An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Saturday, March 25 2017 @ 12:46 AM JST
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Elaborating on the Mission Statement

For those who are more comfortable with Japanese text

I now know for sure that my days are numbered although I don't know exactly when and how death visits my doorstep.

Dying is not changing jobs. I have no intention to hand over what I have finished and left unfinished to anybody in an organized way. For one thing, I don't care too much about the fate of TokyoFreePress.

Yet at present, I'm preprogramming my death, just like I preprogrammed my life in the past, so the right person(s) can decode my programs when I'm gone.

To that end I am going to elaborate anew on the Mission Statement of this political blog below here.


Unfortunately not too many people have understood what exactly I meant by "taboo" when I used the word some 53 months ago. Although some knowingly grinned at me, they didn't look to have understood what I was talking about, because there's nothing to grin about in my combat against taboo.

For dissident bloggers facing the Great Firewalls in China, talking about Tibet, freedom of speech and representative democracy is taboo. Likewise, their Japanese counterparts have a smaller number of taboos, such as discussing the truth about the Imperial family and the Kisha Kurabu (Press Club) system. Americans have practically none. So, can we conclude that China is the most taboo-ridden society, Japan comes next, and America is the least taboo-ridden? Not really.

There is something I have named the Glass Firewalls in Japan, and in the U.S. to a lesser degree. They are much more invincible and formidable than the Great Firewalls because the Glass Firewalls are invisible from distance. Although I cried out time and again in the face of these walls, very few people took me seriously simply because it's not them, but me, that hit them. Over time, some in my audience may have started viewing me as a Chicken Little or the boy who habitually cries wolf. So it's a piece of cake for the Japanese media to contain dissidence; they just ignore it.

A third and the worst barrier for a taboo-free journalist is the inner firewall which even the Paris-based RSF (Reporters without Borders) hasn't noticed. Sigmund Freud based his theory primarily on his perception of this censorship mechanism. The inner firewall is the thickest and most "transparent" of all.

In short, censorship TokyoFreePress has been challenging is always threefold.
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Professors, Educate Me on the Difference between Sociopathy and Adjustment Disorder

On Sunday afternoon in Akihabara district downtown Tokyo, the 25-year-old man drove a 2-ton rental truck straight into the crowd of shoppers and then emerged from the vehicle to randomly stab pedestrians with his Smith & Wesson dagger knife. Hours before, he had had to settle for the small truck because a larger one was not available at the time. So he couldn't kill as many people as he had initially planned. Even so, his mission was successfully completed: the lanky guy could kill 7 pedestrians, injure 10 others, and more important, make the headlines at home as well as abroad.

An off-duty NTV cameraman was on the scene and did an excellent job with the tragicomedy as it was unfolding, using his digital camera. His 6-minute-long movie was shot so professionally that you could see or even hear the entire edifice crumbling. To reporters and commentators in local media organizations, however, the sound of silence remains inaudible and what's really going on is still invisible. The same holds true with foreign correspondents stationed here. Believing the collapse of the nation is something utterly counter-intuitive, they keep disseminating stereotypical, bland and sanitized "analyses" of what is not going on here.
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Calm Down, Zhang Ziyi

Chinese Geisha

The May 25 edition of the Japan Times carries an article about Zhang Ziyi's fund-raising drive in the interest of Sichuan residents afflicted by the May 12 jolt. The piece is placed just below a news story that quotes Wen Jiabao as hinting that the death toll "may top 80,000" (what a difference a week made) and asking the visiting U.N. Secretary General for "900,000 more tents."

According to the JT report, Zhang Ziyi was "surprised to find one group she solicited on the sidelines of the Cannes film festival knew little about the disaster in Sichuan Province." Stunned at the "ignorance" on the part of the participants in the film festival, the Beijing-born star actress said: "I was as angry as a madwoman. I said, 'Are you idiots? You are well-dressed and you look like you identify with society, but you don't know what's going on on planet Earth.'"
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Another Token Dispatch in Exchange for Panda Bears

Hu Jintao visited the port city of Yokohama on May 9. The Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department was on full alert throughout the city, especially in the China Town where some pro-Tibetan and pro-Taiwanese elements were poised to protest. Actually, Hu and his entourage let down these folks by quickly leaving the city after visiting Yokohama Yamate Chinese School which is located in a quiet neighborhood atop a hill. YYCS is where only wealthy parents find the tuition affordable.

Down in the valley, people were hanging about in the mazy streets of the China Town in anticipation of Hu's visit. When I walked by a Chinese eatery I frequent, I was stopped by its owner, 83-year-old chef-emeritus and some employees. Although the owner and a waitress were wearing an apron colored like the Five Starred Red Flag, they are not particularly patriotic. I said: "If he dares to come down to the China Town, why don't you invite him in your shop and treat him to the frozen gyoza dumplings?" They burst into laughter. A male employee exclaimed: "Why not? That sounds really great." Recently some frozen dumplings imported from China were found tainted with phosphorus pesticide by far exceeding the limit.

Two days earlier in Tokyo, the Chinese leader had a chat with his Japanese counterpart over this and that, including how to proceed with the ongoing probe into the phosphorus-rich gyoza. But the communique signed by the leaders of the two ailing (or failing) giants indicated that no concrete action plans to boost the "future-oriented" bilateral relations had come out of the summit. The only specific thing was Hu's promise to rent out a pair of panda bears to the Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo. In response, the Tokyo Governor mumbled, "Am I supposed to feel grateful for Hu's gift?".
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Thoughts and Words Are Inseparable Twins

Talkative birds

For some personal reason, I have not logged in to my blog publishing platform since November last year. But that does not mean I have quit blogging for good. In the last four years since I launched this site, the number of hits to the system has topped 710,000. Even though this indicates, by the rules of thumb, that no more than 350,000-400,000 people actually read my pieces, I want to express on this occasion my gratitude to these frequent visitors to my site. I do not particularly feel grateful, though, to tens of thousands of those sickening worms called spammers. I am getting more and more inclined to believe that they are on the payroll of anti-virus or spam-filtering software vendors.

During my long absence from the blogosphere, I seldom watched TV or read newspapers, either, because something in my skull refused to be updated on the sequels of the same old serial farce. The path that connects my sensory nerves to the brain had become too congested with junk. Unfortunately I'm not good at passing around empty words on an ear-to-mouth basis, without fully internalizing them. The only things that drew my attention were the Dalai Lama making a disappointing about-face, the Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay completed without major disruptions, and the municipal government and all the citizens in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture, enthusiastically rooting for Barack Obama..

Now the Tibetan "spiritual leader" seems to be saying he is not a secessionist and that he supports the Beijing Olympics, after all. In Japan, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for his cheap anti-Chinese rhetoric, seems to have decided to shut his mouth even at the sight of the Five-Starred Red Flags flying all over the venue of the torch relay in the April breeze heralding the holiday-studded Golden Week. He just wanted to see the Japanese "security runners", 90 of them, successfully prevent the sacred flame from being extinguished by Tibetan separatists living here. Six persons were reportedly arrested but they did not include those who badly assaulted protesters trapped under the huge blanket of the FSRF. The Governor is now in a position to kowtow to the IOC as well as the CCP because of his bid to host the 2016 Olympics. As for the Obama craze in Obama City, they become enraptured every time the Democratic presidential hopeful wins a primary. They have even formed a hula dancing team because Obama was brought up in Hawaii. A not-too-sexy hula dancer in her 60s was telling an NHK reporter that she would "do her best" to support Barack Obama.
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JSDF's Buddy-Buddy Club Mentality Should Serve as A Wake-Up Call to America

The Kirishima, JMSDF's Aegis-equipped destroyer

Since October, the government, legislature and media have been so preoccupied with bullying small-time con men such as former Administrative Vice Defense Minister, his wife, former defense chief and executives from a local defense broker, as if these bribery cases weren't "the tip of the tip of the iceberg," that Diet deliberations on the "new" anti-terror bill which would enable the resumption of the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean have yet to commence in the upper house.

Most probably Ichiro Ozawa's Democratic Party of Japan will ultimately give way because it's by now proved totally unable to come up with a workable counterproposal. But this will happen only when the Kitty Hawk, the conventional aircraft carrier, is about to retire somewhere in 2008, as has been planned, and be replaced by a nuclear-powered carrier such as the USS George Washington which needs a refill only once every 25 years. Actually that doesn't matter at all because from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's point of view, any defense issue has nothing more than a symbolic significance.

