ whether to part ways with the "modern 2-party system" to go for a postmodern tripolar system,
■ whether to amend the Constitution,
■ where to identify wasteful spending and which 独立行政法人 (Dokuritsu Gyosei Hojin - Independent Administrative Entities) to eliminate to that end,
■ where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey unit.

The list of decoy issues, or nonissues, goes on and on until the end of time.

The only question they would never think about asking is:

"How practicably can we make justice prevail?"

I think there are two reasons why red herrings keep proliferating all the time:

■ without the lure of the scent from these fish, even the rhinitis-suffering bloodhounds could easily track down the foxes, e.g. the Emperor,
■ no politicians, pundits, analysts, journalists, or scholars could live a single day without them; they would be out of work altogether.
· read more (270 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 7: Vice-ful Japanese are Further Ratcheting up Their Quest for a Vice-free Nation


Left: Sourced from the stats compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry
Right: Sourced from the recent Population Survey Report

While in business I often asked an unusual question of applicants for key positions in my shop or prospective business partners for important projects. In a by-the-way tone I asked them, "What's your vice?"

Totally unprepared, some invented impromptu mischievous things they might have actually done when they were naughty kids; some others just shrugged off my question with a grimace or wry grin. But any runaround served my purposes because I didn't expect them to confess to a felony at a job interview.

I just wanted to weed out two types of candidates: perfectionists on one hand, and those who would easily settle for mediocrity on the other. To me the single most important thing in business was to clearly identify pros and cons involved in the courses of action we had in mind and find out which one would give us the best tradeoff.

I still think my tactic would have worked out had it not been for the fact that very few candidates met my screening criteria.

If they had been honest about their vices, I would have felt obliged to tell them mine - that I was (and still remain) a nicotine addict, an excessively amorous person by Japanese standard, and so on. One of my close friends recently diagnosed me as suffering "polyamory." To set the record straight, however, that is not exactly the case with me.

Even today I often ask the same question of new acquaintances in order to avoid wasting my limited time mixing with morons who don't know there is no such thing as a free lunch, or an endeavor free of risks and costs.

Last July Hiroshi Nakada hastily resigned as Yokohama mayor seven months before the expiration of his term to climb the bandwagon of "realignment" going on at the level of national politics. The reason he couldn't wait until April is obvious; he feared the innumerable crimes he had committed while in office would otherwise come to the surface to thwart his undeserved aspiration. · read more (353 words)
  View Printable Version 

Spontaneity


Chinese philosopher Mencius (372-289 BCE)

Very few Japanese adults are self-reliant. Most of them have developed the typically Japanese behavioral pattern of constantly wetnursing each other since their childhood. As a result they have also lost their innate spontaneity. They act only in response to external stimuli.

In that sense, the person I'm talking about here is a real exception. I will call him by a pseudonym "Shohei."
In 2007 I launched a family website, perhaps the first of its kind here, which initially consisted of three parts: Family Reunion pages, Memorial Service section and Cyber Museum to commemorate my late father who was a prominent scientist. The first two have already been closed because my siblings, sons and in-laws did not understand what I intended to have these sites for. But the Museum is still there.

Since the onset, I've had great difficulty gathering documents, reports, photos and 35mm film footages concerning my father's accomplishments. It's this youngish guy that volunteered to help me out.

At libraries and museums, the dedicated person has been trying very hard to dig out these valuable materials to help beef up the exhibits on my site. Sometimes these materials were buried deep underneath other items piled up in the basements of these museums, and totally unattended as if they were trash.

I encountered Shohei on the Cyber Museum. He is in his mid-30s. Since graduating from university where he majored in photographic art, he has been working at a small shop dealing in traditional cameras.

So aeronautics is very foreign to his educational and occupational background. He says he is still not really interested in aircraft as such. According to him, the only thing that has made him deeply engaged in what he is doing, after work, is personal relations he has developed with his customers.

His clientele are predominantly elderly people except for a handful of professional photographers. And among these old people there are not a few retired aeronautical engineers. I don't know why, but traditionally those who specialize in aeronautics tend to become hooked on cameras. (My father, too, treasured his Leica in his lifetime.)

This is how Shohei has become personally involved in the preservation of Japan's history of aviation. Some of these retired engineers have already passed away, but those who are still living the last days of their lives keep telling him the stories about their unfulfilled dreams every time they drop in the camera shop. They also provided him with materials he had been looking for, to no avail, at libraries and museums.

Shohei summarizes his part of the story this way: "It is a series of coincidences that has made me do what I'm doing right now. I take it as my destiny."

Actually he doesn't look like one who believes in fatalism. So I was still wondering how come this guy keeps looking for these materials so enthusiastically, expecting no rewards.

A couple of weeks ago, he sent me a CD that contained an e-book he wrote by MS Word. Properties Dialog Box says these files are as voluminous as 25 MB altogether, including spaces and JPG files inserted here and there. (A Japanese character takes up 2 bytes.)

Again, he says he has no intention to make it a "real" book bearing an ISBN in expectation of royalty income. At any rate, he knows that given this climate where there is no tradition to hand down intellectual legacies to posterity, it wouldn't sell.
· read more (435 words)
  View Printable Version 

What's Wrong with Plagiarism?



A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that Shanghai Expo theme song titled A City with Unlimited Potential "composed" by Eric Suen with Cantonese lyrics by Chan Siu-Kei was an exact copy of a 1997 song written by a Japanese singer-songwriter named Mayo Okamoto.

Did Okamoto appeal for copyright arbitration by the World Trade Organization?

That's what she didn't. Instead she sent a letter to someone in Shanghai saying she felt greatly honored to know the tune she wrote 13 years ago was "selected" to promote Expo 2010.

I think she did the right thing.

She certainly knew her compatriots are as good, if a little more sophisticated, at copying someone else's works.
· read more (90 words)
  View Printable Version 

Parkinson's

When having lunch a couple of weeks ago, I realized my left hand had started trembling, though intermittently. I thought it will be a matter of time that the right hand starts quivering in sync with the left.

I inherited the disease from my father who died in 1979. In the last days of his life he was a wreck because of Parkinson's coupled with Alzheimer's.

I had long been suffering rigidity of muscles, sleeping disorder (sleep fragmentation in particular,) disabling exhaustion and depression, but not tremor.

Fortunately or unfortunately I'm right-handed. So I will still be able to keep glued to the computer for the time being.
· read more (36 words)
  View Printable Version 

Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller


Left: Hatoyama keeps apologizing to everyone for everything he has done, or has not
Center: One of the brethren of this old man is governing Japan behind the scenes
Right: Pro golfer Ai Miyazato has already won two LPGA tournaments this spring

My friend Jack asked me about my take on the rally staged yesterday in Yomitanson, Okinawa Prefecture, in which 90,000 people participated to protest against the recent move by the government to keep the U.S. Marine Corps' "helicopter" unit in their islands. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama looks to have backed down on his pledge to relocate it to 県外 (kengai, or outside of Okinawa) or 国外 (kokugai, or outside of Japan) in the wake of the April 18 rally in Tokunoshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture.

I don't see a lot of differences between the two rallies. Protesters in both prefectures had equally ambivalent sentiments; on the one hand, they were opposed to any plan to have U.S. military bases in their respective prefectures, but on the other, they were receptive of them deep inside. Their behaviors were also similar in that they were discouraged from expressing their honne openly.

The Okinawa Governor is a good example. Hirokazu Nakaima was elected the governor basically on his campaign pledge to keep U.S. military bases in the prefecture while gradually trying to reduce the burden on the citizens. Yet, he somehow felt obliged to attend the April 25 rally to deliver a half-hearted and vaguely-worded address in support of the kengai relocation of the Futenma Air Station.

The reason behind their mixed feelings toward the U.S. presence in their lands is because Okinawa's base-related income accounts for 20% of the prefecture's GDP, whereas these bases cover only a little more than 10% of the total area of 2,276 sq.km or 879 sq.mi. Kagoshima Prefecture, too, could have expected a handsome amount of windfall from the $26 billion already funded by the previous administration had it not been for the April 18 rally.

However, there is one crucial difference between the peoples in Okinawa and other areas that include Tokunoshima.

Okinawa is Japan's last colony.

You may have been so brainwashed as to find it totally unimaginable that someday the Okinawans may seek independence from Japan. Yet, that is a little more likely than the Native Hawaiians seeking secession from the United States. To say the least, if and when Japan's first-ever civil war breaks out, Okinawa will be the major battleground.

From 1429 through 1879, these islands were an independent kingdom under the reign of the Ryukyu Dynasty. Even after Satsuma Domain, the fiefdom that is called Kagoshima Prefecture today, virtually annexed it in 1609, the rich and diverse culture has still been flourishing there among the bright, straightforward and self-respecting people.

Given their ethnological and cultural background, the Okinawans, except those who have chosen to abandon their ethnic identity to become assimilated into this nation where the process of disintegration is already irreversible, are a quite different people than the Japanese main-islanders. If you are skeptical about my argument, you just have to carefully observe any individual of Ryukyu ancestry. Just take Ai Miyazato for example; it's easy to tell the up-and-coming LPGA pro golfer has nothing in common with Hatoyama except how many eyes, nostrils and mouth they have.

In the last days of the Pacific War, Hirohito's Imperial Army killed or forced to commit suicide thousands of Okinawan women and children to shield the Honshu island against the all-out offensive being launched by the U.S. soldiers. In 1972, twenty years after Japan's nominal independence, these islands were finally "returned" to this country. Yet, these bases have remained there as the "cornerstone" of the U.S. strategy in this region.

In 1996, then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto promised that he would rid Okinawa of the Futenma Air Base at latest in seven years. But well before 2003, he was forced to retire from politics because of a bribery scandal. In 2006, the LDP government reached an accord with the Bush administration that the air station should be downsized by relocating 8,000 marines to Guam and the rest of them should be moved to Camp Schwab in a less-populated city of the same Okinawa Prefecture.

