World War II began near an unremarkable town called Wanping, China in July 1937 and ended with soul-destroying fury that ballooned as giant mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
With two atomic bombs, the United States stuffed the genie of Japanese militarism into the American bottle. Under its watch, post-war Japan has maintained an elegant deception as a beacon of pacifism.
But the benign façade is cracking under the pressure of China’s rise and rise. The resurgence has sparked an existential crisis for Japan, its sense of drift even more acute as its erstwhile victim steams ahead.
Japan must find fresh bearings. The bad news is that whenever Japan casts around for new directions, it leaves a bloody trail of terror and destruction. Continue reading An end to Japan’s elegant deception
PBS’s Frontline recently aired a documentary of behind the North Korea scene. Among all of the images of the expected misery, poverty, hunger, want, there was 1 segment which I thought was greatly overlooked. A quick exchange between a few North Koreans behind closed doors.
NARRATOR: Behind closed doors, even members of the North Korean elite have voiced unhappiness with the regime, like this businesswoman filmed at a private lunch.
1st MAN: All we’re saying is give us some basic rights, right? We don’t have any.
WOMAN: It’s not like that in China. In China, they’ve got freedom of speech, you know. They went through the Cultural Revolution.
2nd WOMAN: We North Koreans are wise and very loyal. An uprising is still something we don’t understand.
1st MAN: But even that’s only to a certain point.
WOMAN: There can’t be a rebellion. They’ll kill everyone ruthlessly. Yes, ruthlessly. The problem here is that one in three people will secretly report you. That’s the problem. That’s how they do it.
2ndMAN: Let’s just drink up. There’s no use talking about it.
The Western Net users picked up on the line, and laughed at the irony of what they could only attribute to as ignorance of a North Korean. But the real irony is, the North Koreans may have the better understanding of “Free speech” and “cultural revolution”, as do the Chinese who experienced it.
“Freedom of Speech” through “Cultural Revolution”. It couldn’t happen in North Korea, because the regime would “kill everyone ruthlessly”. Need to digest that a bit more.
Continue reading The Cultural Revolution and Free Speech
Politics and Law is the business of Justice. And the Business of Justice, law and politics, is a very dirty business.
Periodically, whenever I feel safe and secure in the knowledge of my place in the world and in my profession as a lawyer practicing somewhat boring law fields, I go visit a court or a jail for a field trip. If you have never done it, in whatever country you live in, you should. Because the experience will remind you of the complexity of morality and fairness.
Continue reading Avoiding the Dirty Business of Justice and Politics is Not a Good Solution
“History is a set of lies agreed upon,’’ is a gem from Napoleon Bonaparte’s treasure-chest of quotations.
The Prime Minister of Japan might take a shine to that saying from France’s greatest empire-builder.
Shinzo Abe is resolutely convinced that the staggering horrors of World War Two are falsehoods; the punishment meted out on defeated but beatific Japan – it had waged war only for good, kind reasons of `liberating’ Asia from colonialism – is `victor’s justice’.
Lies, damn lies: in the alternate universe inhabited by Abe and his right-wing cronies, Japan has done no wrong.
The in-your-face evidence of sexual slavery, forced labor, biological and chemical experiments on humans, “kill all, burn all, loot all’’ policy, etc, are – at best – inconvenient truths ( mere incidents, such as the Nanjing Massacre, for one) to be cast into the dustbin of forgotten history. Continue reading Shinzo Abe – Little Napoleon of neo-militaristic Japan
This is a brief note on elections – that bedrock of modern democracy.
A key and indispensable pillar of modern democracy – heck modernity – is the notion of elections. Elections, many believe, are a fundamental way for people to express their voice, and some believe even for people to engage in self-determination as envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations. Without elections, there can be no political accountability, no political legitimacy. Oh yes, there might be, once in a while, a government such as the one in China today that gains popular approval without elections, but such a political structure cannot be sustained. Over time, bad leadership inevitably arises. Non-democratic political orders provides no means for the people to get rid of a “bad emperor.” Over the long haul, the only way to rid governments that don’t serve the people is elections.
This may sound all fair and good except in real life, elections don’t work that way. In real life – elections rarely project a “people’s voice,” too often detracts from the routine act of governing. And the world has never witnessed – nor do I expect to witness – elections to overturn a truly unjust order.
Let’s pierce the facade using a real example to see how things add up. Continue reading A Brief Note on Elections – that Bedrock of Modern Democracy…