Fukuda's predecessor Shinzo Abe mentally collapsed days after he assured George W. Bush of an uninterrupted extension of the anti-terror statute which was to expire on November 1. Then Fukuda took over and visited Bush on November 15 to tell he would try his best to minimize the suspension period during which the free gas station is out of service. Now that the two consecutive leaders of this country have failed to deliver on their pledge, it's already alarming enough a sign that the bilateral alliance is increasingly in jeopardy.
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Welcome Back, Mentally Ill Ichiro Ozawa

Ichiro Ozawa offered tearful apologies on Wednesday

When former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped down as he had mentally collapsed in the face of the defeat in the July 29 upper house election, "opposition" leader Ichiro Ozawa momentarily looked triumphant and upbeat. But as TokyoFreePress predicted, Ozawa now followed suit, if not hospitalized. Instead the pouty Ozawa just holed up in a hotel suite so he remained reachable to other party cadres, who felt they couldn't afford to lose him. If and when the Japanese voters once again prove stupid enough to effectively pick him as the nation's leader, it's inevitable for the Democratic Party of Japan to reveal itself to be nothing but a spinoff of former intra-party factions of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The consensus, therefore, was that Ozawa will best represent the true color of the DPJ when it takes power.

Actually what has rattled this nation in the last several days is nothing new to the nation which still remains mysterious to Westerners. On November 2, the DPJ head met with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to talk about a grand coalition, so specifically as to agree on the appointment of Ozawa to deputy premiership of the new administration, as if the two parties weren't already kin since the birth of Ozawa's party. He brought back his feat to the headquarters of the party to have it approved by party's Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and other senior members. To his dismay DPJ cadres turned a cold shoulder on Ozawa.

On November 4, Ozawa tendered his resignation. Then Hatoyama and other party members realized the party couldn't afford to lose him and started begging him on their knees to retract his letter of resignation. After dignifying himself for some 72 hours, Ozawa agreed to take back his intention to leave the party's top post. As if to prove the DPJ doesn't even have intra-party democracy in place, the lawmakers of the party unanimously decided to forgive Ozawa for his second about-face in less than one week. On November 7, he offered sincere apologies to his men, and then to the press corps.
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Benjamin Fulford Seminar

What makes me repeatedly come back to Benjamin Fulford, Tokyo-based Canadian journalist, who so many people dismiss as a con man, or a crank at best? And what for did I take a long trip to downtown Tokyo yesterday to attend a Fulford seminar braving poor health?

Certainly I always find his stories entertaining when he tells us about the Chinese Communist Party being funded by the Rothschilds at its inception, late Princess Diana being sent to the Royal Family from the same Jewish family, an image of Mt. Sinai being watermarked in the background of Mt. Fuji in the Bank of Japan's 1000-yen bill, the Meiji Restoration being a work by Russian Jews who stood behind the Emperor, Adolf Hitler being a Rothschild, the Niigata quakes in July being artificial ones targeted at the nuclear plant located in the area, and so on and so forth.

But all this amusement, alone, wouldn't have been worth the 3,000-yen admission of the seminar. Actually I've been hooked on the seasoned investigative journalist's way of thinking that always comes down to this:
He never fails to remind us that news stories by the media, commentaries by media-favorite pundits, school textbooks, or any other literature concerning sociopolitical issues are, more often than not, a total fabrication. In short, he seems to urge us to think as wild as we can, using our own eyes, ears and brains. This is a crucially important message to the intellectually lazy, almost braindead, people in this country.

Fulford is much more than just entertaining when he tells us that George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad are playing a rigged game staying in the same camp, Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize-winning ex-Vice President of the U.S., is nothing but a nuclear power plant salesman, and the Sabbatinis (
"the evil faction in the Jewish cabals" according to Fulford who claims not to be an anti-Semite) have constantly tried to "seal off" new technologies such as those for automobiles fueled by eco-friendly gasses so people remain addicted to oil, or for longevity so their depopulation program targeted at Asians can be expedited, etc.

In fact, the Iran nuclear standoff and many other unfathomable and unpleasant things which are pervasive all over the world today seem to add up only when you shed light on them from a conspiracy angle. Fulford has already pointed his finger at a major anti-virus software company for deliberately contaminating the entire cyberspace to create the lucrative business opportunity. Another example will be the case with my late father, 2004 Japan Automotive Hall of Famer. He was among those who were working on cars fueled by hydrogen as early as in the 1960s. But the outcome of their research looks to have been sealed off, so to speak.
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History of Japan: Seamless Transition from Haiku to Keitai

It's not that the Japanese have been disabled to communicate since the beginning of their existence. But as a matter of fact, my fellow countrymen today are totally disabled to communicate among themselves, and with foreigners for that matter.

In my definition of the word, communication is an activity intrinsic to any species of creatures in which they juggle thoughts and feelings back and forth between them. Desire to communicate, therefore, is just like craving for air, food and flesh. But if there is anything particular to communication among human beings, it's that a certain amount of value is added each time the information changes hands, from its original sender to the first receiver, and then to the next. This is exactly what the Japanese people are unable to do. They just pass around one and the same idea which was given from out of nowhere.

One good example is what they call dibeto, Japanese transliteration of a debate. The most important thing to note about dibeto is the fact that the issue is always given beforehand. At a glance it's the media that seem to pick the topic they think is debate-worthy. But in fact, it comes down from further up above. The media are just mediating the whole process. At any rate nobody is allowed to question the validness and relevance of the selected issue.

The problem here lies with the fact that there is no living human being sitting high up above, as has always been the case with this nation whenever it faced a crisis. Worse, only this nobody knows the right solution for the problem although the mediating media sometimes know it like an examiner does. Without the correct answer tacitly established in advance, the issue isn't considered debatable in the first place. Hence, dibeto always looks like a ritual in which to authenticate the predetermined answer with the moderator acting like a priest and the debaters toying with the given idea all along .
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Some Conspiracy Theorists Seem to Have a Valid Point

Ninja v. Benjamin Fulford

Recently I have noticed that every time I discuss the unbearably unpleasant ways things are unfolding in Japan or anywhere else in the world, I am repeatedly coming back to conspiracy theories. It seems to me most journalists, professors and other pundits are so superficial and myopic that they can't see the wood for the trees, and they want us to remain stymied as well from the broader picture.

In the past anti-Semitism was invariably what a conspiracy theory was all about. But today, that is not always true anymore. Often times contemporary conspiracy theorists point their fingers at Judeo-Christian rings, rather than exclusively Jewish cabals, for practically everything from 9-11 to SARS, to avian flu, to Tamiflu pills which are said to have an adverse effect only on Asians. The most distinctive feature which differentiates them from the simple-mimded Nazis or Holocaust deniers is the fact that they know no national boundaries. If they were a little more impartial, they would also put the blame on Vladimir Putin, the China's communist leadership, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or anyone else, for plotting an evil scheme against civilization of mankind.

Needless to say this is simply to mirror those who conspiracy theorists target. Conspirators, for their part, don't have a sense of belonging to a particular country either, even if they often turn to nationalism in the interest of their pursuit of profiteering business. But most of the time they comfortably ride on the waves of globalization. Neither do they have specific ideologies. They uphold communism today and the ideals of democracy tomorrow.

Apparently one of the most influential conspiracy theorists today is Benjamin Fulford, Tokyo-based Canadian journalist who once was the Asia-Pacific Bureau chief at Forbes Magazine. He resigned from the high-paying and highly respected post when he was about to reveal a conspiracy by a major anti-virus software company which by itself was making and spreading computer viruses all over the world. His boss in New York refused to publish his beat because the American software maker was one of the cash cows for the ad department of Forbes.

Fulford's story about the series of events that led him to tender his resignation rings true because it makes business sense as well as commonsense for anti-virus businesses to disseminate viruses all over cyberspace. (Without doubt, this also applies to spam-filtering software business.) But other stories he would be telling after he went solo are not really persuasive. For that reason I always try to distance myself from him. But that is not because his allegations remain unsubstantiated most of the time. Since Fulford doesn't look like a conspirator himself, or an undercover operative from the CIA, it's unfair to tell him to base his allegations on well-substantiated evidence or anything he has experienced first-hand. You can't expect an outsider to whistle-blow. Likewise, you shouldn't discredit him, either, on the grounds that his stories ring utterly counterintuitive and surreal. As I wrote in my previous piece, intuition is the first thing you have damaged when you are brainwashed by the media.
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Treaty of Mutual Cooperation, or Mutual Addiction?

Big rally staged on June 18, 1960 (Left)
Nobusuke Kishi, alias the Specter of the Showa Era (Right)

All of these [self-deceptive] people believe it would be better for them to leave the relationship, but when it comes to doing so they are paralyzed. In order to remain in relationship, knowing it is against their own best interests, they frequently try to trick themselves by distorting the situation.
- How to Break Your Addiction to A Person by Howard M. Halpern, Ph.D.

To be genuinely loving and committed one must FREELY choose another person. [On the other hand] one of the hallmarks of an addiction is that it is a COMPULSIVE drive which, by definition, means that it limits this freedom.
- ditto

No other sovereign nation in history has been more dependent on another country than Japan. It's almost as though Japan is addicted to the United States through the incongruously parental arrangment called Nichibei Anzen Hosho Joyaku, or the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. You can see a close parallel between this nation and a junkie hooked on the substance.