It is the Democratic Party of Japan that promised to tear up the 2006 accord and seek a kengai or kokugai alternative. When opening Pandora's box, Hatoyama should have been prepared to ultimately invoke Article 10 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan. In fact, though, the termination of the 50-year-old treaty was the last thing Hatoyama would think about doing.

That is why the equally loopy President of the U.S. called him a loopy prime minister. These guys will never learn what really underlies all this ado about nothing. As I have repeatedly argued, the gut issue with the bilateral alliance lies with the fact that at least for the Japanese, there are no real enemies to fight against and there are no values to defend against them.

On the part of the Okinawans, their honne is certainly that they have had enough with the colonial rule by the Japanese. And now that the Americans, too, think of Okinawa as if it were their colony, they think serving two colonial masters at a time is way too much to tolerate.
· read more (210 words)
  View Printable Version 

Plans are One Thing; Forecasts are Quite Another


I was a good forecaster in the 1980s but had yet to
grow into a mature planner

Today, it's a little better, but weather forecasters are warning that unseasonable cold waves will come back over the weekend.

The Japanese archipelago is seated in the temperate zone except its northernmost and southernmost areas, but actually we are living in the cool-temperate zone these days. I think Hokkaido and Okinawa have now been moved up to the Arctic and temperate areas, respectively.

To me the biggest fallout from this climatic aberration is the further deterioration in my health. Among other things, I'm suffering from an aggravated sciatica. It involves intolerable pains just to move around or even sit at the computer. Actually I have been creeping around.

At first I was cursing weather forecasters for their failure to foretell this. It's outrageous that my sciatic nerves sometimes outperform the state-of-the-art super computers and weather satellites they are equipped with.

But now it has dawned on me that Prime Minister Hatoyama may be the real culprit for the freezing weather.

In the 1970s I was trained to be a professional financial planner. I did a lot of shortterm and midterm planning for the corporate balance sheets (financial positions,) income statements, S&A (sources and applications of funds,) and nearterm cashflow forecasts.

In the 1980s through the first half of the '90s, I was a local Chief Financial Officer of a Swiss trading company. At that time I was concurrently working on foreign exchange. As you may know, managing currency positions is critically important for an international trading company.
· read more (400 words)
  View Printable Version 

Nothing is Particularly Wasteful in Japan


Left: They are supposedly getting rid of wasteful spending without knowing how to identify redundancies
Center: Management guru Peter F. Drucker
Right: Father of Business Process Reengineering Michael Hammer

When the Liberal Democratic Party was in power, quasi-governmental organization mushroomed. Today there are more than 100 of them. They call them 独立行政法人 (Dokuritsu Gyosei Hojin) or independent administrative legal entities. The reason why government agencies jettisoned what had been parts of their organizations and gave them nominal autonomy was twofold.

Firstly they thought that by doing so, they could look slimmed down to taxpayers. By that time government agencies had grown way too bloated with their redundant manpower. Secondly they still wanted to secure cushy post-retirement positions so high-ranking officials could still keep "descending from heaven."

The newly installed Hatoyama administration has so far failed to deliver on its campaign pledges which were characterized as a dole-out policy, simply because it belatedly realized it is unable to fund these lavish programs.

The only exception is the makeshift system in which the government pays parents a monthly child-rearing allowance of 26,000 yen (US$280).

Now in the GDP contest of the economic Olympics, China is overtaking Japan to become the silver medalist thanks to its huge population. And yet, the Japanese have learned no lessons from this. They still don't understand what really matters is the overall quality of the people, and not the headcount. So Hatoyama doesn't really care if it's not totally unlikely these parents actually spend this 26,000 yen to buy themselves extra bottles of booze, or even an extra dose of marijuana.

The only headache for the Democratic Party of Japan, therefore, is how to secure the source of funds to be appropriated to the pointless program. That's why a special task-force headed by Yukio Edano has been desperately working on 事業仕分け (Jigyo Shiwake,) or budget screening, since the DPJ took power. Edano's team kicked off its second round yesterday, reportedly zeroing in on these independent administrative bodies.

At the onset of the cutback exercise, the specially assigned budget assessors were saying they would cut back on wasteful spending, be it the project cost already funded by the former administration, the maintenance cost for a finished project, or standing charges (personnel costs and overhead) to maintain the organization of a government or quasi-government entity as a going concern, leaving no sacred cows.

Of course, they were lying. One example was the huge, but useless dam which is now under construction in Iwate Prefecture, Ichiro Ozawa's constituency.

Now the budget screening team assigned to the National Museum of Nature and Science, one of the independent administrative entities, has started to review, on-site and off-site, the museum's activities to know specifically where to find fat.

A couple of days ago, I saw on TV Kazuyoshi Suzuki, senior curator singlehandedly in charge of aeronautics, robotics and other technologies, unenthusiastically explaining to the inspection crew something about YS-11, a Japanese-made airliner which was recently retired, standing between the mothballed aircraft and the inspectors.
· read more (385 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 6: Islanders' Honne


Left: Bird's eye view of Tokunoshima Island
Right: Protest rally of April 18

The logic of the Japanese people always loops over everything they think is at issue. This is a telling evidence that they don't know what exactly they are talking about.

Yukio Hatoyama, for one, keeps saying he has a miraculous plan which he believes will break the impasse over Futenma relocation to everyone's satisfaction. Yet, he still refuses to disclose his fukuan (secret plan) to the residents of the island he has in mind. The only party he says he has confided to, certainly on deaf ears, is Washington.

The Japanese way of decision-making is frustratingly slow because in fact it's not a decision, but consensus-building. To gauge the public response to his plan beforehand, Hatoyama has been leaking, little by little, pieces of information that point to the new place to accommodate the widow-making Osprey machines.

By now everyone knows:

■ it's Tokunoshima Island of Kagoshima, the prefecture neighboring Okinawa,

■ Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito is one of Ichiro Ozawa's henchmen,

■ Ito is enthusiastic about accepting Hatoyama's fukuan because he would be able to claim a handsome share in the economy-boosting deal which is estimated to involve hundreds of billions of yen (close to ten billion in US$,)

■ the three town mayors of the island are not so enthusiastic, and have organized protest rallies because they somehow felt they had lost face. They felt insulted by Hatoyama just like Obama felt pissed off when he became aware his Japanese counterpart wasn't serious about delivering on the now-famous "Trust me" stuff,

■ on April 18, 15 thousand out of 26 thousand islanders took part in a rally,

■ these people are unlike the self-respecting and straightforward residents of Okinawa Prefecture, Japan's last colony. So an estimated 50% of the protesters actually want to have the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station in one of their villages,

■ in honne, they are expecting to have tiny leftovers from these profiteers such as Ito, Ozawa and civil engineering and construction companies,

■ those villagers, who actually favor Hatoyama's fukuan and yet felt obliged to participate in the rallies, did so out of fear of ostracism.

Washington's take on this alternative, which the loopy Prime Minister says he has already whispered to someone in charge there, is that it can't accept any plan which is not supported by the local residents, or makes the distance between Okinawa and the new site any longer than 120km, or 75mi. For your reference, the ground forces will, in any case, remain stationed in Okinawa which is 200km, or 125mi, away from Tokunoshima.
· read more (123 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 4: A big Sweat over Bluefin Tuna Ban

Some two weeks ago in Doha, Qatar, the Monacan delegation to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) made an unexpected motion to impose a total ban on the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna to Japan and some other tuna-consuming countries.

Thanks to China's effort to win African nations over to Japan's side in the anticipation that Japan would reciprocate when the international trade in edible sharks and the domestic trade of South China tigers are tabled, a comfortable majority voted against Monaco's proposal.

But at first, I was upset because I found myself sharing the same sentiment with my former fellow countrymen for the first time in decades.

Some forty years ago, I got my liver and gallbladder seriously damaged at a time due to excessive intake of alcohol and animal fat. The company doc at the Japanese subsidiary of the Big Blue warned me that my condition was extremely hard to handle because the liver required a diet high in protein while both organs needed low-fat food. Any dietary measure could be a double-edged sword.

Fortunately, though, I found this situation somehow manageable because I had been an enthusiastic fish meat lover since my childhood.

Ever since I have been heavily depending on fish oil which is believed to be rich in Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and relatively harmless cholesterol. And the only problem that has arisen recently is that financially I can barely afford the seafood-centric diet.

Now that my Doha crisis is over, am I feeling comfortable? Not yet.

These absurd initiatives brought up one after another by CITES, also known as the Washington Convention, are always reminiscent of the self-deprecating attitudes of the Japanese, which Westerners have tended to mistake for the Oriental virtue of modesty.

Up until 50 to 60 years ago, the Japanese people weren't used to exchanging gifts with Westerners. So they had to hypothesize that their traditional way would apply when they gave something to their American friends or received something from them.

In those days, and even today to a lesser degree, a Japanese gift-giver never failed to say, "Let me present you something. I'm awfully sorry, but this is real rubbish. So I'm afraid you won't like it." The moment his American friend grabbed the aesthetically packed gift, he carelessly tore off the wrapping to find out what was in it. This made the Japanese feel more embarrassed, or even insulted.
· read more (243 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 3: Who Said It's a Figurehead?

American Heritage Online defines a figurehead like this:

"A person given a position of nominal leadership but having no actual authority."

On the other hand the first article of Chapter 1 of Japan's Constitution defines the Emperor as follows:

"The Emperor shall be the Symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." When compared to this provision, the prewar Imperial Constitution was much more straightforward because it almost explicitly declared that the Emperor was a deity.

In fact, the only thing his subjects know for sure about the incumbent Emperor is that his father was stripped of his deity in 1945 by the American general. They don't know, however, what has become of Emperor Hirohito (photo on the top) and his son after the imperial decree dated January 1, 1946. The rescript was dubbed "Ningen Sengen" or Declaration of Humanity because in that document the former Divine General of the former Imperial Japan, in effect, scratched his head and admitted he had never been a demigod.

The belated confession was interpreted to mean that it wasn't him that had to be held responsible for driving more than 3-million Japanese to death for the absurd cause of preserving the royal lineage which had allegedly lasted more than 25 centuries.

If there is any other thing his subjects are aware of, it's the fact that he is not a man, either. For instance he and his immediate kin are not registered in accordance with the legislation about family registration. That means his family is an exempt from all the constitutional rights and duties stipulated in Chapter 3.

Small wonder the Japanese head of state looks more like a zombie than what the Westerners call a figurehead.

American Heritage gives several definitions to a zombie. Among them, the following descriptions especially clicks:
A supernatural power or spell that according to Voodoo belief, can enter into and reanimate a corpse.
A corpse revived in this way.
One who looks or behaves like an automaton.

Yet, there's no denying that the Japanese people, whose parents and grandparents had to sacrifice themselves for the unfathomable creature in the mid-20th century, are not really comfortable with these definitions. That is all the more true because they are still haunted by the stupid-looking son of the demigod.

As if to solace their angst, some compassionate Americans have said: "Figureheads are everywhere. Even in our country, we have quite a few people doing nothing in their cushy positions."
· read more (295 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 2: Honne (本音) and Tatemae (建前)

You plan to visit Japan for the first time to discuss a sensitive issue there with a prospective business partner. You randomly pick one from among innumerable Japan experts to seek his advice. Your selection can't be wrong; anyone who claims to be well-versed in this country will tell you one and the same thing.

He warns you that it's key to effectively dealing with the Japanese to distinguish tatemae from honne.

There is an English entry to Wikipedia that discusses this topic. The Wikipedian defines these words as follows:
"Honne refers to a person's true feelings and desires. These may be contrary to what is expected by society or what is required according to one's position and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one's closest friends. Tatemae, literally facade, is the behavior and opinions one displays in public. Tatemae is what is expected by society and required according to one's position and circumstances, and these may or may not match one's honne."

I have no idea about who the Wikipedian is. But I know it's these shallow minds that "promote" transcultural understanding in the wrong way. A Westerner who looks at this entry feels relieved to have his stereotypical view of the Japanese confirmed for the hundredth time. But actually he is looking at the mirror reflection of the liar that he actually is.

Actually, Japanese honne is almost 180-degrees different from Westerners'. Take the war-renouncing Constitution of Japan for example.
· read more (484 words)
  View Printable Version 

Japan Trivia 1: Secret Pacts

Totally disenchanted with the way things have unfolded around me in recent years, I've quit blogging on a regular basis. Only every once in a while I'll upload an extra post, like this one, to take an oblique look at my former fellow countrymen.

The Japanese are a funny species. They can metamorphose themselves into anything that meets a description given by Westerners. In other words, they say what they are supposed to say and they do what they are told to do. Given this unique trait of the world's most suggestible and predictable people, it doesn't make sense to analyze their deeds and words as self-proclaimed Japan experts in the West are enthusiastically doing because you always end up digging out something you have implanted in them beforehand.

In short they are your mirrors.

The only valid way to really understand the creepy animals, therefore, is to take a sneak peek at their behaviors when they are completely off guard. That is why in the future I will devote my leisure time to providing my audience with insider's views of trivial matters, in a more laid-back fashion, as they crop up.

The first instalment is about what they call secret pacts. I have no intention to argue for or against these taboos.



1974 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eisaku Sato started advocating the Three Nonnuclear Principles in 1967. Although he reiterated, over and over, his hogwash about not producing, not possessing, and not letting in nuclear weapons, everybody has been aware that the national mantra is at least one-third false. And yet, policymakers and the media as their mouthpieces have made it taboo to openly discuss the apparent existence of "secret deals" with the U.S. in which Japan expressly allows its ally to bring in the nukes, temporarily or not.

Now that the Democratic Party of Japan has taken over power from the other twin, the Liberal Democratic Party, these bastards thought it was the right time to cough up the truth.

Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada officially confirmed, for the first time, that there were three secret pacts that would have outraged the nuke-allergic people had they come out decades earlier. He put all the blame on the LDP administrations, which virtually monopolized power for more than half a century, as if he wasn't from the LDP that inked all these accords.

Without doubt Okada had asked Robert Gates or Hillary Clinton for permission to disclose the information. He or she must have answered: "Why not? Go ahead if you feel like it. After all these years we have strenuously vaccinating the Japanese against reality, that wouldn't upset them at all. Neither would that jeopardize our defense strategy against communists in any way because in fact we see very few of them around these days." When the Foreign Minister got the green light from his boss in the U.S., he understood that he was the right person to say, "Let bygones be bygones."

Needless to say, Okada asked his U.S. counterpart, "What should I do to reciprocate your generosity?" The answer: "Of course, we want you to hold back the secret about Futenma until it becomes harmless."
So, that is that.

As I wrote in my previous post, the gut issue underlying the ongoing fuss over the so-called relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station lies with the fact that there are no identified enemies against whom the U.S. Marines need to protect the Japanese. But now it's DPJ's turn to cover up an important secret about the realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan. It won't slip out from the government or press until the plan is actually implemented.
· read more (511 words)
  View Printable Version 

Before Wrapping It All Up


Wanted dead rather than alive
From left:
■ It is evident from the headline of yet another Daily Yomiuri crap dated Jan. 25 that the media remain Ozawa's best friend.
■ Ozawa's henchman Ishikawa is currently out on bail.
■ "Justice" Minister Chiba implicitly ordered the prosecutors to let her boss off the hook.
■ Finance Minister Kan told the National Tax Agency not to grill habitual tax evaders such as Ozawa and Hatoyama any harder.

On February 4 the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office announced that it had failed to establish a criminal case against Ichiro Ozawa. This came as no surprise because before arresting Ozawa's henchmen, the special investigation squad had allowed the gang to buy an ample amount of time to destroy all the evidence and fabricate a consistent story for every member of the gang to tell while in detention.

Even at the time of the deliberately delayed house search, newspaper reports had it that some of the documents seized by the investigators had been word-processed recently but backdated to several years ago. In a matter of 24 little hours, however, reporters stationed in the Kisha Kurabu (press club) attached to the Prosecutors Office suddenly stopped following up on their own leak about the forensic revelation.

As if to make up for their "failure" to bring Ozawa to justice, the corrupt and incompetent prosecutors indicted these small fish such as Ishikawa, as they always do.

For now he will keep swimming in the ocean of pus as he has done in the last four decades. This is certainly a bad news. The good news is that Ozawa is still on this side of bars, which means he is within our reach despite the further intensified police protection.

If you search for URLs relating to Ozawa's assassination, you will know more than 150,000 Netizens are talking about Ozawa's assassination in one way or the other. Some of them are saying, "小沢は万死に値する," (Ozawa wa banshi-ni ataisuru, or he deserves ten-thousand deaths.) So far nobody has dared to deliver one, but sooner rather than later he should know he has to pay the price in an unpredictable and unprecedented way. (Conventional tactics such as an attempt to stab the bastard will easily be thwarted because unlike former DPJ lawmaker Koki Ishii who was stabbed to death in 2002, Ozawa has always sided with the collusive alliance between police and yakuza.)

We've seen this too many times before

In the early-1990s the current Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Japan was already up to the same business he is in today. He left the Liberal Democratic Party in 1993 to explore a new gold vein with a lot of fanfare of a drastic political reform from the media alchemists.

His new party soon formed a coalition with two other new parties to take power.

One of the centerpieces of Ozawa's reform was a legislation to introduce a system to subsidize political parties with taxpayers' money while imposing some nominal restrictions on corporate donations. But he and his fellow lawmakers did not forget to leave a lot of loopholes that they would later exploit to the fullest.

Just for one thing, the new legislation left it to the discretion of the Justice Minister whether to demand the refund of the surplus fund when a party breaks up. Basically that is why Ozawa later founded yet another couple of parties only to liquidate them in a matter of several years. Successive Justice Ministers did not exercise their nominal right presumably because they couldn't tell whether Ozawa's parties were really new or he was just renaming old ones. Taking advantage of their reluctance to reclaim unused fund on behalf of taxpayers, the crook could pocket a good part of the money in the party coffers every time this happened.

Also he was careful enough not to make the statute of limitations any longer than three years. He was sure that he would be able to buy 3 years' time by getting the press corps stationed in the particular Kisha Kurabu attached to his office preoccupied with red-herrings generously provided to them.

Ian Buruma wrote of these turbulent years in his Inventing Japan (Random House, 2003): "It turned out to be another false dawn." The author was absolutely right because a false dawn was exactly what it was.

Buruma went on to say, "By 1997, Ozawa and his fellow rebels against the LDP were finished." But he was mistaken here.

A similar thing happened in 2005 when another champion of reform by the name of Koizumi won an overwhelming victory with his tricky campaign pledge of postal privatization that was only intended to allow voracious U.S. financial institutions free access to more than $2 trillion in postal savings. Needless to say, the media hailed Koizumi's empty rhetoric about a small government at that time.

Then came another "watershed" in August last year. The Japanese were witnessing Ozawa and other LDP defectors seize power from the party in which they had grown into full-blown racketeers.

The Hatoyama administration, however, looked extremely shaky up until recently. But the moment the prosecutors office backed down at the last minute, it started looking to have regained unchallenged stability. After all, voters are all aware these guys in the DPJ and the LDP are essentially of the same stripe and that if they switched back to the latter, that wouldn't make a bit of difference. In all likelihood the prime minister and his guardian will once again ride out the scandals they have been mired in - unless an extraordinary thing happens, that is.

In the meantime this country will go around in circles. · read more (2,883 words)
  View Printable Version 

Anyone Bother to Get Him?

For quite a while, my former fellow countrymen have been saying that the 1955 System is dead by now with a new Japan emerging on the horizon.

Simply, that can't be true. The three pillars of the rotten regime - the "2,670"-year-old imperial institution, the 120-year-old cartel of information, and the 50-year-old U.S.-Japanese security treaty - are still there and remain intact. In fact, the System is now in full bloom.