Nichibei Anzen Hosho Joyaku, or Anpo for short, was first countersigned by Shigeru Yoshida, grandfather of former foreign minister Taro Aso, in San Francisco on September 8, 1951. Article 10 of the pact read: "After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, either Party may give notice to the other Party of its intention to terminate the Treaty, in which case the Treaty shall terminate one year after such notice has been given."

Given this clause, the Japanese people were facing the first critical juncture in 1960, when I was in my early-20s. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose a proposed renewal. (To be more precise, it was a revision rather than an automatic extension.) Despite the nation-wide uproar, however, then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, former Class-A war crimes suspect and grandfather of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, could elbow his way into signing the revised treaty with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, and having it ratified in a turbulent Diet session, thanks to the powerful backing from rightwing fanatics and yakuza. Some even suspect that the CIA may have played a pivotal role, too, in facilitating the entire process.
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Two Reasons Why al-Qaida Hasn't Hit Us in a Major Way

Abe offered apologies to the nation at Keio Hospital on September 24 (Left)
Osama bin Laden in love with Japan (Center)
Fukuda soon to succeed Abe (Right)

Without doubt, Japan is the worst-prepared nation for a terrorist attack. The duck has been sitting there at least since the late-1970s when North Korean operatives started entering the country to kidnap its citizens at will. Even today the Japanese people think they are surrounded by friendly peoples. To them, it only takes patience, perhaps coupled with an utter inaction, to build a sense of camaraderie with Kim Jong-Il or Hu Jintao. Why not believe in the good faith Osama bin Laden must harbor toward them deep inside?

Despite the total absence of preparedness, al-Qaida hasn't hit us in a major way as it did the U.S., the U.K., Spain, or the like. The likelihood of a major terrorist attack on Japan looks extremely remote even in the future. I think there are two reasons Muslim fundamentalists have whitelisted this nation.

Firstly, they respect us, or at least, they have an irresistible sense of affinity toward the Japanese people. Actually Japan's religious salad (Shintoism is only an ingredient of it) has nothing in common with the faith of Muslim. But we share a "death cult" of the same flavor with Muslims. There's no denying that terrorists owe their insatiable lust for martyrdom to kamikaze suicide attacks more than to the Qu'ran.

Even today, the Japanese have an unmistakable desire for self-destruction as is apparent from the international comparison of suicide rate. I don't know what's really going on in much less populated countries such as South Korea and Hungary. But in absolute terms, Japan has by far topped the list at least since 1998.
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The sky is falling - believe it or not

You can vividly visualize certain things, while there are some other things you can hardly envisage.

My blog has repeatedly taken up the issue with the likelihood of Japan's collapse on the possibly wrong assumption that the country has yet to perish. But indications thus far are that I have failed to convince my audience.

I predicted from the beginning that with my fellow countrymen, my words would all fall on deaf ears. They are the world's most credulous people. But that only means once convinced of a phony idea, they turn into the world's hardest folks to counter-brainwash. On the other hand, it was a total disappointment for me to know that among the big crowd who has hit my website more than 550,000 times in the last three years, there are very few Westerners, either, who would explicitly agree to my dismal perspective about Japan's future.

Why is that?
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Japan is Determined to Give Terrorists Well-Deserved Holidays

Abe carried into hospital

Since Shinzo Abe announced on September 12 that he is going to step down, people from self-styled political analysts to battered Internet Cafe Refugees in every corner of the country, have been engaging in the pointless chatter over what illness caused Abe's collapse, how serious his condition is, and who will succeed him as Prime Minister.

But I am not concerned too much about who will take Abe's place because how each of the nine habatsu, intra-LDP factions, are aligning themselves behind the two unimpressive candidates, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and former Foreign Minister Taro Aso, won't make any difference to the already devastated landscape of this country.

Incidentally, it may surprise some of you who have believed in the empty rhetoric former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was broadcasting two years ago. He was saying that he wouldn't have been able to get started with his reform programs to transform this nation into a sound and viable system if all these intra-party habatsu hadn't disbanded altogether. And the news media were assuring their readerships and audiences that they now saw a reborn LDP which was free of these factions. Although they haven't published a single correction ever since, they are now saying this faction is supporting Aso and that faction is behind Fukuda.

Unlike intra-party groups in the U.S., nine habatsu are not divided over policy lines. These pork-barrel operators are organized separately from each other only in terms of funding sources, subtly including Pyongyang. So a factionless Liberal Democratic Party is a totally unimaginable thing.
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Take It Easy - Nothing Like That Happened on July 29

On August 1 the agriculture minister was sacked because his adhesives caused LDP's defeat

Almost for the first time since the landslide victory of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the September 11, 2005 snap election of the House of Representatives, the outcome of the July 29 Upper House poll seemed to have reminded professional Japan watchers in the West, species now on the brink of extinction, that there once was a high-flying nation named Japan.

Associated Press headlined its wire report like this: "Stunning election victory in Japan boosts opposition aspiration for two-party system." And an AFP's caption read: "Japan's ruling party suffers historic defeat." As usual their Tokyo correspondents were just parroting what the local media wanted them to. In fact, though, what happened here wasn't such a big deal. On the surface, the post-election landscape might be likened to the situation facing the Bush administration after the midterm elections. But in reality, there's no parallel whatsoever between the two administrations.

To begin with, senkyo isn't synonymous with an election, contrary to the standard way of translating the word. For one thing, an "election" has never been fought over real issues here. Hence, no alternatives have been presented before the voters despite the hollow notion about the "modern two-party system." As a result, voter turnout has remained extremely low - too low to make the nation deserve to be called a mature democracy. The 67% turnout marked in the September 11, 2005 "election" was an exception. This time around, the final turnout stood at 58.6%. This is a far cry from 85% recorded in the April runoff between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal. Even the Iraqis eclipse us. In the first postwar election in the budding democracy, 72% of eligible voters cast ballots, braving terrorists' attacks on polling stations that killed at least 36 voters.
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Pension "Errors" Undetected for the Last Three Decades

As I wrote a couple of times before, politicians and the media have disseminated a false theory that the failure of the national pension program was primarily attributable to the ongoing shrinkage and aging of population. Now almost all the people, with a handful of exceptions, mistake the disastrous situation for a natural calamity and keep saying it couldn't be helped. The real reason the program almost went belly up, however, is that they have unduly politicized the three fundamental things: 1) the actuarial assumptions about the future income/capital gains expected from investments, birthrate, mortality and administrative costs, 2) actual investment decisions, and 3) investment performance measurement which would otherwise serve the purposes of constantly reviewing the validity of the actuarial assumptions and investment policies.

They have a good reason to politicize them.

In June, yet another fuss was touched off over the pension plan, as if all this nonsense about the imaginary link between dwindling population and the failing pension plan wasn't enough, when It was somehow revealed that 64,300,000 records are "missing" from the data base on the computer system at the Social Insurance Agency (SIA). As usual, they said it was 50 million records at the beginning as if to immunize us and then added 14.3 million when the initial shock subsided. It seems we should be prepared for more in the near future.

What are the pension records in question here? If you have changed jobs 3 times in your lifetime, you are supposed to have 3 separate pension records. Given the oddly low mobility of Japan's workforce, which stems from the legacy of the lifetime employment system, 64.3 million records will translate into a good part of the nation's working population and retirees.

In the wake of the revelation, every media organization started feverishly accusing the SIA for its sloppy job that caused this many "errors" and let them go undetected in the last three decades. Once again the transparent trick has worked. It's quite appalling that not a single person that I know of has pointed out these cannot be errors. Worse, practically every Japanese has been duped into believing that there is a quick fix: privatizing the agency just like the former Prime Minister did Japan Post.
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How Does a Nation Collapse? And How Long Does That Take?

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.
- From the Serenity Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous

Throughout the second half of last year, TokyoFreePress ran "Death Watch for Japan" series. As I went on with the instalments, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with my collapse theory.

I had already known that it wouldn't make any sense at all to discuss the likelihood of the collapse of a nation without defining the C-word very precisely and specifically, which is what I tried to do. I wrote Japan would take a tumble when its 1955 System and unique "culture" underlying it collapse altogether. But I couldn't make my doomsday scenarios look very plausible and real. All along I felt as though I was forecasting yesterday's weather.

I have realized by now that when defining the collapse, be it Japan's, or be it China's, I should have followed the lead of my own intuition by thoroughly internalizing these issues I took up as signaling the imminent collapse. When a country is about to perish, or has perished, it is something to be felt, or even lived, certainly not theorized as if from afar. Therefore, I might as well have shown myself already crushed under the debris of the system to my predominantly Western audience so they can visualize the real situation here. Yet I'm not very certain if they would have taken me any more seriously because they still couldn't have internalized what's going on in my reality show.
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What's wrong with birthing machine analogy?