What has fallen apart, instead, is the entire society formed by these brain-dead people. It still shows weak vital signs, but that is simply because each component of the old edifice is functioning as a life-support system.

On the night of January 15 Ichiro Ozawa's former and current aides were vicariously nabbed by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on behalf of their boss. Commentators, most of whom are retired investigators, cited as the reason behind the prosecutors' move the fact that they had thought these villains would otherwise destroy all the evidence, and even their own selves.

These pundits were lying for sure. If the Prosecutors Office had really feared that a good part of evidence, which would have substantiated what the poor straw men had already coughed up while in detention, would be incinerated or shredded, they must have acted much quicker. In fact it was only January 13 when the investigators raided their offices and the head-office of Kajima Corp., one of the dozens of construction companies the Secretary General of the DPJ has had cozy relationship with.

On the other hand, it is true that suicide could not be ruled out, but it is equally true that the arrest was meant to save Ozawa's henchmen from possibly being whacked.

Now it seems as though it was not only Ozawa but also the law enforcement authority that wanted to stall for time so as to mitigate the damage to their common vested interests in what some independent journalists have called a kleptocracy.

In the face of the belated and half-hearted challenge from the Prosecutors Office, the mastermind of the money-siphoning gadget does not look to wince at all. He even declared an "all-out war" against law enforcement. He must have a good reason to believe it's winnable as usual and that once the dust settles, he can go on swimming the sea of pus as he has done in the last four decades.

When the current Secretary General of the DPJ was with the then ruling Liberal Democratic Party, he was one of the key members of the most corrupt intra-party faction founded by the scandal-tainted prime minister Kakuei Tanaka. It's been known that when his boss was arrested on the charge of the Lockheed bribery case, Ozawa was always spotted sitting in the court gallery.

He did the same thing when his brethren, Shin Kanemaru and Noboru Takeshita, were taken to court. That way, he has learned that robbers like them can always find ways to neutralize law enforcement, and that by doing so, they can minimize the damage resulting from investigations into their wrongdoing.

Needless to say, the most classic way for a nefarious felon to cover up the enormity of his crime is to willingly admit to the smallest part of it. That's what Ozawa is doing now with the illegal fund of 400 million yen ($4.4 million.) To him 400 million is just peanuts.

Another thing that makes Ozawa's life even easier is that for him it's a breeze to silence Diet members. Lawmakers in his own party are as docile as the members of the Chinese Communist Party, but key members of the major opposition LDP (mostly his former colleagues) are essentially no different. Ozawa is so unscrupulous as to make them look like small-time thieves, but he knows inside out that they are no cleaner.

All it takes for Ozawa to deter them from speaking up, therefore, is to say, "I have first-hand knowledge about what you guys have been up to all the while. Let's face it; we are people of the same stripe. You better not spit into the wind."

Equally important, the de facto leader of the DPJ knows how to make the most of the Kisha Kurabu (Press Club) system to prevent the media obscurantists from telling the whole truth about his wrongdoing. As Laurie Anne Freeman observed in her Closing the Shop (Princeton University Press, 2000), before he left the LDP for a new gold vein, Ozawa had already made it known to the members of the exclusive club that the only way to keep their jobs is to hush it up or gloss it over whenever he made a dubious move.

Freeman depicted the story about Ozawa's 1990 trip to Pyongyang. The then Secretary General of the LDP, along with Shin Kanemaru, went there to have clandestine talks over some lucrative business with Kim Il-sung. At that time an Asahi Shimbun reporter dared to describe what they did at the cost of national interests as dogeza gaiko, or prostration diplomacy. The consequence: the guy simply lost his job.

Now all the mainstream news organizations are saying in concert that Ozawa should be held accountable for the source of the fund at issue as if Japanese people are dying for an explanation from the thief on how he got his hand on it while, in fact, it is just the tip of the tip of the huge loot-berg. This is how they marginalize the enormity of Ozawa's crime.

The Sankei Shimbun, the daily that falsely claims to be the most right-leaning of all, uses a little different trick to distort things about Ozawa. Taking advantage of his pro-Pyongyang, pro-Beijing stance, the newspaper is becoming more and more vocal about his unpatriotic argument that Koreans and other ethnic groups with permanent resident status should be given suffrage. Since the bandit has no ideological leaning at all, though, Sankei's campaign is totally irrelevant here and only serves to distract people's attention from his criminal acts.

Perhaps even more important, the Japanese at large are impossible dupes. The world's most gullible and suggestible people are still swallowing whatever these editors and reporters are feeding them.

In the total absence of reliable information about people's take on the Ozawa affair, I spent the whole afternoon yesterday browsing through the web. For that purpose I used Google because the search engine has regained our trust thanks to its recent move in China.

When I keyed in a search string "小沢 暗殺" (ozawa assassination), 86,600 results came up. This was by far outnumbered by URLs that came up when I used a search string "obama assassination." But I have somehow gathered that people's desire for seeing Ichiro Ozawa physically eliminated is much more real and compelling.
· read more (346 words)
  View Printable Version 

Just in Case You Still Expect These Villains to Revive Japan



Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
- Charles MacKay

PRECAUTION: You may want to watch the audio-visual treat embedded here before you read my text explaining the background of these events. 2 minutes and 23 seconds into this video, you will see 143 people taking turns to shake hands with a man who looks like a stuffed panda with glasses. But don't mistake them for kids on a school excursion to Hong Kong Disneyland. They are lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan.

As I wrote in my most recent post, I am now in the process of shifting my priority to a new activity so I can avoid further wasting the last days of my life on politics. However, I will still be in a warmup stage of the new project toward the yearend. That allowed me to temporarily come back to the blogosphere.

Actually I have exhausted my limited vocabulary to describe the terminally ill society which used to be my home country. Yet I have been so disturbed by all this fuss the country's new administration has been making, that I felt an urge to reiterate, one last time, my views of the widespread delusion that Japan is undergoing a dramatic change both at home and abroad.

In fact, Japan goes round in circles and remains an unviable nation. It still shows weak vital signs but that is simply because the United States, its almost equally sick ally, doesn't have the guts to pull the plug on Japan's life-support system. To be more precise, it's a mutual support system embodied in the 50-year-old bilateral treaty.

Take the issue with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station for example. Some experts say Japan's new prime minister is bringing about a positive change because he has the guts to say "No" to his American counterpart and that will help put Japan on an equal footing with the U.S. for the first time.

On the other hand some others fear that because of Hatoyama's "defiant" attitude toward America, the bilateral relations are turning sour with the frustration quickly mounting on the part of the U.S.

Despite the ostensible contention between the two camps, however, there is a consensus. Every pundit or scholar thinks things are changing, either for the better or for the worse.

But ordinary people are a little smarter than political analysts; they are sober-minded enough to tell that there's nothing new in the recent discord between the incongruous partners. They know the two countries are too much addicted to each other to think about breaking up before death do them part.

Results of polls also seem to indicate people are divided over the relocation issue, but they know deep inside that these unaudited survey results are largely fabricated. In fact, most respondents, if there actually were some in these phony surveys, didn't give a damn to something to be likened to a marital dispute in their neighborhood.

The successive Japanese leaders have had one thing in common; in the face of a crisis or dilemma they invariably became paralyzed like a spider in thanatosis and let things drift until the problem solved itself.

Among other postwar examples, Ichiro Hatoyama, grandpa of the current prime minister and the 6th postwar prime minister himself, was an especially skillful procrastination artist. When signing the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, the weak-kneed Hatoyama agreed to shelve the dispute over the Northern Territories as if he didn't know that in diplomacy, the right timing, once missed, would never come back.

When it came to the U.S.-Japanese relations, Ichiro Hatoyama was known for his tendency to act defiantly at times toward his American counterpart, Dwight D. Eisenhower. But he never really meant it; he just pouted to attract attention from his patron. That is particularly evident from the fact that he served as the first prime minister under the 1955 System from the CIA-funded Liberal Democratic Party. It never crossed his mind to make Japan a genuinely independent country.

Obviously, it's these defective characteristics, especially irresoluteness and lack of clear vision, that Yukio Hatoyama has inherited from his grandfather. The prime minister keep wavering between the 2006 bilateral accord about the relocation of the air station and his campaign pledge to negate it. But everyone knows the media-salient Futenma rift is fake.

Domestically, his administration has launched an all-out exercise to cut back on expenditures already funded in the extra budget for fiscal 2009. Encouraged by the support from the media, the prime minister is "mercilessly" chopping "wasteful spending," as if there can be anything which is not wasteful in this wasted country.

Here again, Japanese people at large are not really interested in the outcome of the ongoing cutback exercise. Reasons:

■ As a result of the recent revelations that Hatoyama himself is a habitual tax evader, he has lost the moral authority, totally and for good.
■ The prime minister has repeatedly said there should be no sacred cows, but people know there are many, in fact. Just for one thing the Emperor, his kin and their servants get paid an annual JPY17.5 billion, or USD195 million, for doing absolutely nothing.
■ The government finances have already been bankrupt for quite a while. Just killing dozen projects for bridges to nowhere doesn't make a bit of difference.

Ichiro Ozawa, for one, certainly knew that it would be useless if he bothered to save some expenses on his pet projects such as one to build a bridge to the People's Republic of China. On December 10, the de facto leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan visited Hu Jintao in Beijing, out of the blue and without any specific agenda to discuss with the Chinese leader.

As if to show off the party coffers packed with a handsome amount of loot, Ozawa took along with him a cortege of 626 people, which included 143 Diet members from the DPJ. As you can see in the video embedded at the top of this post, every lawmaker privileged with the honor of shaking hands and trying his/her pronunciation of ni hao, for up to 3 seconds, with the benevolently smiling Hu looked like a child posing before a camera alongside of a man in a giant panda suit at Hong Kong Disneyland. Just imagine what if Nancy Pelosi took along more than hundred highly-paid congressmen to China just to let them do the same thing.