Health minister's clarification backfires...

You don't have to be a Freudian to be able to tell it wasn't a mere slip of the tongue when Japan's health and labor minister Hakuo Yanagisawa said women are birth-giving machines and that he wanted these machines to try hard to reverse the constant decline in birthrate. Now the 71-year-old minister got caught in a crossfire. The Democratic Party of Japan led by Ichiro Ozawa and other opposition parties literally jumped at the unPC remark Yanagisawa made last Saturday. Wasting no time they decided to boycott the ongoing deliberation of the supplementary budget bill as if the sexist analogy was more problematic than the government finances which are on the brink of bankruptcy.

Actually, though, they now owe the health minister a lot of thanks because he gave them a good excuse to keep shying away from addressing the real issues head-on. For the time being they can make believe the dismissal of a mediocre minister would be a big step forward to solving the formidable problems facing this nation. As usual the media and the general public quickly aligned themselves behind Ozawa.

In fact it's Yanagisawa that looks more honest and consistent, while the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Communist Party are just giving another twist to the pointless argument over the already distorted problem. When former Prime Minister Koizumi started to disseminate the fallacy about the population pinch one year ago, everybody in the opposition camp bought into his hogwash. They insisted their approach to the problem was somewhat different from that of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. But just the same, both camps have since taken it for granted that the number of people, not their quality, is at issue, without knowing what the real implication of their problem identification is at all. I wouldn't be surprised if Yanagisawa said he had just wanted to clarify the point in dispute all anew.
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DEATH WATCH FOR JAPAN SERIES No. 5 - Another Sign of Coming Collapse: Japanese Adaptation of Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau, father of civil disobedience

On the website of New Jersey State Bar Foundation, a legal expert Karen M. Spring writes: "Breaking the law is usually left to criminals. There are, however, some law-abiding citizens who deliberately break laws for good reason - they want to bring attention to a specific social issue. This is known as civil disobedience."

This has been the standard way of defining the words civil disobedience (referred to as CD hereinafter) since Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) coined the phrase to describe his way of protesting against slavery and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It seems, however, this statement needs some clarification and modification.

Needless to say, there is a fine line between villains and practitioners of CD. One of the most impalpable points in this respect is that nobody can tell you where to find the threshold because this is a purely subjective matter concerning self-discipline on the part of each individual. You can't even count too much on Thoreau for where to draw the line. As I have already pointed out in Alienated people will soon start striking back at the right party (July 14 TFP story), even a heinous crime can be justified when the violent act is "directed to the right person" and "for the right purpose."

The similar rule applies to the question of whether the use of violence can sometimes be justified. Since Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who are considered to have inherited the basic idea from Thoreau, CD has always been associated with the principle of nonviolence. The father of the independence of India, as well as the American civil rights guru, is said to have thought it was the key to separating their followers from bandits never to resort to physical or even verbal violence in pursuing their cause. But I opine that even for the selfless advocates of "nonconfrontational" protest, the situation was not that simple and that their goals could not have been achieved without violence more or less contingent on their movements. It goes without saying, though, that violence for violence sake is a no-no.
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Following up 'Can nation of zombies transform itself into savior to thwart American Conspiracy to conquer this planet?'

As I reported in August 27 TFP story about the talks I had in person with the author of Say Good-bye to Zombies and 9-11 Hoax Terror, we failed to narrow the chasm lying between us. Even so, I felt the questions of this magnitude should not be left unanswered. That's why I've exchanged e-mails with the former Asia Pacific Bureau chief with Forbes magazine in the last couple of weeks.

One of the key questions left unsettled was: "Can his conspiracy theory about 9-11 be authentic?". Actually I was not concerned too much about this issue, as such, because it would make little difference to the situation we are facing today whether or not it proved true. What I felt uncomfortable with, however, was the response I got from other people I've talked to over the same topic; most people have told me that Fulford's theory cannot be true simply because it's counterintuitive.

However, my basic way of thinking is that we shouldn't smugly dismiss a person as a crank when he says something unheard of. Moreover we have learned by now that whenever the media attempt to brainwash us, the first thing they try to damage is our intuition because it dwells in the most vulnerable part of our brain. Because of, rather than despite, the very fact that it's counterintuitive to everyone, I suspected that Fulford's conspiracy theory could be true.

But just the same, I still remain skeptical of his allegation primarily because he seems to have based it mainly on second-hand or third-hand information, including the tons of data he collected from the Internet. Most probably this seems to explain why he didn't think of providing his readers with endnotes in his 9-11 book. Admittedly even a person who has personally witnessed an event in question sometimes gives a false statement. But it's obvious that no other sources can be more reliable.

In fact he was overdependent on the Net. As you can see in the following table, if you try a Yahoo! search with a search string "9-11 conspiracy" or "9-11 fake", as many as 22.6 million or 26.6 million search results will come up, respectively. This is with Yahoo! America. And if you key in the respective search strings on Yahoo! Japan, you will know the numbers only account for the neighborhood of 0.3%, or 3/1000, of the serach results you get from Yahoo! America. This indicates that as usual, the Japanese Internet participants are lagging far behind their American counterparts who are increasingly getting suspicious about 9-11.

Search EngineSearch StringSearch String in English TranslationApprox. No. of Results
Yahoo! Japan9-11 自作自演9-11 self-plotted36,700
Yahoo! Japan9-11 やらせ9-11 staged16,300
Yahoo! Japan9-11 陰謀9-11 conspiracy93,400
Yahoo! Japan同時多発テロ 自作自演series of terrorist attacks self-plotted51,000
Yahoo! Japan同時多発テロ やらせseries of terrorist attacks staged20,700
Yahoo! Japan同時多発テロ 陰謀series of terrorist attacks conspiracy84,700
Yahoo! America9-11 conspiracy-22,600,000
Yahoo! America9-11 hoax-5,500,000
Yahoo! America9-11 fake-26,600,000
Yahoo! Japanマイケル・ムーア アホでマヌケなアメリカ白人michael moore stupid white men32,900
Yahoo! Americamichael moore stupid white men-2,100,000
Yahoo! Americaapollo 11 fake-626,000
Yahoo! Japanアポロ11号 やらせapollo 11 staged258
Yahoo! Japan月面着陸 トリックlunar surface trick2,650
Yahoo! Japanアポロ11号 特撮apollo 11 special effects2,640
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Can nation of zombies transform itself into savior to thwart "American conspiracy" to conquer this planet?

Benjamin Fulford, former Asia Pacific Bureau
chief at Forbes

This piece isn't meant to be a book review in the normal sense of the words. Neither is this going to be an interview piece. I'm just going to juxtapose his way of viewing things to mine.

I first got to know of Benjamin Fulford when I somehow came across his book titled Say Good-bye to Zombies (Kobunsha, March 2006). I found the main part of this work so truthful and revealing that I asked the author for a sit-together. He complied with my request on the condition that I read his most recent book 9.11 Tero Netsuzo, or 9-11 Hoax Terror in my tentative translation of the title (Tokuma Shoten, July 2006), in advance of our meeting. That's how we met on August 21 to talk over the issues Fulford took up in these controversial books.

Fulford's Bio

Benjamin Fulford was born in Canada in 1961. He majored in comparative literature in Tokyo's Sophia University, and then went on to attend the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He came back to Japan in the late-1970s to settle down here and joined Forbes magazine. When he was Asia Pacific Bureau chief of the publisher, a deadly virus epidemic broke out and quickly spread all over the world. The Asia Pacific Bureau chief somehow got wise to the fact that the one who had created the particular computer virus was working for an anti-virus software company. But that software company happened to be one of the major advertising clients for Forbes. His big scoop was aborted when the headquarters in New York City turned it down. He made up his mind to submit his resignation. This is how he became a freelance journalist several years ago.

Two important books on Japan published to date this year

In Say Good-bye to Zombies, he calls Japan a kleptocracy hijacked by a host of zombies. Although he isn't very clear about who are zombies and who are not, his merciless revelation of the truth about the "Iron Square" formed among politicians, bureaucracy, business, and yakuza is compellingly convincing. That's what made me think he is a person to watch, despite the fact that the solution part of the book is not quite impressive.

Incidentally, credit must be given to another writer for exquisitely naming these people zombies. Back in October 2005, a Japanese pundit by the name of Dr. Hajime Fujiwara authored Koizumi Junichro to Nihon-no Byouri. The title would have been literally translated as "Junichiro Koizumi and Japan's Pathology", but Scott Wilbur substituted its original subtitle, Koizumi's Zombie Politics, for the title when he translated Fujiwara's work into English for publication by Creation Culture Co., Ltd. Currently, though, the English version is not available on for an obvious reason, while you can place an order for the "original" Japanese version with if you are prepared to settle for a sanitized version with the nastiest and truest parts all edited out.

9-11 Hoax Terror is a 409-page book written based on a substantial amount of research. Fulford theorizes here that 9-11 was a hoax plotted by the military-industrial complex and Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. According to the author, the American conspiracy can be traced back as far as to 1898 when America launched an attack on the Spanish colonies in Latin America on the pretext of the sinking of the battleship USS Maine, which later proved a fake as late as in 1975. In the concluding chapters of the book, he expresses his hope that the Japanese will be among the first to wake up to the reality of the conspiracy. Furthermore he speculates that they will then act like the Japanese cartoon superhero Ultraman to thwart the evil ambitions of the American imperialism. So, the questions I wanted to ask the author in person all came down to this: "What exactly makes you think the zombies will be among the first to wake up to the crisis of mankind, and act accordingly, i.e., emerge as a savior of the world?".

Despite the big question mark his readers are left with, though, I cannot but celebrate his bold challenge to the post-bubble myth and post-9-11 taboo.
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DEATH WATCH FOR JAPAN-Another Sign of Coming Collapse: Diplomacy-illiterate Foreign Minister should know he loses unless he wins

This is the third instalment of the Death Watch for Japan series TokyoFreePress has been running since May 17.

The shoddy hawk makes friends with the mock kitten

War is just an extension of diplomacy -- and vice versa. In other words, they are the two different stages of one and the same thing. The basics of diplomacy will, therefore, all come down to this nondescriptive notion: In diplomacy, just like in war, you lose unless you win.

Take the 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor for example. It's not that Japan lost WWII despite the initial victory in the South Pacific, but Japan lost the war because of the fatal loss in prewar diplomacy.

When the anti-Japanese alliance among America, Britain, the Republic of China and the Netherlands, which Japanese historians often refer to as the ABCD conspiracy to strangulate Japan, was closing in on the Empire by gradually stepping up their oil embargos, the Tokyo government, as usual, let things go adrift by doing nothing until the problem solved itself the way it did.

The same paralysis-like diplomatic inaction was repeated at the final stage of the Pacific War, until the A-bombs took care of everything in a matter of seconds. And ever since we've been seeing all that weak-kneed diplomacy toward the U.S. and then dogeza gaiko (prostration diplomacy) toward the People's Republic of China as well as Koreas.

We all know that as a result of dogeza gaiko, the other side became addicted to using dokatsu gaiko, or diplomacy by intimidation -- it's not the other way around. Now it looks as though a lost diplomacy led to a lost war and the lost war led to another defeat in diplomacy.

This drags on and on, like Samsara, Buddhist term for Wheel of Life, until the Japanese become aware that the only way to break the vicious Wheel is to win the game if it should entail a prohibitively high cost. They should also bear in mind that a win-win solution is nothing but a pipedream because not a single war has ever ended there.

However, it seems quite unlikely that one day they realize winning the game is all that counts. Japanese leaders and diplomats still believe that diplomacy is an art of softening, only sometimes hardening, rhetoric so both sides can meet halfway. And they are too dull-witted to notice that this "halfway point" has been rapidly and steadfastly shifting to the Japanese side, with the other side now gaining ground much more than 50% it's supposed to deserve.

Worse, they have grown increasingly out of touch with the geopolitical undercurrent which is now going through a sea change. So, in all likelihood, they will wake up only when the geopolitical landscape has been realigned so the AC alliance (ABCD less BD) can start overtly strangulating this lost nation.

Only then will they realize Prime Minister's pathological obsession with the shrine, or Hu Jintao's reflexive response to it, was nothing but a decoy issue, if it was at issue at all.
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DEATH WATCH FOR JAPAN - Another Sign of Coming Collapse: Alienated people will soon start striking back at the right party

Photos 1, 2, 3, 4 - Counterclockwise

This is the second instalment of the Death Watch for Japan series. For the underlying assumptions here, please refer to the scenarios given in the first instalment.

Death of two kids in Akita

Suzuka Hatakeyama (center in the background of Photo 1) is the 33-year-old mother of a 9-year-old girl, Ayaka (right in the background of Photo 1), who lives in a rural area of Noshiro City in Akita Prefecture. On April 9, Ayaka went missing and was found dead in the nearby river the next day. After a quick autopsy, police investigators concluded that Ayaka had accidentally fallen into the stream, and drowned there.

But the bereaved mother insisted that it couldn't have been an accident because her daughter had never played at the riverside. Even in April, water was cold enough to deter her and there still was lingering snow here and there in the holm. While disparaging the police as incompetent, Hatakeyama launched her own investigation by asking her neighbors for reports of sightings of Ayaka in the hope of getting a clue to the real cause of her death.
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When I say, "It doesn't matter," I mean it doesn't matter

Are they suffering echolalia or automatism?

People in this country untiringly keep talking about the shrinkage in the number of people and overall aging of population due to declining birthrates. So I am afraid still I'll have to reiterate over and over that the declining and aging population as such isn't an issue at all, as if I'm suffering echolalia or automatism myself.

If the quantity of people, or headcount, did matter, the supremacy of China would be uncontested in the first place. Why, then, don't we just keep kowtowing to the Chinese as we have been doing in the past? There's no way to catch up with the world's most populous country in this respect.

Once again, when I say the number of people per se doesn't matter at all, I literally mean it. I don't even mean the smaller the number, the better off we are.

My way of observing people's obsession with numbers is that they are just recoiling at the enormous challenge they would be facing if they admitted what's really at issue is the overall quality of people.

Moreover, as the government and media have admitted, a growing number of people "fail" to submit their "response sheets" for the national census, which has caused Japan's population more and more to be undercounted. The most recently announced failure rate stood at 4.1% as I already pointed out in the May 5 TFP story titled "What the heck was the fuss over population shrinkage all about?".
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Troubled banks getting back on the right track?

On May 22, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. proudly announced that its consolidated Net Income (after taxes) for fiscal year 2005 ended March 31, 2006 had jumped to 1.18 trillion yen - US$ 10.5 billion at today's exchange rate. The world's largest banking group ascribed the dramatic turnaround primarily to the fact that they could reverse the reserve for bad debts by an unexpectedly high 698.2 billion yen thanks to the overall recovery of business performance on the part of their debtors.

MUFJ also stressed all the "management efforts", including the merger between Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group and UFJ Holdings (October 2005), have now started paying off. As a result, the public funds injected into the troubled banks in the group which stood at 1.4 trillion yen at the peak had now been paid down to 504 billion yen. (On June 9, MUFJ fully paid it up.)

Of course, the media wasted no time to celebrate this "feat" in chorus. The Yomiuri Shimbun daily, for one, along with the Daily Yomiuri, ran an editorial on May 24 to offer a totally misplaced praise for what looked to be a spectacular turnaround. The editorial titled "Banks should thank clients in words, deeds" argued that now it's the time for MUFJ and the other two financial groups, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui, to reciprocate the generosity shown by the taxpayers since 1998. They had to be bailed out with the public funds which have aggregated a combined 6.65 trillion yen thus far.

The Yomiuri editors also reminded these banking groups of the extra favor of the "zero-interest policy" in which their depositors were, and still remain, forced to endure interest rates artificially pegged at levels next to zero percent. For those who, like myself, lead a life on a hand-to-mouth basis, bank charges debited to their accounts every time they withdraw some money at the ATM easily outstrip the token interest credited to the same accounts.

But just the same, the editorial sounded extremely upbeat about the future of this nation because our banks are apparently getting back on the right track, and so is this nation as a whole. Beware, though, you can't get back on the right track if you have never been there before.
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DEATH WATCH FOR JAPAN - Another Sign of Japan's Coming Collapse: Consulate Official Killed Himself in Shanghai

I do not claim to be a prophet or crystal-ball gazer. But by now I am reasonably sure that the most likely destination Japan is heading for is its graveyard, once again as a result of the media's inability to tell the truth to their readership and audience. And I know I am not alone. Benjamin Fulford, former Asia-Pacific Bureau chief at Forbes magazine, says he is hundred-percent sure that Japan will hit the bottom of hell somewhere in 2007, unless its people can rid this nation of "zombies" in time. The seasoned journalist is by far better-posted than I with what's really going on in this "kleptocracy".

The following table shows how I assess the probabilities for the possible scenarios to materialize here in the next 5-10 years time, in association with the China's fate:

Scenario Probability
1 China takes a tumble, which triggers Japan's collapse 60%
2 Japan takes a tumble, China withstands 20%
3 Both regimes withstand 20%
4 Japan takes a tumble, which triggers China's collapse 0%
5 China takes a tumble, Japan withstands 0%

Note 1: The word "tumble" or "collapse" of Japan is defined here to mean that the three integral components of the current regime, i.e., 1955 System, Kisha Club System, and Imperial Institution, cease to exist. Needless to say, a change of this magnitude cannot be realized by softlanding because this society has prematurely grown too old to avoid a disruptive change. A 90-year-old won't survive a surgical operation to remove a malignant tumor. He is doomed to die anyway.