You don't have to be Japanese-literate to comprehend Ozawa's message in the video because it was just a syrupy nothing about furthering the Sino-Japanese relations at all levels. (The same holds true with Hatoyama fielding questions from the press corps in Bali, Indonesia. He was basically saying that if the investigators can fully establish their case against him, he is willing to return the loot - so take it easy.)
· read more (617 words)
  View Printable Version 

The Guru of the Anti-Emperor Cult Chooses to Walk The Slugging Blogger That I am



On September 14, I wrote: "I will be interviewing Mr. [Yoshiro] Takeuchi by the end of this month unless something happens to either of us in the meantime." Unfortunately, this something happened.

Yesterday, he told me over the phone that he would never see me again. He cited the following reasons for shying away from the proposed talk:

■ Everything I said in the regular meeting of the Takeuchi School and in my followup letters was totally unacceptable.
■ Everything I said there indicated that I have become totally learning-disabled with my brain seriously suffering senility.

More specifically the 85-year-old philosopher didn't like the following remarks I had made:

■ We should not expect Obama or Hatoyama to deliver on their promises of change because they are downright swindlers.
■ Harry S. Truman should have used the Little Boy and the Fat Man on Tokyo, instead of the relatively unimportant local cities, to exterminate the imperial institution and decapitate Japan.

Takeuchi is one of those computer-illiterates. The only tools he can use when sharing his thoughts with others are his hoarse but solemn voice and the archaic fountain pen. Quite naturally he makes believe that it still makes sense to discuss socio-political issues out of the context of the Internet. Every time his message fails to get through, he thinks the receiver, not the sender, of the message is at fault.

These are why I had had to snail-mail him some letters along with the printouts of my blog pieces to elaborate on my points. In relation to the first one, I had sent him the hardcopy of my September 21 piece. As to Truman's choice of the target cities, I had had to consume another envelope and postage stamp just to send him the printout of my September 23 post.

How could he have thought I am more learning-disabled than himself?

But all he could say in our last telephone conversation was that my "rant" was totally impermissible. This really indicated that it's not me, but himself who is suffering a serious senile dementia.

Now it looks as though the private school the old philosopher started 20 years ago to "confront the climate immersed in tenno-kyo (the Emperor Cult)" has turned into a cult in itself. And now he is the guru who forces his disciples, if implicitly, to swallow everything written in his 1999 book titled Confrontation with the Emperor Cult as if it were the bible. He insists that the book was just a compilation of debates among his disciples, but unfortunately for the poor philosopher, the number of his students has dramatically decreased from more than 100 in 1999 to a mere 3 or 4 by now.
· read more (325 words)
  View Printable Version 

Power Dynamics


Left: Tokyo Governor Ishihara
Center: Japanese lookalike of U.S. president
Right: Hiroshima Mayor Akiba

When International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge announced October 2 that the 2016 Summer Olympics will be hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara almost lost words and barely managed to mumble, "I can't figure out the power dynamics (rikigaku) within the IOC." He was telling the truth except that it's not only the dynamics inside the IOC but also the dynamics governing anywhere else that the empty-headed governor cannot understand.

Japanese media could not hide their disappointment either because their unaudited poll results had invariably indicated the entire nation was supporting Ishihara's silly bid. Fortunately for them, though, that didn't last long because the Japanese people have been so used to losing a competition. Moreover, it seems as though they have acquired special skills to derive a twisted pleasure from a defeat since 1964 when two athletes committed suicide after they had failed to come up to popular expectations at the Tokyo Olympics.

Then came the news that Barack Hussein Obama, who had also lost in his bid to have Chicago host the Olympic Games in 2016, was awarded the year's Nobel Peace Prize. Now it was my turn to be puzzled about the power dynamics at the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. But I don't care too much about it because by now I have become accustomed to seeing the American president rewarded, in many ways, for his promises rather than accomplishments.

Ironically enough, the two Committees unwittingly paved the way for another moron by the name of Tadatoshi Akiba to make a bid to host the 2020 Olympics. The Hiroshima Mayor, who has had a "slobbering love affair" with Obama since April 5, thought that by 2020, we will be living in a nuclear-free world and Hiroshima will be the ideal venue to celebrate Obama's feat.
· read more (72 words)
  View Printable Version 

Sequel to the Windows Nightmare Story - Users are Equally, or More, Responsible

Four people gave me their feedback, online and offline, in relation to my previous post. That prompted me to write this piece.





Once again I had to go through a real ordeal in the last week or so in relation to my broken computer. Now it seems I might as well have run a nightmare series in this blog.

In what might have been the latest instalment of the series, I talked about the Windows nightmare. But I am afraid some of my audience took me wrong. Or to be more precise, they heard what I did not say.

As a result they seem to have thought I am a selt-righteous person. In general, however, I don't discuss things in terms of right or wrong, let alone virtuous or vicious. So I don't know where they got the idea that I'm self-righteous.

Some others thought I suffer from paranoia when I just tried to shed light on things they just take for granted, such as Microsoft's dominance over the IT industry and its consequences.

Admittedly, my English writing skills are so poor that I am prone to be misunderstood. Yet I don't know exactly why they thought I'm one of those anti-Microsoft crusaders. Actually, I'm neither anti- nor pro-MS. I don't believe in such a fairy tale that a small number of good people are fighting against the unscrupulous goliath. To me that all-too-familiar picture is by and large an imaginary thing. Since I see the real battleground somewhere else, the last thing I would think about doing is to enlist myself in the absurd cause of toppling or undermining MS's rule over the market.

At any rate, that I am very unhappy with the software products of MS and its business practices does not make me an anti-MS paranoid.

Maybe some of my audience have a good reason to challenge me only after bringing me down on the floor through the ropes of the ring.

What I actually wanted to say is that Microsoft's endeavor, or any other software or hardware company's for that matter, for improved usefulness has already reached its limit. Now it looks as though we can't expect the IT industry to deliver on its promise of ever-increasing usefulness.

Worse, as a result, its software engineers have ended up eroding usability, i.e., userfriendliness, as well, which was once there in the early days of GUI. In recent years, these guys are constantly up to moving desktop icons from this side to that side and changing their sizes, shapes and colors all the time. The same can be said of applications. Just compare MS Office 2007 to its previous version of 2003, or Internet Explorer V8 against V7. They have constantly messed up menus while the amount of the added functionality is minimal, simply because they have nothing else to get paid for.

Maybe I should have emphasized more that users of Windows are equally, or more, responsible for all this because there is no strong drive from the user side for a disruptive technology which enables revolutionary use of IT. (NOTE: I borrow the adjective "disruptive" here from a book about e-commerce co-authored by Grant Norris, et al. because the issue I'm discussing here arises from the same context as the topic taken up in the book.) Needless to say, hardware and software developers can't tell what technologies should be developed without having valid feedback from users. We have already seen a yawning gap between technologies and socio-political systems in which we live our lives. The gap cannot be any wider. It is, therefore, really unavoidable for the IT industry to come to a virtual standstill. · read more (1,146 words)
  View Printable Version 

Debates and Polls, the Japanese Style

Surface-scratching Americans blindly believe in words. It's their parents or grandparents that certified Japan as a democracy six decades ago just for convenience sake. Now they are constantly deceived by this magic word "democracy."

To those intellectually-lazy people, a democracy is, without doubt, what Japan really is, no matter how seriously it has been stuck in trouble for almost two decades. They are quite sure about that simply because everyone but a handful of nutters like me says so. Much less can we expect them to question their basic premise that democracy is superior to autocracy or any other polity.

However, that you want Japan to be a democracy is one thing, and whether it actually is one is quite another. So, why don't we have a closer look into the reality here to find out if that is the case?

The Japanese people love to debate. Day in, day out, throughout the year, they discuss a variety of subjects.

But I think you will get a clear idea about what dibeto really means to them only if you bother to watch, for example, the popular monthly debate program run by the TV Asahi for decades by now.

It usually starts at around 12:00 midnight and lasts until the daybreak. Soichiro Tahara, a self-proclaimed seasoned journalist and Japan's Larry King, first presents the day's subject in front of a dozen or so debaters. The seating arrangement is always predetermined so that proponents to the proposition are seated on one side and opponents on the other.

Throughout the 5-hour-or-so-long dibeto puroguramu, Tahara carefully manages the proceedings to make sure no one raises his hand to say, "Hey, Mr. Moderator, I'm at a loss over where to be seated because I'm neither against nor in favor of this proposition. It's really a nonissue in the first place." Of course Tahara would respond, "Then, get out of here," as he actually said to Benjamin Fulford several years ago, though during a commercial break or after the debate was over that morning.
· read more (540 words)
  View Printable Version 

Hatoyama is Not Alone

I think I can see why philosopher Yoshiro Takeuchi refers to the way things are in this nation as "tenno-kyo teki seishin fudo," or a cultural climate immersed in the Emperor Cult. His way of naming the intractable mental illness, however, is not very accurate because Mr. Takeuchi utterly downplays the media's role in fostering it.

Japan's oldest newspaper publisher is The Yomiuri Shimbun whose precursor was established in 1874 to "enlighten" the subjects of the Meiji Emperor in line with his Fukoku Kyohei (wealthy nation and strong army) policy line. The Yomiuri was soon followed by these media enterprises such as Asahi, Mainichi and Sankei, and later by NHK, the only public broadcaster, which came into business in 1924 to pursue the same end. Ever since they have been an integral part, to say the least, of this Emperor Cult. It is for this reason that I think it's more precise to rename Takeuchi's Emperor Cult as a Media Cult.

In postwar Japan, which has seen the Emperor demoted from demigod to a mere symbol of national unity, the object of worship is no longer confined to the fool sitting at the palace. Now it can be anyone or anything, be it a ballplayer, an "artist" or a political figure. Mediocrity is the only criterion to decide who to enshrine.