Note 2: The collapse of China's hybrid system between Maoism and market economy would also come in a hardlanding. You can never expect China to go through a smooth and bloodless transition like the ones the East European nations experienced in the late-'80s and early-'90s because the ruling caste is much more self-complacent there.

Note 3: When Scenario 2 is going to materialize, it's very unlikely that the fatal blow to the regime is dealt from within because this nation is too crippled even to destroy itself.

Note 4: As to the countermeasures both peoples may or may not take, in time, to reverse the constant erosion of their societies, I could not but assess these factors on an educated guess basis. The single most important resilience factor, of course, is the overall learning ability.

Overall, TFP has now put this nation on its sell-list. Transient and spotty signs of turnaround, which may show occasionally, won't make me delist Japan from there. With the first two scenarios primarily in mind, TokyoFreePress is now launching a series of articles titled "Death Watch for Japan". This is its first monthly instalment.

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What the heck was the fuss over population shrinkage all about?

Yomiuri editorial on January 1

On May 5, Children's Day, the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Daily Yomiuri, ran a laughable story headlined "Tokyo census data down 11.3%". Maybe my English proficiency is too poor to comprehend what is meant by the headline, but to me this can be interpreted as if the population had somehow been overstated that much and now it was being revised downward. But actually the Yomiuri wanted to tell us it had been understated and thus must be revised upward.

The Yomiuri bases this report on a press release by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry but doesn't give the date of the release. As I have repeatedly warned my audience, this indicates the ministry told the press not to print the release before the holiday-studded Golden Week for an obvious reason. That's certainly why the Yomiuri, and perhaps other major media organizations as well, published the undated release in the middle of the GW.

Since the same ministry, along with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, told us last December that the nation was now facing a demographic crisis, in which an unmistakable sign of a consistent downtrend in population had started showing much earlier than expected, journalists, pundits, professors and independent writers (e.g., Benjamin Fulford) have spent a lot of words on the fake issue, in exchange for the dough. But four months later, they are now talking about "failure rates".
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Learning ability is key everywhere

Confucius (Left), Plato (Right)

In school we learned a lot about learning. But perhaps we learned too much about Confucius (551-479 BC). Both for teachers and students, the Confucian teachings were just there to swallow. If we had been taught, instead, the basics about knowledge, such as how a human being forms knowledge, shares it with others, and hands it down from generation to generation, we might have grown into a different kind of people who know what to learn, how to learn it, and who to learn from. But the fact remains that we are now all Confucians from tip to toe. This is even true with Shintoists, Buddhists, and self-proclaimed Christians in this country.

Among other Confucian teachings, this particular one is still believed by my fellow countrymen, from young to old, to remain valid in the 21st century:

"Wen gu er zhi xin keyi wei shi yi" (Analects 2.11)

The standard way of translating this into English seems to be something like this:

"By learning old things, you can also learn new things so you can make a qualified teacher."

Since the most famous Confucian quote is nothing but an easy-to-swallow truism, it means almost nothing in particular and allows you to cook it in any way you like. That's why the Chinese delusion is this long-lived in some East Asian countries. The Japanese have virtually rewritten this part of the Analects like this: "You must familiarize yourself with old things to learn new things." You may, or may not, add an if-clause such as "if you want to qualify for a teaching job," or any other position, for that matter, such as editorship at the Yomiuri Shimbun. Presumably the Korean interpretation is more or less the same. So are the broader social implications that the seemingly harmless Confucian creed has had in both countries.

Ironically enough, though, the Chinese who have spread the Confucian epidemic across Northeast Asia in the past are now preoccupied too much with earthly concerns to develop what I call the pathological fixation to the past, while the two major importers of the "thoughts" are suffering the grave consequences of the baloney made in China.

Needless to say, when Chinese leader Hu Jintao denounces the Japanese for not being repentant enough about their past atrocities, he doesn't really mean it. Just for one thing, Hu allegedly lets his people "harvest" human organs from thousands of executed Falun Gong practitioners to peddle them in the blackmarket. How can we believe he is sometimes saddened by the remembrance of the Chinese lives lost in the Nanjing Massacre in 1937? And exactly because of the opportunistic "pragmatism" of the Chinese, the country has now been granted an undeserved first-class citizenship in the international community, while overshadowing the two helplessly retarded neighbors, South Korea and Japan.
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Have we ever changed our trajectory since 1936?

As the 70th anniversary of nii-nii-roku jiken, 2-26 Incident, draws near, this question has started haunting me. People say history tends to repeat itself. That cannot be true. Commonsense and intuition tell us the same thing never happens twice exactly in the same way. And yet it should be noted that you can stay with the same trajectory without repeating the same thing in an identical fashion.

John Nathan, author of "Japan Unbound", and some other pundits in the West like to refer to the post-bubble Japan as a "bewildered giant". Most of them argue the bewilderment is transient. for various reasons. I agree if they are just saying that sooner or later, this nation will get back on the "right" orbit, except they should be a little more aware of the fatigue factor. But I find their predictions totally unrealistic if they mean to say, just by cherrypicking for good signs as many Western Japanophiles do, that a brand-new, sound and viable Japan is on the horizon.

On February 26, 1936, in the snow-covered capital, a group of young, rebellious officers of the Imperial Army staged a coup and temporarily bring government offices in central Tokyo under their control. Before the Imperial Army could quell these fanatics, they killed three members of the civilian cabinet, including Prime Minister Keisuke Okada. Although their success was short-lived on the surface, the 2-26 putsch was one of the watershed events in Japan's modern history with its far-reaching effects that led this nation to the world's first nuclear apocalypses through the next decade of warfare.
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Don't kill yourself, and make love more frequently

On December 22, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry released the latest estimate of changes in population in 2005 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research attached to it. And as usual the mainstream media passed on the release to their readership and audience precisely in line with a "homogenized and sanitized" interpretation they'd come up with among the press club members.

According to the extremely inaccurate and uniformly distorted news stories, 2005 is going to see a negative growth of population for the first time since the government started the demographic survey in 1899. (This statement needs a lot of clarification. See Note below.) The estimated result shows that deaths are going to outnumber births by 10,000, with the number of births estimated at a record low 1,067,000.

(Note) Isn't it 1920 the first population census was taken? Was the population still increasing in the last years of the Pacific War? The media tend to use the word "population" interchangeably including or excluding foreign residents. Are foreign residents included this time? When they say 2005, do they mean the calendar year, or fiscal year?

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying: "The government and the ruling parties think of measures to counter the falling birthrate as extremely important, and are willing to further reinforce them."
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China should rap the right shrine-goer, and his family's pantheon

By now I have repeatedly argued that the "issue" with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the shrine called Yasukuni Jinja is 100% fake and nonexistent, and was made up to distract people's attention from real issues. But just the same, politicians, the mainstream media, independent web-journalists, and the general public untiringly keep discussing the imaginary issue.

What has given an added twist to the fuss relatively recently is the question about whether to build a secular war memorial to relocate the ashes of the 2.4 million war-dead there (bunshi), while leaving those of the 14 Class-A war criminals still enshrined in Yasukuni. Actually the bright idea of separation first popped up in December 2002, when a government's advisory panel proposed it as the most advisable solution to placate the anger of the Chinese, and at the same time, accommodate the Prime Minister's pathological obsession with the war-dead.
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Yokohama: My kind of town?

When I was a financial manager at the Japanese subsidiary of a Zurich-based trading company, we were swimming in the pool of red ink in the wake of the burst of the bubble economy of the early-1990s. We said we couldn't afford the office rent any more even though real estate prices in Tokyo had also taken a tumble. Fortunately, though, our parent company owned some real estate in Yokohama which two shrewd Swiss merchants had somehow chiseled out of the Tokugawa Shogunate government when they were setting up the company there in 1865 to deal mainly in silk products. Although the book value of the old loot had long been fixed at a nominal Swiss Franc 1.00, or less than two-thirds of today's one Euro (we called it a memorandum account), they thought it was not the right time to sell it. So they decided to erect an office building on one of the pieces of land, the closest one to the port, to rent out to their Japanese subsidiary. That's how I was brought to Yokohama, from Tokyo where I was born. After I left the Swiss company, I decided to stay on in this port city.

Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture inhabited by 3.6 million people. At the beginning, I didn't love to live there because it looked just yet another Japanese megalopolis. The finances of the municipal government are chronically ill because of the enormous personnel costs involved in retaining redundant manpower and collusive relationships with its contractors. Throughout the year, its civil engineering contractors are getting paid with taxpayer's money just for digging holes in the streets, taking a peek into them, and filling them up.
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Real question is always what question to ask


Inability to ask valid questions

Soon after the U.S.-led allied forces invaded Iraq back in 2003, then Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez started giving a daily briefing to journalists from all over the world. Quite a few Japanese reporters were present there. As far as I noticed watching the briefings on the TV, however, not a single Japanese reporter raised his hand to ask a question. If you carefully check the minutes available on the web, you will find out that on November 29 that year one who identified himself as an NHK reporter raised his hand to ask a silly question in broken English. And this seems to have been the only question asked by a Japanese journalist during the war.

Everywhere else, Japanese journalists are infamous for being seated in the back rows and keeping scaringly quiet at an ad hoc press conference. And in a differnt setting, they are known to ask predictable questions to which answers are equally predictable. This indicates that people in Japanese media organizations are almost totally unable to ask a valid question, while some of them are fairly good at answering questions. You may call them shy, but to be more precise, they are just carefully avoiding getting involved when a real issue is being discussed.

Once again the problem here stems from the Kisha Kurabu system. As Freeman observes, a press conference organized within the framework of the system is nothing but a "staged event" because questions are always pre-screened or pre-planted, the real answers are given before or after the conference, offline and off-the-record, together with the official way of interpreting them. According to her, a former political bureau chief at a mainstream newspaper publisher once admitted: "There is no room for a 'happening' to occur [at a press conference]. It is a complete farce. ... The Kisha Clubs are the root cause of this."
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Real question is always what question to ask

In the November 9 TFP story entitled "Closing the Shop by Laurie Anne Freeman", I intended to introduce this book to my audience with the primary focus placed on the direct effects the "information cartels" have on the receiving end of information. In the downstream stages of the flow of information, we have been paying prices that we might'n't have needed to pay had it not been for the dominance of the Kisha Kurabu (Press Club) system over this society in the last 115 years. Among other things, we have paid prohibitively high prices such as the Pacific War, that claimed almost 3 million lives of Japanese people, and the postwar regime under which the Liberal Democratic Party has been trying to eternalize its virtual monopoly of power at the cost of the people's well-being.

However, the Freeman's book also deals with another, equally important, facet of the Kisha Kurabu issue. Quite naturally, the media's servitude to the successive rulers for more than a century has taken its devastating toll on themselves, too. This piece is going to deal with this aspect of the issue with the information cartels.
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Japanese is too beautiful to translate to/from foreign languages

Overall English proficiency levels of Japanese politicians and journalists are disastrous, just like Japanese competence on the part of Westerners who claim to be Japanophile.

Most recently on the beautiful morning of November 16, I heard on the TV Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi saying this to George W. Bush when he was showing him around at the garden of Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto:

"Sun ... rising ... Sun ... Japan ... Japan ... sun of country." Perhaps this was meant to be a surreal Haiku.

The U.S. President was all smiles because his people back home had grilled him so badly in recent months on the "Iraq quagmire" that he mistook his host's stupidity for a heart-warming display of hospitality he had been dying for. The next morning Japanese newspapers, which focused on how Koizumi could renew his close personal relationship with Bush, chose not to mention this cryptic remark because they thought it pointed to something much more than just the matter of his poor English skills.
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Too close for comfort

Left: Talking escalator at a JR station
Right: Talking teller machines at a UFJ branch

The other day I discussed with a couple of my few Japanese friends, over a small dinner and sake, these nuisances we have to deal with everyday. After the heated argument that lasted almost four hours, I realized all anew that even these exceptionally intelligent persons think I was just exaggerating the downside of the Japanese way of life. They even insisted these incessant and pervasive oddities sometimes make our everyday life more convenient and comfortable than a life without them.

Although I failed to convince them, I still believe wherever there are signs that a sociopolitical system is rotten to the marrow, as is undeniably the case with our nation, the underlying culture cannot be sound, "unique" or not.

There are some examples below:

At the train station

It's not that all escalators at Japanese train stations talk. But if you are a foreign visitor thinking about using the public transportation system, you've got to be prepared to encounter an escalator or two that keep talking to you in amicable female voices. For instance if you get off the train at Sakuragi-cho station to visit the historic sites scattered around the port city of Yokohama, you hear one of the Japan's most talkative escalators keep talking to you. Actually they tirelessly go on chirping from 4:30 a.m. through well after midnight.
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Perestroika without Glasnost is surest recipe for corrupt nation

In the midst of the 2005 election campaign, a foreign resident in Shizuoka Prefecture wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Yomiuri. The editor decided that the letter met the DY's letter-screening criteria because it was silly enough to liken Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Mikhail Gorbachev.

As TokyoFreePress has quoted a couple of times already, Archie Brown portrays in his The Gorbachev Factor the rise to the top of the Soviet Union's last leader like this:
"Before Gorbachev could attempt to introduce fundamental change within the Soviet Union, he had to rise to the top within an essentially [unreformable] system. .... [Before him] no one of reformist disposition could [emerge] from a background in the Communist Party apparatus with such an outlook or personality intact. .... The best hope of changing the Soviet Union lay in a reformer climbing the greasy pole to the party leadership."
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We knew that's what Yasukuni "issue" was made up for

In April we saw a renewed wave of anti-Japanese rallies in major cities of China and South Korea. But it quickly subsided as both governments realized they had overdone it. Ever since we've been seeing a letup. This was attributable in part to the fact that toward the September 11 poll, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had a good reason to carefully avoid focusing on any issues concerning foreign affairs. Koizumi was well aware that his Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's performance in recent years had been nothing but a total disaster.

In the last couple of weeks there were even signs that Hu Jintao was changing his confrontational approach toward Japan. He had his Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing soften his rhetoric to appease his Japanese counterpart. When Li invited Machimura to Beijing to have a sit-together on October 23-24 primarily over the issues with the gas and oil exploration in the disputed waters of the East China Sea, he said that if Japan intends to demonstrate its sincere remorse for the wartime atrocities in concrete actions, the two nations can expect a major breakthrough on the natural resource issue.
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Hooray for Japan's $ diplomacy

This is to follow up the September 12 TFP story titled "Election 2005 - PART II", particularly its paragraphs discussing campaign issues that fall under the category of "nonexistent/imaginary issues."

Permanent seat at UNSC

As TFP reported in its August 7 story titled "An Obituary", the Japan's absurd bid for a permanent seat at the the United Nations Security Council became void at long last on August 2 when China's U.N. ambassador Wang Guangya and his newly installed U.S. counterpart John Bolton finally confirmed it was an unacceptable proposition.

Nevertheless, on September 15 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi chose to rake over the ashes when he took the podium at the U.N. general assembly. According to the Sept. 17 issue of the Japan Times, he told the assembly in his yet another unimpressive address that "Asia and Africa, once under the shackles of colonialism, are now significant players in our global economy. For the last 60 years, Japan has determinedly pursued a course of development as a peace-loving nation."
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A nation in which fallacies always prevail

Last month TokyoFreePress carried a couple of obituaries, one of which was about the asphyxia of the postal "reform" bills.

With the Liberal Democratic Party's landslide victory in the September 11 poll, the LDP-Komeito coalition has secured a combined 327 out of 480 seats of the House of Representatives. The new number of seats that exceeds the two-thirds threshold of 320 will certainly pave the way not only to the resurrection of the postal privatization bills, but to an "anything-goes" situation for the LDP led by Junichiro Koizumi.

And that guy will certainly let anything go.
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Election 2005 - PART II

(Continued from Election 2005 PART I)

Yasuo Tanaka, head of New Party Nippon

Nonexistent/imaginary issues:

UN reform", "Constitutional amendment", "PM's shrine visits", "Extension of SDF dispatch to Iraq", etc., etc., are all nonexistent and imaginary issues.

Among others, the Fuji-Sankei media group and the Yomiuri group are especially obsessed with constitutional amendment. But as I wrote in the August 24 TFP piece titled "Take your time, Iraqi legislators", the August 11 article titled "Postman never rings the bell twice", etc., any debate over constitutional amendment is a sheer waste of time as long as it's a no-no to discuss the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and a future scenario where it possibly becomes inevitable to consider preemptive attacks against international terrorist groups or North-Eastern rogue nations.

On the other hand, the JCP and SDP keep singing the same old tune of anti-amendment.
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Election 2005 - PART I

Yasuo Tanaka, head of New Party Nippon

According to the Daily Yomiuri (September 8, "Foreign media see poll as watershed") Daniel Sloan, chairman of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan and Reuters business television senior correspondent, said: "[The September 11 poll] will be a watershed election, foreign journalists expect, after which the Liberal Democratic Party will change if [Prime Minister] Koizumi wins, and the nation's reforms will be promoted."

After all this fuss that's lasted since the August 8 dissolution of the House of Representatives, this is where the media's propaganda all comes down.