Along the lines, they have hyped yet another craze into a sub-cult, one after the other. These sub-cults include Nagashima Cult, Ichiro Cult and Ryo-chan Cult. If you are not familiar with these Japanese names, which are always mentioned in association with hinomaru, the national flag symbolizing the rising sun, they are all mediocre athletes by world standards, except for the right fielder of the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro can boast a certain statistical significance he has achieved in the Nintendo-owned ballclub, but nobody can deny his way of playing the game is always boring and sometimes even disgusting. But beware, it constitutes a lese majesty if you put down these national heroes as second-rate sportsmen.

Takeuchi's Emperor Cult just sits at the top of these sub-cults. The former would be nothing without the latter.

Now that the entire society has turned into a huge cult, it's no wonder that innumerable groups of freaks have been mushrooming across the nation to claim their share in media saliency.

This Saturday afternoon, I was strolling around the streets of the port city of Yokohama, one of the cities which cradled Japan's twisted aspirations to become a modern nation 150 years ago. As usual, dozens of citizens were reciting sutras, apparently without having the slightest idea about the supposedly profound meaning of their own incantations.

I casually shot them with my digital camera to upload a video to my YouTube channel. I embed it below here because I thought you might be interested in viewing it.


· read more (185 words)
  View Printable Version 

Relapse of Zeno's Nightmare

A couple of days ago I talked about a Darwinian nightmare, but now I'm talking about Zeno's nightmare.

If you are unfamiliar with Zeno's paradoxes (there are seven of them,) you may want to look at the YouTube video embedded below:



Like all other schoolkids in Japan, I learned of Zeno's paradoxes when I was in my mid-teens. The stupid boy, that I was, found them almost frightening. Any geometric explanation did not soothe me. It was only after I read Henri Bergson's book titled something like Time and Free Will several years later that I overcame Zeno's nightmare.

Most friends of mine were not that stupid. They weren't shocked in the first place and quickly forgot these paradoxes. That is why they still remain superstitious about things and keep saying there are so many things that cannot be explained rationally in this world.

Let's just face it. Let's not waste our time on unsolvable problems.

For my part, I owe Zeno a couple of things even in my adulthood. For one thing, thanks to his paradoxes, I could acquire a mental attitude to take nothing for granted.

The other thing I owe him is that I became aware it is sometimes effective to play devil's advocate when I am talking to an intellectually lazy person.

Recently my blog audience raised their eyebrows when they read my post titled Obamitis Virus Hit Its Cradle - Japan's Ground Zero. In that piece I wrote: "[The A-bombs] should never have been dropped on the relatively unimportant local cities such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead the Little Boy and the Fat Man should have been detonated over the heart of the capital to exterminate the Emperor and his family."
· read more (299 words)
  View Printable Version 

A Darwinian Nightmare about Intellectual Degeneration



Philosopher Yoshiro Takeuchi
and his wife

In response to my request for an interview, Mr. Takeuchi said in effect, "Let's have a preliminary talk to size each other up before possibly discussing the specific questions you have raised."

That is why I took a long trip yesterday to the place he lives. Some of his students were there.

By the end of a long skull session over Emperor Hirohito, his son Akihito, President Obama, A-bombs and democracy, I found out the following two things:

■ his students are pretty intelligent, at least potentially, but most of them, if not all, have difficulty really internalizing these issues, and
■ the philosopher, born in 1924, took part in the war, mainly on the Chinese Continent.

His thoughts about his own experience as a soldier are ambivalent, to say the least. With his admirable candor, he admitted to having had a part in an inexcusable crime. And yet, he believes he did the right thing when he chose not to refuse military service, or simply to desert from the army.

Put it bluntly, this is nothing but a self-deception. But, at the same time, I thought it would go counter to my principle to throw stones at anyone who has had more than enough on the cross, let alone this particular person who has climbed up there on his own. More importantly, I might have done the same thing if I were ten years older.

You cannot rewrite history, or "reset" it as Obama claims to be doing. All that matters, therefore, is how to avoid the same mistakes in the future. To this end we should work on a concrete plan to hunt down the war criminals who are still on the loose as of today until we can nail them to the cross.
· read more (1,079 words)
  View Printable Version 

Wrapping Up My Life, My Inner Anpo


Left: Michiko Kanba who was lauded as Japan's national hero by Mao Zedong
Right: Makoto Oda, another hero who mixed up Japan's problems with Vietnam's

I think the words "a retired businessman" would best describe what I really am. I don't know if my career was successful or not so successful, but that does not make any difference to my argument here.

To be more precise, however, I retired rather involuntarily at the age of 69. According to Betty Friedan, author of The Fountain of Age, Otto von Bismarck of the Second Reich was the first to have come up with the absurd idea that one should stop living actively at a certain biological age. He set the first-ever mandatory retirement age at 65. In those days, the average life expectancy at birth was a mere 37 in Germany. If you apply today's life expectancy here, this roughly translates into 140. But unfortunately, my last employer, the Japanese subsidiary of the world's No. 3 software giant SAP AG, was not good enough at simple arithmetic.

For most of my career, I was a manager overseeing finance and administration. And the forced retirement that aborted my pursuit of self-fulfillment was only part of the problem I have had as a businessperson.

Perhaps I have dealt with thousands of people in the past. Through my largely cross-cultural interchange with these people, I became aware of a distinctive feature of my fellow countrymen: they had a great difficulty internalizing their own problems, let alone someone else's. Due to this defect, even today most of my Japanese friends think I was working on money while in business. This is not true, however. Far from it.

I have repeatedly quoted Karl Marx on this blog. To me the essence of Marxism has nothing to do with those bastards such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao or Hugo Chavez.

In 1857, the German Jew wrote:

"Production is at the same time consumption, and consumption is at the same time production. [For example] a railway on which no one travels (snip) is potentially but not actually a railway. Without production, there is no consumption, but without consumption, there is no production, either."

My way of interpreting these sentences is that money is not what business is all about. The ultimate goal for a worker, either white collar or blue collar, is to create values, not monetary wealth. In other words, industry is nothing but a value-creating chain.

It is really amazing that Marx came up with his theory without any experience in business. On the other hand, it is quite disappointing to know my fellow countrymen of all generations, and all occupations, will never learn the real meaning of man's economic activitiy. Especially those who have never been in business in their lifetime are unable to figure out what this retired businessman is talking about when he says he still has something to settle before he goes. They think he is just killing time at the Grim Reaper's waiting room.

To me, anpo, or the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, is one of the most important issues that remain unsettled. Unlike with these people who are totally disabled to internalize things, anpo is my own problem, not someone else's.

To make my situation even worse, they all share the same trait which I call the haiku mentality. The haiku way of communication works only where people share the same set of word associations because otherwise you can't get your message through in a 17-syllable format.

In addition, most Japanese suffer from pathological fixation to the past. To them history is more important than the future. To make my longer-than-haiku story short, this disease is yet another fallout from the haiku mentality.

Given this propensity, their attitudes toward anpo are also very unique. The moment they hear the stimulus word anpo, the Japanese are instantly overwhelmed by a flood of related, sometimes unrelated, images and the words associated with them as if in a compulsive flashback. It looks as though they are not concerned about the future of this nation, with or without anpo.

They are conditioned so you can always expect the same set of responses from everyone. These stimuli include a wide range of memorable events coupled with names involved there, such as:

violent protests organized by the communists who, in truth, were fighting a proxy war on behalf of the USSR or the PRC,
■ the death of Michiko Kanba, who was posthumously called a Japan's national hero by Mao Zedong,
■ the emergence of Makoto Oda who organized Beheiren, Citizens' League for Peace in Vietnam as if his home country had been destroyed by "Agent Orange,"
Seiji Tsutsumi, de facto owner of Seibu Enterprise, and many other likeminded people who matter-of-factly converted to the Japanese version of capitalism as soon as the treaty was ratified,
■ the war-renouncing Constitution which is widely considered the only valuable thing Douglas MacArthur, alias the Second Emperor, left behind,
■ 200,000 citizens incinerated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who, in fact, were victimized by the conspiracy of Harry S. Truman and Ruth Benedict to bring Emperor Hirohito to his knees without physically destroying the super Class-A war criminal who wasn't living in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, by chance.
· read more (603 words)
  View Printable Version 

Getting Back to the Basics of Things


From left: 1st and 2nd Emperors together, CIA agent disguised as Japan's prime minister, proxy war fought in front of the Diet building, anti-U.S. Socialist Party head stabbed to death

Mr. Yoshiro Takeuchi is a Japanese philosopher - the only one who thinks as far as I know. To be sure, he is not one of those pundits who peddle words to make their living. Small wonder his name means nothing to most Japanese.

He has fought for his cause throughout his scholastic career. Even today nothing seems to make him back down.

He is 85 now.

We have met once before. That was half-a-century ago, perhaps in 1958. He was an up-and-coming professor of philosophy at Kokugakuin University. I was a junior, or senior, at the school of economics of Keio University.

In those days I was wavering over which way to go after completing the undergraduate course. I had two options before me. As a politician or journalist I might be able to make a difference to the country more directly than in business. But I also thought the longest way about might be the shortest way home.

Either way, the future perspective was not really promising because I was already too un-Japanese.

It was on the eve of rokuju-nen anpo toso - the nationwide uprising against the U.S.-Japan security treaty which was going to be signed between Eisenhower's Secretary of State Christian Herter and Japan's Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in January 1960.

It was as recently as several years ago that we learned from a newly declassified document that Kishi was on the payroll of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency when he signed the treaty as the prime minister of Japan. But we already knew, though by intuition, that had to be the case and that the anti-anpo activists were just fighting a proxy war against America on behalf of the Soviet Union. It's true I sympathized with these red flag bearers yet I tried to distance myself from them as much as possible. · read more (462 words)

  View Printable Version 

Bill Emmott Certifies "Real Change" - But Not for Free


Bill Emmott, author of The Sun Also Sets,
may soon write The Sun Rises Again

The former editor of The Economist magazine was stationed here for three years at the height of Japan's bubble economy. During his tenure as the Tokyo Bureau chief and an associate member of the information cartel called Nihon Kisha Kurabu (Japan Press Club,) Bill Emmott learned many things about the pathology of the faltering nation. Among other things, he learned that anyone in a position similar to his can easily make a fortune as a notary public even after he gets repatriated or retires.

Most of his Japanese counterparts are too intellectually-challenged to understand the real reason behind this, but some of them feel deep inside that Japanese media lost their legitimacy in the 1940s, totally and for good. Today, they are still doing a good job in manipulating people's hearts and minds, just like they did as the Imperial Army's propaganda machine, now to the interest of the "iron square" that fortifies this kleptocracy as Canadian journalist Benjamin Fulford puts it. And yet they know anything they report or editorialize about can no longer sound authentic until it is notarized by someone from the former Allied Powers.

As soon as the Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, for one, told its London correspondent Saki Ouchi to interview Emmott.

Can you imagine the Tokyo correspondent of the New York Times might have asked a Japanese pundit in November 2008 whether Barack Hussein Obama would be able to deliver on his pledge to change America? Or did a Le Mondes reporter ask a Japanese expert in May 2007 whether Nicolas Sarkozy would live up to Frenchmen's expectations? But that is exactly what Japanese news media have always been doing for the subliminal reason mentioned above. The Emmott interview is nothing new.

Yomiuri's managing editor Kan Tsutagawa titled her interview piece like this: "Election marks 'real change' - Emmott says DPJ must bring bureaucrats to heel, revive economy."

When Ouchi asked Emmott for his opinion about one of the DPJ's pledges to set up a "National Strategic Bureau," modeled after the way Britain has crushed its bureaucracy, he said, "I think it's a good idea to learn from [our] experience."

There's no denying that Emmott is well-versed in the problems facing his clients in Japan.

Most probably he knows the DPJ was formed in 1998 by the spinoffs from the Liberal Democratic Party and that they had previously belonged to the most corrupt intraparty faction founded by the scandal-tainted Kakuei Tanaka. He must also know that when forming the DPJ, these thieves from the LDP chose to join forces with some outcasts from the Socialist Party of Japan just to gain over its huge support base: labor unions of government employees, who now desperately cling to their cushy positions. Japan's National/Local Civil Service Laws, which protect civil servants from being laid off, will never be amended as long as these unions have power.

All in all it's a commonsense matter that the DPJ cannot "bring bureaucrats to heel." The best we can expect from the new administration is to rebalance the power between the two groups of thieves.

The trick used here is quite simple: Ouchi refrained from asking Emmott the two most relevant questions, or they just did not cross her mind in the first place. These are:

"How can a group of thieves straighten out the mess caused by another?" and
"How can the tail wag the dog?"

The former editor of The Economist was just acting as a humble notary public now. Why then should he have felt obliged to answer the questions which were not asked?

An old saying goes: "Some people cannot see the wood for the trees." (I think the opposite is also true.) The Japanese always take it for granted that the likes of Emmott are much better off in seeing the wood than the wood dwellers. That is a very convenient assumption, but can it be true?
· read more (503 words)
  View Printable Version 

A Midyear Update on My Sandbag Exercise



This is to update my audience on the traffic of my website.

My blogging philosophy has remained unchanged. I still pursue a taboo-free journalism because I don't think I would be able to write truthful and truly relevant pieces without fully emancipating myself from all these fallacies about the legitimacy of Japan's three pillar institutions: the Imperial Institution, the media and the strategic alliance between Japan and the U.S.

I do know truth always hurts and nobody but a masochist likes to get hurt. How I wish I could entertain my predominantly Western audience like Benjamin Fulford always does. As you may be aware, the pet subjects of the Tokyo-based "truth-seeker" are 9-11 being a conspiracy masterminded by a Jewish cabal, the Sichuan Earthquake of May 2008 being artificially caused by a leading-edge magneto-optical technology named HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project,) and the like.

I don't know if these allegations are solidly substantiated. If they aren't, still that does not necessarily mean Fulford is a liar. The key to judging the authenticity of his theory is whether or not you can really relate to, or internalize, the warfare allegedly going on between the "Illuminati" and heroic saviors of humanity scattered around the world. And I can't.

So his business doesn't hurt anybody in particular. Even David Rockefeller doesn't really seem to get hurt. It only entertains hundreds of millions of dupes you encounter not only in Japan but also every corner of the globe today. That is the secret behind Fulford's huge success on both sides of the Pacific. On the contrary, I wasn't born here to please people like a prostitute. That always leaves me in a dire cash-drought, but I have no plan to change my blogging philosophy in these twilight days of my life.

To make up for the absence of a monetary goal, I have developed my own yardstick for performance measurement. With this KPI in mind, I periodically work on the traffic analysis using the built-in statistical functions of my blogging software called Geeklog since the inception of TokyoFreePress in September 2004 and a little more sophisticated measurement tool named Google Analytics since January this year.

To me TokyoFreePress is something like a sandbag. I don't jog, but whenever I'm relatively in good shape, I keep pounding at the bag by writing new posts and rewriting old ones to further clarify my heretical views. If there is anything to be desired, I want more visitors to join in my sandbag exercise.

Now that it seems quite unlikely that this old fighter makes a comeback to the ring before he dies, I need to have something that incentivizes my sandbag exercise which is otherwise more of a physical torture than a mental pleasure. To that end, I sometimes make believe that some of these figures I see on the "Dashboard" of the Google Analytics bear dollar signs before them.

As a matter of fact the technology that would actually allow me to charge you a buck every time you visit my site is there, but as is the case everywhere else, independent bloggers are practically barred from using it. So only by imaginarily tearing down this social barrier, I can feel I am not so helplessly poverty-stricken as I actually am.


Traffic Overview

As of August 24, my overall performance looks like this:

Measurement Readings on Geeklog Readings on Analytics Remarks
a No. of Hits to System Since Inception 1,264,720 N/A Inception: September 2004
b No. of Hits YTD August 24 162,161 N/A Extrapolation
c No. of Visits YTD August 24 N/A 6,774 -
d No. of Page Views YTD August 24 N/A 20,079 -
e No. of Visits Since Inception N/A 26,314 Extrapolation
f No. of Page Views Since Inception N/A 73,106 Extrapolation
g Daily Average of Visits - Adjusted N/A 11.5 Accidental hits, my own accesses and spammers' are eliminated on an educated guess basis
h Daily Average of Page Views - Adjusted N/A 32.0 ditto

On the assumption that accidental hits, my own accesses and spammers' have accounted for 20% of the cumulative number of visits, I have earned more than an imaginary US$ 20K in the last 5 years. · read more (1,323 words)
  View Printable Version 

Obamitis Virus Hits Its Cradle - Japan's Ground Zero


Left: Hiroshima part of the ceremony to commemorate the 64th anniversary of Harry S. Truman's heinous crime
Right: Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba reading out his idiotic Peace Declaration 2009

Japan is a country which is inhabited by innumerable gods. We used to be talking about yaorozuno-kami, or 8 million gods. But with Japan's living population steadily shrinking in recent years, I am sure the nether world here is having a population explosion by now because every Japanese is believed to be given the citizenship out there as soon as he dies. They also believe that these gods make a homecoming trip during obon yasumi, or the bon holidays which fall on mid-August.

Things are quite confusing at this time of the year with family reunions between the deceased and their living descendants taking place across the nation. It's next to impossible to tell who are dead and who are still alive. For my part, I'm reasonably sure that I'm still awaiting my turn at Grim Reaper's waiting room. Yet, I may be wrong. Who knows?

To avoid misidentifying the dead as the living, or vice versa, Tokyo-based conspiracy theorist Benjamin Fulford generically named the Japanese zombies, before he became extremely popular among none other than these zombies, that is.

Heralding the bon holidays every year are the annual ceremonies solemnly held at the ground zero of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The people have not found it particularly necessary to make August 6 and 9 national holidays because the two events are only part of their activity for the month solely devoted to the dead at large in this land of shamanism.

Past several decades have seen the same proceedings repeated at the ground zero of the two cities according to a long-established agenda and format with the successive mayors reciting their empty and bland "Peace Declarations" as the priests presiding over the rituals. Watching my fellow countrymen going through these formalities, I always get a surreal sense of attending my own deathwatch.

If there was anything new in their Peace Declarations 2009, it's the citations from Obama's speech in Prague. Both mayors must have found the April 5 speech by the U.S. President irresistibly sexy. That's why they couldn't help parroting Obama's most famous line at the 64th anniversaries of the bombings. It goes:

As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon (sic), the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba felt that it was not enough just to repeat after Obama. When concluding his declaration, he suddenly switched to what he thought was English to read out the following sentences:

We have the power. We have the responsibility. We are the Obamajority(!?). Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can. (The exclamation mark and question mark are mine.)

You may be inclined to call the Mayor a moron. But I suspect that is not the case with him. Actually he completed his doctorate in mathematics at MIT some 40 years ago. How can a Ph.D. from the prestigious school be an idiot? And more importantly, he and his counterpart in Nagasaki are not alone.

So, I want you to look at the following fact sheet about a deadly mental illness to be named something like Obamitis before jumping to a conclusion about their pathological problem.