Now that TokyoFreePress has gotten done with the "low-blow" stuff, such as Koizumi's alleged rape case(s) or a mysterious woman's attempted suicide in front of his official residence (August 31 TFP story titled "'Little white lies' about Koizumi, Tanaka and a mysterious woman"), I just want to focus here on some other aspects of the ongoing campaign.
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Neocon Rich Lowry overrates Japan

On July 12, Rich Lowry, editor of National Review Magazine, contributed a short article titled "Unleash Japan" to I read it this morning.

I hadn't read any piece written by the 33-year-old neocon before, but his "Unleash" stuff has really turned me off from my empathy for their conservative cause. I was of the opinion that neocons represent the best part of the Americans, at least when I got up this morning.

Before further discussing this article, let me briefly introduce myself to newcomers to my website, hopefully including the young NR editor:
- I am the owner of this website based in Yokohama, Japan.
- Biologically I am more than twice as old as Lowry.
- I am much more right-wing than any self-proclaimed right-wingers in Japan, e.g., the Tokyo Governor, the Sankei Shimbun daily, etc.
- I am by far more left-leaning than any self-proclaimed liberals in this nation, e.g., the Asahi Shimbun daily (Japan's New York Times.)
- My views are much more ideology-free than those of any lukewarm centrists here.

Actually the very first sentence of his writing - "Pacifism has never been so silly [as in post-WWII Japan]" is the only point where I can agree with him.
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TokyoFreePress reevaluates itself to improve its quality

On July 7 the cumulative number of "Hits to the System" topped the 100,000 mark. (The pink line in the above graph represents the total hits in thousand.) I think 100,000 hits in 10 months is quite something especially when taking account of the facts that I couldn't afford to take any specific SEO (Search Engine Optimization) measure when launching TFP and that this website is not really as entertaining as other hundreds of thousands of popular blogs based in Japan.

There's no denying, though, it's a long way to go until I can hopefully achieve my ultimate goal of making this blog flourish as an interactive Web journalism as articulated in my mission statement.

A closer look at the site stats leads me to believe more than 90% of my audience were casual Web-surfers who accidentally hit this system when they somehow strayed off into these URLs.

I'm not worried too much about the single-digit yield. What really concerns me is what an estimated thousands of active viewers' take on my blog pieces was like.

Recently I've sometimes had a hunch that some of these viewers of my site are saying to themselves, "Oh, this weird, old, lone wolf still keeps howling out the same old tune, in the dead of night, if he observes Japan Standard Time." At least overall indications have been that the number of people who take my arguments very seriously is not that great.
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Yasuo Tanaka's new initiative faces formidable tasks ahead

In the last five years since Yasuo Tanaka, 49, took office as the Governor of Nagano Prefecture, he has delivered a lot of things on his campaign pledge about a "Nagano Revolution." Most importantly he has given an equal opportunity for everyone to take part in civil engineering projects which were once monopolized by big businesses, while at the same time killing unnecessary or unaffordable projects such as redundant dam constructions. The admirable accomplishments have confirmed that a reform from bottom up can succeed even in Japan if it's attempted at the right time, at the right place, and most importantly by the right person.

In stark contrast to the Nagano's experiment, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has failed simply because the 70-year-old wasn't the right person. Before taking office, he had already been a loser in his pursuit of a "reform from within" on the scenes of national politics.

One of the most recent revelations that showed things have essentially remained unchanged in the Tokyo government is the falsification of the test data on the "Diesel Particulate Filters" by one of the major contractors of the metropolitan government, Mitsui & Co. The trading conglomerate based in Tokyo has kept "cheating" the Tokyo Metropolitan Government since February 2002 by submitting falsified test data on the filters to win a lucrative contract along with a multi-billion subsidy from the Transportation Bureau of the Metropolitan Government. It's only as recently as December 2004 that Governor Ishihara started to threaten that he would refuse to accept apologies offered by Mitsui "from the bottom of (their) hearts" and that he would take the trading company to court.
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Which one is mentally ill, me or this society?

The way things have unfolded around me in recent months has left me wondering over this question. To me the entire Japanese society looks to be suffering from a serious mental illness. But the very fact that my way of viewing this society is that extreme may be symptomatic of my illness, instead.

A company executive recently labeled me a selfrighteous person. Maybe he was right, maybe not. Who knows? Just the same you never feel at ease putting the blame on others, i.e., the society you live in, for everything. Sometimes you find it more comfortable to put all the blame on yourself.

When I went out for some engagement last Wednesday, I carelessly left my cellphone at home. I needed some change to call someone on the pay phone. So I had to buy a tabloid at a newsstand. Since the Yukan Fuji published by the Sankei Shimbun was the last tabloid I would have bought, I chose to buy the Nikkan Gendai.

While dialing, I looked at the front-page of the tabloid. The headline read: "General population of this nation keeps being screwed over by two helpless idiots." Under the headline, photos of the two oh-baka, or helpless idiots, were shown. One was Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's and the other one was Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara's. I thought: "At least I'm not alone."

And yet the same question kept haunting me because that I'm not alone didn't necessarily mean I was mentally sound. The angst that I might be out of my mind was so dreadful that the following day I found myself trying to locate Betty Friedan's "The Fountain of Age" in the rear row of the bookrack.

As I hinted in the TFP story entitled "Why not retire at 130?" (September 10, 2004), I've owed a lot of things to Betty Friedan, world-renowned anti-sexist activist-turned anti-agist activist. If I hadn't read her "The Fountain of Age" a decade or so ago, I might not have withstood all the adversities this bias-, injustice-, ignorance-ridden society has inflicted on me since I turned 60.
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Please stop bullying me, bad bear, or I'll kill myself

A long time ago, kids living in the mountainous areas were told by their parents and grandparents that the only effective way to protect themselves, when they encountered a hungry bear on a mountain path, was to pretend they were dead. In fact these kids didn't have to be told that.

When the kid reaches out for a spider, the bug will instantly go for a tactic that biologists call a "protective mimicry." The kid wasn't going to eat him. So he doesn't really care whether the spider is actually dead, or still alive. But the kid will certainly learn the lesson: there is no other way for the timid spider to go for in the face of a crisis than to act as though he is dead - workable or not.

Japanese leaders have certainly learned the same lesson from spiders. And this is the only way to explain their total inability to take quick, resolute, sensible actions to the mounting problems facing them abroad, and at home.
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Yahoo! Japan's translation service is telling evidence of problems facing Japan with languages, IT and beyond

Believe me, I have nothing, in particular, against Yahoo Japan Corporation. I even admire its chairman, Mr. Masayoshi Son, for his exceptional entrepreneurship this ethnic Korean has demonstrated since the mid-1990s. I just thought Yahoo Japan's E-to-J translation service was a good example of what is going on in this country.

If you try a Yahoo! search on the Yahoo! Japan's website using a search string "murakami ballpark seizure" then you will see the TokyoFreePress's book review dealing with Ryu Murakami's "Hanto wo ideyo," or "Leaving the Peninsula behind" in my tentative translation, at the top of the search results.

On that page you can ask for an automatic Japanese translation of the book review. Ten seconds after you click on the clickable words "translation into Japanese," Yahoo! Japan gives you a parallel translation of the TFP piece.

I'm taking the liberty to quote the first several paragraphs below here on the assumption that Yahoo! Japan won't find it insulting, just like it took the liberty of having the translation software of Cross Language Inc. destroy my sentences, perhaps on the same assumption.
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Real ordeal entailed in TokyoFreePress relocation

All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin. (Chapter III, Article 14 of Japanese Constitution)

Every person shall have freedom to choose and change his residence and to choose his occupation to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare. (Chapter III, Article 22 of Japanese Constitution)

Originally I thought it would not really be a decent thing for the TokyoFreePress to tell its audience the story of the hardships I personally went through when relocating my SOHO last month in order to cut back on the rent expenses. Then came a post from a person by the handle of "MarbleMan." In reference to the January 31 TFP story "'Democracy' in Iraq, Ukraine, China and Japan", this man asked: "How exactly are your civil liberties shackled in Japan?" The good question prompted me to tell my first-hand account of the ordeal entailed in the relocation of my SOHO. It went like this:
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Japan has no future if it keeps putting all the eggs in one basket

This is to follow up the April 10 TFP story headlined "North East Asian peoples who can never look to the future."

As I argued there, most of these issues over which Japan and the China-South Korean coalition look to be divided are, at most, of symbolic, sometimes theological, significance despite all the media hype insinuating otherwise. From the perspective on this side of the East China Sea, the only bilateral dispute that has substantial importance is the one between China and Japan over where to draw the demarcation line to define each other's EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone.) Thus far China has insisted that the boundaries should be defined based on the full stretch of its continental shelves to the point where the Okinawa Trough lies whereas the other side has argued the demarcation should be determined by the median line. · read more (1,149 words)