1 Name of Disease Obamitis - so named after the U.S. president who has disseminated the newest strain of the virus all over the world.
2 First Outbreak Observed in Japan a long time ago.
3 Symptoms Sufferers lose their ability to internalize things using their own brains. As a result they always talk about their own problem in vague generality as if it were someone else's. The inability to address problems specifically and systematically always leads the patients to utter inaction in the face of a complicated situation. They often develop echolalia in complication.
4 Worst Possible Consequence Brain-death.
5 Etiology The Obamitis virus causes the disease.
6 Diathesis People with shamanism background are far more likely to become infected with the Obamitis virus than Christians and Muslims. For example, the Japanese traditionally think politics are like weather. When Mongolians attempted to invade Japan in 1274, kamikaze, or Divine Wind from a ferocious typhoon, blew their fleet against the rocks while Japanese had been freezing in total inaction. Ever since they have become susceptible to the idea that the only thing their leader has to do in the face of a crisis is to pray, as a priest, for a change of the weather. When the incantation doesn't work, they leave things adrift until the problem solves itself. The apocalypse in the two cities is an excellent example that shows how effectively a problem can solve itself.
7 Transmission The main pathway for the viral transmission is through excessive intake of ill-defined, bland and empty words such as peace, democracy, nonproliferation, dialog to promote mutual understanding, common values, etc.
8 Environmental Factors There is a good reason to believe the monsoon climate provides the optimum for the virus. Especially, the steamy weather of August in East Asia is considered to be the most favorable condition for the growth and reproduction of the virus. However, the recent pandemic situation in the U.S. indicates that the newest strain of the virus is viable in other regions, as well.
9 Cure None.
10 Statistics TokyoFreePress estimates that there are more than 100 million patients in Japan right now. In the United States, there were at least 69,456,897 adults suffering from Obamitis as of November 4, 2008. The numbers are still growing on both sides of the Pacific.
11 Japan Trivia The Japanese people all believe their fortunes have been predetermined by astrology, Zodiac signs or blood types. Given their extremely superstitious and suggestible trait, every TV station with nationwide network thinks it's essential to spare at least 5 minutes every morning to provide its viewers with the forecasts for the day. This is the secret behind Akiba's Obamajority stuff.
· read more (407 words)
  View Printable Version 

Defiantly Committed to Fellow Countrymen



Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale?
Polonius: Very like a whale.

- From Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet

As I have written before, I wouldn't have joined the workforce as a "new grad" fifty years ago had it not been for a bit too optimistic assumption that as a corporate warrior, I would be able to make a positive difference to the community by actualizing my own self. Subsequently I remained fully committed to the things I was working on and the people I was working with until the end of my 46-year-long career mainly spent in the Japanese subsidiaries of foreign companies headquartered in the U.S., Switzerland and Germany.

In early years of my career with these foreign employers, I was torn apart in a situation that always required a dual loyalty. But over time I acquired a certain set of skills which enabled me to effectively deal with different business practices, governing laws and the underlying cultures without compromising on my own principles. I would call this skill set integrity.

When I was overseeing finance and administration at the Swiss company, my direct boss was a self-important macho married to a Japanese woman. With his massive body weighing over 250lb, the egomaniac expat looked like a sumo's grand champion but actually he was a former captain for a tank unit of the Swiss Army. He thought he had a special privilege to reign over us like a tyrant or a colonial governor because so many local employees had spoiled him for more than a quarter century since he first landed in the country which had yet to fully recover from the ashes of the war.

To make sure the supreme power he thought was bestowed on him wasn't a megalomaniac delusion, he always surrounded himself with sycophants. So it was a big misstep that he hired me as one of his righthand men in the early 1980s.
· read more (521 words)
  View Printable Version 

Comparing Truman's Genocide against Hitler's Holocaust

This is to follow up my previous post entitled An Unprecedented Way of Genocide Abetted by the Reputable Anthropologist from a different perspective.



Some of you will say the Holocaust and Truman's version of genocide are not really comparable. Some others may think the Holocaust was more brutal because its victims by far outnumbered the Japanese civilians incinerated in the last days of the war.

I agree that a superficial comparison between the two war crimes does not make a lot of sense. Yet I am inclined to juxtapose them because what I witnessed from 1944 through 1945 was the single most important event in my 73-year life.

Unlike Holocaust survivors or descendants of its victims, not a single Japanese has called atrocities ordered by Harry S. Truman an act of genocide. Even A-bomb survivors and their offspring always stop short of calling the unforgivable crime by that name. There are two reasons for their forgivingness.

Reason 1: The Japanese don't understand that one crime you committed against your enemy does not offset against another committed against you by another enemy. As Ruth Benedict pointed out, they have no moral absolutes. So they always relativize things. Japan's Communist Party is no exception.

In his April 5 speech, Obama said, "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon (sic) the United States has a moral responsibility to act,". His remarks were well-received here. On April 28 Kazuo Shii, president of the JCP, sent a letter to Obama to express his gratitude for his "initiative."

Earlier this week, Shii received a reply letter, signed by an Undersecretary of State on behalf of the U.S. President, which said Obama was pleased to know the JCP shares with him the same enthusiasm for a nuclear-free world. Shii looked really exhilarated because this is the first letter the U.S. government has ever sent to the communist party. Maybe Obama doesn't know JCP's "enthusiasm" was first ignited by the Soviet Union. JCP-led Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs used to be in favor of nuclear tests conducted by the USSR.

It's regrettable that either president has no brains to understand there's nothing wrong with just possessing or even using the nuke. As is true with conventional weaponry, the real problem always lies with when and where to use it, and to what end. It's all the more tragic because the JCP is the only party that has not officially approved the Imperial Institution and the U.S.-Japanese security treaty. Shii was in a position to have told Obama that the U.S. has no moral responsibility just for using the bombs, but is held morally responsible for not using them in Tokyo to decapitate Japan. But Shii didn't because he has never questioned who begged Truman on his knees to detonate Little Boy and Fat Man over the two strategically unimportant cities. . · read more (452 words)
  View Printable Version 

Phantom Parade to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Opening of Yokohama Port


Left: Hotel New Grand where Douglas MacArthur
checked in on August 30, 1945 to prepare himself for
the September 2 surrender ceremony aboard the USS
Missouri
Center: The Second Perry loved New Grand so much
that the hotel survived repeated airraids. By the same
token, the compassionate general acquitted the Emp-
eror of his heinous crime of claiming 3-million Japanese
lives for the absurd cause of preserving the imperial
institution
Right: You don't have to be a good physiognomist to
tell Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada is a moron who
doesn't understand there was nothing to celebrate in
the forced ratification of the Convention of Kanagawa
150 years ago

I am a Tokyo native and stayed in the capital city for almost 60 years until the burst of the bubble economy somehow brought me to Yokohama, the port city my political blog TokyoFreePress is currently based in. The reason I decided to settle down here was because I thought if someday the modern history of this nation is to be rewritten strictly based on facts, Yokohama should be the right place to witness the milestone. As the emperor-retained historians totally fabricated Japan's ancient history in the early-8th century, this municipality has deliberately taken part in the falsification of the nation's modern history since the 1850s.

On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting at my computer when I heard an exhilarating tune played by a marching band passing by the nearby Yamashita-Koen seaside park. This year the City Hall had been planning to jazz up, more than ever, the annual International Costume Parade to make it the centerpiece of the 150th Anniversary of the opening-up of the port after more than 200 years of sakoku (the seclusion policy.) I knew something to party about has yet to come. But whenever I hear a duple-meter music such as this one, I get a compulsive sensation that makes me act like a Hamelin kid lured by the Pied Piper. The weather was fine, and I was relatively in good shape. So I hit the streets carrying my digital camera with me.



· read more (159 words)
  View Printable Version 

TokyoFreePress のマニフェストを敷衍する

英文のテキストに戻る
Return to the English text



私の死期が、いつ、どのような形で訪れるかを正確に予測することはできないが、それが着実に近づいていることは間違いないと感じている。

死ぬことは転職するのとはわけが違う。自分が今までに成し遂げたことと、やり残したことを整理したうえで誰かに引き継ごうという気持ちは全くない。例えば、この TokyoFreePress が当方の死後どうなるのかという事もあまり気にしていない。

とは言うものの、生涯を通して自分の「生」をプリプログラムして来たように、現在私は自分の「死」をプリプログラムしている。(訳注 1) もしかしたら、自分の死後、誰かが私のプログラムを解読してくれるかも知れないと思うからだ。

その一環として、以下に当政治ブログのマニフェストをあらためて敷衍しておく。

タブーを怖れない

残念ながら、約 53ヶ月前に、この言葉をマニフェストの中で使ったとき、当方の真意を理解してくれる人はほとんどいなかった。何人かの人が心得顔で笑っていたが、この人たちも理解していたとは思えない。当方のタブーへの挑戦は笑い事ではないのだから。

グレート・ファイアウォール (訳注 2) が張りめぐらされているサイバー空間の中にあって反体制運動を続けている中国のブロガーたちにとって、チベット問題、言論の自由、議会制民主主義を論じる事はタブーとなっている。同様に、日本のブロガーにとっても、中国の場合より数は少ないが、天皇制や記者クラブ・システムのような絶対的タブーが存在する。類似のタブーはアメリカにはほとんど存在しない。このことから、中国が最もタブーが多い社会、それに次いで日本、アメリカが最もタブーの少ない国、と結論づけることが出来るだろうか?それほど単純な問題ではない。

日本には、当方がグラス・ファイアウォールと名づけている検閲制度が存在する。(訳注 3) ガラスのファイアウォールは、アメリカにも存在しないわけではない。(訳注 4) グラス・ファイアウォールはグレート・ファイアウォールよりもはるかに手強く、乗り越え難い壁である。というのも、ガラス製のため遠くからはまったく見えないからだ。今まで当ブログはグラス・ファイアウォールの問題を繰り返し取り上げて来た。しかし、耳を傾ける人はきわめてわずかだった。ガラスの壁に突き当たったのは彼らではなく当方なのだから無理からぬ事だと思っている。そのうちに当ブログのオーディエンスの中に、当方をチキン・リトル (訳注 5) かイソップ物語の狼少年のように見るようになった人も少なからずいるのではないかと思う。主流メディアにとって、グラス・ファイアウォールに挑戦する者を封じ込めることは朝飯前である。彼らを無視するだけで用が足りるのだ。

タブーに挑戦するジャーナリストにとって、もっと手強いものがある。心の中のファイアウォールである。これにはパリに本部のある「国境なき記者団」 (Reporters without Borders) でさえ気づいていない。フロイトの精神分析理論は心の中に潜む「検閲」のメカニズムにメスを入れる事によって形成された。心の中のファイアウォールは、3種類の検閲機構の中で最も厚く、また見えにくい壁である。

そのようなわけで、TokyoFreePress が挑戦し続けて来たタブーは常に3重の壁で護られていた。
· read more (119 words)